Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When It Matters Most...Spotlight

About the book:
How far would you allow a stranger to question your life?

Woven around wisdom tales with roots in Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Taoist traditions, When It Matters Most, explores how our framing of relationships, grief, and purpose impacts our own experience and the lives of those around us.

Disconnected, arrogant, and a little too fond of scotch, Simon drifts through the routines of his day, garnering the praise that sustains him. Decades of experience provide a menu of phrases and gestures to soothe and gently manipulate those in his care. His pastoral gifts are particularly evident when he presides at funerals, where he savors equally the admiration of onlookers and the extra paycheck.

Simon’s only point of tension rests with his nineteen year old daughter, Ailish, whom he loves but no longer enjoys. Both are resigned to their cohabitation, enduring as they wait for the day she completes her degree and they are released.

A knock on the office door interrupts the uniformity of his days, when an unfamiliar child challenges Simon over his handling of a eulogy. Transfixed by her unlikely maturity, he continues to listen, even as the child relates a wisdom story. By the time she departs, Simon finds himself no clearer about her identity and far less certain of his own.

With each subsequent interaction with the dying and their families, Simon encounters another enigmatic visitor who compels him to break routines and delve more deeply into his own life and relationships.

Drawing on a background of corporate leadership, mediation, and religious thought, Keven Fletcher works as a storyteller and advisor within a globally diverse, academic community.


About the author:
Currently serving as the Chaplain and Faculty Mentor at St. Michaels University School, Keven divides his time between public speaking, process facilitation, and exploring life choices with staff and students. An ordained minister within the United Church of Canada, his roles centered on congregational ministry and conflict resolution support. Prior to this work, Keven joined an organizational change and development firm, specializing in values identification and organizational culture within both the private and public sectors. Alongside these endeavors, Keven headed a non-profit that promoted discussion on ethics within the corporate community, including the establishment of a regional ethics award in conjunction with the country’s largest credit union. Keven also served on the boards of outreach societies that focused on providing food, shelter, and services to members of the street community.

When It Matters Most reflects a distillation of all these roles.

The book’s core rests on a series of traditional wisdom tales that Keven learned while preparing messages for his 1000 strong community. Wanting to bring the globally diverse stories to a wider audience, Keven wrapped a narrative around the tales, connected to the life of a disaffected minister. To illustrate the veracity of the wisdom, the novel focuses on the emotional and spiritual complexities of death as a way of shedding light on how we choose to live. Drawing on his direct experience with the dying and their families, along with his time in corporate board rooms and homeless shelters, Keven creates an ensemble of characters that represents the span of the human condition.

In his career, Keven has spoken at gatherings ranging from professional associations and education symposiums to circles of kindergarten students. His current community represents twenty-five countries and five continents. Given the requirements of his role, writing and speaking are a constant part of his life, including contributions of non-fiction work within his field.

Holding degrees in Economics (Bachelor of Arts) and Theology (Master of Divinity and Master of Theology), Keven’s formal academic focus was on Applied Ethics and Corporate Culture. Afterwards, his learning interests expanded to include Mediation, Conflict Resolution, Leadership Theory, Character Education and Professional/Personal Coaching.

Keven lives in Victoria, British Columbia with his amazingly resilient wife of over 25 years. Their daughter is currently completing her Master’s in Ireland, causing him moments of intense jealousy. Over the years, the household has included a series of cats, several Great Danes, and, almost inexplicably, one Miniature Schnauzer. When not speaking or deep in conversation, Keven can be found commuting on his bike, playing with his camera, or enjoying great food with friends.


Thanks to Elevate Publishing for the opportunity to spotlight this book. You can learn more about Keven Fletcher on his website and Twitter. You can purchase your own copy here.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Radio Girls...Review

About the book:
The Great War is over, and change is in the air, in this novel that brings to life the exciting days of early British radio…and one woman who finds her voice while working alongside the brilliant women and men of the BBC.

London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.

Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.

