January’s Movies & $ for charity

A good movie month!

Now it’s your turn.  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.

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.  This is ongoing so you can leave your 5 words anytime.

We’re up to $65!

PK Theatrical Poster.jpgPK, 2014 (Cast-Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani    Grade A

God is hard to find.

Selma poster.jpgSelma, 2014 (Cast-David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Common)   Grade A

Calculating MLK brings real change.

Chris Kyle is wearing desert fatigues army outfit, his wife Taya embraces him. They are standing in front of a tattered US flag.American Sniper, 2014 (Cast-Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller)     Grade B

Soldiers fight for each other.

Sniper married tours of duty.   (Sheree)


Hyde park on hudson poster.jpgHyde Park on Hudson, 2012 (Cast-Bill Murray, Laura Linney)   Grade C+

Why so many women Frank?


BadWords2014.jpgBad Words, 2013 (Cast-Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall)      Grade C-

Harassing kids is never cool.


Waiting-poster.jpgWaiting, 2005 (Cast-Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long, Anna Faris)       Grade C-

Still waiting…for more laughs.

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 31-60

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

Time to catch you up on my 1001 Albums project I started last summer.  Originally I started listening and dancing with Gage, but this round he wasn’t allowed to hear a few of the albums.  I listened to some rap this go round, but evened it out with lots of Beatles and U2.  I’m still playing with how I want to do these posts (since I know they are more for me than for you) so this time I’m going to list all the albums, one sentence from the book, and then a link to my favorite song of each album.   Listing them in the order I listened to them.

My three favorites were Tapestry by Carole King, Velvet Underground and Nico, and Abbey Road by The Beatles.  See any of your favorites?

All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2002) by U2.  This is an album of epic proportions and no filler (“In our heads we’ve written 11 singles for this record,” commented Bono).  Fave-Beautiful Day

Joshua Tree (1987) by U2. The Joshua Tree marks the point in U2’s long and gloriously inconsistent career at which they woke up to the possibilities of studio technology, expanded their sound from a post-punk chug, and found grandeur, abstraction, and finesse.  Fave- With or Without You

War (1983) by U2.  U2’s third album saw the Dublin four-piece articulate their impassioned views on politics and the human condition. Fave-Bloody Sunday

The Visitors (1981) by ABBA. It would have been unreasonable to expect an album by divorcees to be as joyful asn uplifting as an album by two married couples. Fave-When All is Said and Done

Dirt (1992) by Alice in Chains. The record was laden with allusions to lead singer Staley’s drug addiction, a portent to his fatal overdose a decade after the album’s release. Fave-Would

Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) by Crosby, Stills & Nash. But this first, excellent three-quarters of an hour of wistful exuberance remains a landmark. Fave-Marrakesh Express

Tapestry (1971) by Carole King. Carole King dramatically reinvented herself as a solo star with this landmark release.  Fave-I Feel the Earth Move

Destroyer (1976) by Kiss. Destroyer is the iconic Kiss Album.  Fave-Beth

Station To Station (1976) by David Bowie. Increasingly paranoid, he had become obsessed with UFOs, occultism, and Adolf Hitler.  Fave-Word on a Wing

Boston (1976) by Boston. Boasts melodic rockers, flashing guitars, powerhouse rhythms, and sweet cascading vocals.  Fave- More Than A Feeling

2112 (1976) by Rush. Rush’s trademark sound-prog-meets-heavy rock-comes fully into its own on this record.  Fave-Tears

Wish You Were Here (1975) by Pink Floyd. “At the beginning of the recording sessions most of us didn’t wish we were there at all, we wished we were somewhere else.” Fave-Wish You Were Here

Ready to Die (1994) by The Notorious B.I.G.  It’s a strange album in that the first cut says…’Let’s stop killing each other’-and then the rest of the record is all about people killing each other! I refuse to choose a favorite because I had to listen to the guy have sex.

