Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Heroes Are My WeaknessHeroes Are My Weakness.  Finished 11-16-14, rating 3/5, romance, 367 pages, pub. 2014

The dead of winter.  An isolated island off the coast of Maine.  A man.  A woman.  A sinister house looming over the sea …

He’s a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She’s a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she’s not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they’re trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.
from Goodreads

The book opens with our heroine, Annie, having a conversation with her multitude of puppets as she drives to her secluded cabin in the middle of a snowstorm.  It’s those puppets that kept me from investing fully in Annie from the beginning.  She grew on me but the absurdity of the puppets (and their continued butting into the story) turned me off.  The puppets did, much later, play a part in the sweetest aspect of Annie’s story and I think if that had been their involvement I may have liked this better.  I’m sounding very anti-puppet with all of these complaints, aren’t I?  Maybe it’s my problem and not Annie’s!

As for Theo Harp, our dark hero, he came off as so damaged at the beginning it was interesting to see how she would redeem him. In the end the big reveal wasn’t all that big a surprise but it did work in making him a more sympathetic character.

This felt very different from SEP’s other romances.  There’s always hot sex that happens before it seems it should and there is always humor, sarcasm and intelligent characters and this book had all that.  It felt like less romance this time around and it had a more sinister undertone since someone was trying to scare/hurt Annie.  It was good, but different.

I know this has been nominated for many end-of-the-year book awards, but it just didn’t quite do it for me.  But, no worries, I’ll still by the next book by Susan in hardcover the week it comes out :)

November 20, 2014 Posted by | 3 Star Books | | 5 Comments

Thanksgiving Quiz

quizFor the last quiz of 2014 you just need to fill in the titles with words associated with Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  Extra points if you can tell me the author!

Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize – you only need one correct answer to be eligible for a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  All extra details can be found here.

Leave your guesses in the comment section by Tuesday afternoon.

1. The Cat Who Talked ______

2. A Moveable _____

3. So Long, and _____ For All the Fish

4. Dress Your _____ in Corduroy and Denim

5. _____’s Progress

6. 44 _____ Point

7. What’s _____Gilbert Grape

8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time _____

9. The _____ _____ Queens’ Book of Love

10. The Sisterhood of the _____ Pants

Answers to last week’s Recognize Me? Quiz here.

November 19, 2014 Posted by | Quizzes | Leave a comment

A reminder about my giveaway

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! 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.

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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.

November 18, 2014 Posted by | FREE | , | 3 Comments

Rocco DiSpirito’s The Pound a Day Diet, Week 1

 

It’s a sad day when you look at recent photos of yourself and don’t really recognize yourself.  It’s a tough day when you realize you really need to lose 50 pounds.  It’s a stressful day when you know you don’t really have the time or energy to plan a course of action.  So, this book came on my radar at just the right time.  Here was a plan that would hopefully give me some fast results and some good ideas on changing my menu and I might even learn to cook vegetables yummy enough for my two guys to eat them!

The idea is that you will lose 5 pounds for 5 days, maintain for 2 days, and lose 5 more the next 5 days, maintain for 2, and then again for a total of 28 days, and ideally you’ve lost 20 pounds.  I decided to give it a shot and started last Monday.  The diet is really just cutting calories. Here’s a pic of my daily meal plan from the book.

week 1

You can see for those first 5 days I was supposed to be around 850-900 calories a day and I was able to stick to that.  I didn’t cheat and by Saturday morning had lost 5.5 pounds.  Not bad!  Now on the weekend I was allowed more food and as a treat I let myself have wine both nights and still managed to lose another half a pound. SO, I managed to lose 6 pounds this first week.

I’ll update every week and we’ll see how it works out.

The plusses

I lost weight

The food (except for one loser) has been really good.

Meals are quick to prepare and cook.

He provides ready-made substitutions for every meal.

The minuses

It is expensive to buy food for all the recipes he provides.

It’s hard to find many of the ingredients.

The specific shopping took way too much time this week because I wasn’t familiar with many of the ingredients.

His recipes are for 4 servings!  Seriously, this makes no sense in a diet book.

At the end of the third day I went to bed with a headache and woke up with one the next morning so I skipped the protein shake and went straight for the real food and it helped.  I have followed the menu fairly faithfully but have switched the order of the foods as the mood strikes.  I was supposed to have grapefruit every morning but after the first day I just couldn’t make myself do it so I switched to half an orange.

