Stillwell by Michael Phillip Cash with a GIVEAWAY

Stillwell: A Haunting on Long IslandStillwell. Finished 4-8-15, rating 3/5, horror, 232 pages, pub. 2013

Paul Russo’s wife just died. While trying to get his family’s life back in order, Paul is being tormented by a demon who is holding his wife’s spirit hostage on the other side. His fate is intertwined with an old haunted mansion on the north shore of Long Island called Stillwell Manor. Paul must find clues dating back hundreds of years to set his wife’s soul free.

from Goodreads

Paul is a mess after his childhood sweetheart and mother of his three young children wastes away from cancer right in front of him.  His once successful realtor business has all but dried up along with the family’s savings.  He is lucky to be surrounded by loving family who are willing to pitch in and help with cooking and homework.  When an old family friend gives him the opportunity to sell his $20m mansion Paul knows he desperately needs the sale.  Only the house is haunted and the scene of a murder-suicide or two and everyone knows it.  When a demon starts visiting his dreams, Paul knows he is going mad.

This is more paranormal than true horror, in my opinion, and that’s not a bad thing.  I liked Paul’s family and friend from work, who had been covering for him during his wife’s illness.  The evil, dark manor was par for the course and the ghosts were spooky.  I wish it had been a little longer and had more of everything.  It was a super quick and enjoyable read.

Red Feather Productions sent me TWO copies of this book and I’d love to pass it on to one of you. First one who tells me they want it in the comments will get their very own copy 🙂

A reminder about my giveaway


Gage got me up before 5:30 this morning so I’m too tired to write a review, but I wanted to remind you that I’m giving awaya signed copy of Thrity Umrigar’s book about growing up in India and a bag this month.  You can see my original post here.  I’ll even give you a chance to get an extra entry. Comment here AND there and get an entry for each!  If you want to tweet about it and let me know in your comment I’ll  throw in another entry.  Make sure you leave an email address.

Open internationally.  I’ll draw a winner November 25.


First Darling of the Morning:Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity Umrigar

First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu city; of a guilt-ridden stranger in her own land, an affluent child in a country mired in abysmal poverty. She reveals intimate secrets and offers an unflinching look at family issues once considered unspeakable as she interweaves two fascinating coming-of-age stories—one of a small child, and one of a nation.

In addition, author Duffy Brown graciously contributed a great canvas bag highlighting her new series set on Mackinac Island, Geared for the Grave.

5 Best of the Best- Quizzes with a chance to win!

I have a degree in English Education and although I don’t use it to make money these days I do still have some of the test maker in me and thankfully you guys let me play quizmaster.  Thank you all for coming to play 🙂  The quizzes are always on Tuesdays (next round starting in February) and the more people who guess the better.  The winner of each round wins a gift card in the amount of the number of participants, and there is always a special prize for a random quizzee.  Nise (Under the Boardwalk) has dominated the leaderboard with 6 wins in 10 rounds since I started keeping track in 2010!  But Hannah (Word Lily) is the reigning champion.

Here are 4 of my favorites over the past 5 years, Writer’s Lost Quiz (this is always the first quiz of the year, next one coming up Feb. 5), Common Thread Quiz (I’ve done a few of these and I’ll do more but they are time-consuming), Color Scattergories Quiz (this is just one of the many that I rely on the participants more than on my own research, the Big Boggle is another that I like too), and the 40 Quiz (life begins at 40 ;)).

023Wanna Win?  I love the visual quizzes.  This last favorite is the one I made for the Read-a-thon this past fall.  It’s a clock.  Go ahead and leave your guesses for the titles (each one coinciding with where you find it one the clock) as a comment.  On Saturday Gage will randomly choose a winner.  You don’t have to guess them all and guesses don’t have to be correct to be entered for the win.  Winner will receive the same bookish prize that Marie won last round (ie. it’s a surprise and a good one!)

Want to enter to win one of my favorite books?  Click here.

My 5 year Blogiversary with a chance to win a favorite book!

I can hardly believe I’ve been blogging for 5 years!  I started slow, got involved with the community through memes, challenges and events, and then slowed down again these past few months have really slowed down due to home demands.  This slowdown will continue for the next few months, but I will still be here, reading, writing, quizzing and visiting your blogs.  Only on a more laid back schedule!

