2015 Book Favorites and Stats


I read 60 books this year. That’s one more than last year.  Next year’s goal will be 61 🙂

44 Fiction , 16 Non-fiction

Of those 44 fiction books, 25 were written by authors new to me!

33 Female authors , 27 Male authors

It was a banner year for audiobooks with 27 and 2 where I both read and listened.

I continued with 6 series that I already read (Mrs. Pollifax, Jack Reacher, Lucas Davenport, Blue Heron, Vanessa Michael Monroe, and Tommy & Tuppence)

I read 8 books for the Classics Club.  I have 4 years to finish 42 more 🙂

My favorite cover

Oldest book read?  The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Conan Arthur Doyle, 1902

Shortest book? 84, Charing Cross by Helene Hanff, 97 pages

Longest book? The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, 672 pages

Most read author? A tie! I read 2 Agatha Christie (And Then There Were None, By the Pricking of My Thumbs) and 2 John Sandford (Field of Prey, Gathering Prey)


My 5 favorite books this year

1.The Homecoming of Samuel LakeThe Homecoming of Samuel Lake.  This is everything Southern fiction should be.

2.fpoRoll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. More Southern fiction at its best.  Winner of the 1977 Newberry Medal.

3.fpoThe Fault in Our Stars.  It was worth all the hype.

4.fpoMe Before You.  Also worth the hype. I’m looking forward to the sequel and movie in 2016!

5.fpoThe Perfect Match.  Second in the Blue Heron series and my favorite romance this year.


None of these books were published this year so I’m adding a 6th favorite, my favorite book published in 2015.

6.fpoFirst Frost. I love SAA and this continuing story of the Waverly family.



2015 Movies Faves and Stats


I watched 54 movies, that’s down 12 from last year!!!

I wrote 2 Book vs. Movie posts (The Fault in Our Stars and The Hound of the Baskervilles), wrote a few Friday film talks and continued my 5 word movie reviews asking for your participation. Please consider adding your thoughts to these reviews since they count towards money for charity, maybe even yours!

2015 was my most watched movie year with 15, followed closely by 2014 with 13.

The oldest movie I watched was The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1939

Favorite animated film was Cars, 2006

Best sequel was Creed, 2015

Cutest couple- Hazel and Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars

Favorite movie poster-Mockingjay Part 2 Poster.jpg

Hated-Snowpiercer. Violent and pointless.  I hear they are going to make a tv show based on it.  One I will not be watching 🙂

Most watched actor-supporting actor Vincent D’Onofrio with 4 movies (Run All Night, The Judge, Jurassic World, Escape Plan)

Most watched actress-Julianne Moore with 3 movies (Still Alice, Non-Stop, Hunger Games:Mockingjay, part 2)

My 5 favorite movies this year

1.Begin Again film poster 2014.jpgBegin Again. This was everything a great indie should be. Charming and romantic with a kick-ass soundtrack. Jason and I actually used an idea from this movie for our wedding anniversary this year.

2.PK Theatrical Poster.jpgpk. Jason and I are not familiar with Bollywood movies but this one was playing at our local theater and we decided to check it out.  It is so goofy and bizarre that it charmed us from beginning to end. It was also a packed theater and I hope to see more as our theater plays them.

3.Spy2015 TeaserPoster.jpgSpy. I loved Melissa McCarthy’s lead comedic role.  She was hilariously supported by the rest of the cast and I laughed.  And then I laughed some more.

4. The Imitation Game poster.jpgImitation Game. A great historical film about mathematicians trying to break the Germans enigma code.  Yes, I wasn’t too excited about the premise but the movie was very well done.

5. Selma poster.jpgSelma. I liked this movie about MLK Jr.’s fight for equality.  Not afraid to show him at his weakest or most calculating, I was fascinated by this portrayal of a man who fought for justice.

So what was your favorite movie this year?


December movies & $ for Charity

I’m amazed we had time for two movies this month!

Another month and another chance to contribute money to charity.  Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment 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 at $16.

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.

Insurgent poster.jpgInsurgent, 2015 (Cast-Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Jai Courtney, Octavia Spencer)      Grade B-

Still curious about what’s next.


The toy.jpgThe Toy, 1982 (Cast-Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason, Scott Schwartz, Ned Beatty)   Grade B-

Throwback tacky, non PC, fun.

