January Movies and $ for charity

What a great movie month! You may notice that 3 out of the 7 movies I’ve seen this month have starred Tom Hardy.  He is one talented guy!

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 $24.

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.

The Big Short teaser poster.jpgThe Big Short, 2015 (Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marissa Tomei)   Grade B++

What Jason does – for dummies (like me ;))


Child 44 poster.jpgChild 44, 2015 (Tom Hardy Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Vincent Cassel)      Grade B

Gripping 1950’s Russia character study.

Suspenseful Russian serial killer mystery  (Michelle)


Theatrical release posterMad Max Fury Road, 2015 (Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz)    Grade B

Road trip on acid anyone?

Charlize Theron being super awesome.   (Care)

Not as good as original.  (Michelle)

The Revenant 2015 film poster.jpgThe Revenant, 2014 (Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter)    Grade B

Not my thing but Oscar-worthy.

Amazing adventure. Leonardo was outstanding.   (Michelle)


Get Hard film poster.pngGet Hard, 2015 (Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Craig T Nelson, T.I., Alison Brie)      Grade C

Not as bad as expected.


Kingsman The Secret Service poster.jpgKingsman:The Secret Service, 2014 (Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine)   Grade C

Mr.Darcy leads dapper English spies.

Colin Firth – umbrella action hero!  (Kay)

Kingsman was a huge disappointment.   (Care)

Surprised it was so dirty.   (Michelle)

Fun, except for that one over-the-top scene.  (Carol)


Theory of Everything.jpgThe Theory of Everything, 2014 (Eddie Remayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, David Thewlis)   Grade C-

Suffered from lots of boredom.

Nicholas Sparks on the Big Screen Quiz

Sorry this is so late! Last Quiz of the round 🙂

I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks and have only seen one of the movies, but he has been successful in getting his novels made into films with great casts.

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. 

Match the movie with the actors who played the main characters.

  1. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling
  2. Mandy Moore and Shane West
  3. Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn
  4. Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried
  5. Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth
  6. Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel
  7. Richard Gere and Diane Lane
  8. Zac Ephron and Taylor Schilling
  9. Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden
  10. Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood
Movies- The Best of Me, Dear John,The Last Song, The Longest Ride, The Lucky One, Message in a Bottle, Nights in the Rodanthe, The Notebook, Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember

I Must Say by Martin Short

fpoI Must Say. Finished 1-12-16, rating 4.75/5, humor memoir, pub. 2014

Unabridged audio read perfectly by Martin Short himself. 8.5 hours

In this engagingly witty, wise, and heartfelt memoir, Martin Short tells the tale of how a showbiz obsessed kid from Canada transformed himself into one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen, known to his famous peers as the “comedian’s comedian.”

Short takes the reader on a rich, hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking ride through his life and times, from his early years in Toronto as a member of the fabled improvisational troupe Second City to the all-American comic big time of Saturday Night Live, and from memorable roles in such movies as ¡Three Amigos! and Father of the Bride to Broadway stardom in Fame Becomes Me and the Tony-winning Little Me.

But there is another side to Short’s life that he has long kept private. He lost his eldest brother and both parents by the time he turned twenty, and, more recently, he lost his wife of thirty years to cancer. In I Must Say, Short talks for the first time about the pain that these losses inflicted and the upbeat life philosophy that has kept him resilient and carried him through.   from Goodreads

I need to say right off the bat that I’ve long been a fan.  His energy is infectious and because of that I think you must listen to this one.  Short is funny and sweet and you will love him.  And if you aren’t familiar with Martin Short I think you should still pick this one up.  Honestly, I laughed out loud and I cried for this man who, while bringing so much light to others, has dealt with deaths that came too soon.

Short grew up just outside of Toronto and during his senior year of college he decided to give comedy a year to see if he could make it.  He landed a role in Godspell with his BFF Eugene Levy and met Paul Shaffer, Gilda Radnor and a slew of other Canadian pranksters: John Candy, Dan Ackroyd, Catherine O’Hara… I had no idea that so many successful comics started there and worked together at the same time.   He landed a gig on Saturday Night Live that made him both a household name and miserable.  He was lucky to last a year but it did get him to the big time.

