Friday, August 26, 2016

Aussie Author Challenge: Book 9


The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood:

One of my great friends who is a lover of books praised this book and gave it to me as a birthday gift.  This recommendation alone had me intrigued. 

Also, it is receiving much praise from the Australian literary community, and it is on the shortlist for this year's Miles Franklin Award, which is Australia's "most prestigious literary award".  I must admit, I'm not always a reader/fan of these "prestigious" books...but I was still intrigued.

When I finished this book, I immediately wrote "So many thoughts.  So many questions.  So many emotions.  I need to digest."  After a couple of days, I still feel that way.  Adequately sharing my thoughts might prove difficult, but I will try.

First, I'll share this short clip from goodreads:  "The Natural Way of Things is a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted."

Americans, do you remember the disappearance of Chandra Levy?  At the age of 24, she was reported as a missing person.  During the investigation, it was learned that she "allegedly" was having an affair with a married U.S. Congressman.  Reportedly, when questioned, this man seemed evasive and more concerned with saving his own face and reputation, rather than concern over Miss Levy's whereabouts and safety.

Hypothetically, in a fictitious world, what if it was arranged to just have someone like Chandra Levy "sent away"?  Removed from the society that she lived in and muddied the waters with her existence due to such a sexual scandal?  Punished for her promiscuous behaviour?  (Again, not my thoughts...this is for the sake of a work of fiction.)  That's the premise of this book.

Young women that are connected by a variety of popular, news-worthy sexual scandals (gang rape by football players, sexual harassment and relations with a judge on a singing reality competition show, an affair with a politician and more) are drugged and seemingly, kidnapped, taken to a place that I can only describe as similar to a concentration camp.  They live in horrendous conditions with no real knowledge of how they got there or what will happen to them.  What they do know:  "The reason for their captivity has a blank clarity: they are hated." (Pg 171)

The story is captivating.  The reader experiences the women's descent into madness, their quest for survival or revenge.  There are many, many passages that are extremely difficult to stomach, but they are an adequate description of the conditions these women were forced to face.  I couldn't help but question how I, personally, would/could handle such conditions.  I could see myself going either way...losing my sanity, becoming engrossed with revenge, doing what needed to be done to survive, or just wanting to give up.  While reading and following the journey, I felt such a range of emotions from anger and disgust to triumph and hopefulness. 

Without saying too much more, about the story itself, one of the lessons that shall stick with me from this story is this (broken down in simplest form):  Life can be tough and extremely challenging, but it is always best to be in charge of one's own journey.

http://bookloverbookreviews.com/reading-challenges/aussie-author-challenge-2016

It's the 7th year for the Aussie Author Challenge, and my 2nd year participating (click on the picture/link to take you directly to the site for more information).  My working book list is as follows:

Female Authors:

Male Authors:

Authors New to Me:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Significant Songs from Live Shows: A Jana and Erin Playlist


Last Thursday of the month means it's time for another playlist with Jana  and Erin - a playlist with a twist.  Often, we try not to choose themes that you've seen time and time again.  This month we've decided to highlight significant songs from concerts we've attended AND that concert was monumental to us for one reason or another. 

JANA:  1. "The Right Stuff" by NKOTB. New Kids and Tiffany was the first concert I ever went to. With my parents, sister, best friend at the time and we saw them at Westbury Music Fair. I was in 4th or 5th grade (roughly the same age as my daughter, incidentally, who just went to her first concert this past summer. We took her to see Weezer. So there's that). And my love of live music begins. 

ERIN:  2.  "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi.  I know.  It comes as no surprise that Bon Jovi makes an appearance on this list.  It was my first concert that I attended.  My mother took three 8th grade girls and one 7th grader to the Bon Jovi "Slippery When Wet" tour with Cinderella opening (who became another live favorite).  My love of Bon Jovi was cemented.

