Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (that’s J.K. Rowling to you!)

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Series #2)The Silkworm. Finished audio 2-1-16, rating 4.5/5, mystery, pub. 2014

Unabridged audio read by perfect narrator for this series, Robert Glenister. 17.5 hours

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…  from Goodreads

Book 2 of the Cormoran Strike series. (1-The Cuckoo’s Calling)

I love Cormoran Strike. I loved him in the first of the series and I loved him in this one.  He’s smart, grumpy and a hero who came back to London after losing a foot in Afghanistan.  He could have milked the media because of his being the (illegitimate) son of a famous rock star, but he chose, instead, to live a quiet life of purpose.  In the last book his private investigating business was in danger of going belly up, but after the acclaim from the last case his business is doing just fine.  He still has his trusty and attractive assistant, Robin, who is about to be married to a jerk, and they are ready to find missing author, Owen Quine, at his wife’s insistence.

Owen has only been missing a short time but the fact that he has written a tell-all about the major and minor players in the publishing world leave Strike with a long list of suspects.  I loved that it took place amongst the writers, editors, publicists and publishers, but it was large group to keep straight. I became more familiar, but no less savvy as to the culprit.  The murder itself was surprisingly gruesome and hard to accept as real.

So far, the star of the series is Strike, but he can only shine with a great supporting cast and a great mystery to solve.  Rowling gets everything right.  Strike has more physical struggles and interaction with his family, half-brother Al, that mad his story fuller this time around.

I’m already looking forward to the third in the series and if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, what are you waiting for?!

February 25, 2016 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 14 Comments

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Gates of EvangelineThe Gates of Evangeline. Finished 2-20-16, rating 4.25/5, fiction, 416 pages, pub. 2015

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.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.    from Goodreads

From the beginning I’m drawn into Charlie’s world, not as a driven, successful New York professional, but as a mother, one who has a son the same age that Keegan, Charlie’s son, was when he unexpectedly passed away. Charlie is in a tailspin professionally and personally. When she begins having dreams/visions of children she thinks that she is losing her grip on reality and she makes a drastic decision.  From suburban Connecticut to the swamps on Louisiana, Charlie’s journey is one full of unexpected friendships, mystical visions, a cold case kidnapping, and healing.  There is also romance, but that storyline is the weak link for me and I could have done with less of it.

I loved the atmosphere of Evangeline. Not only was the heavy, steamy air full of evil, but the Deveau family itself harbored long kept secrets.  Hettie, the dying matriarch, managed to raise two annoying daughters and a son who managed the family business.  Charlie was there to write about the family and a 30 year old kidnapping but ended up finding a purpose for her visions.

This was a fun southern gothic read for me.  And I admit that the last scene in the book had me in tears (and not in a bad way).  This is the first of a trilogy and I’m looking forward to seeing what Charlie does next.

I want to thank She Reads and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to read.  She Reads is an excellent group and if you aren’t reading their blog then you are missing out!

February 23, 2016 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 9 Comments

Mailbox Monday – February 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.

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I received The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris from the publisher for a She Reads review. It also came with a pretty necklace that you can see in the blue bag.

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

And a few weeks ago local author, Shelley Costa, gave a book reading for her newest book, Practical Sins for Cold Climates. I’d met her before and at this signing I ran into an old friend of mine (pictured).  I took my mom and we hit up the Olive Garden afterward for some wine and dessert. A good night 🙂IMG_5766 About the book, the first in a series…

When Val Cameron, a Senior Editor with a New York publishing company, is sent to the Canadian Northwoods to sign a reclusive bestselling author or risk losing her job, she is definitely out of her element. Val is certain she can convince Charles Cable, but first she has to find him.

Aided by a float plane pilot whose wife was killed two years ago in a case gone cold, Val’s hunt for the recluse becomes even more muddled. When all signs point to Cable as the killer, she must work to clear his name before the scandal sinks her career.

Trapped in a wilderness lake community where livelihoods collide and a killer lurks, the prospect of running into a bear could be the least of Val’s problems.

So did anything fun find its way into your mailbox this week?

