May’s Movies

A very manly movie month, well except for Pitch Perfect.  Did you see anything good this 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.

We’re up to $92!!

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.

Cars 2006.jpgCars, 2006 (voices-Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shaloub)   Grade B+

Cute, although it was racing 🙂

Cutest car movie ever – voices!  (Kay)

Fun and sweet. True friendship.  (Heather)

My favorite animated movie ever!  (Vicki)

Avengers Age of Ultron.jpgAvengers:Age of Ultron, 2015 (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner)             Grade B

Avengers take on artificial intelligence!

You had me at Avengers!!  (Kay) all the hotties!  (Michelle)

Pitch Perfect movie poster.jpgPitch Perfect, 2012 (Cast-Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Elizabeth Banks)     Grade B-

Cheesy but oh so fun.

Love that acapella singing – funny!   (Kay)

They had me at singing!  (Michelle)  

I ended up loving it!  (Vicki)

Furious 7 poster.jpgFurious 7, 2015 (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Kurt Russell, Jason Stratham)    Grade C-

Just don’t get this franchise.

Franchise oddly appealing to me.  (Kay)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)The Secret Garden. Finished audio 5-12-15, rating 2.5/5, children’s fiction, pub. 1911

What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle’s estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won’t enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty–unaware that she is changing too. But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as Mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.

from Goodreads

Unabridged audio read by Finola Hughes. 8.5 hours.


This beloved children’s classic, that details the healing of the spoiled, irritating Mary Lennox and her similarly unlikable cousin Colin, can certainly be appreciated as a coming of age story. Mary had bad parents who died and she was shipped off to an equally distant uncle in the lonely moors of England. Spending time with the saintly Dickon and the robin who communicates with them (my two favorite characters of the book) helped to turn these two brats (Mary and Colin) into good kids.

The idea of nature being a healer was a good one and I liked the transformation of the children and even the adults.  Spending days working in a secret garden is certainly something that holds a magical appeal to lots of people.  And Burnett’s writing did make me feel like I was on the moor and the isolated nature of it really brought home the lavishness of the garden they were creating.

Let me say a word about the narration because I do think it’s possible it contributed to this book leaving me cold.  Mary and Colin’s voices were so whiny and irritating all the way through that even as they grew into better kids they were still grating on my nerves.  This might not have happened if I had read the book.

Mary did manage to grow on me a bit and the end was as expected for a children’s book, but I was bored most of the time.  It moved too slow and add that to the annoying narration and it just didn’t work for me.  I read the reviews of the people who loved it (almost everyone!) and in theory I should have loved it too. Oh well, maybe my next classic for The Classics Club will be a better fit.

So what was your favorite part of the book?  Did you like the audio if you listened to it?

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

The BooksellerThe Bookseller. Finished May 13, 2015, rating 4/5. fiction, 338 pages, pub. 2015

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

from Goodreads


I received this from the publisher courtesy of She Reads and they rarely lead me to a bad book.  I think in the almost two years I’ve been receiving books every month or so chosen by She Reads there has only been one I didn’t care for that much.  Kudos to Marybeth and Ariel for finding such great books for us.

The dual storylines of Kitty and Katharyn were not difficult to follow, even as the lines blurred, and for the most part worked for me.  I am not giving too much away (I don’t think) to say that I was surprised at the autism aspect in one of the storylines. It was difficult for me to read because it was so…stereotypical?  And cold, definitely not something I’ve seen come up in a 1960’s novel.  As someone with first hand experience, it spoke both truth and not, like most difficult issues I suppose.

I liked Kitty, mostly, but not so much Katharyn and then I wasn’t sure about Kitty.  The pages kept turning and even though I knew where it would end by halfway through, I was still anxious to get there.  This is a terrific debut novel and sure to please book lovers, especially those that dream of opening up their own bookstore someday!

Sundays with Gage – Happy and a great time for a Mom ‘vacation’

IMG_3217[1]IMG_3218[1]IMG_3222[1]IMG_3223[1] IMG_3224[1]

Autism can be a series of highs and lows.  When I last talked about it in March we were coming out of some hard months and justlikethat we got this cutie who has been happy ever since.  He’s pictured here with his favorite tutor/babysitter Meagan who has been with us for almost two years.  (Prepare yourself for a tearful post when I talk about us losing 3 of his ABA tutors within a week, but not yet)  I met and now am Facebook friends with a very gifted autistic young man and at least once a week one his posts includes, “I feel gleeful!”  And that pretty much sums up where we are right now.  Gage is back to his loveable, stubborn self and I feel gleeful.

