Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Wrap Up!

It’s that time of year, when I list my top 5’s for Books, Movies and Other Stuff! Like last, this 2018 year flew by in a blur. As always I am going to start with books because that’s what I enjoy most!

Top 5 Books

This year I felt like there was more ‘average’ books than ‘outstanding’ books that I read. Two off the top of my were out of this world and the others were very high in the ‘I would read again’ column.

Earlier in the year I read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. For almost all of the year this was the only book that truly blew me away. It was way better than the movie, and that’s saying a lot I enjoyed the movie. This book gave such vivid detail you felt like you were apart of the world and you didn’t want to leave. Adult or teen this book is one you will enjoy!

It wasn’t until two weeks ago when the second book of the year blew me away. This was one that was extremely unexpected. Live Long and ... What I Learned Along the Way by William Shatner & David Fisher completely caught me off guard. Not only do I normally avoid nonfiction and autobiographical books but I also avoid books that teach a lesson. I just usually can’t get into them. I selected this one for the simple reason I needed to hit my 115 books and it was available on the Libby Library App. Well I am so glad I did because this book was hands down the best read of 2018 for me. It felt like the authors were speaking directly to me! Add in that Shatner himself was narrating and this one was a knock them out of the park success! You HAVE to give it a try. His message is outstanding.

Justin Cronin has a series, The Passage that I’ve written about before. I read book 1 years ago and book 2 & 3 this year. It’s book 3 that really did it for me. The City of Mirrors. As a reminder this was the series that I didn’t realize was a vampire series. This took place a lot on Texas in book 3, specifically the area of Houston where I work, so that was really neat to see how it was all portrayed in the apocalypse. This is a longer book series, they are quite thick and require investing a lot of time. When I look at all 3 books as a whole I really am glad I took the time to read them. If you want a book series that is fantasy with some paranormal but not in an ‘in your face’ sort of way and without all the sex that surrounds vampires usually, this is the book series for you!

Now I can’t remember in the past if I have included A.L. Kessler in my annual wrap up. I try to not show favoritism towards authors who are my friends. But, she has these two series out, cozy mystery & apocalyptic series, that I absolutely adore. The first book Rabbits Out of Hats in her cozy mystery really keeps you smiling. It was so light and fun that the pages practically turned themselves. Then her series Children of the Apocalypse I really really love. I forgot I read this book earlier in this year, I thought I read it last year. Book 3 Behold Death. You have these teens who eventually have to take over their father’s jobs as the powers that keep the world balanced. For instance, death, the grim reaper. It really makes you wonder sometimes if elements like this actually real. If you’re looking for either of these types of series books Amy is the way to go. I love her work, and I’m not just saying that because she is a friend.

Last I feel the need to group these two authors into the same post. While they are two different series they both impacted me the same way. They are huge successes in their fields and if I could ever have their kind of success I would consider it a blessing. They each have cozy mystery series that are just good easy books to read. I gave almost all of them 4 stars because they didn’t blow me away but they did make me keep reading more and more. Sue Grafton & Janet Evanovich each have these sassy women characters that I loved tremendously. Sue Grafton I read all of her books, A through Y, in her mystery series and Janet Evanovich I had read 20 out of 26 Stephanie Plum books. Overall really great reads if you’re into cozy mysteries!

Moving onto movies ... this was a bit easier. 

When I look at movies I just loved for the sake of lovin’ the movie the first one that comes to mind is Bright with Will Smith. This was a Netflix movie that I have watched a few times this year and really really loved! It was different and enjoyable beyond my expectations. Will Smith plays a cop character who was hurt in the line of duty because of a ‘minority species’. The conflict resolution of the movie really was excellent with how the characters wrapped up each of their issues. I hope there is a sequel.

Next would have to be Infinity Wars. I cried In the first 10 minutes when Loki was slaughtered. I know most people who saw it had to of cried! It was SO emotional. I look forward to the next movie where we see what happens after Thanos has to live with his decisions. Hopefully it doesn’t make me cry again.

Instant Family is a movie based on a real family, a couple who decided to adopt older children, three siblings. This movie was so well done. It spoke directly to my family. Every single thing that happened in the movie applied to the first 6 months of my children living in our house after the State placed them with us. I spent the entire movie crying, I mean just crying. It was so real and vivid. If you ever, ever, thought about adoption or wondered what it was like for families who have to build themselves in a non-traditional way, go see this movie. It was hands down, amazing. Best movie of 2018.

Peter Rabbit jumps out at me next. That movie was fun and very enjoyable with my husband and kids. We have watched it a few times on television just to pass the time doing something the whole family can enjoy together.

Last but not least, Deadpool 2. I don’t think I need to say anything else. Everyone knows Ryan Reynolds is always good for an enjoyable time and a good laugh when he don’s the DP suit. Great movie series, I hope they don’t push it to far with a DP3 that doesn’t live up to it’s 1 & 2 counter parts.

Now I want to talk about some movie let down’s. I know I am probably in the minority on these and I refrained from posting review but I still felt strongly.

Black Panther this movie just didn’t do it for me, I think of all the MCU movies this is my least favorite. Granted I still like’d it way more than most of the DC universe so I’m not saying it was crap! It was still a good movie I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I felt like I should have. And in a similar notion, AquaMan, I was bored through this whole movie. Yes he is a good looking man and yes his muscles should make all women melt at his feet. But, I need more than a half naked hottie running around I need some meat to the plot and this plot just didn’t do it for me. I was also kind of bored in the latest Fantastic Beasts. But of the three movies just mentioned I liked it the most.