It’s really the community that makes it worth the time and effort.  There have been one or two times in the past year when I’ve considered giving it up because I only have so much time in the day and while I love all of you, you aren’t the ones giving me hugs and kisses at night.  But I would miss it so here I am 5 years in and looking forward to 5 more.

I’ll be going some Best-of-the Best posts this weeks with giveaways.  For the first one I thought I’d compare my favorite lists over the years.  The only big difference I see is that I read less romances these days.  I bolded my 5 favorites from these lists (at least my favorite 5 today :)).  My 5 faves from the last 5 years.

GIVEAWAY-Tell me what your favorite is from these lists and you’ll be entered to win a favorite pick of your choice!  Make sure you leave your email too.  I’ll draw a winner on Saturday.  Look for more giveaways this week!

When I started on January 7, 2008 these were the books I listed as favorites from the year before…

the 5 Prey novels by John Sandford (Broken, Chosen, Mortal, Naked, Hidden)

Natural Born Lover by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling

Sophie Metropolis by Tori Carrington

A year later and my 2008 list looked like this…

On Writing by Stephen King

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

The Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver

Splendor by Brenda Joyce

Fear & Trembling by Amelie Nothomb

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

Here are my 2009 favorites

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Watchers by Dean Koontz

Joy School by Elizabeth Berg

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

My 2010 faves may be my favorite of the lists…

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

2011 had more great reading

Good Grief by Lolly Winston

Roots by Alex Haley

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigani

Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart

Live Wire by Harlan Coben

The Missing Ink by Karen Olson

Buried Prey by John Sandford

A Room with a View by EM Forster

Heart Sick by Chelsea Cain

And finally last year’s  list

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

In the Woods by Tana French

It by Stephen King

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

Thank you all for being such great reading buddies these past years and always steering my to awesome books I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

American DervishAmerican Dervish, Finished listening 12-4-12, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2012

The unabridged audio os 9.5 hours and read by the author.

Hayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time. His normal life of school, baseball, and video games had previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and by the frequent chill between his parents, who fight over things he is too young to understand. Then Mina arrives, and everything changes.

Mina is Hayat’s mother’s oldest friend from Pakistan. She is independent, beautiful and intelligent, and arrives on the Shah’s doorstep when her disastrous marriage in Pakistan disintegrates. Even Hayat’s skeptical father can’t deny the liveliness and happiness that accompanies Mina into their home. Her deep spirituality brings the family’s Muslim faith to life in a way that resonates with Hayat as nothing has before. Studying the Quran by Mina’s side and basking in the glow of her attention, he feels an entirely new purpose mingled with a growing infatuation for his teacher.

from Goodreads

The book does an excellent job at delving into the life of Pakistanis that had moved to the midwest, with their customs and faith.  At times it felt like an Islam primer and I’m saying that in a positive way.  I enjoyed learning about new aspects to the religion that I was unfamiliar with, it’s been a long time since my college religion class!  Hayat’s parents were very lax Muslims and when Hayat became entranced with the Koran he thought he had found a way to get them both to Heaven.  From the outset of the novel you know that Hayat loses his faith so there’s no surprise there, but how he loses it is sad.

Since I really enjoyed that aspect why am I only rating it a 3?  As a story I just didn’t connect.  I never really liked Hayat and since it was his story that was a problem.  The character I found most interesting was his father, a flawed man with a sound mind.  As a coming of age story I was somewhat bored through most of it, although that may have more to do with me than the book.  I thought the beginning and end of story served little purpose. At the beginning I thought there would be more about his current life and in the end I didn’t feel like he’d made big strides as a person.

I thought the author did a fine job with the narration.  I am always drawn to audio books read by the author and this totally felt like his story as he was reading it.

I won the audio book cd’s from Nise and would love to share the love.  If you are interested in having me send them to you, just be the first to leave a comment to tell me so.  You could listen to it on your holiday travels 🙂

You don’t need to know anything about the Nutcracker, Nutcracker Quiz AND GIVEAWAY

Every have one of those 24 hour bugs that could either be food poisoning or the flu?  Me too!  That’s why this is getting up a little late.  I have a game that I like to play called Picture Picture (no idea if they still make it) and I thought we’d adapt it a little and use the beautiful illustrations from The Nutcracker.