February 22, 2016 Posted by | Book signings, Mailbox Monday | 8 Comments

A look back, February 2010 & movie question

Last month I started a Kay inspired Bookish Nostalgia feature that I’ll call A look back for now. I decided to revisit by 2010 blogging life and see what was going on. I had fun and a couple of you added your favorite posts from January 2010 and I invite you all to do the same this month.  I should note here that I knew SO many of you way back then and that’s why I felt like sharing my personal struggles in my last post. I was touched and teary by the friendship all of  you shared.

Six years ago in February I posted 24 times, reviewed eight books, participated in the now defunct Monday Movie Meme, watched six movies (you can still add your five word review here) and featured my Fave Film #23 – The Silence of the Lambs.  I gave away six books and a puzzle, interviewed the lovely Susan McBride, and started reading War and Peace with my blogger friend Molly.  War & Peace was an undertaking, one I never would have finished without Molly’s help, so that’s why you’ll see it as my favorite post. One more post I’ll mention is this one from February 20

Jason & I will be heading out to San Francisco for a mini vacation next week and we’ll be there six days.  Well, okay, Jason will be working a lot of the time, but I’ll be busy exploring.  We’ve both been there once.  I was there for a few days in  1994 mainly to visit friends and Jason was there for a few days of work a few years ago, but didn’t get to see much. 

So, I’m planning our trip and I’m wondering if any of you have a favorite place or activity that you think we should see.  Or maybe a bookstore I shouldn’t miss?  I’d love some recommendations!

Hahaha. The day before we left (and I was looking to a Napa Valley excursion) I took a pregnancy test as a drunken wine precaution and HELLO, it was positive.  Shocked and nervous, but very pleased could have described both of us.  I tell Gage he’s been to San Francisco, but he didn’t get to see much 😉

My favorite Pictures from February 2010

I miss my girl, Scout, and having Max in the house (it’s still nice to see him at my parent’s house though).

Favorite New Movie(500) Days of Summer, 2009

My five word review, Quirky Charming Original Un-Love Story. 

Favorite BookThe Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

…I was much more drawn to the insecure Lu Ann whose motivations I could at least understand.  Hers is the story that kept me interested until about halfway through.  And then a great thing happened.  I couldn’t read fast enough.  As much as Taylor had a few too many sharp edges for me at the beginning it was exciting to watch her grow as a character and I was surprised to find that she had grown on me.  The friends that surrounded her were just as important to the story as she was. 

This was beautifully written story that will stay with me.  I was totally captivated by its honesty and sense of friendship and family.  What makes a family?  This delightful novel will help you decide…

Favorite PostWar.What’s it good for?

…Could I make it through such a big (1215 pages), difficult (I’ve never read Tolstoy), and boring (There.  I said it.  I think it could be boring. Please don’t judge me) classic?  And then I received the best email from Molly at The Bumbles suggesting that we read this one together.  I was relieved and excited and touched that I’d have such a great blogging friend to get me through 🙂

As I was going through this month’s posts I realize that I miss the Monday Movie Meme that Molly used to do.  I would totally be willing to take it on (with my own spin) if I had at least and handful of interested participants.  You can browse through some that I joined in when it was up and going. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating at least every month.

So, now it’s your turn. If you’ve been blogging since 2010, I’d love for you to link to your favorite February post. Trips down memory lots can be lots of fun 🙂

February 20, 2016 Posted by | Photos | 5 Comments

Gage, life & quiz

Life has been kicking my butt. After Gage’s successful scope we were back at square one.  His behavior was getting worse at home and school and something had to give.  So, after some investigating, I scrapped the SCD diet last Monday and within days he was a different kid, well, back to his loveable self!  We are now on a new diet that I may detail later, but it seems to be doing the trick.  All of of this to say that for the last few weeks all I’ve wanted to do is sleep. (seriously, Jason was home yesterday and I took two naps!)  My mind and body are tired of trying to figure out an ever-changing puzzle.  So, I’ve been napping a lot and trying not to feel guilty about it.  The stress is tough and taking some downtime is a good  thing, right?

