2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 1 book toward her goal of 40 books.
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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Journaling Seaglass Journal

I have become very interested in journaling lately and I am entering a period of my life where I want to get fit and healthy (er) than I am now, which is where I can combine my love of journaling AND my need for wellness, both physically and mentally.

I think keeping a journal of the experience will be worthwhile, especially as I have so many thoughts going through my head on what is ahead.

I had heart surgery in July 2015, for an aortic valve replacement and ever since, I have been contemplating doing things differently - basically honoring my body - the same body that saw me through heart surgery, the  atrial fibrillation that followed and drain in my thorax to remove water from my lungs.  Despite all that, my body kept going and I think its time to do better.



I am not my body, but I want to treat it better than I have been.




The pocket  journal I found is from Seaglass  Publishing is compact and easy to carry.  It gives me the opportunity to voice my thoughts!




Thank you to Abigail at Schiffer Publishing for sending me this beautiful journal to record my journey to wellness.







Pure Sea Glass Pocket Journal







Saturday, January 18, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Gone at Midnight, The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam by Jake Anderson


Thank you to the publisher - Citadel for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:          Gone at Midnight, The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam

AUTHOR:     Jake Anderson

GENRE:        True Creme

RATING:       2 stars


First off, everything involved with this case feels creepy to me, which is a feeling that persisted while I read this book.

Having said that, I can honestly say that I cannot remember the last time I read a book that held such potential, only to fall apart, almost from page 1.

The author is literally all over the place with this story.  He is in the past (when the event happened), then he goes even further back in time, then he mixes the past  with his current timeline, then we are in a "what if" scenario that may never have happened and then we are in one of his dreams and I found myself completely confused.

He also went off on tangents all the time.  Early in the book, he explains about the involvement of k-9s during the search, which quickly turns into a way too long history on the use of k-9 dogs in criminal cases.  Then he wanders off topic when he starts talking, again in too much detail, about serial killer Ramirez.  Yes, there is some pertinence to him talking about Ramirez because he stayed at the Cecil at some point - wayyyyy before Elisa Lam was there, but all of the detailed backstory on this murderer is not necessary.  If I want to read about him and his crimes, I can pick up another book.

The other issue I had is that the author kept intermingling his own personal issues with the case and with Elisa.  Yes, I know that he obviously was attracted to this case, in part because of the shared mental illness that they both suffer from.   But, wow, there was way toooooo much information on the author and his personal life, that frankly, just removed from the story.  He could have simply spent a paragraph explaining the shared illness and moved on.  But, it was pages and pages of "I am dreaming, I am losing it, I am, I am, I am" and none of this was necessary to the story.

The one thing that the author did very well  is describe the hotel while actually staying there on two occassions.  He made the whole Cecil come alive with his descriptions and he managed to convey a real sense of dread and creepiness.  He could have written a whole book on the Cecil and I would have read it.

In the end, while the author did bring up a few unknown facts, there isn't much he can do with them as absolutely nobody seems to want to investigate this further.  Perhaps there is a conspiracy, but at this point, he only brings up more unanswered questions with very few chances of ever getting an answer.  I am not even sure what he thinks happened.....as there are so many back and forth theories, involving so many different people and he is not really clear with what he thinks is the real story.

Ultimately, this is a very sad book.  It never needed to happen - any of it and Elisa would be back home, living her life.  But it did happen and I do hope that her family and friends have managed to find some peace.

As for this book, if you can get it at the library, go for it, otherwise.....not so much.

Friday, December 20, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Smacked by Eilene Zimmerman


Thank you to Random House for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:         Smacked
AUTHOR:    Eilene Zimmerman
GENRE:       Memoir
RATING:      4 STARS

I loved this book.  I literally read it in a few days.

However,  I am sure I am not alone, as a reader, feeling frustrated that NOBODY be it family or employer or friends seem to pick up on the fact that Peter was a drug user.

Yes, the author discusses this at length in the book, but come on!!  In some ways, I feel as though Peter was all alone in his final journey and while I know that addicts isolate in order to use, I find it sad that not one person put all the pieces together, particularly since it  sounds  as though he was giving everyone plenty of "clues" to work with.  Could someone have helped him? probably not as is clearly indicated in this book - only the addict can help him/her self, but it makes you wonder anyway.

Having said all of that, I have mad respect for the author (and her children) for sharing such an intimate part of their lives.  It must have been both difficult and hopefully cathartic to do so.

Although this book is separated into sections, for me, there were only 2 - before and after.  The beginning part is fascinating, while the more "analytical" part is less engrossing.  The author does tend to go back and forth between events (and years) but it is easy enough to follow.

Her writing style is wonderful.  Down to earth and engrossing (I cannot call a memoir of this kind entertaining considering the subject matter) I literally could not put this down.

