Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Heroes For My Son by Brad Meltzer

Heroes for My SonHeroes For My Son. Finished 6-19-17, rating 3.5/5, inspiring people, 108 pages, pub. 2010

When Brad Meltzer’s first son was born eight years ago, the bestselling writer and new father started compiling a list of heroes whose virtues and talents he wanted to share with his son: Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Jim Henson, Amelia Earhart, Muhammad Ali . . . and so many more, each one an ordinary person who was able to achieve the extraordinary. The list grew to include the fifty-two amazing people now gathered in Heroes for My Son, a book that parents and their children—sons and daughters alike—can now enjoy together as they choose heroes of their own.

From the Wright Brothers, who brought extra building materials to every test flight, planning ahead for failure, to Miep Gies, who risked her life to protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis during World War II, Heroes for My Son brings well-known figures together with less famous ones, telling the inspiring, behind-the-scenes stories of the moment that made them great. They are a miraculous group with one thing in common: each is an example of the spectacular potential that can be found in all of us.

-from Goodreads

As a mom to a young child I appreciated the sentiment behind this book. When bestselling author Brad Meltzer and his wife had their first son he felt the need to impart his wisdom to his son through the written word. On the night of his birth he started a list of instructions on how to be a good man.  1. Love God and 2. Be nice to the fat kid in class.  Both great pieces of advice but the book didn’t turn out the way he wanted so he wrote this one instead.

In a square hardcover Meltzer devotes two pages to each to the inspirational people that he feels have something important to teach his children.  One page is a picture with caption and the other page he writes briefly about why they are included in the book with a quote. The Wright Brothers are here not because they invented an airplane but because every day when they went out to fly they brought extra materials because they knew they would fail.  They knew they would fail but every day they tried anyway.  That’s the lesson.  Thomas Jefferson was included not because he was President but because he wrote the Declaration of Independence but didn’t tell the public.  Humility is in short supply these days, especially in our elected officials so this was a nice story.

I liked the mix of famous and not-so-famous people, both men and women, and the new things I learned.  This would be a nice book to read with your child or grandchild. This isn’t for boys only and had plenty of women on the list.  I made a list of some of the people I’d like to know more about, so this would be a great shared reading experience but will also add to your wish list 🙂

 

June 19, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 5 Comments

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

Title: The Farm, Author: Tom Rob SmithThe Farm. Finished 5-26-17, rating 3.5/5, suspense, pub. 2014

Unabridged audio read by James Langton and Suzanne Toren. 8.5 hours.

If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.

Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow. 

Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father.

from Goodreads

Daniel lives in London with his boyfriend, a boyfriend his parents know nothing about.  After his parents moved to Sweden the closeness between the three of them widened and Daniel thought his secret was the reason.  A phone call from his mother helped him see the truth.  He was not the only one harboring a secret.  His mother had quite a story and Daniel wasn’t sure what to do and who to believe.  When he decided to do a little investigating himself he found out more than he really wanted to know.

I liked the suspense of his mother’s story and questionable sanity but was wishing that it might not have lasted as long.  I was growing weary of not knowing.  But I thought the payoff made it worth it.  This is my first Smith book but I look forward to reading more from him.  The narrators were excellent and I can recommend the audio.

 

June 8, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 6 Comments

Reboot with Joe Juice Diet by Joe Cross

The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Feel AmazingReboot with Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Feel Amazing. Finished 4-30-17, 3.5/5 stars, health/diet, 240 pages, pub. 2014

In January, Jason and I watched 30 documentaries in 30 days, where we ‘met’ author Joe Cross in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.   During the Read-a-Thon last month I read this book where Joe outlines different ways to try his juicing challenge.  In the movie Joe went 60 days drinking nothing but freshly made fruit and veggie juices, but this book outlines different choices depending on your specific needs.

I am trying my own version of this diet this month for my 30 day challenge, closer to Joe’s original diet than the ones he talks about here.  You can follow my progress here.  I’ve lost 9 pounds in 11 days and feel really good.

The book has recipes and I tried a few at the beginning, but it’s easier just to make your own concoction with whatever you like and have on hand.  There are also inspiring stories and photos from people who have tried the diet.  This is a good place to start after seeing the documentary.

