2009 Wrap-up, part 2

Out of the 130 books I read this year (the final 2 to be reviewed in the next week) I gave only 3 a perfect 5 Star rating.  I’m picky.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Book CoverThe Secret Life of Bees by Kidd Monk Kidd: Book CoverCover Image

I gave out 15 4 1/2 Stars.  To make it a top ten list I’ll choose my favorite 7 from this list.

Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Berendt Berendt: Book CoverPride and Prejudice (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Jane Austen: Book CoverCover ImageCover Image

I see none of these were published in 2009, but that can’t be helped now. 

I joined 5 Challenges and COMPLETED THEM ALL!!!!  Of course, I should confess I only finished the 100 Mile Challenge today at 3:30 pm after walking 4 miles on the treadmill 🙂 

readown3I made a goal of 50 and reached that number in October.

I finished this one in October too.  For each letter I read a title and author. 

Southern Reading Challenge BadgeI realized how little Southern fiction I read and did something about it.  I only read 3 books, but liked them all.

everythingausten2I’d never read Austen and enjoyed reading Pride & Prejudice and listening to Sense & Sensibility during this challenge.

I had 3 months to walk 100 miles.  As I’ve already confessed it came down to the wire, but I did it!

And this is a monthly challenge where I committed to reading when I could.  Of the four months, I’ve participated in 2 and look forward to more screenplays and movies in 2010.

Thanks for reading and commenting!  I appreciate each and every one of you 🙂  Have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve.

December Movie Thoughts in 5 Words

I love movies, not as much as I love books, but close.  I review movies on my Top 100 list and a few here and there for challenges, but wanted to keep a running tab on the other movies I watch.  I don’t want to review them all, so I’ll give the movie a grade and 5 words to describe it.  If you’ve seen any of these and want to add  one word of your own leave a comment and I’ll add it to my post.

(2009. Cast includes: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, Quinton Aaron) Grade A

Inspiring True Football Story.  Heartwarming.

So many layers of goodness. (Nolatari)

Much more than football. Uplifting. (Teddyree)

 Don’t mess with Sandra Bullock.  (Tony)

(2009. Cast incudes: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galiianakas, Justin Bartham, Heather Graham) Grade B+

Most Insane Bachelor Party Ever.

A fun dirty crack up! (Teddyree)

Good friends form memories together.  (Tony)

(1987. Cast includes: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Olympia Dukakis) Grade B+

Kooky. Passionate. Italian Love Story.

Mousy Cher gets a makeover. (Stephanie)

Timeless. Truly Cher’s best work. (Nolatari)

(2006. Cast: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson) Grade B

Charming Life of Beatrix Potter.

(2006. Cast: Emilio Estevez(also the director), Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Helen Hunt, Sharon Stone, William H Macy) Grade B

Historical Day. Original Footage. Tears.

Utterly engaging and provocative. Bravo! (Nolatari)

(2009. Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams) Grade B-

Fun. Forgettable. Cool Special Effects.


Fun but forgettable. Great casting. (Nolatari)

I liked Watson better, alas.  (Tony)

(2007. Cast: Halle Barry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi) Grade C-

Unbelievably Inconsistant Thriller.  Redeeming Ending.

(2008. Cast: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifa, Katie Holmes, Ted Danson) Grade D+

Silly Money Robbers. Very Disappointing.


The Cleveland Connection, by Les Roberts

The Cleveland Connection (Milan Jacovich Series #4) by Les Roberts: Book CoverFinished 12-30-09, rating 4/5, mystery, pub. 1993

Book 4 in the Milan Jacovich mystery series

I don’t kid myself that I’m changing the world during my brief tenure here, but I’d like to believe I’m at least making a little dent.  I think we all nurture a secret terror that our living and dying will go unremarked, unmourned, that unlike Jimmy Stewart in that perennial Christmas movie, our life won’t make a damn bit of difference to anyone.

Chapter 2

Milan is a 40 year-old divorced police officer turned private detective who has spent his whole life in Cleveland, Ohio.  When an old classmate hires him to find her missing grandfather and his good friend, Ed, starts receiving death threats, Milan is forced to bully, and bribe, and hope that he will still be in one piece when the day is done.  There’s never a neighborhood bar he can’t find trouble in and rarely a woman not interested in this ex-football player. 

