Tag Archives: book reviews

I Had a Really Great Title (But Now I Can’t Remember It)

In the summer of 2014, my mom was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. While I usually keep my feelings pretty close to the chest, I’m particularly covert about my experience with Alzheimer’s and what it’s like to be a caregiver. I would go so far as to say that even my closest friends, my siblings, my husband, don’t even know this part of me. This part of me is tender and raw. It’s continuously healing, then being ripped open again.

Alzheimer’s is about so much more than forgetting your keys or misplacing your glasses. It’s personal and heartbreaking. It’s a slow decline, a constant test in patience and understanding. It’s dealt with moment to moment, second to second and, as someone wise once put it, “…is the slowest and saddest goodbye.”

A few months ago I was approached by a dear family friend about an opportunity to write some poetry about my experience with Alzheimer’s, both as a daughter and a caregiver. While I was apprehensive at first, once I got started, I found I couldn’t stop. Words started pouring out of me so quickly that by the time I was done, I felt utterly and completely empty.

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Though I’m a writer by trade, I’m very protective of my personal written words and the thought of sharing this poetry with all of you shakes me to my core. These poems bring to life feelings I never thought I could talk about and exposes a part of me I’ve worked very hard to keep private. The reason I decided to share them and have them published in this book is to help bring awareness, help encourage discussion, help shed light on a topic so many of us fear to acknowledge.

The title of this book is I Had a Really Great Title, But Now I Can’t Remember It (Poems for the Older Generation). If you laughed, that’s okay…you should! As we all age and suffer the bumps and bruises along the way, sometimes all we have is our ability to find the humor in it all.

While this is not a book entirely about the Alzheimer’s experience, all proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to help fund Alzheimer’s research and awareness. For the sake of those fighting, supporting, and protecting, I humbly ask you to consider purchasing a copy of this book. The majority of the poems are written by the wonderful Bill McNulty and I encourage you to also check out his blog (“Still a Poet at Heart”) and the rest of his published books for more of his wise and humorous poetry.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading this post, for purchasing the book, and for doing your part to help our cause.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Snow Child Book Review

I love books that come to life as I’m reading them…books that paint a visual landscape with simple, yet stunning vocabulary. I love books that make me want to jump within the pages, no matter what the story, to fully immerse myself in the landscape…The Snow Child was one of those books.

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Broken by the fact they are unable to have a child, Jack and Mabel move to a secluded home in Alaska. The brutal environment makes it difficult for the couple to live, let alone communicate. Drifting apart and breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, they are both struggling, in their own way, with loneliness and despair.

During the season’s first snowfall, Jack and Mabel have a moment of levity and decide to build a child out of snow. This small moment of joy brings the couple closer together and the next morning when they look out to see their creation, the snow-child is gone, replaced by a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

A nymph of the forest with a fox by her side, this child somehow survives alone in the 1920 Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel try to learn more about this girl, they begin to care for her as one of their own…and her presence begins to change their relationship in ways they never could have imagined.

This book was beautiful in all the right ways. Not unlike a fairy tale in its telling and ending, The Snow Child comes to life with amazing imagery and plot. While this book didn’t end like I wanted it to, it ended as it should have – with a bittersweet conclusion reminiscent of most fairy tales…leaving the reader feeling happy, sad and hopeful all at the same time.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Uncommon Type Book Review

A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip to Portland, OR.  It was a book lover’s/coffee lover’s/food lover’s/nature lover’s dream come true! We stayed in a little Air B & B apartment with a wonderful couple who filled us in on all the must-see things in Portland…one of which was going to Powell’s Book Store.

I had heard of Powell’s before…it was described as “a big Barnes & Nobel”…which is easy to imagine.  But “big” isn’t really a big enough word for how large this bookstore is…for a bibliophile, it’s near impossible to spend less than an hour in that store.  The shelves are stacked up to the ceiling with books…and the store itself is divided into several rooms, each filled – I mean FILLED – with books, gifts, and more. I was in trouble.

Since we flew into Portland with just one suitcase (#pros), I didn’t want to leave with a butt-ton of books that would weigh our luggage down…so I told myself I would buy one book.  Just one.  One lonely, little book from the City of Books.  And I stuck to it!

My one and only purchase at Powell’s Bookstore was a signed copy of Uncommon Type, a collection of short stories by the adorable Tom Hanks.  The book had just come out, so I hadn’t heard much about it…but how could you go wrong with Tom Hanks?

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Much like Tom himself, these stories didn’t possess any flair or flash…they didn’t promise to be anything other than what they were – small glimpses into the lives of American people.  What ties all these stories together is the appearance of a typewriter – sometimes the main character in the story, other times just an object on a desk.

I hate to say that I struggled a bit through some of these stories…not in a bad way, just in a nothing-really-exciting-is-happening-and-I’m-getting-a-little-bored kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy this book and I love Tom Hanks as an actor and as a person, but I guess this book just didn’t live up to the hype I selfishly created for it.

