What’s That Movie? The Aviator – a Martin Scorsese picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett

I recently read a Howard Hughes biography – Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske (you can read my review here) and knew I had to follow up with the highly recommended movie about this unique historical figure.

The biography of Howard Hughes is very good and covers more years than the movie.

The Aviator was made in 2004 and has an impressive cast of stars: Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. Other stars include Ian Holm, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani, Kelli Garner, Matt Ross, Willem Dafoe, Alan Alda, and Edward Herrmann.

The film covers Hughes’s life from 1927 – 1947. It begins with the making of the film Hell’s Angels and continues with the pioneering years of TWA and Hughes Aircraft, as Hughes broke flight records and secured government contracts during World War II. The later part of the film highlights how Hughes unravels due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I thought the movie was great. DiCaprio’s portrayal of Hughes is excellent from beginning to end and Cate Blanchett is terrific as Katherine Hepburn. I also enjoyed seeing familiar actors, especially Alec Baldwin who plays the head of Pan America and Alan Alda who plays a U.S. Senator with close links to Pan Am and who is also bent on bringing Hughes down.

Can I say that the cinematography was great without sounding like I’m trying to be a film expert? It did win for that and I found the whole movie exciting to watch, from the Hollywood scenes to the plane scenes, including one dramatic crash that really took me there.

It’s not based on the book, just on the life of Howard Hughes, and not his early years or his later ones, even though it’s nearly three hours long! What’s left out of this portrayal is how Hughes was obsessed with having and controlling a shocking number of women. There’s a hint of it, though.

The Aviator was nominated for eleven awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for DiCaprio, and Best Supporting Actor for Alda, winning five: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, and Best Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett. You can read more about the film on Wikipedia and IMDb.

Have you watched this movie? Since I have some more free time on my hands, I think I may watch it again!

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Blog views and other obsessions – coping with the Coronavirus

Source: brainsonfire.com

How are you at shifting gears? We’re all doing that right now! If you’re anxious about the Coronavirus and all the changes and restrictions we are going through, it may be tough to relax. But finding ways to “get away from it all” is a trick we’re all going to have to learn.

Photo by Alexavier Rylee Cimafranca on Pexels.com

Are you working from home? Do you have more family in your house than before? Are you or your kids shifting to online learning?

Our library is closed for the next two weeks. So I won’t be working there, but I’m also going to be busier with home and family things, like keeping the house cleaner and cooking more.

I’m planning to drink more water, more camomile tea (to stay calm – not joking, either), read and blog more and pay more attention to my Twitter account. I also want to binge watch a show or two (depending on how long we are home) and watch some movies.

Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

I hope you’re all doing okay and that your friends and families are healthy. And I also hope that the grocery stores have everything you need, including paper goods (currently an issue here).

Tell me how you are coping and, if you are at home, what you are doing. Do you plan to read or blog more? What is the current situation and what are the restrictions where you live?

To cheer us all up, I’m peppering this post with a few of the free happy reading pics from WordPress. 😀

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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Book Review: No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman

No Place Like Home
Rebecca Muddiman


Polly Cooke can’t wait to make her new house a home. She’s thirty-five and is starting a new chapter. As she walks home from the bus stop, she dreams of settling in for the night, but Polly is startled to see a shadow in the window of her house. Is someone inside?

And so begins Polly’s nightmare of moving into her dream house. With jumps between the recent past and the present, Polly narrates the details of her life. Her job is nothing special, but it’s a job. Her mother is in a home care center, with signs of dementia. And Polly is raw from a past relationship. This house is the perfect chance at a fresh start, if she can keep the past out of it, especially the man she sees watching her and suspects has been inside.

As this psychological thriller unfolds, the reader puts together a few pieces, but there are many questions. One of the things I enjoy about thrillers is watching the main character make foolish and reckless decisions. I kept saying to myself, “Polly, just call the police!” and “Close your drapes all the way—don’t peek out like that!”

Polly is so rattled by these events that she misses a lot of work and puts her job in jeopardy. And Polly’s mother seems to be declining from her daughter’s neglect. These two simmering situations add to the impending doom and the reader can only hope that Polly can take control. Secondary suspicious characters, like the nosy neighbor, the controlling nurse at the care center and former roommates raise more questions as to who’s behind Polly’s problems.