Two months ago when things were rougher around here I decided to take the plunge and sign up for the Autism One Conference in Chicago.  The conference is this week and I’m excited.  I plan on lots of sessions on diet and toxicity and many more on cutting edge treatments.  This conference treats autism as a medical condition and I’m ready to learn.  My cousin from Kentucky will be joining me and I look forward to some quality girl time.  I leave early Tuesday and won’t return until Saturday after Gage is in bed.  That’ll be the longest I’ve been away from both of my guys ever.

I couldn’t do this without my extraordinary parents who are taking over Gage duty this week.  I am always grateful for all the love and support they give me and Gage and Jason.  It’s been over a year since they moved to be closer to us and we couldn’t be happier.  I am sounding awesomely gleeful aren’t I?

So, tell me, what is making you gleeful today?

The Hard Way by Lee Child

The Hard Way (Jack Reacher Series #10)The Hard Way. Finished 4-26-15, rating 3.5/5, thriller, pub. 2006

Unabridged audio read by Dick Hill.  12 hours.

Jack Reacher series #10  (Killing Floor) (Die Trying) (Tripwire) (Running Blind) (Echo Burning) (Without Fail) (Persuader) (The Enemy) (One Shot)

Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money. And Edward Lane, the man who paid it, will pay even more to get his family back. Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any amount of money and any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And then he’ll turn Jack Reacher loose with a vengeance–because Reacher is the best man hunter in the world.


from Goodreads 

The last one was one of my favorites of the series so maybe that’s why this one fell a little short with me.  Reacher was still his ex-military, loner with a taste for justice self, but the focus this time around was fully centered on the kidnapping and while that was fine, it didn’t really elevate it above any other thriller.  Well, except for Reacher, he always elevates the story I suppose.  I just wanted more of him and his vigilante ways.  It goes without saying that he was able to convince a woman to sleep with him (I feel like every Reacher book should start with a disclaimer telling women reading the book not to try this at home – Do Not Sleep With Drifters Especially Ones With A Menacing Presence And No One To Vouch For Their Character). Anyway, the mystery part of the book was fine, with an interesting ending location, but it only left me wanting to read the next one since I didn’t quite get my fill of the badass Reacher that I’ve come to love.

So, how many of you are Reacher fans?  Are you obsessed with reading them in order like I am?

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The ReaderThe Reader. Finished 4-25-15, rating 5/5, fiction, pub. 1995

Unabridged audio read by Campbell Scott. 4 hours, 30 minutes

Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.
When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover–then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

from Goodreads

I watched the movie made from this book in 2009 when it came out because I love Kate Winslet and I ended up being very moved by it.  And it was with those images in my mind that I listened to the book expertly narrated by Campbell Scott. He became the young and then the adult Michael for me.  Between the movie and Campbell’s narration there was a warmth and richness to this story that I don’t know if I would have found in reading the book alone.  At just over 200 pages it tackled a lot and much of it had to be personally considered by the reader.  What I’m saying is that I can vouch for the audio, but I don’t know it I would have loved it as much if I had read the book alone.

The first part is the love? story between the 15 year old Michael and the 30 something old Hanna.  I didn’t ever truly figure out the why of it on her end, but it’s an easier sell for a 15-year-old boy to be captivated by a woman who teaches him all about sex .  I found it realistic especially since as he started to spend more time with his peers he began to question Hanna’s place among them.

Flash forward a few years and Michael is at university studying law and his class is studying a trial of women accused of Nazi crimes and he sees Hanna for the first time since he was 15.  She was a guard for one of the concentration camps and now must face her day in court.  Michael is riveted and doesn’t miss a day.

I loved this for how much it manages to pack into such a short book.  There was the strange physical relationship between the two, but then it moved into things more thought-provoking, horrifying and sad.  It’s a great book for discussion and those who are interested in post-war Germany.  Not a happy book, but one that left me satisfied and enriched.

I will probably have to watch the movie again now because from what I remember the two almost the same.

Monday Mailbox – May 11

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.

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day, I sure did.  Brunch with my mom and then the theater with Gage, Jason and my parents made a nice day.

