Shabby Sunday: Death Not Be Proud by John Gunther – 1965

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Death Be Not Proud

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 Blurb: Death Be Not Proud chronicles Johnny Gunther’s gallant struggle against the malignant brain tumor that killed him at the age of seventeen. The book opens with his father’s fond, vivid portrait of his son – a young man of extraordinary intellectual promise, who excelled at physics, math, and chess, but was also an active, good-hearted, and fun-loving kid. But the heart of the book is a description of the agonized months during which Gunther and his former wife Frances try everything in their power to halt the spread of Johnny’s cancer and to make him as happy and comfortable as possible. In the last months of his life, Johnny strove hard to complete his high school studies. The scene of his graduation ceremony from Deerfield Academy is one of the most powerful – and heartbreaking – in the entire book. Johnny maintained his courage, wit and quiet friendliness up to the end of his life. He died on June 30, 1947, less than a month after graduating from Deerfield.

My Thoughts:

This isn’t a book I normally pick up, but I purchased it in a box of books from a church sale years ago, and after going through some of these books recently, it caught my attention. I love reading memoirs, but not so much when it’s a story about a child with cancer. I took a chance and continued reading because I’d already read the blurb and knew what to expect. If you plan to read this book, you may want to skip my review altogether. The edition I’m reviewing is from 1965.

In the beginning of the book, John Gunther writes about his son Johnny and describes him as a happy child who loves to spend time with his parents when he’s not in school. Not only is he a happy and active child, but he’s extremely intelligent and loves school. When he returns home in 1946 for a break, he begins to have some strange symptoms and eventually is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Of course, this was back in a day before there were better treatments for cancer like there are now, and some of the treatments that Johnny undertakes are unorthodox. In fact, this is the first book I’ve read that documents a patient’s story after attempting Dr. Gerson’s methods for battling cancer.

The book is written in two parts. In the first part, the reader learns about Johnny, his diagnosis and some of his treatments. This was definitely a difficult part for me to finish. It’s heart-wrenching, but Johnny was so strong. His parents are with him constantly and move mountains to find him the best treatments possible. They continually search for a cure.

The second part contains a short diary that Johnny wrote and also letters, many from before his diagnosis. I would’ve liked to read the letters from before his diagnosis first, before reading Part 1, but this isn’t the way the book is organized. The final pages in the book contain a note from Johnny’s mother, Frances. In the note, she discusses the many questions you ask with the impending death of a child and there’s a statement that we all hear too often. A statement that reminds us we are never guaranteed any exact measure of time.

“Yet at the end of them all, when one has put away all the books, and all the words, when one is alone with oneself, when one is alone with God, what is left in one’s heart? Just this: I wish we had loved Johnny more.”  

Overall, even with all the agonizing parts of the story, I’m glad I finished the book. In my opinion, it’s written very well. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to read memoirs.

4****

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Death Not Be Proud by John Gunther – 1965”

2017: Year in Review

It’s truly been one incredible year of reading! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed discussing reviews, learning about new authors and books, making new friends, and increasing my TBR up to 13,700! I thought it would be good to look back at some of the books I’ve read this year by doing this Year in Review for 2017!

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Starting this blog was a pretty good decision for me and I’ve made some wonderful friendships and met some incredible authors too. I enjoy sharing my reviews in the blogging world and on Goodreads.

This year I’ve completed:

Book Reviews: I counted roughly 390 reviews that I wrote in 2017. I don’t have all of them added here on the blog, but they can be found on Goodreads.

Shortest book= Toby – by Margaret Wild

Longest Book= A Little Life – by Hanya Yanagihara

I read 52,845 pages across 421 books

This year I’ve read 421 books after setting my Goodread’s challenge to 400. Honestly, a great number of those are children’s books which makes the number seem insanely high! There’s no way I could read that many full-length books in one year!


