Sundays with Gage – Gerald McDermott

IMG_0062Gage is reading at grade level, but it is still a big struggle for him.  As most second graders are reading chapter books, Gage is finally comfortable reading the grade level picture books.  In the past I’ve tried to push him, but now I just try to find things that will make him enjoy the story and know that progression will come when he’s ready.  I found this at a book sale and included it in his yearly advent tree (Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest).  We liked it so much that we checked out the ones they have in this series of trickster tales at the library.

Gerald wrote and illustrated these folktales and says, “I celebrate the comic nature of the trickster as troublemaker, resourceful champion, and sometimes fool.”  Raven takes place in the Pacific Northwest, Zomo in Africa, Coyote in the Southwest, Jabuti in the African Rain Forest and my favorite Monkey is from India.  There are a few others in the series as well along with other books about myths and legends.  I’m going to enjoy finding them all.  The stories are multilayered and give us something to discuss and the illustrations are colorful and gorgeous.

If you see these when you’re looking for kids books make sure to take a look.

Although I tend to stress about the slower progress of his reading, Gage never needs our help with math and tested in the 98 percentile in the state.  Guess he gets those genes from his dad 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Week in Tooth Agony

I’m toying with doing a weekly update because I so enjoy reading the ones you all put together.  We’ll see if I can get it to stick. I’m currently on day three of pain meds so this should be fun 🙂

Fave pic of the week IMG_0021

Mom and I took our first trip to Duck Donuts and it was delish.

Best part of my week Mother’s Day with a movie and donuts with my mama and time spent with my boys.  Also, a friend dropped off Cleveland Orchestra Pops tickets for Jason and I to use for a fancy date night in a few weeks and I’m excited!

Worst part of my week (3 days so far) On Wednesday I went in to have an infected root canal tooth removed and I left an hour and a half later in tears.  The tooth came out in 32 pieces.  The nurse told me I was lucky that the doctor dug around and fished them all out :\  A bone graft and ozone were also done.  The current swelling and pain is outrageous.

Reading I’m still reading A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne and I’m really liking it.  For my meditative morning readings I’ve tried two books this week but neither are good enough to stick with (30 Perfect Days by Claudia J Taller and Praying Through the Psalms by Julie Walker Mitchell).

Listening to The Good Lie by Tom Rosenstiel and it’s a pretty good political thriller so far.

Watching on the big screen  My mom and I watched Longshot with Charlize Theron and Seth Rogan on Mother’s Day.  It was both charming and too much as I find all Seth Rogan movies.

Watching on the small screen  We watched a few episodes of the old show Justified on Prime and liked them,  We tried The Widow, also on Prime, but didn’t care enough to continue.  I’ve watched a few movies in my convalescence, but I’ve spent more time sleeping.

Plans for the weekend  Gage has swimming and an event at Barnes & Noble today and we have a birthday party tomorrow.  Honestly, I’m just hoping that the weekend offers enough healing so that I can function.

 

Run Away by Harlan Coben and meeting the man himself

Title: Run Away (B&N Exclusive Edition), Author: Harlan Coben Run Away. Finished 3-30-19, 4.5/5, thriller, 367 pages, pub. 2019

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.    from Goodreads

Harlan Coben is always a treat.  One of only a few authors who have gotten me to read all of their books.  I love the Myron Bolitar series best, but some of his standalones, like this one, stand out to me too.  What parent can’t relate in some way to the horror (or fear) of losing a child to the street and drugs?  As always, Coben always seems to have his hand on the pulse of what’s happening in current affairs.

I am not going to give away anything but the ending, lol.   The ending, while twisty, bothered me in so many ways.  These ways have nothing to do with his writing, but with my own feelings.  Jason just finished it and didn’t have the same reaction and he liked the cult storyline.   Have you read it?  Did that last twist affect your view of the whole book?

IMG_0282Harlan came to town and my mom and I went to the filled 600 seat stage that our central library has for the big time authors.  The event was happening on the first weekend of March Madness so it’s a real testament to his appeal that he was able to get so many men to come hear him speak.  As much as Jason loved him he told me it would be okay if I wanted to take my mother, haha.  So, I left him in peace and took my mom.  This is my second Harlan meeting, the first being in Houston about a dozen years ago.  He is always a witty delight.

