A GIVEAWAY you won’t want to miss!

Last night I had the pleasure of taking my mom to a “Meet the Author” event at a local library where we ran into a friend who was also there with her mother! Both of us have children on the autism spectrum and were there to hear Eli Gottlieb talk about his just released book, Best Boy.

Best Boy is written from the voice of Todd, a 50-something autistic man who lives in a group facility and has since he was eleven.  He misses his mother (these have been emotional points for me so far) and just wants to go home. Both of his parents are gone and his brother who lives far away has responsibility for his care.  Todd is straightforward, loves the encyclopedia, and likes routine.

This book has received rave reviews and it was released last week. Eli read two chapters from the book and then opened the floor for questions.  Here are a few of the things I found interesting…

*his older brother is autistic and Eli is his guardian.  While the character of Todd was high functioning, his brother is not and he does not consider this a memoir.  He doesn’t even want to say it’s an accurate representation of autism (and a passionate parent asked), instead he sees it as a sympathetic work that is an emotional journey for the reader.

*when asked if he resented his brother growing up he responded with, “how could you not? he absorbed all the oxygen in the room.”  He was brokenhearted and angry and writing was his outlet.  This was the part that my friend and I talked about afterward.  She was sitting there, a mother of three, listening to the reality of sibling angst and I was sitting there wondering who is going to be looking out for my guy when I’m gone.  There is no perfect answer and Eli didn’t attempt to give one.

*this took 3 1/2 years to write although the voice was there for as long as he could remember. It left him psychologically exhausted to live inside Todd’s head for that long.  When asked about how he writes he said that he is disorganized with no blueprint or notes and he is in the dark, linking one sentence to the next until an arc emerges.

*His brother, who inspired the character of Todd, will be featured in a New York Times op-ed this week or next.

Okay, so my friend sent me an ARC of the book that I’ve been carrying around in my purse for at least a week (I’m halfway through) and I had Eli sign it tonight to give to one of you!


Sound good?  All you need to do is tell me you want it in a comment.  Please include an email address so that I can easily reach you if you win.  Open internationally.

It would be cool if you included how autism has touched your life, if at all.

I’ll draw a winner in 2 weeks, the week of September 14th.

Mary Doria Russell book talk and My own reading habits

This week I was able to hear local author, Mary Doria Russell, speak at the Orange library and catch up with an old friend from my Washington DC days.  Amy Preneta's photo.Mary is a hoot and I hope you all take a look at her schedule and plan to hear her speak about her latest book, Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral.  I last heard her speak in 2008 and she did an email interview with me on this blog in 2009 (parts 1 & 2).  Many bloggers love her first novel, The Sparrow and its follow-up, Children of God (actually my friend Amy and I read Sparrow together in the same DC book group!).  She wrote those two sci-fi novels and has been writing historical fiction ever since.

I will go out on a limb and say that even if you have zero interest in Doc Holiday or the shootout at the OK Corral, you will want to read them after hearing Mary’s passionate talk and response to these men and their stories (especially Doc who is still her favorite character).  I admit that I know, well knew, nothing about the OK Corral but I am very excited to read both Doc and Epitaph with Jason.  She knows her stuff and she has me interested in the OK Corral because she told us that it was about gun control.  Sound relevant?  As a cop’s daughter she was able to see these men for what they were warts and all, even making many connections with stories of today.

I’m so glad that I was able to hear her speak again and I hope you can find a tour stop where you can too!

imagesI’ve been tagged by Vicki at I’d Rather Be At the Beach to answer some questions about my reading habits.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?  Not really.  Our front room is great for natural light during the day and I have been known on occasion to take a book into the hot tub with me :)

Bookmark or random piece of paper?  I have a basket of random bookmarks on my desk so I will usually use those, but in a pinch any piece of paper or wrapper will do.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?  My reading time is ruled by a 4 year old so stopping at the end of a chapter seems like pointless goal :)

Do you eat or drink while reading?  One or the other for sure.  A glass of tea or wine in the evening with or without Skinny Pop usually does the trick.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?  I don’t need either but both are fine – unless it’s a show I’m halfway interested in and then the book usually loses.  But I have so little tv or reading time that this seems like a moot point really.

One book at a time or several at once?  I never thought I had ADHD but my reading seems to point in that direction (and I say this with love since I have a son who is most likely ADHD).  I always have 2-5 books going at once.  If one really grabs me I will lose the others until I finish it.

