Monday, June 30, 2014

Mondays & Monday Mailbox - 06/30/14


Monday Mailbox hosted by Marcia @ To Be Continued.  It's Monday! hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Now Reading:  
The Fault In Our Stars (John Green)
Moby Dick (Herman Melville )


On Deck 

Some new goodies that arrived this week...

Or maybe a few that arrived earlier this summer.

Or maybe one of the many I bought at the book sales.

Who knows?

But what a great dilemma to have!

Friday, June 27, 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.They switched my computer out at work yesterday as I was still using XP, which was no longer supported by Microsoft as of April. It's an adjustment to use a new computer with a new operating system, isn't it? Not only is it an effort to make the computer work the way your old one did, but the keyboard is always a bkg...bug...bog...not small adjustment!

2. James Patterson is offering to give every sixth grader in public school in New York City (all 45,000 of them) a copy of his book Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life? Apparently, he did the same thing in Chicago earlier this month, donating some 28,000 books to sixth graders in public schools there. Ok, it's not Moby Dick...but whatever keeps kids reading over the summer!

3.  I'm looking forward to the long 4th of July weekend! We are having friends and family over for a cookout and fireworks, which they set off only about two blocks from our house. We get the perfect view from our yard! 

4. Interestingly, a couple years back my town suddenly stopped holding its annual July 4th parade.  Apparently, the committee aged out and no one had stepped up to take over (I don't know if the root cause was actually age and lack of interest, or possibly a long-term committee not openly welcoming "new blood", as is often the case in small towns - I really don't have any way to say).  Regardless, what had become, quite famously, the largest July 4th parade in Massachusetts and the second-largest in New England ( just stopped about a year after we moved here. There is now a new committee working to rebuild it, but this year will be another with no parade. Sigh...

5. So, Simon & Schuster has announced that they will finally open its catalog of e-books to all libraries nationwide! Good news!

6.  I've committed to going to a wedding out of state at the end of the summer. I'm excited to see family, but the travel will be tough. Hubby will stay home and care for the kitty and homestead.

7. What does everyone think of the the storm over Kevin Brooks's Carnegie medal win for The Bunker Diary? Word is there's a quite a bit of dissension. While I understand the complaints that the book is more a YA novel, not a children's title, other books that fall into the same situation have won. What about Junk by Burgess? And the indication that it should not have won due to it being "depressing" is ridiculous. If books that evoke such emotions are removed from contention, doesn't that remove a lot of really, really great work?!

8. Ladies, had my annual mammogram this week (ouch)... Have you had yours?!

Have a  great weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 2014 ReCap...

JUNE 2014

Another slow month, though I feel like I am finally getting back into the groove (just in time for vacation!). Busy as always, June usually is a lot of close up from the previous school year. Looking forward to vacation next month, though it is going to be busy with hubby home and painting the house, but at I will definitely get some reading time in.

This month I read: 
Total Read: 3
YTD: 14
Adult: 3
YA/children's: 0
Abandoned: 0

The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir - Dee Williams
Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose - Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain (editor)
Amy, My Daughter (Mitch Winehouse)


The Fault In Our Stars (John Green) - haven't given up, just a bit of a serious subject for summer, despite the humor and great writing. Will get back to this!

Favorite Book(s) of the Month:

Amy, My Daughter (Mitch Winehouse)

Challenges Update: 
Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge = 14 of 58
A-Z Book Challenge = 12 of 26
Library Reading Challenge = 1 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 4

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Amy, My Daughter - Winehouse

Title: Amy, My Daughter

Author: Mitch Winehouse
Published: 2012
Genre: Memoir
4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family.

Book Source: I received this book as a Netgalley, free of charge, in exchange for an honest review.

Recommended if you like: Celebrity Memoirs, Music, Stories about drug abuse and recovery

What Its About: 

This memoir is an intimate, honest and thorough look at the life and tragic loss of Amy Winehouse written by her father.

Amy Jade Winehouse was a British songwriter/performer who burst onto the scene in 2006 with her first album Frank. Her music was an eclectic mix of R&B, jazz, soul and reggae. Her biggest hit Rehab, from her second album Back to Black, was an intimate reference to her unfortunate growing dependence on drugs, admittedly introduced to her by her husband. Civil-Fields eventually landed in jail and Winehouse's family worked diligently to help her beat her dependence. Sadly, though she eventually kicked heroine and crack, she struggled until her death to beat alcohol dependence.  The alcohol eventually took it's toll and she was found in her bedroom deceased July 23, 2011 from alcohol poisoning.

