An evening with Paula McLain

IMG_5456 (2)Our local library system, Cuyahoga County Public Library, has been hosting these A Cook and A Book events for a while, but I’d not been to one.  Now I may sign up for all of them regardless of the author!  What a great format.  It’s in the upstairs rooms of my favorite grocery store and we were greeted with Hemingway’s favorite daquiri (yum).  The charming Paula McLain talked about spending 14 years in the foster system of Fresno, California and her first paid writing gig – $25 for a poem in Cosmopolitan magazine.  She received her MFA from University of Michigan before allowing Cleveland to call her one of its own 15 years ago.  Of course, she talked about her books.  I’ve only read (and loved) Circling the Sun, but  her first bestseller The Paris Wife was about Hemingway’s first wife and her latest, Love and Ruin, is about his third.  She was granted access to Hemingway’s Cuban home (now a museum that the public can’t enter) and was able to spend three days there going through the house.  Which led to the last bit of the evening, Martha’s Mojo Criollo recipe that I’ll share with you.  We all got to try it and it was tasty.  It was a full hour and a half and a lot of fun.  I was going to read Love & Ruin, but when she explained that Hemingway’s son from The Paris Wife shows up in Love and Run all grown up I realized that I wanted to read them in order.  She was entertaining and warm and showed a lot of love for bad ass women (her words and mine :)).

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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expury

Title: The Little Prince Deluxe Pop-Up Book (with audio), Author: Antoine de Saint-ExuperyThe Little Prince: Deluxe Pop-Up Book, Unabridged Text.  Finished 2-3-19, 5/5, children’s classic, 63 pages, pub. 2015

After being stranded in a desert after a crash, a pilot comes in contact with a captivating little prince who recounts his journey from planet to planet and his search for what is most important in life.

For over sixty-five years Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic, The Little Prince, has captured readers’ hearts. The whimsical story with a fairy tale feel has sold over 3 million copies in all formats. This exciting pop-up edition includes the complete original text accompanied by Saint-Exupery’s beautiful illustrations brought to life through paper engineering. Perfect for longtime fans and those meeting the little prince for the first time!   from Goodreads

Oh, how I loved reading this classic for the first time with Gage.  This pop-up book with all of the original text was amazing!  The three of us read a chapter at night for family reading time and I don’t know how we’re going to top it with our next family book.  Here’s a pic of one of the pages.

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Some of them just popped up and some of them had more interactive features.  It was well done and I plan on buying a copy since this one is from the library.

As for the story itself.  Jason and I laughed at the making fun of adults and sometimes Gage didn’t get the joke, but otherwise the story was a fun adventure story of a young prince from another planet. Well, it was fun until the end.  For some reason I was not prepared for the end.  It led to good discussion with Gage, especially since he’s been asking me very specific questions about Heaven these days.

I don’t know what took me so long to read this, but this is a fun book to read with your child and the pop-ups will only bring it more to life for the both of you.

This was my 25th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

 

First Book and One Word

Sheila over at Book Journey has hosted us book bloggers on the first of the year to share what we’ve chosen for our first book of the year AND invited us all to choose one word to be our focus for the year.  I’m so glad she continues to do this.

2019

Yesterday, Gage took this pic of me and my first book, Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley.

IMG_E5146  I was excited to receive 7 books as gifts in December, but am the most excited about the lastest Kearsley. I hope to get an hour in today, but since Jason’s home from work I have a feeling more furniture shopping and cleaning may take up most of the day.  We’re hoping to sleep in our bedroom for the first time since May.

 

my-one-word-300x180I was planning to write a post last week about all of our house tragedies and silver linings.  I’ve shared updates on the blog, but I haven’t always gone into the nitty gritty feelings and stress of having to be home surfing half the year, having to get rid of lifelong possessions (yes, this means my books too), and moving back into a house with no flooring, molding, curtains, furniture. etc., not to mention the financial burden… Well, you can imagine, I think, how off kilter you might feel if it happened to you.  I feel like I’ve barely held on to my sanity some days.