Reading at home or everywhere? I read pretty much everyone, most often while I’m waiting for Gage at different activities or when I happen to be in the car by myself.  I’ve also been known to read books in line at Chipotle because we have the slowest Chipotle in the country.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?  Do people really read out loud?

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?  I don’t skip pages but I have read the last page on occasion.  It used to be all the time but now it’s only if not knowing what will happen is causing me stress.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?  Breaking the spine is okay and sometimes the only way to enjoy reading a paperback.

Do you write in your books?  Depends.  In college we were told to teach active learning so writing in books was encouraged.  I have some classics and non fiction that have received some active learning :)

If you thought these questions were fun I hope you will consider yourself tagged!

An afternoon with D.M. Pulley, winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

IMG_2606[1]I’ve always tried to attend author signings in the area but timing is a struggle.  I decided to make more of an effort because I always enjoy them and I like to support the local book scene (yes, Cleveland has a book scene ;)).  The Cuyahoga Public Library system is so good at bringing authors in to the libraries and last week I visited a branch 15 minutes away because I needed the time to myself (I could make up a better reason but honesty is okay here, right?) AND the local mystery-thriller looked just up my alley.

I haven’t read The Dead Key BUT D.M. Pulley (pen name) was so delightful at her first author talk that I am really looking forward to starting the book.  I’m not sure how many people were there.  When I sat down there were maybe 35 but who knows how many filtered in after that.  She was so outgoing, well-spoken, and prepared that the audience was charmed.  I heard more that one attendee say that it way the best author talk they had attended.  Hm, a few highlights?

*She beat out 10,000 other writers for the top Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  The book took 8 months to write and almost 4 years to edit.  She was at her uncle’s funeral when she found out she had won, surrounded by family.

dm pulley*She graduated from Case Western Reserve University and went to work as an engineer, but she didn’t fit in with the culture at  work.  Her slides were fun :)

*She then went into forensic engineering, historical preservation. She showed some photos of her hanging from the highest buildings in Cleveland and I was impressed and frightened.  My fear of high open spaces made me antsy just seeing them on-screen.  She’s a gutsy woman with a very cool job.

*The book is based on her experience at an abandoned bank in downtown Cleveland.  When she got to see the basement vault in 2001 there were safety deposit boxes, both hanging open and locked shut, and this was the spark that led her to write the book after having her second child.

*After she won the Amazon contest she was contacted by a local photographer who had taked pictures of the vault before renovation.  One of those pictures was used for the cover and another is the one that Pulley said looked like what had been living in her mind all those years. A story waiting to be told.dm 3

*You can see pictures and more about the idea for the book here and see a short interview with her on the local news here.

IMG_2614[1]I am really looking forward to reading the book and would highly recommend seeing her in person if you can. She’s smart woman who appreciates the opportunity she’s been given.  Her local appearances are here but here’s the NPR link if you can’t make it to one.

So, has anyone read it yet?

Mailbox Monday – November 3- with a giveaway!

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.  

Nothing arrived via mailbox this week but on Saturday I attended the 27th annual Buckeye Book Fair.  It was an hour drive but I considered it a personal date and enjoyed my excursion without pickups or meal planning or swim lessons for the little man.  It was bit overwhelming at first because it was so crowded, but then I took a deep breath and dove right in.  There were many well-known authors and lots I’d never heard of. It was tough talking to an author and looking at their books and then deciding not to purchase, but I could only justify so many books!!  Read or skip to the end to see what signed book I’m giving away!

I was really there thanks to author Emilie Richards since she mentioned it on Facebook last week and so I made sure to find her.  She was so nice in person, even insisting on a photo with the two of us. I’m a fan and am working my way through her books.  I purchased Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, the second in the Goddesses Anonymous series.

emilie IMG_1150

Cristy Haviland served eight months in prison, giving birth behind bars to the child of the man who put her there and might yet destroy her. Now she’s free again, but what does that mean? As smart as she is, a learning disability has kept her from learning to read. And that’s the least of her hurdles.

Georgia Ferguson, talented educator, receives a mysterious charm bracelet that may help her find the mother who abandoned her at birth. Does she want to follow the clues, and if she does, can reticent Georgia reach out for help along the way?

Both women are standing at a crossroads, a place where unlikely unions can be formed. A place where two very different women might bridge the gap between generations and education, and together make tough choices.

Next up is the one I chose by the cover alone because I loved it so much. Ghosting by Edith Pattou.  She even gave me a paper crane she had made herself.  Gage loves it :)

IMG_1148  edith

On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.

