Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Life wins again, Dear Bloggites. :-/  I finished this book in October when it was the actual Books & Broads Book Club monthly choice, but am just now able to write this review.  The October Book Club book choice was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James BrownI must admit, I was leery about reading this one because it was yet another book set in WWII and has Hitler as a feature due to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Fortunately, I rallied on and found that I loved this book!  My goodness, I was so surprised at what I read in this book because most of the Book Club members did not like this book and a few did not read it (yet).  I did go into this book thinking of it as a story about relationships through hard times thanks to the lovely Alice who enjoyed this book (I believe it was Alice, if not, please do not flog me friends).

Going into the story with the focus on relationships, I had the proper eyes to read this book and see all the amazing things about this story.  Daniel James Brown shared this amazing non-fiction story told from the eyes of one of the key members of the rowing team that fought their way to the Olympics against all odds.  While the author does go into a lot of technical elements of rowing and how the boats are built, I enjoyed reading the information because I am always loving to learn new things about the world around me.

The story focuses on nine young American college boys who joined the college rowing team.  All the boys are from many different walks of life and on different journeys in their lives, but managed to form a bond so tight that it dissolved the differences between them and forged the similarities that affected them throughout their lives.  These young men worked hard to obtain the right to go represent America in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and once there, won the gold medal against Hitler’s massive rowing team.

Throughout the novel, you are taken on an emotional journey of love, fear, joy, hate, and insurmountable dedication to achieve the dreams of these young men – a better life and a gold medal from the Olympics.  The relationships that the author highlighted throughout the novel between the boys and their family and friends, gave an intimate insight into life in the 1930s and how Americans lived during the depression and WWII.

The only fault I found in this book was that there were times that the technical repetition of how to row a boat throughout the book became a little daunting, but I believe it served a purpose to get the reader in the minds of the boys while rowing the boat as a team.  Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to those who love a real life, feel good story.

I give The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown 4 out of 5 Bookmarks! 🙂  Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!  Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Live Alone And Like It by Marjorie Hillis

“There is nothing like a good domestic background for producing results.” ~Marjorie Hillis

Circa 1936, women were finding their footing in the World of Man and finding they were liking the freedom, independence, and individuality of being on their own and not dependent upon a man to live their life.  This new world of independence brought on many questions about exactly how a woman should act and be when they live alone.

live-alone-and-like-it-by-marjorie-hillisMarjorie Hillis heard these questions and answered them with her book Live Alone and Like It.  From fighting off loneliness to proper etiquette on how one should act in the presence of a suitor, this book discusses it all.  I just happened by a review on this book and it sounded interesting and quirky and so I bought me a copy to see what all the hub-bub was about.  I am so glad I did!

Being a single woman in today’s age of online dating (which I refuse to do), constant electronic busyness (I have gotten better about staying constantly plugged it), and demands from everyday life (still trying to find the balance), I struggle with finding time for just me.  This book helped open my eyes to the fact that I must take the time to ‘do me’.  As all the ladies know, when you take the time to look good, you feel good about yourself, and life seems easier.

Live Alone and Like It has some great advice for the single woman out there.  Not only does the author, Marjorie Hillis, explain how a “Liver-Alone” has to manage life on their own, she also discusses how life of a single man and life of a single woman differ.  Single women need to take the initiative to get together with friends instead of waiting for the invitation to come their way.

One of the first lines in the book says it all starts with the attitude.  If you do not have the right attitude when you live alone, you will be overtaken by the negative mindset of depression, desolation, self-loathing, and loneliness.  Will you feel some of these things, especially loneliness, at times-yes.  Will the advice and tools help you know how to defeat it-of course!

The book contains practical advice in every area of struggle a woman may feel when she is living alone and having to fend for herself.  Along with the practical advice, the author provides examples and answers to the most asked questions a woman may have.  The only thing a reader may find as an issue is some examples are dated for the time the book was written, but overall, the advice given in Live Alone and Like It can be used and put into practice in today’s society.

I give Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Give it a read, Dear Bloggites, you will enjoy the whimsy nature of the writing along with the practical advice.

~4-Ever, P

 

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

“People were strange like that.  They could be completely uninterested in you, but the moment you picked up a book, you were the one being rude.” ~Sara (in Katarina Bivald’s book The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend)

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  Long time since I wrote a book review and how I The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivaldhave missed it!  Life seems to thrive on getting in my way when it comes to my reading and blogging…LOL

The Books & Broads Book Club voted on reading a book I recommended (my first).  The March book club book was The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.  This is a debut novel written by a Swedish author, so it was interesting to read a book that was translated into English.

The storyline in The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend is about a shy, book nerd from Sweden named Sara, who decides to go visit her American pen pal, Amy, in Broken Wheel, Iowa.