JANA:  3. "Big Talk" by Warrant. NKOTB was the first concert I ever attended; Warrant and Poison at Nassau Coliseum was the first concert I attended sans parents. Three of my friends and I went during the Cherry Pie tour and looking back, there were quite a lot of things that happened at that concert I didn't quite understand. Now I do. Warrant was DIRTY.

ERIN:  4.  "King of Rock" by Run DMC - The summer after 8th grade, I went to visit my grandparents in rural East Texas.  A concert was coming to the Oil Palace in Tyler, Texas ... a concert like this smaller Texas town had never seen - Run DMC with others (DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Public Enemy, and more).  My aunt and uncle took me, they sat in the back while I bounced and danced in the crowd.  My uncle claimed that my blond ponytail was easy to spot.  I loved the blend of sounds (and still do) that Run DMC brings, and King of Rock is especially foreshadowing since they are now members of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.

JANA:  5. "Subdivisions" by Rush. This is my absolute favorite Rush song of all time. We might have used it in a post before but #idontcare. I saw Rush for the first time in 1991ish (mostly because Mr. Big was the opening act. Yes, I was that person but in my defense, I was 14) and despite being there for the opening act, I walked away a Rush fan. This was also the gateway concert for my love affair with outdoor concerts. Thank you, Jones Beach.

ERIN:  6.  "Crackerman" by Stone Temple Pilots.  My college roommate, Katy, dated a beautiful boy named Gregorio.  We piled into my white Honda Civic and drove from our university town to Houston for my first "live" experience with Stone Temple Pilots (1995ish).  It was an incredible show, even with Scott Weiland completely off his face.  Since his death from a deadly cocktail of drugs, this first STP is particularly poignant to me in my memories.

JANA:  7. "Tainted Angel" by Southgang. I saw these guys on New Year's Eve. In a bar. In Atlanta. When I was 14 (14 was a big year, evidently). It was pretty fucking cool.(Also, I might or might not have thrown this in because of Erin's love for Butch Walker. I'll let you decide).

ERIN:  8.  "Best Thing You Never Had" by Butch Walker. No, this ain't no BeyoncĂ© song.  Jana mentioned my love for Butch, and my entry above talks about my friend, Katy...so, let me tell you about the time that Katy and I went to Vegas to "celebrate" her divorce.  The Wynn just opened, and we scored an amazing deal on a room.  We went to see the male dance revue, American Storm, and we had cocktails by the pool.  I told Katy that she needed to trust me - we were going to see Avril Lavigne at The Joint at the Hard Rock because there was this musician that was opening that I had to see...Mr. Butch Walker.  Seeing this song live is damn near close to a religious experience for me.  He's touring right now.  Seriously.  If you like live music, do yourself a favor and go see him if he's coming to a town near you. 

JANA:  9. "Ain't Going Down Till the Sun Comes Up" by Garth Brooks. I bought my husband, then-boyfriend, tickets to see Garth Brooks in Philly for his 20th birthday. Decidedly not a country music fan, I had a lot of trepidation going to the show. Turns out, I can be wrong. This still reigns as one of the best concerts I've ever attended. The man played for 3 hours WITH NO BREAK. It was incredible. Also at that concert, the guy selling "popcorn, peanuts, crack cocaine".   (Note from Erin: While watching this video as I was putting together this post, I got goosebumps.  His energy is infectious.  Garth is the bomb.  No shame.)

ERIN:  10.  "Between Angels and Insects" by Papa Roach.  Another time that I told a friend to "just trust me" and go to a show with me was to see Papa Roach.  Their first full album was out, and "Last Resort" was a single getting play.  I had the album (well, cd, but I still call them albums), and I wanted to see them live.  I convinced my friend, Shawn, to go with me because he likes rock shows.  When we left the show, we looked like someone had hosed us down with a garden hose.  We were soaked with sweat.  I am not sure I've ever lost that many calories in one show.  I picked this song because it was the one that I remember most for the crowd losing.their.shit when it played. 