Forgettable attempt at social commentary.  (Kathy)


Sleeping Arrangements and The Accidental Bestseller

Two mini-reviews to finish up the year!

fpoSleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham. Finished 12-24-15, rating 3/5, Romance (I guess), pub. 2008

Unabridged audio read by Katherine Kellgren. 7 hours

Chloe needs a holiday. She’s sick of making wedding dresses, her partner Philip has troubles at work, the whole family wants a break. Her wealthy friend Gerard has offered the loan of his luxury villa in Spain – perfect.

Hugh is not a happy man. His immaculate wife Amanda seems more interested in her new kitchen than in him, and he works so hard to pay for it, he barely has time for his children. Maybe he’ll have a chance to bond with them on holiday. His old friend Gerard has lent them a luxury villa in Spain – perfect.

Both families arrive at the villa and realise the awful truth – Gerard has double-booked. What no-one else realises is that Chloe and Hugh have a history, and as tensions rise within the two families, old passions resurface. It seems that Gerard’s ‘accidental’ double booking may not be an accident after all…  from Goodreads

I picked this up at the library thinking it would be something light and romantic to listen to when decorating and wrapping for Christmas.  I had no idea that Madeleine Wickham and Sophie Kinsella were the same person!  Now I’ve read one book by each of the pen names and I think I can mark her off my list.

There wasn’t anything romantic about this one.  Two couples with kids end up staying at the same Spanish villa and none of them are all that likeable.  And then there’s cheating which doesn’t make any of them more likeable.  By the end they’ve turned into new and improved characters, I guess, but I didn’t really buy it.

fpoThe Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax. Finished 12-27-15, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 419 pages, pub. 2009

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.  from Goodreads

I breezed through the second half of this novel in one day, not only because I wanted to finish before the end of the year, but because I really wanted to know what was going to happen. I was totally caught up in the story, so why only a 3.5 rating? The first half was all over the place with too many characters trying hard to make me care in only a few pages before moving on to someone else.  That first half was really slow going for me.

It’s a story about the publishing business, sure to appeal to readers and writers alike, and also the friendship between four women who supported each other through tough times.  It was solid and I’d happily read another by this author.

2015, A Year of Sundays with Gage

I didn’t write about Gage on here as much as I would have liked, but did share as the time allowed.  Can you believe he turned 5 this year?!  He had some health issues so last month we started the SCD diet and I delved more into the world of biomed.  He started full-day Pre-K and loves it.  We did some fun activities and learned about 5 states and will continue that next year.

My 5 favorite Gage pics from the blog this year…

IMG_1752[1]last Christmas in Michigan

snowmana snowy winter

IMG_4149riding horses

IMG_3218[1]one of his favorite friends

IMG_2023train postcard collection

Favorite Gage post of the year was this one, Mothering a special kid can be lonely and then sometimes it isn’t.  It’s a little more maudlin than I usually let myself get on here and it was refreshing for me to show some autism honesty.  I try to keep things upbeat and I don’t see that changing, but in order for the picture of Gage to be a real one then sometimes the hard stuff has to be said too.  And I really appreciated the response I got from all of you.

I plan for much of the same in 2016 with more posts if time allows.  Thank you all for letting me share Gage with you!

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

fpoLord of the Flies. Finished 12-21-15, rating 3/5, fiction, 208 pages, pub. 1954

William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first, it seems as though it’s all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious & life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic & death. As ordinary standards of behavior collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket & homework & adventure stories—& another world is revealed beneath, primitive & terrible. Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was 1st published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought & literature. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a classic.   From Goodreads

I tried to listen to this one earlier in the year and the audio was unfortunately read by the author.  I gave up fairly quickly and fared better with the print version.  This won’t be making any of my favorite lists but I am glad I read it just because of its cultural impact and the influence it continues to have over 60 years later.

Think TV show Lost meets reality TV Survivor and you have an idea of where this slim classic is going to take you.  Boys, aged 6-12, stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash struggle to join forces to survive.  Ralph, leader, keeper of the conch shell and the voice of order, and Jack, wanna be leader of the island but starts with leader of the hunters, start off on the same side but as time goes by and boys struggle to do what needs to be done these two boys become enemies.

