Tag Archives: Chicago

Book Review: My Cubs, A Love Story by Scott Simon

My Cubs

A Love Story

By Scott Simon

Lovable losers, cursed ballpark, crazy, loyal fans…this describes one of the most beloved teams in baseball. The fans certainly didn’t stop following them even after not winning a pennant since 1908. Now that they are the top dogs, cream of the crop World Series Winning Cubs they have all kinds of new followers.

My Cubs is a book that might help the newcomers and naysayers understand the history of the Chicago Cubs. I am not sure anyone who hasn’t been a diehard fan can ever really slip into the skin of a true Cub fan, but that is ok, you will still enjoy Scott Simon’s love story about his favorite team.

If you are not a Cub fan, the stories Simon paints with color and caring will bring you into the ballpark anyway. He has intimate knowledge of the team. One of his mother’s best friends was married to Charlie Grimm. He was a former player and the manager for the team when they played the Series in 1945.

Simon gives the reader an inside look at the beginning of the Goat Curse. It has apparently expired since they won the Series in 2016. He tells us about some of the super stars in baseball that played for the Cubs, like Ernie Banks. He confirms what all fans know, Wrigley Field is as much a part of the team as the outfielders that bounce off the famous ivy. The stories and legends he writes about are interesting to Cub fans, baseball fans and anyone who loves to read a slice of history told by a fascinating author.

I attended my first Cub game at Wrigley in the early 1980’s. Fergie Jenkins pitched and they lost. It didn’t matter. I was sitting in Chicago in the warm sunshine watching my favorite team. It would have been great to see them win; we still had a great time. Fast forward to 2016, the last game of the World Series, rain delay…you know the rest of the story.

Scott Simon has won countless awards for his writing and broadcasting. His career has spanned years and continents. His accolades are well deserved and hard earned. Following wars, politics and sports he has seen it all and shared it with the world. Baseball fans and especially Cub fans will undoubtedly agree that this little love story about the Chicago Cubs is one of the most heartfelt inside looks at the team in print.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from  Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Bye, Bye Love by K.J. Larsen – Perfectly Plotted Fun

Bye, Bye Love

By K.J. LarsenBye-Bye-Love-cover

218 pages

PI Cat DeLuca has a habit of annoying the police while in pursuit of cheating spouses. She owns the Pants On Fire Detective Agency that is known for catching lying, cheating spouses. Cat seems to stumble into trouble and over dead bodies routinely. Lucky for her she has a long family history of Chicago cops to help her even when she doesn’t think she needs it.

After a particularly hairy stakeout situation, Cat decides to unwind with a run. Even though it is late, she feels safe running in the park with her partner Inga – who happens to be a beagle. Cat literally lands face first on a dead body. The only problem is the bad guy is still around and zaps her before she can get her tazer out. By the time she is able to call the police the body is missing.

Even though her father is an ex-cop, her brother is a current cop and her uncle is quite probably a dirty cop, Captain Bob of the Chicago police department doesn’t believe Cat.  He makes the big mistake of letting Cat know how little he thinks of her detective skills. She vows to find the killer herself and hopefully the body that went missing and made her the laughing stock of the Ninth Precinct. Lucky – or unlucky for her – she saw the guy she thinks is the killer. But of course that means he saw her also. Now she is hunting for the killer, looking for the corpse and trying not to get killed herself.

Zany circumstances force her into predicaments that include going to a biker bar, being ambushed by a mobster and into dead people’s homes to search for clues. Her assistant Cleo tends to make things worse, but her heart is in the right place even though she often ends up in the wrong place.

While all of this is going on, her pushy mother keeps trying to guilt her into marriage and starting a family. To complicate matters more, her boyfriend’s parents are coming in to meet her parents. It is planned to be one happy family dinner. The question is how will ex-hippy vegetarians get along with meat loving Italians? Cat can see the impending train wreck and tries everything she can think of to not be on board when it happens, but nothing works. She is going to have to have dinner and hopefully make it through the evening without losing her boyfriend in the process.

This is K.J. Larsen’s forth book in the Cat DeLuca Mystery series. It read great as a stand-alone novel, just enough background info to let people new to the series get up-to-date, but not so much as to become repetitious to readers of the series. This witty read kept me laughing with one-liners and outlandish situations that could actually happen if a PI had bad luck and crazy friends, foes and family. Here are the other three, because I know you are going to want the series. I do!

