Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

T is for There’s To Toms Thoreau with Taylor

The Doll (Vanessa Michael Munroe Series #3)The Doll by Taylor Stevens. Finished 4-15-14, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio read by Hillary Huber.  14 hours.

I read the first two books in this series and really liked them both, and chose to listen to this one on audio and may have liked it even better that way!

Vanessa Michael Munroe is a tough woman in a man’s world.  She makes her living finding information and selling it to businessmen who need it to make a deal.  She speaks over 20 languages which serves her well since she spends most of her time overseas, blending in with the natives wherever she goes, even passing as a man is if serves her well.  If she doesn’t find trouble first, trouble finds her.  She is enjoying some resemblance of a normal life in Dallas when she is drugged and taken to another country and thrown into the web of human trafficking.

Perfect for international thriller fans and those who like kick butt females.   This was my favorite of the series so far, but do think that if you want to read these books they are best read in order (The Informationist) (The Innocent).

Blogging from A to Z

movieThere’s Something About Mary, 1998

One of my ten ten favorite movies.  This raunchy, perfect-for-teen-boys humor is not my thing at all.  I remember feeling embarrassed at some of the crude things I laughed at when I saw it at the theater.  It was not in my comfort zone, and yet at its heart it was a love story between two characters that I loved and was rooting for the whole way.  It made me laugh and it satisfied my goofy heart.

bookTo Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I was reading this classic southern novel when we rescued a kitten and she promptly received the name Scout.  It’s a shame this was Harper Lee’s only book.

authorHenry David Thoreau

Transcendentalist writer, who was introduced to the movement by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Emerson is even the one who loaned Thoreau Walden Pond, for his two-year experiement.  Open your mind and delve in!

actorTIE! Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise

Tom Hanks is the more likeable author, but when I look at a list of both of the Toms movies I find that it’s Cruise that has been in more of my favorite movies (Collateral, A Few Good Men, Rain Man) and his role as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder stole the show.


April 23, 2014 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books, Blogging from A-Z | | 12 Comments

J is for Joaquin Judgement of Jennifer, Joyce & Jane

Blogging from A to Z

Maybe This TimeMaybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie.  Finished 4-10-14, rating 4.5/5, haunted romantic comedy, 342 pages, pub. 2010

Andie Miller wants to marry her fiancé and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband.  A very distant cousin of his has died and left him as the guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already. He needs a very special person to take care of the situation and he knows Andie can handle anything. 

When Andie meets the two children she quickly realizes things are much worse than she feared. The place is a mess, the children aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. What’s worse, Andie’s fiancé thinks this is all a plan by North to get Andie back. 

What follows is a hilarious adventure in exorcism, including a self-doubting parapsychologist, an annoyed medium, her Tarot-card reading mother, an avenging ex-mother-in-law, and, of course, her jealous fiancé. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get more complicated, North shows up on the doorstep making her wonder if maybe this time things could be different between them. 

from Goodreads

Fun, fun, fun!  I loved this romp in a haunted Ohio castle.  Crusie will have you chuckling out loud and leave you with a smile on your face. Andie is a great heroine, easy to like, and the kids are damaged enough to make her show her grit.  And that’s before the ghosts show up.  Lots of great characters, a moody castle, ghosts to sort out, a murder, and sex.  What more could you want?

I love Crusie’s writing.  Her books are always lighthearted and the canvas of characters is always colorful.


authorBrenda Joyce

I consider Joyce my go-to historical romance author.  I loved her Deadly series and consider it one of my all-time favorites (I reviewed the 9 romanctic suspense series here).  When I checked with Goodreads, I have 23 of her 50+ books marked as read.  This makes me very happy because it means I can turn to her for years to come.  A must try for historical romance readers!

bookJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This was the first work of literature that I read on my own.  I think I was trying to impress my freshman English teacher during our free reading time in class.  I did reread it sometime after college and I watched a bunch of the movie adaptations (most are pretty good).  I also saw the musical during its short stay on Broadway.  It was excellent and I was sad to see that it closed early.  Anyway, this is all to say that this classic gothic romance has it all: love, death, abuse, madness, money, power, a family made not born into, and finally, peace.

movieJudgement at Nuremberg, 1961

In 1948, four Nazis are tried for war crimes.  You can’t go wrong with this all-star cast-Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Maxmilian Schell, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland.  See the very dramati courtroom scene….


actorJoaquin Phoenix

This was a hard one.  I could have just as easily chosen Hugh Jackman (more easily actually), but if I am honest I find Joaquin so much more interesting.   Maybe it’s his bohemian childhood and the tragedy of witnessing the death of his brother, Phoenix, but he brings such heft to each of the characters he portrays.  I liked him in Walk the Line, and he was my favorite actor in Gladiator, but his latest, Her, I haven’t seen yet because the premise freaks me out a little.  Have you seen it?


