2012 in review

The blog, while still having some of the same features-Tuesday Quizzes, Sundays with Gage and Monthly 5 Word Movie Reviews being the constants- also managed some book reviews 😉  I read 55 books, a new low since I began blogging 5 years ago.

Here are the books by the numbers-

43 Fiction, 12 Non-Fiction (that’s a high percentage of non-fiction for me!)

39 women, 15 men, 1 both (let’s hear it for the gals!)

9 from a continuing series, 7 from a new series.  (of those new series books I will continue on with 6!)

Most read author? Karen E Olson with 3 when I finished up her Tattoo Shop series.

The 3 Rounds of Quizzes this year were exciting!  Nise (Under the Boardwalk) took the first two rounds and Hannah (Word Lily) was the winner of the last round.  I hope that you all will jump in when the new season starts.  You don’t have to win to get a prize.  Marie (Boston Bibliophile), Staci (Life in the Thumb), and Carol M all won special prizes just for playing.  If you want to browse through old quizzes click here.

Gage has been a big part of the blog this year.  If you want to look through all his posts for what you may have missed click here.  Here are the first and last photos of 2012.


Think he’s changed this year?  The boy sure does keep me busy.









The year I’ve watched 49 new-to-me movies, reviewed 3 from my Top 100 list, wrote 3 book vs. movies posts, and even had a few Friday Movie Talks.  My monthly 5 word movie reviews are tied to money for charity.  You still have a few hours (until 7om EST) to get your reviews in to be counted for charity.  $1 for every 5 word review you contribute.  I already told you about my favorite movies, what about a few stats?

Surprisingly, I watched more movies released in 2012 (19) than in any other.  Surprising because I consider myself a classic movie lover!

The oldest movie I watched was War and Peace released in 1956.

My most viewed actor- Denzel Washington, 3 movies

Most viewed actress- Helena Bonham Carter, 4 movies (weird since this woman really bothers me)

2012 has been a good year and I’m happy the Mayans were wrong and there is the possibility of 2013 being better than all the other years before it.  I wish that for all of us.

Sundays with Gage & My favorite books and movies of 2012

015This has been a fun year with Gage.  I think the year and a half range is my favorite age 🙂  Now that he’s 2 plus a few Gage’s role on the blog will be changing in 2013.  He’ll still be here, doing some book reviews, special events, showing up in Saturday Snapshots, and just to say hi.  He won’t be a stranger, but Sundays with Gage will be a thing of the past.  I hate to do it because Gage is much more popular that most of my book reviews, but it will be nice not to have the pressure of writing a post every Sunday.  If you truly need a consistent Gage update I would be happy to be friends on Facebook where I will be updating more.  Thank you all so much for your loving and kind words about my kid, I think he’s wonderful too 🙂  And expect to see him in the next week or so reviewing a very awesome book about a dog.  And he might be giving something away too.  See, he’ll be taking a more grown-up role around here!

As you can see, Gage refused to give me a smile when he realized this was his last Sundays with Gage.






This has been a very slow reading year for me, so I’m going to do a top 5 list instead of 10 for my favorite movies and books.  Let me know if you’ve read any of them!

Top 5 Books

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison. Part of my Ohio tour and I am looking forward to reading more from this universally beloved author.

The Violets of MarchThe Violets of March by Sarah Jio.  The book was as great that sweet cover.

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Series #1)In the Woods by Tana French.  So glad that this was the last book I read this year.  Ended on a high note!

ItIt by Stephen King. Loved taking part in my first read-along.  The It-a-long rocked!

Stories I Only Tell My FriendsStories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe.  I can only vouch for the audio read by Lowe himself.  I was charmed by it.

Favorite 5 Movies of 2012

The Hunger Games, 2012.  I have not read the books but loved the movie.

Looper, 2012. Loved this time-travel thriller.  I think I have a crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The Hobbit:An Unexpected Journey, 2012.  It’s so nice to go back to Middle Earth, disappointed it’s going to be one of three Hobbit movies.

The Secret Life of Bees, 2008.  Loved the book and the movie, a rarity.

It’s Complicated, 2009.  I love Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin and this movie delivered.