 

 

 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

Title: The Red Hunter: A Novel, Author: Lisa Unger The Red Hunter. Finished 4-17-19, 3.75/5 stars. thriller, pub. 2017

Unabridged audio read by Julia Whelan. 9 cds.

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house–one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past–and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course–because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the terrifying monsters at the door.     from Goodreads

There are two competing storylines that seemed to have little to do with each other for most of the book.  Claudia, a fragile yet hopeful mother, and Zoey, an orphan not afraid to take a life, are as different as night and day whose different journeys will eventually put them in the same place at the same time.  The two storylines were challenging when listening to the audio and as much as I enjoyed the performance it wasn’t easy to differentiate between the two at times.  Aside from that I found the story okay and was happy with the ending which both satisfied the need for answers and warmed the heart.

This is my 5th read by Lisa Unger.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Title: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike Series #4), Author: Robert GalbraithLethal White. Finished 5-3-19, 4.5/5 stars, mystery, pub. 2018

Cormoran Strike #4  (1-The Cuckoo’s Calling, 2-The Silkworm, 3-Career of Evil)

Unabridged audio read expertly by Robert Galbraith.  This man has become Strike for me and I will continue with the audios of this series for as long as he’s reading them.  22+ hours of listening.

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott—once his assistant, now a partner in the agency—set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.     from Goodreads

I love Cormoran Strike and Robin too, mainly because of his feelings for her.  At the end of the last book (my least favorite of the series) Robin marries the easiest man to hate I’ve come across in a while.  I understand that they’d been together a long time, but she knew, we all knew, that he was not for her.  The fact that this book took place a year later and they were still married was perplexing, but I think it took that long for Robin to be strong enough to admit her mistakes.  Anyway, it’s a year later and she’s married and Cormoran has a very nice girlfriend.

The thing I love about Rowling’s mysteries (is there anyone who still doesn’t know that Galbraith is JK Rowling?) is that they are all so layered and complicated.  Strike can pull clues from all around and eventually put them altogether with help from Robin, who managed to go undercover a few times in this go round.  Actually Robin’s undercover activities were some of my favorite parts of the book.  Eventually, we think we know what happened, but there’s more.  All major loose ends were handled and the book ended perfectly.

I’m glad to see this rebound.  I gave the first two in the series 4.5 stars but the third only 3.5, so she’s back on track with this one.  I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Cormoran and Robin!

April’s Movies & $ for Charity

Sorry I’ve been so absent!  If you’re curious you can check out this post.  I’m hoping to get back on track in the next week or two.

You know the drill, 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 $10 right now.  Your charity could be next 🙂

Hacksaw Ridge poster.png Hacksaw Ridge, 2016 (Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Luke Bracey, Rachel Griffiths)   Grade B+

Convictions and War conflict.


The Shop Around the Corner - 1940- Poster.png Little Shop Around the Corner, 1940 (Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullivan, Frank Morgan)     Grade B+

Fun pre-You’ve Got Mail.


The Perfect Date.jpg The Perfect Date, 2019 (Noah Centineo, Laura Marano, Camila Mendes, Matt Walsh)     Grade C+

Who Am I? Kinda lame.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens, Author: Libba Bray Beauty Queens. Finished 3-28-19, 3.5/5 stars, YA, pub. 2011

Unabridged audio read by the author. 14 hours 30 minutes.

From bestselling Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.

Teen beauty queens. A Lost-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to e-mail. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.   from Goodreads

This was on my Goodreads Cleanup list and even though no one said they loved it I stil thought it looked like fun and the library had the audio.  The audio is the way to go with this one.  Author Libba Bray read it and she was so good.  I mean like really good.  Thanks to her I laughed out loud throughout the book.  Each of the girls had their own voice and the “Sarah Palin” character (that’s not her name and it doesn’t mention her, but some of the scenes are recognizable) earns much respect for Bray.

Beauty queens stuck on an abandoned island could have been fun but add it reality show pirates and evil dictators trying to take over the world and you’ve got a story.  The book was too long, but the funny parts made up for it.  Did your state make it?  I’m proud to say that Miss Ohio made it to the end, but not too many did.

