Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review #5 "The Soloist" By Steve Lopez

The tagline reads "A lost dream, an unlikely friendship, and the redemptive power of music." Which does pretty much sum up the book itself.

I listened to this unabridged (is there really any other way to have an audiobook - abridged books suck) audiobook a few weeks ago. I was originally interested in this book because there is a movie based on the book. I like to read the book first and then see the movie so that I can compare from the book to the movie version - the book is usually far superior to the movie.

Steve Lopez, the author, is a journalist and columnist working for the LA Times. He happens across Mr. Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a homeless man, playing music on delapidated instruments in a local park in Los Angeles. Mr. Lopez becomes entralled with this musical prodigy and writes a column about Mr. Ayers. The public overwhelmingly responds to Mr. Lopez - wanting to know more about Mr. Ayers.

The subsequent columns serve to bond Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez. Mr. Lopez has difficulty in convincing Mr. Ayers to seek assistance from a homeless shelter and in convincing him to even attempt to sleep indoors. Mr. Ayer's mental disability becomes apparent in contributing to his lifestyle (or lack thereof).

The book follows Mr. Lopez's journey to get to know Mr. Ayers and encouraging him to take advantage of public assistance programs specially designed for mentally ill individuals in the Los Angles area. One program mentioned often in the book was LAMP - but I never exactly figure out what those letters meant - maybe Los Angles Men's Program?

I think that the story abruptly ended without the "loose ends" being tied up, as they are in most books. Can we say sequel?

I am ready to rent the movie from Netflix.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review #4 "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks

I listened to this book on CD in the car on way here and there. (I tried to make this opening line sort of an homage to Dr. Suess, but I was unable to form my sentence rhymingly.)

There were times when I drove the "long" way home or lingered in my car longer just to continue to listen to this book.

Nicholas Sparks is a capativating author. His books are usually considered an "easy" read, but I am always learning new vocabulary when I pick up one of his books.

Sparks seemlessly tells a story through multiple points of view without losing any of the information essential to the story. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and gives the reader insight to the character while not breaking the continuity of the story.

I also enjoyed that the story itself is not neatly resolved by the end of the last chapter. There are people that die and characters who get away with evil things without being caught. There are twists and turns in the telling of the story that I could not predict from chapters away. One thing that does bother me is that the ending leaves the reader looking for a sequel in order to have closure with all of the main characters. Nicholas Sparks doesn't usually indulge his readers in a series of books with the same characters. He has done it in the past with a couple of books - "The Notebook" and "The Wedding" and with another series of books that I cannot recall at this moment. I am looking forward to the possibility of a continuation of the story I was heavily involved with throughout the book.

I cannot say with certainty whether or not Blake would enjoy this book - she generally dislikes most of Nicholas Sparks' writings. The book does have its "touchy feely" sweet moments, but the book is not full of them. So she may or may not throw up in her mouth on occasion if she decided to read this one.

Book Review #3 "The Shopaholic Takes Manhattan" by Sophie Kinsella

This is the second (?) in a series of "Shopaholic" books by Sophie Kinsella. I had read several books by the same author - so I picked it up at the library not too long ago.

Kinsella is a native Londoner, and it is evident in some of the word choices she uses throughout this book. I admit that sometimes I have to go back and reread a paragraph just to figure out what she is talking about.

The main character, Becky Bloomwood, returns in this book as she discovers her boyfriend, Luke Brandon of Brandon Communications, is planning a trip to New York City in an effort to expand his business. As usual, Becky finds a way to invite herself along to the States and gets herself in a predicament with all of her shopping. I guess Kinsella wouldn't be able to call the series "The Shopaholic" if there wasn't a main character who shops uncontrollably.

Parts of the book are just flat out silly and not entertaining at all. I kept reading purely to find out what happens in the end.

I have noticed that about two thirds of the way through all of Kinsella's novels, there is a gigantic conflict (that you can see coming from miles and chapters away) and is always neatly resolved by the last page. While occasionally entertaining, I am interested in reading a book that I don't know how it will end. There are details of the resolution that I didn't predict, but overall, it was fairly predictable.

In short, Becky goes shopping uncontrollably in New York City, justifying her purchasing on the "great exchange rate" between American dollars and British pounds. This justification makes the character seem, if it is possible, more stupid than I thought before I opened this book. I suppose that many readers want to read about a main character who is dumber than a box of hair, because it makes them feel better about themselves. I think it just makes me madder as the book progresses. It is almost as though the author wants the reader to view females as uncontrollable shoppers with no common sense or economical sense, because her man will always bail her out, so there is no reason to be intelligent about money matters.