When Sara arrives in town she finds that her long time pen pal has died and the day of her arrival was the day of Amy’s funeral.  This is the beginning of a fun, entertaining story about a person trying to find their way in a new country and a town full of quirky residents at best.

I loved this book, Dear Bloggites!  From the very first line in chapter one (“The strange woman standing on Hope’s main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous”) to the very last line written, I found interesting tidbit phrases that the author, Katarina Bivald, used to describe the people or places and characters that I can see myself in throughout the storyline.

Throughout the story you watch Sara grow from a timid, unsure girl into a confident, outspoken woman.  Sara’s evolution in the book is due to the different people she interacts with in the town and her strong bond she built with Amy over the years as a pen pal.

Katarina Bivald did a wonderful job making Amy known even though she was dead from the different letters written by Amy to Sara that were placed before each new chapter.  A rather ingenious idea, if you ask me.  I cannot remember a time when I was able to truly get to know a character in a story so well when they are dead.  Most of the books I have read usually only share different aspects of a character through flashbacks of a living character in the book.  The way Amy was written in this storyline, you would believe her alive and well and not dead and buried.

Even though the characters were colorful, they were rather predictable as most small town characters go.  You have your rebel, single-parent struggler, moody bachelor, town drunk now sober, judgmental spinster, and so on.  However, even though the character types were typical, the author did a good job adding a slight twist to each of them.

One of the things the book club ladies felt about the book was that the author seemed to throw in every type of controversial personality in the story.  Some of the topics seemed forced on the characters by the author instead of letting the characters flow naturally.

The ending was also predictable as you are reading the book, but it was a fun predictable instead of a typical predictable.  The story overall was fun and light-hearted and was centered on books (which I love) and a foreigner finding her way in small town U.S.A.

I give The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald 5 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Go find a copy and enjoy a fun, light-hearted read.

~4-Ever, P

 

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Dream L.A.R.G.E.

Dream L.A.R.G.E.: Learn something new, Anchor to the goal, Remain focused, Generate your chances, Engage in opportunities

#BloggiteBits-Dream Large
Dream L.A.R.G.E.

For my next installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign I want to challenge you to Dream L.A.R.G.E. throughout life: Learn something new, Anchor to the goal, Remain focused, Generate your chances, & Engage in opportunities.

Learn something new: I am a lifelong student.  I am always in the process of learning something new each day.  The first need, when a person has a dream, is to find out everything they can about the dream they are striving for in their life.  I encourage everyone to learn one new thing a day, especially when you are reaching for a dream in life.  An active brain is a healthy, happy brain.  Challenge yourself and get those brain cells busy.  Dreaming of a specific life for yourself usually entails the need to learn or relearn habits in your daily life.  Go for it, become that inner scholar I know you are!

Anchor to the goal: Ah, the G word.  I am amazed at how many people cringe when they see the word ‘goal’ attached to something they are reading or doing.  To achieve a dream, one must focus on that dream.  To help focus on that dream, you should anchor yourself to the goal.  Be it the end goal or the little goals in between to reach the end goal, anchoring yourself to it helps keep you grounded and working toward the dream you have in life.  It will be challenging at times to keep that anchor in place and many will desire to just let it go, but don’t, Me Matee.  Latch onto that anchor and keep on grounding yourself toward that goal.  You got this, you know you do! Anchor’s away, Me Boy!

Remain focused: This is probably the hardest step when dreaming large in life.  So many distractions, demands, and deterrents cause people to lose focus on a daily basis.  When dreaming large, your focus needs to stay strong on the dream in life.  Whatever tactics you need to use to keep you focused (such as pictures, encouraging quotes, reminders, or the buddy system), put them in place immediately and be sure to refresh the focus daily.  Dreaming is a risk many people do not want to take in life because of the fear of failure.  As long as you continue to focus and strive toward your dream, you are not a failure.  Dreaming large is a risk, but remaining focused will help lessen that risk.  Ready, Set, Focus!

Generate your chances: I know, Dear Bloggites, you are wondering how to do this step.  Well, it is quite easy to do.  Engulf yourself in all things associated with your dream in life.  If you want to become a dancer, start attending classes and going to places that do the type of dancing you want to learn.  Join groups online and peruse your community activities where you live.  With the use of the internet, you have the ability to generate your chances daily.  As you engage in these activities that are associated with your dream in life, you will meet people, hear of opportunities, and before you know it, get the opportunity to do your dream.  Take a chance, worst thing that can happen is you make some new friends with the same interests, but the best things, oh those best things, THEY are what you want!

