The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown: Book CoverFinished 3-31-11, rating 4/5, thriller, 639 pages, pub. 2009

“Traditionally, ma’am, it was used as an invitation.”

“An invitation…to what?” she demanded.

Langdon looked down at the symbols on his friend’s severed hand.  “For centuries, the Hand of the Mysteries served as a mystical summons.  Basically, it’s an invitation to receive secret knowledge-protected wisdom known only to an elite few.”

Sato folded her thin arms and stared up at him with jet-black eyes. “Well, Professor, for someone who claims to have no clue why he’s here…you’re doing quite well so far.”

Chapter 17

Robert Langdon, famous symbologist of the DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons, is back. Langdon has been invited by an old friend, current head of the Smithsonian Institute, to give a lecture in Washington DC that very day.  Short on time, but with an old lecture ready to go he boards a private plane and is off.  Only when he arrives at the Capitol for his lecture he is not greeted by a welcoming crowd, but a hand.  The dismembered hand of his friend was left  there to convince Langdon to help a madman in exchange for his friend’s life.  So, begins another stressful all-nighter in the Langdon saga.

I appreciated that this one utilized Washington DC and its rich history.  I love that city and had fun imagining Langdon racing around on familiar territory.  This book was a manual for the Freemasons, their beliefs and influence on the fathers of the country.  It was also a nice introduction to the Noetic Sciences, which I knew nothing about, but found very interesting.  This was another controversial look at history from Dan Brown and one that may have you looking at the 2012 prophecy about the end of the world in a new light.

Having read the first two Langdon books and liked them both, I confess that this was not as good.  There was drama and a badass bad guy, but the situations Langdon found himself in never felt dire.  The CIA kept saying finding the bad guy was a matter of national security, but it took way too long to find out why.  The bad guy himself painted quite a mental picture since he was covered in tatoos from head to toe and I actually liked that part of the story.  Once again, Langdon was all about solving clues and racing against the clock to find the next piece of the puzzle and that was fun.  But maybe it was because I didn’t find the Freemason conspiracy story as interesting as Dan Brown did.  He included a lot of detail and not all of it really moved the story forward.

I think if you enjoyed the first two that you will also enjoy this one, but for me it is the weakest of the three.  And the ending, while not bad, wasn’t really satisfying.  I’m assuming Tom Hanks will be back on the big screen as Langdon and I look forward to it, if only because I want to see DC in all of her glory.

2011 Round 1 Quiz Results – Closest Ever!

Only 2.5 points separated the top two scorers this round of quizzes with Nise (Under the Boardwalk) pulling out her third win.  Hannah (Word Lily) came in second and while Nise gets bragging rights, both ladies will receive gift cards to either Barnes & Noble or Babies R Us.  Nise gets $30 and Hannah $15 🙂  Congratulations, ladies!

Here’s the rest of the Leaderboard.  Now on to the randomly chosen winner.  Here are some action shots from the process…

So, while he thought many of you were tasty, the wonderful Beth Hoffman is the winner!  Gage will be sending her a special gift just from him.  And this proves that you only have to play once to win a prize!

I want to thank everyone for playing along with me every week.  The next round will start next week and I hope the quizzes will only get better and that you’ll continue to join me every week.  You guys make it fun 🙂

Monday Movie Meme – Movie Madness

Feature Presentation…MONDAY MOVIE MEME
This week’s movie topic is all about Insanity…In the movies, madness can be entertaining to watch too. Sometimes scary, sometimes sad and sometimes madcap fun. Share on your blog movies that feature maniacs, lunatics, psychos, crazed behavior or mentally tortured souls.  The Bumbles
This should be fun since so many come to mind. 
1. Psycho (1960)Obviously the title makes this an obvious choice, but I love this movie!
2. American Psycho (2000)Hard to watch, but an excellent movie and performance.
3. Se7en (1995)Totally creepy and awesome movie.
4. The Soloist (2009)Just when it looked like I thought all madness makes people kill, I add this touching film that I think everyone should watch.  Based on a true story with excellent performances.
5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)How will greed and desperation change a person?  It may drive you insane.
Visit The Bumbles for more selections and leave a comment telling us your favorite madness movie.

Sundays with Gage – What’s This Stuff?

After Gage’s health scare we decided to wait an extra few weeks before introducing solids.  And by solids I mean a tiny bit of rice cereal mixed with quite a bit of formula.  There is still the possibility of a metabolic problem so we have to be extra careful when introducing new stuff.  Thought I’d share some of the fun…

I’m not sure if he actually swallowed any, but we’ll try again tomorrow. 