Three stories in this collection really stood out to me above the others. One, titled “The Past is Important to Us”, tells the story of a man who travels back in time to the 1939 World’s Fair, drawn by a young woman in a green dress (slightly similar, yet more disturbing, than the film, Somewhere in Time). Another titled “These are the Meditations of My Heart” talks about how a young girl copes with her breakup by finding a bit of solstice in an old vintage typewriter. Finally the third story, “Welcome to Mars” is about a boy discovering his father’s infidelity. I found it so honest and true that it might just be my favorite one in the collection.

Was this my favorite collection of short stories ever? No. It didn’t surprise me or shock me or leave me wondering about a hanging ending; however, it did entertain. The stories in Uncommon Type were true and honest, albeit normal. They were about everyday people doing everyday things. Some stories are better than others, some stories are funnier than others, but just like Toy Story, You’ve Got Mail, or Sleepless in Seattle, it will most likely leave you loving Tom Hanks all the more.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Anatomy of a Song Book Review + GIVEAWAY!

WIN A COPY OF Anatomy of a Song BELOW!

Whether it’s Taylor Swift’s “All to Well”, R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”, or Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, every great song usually starts with one hell of a backstory.

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In Anatomy of a Song, based on the ongoing Wall Street Journal column, writer and music historian Marc Meyers brings five decades of music to life through his oral histories of 45 songs that have had some impact on rock, R&B, or pop culture. Writers, producers, musicians, and singers talk about the emotional meaning behind their songs, as well as the inspirations and techniques that helped every mistake, every nuance, every one-take recording all the more amazing.

When I first read Anatomy of a Song, it was a full sensory experience. After each chapter, I would take a break to pull up each song on YouTube and listen to it in its entirety. I’d listen for the little instrumental queues in “Shout” by the Isley Brothers…or the nods to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in “Proud Mary” by John Fogerty. Listening to these songs in order of release (they are in order of release in the book, also) really shows how musicians and singers are influenced and motivated by each other. I even put together a YouTube playlist with the songs in order for your listening pleasure!  For anyone with an appreciation for music and writing, this book is a fascinating read.

Check out my Anatomy of a Song playlist on YouTube to listen to all the songs featured in this book!

Filled with interviews by Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, The Clash, Stevie Wonder, Keith Richards, Cyndi Lauper and many more, Anatomy of a Song is a love letter to the music that defined generations of listeners.

GIVEAWAY! 
Want the chance to read this book yourself? Well, you’re in luck because I happen to have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!  All you need to do is write a comment below with your favorite song growing up and what it meant to you.  I’ll pick a random winner from the comments on December 8th!  Good luck!

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Hygge Week:  The Little Book of Hygge Book Review

There’s a reason Denmark has been named one of the happiest countries in the world.  Despite the cold harsh winds and the snowfall and the dark stormy winters, Denmark remains #2 on the list of the happiest countries (for comparison, the US is placed at number 14).  Put simply, the reason the Danes remain so content is that they are one of the only countries to fully and completely embrace the hygge lifestyle.

As we’ve been talking about all week, hygge is all about being comfortable.  It’s the art of creating intimacy and taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things, such as big comfy blankets, candles, hot drinks, warm socks, and delicious food.  Hygge cannot really be explained…it’s there to be felt.  It’s cuddling up on the sofa with a loved one or sharing a rich pot of stew with your closest friends.  It’s staying in your bed on a Sunday afternoon or listening to the fire crackle as you read your favorite novel.

While you don’t need a book to tell you how to feel comfortable, it certainly can’t hurt!  Filled with great advice on how to turn your living space into a cozy, intimate wonderland, The Little Book of Hygge is your ultimate guide into embracing hygge.  It was the “Bible” my husband and I used to make our home more hygge, and we find ourselves coming back to it again and again for more ideas, recipes, and party suggestions.

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Written by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, this book is best read alongside a cup of hot tea and a piece of cake (or two!).  Meik has spent years studying the hygge lifestyle, and his research has found that hygge really is the magic ingredient that makes the Danes one of the happiest nations in the world.

As we’ve discussed this week, this book was the fuel that encouraged us to embrace the hygge lifestyle and I’m telling you…THIS WORKS.  You can read all the self-help books you want…watch all the shows and read all those quotes on Pinterest…but just the simple act of making your life more meaningful, spending time with the people you actually like, eating foods that are delicious and sensual, and filling your home with soft candlelight, warm blankets, and comfy furniture…this is the secret.  Rather than buying a lamp, try some candles.  Instead of buying wall art from World Market, try making something yourself using natural items.  Rather than buy a blanket from Walmart, knit or crochet one yourself!

It’s not hard to make your home a happy place.  Some simple changes can not only improve your dwelling, but can maybe even improve your overall happiness.  So get those winter socks out of storage…wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket and turn off that freaking phone.  Make some rich hot cocoa or some tasty spiced cider and give yourself over to the magical world of hygge.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Snowman Book Review

Remember this scene in The Office where Dwight tortures Jim with a bunch of snowmen?

Now add an alcoholic police investigator, an insane killer out for revenge, and a few body parts tucked comfortably into those icy cold torsos and you’ve got Jo Nesbo’s crime thriller, The Snowman.