December 5 Word Movie Reviews – With your help, $296 raised for The Humane Society

I love bloggers, I really do.  This is the second year I’ve tied money for charity to your participation in my movie reviews and I can’t wait to see what this next charity will be.  When I put out the call last month you all helped inch us forward and the awesome Kay (formerly of Purple Sage and Scorpions) went one step further with this comment…

By the way, Stacy, when the charity if picked, let us know.  I want to match your $100 contribution.  :-)

There’s some incentive.  LOL

I think that is some incentive!  So, here’s the deal, we’re getting so close to giving money to charity and with your help we can get this money sent by the 31st!    We need just 7 more 5-word-reviews to get us to 100 and if we pass up that number by the 31st I’ll add that money to the charity pool.  (if we get 27 reviews by the 31st I’ll write a check for $120, etc.)

LET”S SEE HOW MUCH MONEY WE CAN GIVE AWAY!  And thank you, Kay, for your generous support 🙂

UPDATED! Currently, you’ve contributed $148 to the charity of the top reviewer’s choice.  Heather went to town today and is in the lead with 57!! Beth and Kay with 13, BermudaOnion 11. Gofita with 10.   Teddyree and Michelle have 9, Wrighty has 8 and there are others who have contributed here.

Every time you add 5 words of your own to one of my reviews then you donate $1 to charity. The charity is chosen by the person who has the most reviews once we reach 100. (Last charity herePLEASE leave a clear 5 word comment so I can give credit for it.

If you want to see the full list of movies you can review to add money, click here.

The Hobbit trilogy dvd cover.jpgThe Hobbit:An Unexpected Journey, 2012 (Cast-Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage)   Grade A-

Back to the Shire, Hurray!

Middle-Earth–like coming home again.  (Michelle)

From Watson to Bilbo – Amazing!  (Kay)

Singing dwarves save the day.  (Tony)

The Town, 2010 (Cast-Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively)   Grade B

Dark, thoughtful take on loyalty

Gritty and thought provoking thriller. (Michelle)

Affleck proves his director chops.   (Jenners)

Ben Affleck regains his credibility.  (Tony)

The poster shows a man, injured and holding a gun, standing in front of a car. Text at the bottom reveals the tagline and in bottom reveals the film's main actor and title, credits, rating and release date.Jack Reacher, 2012 (Cast-Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike)  Grade B

Solid film for Reacher fans

OK, but not like books.  (Kay)

 Ok but Cruise no Reacher  (Sheree)

Wanderlust, 2012 (Cast-Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda)    Grade   B-

An unexpected number of laughs

Naked man, overturned car–hilarious!  (Michelle)

The Back-Up Plan, 2010 (Cast-Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin)            Grade C-

Bland but watchable unrealistic romcom

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Series #1)In the Woods. Finished 12-26-12, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 464 pages, pub. 2007

Book 1 in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

from Goodreads

Ryan narrates the book with humor and enough foreshadowing to keep you reading well past bedtime (at least it did for me).  He has his problems.  At the best of times he’s cool and fun, at the worst he’s a real piece of work who I wanted to pour a beer on.  He’s best friends with his partner, Cassie, and their brother-sister relationship was one to be envied, by their fellow detectives and the reader.  I loved Cassie.  Loved her more than Rob, especially by the end.

The old mystery of what happens to Rob as a child and the new case of who killed little Katy have a few pieces of connecting evidence and Rob is stuck in the middle of his own hell, one he stepped into willingly.  The mystery was very good, if not totally surprising.  I loved the characters and the history of the village.  French did an excellent job of making me feel right at home in Dublin.  Now I need to visit!

I really, really liked this one.  Yes, by the end I was fairly disgusted with Rob, but I am so looking forward to reading the next of this series.  I know that a lot of bloggers were upset by the loose ends but I was okay with it.  But that could have been because I was expecting it, who knows?

I bought this for my Nook and if any other Nookster wants to borrow it for 2 weeks, let me know!

Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann, pictures by Maurice Sendak GIVEAWAY!

NutcrackerNutcracker. December has gotten away from me around here and I forgot to give away a this gorgeous hardcover book.

I used it in a quiz a few weeks ago and you can click here to see the pics I took.  It is 100 pages of gorgeousness 🙂  I want to thank Debbie from Random House for sending this book for the quiz and a giveaway.


“A classic, new and complete. One of the ten best illustrated children’s books of the year.” — New York Times Book Review

The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share.

Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Christmas production of Nutcracker and created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition of Hoffmann’s wonderful tale, destined to become a classic for all ages.

The world of Nutcracker is a world of pleasures. Maurice Sendak’s art illuminates the delights of Hoffmann’s story in this rich and tantalizing treasure.