April 11, 2014 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books, Blogging from A-Z | , | 9 Comments

Six Years by Harlan Coben

Six YearsSix Years. Finished 12-22-13, rating 4.5/5, thriller, 351 pages, pub. 2013

Six years have passed since Jake Sanders watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.

But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for . . . but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for more than a decade, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life – a time he has never gotten over – is turned completely inside out.

As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart – and who lied to him – soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction.

from Goodreads

I consider myself a Harlan fan, having happily read every one of his books, first falling in love with Tell No One and then the Myron series.  I find his stand-alones hit or miss but this one was one of the most enjoyable of his that I’ve read in a while. 

I liked the premise, the writing kept me turning pages and I really didn’t want to put this thriller down at all.  Jake finds himself in some crazy situations and like all of Harlan’s main characters, he can take a beating, find more clues, cheat death again, find the answer he was looking for, and still manage to come out relatively unharmed.  Considering I’m still suffering from headaches and some dizziness due to my car accident last week I think I’d like some of their durability!

This was from my personal library and I think it was one of his better standalones.

December 26, 2013 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 7 Comments

What Color is Monday: How Autism Changed One Family For the Better by Carrie Cariello

What Color Is Monday?What Color is Monday? Finished 9-25-13, rating 4.5/5, autism, 216 pages, pub. 2013

This book was sent to me months ago, and I put it on my shelf and promptly forgot all about it.  Then I read The Spark and it sparked a memory in my brain that I’d agreed to read another book by a mother of an autistic son.  I appreciated this book so much more than The Spark so I’m glad I read it after or else it might have spoiled the first one completely.

Carrie is a mom to five kids aged 3-9 and wife to a dentist super dad.  In this fast paced and amazingly upbeat book, Carrie warmly and humorously lets the reader have an inside look at life with Jack, her second son, diagnosed with autism at two.  She stresses the positives but doesn’t shy away from the day to day drain it takes on her, her kids, and her marriage.  She is not trying to cure Jack, she is trying to make him the best he can be.  From meltdowns to triumphs this book is such joy to read.  As an only child and mother to an only child I wanted to jump right into her big and loving family.

Today 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys is diagnosed with autism.  This tells one story of autism and I think that if you have anyone in your life who has been diagnosed that you should read this book, it tells the story of so many families so well.  Do it as a favor to the mother and father but also as a favor to yourself.  I think you will find yourself entertained and enlightened.  It’s an easy read that will touch your heart and probably make you want to spend a day with the Cariello clan.

I should mention that this is not a how-to book on treatments or how to navigate therapies after a diagnosis.  This book is for you to read, smile, and nod your head in agreement.  She gets it.

This book was sent to me by the publicist.

September 26, 2013 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 5 Comments

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life (Armand Gamache Series #1)Still Life. Finished 9-1-13, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 312 pages, pub. 2005

Book 1 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series.

I made a small 2013 reading list based on other blogger’s best-of lists and whether I had the book or not (here). Still Life was on Staci’s 2012 list and I can see why.  I am really anxious to get my hands on the next one on the series. Thanks for the recommendation, Staci! I’m guessing this will end up one of my favorites of the year too.

Is this is a cozy mystery? Yes, but it’s one with that thing that makes it extra special.  To me, that means it never turns into classic caricatures following the same whodunit script.  The characters were real, even if some still have their secrets.  That can only be a good thing as the series continues.

Chief Inspector Gamache is a well-respected detected up in the Montreal area.  He is caring, thoughtful, patient, insightful, a bit of a rebel, a teacher and he gets the job done.  This was not his first case, he’s been around the block a few times and I loved that it felt like I was meeting a fully developed character, not just the bare bones version that sometimes happens in the first book of a new series.

The people of Three Pines are a varied collection of characters and I was fully invested in Jane  even though she died on the first page because of the way her friends saw her.  They loved her and that made me love her. I’m actually sad that she won’t be around for the next book!