I loved the concept and, even with the sometimes stilted or dated writing, it was easy to read. I liked their struggles with how to make order out of nothing, but did find the descent into the surreal not as engaging.  I wanted more reality I think.  And as much as I hate to say this, I wonder if I was less engaged because it was an island full of boys?

I think this is one that would have benefitted from reading in class or with a group. I know I missed a lot of the symbolism and nuance.  I’m glad I read it but it was just okay for me with the plusses and minuses being equal.

My 8th read for The Classics Club! I have 5 more years to finish my list of 50 classics 🙂

Night by Elie Wiesel

fpoNight. Finished 12-21-15, rating 5/5, Holocaust memoir, 120 pages, pub. 1958

Unabridged audio read by George Guidall. 4 hours.

Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver.

Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank, Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.    from Goodreads

Wow. This book is such an emotional experience that I really didn’t want it to end. At just over 100 pages there is no excuse not to pick it up and spend a few hours in the presence of a great author in the throes of the Holocaust.  Wiesel was a young teen when all the Jewish families in his neighborhood were torn apart and taken to concentration camps. 

This book made me cry, smile. love my life a little more, and worry that I am not doing enough to stand up to the people who would be okay with something like this happening again.  As has been pointed out since, it is those of us that remain on the sidelines and say nothing that are just as dangerous as those that perpetuate evil.

Elie won the Nobel Peace Prize and his powerful acceptance speech in 1986 is included in the new additions. 

I think this should be required reading for everyone.  There is a trilogy of sorts, with next, Dawn, being a fictional novella.  I’m not sure how that works but I’m willing to find out.

This was my 7th selection for the Classics Club.

Gathering Prey by John Sandford

fpoGathering Prey. Finished 12-8-15, rating 4/5, thriller, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Richard Ferrone. 11 hours.

Lucas Davenport series #25

They call them Travelers. They move from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes—they just like to stay on the move. And now somebody is killing them.

Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter, Letty, is home from college when she gets a phone call from a woman Traveler she’d befriended in San Francisco. The woman thinks somebody’s killing her friends, she’s afraid she knows who it is, and now her male companion has gone missing. She’s hiding out in North Dakota, and she doesn’t know what to do.

Letty tells Lucas she’s going to get her, and, though he suspects Letty’s getting played, he volunteers to go with her. When he hears the woman’s story, though, he begins to think there’s something in it. Little does he know. In the days to come, he will embark upon an odyssey through a subculture unlike any he has ever seen, a trip that will not only put the two of them in danger—but just may change the course of his life.   from Goodreads

Lucas is tracking some Charles Manson-like group around the Midwest as they torture and kill homeless for no reason but pleasure.  When it gets personal Lucas is willing to leave his Minnesota jurisdiction and track crazies.  It was fun to see him leave the state and spend some time in the Michigan Upper Peninsula

In this 25th book of the series, there is a shift of sorts that signals changes are afoot and it’s been this progression of Lucas that has made this a standout, must read series for me.  As he turns 50 and the winds of local politics change direction it’s clear that Lucas has some decisions to make.  This case involves his adopted daughter, Letty, and I love that she has had larger roles in the last few books.

I continue to love this series!

Mailbox Monday – December 21

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.

I’m pretty sure I received another book in the past few weeks but since I can’t seem to find it I’ll just go with these!


Way of the Warrior anthology of romance stories to benefit Wounded Warrior Project.  (was a win from Under the Boardwalk)

Suzanne Brockmann, Julie Ann Walker, Catherine Mann, Tina Wainscott, Anne Elizabeth, M.L. Buchman, Kate SeRine, Lea Griffith

To honor and empower those who’ve served, all author and publisher proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2002 and provides a wide range of programs and services to veterans and service members who have survived physical or mental injury during their brave service to our nation. Get involved or register for programs and benefits for yourself and your family online at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

The Case of the Fickle Mermaid by PJ Brackston (sent from my friend Golda at WW Norton) Coming in January!

