This week of meetings and horses

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Gage was at horse camp this week and he loved it!  This was at the therapeutic horse farm that he took lessons from when he was younger.  He told me he missed the horses so we signed him up this week.  So glad we did.  I didn’t think he’d be interested enough for 6 hours a day but they kept the kids busy and he came home a sweaty, happy mess every day 🙂

Highlights of the week Well, I did go the the Author Alley that I mentioned last week and it made me feel good to see so many readers crowding around the 52 authors at the independent bookstore.  And on another bookish note, my book group had Christmas in July this week.  We met at a restaurant and brought the books that we’d received at out Christmas exchange.  I ended up bringing Hillbilly Elegy home in a more than fair trade.  Oh, and Jason and I snuck in a weekday date with dinner and a movie (John Wick 3).

Could’ve been better  They’ve started work on our street and it’s been disruptive to say the least.  They are starting with the cul-de-sac circle, but since we are the next driveway there are always trucks in or blocking our driveway.  And because our house wraps around the corner we have the biggest front yard on the street, which means we have the porta john, everyone’s mailboxes, all extra equipment they are not quite ready to use and currently half of the street’s trash cans in our front yard.  sigh  This may be what shows up in this section every week for a while 🙂

Reading  I finished and reviewed The Dinner List and spent time with

Airs Above the Ground Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfu…

Listening  I’ve started a few audio books but have abandoned them.

Watching on the small screen I’ve been gone most nights this week.  In addition to what I already mentioned I had the library board meeting on Monday.  I think Jason and I managed one episode of Game of Thrones and one episode of Justified.

On the big screen  Jason gets to pick our movies for a bit longer because he won our March Madness bet this year, but for some reason he chose something I wanted to see (he’s good that way).  Why do I like the John Wick movies?  I have no idea.  I spent much of the movie looking way or closing my eyes in disgust at the violence.  I love Keanu Reeves and I liked the story in the first two, but this one not so much.

So, what’s been happening in your neck of the woods?


My Dinner List

Yesterday I shared my thoughts about The Dinner List, a book based on a birthday dinner where the attendees (living or dead) were chosen by the birthday girl.

Jason and I had a date night last night and we discussed our own choices for over an hour.  After we filled up our first table, we also started a B table, lol.

My birthday dinner wish list – Jason (I want to be able to talk with someone about the dinner when it’s over!) Jesus, Thich Nhat Hanh, Michelle Obama, Jimmy Stewart.  So, I took way too much time considering my table.  Seriously.  Jimmy Stewart could have been any of my favorite movies stars from the black and white era, but he was chosen because I thought he’d get along with the rest of the table, even now I’m second guessing not choosing Cary Grant.  Just typing that makes me laugh.  Start this discussion on your next date night with a few glasses of wine and you’ll see how fun it can be.

Jason’s table – me, Clinton Woolsey (Jason’s great-grandfather. Click on his name to read his wiki page), George Washington, Albert Einstein, Warren Buffet.

We started a B table and started with Katherine Hepburn, Raphael Nadal, Stephen King…that’s as far as we got before our movie started.

So, let’s see YOUR list.  If you post about it leave a link and I’ll add it to this post.  But even if you don’t I still want to hear who is coming to your dinner!  Who knows maybe someone on your list will convince me to change mine!

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Title: The Dinner List: Roman, Author: Rebecca Serle The Dinner List.  Finished 7-9-19, fiction. 3/5 stars, 273 pages, pub. 2018

When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn.    from Goodreads

The book starts and ends at a 30th birthday party that takes place at a restaurant.  Sabrina finds all of the people she put on a proposed list her BFF Jessica made her come up with in college.  Jessica, Tobias (her one true love), Conrad (college professor), her dad who abandoned her, and the one and only Audrey Hepburn.  What?  Audrey Hepburn is dead you say?  Yes, well she’s not the only one and this is just one of the things that doesn’t make sense during this 4+ hour dinner that we Seinfeld fans could call ‘the airing of grievances’.

