Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

Change of HeartChange of Heart by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jodi Picoult has a way with controversial subjects, and this book is no different. Among the issues mentioned in this book are violence against the police, child abuse, arson, murder, the death penalty, prison conditions, homosexuality, religion, and organ donation. Perhaps trying to tackle so many subjects in one book is not a great idea, but Picoult does it fairly successfully.

What I didn't like about this book: It is too long, over 400 pages. I feel like Picoult could cut some of the events and back story from the book without changing the message or the plot structure of the novel. There are too many chapters on a peripheral character, Lucius, who does not impact the story line to any degree. She is far too wordy in this novel. Another thing I didn't like is that there are parts of the book that are preachy and almost insulting to certain types of people. Part of it bordered on blasphemy.  I think I would have enjoyed the book better had she not made her own opinion so obvious in the narrative.

What I did like about this book: The characters are realistic and relatable, even the ones you may not like. I can picture these characters in my head, not just their appearances, but their attitudes, backgrounds, and feelings. I also like the idea that everyone can be forgiven, that we are all basically the same except for certain circumstances. And I like the premise of this book.

What if your daughter needed a heart to prevent her from dieing? What if the heart that is available is the one beating inside the chest of the man who killed your husband and other daughter? Would you take it?  What if donating his organs is the way he feels he can reach salvation?  The premise sucked me in.

Change of Heart is about so much more than just the question of organ donation. The death penalty and religion factor in largely as well. The best thing about this book is that it made me think. If you're looking for a fluff book, this is not it. If you like to read stories about realistic people having realistic issues, and you enjoy reading or discussing controversial issues, then you may enjoy Change of Heart.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Random Thoughts and Coffee Chat

I'm linking up with Stacy for some Random Thoughts.

You know what's weird?  All during the week, I think of things I want to write, but instead of actually writing them down, I think, "I'll remember when it comes time."  But I don't!  I hate that my memory is not what it used to be.  There was a time when I didn't have to write things down, but that time is long past.

As I mentioned last week, the wedding is over, and it went so smoothly.  I may be biased, but I thought it was beautiful!  It gets so stressful when you're planning a big event, and when it's over, you can finally breathe more easily.  Here are a few shots of took.
The couple with the officiant
Dad/Daughter Dance
Some of the girls dancing

My twins
My twins will be 21 in one week.  I can't believe it!  I really wanted to do something special for them, but they'd rather be with their friends.  They're a little old to have a party anymore.  We will be going for lunch on their birthday and for dinner with their grandmother the day after.  I'm having a difficult time deciding what to get them, too.  Ideas?


And now, Coffee Chat with Rory Bore.
This week, our hostess says, " Shameful!!!   Come on, fess up!  We all have a book, movie, or song... maybe even celebrity crush that we are a bit ashamed to say we love!   I'm listening. "

Books - My favorite genre is crime thrillers.  They are sometimes a little graphic or gruesome, but I love them.  And no, they don't scare me.  For example,  Along Came a Spider and First to Die, both by James Patterson, or Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass.  On the flip side, I don't watch scary movies.
  There is a song that always gets me dancing:  Love Train by the O'Jays.  It never fails to make me smile.  I secretly wish I could perform a lip sing routine to this song for someone!


There is one other song that I'm a little ashamed to admit I like.  It's the song Fantastic Man that is playing on the iPhone Portrait Mode commercial.   I have no idea what they're saying, but it's got such a catchy beat!


I honestly can't think of anything else that I am ashamed to admit I love.  I'm pretty comfortable with my nerdiness.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

Little Black DressLittle Black Dress by James Patterson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The main character of this novel is Jane Avery, a magazine editor going through life as a new divorcee. The "little black dress" brings about a change in her behavior. She begins to have no-strings-attached sexual encounters with strangers. One of those encounters goes extremely wrong.

I did not like this book. As I was reading, I kept thinking, "When am I going to start caring about this character? Will I ever like her? What is the point of this story?" This was unlike anything I have ever read by James Patterson. I almost felt like it was trying to copy 50 Shades of Gray in some ways (which I haven't read because it's not my style).

My point is that there is little action or suspense. There isn't even romance. Much of it is Jane talking to herself, trying to decide which part of her conscience would win. There is a dangerous situation, and the author(s) had the opportunity to make a statement or inject a consequence, but he didn't. The character's reaction is completely abnormal.

This is not the typical Patterson book. I wonder if he even read it, or if he let the co-author write the entire story. The main thing I usually like about Patterson's novels is how quickly the reader is immersed in the action. Not so for this one. I blame co-author Emily Raymond.

Can a little black dress cause a complete reversal of character?