Memes and more:

Music Monday –  18 songs

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Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – 25 posts

Tags: 20 Tags

Awards: 21 Awards

Meet The Reader Series – 8 Interviews

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Author Interviews – 30 author interviews

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Throwback Thursday – 19 Throwbacks

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Saturday’s Kitchen – 1

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Flower Friday – 8 Flower Fridays

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Shabby Sunday – 16 shabby book posts

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Lessons from Grandpa– 6 posts

 

I hope to post more Breakfast and a Book posts in 2018 as well as Saturday’s Kitchen and Lessons from Grandpa. I’ll be continuing with all of these in 2018.

As of today I’ve published 347 Blog posts.


 

I may have missed a couple, but here are the book’s that stand out for 2017.

Favorite Adult Reads:
Dark Matter
A Little Life
Sweet Bean Paste
Watching Glass Shatter
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat
The Bear and the Nightingale
The White Raven
The Song of the Sirin
Tuesday’s Promise: One Veteran, One Dog, and Their Bold Quest to Change Lives
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
The Last Bar In NYC
The Appointment: Lost and Found (Book 1): Volume 1
Wintersong
The Sword of Goliath
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel
Panther in the Sun

 

Eye-Openers:
Just Around The Bend: Más o Menos
The Dead Inside
S.O.P.H.I.E. / The World Might Not Live Through the Night
Trance: Formation of America
What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go?
Thanks For The Memories … The Truth Has Set Me Free! The Memoirs of Bob Hope’s and Henry Kissinger’s Mind-Controlled Slave
Standing Strong: An Unlikely Sisterhood and the Court Case That Made History

 

 

 

Favorite Children’s Reads:
The Frightened Little Flower Bud
The Secret Life of the Red Fox
Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark
Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
The Unicorn in the Barn
Meatless?: A Fresh Look At What You Eat
Vampyre
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance
Woolvs in the Sitee
The Bear Report
Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport
Pig the Pug
Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat’s Foster Mom
We’re All Wonders
The Raven and Other Poems
Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog
Ida, Always

 

 

 

Favorite Biography:
Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life

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Western:
The Wild Country

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Military/Police Thriller:
The Policewoman

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Favorite YA:
A Monster Calls
Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book
It Starts With L
Hearts Are Like Balloons
The First Time She Drowned

 

 

 

Crime Fiction:
The Pull and Kick Murder: Competition can be deadly

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Favorite Cookbooks:
A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand
My Mother’s Kitchen: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and the Meaning of Life
Heal Your Gut with Bone Broth: The Natural Way to get Minerals, Amino Acids, Gelatin and Other Vital Nutrients to Fix Your Digestion
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Infuse: Herbal teas to cleanse, nourish and heal
Cultured Food in a Jar: 100+ Probiotic Recipes to Inspire and Change Your Life

 

 

 

Christmas Reads:
A Boy Called Christmas
Merry and Bright
Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy: Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer children’s book series
The Deal of a Lifetime

 

Self Help:
Note to Self
Healing Lyme Disease Naturally
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life

 

 

 

Most Disliked:
The Happiest Mommy You Know: Why Putting Your Kids First is the Last Thing You Should Do

Continue reading “2017: Year in Review”

TAG: Currently Reading Book Tag

I was tagged a very long time ago for this super fun Currently Reading Book Tag by Noriko@Diaryofabookfiend. I have to apologize for my tardiness on this one! I’m just getting caught up on book tags. I’d like to thank Noriko for tagging me. Noriko is a wonderful friend with an amazing blog. She writes beautiful book reviews and I’m always interested in what she has to say! Please check out her blog if you haven’t already. I feel blessed to know her. ❤

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The original creator of this tag is Charly Reynhorse and you can see it here.

Questions:

How many books do you usually read at once?

I’m used to reading four books or more at a time. Right now, I’m reading eight, but two are cookbooks, two children’s, and one is my Orthodox Study Bible which will probably take me two years to read.  If I’m reading a book with tons of characters or maybe an in depth fantasy, I really prefer to finish that type of book alone to avoid confusion. Sometimes, a book is so good, that I simply can’t stop reading it. When that happens I don’t read anything else alongside it because I obviously can’t put it down! 😉

If you are reading more than one book at a time, how do you decide when to switch books?