I took a photo of my two favorite recipes this week if you want to give them a try!

omelet pic

omelet As you can see I added the shrimp and the extra calories.


 

 

noodle pic

thai

 

I didn’t have nor could I find red curry past so I used garlic paste.   And I used real cooked turkey, not from the deli.


If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer!

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 11-30

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

I started working my through this book this past summer, mostly with Gage but sometimes not (original post here).  I don’t know that any of you will really care to keep up with our travels through the music starting in the 1950′s but I thought I’d keep a record of it at least.  I’m random in how I’m choosing the albums.  I use the index and see which ones the library has so we’ve had a good mix of decades and genres.

And here are our thoughts what we’ve been listening to so far….

New girl crushes (me not Gage) – Blondie and Amy Winehouse. Seriously, I listened to Winehouse’s Back to Black countless times before I returned it to the library.  She was amazing and it’s so sad when such talent is gone too soon.  As for Blondie, I should have been more familiar since I was a little more aware of music back in high school, but I was clueless. I think Parallel Lives is the cd that Gage and I danced to the most this round.

Biggest difference of opinion – Tragic Songs of Life by The Louvin Brothers.  To me-Screeching.  To Gage-Hold me and let’s dance.

Not good for Gage’s young ears – Slim Shady by Eminem.  I was listening to this one full blast when Jason and Gage came back from swimming and I got in trouble ;)  I wasn’t sad to stop it.  I get his talent but the bad language ruins it for me.

Biggest Surprises – Elbow and TV on the Radio.  I’d never heard of either of these bands and loved both albums (The Seldom Seen Kids and Dear Science) from first song to last.  I’ve gone on to listen to Elbow’s other albums and liked them as well.

Two albums by the same name – Back to Black by Amy Winehouse and AC/DC.  You Shook Me All Night Long and the rest of the AC/DC album brought back great memories of high school and you know already I fell in love with Amy Winehouse so this was a win/win!

Someone I actually saw in concert (this list is very small) – The Eagles. Enjoyed their concert in Cleveland a few years ago and really liked their two albums on the list, Hotel California and The Eagles.

My favorite album – 21 by Adele

See any of your favorites here? Anyone new?

List of the albums we listened to from the book(Back to Black and Highway to Hell by AC/DC, 21 by Adele, Pump and Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith, School’s Out by Alice Cooper, Among the Living by Antrax, Tidal by Fiona Apple, Funeral by Arcade Fire, Parallel Lives by Blondie, Eagles and Hotel California by The Eagles, Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow, The Marshal Mathers LP and The Slim Shady LP by Eminem, Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton, So and Melt by Peter Gabriel, Darklands and Psychocandy by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tragic Songs of Life by the Louvin Brothers, Regatta de  Blanc and Synchronicity by The Police, Elvis Presley by Elvis Presley, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim and In the Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra, System of a Down by System of a Down, Dear Science by TV on the Radio,  Back to Black by Amy Winehouse) 30/1001

November 14, 2014 Posted by | Music | | 10 Comments

Recognize Me? Quiz – guessing closed

quizYesterday, I saw a display of celebrity autobiographies/memoirs and thought it would be fun to see which ones you recognize. They may not be new books but all of the actors and actresses are still alive.  I just need the names (not titles).

Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize – you only need one correct answer to be eligible for a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  All extra details can be found here.

Leave your guesses in the comment section by Tuesday afternoon.

robIMG_1179[1]

Rob Lowe & Alison Arngrim

IMG_1182[1]valerie

Tina Fey & Valerie Harper

IMG_1184[1]tracy

Dick Van Dyke & Tracy Morgan

timIMG_1187[1]

Tim Gunn & Julie Andrews

IMG_1188[1]IMG_1190[1]

Phil Robertson & Jane Lynch

toddIMG_1192[1]

Todd Bridges & Betty White

November 12, 2014 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 15 Comments

The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

The Best ManThe Best Man. Finished 10-21-14, rating 4.5/5, romance, 432 pages, pub. 2013

This is the first in the Blue Heron series.

Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family’s vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there’s some great scenery there….

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief – and best friend of her former fiancé. There’s a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it’s not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she’s having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.

from Goodreads

This is the first book in the Blue Heron series.

Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family’s vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there’s some great scenery there….