This is a fast-paced thriller with the usual twists and turns and a big scene at the finish. But what I enjoyed the most was a clever and unexpected double twist in the story. The author does a good job creating a situation with built-in suspense and turning it into an original story. Don’t expect a lot of character development. There’s just enough to support the plot and keep the story moving.

I enjoyed No Place Like Home. The title suggests what it’s about and the reader is treated to something a little more than that. I recommend this thriller to readers who are looking for a quick diversion.

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Who’s That Indie Author? David Ruggerio

Author name:  David Ruggerio

Genre:  Horror

Book: A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men, and Monsters

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  David Ruggerio, is a well-known celebrity chef and restaurant owner in New York City. Ruggerio honed his culinary skills in France at several of the country’s leading restaurants, among them, the Hotel Negresco with famed chef Jacques Maximin; Moulin de Mougins with renowned chef Roger Verge; l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges with legendary chef Paul Bocuse, and Les Pres d’Eugenie with mythical chef, Michel Guerard.

His rise to fame began as the chef at the legendary New York eatery, La Caravelle. At the time Ruggerio was only twenty-five years old and garnished rave reviews as the restaurant was hailed as one of the best in the country. He went on to take command of Pierre Cardin’s New York outpost of Maxim’s de Paris where he unbelievably garnished three stars from the New York Times. He then took his talents to the iconic Park Avenue restaurant, Le Chantilly. Here he gained national acclaim by again receiving three stars from the New York Times. David has cooked for five US Presidents.

He was honored in 1995 by noted vintner Robert Mondavi as one of the thirteen best young chefs in America. He went on to star in his own popular PBS cooking series entitled, Little Italy with David Ruggerio. He later went on to star in his own iconic series on Food Network entitled, Ruggerio to Go.

David has written two acclaimed cookbooks which were published by Artisan books, Little Italy with David Ruggerio and David Ruggerio’s Italian Kitchen.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  I wake up daily at 4am and write till 8am. At that time of the morning there is little distraction, I focus completely on writing.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Without a doubt, the birth of my children.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  The only thing I plan is the time I set aside to write. Other than that, I sit in front of my laptop with little planned. I write as it comes to my mind.

Could you write in a café with people around?  Absolutely not, I can’t work with distractions. I can’t even write with music playing.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  Yes, I do take liberty injecting French in particular. French and Italian are second languages for me, so it comes somewhat easy.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  Right now, I reading Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven and Grant by Ron Chernow. It’s hard to put my finger on one single book, but since I recognize with horror, then it would be Salem’s Lot by Stephen King.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  First and foremost, hardcover. I need to feel the book, so eReaders are a no-go for me.

Do you think print books will always be around?  I hope so, that includes newspapers (although I think they will be the first to disappear). There is something special about the feel of a book, the text on a computer screen will never be a replacement.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  No! God, I hope it never comes to that.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  iPhone

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Not more than an hour, although when I lie in bed, I do not pick it up.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  Love them! I love to take long drives, and I often listen to them as I drive.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  I do use as many platforms as possible. They are inexpensive methods of promoting yourself. Although I find when someone else promotes you, it’s much more effective.

Website and social media links:
Food Website: davidruggerio.com
Business Website: canvasbackfarms.com
Book Website: ruggeriobooks.com
YouTube Channel: David Ruggerio
Facebook: David Ruggerio
Twitter: @DavidRuggerio
Instagram: david.ruggerio
Goodreads: David Ruggerio
Amazon: David Ruggerio
Pinterest: David Ruggerio
Linkedin: David Ruggerio
Tumblr: chefdavidruggerio.tumblr.com

Awards/special recognition:  A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men, and Monsters– PenCraft Award 2019 Winner – Horror; Maxy Award 2019 Winner- Horror

Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Book Talk – No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman

Image: Pixabay

Welcome to an occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of books that catch my eye.

I’m feeling a little guilty about not reading some of the NetGalley books I’ve received. This psychological thriller is one of them. I had a perfectly good plan to read it right away, but somehow No Place Like Home got lost on my Kindle, along with the other mess of books I have on there.

Here’s the book description:

“What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home. The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.”

This is the kind of book that seizes on the reader’s need to be terrified. We all get a thrill from reading about someone else’s scary situations, right?

I have a few other books I’m going to read first, but I think I’m going to jump on this soon. At 234 pages, it looks like a quick read.

