January’s Movies & money for charity

How was 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 $68!

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.

Coco (2017 film) poster.jpgCoco, 2017 (Voices-Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt)                 Grade B+

Be remembered by those you love.


Paddington 2 poster.jpgPaddington 2, 2018 (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant)      Grade B+

Sweet bear transforms his environs


The Greatest Showman poster.pngThe Greatest Showman, 2017 (Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Ephron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson)    Grade B

PT Barnum circus sings to life.


 

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot poster.pngWhisky Tango Foxtrot, 2016 (Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton, Christopher Abbott)     Grade B

True story of reporter’s Kabul.


A man and a woman standing face to face, as if about to kiss.Allied, 2016 (Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, Lizzie Caplan)                      Grade B-

Is the spy being spied?

Turning Angel by Greg Iles

Title: Turning Angel (Penn Cage Series #2), Author: Greg IlesTurning Angel. Finished 1-24-18, rating 3/5, thriller, 644 pages, pub. 2005

Penn Cage books # 2 (1-The Quiet Game)

After winning the most dangerous case of his career, prosecutor Penn Cage decides to remain in his Southern hometown to raise his young daughter in a safe haven. But nowhere is truly safe — not from long-buried secrets, or murder….When the nude body of prep school student Kate Townsend is found near the Mississippi River, Penn’s best friend, Drew Elliott, is desperate for his counsel. An esteemed family physician, Drew makes a shocking confession that could put him on death row. Penn will do all he can to exonerate Drew, but in a town where the gaze of a landmark cemetery statue — the Turning Angel — never looks away, Penn finds himself caught on the jagged edge of blackmail, betrayal, and deadly violence.    from Goodreads

It’s been five years since we met Penn Cage and he’s settled back in his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi with his daughter and his parents.  He’s a prosecutor turned best selling author, but when his best friend is accused of murder he must step back into his lawyer role.  But his friend, a respected doctor, is accused of having an affair with a 17 year old golden girl and Penn knows innocence will be a hard sell.

Greg Iles knows how to tell a story, but geez, this one felt like he was working through some serious mid- life issues.  Penn’s best friend, 40ish, had a wife and small child and decided to embark on a sexual relationship with a 17 year old.  He also allowed her to go to notorious drug dealers to score drugs for his wife because she was an addict.  Oh, and she was valedictorian, cheerleader, two-sport starter, headed to Harvard in the fall and was into kinky sex with lots of partners, but ‘fell in love’ with Drew with her mother’s consent.  Okay.  So, after you swallow all of the justifications for sex with a minor BY HER DOCTOR, you must then come to terms with Penn’s high school babysitter being in love with him and he quite liking it.  He called her at all hours, at one point sat and scrolled through porn with her at a hotel in the middle of the night.  She, of course, came on to him, but he resisted…for a short time at least.

Anywho, the town was full of hot high school girls lusting after respected middle aged men (there were more) and it felt icky, like some sort of sick middle aged fantasy.  Iles is a skilled thriller writer and I like Penn and his family but this one did take the shine off a bit.  And I’m not even going to get into the drugs and those liberal Yankees.

Now that I’ve got all that off my chest you may wonder how I rated it a 3.  Well, Iles is good and I read over 600 pages of a book that make me roll my eyes more than once.  I’m just hoping that Penn can come to his senses in the next book.

 

 

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Title: Heat Wave (Premium Edition) (Nikki Heat Series #1), Author: Richard CastleHeat Wave. Finished 1-19-18, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by Johnny Heller

Nikki Heat series book 1

New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy.
   Mystery sensation Richard Castle introduces his newest character, NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, and professional, Nikki carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City’s top homicide squads. She’s hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York’s Finest. Pulitzer Prize winner Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. But his wisecracking and meddling aren’t Nikki’s only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.
   Castle, the hit ABC television series, premiered in March 2009. The main character, Richard Castle, is the bestselling mystery author of the critically acclaimed Derrick Storm novels. The hard-nosed but sexy Detective Kate Beckett, with whom Castle is paired up, provided the inspiration for Nikki Heat.    from Goodreads

I’ll keep this one short and sweet.  If you, like me, loved the TV show Castle (2009-2016) then you will most likely enjoy this mystery written by the fictional hero of the series, Richard Castle.  The mystery was good, but I had the most fun picturing the beloved cast as I listened.  It was perfect car listening since it was easy to follow along but also entertaining.  I see the series continues and while it wouldn’t be my first choice I’m not against giving book 2 a listen someday.

  Miss seeing these two onscreen together.

When We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Title: Before We Were Yours, Author: Lisa WingateBefore We Were Yours. Finished 1-10-18, rating 4.5/5, historical fiction, pub. 2017

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.  from Goodreads

This was the Goodreads Historical Fiction Winner and although I didn’t read any of the others I can see why this won. There once was an evil woman who stole children from poor, loving parents and sold them to the highest bidder.  These children were forced to live in horrifying conditions and it’s completely heartbreaking.  That is true.  The book is the fictionalized account of the kids she abused.

