The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left BehindThe Girl You Left Behind. Finished 10-29-13, rating 4.75/5, fiction, 369 pages, pub. 2012

In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost. (Goodreads)

The dueling time period story isn’t one that I seek out, but in this case I loved it.  It was told at just the right pace, switching between the past of WWI France and current day London, at all the right times to keep me invested in both stories.  We learn about Sophie first and what her family and village had to endure during the German occupation.  I loved Sophie and was so disappointed when we moved to Liv who seemed weak in comparison.  Sophie was full of spirit and strength. She was a survivor and I wanted to see how she would manage to save herself and those she loved.  Poor, sad Liv hadn’t gotten over the death of her husband four years before, no friends, no life.  Sophie’s portrait and history became the only thing that Liv cared about even when it cost her everything she had managed to find, a friend, a love.

I learned about the German destruction of WWI France, which I knew next to nothing about and I appreciated the restitution storyline.  I knew what I thought was right, but Liv’s journey with the portrait made me see the flip side of restitution issues.  I didn’t love Liv’s trial, but the way these two stories were so separate and yet so connected made this book a joy to read.  I loved the way it wrapped up and I imagine I’ll be thinking of Sophie for at least a few days.

I highly recommend this one.  It was such a thought-provoking and satisfying novel.  I know many preferred her book, Me Before You, but since I haven’t read it yet I have nothing to compare it to.  I plan to remedy that soon!

I received this book from She Reads.  Go on over and see what other bloggers think, if you hurry you can enter to win free books 🙂

Spooky Stephen Quiz – guessing closed

I know not everyone is a Stephen King fan, but his contribution to horror fiction and movies is undisputed.  I’m giving you 1 or 2 pictures from his work onscreen and you just need to give me the title. Even if you aren’t a fan I think you can get some of these!

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you. If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round. For all of the details, click here. Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)  You have til Sunday to guess.

No need to know all the answers, one guess and you’ll be eligible for a prize. No Googling!

1. Under the Dome

2. The Secret Window


4. Misery


6. The Shawshank Redemption

7.The Shining

8. The Green Mile


10.Hearts in Atlantis

Answers to last week’s Vermont quiz here.  Leaderboard here.

Seduction by Brenda Joyce

SeductionSeduction. Finished 10-13-13, rating 3.75/5, pub. 2012, 374 pages

Dominic Paget, the earl of Bedford, will do anything to resume spying upon Britain’s enemies. Badly wounded, he is put will do anything in the care of a beautiful gentlewoman, Julianne Greystone, only to discover that her sympathies lie with his enemies. Yet he can’t help but seduce the woman who saved his life—hoping she never learns of his betrayal.

Julianne is captivated by the wounded stranger she believes is a revolutionary hero. Until she discovers the truth…her “hero” is the privileged earl of Bedford. Devastated and determined to forget him, Julianne travels to London. But when she finds herself in danger, it is Bedford who comes to the rescue. Now Julianne must navigate the intrigues of a perilous city, the wild yearnings of her own heart and the explosion of their passion….  (from Goodreads)

I am a Brenda Joyce fan. I’ve probably read just as many of her books as any other author.  She writes great romances and lots of them, 54 to be exact.  Although I’ve only read about half of those I consider her one of my go to authors when  I’m looking for a romance, especially historicals.  This Regency romance is the first in The Spymaster’s Men series and is a solid first book.  It takes place during the French Revolution and I learned about a lot about the history of the time.  Joyce is obviously fascinated by the period and has done her homework.

Julianne lives in Cornwall with her sister and mother who has mentally checked out. They live in poverty even though the two older brothers do their best.  When they bring Dominic home to be cared for he is near death and Julianne nurses him back to life as she nurses a strong crush on him. A crush that Dom is willing to manipulate so that he might escape back France to continue spying for the Brits.  Julianne for her part is highly sympathetic to the the plight of the revolutionaries, even going as far as forming a secret society to support them.  She believes Dom to be one of the heroic freedom fighters and lets herself fall in love.