 

May 11, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 1 Comment

The Possessions by Sara Flanary Murphy

Title: The Possessions: A Novel, Author: Sara Flannery MurphyThe Possessions. Finished 3-1-17, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 368 pages, pub. 2017

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies“, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.    from Goodreads

What started slow, but interesting, gained strength as we neared the midway point and finished with and acceptable end.  Because there was no place or even time frame given to the novel it had a dystopian feel, even though society was operating just as it does today. The story without context and the protagonist who kept us at arm’s length left the story in some parallel universe where the only thing different is that ‘bodies’ like Edie could open themselves up to spirits beyond the grave so that loved ones could continue to have a relationship with the deceased.

Creepy.  The whole book was creepy, but not in a bad way. The idea of renting a body to talk to a lost loved one (think séance without the candles or theatrics) was new and the Elysian Society seemed like a well run operation.  Edie, one of the longer serving bodies was a blank slate for the bereaved and the reader.  Until the end you really had no idea who she was, where she came from or what she was capable of and by then it was almost too late to care much.

I liked it because it was different and the concept was a fun one to ponder.  There were enough subplots to keep the story moving and at least one character I ended up caring about more than Edie.  But there were some issues too, the slow start being one.

I  thought this was a solid debut and very different.  Kudos to Murphy for bringing something new to the table.

Thank you to TLC Tours for the allowing me to be a part of this tour and sending the book to me.  Here are the other stops if you’re interested in checking them out.

 
Tuesday, February 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, February 8th: Stranded in Chaos
Thursday, February 9th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, February 10th: For the Love of Words
Monday, February 13th: Rebecca Radish
Tuesday, February 14th: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, February 15th: A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog
Thursday, February 16th: The Ludic Reader
Friday, February 17th: Leigh Kramer
Monday, February 20th: Art Books Coffee
Tuesday, February 21st: Tina Says…
Wednesday, February 22nd: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, February 23rd: Doing Dewey
Friday, February 24th: Luxury Reading
Saturday, February 27th: Sweet Southern Home
Sunday, February 28th: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Tuesday, March 1st: Stacy’s Books
Wednesday, March 2nd: As I turn the pages

March 1, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 8 Comments

Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You by Dolly Parton

Title: Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You, Author: Dolly PartonDream More. Finished audio 1-26-17, 3.5/5, memoir, pub.2012

Unabridged audio read by Dolly Parton. 1.5 hours.

Based on the hugely popular commencement speech Dolly Parton gave at the University of Tennessee that became a sensation, Dream More is a deeper and richer exploration of the personal philosophy she has forged over the course of her astonishing career as a singer, songwriter, performer, and philanthropist.

Using her speech as a jumping-off point, Parton explores the four great hopes she urges us to embrace: dream more, learn more, care more, and be more. She culls examples of these values from her own life as illustrations, from growing up poor in the hills of eastern Tennessee to her experiences as the iconic performer she has become today.         from Goodreads

I needed this little bit of light this week.  I don’t know much about Dolly Parton. I saw her in a few movies way back when, remember hearing her sing (I loved Islands in the Stream and 9 to 5 when I was kid), and know her as a big personality in a tiny(ish) body.  This short memoir laying out her philosophy of living was inspirational – but too short. It really did need to be longer.

“Care more and leave the judging to God.”

Dolly wants us all to dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.  And after listening to her tell you about it you’ll want to do just that.  She has so much energy and joy and does so much with what she’s worked so hard for that she has a new fan.  I loved hearing how her Dad told her he was proud of her and she thought it would be something about her great success, but he went on to say that he was proud of her for being known as the Book Lady around town.  Love that.  I didn’t know anything about the charity she founded to get books in the hands of every child from birth to kindergarten and am so impressed and inspired.

I looked into Imagination Library, the non-profit that Dolly and her team have helped replicate all over the world, and saw that there was no library in Cleveland!  How can that be?  Needless to say it’s going on my list of things to look into in the near future.  Is anyone involved in one of these local groups?