Becky Bloomwood is a FINANCIAL ADVISOR on British television and is trying to land a job in the United States in the same capacity. The ridiculousness of the situation is enough to make me not recommend this book to any intelligent human being. I will admit that by the end of the book she does rectify her dire financial circumstances in a creative way.

So take it or leave it. I read it, and there are moments when I feel a little dumber for having done so. I still cannot decide if I want to continue with the series - Shopaholic Ties the Knot and Shopaholic and Baby. I may have to lay off the Shopaholic series and read a classic in the meantime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review #2 "Twenty Wishes" by Debbie Macomber

I picked up this book on CD at the local library after listening to another book by this author and enjoying it.

I like to listen to one book and actually read another at the same time. I am pretty good at keeping the characters of two books separate, but I am unable to handle more than two books at once.

WARNING - Blake, you will HATE this book! Just trust me on this one. You hate sappy stories where people find love and happiness and live happily ever after. Whereas, I like to read this over the science fictionesque books you enjoy.

This book is set in Seattle, WA - where Macomber seems to set all of her novels. A group of widows gather together socially and decide to each create a list of twenty wishes. The main character, Ann Marie, owns a bookstore on Blossom Street and hosts many of the social gatherings of the widows' club. She had been suddenly widowed within the year. She was estranged from her husband, but the two of them had started reconciling when he had a heart attack.

The main idea of the story is finding happiness by fulfilling twenty wishes. Some of the women make wishes like take belly dancing classes, or buying red cowboy boots. Other wishes of the group include going to Paris with someone you love and falling in love with an honorable man.

I enjoyed this book, and I consider it to be an "easy" read. I could read or listen to the book without really thinking about what was going on within the story. Some people might call these books "fluff" or "junk" or not good literature. Sometimes I just like to enjoy a book without having to concentrate too much on the intricacies of the story or figure out what just happened.

I purchased more books by this author at a rummage-type sale this past weekend. I am looking forward to reading more by Debbie Macomber.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Facebook Statuses That MUST Be Shared

I feel compelled to share these ridiculous status updates with the world. I will *try* to conceal the identifying details, but you may have come across these people before. My comments are in braces {}. I am not editing these for grammar or spelling or stupidity. You are forewarned.

***Is praying for God's directiion in my life. I really want to go back to school and be able to put those classes that I have taken into action but I am just looking for direction in this..... {this is the person who HAD to get married because Jesus wanted her to have the sex, and then she had a child and NO JOB, and her husband has NO JOB, and just today I found out that she is pregnant AGAIN! When we will stop rewarding people for having unprotected sex! my taxes are paying for her lack of birth control! *stepping off soapbox, for now*}

***Is looking for a job if anyone knows of anything.... {because she has discovered that other people with jobs frown upon their tax dollars going toward the children of people who cannot figure out how birth control operates}

***Is praying for God's will and direction in finding a job..... {because she says repeatedly that God will provide. yet I am still waiting on God to make my mortgage payment}

***WE have a wennier dog mix free to a good home! His name is sam and he is great with kids! He just needs a good and loving family! Let me know if you are interested! {no comment required here}

***Had a bunc of crying, snotty nose little ones in the church nursery today! I am looking foward to our C7C class tonight and the crawl fis boil at Andy's moms afterwards! Zoo and Aquarium tomorrow... We actually have a fun filled weekend for once! Yay! {why doesn't crying children work its magic as birth control? Every time I hear a child cry, my uterus shrivels a little more...}

***Had a fun long day yesterday and has enjoyed the day with little man relaxing at home! Praying I get the job I applied for this mornign if it is GOD's will! {silly}

***Just found out that at the end of Sept. Justin will also no longer have a job.... when it rains it pours! Keep us in your prayers, we know God has it under control but prayer ALWAYS works!!!!! {*sigh* they never learn...}

***I love how people act like they are all concerned for you whne you are going through a tough time in your life.... then they tell you what they REALLY called for! Just a little irritated! But I love Jesus!!!!! That is all I have to say about that! {arrggh!}

***PRAISE THE LORD!!!!! Justin may have a lead on a job! He should know more on Friday of next week! I knew I had no need to worry! God ALWAYS comes through for us who rely on him!!!!!!! This job unlike the one he is gettin laid off from has all the ben...ifits... Insurance, retirement, and vacation wahoooooo!!!!! I am so excited! {no one believes me about these status updates - I would have "unfriended" this person if I wasn't so amused (and annoyed) and have nothing better to do with my time}

***So I am planning to go back to school in Jan! I need a Math 100 and Physics 115 book for wallace if anyone has one they would like to rent or sale me let me know please! Thanks!!!!! {who rents a book? and you SELL a book to someone, not SALE! ARGH!}

***Is praying for a call for an interview at the County Commissioners office... They still have not hired anyone so maybe this is what God wants.... If not then that is cool too! Praying for his will! Oh and Mothers Day out starts next week! Message me for more info!

