Finished challeneges?

I actually finished challenges this year, and am on my way to finishing my 3rd challenge- Buy One Book & Read It.  It is rather surprise, since last year I attempted a few challenges and failed miserably at all of them!  I guess I wasn't ready.. or experienced enough in the blogging world... to finish challenges.  This year though, I decided to pick 3 challenges that really bit who I am as a reader- I think this was the biggest part of my success.

The first challenge I finished was The New York Challenge, hosted by FizzyThoughts.  I decided to join this because it was an easy dip into challenges.  With only 1 book to read and a lot of fun memes to finish monthly, I thought this would be something I could handle.  In addition, the challenge was about New York (as in, NYC).  Born and raised in upstate NY, I have spent quite a bit of time down in the city.  A quick 3 hour drive from my house, it is a great place to spend a weekend.  I've seen many concerts, gone to every museum and wandered the streets... I've even spent New Years Eve in the city (not in Time Square- that is soooo not up my alley, but at a concert a few blocks away).  The memes that FizzyThoughts came up with were really fun!  I even won one of the challenges- my poem for the April mini challenge was the winner and I got an awesome Strand bag & pen (I literally use the pen every single day!!).  The book I reviewed was The Spare Wife by Alex Witchel.  I enjoyed that book a lot- you can see my review here (I finished in April and did the poem mini challenge the same day I reviewed my novel).  To see what was reviewed by participants and links to their reviews & blogs, check out this post.  Overall, I totally loved this challenge and was super proud of myself for finishing.  I'd love to do another challenge based on a famous city.

The second challenge that I finished was the Memorable Memoir Challenge hosted by Betty&Boo Chronicles.  I joined this because one of my absolute favorite genres is memoir.  I have always been drawn to memoirs.  Learning about other people and their lives has always been interesting to me.  Seeing the world through someone elses eyes interests me because as humans we can share so many of the same (or similar) experiences and interpret them so differently.  No matter how similar two people are, you will still experience the same thing completely differently.  The most simple example- your garbage is my treasure.  For this challenge, we read 4 memoirs.  Here is the link to the review page- check out what everyone who joined has been reading!
You can find my reviews at these links:
Weekends at Bellevue by Julie Holland, M.D. {review}
Switching Time by Richard Baer {review}
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel {review}

I am still working on the Buy One Book & Read It Challenge hosted by My Friend Amy.  I choose to pick the highest level participant and have finished 10 of the 12 books for review.  I picked this challenge because it was simple- buy a book, read it, review it.  I buy books like it is nobodies business, so this has been relatively easy for me!  I am currently reading book #11 (Infected by Scott Sigler) and have book #12 lined up to be the sequel- Contagious.  I will hopefully be finishing this challenge up soon... and maybe since it is early in the year, I may join another!  Who knows what the "new year" (my new year- teaching another school year) will bring.  :)  You can see what I have reviewed, as well as the other challenge participants at this link.

Hope you enjoyed my little ramble- my goal was to ramble, pat myself on the back a bit and get my reviews for challenges in one place.  How did I do??

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


To Do

School is out on the 20th and I cannot wait... I think I'm more excited for summer school to be over than my students are.  They genuinely miss me (not that I don't miss them) because they don't really need a "break" from Miss P, just school.  I actually need a break from them because holy moly can those boys be draining.  Besides, they know they'll see me once or twice over break and they get to know what I'm up to via Joe.  I plan on getting down to that looming 'to do' list while on my break.

Blogosphere To Do:

  • Write reviews of past books

  • Finish at least 3 new books and review them

  • Comment and visit the fabulous bloggers on my list that I have severely neglected this past month

  • Spruce of look of blog

  • Get a new signature for my blog

  • Write some busy day posts

  • Schedule photography posts

  • Remind myself why I blog!
The rest:

  • Watch all the Star Wars movies {so I can actually understand and incorporate our facility's new boys dorm theme}

  • Learn new hoop tricks

  • Create a Star Wars themed solar system thematic unit for September

  • Scrapbook

  • Design a Christmas card template {so I can send out cards this year and not fall into the store bought trap}

