January movies and $ for charity

I started using Letterboxd this month thanks to Sandy.  If you are interested in rating your movies and keeping tabs on your friends, check it out (sort of like Goodreads).  I’m stacybuckeye if you want to follow me and get a few more than 5 words about the movies I watched.

Last year, thanks to your participation, $100 was given to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, thanks to Heather.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to participate when you can each month.  It’s fun for me and for everyone else who reads it.  I’m not looking for a critical review, just a few words about how you felt about the movie.

Add your 5 words (or less!) 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 the other reviews you can add to.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re starting at $4 from a few extras last month.

Madagascar Theatrical Poster.jpgMadagascar, 2005 (Cast (voices)-Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer)     Grade B+

Eating meat bad, fish okay.

Fun for kids.  (Veens)

Friends, loyalty, and surviving nature!  (Heather

Wacky zoo animals. Incredibly funny.  (Michelle)

Cute and fun fix :)  (Sheree)

47Ronin2012Poster.jpg47 Ronin, 2013 (Cast-Keanu Reeves)     Grade B-

My much needed Keanu fix.

Ruby Sparks poster.jpgRuby Sparks, 2012 (Cast-Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Benning, Elliot Gould, Antonio Banderas)       Grade C

Dark, Quirky. Pretty messed up.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film).jpgThe Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956 (Cast-James Stewart, Doris Day)    Grade C-

Love Jimmy & Doris. Inane plot.

Que Sera, Sera. Love Doris!  (Michelle)

Inferno by Dan Brown

InfernoInferno. Finished 1-29-13, rating 4.25/5,  thriller, 462 pages, pub. 2013

Robert Langdon #4

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

from Goodreads

I read the reviews when this came out that it was just another recycled Dan Brown book, so I put it on the backburner, and picked it up at the library last week with low  expectations.  I’ll be honest and say I do think this does follow a formula, but for me it’s a formula that works.  As for it being recycled I disagree.  The bad guy in this one is more complex than some of his others (especially the tattooed Lost Symbol guy) and I loved that this book tackled a very real issue of today, overpopulation.  And our dear professor was not to be relied on since he was suffering from amnesia, which I personally found lame.

This book took us back to Italy, Florence and Venice, and I was happy to revisit both of these beautiful cities.  I did think that Brown used way too much description and I wanted to read about the cities I love, unfortunately, I did find myself skimming some paragraphs when Langdon was escaping capture in Florence.  Which leads right into the biggest issue, for me.  The book needed some editing.  If I had to read (and each time more dramatic than the last) how the woman in charge of WHO was a broken soulless woman because she couldn’t have children one more time I was sure I would start swearing (ok, maybe the fifth time I did).  The book needed to be tighter, especially for the thriller it was intended to be.

“Zobrist asked the following: If you could throw a switch and randomly kill half the population on earth, would you do it?”

“Of course not.”

“Okay. But what if you were told that if you didn’t throw that switch right now, the human race would be extinct in the next hundred years?” She paused.:  “Would you throw it then?  Even if it meant you might murder friends, family, and possibly even yourself?”

(page 218)

I thought that by tackling the overpopulation issue Brown moved from the past to the future well.  Frankly, it was scary.  I haven’t read Dante’s Inferno and I must remedy that soon now that I’ve had a primer, but even so I’m sure it was a stretch to connect the two.  But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the ride.

I think this is better than the last one but not back on par with the first two Langdon books.  What did you think?

Tuesday Quizzes are back – so who died? – guessing closed

It’s another year of quizzes!  After some consideration I am going to keep the format pretty much the same as before, except I may decided to give away more random prizes to participants.  Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  You have til Sunday to enter.  All extras can be found here.

Every year the first quiz is  about the authors who died the year before. I know my clues may be vague, but I think I helped with at least one title reveal.  You’re welcome 🙂

Leave your guesses in the comment section.  You only need to guess one to be eligible for a prize 🙂

Writers lost in 2013

1. This master of dialogue died at his home in Michigan at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke in July.  I home he’s enjoying his Rum Punch wherever he is. Elmore Leonard

2. This 47-year-old died after a 3 year cancer battle.  Mitch Rapp is now alone in his fight against terrorism.  Vince Flynn

3. This British author “was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature”.  She died at 94 ,perhaps her Golden Notebook close at hand.  Doris Lessing

4. This Scottish author died at 59 after a very short cancer fight.  He missed seeing The Quarry in print by weeks.  Iain Banks

5. He he became the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction before collapsing of a heart attack at age 62.  I hope the Mambo Kings are Playing Songs of Love for him.  Oscar Hijuelos

6. This 85-year-old priest wrote more than 120 books, including at least 10 steamy novels making the  New York Times bestseller list.  I hope he’s enjoying a sip of Irish Whiskey with the angels.  Andrew Greeley

7.  This author/illustrator was one of five writers to win two Newbery Medals before dying at 83 of a stoke.  I hope The View From Saturday is a good one.  EL Konigburg

8. This conservative political thriller heavyweight wrote 17 bestsellers before he died at home in Baltimore, where he was part owner of his beloved Orioles.  The Hunt for Red October still goes on.  Tom Clancy

9. Before her death at 69,  this long-time romance writer, the first American Harlequin author, admitted to plagiarized Nora Roberts.  My Americana series remained intact.  Janet Dailey

10. This sci-fi author and screenwriter died at his home on Los Angeles at the age of 87.  He is, indeed, Legend.  Richard Matheson

Happy Guessing!