I wanted to love this.  I kept waiting for something to happen that would make me love it, but all I felt at the end was sadness.  Maybe you could consider this a cautionary tale since there are life lessons served with the meal.  It was an easy read, but not one I rushed through because I just wasn’t that invested.

The best part of the book was the premise, the question we’ve all heard, what five people, living or dead, would you want at your dinner party?  I put this question to Jason when I started the book and now that I’ve finished we’re both due to share our lists with each other.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll share both of our lists with you and be prepared to share YOUR list.  If you post about it you can leave a link I’ll add to my post.


Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

Title: Stella Bain, Author: Anita Shreve Stella Bain.  Finished 6-13-19, 3.5/5 stars, historical fiction, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio read by Hope Davis.  7 hours

An epic story, set against the backdrop of World War I, from bestselling author Anita Shreve. When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in. A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield. In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.    from Goodreads

After I finish a book I might write a few thoughts on a piece of scrap paper and slide it in the book until I share my thoughts here, but in between those two I’ll probably take a gander at Goodreads to see if something jumps out as something I forgot.  Well, let me save some of you the trouble and tell you straight up that this is a prequel of sorts.  The fact that I didn’t know this makes me more than a little miffed.  So, Shreve’s earlier book was written from the perspective of Stella Bain’s husband about their marriage.  I wish I had read that one first I think, but it may not stop me from picking it up now, even knowing how abhorrent he is.

So, with that fair warning out of the way, let’s get to Stella.  When we first meet her she has no idea who she is, but at some point early on she remembers that she drove an ambulance in the War (WWI).  The doctor and wife who take her in help her to recover enough memories to know she must go to the military headquarters in London.  Here she remembers everything and we’re not even halfway through the book.

I’m not sure how much more to tell you because I don’t want to spoil anything, but will say that I grew to respect ‘Stella’ but I never truly got a handle on who she was.  Some of her choices were hard to accept.  I did learn a lot about how shell shock (PTSD) was misunderstood and even feared during the time and I thought that was a strong part of the book.  I thought it was a good book, but probably would have liked it more if I’d read All He Ever Wanted first.

This Week with Fireworks and AC

Fave pic off the week

IMG_0631 We needed a new pic of the three of us!

Best part of the week  Well, we spend some lovely hours today with our friends, the guys swimming and the moms talking non-stop, BUT I have to say getting a new AC after going over a week without one in the sweltering heat wins the week.  The local fireworks with the three of us and my mom was nice too 🙂

Could’ve been better  Remember how excited I was to go to the wedding reception last week and eat all of the wedding cake?  Well, it turns out you can be at a wedding reception for 4 hours and still not get cake 😦

Reading  I just started my first Mary Stewart.


Title: Airs Above the Ground: The suspenseful, romantic story that will sweep you off your feet, Author: Mary StewartTitle: Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It, Author: Josh AxeTitle: Peace Is Every Step : The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Author: Thich Nhat Hanh

Listening   I just finished today and I loved it!

Title: Fangirl, Author: Rainbow Rowell

Watching on the small screen  We’re still working our way through season 4 of Games of Thrones.  Once we finish that we’ll catch up with the kids in Stranger Things.

Plans for the weekend  It’s All-Star weekend here in Cleveland and they have a lot of fun things set up for kids downtown.  Depending on the weather we’ll probably get there.  And hopefully Jason and I will catch a movie when Gage is at Grandma’s tomorrow.  There is also an Author Alley (20+ local authors all there to sign and sell their books) at my favorite independent bookstore tomorrow, but seeing how it’s 1:30 am I’ll have to decide if it’s worth it when I wake up.

Favorite thing I got in my mailbox  The picture doesn’t do it justice but I love this postcard I received from Dennis in Los Angeles.

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What’s been happening in your next of the woods?