Radio Girls is the story of the early days the BBC as they used radio to broadcast to the nation. The time is post-WW1, with the ground work being laid for pre-WW2 conflicts. Maisie Musgrave lands a job as a secretary at the BBC and finds herself drawn into the seductive world of broadcasting. Working for the Director of the BBC, John Reith as well as Hilda Matheson, the director of the Talks programming, Maisie finds herself learning vastly different opinions of how the BBC should be run and how radio should be used.

The director doesn't love women working and has an aversion to those he considers immoral. Hilda, loves bringing in the famous writers and scientists of the day; some of whom are homosexual, which takes away nothing from their knowledge or ability to present, but is something that the Director hates.

As Maisie moves between the Director's office and the Talks office, she learns the inner workings of the BBC, she makes friends, and she discovers that everyone harbors secrets. While becoming involved in the suffrage movement, Maisie also learns the ways of investigative journalism as she uncovers German propaganda and conspiracies.

When I saw the synopsis for Radio Girls, I was somewhat curious. Who doesn't love Historical Fiction based on fact? I think it's one of the best ways to learn about history.  As I began the book, it was a bit slow in capturing my attention, but as I moved deeper into the story, I found myself captivated.

While I recognized many names of real life individuals as they were brought in to give Talks presentations, I did not realize at first that Hilda Matheson and John Reith were real people. The author's note at the end gives a fantastic summary, sharing what is real and what is fictional.

I adored Maisie and loved watching her grow from an unsure young girl into a poised woman, ready to take on the world. Hilda, with her prickly, but brilliant nature and Reith, with his bluster and bravado, were each their own kind of enigma.

Historically, rich and colorful, the novel as a whole was a fascinating look into 1920s London. Thoroughly enjoyed and easily recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sarah-Jane Stratford here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/16

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekend Reflections 5/28

Looking outside....it's sunny with a light wind. Currently 59 with a high of 71. A perfect day.

Listening...to the water distiller in the kitchen and the neighbor's lawn mower. 

Loving...my family. I am truly blessed.

Thinking...that I can't believe The Boy is done with High School and graduated!  We drove to the other side of the state to tour the college he will attend this fall. We had a fantastic experience. The campus is gorgeous and he is even more convinced that it's the right choice for him.

In my kitchen...I am not certain. I'm sure we will grill something. That has been our MO for the last couple of months. 

Wearing...gray t-shirt and blue BSU pajama pants.

Needing...to pay some bills. Seriously. I hate paying bills.

Reading...finished Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyon. Loved it. Need to start something new.

Today...We are looking forward to spending some time together, just us four. This past month has been busy and it will be nice to have it a little quieter this weekend.

Quoting..."I don't need a congressional honor. I don't need Agent Thompson's approval or the President's. I know my value. Anyone else's opinion doesn't really matter." --Peggy Carter

Planning...for the summer. The Boy is looking for a job. The Artist is anticipating lots of free time. We'll see how that goes...

Gratitude...for family. The Doctor's Aunt and Uncle were here for a few days on their way back to Australia and were able to join us for graduation festivities. We really enjoyed having them here.

From my world... 

We took a day drive up to McCall this week. The Payette is full and roaring. 

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, May 27, 2016

5 Books I Want to Read...Banned Books

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2547. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. This month I hadn't planned a theme, but I'd seen a post somewhere on the Internets about Banned Books and I checked my wish list to see which banned books were on it.

While I don't believe that every book is appropriate for every person, I don't agree with banning books. Making some library books "by request only" to keep mature content away from children? Absolutely. If a parent chooses not to have their child read a particular book in a class? Absolutely they should have that right and a teacher should respect it and offer a different book. But, should that parent try and ban the book or tell everyone else they can't read it? No.


1984 by George Orwell

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell's prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of "negative utopia" -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

The Boy is currently reading this for AP English.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression follows the western movement of one family & a nation in search of work & human dignity. Perhaps the most American of American classics. The novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of sharecroppers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, & changes in financial & agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, & in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they sought jobs, land, dignity & a future. When preparing to write the novel, Steinbeck wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression & its effects]." The book won Steinbeck a large following among the working class, perhaps due to the book's sympathy to the workers' movement & its accessible prose style.

