October’s Movies

No trips to the theater, but when preparing for Gage’s birthday party I could do lots of things while half watching bad romantic movies 🙂  Please add your 5 words if you’ve seen it!

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 $36.

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.

Hope Floats.jpgHope Floats, 1998 (Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., Gena Rowlands, Mae Whitman)   Grade B-

Sexy leads carry okay story.

Sweet story of new beginning.  (Kathy)

Take Me Home.jpgTake Me Home, 2011 (Sam Jaeger, Amber Jaeger, Victor Garber)      Grade C+

Taxi road trip with strangers.




Bleachers by John Grisham

Title: Bleachers, Author: John GrishamBleachers.  Finished 9-11-16, rating 2/5, fiction, pub. 2003

Unabridged audio read by the author.

High school All-American Neely Crenshaw was probably the best quarterback ever to play for the legendary Messina Spartans. Fifteen years have gone by since those glory days, and Neely has come home to Messina to bury Coach Eddie Rake, the man who molded the Spartans into an unbeatable football dynasty.

As Coach Rake’s ‘boys’ sit in the bleachers waiting for the dimming field lights to signal his passing, they replay the old glories, and try to decide once and for all whether they love Eddie Rake or hate him. For Neely Crenshaw, still struggling to come to terms with his explosive relationship with the Coach, his dreams of a great career in the NFL, and the choices he made as a young man, the stakes could not be higher.     from Goodreads

Last month I started listening to this audio for my 30 books in 30 days challenge.  After a slow-moving cd or two I went to Goodreads to mark it as currently reading…and found out that I read it in 2003!  Honestly, I thought it sounded familiar but I thought that maybe I just hadn’t finished it.  Well, when you are reading a book a day and are halfway through a book already it’s easy to make the decision to soldier on.  And, to be honest, it did feel a little like I was sacrificing myself for the sake of the challenge.  I really didn’t like this one.  I’d have to check but I have to think it was one of my least favorites for the month.

Neely, a has been high school football player, comes back to his small football crazed town when he hears his legendary coach is dying.  He meets up with other football alumni doing the same thing.  I couldn’t find one character to care about or plot point to keep me interested.


Extreme Prey by John Sandford

Title: Extreme Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #26), Author: John SandfordExtreme Prey. Finished 9-30-16, 4/5 stars, thriller, 406 pages, pub. 2016

Lucas Davenport series #26 (1- Rules of Prey, 2- Shadow Prey, 3- Eyes of Prey, 4- Silent Prey, 5- Winter Prey, 6- Night Prey, 7- Mind Prey, 8- Sudden Prey, 9- Secret Prey, 10- Certain Prey, 11-Easy Prey, 12- Chosen Prey, 13- Mortal Prey, 14- Naken Prey, 15- Hidden Prey, 16- Broken Prey, 17- Invisible Prey, 18- Phantom Prey, 19- Wicked Prey, 20– Storm Prey, 21- Buried Prey, 22-Stolen Prey, 23-Silken Prey, 24-Field of Prey, 25-Gathering Prey)

After the events in Gathering Prey, Lucas Davenport finds himself in a very unusual situation—no longer employed by the Minnesota BCA. His friend the governor is just cranking up a presidential campaign, though, and he invites Lucas to come along as part of his campaign staff. “Should be fun!” he says, and it kind of is—until they find they have a shadow: an armed man intent on killing the governor . . . and anyone who gets in the way.  from Goodreads

So, either you’ve read, are reading, or have no intention of reading this series.  I don’t think my thoughts on this one is going to sway your choice.  I love Lucas and the progression of his life.  Although he has changed official jobs throughout the series he always remains a bad ass detective and this time around he has no job at all. So, he’s working on the side for a wanna be governor and can call in old friends like Kidd, who don’t do things by the legal book.

An interesting take on the fringes of the voting electorate, a timely story.  I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Lucas.