JANA:  11. "Captain Jack" by Billy Joel. Returning the favor, the husband bought me tickets to see Billy Joel and Elton John. I had previously seen Billy during college but attending this concert was the fulfillment of a decade long dream. Dueling pianos at their finest. 

ERIN:  12.  "Here Is Gone" by the Goo Goo Dolls.  My two frontmen loves are Jon Bon Jovi and Johnny Rzeznik.  In 2003, they made this girl's dream come true by touring together.  And, the Goo Goo Dolls were touring to support my favorite album of theirs, Gutterflower. 

JANA:  13. "Jesus of Suburbia" by Green Day. Perhaps the greatest song from American Idiot, and perhaps one of the most stellar shows I've attended. By the time we got to their concert at the Liacouras Center, we'd seen Green Day 3 times and this concert was about as close to perfection as you can get. 

ERIN:  14.  I couldn't decide what song/band I wanted to list next, and "Gone Away" by The Offspring came on, which instantly took me to a memory that I love, so there you have it.  One of my best gal pals moved to Italy.  I went to visit.  We went to see The Offspring in Milan.  It was an unforgettable experience to go to a concert surrounded by Italians all singing along in English with this SoCal pop punk band. 

JANA:  15. "Absolutely Still" by Better Than Ezra. Laugh if you will, but I love these guys. And I loved, LOVED seeing them at Power Plant Live in Baltimore. FOR FREE, Y'ALL. Of course it was on the hottest day Baltimore has ever had and my sweet tea crush melted but still. Awesome. There's something about going to see a once popular band but who wasn't really that popular and who's a little past their prime because you know all the fans are FANS. And they covered a Rush song.

ERIN:  16.  "Angel Eyes (I'll Never Let You Go)" by Steelheart.  Talk about seeing bands a little past their prime........I went to the inaugural Rocklahoma in 2007.  Glam bands, hair bands, hair metal, call them what you want.  My love for them will never die.  I was joined in a field smack in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma by others who still loved this music too.  We met people from different countries, different states, and different ages.  Many "big" names from this era were there (Poison, RATT, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Vince Neil, Dokken, more) - but, when the lead singer of Steelheart belted out this song and still hit those notes, it is safe to say that the crowd was blown away.

JANA:  17. "Enemies" by Shinedown. Going all the way back to two weeks ago when I attended Carnival of Madness. I can't even properly convey how I felt this concert in my bones. In my soul. Shinedown's music speaks to me like no other band's and to see them live...well, I can't quite process it all yet, never mind write about it. AND. As if the concert wasn't amazing enough, they opened up their set with Let's Go Crazy. The real Prince version. Not a cover. 

ERIN:  18.  "All out of Love" by Air Supply.  They started their career over 40 years ago playing in Sydney restaurants.  I saw them play at the Sydney Opera House.  Let me tell you, there is something to be said for any band that can stay together for 40 years (the duo claim they've never even had a fight) and can fill a room full of people who will sing all of their songs word for word back to them. 

We left out plenty that we wanted to add, but this is no longer about us...tell us about your live music experience and a significant song from a monumental concert in your musical journey.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#Fav7Films times two

Twitter circulated a hashtag: #Fav7Films.  If I wasn't such a lame blogger, I'd take a couple of minutes and attempt to find how/why this hashtag began, or who started it, but I'm lame lazy. 

I participated and rattled off my #Fav7Films, published the tweet, then thought "wait, but, what about........" and felt I needed to list seven more.  So, I did.  Really, do I need to follow any "rules" when it comes to twitter hashtags?  No.  So, I rattled off seven more. 

I started thinking about these movies and this exercise.  What I liked about it is that I didn't put much thought into it.  I spilled out fourteen movies that I think of as my "favorites", and in that quick, fun tweet(s), I think I came up with a pretty solid list (for me).  So, I thought I'd share them with you.