***Just got home from an AWESOME and very touching service with my C&C guys! I love my buddies and am praying for all of them! I have the best friends ever and that is all I have to say about that! {this has that Forrest Gump quality to it}

***Is still praying for our job situations... I know God has it in his hands! {this has been going on for a while now, I am still waiting on my check...}

***Ok so if anyone know of any FT jobs with insurance that Justin or I may qualify for please let me know... we have to have insurance for Carter.... His ped does not accept mediacaid and we love him so ya know how that goes!

***Really Carter now has a temp 0f 101.5 satan really is just attacking us like CRAZY! Oh well I still love Jesus. {this status update particularly angers me, rather than treat your child for a fever, you blame Satan. I worry for this child}

***Is not feeling too well today...or yesterday, or the day before that... Wish I knew why? Carter is teething as well so we feel like poop together. {at least this time it is not Satan's fault for making them both sick}

***Is burning some CD's of some videos that I have captured of Carter on the awesom video camera Justin got me for christmas in 2008... Can't wait to watch them and just cry I am sure lol! I can't believe he is almost 8 months old already! {shouldn't that be *DVDs* rather than CDs? just because you put an apostrophe on it DOES NOT MAKE IT PLURAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!}

***Is wathing the "Beats" with Cash! We are playing and having a blast while Carter is napping and his Mommy and Daddy are gone to take Jack Jack to the Dr! Loving my family time! {this posting just makes my brain hurt}

***Does anyone have a small male yorkie that may be a good stud dog? We need to breed Mrs. Chole or get rid of her lol! {this is Blake's most favorite status update EVER! they have no job, a kid, one kid on the way, yet they are wanting to selfishly breed a dog? come on now!}

***Has made a dicison! I refuse to the let satan control my mind anymore! I know that the Lord has our situation in HIS hands and that is the best place for them to be! I claim victory in the name of my Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST! {I can't decide if the grammar and spelling upsets me more than anything else about this}

***Sitting here at mom and dads watching the Alabama game and about to eat some yummy food grilled by the MASTER cook... that would be my hubby! He is called to grill fo sho! {'fo sho'?? this makes my brain hurt - my brain would throw up if it could}

***So I talked to them about my job this morning and she sais they are pulling resumes to interview and she would make sure to pull mine! So PRAY PRAY PRAY! I feel like I want and need this job! So I hope it is Gods will but if not I know he has another door to open for me!

***Is just praying that God takes contorl of this situation cuz I am not in the shape to deal with this anymore. I am stressed and sick of dealing with it all! I just need a job so bad! I know God has it in his hands and that is the only thing keeping me sane at this point! {this bothers me because of the poor planning of it all - how about you have a JOB before you have CHILDREN?}

***And the nausea begins.... I just feel kinda blah today! But I am enjoying my time with Carter man! We are spending the morning with Nana tomorrow, we got to take her for her dr apt. {and this is today's 'update'. she is pregnant AGAIN! why can't we put birth control in the water?}

{this is only ONE of the people I know that do crap like this - hurry up and get married so they can have the sex, only to have multiple children, have no college education or a JOB! It makes me angry because they say it is all 'God's will' but to me, it is all ignorance. That is what these people do, blame their stupidity on 'God's will' and say that Satan is making them sick or preventing them from getting a job! ARGH!}

Book Review #1 "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

I had read The Catcher in the Rye many years ago. I remember enjoying the book, but I couldn't remember the details of the plot, so I decided to re-read the book.

I throughly enjoyed this book. I appreciate the "stream of conscienousness" style of writing - I think I unknowingly compose in this style often. I could follow the author and the main character throughout the book.

This book is the quintessential teenage angst novel. All high school students should be required to read this book. They will identify with Holden Caulfield and his attitude towards "phoniness". I have read about many objections to this book - because of the "dirty" language and "sexual" situations. The "dirty" language is nothing as compared to the words I hear from teenagers on a daily basis - whether or not they know I am listening (or reading). As far as the "sexual" situations described in the book, you would find more explicit situations in a local newscast or a prime-time television program. The people who are so against this book have obviously not read the book - they are basing their opinions on what other people have told them.

The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books - maybe because I can identify with the main character and his attitude toward life as a teenager. It is an easy read. I felt as though the characters in the book were endearing, and I wanted to know what happened to them after the book ended.

One of my favorite quotes is: "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one [quoted from Wilhelm Stekel]". This was said to Holden by Mr. Antolini towards the end of the book.

