Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: For the Love of Underdogs

Fall is here and you know what that means…  Football is in the air.  Although I’m not much of a football fan, I do have an autumn ritual that I engage in every year at this time that involves football.

I watch the movie Rudy.

My enjoyment of Rudy has less to do with the game of football, but more with the pursuit of attaining a goal or a dream.  In the most simple explanation, it's the tale of an underdog who succeeds.  Anyone who knows me knows that love a good underdog story.  

Yes, I am the quintessential fan of the underdog.  Maybe it comes from my West Virginia coal mining roots.  West Virginians are always looked down upon.  We are viewed as inferior, backwards, and unintelligent, so of course I love it when West Virginians succeed and prove the naysayers wrong.

In honor of my love of underdogs and of underdog movies, here are my personal Top 10 Underdog Movies of All-Time: 

Honorable Mention:  Cool Runnings (1993)

Honorable Mention:  The Hunger Games (2012)

#10 The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

#9 The Karate Kid (1984)

#8 Angus (1995)

#7 Billy Elliott (2000)

#6 Breaking Away (1979)


#5 Forrest Gump (1994)

#4 Rudy (1993)

#3 Rocky (1976)

#2 Shawshank Redemption (1994)

#1 October Sky (1999)
I guess it's no surprise that my #1 is the story of a fellow West Virginian, Homer Hickham.  Hickham, who seemed fated to be a coal miner like his father, dreamed of something bigger, something extraordinary, something beyond the mountains of southern West Virginia.  Through hard work and perseverance, he achieved his dream.

Do you have a favorite underdog movie?  If so, what is it?  Feel free to share below.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 28, 2015

10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week

Linking up with Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird and sharing the 10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week.
I'm having a rough school year so far, and mean rough.  Overall, it's like working in a pressure cooker and, honestly, it's not a happy place to be.  Don't get me wrong, I love working with my kiddos, but the atmosphere in the building is tense and the faculty morale is low.  When the chaos and negativity at work explodes and threatens to seep into and taint other areas of my life, I need something to help me keep things in perspective.  No matter how bad work may be,  there are still things to be thankful for, things that are fun, and things that make me happy. Here's my list from last week:

  1. My husband, who is thoughtful, kind, and indulges my whims from time to time without judgement.
  2. Giordano's, my FAVORITE Chicago style pizza, now has a location in Indianapolis, IN - which is only 2 short hours away!  We drove up to Indy on Saturday night (see #1) and it was sooooo good!
  3. My weekly Sunday phone chat with my mom who lives in WV.
  4. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.  It was a interesting and engaging read that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to last week.
  5. Sitting outside on the deck with my favorite four-legged buddy.
  6. The subtle change in the leaves and the air.  Autumn is here.
  7. Colorful mums.  I suck at maintaining them or even keeping them alive, but I love looking at other's mums.
  8. Breakfast Pizza Wednesdays at school.
  9. Understanding, loyal, and supportive friends who let me vent.
  10. Erin's (from Texerin-in-Sydneyland) blog entry on Hair Metal Bands from the 80s.  It was a fun read and brought back a lot of memories from the decade of decadence!
Happy Monday to you!  Hopefully the day and the week will treat us kindly. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Courtesy of the American Library Association.
Today kicks off Banned Books Week, an annual event that essentially celebrates the freedom to read.  

Whenever I hear or think about banned books, I always remember this scene from the 1984 movie, Footloose.  
In this scene, the highly influential Reverend Moore stops the ultra conservative citizens of Beaumont from tossing library books that they deem as offensive and/or unsuitable into a burning trashcan.  He exclaims, "Satan is not in these books!  He's in here, he's in your hearts.  Go on home, all of you.  Go sit in judgement on yourselves."  

That scene and that comment have really stuck with me over the years and I hold the same opinion.  You see, I believe wholeheartedly in freedom of the press, in free speech, in the freedom of access to information, and the freedom of choice.  Those are some of the essential cornerstones on which our country was founded and they are liberties that I, as an American, enjoy.  Having said that, however, I must also admit that I believe when it comes to children, that appropriateness is key, be it music, movies, video games, online media, or books.  (And let me just state for the record - the whole debate of what is "appropriate" is a discussion for another day and another blog entry.  LOL!  It isn't a simple case of black or white.  It falls into a gigantic gray area.)