Here’s the deal.  Look at each of the pictures and tell me 5 things you see in each one.  You’ll earn points if you are the only one to guess a particular thing.  10 points if you are the only one and 1 point less for every other person who guesses it.  So there are a potential 200 points on the line!  Get to looking 🙂

Oh, and I’m giving away this copy and by joining in the quiz you’ll be entered (if you don’t want to be just let me know).

You have until next Monday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comments will be hidden until I post the answers.  

The person with the most points this round will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Answers to last week’s Road Trip Quiz here. Leaderboard here.

Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

Number 4

Hey, I’m 29 again! w/ a birthday giveaway

After last year’s milestone birthday today is a bit anticlimactic.  Jason and I will be heading out for a birthday dinner and that will be the big celebration.  Woo hoo 🙂  So, I’m pulling out the Bucket List I made last year at 40 to see how I’m doing.

1. Write and publish a novel.

2. Open my own bookstore.

3. Spend a night in an English castle.

4. Visit Ireland.

5. Meet a US president.

6. Learn to start a fire without matches.

7. Learn to play the piano.

8. Raise a happy and successful son.

9. Celebrate my 50th anniversary. (14 in)

10. Make exercise a daily priority.

11. Get back to my wedding weight, just once.

12. Try a vegetarian diet for a year.

13. Drive across country.

14. Visit all 50 states. (Only counting those states where I’ve spent any significant time seeing a sight or two, I’m at 22.  I’ve driven through six others but I’m not counting them.)

15. Stay in an overnight car on a train trip.

16. Fly first class.

17. Take Gage to Italy.

18. Ride a boat down the Mississippi River.

19. Trace ancestry to when all branches entered the US.  (we’ve been here a long time so this will take many more years of research)

20. Spend a week touring Napa Valley.

21. Live somewhere warm year round.

22. Volunteer on a political campaign.

23. Sit on a jury.

24. Buy only American for 1 year.

25. Have a library with wall-to-wall built-in bookcases.

26. Write and mail 1000 letters. These can include cards if I include a personal note. (Not much of a dent with 62 this year.)

27. Be an extra in a movie.

28. Watch a play from backstage.

29. Go skiing.

30. Attend a murder mystery dinner. September 2012

31. Volunteer weekly.

32. Read all the books I own.  (I’d like to have no TBR pile just once.  I can give away books to reach this goal)

33. Start my own book club.

34. See all 4 tennis majors. (2 down, Wimbledon & Australian Open to go)

35. Give blood.

36. Sleep under the stars.

37. Have a hammock.

38. Fire a gun.

39. Make a daily goal list and use it.

40. Do a random act of kindness every day.

There is a lot or travel on here but until Gage is a bit older I don’t see that happening so I’ll have to try some of the others.  I’ve done a little research on buying American for a year, but am not ready to start yet.  It will take some planning but I may be able to give it a shot sometime this next year.  You’d think with all of the time President Obama is spending in Ohio (Romney too) I may be able to meet him before election time.  He’d definitely want to kiss Gage, right?  As for reaching my wedding weight, let’s just say I have about 45 pounds to go, BUT I did start Weight Watchers a few weeks ago and have managed to lose 5 pounds.  My goal this year is just get back to my pre-Gage weight still over 25 pounds away, but I’ve gotta start somewhere.  I do have visions of a bookstore and that may be something I put some effort into this year.  So many goals to choose from.

On to my birthday giveaway.  I brought home lots of books from Bouchercon and I’m giving 5 away to you, my favorite bookish pals.  Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered.  Leave a comment on any post this week and you’ll be entered every time.  On Saturday I’ll draw 3 winners.  The first will get first choice and choose one book, the second winner will choose two books and the third winner will get the last two.  Easy, right?  Just comment all week long and you might win.

You can earn more entries by commenting on this post or guessing on my Tuesday Quiz.

