Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Childhood Favorites...The Boxcar Children

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

I loved the library when I was little. I probably have mentioned that before...

I'd check out my favorite stories over and over and The Boxcar Children were among those stories. And while I read many of the books in the series, my very favorite was the first one.


I loved the story of the orphan children running from the mean people. Henry buying bread and them all sharing it. Finding the abandoned boxcar and making it a home. And then discovering their grandfather and that he loved them. One of my favorite parts was how after the children came to live with him, he brought the boxcar to his house for them.

The Boxcar Children is a book about resourcefulness. About family sticking together no matter what and brothers and sisters caring and looking out for one another. When I discovered it as a 10 year old, it resonated with me.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cover Crush: A Hundred Small Lessons


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


I loved the colors in this cover. The purple flowers with the light passing through. So striking.

A woman, walking down a tree-lined lane, accompanied by two young children. She is walking towards light, but is that leaving or arriving? What is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills & Vellum.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cover Crush: The Wish Child


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


War time. Bombed out buildings. Rubble. Chaos. Destruction. And two children, sitting together. Drawing strength from one another. The boy, looking after the girl. Are they siblings? Friends? The muted colors and styling suggest World War 2. Is the war just beginning or is it finally over? What is their story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills & Vellum.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cover Crush: The Paris Secret


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


It's Paris. Paris will always have my heart. I loved it there. Some day I wll go back. I have stood where that woman is standing. The colors are muted, suggesting sunset or perhaps sunrise. Why Paris? Is she French? Is she visiting? What is her story? 

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills &Vellum.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Books I Have Forgotten

Each month I revisit some of my past reviews. One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I found that I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!

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Cold River by Liz Adair
3/5 Stars
12/2011

"Cold River was an entertaining read, but something was just missing for me and I had a hard time taking the premise seriously. I liked it, I didn't love it. There are some great, quirky characters, but I would have liked to see more depth and back story. Liz Adair has created some terrific characters and they deserved to have more fleshed out details in their stories.

I haven't read Liz Adair before, but I would definitely read more of her books in the future. Even with my frustrations with the story, this is a light, entertaining, wholesome read and a nice diversion and one I can easily recommend."

I remember nothing about this book!

A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler
12/2011
1/5 Stars

"I really don't like first person and I really don't like first person present tense. I know there are some who think it more dramatic or real, but it annoys me. I can often look past it, but not here. Part of that, too, was that I just couldn't find a reason to keep reading. I didn't like Samantha, I couldn't believe her relationship with Carson. There was nothing in this story that compelled me to keep reading. Fans of Alice J. Wisler will love it, but it wasn't for me. This is the second of her books that I've tried to read and I think it will be the last. There are authors you connect with and authors you don't and this is one that just doesn't work for me. "

No memory of this one, but if it was a first person present tense narrative, I am pretty much guaranteed to not like it.

Wings: A Novel of World War II Flygirls by Karl Friedrich
3/5 Stars
12/2011

"While historically, this is a very rich novel, it's not a particularly happy story. Sally's life is hard and it never gets easier, although she's tough and plucky and manages to overcome obstacles and adversity. She meets an a assortment of young women in the WASP program, all of whom have their own secrets and reasons for joining up. Their collective story is fascinating. Moderate profanity and innuendo is noted.

I think Karl Friedrich has done a terrific job of portraying a time in our history that was difficult for all: those who went to war and those who were left behind. Women rose to the occasion and took on many jobs that until the war came, had been male only jobs, including flying military jets. I'm appalled at the treatment these women received at the hand of our government and I'm proud of them for the pathway they paved for future women."

I wish I could remember this book. I love stories about strong women.

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What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?

Friday, July 28, 2017

5 Books I Want to Read...Self-Help

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2754. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

This month it's Self-Help Books. I mostly read fiction and The Doctor mostly reads non-fiction. His are business and psychology related and occasionally he'll recommend something to me and I come across recommendations on my own. These are a few of the Self-Help books on my list.

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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

New York Times best-selling author and professor Brené Brown offers a powerful and inspiring book that explores how to cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to embrace your imperfections and to recognize that you are enough.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, PhD, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she's learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living--a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.

Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect by Jonice Webb

Running on Empty is the first self-help book about Emotional Neglect: an invisible force from your childhood which you can't see, but may be affecting you profoundly to this day. It is about what didn't happen in your childhood, what wasn't said, and what cannot be remembered.

Do you sometimes feel as if you're just going through the motions in life? Are you good at looking and acting as if you're fine, but secretly feel lonely and disconnected? Perhaps you have a fine life and are good at your work, but somehow it's just not enough to make you happy.

If so, you are not alone. The world is full of people who have an innate sense that something is wrong with them. Who feel they live on the outside looking in, but have no explanation for their feeling and no way to put it into words. Who blame themselves for not being happier.

If you are one of these people, you may fear that you are not connected enough to your spouse, or that you don't feel pleasure or love as profoundly as others do. Perhaps when you do experience strong emotions, you have difficulty understanding or tolerating them. You may drink too much, or eat too much, or risk too much, in an attempt to feel something good.

In over twenty years of practicing psychology, many people have arrived in Jonice Webb's office, driven by the threat of divorce or the onset of depression, or by loneliness, and said, "Something is missing in me."