So, my word for 2019 is one that has been rolling around in my head for a few weeks.  After a year of flying by the seat of my pants my focus for 2019 is PURPOSE.  I can take back a little of my life living with more purpose in how I spend my time, the choices I make for my health, in the things to which I say yes, and the new things we bring back into our home. Bring it on 2019 🙂


So what’s your first book of the year going to be? And do you have a word you’d like to focus on this year?

2018 Movie Favorites and Stats

I watched 40 movies this year, down 10 from last year.

2018 was my most watched year with19 movies.

I wrote 2 Book Vs. Movie posts (Far From the Madding Crowd, Charlie St. Cloud)

My most popular post of the year was Book Vs. Movie And Then There Were None.

We saw 18 movies at the theater, with 9 of them being animated or the like.  It’s been nice that Gage loves to go as much as we do!

The oldest movie I watched was – Halloween, 1978

Newest crush is Chris Pine. His turn in Wonder Woman won me over 🙂

Cutest Couple- Elisa & the Fish (The Shape of Water)

My most watched actor was Zac Ephron with 3 movies (The Greatest Showman, The Paperboy, Charlie St. Cloud)

My most watched actresses with 2 movies a piece- Jennifer Aniston (Storks, Dumplin’), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Paddington 2), Danielle Macdonald (Dumplin’, Bird Box), Margot Robbie (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Peter Rabbit)

Most despised movie of the year – Nights in Rodanthe

I continued my 5 Word Movie Reviews with $ for Charity .  Keep adding to my reviews and maybe you can choose the next charity!

My 5 favorite movies this year

Coco (2017 film) poster.jpgCoco

The Shape of Water (film).pngThe Shape of Water

The Favourite.pngThe Favourite

Bohemian Rhapsody poster.pngBohemian Rhapsody

The film poster shows a close-up of Emily Blunt in-character with her hand over her mouth.A Quiet Place

 

Merry Christmas!

Hello friends! I hope all of you are having a great Christmas.  Gage received lots of fun new things but right now he and his dad are playing Mario on his new Nintendo Switch. IMG_5110

I also want to give a shout out to my bookish Secret Santa, Terri (Alexia’s Books & Such).  I was so excited to open all of the goodies she sent.

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Since I didn’t know Terri I went to check out her site and now I’m a fan 🙂  I read her last post about cleaning up her TBR list on Goodreads and thought it was such a great idea that I’m going to give it a go, because without even checking I know my list is out of control.

How to participate:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

Okay, here I go off to GR…Good grief! I have 889 books on my want to read list.  I’m going to list the 5 that have been on there longest (since 2012!).  Let know if you’ve read them and whether I should keep them on my list or let them go.

Summerland by Erin Hilderbrand A warm June evening, a local tradition: the students of Nantucket High have gathered for a bonfire on the beach. What begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver, Penny Alistair, dead, and her twin brother in a coma. The other passengers, Penny’s boyfriend, Jake, and her friend Demeter, are physically unhurt–but the emotional damage is overwhelming. Questions linger about what happened before Penny took the wheel.”

Still sounds good.  I’m leaning towards keeping it.

***

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie In this darkly comic short story collection, Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, brilliantly weaves memory, fantasy, and stark realism to paint a complex, grimly ironic portrait of life in and around the Spoke Indian Reservation. These 22 interlinked tales are narrated by characters raised on humiliation and government-issue cheese, and yet are filled with passion and affection, myth and dream. There is Victor, who as a nine-year-old crawled between his unconscious parents hoping that the alcohol seeping through their skins might help him sleep. Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who tells his stories long after people stop listening, and Jimmy Many Horses, dying of cancer, who writes letters on stationary that reads “From the Death Bed of James Many Horses III,” even though he actually writes them on his kitchen table. Against a backdrop of alcohol, car accidents, laughter, and basketball, Alexie depicts the distances between Indians and whites, reservation Indians and urban Indians, men and women, and most poetically, between modern Indians and the traditions of the past.”

I hesitate to take Sherman Alexie off any list, but I’m not a huge fan of short stories.  Leaning towards taking this one off.

