Mid Year Update

So, having a baby in the house kinda cuts into your reading time!  This year I thought I signed up for challenges in a conservative fashion, but we’ll see as we take a lot at what I’ve accomplished.

Yes, this is a 2010 challenge that I am determined to finish this year because it’s the one where all of you voted for what I would read from my stacks of books.

Goal 14  Read so far  5   Since this is the one that I most want to finish I need to get busy.

Book ObsessedI knew this would be the one challenge that would be a long shot but I wanted to try it anyway.

Goal 51 Read so far 16    That’s worse than I thought I was doing.

I’m fairly good about giving away my books so I thought this one was a no brainer.

Goal 12  So far I’ve given away 5 that I reviewed this year, but 2 more will be offered on Saturday.

I wanted to get back to reading more fluff but haven’t read too many.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t discovered a new romance author that I love lately.

Goal 12  Read so far 5

One down, still over 100 to go 🙂  Good thing there’s no time limit on this one!

This one starts on July 1st, so I’m not behind yet!  Woo Hoo 🙂


My favorite book so far has been Good Grief by Lolly Winston.

My favorite movie so far this year is Bridemaids.

Good Grief, by Lolly Winston

Cover ImageFinished 6-26-11, rating 5/5, fiction, 342 pages, pub. 2004

My name is Sophie Stanton and I’ve joined the grief group because…well, because I sort of did a crazy thing.  I drove  my Honda through our garage door.  I was coming home from work one night and-even though my husband has been dead for three months-I honestly thought I would run inside and tell him to turn on the radio because they were playing an old recording of Flip Wilson, whom he just loves.  Loved.  Ethan had been trying to find a copy of this skit for years, and now here it was on the radio.  If I hurried, we could tape it.  Then I had the sudden realization that my husband was gone, dead, and the next thing I knew the car was lurching through the door.

Chapter 1

Sophie is 36 years old, childless, newly widowed, and unhappily employed.  She had only been married for three years when her husband died of Hodgkin’s disease and she wasn’t dealing with it very well.  She went to work in a bathrobe, wanted to sleep with her grief counselor and had the police come to her house when she started throwing her dish set against the house late at night.  She needed a change and when her job forced a leave of absence on her a move up to Oregon to live with her best friend from college and daughter seemed like a good idea.

Sophie is a mess, but an honest and charming one.  She is not superwoman and she falls and fails at many turns, but she never stays down (well, down for very long at least).  She picks herself up and muddles her way through another day until she has put together enough good days to make a real life for herself.  And as sad as some of this book was it was always tinged with enough humor and wit to make it immensely enjoyable.  At the end I was sad to say goodbye to Sophie and her friends.  I really wanted to continue hanging out with them.

I’m giving this a 4.75 rating, only my second one since starting the blog.  It was so close to being perfect for me.  I wasn’t sure until I started typing where my rating would land, but there it is.  I love Winston’s voice (I also enjoyed her second book) and am amazed that she had the guts to write such a poignant book about being a widow when she’s not one.

I highly recommend this one.  Oh, but don’t read it expecting it to be a grief workbook.  It is still a work of fiction and meant to entertain.

This is from my personal library and chosen by Staci, Jenners, and Margie.  Here’s what Jenners had to say… “I love this author and she only has two books but this one is wonderful. I’m anxiously awaiting her next book!!!”

Monday Movie Meme – Epic Battle

Feature Presentation…MONDAY MOVIE MEME
This week’s movie topic is all about Epic Battle Scenes…
For the most part I do not like battle scenes.  They are usually my least favorite part of the movie if there is such a scene, but here are a few that still come to mind for their emotional impact.
1. Glory (1989) is about the Civil War’s first all-black volunteer army.  The storming of Ft. Wagner, the last scene, had me in tears.  Based on a true  story.
2. When Uma Thurman and Lucy Lui fight in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003) I was mesmerized and entertained, shocking even me.
3. Dogma (1999) View ImageThe last scene between angels and God worked visually with angel blood and loss of wings to keep me interested.  It’s been too long since I’ve seen this one!
4. Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers (2002) – The Battle of Helm’s Deep.  This is what the whole movie was building toward and it did not disappoint. 
There are others but these are the first that come to mind.  Are there any epic battles you like?  Visit the hosts of this meme, The Bumbles.

Sundays with Gage – A Weighty Issue

My weight didn’t become a real issue until we moved to the Cleveland area in 2000.  I had never had a real problem with my weight.  So, when we moved here for Jason’s job and I decided not to transfer with Barnes & Noble and became unemployed for the first time, it is no big surprise that the pounds found their way on to my short body.  I took on several part-time jobs over the years but none of them kept me on my feet and away from the refrigerator like B&N did.  I gained weight.  And then I joined Weight Watchers online and lost 20 pounds.  I still wanted to lose a little more but I was happy.  Who knew that those 20 less pounds would provide fertile ground for a pregnancy.