There are many mysteries to be solved, but the main focus is on war criminals of World War II and the losses of the Serbians at the hand of the Nazis.  It’s an interesting history lesson of the war and of Cleveland.  Roberts really does capture the vibe of this city I live in the shadow of.

This book is much more introspective than the first three.  Milan is single and lonely and it has made him melancholy.  Milan is a great character who is always trying to do the right thing, but the right thing is not always black or white.  I never know for sure what side Milan will come down on in complicated issues and that makes him a very interesting character. 

I love this series and think it only gets better with each book.  Roberts manages to keep many storylines going at once without ever confusing the reader and I appreciate that I can never see how it’s all going to come together until the end. 

This book was from my personal library.

2009 Wrap-Up, part 1

It’s been a fun blogging year and I’ll focus on a few of the numbers. 

53 – Number of books I gave away

2 – Memes I participated in (Teaser Tuesday & Monday Movies)

9 – Series I continued (Sophie Metropolis by Carrington, Boston PD-FBI by Neggers, Stephanie Plum by Evanovich, Lincoln Rhyme by Deaver, Myron Bolitar by Coben, Lucan Davenport by Sandford, Women’s Murder Club by Patterson, Bailey Weggins mysteries by White, Milan Jacovich by Roberts)

7 – Series I started and plan to continue (Chesapeake Shores Trilogy by Woods, FBI Suspense Thrillers by Coulter, Elm Creek Quilts by Chiaverini, Della Cooks  by Wells, Texas Rangers by Neggers, Sarah Woolson by Tallman, Tradd Street by White)

67 – New authors read this year.  My favorite discovery must be Deborah Smith since I read 3 of her books this year.

35 – Blog awards received.  Thank you!

1 – Author signing (Daniel Levin)

6 – Trip posts (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, New York City, The Wilds of Ohio, Washington DC, Denver/Vail, Kelley’s Island)

100 – Favorite movies list posted.

Stop by tomorrow for my wrap up of favorite books and challenges.

The results are in…

and you have chosen 50 of the 55 books I will read in 2010 for the Read Your Own Books Challenge.

Opening up the voting to you was fun!  71 of you voted for 1-5 books and the top vote getter was She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb with 12 votes.  Here’s a photo of the top 50 vote getters.  Half of these books received 4 votes or more.

Start from the top left and you’ll see the books with the most votes.  The last stack on the right received 2 votes each.  There were 5 others that had 2 votes, but I was able to choose which ones not to read.  It was nice to have some choice 🙂  Here are the others that received 1 or 2 votes.

I cannot tell you how much fun it has been watching the votes come  in!  The book I am most excited to read, based just on the comments left by the 8 people who voted for it?  The Tea Rose by Donnelly.  The one I’m most intimidated by?  War and Peace by Tolstoy.  Yikes! 

I want to thank each of you who voted.  As I review each book I’ll give a shout out to the people who voted for it.  Now for what you’ve all been waiting for.  To choose a winner I had all of the books that had received votes lined up with a paper in it that had each of the voter names.  I told Jason to go shopping for a book and he chose The Glass Castle (maybe because he brought this home for me from work) and then told him to choose a number between 1-10.  He chose 7.  The 7th person to vote for The Glass Castle?  Alita of AlitaReads!  Alita will receive a $20 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  If I could afford it I’d sent one to each of you.

You can see the list here with the people who voted for each one.  Thanks for choosing half of my reading list for the new year 🙂

2009 Quizzes

I love quizzes and posted one almost every Monday this year.  I love that you participate!  That’s what makes it so fun for me, so thank you very much for playing along.  I will continue weekly quizzes in 2010 although they may be on a different day.  I’ll let you know when I figure it out 🙂  So, here are the quizzes I posted this year.  Feel free to click on any to check them out.  I do still have my Help Me Help Myself & Win a Book Card ‘quiz’ open until tomorrow.

Welcome to 2009

What’s the Best Caption?

Who’s That Prez

Shortest Book

Scrambled Lovers

Oscar Winning Quotes

Notable Black Writers

What Woman Am I?

Green Title

Alternate Bestsellers

Hail to the Chief

Cry Me a Quiz

Tom Hanks Was In That?

Great Fathers

New York, New York

Book Sale

Up & Down

Literary Brat Pack

July 4th-ish

Wheel of Stacy

Alan Rickman Was In That?

Patrick Swayze Was In That?