Liar, LiarSome like it hotSticks and stones
K.J. is actually three sisters, Kari, Julianne and Kristen Larsen. This award winning trio writes under one name and if you didn’t know it was more than one person, you could not guess by the writing. The sisters brilliantly combine their efforts to create a fun series with quirky characters both human and animal.

If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Mysteries, you will love K.J.’s Cat DeLuca. There is a perfectly plotted mystery among the poker games and car chases. The twist at the end was masterful; I totally did not see it coming.

Bye, Bye Love is a fast paced, fun book. I especially liked all of the Chicago references since I live in the burbs and have seen many of them myself.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under Book Review, books, Chicago, Mystery, poisoned pen press, series, Writer & Book Reviewer

Wandering Weekends: Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, IL

We like to go places and do things. Hubby love to take pictures, I love to write…that is how Wandering Weekend Blog posts began. Hope you enjoy the first in (hopefully) a weekly series.

 

Have you ever been to Chicago? Maybe you live in or near the City. Yes, I know that isn’t normally capitalized, but when you live in Illinois, Chicago is often called “the City” or “Downtown”. We live 45 minutes – give or take traffic and construction time – and go in often.

There are tons of things to do and see. Some attractions don’t cost anything, Lincoln Park Zoo is has free admission every day. Others cost crazy amounts of cash. A recent concert had prices up to and probably exceeding 6 figures. So pick your price range and choose something fun to do.

A few weeks ago we went into the Museum of Science and Industry. Located at 5700 S Lake Shore Drive, it is easy to find from all the expressways. They are open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Regular Admission is $11 for children 3-11, $18 for adults and $17 for seniors 65 & over. Parking is convenient, but not cheap – $22.00 flat fee. Before you purchase tickets, go online and check Groupon. I got a membership for our family that includes parking for less than the cost of 2 visits. There are also free days for Illinois residents. Follow this link to find out when: http://www.msichicago.org/visit-the-museum/museum-info/admission/free-days/

Because the museum has always been a part of my life it is easy to overlook the rich history it provides, as well as how many people have enjoyed it over the years. According to the website:

“The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI), the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, is home to more than 35,000 artifacts and more than 400,000 square feet of hands-on experiences designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity. Since opening our doors in 1933, we’ve welcomed more than 180 million guests from around the world.”

It is also the only remaining major building from the 1893 World’s Fair.  “… the Palace of Fine Arts (as it was known), which was built to showcase artworks, remained. The backside of the museum (over-looking Jackson Park Lagoon) was actually the front of the palace during the fair, and the color of the exterior was changed during renovations. But the building looks almost exactly the way it did in 1893. Some of the light posts from the fair still illuminate the museum campus.” (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-07-02/features/0407020064_1_world-s-fair-science-and-industry-ferris-wheelFans of Erik Larson’s book, The Devil in The White City will love the connection.

There are so many things to see, it would take days to enjoy all of them. We decided to take our time since we have a membership and plan on coming back within a few months. We started on the first floor, checking out the restoration work on one of the airplanes on exhibit. This 1941 German Stuka is one of two in existence today.  It was given to the MSI in 1946 from the British Secret Service and looking closely you can still see the bullet holes in the skin of the plane from the last mission it flew.

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We went to the special exhibit, Numbers in Nature. No extra charges to go through it, but you do have to get an assigned time so be sure to get a ticket at the kiosk right by the entrance to the exhibit. The mirror maze was fun and looked like it was filled with electric blue trees.

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Another one of my favorites is Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle. It began in 1928 with a teeny tiny book and grew to priceless work of art. It amazed me as a child, and as an adult I see something new each time I visit. It has been at the MIS since 1949, and recently they renovated/cleaned the entire castle. They documented the process and it is amazing to read about and watch the video.

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Some of the other exhibits we visited that day were the Great Train Story (a 3,500 square foot model railroad)., Farm Tech (very cool machinery for kids & adults), Streets of Yesteryear (a cobblestone block of stores & shops – that includes a working soda shop) and a quick zip through the space exhibit in the Henry Crown Space Center.

After 5 fun hours we were on our way home after seeing only a fraction of the exhibits available at the Museum. Plan ahead if there is something you really don’t want to miss, or just mosey through the connecting halls and exhibits to see what you find. The “hands on” learning and fun facts will make this a favorite family destination.

 

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Filed under Chicago, Family fun, history, Museum of Science and Industry, museums, Science, Wandering Weekends