Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Gaiman

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2013
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating:
3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

Book Source:
Library

Recommended if you like: Fiction, YA, Horror tales

What Its About: 
Our narrator, a 50-something man visiting his childhood hometown for a funeral, stops by his old neighborhood for a quick visit. But this isn't just any old visit, or any old home for that matter. As a seven year old boy, it turns out, our narrator experienced a horrible and unexplainable event and this neighborhood, or something, draws him home to remember.

When he arrives, he heads to the big farmhouse and pond, or "ocean" as his friend Lettie used to call it, as the end of his street. He knocks and is confused when an old woman answers. He's not surprised to see the woman, he is just unsure which woman she is. Given the years, it could not possibly be Old Mrs. Hempstock, Lettie's grandmother. It must be Lettie's mother, Ginnie. Except...it's not. And Old Mrs. Hempstock invites him to visit the Ocean and remember...

Years ago, his parents took in a lodger who committed suicide and then things went from uneasy to strange and dangerous. This singular event seemed to have unleashed a spirit, or malevolent force, who wanted to exist permanently in their world. The Hempstock women are left to clean up the situation while ensuring the boy's safety.


The Bottom Line:
A good read. Billed as an adult novel, it reads more like a YA novel. As always, it sucks readers, even adults, into its world and offers the typical Gaiman thrills and chills.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 08/26/14

A good lyric is like a great book...
Keeping the Faith
Billy Joel, Artist & Writer


If it seems like I've been lost
In let's remember
If you think I'm feeling older
And missing my younger days
Oh, then you should have known me much better
'Cause my past is something that never
Got in my way
Oh no

Still I would not be here now
If I never had the hunger
And I'm not ashamed to say
The wild boys were my friends
Oh

'Cause I never felt the desire
'Til their music set me on fire
And then I was saved, yeah
That's why I'm keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Keeping the faith

We wore old matador boots
Only Flagg Brothers had them with a Cuban heel
Iridescent socks with the same color shirt
And a tight pair of chinos
Oh
I put on my shark skin jacket
You know the kind with the velvet collar
And ditty-bop shades
Oh yeah
I took a fresh pack of Luckies
And a mint called Sen-Sen
My old man's Trojans
And his Old Spice after shave
Oh

Combed my hair in a pompadour
Like the rest of the Romeos wore
A permanent wave, Yeah
We were keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Keeping the faith

You can get just so much
From a good thing
You can linger too long
In your dreams
Say goodbye to the
Oldies but goodies
'Cause the good ole days weren't
Always good
And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems

Learned stickball as a formal education
Lost a lot of fights
But it taught me how to lose O.K.
Oh, I heard about sex
But not enough
I found you could dance
And still look tough anyway
Oh yes I did
I found out a man ain't just being macho
Ate an awful lot of late night drive-in food
Drank a lot of take home pay

I thought I was the Duke of Earl
When I made it with a red-haired girl
In the Chevrolet. Oh yeah
We were keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Keeping the faith

You know the good ole days weren't always good
And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems

I told you my reasons
For the whole revival
Now I'm going outside to have
An ice cold beer in the shade
Oh, I'm going to listen to my 45's
Ain't it wonderful to be alive
When the rock 'n' roll plays, yeah
When the memory stays, yeah
I'm keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Keeping the faith
I'm keeping the faith,
Yes I am


Monday, August 25, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Leaving Time - Picoult

Title: Leaving Time, A Novel


Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: 2014
Genre: Fiction
Rating:
4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family.

Book Source: 
I received this book from the publisher, Ballantine Books, free of cost, in exchange for an honest review.


Recommended if you like: Picoult, Fiction, Elephants/Animals, Mysticism




What Its About:  
Jenna Metcalf was abandoned as a child. Her father, the director of an elephant sanctuary, was admitted to a mental institution.  Her mother, a researcher of grief in elephants, disappeared one night after a terrible accident in which a fellow employee was trampled to death.  For most of her thirteen years, Jenna has dreamed of finding her mother, who surely would never have left her willingly. Finally, she is able to utilize the information that she has been gathering from the internet and from her mother's research journals to aid in her search.