Plus, it's a good time to talk about movies because jenn's "fall film challenge" begins next week.

Love Actually - It makes me laugh, and it makes me cry.  It makes me enjoy a different storyline or actor or character almost every time I watch it.  I always end with a full heart after watching it, and there's not much better a feeling than a full heart.

The Outsiders - The only piece of poetry that I can recite from memory is the Robert Frost poem that Pony Boy recites in this movie.  My heart loves this movie so much.  Patrick Swayze is so wonderful in so many films, but his supporting role in this one is my fave.  And, I love Cherry Valance (Diane Lane).  And, Matt Dillon as Dallas Winston.  And, Soda Pop and Two Bit.  And, of course, Johnny and Pony Boy.  Oh, and did I mention Tom Cruise is in it (before an agent got a hold of him and made him fix his teeth)?

Urban Cowboy - Stereotypes exist for a reason, because sometimes there is some truth to them.  I have a friend in Texas.  Her parents met at Gilley's.  Her father was a bullrider in his 20s.  Her mother was an underage teen that snuck into the bar.  They married after knowing each other for only 2 weeks.  They are still together with two children and three grandchildren.  This movie is a slice of Texas life and culture that I cherish.  No, the domestic violence and adultery aren't pretty, but they are real.
Notice John Travolta's white boots with brown tips on the toes.  Yep, I had some.

Grease 2 - Stephanie Zinone is so much cooler than Sandy.  I wanted to be Stephanie Zinone.  In the first Grease, Sandy had to change to snag her guy finally.  In Grease 2, a guy had to change to get a girl.  I like that.  Plus, I like the songs better.  And, Maxwell Caulfield is dreamier than John Travolta.

Almost Famous - For someone like myself who feels like some music really speaks to them...or that some of their favorite musicians are "friends", this movie is wonderful and poignant.

Good Will Hunting - Another movie that makes me laugh and makes me cry and is filled with life lessons.  Robin Williams at his finest.  And, hey, that Matt Damon guy and Ben Affleck dude are pretty good too.

The Fox and the Hound - I've mentioned before that this is my all-time favorite Disney movie.  My love of animals and the story of friendship makes me continue to love it, even as an adult. 

Moulin Rouge - The music.  The colors.  The costumes.  The story.  Satine & Christian.  Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.  I love all of this movie. 

Sleepers - This story stuck with me.  The cast and performances are fantastic.  The question of right and wrong...who are the "bad" guys and who are the "good" ones in this particular story is one that is thought-provoking.

A Time to Kill - This movie punches me in the gut every time I see it.  Who won Oscars and Golden Globes that year?  I don't know.  What I do know is Samuel L. Jackson should have.

Pretty in Pink - I adore John Hughes movies with Molly Ringwald as his muse, but this one is my favorite.  James Spader is particularly slimy.  And, really, who doesn't love Duckie?

Brian's Song - I can not watch this movie without sobbing like a baby.  Based on the true story of the life and friendship of Chicago Bears players Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers.

Less Than Zero - I don't really know if I thought much about acting skills until I saw this movie and Robert Downey Jr.'s performance.  Oh, and slimy James Spader makes another appearance.  It's a cautionary tale that "drugs are real bad".

She's the One - I'm a fan of Edward Burns.  There is something miserable, yet comical about this movie.  The familial relationships and love interests are dysfunctional and authentic.

I've got some honorable mentions...but, like I said, for a quick off-the-cuff response, I think this is pretty great reflection of my #Fav7Films. 

What do you think?

Quick.  Don't think too hard.  Tell me your #Fav7Films. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thursday Thoughts on Tuesday vol.5

Nope.  It's not Thursday.  But, Jana and I have a playlist to share this Thursday, so we're having Thursday Thoughts on Tuesday.  Yes, I could've skipped it this week, but I had thoughts to share.


