Thursday, August 10, 2017

I'll show you my books, you show me yours... vol.31


Here I am again with a late post.  I intended to get this post ready on time, but my canines had another idea.  They busted through our fence, got caught by the council rangers, taken to the pound.  I posted bail, picked them up from doggie jail, and dealt with putting together a temporary fix until I could get the fence fixed properly.  But, enough about my dog dramas, let's talk about books!

Again, much thanks to our hosts Jana & Steph for hosting this awesome book party.

The books I've read since our last link-up:

1.  We Are Okay by Nina LaCour - I loved every single character in this poignant YA book. 4/5

2.  An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire Reading the synopsis, I assumed this book was a thriller/mystery. Yes, there is a horrific murder. But, this story focuses on the aftermath, the pain, the grief, and the life-shattering experience felt by the closest loved one of a murder victim. The parallel story about a novice crime writer becoming invested in the victim's story was less compelling to me. 
The author dabbles in discussion of crimes against women and the inequality of language, viewpoints, and treatment of females, particularly in a small town.  Overall, it was a satisfying read. 3.5/5

3.  Before the Fall by Noah Hawley - At times, I almost gave up on this one, but there were parts of this book and one character that kept me interested enough to stick with it. Overall, I was disappointed. I skimmed paragraphs, and I got bored too many times to call this an enjoyable read. 2/5

4.  Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough Nope. Nope. Nope. I hated this book, and I rarely say that. I can't really say a whole lot without spoilers. Apparently, many readers have enjoyed it, so I don't want to spoil it for others potential enjoyment. But, it did not work for me. 1/5

5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - One of those books I've intended to read for years, but it took my book challenge to convince me to finally do it. So grateful I did. The madness and power of one's mind made this such a fascinating read.  Warning: could be a trigger for suicidal ideations.  4/5

6.  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - Again, this is another book that I've been meaning to read for years, and it took this challenge to encourage me to finally pick it up. I'm so glad I did. It is a memoir that could be described as "stranger than fiction". The author is able to share so many layers to her life and upbringing by an intelligent, alcoholic father and an artistic, removed-from-reality mother. The experiences shared are full of poverty, neglect, hunger, and abuse. Yet, also described is a family's bond, their version of love for one another, and each's struggle for survival. An excellent read.
To touch on this being a "banned book"... it is banned because “it includes explicit language and references to child molestation, adolescent sexual exploits, and violence as it recounts the author’s experiences growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who suffered from mental illness.”
Are the lives lived in this book beyond difficult? Yes. But, it is a reality for some. And, if we ban some children's reality, aren't we adding to the shame they already feel? I believe so. I support the notion "knowledge is power". When society becomes more knowledgeable about the strife of others, perhaps we can be more compassionate. 4/5


Have you read any of these books?  What did you think?




Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Fall Film Challenge 2017

I've participated in every one of Jenn's Fall Film Challenges, but I've never finished.  Jenn was the same with my book challenges, until the last one...she conquered it.  So, now I'm feeling the heat to complete her challenge as well. 

Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out this link.

Some of these were tough to choose.  I'd find a movie that I'd want to see, but I'd have no idea what category it would work for.  So, some of these may be a stretch... Updated: I need some help with one of the categories, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


one. starring anthony hopkins. - Thor: Ragnarok
three. about charity: an organization, an individual, a cause, an act... interpret this as you will. - The Way Way Back - the guy at the water park tries to help out an awkward teen; that's somewhat of a charitable act, correct?
four. starring robert downey, jr. - Good Night, and Good Luck - I've pretty much seen every RDJ movie I want to see, but I'll give this one a shot.
five. about envy: a character, a plot device... use your imagination - Memoirs of a Geisha
six. about faith. - Spotlight
seven. about greed. - Deepwater Horizon
eight. about hope. - Sing Street
nine. starring jeremy irons. - High-Rise
ten. about justice. - Patriots Day
eleven. starring kevin bacon. - Black Mass
twelve. about lust. - Lawless
thirteen. starring ian mckellen. - The Da Vinci Code
fourteen. set in a castle. - The King's Speech - He's a king; he spends some time in a castle, right?
fifteen. about fortitude. - The Birth of a Nation
sixteen. about pride. - Cinderella Man
seventeen. starring alan rickman. - Eye in the Sky
eighteen. released last year and reviewed on slothsandmovies.com. - Sully
nineteen. about temperance. - Amy - Watching a documentary about someone who died from alcoholism makes you want to abstain from drink, correct?
twenty. about prudence. - The Sound of Music
twenty-one. starring val kilmer. - Palo Alto
twenty-two. about wrath. - The Equalizer
twenty-three. set in an exotic locale. - The Little Mermaid
twenty-four. about gluttony. - The two movies I thought about (Se7en and What's Eating Gilbert Grape?), well, I've seen those - any suggestions?
twenty-five. set in space. - The Force Awakens