D s For Deadbeat by Sue Grafton

Title: D Is for Deadbeat (Kinsey Millhone Series #4), Author: Sue GraftonD is For Deadbeat. Finished 9-10-16, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 307 pages, pub. 1987

Book 4 of the Kinsey Millhone series (1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse)

When Alvin Limardo walks into P.I. Kinsey Millhone’s office, she smells bad news. He wants Kinsey to deliver $25,000. The recipient: A fifteen-year-old boy. It’s a simple matter. So simple that Kinsey wonders why he doesn’t deliver the money himself. She’s almost certain something is off. But with rent due, Kinsey accepts Limardo’s retainer against her better judgment…

When Limardo’s check bounces, Kinsey discovers she’s been had big time. Alvin Limardo is really John Daggett—an ex-con with a drinking problem, two wives to boot, and a slew of people who would like to see him dead. Now Kinsey is out four hundred dollars and in hot pursuit of Daggett.

When Daggett’s corpse shows up floating in the Santa Teresa surf, the cops rule the death an accident. Kinsey thinks it’s murder. But seeking justice for a man who everyone seemed to despise is going to be a lot tougher than she bargained for—and what awaits her at the end of the road is much more disturbing than she could’ve ever imagined…

from Goodreads

This fourth of the series was longer than the others and therefore able to provide more plot and suspects, two things I enjoyed.  I love Kinsey.   She’s independent, tough and flawed (I might even call her a nasty woman).  The only thing about reading this beloved series from the beginning is that they can sometimes feel a little dated. This was published in 1987 so no cell phones, Google or 24 hour news.

I really like this series and while I missed a few of the usual folks I did like the extra-large edition.

Talking About Detective Fiction

Title: Talking about Detective Fiction, Author: P. D. JamesTalking About Detective Fiction. Finished 9-9-16, rating 3/5, readers reference, 198 pages, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by Diana Bishop.

P. D. James examines the genre from top to bottom, beginning with the mysteries at the hearts of such novels as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and bringing us into the present with such writers as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell. Along the way she writes about Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie (“arch-breaker of rules”), Josephine Tey, Dashiell Hammett, and Peter Lovesey, among many others. She traces their lives into and out of their fiction, clarifies their individual styles, and gives us indelible portraits of the characters they’ve created, from Sherlock Holmes to Sara Paretsky’s sexually liberated female investigator, V. I. Warshawski. She compares British and American Golden Age mystery writing. She discusses detective fiction as social history, the stylistic components of the genre, her own process of writing, how critics have reacted over the years, and what she sees as a renewal of detective fiction—and of the detective hero—in recent years.    from Goodreads

I listened to the audio for the first half of PD James’s Talking About Detective Fiction and was a little bored so I switched to the paper version.  And had the same problem.  The book is about the history of detective fiction, mostly British. She names the best of the best and goes into the model of what makes a mystery great.  I don’t read enough of the classic mystery writers. Sure, I’m a somewhat recent fan of Agatha Christie, but many of the others I’m not familiar with at all.  Readers more well versed in detective fiction than I am would probably get more enjoyment than I did.  When she talked about a few of the books I read (ie. The Woman in White) I was more engaged.

She gave a shortlist for the four most important women in the genre’s golden age and I’ll be trying the others soon.  She chose Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh.

I think it would be a great place to start for  anyone interested in writing a detective novel since it gives you the basics and a great reading list.

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Title: Living Buddha, Living Christ, Author: Thich Nhat HanhLiving Buddha, Living Christ. Finished 9-8-16, rating 4/5, religion, 208 pages, pub. 1995

“When you touch someone who authentically represents a tradition, you not only touch his or her tradition, you also touch your own.  This quality is essential for dialogue.  When participants are willing to learn from each other, dialogue takes place just by their being together.  When those who represent a spiritual tradition embody the essence of their tradition, just the way they walk, sit, and smile speaks volumes about the tradition.”   Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh, page 7

I love Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m a Christian and not interested in becoming a Buddhist (although he claims that if you are an enlightened Christian you are also and Enlightened Buddhist and vice versa) but I feel his views on the world and the practical ways that we can become more in tune with the universe and God are worth practicing.  I completely marked up my book with notes.

This one was the more difficult of his books I’ve read.  I learned about the specifics of Buddhism in this one and I’m confused on some points.  Hanh studied Christianity and Jesus’s life and he equates much in the two religions.  Some of these points I saw to be true and some I thought were a stretch, but I find it rare that people experience Jesus in the same way even as Christians so I can’t fault him in his thoughtful insights.

If you are familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh then I think you will like it.  His chapter on the peaceful heart made my own jump around in happiness!  If you would like a beginner’s course on Buddhism then I think you will learn something here.  I also think Christians will recognize the truth in much of what he says although I might start with one of his other books on mindfulness first.