I feel as though I need to acknowledge my Buckeyes loss on Friday night.  There.  I’ve acknowledged it, let’s move on.  That in addition to all the stuff coming out about our football coach has not made this the happiest week for Ohio State fans.  But on the plus side, Gage has recovered and is ready for next season.

Fave Movie #73 – Rain Man


Cast- Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino

Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Original Screenplay, Best Director

Charlie Babbitt is a selfish car dealer who needs money fast.  When his estranged father dies he heads back to Ohio for the reading of the will.  Only Charlie wasn’t left with any money.  When he discovers the wealth was left to someone else he tracks them down.  What he finds is an autistic brother he never knew about.  Still miffed about the money he kidnaps him and the two begin a cross-country journey that won’t leave either one of them the same.

Why I love it- The two powerhouse performances stand out in this beautiful story of redemption.  Hoffman may have won the Oscar for his superb acting, but Cruise was also impressive.  These two made an already sharp script shine.  Hoffman is heartbreaking and heartwarming as Raymond and Cruise’s Charlie has such a transformation that it leaves you rooting for him when you hated him two hours before.  I liked watching Charlie come to understand Raymond and with that came the love of a brother he never knew he needed. 

This was autism before everyone knew what autism was.  It is a look at the love and value an autistic person has, when often those things are overlooked.  You can’t help but fall in love with Raymond.  There is such a beauty and humor in this film that it makes it hard to forget.  I loved when Raymond made his first joke.  What could have been a depressing movie came to life with a sharp wit and great writing. 

My Favorite 100 Movie List

Deadly Vows, by Brenda Joyce

Deadly Vows (Francesca Cahill Series #9) by Brenda Joyce: Book CoverFinished 3-17-11, rating 4/5, romance, 379 pages, pub. 2011

Book 9 in the Francesca Cahill series  (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4) (Book 5) (Book 6) (Book 7) (Book 8)

“You are assuming that our relationship was founded on love.”  He stared.  “Let me offer some advice-you do not want to have this discussion with me.”

No one could miss the warning in  is tone.  Her heart with more alarm, more fear.  “I never meant to stand you up!”

His gaze finally flickered.  “It is for the best.”

She cried out “What?  I love you.  Missing my wedding was not for the best!”

“Good day, Francesca.”  He sat abruptly down, pulling a folder forward.

Chapter 4

Francesca Cahill, blueblood and sleuth, is lured away on her wedding day by someone intent on destroying her relationship with finance, Calder Hart.  She was told she’d finally find her portrait, a nude, but she escaped without it and in 1902 New York City society a nude portrait would ruin her and devastate her family.  When Calder realizes that she left him at the altar his pride is hurt and he thinks she has had second thoughts.  These insecurities feed into his fear that she will always love his brother best and he ends their engagement.

Francesca is a great character, full of smarts and spunk and loyalty.  Calder is a great hero, dark, flawed, and dangerous.  I love the two of them together although his reaction after being jilted at the altar felt like I’d read it before in the series.  A couple can only go back and forth so long before something’s got to give.  I was worried that the whole story would feel done already, but the story recovered and took off.  Rick, Francesca’s good friend and Calder’s half-brother, is police commissioner and the three of them race to find Francesca’s portrait before it becomes public.  It seems like more people know of its existence than should.

It was nice to have the gang all back for this one even if none of them were really a focus like they’ve been in past books.  It was nice to see Francesca’s brother, Evan, start to admit his feelings for the poor widow and mother, Maggie and confront his ex-mistress.  This was a good contribution to the series, but not my favorite.

This is from my personal library.

State of Ohio Quiz – Guessing Closed

To further my obsession with the #1 ranked Buckeyes this quiz is all about Ohio fiction authors.  See how well you know the authors of my state.  This is the last week of Round 1 (looks like there are 3 people in the running for the top spot) so make your guesses even if you haven’t participated yet and you’ll be eligible to win a prize.  I’ll have Gage randomly select a second winner on Sunday 🙂  You have until noon on Friday to submit your answers.  Each question worth 10 points.

A few rules…No cheating.  No looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system…Your first answers will be the only ones accepted…Have fun!  This round for every participant I have (currently at $32I will put in a $ for a B&N gift card or a Babies R Us gift card for the winner. Even if you play only once you are eligible to win the second prize (something special I pick out) and you will be adding money to the kitty for the winner.  

Last week’s quiz and point tally here.  The results of last week’s quiz here.  Current Leaderboard here.

