Weekends with Gage…If You Were Me and Lived in …

If You Were Me and Lived In... Mexico: A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the WorldIf You Were Me and Lived in Mexico  by Carole M. Roman

If you were me and lived in... South Korea...: A Child's Introduction to Cultures around the WorldIf You Were Me and Lived in South Korea by Carole M. Roman

These fun books for 3-8 year olds were sent to me by the author.  Each is just over 20 pages long with colorful illustrations and enough text to give kids the basics of life around the world through the eyes of someone their age.  Gage wasn’t as interested in the learning as he was the pictures, but I learned a lot 🙂  We learn where each country is on the globe, information about their capital city, common names, what they call members of the family, big attractions, food, fun, traditions.  It covers all the simple facts and I think these are great additions to any child’s library.

mexicoFor the Mexico book Gage colored a map.  It may not look like much to you, but since he used other crayons in addition to the purple one it is a huge accomplishment.  The author also sent us a blow up globe and as Gage looked through the book and colored I blew it up.  When I gave it to Gage to show him where Mexico was this is what happened.

IMG_2094He really just wanted to blow it up like mommy.

For the South Korea book the author sent a flag and I thought it would be fun to make our own.

skflagThis is what happened.

skgageNo matter how much I tried to get him to color the flag (I even tried to bribe him with purple!) all he wanted to do was run around the deck waving the flag.  So, I made it myself.

skfinished flagand then Gage was interested. He decided his sand table needed it.skdoneFun times 🙂

I know there have probably been quite a few of you who have made it to Mexico, but are there any who have visited South Korea?

June’s 5 word movie reviews

A good movie watching month.  When I look at these movies posters I realize that I need to watch more movies starring women!

You know the drill, add your 5 words to mine and earn $1 for charity.  Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity.  Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and to see the other reviews you can add to.  We are over halfway there with $62 so far.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

Woman in black ver4.jpgThe Woman in Black, 2012 (Cast-Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds)     Grade B+

Gothic. Spooky. Quiet. Poor children. 

Creepy good, but ending…meh.  (Michelle)

So-so story, spooky, unforgiving ghost.  (Heather)

Searching for bobby fischer.jpgSearching for Bobby Fischer, 1993 (Cast-Max Pemeranc, Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne)       Grade B+

Chess ability shapes a life.

Fascinating biography of young chess-player.  (Heather)

Now You See Me Poster.jpgNow You See Me, 2013 (Cast-Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher)   Grade B

Magically entertaining. Kept me guessing.

Interesting story, not great ending.  (Heather)

Right stuff ver1.jpgThe Right Stuff, 1983 (cast-Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Scott Glen)    Grade B

Seven astronauts conquer outer space.

Best of Best conquer space.  (Sheree)

One word – Chuck – and others. (Kay)

You’ll believe astronauts can fly.  (Tony)

TheIceman2011Poster.jpgThe Iceman, 2013 (Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans)    Grade B-

Killer loves family. Predictable, good.

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Virgin River (Virgin River Series #1)Virgin River. Finished audio 6-27-13, rating 3.75/5, pub. 2007

Unabridged audio, 12.5 hours.  Read by Therese Plummer

“Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against the backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.” When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

from Goodreads

Mel needs a break from Los Angeles, the memories and pitying looks are too much for her.  Virgin River sounds like just the place, beautiful country and 600 people who don’t know about her husband’s murder, so she packs up everything she owns and heads north.   But Virgin River isn’t anything like she expected and she is ready to turn tail and run until an abandoned baby keeps her there.

Mel and the old doc werre oil and vinegar and I loved the relationship between the two of them.  He did things the country way and displayed wisdom and fire and I just loved listening to him banter.  Jack, ex-Marine and owner of the town’s bar, was a sexy and complex character.  I loved how central he was to the town.  Mel eventually found much more than she had expected.  She found friends, mystery, danger, love, life, and death.  Not bad for a girl who thought the country would be boring.

There were a few things that I could have done without.  I didn’t think that the sex scene between a hot-to-trot 14 year old girl and a horny 16 year old boy added anything to the story.  Actually I wrinkled my nose more than once while listening.  And I know we like to read about beautiful people, but I started to feel pretty bad about my own backside after the 20th time Jack mentioned Mel’s sexy butt.  But these were minor annoyances probably made worse by listening instead reading.   My eyes tend to quickly pass over things like this when I’m reading, but with an audio you are forced to hear every word.

I thought the reader, Therese Plummer did an excellent job.  There were lots of characters and none of her voices annoyed me at all – a real rarity!

I know lots of bloggers love this series, but it was Mary‘s review that finally made me seek out the first in the series (that and the fact that my library had the cds).  I liked the town and the people in it and can see how it would be comforting to check in with them all.  Although I can’t say I loved it, I can see myself giving the second book a try someday.  Sometimes it takes a series a few books to grow on you and this one has potential.

Destiny Defied by J.A. Marx

Do you remember me telling y’all that I was famous (here)?  Well, I finally read the published book that made me the celebrity I am today.

