November’s movies & money for charity

Jason and I binge watched Stranger Things season 2 and we loved it!

How as your movie month?  Anything I need to see?

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 $61.

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.

Room (2015 film).pngRoom, 2015 (Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H Macy)                   Grade A

Totally wrecked this mama’s heart.

Watch with hands over eyes  (Jill)

Great adaptation of disturbing story.  (Kathy)

Brilliant, poignant, gut-wrenching abuse story (Heather)

The Meyerowitz Stories.pngThe Meyerowitz Stories, 2017 (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson)          Grade B

Quirky, complicated family forced together.

Sing (2016 film) poster.jpgSing, , 2016 (Voices-Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C Reilly)   Grade C+

The cute ending saved it.

Adorable and fun animals singing.  (Heather)

Can’t help but sing along.  (Nise)

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

Title: Three Men in a Boat, Author: Jerome K. JeromeThree Men in a Boat. Finished 9-13-17, rating 3/5, classic, 211 pages, pub. 1889

Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a ‘T’. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks—not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.’s small fox-terrier Montmorency.

Three Men in a Boat was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian ‘clerking classes’, it hilariously captured the spirit of its age.  from Goodreads

This classic from 1889 is still funny.  Three young men and a fox terrier take a boat down the Thames River.  Jerome, Harris, and George are tired of the daily grind and decide to get away for a bit with a hilarious boat trip.  Mishap and everyday observances combine for a surprisingly modern tale.  I enjoyed it, but was bored at points along the way too.

I’m just going to leave you with a taste of the writing for dog lovers…

We got up tolerably early on the Monday morning at Marlow, and went for a bathe before breakfast; and, coming back, Montmorency made an awful ass of himself.  The only subject on which Montmorency and I have any serious difference of opinion is cats.  I like cats; Montmorency does not.

When I meet a cat, I say, ‘Poor Pussy!’ and stoop down and tickle the side of its head; and the cat sticks up its tail in a rigid, cast-iron manner, arches its back, and wipes its nose up against my trousers; and all is gentleness and peace.  When Montmorency meets a cat, the whole street knows about it; and there is enough bad language wasted in ten seconds to last an ordinary respectable man all his life, with care.

I do not blame the dog (contenting myself, as a rule, with merely clouting his head or throwing stones at him), because I take it that it is his nature.  Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs are, and it will take years and years of patient effort on the part of us Christians to bring about any appreciable reformation in the rowdiness of the fox terrier nature.

This was my 19th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

Top Ten Tuesday – Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I’m not great at making a list and sticking to it, especially this time of year, but the first two on my list are must reads by the end of the year.  The rest are just me playing catch up with a few series and the holidays are a great time to catch up with old friends 🙂

  1. My Classics Club Spin was Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s a short one so it shouldn’t be too hard to fit in one afternoon.
  2. I accepted How To Build a Piano Bench by Ruthi Postow Birch for review and I’m a little slow in getting to it so that’s a priority.
  3. I need to read the third in the Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas, Devil in Spring
  4. so that I can be ready for #4 in February, Hello Stranger.
  5. I want to read the newest Bailey Weggins book by Kate White. Even If It Kills her is the 7th in the series and it’s been 5 long years since Bailey has made and appearance.
  6. The Shimmering Road by Charlie Cates is a follow up to The Gates of Evangeline, which I loved.
  7. I need to catch up with my old friend Lincoln Rhyme in his 13th book, The Burial Hour by Jeffery Deaver.
  8. Same with Lucas Davenport in his 27th outing.  Golden Prey by John Sandford.
  9. Same with my guy Jack Reacher in Lee Child’s Nothing to Lose.  I’m behind in this series but don’t mind taking my time.
  10. And while I’m catching up with my favorite alpha guys I can’t forget local Milan Jacovich.  I love this mystery series set in Cleveland and written by Less Roberts.  A Shoot in Cleveland is the 9th and that would get me halfway through the series.