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The inspiration behind the recent film of the same name (which SUCKED, by the way), The Snowman is the seventh novel in the Harry Hole detective series, but you don’t have to have any prior knowledge of his books to enjoy this one.

Set in Oslo, Norway, The Snowman is a murder-mystery thriller that will leave you questioning everyone in this story.  Just when you think you have the murderer pegged, something changes and you’re left right back where you started…and you’re not alone.  Police investigator, Harry Hole, is left just as confused…for the closer he gets to the killer, the terrifying game the killer is playing with him is suddenly revised.

Always striking after a fresh snowfall, the killer chooses his victims specifically and with reason…then leaves clues for the police buried inside a freshly made snowman.  Some snowmen sport decapitated heads, others hold cell phones or scarves.  The victims all have something in common…the only question is what?

Though this book was somewhat slow to start, once it got started, The Snowman was impossible to put down. Fiercely suspenseful, this novel is filled with amazing characters that seem to come to life right on the page. I have to admit that this book had me guessing the whole time and the ending was totally worth the wait, if I do say so myself!

Now, if you’re the kind of person who thinks, “Why read the book when I can just see the movie?” do yourself a favor and actually read the book this time.  The movie makes the killer way too obvious and leaves out MAJOR plot holes that heavily drive the story along in the novel.  Even though Michael Fassbender is in it, I’m telling you it’s not worth it.  Watch him in Shame instead.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.  😉

A cold-blooded murder mystery thriller that will have you looking twice at any snowman that pops up in your neighborhood, The Snowman is a creep-tastic novel that will chill you to the bone.  Bundle up for this one…just like the first snowfall of winter, this book will leave you cold and shivering.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Rhett and Link’s Book of Mythicality Book Review

Rhett and Link wrote a book.  Let’s talk about that.

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If you’re not familiar with Good Mythical Morning, allow me to educate you.  This is Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal:

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They are the “Internet-tainers” behind YouTube’s most popular daily talk show, Good Mythical Morning.  Every weekday they release a video where they try new things for the good of science.  Want to know if LEGOS make good shoes?  Want to know the hottest hot sauce in America or the best-tasting pumpkin spice item at Trader Joe’s?  Rhett and Link put their taste buds, stomachs, and sanity on the line for us in this highly addicting and amazing YouTube series.

I’ve been a Mythical Beast (GMM fan) for at least four or five years.  I tune in every morning to watch GMM and even crafted my own Rhett and Link poster for my workspace!

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I’m seriously in love with these guys.

When Rhett and Link announced that they were working on a book, I was literally gitty with excitement.  I knew it would be nothing but MYTHICAL in its amazingness and I have to say, it met – nay – EXCEEDED my expectations!

Rhett and Link’s Book of Mythicality is everything Mythical Beasts would want and more.  Filled with hilarious stories, amazing photographs, and top-notch advice for how to be your mythical best, this book is an intimate look into the lives of Rhett and Link and is a testament to true, unadulterated friendship.

Want to throw a party that will go down in history as one of the best?  Rhett and Link show you how.  Want to know the secret to eating tarantulas, pig’s blood, and other disgusting things for possible post-apocalyptic survival?  Rhett and Link show you how.  What to learn how to tell someone you love them in the most mythical way possible?  Rhett and Link show you how…well, at least their wives do.  Want to know about Rhett’s dog curse, Link’s standards for quality BFF material, and their mutual love for Merle Haggard?  It’s all found in the colorful and hilarious pages of Rhett and Link’s Book of Mythicality.

Just like the show that inspired its birth, Rhett and Link’s Book of Mythicality aims to teach readers new things:  how to laugh more often, how to eat things that scare you, how to invent something ridiculous, and how to own your hair style.  Complete the fun activities and prompts along the way, this book is even more fun to read with your BFF…plus you earn Mythical “merit badges” as you make your way through the book!

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For those who don’t know, Rhett and Link have actually been BFF’s since the first grade when their teacher made them miss recess for writing profanity on their desks.  They spent their time drawing and creating mythical beasts and, thankfully for us, it was the start of a beautiful friendship.  After rooming together in college, attempting (and failing) to start a band, and abandoning their degrees in engineering, Rhett and Link decided to take to the Internet as a way to talk about their lives, air their grievances, and just make each other laugh…

Now with more than 12 million subscribers, Good Mythical Morning has spawned several other YouTube channels, including Good Mythical More, which airs after GMM, Rhett & Link which features behind-the-scenes content and other fun videos, This is Mythical, which is a channel devoted to the beloved Mythical crew behind GMM, a YouTube Red series titled Rhett and Link’s Buddy System, and even a pod cast titled Ear Biscuits where Rhett and Link continue their discussions about creativity and tomfoolery.

Here’s the fact of the matter…If you love GMM, you’re going to love Rhett and Link’s Book of Mythicality.  And if you’ve never seen GMM, allow me to share some of my favorite episodes:

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What I love the most about Rhett and Link is that they are 100% authentic to who they are, something that is ever more apparent in their mythical field guide.  With heartfelt stories that will literally make you laugh out loud, Rhett and Link’s Book of Mythicality is like the BFF you always wanted: filled with great advice, funny stories, and plenty of heart.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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