I sort of have some attention deficit when it comes to reading. If a book isn’t captivating or interesting to me, I’ll switch to something else. Sometimes, I just put it back on the shelf and start something completely different. I’ve discovered this year that I’m more of a mood reader that I thought and that’s okay.

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Do you ever switch bookmarks while you are partway through a book?

Yes! Sometimes, I just grab whatever I have nearby. It might be a piece of mail, my phone, or another book. A lot of times, I just turn it upside down until I can get back to it.

Where do you keep the book(s) you are currently reading?

All over the house. Wherever I set it down is where it stays. The only thing I have to be careful with is not putting the books where Bowie (puppy) can get them. She’s in the chewing stage and her dad has eaten a few of my books before! Just check out my first “Lessons from Grandpa” post. Aggressive chewers!

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What time of day do you spend the most time reading?

It depends. During Christmas break (now) I’m reading a lot during the days because I have more time available. During the school year, I read more at night. In the summer, I also read more at night. My favorite time to read is right before bed because it helps me relax and fall asleep.

How long do you typically read in one setting?

It just depends on what I’m reading and when. If the book is awesome, I might not stop reading until I finish it. Sometimes chores interrupt my reading and I’ll read bits throughout the day. Real life is the huge determiner.

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Do you read hardbacks with the dust jacket on or off?

I never remove the dust jackets. I don’t know why, I just don’t. I will say, I’m always super careful with my books because a torn dust jacket is a pet peeve of mine.

What position do you mainly use to read?

I really enjoy reading in bed, but I also have a very comfortable chair in my bedroom where I like to read. If I’m reading there or on the couch, I usually sit with my legs up on an ottoman or sometimes up on the chair. Here are my favorites…

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Do you take the book you are currently reading with you everywhere?

If it’s a physical book, yes. If it’s an eBook, no. My tablet is sort of large with a bulky case on it for protection and I don’t like to carry it everywhere. With Audible, it’s always with me on my phone, which is why I love it so much. I dont like reading eBooks on my phone much.

How often do you update your Goodreads progress on the book you’re currently reading?

All the time. Every time I stop and put the book down, I update my progress.

Continue reading “TAG: Currently Reading Book Tag”

TAG: Anything But Books Tag

I was tagged by Claire @ BrizzleLassBooks for the Anything But Books Tag. This is such a fun tag!  If you haven’t been to Claire’s blog yet, please check it out. There’s always something interesting, great posts, and plenty of books to learn about on her blog. Thanks for tagging me, Claire. ❤

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Here are the questions:

Name a cartoon that you love.

It’s hard to pick one, but Dungeons & Dragons was always a favorite and still is…

What is your favorite song right now?

What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

I could listen to music for hours and do it often. Music is an escape for me and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.

What is something that you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

I love to crochet and knit! I became obsessed with making Claire’s cowl from Outlander and started making them for everyone a few years ago. It was fun! Here’s a picture of one below.

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What is your favorite, unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

I love learning about everything, but I think my most favorite thing to learn about are people and their life stories. I love reading memoirs and learning about people’s experiences in life.

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What is something unusual you know how to do?

Hmm, I don’t think I really know how to do anything unusual, but I did do something a little unusual once which was debarking over 100 locust tree fence posts for our horse fence with a really old draw shave hand tool. Is that unusual? 😀

Name something that you’ve made in the last year

I made this really neat hat that’s crocheted, but it looks like it’s knitted. It’s super thick and I want to make one for myself now. I used this incredibly soft merino yarn and it’s nice and stretchy.

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What is your most recent personal project?

Right now as I type this post my family and I are in the process of purging our house of all things that we don’t necessarily need. I’m quite the collector, and because I sell vintage items online, I have way too much stuff and it’s gotten out of hand. I’m really looking forward to having everything cleaned up and tidy by the New Year. That’s the goal!

Tell us something that you think of often.

