BookAuthorGenreBook club/beach reach/personal introspection/how toRating
Min Jin Lee
fiction/historical fiction/Japan and Korea/discrimination/family sagabook club1
A Lovely Life: Savoring Simple Joys in Every SeasonMelissa Michaelsnon fiction/life style/simplicityhow to2
Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame XDeborah Davisnon fiction/history of a painting and its scandalbook club3
The Lies I TellJulie Clarkfiction/psychological drama/women characters/beach read4
The Christie AffairNina de Gramontfiction/mystery kind of/alternate story flash backbeach read5
Toujours la France! Living the Dream in Rural FranceJanine Marshnon fiction/memoir/moving to a different placebeach read6
Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary WomenAlissa Wilkinsonnon fiction/essays/stories about womenbeach read/book club7
The Last Chance LibraryFreya Sampsonfiction/women’s fiction/book and library lovers/personal growthBeach Read8
  1. Pachinko– Beautifully worded story about a Korean family trying to live in Japan throughout the 1900’s. We are dealing with about ten or so different characters and some of them are not fleshed out as much as they can be, and sometimes a character will just drop out and there’s no resolution, so some of the author motivation gets muddled. The book also deals with very emotional things, yet the emotions get muted- almost as if the reader isn’t really supposed to feel, or they are supposed to repress their feelings.
  2. A Lovely Life– I love a lifestyle book and this hit the spot for me. It’s well organized and gives little tips on small things you can do seasonally to change up your day to day. I like lifestyle tips that are simple and practical and can be done by most people. Charming little book.
  3. Strapless– Well written history book about one of my favorite works of art, Madame X. It gives information and stories in an easy to digest narrative, and includes some tidbits about Oscar Wilde and Henry James that I found fascinating. But if you’re not a history or art buff, I don’t know how much you will enjoy this.
  4. The Lies I Tell– I have many feelings about this book. Though it is technically a psych drama, it doesn’t necessarily motivate the reader to keep reading- it’s a tad slow in spots. But Clark’s genius is that when the book comes to a pretty satisfying conclusion (which is difficult given the genre) you stop and wonder if this is really based on a true story. The story has the right mix of I can’t believe it/oh yeah I see how this could totally happen, which is a rare and difficult quality to achieve. This is a good example of why you should finish a book, because sometimes it is worth the wait. That being said, if you don’t like getting into people’s heads, and thinking about the WHY, this probably is not a good book to read.
  5. Christie Affair– Agatha Christie disappeared in 1926 for a little over a week. This is a fictionalized account of what happened during that time period, plus a little mystery thrown in. I think any fan of Christie should read this book, because it’s just a nice little piece of escapism. If you’re not a fan you should skip it because otherwise it’s just a somewhat bland interpretation of a mystery and read herrings and such.
  6. Toujours– British couple decides to move to a farm in rural Northern France. Told with wit and self deprecating humor, this is a sweet homage to adopted lands. There were moments I laughed aloud at some of the happenings of Janine and Mark in their new home. Wonderful cast of characters that make you feel like you know them. Light and charming.
  7. Salty– This is a book of essays written around the question- if I could have a dinner party, who would I invite. In this case, the author chose nine distinguished women who had written at least a little bit about food and dining. As any dinner party where some guests are more interesting than others, some of these essays are more interesting than others. However if you like reading about strong women and food, this isn’t a bad choice. There are recipes included, so a book club could make the different recipes and discuss the book.
  8. Last Chance Library– This book was bland. If books were colors, this book would be beige: lackluster, one note, milquetoast. The characters and setting are one dimensional and you don’t root for anything or anyone because you just forget about them. I just didn’t care about the outcome.
MovieGenreWhere SeenRating
Marcel the Shell With Shoes Onfaux documentary about a snail done by the guy who is renting in the airbnb where Marcel livesTheater- AMC1
Mrs. Harris Goes to Parisfiction/set post WWII England and Paris/light/romantic/heroine is of a certain ageTheater- AMC2
Elvisbiopic/historicalTheater- AMC3
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A songdocumentaryTheater- Film Forum4
Mr. Malcolm’s Listhistorical fiction/periodTheater- AMC5
Official Competitionforeign (Spanish)/dramedy/some satireTheater- AMC6
From Where They Stooddocumentary/foreign (French and German) concentration camps/WWIITheater- Film Forum7
Minions: The Rise of Gruanimated/childrens?/sequelTheater- AMC8
Thor: Love and Thunderrom com/super hero/Marvel/continuationTheater- AMC9
I recently joined AMC A List, which allows me to see three movies a week, for a month, for just slightly more than the ticket price of one film. As movies are apparently back, this is an awesome deal for me during the summer when the city is a sauna and the theater is a brilliant escape.
  1. Marcel– This is just a sweet, charming film that gives you the feels. A lovely commentary about love, family and connections. Clever and witty dialogue and whimsical storyline. However, if you are not a fan of whimsy, and like your films full of action- this is not for you. But if you like understated little films, go see this.
  2. Mrs. Harris– This is the movie equivalent of a beach read. Light, frothy, unbelievable and fun. Charming lead performance by Lesley Manville, who you really do want to have as a friend because she’s just so personable. My con to this movie is that for a movie about Paris and Dior, there really wasn’t enough Paris or Dior. Take advantage of those two things and make it a love letter to Paris and Dior- don’t take those elements and make them a passing backdrop. The person going to see the movie wants the full love story…
  3. Elvis– Austin Butler is mesmerizing as Elvis, and the music montages are great, but the only time this movie sings is when there is singing or dancing or Butler. The story is muddled, and Tom Hanks is somewhat wasted as the villain in the tale that is the life of Elvis. But let me add- Butler is so good as Elvis I wanted to leap up and throw my panties at the screen…
  4. Hallelujah– If you love the song, you need to see the documentary. If you don’t love the song, you can pass. Interesting journey of a song that took 8 years to write, has technically over a hundred verses, and when the album it appeared on was produced, the record company chose not to release the album in the US…then made popular by the movie Shrek…what a story…
  5. Mr. Malcolm– If you are into the whole PBS/Bridgerton/Downton/Austen/Gilded Age thing, go see this movie. Pretty costumes, typical storyline, and just historical period fluff. If the story seems familiar, it’s because it is, but if it’s your thing, this fits the bill.
  6. Official Competition– This is a movie about making a movie- there are some funny observations about the types of personalities that produce, direct and act in major films. Most of the dialogue is quite clever, but some of it goes just a bit too far- slightly more understatement is needed. Solid acting though, and interesting plotline.
  7. From Where They Stood– This is a documentary about photographs that some interred at concentration camps were able to take, and hide. The subject matter is sad and hard to think about and view. The thought of what happened is very difficult to think about. But as for a documentary- it falls short. The documentarian was French, and he was speaking to Germans through translators, so much of the film is just people translating. This makes it slow. The doc is also very academic, and it’s like the very boring professor who is not quite sure what’s he’s looking at, and he’s trying to explain it as part of class. It was very hard to pick up the thread of what the filmmaker was trying to prove. In seeing this doc, I should have been filled with emotion, but I left feeling empty, and not empty as in emotionally depleted, but empty as in the doc had no point of view (the woman at the end of my row left early, and two people in front of me fell asleep) This had the potential to be many things, but it fell short on all counts.
  8. Minions– Stupid and reasonably amusing. It was a hot day and my family wanted an afternoon distraction, and this fit the bill. As far as it’s being a kids movie though, I don’t think I would let my less than ten year old see it- it seems like it’s made more for adults, which is mirrored in the fact that our 345 showing was 80% adult.
  9. Thor– More rom com than superhero action adventure. If you look at it as a light comedy, it’s fine. If you want it to be full of anything else you are out of luck. I’m pretty much all in for the Marvel universe, so I was seeing it no matter what, but if you aren’t really into it, you can pass.