This heartbreaking memoir takes the reader on Winehouse's journey from birth through her childhood and limited adult years. Her father, Mitch, describes her breakthrough and success in the music business, selling millions of copies of her work, winning three prestigious Ivor Novello Awards and five Grammys, among other awards. He describes Amy's seeming obsession with Blake Civil-Fields, whom she married, who later admitted introducing her to serious drug usage. Winehouse goes on to describe in detail Amy's descent from a normal, talented girl who was known to denounce the use of "class-a drugs", such as heroin and cocaine, to a junkie struggling to recover and take back control of her life. Winehouse seems to share honestly (other bloggers in fact use the term "saturated by honesty") the ups and downs of his daughter's remaining life and struggles.

Winehouse offers a wonderful picture of his daughter as the kind and loving woman she was, offering stories of how she helped various random people, how she connected with people on a deeper level and asked about them years after they had last seem each other, and how she looked forward to a life that included children of her own.

The Bottom Line:
This is a wonderful and heartbreaking memoir by a parent watching himself lose his daughter to demons he can neither deal with or excise. It was a wonderful read and I really enjoyed truly learning more about Amy as a person. Winehouse, though a parent, tells his stories and anecdotes so openly and thoroughly that you cannot help but believe him fully and doubt he is wearing "rose-colored glasses", especially when he admits his own faults and errors. A terrific read for anyone interested in Amy's music, celebrity, or struggles with alcohol and drugs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 06/24/14

A good lyric is like a great book...

Dream On
Aerosmith, Artist
Steven Tyler, Writer

Every time that I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by like dusk to dawn
Isn't that the way
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay

Yeah, I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it's everybody's sin
You got to lose to know how to win

Half my life's in books' written pages
Live and learn from fools and from sages
You know it's true
All the things you do, come back to you

Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Sing with me, sing it for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Dream on, dream on, dream on,
Dream until your dream come true
Dream on, dream on, dream on,
And dream until your dream come true
Dream on [7x]

Sing with me, sing it for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing it for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Sing with me, sing it for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing it for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you awa.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mondays and Monday Mailbox - 06/23/14


Monday Mailbox hosted by Marcia @ To Be Continued.  It's Monday! hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Now Reading:  
Amy, My Daughter (Mitch Winehouse)

Still have all those awesome birthday books On Deck, but once again my options have expanded!

If you recall, my local library's Friends group had a book sale a couple weeks ago. 

"What pray-tell do they do with all those leftover books?", you ask.

(ok, you didn't, but let's just say you did for consistency's sake)

Well, turns out that they unload them at summer events at the local lake. This weekend was the Festival By the Lake and they had a booth where they offered the books FREE! Oh yes she did! She just used the words FREE and BOOKS in the same sentence! They basically just ask for "donations" for the group. 
That Loving Frank book kept following me around.  Regardless of where I went, it was there. I finally took the point and grabbed it.

I happened to have a couple hours available Saturday morning and took a drive over (my first festival in the several years I've lived here, so the FREE thing was new to me) with a handful of plastic bags. Less than a half an hour later, I had another three bags full!

My only complaint was the push and shove that was necessary to get to the good stuff. I hate crowds! But I can elbow with the best of them if need be and got some more really great books, many of which are on my TBR list.

I don't know how much they had left (the booth was much smaller than the set up at the sale), so they might have been bringing out new books all day. But I had other responsibilities so I settled for my three bags.
Children's books too!

Of course, I left a nice donation and then hoofed it back to my car.  

Quite a walk, but it was worth it! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Savings - 06/21/14


Ramen-like soups on sale for $0.41 each
Stacked with $1 off 2 coupons (or $0.50 off each)

Final cost:  *FREE!

*at some stores this would be a MONEYMAKER, but Stop and Shop doesn't give you the xtra

Still an excellent deal though!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose - McNeil

Title: Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose
Author: Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil
Published: 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction
2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.
Book Source: I received this book through Netgalley, free of cost, in exchange for an honest review.

Recommended if you like: Memoirs, Young Adult
What Its About:   
This book is billed as an "actual, posthumously published [teenager's] diary", a Go Ask Alice for the 1990's. 

Honestly, I didn't know a lot about the fiction vs. non-fiction drama behind Go Ask Alice. I read it years ago. It was interesting. And it started with a disclaimer that states its fictional... Um.... Why the drama?!


(See how I did that? Tapping into my inner teen there...) Anyway... 