No Place Like Home was published in 2018. Check out these reviews. I’m going to wait in case they have spoilers!

Laurel-Rain Snow from Rainy Days and Mondays
Goodreads Reviews
Amazon Reviews

Have you already read No Place Like Home?

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BC Mom’s Author Update: Oskar’s Quest by Annika Perry

Welcome to Book Club Mom’s Author Update. Open to all authors who want to share news with readers. I recently caught up with Annika Perry, who has news about her new children’s book, Oskar’s Quest. Here’s what Annika has to say:

The year has started with a flourish of activity for me as I’ve published my first children’s book, Oskar’s Quest. I am still on an emotional high from the joy of seeing the book in print, reading the wonderful reviews and from the kind opportunities to promote the book.

Originally a story I created for my son, I was overjoyed to release it as a book after a year of rewrites / edits and working with a gifted illustrator. Oskar’s Quest acknowledges the fear that we all feel through the beautiful bird Oskar who is afraid of adventures yet one day finds himself on a mysterious island that needs his help!

As one reviewer writes: “Annika Perry captures the importance of caring for others, overcoming fears and making new friends. Young children are sure to relate as a fearful Oskar steps out of his comfort zone and embarks on a perilous journey in an effort to save a beautiful songbird and return happiness to an island where he’s been stranded during a fierce storm.”

One further exciting development this year has been the translation of Oskar’s Quest into German. As a fluent(ish) speaker I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the translator and we have now become firm friends.

Oskar’s Abenteuer was released this month, both in print and Kindle format, and it’s amazing to have two language versions out on sale of my children’s book.  A Swedish version will soon be ready for release … and there are requests for one in Spanish. Who knows!?

After a busy two months promoting online I am now looking forward to visiting schools and library events in the area … bringing Oskar and the story of his Quest directly to the intended audience, the children!

Annika Perry is a full-time writer, blogger and book reviewer. She was born in Gothenburg, Sweden and raised near Ilkley, West Yorkshire. The Storyteller Speaks, a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poetry, was her debut book. Oskar’s Quest, a beautifully illustrated and enchanting children’s story, is her second published book. Annika Perry lives with her family in a small village in North Essex, England.

Website and social media links:
WordPress blog:  Annika Perry’s Writing Blog
Author Website:  annika-perry-author.com
Twitter: @AnnikaPerry68
Goodreads Author:  Annika Perry
Amazon Author Page: Annika Perry
LinkedIn: Annika Perry Author

For information about Book Club Mom’s Author Update,
email bvitelli2009@gmail.com.

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Books to Pen – Book Club Mom’s creative writing blog

Hi Everyone,

I just launched a new blog called Books to Pen, dedicated to my creative writing efforts. I posted my first piece of short fiction which you can find here. I hope you will take a look. Feedback is welcome!


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Short reviews from 2013: Fahrenheit 451, The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Weird Sisters

As I approach my 7-year blogging anniversary, I’ve been looking at some of the old reviews I posted. A lot of them are pretty short and I’d love to go back and beef them up a bit, but I think I’d have to re-read the books before I did that. So today I’m just going to share three short reviews of books I liked, but didn’t say too much about!

Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is a very well written science fiction from 1950. Despite being written before the explosion of modern technology, Bradbury’s book-burning story makes many timeless observations about censorship and the suppression of original thought and personal interaction.

Bradbury’s seashells as earbuds and the parlors with surrounding interactive screens are hardly a stretch to imagine if you have ever competed with an iPhone, iPod or a flat screen for another person’s attention.

Despite many hopeless characters and some violent destruction, the ending is optimistic as Montag and his hideout professors devise a way to preserve the classics.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein

I loved this book. It’s a touching family story told from an original point of view.  Denny Swift is the main character, a husband and father – a family man. His dog, Enzo, tells Denny’s story and gives us simple insights into love, misunderstanding, pain, and loss. He cleverly narrates a sad story and leaves the reader feeling alright about the very difficult job of saying goodbye to the people (and pets) we love. Enzo is a true hero in the way he influences and communicates with Denny, Eve and his family.

You don’t have to know anything about driving a race car or even be a NASCAR fan to enjoy the connection Stein makes between being a champion behind the wheel and taking charge of your own destiny.

This is a fast read with a solid feel-good ending.