I think about the future way too often. I tend to be a worrier and wonder often what the future holds for my family, health, life–pretty much everything under the sun. I think I’m getting better though and this is something I hope to completely change in 2018–to try and live one day at a time without wondering about what might come about in my future. Life is way to short to worry, but when you’ve been doing it most of your life, it’s a hard habit to break!

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Tell us something that’s your favorite, but make it oddly specific.

I love my Doc Marten patent leather boots. I wear them everywhere. I had a pair of these when I was a teen and went for over a decade without having a pair in my wardrobe. I seriously can’t live with out them. They lace up perfectly, fit comfortably, and they are undoubtedly my favorite boot EVER!

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Continue reading “TAG: Anything But Books Tag”

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review

The Deal of a Lifetime

by Fredrik Backman

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Blurb:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.

It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose—not yet.

One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way—prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.

Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…

Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love. –Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I read two books by Fredrik Backman this year and enjoyed them both. When I saw The Deal of a Lifetime floating around on Goodreads, the cover and author sent me right into an impulse buy and I used an Audible credit to purchase it. I didn’t even read the blurb and assumed I was purchasing a Christmas read. It turned out to be very different from what I expected and my review below might contain something you consider a spoiler if you want to go in completely blind. Although, I don’t feel that I reveal anything more than the blurb does.

The story begins with a father telling his son a story on Christmas Eve about how he killed someone. He’s not disclosing details and you won’t find out until the end of the story what really happens, but basically, he knows he hasn’t been an exceptional father. He explains that he’s been obsessed with his legacy and has chosen what ‘he’ considers success over being a good parent to his son. That’s what’s been most important to him–leaving behind a legacy full of everything he thinks is important–wealth and security. Then he meets someone who’s dying of cancer and he begins to question the decisions he’s made. He begins to question how important life is. Do other people’s lives matter? How important is someone else’s life to you if you don’t know them?

When I first started listening to this I began to feel that I wasn’t going to be pleased with it. I appreciated that the places described in the story were real, taking place in the author’s hometown, but when I started to contemplate that there might be a death, I was thinking for sure that I would hate it. By the time I got to the end, it hit me. Had my husband not been in the vehicle with me for the hour drive, I may have used an entire box of Kleenex and bawled my eyes out for another hour. The story is short and it’s quite expensive to buy, but It’s truly thought-provoking and what a powerful and meaningful message it sends. For that I’m giving this 5*****.

Continue reading “The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review”

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review

The Noel Diary

by Richard Paul Evans

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BlurbIn this new holiday-themed novel from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Mistletoe Promise and The Walk, a man receives the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to re-write the past.

Bestselling romance author Jacob Churcher hasn’t been home for almost twenty years—not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls, days before Christmas, to inform him that his estranged mother has passed away and left her house to him, Jacob returns not just to settle the estate but to try and reconcile with the past and the pain and abuse he experienced as a child. Also, maybe cleaning out her house will be slightly less depressing than spending the holidays alone, watching re-runs of Christmas classics.

But as it turns out, the house holds more than just difficult memories, Jacob’s mother had become a hoarder and he must excavate through two decades worth of clutter. As Jacob digs through the detritus, like an archaeologist, he uncovers many puzzling items including a diary left by someone named Noel, a young woman he has no recollection of, who stayed with Jacob’s family during her pregnancy. That’s not the only echo from the past. Jacob has an unexpected visitor, Rachel, a woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years before. United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel. Along the way they find more than they possibly imagined, including grace, forgiveness and a chance at love.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a few Christmas books by Richard Paul Evans and since I enjoyed them, I thought I’d pick this one up. I was surprised that this isn’t truly a Christmas story, but it does occur at Christmastime.

Jacob Churcher is a successful author who’s bitter about his childhood. Growing up with a mother who had mental instability has scarred him. He receives an unexpected phone call informing him that his mother has passed away and he travels back home to a house full of memories as he begins a journey to heal.

The story wasn’t exactly festive or fluffy like I expected, but I still enjoyed it. It’s a fast, light read. I thought the story was believable and it felt real to me. My only issue was the insta-love.

4****

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Continue reading “The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review”