First Lines (1) (2)

Common Thread (1) (2) (3)

Presidental Censorship

Presiental Movies

Hug a Veteran

Renee Zellweger Was In That?

Thanksgiving Movies

What Book is That?  (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

Sandra Bullock Was In That?

Last Lines

2009 Author Interviews

This year I was able to interview 15 wonderful authors and if you missed any of my 9 on ’09 interviews you can click on the author below and check out the post.  I asked each of them who he or she would choose if trapped in the life of one fictional character.  With 4 1/2 votes (yes, one author chose 2) Elizabeth Bennett was the top vote getter.  Some other choices- Scarlett O’Hara, Tinker Bell, Stephanie Plum, Tintin, and Anne of Green Gables.  I do plan on continuing author interviews next year, even considering the highly creative 10 in ’10 title 🙂

Rachel Hauck

Carla Neggers

Tish Cohen

LaConnie Taylor 

Mary Doria Russell part 1 ,  part 2

 Sherryl Woods 

Laurie Dean

Emilie Richards

Eva Etzioni-Halevy

Nina Vida 

Preetham Grandhi

Linda Palmer 

Carly Phillips 

Barbara Delinsky 

Hallie Ephron 

You Choose 50 of the Books I read in 2010

UPDATE – Voting Closed.  Results are here.

So, a few weeks ago I came up with this really great idea of letting the readers decide 50 of the books that I read next year.  They had to be from my over 300 books and each person can only vote for 5.  When the first few votes came in it was fun.  Then a few more came in, still fun, but began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  The next day I began to think that I hadn’t really thought this whole thing through.  It’s almost 2 weeks and 62 voters later and I have embraced the challenge.  I mean what’s not to love about having to read War & Peace? 

There is still time to vote!  Please stop by my post and peruse my titles and vote for up to 5. If you click on each of the pictures they will enlarge for easier viewing. I am committed to reading the top 50 vote getters (if there’s a tie I will choose which ones to read).  I am out of town until Tuesday, but when I get back I will choose one participant to win a $20 B&N gift card.  Actually, Jason will choose randomly.

So, if you haven’t voted already, please do.  The more votes I have the better chance that my 2010 reading list will be awesome 🙂  You have until Tuesday evening.

Go here to look at the titles and vote.  See you all Tuesday 🙂  Right now A Prayer for Owen Meany and She’s Come Undone are the top vote getters with 10 votes apiece.

Murder in the Air, by Ellen Hart

Cover ImageFinished 12-23-09, rating 4/5, mystery, pub. 1997

Sophie Greenway Mystery series #4


I haven’t got much time.  By now, you’ve heard what happened.  Don’t believe what the police tell you, please!  Wait until you hear the story from me.

Opening Lines

Sophie Greenway and her radio talk show host husband, Bram, live at the fancy hotel she owns and runs in the Twin Cities.  The hotel is the temporary home to actors who have come to St.Paul to work in a new live radio mystery theatre serial.  The new owner of the radio station, Heda Bloom, has decided to use this series to change public opinion  that her son murdered his lover 30 years before and is still on the loose.  By bringing back the original actors from this series all the players from the time of the crime are back.  She has hired a reclusive writer for the series, one she has never met but who seems very familiar with the all the players in the Justin Bloom story. 

This is a mystery that is brimming with characters and plot.  I was engrossed in the story and had to pay attention to keep up with everything that was happening, so that I was completely unprepared for the end.  I mean I was floored, didn’t see it coming at all.  I don’t usually start a series in the middle, because I want the story of the characters from the beginning, but I picked this up at a used bookstore because I needed one more holiday book for my quiz and I’m so glad I did.  As much as I don’t want to start another series right now I may have to look for the first one.

The book isn’t perfect.  Sophie’s son is preparing a commitment ceremony with his boyfriend and while not a major storyline, felt a little like a public service announcement for tolerance (a good theme, but seemed forced into the story).  Although I guess she could have been following up on a major storyline from an earlier book.  See the questions I have when I don’t read a series from the beginning?!  And while I loved the big payoff at the end of this mystery I wanted a little more, maybe to see a little more of the fallout. 

I would recommend this for mystery lovers.

You will choose 50 of the books I will read next year.  If you help me you could win a $20 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  Go here to vote. (Right now there is a tie for the top vote getter between A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving and She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb)