Last Words by Michael Koryta

Title: Last Words (Mark Novak Series #1), Author: Michael KorytaLast Words. Finished 5-30-18, 4/5 stars, thriller, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Robert Petkoff

Mark Novac book 1

Still mourning the death of his wife, private investigator Mark Novak accepts a case that may be his undoing. On the same day his wife died, the body of a teenage girl was pulled from the extensive and perilous cave system beneath Southern Indiana. Now the man who rescued the girl, who was believed to be her killer, begs Novak to uncover what really happened.

Garrison is much like any place in America, proud and fortified against outsiders. For Mark to delve beneath the town’s surface, he must match wits with the man who knows the caverns better than anyone. A man who seemed to have lost his mind. A man who seems to know Mark Novak all too well.    from Goodreads


Mark Novac works for the Innocence Foundation, due in great part to his deceased wife, who was following a lead when she was murdered.  Fast forward a few years and Mark is not coping with her unsolved murder as well as his bosses would like so they send him to Indiana on a wild goose chase.  Only it turns into something more for Mark as his life is threatened and he begins to care again.

I liked this thriller and recommend it to fans on the genre.  There was a lot of caving details in it and I appreciated learning about something new that wasn’t boring because the story fit the setting perfectly. I like Mark and see that there’s a second book so I’ll have to get that soon.


Freebie Friday

The first few years of this blog I culled my personal library by giving away books.  Well, the time has come to cull again so on Fridays for as long as I can I’ll be offering to mail these books to you free of charge.  Please request no more than two.

This week they have all been read but are in good shape.


1.Water Tales by Alice Hoffman  headed to Cali on Monday

2.Playing for Pizza by John Grisham

3.The Sister by Poppy Adams

4.Bloodman by Robert Pobi

5.The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain  off to Erica’s soon

Also, there are a few left from last week if you want to take a look.


The first one to request each book in the comments will ‘win’.  Thanks for helping keep my book hoarding in check! Come back next week and grab up some more!

Alice Hoffman’s Water Tales (Aquamarine & Indigo)

Water Tales: Aquamarine and...Water Tales. Finished 4-29-18, 3/5 stars, YA, 198 pages, pub. 2003

If you haven’t encountered Alice Hoffman’s watery fairy tales of modern magic, dive in! Aquamarine The tide brings in something unexpected that will change best friends Claire and Haley’s last summer together. Indigo Martha and her friends discover that running to follow a dream is the only way they’ll find the true meaning of ‘home’.   from Goodreads.

It’s been over a month since I read this and as I sat down to start typing I only remembered the first of these stories, but in great detail so that’s something.  As I skimmed through the second story I realized that the one I had completely forgotten was the one I liked best.  I’m not sure what that says about the accuracy of anything I say here.

I love YA fairy tale books and these two novellas revolve around the water and mermaids.  In the first story the two soon-to-be-separated best friends meet, set up on a date, and rescue a mermaid.  They are resourceful girls and it is one demanding mermaid.  In the second story, two strange brothers need a flood to see who they truly are.  I think I liked this one because it felt more mystical to me, whereas the first felt more matter of fact.  I feel like mermaids deserve some magic.

If your preteen likes a good bizarre mermaid story then you have found the right book!  Come back on Friday and I’ll be giving it away 🙂


Freebie Friday

The first few years of this blog I culled my personal library by giving away books.  Well, the time has come to cull again so on Fridays for as long as I can I’ll be offering to mail these books to you free of charge.  Please request no more than two.

This week they have all been read but are in good shape.


The Fountain by Emily Grayson

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gages Gill

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion  headed up north to Em

The First Patient by Michael Palmer  off to Kay’s house

We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter by Celeste Headlee  headed to Care’s

Also, there are a few left from last week if you want to take a look.


The first one to request each book in the comments will ‘win’.  Thanks for helping keep my book hoarding in check! Come back next week and grab up some more!

May Movies

The usual end of school year chaos – even with a 1st grader – and Jason’s mom being really sick a state away that have defined May around here.  I’m actually surprised that we watched two movies this month!  Tomorrow is Gage’s last day of school and I’m working at the library party for kids who improved their reading by at least one level this year.  I worked at the older kids party last week and tomorrow I’ll be with grades 1-3, including Gage.  Fun 🙂

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 $87 right now.