Join the facebook group to join in the film fun!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

5 Things

I saw this post by Heather at Heather's Hurrah, and I decided to steal borrow its structure to share things that have been going on with me since I've been mostly absent from the blog game. 

Most of you know, I went home to Texas for a visit in late May.  Here's 5 things I did while there:
  1. ate a lot of food
  2. visited family
  3. fed the family cows
  4. shared some quiet with my stepmom
  5. saw niece 2 graduate high school as valedictorian

In honor of my niece's graduation, my mom, my niece, my sis-in-law, and I shared a getaway in San Francisco.  5 things touristy things we did there:
  1. rode a double decker bus for a bus tour around the city
  2. visited Muir Woods
  3. drove the world's most crooked street
  4. rode a trolley car
  5. had lunch at Fisherman's Wharf
Here's 5 pictures from that fun time:





5 people I've been lucky enough to see:
  1. had a meal, a chat, and some laughs with these beauties, Rachel from A Nesting Nomad and Kristen from See You in a Porridge:
  2. shared a meal in Texas with this gal that I've known for 25+ years, jenn from quirky pickings:
  3. while in Cali, I got to see my stepsister, her lovely husband, future bambino, and fur baby:
  4. shared a girls' getaway in Sonoma, CA with two of my most favorite people in the world, college friends, Katy and Kari:
Okay, that's six people, but they were all worth mentioning.

I absolutely adored Sonoma and would happily go back and spend time there again.  Here's 5 reasons that I fell in love:
  1. wine tasting rooms
  2. cute cottages with beautiful gardens
  3. independent shops with shop cats
  4. good food and near perfect weather
  5. a Friday night farmer's market that seem to bring locals and tourists together
Remember when I had a pile of books that I was happy to give away to share with other readers?  Well, I'm doing it again.  I send it to you for free!  The only catch is that I encourage you to share the love, pay it forward, and give it to another when you're finished with it.  First come, first serve.  5 books up for grabs:
  1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  2. Lie in Wait by Eric Rickstad
  3. Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson
  4. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  5. The Cleaner by Paul Cleave

Hold up, wait a minute.  I've got more books to give.  How convenient is it that I have 5 more on offer?! 
  1. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  2. An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire
  3. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
  4. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos
  5. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I've read 5 books for Book Challenge by Erin 7.0 (goodreads group, facebook group, my reading list), and I have 5 more to go to complete the first round of the challenge.  These 5 books are next to be read:


Speaking of my book challenge, I'm breaking away from "5 Things" to give a shout out to the reading rock star known as Bev from Confuzzledom.  She's the first to complete our challenge this time around.  Way to go, Bev!

Now, tell me 5 things going on with you!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Heavy

Teens, adults; work colleagues, school friends; the successful, the unsuccessful; the unknown, the revered; Oscar & Grammy winners. 

Suicide.  It impacts and reaches into the lives of so many.  We continue to talk about it, but we continue to see lives extinguished that are experiencing turmoil and turbulence.

It's Saturday night.  I'm looking at articles, watching youtube videos, and reading lyrics because of the death of Linkin Park's Chester Bennington. 