I actually found most of the story to this point bland. Both characters were lacking, especially Julianne. For a radical she seemed very naive.  It was after she found out about Dom that the story became fun.  She continued be be naive, but at least she wasn’t afraid to take action.  I thought the time the two spent together in London was classic Joyce and I loved it.  The end, while a bit hard to accept because of one of the pair’s abrupt turnaround, was satisfying.  I liked this one enough to try the next one in the series about Julianne’s sister, if only so I can see visit Cornwall again.

This is from my personal library.

Belated birthday bucket list

Another birthday came and went and I forgot to revisit the Bucket List I made when I turned 40.  Yes, it is only 2 years later, but last year I posted my one accomplishment.  Sadly, I didn’t get to mark anything off the list this year, but I did add one state to #14.  

1. Write and publish a novel.

2. Open my own bookstore.

3. Spend a night in an English castle.

4. Visit Ireland.

5. Meet a US president.

6. Learn to start a fire without matches.

7. Learn to play the piano.

8. Raise a happy and successful son.

9. Celebrate my 50th anniversary. (15 in)

10. Make exercise a daily priority.

11. Get back to my wedding weight, just once.

12. Try a vegetarian diet for a year.

13. Drive cross country.

14. Visit all 50 states. (Only counting those states where I spent any significant time seeing a sight or two, I’m at 23.  I got to add Vermont this year :))

IMG_4104Have I spent time in your state?

15. Stay in an overnight car on a train trip.

16. Fly first class.

17. Take Gage to Italy.

18. Ride a boat down the Mississippi River.

19. Trace ancestry to when all branches entered the US.  (we’ve been here a long time so this will take many more years of research)

20. Spend a week touring Napa Valley.

21. Live somewhere warm year round.

22. Volunteer on a political campaign.

23. Sit on a jury.

24. Buy only American for 1 year.

25. Have a library with wall-to-wall built-in bookcases.

26. Write and mail 1000 letters. These can include cards if I include a personal note. (Not much of a dent with 32 this year for a total of 94)

27. Be an extra in a movie.

28. Watch a play from backstage.

29. Go skiing.

30. Attend a murder mystery dinner. September 2012

31. Volunteer weekly.

32. Read all the books I own.  (I’d like to have no TBR pile just once.  I can give away books to reach this goal)

33. Start my own book club.

34. See all 4 tennis majors. (2 down, Wimbledon & Australian Open to go)

35. Give blood.

36. Sleep under the stars.

37. Have a hammock.

38. Fire a gun.

39. Learn to sew.

40. Do a random act of kindness every day. (a work in progress. I am trying to be more aware, but still not happening every day)

 What should I mark off the list this year?  Do you have a bucket list?

The Prodigal by Michael Hurley, TLC Tour

The ProdigalFinished 10-20-13, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 346 pages, pub. 2013


This sweeping allegorical tale begins with the escape of a Gypsy princess and her young lover from her father’s camp in 1851, recalling the flight of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The boy steals Prodigal, a sailing ship blessed with unnatural speed, and the lovers escape to sea, leaving the father to grieve for the loss and pine for the return of his child. More than 150 years later on Ocracoke Island we meet Aidan Sharpe, an aging lawyer, as he rises from the sand of a remote beach after a lost weekend. While struggling to rebuild his life in this lonely outpost of the Outer Banks, Aidan is caught up in a two-thousand-year-old mystery that unfolds with the sudden reappearance of Prodigal off the coast, adrift and unmanned. Its discovery will lead Aidan and those close to him into the deep, in a race between time and eternity.

This description was what made me want to read the book, but like some summaries, it is only accurate to a point.  I was looking forward to digging into the mystery and was somewhat disappointed when it felt disjointed with too many characters and storylines.  For all of the beauty of the writing the story felt heavy and even when we got to the midway point, when some of the mystery was introduced and the storylines started coming together, it still felt that way.