30 thoughts on “My Month in Books & Movies: July 2022

  1. Very interesting reviews. I have read Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris and loved it. I don’t think there was a lot about Paris itself in the book either. It is more character and plot driven.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was charming. It’s little practical tips to make seasons brighter. I think you would like it. But see if there’s a Kindle preview


  2. My wife and I just watched “Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres.” I dug it, but of course I’m stuck in the ’60s. And I recently finished reading (it’s taking me longer these days) “Becoming Mae West.” Because of my dad, I am a big fan of old movies. And I, too, am a fan of the Marvel universe; I read Marvel comics as a kid. D.C. comics were cuh-cuh.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I liked Elvis…I thought Hanks chewed the scenery in that role..Col Parker what an asshole
    I hope to see Mrs Harris & Marcel
    I plan to see Thor tomorrow (love RomComs) also planning to see Jordan Peele s Nope

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ugh, just saw Thor…. absolutely awful. A forced, campy same jokes (screaming goats anyone ?) done to death. Weird Tonal Changes and one of the worst stories in the MCU. I think I am done with seeing Marvel movies in the theater.i had high hopes for this poorly written barely funny barely romantic mess.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good to see Pachinko on the top of your list. Marty @snakesinthegrass recommended it some time back and I was very glad to read it, especially as I knew nothing about the Korea/Japan scenario. Love the fact that you picked up on all the emotions being so muted, as it made it feel all the more authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

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