Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tricks and Treats and Everything Sweet

Bri and Josh threw Bailey's second birthday party at the barn on Sunday. It was a costume party so we will not be having a Halloween Party tonight...but I do have pictures of the grands (and girls) to share!
Weston aka Lloyd from Ninjago

Maddux aka Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy

Davin aka Special Ops Leader

Brooke (also the birthday girl on Sunday) aka Vampira

Ellie aka Sweet Witch (she ditched the hat within two seconds of arrival)

Delayne aka Butterfly Princess

Brianne, Kelli and Megan aka Little Red Riding Hood, a Sanderson Sister and Wednesday Addams

Dayton aka Batman

Bailey (the birthday girl) aka Anna
Happy Trick or Treating tonight!

Hope your bag is filled with all of your favorites!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Reading In October Has It's Own Atmosphere

A little spooky. A little darker than summer's beach reads. Kind of like this picture from our front yard on an early Saturday morning in mid-October.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
(Fiction)  (Audiobook)
Fun. Fantastical. With just a bit of spooky to keep you glued.  This Audible version was read by the author who did a wonderful job. I can hardly wait to pick this one up for my grandchildren when they are ready.

Side note: This novel is the only one to win both the Newberry Medal and the Carnegie Medal.

Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him.

Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
(Classic Fiction) (Audiobook)
Slow.  Plodding.  Had to get it on Audible to move past the first chapter (after several tries).  Probably my least favorite Classic, but I certainly understand why it is one.  The character progression was drawn out with lots (and lots and lots) of words.  But the ending was worth the effort.


In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde's most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

Heating And Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
(Memoir)  (Shelf Subscription: October)
Laugh out loud funny.  Moving and poignant.  Deeply disturbing in all the right ways.  I devoured this little nugget from the Bookshelf Thomasville's Shelf Subscription in just a couple of nights.  But it will remain on my nightstand as I slow down to savor as I read through it again.

Side note: The author of these micro-memoirs is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi and teaches at the University of Mississippi -- just down the road from my sister's new home.


The 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of nonfiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer, and deeply original observer of life’s challenges and joys. Some pieces are wistful, some wry, and many reveal the humor buried in our everyday interactions. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments, and awakens us to these moments as they appear in the margins of our lives.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances: A Novel by Ruth Emmie Lang
(Fiction)  (Book of the Month: October)

Magical.  Beautiful.  Moving.  A baby is born. It begins to snow.  It is the middle of summer.  And that is the most normal part of Weylyn's story.  This novel swept me away from the very first page.  Not an easy feat for a debut.  Releases on November 14.  Pick it up!

Side note: It is already signed to a movie deal.  I hope it makes it to production.


Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin
(Non-Fiction)  (Audiobook)
This was my commute listen while reading Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances.  I listen to Gretchen's "Happiness" podcast with her sister, Liz, and really enjoy it.  Her book 'The Happiness Project' remains one of my favorite non-fiction reads ever.  It was revealing to learn a bit more about my own tendency (Obliger -- all the way!), but I think what I enjoyed most was learning about other tendencies (especially Jim's -- Rebel).  It just helps me to make sense of some of our challenges.  I am actually thinking of buying a hard copy to highlight and keep around for personal and professional use.


During her multibook investigation into understanding human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question "How do I respond to expectations?" we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively. 

More than 600,000 people have taken her online quiz, and managers, doctors, teachers, spouses, and parents already use the framework to help people make significant, lasting change.  

The Four Tendencies hold practical answers if you've ever thought...
·         People can rely on me, but I can't rely on myself.
·         How can I help someone to follow good advice?
·         People say I ask too many questions.
·         How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask—or who keeps telling me what to do?

With sharp insight, compelling research, and hilarious examples, The Four Tendencies will help you get happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. It's far easier to succeed when you know what works for you.

I had a great recommendation from a friend in Finland for my next Classic. (Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway)  Another for our next Book Club Read from a dear friend who belongs to several herself.  (Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah)  How about you?  Read anything worth recommending lately?

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Book And A Movie

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.