I started liking the story when the main characters came together in friendship because I was invested.  Aidan, a big shot Raleigh lawyer, whose arrogance led to his downfall but who learned humility.  Father Marcus , an outcast priest, was the protector of all outcasts that came his way.  Ibrahim, wanted for murder in his own country thought the island could hide him, but it came with a cost.  And Molly, found it easy to bend the rules but hard to open up to love, salvages what is lost.  I loved the way these four and their loyalty to each other carried the story.

There were lots of other characters and each was fully fleshed out, each imperfect and needing redemption.  There was so much depth to the story that I think reading it with a friend or book group would only enhance some of the themes.  I am going to call this one spiritual realism, it’s more than magical and not quite religious, so that the best I can come up with.  Oh, and if you like sailing then this is sure to excite you!  The mystery of the 150+ year old boat is one that introduces biblical history and modern greed.

I’m excited to see what Hurley does next.  Right now Amazon is offering the Kindle version for 99 cents!  That’s a bargain.    And if you go to Goodreads you can enter to win a copy.

I want to thank the TLC Book Tour for getting this book in my hands.  See what the other stops on the tour thought.

Michael’s Tour Stops

Monday, October 14th: she treads softly

Tuesday, October 15th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, October 21st: Time 2 Read

Tuesday, October 22nd: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, October 24th: Letters, Numbers and Books oh my!

Monday, October 28th: Amy’s Book-et List

Tuesday, October 29th: The Reader’s Hollow

Friday, November 1st: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, November 6th: Andrew Smith’s Blog

Thursday, November 7th: Literally Jen

Thursday, November 14th: Read. Write. Repeat.

I love Vermont Quiz – guessing closed

Jason and I had a great vacation in Vermont last week (pics to come later).  I thought I’d see what you know about Vermont, book and movie related, of course.

 I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you. If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round. For all of the details, click here. Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)  You have til Sunday to guess.

No need to know all the answers, one guess and you’ll be eligible for a prize. No Googling!

1. Which of Jodi Picoult’s books follows a Vermont boy with Asperger’s syndrome.  House Rules

2. Diane Keaton in one of my favorite movies!  Baby Boom

3. Brit Rudyard Kipling wrote this BOOK while living Vermont.  The Jungle Book

4. A 2012 romantic dramedy.  Hope Springs

5. This 1992 bestseller follows Richard as he is invited into an elite group at his Vermont college where all is not what it seems.  The Secret History by Donna Tartt

6. Carpe Diem!  Dead Poet’s Society

7. This one-time Oprah’s book club pick follows the Fermoyle family in 1960’s Vermont.  Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris

8. 2000  What Lies Beneath

9. “Archer Mayor’s Vermont police procedurals are the best thing going…”New York Times Book Review.  What’s the main character’s name?  Joe Gunther

10. IMG_4100This character has a whole series of great books that Gage loves.  What’s his name?   You can see the book proudly displays Vermont author.  If you can give me her name I’ll give you an extra 5 points.  Llama Llama by Anna Dewdney

Weekends with Gage- the 3rd Birthday edition

So, Jason and I arrived back to our Cleveland area home Friday night at 10 pm from our weeklong Gageless vacation. It was exactly what we both needed and I will probably post a few fun pics next weekend.  This weekend it’s all about Gage.

He turned 3 today. I can’t believe it and yet I welcome it. I have never been a girl who had to have a baby. I love kids, but babies, not as much. So, as Gage sheds his baby status and heads into kid cuteness I am 100% on board. I love watching him grow and figure things out.  Life with Gage has been full of ups and downs, but the boy never ceases to amaze me.  He is smart and sweet, sassy and adorable.  My life has been transformed by him.  It’s a new journey that I am excited and privileged to take.

I don’t have the time right now to go through photos of the last year, BUT I can show him at every birthday.

Gage at 1.

