MIA in 2010

2010 turned out to be a very tough reading and blogging year for me.  I don’t know if it was the out of sorts feeling I had while Hubby was deployed for five months or what but I totally sucked at keeping up with things.  At times it seemed as if I had become a slower reader and was easily distracted by everything and anything.  I fell into the habit of only reading before bed and that never is a good thing for me.  I get tired and after only reading a few pages its lights out.  Book club should have helped but it really didn’t.  I only read (if I liked it enough) the selected title and didn’t read other titles in the second half of the year.  

Good news is I’m still in love with my Kindle and 2011 will bring an iPad 1 or 2 into my hands thanks to my folks generous birthday gift on the 1st.  I will download the Kindle App to whichever version of iPad I end up getting (waiting for the MacWorld 2011 conference to see if Steve Jobs introduces the 2.0) and that will allow me to read without the lights on when Hubby goes to sleep.  I don’t really like book lights.  I am off to a good start in 2011 though.  I finished my book club’s selection for Sunday’s brunch just last night.  I’m going to try to read one book of my choice for every book club selection this year.  That is my reading goal for 2011.

There were some fabulous books that I read in 2010 though and I have listed them below.  The scariest ones, all for different reasons, were Room, The Blue Notebook and Born on the 4th of July.  All very realistic stories inspired by true accounts, like Kovic’s retelling of his experience in Vietnam and the aftermath of the war back home, these books still haunt me.

The Postmistress and The Help are books that I will always recommend to the reader looking for a great novel to lose themselves in.  They are simply fantastic.  Others I listed made the list because they were either extremely unusual, Raven Stole The Moon, or made me laugh my ass off, My Fair LazyHow To Be An American Housewife took me back to Japan and made me miss the country, culture and it’s people all over again.  

I have also taken the liberty of listing my 20 favorite tunes of 2010.  I rediscovered Pop music last year and I am so thrilled that it’s laced with hot beats, fun lyrics, melodic melodies and strong construction.  Thank goodness!  Country music didn’t disappoint and the highlight for me was going to the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, TN last June with one of my best friends, Jesse.

What were some of your favorite reads in 2010?  Tunes?  Discoveries?  Please share them with me and any readers I still may have after being MIA in 2010!   

My FAV reads of 2010 (in no particular order)

Room – Emma Donoghue
The Blue Notebook – Dr. James A. Levine
How To Be An American Housewife – Margaret Dilloway
Born on the 4th of July – Ron Kovic
My Fair Lazy – Jen Lancaster
Raven Stole The Moon – Garth Stein
The Postmistress – Sarah Blake
The Help – Kathryn Stocket

 

My FAV 20 Tunes of 2010 (in no particular order)

F You – Cee Lo Green
Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida
Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
Paris (Ooh La La) – Grace Potter and The Nocturnals
1983 – Neon Trees
Undo It – Carrie Underwood
Lover, Lover – Jerrod Neiman
Put You In A Song – Keith Urban
Smoke A Little Smoke – Eric Church
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z & Alicia Keys
Bullet Proof – La Roux
All About Tonight – Blake Shelton
Raise Your Glass – Pink
Telephone – Lady Gaga & Beyonce
Colder Weather – Zac Brown Band
Crazy Town – Jason Aldean
Roll With It – Easton Corbin
Stuck Like Glue – Sugarland

Due to restrictons on videos from YouTube I am unable to share any of the videos I wanted to here on Planet Books.  Sorry Dude!

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Book Review ~ Glee The Beginning by

Summary ~ Calling all Gleeks!
Get more of your favorite characters in this official Glee prequel!
All great performances deserve a warm-up! Enroll early at McKinley High–before New Directions was even a glimmer in Mr. Schuester’s eye. When did Rachel first decide Finn was more than just a jock? When did Puck and Quinn start their secret romance? And how did the fledgling Glee Club function without a fearless leader? Hint: It wasn’t exactly a perfect melody.
Break out the gold stars and refill the slushies: It’s time to find out what happened to all your favorite characters before the show-mance began.

OMG!!  I was tickled when I learned about this book.  Glee The Beginning by Sophia Lowell is just that, the beginning of the Glee kids story.  If you aren’t familiar with the Fox hit Glee than I don’t know what’s wrong with you (seriously, it’s a fabulous, fun and dramatic thrill for the senses!) and you have a few short weeks to catch up with the rest of the Gleeks out there and Netflix/buy/download on iTunes Season 1 of Glee before the new season starts in mid-September. 

This book was a fun, imformative (for the Gleek that I am) and entertaining read that was a perfect way to end the summer with (school started in some counties here yesterday and the rest of the students out there will start Monday.)  I know I like to read whatever all year round but it was fun to read Glee The Beginning at the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the school year.  Does our muscle memory of the beginning of school ever really leave us?  Glee The Beginning covers all the core Glee kids; Rachel, Tina, Mercedes, Kurt, Finn and Quinn and gives the fan/reader a good look into what the characters were up to before we met them in Season 1 Episode 1 on television.  Quinn was torn between who she thought she should be and who she wished she could be and Rachel was always all about being the star performer in her school.  Glee Club was flailing until Kurt had the stroke of genius to invite Rachel to join Glee for a rehersal and see what she thought.  Why does Tina stutter?  What is Mercedes home life like?  All these questions and more are answered in Glee The Beginning.