Lyrics like these:

Crawling in my skin
These wounds they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real

from 2000's "Crawling"

I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain I've felt so long
(Erase all the pain 'til it's gone)
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I'm close to something real
I wanna find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

from 2003's "Somewhere I Belong"

Take this all away
I'm suffocating
Tell me what the fuck is wrong
With me

from 2007's "Given Up"

Now in my remains
Are promises that never came
Set the silence free
To wash away the worst of me

from 2012's "In My Remains"

I wanna fall wide awake
Watch the ground giving way now
You tell me it's alright
Tell me I'm forgiven, tonight
But nobody can save me now
I'm holding up a light
I'm chasing up the darkness inside
'Cause nobody can save me

from 2017's "Nobody Can Save Me"

I'm holding on
Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on
To so much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what's bringing me down
If I just let go, I'd be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy?

from 2017's "Heavy"

Did I know Chester Bennington?  No.  But, I've known pain, confusion, darkness, depression.  Do I know his journey?  No.  All of our journeys are unique.  But, when I read that someone's journey has led to the outcome of Chester's, I ache.  And, I contemplate my own journey.

Personally, I've used Lifeline before.  I've called that number when I didn't know who to call.  I have family and loved ones who would want to tell me that I'm special, worthwhile, valued...but there have been dark times in my life when I was lost enough I didn't want to turn to them.  So, I called Lifeline, and I'm grateful that I did. 

Lifeline Australia 24/7 hotline: 13 11 14

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline USA 24/7: 1 800 273 8255

This link may be one of the most helpful things I've ever seen on Wikipedia:  List of suicide crisis lines by country

Rest in Peace, Chester
from Linkin Park's twitter


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I'll show you my books...you show me yours...vol.30


Yep.  I'm late to the party.  Yep, I didn't participate as much as I'd like in the previous link-up.  But, I need to forgive myself instead of beat myself up over that fact.  I probably won't interact as much as I'd like this go-around either, but why should I allow that to stop me from talking about one of my favorite topics to talk about - books!?  Plus, I know our hosts Jana & Steph wouldn't want me to be hard on myself or skip this link-up because I may not be reading and posting as often as I used to.  I read some really great books this month, and I really shouldn't deprive you from me sharing them.

What I've read since the last link up:

1.  All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood - I picked up this book at the campus bookstore when we visited Stanford.  I'd heard many things prior to reading it, yet I didn't really know what to expect.  It was written really, really well.  The story and the characters' experiences are disturbing, intense, thought-provoking, and emotional.  It deserves all the attention it has received.  5/5


2.  Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchison - Another book I purchased in America.  Another book that I didn't know what to expect.  All I knew is it was about a school shooting, and Jana highly recommended it.  I didn't realize that it read like short stories, and each chapter was written by a different author, yet they all examined the same school shooting in a different perspective.  Super different and interesting way to read about a topic that I've read about before.  4/5

3.  Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulus - It is not uncommon for me to read a book in which I despise all the characters but love the book.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen this time.  My frustration and annoyance at almost every single character in this book overpowered my enjoyment factor.  Ruth saved it for me.  She is a badass.  2.5/5

4.  The Cleaner by Paul Cleave - I love reading a thriller author that is new to me whose book I picked up at a secondhand bookstore just because.  I will definitely read more from this author.  There are some messed up scenes and fucked up characters in this book.  4/5

5.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - One of the reasons that I am a self-professed book challenge junkie is that I am encouraged to read books that I've been intending to read but haven't made time for.  When Bev picked the category for my challenge to "read a book with a non-human main character", I knew that I wanted to read this one.  Finally.  And, I am thankful I did.  My emotions were all over the place, and I cried big, ugly, sloppy tears.  4.5/5 
SPOILER ALERT!  PLEASE MOVE ALONG IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ONE ASPECT OF THIS BOOK...okay, I knew the book would be about a dog and its full life and that the dog would most likely die.  BUT, for someone who had a loved one (my stepmother who entered my life when I was 15 and left it when I was 30) die after a heart-breaking battle with brain cancer, well, I wasn't expecting that part of the storyline, so I was crying big, ugly, sloppy tears a whole helluva a lot while reading this one. 

6.  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - What an impressive debut book from a young author!  This book tells the stories of generations from a family tree whose origins began in 18th century Ghana. It was fascinating and heart-breaking, devastating and beautiful.  The Sociology major in me especially enjoyed the final chapter.  4.5/5

Let me know if you decide to add any of these to your "to read" list, or if you've read them before, what did you think?