I stopped to chat with Shelley Costa because I had seen this title around and I wanted to tell her how clever I thought it was.  We chatted  few minutes and I learned that she lives in the next town (where I would love to live if we ever moved again) so I had to buy it, the first in a series, You Cannoli Die Once.


At Miracolo Northern Italian restaurant, one can savor brilliantly seasoned veal saltimbocca, or luscious risotto alla milanese, but no cannoli. Never cannoli. Maria Pia Angelotta, the spirited seventy-six-year-old owner of the Philadelphia-area eatery that’s been in her family for four generations, has butted heads with her head chef over the cannoli ban more than once. And when the head chef is your own granddaughter, things can get a little heated.

Fortunately, Eve Angelotta knows how to handle what her nonna dishes out. But when Maria Pia’s boyfriend is found dead in Miracolo’s kitchen, bludgeoned by a marble mortar, the question arises: Can a woman this fiery and stubborn over cream-filled pastry be capable of murder?


My next two purchases were by authors I didn’t know but something about the books made me want to give them a try.  Fourth Down and Out by Andrew Welsh-Huggins is about a disgraced Ohio State quarterback who lives in Columbus and since this is football season I had to have it.  The second is what happens to us as the world runs out of water.


Fourth Down and Out by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

The job seems easy enough at first for private investigator Andy Hayes: save his client’s reputation by retrieving a laptop and erasing a troublesome video from its hard drive. But that’s before someone breaks into Andy’s apartment in Columbus; before someone else, armed with a shotgun, relieves him of the laptop; and before the FBI suddenly shows up on his doorstep asking questions.

Soon, there’s a growing list of people with a claim on the computer, all of them with secrets they don’t want uncovered. When one of those people ends up dead, Andy has his hands full convincing authorities he’s not responsible, while trying to figure out who is—and who’s got the laptop—before someone else dies. Soon the trail leads to the last place Andy wants to go: back to Ohio State University, where few have forgiven him for a mistake he made two decades earlier in his days as the Buckeyes’ star quarterback. That misjudgment sent him on a downward spiral that cost him a playing career, two marriages, several wrecked relationships, and above all his legacy in Ohio’s capital city, where the fortunes of the OSU team are never far from people’s minds.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

Two for Gage.


Whose Egg is This? by Lisa Amstutz

Eggs come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some eggs are hard. Other eggs are soft. Can you match each egg to its owner? Fun clues and multiple choice photos will have you puzzling to learn more!

The Giant of Seville:A “Tall” Tale Based on a True Story by Dan Andreasen

In the 1870s, a circus giant named Captain Martin Van Buren Bates left the circus and set off to find a town where he and his wife (also a circus giant) could live in peace. Captain Bates happened on Seville, Ohio, a sleepy little town that charmed him from the moment he arrived and welcomed him with open arms.


I picked up a book signed by Thrity Umrigar to give away.  I’ve heard her speak and have several of her books already so I wanted to give you the chance to experience a respected Ohio author for free. She lives up in the Cleveland area just like me!  This is not a new book but I chose it because I think most of you will like it.


First Darling of the Morning:Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity Umrigar

First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu city; of a guilt-ridden stranger in her own land, an affluent child in a country mired in abysmal poverty. She reveals intimate secrets and offers an unflinching look at family issues once considered unspeakable as she interweaves two fascinating coming-of-age stories—one of a small child, and one of a nation.

In addition, author Duffy Brown graciously contributed a great canvas bag highlighting her new series set on Mackinac Island, Geared for the Grave.

I’ll draw a winner on November 25 so I can get it mailed before Thanksgiving.  It would make  great Christmas gift for yourself or someone else :)  Open internationally.

Wanna win?  Just tell me so in your comment and leave an email address. Good luck!



An evening with Taylor Stevens, author of the Michael Munroe series

Over the last 13 years I have grown fond of living in the Cleveland area.  We have a great lake, we have an outstanding park system, our suburban schools are excellent, the cost of living can’t be beat, we have the best medical hospitals at our beck and call…I could go on and on.  But one thing we don’t have an abundance of is bestselling authors popping in on tour.  I was lucky to see Beth Hoffman a few weeks ago and tonight I had to make a choice between bestselling authors.  Can you believe it?  Janet Evanovich and Taylor Stevens were speaking half an hour apart and as much as I tried to make the math problem work I knew I’d have to choose.  Taylor made it easy for me by inviting those on her email list to join her at TGIFridays from 5-6:30 before going to the library to speak from 7-8:30.