It did take me a little while to get used to the writing style.  My eyes often had to drift back or forward to figure out who was talking, but once I got it I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down until I knew who had killed Jane.  And there were no shortage of suspects, even to the very end.

Highly recommend to every mystery lover.

This was from my own library.

September 5, 2013 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | , | 16 Comments

Drift by Jon McGoran, a GMO thriller

DriftDrift. Finished 8-4-13, rating 4.5/5, thriller, 384 pages, pub. 2013

When Philadelphia narcotics detective Doyle Carrick loses his mother and step-father within weeks of each other, he gains a twenty-day suspension for unprofessional behavior and instructions to lay low at the unfamiliar house he’s inherited in rural Pennsylvania.
Feeling restless and out of place, Doyle is surprised to find himself falling for his new neighbor, Nola Watkins, who’s under pressure to sell her organic farm to a large and mysterious development company. He’s more surprised to see high-powered drug dealers driving the small-town roads—dealers his bosses don’t want to hear about.
But when the drug bust Doyle’s been pushing for goes bad and the threats against Nola turn violent, Doyle begins to discover that what’s growing in the farmland around Philadelphia is much deadlier than anything he could have imagined . . .

from Goodreads

I was excited to read this one since having a son with allergies and food sensitivities has led me to be more vigilant about the food he eats.  I am no expert, but I know enough to be worried about the food we buy and put into our bodies without a thought.  An example, I was about to buy a jar of pickles, hoping Gage would like them.  I checked the back and high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient and Yellow dye was the last.  Sigh.  I did not buy them.  Anyway, the point is that I think this is an important subject.  This book was about that a bit, but it really was about the evils far beyond a dye here or a preservative there, way more than I like to even consider even though I know it’s happening.  GMOs may seem harmless, but most don’t understand enough to be worried.  At least until after they read this book.

Doyle is a cop with more than nine lives since he used at least that many while on this suspension from his job.  His spidey senses knew something was going on in the farming community where his mother and stepmother left him their house.  They also left him a junkie boarder, but that was only one of Doyle’s many problems.  The local sheriff had it out for him as did the local thugs and he did have a funeral to get through, so why not take the time to develop a crush on the organic farmer across the road?  He was a busy man.

This is a first-rate thriller.  Yes, you may have to suspend your disbelief here and there and I wish that Doyle had have had a little more retrospect as the dead bodies piled up at his hands, BUT I was never bored and was always engaged.  I can actually see a series started here although I don’t know if that’s what McGoran has in mind.  I’ve seen a few compare Doyle to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and while I get the comparison Doyle is still a cop, not a renegade.  But the dead bodies do seem to follow both characters.

Highly recommend.

I am a happy participant in this TLC Book Tour :)  Check out what other bloggers have to say about this eco-thriller. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 14 Comments

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman, no sophomore slump here

Looking for MeLooking for Me. Finished 5-19-13, rating 4.5/5, 354 pages, ON SALE MAY 28, 2013

I was a little hesitant when author Beth Hoffman offered to send me her new book.  I loved her first, Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt, so much and I’ve also grown to be a fan of Beth Hoffman the person, so I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t like it, if I would be disappointed.  I needn’t have worried since Teddi, while not quite as endearing to me as Cee Cee, is great heroine.

Teddi grew up on a Kentucky farm with her parents, brother, and grandmother.  She was close to her loving father and her nature loving brother, but her relationship with her mother was prickly on a good day.  Especially after Teddi takes off after graduation and her brother goes missing.  Teddi makes a life in Charleston restoring furniture, but she is always drawn home where her brother’s disappearance still haunts her.

Teddi was refreshing.  She knew what she wanted to do from a young age and went after it, and in the process found a new family for herself.  I loved the fact that she was so determined in her goal to own an antique shop and she wasn’t distracted.  She was a successful woman who didn’t lament the lack of a man in her life, instead she lamented the fact that she was so happy without one.  Like most women, the relationship with her mother was a central to her life, and wanting to make her proud was something Teddi was hoping for. That storyline was such a strong one for me and I was rooting for Teddi and her mother.  As for her brother, he was an odd duck and I had a hard time loving him as much as Teddi, but he had a sweet relationship with his sister.

