Friday, July 10, 2015

The Galludet Children's Dictionary of American Sign Language by Jean Gordon

The Gallaudet Children's Dictionary of American Sign LanguageThe Gallaudet Children's Dictionary of American Sign Language by Jean Gordon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Colorful and well formatted for easy perusal, and locating signs by English words, alphabetically. It's difficult for anyone to learn ASL/signs from a book, since it's a visual-spatial language that requires precise movements, and that is not completely possible to convey in a book. However, the signs pictured have illustrated movement signals that are helpful and about as clear as you can get in 2D format. I truly believe this would be a great resource for ASL students that are in classes learning the language and then sometimes needing a reminder for vocabulary signs as they learn more ASL and sentence structures etc. But for the average hearing person or child with no background in ASL whatsoever, it might be challenging to recreate signs with just this dictionary, not mention proper syntax and conversational ASL. Regardless, this is probably my favorite signing dictionary so far, with its simplicity and colorful illustrations.

Thank you to Galludet University Press & NetGalley for the review copy!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships by Esther Hicks

The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative RelationshipsThe Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships by Esther Hicks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't know there was such a thing as...well, whatever it is Esther Hicks does. It's a very strange concept and I'm not entirely sure I believe that everything she says is from trance-like messages from spirits. However, I did watch some of her sessions on YouTube and I can see how the whole experience could be really compelling for someone experiencing it firsthand.
I'm open to reading anything, and since I'm looking to learn all I can about relationships, I checked out this book since it focused specifically on love and relationships. Esther Hicks does this connection thing with a collection of spirits or energies that she calls Abraham. Abraham answers questions about human issues and about how we can reach a "higher vibration" in life. The reason for doing so is because of the Law of Attraction, which states that like attracts like, so if we have a nice, positive, high energy then we will attract high energy/positive things into our lives. Things like good relationships.
The idea that we are all energy and that our energy vibes at a certain frequency does make sense to me. I can see how our emotions and daily experiences would affect our energy. After all, it's obvious depression visibly slows people down to the point of sleeping a lot.
Overall though the book was a lot to take in. The ideas of things like us all having a "vortex" and that everything we ever desired is in it, is something I'll have to chew on some more. There are lots of new (to me at least) terms and concepts that take a certain level of acceptance before the rest of the information can make any kind of sense, or be helpful. It also came with a CD that had recordings of Abraham discussing these things further.

Bottom line: I'm not sure what I think of "Abraham" or the book, but I'm open to hearing/reading more. Some of the YouTube vids are fascinating.

This book was a library copy.



Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men Finale, the End of an Era : just a few random thoughts on it all

After watching that last Mad Men episode I feel compelled to just babble about my enjoyment of it a little further than twitter could allow. It's late though, so forgive the writing errors :-s

I've watched from the beginning and have loved the attention to little historical details in the environment because it made me feel like I was seeing a tiny glimpse of how the world looked when my grandparents were in their prime: raising kids that would turn out to be my parents and aunts and uncles, working in jobs that don't necessarily exist anymore, and buying products that someone like Don Draper canonized in an ad. For instance, I remember watching Don work on Utz chips. I had never in my life heard of this brand before, but what do ya know? I walk in a grocery store that week and *bam*...Utz chips are sitting on the shelf in front of me! I liked that moment.
Going in I didn't have any expectations really, just a lot of curiosity as to how it was all gonna wrap up, and if Don would survive. After all these years of watching the intro with the little shadow guy jump out of a tall Madison Ave building into a spiraling fall, I kind of figured it was Don losing his shit and committing suicide lol. 

But instead everything seemed to come full circle for the characters, though not all endings shown were happy ones. Betty was dying of lung cancer, and still smoking away. Sally and her little brother stepped up and started dealing as best they could with the situation. Little Gene, their half-brother, finally spoke! lol

And Joan got a nice break with Ken in her career, which she offered a partnership in to Peggy. And I loved seeing that. But Joan still has love problems :-/

Peggy however, she finally caught a break in that department...with Stan!!! And that scene was fantastic! Look how cute they are in their before pic!
...And after getting together:)

Another thing I loved was not in the show but on IFC channel itself haha!
It's pretty cool that the sister network supported this epic finale. 
It felt like a party :D


And of course the meditating Don....



Which leads into the famous, "I'd Like To Buy the World a Coke" ad...

And lets us see the hippie girl in it looks like the one from where Don had been hanging out prior to meditation scene...
And as pointed out on twitter it comes even more full circle when we recall Betty's brushes with the Coca-Cola company ads, as well. 






All in all I stand by my first thoughts :)
I loved the #MadMenFinale ending; very clever, very appropriate. #EndOfAnEra




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Reluctant Psychic: A MemoirThe Reluctant Psychic: A Memoir by Suzan Saxman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked the title of this book and felt intrigued by the idea of reading a memoir of a person that is psychic. And though the book started off pretty interesting, the rest was just a bit strange. I also enjoyed her stories that shared personal mystical experiences and readings with clients, and at the end of each chapter she shares a brief one. However, I didn't care for some of the language and negative outlook that Suzan seems unable to shake. Im surprised, for example, that the editors allowed pejorative term like "midget" to remain in the text, as well as other similar type terms/phrases that were not direct quotes. The author did have a difficult childhood, and her mother especially was not a good parent, but even in the author's descriptions of her more recent and current experiences there is a sense of not really reaching a point of peace and resolution from the victimhood. All in all, the book was an okay read but not something I'd really recommend to anyone.

