Book AuthorGenreType of ReadRanking/Rating on Goodreads
Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to AmericaHugh Eakinnon fiction/history/artbook club/personal interest1- 4.41
Dear Paris: The Paris Letters CollectionJanice MacLeodnon fiction/epistolary/beach read kind of2- 4.25
My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in ParisAlexander Lobranonon fiction/memoirbook club3- 4.05
Handbook for Bad DaysEveline Helminknon fiction/personal growth4- 3.91
Marple: Twelve New Mysteriesedited by Naomi Aldermanficiton/mystery/Miss Marplebeach read5- 3.86
Lost and Found: A MemoirKathryn Schulznon fiction/memoirbook club6- 4.19
A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom and CourageCyndie Spiegelnon fiction/positivity quotespage a day for a year/personal growth7- 4.21
A Tidy EndingJoanna Cannonfiction/psych thrillerbeach read8- 3.89
SolitoJavier Zamoranon- fiction/memoir/immigrationbook club9- 4.52
Midcoastfiction/family intrigue/mini sagabeach read10- 3.56
All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show BusinessMel Brooksnon fiction/memoir/celebritybeach read11- 4.24
hello Habits: A Minimalist’s Guide to a Better LifeFumio Sasakinon fiction/habit formationhow to12- 3.60
Life’s Too SHortAbby Jimenezficiton/romancebeach read13- 4.21
Daisy DarkerAlice Feeneyfiction/psych thrillerdon’t do it14- 3.83
The Listening Path: The Creative Art of Intention- An Artist’s Way BookJulia Cameronnon fictionutter rubbish15- 3.27
To be clear- I did not read all of these books in January- I finished some of them. Because of blog scheduling I finished some of them in December. It took me months to read most of them!
  1. Picasso’s War- If you are interested in modern art and history, this is a decent read. When artists like Picasso first appeared, the American Art market was not too keen on them or their art. This is a well written history of how MOMA was formed, and the people responsible for it.
  2. Paris- This is literally a compilation of a women’s letters to friends after she emigrated to Paris. I love the whole letter format, and I love Paris, so this was a win for me, but if you don’t love those things, give this book a pass.
  3. My Life at the Table- When the author discusses food, this book sings. Don’t read this book hungry because the way he describes meals that he’s eaten is just glorious. Unfortunately, the other part of this memoir is more personal, and they really should be two different books, because the sad part didn’t jibe with the food part.
  4. Handbook- little inciteful chapters about why it’s ok to have bad days, and how to get past them. This is the anti toxic positivity handbook- it’s practical and to the point
  5. Marple- Some well known mystery writers take over where Agatha Christie left off with some new adventures of Miss Marple. Some of the stories are better than others, but it was fun to see my favorite sleuth solve some new mysteries. Light and fun
  6. Lost- Schulz is clearly highly intelligent. She writes beautiful sentences and her words flow from page to page. Schulz is also clearly an intellectual- she is the type of person who spends her evenings reading poetry aloud to her wife- there’s nothing wrong with this type of activity or person, but the book is written from the head and not the heart, as if she doesn’t have real emotions to express. It is way too stylized to give me the feels. The book is about the loss of her beloved father and the beginning of the relationship with the woman who would become her wife, yet it is almost emotionless- there’s a lot of wonderful thoughts and such, all beautifully rendered, but it lacks soul. You can’t have a great memoir without soul.
  7. Positive Thinking- This is the kind of book you read a page of every day. It’s cute and uplifting and I enjoyed starting my day with it.
  8. Tidy- This isn’t a bad book, but for some reason I am iffy about it. Decent plot, decent main character, decent writing, but the parts don’t equal to a solid whole for me. I’m guessing because it gets a little repetitive in places, and the clues sort of swirl around. Hoping I can pinpoint it a little better.
  9. Solito– Harrowing memoir about the 7 weeks about Zamora’s unparented journey from El Salvador to USA with a group of migrants in 1999. This book was written from the perspective of the 9 year old child that he was- and I do not like books told in this way, so it dragged a little for me, even though I understood why the author chose this way of telling the story. The ending brought me all the feels though…but I don’t know if it was worth the trip.
  10. Midcoast- Told in 1st person by someone intimate with the main characters- who spends a lot of time on the water. The book sort of sinks, no pun intended. The distance of the narrator to the main character was not Gatsbyesque, because we really don’t learn anything that we need to learn emotion wise- as the novel is completely lacking emotion. It comes off as whiny. Let this sink.
  11. All About Me- Brooks has written/directed some of my favorite movies- The Producers and Young Frankenstein and play The Producers. I know he is a brilliant writer. he just doesn’t show it in this memoir. Every chapter includes him telling the reader how much someone laughed at something in the past. Frankly, I was a little bored…
  12. Hello Habits- While there are some useful tips for creating and sticking to habits, this book could have been MUCH shorter. The author drones on about things that I didn’t need or want in this book- way too much theoretical. The best part is the appendix which gives you the steps to creating and keeping habits. The rest is useless.
  13. Life’s Too Short- This was just trite and one dimensional and the characters bored me to tears. That it’s not my least fave this month shows you how bad the botton two are.
  14. Daisy- First month of the year and I already have read two of the worst books ever…This book is just ridiculous. Avoid at all costs.
