My Life According to Books 2014

I decided to take up Elyse on her meme since I wanted to sit down and decompress from our whirlwind trip back home for Thanksgiving.  I hope you all had a great day with family and friends.

Use titles from the books you’ve read this year to complete the sentences.

1. Black Friday makes me The Invisible Man (HG Wells)

2. If you post racist jokes on Facebook, I (am not) Missing You (after unfriending) (Harlan Coben)

3. In my ID photo, I look like The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress (Ariel Lawhon)

4. If someone interrupts my reading, (they might find) A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)

5. When I read/watch the news, I Love Life (Rob Lowe)

6. The last time I visited the zoo, I (saw a) Gift From the Sea (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

7. If I were a Supreme Court Justice, I (would be) American on Purpose (Craig Ferguson)

8. Absolutely nothing compares to That Night (Chevy Stevens)

9. Best advice my mom gave me (be) The Best (wo)Man (Kristan Higgins)

10. My hope for 2015 is (a) Miracle Cure (Harlan Coben)

Winners – something to be thankful for


Just in time for Thanksgiving tomorrow I’ve got a few winners to announce-


Nise (Under the Boardwalk)  winner of Round 3 of my Quizzes!  An amazing 9th win!!!  $16 B&N giftcard is on the way.

Rita winner of a special quiz participation prize.

JoAnn (Lakeside Musing) winner of First Darling of the Morning, a signed book by Thrity Amrigar


Congratulations and I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Fourth Down and Out by Andrew Welsh-Huggins – where I talk a little football

Fourth Down and Out: An Andy Hayes MysteryFourth Down and Out. Finished 11-4-14, rating 3.5/5, mystery, 256 pages, pub. 2014

The job seems easy enough at first for private investigator Andy Hayes: save his client’s reputation by retrieving a laptop and erasing a troublesome video from its hard drive. But that’s before someone breaks into Andy’s apartment in Columbus; before someone else, armed with a shotgun, relieves him of the laptop; and before the FBI suddenly shows up on his doorstep asking questions.

Soon, there’s a growing list of people with a claim on the computer, all of them with secrets they don’t want uncovered. When one of those people ends up dead, Andy has his hands full convincing authorities he’s not responsible, while trying to figure out who is—and who’s got the laptop—before someone else dies. Soon the trail leads to the last place Andy wants to go: back to Ohio State University, where few have forgiven him for a mistake he made two decades earlier in his days as the Buckeyes’ star quarterback.

from Goodreads

It’s Rivalry Week here in Ohio.  We play that team Up North this Saturday so I thought it would be a good time to review this book about an ex-Ohio State quarterback.  Ohio State is a big school, when I was in the early 1990’s there were around 60,000 students on the Columbus campus.  Never a dull moment, especially on Game Day.  Football is king even when we had an excellent basketball team.  In 1995 as I was finishing up my student teaching I was out one night with a friend when she introduced me to Kirk Herbstreit and if football is king, quarterbacks are super-sized kings.  (And for those of you who are College Game Day watchers, yes Kirk is really that good-looking in person)  So, it’s obvious why this mystery set in Columbus appealed to me.

Andy did something bad and now years later, even after serving his time, Columbus still hates him (why he is stayed in Columbus is still a mystery).  He does some PI work to make ends meet and withstands the comments and glares from those who still recognize him.  When he takes a small job and agrees to wipe a laptop clean he becomes the target of violence and theft and not one to let things go he starts his own investigation that leads to more questions and danger.  He isn’t a particularly skilled PI but he gets the job done.

This is perfect for Columbus residents and college football fans.  The mystery itself becomes a little convoluted but the setting of Columbus is spot on and I loved revisiting the city I lived in 4+ years.  Especially notable is the German Village bookstore, The Book Loft that has 32 rooms of books in every nook and cranny and is a must visit if you are ever in the area.  I loved the nod to Ohio State football history in the naming of the main character and his dog.  Seriously how cute is the name Hopalong for a dog?