Gage a t 2.

bdcake1Gage at 3.

And a few other pics from the day.

3bdcakeHis yummy dairy free, gluten free birthday cake made by Grandma. bdcake2Blowing out the last candle.  And Gage and me with his new engineer hat bdhatThis went very nicely with his new Thomas Lionel train set.  I hope to share this fun story with you later this week.

Can you believe that Gage is 3? And still not one haircut!  He seems to be keeping up with other kids his age in the height and weight department, but hair is different story.

I’m on vacation

I was so hoping to be more organized than this. I hate to leave my blog dormant for a week 😦  I should have used some of my read-a-thon time to write reviews!

Jason and I are taking our first Gageless vacation.  Today, we’re driving up to Vermont and staying the week. On Thursday we’ll be at a resort in the mountains on our private balcony celebrating our 15 year anniversary 🙂  We’ll be back to celebrate Gage’s 3rd birthday on Saturday.   Thank goodness for awesome parents or else we couldn’t do it.

I am looking forward to some relaxation. A few of you know that last week we bid on a new house, negotiated a good price and then it fell apart during inspection.  It was a stressful week. (ie sorry I haven’t been visiting your blogs)

I’m sure I’ll be posting pics on Facebook. If we aren’t already friends, look me up.

Here’s one from last week that I can’t even believe I’m putting on here because I am a total mess. Oh well, can’t be a cover girl everyday, LOL. Here’s Gage helping me blow out the candles on my birthday cake.


Dewey’s Read-a-Thon Wrap-Up

Twice, I’ve been able to do the whole 24 hours, but this time around I dragged myself to bed at 4am.  I made it 20 hours 🙂  I’m ok with that. I think I made a mistake in my book selection this year and that’s why I couldn’t power through. That or the stressful week caught up with me. I woke up at 10 find that I’d won a prize in the last hour, woo hoo!

A Readathon tradition!

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I started having a hard time around 1:30 and couldn’t get past it.  Threw in the towel at 4.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  I made the mistake of pulling short books from my shelves, ones that I had no real desire to read at the time. Choose a thriller, a humor book, and one graphic novel to start your pile and go from there.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? As it is every year, it was perfect from the organizing end. Lots of fun challenges and prizes.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  I think everything worked, except I wish the cheerleaders didn’t have to wade through so many different formats for participants.  Maybe divide up tumblr, booktube, goodreads, twitter, facebook, foreign languages, blogs into separate lists?  Hm, now that I type that I see the problem 😉
  5. How many books did you read? I finished 5, started 1 and continued some listening of The Passage.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Seduction by Brenda Joyce, A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds, I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, The Diving Bell & the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby are the ones I finished.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds was the bright spot of the day. LOVED IT
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I feel bad saying this and maybe it was because I was struggling to stay awake, but I didn’t care for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?  This was my first year committing so much time to cheering and I had fun. Try to have something generic (a cheer you wrote, a quote…ready to go so you can add that on to anything personal you might say. It will help you cheer a little faster.
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  Absolutely!  I love the read-a-thon. There were so many new faces this time so a new group has fallen in love too!

Thank you so much ladies for all the hard work you put in to make it fantastic for everyone. You rocked it 🙂

Updates and Mini Challenges

I am soooo tired  It’s almost 2:30 am and I’m struggling. I am listening to The Passage. I have no expectation of finishing but I am on disc 20 so it’s giving my eyes a break now and then.  I have finished 2 short books since the halfway mark, I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron and Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. I’m almost halfway through The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

Thanks for the cheers and encouragement 🙂

I’m doing 2 mini challenges

Book Jenga

rat jenga

I took these slight books from my read-a-thon stack

Show It Off


I don’t collect rare books, but last year Jason got me a signed Outlander and signed first Harry Potter. And last year When I met Chelsea Cain at Bouchercon she gave me a signed severed finger to go with my first edition hardcover of Heartsick.  Cool 🙂