Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Old School Quiz

When I first started doing quizzes in 2009 I focused on classics so for this first quiz of the new round of quizzes (please join in!) I thought I’d go back to the Classics.  I’ll be giving you a one sentence review (I’m using the Webster’s Dictionary of American Authors) of past Pulitzer Prize winners and since it’s the first quiz of the round I’ll even give you the choices with the year they won the Pulitzer.  Leave your answers in a comment.

No Googling or looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system :)  Play every week or just one time, you are always welcome :)  It only takes once to be eligible for a prize. 

Titles-The Age of Innocence (1921), All the King’s Men (1947), Beloved (1988), The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1928), The Confessions of Nat Turner (1968), The Good Earth (1932), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Old Man and the Sea (1953), To Kill A Mockingbird (1961), The Yearling (1939)

1. It concerns an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago who finally catches a magnificent fish after weeks of not catching anything.

2. The work presents a picture of upper-class New York Society in the late 19th century.

3. It takes place in a small Alabama town in the 1930’s and is told from the point of view of six-year-old Jean Louise Finch.

4. The story concerns the rise and fall of Willie Stark, a character modeled on Huey Long, the governor of Louisiana during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s

5. A fictional account of the Virginia slave revolt of 1831, the novel is narrated by the leader of the rebellion.

6. Set in the backwoods of northern Florida, the story concerns the relationship between 12-year-old Jody Baxter and Flag, the fawn he adopts.

7. The plot centers on five travelers in 18th century Peru who are killed when a bridge across a canyon collapses.

8. The work examines the destructive legacy of slavery, as it chronicles the life of a black woman named Sethe.

9. Set during the Great Depression, it traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships as migrant farm workers.

10. [It] follows the life of Wang Lung, from his beginnings as an impoverished peasant to his eventual position as a prosperous landowner.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

fpoThe Space Between Us. Finished 9-29-15, rating 4.75/5. fiction, 321 pages, pub. 2005

Unabridged audio read by Purva Bedi. 12.25 hours.

Poignant, evocative, and unforgettable, The Space Between Us is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A powerful and perceptive literary masterwork, author Thrity Umrigar’s extraordinary novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.

from Goodreads

This is a tough one to review because I have such mixed emotions about the book.  I’ll start with where I picked it up, at a 2012 book signing the first time I met Thrity and thought she was smart and engaging.  So, it makes sense that I’m only reading my first book by her over three years later, right?  Sadly, it seems par for the course for me these days.  As I make more of an effort to read what I already have on my shelf I often start with the audio and pick up the book if the time allows.  This was such a perfect choice with this book.  For almost two years Gage had a play date/social group every week with Advi and during these two hours I got to know his mom, who is a doctor from India.  This group stopped meeting in August and listening to this perfectly read audio made me miss her.  The accents were uncanny in their similarity.  Anyway, this led to warm and fuzzy feelings about the narrator, Purdi Bedi and I resisted picking up the book just so I could listen to the whole thing.

This beautiful look at Bombay’s unforgiving class issues was at times slow, but always had me wanting to hear more.  Bhima, living in the slums with her pregnant granddaughter, was all old-school subservience.  Sera, living in comfort with her pregnant daughter and son-in-law, while more advanced than her friends, still harbored feelings of superiority toward Bhima even after all of their years and trials together.  The stark contrast of their living circumstances and intimacy of their working relationship lend both women to question where loyalty and friendship end and the status quo remains.  I wish Dinaz, the bright light for most of this story, could have provided a much-needed shot of happiness, but in the end, no one is unscathed.

The gritty reality of Bombay became almost another character.  I was there, thanks to Umrigar.  The city, the issues concerning women, friendship, class, and how you deal with heartbreak, all combine to make this story completely satisfying.  I wish there had been different fates for some, but that’s because I want everyone to have a happy ending.

Quality storytelling in the alluring city of Bombay is why  I loved this one so much.

October 6, 2015 Posted by | 5 Star Books | | 3 Comments

Traveling the States with Gage- Hawaii

Hawaii: The Aloha StateExploring the States:Hawaii, the Aloha State

Gage has always had a soft spot for Hawaii, who doesn’t?  We started by reading through the book and then I chose some  5-10 minute activities over the next week.  My goal is really just two activities for each of the three days and then a book or two.