Running on Empty will give you clear strategies for how to heal, and offers a special chapter for mental health professionals. In the world of human suffering, this book is an Emotional Smart Bomb meant to eradicate the effects of an invisible enemy.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That's down to one thing: hygge.

'Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight...'

You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.

Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

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What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary and A Literary Vacation.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cover Crush: The Whaler


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


The ocean. Water, waves and a beach. Perhaps this cover speaks to me because I am at a lake this week for a family reunion. Oh, a lake isn't the same as the ocean, but here in Idaho, it's as close as I can get.

Who is this woman? The wind whips at her hair and the waves are rugged. Is that ship leaving port or coming home? Who does she wait for? What is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills and Vellum.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Weekend Reflections 7/22

Looking outside...it's sunny with blue skies. Currently 90 with a projected high of 95.

It has been high 90s and triple digits this week. I am so done with the heat. 

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is taking a nap. The boys are at Grandma's mowing her lawn.

Loving...that The Boy is home. The Doctor always says that the music isn't quite tuned when someone is missing, so everything feels right now. 

Thinking...that I should probably get moving, but I'm enjoying just sitting here.

In my kitchen...Not sure yet about dinner. At the moment, it's Crio Bru with sugar-free caramel syrup. It's pretty standard, but it's also helping me lose weight, which is good.

Wearing...denim skirt with a pink and white shirt. No shoes.

Reading...I have an overflowing TBR, but my reading has been meh...

Today...we're having a family reunion next week so my out of town sisters are coming in. Today we took some of the visiting nieces to Boise. We went up to Table Rock, strolled through the Farmer's Market, and checked out Freak Alley. Kids loved the mini donuts!

Quoting..."Books are how we learn to love humanity without having to deal with, like...humans." -- Glennon Doyle

Feeling...Tired. The heat really drains me and it was hot over in downtown Boise today. Thank goodness for bottled water and a thoughtful husband who realized I needed some.

Planning...plans for this next week's family reunion activities. I'll share some of them in next week's reflections!

Gratitude...for relationships; for friendship and connecting with each other.

From my world... 




Seriously. Follow The Psychotic Penguin on Instagram and Twitter. Jeffrey, the mini me has joined the penguin family. You never know where they'll turn up next...

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Childhood Favorites...Huckleberry Finn

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 


Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

In many ways, it's cliché to say that Huckleberry Finn is one of your favorite books.

Well, cliché or not, it is and always will be one of my favorites. I love many of Mark Twain's works, but this one is my favorite.

I first read Huckleberry Finn in high school. I believe I was a freshman. I say that because the summer after my freshman year in 1982, my family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina for several months because my father's job took him to North Carolina State University (Go Wolfpack!) for the summer. The national laboratory he worked for decided it was cheaper to move our family to Raleigh for the duration, rather than have my dad fly back and forth from North Carolina to California all summer. It was awesome. I got to take my finals early and miss the last two weeks of school and the first three days of my sophomore year when we came home.

We bought a tent trailer and drove cross-country from the Bay Area to Raleigh. We took two weeks each way and had a couple of specific stops that my dad needed to make for work-related things. We camped all along the country and one place we stayed was in Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal is all focused on Tom Sawyer and Becky and Huck. Riverboats, Tom's house with the white-washed fence, the whole thing.

It was so cool to see this country that I had read about in Huckleberry Finn. To see the Mississippi in all its grandeur and imagine Huck and Jim floating down it.


At a gift shop, I purchased a copy of Huck that looked just like this one along with a copy of Tom Sawyer. I reread them in the car as we traveled.

I love Huck. I love the friendship between Huck and Jim. I have never understood why this book gets banned. I wrote about it recently on Facebook.

I know that people get upset over the racial slurs and the fact that Jim is an adult and Huck a child. Seriously? It's a product of its time. Instead of trying to have this book (and others) banned, I wish people would use them as opportunities for discussion.

Given what is happening in our country today, there are ample opportunities for discussion and comparison. Read this book with your children. Talk about it. Compare it to how people still treat each other because of their race, religion or orientation now. In many ways, unfortunately, things haven't changed. But ask the questions: was it right then? Is it right now?

For good or bad, literature reflects life and civilization. So to ignore history and the literature that reflects history doesn't make it all suddenly disappear or invalidate that it happened. You can't hide it.

Instead, read the literature of the day. Read the literature of the past. Talk about it, even if it makes you uncomfortable and you disagree with the author, with another reader, with a character. But, learn from it and teach each other instead of running from it.

So Huckleberry Finn will remain on my bookshelf. It will get reread. I will think on it with fond memories. I will recommend it to others.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cover Crush...Before the Rain Falls


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


Another gorgeous vintage cover. A well dressed woman looks toward the Statue of Liberty silhouetted in the distance. Is she arriving in America or leaving? Where is she from? Where is she going? What is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills and Vellum.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cover Crush...It Happens all the Time


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


The red dress behind the torn cover is eye-catching. But, why? Why is the paper torn? It would appear to be ripped apart out of anger. The dress was worn by a woman, so what happened to her? Did she tear up a picture of her dress? Was she attacked or assaulted? How does this dress relate to the story? 

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills and Vellum.