***

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to:

* Apply the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule to get your in-box to empty
* Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
* Plan projects as well as get them unstuck
* Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
* Feel fine about what you’re not doing

From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.“

If I haven’t read this by now I never will.  Don’t try and convince me otherwise 🙂

***

A Walk For Sunshine: A 2,160 Mile Expedition For Charity on the Appalachian Trail by Jeff Alt  “Jeff Alt takes you along every step of his 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail adventure filled with humorous, frightening and inspirational stories including, bears, bugs, blisters, skunk bed mates and hilarious food cravings.As Alt walked through freezing temperatures, driving rain and sunny skies, he was constantly buoyed by the knowledge that his walk was dedicated to his brother who has cerebral palsy.

I think I’ll take this one off. Anyone read it?

***

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim  The women at the center of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other—and the castle of their dreams—through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon. The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don’t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.”

Still intrigued.  Leaning toward keeping it on the list.

***

 

 

 

30 books in 30 days

Even though I am currently taking care of two houses , two cats, one second grader, and one husband, and whoever I can get to come work on our house, Heather’s interest pushed me from my hesitation.  For the third September in a row, Gage and I will be reading a book a day.  I’ll probably update here weekly, but here’s my first post on my 30 day challenge blog…

It’s here! The first day of my 30 books in 30 days reading challenge!  We had a lazy morning after spending all day yesterday at Cedar Point, but both G and I got our books done early. For him, having a wide variety of books that are just under his reading abilities is going to be important.  He does not want to have to work too hard, lol.

G chose the latest Pete the Cat, The Petes Go Marching and I enjoyed hearing him sing this book to his dad this morning 🙂

I’ll admit that I started How To Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh in the spring, but didn’t make it too far, so I decided to start again this morning when I couldn’t sleep at 2 am.  This is part of his mindfulness series, of which I’m a huge fan.  Hanh is a Buddist monk and his books expand the way I see the world and his books will always be on my to-read list.  This is a slight 125 page book on not only how to eat, but how to do so with the meaning.  Mindfulness is about being present in all that you do, so by bringing that to your food, you can change your life for the better.  This is not a diet book, but he does touch upon that we should only be putting the healthiest of foods in our body and that we should not be eating our worries, fear, or anger.  I’ll leave you with a few quotes.

“Enjoy your meal. Stop thinking and be here fully, body and mind.” page 32

“With each meal, we make choices that help or harm the planet.” page 59

“If we feel empty, we don’t need to go to the refrigerator to take things out to eat.  When you eat like that it’s because there is a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, or depression inside.  The moments of our daily lives can be filled with joy and meaningful activities.  Our community includes our family and friends and our connection to other living beings.  They are there to help us get out of these feelings.  We are not alone.  Sharing a meal together is not just to sustain our bodies and celebrate life’s wonders, but also to experience freedom, joy, and the happiness of being in a harmonious community during the whole time of eating.”  page 77

“May we find ways to live more simply in order to have more time and energy to change the system of injustice that exists in the world.”  page 113

Heather (Gofita’s Pages) is joining us this year, YAY!  Here’s her post from yesterday.  So happy to have her aboard.

Calling All Crazy Book People

For the last couple of years September has been the month that I’ve chosen to challenge myself to read 30 books.  Last year Gage even joined me!  This year with everything that’s been going on (I’m literally writing this at our house where I haven’t been since last Friday and I’m leaving again in an hour) I was on the fence about it UNTIL Heather said she was up for it too 🙂  Yay!!!

So now I’m wondering if anyone else wants to join us?  I could have a daily post where we can all link up and even start a Facebook page if there’s enough interest.   No pressure if you don’t make it, life happens, but it’s always fun to try.  I’m already thinking about how to make it doable this year.  Shorter books for sure, but maybe even a different kind of book.  Kids, graphic memoirs, or novellas would all work.  And for sure Gage is joining in.

Here’s my wrap up posts if you’re considering joining in on the fun.

2016 wrap up

2017 wrap up

I’m excited to have Heather by my side and hope that some of you may join us too!

 

The Immortal Gene by Jonas Saul is good – so far at least and a LIFE update.

I’m scheduled to post about The Immortal Gene today for a TLC tour so here I am providing you with half review and half life update.

I’m over half way done with the book and really like it. The story is good, even if the bad guy really sickened me last night when I was reading before bed.  It runs along two main storylines, Jake the detective and Jeffery the serial killer.  There’s a mysterious shadowy group that has something to do with why Jake was in a coma for two years and why he now appears to be something more than a man.  I like the writing and the story and look forward to finishing and telling you more, hopefully next week.