The title of the book comes from this quote, said by Holden to his little sister, Phoebe: "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy". This means that Holden really wants to do something with his life that helps others and is productive.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Silly Things I Have Found Posted on Facebook and in Emails

I will use this entry to post things other than Facebook status updates. I will dedicate another entry to those "treasures" that are status updates.

***The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family. You will have flats called Jobs. But, if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance, insurance called Faith, a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called Success.

***Thought for the day:
Remember, when the world pushes you to your knees, You're in the perfect position to pray.

***Happiness keeps you Sweet,
Trials keep you Strong,
Sorrows keep you Human,
Failures keep you Humble,
Success keeps you Glowing ,
But Only Friends Keep You Going!

***{from healthy tips from Dr. Oz}
4. Admire your work

Don't be so trigger-happy with the flusher. Turn around and take a look at your poop, which speaks volumes about your gut and overall health. Poop should be smooth and S-shaped, like your colon. If it comes out too lumpy, or drops into the bowl like marbles, you're constipated. Increase your fiber and water intake.

20. Grab your nuts

Nuts are among the best sources of healthful fats and protein around. I keep a bag of walnuts in my fridge and use their massive dose of omega-3 fatty acids to boost my brainpower while I see patients. Half of a handful eaten about 30 minutes before a meal will temper your appetite and help you avoid the drive-thru.

21. No, seriously, grab your nuts

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men in the 15-to- 35 age group, but it's usually curable if it's caught early enough. I strongly urge you to grab your testicles. Check them for bumps at least once a month. Each testicle should feel smooth and slightly soft, and one should hang slightly lower than the other, like two avocados (which, in Aztec, actually means "testicles") growing on a tree.

23. Do your penis a favor and step on a treadmill

Men who exercise enough to burn 200 calories a day significantly lower their chances of impotence. That's because impotence often has the same cause as heart attacks: blocked arteries. Your penis is like a dipstick for your arteries, so check it. If you're interested in keeping it up later in life, lace up the sneakers now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why I Hate Tim Tebow

There are many reasons why everybody should hate "he who believes he is God" from the University of Florida. I will give you a top-ten list of the reasons why I can't stand the conceited starting quarterback:

1. he is beyond conceited - football is a TEAM sport, people. the quarterback is supposed to utilize the rest of his team during the game. Tebow takes it upon himself to run every single play by himself when there are obvious other players open and available to assist in plays.

2. he continues to run each and every play trying to beat a rushing record for a quarterback - there should be NO rushing record for quarterbacks, hence the TEAM sport aspect of football

3. he had no business playing in the game in which he suffered a concussion. his team already had a comfortable lead and the starting quarterback should be sitting on the sidelines, allowing the second string to get to play. he got what he deserved.

4. after suffering a concussion, one's health should come BEFORE any sporting event. the person who has the concussion should sit out a few weeks in order for the BRAIN to heal properly. the world will continue to turn if you aren't the star quarterback in ONE game. LSU should have taken it upon themselves to purposely try to hit this guy and put him out - for the good of the rest of the SEC and the rest of college football in general.

5. just because a team doctor clears you to play a rough, contact sport soon after suffering a major concussion (the team doctor is paid by the university athletic department, by the way), does not mean that you should put your life and brain health at risk - who cares what quarterback rushing record hasn't been broken yet. if you get another swift hit to the head you will be eating soup through a straw in the mental institution for the rest of your life. his priorities are oh so clear.

6. during the first game post-concussion, Tim Tebow appeared to be all drugged up. the pupils of his eyes were huge and he could hardly put together coherent sentences. again, is football more important than your health? he also played every single snap of the football of that game

7. the coach isn't too concerned of his "star" quarterback's health either. he continues to let the jerk play in every snap of every football game. and they do look awfully "chummy" on the sidelines - I wonder what they have going on "behind" the scenes...

8. Tim Tebow - I just loathe that name in general, I cannot think of one person with that name that I have remotely liked - or cared if they lived or died.

9. He is all the time prasing Jesus - Jesus got him where he is today, Jesus helps him everyday, everyone should praise Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, JESUS! give it a rest already - if Jesus had a part in football, YOU wouldn't have even HAD a concussion now would you? Looks like your God has failed you...

10. He yells at his teammates on and off the sidelines. HE is NOT the coach - yet he thinks he is. It is not another teammate's responsibility to reprimand his 'equals'.

please feel free to add your personal reasons why Tim Tebow sucks.
I am not interested in hearing why you LOVE him or how you think I am wrong.
thank you.

first 'blog'

here is the first blog entry which I am posting for Blake's benefit.

more later...