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Well, it’s coming….

By the end of the day tomorrow I will owe you guys about, say, six or so picture book reviews. XD Sorry it’s taking so long for me to get these up, I just feel a bit overwhelmed with all of my obligations right now. I keep finding myself neglecting something, or several somethings. I’m trying I promise! So, when next I post I will be reviewing the following picture books, and probably part II of Gulliver’s Travels.

-The Ice Cream King
-Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake
-The Underpants Zoo
-Itsy Mitsy Runs Away

And maybe a few more. My main goal right now is to finish Gulliver, and hopefully Madame B soon after. But right now I’m super tired and I still have a lot to do so goodnight dear readers!

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The Four Agreements for my mother

So, I’ve decided I’m going to buy a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz for my mother for Mother’s Day.

I love my mom, but lately she’s been under a lot of stress and she’s feeling trapped. By bills, a mortgage, a career, a marriage, and children. She’s almost always unhappy, any little thing will make her angry, or worse, make her cry. She seems to be completely unaware of her own worth and constantly seeking the validation of others. Something really needs to change for her, but it’s not a change that can happen externally. It’s something she will have to change within herself. Once she was free-spirited, creative, kick-ass, and strong. And now she just seems like a bad caricature of the wonderful, inspiring, and amazing person she once was.

The four agreements that Ruiz speaks of in his book are this:
Be impeccable with your word
Don’t take anything personally
Don’t make assumptions
And always do your best

By embracing these four agreements one can experience profound personal freedom, an increase in self-esteem and self-worth, and general spiritual growth. I myself am a big fan of Ruiz’s work, although I find it hard to practice each of these agreements all the time. I really think I can recommend these books for anyone, no matter who you are, if you read them they will change your life for the better, because they will change the way you see yourself and the world around you.

So this Mother’s Day instead of buying her jewelry or trinkets, I’m going to try giving her the gift of her freedom back. I know what a wonderful person she is, I just wish she knew this too. I hope that she actually reads this and doesn’t just sit it aside.

What are you doing for Mother’s Day?

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“You’re trying to ruin a woman’s career. Why? Because you’re bored? Because you’re afraid of someone who’s different from you?”

“You’re trying to ruin a woman’s career. Why? Because you’re bored? Because you’re afraid of someone who’s different from you?”.

This is a reblog. Here’s the story. Basically a high school teacher writes erotica in her free time, at home, away from students, under a pseudonym, and now some uptight, prude, bored, middle class housewives have discovered her dirty secret and are on a witch hunt. Click the link above to read more and watch a video from one of her former students (he’s on her side) .

Read on people!

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How to Wash a Cat Review and my next book…

How to Wash a Cat!

As you all know, over the last week I’ve been reading Rebecca M. Hale’s How to Wash a Cat. I love reading mysteries, and so I was surprised and delighted to have drawn a new one out of The Hat last week. How to Wash a Cat is Ms. Hale’s debut novel, and the first book in her Cat’s and Curios series. Not only was I happy to have a new mystery to read, I was intrigued by the fact that it was centered around an antique store (I love antiques) and that the main character had two cats who were also central to the story (I have four cats).

Synopsis: The main character’s Uncle Oscar has just passed away under mysterious circumstances and upon his death she inherits his antique shop, The Green Vase, which is filled with the relics of San Francisco’s Gold Rush Era. Odd acquaintances and neighbors of Oscar’s come crawling out of the wood-work all offering bits of help and advice, but the main character can’t help but wonder if there is something behind these seemingly good-willed offers. She also starts receiving strange items that Oscar has left for her relating to the strange life and death of a San Franciscan tycoon over a hundred years before. What is Oscar trying to tell her from beyond the grave, and can she unravel the mystery before someone else beats her to it?

Review: First, the good stuff. Hale is a great writer, to an extent. Her descriptions are vivid and very real. Her supporting characters are well-developed and likeable, or suspicious, or intriguing depending. I loved the setting, and the obvious mystery you would expect to find in any old city with such a turbulent history. The obvious mystery you expect to find waiting for you in the dusty corners of an antique shop. Reading this book was a lot like walking along the aisles of a nice, junky little antique store and breathing in the air that is musty and heavy with a sense of history. Like picking up an object and wondering what stories it could tell you of those who had owned it before. This book had such a good feeling like that, and an atmosphere that sucked you in and made you long to run off to your nearest junk shop.

The supporting characters were really something, I particularly liked the main character’s peculiar and pompous neighbor Monty. He was a great side-kick, and the comic relief for the story. An attorney named Miranda is kind of fierce and vicious, while her mother is eccentric and wonderful! Frank, one of the main character’s neighbors, is suitably suspicious and kind of shady, as are several of the other characters.