Understanding, however, that a thirteen year old can only do so much, Jenna draws Serenity Jones, a washed-up psychic, and Virgil Stanhope, a worn-out detective, into her search efforts. Both are drawn to assist in the venture due to previous failures in their own careers.  Jones seems to have lost her previous psychic abilities after an embarrassingly public mistake where she assured a prominent family a child was living when he was not.  Stanhope was the detective who investigated the trampling death, who finds himself haunted by the case and his doubts as to whether it was correctly resolved.

With the help of Jenna's childhood memories, Jones' sixth sense, and Stanhope's keen officer's eye and sensibility, the three struggle to rediscover and understand decade old clues to Alice Metcalf's disappearance. It is only by assisting one another that they can answer the questions that lead up to an exciting and fascinating finish.

The Bottom Line:
Pure Picoult, this book is a terrific read that readers, fans or not, will love! More mystery, no court battle, this novel grips you from the get-go and hangs on until the last second. You cannot help but become enthralled by the Jenna, Jones, and Stanhope characters. Their stories are so enticing.

Furthermore, this book offers a wonderful educational feel as well, offering much information as to the plight of elephants, whether in captivity or the wild. After reading, you will certainly think twice about visiting your local zoo or circus event.

I enjoyed this book very much!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 8/19/14

A great lyric is like a great book...


Alyssa Lies
Jason Michael Carroll, Artist & Writer




My little girl met a new friend
Just the other day
On the playground at school
Between the tires and the swings
But she came home with tear-filled eyes
And she said to me "Daddy, Alyssa Lies"

I just brushed it off at first
Cause I didn't know how much my little girl had been hurt
Or the things she had seen
I wasn't ready when I said you can tell me
And she said

[Chorus]
Alyssa Lies
To the classroom
Alyssa lies
Everyday at school
Alyssa lies
To the teachers
As she tries to cover every bruise

My little girl laid her head down
That night to go to sleep
As I stepped out the room I heard her say
A prayer so soft and sweet
God bless my mom and my dad
And my new friend Alyssa
I know she needs you bad

[Chorus]

I had the worst night of sleep in years
As I tried to think of a way to calm her fears
I knew exactly what i had to do
But when we got to school on Monday I heard the news

My little girl asked me why everybody looked so sad
The lump in my throat grew bigger
With every question that she asked
Until I felt the tears run down my face
And I told her that Alyssa wouldn't be at school today

She doesn't lie
In the classroom
She doesn't lie
Anymore at school
Alyssa lies
With Jesus
Because there's nothing anyone would do

Tears filled my eyes,
When my little girl asked me why Alyssa lies

Daddy tell me why
Alyssa lies

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 8/12/14


A great lyric is like a great book...
If wishes were changes, there'd be no goodbyes. So long to the heart I have given...  Miss you kitty.


If Wishes Were Changes
Nanci Griffith, Artist




I wish that you loved me the way that I love you
I wish I had Angels who sang in my dreams
If wishes were changes, we'd all live in roses
And there wouldn't be children who cried in their sleep

And he wishes I loved him, the way that I love you
If wishes were changes, I'd dry all his tears
If wishes were changes, I'd make him my anchor
And he'd be my Angel who sang through the years

So long to the blue days of wishing
If wishes were changes there'd be no goodbyes
So long to the heart I have given
'Cuz wishing won't bring back the love in your eyes

And I wished that I had your wings of desire
I wish I had seen you as I see you now
I wouldn't feel sorrow, you've left here inside me
But wishing won't change right from wrong for you now

So long to the blue days of wishing
If wishes were changes there'd be no goodbyes
So long to the heart I have given
'Cuz wishing won't bring back the love in your eyes

I wish that you loved me the way that I love you
I wish I had Angels who sang in my dreams
If wishes were changes we'd all live in roses
And there wouldn't be children who cried in their sleep

If wishes were changes we'd all live in roses
And there wouldn't be children who cried in their sleep

Monday, August 11, 2014

Friday, August 08, 2014

July 2014 ReCap...



JULY 2014

A tough month over all...


This month I read: 
Total Read: 2
YTD: 16
Adult: 1
YA/children's: 1
Abandoned: 0


Including:
Rare Bird (Anna Whiston-Donaldson)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)

Abandoned: 

None


Favorite Book(s) of the Month:

Rare Bird

Challenges Update: 
Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge = 16 of 58
A-Z Book Challenge = 14 of 26
Library Reading Challenge = 2 of 36
E-Book Reading Challenge = 11 of 25
What's in a Name 6 Challenge =  2 of 6

Year of ReReading Challenge - 0 of 1-4

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Rare Bird - Whiston-Donaldson

Title: Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love  

Author: Anna Whiston-Donaldson
Published: 2014
Genre: Memoir
Rating:
3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

Book Source: 
I received this book from the publisher, Convergent Books, free of cost, in exchange for an honest review.