  15. Listening- This might be the worst book that I’ve ever read. What a bunch of precious, twee crap. The only think I learned about writing from this pretentious book was how not to write like a person who is completely full of crap. After reading this I can’t help but wonder why anyone listens to Julia Cameron about anything. Avoid this book at all cost.
MoviegenreWhere Seenranking/rotten tomatoes rating
Livingdrama/slice of life/period- 50sTheater- Angelika1- 95/84
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mysterymystery/sequel sort ofStream- Netflix2- 92/93
All Quiet on the Western Frontdrama/historical/WWI/foreign language (German) but dubbed on NetflixStream- Netflix3- 92/90
M3genthriller/horror but not slasherTheater- AMC4- 94/79
Puss in Boots: The Last Wishanimated/retelling of children’s classic/sequelTheater- AMC5- 95/94
Missingdrama/psych thriller/tech basedTheater- AMC6- 82/90
A Man Called Ottobased on a novel/dramedyTheater- AMC7- 70/97
Fire of Lovedocumentary/subtitles in many parts/volcanosCable- National Geographic Channel8- 98/85
Brokerforeign (Korean)/dramaTheater- AMC9-93/89
Corsageforeign (German/French/English/Hungarian)/period/fictional account of Empress Elizabeth of AustriaTheater- AMC10-86/61
The Whaledrama/father daughter relationships/obesityTheater- Alamo Draft House11-66/91
Women Talkingdrama/based on a true story/womenTheater-Angelika12- 90/88
Avatar- Way of Watersci fiTheater- AMC13- 77/92
Not Okaydrama/millennial angst/traumaStreaning- Hulu14- 73/58
  1. Living- I sort of loved this movie. While I admit it starts slow and there is a scene that I think should have been shorter, when you get to the second half of the movie- magic. Just understated and elegant, both the film, the script and the standout performance by a constantly underrated Bill Nighy. This is not a big obvious film, but it you like gentle films that bring on the feels, this is your movie Oscar noms for Best Actor (Nighy) Best Writing (adapted)
  2. Glass Onion- Well executed who dun it. Solid cast. Just a fun, clever movie Oscar nom for Best Writing (adapted)
  3. All Quiet- Visually stunning and emotionally devastating piece about the horrors of war. This is gut wrenching so not a movie for everyone, but well made film that just grips you. Well deserved Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best International Feature, Best Music, Best Writing (adapted) Visual Effects, Cinematography, Production Design, Makeup and Hair
  4. Megen- This is the go to genre of the early 20s…thriller/horror. This movie does the genre proud though- clever, witty, entertaining and if you like the genre you should try to see this film. Can’t believe I liked it because I don’t normally like this genre, but there has been a slew of well told thrillers of late so as long as they make them like this I’m all in
  5. Puss- This is a charming animated movie, with a fun story and great voices. I was all in for one more adventure- however, I don’t know if I would bring a child under seven to this. Oscar Nom Animated Feature.
  6. Missing- Pretty good drama/thriller about a daughter searching for her missing Mother. Really highlights the good and bad use of the internet and social media. Better than I thought it would be. If you like this type of non gorey thriller you should check this out.
  7. Otto- I loved the book that this movie was based on, and Hanks does a decent job of portraying the uptight, set in his way, sad protagonist. There’s a charm about this story that I like, even though it’s a tad quirky. I think you can wait to stream though
  8. Fire of Love- Doc about Volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. The footage, much taken by the Krafft’s is just spectacular- if you have an interest in volcanos and nature and natural phenomena, you should check this out. Well directed and edited. Oscar Nom Feature Documentary
  9. Broker- Deals with baby brokers on a base level, but makes you question ethics, morality and who is good and who is bad. Thought provoking but also glacially slow moving. I nodded off for a few minutes at one point
  10. Corsage- Fictional account of Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The movie stresses how hard woman have always had it- weight/appearance/expectations. It does a decent job of exploring how these issues relate to a woman’s ego and confidence, but the movie itself gets a little tedious in places, and I had trouble rooting for the protagonist
  11. Whale- This is a story about a morbidly obese man trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. This should have been a minefield of emotions, but I was strangely unmoved through most of it. (I cry at Folgers commercials, so that’s how easy it is to make me cry by watching something) There are some disconnects in the film that I couldn’t reconcile. However, solid acting all around with excellent performances by small cast. Oscar Noms Best Actor (Brendan Fraser) Best Actress Supporting (Hong Chau) Makeup and Hair,
  12. Women- Solid screenplay and visually stunning movie about the women who live/belong to a religious community but the women are not allowed to be educated and are victims of sexual abuse. Searing drama about standing up and fighting for your right to safety. Good film but I felt it was overacted. Oscar Noms Best Picture, Best Screenplay (adapted)
  13. Avatar- Visually stunning- all the tech aspects of movie making are displayed here- it is a beautifully crafted movie. That being said, I am bored by this franchise- at 3 hours 12 minutes, it is just way too long for what is basically a simple story. There will be people who love this movie- I am not one of them, but kudos to the effects. Oscar Noms Best Picture, Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design,
  14. Not Okay- Very average film about entitled youth, but it misses the point in many ways. Plus- the content warning is that there’s an unlikable female protagonist…