This was my second time meeting Taylor, the first time at Bouchercon last October, but this time I got to hear her speak so I was able to learn more about her growing up all over the world in a cult.  If you want to learn more that life you can read the second book in the series (The Innocent), a book Taylor calls a thrillerized version of her life. “If it’s in that book, it happened, yes.”  I admit that I still have to read this one, but it has moved to the top of my list. Here are a few pics from the evening.


taylor1 taylor2 taylor3

If you get a chance to see Taylor speak you should take advantage of it.  She is so open and really enjoys talking to people and sharing her experience with you.  If you don’t have to opportunity to see her in person you should sign up for her email list.  She shares publishing secrets and gives a lot of insight into how the industry operates.  Sign up for her email list here.  I had a fantastic evening and am so happy that I chose Taylor over Janet :)  I’ve got a signed copy of her latest, The Doll, ready to give away soon!

Seeing Beth Hoffman, best author hugger ever.

I had the pleasure of spending some time on Saturday afternoon with the beautiful bestselling author Beth Hoffman.  I met Beth when she came through northeast Ohio (her old stomping grounds) on the Saving  Cee Cee Honeycutt tour a few years ago and was charmed by her warmth and spirit.  On Saturday she was just as inspiring.  Beth told the story of how very close to dying she came and how she knew that something had to change.  Cee Cee was born.  Like most who read it, I loved Cee Cee and Beth became a bestselling author.  Her latest book, Looking for Me, was a much more personal one for her.  She considers Cee Cee her heart, but Teddi’s story her legacy.  I think part of her legacy may also be how genuinely appreciative she is of her readers, and how great her hugs are :)  So if you ever get the chance to hear her speak, do it!!


IMG_1711(Once again I apologize about the quality of the photo.  It seems I can only edit photos on this new computer some of the time.  The other 90% of the time it ignores my requests.  Have I mentioned lately how much I dislike pretty much everything about our new computer?  I’ll come back and fix when it lets me.)

I was also able to meet Bonnie from Redlady’s Reading Room (we were the first ones there) and we were able to catch up after the signing.  Considering that we live about 20 minutes apart we don’t see enough of each other.  I didn’t get a picture of the three of us like I did at the last book signing, but you can hop over to Bonnie’s to see her picture with Beth.

I did get an extra copy of Looking for Me signed by Beth and will be giving it away at a later date.

Ohiana Book Festival and book blogger meet-up

Last Saturday my mom and I attended the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus and we can thank Carol for the wonderful day since it was her post that intrigued me.  We had a fun time going to a few of the panels, visiting the author tables, and meeting Carol and her husband and daughter.  I didn’t even recognize her (she doesn’t post enough pics of herself on her blog) but I knew who Amber was right away.  We only visited for a few minutes, but hopefully next year we can work in some more time.  She was lovely.

The panels

Columbus at 200 with Raimund Goerler, David Meyers, Arnett Howard, Nellie Kampmann

  • I grew up about 40 minutes east of Columbus and graduated from Ohio State so I was interested to see what kind of things they would share.  Goerler wrote a book about the history of Ohio State that I’m pretty sure I’ll be unwrapping for my birthday in October.
  • Kampmann talked about the haunted places around town and her experiences with ghosts.  Although I have no intention of reading her book I was most fascinated by her stories.

Fiction:Mystery series with Les Roberts, Casey Daniels, Carrie Bebris

  • This is my fourth time listening to Les Roberts speak and it never gets old.
  • I was surprised to learn that Daniels has a mystery series set in Lakeview Cemetery, one of my favorite Cleveland places.  I am very excited to start this series.
  • Bebris writes a series of books that blend Austen novels “in which the married Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice become entangled in intrigue with other Austen characters.” I picked up the first one!

Novel Ideas:Creating Fiction with Karen Harper and Robin Yocum

  • This one was fun because you had an author with 20 books and a brand new novelist sharing the way they approach writing.  I also thought it was interesting to hear Karen talk about the difference in British marketing and why some of her books are bestsellers over there and not here. (Hint:they add Queen to the title over there)

I only came home with three books, but I am going to make it a goal to read all three plus a few other Ohio authors for the next month or so.  I hope you’ll enjoy my Ohio author reading tour!