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief – and best friend of her former fiancé. There’s a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it’s not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she’s having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.

from Goodreads

What a fun contemporary romance!  It was lighthearted and the Finger Lakes region of New York was a great setting.  I love that beautiful region and loved visiting all of the local wineries when we took a trip there a few years ago.  At first I wasn’t sure I even wanted Faith and Levi to have a happily-ever-after because he was so…rigid? Then as I got to know him, of course, I loved him.  He is an alpha male as I prefer them in my romance novels. Good romance authors can make that alpha male melt under the spell of his crush and still remain true to his strong sense of self.  Higgins did that well with Levi.  It was never too much.

Faith really did have bad luck with men and then with women when she tried to find her dad a girlfriend.  She had a big family that loved her and when she came home it was no surprise that she stayed, but what was a little surprising is the friendship that she renewed with her ex-fiance.  She is a stronger woman than I am!

This was not all light and breezy, there were some somber issues like guilt, class, and abandonment and that added a nice layer to the story. The only thing keeping this from a higher rating is the mention Faith’s ‘rack’ more than once.  But the tone and characters of the book left me happy and looking forward to the next in the series!

I bought this one after so many bloggers raved about it and now I’m a Higgins fan :)


 

Enter to win a signed book by bestselling author Thrity Umrigar here.

November 11, 2014 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 8 Comments

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Dad Is FatDad is Fat. Finished audio 10-13-14, rating 4/5, humor, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio read by author. 5 1/2 hours.

In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald’s, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins (“celebrities for little kids”) to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood,Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

from Goodreads

This was the perfect audio for our road trip to Washington DC in September.  I didn’t really know anything about his stand up but figured a comedian talking about fatherhood would be fun for me and for Jason. It was.

Jim and his wife live in a two bedroom, five-story walk-up apartment in New York City with their FIVE YOUNG CHILDREN!  That’s too many bodies for one cab and they don’t own a car so getting around by subway creates some fun times.  The process of how they get five children and themselves to sleep in a two bedroom apartment was funny and a little confusing.  How can people live like that?  Is there really any sleep being had?  I dunno, seemed crazy to me.  It was mostly funny and heartfelt and his love for his wife and children came shining through.  I did wonder about his sanity several times (taking 5 young kids by plane to ski in Aspen?) but  it was a great audio to listen to with your significant other.  I think having kids will help you truly appreciate it and the younger your kids are the more you’ll connect.  There are lots of laughs to be had.

I see he has as new book about food so I’ll have to give that a listen too.

I checked this out of the library.

 


Enter to win a signed book by bestselling author Thrity Umrigar here.

November 6, 2014 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , | 10 Comments

How well do you know your Jane Austen Quiz – guessing closed

quizIt’s Jane Austen time!  Tell me which books the quotes are from.

Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize – you only need one correct answer to be eligible for a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  All extra details can be found here.

Leave your guesses in the comment section by Tuesday afternoon.

Each of her 6 completed books is on the list twice.

1. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  Pride & Prejudice

2. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”  Persuasion

3. “I cannot make speeches…If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.”   Emma

4. “I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.”   Pride & Prejudice

5. “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”  Mansfield Park

6. “Always resignation and acceptance. Always prudence and honour and duty. Elinor, where is your heart?”   Sense & Sensibility

7. “Men of sense, whatever you may choose to say, do not want silly wives.”   Emma

8. “Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much, that they never find it necessary to use more than half.”   Northanger Abbey

9. “Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.”   Persuasion

10. “I will be calm. I will be mistress of myself.”   Sense & Sensibility

11. “Is there not something wanted, Miss Price, in our language – a something between compliments and – and love – to suit the sort of friendly acquaintance we have had together?”   Mansfield Park

12. “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”   Northanger Abbey


 

Answers to last weeks Picoult quiz here.

Leave a comment here to win a signed book by Thrity Umrigar.

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Quizzes | | 7 Comments

Mailbox Monday – November 3- with a giveaway!

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.  

Nothing arrived via mailbox this week but on Saturday I attended the 27th annual Buckeye Book Fair.  It was an hour drive but I considered it a personal date and enjoyed my excursion without pickups or meal planning or swim lessons for the little man.  It was bit overwhelming at first because it was so crowded, but then I took a deep breath and dove right in.  There were many well-known authors and lots I’d never heard of. It was tough talking to an author and looking at their books and then deciding not to purchase, but I could only justify so many books!!  Read or skip to the end to see what signed book I’m giving away!