Appetite for Destruction (1987) by Guns N’ Roses. They looked cool, they swore, they fought, they-let’s bite the bullet-rocked.  Fave- Paradise City

Nevermind (1991) by Nirvana. Kurt later complained about the slickness of the album’s sound.  Fave-Come As You Are

MTV Unplugged (1994) by Nirvana. When he sighs, in a moment of silence just before the climatic closing section, it seems the weight of the world is crushing him.  Fave-Where Did You Sleep Last Night

In Utero (1993) by Nirvana. The grunge landmark of the 1990’s. fave-All Apologies

The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967) by The Velvet Underground. Its straight talk about sex and drugs got the album banned on New York radio; stations elsewhere in the United States simply ignored it. Fave-Sunday Morning

Illmatic (1994) by Nas. Fusing old-school street poetry  with razor sharp production. Fave-One Love

Stardust (1978) by Willie Nelson. With Willie Nelson there is no country or pop, just Willie Nelson songs.  Fave-Blue Skies

Red Headed Stranger (1975) by Willie Nelson. It was also something of a formal experiment, a loose concept album about a lovelorn murderer’s adventures.  Fave-Medley:Blue Rock Montana/Red Headed Stranger.

Straight Outta Compton (1989) by N.W.A.  Niggaz With Attitude were the fruit of Easy E’s entrepreneurship.  Offensive in every way that it was intended so I’m not choosing a favorite.

The Atomic Mr. Basie (1957) by Count Basie. “I have never bragged on anything, but (the Atomic Basie)band…was one I could have bragged on.  Fave- The Kid from Red Bank

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) by The Beatles.  For the first time on a Beatles album , all tracks are Fabs originals. Fave-It’s a Hard Day’s Night

Rubber Soul (1965) by The Beatles. The album injected mystique into FabWorld. Fave-What Goes On

With the Beatles (1963) by The Beatles. The sleeve photo is arguably the most iconic of The Beatles ever taken, as well as being one of the Sixties’ most defining images. Fave-All My Loving

Revolver (1966) by The Beatles. Revolver is cited as the point when The Beatles broke up: they paid their last paying gig weeks after its release.  Fave- Eleanor Rigby

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) by The Beatles.  The album embodied elements of psychedelia:Eastern philosophy and druggy allusions.  Fave- With a Little Help From My Friends

The Beatles (aka The White Album) (1968) by The Beatles. It mixes peerless acoustic-driven ballads with comical tales. Fave-While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Abbey Road (1967) by The Beatles. The vitriol, ecstasy, and social commentary of Lennon and McCartney is what makes Abbey Road and essential.  Fave- Come Together

List of the albums we listened to from the book(The Visitors by ABBA, 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, Dirt by Alice in Chains, Among the Living by Antrax, Tidal by Fiona Apple, Funeral by Arcade Fire, The Atomic Mr. Basie by Count Basie, Abbey Road, The Beatles (white album),  A Hard Day’s Night, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, With the Beatles by The Beatles, Parallel Lives by Blondie, Boston by Boston, Station to Station by David Bowie, Crosby Stills & Nash by Crosby Stills & Nash, 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, Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses, Darklands and Psychocandy by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tapestry by Carole King,  Destroyer by KISS, Tragic Songs of Life by the Louvin Brothers, Illmatic by Nas, In Utero, MTV Unplugged in New York, and Nevermind by Nirvana, Ready to Die by The Notorious B.I.G.,  Straight Outta Compton by NWA, Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, Regatta de  Blanc and Synchronicity by The Police, Elvis Presley by Elvis Presley, 2112 by Rush, 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, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, Joshua Tree, and War by U2, Velvet Underground & Nico by Velvet Underground,  Red Headed Stranger and Stardust by Willie Nelson, Back to Black by Amy Winehouse) 60/1001

Linkup to my past posts

1-10, 11-30

Snowy Quiz – guessing closed

Guess as many as you can, one or ten. Include the name of the author for eextra points.

No googling or looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system 🙂  Play every week or just one time, you are always welcome 🙂  It only takes once to be eligible for a prize.

1.shinThe Shining – Stephen King


2.lionThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

3. snThe Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

4. snoThe Snowman – Jo Nesbo

5.shiShiver – Maggie Stiefvater


6. chA Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens


7.doDoctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak


8.chiChill Factor – Sandra Brown


9.snoThe Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats


10.smSmilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Hoeg

Answers to last week Dead Actors quiz here.  Leaderboard and extra stuff here.