His memoir also spans his Hollywood years (Three Amigos, Father of the Bride) and the many friendships he formed there.  The spark he is on screen must carry over to real life because he has maintained friendships from the Toronto years (Levy & Shaffer) while becoming close with Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, and Kurt Russell and other famous pals.  Actually it was him talking about these friendships and the love that he had for his wife of 30 years that enabled me to see a new side to Short, a genuine guy who loves and is loved

He is so upbeat that you will love his life story and the interludes with his most famous characters.  As optimistic as he is, the part of the book dealing with his wife’s cancer will leave you in tears.  Tears that I didn’t mind because they were part of his story.



Sundays with Gage – Scopes, Stress & a Tip

Because of Gage’s ongoing issue with what we thought was acid reflux, he had an upper scope done on Wednesday and I was freaked out about it.  A couple of the doctors that we’ve seen this past year told me not to do it, one even citing the new research on what anesthesia can do a child’s brain, especially “sensitive ones” (said as she nodded to Gage).  I already knew enough to be worried, but once we decided  that we couldn’t wait any longer I did my research and talked to the other moms in my online group.  And when I heard from the anesthesiologist I sent her a few articles that I hoped she might take a look at, lol.  Yes, I am that mother!  Here are the three I sent her


Click to access Risk%20of%20Anesthesia%20Regression%20(2).pdf


and she not only responded within a day but we exchanged more emails and she was very patient with me.  Here’s the thing, there is always a risk for regression in people on the spectrum after anesthesia. This is from one of her emails, “I want to make sure you understand that despite our best efforts, he could still have complications and possible regression of his ASD.”  I know some people were wondering why I was so worried about a routine scope, but there it is.

There were actually more health concerns that we addressed (mitochondrial issues being one) but I won’t bog this post down in medical talk.  I do want to say that if you know a child who will be using anesthesia, even for something routine, there are precautions you can take to make it safer.  Sometimes you don’t even know kids have a mitochondrial issue until something bad happens.  Feel free to check out the above articles or shoot me and email.

Anyway, the procedure was a success in all ways possible.   It took 15 minutes, he woke up five minutes after they wheeled him back to us, and has been his sassy self ever since.  They saw nothing with the camera and all the biopsies came back negative so she told me to take him off Zantac, woohoo!  We have a follow-up next week to see where we go from here, but I’m guessing it’s going to take more investigating by me to figure out our next move.  A mother’s job is never done and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, sometimes I wish it were a bit easier  🙂

IMG_5719WaitingIMG_5721Blood pressure check (good thing they didn’t check mine!)IMG_5727Getting instructionsIMG_5732Daddy got to go back with him until he fell asleepIMG_5734And 30 minutes later. He did great.  After we got home I told him he had been a big boy and he said, “I know. That’s what I was trying to be.”


Up From Slavery by Booker T Washington

IMG_5708Up From Slavery. Finished 1-13-16, rating 3.5.5, memoir, pub. serially 1900-01

Unabridged audio read by Andrew L Barnes. 7 hours, 30 minutes.

Booker T. Washington, the most recognized national leader, orator and educator, emerged from slavery in the deep south, to work for the betterment of African Americans in the post Reconstruction period.

“Up From Slavery” is an autobiography of Booker T. Washington’s life and work, which has been the source of inspiration for all Americans. Washington reveals his inner most thoughts as he transitions from ex-slave to teacher and founder of one of the most important schools for African Americans in the south, The Tuskegee Industrial Institute.

Booker T. Washington’s words are profound. Washington includes the address he gave at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, which made him a national figure. He imparts `gems of wisdom’ throughout the book, which are relevant to Americans who aspire to achieve great attainments in life.     from Goodreads

I picked up this 1968 paperback with a very retro cover years ago and added it to my Classics Club reading list last year.  I both read and listened to this one and was both inspired and somewhat bored by it.  Let’s break it down a bit.

Washington was born a Virginia slave.  His childhood as a slave wasn’t as awful as some I’ve seen portrayed in the movies, but impressive because he harbored no real resentment towards the whites.  He was still a kid when Lincoln freed the slaves and life changed drastically for his family.  They were now on their own and still together.  Booker, from a young age, was determined to become educated.  His desire and struggle for education was something, I think, that is inherent in all great men and women, and he was a role model.  Through his dedication he was able to start teaching others.  He somehow got himself to the Hampton Institute and enrolled even though he didn’t have enough money for tuition.  It is a true testament to valuing hard work that he was able to accomplish what he did.