Wonder Woman (2017 film).jpgWonder Woman, 2017 (Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston)                            Grade B+

I want to be a kick ass Amazon!

Female hero for new generation!!  (Kay)

Gadot’s my kind of gal.  (Brendan)

Charlie st cloud poster.jpgCharlie St. Cloud, 2010 (Zac Ephron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew, Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta, Donal Logue)       Grade C+

Zac sees the slowpoke dead.


Book vs. Movie – Charlie St. Cloud

Title: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, Author: Ben Sherwood vs Charlie st cloud poster.jpg

I read the book (with the longer title) last month and was happy to see that Netflix had the 2010 movie ready for me.  I actually had the copy of the book with Zac Ephron on the cover so was picturing him as I read and that wasn’t really a problem 🙂 Sometimes I don’t know which will come out on top until I work through the categories, but I know even before I start which one worked better here.  I’ve tried not to contain spoilers.

The Story/Plot Charlie St. Cloud is a young man who was going places before a crash in high school killed his little brother.  He made a promise to his brother not to leave him and to meet him in the woods every evening to practice baseball.  So, Charlie takes a job at the neighboring cemetery so that he can keep that promise.  Not only can he interact with his dead brother but also the other spirits who are dead but have not yet crossed over.  Enter Tess who catches Charlie’s eye and tests his commitment to his brother.

This framework is the same for both the book and movie.  There were fewer spirits in the movie (which I missed), his relationship with his brother was closer in the book, the stuff with Tess happened way out of order in the movie to the detriment of the story, and there was more discussion about life after death in the book.   Thumbs up…the book

The Visual  The New England Coast is a beautiful place and the movie held up its end, although I read that they filmed in Canada.  Either way, it was beautiful.   Thumbs up…the movie

Characters vs. Actors  Since I pictured Zac Ephron as Charlie while I was reading the book he became Charlie for me.  I thought that they would have someone else play his younger 15 year old self in the movie, but instead they made his younger self 18 so there wouldn’t be another actor.  I wasn’t a fan of the aging, but I liked Ephron in the role.  My husband’s favorite part of the movie was the younger brother, Sam, but that’s because he hadn’t read the book I think. The book Sam was a much happier spirit and I preferred him.  Kim Basinger was the mom who made a brief appearance in the movie, but the mom was never part of the action of the book.  She didn’t add much or serve any purpose.  For some reason they aged and changed the EMT who saved Charlie’s life so Ray Liotta could play him.  The only reason I can see that they did this was so they could get a big name in the movie even if only for a scene or two.  The movie messed with the second scene between these two characters so the big name was a wash for me.  Amanda Crew was fine as Tess.  There were additional secondary characters in the movie that were completely unnecessary.   Thumbs up…the book

The Ending  The end result was almost the same, but I could’ve skipped the extra melodrama of the movie.  Thumbs up…the book

And the winner is…the book!  If they had stuck with the simplicity of the book the movie would have been so much better.

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (Far From the Madding Crowd) (The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)


Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Worlds I’d Want to Live In


After many years of hosting this meme The Broke and the Bookish has passed it on to one of  their own, Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s topic is Bookish Worlds I’d Want to/Never Want to Live In.  I decided to focus on the worlds/places/lives I’d be willing to live in.

  1. The Shire and Rivendell in the The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings series.  I’ll skip the rest of Tolkien’s geography, but those two places?  Sign me up!
  2. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory from Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s more than a little bit creepy, but I think I could find a few happy places 🙂
  3. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Barcelona is a place I wouldn’t mind spending some time.  (Shadow of the Wind by Zafon)
  4. It’s 2019 and the world has discovered music coming from another planet and they send a ship to Rakhat.  Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and Children of God took us on the ride and I’d be willing to go.
  5. When Frances buys an old villa in Tuscany, I was living vicariously, so this is a no brainer!  Under the Tuscan Sun sounds good to me.
  6. In Stephen King’s 11/22/63, time travel from a good cause goes awry.  Maybe if he had a willing partner with some sense he would have been more successful.
  7. Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series was a magical place.  Yes, some scary things happened there, but it never lacked for excitement.
  8. If I could jump into Claire’s life I’d choose her travels in the Outlander series.  With Jamie being played by Jason of course 😉
  9. A chocolatier in a small French village in the 1950s would be a nice little life, even when dealing with the worst of the worst the village has to offer.  (Chocolat by Harris)
  10. I think the late 1700s in New York would be a fascinating place to visit for awhile.  I loved the story in Into the Wilderness by Donati.