The Boy read this last year for AP English.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepard), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit... First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London's masterpiece. Based on London's experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.

Jack London's White Fang is The Boy's favorite book. It's also on Banned Book lists.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he's committed to flying, he's trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he's sane and therefore, ineligible to be relieved.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future. Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books. The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.

The Brother read this in his Freshman English class this year.


What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation, Flashlight Commentary.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cover Crush...The Wedding Bees

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

I loved this cover the minute I saw it. Honey is sweet and sticky and tastes so good. Bees always invoke happiness with their buzzing and flying. The cover is bright and happy.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gifted...Q&A with J.A. George!

I'm so pleased to welcome J.A. George to the blog today to talk about her book, Gifted.

Tell us about yourself. 
My name is J.A. George and I’m the author of Gifted. I’m from London, England, but I’m currently living in Sheffield for my studies. Hmmm, what else? I like to read, write, bake, eat, hang out with friends and go to the cinema. Once I did all of those things in one day, needless to say, it was awesome.

That sounds like the perfect day! So, tell us about your book!

Yes, Gifted! Here’s the blurb:

There is no chosen one in this story. 

She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day. 

Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter. 

Change can be good. It can bring new opportunities, new friends and a life you never thought possible. Change can be bad. It can bring you people determined to burn your city to the ground. 

It all depends on the decisions you make. 

Is Ava your main character? 

Yes, she is. Ava is a long story. In the first edition of Gifted she was pretty bland because I was trying to make her into a character every reader would love until I realised that was impossible. So I concentrated on making her into a person I would like to meet. She’s strong-willed, sarcastic and funny (well, I think she is), but sometimes she’s insecure and unsure of how she feels. She’s real.

Why should people read your book?

I would never force my book on anyone, and I would never claim to have written the next best-seller. If you like contemporary YA fantasy centered on a young woman with a penchant for dry humour, try Gifted. The best I can say is read a sample here and make your mind up from there.

Gifted is a contemporary YA fantasy; anything else we can find floating around in there?

Most definitely. Gifted struggles to fit into one genre. It’s contemporary, young adult and fantasy, but you can also find hints of romance, adventure, mystery and why not, comedy too. Buried within the book are modern day issues such as, body-issues, friendship and cheating in relationships. It’s not too much because I didn’t wanted Gifted to be considered a dark, sombre book, but it’s there.

What book has most influenced Gifted

Roald Dahl’s books! If you had asked me this question two weeks ago, I would have said no book has influenced Gifted. But I’ve come to realise that the idea of extraordinary things happening to ordinary people (for example, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and George’s Marvellous Medicine) is a theme that has subconsciously stuck with me for many years.

What message would you like readers to take away from Gifted

Find what makes you different and be it. And you don’t have to be crazy to be different.

Does Gifted have a soundtrack? 

Haha! I wish! How cool would that be though? I should look into it…

What’s your favorite writing snack? 

Usually chocolate. If I’ve run out, which happens more often that you’d think, anything sweet. Or just a bottle of ice cold water.

Where do you write? 

I’m pretty boring. I only write at my desk or on my bed, but if I’m writing my idea down, I write wherever I am and that sometimes means the middle of the street!

Finally, any advice for beginner writers? 

Keep writing. Keep writing until you have written a book you would happily pay for and would begin reading as soon as it’s yours.


Many thank to J.A. George for visiting 2 Kids and Tired Books! We You can learn more about J.A. George on her website here and find her on Twitter. You can download a sample of Gifted here and purchase your own copy here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Childhood Favorites...Beverly Cleary

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Books: Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

Last month Beverly Cleary celebrated her 100th birthday. Amazing. I never got into Ramona or Henry Huggins. I did like Ellen Tebbits. The Boy loved The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

My favorite Beverly Cleary books were what are now called the First Love series. I love that Beverly so often set her books in the San Francisco Bay Area, because that is where I grew up. I checked these books out of my elementary school library and finally got my own copies which I then wore out from re-reading them so much.