So, kind of a boring list for all of you but a good focus for me 🙂

Do you have a list of what you want to read this winter or are you winging it like I usually do?


Sundays with Gage – Family Time

As an only child, married to an only child, who has an only child, the house sometimes feels too quiet and too calm.  I often worry that Gage will become too serious like his parents.  There are lots of benefits to being an only, but the lonely feeling is not one of them. It’s why I appreciated growing up so close to aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.  And now I’m thankful to share that same wonderful family with Gage, even if we are far away.

My nine cousins on that side of the family are all within 15 years of each other and kids came in a timely fashion to most, but not me.  Gage is closest in age to Lucy and she just got her driver’s permit!  But, when family is together all is good and Gage loves feeling like part of a big family.

IMG_2320Amy and I are only 5 months apart and even spent our freshman year at Ohio State as roommates.  Her son is a junior in college and a great kid.  Here he is playing Gage in a game of chess at Thanksgiving.  See Gage surrounded by all the love?  It makes this ‘only’ mama’s heart happy.


In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

Title: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron Series #4), Author: Kristan HigginsIn Your Dreams. Finished 10-10-17, rating 4/5, romance, 469 pages, pub. 2014

Book #4 in the Blue Heron series.  (1-The Best Man) (2-The Perfect Match) (3-Waiting on You)

Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé’s wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there’s really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won’t get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero.

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she’ll have to start by believing in him…   from Goodreads

Oh, how I love this romance series.  The Holland clan from wine country New York is a family we all wish we were somehow a part of, even if only through friendship.  Two of the Holland sisters started the series and this time around it was brother Jack’s turn to find love.  Gorgeous and always gracious, Jack was still damaged goods after his wife broke his heart.  Emmaline had her heart stomped on by her first love who dumped her when he lost a ton of weight.  They didn’t seem like a love connection, but love is rarely a straight line.

Emmaline’s ex-fiancé is getting married and Jack’s heroic rescue had left him emotionally devastated.  The two pretend to be a couple, but nothing goes as it should.

Higgins always manages to create light-hearted and charming stories that tackle serious issues.  This one is no different by highlighting the dark sight of obesity weight loss and the daily toll of PTSD.  Looks like I only have one more book to read in this series and I almost don’t want to read it because then I’ll have to say goodbye to Manningsport.





Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Mariana, Author: Susanna KearsleyMariana. Finished 10-4-17, rating 5/5, historical time travel romance, 373 pages, pub. 1994

The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew that it was her house. And now that she’s at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason.

As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love.

Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past…until she realizes Mariana’s life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.   from Goodreads

Here were my first thoughts on Goodreads when I finished this one, “My love affair with Susanna Kearsley continues. This was one of her first books and it may be my favorite so far. I didn’t want it to end. I was worried that the ending would be all wrong. But it wasn’t. It was perfect.”  There is something so magical and romantic about her stories.  There is history, romance, and a perfect sense of place in all of her books.  This one also felt a little like a ghost story.

Julia was sure she’d found her house and she packed up and moved from London to a small English village without a second thought.  She was a children’s book illustrator and was able to make a few friends right away just as she was being transported back in time at unpredictable times.

It’s tricky when you are going back and forth between time periods and characters.  Inevitably, you are drawn more to one story than the other.  This one did a great job of tying the two together so I was invested in both.  Was this book, the first time she tried the time travel travel romance, perfect? No.  Was it perfect enough to have me rereading the last few chapters again and again because I wasn’t quite ready for it to end?  A resounding YES!

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J Gaines

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Author: Ernest J. GainesThe Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Finished 9-28-17, rating 5/5, classic, 246 pages, pub. 1971

“This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960’s. In this woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure, a woman equipped to stand beside William Faulkner’s Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury.” Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has ‘endured,’ has seen almost everything and foretold the rest. Gaines’ novel brings to mind other great works The Odyssey for the way his heroine’s travels manage to summarize the American history of her race, and Huckleberry Finn for the clarity of her voice, for her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years and things to find the one true story in it all.”  — Geoffrey Wolff, Newsweek.

