A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

Title: A Ladder to the Sky, Author: John Boyne A Ladder to the Sky. Finished 5-30-19, 4.75/5, fiction, 362 pages, pub. 2018

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel. 
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…  from Goodreads

Why am I only just now reading John Boyne?  I remember watching the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and being heartbroken, but I didn’t read the book.  Now I want to read everything he’s written.  This is one of those novels with a main character so horribly delicious that it makes you want to look away.  It may even force you to shut the book and put it down for awhile, but you keep glancing at it and eventually you pick it back up and steel yourself for some ugly happenings.  Okay, maybe that was just me.  The storytelling for this book was just so good.  Love or hate the main character of Maurice, you have to revel in the way his story unfolds, first through the voices of those he had wronged and then through his.

You can read the above description for a taste of how the book begins, but know that the story after the ones mentioned is the most cruel and awful of the lot of them.  Oh, and did I mention that he managed to spawn?  The stories are complex, captivating, ruthless, and visit some of the darkest corners of the more ambitious among us.

I know this book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it twisty and tragically captivating.  Does Maurice get his due?  You’ll have to read it to find out.

This week’s Columbus roadtrip

Favorite pic of the week

IMG_0325 (2) This guy is a 2nd grader no more!  Today was his last day of school.  Where does the time go?  So proud of him and am looking forward to summer.

Best Part of the Week  We managed to string together some pretty perfect days this week and I appreciated every moment.  Gage sees an integrative doctor in Columbus who we love. And so does everyone else.  So, when  you make your appointment you take what you can get.  At our visit this week the next open appointment was January!  Jason decided to take an extra vacation day so we decided to go down on Monday and come back Wednesday after our appointment.  We had so much fun.  We took our time stopping 3 times on the way down (It’s about 2 hours 15-30 minutes straight).  We went putt putting, and played laser tag together.  Gage got to drive his first go cart.  The next day we went to the Columbus Zoo and had a great time.  I had forgotten what a fabulous zoo it is.

IMG_0218IMG_0259IMG_0295IMG_0287

Worst Part of the Week My mouth pain almost all gone, but the stitches have not dissolved like they were supposed to and they are driving me nuts.  All in all if that’s the worst thing I’ve got going on I’m a lucky gal.

Reading  Image result for a ladder to the sky book image I finished A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne and I loved it.  The guy was a twisted character, but I loved the way the story unfolded.  It was written through the eyes of the major people in his life until the last section, when the only one left was him.

Listening  Image result for how it happened book cover korytaI finished listening to How It Happened by Michael Koryta and really liked it.  A good thriller that kept me guessing and interested.

Watching on the small screen We’re still watching season 2 of Game of Thrones.  I managed to watch a few episodes of Project Runway too 🙂

Watching on the big screen 

 

Last Sunday we had an Aladdin double feature.  We ate at Aladdin’s Eatery (one of our faves) and watched the newest movie version with Will Smith as the genie.  We all liked it.

Plans for the weekend We have a 3 day trip scheduled next week with friends so I’m hoping that this can be a quieter weekend.  Gage’s school has their end of year picnic tomorrow and we need to start looking for carpet for our family room.  Yes, we are still renovating this house 😦

May’s movies

I managed 3 trips to the theater this month!  So, what have you seen?  Please add your words – it makes it so much more fun!

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 $12 right now.  Your charity could be next 🙂

 

 Avengers:Endgame  , 2019 (Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Brie Larson, Paul Rudd…and more)   Grade B+

A fitting, but sad, finale.

Sad, fitting end to Avengers.   (Heather)


Aladdin (Official 2019 Film Poster).png Aladdin, 2019 (Will Smith, Mena Maussoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad)    Grade B

Beautiful cast and awesome genie.


The Promise (2016 film).jpg The Promise, 2016 (Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale)    Grade B 

Led to Armenian Genocide research.


Fracture2007Poster.jpg Fracture, 2007 (Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling. David Strathaim, Rosamund Pike, Billy Burke, Embeth Davidz)         Grade B

Outstanding leads for tense thriller.


Long Shot (2019 poster).png Longshot, 2019 (Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan, O’Shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgard)   Grade  B-

I laughed and I cringed.


Swiss family robinson322.jpg Swiss Family Robinson, 1960 (John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, Dorothy Munro, Tommy Kirk)       Grade C

Worth a few old fashioned chuckles. 


Cat in the hat.jpg The Cat in the Hat, 2003 (Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin)     Grade C-

I’ve never like the Cat.

 I can’t get back those minutes of my life, ever…. (more than five I know, but that movie….)   (Heather)

Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Hello Stranger (Ravenels Series #4), Author: Lisa Kleypas Hello Stranger. Finished 5-16-19, 3.25/5 stars, historical romance, pub. 2018

Unabridged audio read by Mary Jane Wells.  10 hours.

The Ravenels book 4 (1-Cold-Hearted Rake) (2-Marrying Winterborne 3-Devil in Spring)

Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule

As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.     from Goodreads

I have really liked this series about the Ravenel family.  I’m picky about historical romances and this series has hit all the right notes for me.  Until this one.

Dr. Garrett Gibson has appeared in a few earlier books and I was excited for her story.  But, but, but…  instead of celebrating her mind and strength, it became weighed down between the sheets.  Ethan was a fine hero who fell deeply in love with Garrett from afar, but he too became just a vessel for lots and lots of sex.  This is why I’m picky about romance series, too much sex often just feels lazy.

I’ll still read the next one, but I’m a little less excited about it.

 

This week in slow recovery

We left off last week as I was hurting and swollen and this week, here we are and I’m still a little swollen and pained.  I consider it a plus that this is the first day I haven’t taken any type of painkiller.

Fave pic of the week  IMG_0066

Gage at a school mate’s birthday party.

Best part of my week Being well enough (barely) to volunteer at Gage’s school for their Librarian Challenge party.  The librarian throws a big party at the end of every year for kids who double their reading goal in any quarter.  She has book themed food, crafts and a library scavenger hunt.  I was in charge of the s’more station (as in s’more reading).  This was for the older kids and the younger kids will have a party next week.  I love that the librarian goes all out and the kids feel like they’ve worked hard to earn it.

Worst part of my week  We’ve lived in the Cleveland are for 19 years and have never been to the esteemed Severance Hall to hear the Cleveland Pops.  Friends were going out of town and gave us their tickets for tonight.  Unfortunately, today I’ve been sick and we had to skip it.  I’m sad about it because I was really looking forward to it.

Reading  Very little.  I read a bit on A Ladder to the Sky, but I’ve not been in the mood.  Hopefully, tonight before bed I can read again because it’s a good book!

Listening  I gave up on the audio from last week and started another that I like much better, Michael Koryta’s How I Happened.  I’m halfway through and eager to finish.

Watching on the small screen  Somehow Jason convinced to watch Game of Thrones with him from the beginning.  I’ve watched some of the later seasons so I agreed.  We did Season 1 a month ago and started Season 2 this week.

Plans for the weekend  The next two days are weather dependent because it is supposed to rain but we’d like to go to the Blossom Festival in the next town over.  There are rides, a parade, hot air balloons, etc.   If it rains we’ll all go see Aladdin.  We leave for a short trip to Columbus on Monday that I’ve got to get us ready for.

My 30 Day Challenge update here.

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!