When the time came that he was chosen to head the Tuskegee Institute, Washington had to build it from the ground up.  He became a spokesman for the college, and for African-Americans everywhere, by placing as much emphasis on labor as book learning.  I loved his ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ and black empowerment through education and hard work message.  This part of the book, once he became more national speaker than day-to-day director of the school, dragged.  And it was half the book, so you see the problem.  It was a rehash of his speaking engagements and travel and some of the press clipping about these speaking engagements.

I thought his insights into the African-American experience during and after the Civil War were engaging and wish the book had been more about that.  That being said, I am so glad I read it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, especially now that I’ve taken your expectations down a notch 🙂

This was my 9th selection for the Classics Club.  I need to get busy!


Mailbox Monday – January 18

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.


Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon +coasters (from Doubleday)

On the evening of May 3, 1937, Emilie Imhof boards the Hindenburg. As the only female crewmember, Emilie has access to the entire airship, from the lavish dining rooms and passenger suites to the gritty engine cars and control room. She hears everything, but with rumors circulating about bomb threats, Emilie’s focus is on maintaining a professional air . . . and keeping her own plans under wraps.
     What Emilie can’t see is that everyone—from the dynamic vaudeville acrobat to the high-standing German officer—seems to be hiding something.

Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young (from GP Putnam’s Sons)

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash + notepad & highlighter (from the author)

After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can’t quite put her finger on it. She’s sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she’s registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Did anything fun arrive in your mailbox this week?

Book vs. Movie – The Blind Side

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game(2006)vs. Blind Side(2009)

I LOVED both the book and the movie but they were different in many aspects.  Here’s what they had in common…

Michael Oher came along at the perfect time in the evolution of the Left Tackle position in professional football.  His size alone made him appealing to college coaches and his athletic ability made him a top star recruit.  But to get there he needed help.  Born to a mother who had drug problems and too many kids to keep track of, Oher had nowhere to go until a friend’s father got him into the Christian high school on the privileged side of Memphis.  After a rocky, homeless start Oher finds a family and a career.

The Story/Plot  The book had a lot of football history and the movie skipped over it, but I don’t think the movie suffered in the least for not showing why the Left Tackle position became so important. The plot was similar but the movie skipped over some really interesting stuff, like how complicated it was that Oher didn’t know his real name, that he really lived with rotating families for quite awhile, and how he really got his GPA high enough for the NCAA (it was NOT just hiring a tutor!).  I also enjoyed getting to know more about the make up of Memphis in the book.     Thumbs Up- Book

The Visual  I’ll be honest, for the most part, this category is really for the movie to lose.  I mean how often is the writing so beautiful and the screen so hideous that the book would be better?  But it happens.  Sometimes with movies like this, where there isn’t really anything special about the sets and the only thing that gives it a leg up is a favorite actor (Sandra Bullock).  I don’t know, I’m calling this a tie.  Thumbs Up- Tie

Characters vs. Actors  I love Sandra Bullock and thought her portrayal of Leigh Anne Touhy was fantastic as was Quinton Aaron’s as Michael. My biggest quibble is that Leigh Anne was a cast player in the book, often taking a back seat to husband Sean and, well, that’s not how the movie played it. Both were entertaining, only one was truly accurate.  I did LOVE seeing all of the real college coaches make an appearance in the movie, so for that reason alone I’ll call this one a draw.  Thumbs Up- Tie

The Ending  It’s hard to mess with the awesome story of Michael Oher since his is a true rags to riches story. The problem is that the movie wrapped it up with a nice little bow at the end, but it didn’t need it.  The movie could have accurately portrayed the book (leaving out the dry football parts) and been just as good.  The movie didn’t change the story, but it wasn’t really complete either.  Thumbs Up – Book

And the winner is…the book!!!  This was my toughest one yet because I loved both so much.  I don’t think you can really go wrong.

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (We Have Always Lived in the Castle) (Good Morning, Midnight/ The Midnight Sky) (Before I Go To Sleep) (The Little Prince) (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd(The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)

Throwback quiz – guessing closed


Enter a caption

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. 

Here’s the deal- Tell me what each of the five books have in COMMON.  Let me give you so vague hints. 2 have to do with locations, 2 with movies, 2 with the covers, 2 with main characters, 1 with the authors, and 1 is a surprise 🙂  An example of past common threads-authors born in Ohio, magical realism and Edgar Award winners.