Destiny DefiedWhen I read the first draft ten years ago I remember being impressed that such a creative story came out of the mind of a friend.  Not that I was surprised, Julie is a fun and unique woman.  As I read it again these past few weeks I was struck by the fact that she has also become an even better writer.  The story I remember, the great writing I noticed more this time around.  I guess that’s what practice will do for you 🙂

Trapped on a mysterious island, eighteen-year-old Riki finds refuge with four strangers. Isaac, the rugged EMT, insists no one else is around, but Riki cannot ignore her fear that someone is stalking her. Unless she finds a power truly great enough to overthrow Darkness, Riki will choose death over returning to captivity.

Lord Vétis, high priest of a cultic underground, will stop at nothing to reclaim the chosen one, but he must do so before her introduction to the real world ruins her royal destiny. Using black magic, he manipulates Riki and her self-assigned bodyguards, triggering a battle that consumes the entire island. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life…something she has never known.

from Goodreads

The four life-long friends are trying to vacation together on a deserted island when Riki washes ashore, close to death.  As they take her in and nurse her back to health they realize how odd her behavior is and try to be on their best behavior.  But one of them encounters someone else who washed ashore, someone pretending and spreading lies, and the light of the friends is the only thing protecting Riki from darkness.

I would call this book an adventure of spiritual warfare.  At one point Isaac even calls himself a superhero for God.  The lines are drawn between good and evil and there is a mystical element that makes the setting of a deserted island a perfect one.  What happens to the friends and to Riki?  They next in this new series will come out in August.

Visit Julie’s blog, Embattled Spirit, to sample her writing.  Congratulations, Julie, on a dream come true 🙂

Weekends with Gage-He’s Back!

After a few months off Gage has decided that he would like to participate in mommy’s bookish blog again.  So on Saturdays or Sundays we’re going to focus on a favorite book, show a book activity we tried, or review a book that someone sent to us.  Hope you enjoy seeing the little guy on here again.  Can you believe he’s over two and a half already?!

blueberriesBlueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey was published in 1948 and is illustrated with line drawings.  Age range is 2 1/2-5 years old. 55 pages.

Sal goes to Bluberry Hill to pick blueberries with her mother.  Little Bear comes to the same hill with her mother to fatten up for winter. The two little ones take breaks to eat berries and they lose their moms. When they go looking they get all mixed up, but luckily, the moms save the day and all ends well.

Gage loves bright colors and shorter, more action-type books, so imagine my surprise when he sat through this whole book, completely engaged.  This morning we ate blueberries and blueberry bread outside while we read it.

IMG_1951IMG_1957It really isn’t until Little Bear and Big Bear, as Gage likes to call the mom, enter the story that Gage gets excited.  If we go too many pages without seeing the bears he is ready to start flipping to find them!  I picked this up at the library for one of my quizzes a while back not thinking he would look past the first few pages, but we’ve read it through at least a dozen times and this is what he thinks…

IMG_1963This oldie but goodie earns a big smile from Gage. (I’ll have to remember to brush his hair for next week :))

So when’s the last time you ate blueberries?

An evening with Taylor Stevens, author of the Michael Munroe series

Over the last 13 years I have grown fond of living in the Cleveland area.  We have a great lake, we have an outstanding park system, our suburban schools are excellent, the cost of living can’t be beat, we have the best medical hospitals at our beck and call…I could go on and on.  But one thing we don’t have an abundance of is bestselling authors popping in on tour.  I was lucky to see Beth Hoffman a few weeks ago and tonight I had to make a choice between bestselling authors.  Can you believe it?  Janet Evanovich and Taylor Stevens were speaking half an hour apart and as much as I tried to make the math problem work I knew I’d have to choose.  Taylor made it easy for me by inviting those on her email list to join her at TGIFridays from 5-6:30 before going to the library to speak from 7-8:30.

This was my second time meeting Taylor, the first time at Bouchercon last October, but this time I got to hear her speak so I was able to learn more about her growing up all over the world in a cult.  If you want to learn more that life you can read the second book in the series (The Innocent), a book Taylor calls a thrillerized version of her life. “If it’s in that book, it happened, yes.”  I admit that I still have to read this one, but it has moved to the top of my list. Here are a few pics from the evening.


taylor1 taylor2 taylor3

If you get a chance to see Taylor speak you should take advantage of it.  She is so open and really enjoys talking to people and sharing her experience with you.  If you don’t have to opportunity to see her in person you should sign up for her email list.  She shares publishing secrets and gives a lot of insight into how the industry operates.  Sign up for her email list here.  I had a fantastic evening and am so happy that I chose Taylor over Janet 🙂  I’ve got a signed copy of her latest, The Doll, ready to give away soon!

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

Backseat SaintsBackseat Saints. Finished 6-9-13, 4/5 stars, fiction, 324 pages, pub. 2010

This one made my small list of books to read this year thanks to Staci (Life in the Thumb) since it made her favorite reads list for last year.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about Joshilyn Jackson so I was very excited to finally read one of her books.  She didn’t disappoint and I am looking forward to the ‘prequel’ Gods in Alabama.

