Friday, September 30, 2016

Birthday Boy

Sunday Errol celebrates his 32nd birthday and I'm so excited about it. He still has no idea what I got him and I'm really hoping he likes it. The celebration looks a little different this year because I fly out to Phoenix for a work trip early Sunday morning. We had his family party last weekend and Saturday we'll be staying in Boston for the night. I feel incredibly bad that I will miss his actual birthday but I am looking forward to my trip. Next weekend I have his birthday present scheduled.

Moments to Remember From This Year

+ Boston for his birthday last year and seeing Blue Man Group.
+ Four wheeling on Christmas Eve because we didn't have snow.
+ Chasing each other around the housing, messing with each other and laughing. We do this a lot and also pillow/blanket fights before bed.
+ That one time we went berry picking.
+ Potty training Chitty
+ Errol getting the lift in his Tacoma and his new motorcycle. Things like that make him happy and him being happy makes me happy.
+ Bar Harbor for our anniversary weekend earlier this month, particularly biking around Acadia. Also that one time at Jordan Pond.

Happy Birthday, Errol! I hope that even though your birthday isn't how you planned, you still feel loved and special.
Now off to pack!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

People Are Diverse. Books Should Be Too

So I know I'm coming in late to this one since Banned Books Week ends October 1st but it is an important issue and one that I think any true lover of books feels passionate about. I would think at this point in time, we would be beyond the whole freedom of speech and censorship thing but the world is full of ignorance. But one need to only look at our current election to see that. Look how many people who are supporting Trump (whoops, did I say that). 

I think one of the greatest gifts I was given as a child was the encouragement to read but also the freedom to read any book that struck my fancy. Looking back on it now, I did certainly read books that might not have been "age appropriate" but my parents or Gram never told me I couldn't read something. I distinctly remember reading one of my Gram's "romance" books because I had nothing else to read. Granted the subject matter was far over my head but I was so addicted to reading, I read anything I could get my hands on, often times more than once. Reading has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and it's interwoven throughout my childhood. When I slept over at my Gram's, we would go to bed and read. It started out as her reading to me and then me reading to her and eventually to us each reading our respective books. 

I strongly believe that children should be exposed to different thoughts and ideas so they can create their own opinions and views on the world. As children, we are unbiased and without prejudice but as more beliefs are imposed upon us, our belief system is guided a certain way. Once these set of beliefs or morals are formed, more often than not we do not challenge those thoughts that have been instilled in us since childhood.  The close mindedness is perpetuated and we don't evolve as a society. 

I came across these alarming facts from the ALA website and had to share them. I am appalled that in five short years, our views on censorship have actually regressed and become more conservative.

In July 2015, a Harris poll on attitudes about book banning and school libraries revealed that out of the 2,244 US adults who participated, the percentage who felt that certain books should be banned increased by more than half since the previous survey in 2011. Twenty-eight percent believe certain books should be banned today, compared with 18% four years ago. One-fourth (24%) are unsure, which leaves less than half of Americans convinced that no book should be banned (48%). Republicans (42%) are nearly twice as likely as Democrats (23%) or Independents (22%) to believe there are any books that should be banned. In addition, adults who have completed high school or less (33%) are more likely than those with higher levels of education (some college 25%, college graduates 24%, postgraduates 23%) to believe there are books that should be banned.
 
Three-fifths of Americans believe children should not be able to get books containing explicit language from school libraries (60%, down two points from 2011), while half say the same of books with references to violence (48%, the same as in 2011). Interestingly, similar numbers of adults would like to remove books that include witchcraft or sorcery (44%, up three points) and those with references to sex (43%, down two points) from school library shelves. A little less than four in 10 each would like to keep out books with references to drugs or alcohol (37%, down four points) and books that include vampires (36%, up two points).