Mary Rose is a lonely teen struggling with a difficult life. In her diary, she opens her heart to "Nobody", to whom each entry is addressed.

The Bottom Line:
I wanted to like this book about Mary Rose, a teen struggling with some real difficulties in life. In fact, I really, really wanted to like it! Open the first page and it clarifies that she is living Reading, Pennsylvania. I grew up in Reading, PA! Then she moves to Wernersville, PA. I've got relatives in Wernersville!  And I too was a geeky kid with very few friends!  Connections baby, very cool! Unfortunately, I just couldn't.

First, I just couldn't get the fact-or-fiction issue out of my mind. I just kept asking, "Would I have said/done that? Would my friends?" For example, Mary Rose makes a comment about not having the "beans" to go out (ie money). Um... Haven't heard a teen say such a thing in...40+ years! Secondly, she talks multiple times about how attractive she is. Call me foolish, but I seem to recall that pretty much EVERY teen thought they were ugly or unattractive in some way. Maybe times have changed, but I doubt it. And yeah, I know boy chasing and falling in love, foolishly and desperately, is very STEREOTYPICAL. But the whole book was just to contrived for me.

Furthermore, Mary Rose was an utterly unlikable person. No wonder she had no friends! I'm sorry, but one minute she was bragging about herself and the next crying no one likes her. She got herself wrapped up reapeatedly in bad situations, with bad people, and surprise, surprise...bad things happened. It's like she was incapable of learning better - even animals learn to stop doing things that hurt them! She visited rehab more often than Amy Winehouse sang about it, and ended up in the hands of the police just as often. And this was supposed to be the 1990's!? It's called DSS (Department of Social Services) people! And yet, not a word about them...

Which is another point... There is no mention of popular music in her writing. What teen doesn't talk constantly about music or television or, I don't know, anything pop-cultural-ish? Especially a teen who envisions herself a performer!

Another major complaint, this "diary" just focused on way too much!
-A horrible mother who chooses her slimy boyfriend and booze over her children time and time again
-No friends
-Drinking and alcoholism
-Drug use (she mentioned her heroin use like its a passing fad - seriously?!) and rehab
-Cystic Fibrosis, sickness, and dying
-Gang rape and being abused by older boys/men (she addresses these horrific events so easily and moves on so quickly. I'm sorry, but even teens who have had a tough life are going to have more of a reaction to such things)

It just goes on and on and ANY ONE of those topics would have made an amazing story!

Overall, its just unrealistic. And, if this horrible life was real, if all these terrible things really did happen to this poor girl - I'm sorry, but the "editors' did a crap job!! I'm sorry, but its true.

Positives? Yes, generally, the writing wasn't bad. Despite a few key "beans", mostly it was well written and teen-believable. Also, I really liked the Nobody concept... I like the vision it gave of having no one to share her thoughts with, no one to unload to, no one she trusted other than perhaps herself. This would have been a GREAT hook, in a different book. If the editors had just let this be a work of fiction "based on a true story", it could have been an awesome book.  Also, the unwavering honesty that is shared in her posts, heartbreaking yet tender.

So, overall, it was just...alright.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 06/17/14

A good lyric is like a great book...

Somebody's Heartbreak
Hunter Hayes, Artist
Andrew M. Dorff, Hunter Hayes, Luke Robert, and Luke Laird, Writers

I'd love to know just what you're thinkin'
Every little river, runnin' through your mind
You give and you take
You come and you go
You leave me here wonderin' if I'll ever know
How much you care or how much you don't
Whatever you need, whatever you want

If you're gonna be somebody's heartbreak
If you're gonna be somebody's mistake
If you're gonna be somebody's first time,
Somebody's last time, baby be mine
If you're lookin' to be somebody's 'just friends',
A little laughin', little lovin', never callin' again, that's just fine
If you're gonna be somebody's heartbreak
Be mine, yeah
Oh, be mine

I guess that all I'm tryin' to tell ya
Is a minute with you is better than two without
Oh, I won't be a fool but I can't play it cool
So I'm playin' safe and I'm breakin' the rules
I'm wishin' I had what I know that you got
So if you're comin' my way then please don't stop

If you're gonna be somebody's heartbreak
If you're gonna be somebody's mistake
If you're gonna be somebody's first time,
Somebody's last time, baby be mine
If you're lookin' to be somebody's 'just friends',
A little laughin', little lovin', never callin' again, that's just fine
If you're gonna be somebody's heartbreak
Be mine
Oh, woah