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Coffee Chat

Our lovely hostess at Ink Interrupted asks us...

What is your favourite way to spend the weekend?

(I love spelling favourite like our hostess!)

Everyone in my family will tell you that my favorite weekend activity is SLEEP.  During the school year, I get about 6 hours of sleep a night Sunday through Thursday, oftentimes less.  I'm a night owl, so going to bed early is not easy for me.  I'd rather stay up late and sleep in, which is impossible when you have to be at work at 8:15 AM.  So, I make up for it on the weekends.

The experts tell us that you should try to keep the same sleep schedule every day, but I say, "Why?" as long as I get back on my regular schedule Monday. The experts also say that too much sleep is just as damaging as too little sleep.  Too much is 9 or 10 hours.  If you use the law of averages, I get about 7 1/2 hours per night.  And according to research by the National Sleep Foundation, an exact amount of sleep cannot be pinpointed, just a range of hours, and I think I'm within my range.

Perhaps I should have been a cat.  They sleep 12-16 hours a day!  So, my favorite weekend activity is a little boring, but it's not the only thing I enjoy.  A good weekend also includes reading, eating out, spending time with my husband, maybe church on Sunday, if I'm not sleeping (I know, I know!), and the best weekend includes avoiding the grocery store.  Grocery shopping is my least favorite chore ever.

This past weekend did not include a lot of sleep due to our daughter's wedding.  It was absolutely beautiful!  Here's the proof!

So, even though this past weekend did not include extra sleep, it was so worth it! Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

Still AliceStill Alice by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a very hard time getting into this book. The main character, Alice, is my age when she is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. At the onset of the disease, she has many symptoms similar to those of us who are 50. Forgetfulness, of course, is one of those symptoms.

As I read the first half, I was depressed. I even call myself Forgetfulone. This could happen to me! I have to admit, it took me months to get through the first half. I would pick it up and read a little bit and put it down. I'd wait a few weeks or a month and pick it up again. Finally, I just decided to get over the fear I felt about this happening to me and finish the book. So I did. And it was good.

The main character, Alice Howland, is a respected cognitive psychologist on the teaching staff at Harvard. She's an avid runner, a mentor, and a gifted public speaker. Her husband also works on staff at Harvard. They have three children, two of whom are married. The novel explores the complexities of family relationships both before the onset and after. It also shows the complex process of diagnosis, testing, procedures, medications that may or may not help, support, and the hardships it imposes on relatives of the patient and the patient herself.

As the disease gets worse, Alice forgets and repeats herself often. The author writes it this way which is a little tedious, but it does help the reader comprehend the effects of the disease. The ending was sad, but realistic. It's important to note that the author, Lisa Genova, is a neuroscientist, so she knows her subject well. This is also her debut novel.

Still Alice has been made into a movie starring Julianne Moore, but I haven't seen it yet.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Thirteen Gifts for Dad

Father's Day is June 18.  Do you have a gift picked out yet?  I don't, because my father passed away in 2004.  I miss him dearly, every day, especially on the day he died, his birthday, and father's day.  If he were alive, I doubt he'd want a tie. Maybe some of these suggestions will help you find a gift for your dad (or me for my husband).


1.  The Amazon Echo.  I think this is the coolest gift right now.
2. Hyper Chiller Iced Coffee Maker
3.  MVMT Watch - Leather watches with a minimalistic vibe.
4. SKLZ Gold Flex Trainer and Tempo Trainer to help with his golf game.
5.  Discovery Drone with Camera and WiFi feature. This will impress!
6.  Tasting Room - 6 sample sized bottles of wine in a kit.
7.  A Man Crate - Eating, Drinking, Grilling, Outdoors, Sports, and More!
8. Dollar Shave Club Kit
9.  A hammock for relaxing.
10.  Omaha Steaks - where you can build your own package if you choose.  Free shipping!

11.  Mystery Tackle Box for fisherman

12.  Beer infused barbecue sauces.


13.  Home plate doormat for the MLB fan.
Link up with Thursday Thirteen for some more fun lists!


Go to AskMen or Uncommon Goods  for more ideas. Subscribe in a reader

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Random Thoughts and Coffee Chat

Link up with Stacy to post your random thoughts!

Summer!  Oh, summer is finally here!  It's been a good school year, but after 28 of them, you could say I'm kind of tired.  Kind of.  Haha!
I don't have any specific plans except our daughter's wedding in a week.  Now, she is my step-daughter, but I have known her since she was 9, and she has lived with us since her dad and I got married when she was 12.  So, you see, she's pretty special to me.  I'm very excited for the big day to get here!  I can only imagine how she feels!