In addition, a third of the respondents (33%) do not think children should be able to get the Koran from their school library and three in 10 say the same of the Torah or Talmud (29%). A fourth don’t think children should be able to get books that question the existence of a divine being or beings from school libraries (26%), while two in 10 say the same of books that discuss creationism (19%) and 16% feel this way about books that discuss evolution. (source)
If you haven't already, you should take a look at the top 100 banned books from the last decade. I've read 24 but I've heard of about every single book. I looked at the top 100 from the 90's and some of them, I have no clue why they would even be on there, like James and the Giant Peach...why!? 

The beauty of books is that there's something out there for everyone. Here's a concept; if it offends you, don't read it but don't make it so no one else can either. People are diverse and books should be too. We aren't all white or straight or believe God so why should our books fit that mold. 

Please consider reading a banned book in support of books everywhere. Better yet, buy a banned book and help support the authors that are writing and creating diversity in the book world.

What do you think about banned books? 
What book are you reading in support of Banned Books Week? 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Five Reasons Working at a Bookstore Was the Best

ARCs

 

The bookstore I worked at didn't have a ladder bookshelf, I wish. I'm fairly certain it's every book lovers dream to have a library with one.
Anyone who has been involved with the book industry is aware of ARCs or advances as we called them where I worked. I remember when the book seller would come from respective publishers and we would have a list waiting of advances we were hoping to get. We would regularly get boxes of books in the mail. Not all of them were good but there was always something for someone. This is where the start of my book stockpile began. It's hard to pass up a free book, yo. 

Getting Paid to Read

 

There wasn't much reading on the job that happened but we were encouraged to bring books home and read them so that we could make recommendations to customers. As long as no damage was done, we were safe to return the book to the shelf. I loved putting my name on the "staff pick" stickers of a book that I had just devoured.

Finding a New Favorite Author

 

I was introduced, by one of my fellow co-workers, to the greatness that is John Irving while working at the bookstore. My first voyage into his works was The World According to Garp and I fell in love with his storytelling. I'd never read anything quite like him. I know that he can be long winded and even for someone who likes his books, slow going but I love how much of a story you get. I love big books for that reason. They tell a complete story. I've been working my way through his novels ever since.

Book Talk

 

I started at the bookstore the summer I graduated high school. I'd never been around so many people who genuinely enjoyed reading books and who talked about books and actively shopped for books. I didn't go to school people with many people who read for a hobby. Peers thought you were weird if you went to the library if it didn't have to do with some report. It was really the first time I understood that there was this whole community of people who enjoyed getting lost in books. My co-workers and I would talk books, I would talk about books with customers. The best feeling in the world was when a customer would buy a book you recommended and even better, came back and said how much they loved it! It wasn't uncommon for a book to be passed around the employees because it was good. Working at a bookstore you are exposed to so many genres and authors you might ordinarily not have known and it really helped cement my love of books.

Book Mail

 

We got book mail daily but there was the one day a week, usually Friday or Monday as new books were due to come out on Tuesdays, where we would be inundated with books. The best part is you never knew what was coming so it was like never ending book presents. We didn't keep track of stock electronically so every book had to have a card made for it. It was the perfect excuse to preview a book especially if it was one you were coveting. I remember the release day of the last HP book. There was so much excitement and people were cracking the book open to start reading before they even got to the counter.



Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Decade

Two things about that above photo before I go into the real reason of this post. 1) This photo was taken on the ferris wheel at a fair where we saw Errol's high school Cadillac get smashed up in a demolition derby 2) My brow game is on point. They are literally perfect. Well, besides my wonky right side but it's like that unless I have RBF.