Mystery Writers Choose Great Mysteries Quiz & birthday giveaway – guessing closed

At Bouchercon we had the opportunity to be the first readers in the US to buy the book Books To Die For – The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels.  Of the 119 contributors almost 30 were in attendance and they did a mass signing for everyone.  Let’s see if you can guess which author chose which of these 16 great works.  The autograph is from the author choosing the work.  Good Luck!

You have until noon Sunday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling! The person with the most points this round will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

To enter my birthday giveaway (details here) leave a comment with some guesses and you’ll be entered.

This is really a test to see if you can figure out signature’s but I thought you’d like to see what books they recommended too 🙂

On Beulah Height – Val McDermid, Little Sister – Michael Connelly, The Hunter – F Paul Wilson, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned – Martyn Waites, Possession – Erin Hart, The Damned & the Destroyed – Lee Child, Rogue Male – Charlaine Harris, Bootlegger’s Daughter – Julia Spencer-Fleming, Maltese Falcon – Mark Billingham, The Postman Always Rings Twice – Joseph Finder, Ms. Smilla’s Feeling for Snow – Michael Robotham, Cover Her Face – Deborah Crombie, The Goodbye Look – Linwood Barclay, True Confessions – SJ Rozan, A is for Alibi – Meg Gardiner, A Crime on the Neighborhood – Thomas H Cook



Have you seen…Giveaway

The Day the World Ends: PoemsEthan Coen’s new book of poems, The Day the World Ends?  It was released last week and I have a copy to give away.  I was offered the book for review, but honestly, I just don’t think I’d do it justice.  I am not a poetry lover.

Synopsis From one of the most inventive and celebrated filmmakers of the twentieth century, and co-creator of such classics as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit, a collection of poems that offers humor and insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft. Ethan Coen’s screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. This eccentric genius is revealed again in The Day the World Ends, a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends.

But I did offer to use it in  quiz and give a copy to one lucky reader.  Why would I accept a book of poetry if I’m not a fan?  Well, he is a Coen brother who, along with his brother Joel, has written some of the best scripts.  You can thank Ethan and Joel for Raising Arizona, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, and 18 others.

Want to win a copy?  Leave a comment with an email address and then come back tomorrow to see how I used the poems for a quiz and enter again.  I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, April 15th.

March Wrap Up and a Free Book (Zagat America’s Top Restaurants 2012)

First and foremost – I didn’t win the lottery 😦  I bought my first lottery ticket ever and had a really good feeling about it, LOL.  But I’m not too upset about it because OHIO STATE IS IN THE FINAL FOUR!  For those of you not keeping track, the game is tonight at 8:45 so break out your Go Bucks cheer.  If Ohio State beats Kansas I will lose my yearly bet with Jason.  If Ohio State loses then my consolation will be that I still have a chance to win.  Oh, the irony.

My husband received a book for the holidays and I’m passing it on to one of you because as the parents of a 1 1/2  year old we are not eating out at fancy places and we are not traveling.  If you would like the brand new copy of Zagat’s America’s Top Restaurants 2012 just leave a comment with your email address on this post and I’ll draw a name at the end of the month.

So, I only read 5 books and am feeling like I’m in a bit of a reading slump right now. They never seem to last long which is a good thing since this is a bookish blog!  I’ve also been in a slump as far as accomplishing my goals.  I’ll post them only because I want to keep track, but if I were you I’d just skip right over the rest of this paragraph!  Daily goals 10,000 steps (19/31), 8 glasses of water (6/31), daily meditations (27/31), a note to Jason (8/22), One line mom diary (31/31). Weekly goals vegetarian (6/8), letter (2/4).  I didn’t keep track of my cardio this month.

So, my goal for the month is to get back on track!  And I’m adding 2 things – read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and to give up drive-thrus for the month. I’ve always eaten fast food but since I’ve been a mother I drive thru somewhere at least once a day.  This is often the 5 minutes that I have to eat in relative peace and I need to break the habit.  I believe this and lack of sleep are the two biggest things keeping me from losing the baby weight.  I need to tape before and after photos on my dash for motivation.

The other thing on my radar this month is World Book Night on April 23.  I’ll be passing out 20 copies of The Glass Castle.