  • Make Halloween tags for goody bags

  • Save my tomatoes by tying them up so they don't fall over any more than they already are

  • Cook delicious meals
  • Paint the porch
There is probably a lot more that I will try to get done... and I will probably drop a few of these off of my list.  However, I need to do as much as I can with the little amount of school break that I have.  Sounds like a lot {and I sure will seem like a lot} but with Joe working, I will need to keep busy!
Here's to a new year with fresh ideas and things crossed off my To Do List!
{my year is measured by when I teach! haha...}

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Passage

The PassageVery very rarely do I purchase a book based on hype.  I also rarely buy new releases still in hardcover. However, I cracked and bought The Passage... a hyped up new release in hardcover.  It too a bit of convincing from Joe- reminding me that reading is my favorite thing, so why not splurge every once in a while.  Thankful that I took his advice and got the book... the hype was real.
The Passage is based on a government conspiracy gone wrong and the fallout afterwards. Justin Cronin leads us dead into the world of the unknown.  The world as we know it has been destroyed by an unknown virus that is killing the human soul and transforming us into violent creatures who stalk the night.
The Passage begins with the government experiment.  The reader is not fully aware of the magnitude of this conspiracy, but we immediately know it is doomed.  Also brought into the beginning is a sense of calm- found through God or some other mystical sense of being.  As the early chapters unfold, little is discovered.  We know there is violence unleashed on the world but we also know there is a beacon of light in the little girl named Amy.  Who is Amy?  Or better yet, what is Amy?  Is she a fallen angel sent to save the world?  And who are these beasts who stalk the night?  What are they?  As I dove deeper into the novel, I met the colony.  People who survived the initial outbreak and sustained themselves for decades.  There are only a few who know what happened, as everyone else is a descendant from the original settlers.  A colony of people living in the desert, surrounded by high walls and powerful lights.  They survive and carry on inside their safe haven, but yearn for more.  The colony is divided- those who are content to live a sheltered life and those who strive for more.  They've seen family "taken up" by the vicious beasts who hunt at night, but can feel in their souls that there are more survivors.. that maybe even their families are alive somewhere, hiding from the monsters who stalk the night sky.  There are those who have heard of stars and desire to see them.  But what has become of the world?  Did this happen only in America, or are other countries going on living like nothing ever happened?  Hope arrives in Amy.  Those who asked questions want answers even more.  There are so many questions to be answered, and so few opportunities to find the answers.  Some members decide to hunt for those answers.  Answers to Amy.  Answers to the night stalkers.  Answers to our history.  Answers to the fate of the world.
Justin Cronin paints a terrifying picture of what could come.  While the idea of the beasts seems far fetched, even by my standards, the idea of destruction and a need to rebuild is not.  What happens when America is attacked... the threat of attack and the downfall of society is real.  Will states succeed from the nation and fight on their own?  Will the rest of the world quarantine the States and leave us for dead?  What will Canada and Mexico do?  What will happen to the human race?  We can rebuild, we can survive, but how will we do it?  And who will be the ones ready to fight to rebuild America?

I highly suggest this book to all readers... it is part science fiction, part conspiracy theory, part apocalyptic drama, part survival lessons, part romance and humor and every other human emotion.  The Passage is every genre wrapped in one MASSIVE (seriously- gigantic) novel.  Huge on suspense and thought provoking material, Justin Cronin delivers in this novel.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Free To A Good Home

