Posted in Reading, reviews, Slice of LIfe

Memorial Day Fun: A Slice of Life Post

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Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back with another Slice of Life Post. I had a relaxing Memorial Day Weekend. We went up north to my Inlaw’s cottage and had a great family weekend. It was perfect weather, eighty degrees and sunny.  I also worked on my current WIP. It’s coming together and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

We started teaching our boys how to play Euchre this weekend. My husband and I like to play, and we thought it would be a fun family bonding moment for all of us. We sat out on the back porch and enjoyed the sunset while we played.

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With all this technology, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy playing cards. I played board games with my kids, but they’ve moved on from those. They’re growing up. It’s going by so fast.

Anyway, I’m glad they like to play. It’s something we can do as a family and it’s social, not technical. I feel that technology has advanced us in some ways, but hindered us in others.

I also read a lot this weekend. I finished two books and they were both very good. The first one was a young adult historical fiction novel, titled, “Ella Wood” by Michelle Isenhoff. If you like historical fiction then this book is for you.  It’s written during the Civil War and the main character lives in the south, but isn’t sure she agrees with their beliefs about slavery. The historical element was authentic and the story moved at a good pace. I’m sure many young girls will identify with the main character. I liked that she was strong and questioned the belief system she’d grown up with.  The cover and blurb are below.

Though she left Charleston a spoiled daughter of the South, Emily returns from her stay in the North a changed young woman. Her assumptions about slavery have been shattered, and her secret dream of attending university has blossomed into fierce ambition. As the passions sweeping North and South toward war threaten to envelop the city she loves, Emily must battle her father’s traditional expectations in her own bid for freedom. Meanwhile, the real fight may lie within her heart, which stubbornly refuses to accept that a choice for independence must be a choice against love.

“Poetic” and “nuanced”, Ella Wood is the story of a young woman standing at the edge of war and struggling with questions of morality, purpose, and love.

 

I also read a book by a new author. This one was not young adult, it was a New Adult novel by Karin Slaughter. It was recommended to me from one of my Twitter friends and it was an awesome story. I didn’t want to put the book down. It was a thriller and I must say it certainly grabbed me. I’d recommend it for a summer read. It’s titled “Pretty Girls,” and the cover and blurb are below.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful novel from one of the finest writers working today.

 

These books are a must read! Put them on your TBR pile for this summer.  The school year is almost over! Two more weeks and we’re done! I can’t wait! 🙂 How about you? Do you have any good books you’d like to recommend?

To read other Slice of Life Posts click here.

 

 

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Posted in Literacy, Reading

The Benefits of Reading

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another post about Reading. Since reading for pleasure is on the decline, I thought I’d write about the benefits of picking up a book. There are many, let me tell you.

We already know that there’s a link between Reading and Empathy. ( For more information on that topic, click here https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-link-between-reading-and-empathy/  )

But did you know that reading reduces stress? It’s true. Since I’ve had kids, I’ve put reading on the backburner. It’s only within the last couple of years that I’ve picked it back up again. I’m so glad I did! I enjoy reading immensely, especially when I’m stressed. Studies show that by picking up a book and reading for just six minutes you can decrease your stress level by sixty eight percent. It’s a great way to deal with the stressors of everyday life.  For more information about the effect of reading on stress click this link. http://www.sound-mind.org/reading-reduces-stress.html#.V0njK5ErLIU

Photo credit: CRC, University of Edinburgh via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I must add here that fostering a love of reading in your child is an excellent coping mechanism when they have to deal with stressful situations. They can forget about the problem for a while and come back to it when they’ve calmed down. Something to think about my friends. 🙂

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Did you know reading makes you smarter? It does! It improves your memory. You’re exercising your brain when you read. You’re training it to retain information every time you pick up a book.

It also improves your vocabulary which goes hand in hand with improving your ability to communicate with others. Being able to communicate is incredibly important in today’s business world.  You appear more polished in a job interview and you’ll be able to communicate to your future employer more effectively.

Did you know reading also improves analytical skills? This is important. According to this article, http://examinedexistence.com/does-reading-make-you-smarter/, readers have a greater general knowledge and are able to spot patterns quicker.

What are analytical skills? I’m so glad you asked. Here’s the definition: Analytical skill is the ability to visualize, articulate, conceptualize, or solve both complex and uncomplicated problems by making decisions with the available information. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytical_skill

We all need analytical skills wouldn’t you agree? Reading is a great way to strengthen your analytical muscles.

Reading also improves your ability to focus. Fostering a love of reading in your kids will help them focus and retain information at school.

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With all the great benefits of reading, why are people getting away from it? My guess is all the new technology that’s available to everyone these days. There’s too many distractions. We need to make a conscious effort to keep reading alive.