June’s movies & Money for charity

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 $15 right now.  Your charity could be next 🙂

The Little Prince (2015 film) poster.png The Little, Prince, 2015 (Jef Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Bud Cort, Marion Cotillard, Benecio del Toro, James Franco, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti. Albert Brooks)                                                                   Grade B+

The classic Little Prince modernized.

Murder Mystery (film).png Murder Mystery, 2019 (Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler, Luke Evans, Gemma Arterton, Adeel Akhtar, Terence Stamp)   Grade B-

Campy fun if you like the leads.

Sandler and Aniston never disappoint  (Vicki)

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) Final Poster.jpg Secret Life of Pets 2, 2019 (Patton Oswald, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Harrison Ford)     Grade B-

Max and Duke face parenthood.

I thought it was hilarious!  (Vicki)

Flatliners (2017).jpg Flatliners, 2017 (Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland)     Grade C

Let’s kill each other study group.

Okay. Original was better.  (Michelle)

The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey

Title: The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose (B&N Exclusive Edition), Author: Oprah Winfrey The Path Made Clear. Finished 6-21-19, 4/5 stars, inspirational, pub. 2019

Unabridged audio read by Oprah Winfrey and so many others, including Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Elizabeth Gilbert, Mitch Albom, Joe Biden, Goldie Hahn, John Bon Jovi, Stephen Colbert…  3 hours.

In her latest audiobook, The Path Made Clear, Oprah shares what she sees as a guide for activating your deepest vision of yourself, offering the framework for creating not just a life of success, but one of significance. The audiobook’s ten chapters are organized to help you recognize the important milestones along the road to self-discovery, laying out what you really need in order to achieve personal contentment, and what life’s detours are there to teach us.

Oprah opens each chapter by sharing her own key lessons and the personal stories that helped set the course for her best life. She then brings together wisdom and insights from luminaries in a wide array of fields, inspiring listeners to consider what they’re meant to do in the world and how to pursue it with passion and focus. These renowned figures share the greatest lessons from their own journeys toward a life filled with purpose.   from Goodreads

I loved this audio.  It was inspiring and thought-provoking and just a positive way to spend time in the car.  Oprah is the author, but she calls upon so many people to share their insight, sometimes as quip from a speech, other times in interview form.

Will it change your life?  Probably not.  But any one of the featured players may get you started on a new way of thinking and that can be a very powerful thing.  I loved hearing all the different voices.

If you like Oprah you’ll probably like this audio sampler (it’s only 3 hours after all).


This Week featuring bug bites and heat

Fave pic of the week

IMG_0575 Oh, he is so proud of this sign.  Our county library system is giving them to patrons who signed up for the summer reading program.  He still struggles, but with extra effort we are able to stay afloat.

Best part of the week  I had coffee with a long time friend?  As I look back at my week that’s the only thing that stands out.  And that is enough because she is always good company.  Our boys were at camp together this week.

Could’ve been better  Hm.  Gage had three wonderful days at camp, out in the woods at a farm and then came home with bug bites covering his body, most turning into angry welts by Thursday morning.  The worst one is still swollen now, two days later.  So, out of an abundance of caution he stayed home the last two days.  In our house that has been without AC all week.  It’s midnight and 82 in here right now 😦

Reading  I’ve spent quality time with all three of these books this week…

The Dinner ListEat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root…Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfu…

Listening  Okay, as some stay at home moms know, camp or school is time you have have already scheduled for yourself.  I am greedily listening to Fangirl in the car and when Gage stayed home the last two days that meant an hour each day that I didn’t have to finish.  I love it and I’m thisclose to finishing.

Watching on the big screen Gage and I went to see The Secret Life of Pets 2 today at the theater, mainly to escape the heat.  It was cute.

Watching on the small screen  Jason and I finished up season 3 of Game of Thrones a few days ago.  I have season 4 checked out of the library so we’ll probably start next week.