As tempting as it is to crawl into bed and dream the world away, life goes on.  New diets mean new learning and planning.  A good scope means finding someone else who can help us find answers.  Vacations and getaways must be planned.  Birthdays and anniversaries must be remembered. Next year school decisions must be made. New therapies must be decided on.  Books must be read, doctors must be found and seen (we have an appointment in Columbus next week). Parties must be attended. Field trips must be attended (seriously, tomorrow is the 3rd one this year aleady). Five year old boys need to play with their mamas. Husbands must be appreciated.  Blogging must be done.  See that last one?  Obviously, that is the one that doesn’t actually get done but is the one that can alleviate stress if I let it.  It’s a checkmark on my to-do list that I actually enjoy doing, but I haven’t been taking time for it.  So, here I am oversharing and I hope that you’ll still come back tomorrow when I’m back to talking about fun stuff.

What do you do when life seems to be getting the better of you?  Yoga? Meditate? Travel? Cry? Punch someone?  I need some good ideas! 

Oh, the Wednesday Quiz will be posted later today or maybe even tomorrow.  I’m not going to stress out about it 🙂

 

 

 

February 17, 2016 Posted by | Gage | 21 Comments

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

fpoThe Rosie Project. Finished 1-22-16, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio read by Dan O’Grady. 7.5 hours

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

I’m a Big Bang Theory fan and mother to a boy on the spectrum and I loved this book.  I was afraid to read it, characters on the spectrum make me nervous, wondering if the characterization will make me cry in my bed at night instead of getting what sleep I can.  No worries here though, Don hilariously lectures to a group of Asperger kids about the diagnosis never for a moment making the connection that he is talking about himself.  Somehow the story never laughs at Don, but with him as his quirks and earnest truthiness win the reader over quickly.

Don’s Wife Project leads him on a series of dates, hands full of a 16 pages questionnaire to weed out the  women who were unsuitable (which left about .0001 percent of the population).  When his slimy friend, Gene, sends Rosie to Don, he thinks it’s because Rosie has ‘passed’ the test. Don is looking for a wife and Rosie is looking for her biological father and the two embark on one adventure after another that leads Don to rethink his questionnaire.

I loved this charming love story and fans of The Big Bang Theory will too.  Stories about ‘Aspies’, those intelligent people on the high functioning end of the spectrum, too often make people think most people on the spectrum are this high functioning.  They are not. I do hope my guy will eventually grow up and find someone to love who loves him back, much like Don 🙂  I didn’t care for the ending, I had to go back and listen again to understand what happened, but that’s my only complaint.  I know the movie has been optioned and I’d love to see it on the big screen!

 

February 9, 2016 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books, 5 Star Books | , | 9 Comments

Fave Movie #24 – Serendipity

Serendipity poster.jpg2001

Cast-John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon, Bridget Moynahan, John Corbett, Eugene Levy

Directed by Peter Chelsom

In honor of Valentine’s Day this month I’m going to try and review as many of the romantic movies on my list as I can.

Jonathan and Sara both have significant others in their lives, but when they meet at Bloomingdales in New York they share a very serendipitous night together.  Sara, a big believer in fate, wants to leave a second meeting to chance.  Fast forward five years and they are both engaged to other people but wondering if they have already met and lost their soul mate.  A last minute hunt ensues.

Why I Love It- I’ve seen this movie many times over the years and love it every time.  The main reason being the very romantic notion of soulmates, that one person with whom everything makes sense.  It has not been my experience that everyone has one true soulmate, but I love the idea of it.  I think when I first saw the movie, I was only a few years married and it held this magical appeal to me. Now, almost 20 years since my first date with Jason, the appeal is still there but I felt a little more sad for Jonathan’s fiancé when I watched it this time around.

There is no getting over the cute factor of these two.  Kate was radiant and John, not usually my cup of tea, was appealing.  They spent only a few days filming together but had lots of chemistry when they were onscreen at the same time.  This may be the one time I haven’t found Jeremey Piven a little twerpy and I loved him as Jonathan’s best friend.  The whole cast was great.  John Corbett as a world renown New Age musician was pretty funny.

New York was a great backdrop and the movie made no apologies for the coincidences that brought them together and kept them apart.  It was fate and I was caught up in its charm.