  1. He traced the state map and marked the capital.
  2. He made this very cool state flag out of colored tape. I did the rough cutting ahead of time and then he had to use the picture from the book to recreate it.
hawaii flagIMG_4071hawaiiflag2
3. I wanted to make a lei, but decided instead that we would learn about deconstructing.  So, we deconstructed a lei and tried to put it back together again. Well, the joke was on me because the wire they used was way too hard for 4-year-old hands to work with, so I had to come up with an alternate plan the next day.  We used pipe cleaners because that’s what we had.  He really didn’t like this activity and even with me helping him it was a struggle to finish – not  that you can tell from the ‘after’ pic!
4. And, of course, no Hawaii project would be fun without making a volcano!
(we used 2/3 cup water, 3-4 TB baking soda, 1 tsp dish soap, paint to color and stir.  Add 1 cup of vinegar to erupt)
5. Dog-of-the-Sea-WavesDog-of-the-Sea-Waves by James Rumford was a great book on the settling of Hawaii.  Although fictional, the story of the brothers, Hoku, Na’ale, Opua, Makani and Manu featured animals unique to Hawaii on every page and a story that could have taken place. The Polynesian brothers explored and Manu found a friend in the Monk Seal and his friend would eventually save his life. There are scary parts but everything is okay in the end. Loved this book and it’s sure to please animal lovers.  It even told the story in Hawaiin at the end, provided a glossary of all of the animals in the book and the story of the Islands.  40 pages.

Keep sending me ideas for your state – especially book ideas!

Our Arizona activitiesIndiana activities.  Michigan activities. Ohio activities. Pennsylvania activities. West Virginia activities.

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

October is the bestest month of the year

Oh, how I love October in Ohio.  The leaves change color, the air turns crisp, and sweaters and jeans are brought to the front of the closet.  But there are a few other very important reasons that October is the jam.  On the 11th, since the day I was born people celebrated ME!!  Woo Hoo! I have my own day.  And then 27 years later on the 17th I married the greatest guy and people came out to celebrate then too.  And, of course, the love of my life was born on the 19th to much fanfare by the family who loves him.  It is a month of celebration around here! I already have 15 kids rsvp’d for Gage’s party and the only reason I’m not freaking out is that we’re having it somewhere else ;)

These are the things that were happening the week I was born.  Wanna take a guess on how old I’ll be this month?

The French Connection with Gene Hackman was the #1 movie in theaters.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was atop the New York Bestseller list.

The #1 album was Every Picture Tells a Story by Rod Stewart and the #1 song was Maggie May from the album.

Ike and Tina Turner were on the cover of Rolling Stone.

What year do you think I was born?  There’s a small prize in it for the first person who guesses correctly :)

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

September’s Movies & $ for charity

I caught a few old movies on TV as I’ve been cleaning and decluttering this month. The movie Straight Outta Compton was good but I question its complete accuracy since the men who it’s about are also the producers and they all came off looking just like they wanted to.  Hope to see some better movies in October!

Another month and another chance to contribute money to charity.  Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity.  Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity.  Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $9.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to participate when you can each month.  It’s fun for me and for everyone else who reads it.  I’m not looking for a critical review, just a few words about how you felt about the movie.  This is ongoing so you can leave your 5 words anytime.

Straight Outta Compton poster.jpgStraight Outta Compton, 2015 (Cast-Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Paul Giamatti, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge)          Grade B

Compelling tale of hip hop.

Runaway Bride.jpgRunaway Bride, 1999 (Cast-Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack, Rita Wilson)   Grade B

Love the Gere-Roberts chemistry.

A Walk in the Woods Poster.jpgA Walk in the Woods, 2015 (Cast-Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen)   Grade C+

Quiet, meandering oldies road trip.

Terminator1984movieposter.jpgThe Terminator, 1984 (Cast-Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn) Grade C

Future killer will be back.

Liked Arnold – loved Michael Biehn!   (Kay)

Just friends.jpgJust Friends, 2005 (Cast-Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Christopher Marquette)    Grade D

A jerk, skinny or heavy.