Plans for the weekend  Gage has swimming in the morning and Jason and I have a wedding reception.  My parents are out of town so we had to find a sitter for the first time in three years!  When Gage was a wee baby I had two sisters who live two houses away come over for a few hours at a time to give me some non-Gage time.  Well, their little sister is now old enough to babysit 🙂  Gage is excited and so am I.  I saved up my gluten and sugar day for all the wedding cake I can eat!


Handbook For the Soul Edited by Richard Carlson & Benjamin Shield

Title: Handbook for the Soul, Author: Richard Carlson  Handbook for the Soul. Finished 5-9-19, rating 3.5/5, spiritual, 215 pages, pub. 1995

America’s most celebrated spiritual writers offer inspiring words on the state of the soul today. This collection of more than thirty original essays addresses both the importance of caring for and nourishing the soul and the ways in which these individuals tend to their own souls on a day-to-day basis.  from Goodreads

I was working in a bookstore when this came out (way back when readers had to buy their books at an actual store) and remember scoffing at its new agey popularity.  Oh how far I’ve come in my life’s journey to be able to say that I actually read it and liked it.  This is what I posted as I was reading….

Handbook for the Soul edited by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield has been very interesting.  The different perspectives by the contributing authors have been a good way to start the day in meditation and introspection.  This morning’s reading was by Nathaniel Brandon and he was talking about keeping the soul engaged.  He asks two questions every morning.  “What’s good in my life?” and “What needs to be done?”  Yesterday, I read about the connection between spiritual frustration and disease.  It’s always good to open your mind to other perspectives, whether you adopt the beliefs or not.  I’m over halfway through.  

I found some of the essays more meaningful to me than others, but I think that’s the way it should be.  Now I have a few authors who I want to read more from.  I particularly liked Thomas Moore’s Embracing the Everyday.  “I think we would be able to live in this world more peacefully if our spirituality were to come from looking not just into infinity but very closely at the world around us – and appreciating its depth and diversity.” (page 25)

There are many heavy hitters featured so you are almost guaranteed to find a least a few that speak to you.  Steven Covey, Bernie Siegel, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Ram Dass, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Jack Canfield, Melody Beattie and many others.  So many perspectives to digest and I thought it was a meaningful collection.

How It Happened by Michael Koryta

Title: How It Happened, Author: Michael Koryta How It Happened. Finished audio 5-31-19, 4.5/5 stars, thriller, pub. 2018

Unabridged audio read by Robert Petkoff with Christine Lakin.  11 hours.

Kimberly Crepeaux is no good, a notorious jailhouse snitch, teen mother, and heroin addict whose petty crimes are well-known to the rural Maine community where she lives. So when she confesses to her role in the brutal murders of Jackie Pelletier and Ian Kelly, the daughter of a well-known local family and her sweetheart, the locals have little reason to believe her story.

Not Rob Barrett, the FBI investigator and interrogator specializing in telling a true confession from a falsehood. He’s been circling Kimberly and her conspirators for months, waiting for the right avenue to the truth, and has finally found it. He knows, as strongly as he’s known anything, that Kimberly’s story—a grisly, harrowing story of a hit and run fueled by dope and cheap beer that becomes a brutal stabbing in cold blood—is how it happened. But one thing remains elusive: where are Jackie and Ian’s bodies?   from Goodreads

“When you kill someone, you have two choices. The first one is to try to hide how you did it, which is what almost everyone does, and almost everyone gets caught. The second one is to show exactly how you did it – and then prove it couldn’t have happened that way.”

Rob Barrett got the confession he wanted.  For all the good it did him since it the evidence showed it to be a lie.  But Rob knows who did it and it doesn’t matter if he gets demoted and sent away to an FBI outpost he will find his way back to Maine and the truth.

I liked Rob’s backstory and his connection the the small Maine town and I was kept guessing, maybe not as much as who did it but how.  Not all things wrapped up happily, but enough to satisfy.   Koryta always comes through for me with his thrillers.