Fifteen. I loved Jane. I could relate to Jane and some of her insecurities and who wouldn't love Stan? Set in the Bay Area. Awesome.

The Luckiest Girl. I loved Shelley. Shelley wanted to be accepted and her somewhat prim and proper parents frustrated her. Spending the school year in California with her mother's best friend opened up her world.

 Jean and Johnny. This was one I liked the least, mostly because Jean was just so awkward and embarrassing. But then, who isn't as a young teenager?

Sister of the Bride. I have sisters. I love books about sisters and I loved this one about Barbara and Rosemary and Barbara's worries that things will change when her sister gets married because Rosemary was too modern to get married and settle down.

Looking back, I'm wishing I still had copies of these so I could sit down and read them again. It's always so fun to revisit old friends. Although, I read these so much, I can still picture scenes and situations and conversations.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cover Crush...The Good Life

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

I love the bright white of this cover. Obviouslty someone's home and just lovely and invokes a feeling of elegance, luxury and wealth.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic Swede, indieBRAG.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekend Reflections 5/14

Looking outside....it's cloudy with a chance of rain. Currently 61. Highs to be in the mid 80s.

Listening...to silence. Except it's never truly silent is it? I can hear the filter on The Artist's fish tank. The water distiller in the kitchen and the neighbor's lawn mower.

Loving...I saw Captain America Civil War twice last weekend. Best. Superhero. Movie. Ever. 

Thinking...that I can't believe The Boy is done with High School and will graduate!  

In my kitchen...The Doctor fixed my oven! But tonight we're doing family dinner out for my niece's birthday.

Wearing...black turtleneck and blue BSU pajama pants.

Annoying...Stupid executives at ABC canceled Agent Carter. Morons.

Needing...to finish my transcription tape and editing project. I finally received the last papers that need to be included in the proceedings. 

Reading...Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. Haven't finished it yet.

Today...Addressing The Boy's graduation announcements.

Quoting..."Give me back my Rhodey!"--Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Planning...the week. We're going to a wedding reception on the other side of the state and also doing a college tour with The Boy.

Gratitude...for good friends. For fun lunches and laughter and connecting with each other.

From my world... 

My Mother's Day flowers from The Doctor. So cute!

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Conversation at Our House...Crocodiles

I found this conversation that The Brother and I had when he was little. He has always had the cutest personality.

J: "Mom, wouldn't it be cool if you and dad were crocodiles?"
M: "That would be interesting."
J: "Yeah, and I would be your cute little boy crocodile and when you threw me in the water I would swim right back to you."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cover Crush...Hotel Moscow

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

This cover captured my attention immediately because I have always had a fascination with Russia. Growing up during the heart of the cold war, Russia was always mysterious and far away. It was communist and forbidden. I always pictured it gray and dismal, so seeing icons like St. Basil's Cathedral was such a dazzling contrast of color and vibrancy. Once the wall fell and the cold war as we knew it ended, Russia opened up and we were able to learn so much more about the country. This cover captures the essence of dazzle and secrets.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic Swede.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Conversation at our House...Reading

This occurred several years ago, but is still one of my favorite memories. With the discovery of online chess and binge watching Netflix, The Boy still reads, but not quite as voraciously as he did when he was younger. Most of what he reads these days are Psychology books, because Psychology is his chosen field of study when he enters college this fall.

(At night, way past bedtime. The Boy comes downstairs.)

Mom: "What's up? You're supposed to be asleep."
The Boy: "I know, but I finished my book!" (Waving it in the air.)
Mom: "Was it good?"
The Boy: "It was so good. I'm kind of sad that it's finished though."
Mom: "A good book is sometimes like that. You don't want it to end."
The Boy: "I know. I didn't want it to end. I wish there was a book that you could read that went on forever. That would be so cool."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cover Crush...Unlocking Worlds

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

I loved this the first minute I saw it. I love the books as steps. The colors are soft, and it invokes a lovely, meandering stroll. Much like the stroll that book lovers take as they peruse and discover new stories to read.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, A Bookaholic Swede, Flashlight Commentary, indieBRAG.