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A NovelThe Dress Shop of Dreams. Finished 1-21-15, rating 4.5/5, fiction, 336 pages, pub. 2014

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

from Goodreads

I received this from the publisher courtesy of She Reads.  You can visit to enter to win all 4 of the books for winter!

I fell under the book’s spell even though Cora is not a warm and fuzzy person.  She exists only to follow in the footsteps of her genius scientist parents who were killed when she was only five years old and to visit her grandmother at her dress shop with a side trip to the bookstore three days a week.  Walt works at the bookstore and has been in love with Cora since they were kids but his social cluelessness has not moved the relationship forward even an inch.  So, Grandmother (Etta) takes matters into her own hands (literally) by using the magic of her needle and thread to open Walt’s heart and then Cora’s, but the best intentions do not always lead to the best results and the two go off on different paths entirely.

I loved Etta and the special gift of her dresses, and this small aspect of magical realism made the book sparkle and shine.  If there were a dress shop like Etta’s in Cleveland you can be sure I’d be stopping by.  It’s the dress shop that lends the book its lightness since everything else is much more serious in nature.  Every storyline starts with a lie.  Etta has one she’s been keeping for 50 years and Cora’s search into her parent’s deaths lead to more lies and betrayal. Walt gets himself a girlfriend under false pretenses and Henry, the policeman helping Cora, knows that a lie is at the heart of his divorce.  Once the truth starts coming out then all can be forgiven.  Maybe.

It had me charmed from the beginning and once I started I didn’t want to stop.  I only wish that maybe it could have been a little bit longer because there were so many secondary characters with their own stories that I felt a little shortchanged at the end when Cora found her truth.  Perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen


Mailbox Monday – January 26 and a giveaway reminder

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.

We saw American Sniper last week and I thought it was okay, generated lost of complicated discusssion.  Anyone else see it?


I received The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth from St. Martin’s Press.

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world—and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever. Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby’s father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s—a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?      from Goodreads

And while visiting our local independent bookstore this weekend I saw that they had an autographed copy of one of my favorite books so I snatched it up.  They had one left if you want me to get you one!   The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell sounds like a strange book but most people who read it fall in love.

In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being “human.” Words like “provocative” and “compelling” will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.    from Goodreads

And a reminder that if you haven’t entered my blogiversay giveaway for a $20 Barnes & Noble giftcard, there’s still time!

So, what arrived in your house this week?

Sundays with Gage – postcards, paper and paints

IMG_2023Gage received his first train postcard addressed especially to him and it traveled all the way from California.  We’d like to thank our blogger friends Wendy and Mouse who took the time to mail it.  You guys rock! I told him it came from California and when Jason came home later Gage told him it cam from Africa, ha! And in a similar vein if any of you would like to bring a smile like this to my son’s face and add to his train postcard collection we would greatly appreciate it 🙂 Good luck finding a train postcard!

What do you do with a hyper 4-year-old who was off school for 6 days?  This!


You roll some paper down the longest part of your hardwood floor and go crazy!  Each part of ‘my project’ as Gage like’s to call it, took only 5-10 minutes.  We did paints, tracing, tape, coloring, patterns, stickers and whatever else tickled our fancy at the moment.  After the looong weekend I rolled it up and put it away and since then he asks every day to get it back out to work on it some more.  It was a win win and all it required was rolling out a red carpet of white paper.


A few tips if you want to try this at home.  Clean you floor thoroughly beforehand and then be prepared to just close your eyes to whatever you might find down there over the course of the next few days.  You will spend more time on the hard floor than you’d like so be prepared.  And, of course, make the kid do most of the work 🙂


84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road84 Charing Cross Road, Finished 1-20-15, rating 3/5, 97 pages, pub. 1970

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

from Goodreads

Oh, bah humbug! I chose this universally loved short book for my first Classics Club read and now I’m not sure if I’m even going to count it.  Is it too short? Should it be a novel?  Is it even a classic?  Feel free to add your two cents.

Okay, now to my second problem, I just didn’t get all the fuss.  I’ve read lots of reviews (some by you!) to try to convince myself that I liked it more than I did but it just isn’t happening.  I feel like the only kid in the classroom who doesn’t get it and while I hate to raise my hand and show my cluelessness, here I am doing just that.