I was really there thanks to author Emilie Richards since she mentioned it on Facebook last week and so I made sure to find her.  She was so nice in person, even insisting on a photo with the two of us. I’m a fan and am working my way through her books.  I purchased Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, the second in the Goddesses Anonymous series.

emilie IMG_1150

Cristy Haviland served eight months in prison, giving birth behind bars to the child of the man who put her there and might yet destroy her. Now she’s free again, but what does that mean? As smart as she is, a learning disability has kept her from learning to read. And that’s the least of her hurdles.

Georgia Ferguson, talented educator, receives a mysterious charm bracelet that may help her find the mother who abandoned her at birth. Does she want to follow the clues, and if she does, can reticent Georgia reach out for help along the way?

Both women are standing at a crossroads, a place where unlikely unions can be formed. A place where two very different women might bridge the gap between generations and education, and together make tough choices.

Next up is the one I chose by the cover alone because I loved it so much. Ghosting by Edith Pattou.  She even gave me a paper crane she had made herself.  Gage loves it :)

IMG_1148  edith

On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.

I stopped to chat with Shelley Costa because I had seen this title around and I wanted to tell her how clever I thought it was.  We chatted  few minutes and I learned that she lives in the next town (where I would love to live if we ever moved again) so I had to buy it, the first in a series, You Cannoli Die Once.

IMG_1149shelley

At Miracolo Northern Italian restaurant, one can savor brilliantly seasoned veal saltimbocca, or luscious risotto alla milanese, but no cannoli. Never cannoli. Maria Pia Angelotta, the spirited seventy-six-year-old owner of the Philadelphia-area eatery that’s been in her family for four generations, has butted heads with her head chef over the cannoli ban more than once. And when the head chef is your own granddaughter, things can get a little heated.

Fortunately, Eve Angelotta knows how to handle what her nonna dishes out. But when Maria Pia’s boyfriend is found dead in Miracolo’s kitchen, bludgeoned by a marble mortar, the question arises: Can a woman this fiery and stubborn over cream-filled pastry be capable of murder?

 

My next two purchases were by authors I didn’t know but something about the books made me want to give them a try.  Fourth Down and Out by Andrew Welsh-Huggins is about a disgraced Ohio State quarterback who lives in Columbus and since this is football season I had to have it.  The second is what happens to us as the world runs out of water.

fourth

Fourth Down and Out by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

The job seems easy enough at first for private investigator Andy Hayes: save his client’s reputation by retrieving a laptop and erasing a troublesome video from its hard drive. But that’s before someone breaks into Andy’s apartment in Columbus; before someone else, armed with a shotgun, relieves him of the laptop; and before the FBI suddenly shows up on his doorstep asking questions.

Soon, there’s a growing list of people with a claim on the computer, all of them with secrets they don’t want uncovered. When one of those people ends up dead, Andy has his hands full convincing authorities he’s not responsible, while trying to figure out who is—and who’s got the laptop—before someone else dies. Soon the trail leads to the last place Andy wants to go: back to Ohio State University, where few have forgiven him for a mistake he made two decades earlier in his days as the Buckeyes’ star quarterback. That misjudgment sent him on a downward spiral that cost him a playing career, two marriages, several wrecked relationships, and above all his legacy in Ohio’s capital city, where the fortunes of the OSU team are never far from people’s minds.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

Two for Gage.

egg

Whose Egg is This? by Lisa Amstutz

Eggs come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some eggs are hard. Other eggs are soft. Can you match each egg to its owner? Fun clues and multiple choice photos will have you puzzling to learn more!

The Giant of Seville:A “Tall” Tale Based on a True Story by Dan Andreasen

In the 1870s, a circus giant named Captain Martin Van Buren Bates left the circus and set off to find a town where he and his wife (also a circus giant) could live in peace. Captain Bates happened on Seville, Ohio, a sleepy little town that charmed him from the moment he arrived and welcomed him with open arms.


GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

I picked up a book signed by Thrity Umrigar to give away.  I’ve heard her speak and have several of her books already so I wanted to give you the chance to experience a respected Ohio author for free. She lives up in the Cleveland area just like me!  This is not a new book but I chose it because I think most of you will like it.

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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.

I’ll draw a winner on November 25 so I can get it mailed before Thanksgiving.  It would make  great Christmas gift for yourself or someone else :)  Open internationally.

Wanna win?  Just tell me so in your comment and leave an email address. Good luck!

 

 

November 2, 2014 Posted by | FREE, Mailbox Monday | , | 25 Comments

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