I would have liked a bit more  detail on the "before" part, but overall, this is one of the best books I have ever read on addiction (and I read a lot of em).


Here is hoping everyone in the family is  happy and thriving.  I lost my dad when I was only 11 and while it was because of a car crash, I know that growing up with that kind of event in your young life marks you for life.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Boo,k REVIEW for Criss Cross by James Patterson


TITLE:                Criss Criss

AUTHOR:         James Patterson

GENRE:             Thriller

RATING:            2 stars

What the heck did i just read? I love Alex Cross but this was a mixture of old cases and new. None of it makes sense and I have read all his books. This one needs to shot and buried.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Book REVIEW for Inside Out by Demi Moore


TITLE:                 Inside Out

AUTHOR:            Demi Moore

GENRE:                Memoir

RATING:               3 stars

Meh!

I admire people who are willing to write memoirs - it must be incredibly intrusive and I find them very brave.

Having said that, if you ARE going to write a memoir, wouldn't it be great if you actually didn't gloss over a ton of things.

Firstly, this book is not very long and the tone of the story feels rushed.

Secondly, while Moore details her childhood in painful detail, it becomes repetitive very quickly, 

However, when it comes to the (let's face it) parts where many of the general public (who buy this book) would like to hear more about, she generally spends about a page or two and then moves on.  

I was interested in her experiences working on "About Last Night" in which she is excellent.  I also wanted to learn a lot more about the set experiences on "A Few Good Men"..... she covers these, almost as an afterthought.  

She spent pages and pages on her childhood and not enough pages on her adult life.  

The writing is fun and she easily makes you feel comfortable.


I just wish it had been different.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Book REVIEW for Confessions of a bookseller by Shaun Bythell




Thank you to the publisher for sending me an electronic copy of this book,

TITLE:                 Confessions of a Bookseller


AUTHOR:            Shaun Bythell

GENRE;               Non fiction

RATING:             4 stars

 have read both books in the series and have the exact same thoughts on both.

I love the bookstore stories. The customers, the online sales of books, the book buying trips and, of course, Captain. I would have continued reading hundreds and hundreds of pages on the above subjects.

What I struggle with though, is the fact that the author is not particularly likable. In fact, I am reminded of a saying I heard recently "all that brooding intensity is just annoying sometimes". That is exactly how I feel about the author and since he is an integral part of the story, I found myself turned off by the stories that are directly connected to him.

In fact, the weakest parts of this book are the characters. Yes, I know that bookstores are known for being eclectic, but I don't understand how a boss can tolerate employees who basically do what they want, which includes calling him names and blatantly disregarding his instructions (not to mention coming in late or not at all).

The part that is absolutely worth reading are the bits featuring conversations about books. Books purchased and sold and I love, love the stories about visiting various homes and buying collection of books. I wish there would have been a lot more focus on this topic and less on who is sleeping where for the "festival".

This book is well written (in diary form) and, for the most part, is fun.

I, again, wonder how he makes all his money. According to his "till" totals, there is no way he should be able to buy all the books he does, not to mention all the other expenses he seems to pay off without a care in the world about $.

I always find his books incomplete, like we are missing pieces of the puzzle for it to all make sense.
 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Girls Like Me by Kristin Butcher

I love this series.  They are short, I admit, but they are all aimed at YA and usually carry an important social theme.


Thank you to Orca Book Publishers for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.


TITLE:               Girls Like Me

AUTHOR:         Kristin Butcher

GENRE:             YA

RATING:            4 stars


This book was no different. The theme of rape, pregnancy and friendship are all covered in this way too short book.

The book opens with a resounding scene, our main character is rushed to the hospital because she is bleeding.  It turns out that she was pregnant and miscarried.  This is definitely an issue as she is a YA and nowhere ready for motherhood.

While this could have covered a whole book in itself, the author chooses to focus on the reason she got pregnant.

Horrific and all too possible.  

What I liked most about this book is the main character, she is smart and makes a decision to keep living her life as best as she can.  We see how hard her "friends" makes it for her, in fact, her best friend disappears and ends up hooking up with "the" guy everyone is in love with.

The friendship is strained, until an event brings them back together.  

The whole story is done very well, with respect and with big issues needing to be handled.

Loved, loved this book.

Friday, July 5, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell






THIS BOOK IS SCHEDULED TO BE RELEASED IN AUGUST 2019.

Thank you to the publisher, Profile Books Inc, for giving me an advanced  e-copy of the book to read and review.

TITLE:                   Confessions of a Bookseller


AUTHOR:              Shaun Bythell


GENRE:                 Memoir

RATING:               4 Stars




I have read both books in the series and have the exact same thoughts on both.