If you're gonna be somebody's heartbreak
Or somebody's mistake
Somebody's first time, or their last time, baby be mine
If you're lookin' to be somebody's 'just friends',
A little laughin', little lovin', never callin' again, that's just fine
If you're gonna be somebody's heartbreak
Be mine (If you're gonna be somebody's heartbreak)
Be mine (If you're gonna be somebody's mistake)
Oh, I'll take my chances
If you're gonna be someone's heartbreak
If you're gonna be someone's mistake
Somebody's first time, somebody's last time
Be mine
Oh, be mine
Be mine
Baby, baby, baby, be mine, all mine
If you're gonna break someone's heart, yeah
Might as well, might as well be mine 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mondays - 06/16/14

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I Netgallied this one months ago and had given up hope as I got no response. I was even going to delete it about a week ago, but hesitated.  And suddenly it came through!

Now Reading:
Amy, My Daughter (Mitch Winehouse)

Moby Dick (Herman Melville)

Just Finished
Dear Nobody (Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain)

On Deck
Book sale goodies!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir - Williams

Title:The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir
Author: Dee Williams
Published: 2014
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

Book Source: I received this book through Netgalley, free of cost, in exchange for an honest review.

Recommended if you like: Memoirs, Environmentalism
What Its About:  
Dee Williams was an average (though handy) single woman making her way in life.  She had a good job and eventually bought a home, which she shared with roommates. Though she spent many days working on the fixer-upper, it felt it must be a labor of love and that she was "happy enough".

Then, one day, life changed completely. After suffering a heartache, Williams was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or congestive heart failure. In her early forties, Williams looked around and saw her lovely home, wealth of possessions (for which she felt vaguely guilty, given a trip to a third world country where they had very little), and her list of needs to upkeep such a lifestyle and decided that "happy enough" wasn't enough.

She decided to downsize, her home and her life. She undertook the process of building an 84 square foot home (small enough meet legal guidelines for travel on highways) and reduced her needs - and wants - to enable life within that space. What she found was that it didn't really matter what she had, but what she was doing with her time and who she did it with, that mattered and there really is no place like home, even if that home is smaller than a typical parking spot, with a compost toilet and solar power.

The Bottom Line:
What a wonderful read this was. Who has never looked around their home and wondered why all "this stuff" is necessary? Who has never dreamed of removing the stress and worry of working full time and paying mortgage/rent, utilities bills, and keeping up with "the Jones"?  Dee Williams, though pushed by her health issues, took that leap and changed her life toward what she still perceives as the better.

She admits to having difficulty talking about her health and personal issues. And, though I realize that the book is more about the changes in her life, and not the fear of her health situation, I would have liked to hear a more about the emotional process she worked through to make the decisions she did. The book is relatively short, about 200 pages, so there was certainly space.  Otherwise, well written and engrossing. The story of her path is amazing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday Tunes - 06/10/14

A good lyric is like a great book...

Drive (For Daddy Gene)
Alan Jackson, Artist & Writer

It was painted red the stripe was white
It was 18 feet from the bow to stern light
Secondhand from a dealer in Atlanta
I rode up with daddy when he went there to get her
We put on a shine, put on a motor
Built out of love, and made for the water
Ran her for years, til' the transom got rotten
A piece of my childhood will never be forgotten

It was just an old plywood boat
With a 75 Johnson with electric choke
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel
And I would turn her sharp
And I would make it whine
He'd say, "You can't beat the way a old wood boat rides"
Just a little lake cross the Alabama line
But I was king of the ocean
When Daddy let me drive

Just an old half ton short bed ford
My Uncle bought new in 64
Daddy got it right cause the engine was smoking
A couple of burnt valves and he had it going
He'd let me drive her when we'd haul off a load
Down a dirt strip where we'd dump trash off of Thigpen Road
I'd sit up in the seat and stretch my feet out to the pedals
Smiling like a hero who just received his medal

It was just an old hand me down ford
With three-speed on the column and a dent in the door
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel and
I would press that clutch
And I would keep it right
He would say a little slower son
Your doing just fine
Just a dirt road with trash on each side
But I was Mario Andretti
When Daddy let me drive

I'm grown up now
Three daughters of my own
I let them drive my old jeep
Across the pasture at our home
Maybe one day they'll reach back in their file
And pull out that old memory
And think of me and smile
And say

It was just an old worn out jeep
Rusty old floor boards
Hot on my feet
A young girl two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel
And he'd say
Turn it left, and steer it right
Straighten up girl now, you're doing just fine
Just a little valley by the river where we'd ride
But I was high as a mountain

When Daddy let me drive

Daddy let me drive

Oh he let me drive

It's just an old plywood boat
With a 75 Johnson
And electric choke.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Mondays & Monday Mailbox - 06/9/14


Monday Mailbox hosted by Marcia @ To Be Continued.  It's Monday! hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Now Reading:  
The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir (Dee William

I'm just about done with this one, and have so many great choices for my next read! Not only do I have a bunch of awesome birthday purchases still On Deck, but also...this past weekend was my local library's book sale...