January 26, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 4 Comments

At Wolf Ranch by Jennifer Ryan

Title: At Wolf Ranch (Montana Men Series #1), Author: Jennifer RyanAt Wolf Ranch. Finished 12-25-16, rating 3.5/5, romance, 358 pages. pub. 2015

Book 1 in the Montana Men series

After years on the rodeo circuit, Gabe Bowden wants nothing more than land of his own and a woman who will claim his heart for more than one night. When he has the chance to buy the enormous Wolf Ranch spread, he snaps up the incredible deal. Everything is set, until Gabe rescues a woman on the deserted, snowy road leading to the property, and the half-frozen beauty changes everything.

Ella Wolf rushes to her family’s abandoned Montana ranch after her twin sister is murdered. She knows she’s next . . . unless she can uncover a secret hidden somewhere at Wolf Ranch. The last thing Ella expects is to be rescued by a rugged rancher with his own agenda. A man who almost makes her forget how dangerous love can be.     from Goodreads

I am not a big fan of cowboy stories.  Maybe it’s that I haven’t read many?  I’m a city girl.  When a friend recommended that our families go camping together recently Jason laughed out loud and then shared my feelings on tents, spiders, running water…my only saving grace was that I loved s’mores by the campfire.  Anyway, this is not a book I would have picked up to read, EXCEPT that I met author Jennifer Ryan at the Avon event last month and she was wonderful. I got the book signed by her and dove in.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Ella is an uber rich NYC girl who witnesses her twin sister being murdered by her uncle with a policeman there backing him up.  This is the opening scene of the book.  She hightails it to Montana and her family’s ranch only to be left for dead and rescued by a cowboy.

Will she avenge her sister?  Will she and the cowboy have lots of sex?  Does she have more money than Oprah? All of these questions and more will be answered (well, you’ll have to do the math on  the Oprah one)

I liked it and thought Ella and Gabe were a good couple, almost too good.  I don’t know when or if I’ll continue with the series but if you like sexy cowboys I recommend this one 🙂

December 25, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | Leave a comment

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

Title: So Much Pretty, Author: Cara HoffmanSo Much Pretty. Finished 9-21-16, rating 3.5/5, thriller, pub. 2011

Unabridged audio read by Aimee Bruneau. 9 hours, 55 minutes.

Set in a rural community steeped in silence and denial, So Much Pretty explores all parents’ greatest fear, that their child will be hurt. But it also examines a second, equally troubling question: What if my child hurts someone else? The disappearance and murder of nineteen-year-old Wendy White is detailed through the eyes of journalist Stacy Flynn and a host of other richly drawn characters, each with their own secrets and convictions. After Wendy’s body is found, Flynn’s intense crusade to expose a killer draws the attention of a precocious local girl, Alice Piper, whose story intertwines with Wendy’s in a spellbinding and unexpected climax.    from S&S website

I listened to this in September and I’m going to post what I wrote on my 30 Days blog because I do remember bits and pieces and certain feelings, dark feelings, but the details I remember would reveal way too much about the book. There were three points of view on one of them is Stacy from Cleveland 🙂

I finished the audio at 11 pm.  It is totally messed up  (or is that me since that isn’t my first glass of wine?).  I would recommend reading instead of listening because there is a lot of jumping from viewpoints and different years.  Yesterday I read about the making of a terrorist and today I read about…well, I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s not too far off.

What’s it about – a reporter, a kidnapped young woman, and a girl live in Hayden, New York with a sad bunch of citizens.

What did I learn – although I know rape is something that happens often, this book really put it in context.

Who would love it – mystery lovers who enjoy the darker side.

 

November 22, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 3 Comments

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Title: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Author: Azar NafisiReading Lolita in Tehran. Finished 9-14-16, rating 3.5/5, memoir, 343 pages. pub. 2003

Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.     from Goodreads

We read this for book club in September. It’s hard to know exactly what the problem was.  Some didn’t like the author, some thought she was talking down to them about the books, others were bothered by the jumping around from the past to the present.  I think all of us agreed that we wanted to feel more of a connection with the girls in the book club.  I liked the book overall, but only because  I found the good parts worth the not-so-great ones.  And I did a lot of skimming 🙂

Azar, a college literature professor in Tehran, Iran at the time of the revolution, chronicles her years living in Iran and how the Islamic takeover of the government changed the lives of the women living there.  Eventually she started a secret book group in her home where the women talked about banned Western classics and it’s through these books that she framed the story.