1.In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its ConsequencesSarah, Plain and Tall 30th Anniversary EditionLittle House on the Prairie (Little House Series: Classic Stories #3)The Persian Pickle ClubSharp Objects

2.The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the RingsThe Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials Series #2)Catching Fire (Hunger Games Series #2)Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades Trilogy #2)Insurgent (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Divergent Series #2)

3.First FrostSleeping in Eden: A NovelThe Taste of Apple Seeds: A NovelEat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New YorkThe Fiction Class

4.The ShiningKilling Floor (Jack Reacher Series #1)Beach MusicI, RipperGot the Look (Jack Swyteck Series #5)

5.The Rosie ProjectMarcelo in the Real WorldThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeLove AnthonySomeone Else's Love Story

6. The Joy Luck ClubA Dirty JobDaughter of FortuneMurder on Nob Hill (Sarah Woolson Series #1)2nd Chance (Women's Murder Club Series #2)

7.Pride and PrejudiceA Confederacy of DuncesPirate LatitudesThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series #1)The Silmarillion

8.StolenArcadiaThe Butterfly and the ViolinThe Ice Queen: A NovelFate

9.Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilHigh FidelityMust Love DogsThe Runaway JuryThe Paperboy (Movie Tie-in Edition)

10.Sleepless in seattle.jpgMixednutsposter.jpgA woman laughing. Below a woman with a finger in her mouth. The middle horizontal section contains the film title.Michael ver2.jpgBewitchedmovieposter.jpg



Web of Deceit by Katherine Howell

fpoWeb of Deceit. Finished 1-7-16, rating 4.25/5, suspense, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio 12 hours, 51 minutes. Read by Caroline Lee

When paramedics Jane and Alex encounter a man refusing to get out of his crashed car with bystanders saying he deliberately drove into a pole, it looks like a cry for help. His claim that someone is out to get him adds to their thinking that he is delusional.

Later that day he is found dead under a train in what might be a suicide, but Jane is no longer so sure: she remembers the terror in his eyes.

Detective Ella Marconi shares Jane’s doubts, which are only compounded when the case becomes increasingly tangled. The victim’s boss tries to commit suicide when being questioned, a witness flees their attempt to interview her and a woman is beaten unconscious in front of Jane’s house.

Ella is at a loss to know how all these clues add up and then a shocking turn of events puts even more people in danger.…

What a great way to start my listening year!  I won this last year or maybe even the year before but put off listening because I realized that it was the sixth in a series about Ella Marconi.  I don’t like to jump into the middle of a series, but I’ve been working on Mt. TBR and thought I’d give this one CD to win me over.  That one CD did the job and I was hooked.

The series is based on Detective Ella Marconi and her partner, but has a revolving door of paramedics in each installment.  I didn’t know this and I grew invested in the stories of Jane and Alex.  I’m still not sure how I feel about reading the next one if they’re not in it.  Ella was great and the characters of this suspense were excellent, not a stereotype to be found.  It was fast-paced and I love the way that the story came full circle by the end, excellent plotting.  I doubt that I’m going to go back and read the first 5 in the series, but knowing how good this one is I’m sad that I didn’t start with 1.  If  you are reluctant to start another series I should tell you that, according to Goodreads, there are only 7 in the series, so there is a set number and it’s not too high.

I thought this Aussies series set in the world of paramedics and detectives was really good and would recommend it to lovers of thrillers, mysteries or crime novels.

Mailbox Monday – January 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.

If you are interested in winning a book for your mailbox this week you can enter my blogiversary giveaway here.


What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross (from Simon & Shuster)

Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (from Ryan for the Bookish Secret Santa)

Tommy and Tuppence, two young people short of money and restless for excitement, embark on a daring business scheme – Young Adventurers Ltd.

Their advertisement says they are ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’. But their first assignment, for the sinister Mr Whittington, plunges them into more danger than they ever imagined…

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen (from Ryan again)

Lady Montfort has been planning her annual summer costume ball for months, and with scrupulous care. Pulling together the food, flowers and a thousand other details for one of the most significant social occasions of the year is her happily accepted responsibility. But when her husband’s degenerate nephew is found murdered, it’s more than the ball that is ruined. In fact, Lady Montfort fears that the official police enquiry, driven by petty snobbery and class prejudice, is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Ryan was generous, yes?)

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.