Free to a Good Home
I just finished the debut novel from author Eve Marie Mont.  A classic coming-of-age vibe.  , Free to a Good HomeMont puts a spin on the traditional "20-something-growing up-finding herself" theme.  First off, Noelle Ryan isn't 20 and she isn't moving to NYC (someday, I would love for authors to explain to me why 90% of the coming-of-age novels are based around moving to the city).  Noelle is in her 30s, unable to bear a child, divorced from a gay man and happy in her job.  Doesn't sound like the typical storyline for this particular theme.  I think that is why I actually liked the novel.
Noelle is trying to find her footing in her life.  She is a successful vet tech, but doesn't get the pay or recognition she deserves.  Noelle is always the girl who gives her all and doesn't expect anything in return.  Thus leading to her decision to marry a man for the wrong reasons, help out her ex-mother-in-law out of guilt and take on a promotion, minus the pay raise.  As the story unfolds, the reader is pulled into Noelle's world of giving her all.  I was immediately drawn to her character- she is so full of life and desire to help.  Noelle is a well-rounded character with struggles and success, but also a bit fearful.  She is scared of change, of what it may bring.  However, change is what she needed... not only for herself but for those around her.  Noelle had to admit to herself what she needed and wanted- not what everyone else wants for her.  Her family, ex-husband and his new boyfriend, boss, ex-mother-in-law,  and potential love interest all put pressure on Noelle and she needs to make priorities.
Throughout the novel, Noelle introduces the reader to wonderful puppies and rescue dogs, as well as stunning houses (her hobby of choice is reading reality sites).  The novel takes place over the course of a very eye-opening year, for  both Noelle and the reader.  Noelle is easy to relate to, even if we all haven't been through a divorce or a life-changing medical discovery.  I felt that I could relate to her due to the overall theme and story line.  Even though I haven't been through the things Noelle has, I have had struggles in my life that I overcame... Mont makes her characters easy to relate with all around (I found myself relating to her ex-mother-in-law who has MS on a certain level) through her use of common themes and struggles that all humans experience.
I enjoyed this novel... I felt like it was an easy read that was also heartwarming and thought provoking.  I also needed a break from all the crazy end-of-the-world books and psychology books I have been devouring lately!  I'd definitely recommend this book to my girlfriends as a quick pick-me-up.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Walking Dead

It is official: I am up to date with The Walking Dead.  I finished volume number 12 Friday afternoon... and I was lucky enough to score a copy from our local comic book store {props to Charging Star- they are great and the owner, Ryan is super helpful and cool to chat with} since the trade paperback wasn't due out until August 3rd.  Have I mentioned that I get them in trade paperback for a very specific reason??  The proof is in the picture- when laid out, all twelve books contain a continuous pattern of the walking dead.  I had to lay mine out in two rows of 6 so it would photograph well enough to see the amazing detailed artwork.  When displayed all 12 side by side, it is truly an artistic beauty.
Now, I have said it before... this graphic novel series is not for everyone.  It is dark, thought provoking, full of death, sexual and sometimes tough to read.  Kirkman really deals with the reality of society with no rules- what would happen?  We all know there are bad people who do bad things, but what  about all the people who are bad but don't do bad things because of the rules?  What do they do when there is no law... and what about the good people who need to do bad things- just to survive?
The theme is very end-of-the-world, downfall of society and fear of whats out there.  I've always liked a good end-of-the-world tale, hence why I originally picked up volume 1.  Never really into zombies, I wasn't sure I would like them... Joe was more into starting the collection than I was.  But I must admit, once I picked up the first book and read it, I practically had to fight with Joe to get him to give up the second one for me to read (he happened to be reading it at the exact moment I finished book 1).  Yes, I quickly became addicted to the series.  So, now that I have read the first twelve volumes... I am itching for #13.  They are currently still being produced in comic format, so right now the continued story is only in monthly comic book form.

If you have not read past book 5, stop now!