  • Are you over the story about Ryan Lochte and his co-horts yet?  Yes?  Well, I just have one thing to say...(and I already said it on twitter)...If I live long enough to never hear "boys will be boys" used to justify inexcusable behavior ever again, then I will die a happy woman.  What arrogant pricks.

  • Speaking of pricks........I'm going to guess most all of you were able to avoid this news story that happened in Melbourne.  Let me share it with you so you can be infuriated with me:  Judge sympathises with Children's Court guard who had sex with 'wordly' 14-year-old  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, rape culture continues to be alive and well...sentences for offenders continue to be laughable.  Apparently, this magistrate went to the same "how to be a douche bag judge" school as the judge who gave Brock Turner (the Stanford swimmer rapist) his ridiculous punishment.  I give zero fucks if this 14 year old girl lied about her age and was overtly sexual or promiscuous. She was outside the Children's Court when she met the 32 year old man.  Maybe she was at the Court because her parents are in the midst of a custody battle for her, or she's a ward of the state, or has lived in group homes and witnessed sexual acts, or has been sexually abused herself.  She's 14.  I don't care what provocative clothes she wore, or if she claims to enjoy sex, or if she comes on to older men.  The 32 year old is the adult, he is in the wrong, and the judge is also in the wrong for feeding him with excuses and giving him such a light sentence.  What lesson have they taught this 14 year old?  What message has been sent?  What help is she receiving?  My blood is boiling.

  • Since my blood is already boiling, let me share another story from Australia that you may have missed...a female fan attending an AFL (Australian Football League) game threw a banana ate an indigenous football player.  A banana.  Her attempt at implying he is a monkey.  Yes, disgusting displays of racism are alive and well in all corners of the world.  In her apology, she claims "I regret my momentary lapse of judgement and I did not attend the game with the predetermined attitude of bringing the game into disrepute or to offend anyone."  So, did she just bring that banana as a snack?  If not, I'd say it was "predetermined" and not just a "momentary lapse of judgement." 

Deep breaths......... 

Shall we move along to happier stories?  Yes, we shall.

  • There are two times during the year that I especially enjoy the flood of pictures from my friends and family on facebook - their kiddos on the first day of school and their kiddos in Halloween costumes.  I mean, I enjoy pics other times too, but these two times of the year are especially fun.

  • The Axl-Slash-Duff version of Guns N Roses is coming to Australia in February! 

  • One of our televisions has decided to not work anymore.  The husband will want to replace that.  Last week, we had to shell out $800 for a car repair.  Dontcha just hate unplanned expenses for non-fun stuff? 


  • How fantastic is this news story??:  Mobile shower van for homeless hits Brisbane streets  The duo offering this service already introduced the world's first mobile free laundry for the homeless.  What fantastic ideas and proof that two people can make a difference to others and their community.


Meme of the week:

Happy Thursday Tuesday to you! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.86

New lipstick ~ Kat Von D's everlasting liquid lip in Bauhaus

Stained glass windows in the Queen Victoria Building

Sweet Ivy Lou (plus a Ricky photobomb)

Signs of Spring - my neighbor's first rose blooms

Sunday morning onesie party

Sunday Funday at the park

And, I got in on the playground action!

Happy weekending!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Thoughts vol.4

Hey, hey.  Two weeks in a row of "Thursday Thoughts".  Let's see how long I keep this momentum...


  • Why do some people think that everyone else on their train carriage wants to hear their conversation? We don't. I don't care if "Graham trialed it today" or if "Gary hid a bottle of Scotch in the baby bag" when he came over for a BBQ or if "Jeannette hates everything about it".  All of this from a repeat offender, a guy that has carried on a lengthy, loud conversation previously on my same train route.  Hey, curly blonde dude that talks loudly through a hands free device as you sit back with your arms crossed, I'm talking about you.  Thanks for ruining my reading time douche bag. *ipod in*
  • My brother and sister-in-law are celebrating 25 years of marriage...during that time they received 3 college degrees between them, are in the midst of raising 3 amazing (yes, I'm biased, but they are amazing) teenagers, loved and lost 3 Labrador retrievers (r.i.p. Deion, Stormi, and Coco).  All of this and they still really, really like each other.  They hold hands.  They laugh.  They go on family vacations and take mini-getaways just the two of them.  They exemplify love, commitment, faith, and devotion.  Happy Anniversary to Brian & Stephanie!