This book is a series of letters sent between Helene, a New York writer, and Marks & Co., Booksellers, a London bookstore, between the years 1949-1969.  Helene is searching for hard-to-find books and Marks & Co. is happy to send them her way. Since this takes place during wartime and some foods are being rationed, Helene takes it upon herself to send the bookstore treats through the mail.  The staff fall in love with her letters and her generosity.  She mainly corresponds with Frank Doel, but many of the workers there send her letters and she sends them customers when friends travel to London.

Helene seems like a very cool New York woman who loves to read and educate herself.  I would have loved to have met her in person.  This sentiment is repeated in everyone who read her letters to the store and they were all hoping that they would get to meet the writer, but 20 years go by with just the exchange of letters and occasional gifts.  The letters themselves were sometimes interesting, sometimes not, and often there were so many years between letters that it just fell flat for me.

That being said I am planning on watching the movie with Anthony Hopkins and Ann Bancroft and see if that can bring it to life for me 🙂

Actors Lost in 2014 Quiz – guessing closed

Here’s the nitty-gritty that I’ll only post this twice 😉

I post the quiz Wednesday before noon and you have until noon on the next Tuesday to submit your answers as a Comment.  I will hide comments on a regular basis.

The winner is the person with the most points at the end of each round (usually 5 months or so) and he or she will win a prize AND I’ll randomly draw a name from the rest of the participants to receive a prize too!  So, you only have to get one question right to be eligible for a prize.

The winner will receive a Barnes & Noble gift card based on how many people participate. 30 participants= $30, 52=$52…So, the eventual winner could be you and you want as many people to guess as possible!

A few rules

1. No cheating.  No googling or looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system 🙂

2. Your first answers will be the only ones accepted.

3. Play every week or just one time, you are always welcome 🙂  It only takes once to be eligible for a prize.

Okay, now that  all of that is out of the way let’s get started.  Let’s see if you know any of these actors who died in 2014.  I’m giving you their initials and one of their most famous movies.

Actors lost in 2014 

1. R.W. – Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam  Robin Williams

2. S.T. – Bright Eyes, The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer   Shirley Temple

3. P.S.H. – Capote, The Hunger Games movies (died while filming)   Philip Seymour Hoffman

4. M.R. – National Velvet, Boys Town   Mickey Rooney

5. H.R. – Ghostbusters, Stripes   Harold Ramis

6. L.B. – The Big Sleep, Key Largo   Lauren Bacall

7. J.G. – Rockford Files (TV), Murphy’s Romance   James Garner

8. E.W. – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Two Jakes   Eli Wallach

9. R.A. – Miracle on 34th Street, Jurassic Park   Richard Attenborough

10. B.H. – Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Super Mario Bros.   Bob Haskins

Good luck!  Answers to last week’s Dead Authors Quiz here.

Mailbox Monday – January 19, with a giveaway reminder

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.

Since it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I want to give a shout out to the movie Selma.  Jason and saw it and both really liked it.  It led to lots of great discussion and some fact finding time when we got home.  It was very well done.


I received The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore from the publisher as a giveaway for my stop on the book tour.  Come back February 19th for your chance to win it 🙂

And I received two more books in the continuing kids series, If You Were Me and Lived In…from Red Feather Productions.  They always send fun extras with the books.  Looking forward to both.

If You Were Me and Lived In Scotland and If You Were Me and Lived In Hungary.

And a reminder that if you haven’t entered my blogiversay giveaway for a $20 Barnes & Noble giftcard, there’s still time!

So, what arrived in your house this week?


Sundays with Gage – Hands on Museums

It’s hard to find museums that are hands on enough to keep Gage occupied.  I’m always on the lookout so if you know of one let me know!  After Christma we went to Michigan to see Jason’s family we visited the city where Jason was born which just happens to be home to the Henry Ford Museum, the perfect place for little boys.  Not only are there cars and planes and trains in all of their massive glory but there was also an area where kids could make their own vehicles and race them against each other.  The highlight of the museum and where Gage spent the most time was the model train area.  He was in heaven.  They have a village outside and maybe we’ll try that on our next warm weather trip.

This museum gets an A+ from us because it kept Gage entertained for hours.  Has anyone else been there?



One with his grandpa and the model trains…

IMG_1765[1]and my favorite with Gage and his dad and grandpaIMG_1752[1]