I’ll leave you with some of the passages I marked.

“Nonviolence does not mean non-action. Nonviolence means we act with  love and compassion.”

“Before every meal, a monk or nun recites the Five Contemplations: “This food is the gift of the whole universe-the earth, the sky, and much hard work.  May we live in a way that is worthy of this food.  May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially that of greed.  May we eat only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.  May we accept this food for the realization of the way of understanding and love.”  (think of what you would decide not to eat if this was your prayer?)

Professor Hans Kung has said, “Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.”  People kill and are killed because they cling too tightly to their own beliefs and ideologies.  When we believe that ours is the only faith that contains the truth, violence and suffering will surely be the result”…”Do not think the knowledge you presently possess in changeless, absolute truth.  Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints.”  To me, this is the most essential practice of peace.

Book vs. Movie – Still Alice

Last year I watched the movie Still Alice and was drawn into the heartbreak of Alzheimers and last month I finally read the book. I mostly listened to the audio read by the author and would highly recommend it.  Having loved them both, which will come out on top?

The Story/Plot Alice is a highly esteemed linguistics professor at Harvard with a husband and three grown kids. In the movie they change the school to Columbia in New York for some reason but it didn’t really matter. She starts to experience strange symptoms that she wants to attribute to menopause but she can’t so she sees a doctor.  At 50 she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers.  What happens to her and those around her is the story and both movie and book walked the same path.  The book did provide more details about the (limited) options for treatment and more about the support group Alice formed..  Thumbs Up – book

The Visual  Since this is a very character based book there was no great onscreen must see. Just characters going through what no one should have to.  There was no real advantage onscreen so the book held a small advantage.  Thumbs Up- barely book

Characters vs Actors  Julianne Moore was fantastic as Alice and I couldn’t have asked for more. She totally deserved her Oscar.  I also thought Kristen Stewart was perfect as Lydia.  But, as much as I like Alec Baldwin, I much preferred (and disliked) book John.  Alec tried to save John by the twinkle in his eye, but John didn’t deserve to be saved.  Thumbs Up – barely movie

The Ending There were no real differences between them, but I thought the movie packed more of an emotional punch at the end and left me completely drained.  Thumbs Up – movie

And the winner is…the book.  That stats are a tie but my gut says the book though I totally loved the movie.

Now it’s your turn to vote

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)

Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn

Dear Almost: A PoemDear Almost. Finished 9-13-16, rating 4.5/5, poetry, pub. 2016

Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, poet Matthew Thorburn traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima. As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.

abad14Last month I read Dear Almost and was so moved. Jason and I experienced a miscarriage when I was 36 and it was a difficult thing to wrap my head and heart around. Eventually I was able to tell a few people and my good friend told me that she too had suffered a miscarriage the year before and didn’t know if she was supposed to tell people or just try to forget about her ‘almost’.  Since then I’ve talked to many women, friends who’ve had miscarriages, but it was that friend whose words stuck in my head.  Were we supposed to talk about it, which is the route I chose, or just move on and pretend it didn’t happen, like she did?  There is no right answer, of course, because like Thorburn so perfectly addresses in the book one day there is this life full of possibility and the next day all of those possibilities are gone and it hardly seems real.  How each chooses to move on from that is a very personal thing.

I am not much of a poetry reader, but I do like to read outside of my comfort zone and when Serena told me what the poem was about I was in.  Reviewing a poem is not a skill I really possess, but reading something beautiful full of sadness, grief, joy, and a renewal of spirit and appreciating it was easy.  I was completely caught up, all of the emotions of the poet swirling around the ones that it brought out in me.  It gives me hope that one day I might be able to call myself a poetry buff.

I’ll leave you with a little from the end. The last few pages bring tears to my eyes every time I read them but I’m only sharing a small part..

We’ve had our time

together. I wanted you

to see the snow.

I wanted to show you

these days, what

life is like. It scares me

I can no longer

picture your face,

which was only ever

my memory of

my imagining of

how your face

might look someday-

not enough

to hold onto.

I want to thank Serena for having me on the tour and Matthew Thorburn for graciously sending me a copy of his newest poem.  Thorburn also wrote an article in the Sept/Oct Poets & Writers magazine talking about this new poem so check it out if you can. It elevates the reading experience.