I love the bookstore stories. The customers, the online sales of books, the book buying trips and, of course, Captain. I would have continued reading hundreds and hundreds of pages on the above subjects.

What I struggle with though, is the fact that the author is not particularly likable. In fact, I am reminded of a saying I heard recently "all that brooding intensity is just annoying sometimes". That is exactly how I feel about the author and since he is an integral part of the story, I found myself turned off by the stories that are directly connected to him.

In fact, the weakest parts of this book are the characters. Yes, I know that bookstores are known for being eclectic, but I don't understand how a boss can tolerate employees who basically do what they want, which includes calling him names and blatantly disregarding his instructions (not to mention coming in late or not at all).

The part that is absolutely worth reading are the bits featuring conversations about books. Books purchased and sold and I love, love the stories about visiting various homes and buying collection of books. I wish there would have been a lot more focus on this topic and less on who is sleeping where for the "festival".

This book is well written (in diary form) and, for the most part, is fun.

I, again, wonder how he makes all his money. According to his "till" totals, there is no way he should be able to buy all the books he does, not to mention all the other expenses he seems to pay off without a care in the world about $.

I always find his books incomplete, like we are missing pieces of the puzzle for it to all make sense.

Monday, June 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Save Karyn by Karyn Bosnak


TITLE:                 Save Kary

AUTHOR:            Karyn Bosnak

GENRE:              Memoir/self help

RATING:             5 Stars


I love, love this book.

To be honest, I had read it when it first came out. This was at the beginning of the Internet craze and at the time, this was a radical thing to do - ask strangers for $. Now, we have all types of site that do just that, but it is interesting to read, in Karyn's own words, her experiences. I feel she is a bit of a pioneer in the "asking for money" arena and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

The first part of the book details her spending. It is done with humor and is an honest look at a single woman living and working in NYC. Karyn's writing style is nice, she is down to earth and the pacing of the book is perfectly done.

You end up cringing at some of the purchases, but also at some of her reasoning, because you have no doubt been there at some point.  Its amazing how our brains can rationalize stuff and you can see it, in full force, in this story.

Its interesting to see the progression of her shopping and the inflation of her debt. At the end of each chapter, she includes a copy of her credit card statements., Wouldn't it be great if we could all remove ourselves from our own lives and see it written down.   How would  act if we saw on paper our purchases and the associated debt.

I have always felt that debt kind of creeps up on you.  You know its there, but you keep telling yourself its not that bad - when it actually is.

Karen's debt load was killing her and I don't know how she managed the stress. No job and $20K in debt.  I would have freaked out AND living in NYC where no apartment is cheap!

The second part of the book details how she gets out of debt. Between selling her designer stuff on Ebay and creating her website to ask $ for strangers, it is fun to read all of her entries.  Now she is putting every penny towards her debt, which leaves her drinking really bad instant coffee because she has no money to buy the better stuff.

What is lacking in this book is more details about her state of mind during the second part of her book. We get a lot of i am hungry, but not a lot of anything else. I wanted to know how she could just turn that switch on and off - one minute you buy designer and the next you sell it off, eat ramen noodles without much effort. Did she ever want to just splurge? these are the types of questions I have.

Overall, this book is fantastic and kind of inspirational and a cautionary tale for sure.

I would love a follow up memoir to let us know what happened AFTER the first book.
 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for A Sucky Love Story by Brittani Louise Taylor

A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After by [Taylor, Brittani Louise]



TITLE:            A Sucky Love Story

AUTHOR:      Brittani Taylor


GENRE:          Memoir


RATING:         5 stars


Oh my god this was such a good book.

I actually bought this book because I loved the title, never having heard of Brittani Louise Taylor. I thought it would be light reading, with some cute break up stories. Even the cover made me think this....but what I found was completely different.

This book is amazing - the story Brittani tells is so private and so scary. It makes you really ask the question "do we ever really know someone" and from my personal experience I can tell you a resounding "NO".

The opening pages are light and airy, but then the story takes a turn and what makes it so engrossing is that this is real and could have happened to any woman.


Brittani has a wonderful writing style.  She gives us just enough detail without adding  boring details and she knows how to make the tension mount.

The turn this story takes is scary for any female. Like many of us, Brittani, a smart woman, basically turns dumb when it comes to Milos (been there, done that!). At times, I found myself yelling at her, then being scared for her, then going from appalled to ultimately rooting for her.

What would have done in this situation? I would like to think I would have dealt with it sooner than Brittani did,  but I am not remotely certain I would have.  Men lie - and they do it well and this book is a prime example of that.  They get you to the point where you question your own sanity, which Brittani conveys clearly in this story.

Thank you to Brittani for writing this book, it must have been hard and you are brave.

Now, start writing fiction books with strong female characters and I promise to buy and read each one.


 
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