So, basically here's my stance: I strongly believe that some books are appropriate for certain ages, but not necessarily for others.  I also believe that the banning of books as a whole is wrong.  

In honor of Banned Books Week, I'm going to exercise my right to read whatever I damn well please and I encourage you to do the same!  

I have chosen two books: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  

I chose The Perks of Being a Wallflower because it is one of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014-15.  I chose Fahrenheit 451 because I can't think of a better book to read during Banned Books Week than a book about the banning of books.

I'm also participating in Megan's (@ Semi Charmed Kind of Life) Banned Books Week Photo Challenge.
I'm still new to the "Twitterverse," but I will be using Twitter for my photos.  You can follow me on Twitter @edb214 .

Happy Banned Books Week!  I encourage you to enjoy a freedom that is often questioned, challenged, and denied of many throughout the world.  Happy reading to you!

Friday, September 25, 2015

2015 Audiobook Challenge 3rd Quarter Check-in


Happy Friday, everyone!  Today I am checking in for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens.

My goal for this challenge is 52 Audiobooks (see my original link post here).  As of this 3rd Quarter Check-in, I have listened to 47 audiobooks:
  1. The Transfer by Veronica Roth
  2. The Initiate by Veronica Roth
  3. The Son by Veronica Roth
  4. The Traitor by Veronica Roth
  5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  7. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  8. The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan
  9. Galveston by Nic Pizzolato
  10. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  11. Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James
  12. Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James
  13. Tell No Lies by Gregg Hurwitz
  14. Raine Falling by Paula Marinaro
  15. Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan
  16. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  17. Easy by Tammara Webber
  18. Breakable by Tammara Webber
  19. Wicked Ties by Shayla Black
  20. Sunset Express by Robert Crais
  21. Indigo Slam by Robert Crais
  22. The Last Detective by Robert Crais
  23. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  24. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  25. Grey by E. L. James (review here
  26. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  27. Explosive Eighteen by Stephanie Evanovich
  28. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (review here)
  29. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (review here)
  30. The River is Dark by Joe Hart (review here)
  31. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (review here)
  32. All the Light We Cannot See by Jonathan Doerr (review here
  33. My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall (review here)
  34. Sweet by Tammara Webber (review here)
  35. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (review here)
  36. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (review here)
  37. Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner
  38. YOU by Caroline Kepnes (review here)
  39. Landline by Rainbow Rowell (mini review here)
  40. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote (mini review here)
  41. Three Shirt Deal by Stephen J. Cannell (mini review here)
  42. On the Grind by Stephen J. Cannell (mini review here)
  43. Lick by Kylie Scott (mini review here)
  44. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (review here)
  45. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  46. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  47. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
So far, I'm in good shape to finish this challenge before the December wrap-up date.

Are you participating in this challenge?  How are you doing?  Thanks for stopping by and happy listening to you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall TBR List

Today I am linking up with The Broke and the Bookish and participating in their weekly Top Ten Tuesday feature post. (To learn more about TTT, click here.) This week's theme is:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • Double Whammy by Carl Hiaasen
  • The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson
  • I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
These are the books that are on my radar as of today and I do not have any set order in which I  plan to read them.  Also, if I'm not feeling a particular book, I may take it out of the lineup entirely and read something else instead.  That's just how I roll these days.  Life's too short to invest time in a book that you're just not feeling.  So many books, so little time...

Are any of these books on your Fall TBR list? Thanks for stopping by!  Happy reading!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge - Final Check-in

Today is the third and final check-in for the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge (hosted by Kari @ bykariparker, Kristen @ seeyouinaporridge, and Krystal (aka Kay) @ thekaytimes).  I finished the challenge back in August, so I really have nothing new to report.  I'm just checking in so ensure that I'm eligible for the wildcard prize.  :)

Thank you to Kari, Kristen, and Krystal (aka Kay) for hosting this challenge!  It was fun and I enjoyed myself!

