24in48 Readathon TBR

This weekend, (in less than 4 hours actually) I'll be participating in the 24in48 readathon. I've never done a lengthy readathon like this, but with an over-zealous summer reading list, and August fast approaching, I thought this would be a great opportunity to make a bit of a dent in that list of mine.

The readathon takes place this weekend, Saturday and Sunday (July 22nd-23rd), and the goal is to read for 24 out of the 48 hours. You can break up the hours in whichever way you'd like over the two days, so commitments don't need to be missed. And there's plenty of time for sleep, a shower and meals. There are some great tips, guidelines and even prizes for the readathon, for more info and/or to sign up visit 24in48.com.

I've been making lists, calculating reading times, and putting together the books I'd like to read. It has been recommended to mix up your reading material so you don't burn out. So I also have a few comics, journals, and even an audiobook I can pop on, if I need to take a bit of a break. I've been meaning to crack open a few new adult coloring books, so an audiobook will be the perfect accompaniment. I also have a plethora of favorite snacks, comfy loungewear, candles and even a jaunt to a favorite cafe planned for tomorrow, to keep me motivated. I'm all about the cozy and comfy vibes!

I decided to put together a TBR for the readathon, since I'm a bit of an organizational freak. And, having a bevy of books to choose from, will help me complete the 24 hour goal. These are the books I chose:

1. Hum If You Don't Know The Words
I'm about half way through this, and can see why this has been raved about. Set in the 1970's, the story is told through the voices of Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl and Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman. Both, cross paths unexpectedly during the Soweto Uprising. And their alternating perspectives, weave a story rich with emotion, taking a close look at racism, loss, and the definition of family.

2. The Resurrection of Joan Ashby
This is an ARC I received from Flatiron Books and will be released in September 2017. The book is brilliant so far. And reminiscent of J. D. Salinger, Truman Capote and Joan Didion. I think Cherise Wolas will be an author to watch out for after this debut novel.

3. Slightly Foxed, The Real Reader's Quarterly – Issue No. 54 Summer 2017
This is my favorite literary magazine! I look forward to the new publication (released quarterly) as soon as I've finished an issue. I've been savoring this summer issue, since it's release. And this will be the perfect in between read, when I need a break during the readathon. Slightly Foxed introduces you to books that are no longer new or popular today, but stand the test of time. With a good dose of humor, and lightheartedness each essay is an absolute delightful.

4. Home
Last month I read Marilynne Robinson's novel Gilead for my Real Readers book club and absolutely fell in love with this moving story! Gilead is part of a trilogy, and Home is the second book, which tells the same story in Gilead, but from the perspective of a different character. You can see my mini review for Gilead on my Instagram account. Robinson will forevermore be an author I pick up.

5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
One that's been on my list since 2010 (according to Goodreads). I've had it recommended to me, several times. I've also been told it is very French, which I love, and discusses, philosophy, culture, Paris and language. I'd also like to see the movie after reading the book.

6. The Dream Keeper's Daughter
Another ARC provided by JKS Communications and Ballantine Books. This one deals with time travel, archeology, lost love and a plantation in 1816 Barbados during an historic slave uprising. I can't wait to get to this one, it sounds fab!

7. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Another one that's been on my list for ages. I love the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, but haven't gotten to the third in the series until now. Nordic Noir is one of my favorite genres; dark, thrilling, with lots of twists. Lisbeth Salander is also a favorite literary character; a strong, female protagonist is always fun to read about! Mysteries, crime fiction and thrillers also tend to be my go to, if I'm ever in a slump. So this will be perfect if I need a pick me up during the readathon.

8. The Moonstone
The Moonstone is the book choice for my Real Reader's book club for July. I have about 150 pages left in this classic, and have really enjoyed it thus far. It is considered the very first detective novel. A young heiress inherits a stunning diamond on her 18th birthday. Unaware that the precious gem is known as The Moonstone and has a dark history, after being stolen from a Hindu shrine. When it goes missing, divergent accounts share details, making the recovery of the diamond complex and full of twists and turns.

This may seem like quite a few books, but I wanted to make sure I had a great stack to pull from, for the full 24 hours. I'll be posting updates of my progress on Instagram, Twitter and Litsy (@catebutler). Followed by a wrap-up once the weekend is over.

There's still plenty of time to join, or even just pop in to say hello over the weekend. If you do participate, I'd love to know what you're reading. Just comment below, or let me know where you'll be posting, so I can check it out.

Cate xx

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My Statement Piece

Today marks the start of Amazon Prime Day. And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mention one of the items on sale for the next 24 hours. About a year ago JORD Watches contacted me on Instagram and asked me to review one of their watches. Since my first wear, I can honestly say, this is my favorite watch that I own, and has become MY statement piece. I wear it constantly, and can’t speak highly enough about the quality and workmanship of this craft piece. I’ve always wanted an elegant watch, that would be a treasured possession for years to come, and this Cora Koa and Rose Gold watch is breath-taking.

If you’ve been looking for a statement piece, or a high quality time piece, do take a look at JORD’S selection of wood watches. I’ve included a link below if you’re interested:

JORD Wooden Watches for Women – Cora Series Skeleton Automatic / Wood Watch Band / Wood Bezel / Self Winding Movement – Includes Wood Watch Box

I’d love to hear if you decide to purchase one, and which style you choose! 