Expect that I will see a lot of movies next month! My goal is to see the 11 movies nominated that I have not seen yet, plus all the shorts.

20 thoughts on “My Month in Books and Movies: January 2023

  1. I do so look forward to this feature post each month. There’s almost always something I’ve seen or read and I really like the comparison of your views up against mine. Plus insight into my TBR or TBS lists- sometimes you help me toss something I was uncertain about, other times you make me so curious with your reactions that I consider something I typically wouldn’t try. Thank LA!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think of you as my own personal Roger Ebert in many ways 😉 In breaking news and unrelated to this post- local news is on and I just heard that one of the things WA is considering in the legislature (among other driving changes) is to REQUIRE a *refresher course* for drivers over 70. I assume that might be like my AARP thing. No mention of an actual driving test, but interesting based on the timing of your post.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I read the artists way awhile back…like a long while, along with Natalie Goldbergs writing down the bones, and honestly I only remember snippets of the original. This listening book was blehhhhhhh

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I always find your reactions to books and movies so interesting. I read a lot and don’t watch a lot of movies so your book reactions appeal to me the most. They reinforce my belief that although there are a lot of really good books to read, there are many that are just not worth my time. Thanks for sharing your gut responses.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree re the Julia Cameron book – I gave it a horrible review – not sure how/why it even got published – bunch of repetitive drivel and way too many references to her dog and feeding it salmon and storms etc as I recall? I used to really like her books, but it turned me off reading any more. I bought Janice MacLeod’s first book, A Paris Year and really enjoyed it, but don’t think I’ve read Paris Letters. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m expecting “All Quiet” to be acquired by Himself and there’ll be trouble if not. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and we unexpectedly saw an exhibition of Otto Dix’s work which was fascinating (if gory). I’ll also be expressing my desire to see “Living” which I expect will cause him to wriggle, but I really do want to see it.

    On the books, I love the sound of the first two in your list, so will be adding them. I know what you mean about the Joanna Cannon book. I was having problems with it until I switched to Audible (because I’d hurt my back), then the Welsh actress reading it brought the central character alive and made it work. She’d felt too much like a victim initially, and was decidedly not when read aloud. Still not a great book or anything, I was just more able to “get” her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Living is so good. I took my husband and he was able to appreciate it, so if my husband could, anyone can. All quiet is just a well made film on all levels. I see how hearing the Cannon would make it better…I think you needed something.

      Liked by 1 person

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