  • Their wedding was the summer between my Senior year of high school and Freshman year of college.  How did 25 years go buy so quickly?!?!
  • We moved into our house June 2015.  We were receiving electricity bills addressed to "Dear Customer".  We were paying those bills.  At some point, I contacted the energy provider to make another payment and was informed that no name was attached to the account.  That I needed to create an account in my name at that address.  Fine.  Seems reasonable.  I did that.  Then, I received a statement saying that I owed back payments and new payments to my new account.  After several phone calls, it appears that all our previous payments were applied to the generic "Dear Customer" account.  But, since creating my account and telling them how long I've lived there, they won't credit those payments to my account without proof of payment.  What a freaking headache.  Off to the bank I go to get bank statements printed.
  • Jana and I haven't decided what next week's playlist theme should be.  Any requests?
  • My mom told me that one of my new tattoos looks like a "devil".  Apparently, the leaves look like devil horns in her opinion.  She cracks me up. 
  • I realize that most of these aren't true "thoughts" but more ramblings.  There is a difference. 
  • To steal from Steph and her ecard of the week, I'll share a "meme of the week":

  • Got any ramblings you want to share with me?


Monday, August 15, 2016

"Love sees no color"

I thought I'd start the week sharing positivity and love.  Sounds good, yes?

Quick background story...after years of heartbreak, loss, and fertility issues, my cousin and her husband were blessed with the opportunity to adopt two beautiful girls, Olivia and Macy. 

Admittedly, I am stealing sharing some words from my cousin's facebook (with her permission) for this post of mine.  She has shared some beautiful, real life, heartwarming stories that I wanted to share with you.

This July, in the midst of racial tension with black suspects being shot and killed by police along with police being targeted, shot, and killed, Janna posted this picture and included these words:
"I'm adding a picture of my girls to show you that love sees no color. When I look at my girls I don't see them as black or white. I see them as God's precious masterpieces. Period. They are sisters, not by blood, but by heart! "
I couldn't have said it better myself.


At the start of the Olympics, Janna posted some pictures of Olivia with these words:
"We're watching the Olympic swimming coverage, and it's honestly one of my favorite sports to watch in the Olympics. So in honor of the USA swimmers, here's a few pics of our 2024/2028 Olympic hopeful swimmer."


Then, this happened..............Texas born girl, Simone Manuel, won a gold medal in the 100m freestyle!  As you may very well know, she made Olympic history when she did it too ~ the first African-American woman to win gold in an individual swimming event.  Simone has been quoted saying that she hopes she is an inspiration.  I'd say she sure inspired Olivia.  This is what my cousin had to say:
"So proud to watch her race last night, see her reaction to her gold medal win, and then listen to her give the glory to God! We recorded the race so Liv could watch it today. After the race was over I told Liv that Simone was the first black woman to win an individual event medal in swimming and how big of a deal that is. Liv excitedly said, "I'm a black girl!!!" ❤️ Yes you are, baby girl! Be proud of that!!! Love that Simone's a positive role model for our little swimmer."


To add to the beauty of this post...as I was typing it, a couple came in to design a ring.   One of the women was born in Zimbabwe.  As they are the midst of the design, my guy brings out black diamonds in princess cut.  Her eyes lit up.  She said..."so perfect for me because I'm a black princess!"

Yes, it will be a wonderful day when the color of someone's skin doesn't matter.  An accomplishment will be an accomplishment regardless of color, gender, race, sexuality, religion, or ethnicity.  But, while history is still being made and boundaries are being torn down, I'm all about celebrating it!