A New Year – A New Journal

This is just a few of my journals.

Hi everyone and happy new year. I’ve been on hiatus for the holidays, but I am more than ready to dive into 2020 now!

I had the idea a few years ago to start a new journal at the beginning of each year – and to write exclusively in that one notebook all year long. I proved to be unsuccessful.

I am kind of obsessed with new, blank journals. I seem to buy one very time I go to the store, and now I have a drawer full of them. Because I love them so much, I am always eager to fill their pages. So I end up jumping from notebook to notebook week after week. My thoughts are recorded all over the place in a big jumbled mess. Thus I discovered that I suffer from messy-journaling-syndrome! (If you’d like to read more about my love of journaling, check out this article I posted over on medium.com.)

Now that I have embraced my tendency for messy note-taking, I am going at it full force. But I am determined to keep all of my ideas contained in a single notebook for all of 2020. It will still be messy, but hopefully all of my brain dumps will be in one place.

I would love to know more about your journaling routine. Feel free to tell me all about it in the comments below. Let’s start a conversation!

Book Review: Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

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Where to begin? Well, this book made me cry. I loved it.

I picked this book up from a thrift store because Judy Blume was one of my favorite authors when I was growing up. I don’t know how I missed this one in my younger days. Maybe it wasn’t available at my school library. I did just learn that Tiger Eyes is on the American Library Association list of the 100 most frequently challenged books. I can’t imagine why.

Blume’s character, Davey Wexler, is a real adolescent girl dealing with a real life problem – the sudden death of her father. And Davey is not the only one having trouble coping. Her mother has all but checked out and left the child raising to her in-laws.

If you are familiar with my blog then you know I go back and forth between new and old titles on my TBR list. I am so glad I found this one and let my mind drift back to the 1980s. I absolutely loved this book. I wish there was more YA fiction of this type being written today. But maybe I am being nostalgic.

Life is so much different now, so the storytelling has evolved as well.

I am including a link to Judy Blume’s website so you can browse through all of her wonderful titles. If you’ve read Tiger Eyes, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to read them.

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Thanks so much for reading My Whatever Blog. I am excited to announce that I’ve had an essay published in Koinonia. Please click on over and give it a read. It’s a short piece about how angels interact in our lives. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it.

Angels Among Us by AJ Cannon

View at Medium.com

 

Book Review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

“A Funny Book About Horrible Things”

I picked up this book while browsing at Barnes & Noble a few months ago. There are two reasons that I chose this book: first, I needed some non-fiction for my TBR; and second, I love the raccoon on the cover.

 

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The book sat on my shelf until last month when I emerged from the fog of foot surgery anesthesia. Honestly, this was the perfect time for me to read Furiously Happy. I was in excruciating pain during that first week of recovery. The pain pills made me sleep so much, and when I wasn’t sleeping I was bummed out because I was basically confined to bed.

Jenny Lawson’s book gave me a reason to laugh every day and reminded me that my recovery was only temporary.

This is Lawson’s second book regaling her struggles with mental health and how she has learned to accept herself, flaws and all, see the joy in every crazy situation, and live life in spite of her fears. She has a hilarious and candid style of writing about the craziness inside her head that makes it seem normal. Reading this book was like reading letters from an old friend – letters that are filled with all kinds of information about mental health.

I am recommending this book to anyone who loves a laugh-out-loud read. But I do have to give a warning. There is some foul language in this book, and one chapter that I wish I had skipped completely. (You’ll know it by the title.) If I had noticed this while browsing in the bookstore, I probably would have put the book back on the shelf. I’m glad I didn’t. It was truly a joy to read.

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Thanks everyone for stopping by my little blog. Feel free to comment. I would love to know what you guys are reading these days. On a side note, I just had a poem published in Lit Up. Here’s a link … I’d love for you to check it out and share it if you like it. Negative Space

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Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Hey all, I am back, and happy fall to everyone. Here in Texas it’s still pretty hot, but I have a feeling that cooler days are just around the corner.