Below are the books I completed for this challenge. (NOTE: If a book title appears in red, you can click on it and it will direct you to my review of that book. If a title is crossed out, this indicates that I initially considered that book for that category but ditched it for some reason.)


  1. One word title book - Grey by E.L. James (576 pgs, 3/5 rating, read 6.21 - 6.26.15)
  2. YA book - Looking for Alaska by John Green (221 pgs, 3/5 rating, read 6.27 - 6.29.15)
  3. Book by non US author - A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (368 pgs, 5/5 rating, the author is Swedish, read 7.6 - 7.7.15)
  4. Suspenseful bookThe River is Dark by Joe Hart (223 pgs, 2/5 rating, read 7.10 - 7.15.15)
  5. Book recommended by a blogger, "Goodreads-er,"  etc. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (272 pgs, 4/5 rating, recommended by my friend Jen @ Goodreads, read 7.16.15)
  6. Book written by comedian or celeb (or memoir)My Mother was Nuts by Penny Marshall (326 pgs, 3/5 rating, read 7.27 - 7.28.15)
  7. Book about summer, has summer in title, or is any way related to summer - The Summer I Turned Pretty *Update: Sweet by Tammara Webber (340 pgs, 4/5 rating, *the story takes place during the summer, read 7.29 - 7.31.15)
  8. Book that has been/will be made into a movie/TV show Paper Towns *Update: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (382 pgs, 3/5 rating, *slated to be an HBO movie, read 8.2 - 8.6.15)
  9. Book that has been on my TBR list for 1 year or more My Bluegrass Baby *Update: A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (319 pgs, 4/5 rating, read 8.6 - 8.13.15)
  10. Book w/ a kickass female character - Fear Nothing (DD Warren series) by Lisa Gardner (416 pgs, 4/5 rating, *Detective DD Warren is the epitome of KICKASS!, read 8.13 - 8.20.2015)
10 categories.  
10 books.  
8 1/2 weeks. 
107 hours of listening time. 
Finished.
Did you participate in the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge?  How did you do?  

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Current Events in One Sentence (Aug. 30 - Sept 15)

Inspired by a blog that I read this summer...



MTV VMAs (Aug. 30) - How is an awards show for music videos, presented on a seemingly video-phobic channel such as MTV,  that is, let's face it, more of a reality TV show channel than a music video channel, still relevant in 2015?

Kanye West's 2020 Presidential Bid (Aug. 30) - Can you imagine all the diplomatic and foreign relationships that will be severed due to his inability to not interrupt others when they are talking?


Viral "How to Skin a Watermelon" Video (Sept. 2) - This dude had waaayyy too much time on his hands.  (See video here)


Tom Brady and Deflategate (Sept. 3) - Were tax dollars really wasted on this silly issue?


Jailed Rowan County Clerk (KY) Kim Davis (Sept. 3) - I predict that Mrs. Davis put that free time, while she was in the Carter County jail (after being found in contempt of court for failing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples), to good use by planning the next phase of her life - book deals, speaking engagements, and the likes.


Abandoned Bengal Tiger Found Wandering in CA Neighborhood (Sept. 4) - Who in their right mind (Ding! Ding! Ding!) thinks that having a large predatory feline with very sharp teeth as a pet is a good idea?


Photo: Kim Davis' Release from Jail (Sept. 8) - She was imprisoned for all of five days and not even five whole days, yet in this photo she's acting like Nelson Mandela when he was released and he was imprisoned for 27 years!

Via
Donald Trump's Comments Regarding Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorino: "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?" (Sept. 9) - Apparently "Mr. Comb Over" thinks that he's as pretty as the contestants in his beauty pageants.

Kim Davis Goes Back to Work and Does Not Interfere with Issuance of a Marriage License to a Same-Sex Couple (Sept. 14) - Good.

Donald Trump's President Run (ongoing) - I think my 82 year old grandmother's sentiment may be correct - "If he gets it (elected), then we all may as well shoot ourselves in the head."