Now for what I didn’t like. In most mystery novels the author presents you with the quandary early, and the rest of the book is spent bringing you to the inevitable conclusion of said mystery. Not the case in this book. Even after finishing it, I wasn’t sure exactly what the whole mystery was supposed to be. Was it her uncle’s death? Was it some aspect of the hundred years gone tycoon’s life? What was her motivation? WHAT were they trying to find throughout the whole thing? Even when things wrap-up at the end I wasn’t really sure, it was such a let down. Second, the main character, who also narrates the book, doesn’t have a name. Or any physical description. Or any kind of character traits whatsoever. I found this irksome throughout the whole book. It might as well have been written about Monty and not the main character at all. The last thing, there was a mullet. One of the characters, Ivan, is supposed to be oh-so-yummy-super-hot, and he has a mullet. I can’t help it, I just hate them.

Rating: 3 1/2 bookies!

So now let’s see what The Hat has in store for us next shall we? I’m reaching in deep this time….. And it’s…..

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift! Sweetness! I’ve wanted to read this for a while, just never gotten around to it. And this gives me just the most perfect excuse to see the new film adaptation starring Jack Black. If you’d like to read along you can buy a new copy of Gulliver’s Travels Here or a used copy Here.

Until next time, keep reading! And remember, I’m always looking for new recommendations for The Hat!

Gulliver and the Lilliputians

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Reminders. Also what disaster teaches us about being human…

Just a few reminders for all of my loverly readers.

1.) Book From The Hat Club. It’s not too late to join us, we haven’t set a date to meet up yet but let me know if you’re interested and I’ll definitely post the date when we confirm it. We’re reading Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. With such great people joining in it’s bound to be fun!

2.)Social Vibe. Notice the widget to the right of the screen? You, my dear friends, have already provided 65 minutes of counseling for people suffering from depression and at risk of committing suicide! I’m super proud of you guys! If you haven’t participated let me first tell you, it’s free and there are no catches and nothing whatsoever to sign up for. All you have to do is participate in the daily activity which will pop up if you click on the widget. The current charity I’ve chosen to support is To Write Love On Her Arms. It’s a really great non-profit that provides help and hope for sufferers of depression, addiction, suicide, and self injury. So dudes, please take a few minutes to do the little Social Vibe sponsor survey (or whatever it is, it changes) and Social Vibe’s sponsors will make monetary donations to this charity. 😀

End Reminders.

My local readers will certainly know that last week many areas were affected by severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The cost of human life was great, totaling somewhere around 400 deaths at last count. Many people lost their homes, their businesses, and churches. Some even lost their entire town.

The first string of storms hit my area the hardest. That morning, after the storm had passed, my mother and I drove around our little community for hours trying to find a way out of here and into town so that I could get to work. The level of destruction was shocking. Hundred year old oak trees were ripped up by their roots, roads dead-ended halfway down in a veritable sea of greenery, parts of houses were crushed and in a few cases sliced in half by the fallen trees. I was at first struck by the profound, and sad, beauty that comes with destruction. In this case the world seemed to be eerily still, the verdant leaves and grasses shone with jewel-like tones while the rest of the world seemed to have had the color washed out of it leaving it matte and gray. We would travel for a few minutes and all would seem well, until around a bend in the road we would be pulled up short by the fallen body of a majestic cedar sprawled across our path. We never did find a way out, eventually we gave up and came home to wait for people to come clear the roads. We did see some pretty incredible civilians out there helping strangers, involved in general clean up efforts, or just checking on their neighbors. One old, and very daring, man even went out in the street in front of his home, where one of the hundreds of trees had fallen on the power lines, put on a pair of gloves and held the LIVE power line off of the road so that drivers could get under it without endangering themselves. I want to bake him cookies. Another lovely old soul sat on his front porch, barefoot in his rockin’ chair, playing a guitar and waving at the motorists forced to turn around in his driveway because of the unexpected dead end created by the downed trees. Our super snooty neighbors even condescended to come over and speak to us at one point.

Throughout that day and the days that have followed I have come to the conclusion that you can only see the best that is within a person during times of devastation and disaster. The best of humanity, the strength, the courage, the compassion, the hope, and the love shine most brightly in the wake of something terrible. I think it’s beautiful that we, as a race, have this capacity for endless compassion and even altruism. That if we see someone or something suffering we empathize and go out of our way to try and help them.

I just wanted to share this with you all, and say thank you to all of those people who went out and risked their lives to help others in their time of need.

You are beautiful, I am beautiful, and we are beautiful.

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In which a book is reviewed, a new book is drawn, and a winner is announced.

As you all know (or maybe you don’t if you’re new here, in which case HI!) I’ve been reading
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.

I’ll give you all a brief synopsis of the story, followed by my thoughts, and my rating of the book.

*BEWARE OF SPOILERS*

Synopsis : The Dark is Rising was first published by Susan Cooper in 1973. Her Dark is Rising series has become a modern classic, and has gathered a cult following of those who love the genre (Arthurian Myth, fantasy, or Young Adults. Take your pick.) and is arguably her most well-known work to date. I’ve already reviewed the first book in the series in my first post. Over Sea, Under Stone was to The Dark is Rising as The Hobbit is to Fellowship of the Ring. The story is that of an 11 year old boy named Will Stanton who lives with his large family in the English countryside. Strange things begin to happen the day before his birthday; animals behaving oddly, strange people following him, and a fateful gift given to him by an unlikely friend. Then on the day of his 11th birthday his entire world is turned upside and changed forever when he finds out that he is the reincarnation of some long ago being of the Light, the good guys, who call themselves the Old Ones. Will is suddenly plunged into the age old battle of Dark vs. Light, Good vs. Evil and is struggling to learn how to use his newfound abilities to stay alive, protect his family, and save all of humanity from the Dark. Because the Dark is rising.

