The Duke of Cleveland by Les Roberts

The Duke of Cleveland (Milan Jacovich Series #6)The Duke of Cleveland, Finished 5-28-12, rating 4/5, mystery series, 257 pages, pub. 1995

Book 6 of the Milan Jacovich series (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4) (Book 5)

Les is an adopted Clevelander.  He had a successful career in Hollywood and was in Cleveland for a job when he fell in love with the city.  In 1990 he moved to Cleveland and calls it his spiritual home.  His website is here.  Les gets the city and its suburbs just right in this mystery series set in Cleveland and I highly recommend it.  This is the second stop on my Ohio tour.

They looked pretty much the way they had for a hundred years or more, solid and functional.  But like the steel mills that define the banks of the Cuyahoga River, the semideserted factories near downtown Cleveland have a terrible beauty.  They stand for an era that has practically faded from consciousness, the days when the industrial Northeast and Midwest set the pulse of America, and her immigrant sons and daughters made her sing.

Chapter 2 

Slovenian private detective Milan Jacovich is a tough middle-aged man who displays his old-fashioned morals as a shield for all to see.  Never one to turn away from a fight he’s been in a scrape or two and has always come out in one piece.  When a rich girl with nothing but attitude comes to him to find her missing boyfriend, he takes the case.  What starts as a search for loser Jeff Feldman turns into a wild goose chase for a rare piece of porcelain, which brings him, once again, into the Cleveland mob’s web.

Milan is such a real character.  He is proud of his ethnicity and he’s proud of his two sons, hoping he’s being the best dad he can be since he only sees them on weekends.

Looking at my two loves, I wondered if there was anything a parent could really do, that I could do, that would guarantee them honor and decency and whatever measure of happiness the future might hold.  Or is life simply a dangerous crapshoot?

Chapter 19

How can you not love a man who loves his boys so dearly?  This series is full of interesting characters and a real insight into the city and it’s underbelly.  The mystery, as always is top notch.

I love this series and although I recommend you read them in order (because that’s what I do) this could certainly be read as a stand alone.

This was from my personal library.

Marine Quiz – guessing closed

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and also to thank all of the veterans and active members of the military.  Let’s see if you can identify these United States Marines.

You have until noon Sunday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling!

This round will last til August.  The person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Have fun and Good Luck!  Last week’s Mark Ruffalo quiz here .  Leaderboard and rules here.

1.  This famous Clevelander is really best know for his comedy and now his game show hosting gig, but he did write an autobiography titled Dirty Jokes and Beer.  He served in the Marine Corp Reserve for 6 six years in the 80’s. Drew Carey

2. This author of the Bourne series also wrote under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd. Robert Ludlum

3. Tom Cruise made Born on the Fourth of July a must see movie, but who was the Marine that lived and wrote it?  Ron Kovic

4. This novelist wrote Sophie’s Choice plus many others.  Although he joined the Marines at the end of WWII the Japanese surrendered before he left the US.  William Styron

5. This author of historical fiction (Exodus and Trinity to name a few) joined the Marines at 17 and served in the South Pacific.   Leon Uris

6. The lone woman on the list joined the Marines after earning a degree in history.  She writes science fiction and her book The Speed of Dark won the Nebula prize in 2003.  Elizabeth Moon

7. Which one of these actors was NOT a Marine?  Gene Hackman, Harvey Keitel, or Joe Pesci  Joe Pesci

8. This Vietnam vet wrote a biography on George Reeves while still in school and an autobiography a few years ago titled Life’s That Way.  He’s seen on TV in  Deadwood and Supernatural these days.  Jim Beaver

9. Which one of The Daily Show cast is a current member of the Marine Corp Reserve and has served in Liberia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan?  Rob Riggle

10. Who is this Marine and you’ll get bonus points if you can name one of his movies.  Steve McQueen

Lake View Cemetery with Gage

Lake View Cemetery is a destination location for anyone visiting the Cleveland area.  Its 105,000+ graves sit on 285 acres, with over 700 burials still taking place each year.  Founded in  1869 when Cleveland was still one of biggest cities in the country, it is home to many recognizable people.

President James Garfield has his own monument.  He and his wife are entombed in the basement and the second story deck offers a geat view of the city.  You can see downtown in the middle and Lake Erie on the right.







Another notable is John D Rockefeller.   His monument is made of one piece of granite, the largest piece ever quarried for memorialization purposes.  His grave is directly in front of the memorial and his family is buried in a circle around the monument.











There are many other notables buried here, Eliot Ness, Harvey Pekar, Charles Chesnutt to name a few.  I consider this a must see for anyone in the northeast Ohio area.  If  you are a history buff or a cemetery enthusiast you could spend days walking around this beautiful, park-like cemetery.

Lake View Cemetery website here.


Saturday Snapshot – Balloons

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a link over at At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see.