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Title: The Immortalists, Author: Chloe Benjamin The Immortalists.  Finished 3-21-19, 3.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2018

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.       from Goodreads

Would you want to know the day of your death?  I can see both sides of this argument, but always seem to come back to the same thought.  I wouldn’t want to lose the joy and miracle and possibility of every day by knowing.  We chose not to know the sex of our baby either.  I wonder if there’s a correlation between the two?  Let me know what you think.

Anyway, we’re talking about the book.  So much potential.  Simon, the first sibling story, is by far the best section of the book.  It made the most sense.  He knew he was going to die young, when he had the opportunity to move across the country and embrace his homosexuality, he took it and never looked back.  His story overlapped a bit with Klara’s since they were roomies in San Francisco, so by default, her story also felt genuine.  It was Daniel’s story that derailed a decent novel.  Daniel and Varya both fell prey to too much sensationalism, in my opinion.

I liked it, but did feel like it wasted so much potential, especially the second half of the book.  This feeling was shared by most of my book group and we even had one who didn’t make it through Simon’s story before putting it down.  But hey, at least we had good food and company 🙂

TRAJ1101

True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

Title: True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart, Author: Thich Nhat Hanh True Love. Finished 3-31-19, rating 4/5, mindfulness/Buddhism, 108 pages, pub. 1997

In this little treasure, Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Zen monk, offers timeless insight into the nature of real love. With simplicity, warmth, and directness, he explores the four key aspects of love as described in the Buddhist tradition: lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and freedom—explaining how to experience them in our day-to-day lives. He also emphasizes that in order to love in a real way, we must first learn how to be fully present in our lives, and he offers simple techniques from the Buddhist tradition that anyone can use to establish the conditions of love.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, is an internationally known author, poet, scholar, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.     from Goodreads

What is it about Thich Nhat Hanh that speaks to me?  So many things.  I love his ability to embrace other religions.  I love that I can immediately take his words and use them.  I love the way he calms my spirit and provides insight.  See?  He’s my guy.

This particular book was about the four elements of true love in Buddhism. The first is maitri (love-kindness or benevolence).  The second is karuna (compassion).  The third is mudita (joy) and the fourth is upeksha (equanimity or freedom).  It’s a focus on learning on how to love well and I’m already using his wisdom.

I think everyone has different authors or spiritual guides that speak to their heart.  I know my love for him won’t be for everyone and that’s okay.  He’s written a lot of books, many, like this one, aren’t long so you can give him a try without investing too much time.  He may speak to you too.

 

March’s Movies and $ for charity

Not one trip to the theater in March, but Netflix didn’t let me down during my insomnia week.  I want to add this from the movie Suite Francaise because I found it so interesting…

The film’s postscript reads as follows: Suite Francaise was written in secret as the Nazis occupied France. It was never completed. In 1942 its author Irene Nemirovsky was arrested for being Jewish and died in Auschwitz. Her handwritten manuscript lay unread in a suitcase for nearly sixty years until it was discovered by her daughter. Suite Francaise was finally published in 2004 and became a worldwide bestseller. The daughter is quoted to say: “It is an extraordinary feeling to have brought my mother back to life. It shows the Nazis did not truly succeed in killing her. It is not vengeance, but it is a victory.” Denise Epstein-Dauple

You know the drill, 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 $10 right now.  Your charity could be next 🙂

Suite Francaise poster.jpg Suite Francaise, 2014 (Michelle Williams, Mattias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas, Margot Robie,  Sam Riley, Ruth Wilson)  Grade B+

Do some Nazis have hearts?

Touching Holocaust story with twist.  (Michelle)


Burnt Poster Updated.jpg Burnt, 2015 (Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, David Bruhl, Matthew Rhys, Riccardo Scamarcio, Omar Sy)  Grade B-

Being the best takes toll.


The Spectacular Now film.jpg  The Spectacular Now, 2011 (Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler, Bob Odenkirk, Mary Elizabeth Winstead)     Grade B

It’s hard being a teenager.


Triple Frontier.jpg Triple Frontier, 2019 (Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlud, Pedro Pascal, Adria Arjona)     Grade C

Money envy ruins most everything.

Greed always leads to loss.   (Michelle)


SPF-18 poster.jpg SPF-18, 2017 (Carson Mayer, Noah Centineo, Bianco Santos, Jackson White, Sean Russel Herman, Molly Ringwald, Rosanna Arquette)    Grade C-

Teens goof around without supervision.