Ten years ago today Errol and I went on our first date. I was 19 and he was 21. We'd talked on the phone the whole week leading up to that Friday but we'd been flirting and spending time together for the last month or so. I remember I tried on all my best outfits and agonized over what to wear. I wore my hair down, which if you know me is a big deal. I sprayed myself with vanilla wearing my green American Eagle sweater and toting my gold sparkly purse. I cringe now just thinking about that outfit. The plan was to meet at Applebee's. I showed up and jumped out of my car to wait in front. I was anxious and nervous. I realized after several minutes of waiting that he was late. That's when I started to get really nervous. Was I being stood up? (Sidenote: I put off getting a cell phone for as long as possible and didn't have one at this time to text and see where he was. I actually didn't end up getting a cell phone until we moved in together and realized that I couldn't call him when he was traveling for work.) He showed up about 15 minutes late and looking back on it now, I realize he must have been just as nervous as I was. Errol is hardly ever late and he told me later that he had gone shopping for a new shirt that day, got a haircut and cleaned his car for the date. He was particularly worried that I would get in his car and think it was gross and dirty which is funny because I remember being worried he'd think my car was a shitbox because I had a Geo Prism with duct tape on the bumper. haha
If someone had showed me that night what the future held for him and I, I wouldn't have believed them. I went into our relationship with no expectations or anything. I'm still in disbelief when I really think about how long we've been together. I didn't meet Errol and know that moment that we were "meant to be". Our love story didn't unfold that way. That's not to say that I didn't fall hard and fast for him. It just happened and I didn't think about it. Even now as I write this post, I get all verklempt just thinking about us and the intense love I feel for him and our relationship. It's overwhelming how much you can love someone. Where will we be 10 years from now? What does that future version of us look like? I might be aloof and I might not always show my love but it's there, always. I might get cranky and wrapped up in everyday life and the details but he is the very best part of everything. I don't want him to ever doubt my love. 

We're not perfect, far from it but we both are committed to the other. That's why we've weathered 10 years together. There's been highs and lows, ebbs and flows but we've chosen each other and we stick together. We've chosen each other as life partners. I continue to choose him everyday. I don't feel "stuck" with him. We've built a life together and still are and I'm so excited to see where that life takes us.

All of this is really just to say, I love you Errol. I've said it all before and there's really no other way to say it. It's plain and simple but it has my whole heart behind it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What I Read // August 2016

Rating System

5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it. Would recommend
3- Decent/solid read.
2- Would not recommend. Barely finished
1- Hard no, DNF. Gave book away.

Rotters by Daniel Krauss

Rating: 3
Audio

Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey's life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.
Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating. 

I really wanted to like Rotters. The subject matter is right up my alley with the dark and macabre but I dunno if it was narrator or the story itself but it was slow and I was uninvested. I would have liked to hear more about the rotters club and more history of grave digging. I was more interested until Baby came along and I was really put off by him. Not in a bad person type of way but more like who is this. I was happy with the ending and that Joey found some sort of peace. I was just disappointed because I was looking for something dark and creepy.

 The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver

Rating: 4

In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. “Deadbeat Nation” being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains to savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.
The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also—as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction—the challenge of sheer survival.

This book was really slow going for about the first half but I breezed through the last half. I've attempted to read several of Shriver's previous books (I'm looking at you, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and this is the first one I could get through. She seems to be a hard writer for me. I originally was not rating this book too highly but I've thought about it a few times since I read it and it's kind of scary how accurate it could be. Mandibles is set in the not too distant future at the start of an economic collapse. The way the world spirals out of control is plausible and not far off of how it probably would happen. I wasn't really a fan of the ending per se but the book as a whole left a lot to think about.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Rating: 2

With Who Moved My Cheese? Dr. Spencer Johnson realizes the need for finding the language and tools to deal with change--an issue that makes all of us nervous and uncomfortable.
Most people are fearful of change because they don't believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change.

