This is a movie that came out last year about the last days of the court of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI as seen through the eyes of one of her servants. It is based on the bestselling book from 2004. For those of you that like costume dramas, this has plenty to look at (costumes and occasionally what's underneath them), but the film is really concerned with showing the complete lack of organization among those involved at Versailles during the chaotic beginnings of the French Revolution. Read more about Farewell, My Queen
Imagine being told that your baby has a disease that will kill him, most likely before he turns three. Emily Rapp and her husband Rick were given that news when their lovely boy Ronan was only nine months old. He seemed to be having vision problems, and the eye doctor discovered cherry-red spots behind his retinas--a tell-tale sign of Tay-Sachs disease.
Emily, who had been tested for this disease, immediately knew the worst. Her husband did not. “Well, what can we do about it?” Rick asked the doctor. “Nothing,” was his reply. Soon the parents learned that the genetic test only checks for the nine most common mutations.
So begins their journey. Emily describes in detail what it is like to parent a child that she knows will die soon. When they see the specialist, they discover that babies born with Tay-Sachs progress until they are six-months old, then start to regress, eventually losing all sight, hearing, movement, and even ability to swallow. Read more about Parenting to the Very End
If you are one of the few people who haven’t read this Rosie nominated book yet, do so as soon as possible! Filled with creepy black and white photos, this mesmerizing story centers on sixteen-year old-Jacob Portman and the events following the mysterious death of his grandfather. To help him overcome his grief, Jacob travels with his father to a remote island off the coast of Wales to find answers about his grandfather’s childhood. He discovers much more than he bargained for when he finds a “time loop” from 1940 where the children from his grandfather’s stories hide from the rest of the world. These children are not ordinary children; each has a unique special talent that makes them a target for a group of monsters intent of world domination. Soon enough, Jacob learns about his grandfather’s past and discovers that he has inherited his own special talent that has placed him and his new friends in grave danger.
When this compelling novel starts, Mary Beth Lathem’s biggest problem is taking sass from her truculent teenaged daughter, Ruby. The narrative starts at the beginning of Mary Beth’s busy day as she goes through the house waking up her three children, the eldest daughter and two twins, Alex and Max. Mary Beth owns a landscape business but soon you can tell that her family is the center of her life and passions.
Alex is a soccer jock, immensely talented and popular while Max, his fraternal twin, is a computer nerd with social anxiety problems. Glen, Mary Beth’s husband, is an extremely practical and thoroughly unromantic eye doctor--solid as hardwood--though Mary Beth is not necessarily aware of that. Read more about The Perfect Family Until--
If you’re new to poetry and find it difficult, you may want to try the work of Gerald Stern. At eighty-eight, he’s one of the grand masters of poetry still composing poems. He’s won lots of awards but writes in understandable language about everyday things: travel, frogs, New York, cafeteria (spelled with a k as are all of the c words in this poem), his childhood, flowers, and love. What I like about his latest collection In Beauty Brightand all of his work is that he celebrates living in an almost ecstatic way--most of his poems could be songs. Check out these lines: “Like fools we waited to hear the tomatoes; we knew / what greenness means to the vine.” or “Take a dog to the vet’s, he knows what you’re doing, / a cat becomes a muscle, she leaps from your arms.”
You can tell from his work that he’s the kind of quirky writer that does weird things on occasion to discover his latest poem; for instance, “Day of Grief” begins: “I was forcing a wasp to the top of a window / where there was some sky and there were tiger lilies…” Another insect poem starts this way, “I lost my rage while helping a beetle recover / and stood there with precision, balancing / grass with stone.”
And see how immediate and tactile this poem simply titled “Love” is, “I loved your sweet neck but I loved your shoulder blades more / and wondered whether I should kiss your cheek first / or your hair.” Read more about Pick up a Book of Poetry