My boys read twenty minutes a day, and this summer they’ll have to read before they turn on their computers. I’m going to read right along with them. After all, it’s good for me, too. 😉

And if you’re looking for some great books to engage your kids over the summer, I know where you can find some! 😉

What are your thoughts on the benefits of reading? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Entertainment, reviews

My Thoughts on “Money Monster”

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I just returned from a movie with my mom. It was one of those Mother-Daughter days, we did a little shopping and decided to see a flick. Below is my reaction to the movie, it contains spoilers so continue reading at your own risk. 🙂

We went to see “Money Monster.” It was directed by Jodi Foster and starred George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It was an action packed show and it reminded me of “The Big Short.”

 

 

It’s the story of Kyle Budwell. A young man who’s trying to make ends meet with a fourteen dollar an hour job in New York City. His girlfriend’s pregnant and his mother dies, leaving him some money. He starts watching “Money Monster,” a stock tip television show hosted by Lee Gates.

Kyle listens to Lee’s advice and invests in a company called IBIS. Their stock has been on the uphill climb and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. But there’s a “glitch,” and the stock plummets. Kyle loses all of his money.

He’s angry, frustrated, and wants some answers. So do many Americans who’ve lost money in the market. Kyle takes matters into his own hands and crashes Lee’s show, with a gun and a bomb. The saga begins and we learn Kyle’s story. We also learn how Wall Street is operating. This is not only a great movie, but it also educates people on what’s really happening on Wall Street.

That’s what I loved about it. I learned how these people manipulate the market to make more money for themselves while ruining other people’s financial lives. There are always victims in these manipulations and that’s the upsetting part of all of it.

 

Photo credit: Perpetualtourist2000 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

These CEO’s are millionaires already, and they maneuver their holdings to make more. It wouldn’t be such a big deal, but they ruin lives in the process. When is it going to be enough? Why don’t they do some good with the money they make? Give some to charity, or help starving children. I mean really, how much money does one person or one corporation really need?

Which brings me to the regulatory part of the market. In the movie, the CEO of Ibis took eight hundred million dollars from his fund and called it a “glitch.” No one but him knows where the money is. He goes to South Africa where there’s a coal mine and the miners are on strike. The mine’s stock has plummeted, and he buys a lot of shares. He tries to pay off the organizer of the strike. If he succeeds the strike will stop, the miners will return to work, and the stock will rise. The CEO will make a tidy sum of money on his investment when he sells his shares. He could choose to return the eight hundred million dollars to the fund that he took it from and everyone would be happy.

In the above scenario, no one says anything because no one lost anything. It’s only when the scheme doesn’t work, like in the movie, when the strike organizer couldn’t be bought. The mine’s stock remained low and the CEO himself lost some money because he couldn’t sell his shares for a profit. He didn’t put the eight hundred million dollars back into his company either.

There are regulatory laws, but the thing is, no one says anything until lives are ruined, and when someone takes money overseas, things get complicated very fast.

Photo credit: Images_of_Money via VisualHunt / CC BY

Why aren’t the politicians screaming about this? Because they’re the ones who receive campaign contributions from these CEO’s. So you see, it’s a vicious cycle. What can we do to stop this? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Posted in Literacy, Reading, Writing

The Link between Reading and Empathy

WRITE. Every day in March write a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE. Link your post in the comments on each daily call for slice of life stories here at TWT. GIVE. Comment on at least three other slice of life stories/blogs.

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been working on my second WIP and it’s coming along. I try to make it perfect and then I have to tell myself to relax and let the story flow. It is after all, my first draft. My seventh novel has been on the back burner, simmering while  a third Beta reader checks it out. I’ve gotten very positive feedback from the first two, so I’m crossing my fingers. 🙂

In between my writing times I’ve been keeping a presence on social media and I’ve gotten involved in some Twitter Chats. These chats have centered on the topic of Diversity and Social Media.

Photo via VisualHunt

It seems to me that Social Media has allowed people to drop their masks and spew their hate for certain minorities, genders, or people of different sexual orientations. Since these people can’t see the hurt they inflict, they don’t experience the consequences of their actions, so they keep doing it.

Photo credit: Eddi van W. via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

The reality is empathy for our fellow man is declining.  With the internet and social media, we’re more connected than we’ve ever been in our entire lives, and yet we’re struggling to be empathetic. Why?

Some researchers feel that information overload has made our brains screen out the emotionally expensive content. It’s a defense mechanism. They’ve also found the increase in screen time has an inverse relationship with empathy. Simply put, when our screen time increases our ability to empathize decreases. To learn more click this link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/artificial-maturity/201403/why-empathy-is-declining-among-students-and-what-we-can-do

Another study states there has been a sharp decline in reading for pleasure in the last ten years. What’s interesting is that along with this decline there’s also been a decline in the ability to feel compassion for others. As an author I find that very interesting. Don’t you?