Nope. If you listen to the beginning of this book, it tells you that if you don't like this book or think it's obvious, you must be resistant to change. I'm a pretty adaptable, go with the flow type of person at work. I don't get my panties in a bunch when things disrupt my day. I will admit that in certain situations, I can recognize myself as a Hem or Haw. For example, we just got Office 365 installed in our computers which is requiring us to switch between desktops. It's a pain. I don't have time for simple things that make my life harder. I can recognize that I'm not accepting this change with open arms but I really didn't feel like anything said in this book was revolutionary. I think it's more suited to the negative Nancy's of the office.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Rating: 3
 
Another book that I'm in the minority with. I think Seven Habits was certainly more informative than Who Moved My Cheese but it still was not my type of book. What does it say if I don't like self help books? Personal development books can be hit or miss and they have to be written the right way and not to be preachy. There were some things I jotted down, mainly because we had to read this for work and we have a meeting to discuss, but whatever. I really didn't connect with Covey and honestly, he had too many religious threads and he kind of seemed like an asshat. Some of the stories he told did not make him come across in the best light. 

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Rating: 4.5
Audio
Inspector Gamache #6

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society--where an obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

U&!**(&!*(J!Y^%#^&WT This was the best Gamache yet! Bury Your Dead grabs you by your heart and is a rollercoaster of emotions from beginning to end. I love Gamache and this book forces you to watch as this strong character is lost and suffering. I was also taken by surprise by the killer in this one but probably because I was so involved in the story of what happened to Gamache and his team that the mystery took a backseat, even though it was a good one and filled with historical information. Read this series!

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Rating: 3

After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well—though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband…but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress.

 There's a line in the very beginning of this book that Greta's brother says and it stuck with me. "When you were a little girl, is this the woman you dreamed of being?" It was a loose thread throughout the book but I think it could be a thought provoking question in your own life. I really enjoyed the time traveling element of this book. I'm totally into the idea of fate and destiny. It did bother me how stuck Greta was on her lover. In every version of her life, he wasn't a nice person but she still pursued him in every version. I liked her relationship with her brother and in each world it stayed constant. Recommend as a good beach or flight read.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Rating: 4

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence. 

I can see why someone might not have liked this book but I read it in two days and I was hooked from the first page. Yes, it's a fictionalized version of the Manson Family but I love taboo stuff like this. It was interesting to see how a "normal" girl got in over her head and was brainwashed into believing the family was important. Even when Evie is telling the story, looking back, she still idealizes Russell and Suzanne and sees it through rose colored glasses. I think it's easy for people to judge and say how could a suburban girl like that fall into that kind of situation but that's exactly how it happens. You think it could never possibly happen to you and before you know it, it has and it's too late. I left the book wanting more.

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) by Laurie Notaro

Rating: 3

Laurie is married, mortgaged, and now—miraculously—employed in the corporate world, discovering that bosses come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of mental stability. After maxing out her last good credit card at Banana Republic, she’s dressed for success and ready to face the jungle: surviving feral, six-foot-plus Gretchen (“Three Thousand Faces of Eve”) before battling the overbearing, overstuffed (in way-too-small pants) new mom Suzzi, who ruthlessly cancels Laurie’s newspaper column and learns that payback can be a bitch. Laurie also explores the backstabbing world of preschoolers at a Halloween party, the X-rated madness of a family trip to Disneyland, and the pressure from her QVC-addicted mother and the rest of the world to reproduce. But while losing more friends to babies than to booze, she realizes there’s a plus side: at least for a couple of months she gets to be the thinner friend.

Notaro is always good for a laugh. If you haven't read Notaro and you enjoy essays on life with sarcasm and blunt humor, she's your girl. This was exactly what I was expecting and I laughed out loud. Notaro doesn't take any bull and she's not afraid to let her freak flag fly. One statement really stuck with me because I relate to it 1000%.
"I'm not exactly a people person. You see, when I was born, God gave me an ounce of patience that was supposed to last me a lifetime, but it turns out I used all of it up during the first week."