This book was a library copy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #4)

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega, #4)Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been so long since we last heard from Anna & Charles but on March 3rd we get the newest book in Anna & Charles' world! And this new chapter in their story doesn't disappoint. The mated couple travel down to Arizona so that Charles can visit his old friend Joseph, before Joseph dies from cancer. Seeing as Charles doesn't keep many people close, Anna is intrigued by the visit and surprised to know that Charles has opened his heart to a human at all. Joseph's family raises horses and since Anna's 26th birthday is approaching they decide the trip will also serve to get Anna a new horse as her gift. Though excited for her gift, it is not exactly what Anna most wants. What she wants is to have children with Charles.

This book reads like a suspense-thriller with paranormal flair and I enjoyed every bit of it. It includes characters from previous books and we get to learn a lot more about Charles along with Anna as she takes measure of his emotional history in an effort to open him up to the idea of children. The details about horses and riding are seamless and will make any horse-lover happy as several of the animals become pivotal to the plot. Joseph Sani's family and Navajo culture also make it easy to invest yourself quickly and I especially loved getting to know the Sani kids: Max, Mackie, and Michael. They are funny and loving and I couldn't help but have a soft spot for them.

My only problem with the book is that it ended so abruptly for me. But that says more about me than the writing, because when it comes to Patricia Briggs I just always want more. In actuality, the ending isn't so much abrupt as it is an obvious closing point for this one book and very apparent that there's more to come in the Alpha & Omega series. And thank goodness for that because I adore Anna, Charles, and of course Mercy Thompson. Can't wait for more :D

Thank You to Penguin Group for the review copy via NetGalley!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this a while back but it's still in the back of my mind as I think about and read other books on philosophical topics. I think the main reason is because I read it for the first time just last year, and it was in preparation for an Oprah Super Soul Sunday discussion that included the author. Had those things not been a part of my reading process I might not have been affected by the book at all.

And here's a sentence I thought I'd never say:
I'm in a really intense period of spiritual growth and learning. So much so that Super Soul Sundays have become a favorite for me.

When Paulo Coelho was the guest he discussed The Alchemist and it's 25th anniversary. The book had almost not been published, and then even when it was finally published it was not selling. So Coelho went door to door to hand-sell it and as the fates would have it, one of those doors would be the second publisher for the book. Coelho says it was the Universe doing what it does (when you allow it) for everyone, "conspiring to help us" achieve what we want once we make a decision.


There are omens, signs, etc to guide us on our paths. These are part of the language of the world. The language of the world is in everything, from the rhythm of the seasons to the energy of the animals and nature. And every one of us has a personal legend. Our personal legend is akin to our destiny, calling, or purpose in life.
These concepts seem simple, I know, and I can hear many people asking, "what the hell man?!" lol. I know this because I would have been one of those people not very long ago. But, as is probably self evident by my blog's title, my heart and mind have been cracked open by trauma and grief in the past and it's made me struggle to do even basic living sometimes. When grief strikes your life it has a way of swallowing you up and blocking out any light, any joy. For me, books were my one little piece of respite. It's the only thing I could do that came close to allowing escape of any circumstance.
Now many years later, I am finally reading about things I didn't understand before and learning how spirituality and religion are not the same things. I'm learning that it's possible to find myself at any age and never too late to pursue my personal legend as long as I'm alive. Hearing Oprah and Paulo discuss the book in depth at the same time as I've read the book did wonders for me. It helped me see beyond the simple story and through to what are the universal messages: the Universe is conspiring to help me, I am the Universe, YOU are the Universe, we are all star stuff.

This book was a personal copy.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History

Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American HistoryIck! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you ever reminisce about the good old days? Ever wish you lived back then because it seems romantic and easier than today?
Do you wonder why bathrooms are still sometimes called powder rooms?

It's not because women "powder their noses" with cosmetics in them. It's because in the days when people wore wigs they had a separate room where they literally powdered their wigs white and the powder got everywhere. It was a messy, yucky process and the wigs often had lice in them. These are the kinds of fun tidbits you learn reading this book.

On page 20 they talk about flies being so plentiful and bothersome that people had to put out fly strips. But the dead ones would pile up and have to be swept up at least 4 times daily in the summer!

This reminded me of the 2 or 3 awful summers here in central Texas when weather made it good hatching conditions for insects and yucky black crickets were everywhere! They piled up like crazy outside of HEBs (our local grocery) because they were drawn by the parking lot lights. Their smell (yes they have a smell O_O) was disgusting, and so was trying to simply get to your car or inside the store without getting the nasty creatures hopping on you lol. So gross!
Ick! Yuck! Eew!

This is EXACTLY the kind of book I wanted to read as a kid. And as an adult, I thoroughly approve of the book making history relevant, more accurate, and not as sanitized as a Disney film. This should be required reading for kids in schools:)

This book was a library copy.