This strongly suggests reading is linked to empathy. In fact, studies have shown the number of books preschoolers read predicts their ability to empathize. To read the full article click here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-me-care/

 

 Photo credit: Brian Metcalfe via Visual hunt / CC BY

 

So authors keep writing, don’t give up. Write those diverse books and try to ignore the haters. If they don’t get a reaction they can’t continue spewing their garbage.  It’s hard to ignore them, I know, but we as a society need those books. There’s enough readers out there for all of us, so let’s band together and send out a positive vibration that obliterates their negative one. Don’t even engage with them. They’ll get the message sooner or later.

To read more Slice of Life Posts click here.

 

Posted in Slice of LIfe

A Slice of Life Post: A Mother’s Day Memory

 

 

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Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. The weather has finally warmed up here in Michigan. I believe our high today was in the mid-sixties, cold for this time of year, but I’ll take it. It’s better than snow and rain.

 

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I took this pic on one of our hikes and just thought I’d share it with you.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Mother’s Day. I know I enjoyed mine. My youngest wrote an essay for me and it’s the sweetest thing.  Here it is below.

 

My Mom

          My mom is an amazing person. She has blue eyes, brown-gray hair, and a nice smile. She cares a lot for me and my brother. She smells fresh and clean.

 

One thing she likes is writing. Writing is her passion. She also loves to read books. I also like to read. She also likes getting things for me. Some of her dislikes are junk food, rodents, and getting up early.

 

A life skill my mother demonstrates is always care for others first. I learned from her that you don’t always have to take care of yourself first.

 

My favorite memory of her is when my dad was telling her something funny, and she was crying of laughing so much.

 

When I grow up, I want to be a member of Microsoft. To become this I will have to go to college and persevere.

 

Now, isn’t that the sweetest essay? It was the best Mother’s Day gift I could’ve received. How about you? Do you have any Mother’s Day memories you’d like to share? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

To read other Slice of Life Posts click here.

 

Posted in Family, Holiday Posts

A Mother’s Day Dessert

Photo credit: Steve Corey via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all is well with you on this fine morning. Since it’s Mother’s Day and everyone will be celebrating their mom. I thought I’d give you a recipe that’s sure to be a big hit with her and all your siblings. It’s listed below. I hope you enjoy your day.

Lorna Doone Dessert 

1 package Lorna Doone cookies crushed

Add melted butter to cookies (this is the crust so add as much butter as you prefer; about ¼ to ½ of a stick)

1 7 oz Chocolate chips

2T Sugar

2-1/2 T water

4 egg yolks

1 teas. Vanilla

4 egg whites

Crush Lorna Doone cookies and add melted butter for the crust. Put crust in 10” baking dish and bake at 350 degrees until crust starts to brown. Combine chocolate chips, sugar, and water in double boiler until blended. Remove from fire and add egg yolks, beat after each one. Add vanilla. Chill for a short time maybe 10 to 15 minutes or until the pan is cool to the touch on the bottom.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into chocolate mixture. Spread over cooled cookie crust and top with whipped cream.

**I usually double this and put it in a 9×13 dish.

This dessert is always a hit with my family every time I bring it. If’s a chocolate lover’s dream dessert!

Posted in reviews, Slice of LIfe

Slice of Life: My Thoughts on “The Big Short”

 

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Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. I’m so excited because we have a little over a month left of school and then it’s summer break. I’m really looking forward to it this year. Even though we had a mild winter, it just seems like we’ve had cold weather for a very long time. It’s just starting to warm up here in Michigan.

Hubby and I watched a movie over the weekend, “The Big Short.” It was about what happened in the banking industry around 2006-2007. It was eye-opening to say the least. I’m going to watch it again, it was that good.

The premise of the story is how the banking industry committed fraud by bundling mortgages together and claiming they were rated highly (which means they were safe), when in actuality they were junk. Those same people made millions by betting these bundled mortgages would fail. They knew they would because they created the bundles with junk in the first place, yet none of them went to jail or even had a trial. How can this be?

Things like this happen all around us. Yet it seems to me the American people get distracted by superficial problems. Like the bathroom issue regarding transgendered people or a certain celebrity behaving badly. These problems are screamed about via the media and the corruption gets swept under the rug.

The thing is if it’s happening at that level, it’s got to be everywhere. Who does this hurt? Us. The middle income wage earner. Many people lost their homes and jobs during that time because they defaulted on their loans. The housing bubble burst and home values took a nose dive. Many people who tried to sell their home couldn’t price it properly to cover the mortgage amount they owed.

All this time the people who perpetrated this fraud made millions. That makes me sick to think they were so greedy, they allowed innocent people to lose their homes. We need to become more aware and better educated so this doesn’t happen again.

I also wonder why they got away with it. Why aren’t they being held accountable? If anyone can explain it to me, I’d love hear it. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. And check out this movie, it was very well done. I’m going to watch it again, that’s for sure.

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