Gretel—yes, that Gretel—is now all grown up and working as a private investigator in 18th century Bavaria. Her professional interest is piqued when she begins to hear whispers of of mysterious goings-on off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein: sailors are disappearing, and there are rumors of mermaids and sea creatures and all manner of slippery, sea-based happenings. Ordinarily, Gretel’s interest in sea-life does not extend beyond that which is edible, doused in butter and garlic, and already on the plate before her. However, funds are low, and the captain of the ship Arabella makes a tempting offer of good pay and a free cruise in return for her detective services. With a splendid new wig packed, Hans as her bodyguard on the journey north, and the promise of two weeks of fine dining and erudite company whilst sailing around the picturesque Friesian islands, what could possibly go wrong?

A Different Lie by Derek Haas (sent from my friend Golda at WW Norton)

Now a new dad, the infamous Silver Bear finds himself staying up late for feedings and changing diapers—all while leading the double life of a contract killer. The struggle is not with his conscience. He enjoys his gig. But a child forces him to weigh selfishness versus safety. Continue his line of work, and he’ll always wonder if he’s putting his child’s life at risk. His partner, Risina, serves as his fence. Like Columbus, she’s good at her job and likes doing it. An unusual take on working motherhood…

When the next assignment comes in, both Columbus and Risina are surprised to find that the mark is another assassin: a brash, young killer named Castillo. Castillo is an assassin on the rise. Even Columbus is impressed by his tenacity and talent—and as he closes in on his target, he realizes that Castillo is a younger version of himself. It’s almost like looking in a mirror. Castillo has even studied Columbus’s work. But Columbus’s assignment is clear: kill the young man.  However, Castillo learns that his hero and unwitting mentor has a family—a revelation with enormous ramifications.

The Verdict by Nick Stone (sent from my friend Golda at WW Norton)

Terry Flynt is a struggling legal clerk, desperately trying to get promoted. And then he is given the biggest opportunity of his career: to help defend a millionaire accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite.

The only problem is that the accused man, Vernon James, turns out to be not only someone he knows, but someone he loathes. This case could potentially make Terry’s career, but how can he defend a former friend who betrayed him so badly?

With the trial date looming, Terry delves deeper into Vernon’s life and is forced to confront secrets from their shared past that could have devastating consequences for them both. For years he has wanted to witness Vernon’s downfall, but with so much at stake, how can Terry be sure that he is guilty? And what choices must he make to ensure that justice is done?


Let Love Find You by Johanna Lindsey

fpoFinished 11-30-15. rating 4/5, historical romance, pub. 2012

Unabridged audio read by Anne Flosnik, 9.5 hours.

London society has its very own Cupid. Renowned horse breeder and occasional matchmaker Devin Baldwin pairs eligible young ladies with suitable gentlemen based on his theory of animal magnetism. Unafraid of ruffling the ton’s feathers, this darkly handsome Cupid doles out tips for bettering one’s chances of meeting a mate that are as pointed as the love legend’s sharpest arrows!

Lovely Amanda Locke, the daughter of a duke, is everything a nobleman could desire, yet she enters her third Season still searching for a match. Gossipmongers’ tongues are wagging, and her mystified family is considering drastic measures to find her a husband. But the insufferable advice of this Cupid fellow is the last thing Amanda wants.
When an earl passionate about horses becomes the target of her husband hunt, Amanda knows it’s time to overcome her fear of riding. With her sister-in-law Ophelia hastening the romance along by arranging riding lessons, Amanda is soon taking instruction from infuriating Devin Baldwin. Astonishingly, in her daily encounters with Devin—who treats her as an ordinary young woman, not a prize to be won at the marriage mart—Amanda experiences passion for the first time. Now, her search for a match takes her in an unexpected direction as she finds herself falling in love with Cupid himself.    from Goodreads

This is the fourth book about the Reid family and while I don’t plan to go back and read about her brothers, I did fall a little in love with her family and consider this a good standalone.

Amanda is in her third season and is willing to wait for the right man, but she’s getting nervous.  Her father and brothers haven’t put any pressure on her but her sister-in-law  makes a deal with the devil, er, Devin, and the two who don’t really like each other are forced together.    I really liked how this relationship developed, it felt real and balanced. There wasn’t the melodrama that I dislike in some romances.  A real relationship developed.

This is my first time reading Lindsey and I look forward to reading more.  The storyline, chemistry and romance were good and the sex scenes were never too much.  Anyone else a fan of hers and want to recommend a  title?