I love this meme because it’s so nice to see a more personal side to fellow blogger buddies.  This is my first time participating, but I’m sure it won’t be my last.

On Thursday night, my mom and I went to the Blossom Time Balloon Glow in the village about 10 minutes from us.  I wish we’d been able to take Gage because he’d have loved it, but it was past his bedtime and he’s still not completely over his cold. 

Ten hot air balloons inflated on a practice field and lit themselves up, to the delight of the hundreds (thousands?).  They’ll be racing them all weekend.

Be the Miracle:50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible, by Regina Brett

Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible PossibleBe the Miracle by Regina Brett. Finished 5-22-12, rating 4/5, 267 pages, pub. 2012

Regina Brett is a popular Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist where she was a finalist in 2008 and 2009 for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and has her own call-in talk show.  Her breast cancer journey inspired her first book, God Never Blinks:50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours.  This book follows in the same vein, so that we see everyday opportunities to be a miracle, not only for ourselves but more importantly, others.  Regina was born just south of where I live and has spent her life in the Cleveland/Akron area and is the first stop on my Ohioana author tour.  I met Regina in February at a book signing.

Each of these lessons is short enough to read on a daily basis for a jump-start to your day which is how I approached it.  Since it’s been awhile since I started it I don’t remember all of the lessons and, to be honest, as much as I loved some of them others were equally as forgettable.

There were a few standouts.  Lesson 40 is titled Aim Higher and it’s about Bonnie St. John, the first African American to win Olympic medals in ski racing.  Oh, and she did it with one leg.

Bonnie often goes to hospitals to visit patients and give talks to people who are facing obstacles that seem insurmountable like hers once did.  She met one mother whose 13-year-old son had been horribly burned on his face and arms.  The mother turned to Bonnie and asked, “Will my son ever live a normal life?”

I expected Bonnie to promise, “Of course he will.”  She shocked me with her answer.

“No,” Bonnie said.  “He should aim higher.”

That’s what she did. 

And the last two chapters were the strongest.  Leave a legacy time can’t erase and If you woke up today, God isn’t through with you yet are both about taking time to reflect on life’s end game and living life to the fullest every moment of every day.

This book definitely had a Christian slant, but I didn’t feel it was preachy, just what’s important in Brett’s life.  I liked most of it and might give her first book, God Never Blinks a try.

I bought this one at the book signing in February.


My Ohio author tour

Last week I posted about the Ohioana Book Festival and it has inspired me to spend the rest of this month and June reading Ohio authors.  Maybe it will last longer I don’t know, there are so many authors to choose from.  Although Ohio has a rich history of renowned authors I think I’m going to focus on author’s still writing today.  I’m hoping to discover a few new faces.  I think this could be a good challenge for any of you wanting to discover your home states and invite you to join me.

A few authors I’ll be reading…

Regina Brett (newspaper columnist and Pulitzer Prize finalist)

Les Roberts (a Cleveland transplant.  Love his Milan mystery series)

Carrie Bebris (a festival discovery)

Susan Gee Heino (another festival discovery who writes historical romances)

Julie Anne Lindsey (a self-published festival discovery whose title and cover made me buy her book)

Thrity Umrigar (Another Cleveland transplant who I met at a book signing)

Bob Adamov (writes a series of books about Put-in-Bay, the island next to the one we spent a week at every year)

Karen Harper, Casey Daniels…

I really don’t think I’ll be able to read all of these by the end of June, but I can hope!  Or maybe I’ll find even more authors I have to read and continue all summer 🙂

Mark Ruffalo was in that? Quiz

We saw The Avengers last weekend and really liked it.  It had a great cast, including a few of my favorite actors, like Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L Jackson, and Mark Ruffalo.   I’ve listed Ruffalo’s characters in the order that I like the movies best with the name of a co-star or two. These are only movies I’ve seen.  Can you identify the movie?

You have until noon Sunday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling!

This round will last til August.  The person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Have fun and Good Luck!  Last week’s Mom Quiz here.  Leaderboard and rules here.

 1. Paul (2010)- Annette Bening and Julianne Moore couldn’t have had their 2 kids without him. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

2. Fanning (2004)- Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx are the leads of this thriller. Collateral (2004)

3. Matt Flamhaff (2004) – Jennifer Garner was the timeless love interest. 13 Going on 30 (2004)

4. Brad Sullivan (2010)- Tina Fey and Steve Carrell were having a bad night. Date Night (2010)

5. Chuck Aule (2010)- Leo DiCaprio helped make this movie based on a Dennis Lehane novel a good one. Shutter Island (2010)

6. Inspector David Toschl (2007)- Based on a non-fiction book by Robert Graysmith about the hunt for a serial killer.  Also starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.  Zodiac (2007)