Mailbox Monday – January 27

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

For years I’ve loved seeing what books all of you received each week, but I’ve never joined in.  I don’t really receive a lot of books, so I don’t know how often I’ll jump in, but when I have something to share, I will.

This week I have three books by three authors I love so I am a very happy reader this week.  Maybe I want to share because I am so excited about all three of these books 🙂


Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen– I’ve read all her others and purchased this brand new hardcover with my own money.

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio and The Splendor Falls by Susanna Kearsley were both surprises sent to me by Nise.  I had to include her stationary in the picture because I love beautiful cards.  Thank you Nise!!

So, what did your mailbox bring?

Sundays with Gage – Puzzling

Gage is high maintenance, always has been, starting with the colic that seemed to last forever (but in reality only six months until we got him on acid reflux medication).  When he was diagnosed on the spectrum there was almost a lessening of the burden of guilt for me and the fact that I found mothering so, so hard.  I had some answers as to why it was so difficult to engage him or why he didn’t really seem to care what I was doing.  He’s wired a little differently, that’s all.  With all of the differently therapies he’s been doing this past year, there has been a huge improvement.  He’s always liked to play by himself, but now he wants us to play with him, more than just be entertained by us.

The biggest improvement has come because we’ve changed our thought process.  Gage needs to be actively engaged all of the time so we adjust to what we can engage him in.  It’s tiring.  So, imagine my happy dance when Gage found a 500 piece puzzle buried under a pile of odds and ends on our dining room table.  I had started it one ambitious day probably a year and a half ago, but it’s sat untouched since then.  Gage found a few stray pieces and pulled out the chair and said “Mommy’s puzzle”.  He was ready to work!  I cleaned off the table and we’ve spent about 20 minutes every day this week working on mommy’s puzzle.  He likes to look at me and tell me, “I’m a good helper” with a satisfied smile.  He tries the pieces and if I help him pick the right one he can get it in!  For the first time Gage has independently joined me in an activity that I love, not the other way around and it has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside 🙂  Now, If I could just get him to sit in my lap and listen to me read  Inferno.

puzzle1 IMG_5270


Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge

Love Water MemoryLove Water Memory. Finished 1-22-14, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 326 pages, pub. 2013

If you could do it all over again, would you still choose him?

At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is. Her memory loss is caused by an emotional trauma she knows nothing about, and only when handsome, quiet Grady Goodall arrives at the hospital does she learn she has a home, a career, and a wedding just two months away. What went wrong? Grady seems to care for her, but Lucie is no more sure of him than she is of anything. As she collects the clues of her past self, she unlocks the mystery of what happened to her. The painful secrets she uncovers could hold the key to her future—if she trusts her heart enough to guide her.

from Goodreads

Suffering from dissociative fugue, Lucie is clueless. She has no idea where she belongs, who she really is, what the relationship is with her fiance, or who her friends are.  She is lost.  Grady takes her back to Seattle and their life together, but they are virtual strangers.  Lucie doesn’t remember anything and Grady isn’t familiar with the new Lucie, this new nicer woman who seems so curious.  The two try to navigate living together while she tries to piece together what happened to make her break like she did.

I can’t imagine suffering from amnesia, how hard it must be especially if you don’t have support.  Grady, as steady and nice as he was couldn’t have been adequate support for Lucie. Because she been all about her job before she didn’t have friends, or at least any that reached out to her.  How sad is that?  Grady didn’t seem to mind this and didn’t seem to want her to connect with the family she had, his sisters and her aunt. It was weird.  They both just went through the day, muddling along.  I was hoping for a little more oomph.  I liked the new and improved Lucie and am glad that even if she didn’t find memories she found some peace, but there was something off about the relationship with Grady, from both sides.

This was an okay novel for me.  I liked that the story was told from three perspectives and I loved seeing the way that Lucie really turned her life around.   It was enjoyable and led to some questions about relationships and do we see people the way they are or do we see them through the lens of our own insecurities and fears.  But the mystery wasn’t shocking by the time it was revealed and there wasn’t anything that really made me want to skip ten minutes of sleep and read the next chapter (the hallmark of a great book, in my humble opinion).

The gentleness of the storytelling was enough to make me want to read more from this author.  Good thing I already have When She Flew on my shelf!

I received this book from She Reads.  Go on over and see what other bloggers think about this one.

Sundays with Gage – Where is home?