Thanks for stopping by!   Happy Tuesday!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge

I am linking up with Samantha Lin so I can participate in the 2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge, which has been running since January, but which I just stumbled upon earlier this morning.  I am currently in between challenges at the moment and I kind of miss it.  Participating in challenges, I have discovered, helps me diversify my reading and steers me to read some books that I might not otherwise read.

The RULES look fairly simple:
  • The challenge runs from 1 January to 31 December 2015.
  • Read a book written by authors with last names from A to Z and try to collect every letter of the alphabet. Only last names count, so William Shakespeare would fall under S, not W.
  • Speaking of Shakespeare, the books you read may fall under any form/genre: prose, poetry, drama; fiction, non-fiction, academic monographs…
  • Your books don’t have to be “physical” either - ebooks and audiobooks are more than welcome!
  • Crossovers with other challenges and re-reads are also more than welcome!
  • You do not need to have a blog or review the books in order to participate - having a list somewhere (such as GoodReads) is fine.
  • Sign-ups are open till 30 November 2015.
  • Come December 2015, I’ll be making a post for you to submit your completed challenges. If you manage to finish by 31 Dec 2015, then you’ll be in the running for a booktastic prize draw!
  • Update (2 June 2015): Since X has been causing a bit of strife, any author with X in their last name (not necessarily as the first letter) qualifies for the challenge. Hope that’ll make things a little more manageable! 
Given that the challenge was designed to run the entire calendar year, I am using any book that I have read in 2015.  Here is my list as of today (September 12, 2015):

A
B - A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (review)
C - Sunset Express by Robert Crais
D - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer (review)
E - The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan
F
G - Looking for Alaska by John Green
H - Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (review)
I
J - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (review)
K - YOU by Caroline Kepnes (review)
L
M - My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall (review)
N
O - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (review)
P - Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto
Q
R - Landline by Rainbow Rowell (mini review)
S - Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (review)
T - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
U
V
W - Sweet by Tammara Webber (review)
X
Y
Z

Are you participating in this challenge, too?  How's your progress?  Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ugly Love - A Review

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (2014)

Book description from Goodreads:  When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn't think it's love at first sight. They wouldn't even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn't want love, she doesn't have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her: 1) Never ask about the past. 2) Don't expect a future.


They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can't handle it at all. Hearts get infiltrated. Promises get broken. Rules get shattered. Love gets ugly.

~~~
Wow…  

This book blew me away.  After I finished it, all I could think was, “Wow…"  Ugly Love is one of those rare books that sank its teeth into me from the very beginning and didn’t let up until the very end.  Throughout the book, regardless of where I was in the story’s timeline, I was feeling something, be it anger, frustration, sadness, nostalgia, or happiness.  When I wasn’t listening to the audiobook, I often found myself thinking about Miles, Tate, and their story.  I was completely immersed in this honest, tragic, complicated, ugly, beautiful tale.

Ugly Love was my first experience with the author, Colleen Hoover, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of writing style or substance.  I was extremely impressed.  One of the faults I often find with New Adult books is that the writing is often basic, average at best, and although the story has potential, it rarely scratches below the surface in terms of substance.  This was not the case with Ugly Love.  Ugly Love was incredibly well written with believable dialogue, descriptive details, and realistic characters.  The development and buildup of the connection between Tate and Miles was palpable.  

Ugly Love alternates between Tate’s POV in the present and Miles’ POV in the past.  Despite the 6 years difference between the two points of view, it wasn’t hard to keep up.  I actually found it incredibly easy to switch back and for the between the two.  Point of view books seem to be all the rage right now and, honestly, sometimes it is a writing method that doesn’t work well.  In Ugly Love, it worked incredibly well and, in my opinion, enhanced the story overall.

I know that New Adult novels are not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend Ugly Love to those who are fans of the genre and for anyone who might be curious about the genre.  I enthusiastically give it my highest rating: ★★★★★

Have you read Ugly Love?  What's your take on it?  

Thanks for stopping by!


My rating system:
★★★★★ = Awesome!  Good chance I own a print copy!
★★★★ = Very good.
★★★ = Good.
★★ = Not good.  I finished it, but did not like.
★ = Absolutely loathed it!  I may not have even finished it.
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