So, tell me, if you could choose ONE place to visit for an extended amount of time what book would you choose?

The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections by Roger Horchow & Sally Horchow

Title: Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections, Author: Roger HorchowThe Art of Friendship. Finished 4-28-18, rating 3/5, self-help?, 144 pages, pub. 2005

Seventy brief essays present simple but effective “rules of connecting” with action points to help you put each rule into practice in daily life. Woven throughout are personal anecdotes from the Horchows, sharing their experiences of friendship.
Recognizing that friendships take many forms, the authors offer practical, proven advice that demystifies the process of making friends.
The rules include:
How to create rapport– even in a crowd
How to transform an acquaintance into a friend
When to e-mail, pick up the phone, send a note, or meet in person
How to maintain long-term friendships –and even when it’s time to quit
The book opens with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point) that explores the Horchows’ special talent for making and keeping friends. Whether your goal is to start a new relationship or reinvest in a longstanding friendship, this inspiring book will reveal how you can build more meaningful connections in your life.  from Goodreads
I don’t remember bringing this book home, but I wasn’t surprised to find it on my shelves.  It’s the perfect little hardcover size with nice paper and bite sized suggestions for how to make meaningful friendships.  It was written by a father/daughter team and there was quite a bit of name dropping.  This isn’t necessarily bad, it did add extra interest for sure, so I was okay with it.  Were there a few nice ideas and encouragements?  Yes. Was there anything profound? No.  But no matter how many friends in your circle it’s always nice to think about adding to it or deepening existing friendships.


The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood (otherwise known as Charlie St. Cloud)

Title: Charlie St. Cloud, Author: Ben SherwoodCharlie St. Cloud. Finished 4-28-18, 4.25/5, fiction, 273 pages, pub. 2004

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.  from Goodreads

Charlie and his brother are besties and when Sam is killed and Charlie is spared, both lives are lost.  Fast forward a few years and Charlie works at the local graveyard as its caretaker and can see and talk to the spirits of dead people who are stuck in between.  Sam is one of those spirits.  Charlie, because of a promise, plays catch with Sam every day at sunset and the boys continue to lean on their bond.  But then comes along this girl and everything changes.  I don’t want to spoil too much by saying more, but graveyards and spirits and love are some of my favorite things 🙂

This was a fun readathon book, sentimental, romantic and just the right length.  I read Sherwood’s first book, The Man Who Ate the 747 and loved it. It was quirky and endearing.  When I saw the trailer for the movie when it came out years ago I somehow missed that it was written by Sherwood.  I didn’t like this quite as much as 747, but it did have much of the same magic.

I watched the movie today and will compare the two in a few days, but if you only saw the movie I can’t stress enough that you should read the book.



Forks, Knives and Spoons by Leah DeCesare

Title: Forks, Knives, and Spoons: A Novel, Author: Leah DeCesareForks, Knives and Spoons. Finished 5-17-18, rating 2.75/5, fiction, 392 pages, pub. 2017

There are three kinds of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That is the final lesson that Amy York’s father sends her off to college with, never suspecting just how far his daughter will take it. Clinging to the Utensil Classification System as her guide, Amy tries to convince her skeptical roommate, Veronica Warren, of its usefulness as they navigate the heartbreaks and soul mates of college and beyond. Beginning in 1988, their freshman year at Syracuse University, Amy and Veronica meet an assortment of guys from slotted spoons and shrimp forks to butter knives and sporks all while trying to learn if the UCS holds true. On the quest to find their perfect steak knives, they learn to believe in themselves and not to settle in love or life.  from Goodreads

So, we read this for our book club and all of us being of a certain age connected with the 80’s early 90’s references.  We discussed the UTC system of rating guys as a utensil and a few thought it was fun, but the rest of us complained that it was mentioned on almost every one of the 392 pages, or at least it seemed.  It was not something anyone liked (save one!) for different reasons and to different degrees.  For me, the biggest issue was the writing itself.  I wasn’t the only one with this problem although a few thought it was better in the second half.  But four of us agreed that we never would have made it to the second half if we hadn’t read it for book club.

I will leave you with the awards it won last year so you can make your own decision.

2017 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for New Adult Fiction
2017 IAN Book of the Year Award for Outstanding Women’s Fiction