Regina Brett book signing winner and Words with Friends

Regina Brett is a local columnist for the The Cleveland Plain Dealer and a breast cancer survivor.  I’m not a regular Plain Dealer reader, but I have read some of her columns and really enjoyed them.   One man asked at the signing last week why she felt the need to write about every aspect of her life and she explained that it’s just the way she writes and it resonates with a lot of people, saying, “I can’t be anybody but Regina Brett.”  I like that.  In her last book, God Never Speaks, she shares some life lessons and my friend Molly is doing a wonderful series of posts on them.  If you check out Tuesday’s post you’ll see the most adorable picture of Sammy and Tedy.

I found Regina Brett full of energy with lots of enthusiasm for journalism and bookstores, both under fire and no one is sure what the future of either will be.  On her most cynical days she sees her job as “the best seat on the Titanic.”  Her new book, Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible, tells about everyday heroes that make a difference.  I loved the few stories that she shared and look forward to reading more.

So, who was the big winner of the signed book?  Gage chose Kathleen by picking her number out of his bowl.  For some reason I can’t find the pic right now (grr).  I’ll add it if I do.  Also, we had a second book signed for Molly since she is the one who made me think I would like this new book, which is all about everyday miracles.  So, Kathleen and Molly, Be the Miracle, is already on its way to you!!

Also, I don’t have this blog connected to my Facebook account for a few reasons and for a long while I thought I would keep Facebook for face to face friends only, but a few bloggers have snuck in there with requests.  Jason and I love playing Words With Friends and if you do too, please friend me so we can play :)  I look forward to some stiff competition!

Sundays with Gage – Eating is necessary, right?

I thought we all needed food for energy.  Not just adults, but everyone.  I mean when you have an infant it is a very big deal that they eat enough.  So, why is it that toddlers can take or leave food for days at a time and still run around the house like a whirling dervish?

We have been too reluctant to add lots of things to his diet because we weren’t sure of his allergies, but now that we know we only have to avoid dairy and peanuts I really have to get busy and find some good recipes.

Some days the biggest part of his calorie intake consist of oatmeal, cereal bars, and baked potato fries.  He went through a period of resisting soy yogurt but now he likes it again, but is off the chicken.  Sigh.  Getting him to eat has become the biggest frustration of my day.

Any tips from you experienced mothers out there?

The post where I gush about Thrity Umrigar & a winner

Last night I was supposed to meet Bonnie at Thrity’s book signing, but on the way her car came in contact with another car whose brakes didn’t work.  Seriously?  Who is driving if their brakes don’t work?  Not to worry, she’s fine, and I missed seeing her.  Next time.

I have never read any of Thrity’s six books, but I have seen lots of love for them from other bloggers and I love to go to book signings, especially local authors.  I had no idea what to expect, but let me start by saying that Thrity was warm, personable, smart and engaging, and this may be my favorite author signing.  She read two passages from her new book, The World We Found, both of which were beautiful, and then spent an hour, graciously taking questions from the 75 people who were there.  Oh, wait, before she did any of that she heaped generous praise on the other Cleveland authors who we were there.  Sarah Willis, (Pulitzer Prize winner) Jim Sheeler, Loung Ung, Karen Sandstrom, Susan Grimm were in the audience.

I am terrible at taking photos at these events.  You can barely see Thrity up front, but on the upside, Sarah Willis is in the last row, closest to the camera.

So, why is India born Thrity a professor at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University? The answer is here.  That’s right she heard this Joan Baez song and decided at 21 to come to Ohio and earn her graduate degree at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!).  One brave Clevelander pointed out that a map might have put her somewhere else since the Ohio River is hours from Columbus, but anyway…She calls this decision absurd and whimsical.  She’s been in the Cleveland area for 30 years.

When asked the requisite, who are your influences, question she answered with Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison (Thrity’s first job after college was in Lorain, where Morrison was born).  She says both have a true understanding of human psychology.  She says she’s also influenced by music and poetry, which she has written her whole life.  She spent years as a journalist because she could write and get a paycheck and feels optimistic about the future of journalism, although she had harsh words for the 24 hour news stations calling them laughable and dangerous.

A few memorable things she said about writing

“You write because it’s an act of discovery.”

“The magical part of writing is when you get lost in the woods.”

She did spent quite a bit of time talking about India, the effects of globalization and why it is so rich with stories.  The admirable people of Bombaby live on the edge and with such bravado that the stories are there for the plucking.

I really could go on, but this is already long.  I suggest you check out her book tour  to find out if you can see her in person.  You won’t regret it. I am so excited to read her book because she was such wonderful author to spend a few hours listening to.  I am pretty sure I’ll feel the same way about her books.

So, who got the signed copy of Thrity’s new book?

It’s JoAnn of Lakeside Musing!  Congratulations :)