The Weird Sisters
Eleanor Brown

It is so nice to read book that is actually upbeat as it depicts characters who struggle and confront difficult problems. Eleanor Brown does just that in The Weird Sisters. This is a story about three sisters who face turning-points in their own lives. It is believable, interesting, funny and emotional as the three face their mother’s illness and their own relationships with their parents and themselves. Anyone who has siblings or children of their own will appreciate the dynamics that occur here.

Brown tells this story through what I guess you would call the plural first person, as she speaks as the collective sisters. In the beginning, I thought there was a fourth sister! It’s a little different and awkward at first, but I got used to it. I think she uses this format to show the unity between Cordy, Rose and Bean.

I thought the Shakespeare references might be overwhelming because it has been a long time since I picked up a Shakespeare play. But they weren’t. They are there because they help explain the way the family communicates with each other. You don’t have to remember exactly what happened in King Lear or Macbeth to get the point.

Other people might think this original style is quirky. I did not. It works and, like the Shakespeare references, the style helps you understand the sisters and their story.

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Blog views and other obsessions – Free Photo Library on WordPress

Source: brainsonfire.com

Have you noticed something different about your WordPress Home Page? My Home popped up on my blog this week, with a reconfigured format. I haven’t tried everything, but what caught my eye is that now WordPress offers a Free Photo Library of 40,000 stock photos, provided by Pexels.

I’ve been using Pixabay for a few years to find good copyright free photos, but now there’s an option built right into WordPress.

Another good thing I noticed is that you can also upload photos right from Google Photos. I like that! I’m not sure if that’s new, but I’d never seen that before.

And here’s how to access the photo library.

  • Go to your My Home screen, open the Site options and select Media.
  • Click the down arrow on the top left banner dropdown to see WordPress Library, Google Photos library and Free Photo library. Select Free Photo.
  • Type suggestion in Search bar, select an appropriate photo and select Copy to media library.

Your image is ready for you to insert into your next blog post. Photo credits are included in the uploads.

Curious to see what kinds of free images are available, I did a few searches and here are some.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

They are generic like all the stock images out there but they are free and I can see myself using these for certain posts.

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Pexels.com

How about you? Will you use this new feature?

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

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Who’s That Indie Author? Stevie Turner

Author name:  Stevie Turner

Genres:  Romantic Suspense, Memoir, Dark Humor, Women’s Fiction, Family Dramas, and Paranormal

Books:  A House Without Windows; The Pilates Class; For the Sake of a Child; The Daughter-in-law Syndrome; Repent at Leisure; The Donor; and many more titles available here.

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing.  Since childhood I’ve always made up stories and poems, and won an inter-schools’ writing competition at the age of eleven.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  I work as a medical secretary three days per week, and write as a hobby in my spare time.  Until I earn more royalties than working as a medical secretary then my work will always have to come first.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  My wedding day. Also the births of my two sons.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I’m definitely a ‘pantster.’  I make it all up as I go along.

Could you write in a café with people around?  Absolutely not. I need to be on my own and in a totally silent room so that I can think.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  Yes, in Examining Kitchen Cupboards, I needed one of my characters to speak Portuguese.  I looked up the words on Google Translate.   

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  The one I could read over and over again is L.P Hartley’s The Go-Between.  It was written in a different age, without computers and iPhones etc.  Sometimes I wish we could go back to that foreign country, the past. What am I reading now?  I’m just about to start I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  My Kindle is my preferred choice, but I do read quite a few paperbacks too.

Do you think print books will always be around?  Yes, I think so.  Not everybody prefers eReaders.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  No. My phone is for making phone calls or reading text messages.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  I have an iPhone, but I’m not always going to it!

How long could you go without checking your phone?  All day, and I sometimes do.  At work it lives in my rucksack, and when I get home I sometimes forget to take it out.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  No, as I find them rather expensive to buy.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  I’ve given up Facebook and LinkedIn as I wanted to cut down a bit. My favourite social media platform is WordPress followed by Twitter.

Website and social media links:
Website: stevie-turner-author.co.uk
WordPress Blog: steviet3.wordpress.com
Twitter: @StevieTurner6
YouTube: Stevie Turner
Amazon: Amazon.uk; Amazon.com; Amazon Author Page (worldwide)
Goodreads: Stevie Turner

Awards/special recognition:  Several Indie awards, which you can find here

Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.