My dilemma

Howdy folks, remember me? 

So, I decided to take a mini hiatus while I took a little vacay back to America.  That mini hiatus has lasted much longer than planned.  Here's the dilemma.....

Time, and more specifically, prioritizing my time.

No, this is not a dilemma exclusive to me.  You see, at my previous job, I was able to write blogs, read blogs, comment on blogs, read emails, answer emails, and interact with all of you during my work day.  (Hmmm...could this be a reason the business failed?  Focusing on blog stuff instead of work stuff?  We'll leave that for another time.)  Now, at my current position, there is no time whatsoever for any of that activity.  And, I'm working longer hours than I expected.  So, prioritizing my time took a big shift.

Also, previously, I worked and commuted with my guy.  Now, I don't.  Now, after work, I want to devote a little time to him and to us.

By the time I get home from work, do household stuff, eat dinner, have some family time, do a little reading (which, by the way, had changed too because my daily commute is significantly less)...and currently, I devote some time daily to my book challenge admin duties (which I love and will not give up), then my "me" time is up. 

You see, what I enjoy most from my blogging experience is the interaction.  I've established some relationships with some of you because I've gotten to know you, we shared some genuine conversations, I took the time to read what you were putting out there, and you reciprocated.  I feel like I can't, or I don't, or I haven't found the ability to carve out the time I want to give for that kind of interaction.  And, I don't want to half ass it.  This is my dilemma.

Here's a glaring example of this ~ you all know I love Show Us Your Books day.  Last month, I posted, but I only read Jana and Steph's posts.  I don't think I answered any comments, or if I did they were quick responses that lacked any depth and didn't stick with me.  I did not feel good about this.  Then, this month's SUYB happens, and I didn't even know it was coming

I've caught myself grabbing the laptop and preparing a post.  But, I don't want to post if I can't adequately interact.  I don't want to post if I can't read yours and again, adequately interact. 

I mentioned before that I love my book challenge and won't give it up.  That is true.  It takes a bit of time, but I find the time to do it.  So, why haven't I done this with blogging?  I love blogging too.  I value the friendships and relationships that have grown from this space.  Again, I have a dilemma, and I'm trying to work it out. 

I am open to any thoughts, opinions, advice, and suggestions.  Again, I value you guys that have found your way to my space and care enough to read along and interact with me. 

Until I get this all figured out and learn to prioritize my time in a way that works, I sincerely hope life is treating you well.  Each and every one of you.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I show you my books, you show me yours...vol.29


It's Show Us Your Books Day!  I'm still on a blog mini-hiatus, but I can't miss my favorite day in blogging month.  The day hosted by Jana & Steph, the day that makes my goodreads "to read" list grow, and the day I interact with a blogging community of readers.  I love this day (or week because it sometimes takes me a week to read all the links) of the month.

What I've read since last link-up:

So, so good. An interesting web of characters tangled in family dynamics, drugs, violence, crime, and mayhem. I was engrossed with the story from beginning to end.  Side note: I enjoyed that the backwoods Southern father was called "deddy" because that's exactly how it's pronounced, and it read perfectly in my head.  4.5/5

2.  Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira -
For YA, I loved everything about this book. Was it a perfect book? No, but I loved its imperfections. Were there some difficult scenes to read? Yes, several, but I thought it was done so well from the voice of a teenage girl. 4.5/5

I read the 2 previous books in this series and remember gobbling them up.  This one was just alright.  As Steph says, "it passed the time just fine".  3/5

This is the 27th book in the Lucas Davenport series.  I have read it since 1991.  I continue to be amazed that this author keeps every book interesting and unique enough to keep me coming back for more.  4/5

I liked this book, but I didn't love it.  I appreciated the topics that she was trying to tackle, but I was just never as invested in the characters as I wish I was.  3/5

The current goodreads rating for this mystery/thriller is 3.81.  That's a pretty adequate overall rating for it, in my opinion although, I wish a character or two had been further developed. 


Now, it's my time to pimp my book challenge.  It's a pretty fantastic place for booklovers, if I do say so myself.  Check it out with the following links:

I've shown you mine, you show me yours...