Engage in opportunities: This step goes hand-in-hand with the one above.  It does you no good if you do not embrace the chance and take the opportunity that is generated for you on the road to your dream in life.  It will be scary and risky, but it will also be exhilarating and fulfilling.  Engage in all opportunities given to you.  Remember, you have the right to dream large in life and even more importantly, you DESERVE it!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in This & That

Arthur Murray: Where Everyone Knows My Name

Have you ever wished for a place like Cheers?  How many people have watched the beloved sitcom and thought, “Man, I wish I had a place to go where everyone knew my name?”  Come on, we all have at one point or another in our life.

I have several places in my life where everyone knows my name, but my MOST LOVED and FAVORITE place of all is with my Arthur Murray Fort Worth Family.  I started dancing at AMFW back in 2006 a couple of months after they had their grand opening.

There were not many students, but we all got along and the dance teachers made all of us feel wonderful about ourselves and our abilities to dance, or future abilities to dance if you had minimal experience.

I have always dreamed of taking dance lessons, ever since I was a kid of 7 years old and watched Gene Kelly tap across the floor, or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance cheek to cheek in the movie “Top Hat” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrCsyN-fZ94).

I was in love immediately with dancing and watching the dancers on TV and later in life, on the big screen when I was older.  I always asked my parents for lessons but being Seven of Seven in a family with a single income, the answer was no, as it should have been.  The Parental Units were doing all they could for their unit of seven children.

I promised myself that when I got older, I was going to take dance lessons and would be the next Ginger Rogers, but like most adults, life got in the way and it never happened until I almost lost my life in 2005 and I was hell-bent on never putting off what I wanted to do anymore.

For a year, I had eyeballed the Arthur Murray Studios in Plano and Dallas, but did not want to make the drive and then one day, I found Arthur Murray Fort Worth had opened up and it was as if a grand halo of shining white light rained down on me and the planets aligned for me to finally see my dream come to fruition…I was so THERE!

I was a broken, half bodied cyborg walking with a slight limp into the studio and met Douglas and Britt, the owners.  I watched a demo of all the different dances and levels and signed up for an intro lesson and I was hooked.  All the staff at the studio helped shape my broken ugly duckling body into the proverbial swan over the next year.

My body, mind, and soul was purged and renewed and life was beautiful!  Then health issues struck.  My dreams were halted after a botched gall bladder surgery and I became hit and miss on my lessons and eventually, life events took me away from my haven I found at Arthur Murray.  The family I built there were always on my mind and in my heart and I longed to return but was unable.

Years go by, fast forward to 2015, nine years after I started at Arthur Murray, four and a half years since I danced last, and three and a half years since I even stepped foot into the studio.  I walked into my home away from home, my haven, my love, my dream, my family yesterday and it was as if I never left.  Sure, there were new faces: a LOT of new students, a LOT of new teachers, but there were some of the faces that started with me on my journey so many years ago.  People I love, people who love me, even the newbies (to me) knew who I was!  I had so many teachers come up to me and say, “YOU”RE the Famous Peggy!” or “Peggy? I know all about you!”  It was a great ego stroke for me, a much needed ego stroke with the things I have been dealing with of late, but it made me pause and say, “THIS is my Cheers.  This is my place where everyone knows my name.”

That is a good thought to have and you know what, Arthur Murray Fort Worth is still my family in all sense of the word.  Time changed nothing and I am so grateful for that!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in This & That

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

My answer to the question in the title, Dear Bloggites, is this: “Why do I have to grow up?”

I watch people on a daily basis.  I am what you call a “people watcher,” however, instead of judging those I see, I ask myself, “Did they grow up when they became an adult?”

What is so wrong with being child-like in your views of the world around you?  Nothing, in my opinion.  When we were kids we did not focus on the “bad stuff” in the world, we focused on the wonderment of discovery.

Discovery is such a crucial aspect to being a child.  As children, we learned each time we “discovered” something new.  Oh, the Wonderment of the Discovery!  I remember finding such joy in something new that I discovered.  A joy that stays with me to this day.

See, growing up doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Growing up really just means different responsibilities in our lives.  When you grow up, you gain responsibilities.  The problem with the image of growing up is that people think they cannot find wonder in the world anymore because they are now “Adults.”

When you lose that wonderment with the world around you, you start losing that joy.  If your joy is gone, what do you have to look forward to?

Engaging in activities that bring you joy help keep you engaged with LIFE!  We should not strive to exist, we should strive to live.  Being active in life makes life more rewarding.  When you are engaged, you find the joy, and when you find the joy, you find the wonderment you had as a child.

Finding that wonderment makes life worth living, because every day is a new discovery.  Having a life with discovery is having a life worth experiencing.

The question posed in my title, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” should be changed to, “What do you want to do as an adult?”

Growing up does not have to be a bad thing, Dear Bloggites; growing up should still involve the exuberance of childhood as you discover new and exciting things in the world each and every day. 🙂

~4-Ever, P