I’m going to add the theater plays to this list. For the few years my husband and I have been frequenting Theater Under The Stars and I think some are worth noting here. This year in 2018 I saw Bright Star, Memphis, Oklahoma, The Wiz, and Beauty and the Beast. I let my daughter go to Hamilton instead so I missed out on that one. Of these 5 Bright Star & Oklahoma were my top two with Beauty and the Beast narrowly missing the #2 spot. I have probably seen about 20, maybe 25 plays & musicals as an adult and sometimes it is just amazing to me how these actors and actresses perform. We have started taking our kids with us to the theater, trying to expose them to culture. They are loving it as well. I highly recommend Theater Under the Stars to anyone in Houston!!

Well I think this is a good recap of the movies, books and others that encompassed my 2018. I’m curious if you agree or disagree with these titles. I’m looking forward to next year but I think the one change I am going to do ... reduce my reading goal. 115 books was just too much pressure! Haha. Happy New Years people of the blogger world.

** Side note, I am having technical difficulties with my IPad that is why none of the titles are in italics. Please forgive me. **

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review: Live Long And ... by William Shatner

Title: Live Long And ... What I Learned Along The Way

Author: William Shatner

Source: Harris County Library

Purchase Here: AMAZON


"I have always felt," William Shatner says early in his newest memoir, that "like the great comedian George Burns, who lived to 100, I couldn’t die as long as I was booked." And Shatner is always booked.
Still, a brief health scare in 2016 forced him to take stock. After mulling over the lessons he's learned, the places he's been, and all the miracles and strange occurrences he's witnessed over the course of an enduring career in Hollywood and on the stage, he arrived at one simple rule for living a long and good life: don't die.
It's the only one-size-fits-all advice, Shatner argues in Live Long and..:What I Learned Along the Way, because everyone has a unique life―but, to help us all out, he's more than willing to share stories from his unique life. With a combination of pithy humor and thoughtful vulnerability, Shatner lays out his journey from childhood to peak stardom and all the bumps in the road. (Sometimes the literal road, as in the case of his 2,400-mile motorcycle trip across the country with a bike that didn't function.)
William Shatner is one of our most beloved entertainers, and he intends never to stop entertaining. His funny, provocative, and poignant reflections offer an unforgettable read about a remarkable man.


I don't generally like non-fiction, specifically auto-biographical. But this book def broke that mold. There was SOOOO much in this book that I completely felt attached to, like he wrote it just for me to read and bond to. It was amazing.

It has been a LONG time since I have taken the time to write a review for a book. In fact I was thinking about all of the books I have read in 2018 and felt a little depressed that I didn't have that ONE book this year that truly knocked me off my feet. Thankfully I had the smart idea to check this book out from the library today. With only 12 days left in the year that is cutting it kinda short but this book, THIS BOOK, blew me away.

I listened to the audio version and Mr. Shatner is by far my favorite voice for audio. I don't know if it is because it took me back to my Star Trek world or watching him on other TV shows but his voice was extremely soothing.

What a fascinating mind Mr. Shatner clearly has and I certainly feel like not only could I take away stuff from this book but I truly feel like he taught me something. He taught me about just saying YES!

Do you say yes a lot? Or are you like me and always calculate risk and get wishy washy on decisions? I think I need to just say yes. 

My new favorite quote is from this book. "A life without passion is like a black and white movie, it lacks the potential richness." Have you heard any other quote that was better than this? Because it's so true!

Love love LOVE this book! 

I highlight recommend this book and just, have not read any other this year that blew me away like this. Go out and read it too.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A 7 Year Old's Impression ... My Memory of 41

Being President of the United States gives a few lucky men the opportunity to influence so many youth on a mass scale. In a time when the country is now mourning the loss of 41, everyone is in a state of reflection. I’m no different. I don’t remember President Regan even though he was the president when I was born. President Bush was the first that I actually remember. And remembering him is one of the memories I have as a young child that sticks out most vividly in my mind.

There are few others like the birth of my brother, the Challenger exploding, Reading Rainbow in 1st grade and then, President Bush addressing the nation.

I can’t remember if I was flying to Houston or flying home from Houston, but I remember President Bush. I was at the airport with my mom sitting with our luggage in Kansas City when President Bush was on the television. I remember looking up and seeing him talking to the nation. I don’t remember what it was about, maybe the Gulf War given the time period. But I remember him, and the Seal of the United States. As a young girl I was awe struck by the sight. Here was a man, powerful, strong, and capturing.

It was in that very moment that a young 7 (maybe I was 8) girl decided she was going to be a lawyer and then one day President herself. From that moment on every decision I made was with the goal of serving my country in politics. And it was a goal I intended to keep.

But like every dream of a young kid, life changes in college. I took a Macro-Economics class at Sam Houston State University and the rest was history. Law school no more, Business and Economics for me.

That doesn’t change the fact that I vividly remember looking at the screen and watching the President. I remember looking around the airport and adults were all focused on what he was saying. It was an amazing moment that I will never forget, seeing the power of one man, a man who stopped people in their tracks when he spoke.

Like President Bush I wasn’t born in Houston but I do call it my home. I’m proud to have shared a city with him, him and his wife. Watching her funeral earlier this year was sad, tears were shed and it was heartbreaking to see the President without his life partner. This week’s services are sure to bring more tears to my eyes as the country honors a man who gave his life for the good of our people.

I wished I would have gotten to meet President and Mrs. Bush. I’ve heard how nice they were. My heart felt sincerest condolences goes out to the entire Bush family. I hope that I can find a way to make it to visit the President at his church on Wednesday evening.

I wish I had better words to describe the impact he left on a young 7 year old girl back in Kansas City … but I just can’t muster anymore than I have.

Rest in Peace President Bush – your impact on our world will be felt for many more generations to come.