September 30, 2015 Posted by | 5 Word Movie Reviews | | 4 Comments

Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb

fpoBest Boy. Finished 9-25-15, rating 4.5/5, fiction, 246 pages, pub. 2015

Sent to a “therapeutic community” for autism at the age of eleven, Todd Aaron, now in his fifties, is the “Old Fox” of Payton LivingCenter. A joyous man who rereads the encyclopedia compulsively, he is unnerved by the sudden arrivals of a menacing new staffer and a disruptive, brain-injured roommate. His equilibrium is further worsened by Martine, a one-eyed new resident who has romantic intentions and convinces him to go off his meds to feel “normal” again. Undone by these pressures, Todd attempts an escape to return “home” to his younger brother and to a childhood that now inhabits only his dreams.    from Goodreads

Okay, let’s start with the ways that this book was a difficult read for me. Autism communities, like the one in the book, are both reassuring and frightening for a parent. I know someone who works at a community home, similar but on a much smaller scale, and he said because of the pay the staff turnover was high and the quality of employees was sometimes so bad that the residents were robbed of the money their families sent.  This is something I pray about every night, Gage’s independence. But the surprising thing for me was how hard I was hit by Todd’s love for his dead mother. Todd still needed his mother and she had been the only one who really looked out for his best interests, so I shed a few tears at those points of the book that I’m sure wouldn’t affect someone else the same way. I need to live forever, guys!

To the story, I love that this was told from Todd’s first person perspective.  Todd is a higher functioning man in his 50’s and this is not a character I’ve seen before.  Todd loves his routine, oldies music and to be helpful. He works around the center and even goes to the local school to help serve lunch.  But Todd’s routine was disrupted by a hateful roommate, a girl who makes him ‘have wind in his pants’, and new staffer who uses Todd to cover for his extracurricular activities.  Those three people leave Todd unsettled and wanting to return home to his brother so he does something drastic.

Gottlieb, whose autistic brother lives in a community not unlike Todd, gets the voice just right. Every person on the spectrum is different, with different abilities, but Todd is a fair representation of many of the commonalities of those on the spectrum.  I enjoyed my time with Todd even it was tinged with apprehension.  If you’ve never spent time with an adult on the autism spectrum then I think this book would give a great perspective with a great story too.  The end was very satisfying and left Todd and the reader in a good place.

Thanks for sending me a copy Golda!  I also enjoyed meeting the author when he was on tour last month and he wrote this article  in the Washington Post about his real life experiences with his 57 year old brother.  I highly recommend it.

September 29, 2015 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | , | 3 Comments

Sundays with Gage – a new era

Gage started all day Pre-K last month, 6.5 hours 4 days a week, and he is doing well.  He has one class in the morning and one in the afternoon, so two different teachers and friends, and he seems to have adjusted.  He loves eating lunch in the cafeteria with the big kids and has even managed to embrace ‘rest time’ on his cot, a thing I cannot even picture since he has not had a nap in well over a year (oh how I miss those naps!).  He is learning to draw new  things and his morning class even cooks once a week, usually something that Gage can’t eat.  The food is the bane of my existence right now.  I have to send in snack for both classes and send his lunch and if I want him to be able to cook I have to send in alternative ingredients.  I admit I’ve been grumbling about them cooking in class, but he has turned into my little helper at dinnertime, always wanting to help me with a recipe, so I should probably quiet the complaints.

So what have I been doing?  The first week I cleaned house and waited for a call from the teacher to come pick up Gage… which reminds me of a funny story I have to share. During the third week I went to pick him up and kids were filing out of the school with their class and the alarm was ringing.  After 10 minutes I finally went and found a teacher and asked what was going on. She said they weren’t allowed back into the building until the firemen had come and checked the building and turned off the alarm and then she said the words that had been what kept me close to the phone that first week.  She said that it had been the second time that day that a student had pulled the fire alarm.  I nervously laughed and said, “I hope it wasn’t my kid.”  She said the first kid had been sent home – I later find out it’s Gage’s friend from his morning class. LOL.  I never did find out who the second kid was but as long as they didn’t catch my kid I’m good.  He still thinks it’s funny that his friend pulled the alarm. I would be more worried about this if I didn’t know that he hates the piercing sound.

As Gage has gotten more comfortable at school, I have easily adjusted to my free time.  That second week I think I came home and took a nap every day. I’ve started decluttering the house, cooking new recipes (none of which Gage really likes), and planned play dates for me and for Gage :)  To put it simply, I am in a very good place.  I feel more relaxed and myself than I have since before Gage was born.  I can credit Gage’s school for much of my comfort.  Some of these aides or class therapists have known Gage for over two years now.  He is in very good hands and I get to let my body decompress.  I think I am going to like this school thing!

A few pics of this first month of the school era

IMG_4112First day of school!IMG_4253His OT intern left after 4 months :)IMG_4305We’ve had a few playdates.IMG_4149And he’s still loving horseback riding!