Quote:
"I wish I had nothing to say on the matter of loss, but I do. Because one day I encouraged my two kids to go out and play in the rain, and only one came home...."  

Recommended if you like: Memoirs, Christian, Insprirational, Stories of loss

What Its About: 
A mother's story of survival and hope in the face of horrible loss.

Jack Donaldson was a typical, though mature, thirteen year old that September 2011 day. He enjoyed acting, legos, and playing with his friends. Then, in a moment, he was gone. While playing outside with friends - with his mother's approval - during a freak rainstorm, he fell into a creek that had swelled to river proportions and was carried away to his death.

His parents and sister were left to struggle to come to terms with this horrible event, in light of their faith and beliefs. How could this happen? Where was God? How could he allow this to happen to such a young and vibrant life? Though each handled their grief differently, struggling to find answers, each finds peace. Donaldson even finds that she can take comfort in signs and indications that lead her to believe that Jack is safely with God.

Heartbreaking, yet hopeful.


The Bottom Line:
A surprisingly well-timed gift. Having just lost a beloved pet this past week, I joked when this arrived that this was the last thing I wanted to read. But, for some reason, I was drawn to it. And, as I couldn't focus on any other reading options, I acquiesced.

Though heartbroken, Donaldson manages to focus her thoughts on surviving and accepting, rather than hurting and sadness. Her references to God and religion are interesting and enlightening, rather than preachy.  It was actually quite helpful in my similar journey.       


Monday, July 28, 2014

Mondays - 07/28/14

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Found myself unable to focus on much since the loss of my kitty last Monday.  Finally decided to read a book I had already read just to have something to focus on other than Facebook. Then UPS came Saturday and delivered a gift.




Now Reading:
Rare Bird (Anna Whiston-Donaldson)
All Souls (Michael Patrick MacDonald)

Just Finished
The Ocean At The End of The Lane (Neil Gaiman)

On Deck
????

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - 7/26/14

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And God Laughs...

BEFORE I GO further, I must warn you that this is a tough, tough post - and apologize for the lack of pictures. Honestly, it's just too hard right now...

What is that saying about making plans and God laughing?

Well he must be chuckling a good one. All my vacation plans: painting the house, couponing trips, doctor appointments have gone, gone, gone out the door.

God's plan (blessing) was that both hubby and I be home this week... with my sweet little kitty... in her final hours.

Over the weekend, she was not feeling well, vomiting and lethargic. It didn't get better...so we visited the doctor Monday and I am very glad we did, the night's events would have been more horrifying had I not known it was coming.

A very quick check up and the vet told us that she was likely in her last days (her temp was low and that apparently is a major sign) and strongly suggested euthanizing. Now, if you've read some of my previous posts, you'll know that this wasn't a complete surprise, she is...was...15 and had been having some issues. But we really believed it was stomach trouble, similar to recent events, and expected some Pepcid...and perhaps something to help with some arthitis. We expected to have to make the decision sooner or later... Later.

Apparently, she's likely been battling a cancer or some disease for over a year, her spleen (which was slightly enlarged last year) was huge this time and the concern was it would burst and she would bleed out painfully. And its now clear that it's likely that her stomach issues were caused by the spleen swelling and squishing on her intestines/etc, hindsight is a bitch.

Hubby and I were taken by surprise, though the "what should we do if this is something serious" conversation did come up, so maybe not totally. After little consideration, and watching her push her way back into the hated, dreaded, evil cat carrier because she knew it meant her return, we knew we that we needed to bring her home.

We got the info for a home-based vet who would come to us and perform the final deed and made a call. The doctor gave us pain meds and told us to keep her comfortable until that time. She was very happy she was home... but clearly not well. The meds, while they helped, actually made her vomit more...which took progressively more out of her as the night went on.

Our efforts to get in touch with the home vet were desperate as we realized she might not actually make it until the vet came. Sadly, she didn't. But we were with her every second of the way, telling her how much we loved her, that it was ok to go, and calling her by much loved nicknames (which she responded to with a tail wag...until she just couldn't anymore). We gave her the pain medication and pray she was not in any pain.