I wish I had taken the time to write this soon after I read it in September because although I absolutely loved this book some of the details now allude me.  I loved Jane.  She is a true survivor.  This book, spanning her 110 year life really comes full circle in the end and I would have been happy to spend another 110 with Jane.

Jane was a little girl of 10 or 11  when Lincoln freed the slaves and she left her plantation with a small group hoping to walk their way north from Louisiana.  When something bad happens Jane is left in charge of 3 year old Ned and she must rely on her wits to keep them safe and free.  She eventually come to raise him like he was her own son and find both happiness and heartache, never leaving her beloved Louisiana.

Jane is a warrior, a realist, and a trailblazer.  This story, which spans the time between slavery and the beginning of the civil rights movement told the story with real events and people framing Jane’s experiences.  This is one worth reading.

This was my 18th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!


The Classics Spin #16

Even though I’ve been in the Classics Club for a few years I haven’t participated in a Classics Spin yet, so I’m going to give it a try.  I have until January 1, 2020 to read 50 classics from a list of my own making.  I’ve read 20 so far.  This is my list of the next 20 I’d like to read.  On Friday the Classics Club will pick a number and that will be the book I finish by the  end of the year.  Fun!

  1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  3. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
  4. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  6. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  7. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  8. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
  9. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  10. Washington Square by Henry James
  11. Women in Love by DH Lawrence
  12. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
  13. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  14. The Sea Wolf by Jack London
  15. Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
  16. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
  17. The once and Future King by TH White
  18. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  19. Ada by Vladimir Nabokov
  20. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Which one of these have you read and loved?

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Title: Don't Let Go, Author: Harlan CobenDon’t Let Go. Finished 11-11-17, rating 4.25/5, thriller, 347 pages, pub. 2017

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for. 

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.   from Goodreads

No one can keep me turning pages long into the night like Harlan Coben.  The man has a gift and I look forward to his yearly contribution to my personal library.  I love his Myron Bolitar series and although this is a standalone Myron does make an appearance at a local pick-up basketball game.  There are a lot of similarities between Myron and Nap as far as geography and attitude.

Told exclusively from Nap’s point of view we learn about the worst night of his life when his twin brother was killed and the love of his young life disappeared.  Years later he’s a police detective who has been mentored by the father of his brother’s girlfriend who also died that night.  When Maura’s fingerprints show up at a murder scene, Nap finds himself involved in finding out what really went down 15 years ago.  Coben tells us at the beginning that this is based on rumors from where he grew up in New Jersey so you know that Nike missiles are going to show up.

I really liked this one.  As with all of Coben’s books it moves fast and has lots of moving parts so it keeps you on your toes.  My mom read my copy before I did and I found her reading it in the car when she was waiting to pick up Gage, so I knew it was going to be good.   I was a bit let down with the end for a few different reasons but that’s probably just me.  I’d still recommend it because, hey, it’s Harlan Coben!

1984 by George Orwell

Title: 1984, Author: George Orwell1984. Finished 9-18-17, rating 3.5/5, classic, pub. 1949

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.            from Goodreads

Unabridged audio read by Simon Prebble.  11.5 hours.

I listened to this almost two months ago, but these were my initial thoughts – “a book first published in 1949, has so much to say about today that it’s scary.  The Doublespeak coming from the White House everyday should scare the crap out of everyone, no exceptions.  As a story it wasn’t the best, but the world building and insight into human nature make this a worthy classic.”

Now that I’ve had some time to process, I can say that this should be read and discussed by everyone interested in being more watchful and wary of the powers that lead us.  Big Brother, Thought Police, Doublespeak are ideas we all understand because of Orwell and this warning of a book.  It is bleak and by the end you will feel as caught in the nightmare as Winston, especially in these times that prove Orwell a fortune teller.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake.  We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”

“War is Peace.  Freedom is Slavery.  Ignorance is Strength.”

Scary stuff.  A must read.

This was my 17th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!