And then I gained 42-45 pounds and a baby.  And stress, due to colic and his health, had me not caring what went into my body as long as it made me feel better.  This usually involved chocolate and wine on weekends.  And lots and lots of easy to pick up junk food.

Then one day I saw a few pictures and was horrified. No, really.  I turn 40 in October.  (Wow, that was quite a confession ;))  And I want to be at pre-pregnancy weight.  Which means I have to lose about 26 pounds. This picture from last weekend will serve as my before picture.

I will probably try to use Weight Watchers because it works for me and I will be joining the .  I committed to 100 miles from July 1-Sept 30, but I’m hoping to walk lots more than that.

Being a mother has not been easy, but the extra weight is not making it any easier or me any healthier.  I will not be giving you regular updates, but I will provide an after picture on my birthday.  I’ll have to see what I can get done in the next 15 weeks.

Any tips for losing pregnancy weight?  Except for the boring eat less, move more?

Here’s a picture I took of Gage (and Max) an hours ago…

It’s nice to know that no matter how much I weigh, Gage still loves me 🙂

Movies that celebrate summer

It is officially summer and that got me thinking of some of my favorite movies that celebrate the sun, the unbearable heat, and vacations.  Here are my  favorite 10 movies that celebrate summer.  What are some of yours?  Maybe I’ll have to revise my list if you remind me of better ones 🙂

1. Summer School (1987).  It’s Mark Harmon.  That should be all I need to say.

2. Movie poster shows a woman in the ocean swimming to the right. Below her is a large shark, and only its head and open mouth with teeth can be seen. Within the image is the film's title and above it in a surrounding black background is the phrase "The terrifying motion picture from the terrifying No. 1 best seller." The bottom of the image details the starring actor and lists credits and the MPAA rating.Jaws (1975).  Ruined the beach for me for a long time.

3. Dirty Dancing (1987).  Who didn’t want to spend a summer with Johnny Castle when they first saw this?

4. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983).  Who doesn’t remember the summer road trips with family?  Let me know if any of you have a story as good as this one 🙂

5. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005). I didn’t read the book but I was charmed by the 4 friends in this movie.

6. Summertime (1955). A movie that celebrates summer vacations, Venice and Katharine Hepburn.

7. An Affair to Remember (1957). It starts on a vacation and the romantic last scene has snow falling in the background.  I still need to see the original.

8. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003). If only I had been able to convince my husband we needed to buy a fixer upper while we were on vacation in Italy!

9. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989).  Probably the only list where you will find this movie listed above Stand By Me.  For a summer cheesefest you really can’t go wrong with this one.

10. Stand By Me (1986).  Was I the only one surprised to find out that  Stephen King could write such a sweet and heartwarming coming of age story?

EDITED TO ADD- Grease (1978)  You were all so right! It was completely wrong to leave Grease off this list!  I’d probably add it in at 5 or 6.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the HedgehogFinished audio 6-17-11, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2008

Unabridged audio 9.5 hours.  Read by Tony-Award winner Barbara Rosenblat & Cassandra Morris

Renee Michel is a concierge at a posh Paris apartment building and Paloma Josse is a 12-year-old girl planning on committing suicide on her 13th birthday.  The two know each other only in passing until the impressive Mr. Ozu movies into the building and befriends them both.  Renee cannot believe that someone like Mr. Ozu can see the real her, the intelligent and insightful woman behind the concierge mask and Paloma is surprised to find someone in the upper class to surprise her with warmth and smarts.

The chapters alternate between the two and this worked for me.  I liked them both for their intelligence, spunk, and subtlety.  I would have liked more story between them.  The first half of the book was an introduction and many philosophy references.  Too many for me.  This is a book that I believe benefitted from the audio performances.  I absolutely loved listening to Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris.  They really brought the words to life for me.  I’m not sure I would have made it through the print version.

Barbery is a professor of philosophy and it shows.  She reeled me in from the beginning and then I got a little lost and/or bored until the last third of the book.  The introduction of Mr. Ozu was really where the story and my enjoyment began.  This had been on my wishlist for so long that I had forgotten everything I read about it, so I was completely unprepared for the ending.  I had forgotten or never known that it would blow me away.

I’m iffy on this one.  I would recommend the audio if you are considering it though.

I checked this audio out of the library.

Quiz Results for Round 2!!

The results are in and we have a first time quiz winner!