She now walks with the angels.

It was, without a doubt, the most horrible, painful night of my life... The only close second would be today, when we had to put her into a box and bury her sweet soul-vessel in the ground.

...Now I'm faced with refocusing a life that, for 13 years (many of which were single and all of which were childless), revolved around my sweet, baby girl. The love of my life. My little kittenopolous. My She-Nibblers. My reason for living.

So, whatever plans I had for vacation, this week or next, for the blog and for life in general are on hold until I can once again get my feet on solid ground.

I am sure you all understand.




Friday, July 18, 2014

Vacation...

I am only about 4 hours from a two-week VACATION!

 

I keep checking my email for resolution on two issues that I really, really want finished and cleaned up today!!

One down...

Unfortunately, we aren't headed anywhere fun. We've got too much to do around the house.  So, the first week of my vacation will look like this:

 
















As hubby and I paint the house!

But week two will look more like this:














And...













I'll try to get some posts up.  But I make no promises!

See ya soon!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 07/15/14

A good lyric is like a great book...
The Good Stuff
Kenny Chesney, Artist
Jim Collins and Craig Wiseman, Writers



Well, me an' my lady had our first big fight,
So I drove around 'til I saw the neon light.
of a corner bar, an it just seemed right.
So I pulled up.

Not a soul around but the old bar keep,
Down at the end an' looking half asleep.
An he walked up, an' said: "What'll it be?"
I said: "The good stuff."

He didn't reach around for the whiskey;
He didn't pour me a beer.
His blue eyes kinda went misty,
He said: "You can't find that here.

'cause it's the first long kiss on a second date.
Momma's all worried when you get home late.
And droppin' the ring in the spaghetti plate,
'cause your hands are shakin' so much.
An' it's the way that she looks with the rice in her hair.
Eatin' burnt suppers the whole first year
An' askin' for seconds to keep her from tearin' up.
Yeah, man, that's the good stuff."

He grabbed a carton of milk an' he poured a glass.
An' I smiled an' said: "I'll have some of that."
We sat there an' talked as an hour passed,
Like old friends.

I saw a black an' white picture an' it caught my stare,
It was a pretty girl with bouffant hair.
He said: "That's my Bonnie,
Taken 'bout a year after we were wed."

He said "Spent five years in the bar,
When the cancer took her from me.
But I've been sober three years now,
'cause the one thing stronger than the whiskey

Was the sight of her holdin' my baby girl.
The way she adored that string of pearls,
I gave her the day that our youngest boy, Earl,
Married his high school love."
"An' it's a new tee-shirt saying: 'I'm a Grandpa'.
Bein' right there as our time got small,
An' holdin' her hand, when the Good Lord called her up,
Yeah, man, that's the good stuff."

He said: "When you get home, she'll start to cry.
When she says: 'I'm sorry,' say: 'So am I.'
An' look into those eyes, so deep in love,
An' drink it up.
'cause that's the good stuff.
That's the good stuff."



Monday, July 14, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and not so bookish bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise.



1. Well, the fourth was a washout here on the east coast, but we made up for it on Saturday the 5th!  Family and friends over. Hamburgers were eaten. Potato salad was consumed. And a few drinks too.


2. Loved the book. Love Reese Witherspoon.  Cannot wait!




3. Only one week left until I am on vacation! My husband actually managed to take the same time off too, so it will be nice to hang out with him some.  No, we are not going anywhere. We've got tons of house projects to do during that time (read: paint the house, ugh), but I am sure I will find some reading time too!

4. I also have a few other items on my list that I've been meaning to do, like visiting the grave of a ex. Yes, he passed young. A bit depressing, but I've felt like this is something I've needed to do for a while now. I think saying goodbye will calm my soul.

5. I'm sure everyone has heard about Louis Zamperini (1936 Olympian and the subject of Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling nonfiction book Unbroken) passing away on July 2nd. What an incredible man he was and Hillenbrand did an exceptional job of relaying his amazing story to the masses. Another movie I am looking forward too. 

6. Sad, but true, after only three years World Book Night looks like it has gone belly-up. Due to funding issues, they are calling it quits. "The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, and shippers, are too high to sustain without additional outside funding, " according to Director Carl Lennertz. What a shame. It was such a wonderful program. Hopefully someone can step in and help out.