First a confession: I love Charles Martin's writing and have never been disappointed by his work.  I have novels I prefer over the rest and his Chasing Fireflies remains on my all time favorite list.  It was the first time I had read his work and was totally swept away.  Because I know that I will enjoy his novels, I pick them up whenever I find them...and this one has been on my TBR shelf for several years after I plucked it from a clearance shelf at Half Price Books for $3.  Hardback! (Thunder and Rain & Where the River Ends are still waiting on that shelf for me.)

During our last Barn Book Club meeting, we decided that we would like to read something movie related...and wouldn't you know it, the movie version was being released on October 6.  We read his latest novel earlier this year and the consensus was 'liked it', so they were game to read this one and schedule a movie date for Sunday.

Sharnel and I read the book, Stacy and Anita only saw the movie.

First the book:
We loved it!  Such a sweeping and enthralling tale.  It truly is 'unputdownable' as the book blurb says.  The story is full of adventure and of heroism.  You find yourself so entranced by their sheer will to survive that you have to know how they overcome each setback...willing them forward with every chapter because you care so deeply for the characters. 

There is a story within the story as Ben takes time each day to record messages to his wife (some of which Ashley overhears).  He tells her of what they are facing on the mountain, but he is also recounting for her their own love story and how much he misses her.  You know that something has happened between them that stirs his own unwillingness to leave Ashley behind to go for help (even as she urges him to), but it takes time for that unveiling and that is what makes this such a wonderful story.

For the two of us that read the book, we couldn't give it any higher praises.

Rating: ★★★★★

Now the movie:
There is a doctor named Ben.  There is a journalist.  There is a dog.  There is a plane crash.  They are stranded on a mountain in the middle of nowhere.  That is all.

The storyline is so different.  More politically correct.  More feminist friendly. 

Don't get me wrong...the actors do a superb job.  But the storyline lacks the spark that the novel thrives upon. 

One of the things that disappointed me so with the movie was that it was so bland...and even though the actors say at one point that they have been on the mountain for three weeks, it seems more like 5 or 6 days.  The novel makes you feel the ice, snow and cold and the fear that grabs you each time something goes wrong and you wonder if they will make it out alive.  The movie just shows them plodding through heavy snow and finding plenty of shelter and fire as if they only experience a bit of discomfort.  There is little suspense.

For instance, in the novel they become aware that they are being stalked by a mountain lion.  This goes on for several days as they realize it is closing in on them and Ben tries to figure out how to take out the cat before it takes them out.  Suspenseful, right?  In the movie, Ben goes out to climb a peak for a better look, the cat comes to the crash site, attacks the dog and enters the broken hull of the plane looking hungrily at Alex.  A moments excitement at best.

So at dinner we asked Stacy and Anita their thoughts about the movie.  They both agreed that is was okay, predictable and that they felt the love scene was a bit out of place.  When we shared the plot of the novel with them, they both agreed that the book would have been better.

It currently has a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

We are going to try it again soon with Same Kind of Different As Me.  I've been told I will cry in that one too...maybe more so since it is a true story!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Flower Girls, Junior Bridesmaids and a Fun Day with My Girls

Last Saturday all of us Goode Girls...all 9 of us...spent the day in wedding prep mode. The goal of the day was to find dresses for the two flower girls, the junior bridesmaid and the mother of the groom.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure:
The beautiful Bride-to-be with one of her flower girls at brunch.

Brooke (Jr. Bridesmaid), Delayne and Ellie (Flower Girls).
My favorite photo of the day.
My three beautiful daughters, our soon to be daughter-in-love and
the four granddaughters enjoying brunch at The Cheesecake Factory
Not my best photo ever...but I sure love this girl!
I left home at 8 in the morning.  Returned home at 7:30 in the evening.  Secured one flower girl dress, with a plan to find another in stock at another bridal shop.  Nothing on the Junior Bridesmaid.  A possibility for Mother of the Groom. And the Bride-to-be found her Rehearsal Dinner dress.

We were whooped...but had a great time with lots of laughs, a few tears and only two minor breakdowns (Bailey and Delayne, not the grown-ups).

It's times like these that I want to remember and cherish.  I told the girls that I would like for us to make room in our calendars for these types of days when there are no weddings to prepare for...even if it's once a quarter.

Wedding day is getting closer!