If you are looking for a quick read that will get you excited all over again for the upcoming fall season then Glee The Beginning is for you.  My secret for really diving in each time I turned on my Kindle to read was turning on my iPod and playing the Glee soundtracks.  I own ALL of them.  “Hi!  My name is Karen and I’m a Gleek!”

{Rating 4 out of 5} 

 

 

 

29 Days & Counting!

I’m going to continue sharing music videos by numerous artists who will be jammin’ at the 2010 CMA Fest next month in Nashville, TN.  Tonight, I’m listening to the wonderful Patty Loveless and her boot stompin’ tune, Lovin’ All Night.  I love to sing this song at karaoke because it is so much fun!  I hope you’ll like it too.

30 Days & Counting!

In thirty days a dream of mine is going to come true.  One of my best friends, Jesse, and I are going on a road trip.  This isn’t a road trip to just anywhere either.  We are going to Music City USA, Nashville, TN to attend CMA Music Fest aka Fan Fair!  I have been a lover and singer of country music since 1992 (and Olivia Newton-John’s country records from the 70’s since birth) and can’t believe that I’m going to the “Mecca” of country music in a few short weeks.  Yee Haw!!

A week ago Jesse and I were concerned that the festival wasn’t going to happen next month after the massive, deadly and destructive floods wreaked havoc on Nashville.  Last Monday night I received an e-mail from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel announcing that due to the detrimental flooding that changed the resort into a giant pool, they will be closed for at least three months and that all reservations made for those dates will be cancelled.  Uh Oh!

 

After checking The Tennessean, CNN and other news websites the following morning I decided to make a new reservation at a hotel in the downtown area that has an easy cancellation policy.  I still didn’t know if the show would go on so I wanted to play it safe but I also wanted to be sure we had a hotel room in case it was still on.  Turns out the Gaylord Opryland Hotel makes up 12% of all hotel rooms in the Nashville area!  WOW!  I consider myself lucky that I got a room for us at a great rate and closer to the action before all the hotels in the area booked up with displaced people attending the festival. 

Jesse and I, and probably all the other country music fans who will be attending CMA Fest 2010, are looking forward to going to one of my favorite cities in the country, spending our money to help the local economy and seeing/listening to some amazing music.  The festival lasts four days/nights and concerts will be held at the Riverfront Stage, LP Field as well as at the local honky-tonks on Broadway, 2nd Avenue and other venues in Music City USA.

So, to mark the beginning of the count down, I would like to share a video of one of the groups I can’t wait to see on the Riverfront Stage.  They are called Steel Magnolia and are the winners of last year’s CMT’s Can You Duet.  Their awesome single is “Keep On Loving You” and I can’t wait to hear them perform it live. 

Today’s Favorite Song

I haven’t listened to Pandora Radio in forever so I decided to log on and take a listen.  Well what I got was so unexpected and fabulous that I had to share it with you.  Kings of Leon is becoming a favorite band of mine primarily due to the tune “Sex On Fire” but I love when big songs are covered by artists in other genres.  I just heard Sugarland (one of my all time favs) perform this song on Pandora.  So, because I was so moved and thrilled to hear Jennifer Nettles HUGE and VIBRANT voice singing this vocally driven song, I want to share it with you.  Enjoy!

Book Review ~ The Help by Kathryn Stockett

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn’s new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.

 There aren’t enough positive, glowing and loving words that I’m aware of describe Kathryn Stockett’s touching, eye-opening, powerful and memorable novel, The Help.  And that’s my review!  Just kidding.  But seriously, I loved, love and will always recommend The Help to anyone looking for a good book to sink themselves into.  The story is deeply involved with wonderfully detailed character development.  As you read The Help you get to know stong and weak women alike.  Aibileen and Minny are two housekeepers, child raisers and in Minny’s case, psychologists/mother to her employer.  Miss Skeeter is the young lady who brings their stories to light, or more specifically to paper.  She is a graduate from Ole Miss and wishes to be a writer and to live in New York City.  So after an idea of a book partly supported by a publicist in the Big Apple, Miss Skeeter begins secretly meeting with Aibileen, Minny and a few other maids in their hometown of Jackson, MS to get their stories of working in the family homes of white women on paper. 

The other characters we get to know (like them or not) are the white female employers who are, for the most part, a disturbing reflection of the time the story is set in.  1962 Mississippi and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement is where The Help is set.  I’ll tell you what, this book has a villain like I haven’t read in a very long time.  If they made a film adaptation of The Help I would be very interested in seeing who is cast to play Miss Hilly.  I HATED her and all her beliefs.  Miss Celia (Minny’s boss) was fun, hopeless and the most alone of all the characters but still was one of my favorites. 

The Help is full of great twists, edge of your seat suspense and heartbreaking moments as well as laugh/gasp out loud ones.  The topics will make you think and if they don’t then this isn’t the book for you.  Though The Help is fiction, I would call it historical fiction.  Author Kathryn Stockett grew up in Mississippi and is said to have based a few of the characters on her own family’s maid and Stockett has written her story through and around true historical events in this nation’s history.  We just celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and are getting closer and closer to February which is Black History Month.  Please take a few days to read this gem of a book and reflect on where our country has come from and where we are going.   

{Rating ~ 5 out of 5}

At one point in The Help, Miss Skeeter catches a brief listen of Bob Dylan’s “Times, They Are A Changin’.”  Here is that song followed by Sam Cooke’s amazing tune, “A Change Is Gonna Come” performed by Lauren Hill & The Fugees.