Other stops on the tour-

Oct. 6: Nerdy Talks Book Blog (Review)
Oct. 13: Stacy’s Books (Review)
Oct. 18: Necromancy Never Pays (Review)
Oct. 19: Jorie Loves a Story (Review)
Oct. 25: Bookgirl’s Nightstand (Guest Post & Giveaway)
Nov. 2: Peeking Between the Pages (Review)
Nov. 3: Peeking Between the Pages (Guest Post & Giveaway)
Nov. 5: Readaholic Zone (Review)
Nov. 8: True Book Addict (Guest Post & Giveaway)
Nov. 15: 5 Minutes for Books (Review)
Nov. 18: The Book Tree (Guest Post & Giveaway)

Another Birthday

Another birthday is here and this one is making me feel both old (if I round up it’s 50!) and blessed. I’m exactly half the age that my grandmother was when she died and her life was full of joy and faith and just good old fashioned Christian values and I feel good knowing that I’m only halfway-ish to a life well lived.

Since I entered my 40’s I’ve learned a few things.  The weight goes up easier and comes down only with starvation.  I’m a stronger woman than I ever gave myself credit for, especially pre-kid.  Being a mother is easy to get lost in if you let yourself.  Being an older mother sets you apart and so does having a child with special needs, so the road is not easy nor all that well-traveled.  Online friends can be just as present in your life as those in your real world.  Cheering for Ohio State football will never get old.  Life gets busy and it’s too easy to lose track of friends, but if they matter the time won’t matter as soon as you start talking.  Traveling is fun and great for your spirit.  Flying is a necessary evil.  There will never be enough years to read all of the books I want to read.  Having supportive parents who are still together is not all that common, appreciate it.  Having no idea what the latest hot app is will not make one bit of difference in your quality of life. Cable is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Family is good for the soul.

Next week Jason and I will be married 18 years, if only our marriage could vote!  It’s true sometimes there are stretches when it’s not easy to remember why you agreed to such a crazy thing, but if every day you find one thing that you really appreciate those annoying periods fly right on by.  Unless you hear a tape of him bantering with Donald Trump in the locker room. Then all bets are off.

Any sage advice  you’d like to share about your 40’s or happy marriage secrets?

From my morning walk…Have a beautiful day!


The Croquet Player by H.G. Wells

Title: The Croquet Player, Author: H. G. WellsThe Croquet Player. Finished 9-7-16, rating 4/5, fiction, 98 pages, pub. 1937

This allegorical satire about a man fleeing from his evil dreams was written under the influence of the Spanish Civil War. The croquet player, comfortably sipping a vermouth, listens to the strange & terrible tale of the haunted countryside of Cainsmarsh–a horror which broadens & deepens until it embraces the world.
Wells’ modern ghost story of a remote English Village, Cainsmarsh. Dark events are plaguing its people. A terrified farmer murders a scarecrow. Family pets are being bludgeoned to death. Loving couples are turning on each other in vicious rage. People are becoming suspicious of every move each other makes. Children are coming to school with marks on them.  
One observer thinks there’s evil underground scattered all over the marsh, invading villagers’ minds, & it’s spreading. A well bred, affable & somewhat effeminate croquet player is told the strange story of Cainsmarsh & it’s impending doom as if its plight was the beginning of the end of civilization.   (Goodreads)

A modernish day ghost story, published in 1937.  A croquet player minding his own  business, is approached by a doctor who dumps this crazy story of evil on him.  I love the croquet player and his pages of description about himself.

“It takes all sorts to make a world and I see no sense in pretending to be the human norm when one is not.  Regarded from a certain angle I am no doubt a soft, but all the same I can keep my head and temper at croquet and make a wooden ball perform like a trained animal.” p.11

“I have soft hands and am ineffective will. I prefer not to make important decisions.  My aunt has trained me to be to be her constant associate and, with displays and declarations on all possible occasions of an immense maternal passion for me, she has-I know it clearly-made me self-indulgent and dependent.” p.13

A strange, haunting, thought-provoking novella for H.G. Wells fans and a good introduction to his writing for newbies.  I thought it was wonderfully deep and discussion worthy, especially given its length.

My post when I read this last month for my book a day challenge.