Rose Mae Lolley’s mother disappeared when she was eight, leaving Rose with a heap of old novels and a taste for dangerous men. Now, as demure Mrs. Ro Grandee, she’s living the very life her mother abandoned. She’s all but forgotten the girl she used to be-teenaged spitfire, Alabama heartbreaker, and a crack shot with a pistol-until an airport gypsy warns Rose it’s time to find her way back to that brave, tough girl . . . or else. Armed with only her wit, her pawpy’s ancient .45, and her dog Fat Gretel, Rose Mae hightails it out of Texas, running from a man who will never let her go, on a mission to find the mother who did. (Goodreads)

Rose Mae grew up knowing how to make men take notice.  Unfortunately, once they noticed she undoubtedly chose the one that would hurt her the most, just like her daddy.  Years after Rose Mae escaped Alabama and settled in Texas with Thom, the man whose hands forced more than one trip to the emergency room, she came face to face with a gypsy, telling her the future was kill or be killed.  Ro had always suspected that was her truth and realized the time had come to do something about it.

I don’t know a Rose Mae, or if I do I don’t know it.  Her life choices were foreign to me but I was rooting for her to find a different path, to make a change that would give her a future.  I like that Rose and Thom’s marriage was shown with the good stuff as much as the bad. But the joy of this book was that this was only the first journey of her story.  When Rose decided to face her past so that she could make a future the story became so much more than an abused wife tragedy.

It took me a little while to get into this book.  I liked it but it wasn’t compulsive reading until the end and then I devoted a whole Gage nap to finish it.  The end (as improbable as it was) was memorable and satisfying.  I recommend it and look forward to seeing Rose Mae in Gods in Alabama.

This was from my personal library.

I’ve got quiz winners!

Another round of my Tuesday quizzes are done and a familiar name is back at the top – although not without a good fight! from last round’s winner. Final results here.

Congratulations Nise (Under the Boardwalk)!!

She has once again risen to the top of the pack and picks up a nice $42 Barnes & Noble gift card.  Well earned 🙂  And Gage chose a random winner for a special gift…

IMG_1796#10 is Jill (Rhapsody in Books).  Keep your eyes on your mailbox 🙂

Thank you all for playing along with me on Tuesdays.  I have fun and hope you do too.  The next round will start in July so study up!!

Oh, and just a quick brag on my kid, tonight on our walk I pointed to a stop sign and asked him what it said  and he actually sounded out the word! Cute AND smart.  Next up, teaching my 2 1/2 year old to read 😉

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

ScarletScarlet. Finished audio 6-1-13, 4 stars, YA series, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio 11 hours.  Read by Rebecca Soler.

The Lunar Chronicles (Book 1)

I listened to the first book, Cinder, last year and found it to be a fun and satisfying retelling of a future Cinderella story.  This next book in the series is almost just as good and just as annoying with its non-ending ending (my big complaint of these types of series books)  Anyway, this time around we get the story of Scarlet, or a futuristic take on the Little Red Riding Hood story, complete with the big bad Wolf who may want to kill her.  I think that you must read the first in the series to enjoy this one.  There is much of the back story that is missing (how and why the earth and the moon are at odds for one thing) that would make it hard to fully appreciate the second book without having read Cinder.

Scarlet is a headstrong girl who runs an organic farm with her grandmother, a grandmother who has been missing for weeks.  Scarlet is worried and in the space of a few hours she meets the violent street fighter Wolf and sees her degenerate father for the first time in many years.  Wolf may be able to help her find her grandmother, but does he have ulterior motives?

Cinder, on the other hand, has managed to break out of prison and commandeer a stolen spaceship with a fellow prisoner.  This leads to problems for Emperor Kai as Queen Lavana wants Cinder found, but at what cost to Kai?

I mentioned after I listened to the first one that this series is a little out of my usual reading, but I am totally digging it 🙂  I prefer Cinder’s story to Scarlet’s but love that they both eventually came together.  I am loving this series.

I listened to both of these on audio and have one small complaint about this second one.  Scarlet’s French accent seemed to come and go and it started to drive me a crazy.  Either give her a French accent all of the time or not all, please.    Otherwise I like listening to this on audio and imagine that’s how I’ll continue with the series.  I checked out the CDs from the library.

Last Quiz of Round 1

This is the last quiz before a winner is announced, but there is still time to participate and be entered for a fun prize (details here).  This week I’m giving you 4 titles that have recently come into my house and I want you to mix it up 🙂

The more the merrier, right now the winner will receive a $42 B&N gift card, but will get an extra $1 for every new quiz taker 🙂  Just leave your answers in the comments.

For each title make 5 NEW words from the letters.  (For instance for Scarlet one of the words could be scar).  5 words for each title will give you 20 words.  I know you all do it just for fun and to exercise your brain, but I’ll go ahead and give you points too.  5 points if no one else makes the same word and one point if they do.  Have fun 🙂

IMG_1730Brewster, Someday Someday Maybe, Six Years, Scarlet


Last week’s Shape Quiz here.