Author Welsh-Huggins is a long-time AP reporter and this is his first book and the beginning of a series about Andy.  I’m looking forward to seeing what Andy (and Columbus) is up to next.

Go Bucks!

Rocco DiSpirito’s The Pound a Day Diet, Week 2

Hm, let me say that week 2 on Rocco’s diet was not successful.  Three days I had minor to major cheats (two date nights and a family trip to Five Guys where I was able to resist the burger but not the fries) and didn’t lose any weight.  That doesn’t make me a happy camper.  I’m not throwing in the towel.  I’m back on this week until Thursday and Friday.

Let’s talk shirataki noodles.  Ever had them?  They are in quite a few of these recipes as a pasta replacement.  There are tofu brands but I’ve only tried the soy varieties.  A little more about them if you aren’t familiar.  My regular grocery store didn’t have them, but  the health one did.  I tried the angel hair with a teriaki sauce (it was okay), the fettuccine with a cheese sauce (inedible, threw it didn’t away instead of eating it), and the spaghetti with a peanut and a lemon sauce (both were good).  I think they are best if you cook them long enough but if you’ve any experience with them let me know because they are a great carb replacement and I’d like to know if there is a trick to them.

I forgot to take a picture this week but I did have a favorite recipe.



So, week 2 I managed to keep off the first 6 pounds but wasn’t able to lose more, but I can’t completely blame that on the diet since I ate 2 meals out and had a bunch of Five Guys Fries (they were so worth it though!).



Sundays with Gage – Five minutes is a long time

Last week we took Gage to the Jump Yard, a huge warehouse filled with giant inflatables for kids, a snack bar, video games and rooms for birthday parties.  Here are a few pics to show how much fun Gage had.

IMG_1200[1]IMG_1212[1] IMG_1281[1]IMG_1246[1]IMG_1262[1]See, he even made a friend to run around with.

These pictures are a little misleading because they are all focused on Gage.  If I’d panned out a bit you would have seen hundreds of people, kids and adults, milling around.  It only got more crowded the longer we were there.  We made Gage sit down for juice and after three sips he was ready to go.  Jason got up and headed to the big room with him and when I looked up a minute later Jason was looking around for Gage.  I started looking around, not panicked because how far could he have gotten?  Through a sea of people I catch a glimpse of him going up the stairs and I take off in that direction, only a little nervous because there was slide way in back that I knew he was headed to.  It took me too long to get throught the bottleneck at the stairs and by the time I got to the top and turned the corner he was nowhere in sight.  I hightailed it to the back slide/obstacle course and couldn’t find him.  Most of these inflatables are so big you can’t actually see the whole thing so it took me a minute to realize he wasn’t there.  Being such a big place there are lots of doors that go to back rooms and he could have gone in any of them but I assumed that he was playing somewhere.  I made a circle of the upstairs, completely panicked by now and Jason was at the entrance downstairs.  This was not my best be-calm-in-the-moment-of-crisis moment.  There were so many people.  I even told a passing worker that I lost a kid and she just smiled and kept walking.

I headed to the back again to regroup and Gage is walking right towards me calm as can be.  Luckily we were in the area they have set aside for football games for dads and there was a chair and a quiet spot where I could sit him down and tell him he was in trouble.  Deep breath.  Gage was unconcerned and was mad that he had to sit down instead of running off to play.  This is the first time he’s been out of sight when there were that many people and it did not endear me to The Jump Yard.  Gage, of course, would like to go back every weekend.

IMG_1232[1]That smile and this were the two good things about  this excursion.IMG_1292[1]He hasn’t fallen asleep in the car for over a year!

Four year olds are fast and sneaky and ours outsmarted both of us.  We’re in trouble.

Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Heroes Are My WeaknessHeroes Are My Weakness.  Finished 11-16-14, rating 3/5, romance, 367 pages, pub. 2014

The dead of winter.  An isolated island off the coast of Maine.  A man.  A woman.  A sinister house looming over the sea …

He’s a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She’s a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she’s not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they’re trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.
from Goodreads

The book opens with our heroine, Annie, having a conversation with her multitude of puppets as she drives to her secluded cabin in the middle of a snowstorm.  It’s those puppets that kept me from investing fully in Annie from the beginning.  She grew on me but the absurdity of the puppets (and their continued butting into the story) turned me off.  The puppets did, much later, play a part in the sweetest aspect of Annie’s story and I think if that had been their involvement I may have liked this better.  I’m sounding very anti-puppet with all of these complaints, aren’t I?  Maybe it’s my problem and not Annie’s!

As for Theo Harp, our dark hero, he came off as so damaged at the beginning it was interesting to see how she would redeem him. In the end the big reveal wasn’t all that big a surprise but it did work in making him a more sympathetic character.

This felt very different from SEP’s other romances.  There’s always hot sex that happens before it seems it should and there is always humor, sarcasm and intelligent characters and this book had all that.  It felt like less romance this time around and it had a more sinister undertone since someone was trying to scare/hurt Annie.  It was good, but different.

I know this has been nominated for many end-of-the-year book awards, but it just didn’t quite do it for me.  But, no worries, I’ll still buy the next book by Susan in hardcover the week it comes out 🙂

Thanksgiving Quiz

quizFor the last quiz of 2014 you just need to fill in the titles with words associated with Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  Extra points if you can tell me the author!

Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize – you only need one correct answer to be eligible for a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  All extra details can be found here.

Leave your guesses in the comment section by Tuesday afternoon.

1. The Cat Who Talked ______

2. A Moveable _____

3. So Long, and _____ For All the Fish

4. Dress Your _____ in Corduroy and Denim

5. _____’s Progress

6. 44 _____ Point

7. What’s _____Gilbert Grape

8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time _____

9. The _____ _____ Queens’ Book of Love

10. The Sisterhood of the _____ Pants

Answers to last week’s Recognize Me? Quiz here.

A reminder about my giveaway


Gage got me up before 5:30 this morning so I’m too tired to write a review, but I wanted to remind you that I’m giving awaya signed copy of Thrity Umrigar’s book about growing up in India and a bag this month.  You can see my original post here.  I’ll even give you a chance to get an extra entry. Comment here AND there and get an entry for each!  If you want to tweet about it and let me know in your comment I’ll  throw in another entry.  Make sure you leave an email address.

Open internationally.  I’ll draw a winner November 25.


First Darling of the Morning:Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity Umrigar

First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu city; of a guilt-ridden stranger in her own land, an affluent child in a country mired in abysmal poverty. She reveals intimate secrets and offers an unflinching look at family issues once considered unspeakable as she interweaves two fascinating coming-of-age stories—one of a small child, and one of a nation.

In addition, author Duffy Brown graciously contributed a great canvas bag highlighting her new series set on Mackinac Island, Geared for the Grave.

Rocco DiSpirito’s The Pound a Day Diet, Week 1


It’s a sad day when you look at recent photos of yourself and don’t really recognize yourself.  It’s a tough day when you realize you really need to lose 50 pounds.  It’s a stressful day when you know you don’t really have the time or energy to plan a course of action.  So, this book came on my radar at just the right time.  Here was a plan that would hopefully give me some fast results and some good ideas on changing my menu and I might even learn to cook vegetables yummy enough for my two guys to eat them!

The idea is that you will lose 5 pounds for 5 days, maintain for 2 days, and lose 5 more the next 5 days, maintain for 2, and then again for a total of 28 days, and ideally you’ve lost 20 pounds.  I decided to give it a shot and started last Monday.  The diet is really just cutting calories. Here’s a pic of my daily meal plan from the book.

week 1

You can see for those first 5 days I was supposed to be around 850-900 calories a day and I was able to stick to that.  I didn’t cheat and by Saturday morning had lost 5.5 pounds.  Not bad!  Now on the weekend I was allowed more food and as a treat I let myself have wine both nights and still managed to lose another half a pound. SO, I managed to lose 6 pounds this first week.