Today I want to share with you my opinion of the classic novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I went in to this story blindly, having no knowledge of the story of young Oliver.

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you have probably figured out that I am a sucker for classic literature. I’ve done several reviews of older, classic novels. I try to balance my reading between new and old, fiction and non-fiction, and I find it’s very easy for me. My taste in reading varies widely. Also, I never get bored or feel like I’m reading the same old recycled plot again and again. So this month I let my mind travel to London in the days of old and followed the heartbreaking saga of a poor orphan.

Once I got used to Dickens’ style the story was just intriguing. Here is this poor child being raised by the most horrendous and self-serving rascals of society. I thought he was very brave to run away at such a young age, but of course, you just had to know his circumstances were going to get worse before getting better.

And what a kind-hearted, innocent sweet soul little Oliver is! I found myself at every page hoping his lot in life would improve. I wanted to reach into the book and grab him up and hug him and take care of him. I bet everyone who reads this story feels the same.

I’m not going to give away the ending, but I do want to talk about Dickens for a moment. Oliver Twist was originally published in the 1830’s. I found his portrayal of the seedy areas of London very intriguing. I have no idea how closely his settings and characters imitated life at the time, but I have a gut feeling that he might have been spot on. In my experience, the best stories are actually mirror reflections, sharing with the world glimpses of real life some when and some where.

This novel brings together hardship, hope, inner struggles and friendship in a way that is universal and unique all at the same time. No wonder this classic story has endured. I doubt that it could have without threads of reality woven seamlessly throughout the narrative.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. Whether you borrow it from your local library or buy one of the Barnes & Noble Classics editions, you won’t regret it. (Even better if you can find an old, worn and well-loved copy at a garage sale or thrift store!)

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Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I would love to know what you have been reading. Also, if you’ve read Oliver Twist, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. below. Happy reading everyone!

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

From the back cover:
“Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait t see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side of the playground and outruns everyone.
That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable.”

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I started reading this book and about midway through chapter two I began experiencing deja vu. I didn’t think I had ever read this book before, and I know I have not seen the movie. The book was so good that I kept cruising right along, despite the strange feeling that I had been there before.

I finished the book quickly and realized I must have read this when I was a kid because I definitely recognized the last few chapters.

I love this book. Bridge to Terabithia is exactly the sort of story I have always enjoyed. It’s more literary than action, the characters are written so well that they swell off the pages into reality, and they truly change over the course of the narrative. Another aspect I like is the way Paterson explores reality – dramatic life events – in a way that helps the reader grow also.

The intended audience is middle grade readers, but that is really just a suggestion. I believe people of all ages can find something in this book to connect with.

Now that I’ve read it, I really want to see the movie. Unfortunately it’s not available on Netflix. I guess I’ll have to splurge for an Amazon Prime rental.

If you’ve never read Bridge to Terabithia, or it’s been a while, I absolutely recommend picking it up for another look. You won’t regret it. Here is a link to purchase a copy directly from the author’s website, or I am sure you can borrow a copy from your local library.

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Thanks so much for stopping by mywhateverblogsite. I truly appreciate every one of you. If you have a couple minutes to spare, please hop over to medium.com to read my latest micro-fiction – The Beast – and feel free to give it a few claps if you enjoy it.

Happy Reading Everyone!

 

Book Review: The Last Mile by David Baldacci

Hello all, I am back with another quick book review.

This is book two in the Amos Decker series. A little background…

Amos Decker first appeared in Baldacci’s novel Memory Man, which I have not read (but I plan to). It took me a few chapters to get up to speed on just who Amos Decker is–a former cop whose entire family was murdered. He also has a photographic memory thanks to an old college football injury.

We pick up with Amos in The Last Mile to discover he’s been hand picked by the FBI to work on a special team investigating unsolved cases. We also meet Melvin Mars, a death row inmate who was convicted of killing his parents twenty years ago. He is about to walk the last mile to his execution when an eleventh hour confession from an inmate at another prison saves Marvin from his death sentence.

It turns out that Amos remembers playing college ball against Melvin and he is intrigued by the case. He convinces the rest of the team to take up the Mars case because something just doesn’t seem right.

I first heard of David Baldacci from his interview in the November/December 2015 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. He is an attorney turned author and has written dozens of books. I was in awe of the sheer volume of books he’s written. (Click HERE for a link to the WD interview). When I found this book on the sale cart at my local library, I just had to get it. I only wish I had read Memory Man first.

Back to The Last Mile. The plot was definitely suspenseful. It seemed at every turn something went wrong for this cast of characters. I kept wondering if they were ever going to catch a break. And some of the investigation seemed to be futile efforts in chasing wild geese. But finally it all came together with a pretty satisfying ending. Some of the characters were a bit predictable, but I think that is pretty common for this genre. This is an action-packed, keep you guessing story.

While my first preference will always be more of a literary, character-driven novel, this book was definitely entertaining. I do recommend it if you like police and crime stories. And this LINK will take you to David Baldacci’s website where you can purchase a copy for yourself and browse his many other titles. I definitely plan to read more of his books.

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As always, thanks so much for reading. I know your time is valuable and I am sincerely honored that you would give some of it to me. I’ve been super busy lately writing poems and essays. You can read them over on medium.com. Here is a link to my latest micro-fiction piece, The Frog Prince.

Happy reading everyone!

Book Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Okay world, I am just gonna put this out there. I’m a nice person. Too nice. Here’s the proof.

I finished reading House Rules by Jodi Picoult several weeks ago, but I’ve been dragging my feet about posting the review because in all honesty, the book disappointed me. And I just hate to be negative.
I live by the motto If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.
But I am not one of those people who thinks mean things all the time but keeps them bottled up inside. I am genuinely a very nice person.

So I’ve been contemplating. Maybe I shouldn’t post my opinion of this book. But that’s not fair to readers who are looking for honest reviews. On the other hand, I do have some good things to say about House Rules. So here goes – my not-so-nice review.

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My little dog photo bombed the book, but it’s too cute to redo.

House Rules started out great and kept my attention all the way through. The plot and the writing was so good, in fact, that I couldn’t wait to come home from work every day and read another chapter, which inevitably turned into two or three chapters.

The book is about Emma Hunt and her two sons.  Theo, her youngest, is fifteen, and Jacob, her oldest, is eighteen. But mostly the book is about Jacob. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, and he’s been accused of murdering his social skills tutor, Jess Olgilvy. Excellent premise. If you know anything about disorders on the autism spectrum, then you know Emma has her hands full, and just received a boatload more with her son’s arrest. To top it off, Jacob’s obsession with forensic science does nothing but add to the detective’s suspicion of him.

You can understand why this book was hard to put down. The author has done a great job of letting the reader get to know Jacob and the rest of the Hunt family. She also is a master at making the reader wonder how deep Jacob’s involvement in the crime really is.

My problem with the book came at the end. It was less than satisfying for me. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you that haven’t read it, and it is worth reading. I will only say that I closed the book wondering how some of the subplots turned out. Unanswered questions. Loose ends. Whatever you want to call it. There were some story threads woven through the main plot that did not receive proper endings in my opinion. And I hate to still be wondering what happens next when I finish reading a book.

So there you have it. My less-than-glowing review of House Rules by Jodi Picoult. It’s a good story, but it might leave you with questions. Still worth the read. If anything, you’ll gain a whole new perspective of autism disorders and be entertained along the way.

Click here to hop over to Amazon and order a copy. Or you can probably find this one at your local library. I actually found my copy in thrift store.

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As always, thanks for reading my whatever blog. Remember to jump over to medium.com to check out my lastest flash fiction – a fifty-word story published in The Friday Fix. A Change of Scenery by AJ Cannon

View at Medium.com

Book Review: The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

Summary: When Roo Fanshaw’s parents are murdered, she is sent to live with a wealthy uncle she didn’t know existed on Cough Rock Island. He rarely speaks to her, leaving her care to the hired help, and he’s hiding something. Roo is determined to find out what it is. She also discovers a wild boy who lives on the river and an abandoned garden on the island.

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The description of this book on Goodreads mentions that the story was inspired by the classic novel, The Secret Garden. I’ve never read it, so I can’t compare, but I loved The Humming Room. (I might even need to add The Secret Garden to my TBR list.)

This story is wonderfully written. It is exactly the kind of middle-grade novel that fed my love of reading as a child. The characters are well developed, without too much draggy back story. The plot moves forward at a comfortable pace. And the ending … well, I don’t want to give anything away, but it definitely has a warm and fuzzy feel to it.

I definitely recommend this book to young and old alike. Here is a link to the Amazon listing.     Buy your copy here.

 

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Thanks so much for reading My Whatever Blog. I am excited to announce that The Junction has published a little poem that I wrote. Please click  HERE  here to hop over to medium.com and check it out. If you like it, please show it some love and hit the clap icon a few times. Thanks again, and happy reading. 

View at Medium.com

 

 

Book Review: Matt Jensen, The Last Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone

I am finally back, and boy am I behind on reviews. Fear not. I’ve read several books in recent months, and the reviews are in the pipeline. But I am very OCD. I must post my reviews in the order that I read the books.

Today I want to share with you my opinion of the first western I have ever read. (I take that back…I’ve read Lonesome Dove, and it’s one of my all-time favorites.)

Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone

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As you can see from the photo, I listened to the audio version instead of reading this book. It was perfect for long drives to and from the farm.

First off, this book has everything that a western needs: good guys and outlaws, gunfights, damsels in distress, orphaned kids, old timers with strong morals. It was great. The story follows the life of Matt Cavanaugh from seeing his family murdered by outlaws, through hard times growing up, and then hunting down the killers to avenge the deaths of his parents and sister.

While the plot was predictable at times, it was still very entertaining. I will definitely be reading more of Mr. Johnstone’s books. I am including a link to the amazon listing so you can hop over and get a copy for yourself. It’s available in paperback and on Kindle.

 

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Thanks so much for reading my blog. If you are interested in reading some of my flash fiction, click here for a link to a fun little story titled ‘Ageless’.

View at Medium.com

Book Review – In Pieces by Sally Field

Let me start by saying I absolutely loved this book.

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Sally field has been one of my favorite actresses for a very long time, so when I saw this book I just had to read it. I borrowed my copy from my local library. It is available everywhere, I’m sure.

This book is a brutally honest recounting of Ms. Field’s childhood and early years as an actress, almost a search for the history that made her who she is. I don’t know what I expected when I opened this book, but it moved and surprised me in so many ways.

One thing that did surprise me is even though both of her parents were actors, I did not get the sense that Ms. Field grew up wanting to be a movie star. Instead I felt that she was drawn to acting because it offered a way for her to disappear and become someone else. Wanting to disappear is a struggle that I believe many people can identify with. How many of us have felt insecure and uncomfortable in our own skin? It almost feels easier to pretend to be a different person.

Sally Field has done an excellent job of sorting through her past and dumping her emotions onto the page in the form of a beautiful and compelling narrative. This book made me admire her even more. I definitely recommend this book. Click here if you want to go directly to the amazon listing.

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As always, I want to thank you for reading my blog. I love books and stories of every kind, and sharing that love with others is one of my passions. Some of you know that I am also a writer. I want to share this piece of flash fiction that I wrote last year. I feel like it reflects the theme I found in Ms. Field’s book about trying to be someone else.

Knock Knock

Flash fiction by AJ Cannon

No, don’t come in. I’m not ready yet. I need more time. I don’t know, a few more minutes maybe. I’m looking for my mask. Please don’t come in. You can’t see me like this. . . .
Click HERE to continue reading.