7. Garth Brooks... New album. 'Nough said! 

8. So, can someone tell me the benefits of Oyster and Scribd? I mean beyond the sort of obvious, get whatever book you want, whenever you want it? Aren't these services just libraries? And I finacially support my local library already. Yes, they may not have every single book I want, at the time I want them. But rarely do I find a book that I absolutely cannot wait to read. I usually have hundreds (thousands) in line that can fill in until a hold is ready. And, if the library doesn't have that book, most libraries in towns close by do and I can borrow from them too. So, what is the deal with these sites? Do you use them? Why are they worth it? Other thoughts?


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism - Higashida

Title: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

Author: Naoki Higashida
Published: 2013
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating:
3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

Book Source: Library

Recommended if you like: Non-fiction, information about autism, children's writing

What Its About: 
As autism becomes more and more prevalent in our world, misconceptions and lack of information about the condition become greater and greater. Those with autism are often seen as childlike and mentally deficient, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, autism is a condition that effects behavior and ability to communicate, but does not effect intellect.
In The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida breaks down some of the walls of misunderstanding and lack of communication around autism. Utilizing an alphabet board (think Ouigi-board), Higashida was able to share his thoughts and feelings about being autistic honestly and frankly. He shares his reasons for his struggles with communication and controlling his physical body. He explains why autistic children do not always follow directions and why they often feel naughty or bad.  He also offers caregivers valuable advice when dealing with loved ones who are autistic, do's and don't both. Ultimately, he makes it clear that folks with autism are just like you and can live wonderful, fulfilling lives with the love and patience of those who care for them.

Truly a "...road map into the world of severe autism" (People Magazine).


The Bottom Line:
I have to be honest. I went into this book not exactly understanding the format it would take. I expected stories or a narrative or memoir, but what I got was a question and answer (with some short narratives included). This threw me at first and any potential reader should be prepared. However, once I settled in I truly got quite a bit of understanding from this book.

Yes, the writing is a bit juvenile, but Higashida was only thirteen when he wrote the book. And, having had limited communication due to his autism when he was younger, he did an exceptional job of communicating his thoughts and feelings about being autistic. This is a powerful and valuable book for anyone who knows someone with autism, or anyone who might come in contact with someone with autism. Its very enlightening and, due to its rarity, likely to change the lives of many autistic persons.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 07/07/14

A good lyric is like a great book...
Not at all my kind of music, but totally up my sister's alley (a sort of birthday week present). And I like the message. 


Schism
Atnhrax, Artist
Bellardini, J, Bello, F., Benante, C., Rosenfeld, S., Spitz, D, Writers



Don't look at me as a white man
I'm just a man
Don't look at me as a black man
I'm just a man
It takes a man to deal with ignorance
Prove that you can
Like having to climb a barbwire fence

Can ya tell me how it feels to be hated?
Can ya tell me how it feels to be loved?
Can you show me what it
means to be respected?
Or is the answer none of the above?

It's so easy to hate your brother
It should be hard
It's so easy to hate your friends
Why ain't it hard?
Love and hate come in the deck together
Play your card
Love or hate can rule your life forever

Can ya tell me how it feels to be hated?
Can ya tell me how it feels to be loved?
Can you show me what it means to be respected?
Or is the answer none of the above?

Hating, fighting, lying, and I can't take...
Bitching, screwing, crying, and I just hate...
Taking, cheating, spying, and I can't take...
Hating, fighting, dissing, fighting, fighting,
Fighting...
And I can't take no...
SCHISM!
Schism, SK, SK, SK, SCHISM

A house divided can't stand
Prejudice is un-natural thought
When we were kids
It's not inherited, it's taught
When we were kids
If we were blind and had no choice
Differences hid
Would we hate each other by the
tone of our voice?

Can ya tell me how it feels to be hated?
Can ya tell me how it feels to be loved?
Can you show me what it
means to be respected?
Or is the answer none of the above?

Hating, fighting, lying, and I can't take...
Bitching, screwing, crying, and I just hate...
Taking, cheating, spying, and I can't take...
Hating, fighting, dissing, fighting, fighting,
Fighting...
And I can't take no...
SCHISM!

[CHORUS]



Friday, July 04, 2014