I’ll update every week and we’ll see how it works out.

The plusses

I lost weight

The food (except for one loser) has been really good.

Meals are quick to prepare and cook.

He provides ready-made substitutions for every meal.

The minuses

It is expensive to buy food for all the recipes he provides.

It’s hard to find many of the ingredients.

The specific shopping took way too much time this week because I wasn’t familiar with many of the ingredients.

His recipes are for 4 servings!  Seriously, this makes no sense in a diet book.

At the end of the third day I went to bed with a headache and woke up with one the next morning so I skipped the protein shake and went straight for the real food and it helped.  I have followed the menu fairly faithfully but have switched the order of the foods as the mood strikes.  I was supposed to have grapefruit every morning but after the first day I just couldn’t make myself do it so I switched to half an orange.

I took a photo of my two favorite recipes this week if you want to give them a try!

omelet pic

omelet As you can see I added the shrimp and the extra calories.



noodle pic



I didn’t have nor could I find red curry past so I used garlic paste.   And I used real cooked turkey, not from the deli.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer!

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 11-30

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

I started working my through this book this past summer, mostly with Gage but sometimes not (original post here).  I don’t know that any of you will really care to keep up with our travels through the music starting in the 1950’s but I thought I’d keep a record of it at least.  I’m random in how I’m choosing the albums.  I use the index and see which ones the library has so we’ve had a good mix of decades and genres.

And here are our thoughts what we’ve been listening to so far….

New girl crushes (me not Gage) – Blondie and Amy Winehouse. Seriously, I listened to Winehouse’s Back to Black countless times before I returned it to the library.  She was amazing and it’s so sad when such talent is gone too soon.  As for Blondie, I should have been more familiar since I was a little more aware of music back in high school, but I was clueless. I think Parallel Lives is the cd that Gage and I danced to the most this round.

Biggest difference of opinion – Tragic Songs of Life by The Louvin Brothers.  To me-Screeching.  To Gage-Hold me and let’s dance.

Not good for Gage’s young ears – Slim Shady by Eminem.  I was listening to this one full blast when Jason and Gage came back from swimming and I got in trouble 😉  I wasn’t sad to stop it.  I get his talent but the bad language ruins it for me.

Biggest Surprises – Elbow and TV on the Radio.  I’d never heard of either of these bands and loved both albums (The Seldom Seen Kids and Dear Science) from first song to last.  I’ve gone on to listen to Elbow’s other albums and liked them as well.

Two albums by the same name – Back to Black by Amy Winehouse and AC/DC.  You Shook Me All Night Long and the rest of the AC/DC album brought back great memories of high school and you know already I fell in love with Amy Winehouse so this was a win/win!

Someone I actually saw in concert (this list is very small) – The Eagles. Enjoyed their concert in Cleveland a few years ago and really liked their two albums on the list, Hotel California and The Eagles.

My favorite album – 21 by Adele

See any of your favorites here? Anyone new?

List of the albums we listened to from the book(Back to Black and Highway to Hell by AC/DC, 21 by Adele, Pump and Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith, School’s Out by Alice Cooper, Among the Living by Antrax, Tidal by Fiona Apple, Funeral by Arcade Fire, Parallel Lives by Blondie, Eagles and Hotel California by The Eagles, Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow, The Marshal Mathers LP and The Slim Shady LP by Eminem, Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton, So and Melt by Peter Gabriel, Darklands and Psychocandy by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tragic Songs of Life by the Louvin Brothers, Regatta de  Blanc and Synchronicity by The Police, Elvis Presley by Elvis Presley, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim and In the Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra, System of a Down by System of a Down, Dear Science by TV on the Radio,  Back to Black by Amy Winehouse) 30/1001