My parents moved into their current house before I started 1st grade, that was 1978.  I lived there until I left for college at 18, came back for the next two summers and for 5 months after I graduated from college.  The house holds a lot of memories.  My parents both come from bigger families and many of the them live fairly close by.  When I think of home that’s where I think of, a house full of memories and close to the family I love.  This past weekend we took a very quick trip down for a surprise 40th birthday party for my cousin’s wife (a fun time was had by all, too much for some ;)) and spent maybe our last night there.  My parents will be moving close to us next month.  I am excited for us all, especially Gage, but I will miss that house.

And this leads to the question, where is home?  When I say home now, will it be here, where we make new memories and have cherished family close by or will it continue to be the place I grew up and spent every holiday until age 42?  Time will tell.  Gage loved to go to Papaw’s house but it would mean two and a half hours in the car.  I can’t wait to see the surprise on his face when the trip takes 12 minutes!  They will be living closer to Gage’s school than we do!  Here’s the picture we took before we left for the party last night.  It’s full of great memories and the next people who live there will be lucky to be in a house so full of love.


The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide by Susan Senator

The Autism Mom's Survival Guide (for Dads, too!): Creating a Balanced and Happy Life While Raising a Child with AutismThe Autism Mom’s Survival Guide (for Dads, too!);Creating a Balanced and  Happy Life while Raising a Child with Autism. Finished 1-16-14, rating 4/5, autism, 196 pages, pub. 2010

Given the daily challenges of raising a child with autism, it’s easy for parents to lose themselves and for their overall quality of life to plummet. Susan Senator interweaves the voices of autism parents, researchers, and professionals to offer guidance and encouragement on how to find happiness and fulfillment in the midst of the struggles of raising an autistic child. Topics include: how to handle feelings of despair and hopelessness; finding fun, even during turbulent times; caring for your marriage; and finding a balance between accepting your child as he or she is and seeking new treatments. 

from Goodreads

When a child is diagnosed with autism, parents read as much as they can about the current treatments available to help their child.  And then start the different treatments, adding more as time and money allow.  In my own personal experience we were so busy with this that I didn’t really take the time to breathe and accept the future.  I was trying to save my son from the diagnosis.  Honestly, I still am, but around the year mark acceptance crept in to my daily thoughts too.  This book really did help with that.

The author has a grown son with autism and two younger sons at home and has had 20 years to make peace and come up with some advice that might help other parents.  This is not a book on therapies and it will not lead you to a quick fix, as a matter of fact she really is not a fan of alternative solutions, like biomedical.  What this book does so well is to offer comfort and advice on how your family can have a better home-life.  It’s full of resources (books, websites, blogs) and stories from other parents to help you feel understood and armed with more information.

At first, it was a struggle to get my mind out of the scary, unknown future.  But as therapies, research, and behaviors kept me busy, the future faded and only resurrected itself on the very bad days.  This book, detailing her experience with her son moving out of the house at 18, was something I needed to read.  While her life isn’t what she expected, it is good and fulfilled and happy.

If you have a friend that has a child with autism this would be a nice recommendation or gift (when she’s having one of those bad days). I checked this out of the library.

Winner and a 2014 reading plan

I am late getting a winner posted for the $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.  Gage stayed home from school today since he’s a little sick and he helped me draw a name from his fireman’s hat.

winnerwinner2winner3 In case you can’t read the name in the second picture, it’s


Thank you all for taking the time to visit my old posts.  I wonder if the top posts will change in the next year?

Last year I tried to read from a stack of books I already had on my shelves that were favorites of other bloggers.  This year I decided that I don’t need to discover any new fiction authors (outside of my one book from She Reads a month).  I want to rediscover the authors I already love and take the time to read their backlist or newest hardcover.  Every year I fall in love with a handful of authors and before I can read more from them I’m moving on to the next thing.

A few authors I’ve only read one book from but want more!  Jennifer Donnelly, Tana French, Sarah Jio, Kristin Hannah, Susanna Kearsley, Leah Stewart, JojoMoyes…

A few authors I have read all their books and always look forward to the latest.  Harlan Coben, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sarah Addison Allen, Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series…

A few favorite authors I usually love and want to read everything they’ve written.  Anne Tyler, Anita Shreve, Greg Iles, Kate White, Deborah Smith, Elizabeth Berg, Alice Hoffman, Dean Koontz, Stephen King…

This is not an exhaustive list but a good starting point.  I have a year of great reading ahead of me!

Saturday Snapshot- Postcrossing

IMG_5090I’ve done a couple of posts on Postcrossing and my love of sending and receiving postcards from around the world.  I’ve received 133 cards from around the world in the 14 months since I started and I decided that I needed a place to keep them all organized by a few different categories so I started another blog Postcarder.  At this point I’m just showing the front, the stamp, and listing whether they told me their favorite book or movie.  It’s bare bones, but I wanted something basic before I received too many cards to deal with.  You can look by country or a few of the categories that I’ve found with the cards.  Maybe I’ll occasionally do a favorites or stats post over there, but I’m not taking the time now.

I would love to receive a postcard from you with a favorite book or movie that I can add to my collection.  You’ll show up on my other blog 🙂  If you need my address just leave a comment and I’ll send it to you and I’ll return the favor 🙂

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.