Perfect for a romantic rental!! This clip sort of sums up the movie…

 

 

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

fpoWhat Was Mine. Finished 1-31-16, 4,25/5 stars, fiction, 336 pages, pub.2016

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.  from Goodreads

Having your baby kidnapped is right up there with the top parent nightmares.  Any parent can tell you the first moment that they lost sight of their child for a few moments and the panic that crawled through their body.  For new mother Marilyn that moment changed her life and the life of her four month old daughter, Natalie.  While Lucy didn’t go out that morning looking to kidnap a baby, she was unhinged enough in her overwhelming desire for a baby that the opportunity was too much for her to resist.  As she kept telling herself that it was just for a few minutes, or a ride, or the night, she had to know that she was never giving baby Mia back.

The book was told in alternating chapters mainly by the three main characters, Lucy, Marilyn and Mia,  but it was the shorter chapters told by the bit players and supporting cast that really rounded out the story and moved it forward.  The current and ex-husbands, Aunt Cheryl, Nanny Wendy, the security guard at IKEA, etc. were expertly woven into the fabric of the story.  You know from the beginning that eventually Mia will find out the truth about her mother(s), but it was told in such an easy to read way that it was a riveting page-turner that had me promising myself “just one more chapter” more than once!

I think the addicting short chapters that made this hard to put down also led to some parts that felt glossed over or not addressed. There were several parts where I wanted more story, no place more than the end, which felt incomplete to me. But that being said, I loved the book and think it would make a FANTASTIC book club selection.

I want to thank She Reads and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to read.  She Reads is an excellent group and if you aren’t reading their blog then you are missing out!

February 4, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Uncategorized | | 11 Comments

Winners!

Woo Hoo! I’ve got quiz winners and winners from my Blogiversay post. I want to apologize right off the bat that Gage will not be drawing names out of a hat for me.  The stinker has decided that photos are beneath him and when I make him, well, the results are all over the place.  I’m giving him (and me) a reprieve!

Winner of On Writing by Stephen King from my January 8 giveaway…

Melissa from Mommy Madness

Winner of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card from my January 8 giveaway…

Cait from Click’s Clan

Winner of my last round of Quizzes and winner of a Barnes & Noble gift card is once again…

Nise from Under the Boardwalk 

Winner of the randomly chosen participant is(Bahahaha, she said that Gage never picked her name and maybe that’s true, but this time Jason did!)…

Jill from Rhapsody in Books

Congratulations 🙂  You should all be receiving an email from me soon!

 

 

 

 

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of FlowersThe Language of Flowers. Finished 1-16-16, rating 4.5/5. fiction, 323 pages, pub. 2011

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.  from Goodreads

Why don’t we use flowers to convey feelings anymore?  It’s such a romantic and mysterious thing to do and I think communication these days could use a little more nuance.  I loved learning about the hidden language of flowers as I read this intriguing and beautifully written debut novel.

The novel tells the two stories of Victoria, the nine-year old foster care kid who doesn’t believe she will ever find a home and the 18-year-old who is homeless, friendless and in love with flowers.  At nine, Elizabeth became her last hope for a mom and her brash decision severed the chance.  At 18, she just wants to make enough to eat and if she can do it by working with flowers, all the better.  Renata, that friend that we all should have, gives Victoria a job and an opportunity at a relatively normal life.

Victoria was a tough character. Even though, by the end, I came to the point of wishing her a happily-ever-after, it took me a while to get there.  She was a foster care survivor (32 foster families before being set free on her 18th birthday) and was so detached, prickly, defiant and complicated that I didn’t realize how much I cared about her until the end.  So many of her 18-year-old decisions were tragic and damaging, and had me wanting to shake her out of her own psyche.

This book will rip your heart out with the deeply flawed Victoria and her journey to make a life that she never really let herself think was possible. I loved the people who were there for her to make the journey possible, equally flawed but maybe a little less complicated. Victoria is not a character I will be forgetting about any time soon.

I am so glad that Lloyd loved it and that I won his giveaway a few years ago.  I’m even happier that I finally read it!

February 2, 2016 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 13 Comments