Love It:The Girls and Bury Your Dead
Leave It:Who Moved My Cheese
Life According to Steph  



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Olympic Book Tag

I saw this on Kristen's blog the other week who credited the idea from Shannon at It Starts at Midnight. All images are courtesy of Shannon. I've since seen a few other people do it and knew I wanted to play along. Even though Rio is over, there's nothing wrong with extending the Olympic fun. 
https://www.amazon.com/Time-Travelers-Wife-Audrey-Niffenegger/dp/1476764832/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473113899&sr=8-2&keywords=time+travelers+wife
One of my very favoritest books. I fell in love with Henry and Claire's love story from the beginning. I know some people don't like the time flip flopping in the book but I liked piecing together their story. 
https://www.amazon.com/Into-Wild-Jon-Krakauer/dp/0385486804/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473114369&sr=8-1&keywords=into+the+wild
Loved the movie and the book. While McCandless story is idealized, there is something alluring about his story of casting off society and just escaping into the wild. 
https://www.amazon.com/Ethan-Frome-Edith-Wharton/dp/1508474133/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473114791&sr=8-1&keywords=ethan+frome
This is my number one favorite book in all the book land. I know it's literally the most depressing book but it wrapped itself around my heart. Wharton's small and bleak world that she's created for Frome is dark and cold. The love triangle is not of the wildly passionate kind but of the finding happiness where one can and then it all goes to shit kind. 
https://www.amazon.com/Cats-Cradle-Novel-Kurt-Vonnegut/dp/038533348X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473115118&sr=8-1&keywords=vonnegut
I read this last year and this is my second Vonnegut and his writing might not be for me. I think his humor is lost on me.
https://www.amazon.com/Aristotle-Dante-Discover-Secrets-Universe/dp/1442408936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473115347&sr=8-1&keywords=aristotle+and+dante+discover+the+secrets+of+the+universe
Aristotle and Dante's relationship unfolds during one summer where everything changes for the both of them.
https://www.amazon.com/Red-Rising-Pierce-Brown/dp/034553980X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473115483&sr=8-1&keywords=red+rising
Really this whole bloodydamn series though. If I was going to recommend any books from this list, it would be this trilogy. 
https://www.amazon.com/Still-Missing-Chevy-Stevens/dp/1250049512/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473115735&sr=8-1&keywords=still+missing
Stevens is on my must read more of this author list.
https://www.amazon.com/Nightingale-Kristin-Hannah/dp/0312577222/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473115957&sr=8-1&keywords=nightingale
Yup, full on sobbing the last 30 pages. One of the best books I've read this year. 
https://www.amazon.com/Historian-Elizabeth-Kostova/dp/0316011770/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1473116093&sr=8-1
Sometimes slow paces books can be good. A lot of times they can be the bigger volumes but I like big books. You get a whole history/story. You don't feel like endings get rushed. One of my favorite authors, John Irving, is slow paced but I adore his stories.
I had all the Goosebumps book when I was younger. I remember my Gram taking me to the bookstore when new ones would come out and we would each get a new book. 
https://www.amazon.com/Modoc-Story-Greatest-Elephant-Lived/dp/0060929510/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473116425&sr=8-1&keywords=moduc
Elephants are my favorite animals. Moduc tugs on your heartstrings.
Most recently, this one. Too slow paced and not personal enough for a memoir. I wanted more sociopath stories not statistics. 
https://www.amazon.com/Power-One-Novel-Bryce-Courtenay/dp/034541005X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473116727&sr=8-1&keywords=the+power+of+one
If you haven't read this book and you're a fan of historical fiction, you should. I learned a lot about the Boer War from this book. The story of Peekay features a strong thread of friendship throughout.
https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Loved-Tom-Gordon/dp/0671042858/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473117127&sr=8-1&keywords=the+girl+who+loved+tom+gordon

I don't read very many books with sports in them. Power of One could have fallen into this category because it features boxing. I had to stretch for this one but it does have a baseball theme which come to think of it, is that even in the Olympics? LOL

PS This post took me way longer to put together than I thought it would!
 
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