For those of you who participate in my weekly quizzes, you’ll see an answer to the current quiz here so feel free to go back an add an answer 🙂


The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax (this was a Goodreads win)

Once upon a time four aspiring authors met at their very first writers’ conference. Ten years later they’re still friends, survivors of the ultra-competitive New York publishing world. Mallory St. James is a workaholic whose bestsellers support a lavish lifestyle. Tanya Mason is a single mother juggling two jobs, two kids, and too many deadlines. Faye Truett is the wife of a famous televangelist and the author of inspirational romances: no one would ever guess her explosive secret. Kendall Aims’s once-promising career is on the skids-and so is her marriage. Her sales are dismal, her new editor detests her work-and her husband is cheating. Barely able to think, let alone meet her final deadline, Kendall holes up in a mountain cabin to confront a blank page and a blanker future. But her friends won’t let her face this trial alone. Together they collaborate on a novel using their own lives as fodder, assuming no one will ever discover the truth behind their words.

Losing Faith by Adam Mitzner (this was a win from Under My Apple Tree)

Aaron Littmann, the chairman of one of the country’s most prestigious law firms, has just been contacted by a high-profile defense attorney, whose client is Nikolai Garkov, a Russian businessman arraigned on terrorism charges for pulling the financial strings behind recent treasonous acts. The attorney informs Aaron that Garkov is looking to switch representation and will pay one hundred thousand dollars just to take the meeting. But Aaron doesn’t have any choice, as Garkov is ready to go public with the damning evidence that Aaron and the judge in the high-profile case—Faith Nichols—had a torrid affair during another recent case.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben (I purchased this)

The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.

Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne’s deception, and realizes that if he doesn’t make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he’s stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them.

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (sent to me by the publisher)

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

So, did anything fun arrive in your mailbox  this week?


Don’t turn away Quiz – guessing closed

While I was at the library browsing (yes, I had a whole 30 minutes of library time yesterday!) I saw a few covers with women turned away, showing us the back of their heads.  And I received a book in the mail this week with the same thing.  See if you recognize any of these standoffish women!  Feel free to come back and add another comment if you figure out more by next Tuesday.

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.

Leave your guesses as a comment. Good luck!!

hair 11-7 have some very interesting hair. I love the first one, which one is your fave?

The Silver Witch by Brackston, Finding Casey by Mapson, Dreaming Spies by King, The Lemon Orchard by Rice, Bitter Greens by Forsyth, Rescue by Shreve, The Storyteller by Picoult

hair 28-11 are a little further away but might be recognizable?

Night Diver by Lowell, The Housemaid’s Daughter by Mutch, Maine by Sullivan, Silver Girl by Hilderbrand

Answers to the Shakespeare Quiz here and the Clock Quiz here. Leaderboard here.

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

The Precious OneThe Precious One. Finished 4-25-15, rating 4.5/5, fiction,

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary — professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter Willow only once.

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister — a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?
from Goodreads

I really identified with Taisy, a woman in her 30’s who lost her only love and never really had the love of her father.  I think it’s easier to think that a parent doesn’t care about you by just telling yourself that they are a jerk, but what happens when another kid comes along and proves that your parent could love.  But it just didn’t happen with you.  Poor Taisy wanted the love of her father and never received it and has spent more than a decade always secretly hoping there might be a chance to reconnect.  When that time comes, we really get to see what an ass Wilson is.  I’m sorry I can’t come up with a nicer word, but he was something else.

At first I was a little disappointed when we cut to Willow’s story.  The Precious One had been raised pretty much single-handedly by her father and she had some very interesting and lofty ideas.  But, as she started working through being a teenager without her father’s influence my heart softened.  What makes a family?  Willow is about to find out.

I loved Marisa’s first book, Love Walked In, and I knew within five minutes that I would most likely love this one too.  Her writing engages me, it feels like a comfort read but with lightness and fun.  The story and the writing felt fresh and while there were serious storylines it never felt heavy.  Loved it.

I received this from the publisher courtesy of She Reads.


I’ve got winners!!

I finally got around to mailing out two previous winner’s books without even announcing they had won!  Life has been kicking my but lately.

The Serpent of Venice: A Novelwent to Michelle and Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Islandwent to Marjorie

And now for those who will be receiving books from my book wall giveaway…

The Secrets of Midwivesgoes to Vicki

Bogart: In Search of My Fathergoes to Anne

That Night: A Novelgoes to Rita

Infinite Jestgoes to Michelle

Rebel: The Life and Legend of James Deangoes to Kim