Learning about what was happening in Iran in the 1980’s, told from the perspective of an educated woman, was eye opening for me.  I learned more about the history of Iran than I thought I would and that was my favorite aspect.

 

November 6, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | | 6 Comments

The Girl From Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux

The Girl from Summer HillThe Girl From Summer Hill.  Finished 7-19-16, rating 3.5/5, romance, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio 12.5 hours. Read by Emily Rankin.

Sparks fly as fiery Casey Reddick and brooding Hollywood actor Tate Landers clash in the Virginia summer heat. A chef who puts her career first and her love life second, Casey doesn’t see what every girl in town is swooning over. She made up her mind the moment she met Tate—he’s gorgeous, but stuck-up, nothing like his ex-brother-in-law, Devlin who’s playing the Wickham to Tate’s Darcy in local production of Pride & Prejudice. Casey makes the perfect Elizabeth Bennett—how could she be star-struck when she’s heard Devlin’s damning stories about Tate? As they rehearse together, however, Casey finds herself attracted to Tate—he’s much more down-to-earth than she expected and any physical contact between the two of them literally gives her a tingling, electric shock. As opening night draws near, Casey has some difficult decisions to make. Whom should she believe?             from Goodreads

I enjoyed this fresh take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  From the opening scene (let’s just say it’s hot and wet) to the ending full of love and friendship this book was fun. It wasn’t the most comparable to the original, but the main characters were there and recognizable.  It’s also the start to a new series set in small town Virginia, Summer Hill, where this story was set.

Summer Hill is putting on Pride & Prejudice to raise money for charity and Casey, in town to lick her wounds from her last job and relationship, is in charge of catering.  She is independent and outspoken and not impressed when two movie stars show up in town, even if one of them sends electric running through her every time they touch.  The sparks between Casey and Tate land them the lead roles in the play which also leads them to their expected happily ever after.  There is, of course, a Wickham but this one is even more devious than the original and is responsible for most of the (non-sex) action in the story.

This was light and fun and perfect for a summer read.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books, Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

Title: C Is for Corpse (Kinsey Millhone Series #3), Author: Sue GraftonC is for Corpse. Finished 4-6-16, rating 3.5/5, mystery, 212 pages, pub. 1986

Kinsey Millhone series (A) (B)

When I linked my reviews of the first two books of the series I realize that I’m reading these books 2 years apart.  If I continue at this speed I’ll finish up with Z when I’m 90.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂

How do you go about solving an attempted murder when the victim has lost a good part of his memory? It’s one of Kinsey’s toughest cases yet, but she never backs down from a challenge. Twenty-three-year-old Bobby Callahan is lucky to be alive after a car forced his Porsche over a bridge and into a canyon. The crash left Bobby with a clouded memory. But he can’t shake the feeling it was no random accident and that he’s still in danger…

The only clues Kinsey has to go on are a little red address book and the name “Blackman.” Bobby can’t remember who he gave the address book to for safekeeping. And any chances of Bobby regaining his memory are dashed when he’s killed in another automobile accident just three days after he hires Kinsey.

As Kinsey digs deeper into her investigation, she discovers Bobby had a secret worth killing for–and unearthing that secret could send Kinsey to her own early death…

I like Kinsey. She’s tough and independent, but also caring and protective.  She developed a soft spot for Bobby in the few days they knew each other and she was going to finish the job even if it killed her (not a big spoiler to note that this series is currently on X so don’t worry about Kinsey too much).  Not only was she welcomed into Bobby’s very wealthy family, but she became a should to lean on for his mother.

Kinsey also showed how much she liked her landlord and friend, Henry, by smelling a sweet-talking, cunning, money-grubbing charmer in Lila.  Lila was up to know good and Henry was falling for it hook, line and sinker.  And this gave her a reason to contact an old crush, Jonah, to get some information.  Jonah was back with his wife, but the embers still burned between he and Kinsey.

This is a fun series.  I like Kinsey, the short length of the books, and the well-woven mysteries.  Maybe I’ll even pick up the pace and read D before 2018 🙂

 

 

 

April 19, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | , | 11 Comments