I haven't made a sale since I moved to town a few years back, but have wanted too badly. I happened to have an hour free Saturday and headed over. I was worried that they would be sold out of the good stuff as the sale ran Thursday and Friday nights, and then Saturday as well. 

Boy was I surprised! They had thousands of books and many of them were recent and still on my TBR list! 

$40 later (they charge $0.50 - $2.00 per book, rather than doing the bag for $5 kind of thing), I had three bags full and could easily have kept going! Thankfully, I had a rehearsal to get to before I had to call the hubby and discuss mortgaging the house! HA!

I am so overwhelmed by all the amazing choices, I'm not sure what to do!

Best buy of the day:

Seriously funny, even for an animal lover, with adorable goodies like the following...

Well worth the $0.50 I paid!

I can't wait until next year's sale!!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sunday Salon - 06/8/14

If you are interested in other Salon posts, visit the Facebook page to get links.


Wow, have I been busy!
Stock photo, not my actual car...
I missed posting last weekend because I was in car buying hell. That's right, after much back and forth hubby and I decided it was time to deal with it. He will be selling his 1990's era Toyota Corolla to some local kid for cheap.  I purchased a new CRV EX and he will drive my older RAV4 which is still in good condition. It was a stressful couple of days, but its finally done. I will pick it up later this week and am very excited!

Over Memorial Day weekend, I was off to Connecticut with the ladies in Purely Vocals. We had a fabulous weekend singing, hanging by a beautiful lake, long nature walks, cocktails, etc. But it was a busy weekend, no lazy reading days for me!
Work-wise, even though we are post graduation work has not calmed much. There are a lot of end of year things to finish up and ongoing projects. I haven't been able to plan a vacation yet, as I am awaiting word on my job and the changes that are coming... I do not want to have to return to work for interviews during my vacation week! Also, its looking like I will probably be painting my house over that vacation, so...blah!


Reading is slow because of my being so busy. I had really hoped to read by the lake, but it was rare. I finally finished up The Word Exchange and am now settling into The Big Tiny by Dee William. I am so looking forward to reading all those great books I purchased with my birthday gift certificates, but I am still trying to get through my Netgalley spree. And I got another ARC in the mail this week from Random House, but I haven't finished the other two or three I have. 

I really need to spend that vacation catching up on reading! These slow reading months are making it look unlikely I will succeed with my annual challenges...but I am keeping a positive outlook and hoping life will slow down (and reading motivation will ramp up) soon.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Tuesdays Tunes - 06/3/14

A good lyric is like a great book...

No Matter Where You Are
Us the Duo (Michael & Carissa Alvarado), Artists & Writers

I will stand by you,
Even when we fall.
I will be the rock that holds you up
and lifts you high so you stand tall.

I won't let you go,
No one can take your place,
Oh a couple fights & lonely nights
Don't make it right to let it go to waste.

And I won't let you fall,
I won't let you go.
No matter where you are,
No matter where you are, I'll be there.
No matter where you are,
No matter where you are, I'll be there.

I will hold on to
Everything we've got.
A quitter, a regretter, a forgetter is
Everything I'm not.

I'll take care of you
and love you just because.
You and I are better than forever
Nothing can stop us.

And I won't let you fall,
I won't let you go.
No matter where you are,
No matter where you are, I'll be there.
No matter where you are,
No matter where you are, I'll be there.

We can be the generation
Who learns how to love.
Mistakes & empty promises
Will never be enough.
To tear apart these giant hearts
that beat inside us now,
Let's conquer the percentages
and rise above the crowd.

And I won't let you fall,
I won't let you go.
No matter where you are,
No matter where you are, I'll be there.
No matter where you are,
No matter where you are, I'll be there.


No matter where you are
No matter where you are,
I'll be there.

I'll be there.

I'll be there.

Monday, June 02, 2014