September 27, 2015 Posted by | Gage | | 6 Comments

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

The Homecoming of Samuel LakeThe Homecoming of Samuel Lake. Finished 9-3-15, rating 5/5, southern fiction,344 pages, pub. 2011

Unabridged audio read beautifully by Catherine Taber. 10 hours, 30 minutes

Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at “the old home place,” a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. The children embrace the reunion as a welcome escape from the prying eyes of their father’s congregation; for Willadee it’s a precious opportunity to spend time with her mother and father, Calla and John.

Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, who soon captures Swan’s undivided attention. Full of righteous anger, and innocent of the peril facing her and those she loves, Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.           from Goodreads

In 2012 I won this book from the gushing Lisa at Southern Girl Reads and it finally made it to the top of my reading list. Why, oh why, do I wait so long to read the books I win because the blogger loves them so much? (take heart Lloyd, The Language of Flowers will be coming to the top of my reading pile soon  :))  I started listening to this because that is how much of my reading happens these days, but there were times that I had to pick up the book and read ahead because I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.  This is Southern fiction at its best and it’s a debut novel too.

I know that the synopsis from Goodreads focuses on Swan, but I fell in love with this entire family.  Set in 1950’s Arkansas it brings to life a simpler, yet harsher time.  A time when playing in the woods with your siblings filled the days and men being able to put food on the table made them worry at night.  It was a coming of age summer for Swan, her brothers, and neighbor Blade, but even the adults went through a metamorphoses. Swan will win your heart with her spirit, but so will Toy, probably my favorite character.  He was the solid and intimidating uncle who was known for killing a man and getting away with it and the kids loved him.  Samuel, the preacher without a church, spent much of the book as peripheral character for me, one I didn’t understand much until he too became as sympathetic as Toy.

There was not a false word in this book. It was honesty infused in warmth and it made me smile and it broke my heart.  If you like Southern fiction you cannot go wrong with this book.  This is not the type of story I usually pass on to my husband, but I did because it is sure to be a favorite at the end of the year and he loved it too.  One night he even quoted from it while making a joke.  That alone should be recommendation enough :)


September 24, 2015 Posted by | 5 Star Books | , | 9 Comments

Postcrossing Train

IMG_4294At the beginning of the year I started requesting train postcards and people I’ve never met from around the world came through.  I couldn’t even get all 37 of the cards in the picture!  I still get cards that I like (trees and someone sent me a beautiful one of wine glasses yesterday) but Gage LOVES to check the mailbox everyday for train cards. That Thomas box in the picture is here he keeps them now, but I’m looking for a way to showcase them.  It’s a great way to talk about different places and to use our globe.

I’ve received a total of 306 postcards from around the world in the 2+ years I’ve been a member of Postcrossing.  AND as you will see a few fellow book bloggers made Gage’s day too, Mouse alone has sent 4. I wish we could get those two together for a playdate :)  Let’s take a closer look at Gage’s train…


1-Minnesota, 2-Mouse from California, 3-Germany, 4-Finland, 5-Mouse from California, 6-Connecticut, 7-Taiwan


8-from Grandma& Grandpa, 9-Taiwan, 10-England, 11-Netherlands, 12-Germany, 13-Australia, 14-Germany, 15-Canada


16-Great Britain, 17-Russia, 18-California, 19-Germany, 20-Pennsylvania, 21-Germany, 22-Minnesota


23-Taiwan, 24-Finland, 25-Kay in Texas, 26-Pennsylvania, 27-Mouse from California, 28-Netherlands


29-Latvia, 30-Japan, 31-Mouse from California, 32-California, 33-Ohio, 34-Germany


35-Taiwan, 36-Canada, 37-Virginia

Do you have a favorite?  My two favorites are 11 & 14.  If you are out and about and see a train postcard I hope you’ll consider putting it in the mail for Gage!  Which reminds me that we need to get something in the mail for Mouse :)

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

A winner and a quiz update

Gage started school three weeks ago and I thought all the extra time would allow me to get back into the blogging groove, but that hasn’t happened yet. I have high hope that I’ll get into a rhythm soon.  Until then I can’t stress out about Wednesday Quizzes.  They WILL be back but probably in October.

And I have a winner to announce. I have a signed ARC Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb.  The winner is……


Congratulations, Vicki.  It will be in the mail soon :)

September 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments


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