1. This Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning African-American author was born right here in northeast Ohio.  One of her most famous novels was set in Ohio after the Civil War.  Toni Morrison

2. This Ohio-born author also received her MFA in Fiction from OSU.  Many of her light women’s fiction novels are set in small towns in Ohio, her latest has a red cover with a plush red chair and is set in southern Ohio.  Jennifer Crusie

3. This bestselling women’s fiction author spent 12 years in Cleveland and her Ministry is Murder series is set in Ohio.  Emilie Richards

4. This Ohio born author was most famous for his novel set in Winesburg.  Sherwood Anderson

5. Quite a few times I’ve written about this Cleveland transplant, who writes a great mystery series set in Cleveland, even reviewing one of his books earlier this year.  Feel free to browse on my blog to find his name.  Les Roberts

6. This OSU alumni and former English professor is now a successful author who writes historicals (Elizabeth I series), suspense (Maple Creek Amish series) and romances.   Karen Harper

7. The author of the Kent Family Chronicles and the North and South trilogy earned his MA in American Literature from Ohio State.  John Jakes

8. The author of the Goosebumps series earned his degree from Ohio State in 1965.  RL Stine

9. This author was born in Cleveland Heights and still lives there today.  Her book, Some Things That Stay, won awards for debut fiction and she has gone on to write three more.  Sarah Willis

10. This stand-up comedian, turned actor is well known for his manic personality and his all black wardrobe.  He also wrote a book about his battle with alcoholism.  He’s a 1969 OSU grad.  Richard Lewis

BONUS- This Cleveland born/OSU grad actress is also the daughter of a well known Cleveland Plain Dealer writer.  She currently stars on the funny sitcom The Middle.  Patricia Heaton

Favorite Sports Movie Results

Last week’s quiz (here) was all about the best sports movies.  My husband did have to break 3 ties (The Karate Kid and Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and Hoosiers, The Husler and Miracle) After my scientific poll of 19 people (myself included) these are the results…

#16 The Mighty Ducks

#15 Caddyshack

#14 Miracle

#13 The Hustler

#12 Brian’s Song

#11 The Natural

#10 Bull Durham

#9 Hoosiers

#8 Million Dollar Baby

#7 A League of Their Own

#6 Rudy

#5 Jerry Maguire

#4 Field of Dreams

#3 The Karate Kid

#2 Rocky

and the top sports movie is

#1 Remember the Titans

Sundays with Gage – A Weekend with Ohio Staters

Gage has had a great weekend with family and basketball.  My cousin Bill and his wife Jenny came on Friday and watched Ohio State win in the first round of the tournament and today, the three of us (2 OSU grads and one current student) went to the arena and watched the Buckeyes dominate.  Gage didn’t get to go to the game, but he did spend most of the weekend watching basketball with the guys. 

Next Sunday may not be another basketball post, but I can’t promise anything.

After Isaactown, by Ward Jones

After Isaactown by Ward Jones: Book CoverFinished 3-14-11, rating 3/5, fiction, 353 pages, pub. 2010

Panic seized him.  He wasn’t prepared.  He had nothing to suggest.

He hung up.

In the quiet his emotions drifted from disgust to depression.  There was, however, no escape from his behavior, his acting like a lovesick teenager, not a person who uses his mind for a living, and he wondered if he had lost through nonuse what others had, the ability to communicate on a personal, even intimate, level.

page 45

Norm Armstein is a very successful corporate lawyer who has always been in love with his sister-in-law, if only his thick-headed brother hadn’t found her first they may have enjoyed a very happy life together.  After his last ill-fated trip back home to Isaactown, and Bev, he believes he sees her walking in Manhattan and follows her.  Only it’s not her, but a younger woman who befriends him.  Norm’s job is like a noose hanging around his neck and Harriet and her daughter are much-needed in his life.

Norm is like many who are lucky enough to have high paying jobs and not enough time to enjoy the fruits of his labor.  His attraction to Bev has colored his dating life for over 20 years and he has never truly been in love.  So, the story is about Norm finding a life in his middle age and how that life might fit in with a girlfriend and her daughter.

The story itself was good, but it was a slow read.  It had a lot of detail that really slowed the whole story down to a crawl, but that may have been purposeful, since the story was introspective.  As much as I enjoyed the idea of Norm’s story I found it hard to really care about him and even Harriet.  At first I felt for Bev and the life she chose/got stuck in, but in the end I didn’t care for her character either.  Solid writing and story, just not the story for me.

This was generously sent to me by the author.