How 'bout them Astros?  We haven't followed MLB in a few years because, frankly, our home team wasn't that great.  But this year?  They are off to a fabulous start!  Their record is 42-16, and they've won the last 11 in a row.  It's good to have a winning team in town again.

And isn't this clever?  Or maybe it's just bizarre... Some 20-something guys in Spokane (who don't live with their fathers) have placed a Craigslist ad looking for a generic dad to come over and grill hamburgers and talk about guy stuff on Father's Day.  Creative, or creepy?

And now, time for Coffee Chat.
Our lovely hostess asks
What is the best compliment you've received lately?

Wow.  We, meaning all people, are often not good at accepting compliments.  Maybe there are some people who don't feel worthy of a compliment.  Perhaps they don't trust the source of the compliment.  How a person reacts to a compliment is often a reflection of their self-esteem.  Compliments make people uncomfortable, at least, sometimes.

I don't remember learning how to accept a compliment when I was a child.  Perhaps I didn't get many.  As an adult, I learned that I should just receive and acknowledge the praise by saying, "Thank you."  It's easier said than done, though.  The tendency is to say something like, "Oh, it's not that great," or "It was nothing." Tonight, for example, our daughter told me she thinks the wreaths I made for the wedding are beautiful. I believe I said, "I'm glad you like them."   Do you think that was an appropriate response?

That's all for now!

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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

After the End (Owen Taylor #2)After the End by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story begins just after The End ends. (Little play on words) Owen has done something he may regret, and a former colleague shows up in time to get him out of town and back on the job, unofficially of course. She takes him to visit the wife of a former soldier Owen worked with who was almost killed due to a reporter's carelessness. The wife wants revenge, and Owen is all too happy to help.

This book sees Owen back in his element as a soldier and travelling to various parts of the world. Will he be able to assist his friend's wife while her husband is still alive? Will it make any difference?

I enjoyed this story, for the most part. The relationship between Owen and the woman who takes him to the friend's wife is never completely explained. There is also a problem with the timing. Travelling does not happen that quickly in the real world, so that was unrealistic. There were some, "That-would-never-happen," events in the story as well. However, it was enjoyable and easy to read. It also had a satisfying ending which is so important to me.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Get Random and Have Some Coffee

I'm linking up with Stacy with my Random Tuesday Thoughts.

Metallic nail polish... pretty?  Or not?  I thought it was pretty, but I will never wear it again because it doesn't come off!  I rubbed and rubbed with acetone, about three times the amount I usually use, and I still have remnants of gold on my toes.   Ugh!  Whyyyyyy?
IMDB.com
IMDB.com
IMDB.com
I was watching Shots Fired, and I kept telling myself the Governor seemed familiar.  About the third episode in, I thought, "She looks a lot like Helen Hunt!"  Lo and behold, I checked IMDB, and it IS Helen Hunt.  She's changed a lot!  I don't mean in a bad way.  Her demeanor, for example.  I guess she's grown up and older like the rest of us.  But it doesn't seem like that long ago that I used to watch her in Mad About You (1992-1999). Time flies!


Image Credit
My husband and I just celebrated our 12th anniversary (2nd marriage for both of us). Instead of doing something romantic, we spend the weekend driving to Abilene with a U-Haul to help my daughter move all of her heavy items out of her house.  She would continue living in the house, but she is only going to be there one more semester, and the house requires a year's lease.  So we went up Sunday (our actual anniversary) and back today.  6 1/2 hours each way.  Typical "parent" holiday!

Image Credit
Back to work tomorrow.  2 1/2 more school days then a teacher workday on Friday.  I think it's pretty stupid to have a 2 1/2 slash 3 1/2 day week after Memorial Day when most of the other schools here in our area are out.  We've finished exams.  What am I supposed to do with them?  I have this same problem every year.

And now... Coffee Chat

Today she says,
Get something off your chest.   No, don't throw your bra at me: unless it's after 7 pm and you're home for the evening, because Yes! 
I think I just basically did that already!  No, not throw my bra at the computer, but got stuff on my chest.  Here goes more, though!

My son (who will be 21 in 4 weeks) and his childhood friend (who is already 21) are going on a road trip next Friday.  They have a motel reserved for the night, and they are going to the Rangers/Astros baseball game.  I remember being younger when I went on my first road trip, but things have changed.  The world is even more cruel now, and the drinking age was 18 when I was growing up.  I'm a little nervous, but I have to say, I trust them both.  My daughter, his twin, has been all over Europe on her own, so if she can handle that, he can handle two days 4 hours from home, right?

I still don't want to go to work tomorrow!!!
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