Rill, Camellia, Lark, Fern and Gabian will stay with me for a while.  These kids, aged from 2-12, all lived on a run down boat that their parents moved when needed.  They were well loved.  When the mother, Queenie, was forced to go to the hospital to deliver twins, 12 year old Rill was left in charge only to be overrun by what she thought were police.  All five of the beautiful, blonde (but one)  Foss children were taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home and exposed to adults who only viewed them as profit, or worse, play things.  The story was gripping and hard to put down.

It alternated with a current day story that connected to 1939 and was rooted in the political arena. It reminded me a bit of the current John McCain story with a Senator suffering from cancer but in this one the family decides to groom one of their own to take over if needed.

We read this one for our book group and everyone liked or loved it, but one.  The 1939 storyline was universally loved, but there were some dissenting views on the current storyline.  A few saw it as wasted potential and too clunky, but the rest of us saw it as welcome relief from the harsh realities of the horrific Children’s Home.

I would highly recommend this one.  If you are interested in the real Georgia Tann and her home of abomination Google her or start with this one.

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Goals

After many years of hosting this meme The Broke and the Bookish has passed it on to one of  their own, Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week it’s all about our bookish goals for 2018.

  1. Reread a favorite book.  It seems every year this is a goal and I rarely accomplish it.
  2. Read 15 classics.  I need to read 30 books over the next two years for the Classics Club so I need to get reading before I break down and read the Spark Notes 😉
  3. Read a new/favorite author’s backlist.  The first ones that comes to mind would be: Fredrik Backman (5), Susanna Kearsley (6), Paula McLain (4).
  4. Read review books in a timely fashion.  I’m terrible.  Unless I’m part of a tour they sit on my shelves way too long.
  5. Accept fewer review books.  See #4 🙂
  6. Finish a series.  I hate to start new series when I’m still behind on so many that I already read.
  7. Read 30 books in September.  I started this on my 30 Day Challenges blog and have done it twice.
  8. Spend more time reading other blogs.  I find it challenging to find time to blog so I find it extra hard to set aside time to visit my bookish friends.
  9. Read More!!
  10. Don’t worry if I fail at all of these goals.  Life will go on and it will still be full of awesome books.

Do you have any bookish goals for the year?

Sundays With Gage – It’s so cold and a winner!

Last week I celebrated a decade of blogging and wanted to send a box of goodies to one lucky commenter.  Gage chose the winner…

IMG_2697 IMG_2701 (2) Jennifer T!!!  I’ll send you an email or you can beat me to it and email me your address.

On the Gage front this week, he went back to school from winter break on Tuesday.  Friday they cancelled school because of an ice storm.  Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day so no school.  Tuesday he’ll go back (although we’re getting snow tomorrow night so who knows).  In the last month he’ll have had three days of school.  Three. Days.  I love my kid.  He and his dad are my world, but everyone needs to go back to their schedules (Jason has used a lot of vacation time in the last month).  It is so cold and icy and snowy that finding entertainment is challenging.  We’ve already been really sick this winter, so I’m trying to avoid the popular kid sick-infested areas, but Gage requested one tomorrow.  We’ll see if  I can keep my sanity and him healthy another day.  Wish me luck!

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday-

Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)  See what else bloggers are looking to read this year at the Broke & the Bookish.

Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Story of Arthur TruluvThe Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyHunger by Roxane Gay

Far from the Madding CrowdFar From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Anything for You (Blue Heron, #5)Anything for You by Kristan Higgins

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

How to Build a Piano BenchHow to Build a Piano Bench by Ruthi Postow Birch

The Salt HouseThe Salt House by Lisa Duffy

And there’s still time to enter my Blogiversary giveaway here.

 

 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Author: Erika L. SánchezI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Finished 1-6-18, 4.25/5, YA, pub, 2017

Unabridged audio read by Kyla Garcia. 9 hours 41 minutes.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?     from Goodreads

I don’t read a lot of YA books, but last year The Hate U Give ended up being a favorite and this one, a National Book Award for Young People Finalist, also satisfied my desire to learn about American lives so different from my own.  Julia, a Mexican-American teen in Chicago, lost her sister to a freak accident and she struggles in the aftermath.  Her sister was the perfect one, going to community college while living at home, and when she died Julia’s mother lost it.  Julia is trying to understand her older sister after the fact and it leads her to surprising answers.

Julia is a teenager with some issues and she was trying at times, yet she did grow on me.  I had sympathy for her cockroach infested apartment (been there and it was disgusting) and her embarrassment over being poor when she met a boy she was interested in, but it wasn’t until she was sent back to her family in Mexico for a visit that I began to really root for her.  Julia is a memorable teen and I have high hopes for her future as a writer and for a relationship with Connor, her first love 🙂  I wouldn’t mind a follow up book at all!