Review: As with the prequel, I was kind of disappointed with The Dark is Rising. I find this really surprising because I really admire Susan Cooper as a writer, I’m a huge fan of her other work. My favorite book of her’s is King of Shadows in which a young boy, who is part of a troupe of actors that travel around putting on Shakespeare, is carried back in time where he meets the most prolific writer of all time, The Bard of Avon, and becomes an actor under the great man. That book I would fully recommend to you all, it’s such a great book with lots of interesting historical bits. I just wish I could say the same of The Dark is Rising. Let’s start with the things I liked about it though. I liked the fact that the young hero wasn’t alone, he had many allies, and also the fact that he wasn’t a reluctant hero. He just accepted his destiny and took up the mantle with no questions (which was a double edged sword for me). I really like Ms. Cooper’s writing style, she paints such a beautiful and lyrical picture of the world and of her story. I also liked the concept of the book. I liked the potential that I saw in the story.

That said, let’s talk about what I didn’t like. Like I said, Will not being a reluctant hero kind of posed problems for me, even as I found it a refreshing change. I would expect of any young boy, presented with this terrifying and dangerous destiny and unimaginable powers, to show some kind of EMOTION. But no. Other than mild surprise and a twinge of fear he just took it in stride and went on his merry adventures. There were a few brief segments where he got angry, and those parts were excellent, because he was showing some strong emotion. Those parts were too brief and too few for me though. Another thing was that while Ms. Cooper did such an amazing and lovely job of describing scenes, and the countryside, and the weather even, I have no idea what most of the characters were supposed to look like. This is something that drives me crazy in books. The characters seemed two dimensional, nothing real about them at all. I think the biggest thing that I didn’t like about the book was the way that time seemed to flow. Will, as one of the Old Ones, was able to time travel a bit. So in the book it would feel like several days should have passed in the course of only one day. The entire book is set over, at the most, a week. And yet so much happens in that week, that it is simply not believable.

The thing with me, and liking a book, is mostly all about my ability to believe that somewhere, somehow, this story could have actually happened and that these people could exist. So since I found this book, while well and beautifully written and imagined, to be so entirely unbelievable I can’t give it a high rating or recommendation. I will say though, that I think if I had read it while I was still a child I would have loved it. Check it out for yourself though, you may well love it. And definitely read some of her other books because they are really great!

Rating: 3 1/2 Bookies!

And now, for the newest book from the hat, which I am about to draw right this moment……How to Wash a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale! I’m sooo excited! This book is the first in a new mystery series, and I loooove mysteries. I hope it will be really good! You know what that means boys and girls, that means someone else just won a free copy of this book as well.

How to Wash a Cat!

And now I will draw one name from the hat! Who will it be? *Drumroll*…….

JOEL! You will be the proud new owner of your very own FREE copy of How to Wash a Cat! I will send you a message to the email you subscribed with! How fun! Thanks for entering friend. Everyone else (all two of you others), keep entering to win. I’ll let you know when the next drawing will be and where to enter soon.

In the meantime guys, keep reading and use your thinking hats well!

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A Treasure in the Trash…

I had quite the little adventure today. My mother and I got up at 6:30am to drive to Blue Ridge, Ga (about an hour and a half away) to pick up a friend of mine and bring him back to Rome so he could run some errands. I’m always up for a roadtrip, and the green hills and fields were breathtaking this morning. Cloaked in mist that hid a great many things beneath it, and gilded where the rising sun struck. Rainbows in miniature were everywhere and it was like we were driving through the clouds. To continue the story (I can’t help but wax eloquent about how beautiful it was this morning) on the way up to Blue Ridge we passed a lot of cute little junky antique stores, the kind we are famous for here in the South. I wanted to stop at all of them, but of course we were on a mission and none of them were open yet.

So this afternoon, mission accomplished, we had a wild hair and decide to go back out that way and stop at a few of these little stores. One of the larger, although more junky and less promising looking places, yielded much what you would expect. Depression Era Glass, Over-priced jewelry, coins in cases, broken dolls, and a multitude of books in every manner of disrepair. I wasn’t really looking to buy any books today, but I can’t help it. It’s this wonderful call inside of my heart that draws me to word on page. Most of the books were what I could consider junk. The ones that were new weren’t good books, and the ones that were antiques were of that boring droll nature that no one currently would buy it to read, but maybe to decorate with.

As we were leaving the store, empty handed, what to my wondering eye should appear? But an out of print book I’ve been meaning to buy and read for such a very long time. In the hat it goes, although can I just say how hard it is not to read it this very moment?

Since it’s out of print, if you guys want to read along with my project I would suggest buying a copy now, because you never know what will come out of The Hat.

Mata Hari: The True Story by Russell Warren Howe

The Mata Hari

Mata Hari: A True Story

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