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} 

 

 

 

Book Review ~ Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee: A Novel

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave, is a story of survival, both literally and figuratively.  The description on the inside cover of this book says, WE DON’T WANT TO TELL YOU TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS BOOK.  It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.  Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this:  It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.  The story starts there, but the book doesn’t.  And it’s what happens afterward that is most important.  Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it.  When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either.  The magic is in how it unfolds.”  Little Bee

In the spirit of the author and publisher’s request, I will not go into details about Little Bee.  I will tell you that I loved this book.  The writing is wonderful.  The characters are so real I actually wish they were except for what happens to them.  I still find it amazing that a male mind wrote this story which is told from the minds of two complicated, feeling, richly woven women.   The story will stay with you as it will stay with me.  You will want to talk about this book as you read it and when you are done.  When you are ready to talk about Little Bee please let me know. 

{Rating ~ 4.5 out of 5 stars}

You can learn more about Little Bee and author Chris Cleave at his web site HERE.  Below I have included an author interview/book promo video for Little Bee (in the U.K. it is titled The Other Hand). 

Lookin’ For A Challenge

I’ve been looking around the Internet for some reading/book challenges but am having trouble deciding on one or some to partake in.  Are you participating in any challenges yet, or are there some you know of that will be coming up? 

The show we watch consistently every Sunday on AFN is The Grand Ole Opry.  One of my favorite performances of 2008 was when The Zac Brown Band appeared on the Opry stage for the first time.  They did their hit song, Chicken Fried.  I hope you enjoy it.

Today’s Favorite Christmas Songs

I would love to share some of my favorite Christmas songs with you here.  I hope you enjoy the tunes!

LeAnn Rimes ~ All I Want For Christmas Is You

Percy Faith ~ We Need A little Christmas

Elvis Presley & Martina McBride ~ Blue Chistmas

Kelly Clarkson ~ Oh Holy Night

The Puppini Sisters ~ Jingle Bells

The Carpenters ~ Merry Christmas Darling

Wham! ~ Last Christmas

Barenaked Ladies Featuring Sarah McLachlan ~ God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen

Today’s Favorite Song

AFN (Armed Forces Network) just aired NBC’s Live @ Rockefeller Center Special this evening.  My favorite performance was by Beyonce as she sang a rendition, with added parts it seemed, of Ave Maria.  As I was listening the song rang a memory bell in my head.  Parts of the song sounded a lot like a Madonna tune from her Like a Prayer album.  It was a beautiful song and tribute to her mother called Promise To Try.  Now I don’t know if you will hear the similarities too but luckily YouTube had both songs available.  Let me know what you think!

Sunday Salon ~ December 7th, 2008

It’s been a busy weekend for me in the kitchen.  We had dinner guests over this evening and one of the dishes on the table was a Triple-Chocolate Peppermint Trifle.  I got the recipe from the December issue of Martha Stewart Living and let me tell you what, that thing was awesome to eat but a pain to make.  In all the excitement I forgot to take a picture of my own creation so here is the pic from the magazine and MarthaStewart.com

I also made Snickerdoodles again for my little friend Madi since she really liked them when I brought some over to her house a couple of weeks ago.  Now she has her own box of cookies to enjoy.  In addition to those yummy eats, I made Peppermint Bark and I think I could give Williams~Sonoma a run for their money this season.  I used a recipe by Paula Deen but added a good dose of Peppermint extract to the white chocolate. 

This Wednesday I am participating in a cookie swap and have to make six dozen cookies.  I have chosen to make Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies.  The recipe is a bit time consuming because you have to chill the dough so many times but it will be worth it.  I start that challenge tomorrow. 

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In the mean time I have been reading Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron.  I won a copy through Library Things Early Reviewer Program earlier this fall.  This book is so great and touching that I have already cried at least once per chapter.  I’m not very far along yet, and don’t see myself really having any good reading time in the next few days, but I try to read a chapter a night before fading off to sleep.  Let’s just say that my dog, Rocky, has been getting even more hugs on top of the plethora I give him each day because of Dewey. 

Well, as you can tell by the looks of this blog, I am in full Christmas mode here in Okinawa.  I’ve got the Christmas tunes synced on my iPod and I created two different Christmas playlists on my iTunes program and I have some favorite holiday internet raidio stations picked out on iTunes radio.  One of my favorite versions of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is sung by Jewel and her Mother.  I’ve included it for you below.  Enjoy!

Today’s Favorite Song

Over the years Britney Spears and Beyonce have had huge hits, sold tons of albums and performed all over the world, but it wasn’t until recently that I started taking them both seriously as artists.  Now it’s a given that Beyonce can sing her ass off but the music she was putting out wasn’t showing that off until she worked on Dream Girls and was able to really sing.  I am so glad that Beyonce had the opportunity to act and sing in both Dream Girls and the upcoming theatrical release of Cadillac Records, where Beyonce plays the great Etta James, because the vocal training that she had to go through in order to sing those songs has obviously carried over to her own recording career and singing style.  Beyonce’s latest album, “I am… Sasha Fierce,” is the first one of her solo or Destiny’s Child albums that I have purchased.  The whole album is wonderful, all of the songs are singable and range from the melancholy ballad to the empowering and fun as hell single, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).”  The song “If I Were A Boy” is so rich and beautiful that I never tire of listening to it or of watching the video.  Other tracks that stood out on first listen were “Save The Hero”, “Diva” and “Satellites.”

Britney Spears’ new album, Circus, just “dropped” (Hubby would like to know when that term became the norm for when a record is released) this week.  Though I have purchased almost all of her previous pop soaked, candy coated CD’s in the past, this one, in my opinion, is her best one yet.  I can’t get enough of “Womanizer” and I have started to drive Hubby crazy by singing the chorus over and over again since I finally mastered the rhythm.  The video is fun and sharp too.  I listened to the whole album last night after downloading it on iTunes and just about every song is catchy, enjoyable, danceable and the lyrics and melodies are reflective and singable too.  I especially liked “Unusual You”, “Out From Under”, “Lace and Leather” and “My Baby.”

Is my new found adoration and respect for these two pop sensations a surprise to me?  Yes, and I have decided it’s because both Beyonce and Britney are getting older, experiencing more of life (be it good or bad) and expanding their musical and artistic horizons which makes it easier for me to relate to their music and listen as a fan and not just because their music is the hot thing on the charts at the moment. 

Well, unfortunately YouTube isn’t coorporating with me today.  I am unable to post music videos for “Womanizer,” “If I Were A Boy” and “Single Ladies.”  I was able to post a clip from Cadillac Records though.