7. Bruce Banner/The Hulk (2012) – no description necessary. The Avengers (2012)

8. David (2005) – a very unreal/real Reese Witherspoon played his love interest. Just Like Heaven (2005)

9. Yates (2001) – Robert Redford goes to prison. The Last Castle (2001)

10. Stan (2004) – Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet had a few problems.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Series #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Finished audio 5-17-12, rating 4/5, YA, pub. 2012

Book 1 of The Lunar Chronicles

Unabridged audio 10 hours. Read by Rebecca Soler

Cinder is 16, New Beijing’s best mechanic, and a cyborg.  After the 4th World War the Earth divided itself into peaceful provinces and the real threat is from the moon, where the Lunars are ruled by the evil Queen Levana.  For Cinder there is evil at home too as she is owned by her guardian, Adri, who resents her very presence.  Cinder has two “step-sisters” and is lucky to call one a friend.  Unfortunately, that one friend is stricken with the plague, an epidemic that no one in New Bejing survives.

I remember reading reviews for this when it came out in January and actually won a copy (forgive me for not remembering where) of the audio.  It sat on my shelf until I was caught without an audio book for the car (Gage is going to be a very well read little man :))  I knew it was a Cinderella retelling and that everyone seemed to like it, but didn’t remember much else and that’s probably a good thing.

For someone like me who doesn’t read a lot about cyborgs I needed to check the definition, which was embarrassingly simple.  A bionic human.  Okay.  So, then it made sense when Cinder found out she was 36% cyborg, limbs and all.  In New Beijing cyborgs are essentially slaves so Cinder is mistreated by her guardian.  Imagine Cinder’s luck then, when Prince Kai shows up at her mehanic booth at the weekly market and needs her help.  Sparks fly and Cinder is relieved when Kai doesn’t realize she was cyborg.

I was surprised that I enjoyed this so much.  I loved the audio, Rebecca Soler did a fabulous job.  As much as I liked it, the big reveal was fairly obvious from early on, but Soler’s performance and a few turns here and there made it a very fun story.  I will seek out the audio when the next book comes out.  Which leads me to my big complaint…

The non-ending ending.  I dislike when books do this, even series books.  I was probably more mad at myself that I had forgotten it was a series, but still!

This book was a fun, exciting and very modern retelling of the Cinderella story and I loved it, obviousness and all.  I’m looking forward to the next one (stupid cliffhanger).

A Cold with Gage

This was supposed to be a post about My Gym closing this week.  The My Gym that Gage went to 3 times a week and where we both made friends.  I’m going to need find a new morning activity for us.  Yesterday Jason was going to go and take pictures, but on Saturday morning at 2:30 am when I went to check on Gage, I found a sick boy.

We have hacking coughs, a runny nose, runny eyes, diarrhea and a fever.  All in time for Jason’s dad to visit from Michigan and for his last class at My Gym (Where I’m sure he got the cold in the first place.  Maybe I should have continued the circle and taken him anyway !)

He acted fairly well for as sick as he was and I thought for sure he’d sleep well last night.  Little ones really don’t care what their parents think.  Gage ended up in bed with us at 12:30 and was up because he couldn’t breathe through his nose/coughing at 2:30 am.  Again.  So, Jason and I took shifts until I finally got him to sleep from 8 til 9:30 in the guest bed with me (I didn’t want to interrupt Jason’s few hours of sleep).

Somehow Gage operates better with little sleep than his parents.  This is Gage’s first real cold and I am not a fan.

Fave Film #67 – Speed


Cast-Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels.

LA SWAT officers, Jack and Harry are called to a downtown highrise when a bomber calls in a ransom demand, holding an elevator full of hostages.  When they are able to thwart him, the bomber disappears, presumed dead.  It’s hard to keep a good villain dead in an action movie and the bomber shows up again, only this time he’s holding a bus hostage and Jack is the only one who can save them.  Well, and Annie, as long as she keeps the bus going over 50 miles per hour.

Why I love it – I’ll start with two of the leads, both of which I love.  Keanu has never been better as the tough and buff hero.  If I were in a hostage situation I’d love Jack/Keanu to save me.  And then kiss me at the end like he did Annie/Sandy.  And Sandra was perfection in the role of Annie.  She drove that bus over that large gap in the overpass like a professional bus racer.  She was rattled but never lost her sparkle.  They both had excellent chemistry.  Dennis Hopper was a great villain with just enough angst and crazy to make it work.  Jeff Daniels was perfect as the long suffering partner trying to impart his years of wisdom to the instinctual driven Jack.  Their friendship was a real bright spot for me.

In many action movies like this there are parts (usually extended car chases or fist fights) that leave me bored and my mind wandering, but this movie never had a dull moment.  From the excitement of the elevator dropping in the first scene to the careening subway at the end this was non-stop excitement.   Perfectly paced and just enough special effects to make it fun.

Yes, as with most thrillers like this, you have to leave your common sense at the play button, but if you do you’re in for a treat.

Check out the rest of my 100 favorite movies