The Girl on the Train - I know not everyone agrees, but I thought the movie really did justice to the book, and Emily Blunt was fantastic.
Love Actually - I realize this isn't a new one, but it was new to me! (Don't ask me how I missed a romantic comedy in the last 20 years - this one's from 2003 - but somehow it happened.) Just days after Lainey Lui mentioned on The Social how this movie always gets her into the Christmas spirit, I was thrilled to see it pop up on TV...and I loved it.
Allied - Starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, this is an excellent WWII love story/drama with a twist: is Cotillard's character really a German spy? If you're anything like me, you'll also appreciate the smattering of Canadian references - Pitt's character is from Canada, and when he attempts a Parisian accent he is nicknamed "Quebecois"; Medicine Hat also plays a role. I recommend it even if you haven't saved up M and M bags for free movie tickets!
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue - This book (from the author of Room) is about a nurse who comes to Ireland to supervise a supposed miracle: a young girl who is surviving without eating. It's a fascinating read, though I always have to remember not to take offense on behalf of the Catholic Church to every fictional (or perhaps semi-fictional) insult.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - Picoult's latest is about a black maternity nurse faced with a dilemma: does she take action to save a white baby after being ordered not to touch him?
I am so saddened when I read about racism (even fictional) as well as shocked, while I know I shouldn't be. I keep up with the news and I like to think I'm pretty well-read, but I don't want to believe that there are still parents raising their children to hate like this. Even though I grew up in possibly one of the whitest places ever (and moved to another one - I'm guessing a diverse population hasn't yet been drawn to our Irish-Catholic farming communities) I never heard a racist word from one of my parents.
Years ago when walking our girls to the Centre Island ferry, one asked, "Mommy, are a lot of these people not from here?" which certainly sparked a conversation, but I'd like to think that my children see past colour when looking for the beauty and value in the people around them.
I don't have a thick enough skin (sorry, best expression I could come up with) to take on any further racial commentary right now, but I was also not surprised to learn that Picoult (who is white) has been criticized for attempting to take on the first-person story of a black character, something she actually addresses in a separate section of the book.
Babushka: A Christmas Tale by Dawn Casey - If you're looking to add a new title to your Christmas collection, this lovely traditional Russian tale helps us all remember the meaning of the season. We've been working on "favourite parts" in the kindergarten class, and here were a few of their responses to this book:
"The picture with the cat because it was so detailed"
"The dream because Mary and Jesus were in it"
"The part where the boy didn't catch any fish because then he got food"
"The part where it said 'KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK' because it was exciting"
Bridget Jones's Baby by Helen Fielding - A companion to the movie (written after Fielding worked on the script to the third film), this book is as light and fun as you would expect - a worthwhile visit with an old friend. Be forewarned though - there is a one huge plot difference (which I won't spoil for you right now).
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena - this is incredible work for Lapena's suspense debut. I could hardly put it down, and the twists kept on coming right to the end.
Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul by Ruth Soukup - if you look up the definition of "preaching to the choir", you will see a picture of me reading this book. Basically, it affirmed much of what I already know and believe...but if you're looking for a decluttering jumpstart, this one's for you!
If my Christmas wishes come true, I'll have lots of time over the holidays for some more great books and movies, and I'll have a full update next month!