Cate xx

Important disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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The Zookeeper’s Wife: Advanced Screening and Press Junket in NYC

Last month, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend a screening and Q&A with the actress Jessica Chastain and Director Niki Caro in NYC, for the newly released movie, The Zookeeper’s Wife (released in the U.S. March 31st).

Before attending the event, I did a little background research, and found out the film was based on the book, The Zookeeper’s Wife, written by Diana Ackerman, which was inspired by the diaries of Antonina Żabiński. She with her husband Jan, were the zookeepers at the Warsaw zoo, who in an amazing feat of heroism sheltered Jews, many rescued from the Warsaw ghettos by Jan himself, during WWII.

For the screening, I along with other bloggers and press correspondents were invited to view the film before its release, at the Dolby 88 Theatre.

As the movie played and the story unfolded, a wide range of emotions hit me. I’m not usually an overly emotional person when it comes to movie watching, but this one really pulled at my heartstrings. There are so many incredible parts in the movie that will make you smile, cry and appreciate those amazing individuals, in particular the women featured in the film. The vision and direction by Niki Caro and the performances in particular by Jessica Chastain, playing Antonina, and the young actress Shira Haas, who plays a Jewish girl named Ursula, were phenomenal.

“There are many ways that someone can be brave and strong. I think that Antonina shows that compassion is an incredible form of strength.”

JESSICA CHASTAIN

After the movie, we made our way to JW Marriot Essex House, for a round table interview with Jessica Chastain and Niki Caro. A few of my favorite questions from the Q&A were the following (please note there are spoilers below):

PRESS: Hi. I’m Krista from the New York City Talon. And you deal with a very heavy theme, with the girl who was raped by the two officers. And I was wondering if you can speak a little bit about filming that, and creating the picture, and also Jessica, about what it was like to work with the young actress.

NIKI CARO: Yeah. The character of Ursula is emblematic of all children who are hurt by war. And so as the director of this movie, I had to think very hard about what I could bring to this genre. And I recognized that it was femininity; that I could take my inspiration from Antonina, and be very soft, and very strong with this material. And so Ursula was a very, very important character, because her experience had made her animal – it’s an incredible performance, obviously; young Israeli actress called Shira Haas. And the scenes between her and Antonina are wonderful, because we see Antonina dealing with Ursula as she would with an animal – which is to say, very instinctively; not coming too close, but reassuring her that she’s there. It’s Antonina’s connection to animals that – her humanity with animals that she brings to – that she brought to her human refugees, you know. And I think that sort of unspoken trust and compassion between those two characters, and those two actresses, is a very, very special part of the movie, for me.

JESSICA CHASTAIN: I have to say I was very happy to – sorry, this is a little bit about this. But I was happy to be in a film that, for me when I watch the movie, I’m distraught about the rape of this young girl. But there’s no salacious scene that we’re forced to watch.

NIKI CARO: Um-hmm.

JESSICA CHASTAIN: And I find that in a lot of films in our industry, it’s directed in a way that it becomes this salacious thing. And it was wonderful to work with a woman who had more delicacy with that. And then, what was your question for me?

PRESS: About what was it like to work with the young actress?

JESSICA CHASTAIN: Well, Shira’s an incredible actress. And you know, I just kind of – I instinctively knew to not try to distract her in any way. You know, when we were filming that stuff, she was so in it, that I didn’t want to be like, “Hey, how was dinner tonight?” you know, and talking about things that didn’t connect to what the scene was. So I always held back. I, you know, I was there in case she needed me, or I, you know, was watching her in between takes. But I never tried to do anything that would pull her out of it.

NIKI CARO: You know, it was incredibly organic, actually, the whole – the whole movie was. But in that scene, in particular, there was a bunny. And the bunny is – really shows us the healing power of animals – that it’s a little bunny that can break through for this girl. And that’s Antonina’s gift, really, to know, you know, without words, without overt action, just what to do in that moment. And Jessica absolutely has that gift herself, as a human being. So – which really made my job very, very easy.

This storyline, involving Ursula, (which I found out later is not in the book), was the part in the movie that hit me the hardest. Knowing that this was probably a very common occurrence during WWII, is unbearable to think about. And yet, there is a part of me, after contemplating, that’s realized how important it is for us to not forget about this war. Emotional and moving films like, The Zookeeper’s Wife, help to keep these stories alive. By reading books and watching films like these, we celebrate those brave individuals in the past, in particular the many unheard voices of the women who bravely fought for a world order that was almost lost. After all is said and done, all I can say is please go see this movie; it is one that will stay with you for a very long time. This month, I’ll be reading the newly released book, with the movie tie in cover, and looking forward to comparing and contrasting the film to the book.

Synopsis: The real-life story of one working wife and mother who became a hero to hundreds during World War II. In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh of “The Broken Circle Breakdown”), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned – and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl of “Captain America: Civil War”). To fight back on their own terms, Antonina and Jan covertly begin working with the Resistance – and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.

Director: Niki Caro (“North Country,” “Whale Rider,” “McFarland, USA”)

Writer: Angela Workman (“War Bride”), based on the nonfiction book by Diane Ackerman

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton, and Daniel Brühl

Running Time: 126 minutes

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJNFeHHGGN4&index=2&list=PLE5A001DF0D0120BD&t=16s

Antonina Featurette: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2xTECtyiB8

**A very special thanks to Focus Features for the fabulous opportunity to attend the screening in NYC.**

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