Now for the life update.  We’re going through some major house issues.  What started with a question from Gage’s doctor, “Have you checked your house for mold?” has led us to a house in chaos. Without boring you with every last detail, yes we did, mainly in our master bedroom and Gage’s toy room and it’s been going on for years and years because of the faulty design of the original roof (1984).  You could not see this mold.  Starting in February I started doing some detective work that led me to remove all wallpaper where we found what looked like mold behind outside wall.  Blah Blah Blah and that corner now looks like this IMG_3724 No walls, ripping out flooring and subfloor from both rooms today.

This is what the foyer and living room underneath that looked like yesterday IMG_3722 And because the walls went together and our house was due we decided to renovate the whole outside of the house, removing the stucco board and replacing with cement boarding, but looking for rot and mold along  the way.  This is my current view IMG_3731

Everything on the top floor is being thrown or has been thrown out.  Seriously.  I’m currently in the middle of cleaning what I can on the first floor and putting it in a pod.  The pod and dumpster compete for space in our driveway.

When all the dust and mold has settled I’ll post about what mold you can’t even see can do to your health.  Til then keep us in your prayers.

 

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.

 

 

2017 Book Favorites and Stats

I read 74 books this year. That’s 6 more than last year.

42 Fiction and 32 Non-Fiction.  My non-fiction numbers are up this year because I made an effort to read memoirs in September.

Of those 42 fiction 23 were authors new to me.

30 male authors, 40 female authors and 4 that were both.

27 were audiobooks.

I continued with 2 series (Blue Heron 3&4, Kinsey Millhone 5) and started 2 new series (The Ravenels 1&2, Penn Cage 1).

I read 8 classics for the Classics Club (The Color Purple, 1984, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Three Men in a Boat, Winesburg Ohio, Cat’s Cradle, Frankenstein, Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman).

Oldest book read-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1818

Shortest novel-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 155 pages

Longest novel-The Quiet Game by Greg Iles, 559 pages

Most read authors with 2 books a piece – Kristan Higgins, Lisa Kleypas, DM Pulley, Nora Roberts

Most visited locales – England, New York City, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, Chicago

My 5 favorite books

Title: A Man Called Ove, Author: Fredrik Backman I fell in love with Ove and his collection of merry wo(men).  For every trouble he caused those surrounding him, at least one blessing was given out.  Ove was a man with a heart, who didn’t always play well with others.  His pregnant neighbor picked him up and kept him moving until, finally, he embraced the loving circle that surrounded him.

Title: Mariana, Author: Susanna Kearsley There is history, romance, and a perfect sense of place in all Kearsley books. 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.  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.

Title: The Color Purple, Author: Alice Walker Abused by her father and then her husband, Celie relied on the love of her sister to get her through. When Nellie goes away and Celie doesn’t hear from her she begins writing letters to God. When her husband brings home his mistress to live with them, Celie finally starts to see herself in a new light.  This is not an easy read.  It’s emotional, sexually explicit and might wake you up in ways that you don’t like. Celie’s perseverance gives a voice to all the women who experience abuse and still manage to stay on their feet.  It exceeded expectations and now I’m anxious to get my hands on the movie.  Set in 1930’s Georgia it’s still relevant and addictingly readable.

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Author: Ernest J. Gaines Jane was a true survivor.  This fictional 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 comes to raise him like her own son and find both happiness and heartache, never leaving her beloved Louisiana.  Jane is a warrior, a realist, and a trailblazer.

Title: Little Fires Everywhere, Author: Celeste NgShaker Heights is a real place and I love it.  Ng chose to show the Shaker that she grew up in and I think it’s fair, and even though it has changed over the years it does still remain a progressive hotspot with old mansions lining picturesque streets. The Richardson family embodies this perfectly.  I understood and felt for every one of the characters and even when I didn’t like them I understood them.  The story centers around not only the fight over a baby left at a fire station by a distraught mother but also the mysterious Mia.  So many layers to this story and they were all connected by mothers.  I loved this book because it is overflowing with gray area.

Did you do a list?  Leave a link in the comments so I can check it out.