Beth Hoffman knows how to make me feel the southern atmosphere which is no small feat since she grew up not far from where I am in northeast Ohio.  I am especially grateful for her Buckeye roots since that means she always makes a stop here and I will get to see her on June 1st.  I had such a blast meeting her on the last book tour with fellow blogger Bonnie.  Beth is such a warm soul and I think this book showcases that.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 21 Comments

You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon, breaking my ban on short stories

You Know When the Men Are GoneYou Know When the Men Are Gone. Finished 3-19-13, rating 4.5/5, fiction short stories, 226 pages, pub. 2011

I read this because it was on JoAnn’s year end favorite list in December and I had it on my shelf.  I don’t often read short stories, so how this one ended up in my library is a mystery, but I’m so glad that it did and even happier that JoAnn loved and recommended it.  This may mean more short story collections in my future.

The stories-

1.You Know When the Men Are Gone, a married woman who is awaiting the homecoming of her husband feels drawn to life of her neighbor and children. My least favorite.

2. Camp Liberty, probably my favorite, the story of a deployed soldier who has a hard time reconciling life back home with the one he is living in Iraq.

3. Remission, a mom’s two kids go missing on base.

4. Inside the Break, a wife discovers her husband’s infidelity while he’s deployed.

5. The Last Stand, this one is a heartbreaker. A soldier returns home after being wounded in Iraq and spending months recovering at Walter Reed.

6. Leave, creepy story of a soldier sneaking home on leave to see if his wife is cheating.

7. You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming, a new mom dealing with her husband’s ager after returning home.

8. Gold Star, a widower’s life on base after her husband is killed.

These stories are a gritty look, at the reality of what most of us will never have to face.  Although I finished this book with a heavy heart  I thought it was a book full if incredible insight.  I gained a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices of the enlisted men and their families.  Fallon speaks from experience and her concise writing engaged me.  Surprsingly, I loved this one.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 28 Comments

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen, just what I needed

The Girl Who Chased the MoonThe Girl Who Chased the Moon. Finished 1-29-13, rating 4.5/5, magical realism, 269 pages, pub. 2010

Something suddenly caught her eye. She quickly stepped to the balustrade.  She thought she saw something in the woodline beyond the gazebo in the overgrown backyard.

There! There is was again. It was a bright white light-a quick, zippy flash-darting between the trees. Gradually, the light faded, moving back into the darkness of the wood until it disappeared completely.

Welcome to Mullaby, North Carolina, she thought. Home of ghost lights, giants, and jewelry thieves.

Chapter One

Emily recently lost her mother, the only family she has ever known, and is shipped off to her grandfather in North Carolina.  Julia is from Mullaby but left as a teenager only to return as an adult after her father died.  Both plan on  being there for  short time, but both find themselves with reasons to stay in the quaint, close-knit town full of secrets and charm.

I loved Allen’s first book Garden Spells and found myself almost as enchanted with this quirky and magical tale of lost love and the trials of growing up.  She has a talent for making stories that are light and still satisfying.  Oh, and romantic.  Emily and Julia both found men to appreciate them even when they didn’t want to be appreciated.  Julia’s story of her teen years carried the novel for me and I was happy to see her get her happy ending (this is Sarah Addison Allen so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that).

I like magical realism, especially when done well, and need to read more.  Let me know if you have a favorite.

This was from my personal library and I decided to read it after I saw it on Carrie’s 2012 favorites list.

January 30, 2013 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | , | 17 Comments

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Series #1)In the Woods. Finished 12-26-12, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 464 pages, pub. 2007

Book 1 in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

from Goodreads

Ryan narrates the book with humor and enough foreshadowing to keep you reading well past bedtime (at least it did for me).  He has his problems.  At the best of times he’s cool and fun, at the worst he’s a real piece of work who I wanted to pour a beer on.  He’s best friends with his partner, Cassie, and their brother-sister relationship was one to be envied, by their fellow detectives and the reader.  I loved Cassie.  Loved her more than Rob, especially by the end.

The old mystery of what happens to Rob as a child and the new case of who killed little Katy have a few pieces of connecting evidence and Rob is stuck in the middle of his own hell, one he stepped into willingly.  The mystery was very good, if not totally surprising.  I loved the characters and the history of the village.  French did an excellent job of making me feel right at home in Dublin.  Now I need to visit!

I really, really liked this one.  Yes, by the end I was fairly disgusted with Rob, but I am so looking forward to reading the next of this series.  I know that a lot of bloggers were upset by the loose ends but I was okay with it.  But that could have been because I was expecting it, who knows?

I bought this for my Nook and if any other Nookster wants to borrow it for 2 weeks, let me know!

December 28, 2012 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 13 Comments


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