                        After hearing how her toy nutcracker got his ugly face, a little girl helps break the spell and watches him change into a handsome prince.

I’d like to get this mailed this week, so let’s get the giveaway started!  To be entered just leave a comment with your email address.  For a second entry you can tweet about it or post a link to Facebook.

Gage will draw a winner before he goes to bed on Thursday night (12/20). 

Sundays with Gage – thankful for his smile and sad for Sandy Hook families

004Gage is two and this past Wednesday was his last Mommy & Me class.  Mothers were encouraged to make themselves scarce as a transition for the kids when they started attending class all by themselves in January.  All this time I have been looking forward to the four hours week of ‘free time’ I’d be getting in January, but I admit the last class was bittersweet.  I want to be there and see the little guy grow and learn and experience new things.  I guess that’s called being a mother 🙂

So, jump forward a day to the horrific killings at Sandy Hook and it does sort of put a new perspective on life, especially life with Gage.  It will probably make dropping him off that first day even harder.  I am at a loss to even comprehend the devastation of those families and community.  I will hug my son, give him kisses and hugs and love him the best I can and I will do it every day.  Because today is the only time I know I’ve got for certain and I don’t want to waste it on anything less than being thankful.

And it’s pretty easy to be grateful for this smile.


The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

The Informationist (Vanessa Michael Munroe Series #1)The Informationist, Finished 12-10-12, rating 4/5, 315 pages , pub. 2011

She nodded.  “You and every person who serves merits thanks and commendation, and you most certainly have it.”  She was silent for a moment.  “I can appreciate patriotism, but that’s about as far as it goes.  I’m not like most people,” she said,  “I have no devotion or affinity to any particular country-for that I assume I’d have to experience a sense of belonging.”  She looked at him and searched his eyes for an indication that he understood, then added, “Patriots defend their homeland, Miles.  Where is my home?”

Chapter 7

Vanessa Michael Munroe is a tough woman in a man’s world.  She makes her living finding information and selling it to businessmen who need it to make a deal.  She speaks over 20 languages which serves her well since she spends most of her time overseas, blending in with the natives wherever she goes, even passing as a man is if serves her well.  She grew up in Africa to missionary parents and spent many years working for Francisco, a gunrunner, and when her latest assignment takes her back to Cameroon she runs into her old mentor.

Munroe is an interesting character, but a hard woman to like.  She kills with little remorse and doesn’t seem to have any moral boundaries.  It isn’t that she’s heartless, because she’s not, she can break just like the rest of us.  She’s complicated, but not necessarily in a way that attracts a lot of compassion.   Let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to sit down and have coffee with her, but if I needed to get information and I had millions of dollars, she’d be the first person I’d call.

I thought the African setting was great.  I learned so much and still never felt like I was overwhelmed with too much information.  It was a perfect way for me to experience some of the wilder parts of Africa.  And as much as I liked the setting the mystery was solid and kept me guessing til the end.  I am really looking forward to continuing on with Munroe with the next book in the series.

Many of you remember that I was able to spend a little time with Taylor Stevens at the Bouchercon in October and I am so relieved that I liked the book as much as I liked the author 🙂  I won this book at Book Den last year.  Thanks, Jennifer!

Sundays with Gage – Plans are for healthy people

So, another Sunday and I’m still fighting a bug.  Lost my voice this week and it is slowly coming back online.   Do you know how hard it is to tell a 2-year-old NO a few dozen times a day with no voice?  Let’s just say I spent much of this week being ignored.  So, this meant that my plans for a book advent with 24 days of activities was curtailed this week.  We managed only two and the first one shouldn’t even count!

003We read The Child in the Manger, the first time Gage lasting only a few pages.  Each time we read it we made it a little further and I thought we were ready for the activity.  Telling the story as we put up our nativity.  Seriously, you’d think I don’t live with a two-year old.  I thought (or did I) that I could hand Gage a new toy and he was going to put it in the nativity without playing wildly with it first?  As you may have guessed already, meltdown ensued and nativity had to be removed from sight.  Lesson learned.  Next year get him his own play nativity set.





Next up we read Counting to Christmas which Gage didn’t care for much.  But one of the activities in the book is decorating cards and putting them in the mailbox.  Gage is not a crafter.  In his mommy and me class he is the first one up from the craft table if he sits down at all.  As an easy fix I thought he could help put stickers on a few envelopes and then we could walk down to the mailbox.  He actually helped with more later, but we only started with two.  His favorite part was playing with the stickers and playing with the mailbox.