This is an immigrant story, Julia’s parents are undocumented and used a coyote to cross the border, a mystery when she discovers her perfect sister had a secret, and a coming of age story with a heroine full of angst and mental health issues.  This really is a relatively quick read that delves into many issues that will keep you engaged.  I really liked this one.

It’s been a decade! – with a box of goodies

Read all the way to the bottom for the giveaway 🙂

Ten years ago I opened up shop here at Stacy’s Books with no other goal than just to write.  I didn’t have high hopes for followers or fame and I certainly had no understanding of how people who I met here could become real friends. I didn’t read blogs and I didn’t do any research on how to start one.  I just did it.  I really had no idea what I was doing.

I love this blog even though it has gone through periods of neglect.  I’ve documented travels, Gage’s birth and first years, and talked about the books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched.  I’ve dipped in and out of memes, participated in 24 hour read-a-thons (who knew there was such a glorious thing before blogging?!), interviewed dozens of authors and even quizzed you guys for years (always tempted to start this again, we’ll see what 2018 brings).

I’ve met a few bloggers in real life with Bonnie being the most memorable since she brought be into her wonderful book club over a year ago.  I’ve also met a few others briefly and always wish it was longer and happened more frequently.  Facebook has let me into the everyday lives of bloggers friends which is especially great for keeping in touch with those friends who have shut down their blogs.

This morning I spent some time looking over the stats wordpress lets me see and will share the top pic, post and book review of each year.  I was surprised at how many of these were tops in the years after I posted them.  Thanks to Google I guess.  Plus I think I changed some of the photo settings because why else would me eating fries in Rome in 2008 be a top pic in 2017?  I’ll have to look into it.  Unless anyone can clue me in?

*Edit – because a few of the pics were way too big I just provided a link 🙂


2008 

Florence, Italy

Top post- Florence pics  Top book review- WITSEC: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program by Earley and Shur

2009

 

Rome, Italy

Top post- Rome pics Top book review- The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

2010

 

5,000 piece puzzle of Florence

Top post- Baby-to-Be Update  Top book review- The Second Son by Charles Sailor

2011

 

Parking in Rome

Top post- My Book Problem  Top book review- The Devil and Tom Walker and other Stories by Washington Irving

2012

 

Venice, Italy

Top post-Monday Movie Meme- Bring on the Heat  Top book review-The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

2013

Baby Shower

Top post- Book vs. Movie-Under the Tuscan Sun  Top book review- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

 

2014

bookwall2014

Top post- 101,102,103…Mini-challenge  Top book review- The Vessel by Taylor Stevens

2015 

Sundays with Gage-A weekend of Firsts

Top post- Book vs. Movie-The Secret Life of Bees  Top book review- The Precious one by Marisa de los Santos

 

 

 

2016

first bookFirst book 2016

Top post- Baby Movie Quiz  Top book review- J is for Jane Eyre, the graphic novel

 

2017

Rome, McDonald’s and the Pantheon

Top post-Book vs. Movie – The Hound of the Baskervilles  Top book review- Yesterday I Saw the Sun by Ally Sheedy


Thanks for stopping by over the years and chatting with me.  Every comment and connection is meaningful and I’m so happy to have met you.  I hope that the next ten years brings continued friendship.

Now for the giveaway- Leave a comment and I’ll enter your name for a box of bookish goodies!  I’ll have Gage draw a winner next Sunday!

Top Ten Tuesday – New Authors I Discovered in 2017

Today’s topic is new-to-me authors we discovered in 2017. Which authors did you discover last year? Head on over to the Broke and the Bookish to see who other bloggers found.

Obviously, these are new-to-me authors.  I didn’t read enough books to discover 10 first-timers!

  1. Fredrik Backman.  I’m so excited that I read A Man Called Ove this year and discovered that Backman has written many other books for me to enjoy!
  2. Lisa Kleypas is up here because I read the first two of her Ravenels historical romance series and I’m anxious to read the next two this year.
  3. Alice Walker is no debutante, but I read A Color Purple this year and want to read more of her backlist.
  4. Amor Towles came on my radar when I read about his latest, but our book club ended up reading Rules of Civility first and I loved it.
  5. Blake Crouch.  I’d never even heard of him until I saw Dark Matter recommended around  the blogs.  Loved it so I’m excited to see what else he’s written.
  6. Paula McLain is a local Clevelander and I loved Circling the Sun and I’m looking forward to her even more popular The Paris Wife this year.
  7. Celeste Ng is another (sort of) local who wrote about the Cleveland where she grew up in Little Fires Everywhere.  Now I need to read her first book.
  8. DM Pulley has written three books, and I read the first two by this Clevelander.
  9. Ernest Gaines is another one who has been around awhile but just got around to reading him for the first time.
  10. Nancy Horan.  I read Loving Frank and want to read her other, Under the Starry Sky.

Who was your favorite 2017 author discovery?