Throughout these first 12 volumes,  the reader is introduced to a cast of characters that run through the entire series.  Some are eaten by the roamers (zombies), some are killed by other surviving communities they find along the way, some killed by their own group and some die of complications.  Most of the volumes bring in at least one new character- whether fleeting or soon to become a new member of the group.  Each volume has its fair share of death and gore, but also has a very powerful underlying theme.  These themes vary, but the central idea is what I mentioned above- what happens when society falls apart?  We rebuild and try to carry on, but how can you survive when the majority of the human population has turned into roaming zombies?
There were a few very disturbing parts within the series thus far- the hardest was when a mother and her newborn baby are killed in friendly fire.  After that happened, Rick (the main character) and his son Carl are left alone to fight the scary world and try to survive.  Eventually, all ends well enough when the group locates Rick and Carl and saves them.  Another difficult scenario was the scene preceding that above- another group of survivors attacked Rick and his crew in cold blood, for nothing more than the security of Rick's groups' home (a vacant prison).  Many were lost in the slaughter, and it truly was disturbing due to the fact that it was good people turned bad.
Now, as I am up to the final available paperback copy, I am left hanging by a thread.  The group has encountered yet another community of survivors.  So far, every other group they have met turned out to be pretty awful and unable to trust.  This new community looks promising.  They decided to move in because they were low on food and the 'recruiters' seemed like people they could trust.  Upon entering the new community, they learn they will all take on certain roles or jobs to help sustain the community.  This place is made up of a few blocks of homes with walls to keep the roamers out... they are currently expanding so they can include a store, church and more homes.  Everyone is settling in nicely, but they have their reservations.  The people within the community seem so very calm... almost like they are acting in a make-believe world.  Willing to give it a try for clothes, food, safety and a roof over their heads, the group moves in and Rick becomes the town constable.  We are left with the scene of Rick and Glenn discussing their weapons (which were taken away and locked up) and how to get them back, as a precaution.
Based on the track record of the groups Rick and his fellow survivors have met, this seems all too good to be true.  Unfortunately for me, I can't run back out to Charging Star and grab volume 13 to find out... now I have to wait a good long while.

At least the AMC adapted show will be starting up in October!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

new design

Little Bird J needed to have some birdies back in her blog design! 
{ speaking in the third person is kind of cool! }

What do you all think???

Designed by the fabulous LeeLou Blogs- from an awesome free template... check her blog out for oodles of doodles { i mean designs! }

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Flock

The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality
 Recently I found by way back to my favorite type of literature... always intrigued by psychology-psychiatry based literature, I picked up The Flock by Joan Frances Casey & Lynn Wilson.  The Flock is an autobiography of a multiple personality.  If you have ever read Sybil or Switching Time, you're probably thinking this is just another memoir about MPD and it is the same old story.  While those with MPD always have common threads (early trauma, switching persona's, losing time, central personality, unaware of their disorder, etc.), the psychoanalysts that treat patients approach it very differently.
In The Flock, Lynn Wilson is Joan's social worker.  Joan has no idea she has MPD and Lynn has no idea how to treat her.  Lynn looks for guidance from her colleagues (who don't believe her), research journals (the few), her husband and from Sybil.  Eventually Lynn begins to forge her own path to treatment with Joan.  Her style evolves throughout the many years the women work together.  In the end, Joan looks to Lynn and her husband as parents and they see Joan as their daughter.  A form of re-parenting helped Joan overcome her disorder and take control back.
Lynn's style of treatment is very different from what I've read and researched.  While re-parenting is nothing new, it was still new to treatment of MPD.  Many of Lynn's colleagues were skeptical of the therapy- assuming that it was becoming too co-dependent.  Lynn also seeks out Sybil's psychotherapist.. one of the few who commend her on the progress she is making with Joan and encourages her to stay on the track she currently is on.  In the end, Lynn did the best she knew how- which for Joan was exactly what she needed to do.
Throughout the book, we visit the regular components of every autobiography about MPD- the trauma and the struggles, as well as meeting and merging the personalities.  Although this book is typical in that respect, the trauma and struggles are all her own.  Different and intriguing, we learn about Joan's childhood and her personality development.  Another aspect of this book that I found interesting was the development of relationships.  Joan has many relationships, some of which are positive and some negative (as with all human relationships).  However, the development of the relationship between patient-therapist is beyond interesting.  Watching the re-parenting unfold and the bond these two women share (which at times does border on co-dependent) is encouraging, insightful, puzzling and natural.  For a relationship between two woman to unfold in such a manner is almost completely natural and expected.  It is reminiscent of relationships women have, especially when there is an old-soul/young-soul component.
Overall, I found The Flock  to be interesting, not only because it is about a topic I really enjoy, but also because it is different.  It is not typical beyond MPD commonalities.  Not to mention the shocking ending.  I definitely recommend this book.  If Sybil seems too long and daunting (it can be) and Switching Time seems too short and brushes the surface, The Flock is the perfect middle ground.  A great book to start an interesting relationship with Multiple Personality Disorder.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow