Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hippie by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho
Translated by Eric M.B. Becker
Publishing House: Alfred A. Knopf
Release Date: September 25, 2018

About the Author:

Paulo Coelho’s life remains the primary source of inspiration for his books. He has flirted with death, escaped madness, dallied with drugs, withstood torture, experimented with magic and alchemy, studied philosophy and religion, read voraciously, lost and recovered his faith, and experienced the pain and pleasure of love. In searching for his own place in the world, he has discovered answers for the challenges that everyone faces. He believes that within ourselves we have the necessary strength to find our own destiny.

Paulo Coelho’s books have been translated into 80 languages and have sold more than 225 million copies in more than 170 countries. His 1988 novel, The Alchemist, has sold more than 65 million copies and has been cited as an inspiration by people as diverse as Malala Yousafzai and Pharrell Williams.

He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and has received the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la LΓ©gion d’Honneur. In 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Publisher's Book Review:
Drawing on the rich experience of his own life, best-selling author Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to relive the dreams of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order. In Hippie, he tells the story of Paulo, a young, skinny Brazilian man with a goatee and long, flowing hair, who wants to become a writer and sets off on a journey in search of a deeper meaning for his life.

My Review: 
Paulo Coelho's autobiography gives the perfect 60's vibe to my themed 60's month of reading. Hippie rounds out what I considered to be a growing, adventurous era, one which I was blessed to be born in the middle of its last year. 

Author, Paulo Coelho tells a tale of travel, love and growing from experiencing other people's lifestyles. The Hippie movement as told in Hippie is not what my parents told me about Hippie's or what my husband was raised to believe about those people outside of his own little world living in Utah. It is what I knew it to be: People who wanted an existential answer to why war happens and hoping that love, freedom, and exploration can ease the stress of living in a world where we can't control everything but the life we give to ourselves. 

This story is not without its heartache, frustration, stress, and more adventure than expected as Paulo circumnavigates the world, which makes this book the perfect travel companion to those readers who want to grow AND imagine a place they have never been able to visit.

I really enjoyed reading Hippie. Paulo's life is intriguing to me. I appreciated being able to read his story as I enjoyed The Alchemist so much when it came out. 

Thank you to First To Read for the chance to read Hippie in lieu of my honest review. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

An Ode to my brother Gene: Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life -- A SORTABIOGRAPHY by Eric Idle

House: Crown Archetype
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Genre: Autobiography
304 Pages

About the Author

"ERIC IDLE is an English comedian actor, author, and singer-songwriter who found immediate fame with the sketch comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus. Following its success, they began making films, which include Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983). Idle also authored the smash Broadway musical Spamalot, which won three Tonys, including Best Musical. He lives in Los Angeles." - book blurb

My Thoughts

When we were children, my big brother, Gene loved humor, all kinds of humor, he would regale us with jokes at the dinner table or whenever he thought it was needed. He loved Mad Magazine feature Alfred E. Newman, anything that made him laugh or lampooned reality, especially Monty Python and the Flying Circus, and then all the Monty Python movies. I want to say that Monty Python's Life with Brian might have been his favorite. So when I had the opportunity through Penguin's First to Read, to read Eric Idle's 9th book, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life I jumped at the chance. I knew I was going to be reliving so many funny memories. Little did I know that I would learn more than just that Eric is funny. One of a kind, a real nutty guy. 

Mr. Idle's history was fascinating at times, outside of my element at other with all his partying, varying bed partners when he was younger and his seeming lack of morals then he grew out of it and settled down with the love of his life Tania. He didn't let me down with his way of writing that resembled how he and the other Python's wrote their skits and shows -- hilarious and filled with rolling on the ground stomach pain from all the laughing mixed with truth. Mr. Idle has a way of making everything relatable. Would most people understand the hobnobbing that he did with George Harrison, Carrie Fisher, Steve Martin and Robin Williams partying, jet-setting on vacations, playing music and just goofing off with his friends?  I sure didn't relate, however, Mr. Idle made it so I could see that he was just a normal person, hanging out with famous people who were also just normal people with their flaws, their humanity and their incredible opportunities to do the things they love so much. 

I love that Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python's Life of Brian became his life theme, it sure is a good song to lighten the mood and a great standard to view life with. It definitely uplifts your smile and it's plain funny irony, men being crucified and trying to find the good and bright side while going through it. 

I enjoyed reading about John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and their ever returning honorary cast members, Carol Cleveland, and Connie Booth. I enjoyed it so much I had to go back and watch a few episodes of the Flying Circus just to remind myself of the genius and irreverent way that they acted in the episodes. I laughed, I cringed, and then I laughed some more. Thank heavens for Youtube and the ability to watch clips from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, my favorite Python movie. I laughed so hard I cried when the Knights are traipsing through the forest clapping coconuts together and galloping and encounter the black night. One of my favorite scenes commences and I just cry and cry and cry. A laughing cry is good for the soul. I truly believe this. 

Now, my kids would only remember Eric as the bad guy in the movie Casper and I would tell them there is so much more this man has done. The book reminded me of how much Eric Idle really has accomplished in his 75 years on earth things I didn't even know about such as The Rutles, the mockumentary about the Beatles. If you haven't seen it you really should. Mick Jagger playing himself is the best. George Harrison and the rest of The Beatles loved it. It's a hoot. I've watched sections on Youtube. Again, thank heavens for Youtube.

I could go on and on about Always Look On The Brightside Of Life, but then I would ruin the book for you and what fun would that be for you? If you are a Python Fan, an Eric Idle Fan, a reader in need of juicy details about celebrities this book is for you. If you are squeamish of the 60's and its whole lifestyle this book isn't for you, sorry, it's downright British dirty

Thanks to Penguin Randomhouse's First to Read for the opportunity to read this book in Lieu of my honest opinion.

I give this book a 4 1/2 for humor, writing style and just the pure love of Eric Idle and the other Pythons.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

The Masterpiece
Author: Fiona Davis
Publisher: Dutton Press
Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Summary from Publisher: "For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931."  

My take:
What a beautiful novel, The Masterpiece is. I couldn't put it down. Once Again, Fiona Davis has created a book worthy of the New York Times top ten books. 

At first, I wasn't in love with Virginia Clay, I found her struggle a little lacking, a typical divorcee who doesn't have the skills to cope with her singleness, then we got deeper into her story and her desire to get to know the things of the past which in turn made her a stronger woman. Virginia's story was definitely not as enduring as I found Clara Darden's story. Clara became my hero, she became the one to cheer on and clap hands for when she finally accomplished what she started out to do with Virginia's hindrance and then help. Thank heavens for women like Clara who forged ahead in the fight for noticeability when it came to being considered a great artist. I am so thankful for all women who fought for that right to be included as rivals to men in the arts. 

I admire Fiona Davis for writing such a timely matter. This book was written in extraordinarily lyrical words. Words that helped to see, and smell the grand building of Grand Central Station (Terminal). I am so happy that that beautiful building was saved, I am glad that I have been able to arrive and depart in it's terminals and eat lunch in its eateries and grab a few black and white cookies in its bakeries.  I am extremely glad that Ms. Davis wrote about the Grand Central Art School during its heyday. It makes this New Yorker happy to have had the privilege of reading this book ahead of publication.  Ms. Davis' descriptive words led me to want to be one of Clara's Bohemian friends. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. :)
Thank you, Net Galley, and especially Dutton, and Penguin for the chance to read this novel in lieu of my honest opinion.

for an overall fantastic, beautifully written novel

* There are a few scenes that are not appropriate for children and/or people who want to keep adult bedroom relationships out of their reading. In other words, not completely clean...

Home Remodel Here We Come

The only problem with our new house is that it didn't feel like a "Sandi Home," as Matt would say.  It needed some updating.  So, I started gathering ideas:


Not to say that is where we are headed for our own home, but it was fun to see what we could do with a little ingenuity.

The home itself has a super cool vibe, very midcentury (that's how the seller's even listed it,) I needed it to be just a tad-less Midcentury for Matt's sake, it needed an even more bright and happy vibe for my sake!  So, here comes the remodel...  Are you ready?  I am not sure Matt and I are except that we want to buy a fridge and actually eat healthy, warm and homemade food again. ;)

Over the next few weeks, we will be painting, reflooring, buying new lighting and fans, a fridge, and even redoing a few bathrooms. The basement, for now, is perfect and our home base during the remodel!  

Did I happen to mention that Matt and I are also babysitting Mckenna and Ryan's miniature Aussie Shepherd pups until they come home from Washington D.C. in December? Yup, this remodel is going to be fun and adventurous!!  Isn't that what this move was all about anyway? 

And a request

Home Buying

While most people find that buying a home very time-consuming and stressful, I have always loved looking at potential homes and considering which would work best for us. Usually, the home "speaks" to me. This move, finding a house was beyond stressful and to be honest, a lot of hair pulling happened due to a realtor who wanted to be friends and not a crackerjack negotiator! 

On a side note: our California home sold within 48 hours of listing and our realtor there is the best in the business!!! 

Humor me while we take a break for an ad: If you need a realtor, California friends, don't hesitate to call Victor Pais at Lyons Realty. He goes above and beyond what normal agents will. As I said, he is the best in the biz...

Here in Heber, I had a home speak to me, but it was too old to buy, some of you might have seen pictures of the home, an early 1900's gem of a diamond located in downtown Heber City. Sadly, the chance of having big ticket fixes was a risk we didn't want to take. Besides the fact that it was two blocks away from Town Hall and that is never a smart move for us. We seem to always get people coming to the house when we live close to Matt's work for small problems that could be, and would be, fixed easily during business hours.  πŸ˜‰

The old house even had a Little Free Library in front of it!

Mckenna, My sister-in-law Lynette and I looked at old houses, mountain houses, brand new houses that were move-in-ready, houses with postcard-sized yards, and even houses where the Heber Creeper traveled every day right off the backyard, then "I" looked at the house we ultimately chose and decided it was the home where family and friends can come and enjoy their time together!  


Q: Did you know that houses are now sold "broom swept", no one has to clean their homes like they used to.  I mean, literally, we had to hire a carpet cleaner because the previous owners had 2 cats. I had so much stuff to do and had already cleaned our California home so we hired a cleaning company too. There was Redheart Super Saver yarn skein sized cat hairballs that came out of the carpet cleaners hose, and still, our cleaner was vacuuming up more when they came. Even after the cleaning, we have found hairs everywhere!  Sick, right?

Also, on a side note: People, take care of your own crap, throw it out, take it to the dump if it's oversized as some of the stuff left behind was here. The new buyers shouldn't have to take care of dumping your furniture and trash because you couldn't be bothered. Seriously, it costs money, you know???

Moving Takes Front Seat over Reading...

As we moved to Heber City, Utah, I fell behind on reading. I did get two books finished but reviewing... that's been a joke. No wifi, no brain cells left to give a decent evaluation. Moving has taken the front seat and reading a backseat. Like Rosa Parks though, the reading refuses to sit in the back. I am glad that my brain craves reading. It keeps itself powered with good information, good storylines and sometimes has to skedaddle off the not so great writing. I am okay with that too because it keeps me sharp!

We bought a beautiful semi-fixer-upper. So, for a bit, I will be mixing home remodeling and reading together on this blog. If you don't want to see the remodel, just look for the Book Review label, then you won't have to waste your time. If you are not into the book entries, just look for the Heber Home Remodel label. The next few weeks won't be the headline filling slots, the reading would like, because of the remodeling. 

However, the reading will get its prominent, newsworthy days, don't worry.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

* a copy of my WordPress Blog entry seen here: Life is a Snap: Empowering you


“Who says you can’t go home?” Bon Jovie asks this question and I am asking it too ⏤ have you ever lived eons of time away from your hometown and then moved back and thought, “wow, can I really do this?” Yeah, that is what I am doing right now. We are headed back to the State of Utah. The place Matt and I met and fell in love. The place that foundationally formed us. I’m leary of this returning home. Luckily, we are not going to be going completely home ⏤ not to our same neighborhood or even cities. We will be thirty minutes to an hour away from where we both grew up though, so, not exactly the same, but still; close.
Our parents don’t live in Utah so we won’t be returning as “kids” to someone else.  We will, however, be driving to and through places we roamed as teenagers. While looking for homes in Heber City, I drove down I-15 from my sister-in-law’s home, towards Park City, the music blasting from my car radio was 80’s rock and I had this overwhelming feeling of being a teenager again. This drive; the music; my freedom of roaming; it all smacked of nostalgia ⏤ the drives to Rockport for windsurfing, sledding down the Alpine Slide on Matt and I’s first date; crash landing on the off-ramp at Jeremy Ranch in a Hot Air Balloon. It’s gonna be like Deja Vu for a good long time. I think I might be looking forward to it. πŸ˜œ There will be so many experiences to re-live and chew on. What did I learn from those experiences, have I grown since I lived that life? Good Growth lessons are on the horizon. I can see it now!
Until then, packing, cleaning and saying goodbye to good friends are the things I am dreading. How do I leave this land of sunshine & coastal views and head towards a lush valley that part of the year white stuff falls from the heavens & sticks to the ground waiting for someone to shovel it from sidewalks & driveways? I am not a lover of cold, I actually despise it. Matt has had to promise me that I will be getting a home with a fireplace, a good many cute warm clothes,
4 trips or more to the beach, and possibly a snazzy 4 x 4 vehicle that represents my wacky and adventure-sensed personality. I’m, for now, seeing a Toyota FJ as a possible swag mobile but that could change at any given time knowing my whims. πŸ˜‰
Moving to Heber City is going to be one more route on our adventurous road and I am going to live it up as much as I can. I mean, come on ⏤ family to love on, grand puppies to run with, rivers to fish, moutains to hike, bike, ATV, and snowmobile on, a new community to grow to love & help people in, and me all the while being with the man of my dreams for more memory-building experiences? How can it not be exciting???
I’m curious: Have you ever moved back to your home state?  How did it go? Did you experience Deja Vu like I did?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

Rebecca Harrington’s Sociable is a quick read if you need to waste some time sitting on the beach to develop your tan.

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington. Doubleday Books. Publish Date: March 27, 2018. 256 pages. $17.95.

By Sandra Brower

Do you ever wonder who in the world is writing all those clickbait news stories that pop up on your social media?  Do you wonder who in the world would want a job like that?  This book, to me, is a satirical take on what it means to be a journalist in the era of Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media platforms.  

Twenty-six year old Elinor Tomlinson and her boyfriend Mike met in a college communications class. Elinor works as a Nanny in New York City, instead of in the job of her dreams writing for a news site. As Elinor and Mike try to salvage a relationship based on 4 years of togetherness they both capture jobs on two very different websites. Mike is working for a reputable news site writing deep opinion pieces and Elinor gets a job at and mostly writes copy meant to be clickbait such as quizzes on whether you are a murderer or not. 
Elinor writes a "top 10 things Coffee drinkers know to be true." list that goes viral. For Elinor the more viral and more "likes" she gets the better her writing is. 
The satire of this story is based on millennial’s relationships, how journalism has changed and how shallow people can be when they believe that they are as important as the air other people breath. 

I had a really hard time with this book. I didn’t find Elinor or Mike likable. I cringed every time I read in Elinor’s narration the word “Like”. Do 26 year olds really still talk like Valley Girls? I understand it was satirical, however, the narration (three different voices btw) was super immature. Maybe, I am not sure of whether this is adult fiction or Young Adult fiction, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I have a 26 year old. He is not anything like Elinor or Mike and maybe that is the point of the whole story???  

What I felt Ms. Harrington was trying to convince her readers of is that writing for a Social Media Platform is “way” different than say writing for a magazine or newspaper in print. 

I found the unremarkable existence of Peter and JW as Elinor’s Mentors at as after thoughts to the story. They could have added real depth to the story and they were not taken advantage of. I also had a hard time with the ease that Elinor and her friend Sheila had of breaking off their long term friendship and then getting back together. It just didn’t seem like the way a real adult relationship would work. I was sad that Elinor’s reaction to her friends were so shallow and “typical” of  the written female friendship. Where was the respect, the communication of people who had been companions for over a long period of time? Why are authors so quick to cheapen a story with weak female friendships?  It boggles my brain.

Sadly, I had to give this book 2 stars because I didn’t find it very humorous. I found the characters unlikeable (which I believe they were meant to be- so maybe that is the second star) and I felt like I wasted my time when I have so many other books waiting for me to place my hands on.

I want to thank Doubleday via Edelweiss+ for the opportunity to read this book, as I had heard so much about it, in lieu of my honest review which this review entails.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The School for Psychics by K.C. Archer

K.C. Archer's 'The School f0r Psychics': Hogwarts it isn't.

If you were given the option of becoming a student at a secret government program, be arrested, or be killed by your bookie, which would you choose?

The School for Psychics. By K.C. Archer. Simon and Schuster. Publish Date: April 3, 2018. 368 pp., $16. Adult Fiction. 

By Sandra Brower

Do you dream of being a Paranormal Student who attend a secret schools to fine tune or discover your powers? I know that I dream of that everyday, waiting for my Hogwarts letter to arrive by owl and still it never comes. The School for Psychics isn't for witches and wizards however. It's a school for people who possess mind power. 
Whether Misfit or not, these young adults never really fit into a normal situation. 

At the start of the book we wander into a Las Vegas casino as twenty-something Teddy Cannon is trying to gamble her way out of a sticky situation. She owes her bookie thousands of dollars, and money she "borrowed" from her parents retirement fund. However, she is banned from all Las Vegas casinos. Security thinks she is cheating by counting cards or some other scheme, so she's incognito- dressed as a middle-aged dumpy lady. There are a few people who are not fooled by her costume. Her bookie happens to walk in and recognizes Teddy.
Teddy is bailed out and recruited by a big man, Clint, working for the Whitfield Institute. This is where the adventure begins...

Although I usually like the premise of a school for talented kids this book wasn't quite for me. It wasn't because the writing was bad, it wasn't. In fact, it has excellent writing, a good plot, well written with good visuals. I really got into the storyline. I think it was because I felt as though Teddy and her schoolmates acted much younger than their early twenties. I felt as though the book was about sex-craved, party-all-night, break all the rules high school kids and not college-aged training recruits for an undercover program. I'm truly disappointed in the misappropriation that this book is Adult Fiction when it feels more Young Adult. 

When it comes to Teddy's psychic abilities and the struggles she goes through, then the story comes alive. When Teddy isn't acting immature, she is brilliant, talented and likable. Because of her immaturity, I grew weary of her antics when mainly dealing with her peers. The abilities each peer has are unique, some enviable and others just so out there you wonder if they really could occur if encountered in real life. Not everyone is who they seem to be and you will have to discern who is a friend and who is a frenemy. This keeps the book moving and I really enjoyed the twists. The Criminal Thriller plot is the best part of the storyline and I would read this book just for the mystery it creates.

Whoever wrote The School of Psychics, since K.C. Archer is a pseudonym, hopefully, changes the way the characters interact with each other in the next book of the series so that their age is more relatable. I do look forward to reading the next in the series. I would like to see what happens to Teddy and her fellow trainees and teachers. 
Overall, I enjoyed the book, I still don't believe that 20+somethings adults act like HS kids. For this reason, I gave the book a rating of 3 stars. 
Thanks to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for the advanced copy in lieu of my honest opinion which this review is. Give The School for Psychics a read. You might like it.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers by Nicholas Smith

Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers
Author: Nicholas Smith
Publishing House: Crown/Archetype
Publication Date: May 1, 2018

"A cultural history of sneakers, tracing the footprint of one of our most iconic fashions across sports, business, pop culture, and American identity

When the athletic shoe graduated from the beaches and croquet courts of the wealthy elite to streetwear ubiquity, its journey through the heart of American life was just getting started. In this rollicking narrative, Nicholas K. Smith carries us through the long twentieth century as sneakers became the totem of subcultures from California skateboarders to New York rappers, the cause of gang violence and riots, the heart of a global economic controversy, the lynchpin in a quest to turn big sports into big business, and the muse of high fashion. Studded with larger-than-life mavericks and unexpected visionaries—from genius rubber inventor, Charles Goodyear, to road-warrior huckster Chuck Taylor, to the feuding brothers who founded Adidas and Puma, to the track coach who changed the sport by pouring rubber in his wife's waffle iron—Kicks introduces us to the sneaker's surprisingly influential, enduring, and evolving legacy. "

I thoroughly enjoyed Kicks. The way Nicholas Smith presents the histories of each brand of shoe mingling history, lifestyle and trends was a pleasant way to tell a story as in-depth as this book is about sneakers. I had so much fun guessing which brand was being created next just from the creator's name. As a child in the 70’s and 80’s, raising boys in the 90’s, and a daughter in the early 2000’s the history of the "sneakers", as we called them,(other friends called them tennis shoes, keds [although not the brand just a form name for the shoe itself], or just by their name brand - my kids evolving from Addidas to Nike's as they got older) was like being wrapped into paper and being placed in a box next to my favorite black and hot pink Freestyle Reebok — comforting and formative at the same time. Even the notes at the end continued to teach and remind me of what these shoes meant to my family. 

When I was 16 years old I dreamed of owning a pair of Reebok Freestyle hi-tops. It is was the epicenter of the aerobics age. I didn't want to own them because I was into aerobics; No, I wanted to own them because I saw that wrinkle in the toe box, the British flag on the white leather side of the hi-top and I just knew that those shoes would make my feet feel like I was wearing slippers all day long besides, owning a pair of foreign shoes was cool to beat!  The trend was for someone to go to Japan, London wherever and bring those puppies back for you. Supposedly they were cheaper than Stateside. I had to have them!!! My parents gave me a pair for my birthday. I was in love. It was like my feet were snuggled in a chenille blanket. Heaven. Then came the black hi-tops with hot pink laces, hot pink heels square and foot pads on the bottom of the shoes. Even though they were too hot to wear in the summer months, (they were more like a boot) I bore the brunt of that stifling heat to show off my kicks. They were just right up my alley — bright and unusual. 

With my boys, we had discussions on what shoe brand was better for your feet for each sport they played. One kid liked Nike for his soccer shoes, the other Addidas. Baseball had the same scrutiny. As a mom, I didn't always get to buy the cheapest like I wanted. Feet were important in each sport, so the best was purchased to protect their assets. Each kid had their own favorite brand and style wasn’t always the reason to buy the shoe; it was the fit around their heels, whether the "box" was wide enough etc... so Smith’s book brought back so many memories of even my children's buying style. 

Reading Kicks even inspired a lot of Ad/commercial searching on YouTube. My favorite the Converse Weapon commercial of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Mark Aquire and Bernard King even if it is cheesy. It wasn't as cool as MJ's commercials, but I like that it had so many great basketball players rapping their strengths with the shoes.  

" I walked away with the MVP" 

Just for Fun.  A Few of the Air Jordan commercials that Nike produced that Kicks mentions for each style.

I was able to spend the weekend with my kids now as adults, they had to listen to their mother ask them, “do you remember, such a such a shoe... commercial or design?” After every page, I read. It was probably annoying to them but fun for me.

I was a little sad that Under Armour Shoes weren't talked about. I wonder if it is because it started out with athletic attire first and not shoes and Under Armour didn't create their own shoes from scratch like the brands talked about in the book.  The "I Will" campaign pushes people out of their comfort zone while inspiring. I enjoy the inspiration that the Stephen Curry commercials give to youth. He always educates at the same time as sells the sneaker.  Although it is close to what Nike did with it's "Find your Greatness" campaign. So, yeah.

The biggest problem I had with the book is when Smith is talking about the Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz game 5 during the 1997 playoffs. He kept referring to Utah's court in Park City, Utah. The Delta Center was located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah as a girl watching that game and proud to be from Salt Lake, it irked me that his research was off on that one. I completely agree though that Michael Jordan's heroic "flu" game was one of the best in the all-time history of basketball even though we Jazz fans were wishing for a different outcome. 

I recommend this book if you love a good non-fiction, love sneakers and want a quick read this book is for you. It might even convince you to buy a different brand of sneakers the next time you step into a Footlocker or an Indie sports store. I might need to get a few more colors of Chuck Taylor Converse and a checkered pair of Vans. πŸ˜πŸ’™πŸ‘Ÿ

My rating: 5 Stars

I want to thank Penguin Randomhouse for the opportunity to read this book through their First To Read website in lieu of my honest opinion. This one might be a must buy.

Monday, April 23, 2018

806: A Novel by Cynthia Weil

Author: Cynthia Weil
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Publication Date: March 20, 2018
Young Adult

KT doesn't like her mom's choices of boyfriends. She wonders where her dad is and how she can connect with him. Finally, she finds out the truth. Who she thought was her dad, isn't her dad. Her mom tells her the truth and then the adventure begins.

About the Author:

"Cynthia Weil is an internationally known lyricist with songs from “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” the most played song of the twentieth century, to the Oscar-nominated and double Grammy-winning “Somewhere Out There” from the animated film An American Tail. Her lyrics have been sung by the legendary voices of Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, and Kanye West. She has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in addition to multiple Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards. It is only fitting, then, that 806 has a teen songwriter as its main character.
Currently featured as a character in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Cynthia resides in Los Angeles with her husband and songwriting partner, Barry Mann, and dog Callie. When not writing lyrics, you can find Cynthia fighting for animal rights, supporting young artists, or crafting her next book filled with music, dynamic relationships, and discovery."

My Take on the Book:
What a great story. I enjoyed the casual writing style while journeying with the “Super Sperm Club” kids. This book shows that eclectic strangers can come together and connect like they didn’t think they could and at the same time grow to become better understanding of themselves.

806: A Novel is a life journey for everyone involved. 

Cynthia Weil creates a humorous and fun story while telling a story about three siblings who want to find their "sperm donating" father. Cynthia Weil has created relatable teens who just like any other teenager doesn’t know where they fit in with life. Even as an adult I could relate to the quirky chapter traits of each kid.
KT, our heroine was loveable, Her interactions with her new family are sometimes frustrating, sometimes sappy sweet, but always handled like it could be in real life.  I liked getting to know KT.  Jesse and Gabe add a dimension that KT has never experienced as new found siblings. As a sibling with many "halfs" myself,  I enjoyed this book. 806: A Novel took a serious topic, made it educational and fun at the same time and yet, grabbed at my heartstrings.

The surprising Bio Dad was a joy to encounter. The journey to find him creative and wacky.

This isn't the best coming of age book that I've ever read, However, I still found it to be enjoyable.

I am recommending this to my nieces and nephews to read.

I Gave this book 4 Stars.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Elle Of The Ball by Elena Delle Donne

Elle of the Ball
Author: Elena Delle Donne
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 13, 2018


From 2015 WNBA MVP, 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and global ambassador to the Special Olympics Elena Delle Donne comes the first novel in a brand-new middle grade series with as much heart as there is game.
Elle Deluca is a seventh grader who is tall—not just sort of tall. She’s six feet tall. And for a twelve-year-old girl, this means that her basketball team has high hopes for her changing positions and becoming their starting center. But a new position is not the only footwork she has to learn. Her class’s dance unit in gym is coming up, and that means she has to learn ballroom dance steps with a boy much shorter than her—and perform publically for a grade.

In the first book in WNBA MVP and Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne’s Hoops series, Elle must figure out a way to remain herself when others want her to be someone else.

My Thoughts:

Elena Delle Donne's life inspires this first book in the Hoops series about Elle Deluca. If you have a reader who loves sports and is struggling to find her place in the world this book is a must-read. My son loved sports and had the opposite problem of Elle, he was small for the sport that he wanted to play, however, it didn't stop him from playing and doing well. I truly believe that what a parent teaches their child about attitude helps them to learn to deal with their struggles with a more healthy approach. In this book, Elle's parents and friends try to help her with her outlook as she struggles to adjust to her fast-growing height. 

I do appreciate the lessons that are taught in this book. I appreciate the fact that a middle-grade reader has fears, and hopes of what they should expect while going to 7th, 8th and 9th grade. This book helps readers to see that everyone is going through the same struggles, just not always talking about them or reacting to them where someone else can see the struggles. 

This book reminds me of Matt Christopher's sports series that came out starting in the 50's and decades into the 2000's when my son read some of his posthumous released books. 

Ms. Donne's writing is youthful, easy to read and great from your daughter or son. I think that this is a worthy book purchase.

I give this book 4 stars for middle-graders and younger who like sports. 

I want to thank Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read this book via Edelwiess+ for my honest review.