Mariska scored an impressive 1015 points out of a possible 1200!  She will receive a $27 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  Congratulations 🙂

And for the randomly chosen winner…

Jill (Fizzy Thoughts)

wins a special bookish gift from me.

Thank you all for playing.  It’s only fun because you all play along with me every week. Final leaderboard here.  Last week’s quiz here.

I am taking July off to rejuvenate and come up with some even better quizzes next round.  We’ll start again on August 2.  If any of you have any fun ideas you’d like me to consider, just drop me an email.

The Case for the Only Child, by Susan Newman, PhD

The Case for the Only ChildFinished 6-19-11, rating 3.5/5, parenting, 244 pages, pub. 2011

I’m an only child and so is my husband.  In all likelihood, Gage will be too.  I wrote a post on the decision to have an only child a few months back (here) and I was surprised by how many of you were mothers of onlies too!  And you all seemed to be in favor of it.  No one who had one said they wished they’d had more.  While the decision ultimately belongs to Jason and me, it was still nice to know there were so many of you out there.

If you are leaning toward having an only child or just looking for validation of your choice to have only one, then this is the book for you.  Dr. Newman interviewed 100 people who were only children or the parents of onlies for this book (although over the years she has interviewed and studied countless others).  This book points out the statistics that show the growing only child trend and the many reasons why this choice is a good one.  Children cost a lot of money and women are waiting longer to have children, sometimes making getting pregnant and the pregnancy difficult.  There are misconceptions that are put to rest, that you experience the same happiness rush with every child, that siblings are the answer, and that the stereotypes of onlies are true.  In my earlier post I told you that in my experience the negative stereotypes of children are wrong and this book validates that.

If you are looking for an ‘essential guide’ like the subtitle says I think you may be disappointed.  While there are study and poll results (I liked knowing that having a boy or only boys reduces your chance for divorce) most of the information included is anecdotal.  The actual advise on raising only children appeared on pages 219 &220.  Good tips, but I was hoping for more.

Like I said if you are thinking about it or have a friend thinking about parenting an only child and you or they need positive reinforcement you should pick up this book.  It will probably aid in the decision process and alleviate guilt.

Famous Bookish Singletons- E.M Forster, Iris Murdoch, John Updike, Danielle Steel

I received this book from the publisher for this tour.  Check out the other stops on the tour to see what they thought.

Susan Newman, P.h.D.’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

June 9th:  Life in Review
June 16th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
June 21st:  I’m Booking It
June 27th:  Helen’s Book Blog
June 28th:  Girls Gone Reading
July 5th:  Overstuffed

Sundays with Gage – Father’s Day addition

There are lots of dads in the world, but not nearly as many good ones.  I have been blessed in my life with two great dads, my own and Jason.  My dad was strict but fun and let me know he loved me a lot of different ways.  I grew up knowing that a good father makes a real difference in your life.  Gage saves his best smiles for grandpa.

I have also been lucky enough to marry a guy who is an awesome dad.  Different than the one I grew up with, but just as wonderful.  He changes diapers, feeds him and sings to him when that’s the only thing that will do.  I love parenting with him and can’t imagine a better dad for Gage.

I have every confidence that Gage will grow into a great man.  He’s got two perfect examples in his dad and grandpa.

Fave Film #25 – The Wedding Singer


Cast- Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Christine Taylor

Robbie Hart is a wedding singer, a good one, but still a wedding singer and on his wedding day his bride-to-be decides that it isn’t enough for her.  Robbie is depressed but finds purpose in helping Julia plan her wedding to Glen, a less than impressive fiance.

Why I love it- It is no secret that I love all things 80’s, so this ode to the 80’s is an obvious fit for me.  I held off seeing it, however, due to its lead.  I am not a fan of Adam Sandler movies (I did love him on Saturday Night Live), so I was surprised that I totally fell for him as the wedding singer.  He had a vulnerability and normalcy in this movie that I hadn’t seen from him before.  And if you add the always charming Drew Barrymore, well you have the basis for a good flick.

It hit the over the top 80’s vibe just right, with the pop culture references, the music and wardrobe.  Just look at the poster and Adam Sandler’s permed hair!  It took me back to my high school days (a little) and life before cell phones and texting when a cd player was the hot new thing.

I never would have thought I would buy into Adam Sandler as a romantic lead, but what can I say?  His song to Julia at the end is one that I sing to my hubby 😉  And it’s funny.  It’s a sweet romantic comedy.

Fun Fact- In a recent Entertainment Weekly poll of favorite wedding movies The Wedding Singer tied for second with Wedding Crashers.  Father of the Bride was #1.