Monday, January 31, 2011

de-clutter Part 2

This will be a sight you will probably never see again, my bookshelf, sans books. They are in piles on the floor. The phase I am in at the moment is organizing by genre.

I'm donating some, and tossing some. I need to be able to neatly fit all of my books on this bookshelf and a smaller one that I own. If they don't fit, I have re-think what I own.

Below I have posted some pictures of how my bookshelf used to look. They aren't recent, so think of it as being much worse.

There were so many books on the shelf, it was starting to bow. I had all my art books on the top of the shelf, because there was no else to put them, and they weren't even neatly placed.

So I am about 1/2 done with the genre organizing, wish me luck.
Art Books and such





Friday, January 28, 2011

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

This was a Kindle freebie, and it got a high rating, so since I like history and it was a fairly short book, I thought I'd give it a go.

The book starts out talking about his childhood, his parents and siblings. He talks about his schoolings and his interest in going off to sea. Pretty interesting stuff actually. Then it moves to his adolescent years and his early adult life where he had several trades one of them working with his older brother at a newspaper. Still, I was invested in the story.

In the middle of the book, it picks up by saying he hasn't written for many years, and he was picking it back up. OK, this is when the rambling starts. He speaks of the most dis-interesting stuff, Parlament, War, Old farty people he met. Perhaps this was what his life turned into as he grew into a mature man, and I'm sure the War part could have been made to read more interesting, but the 2nd half of this book was just not. It nearly put me to sleep.

Do I really care what laws the Quaker's passed?
Do I care how the mast of a particular boat you were saling on did or did not do its job?
Oh and the lists...he started making lists in the middle of his autobiography. A recipie, a list for what the horses need...really...why do I care?

I was able to get past the awkward spelling of things. I'm used to the British spelling of a lot of words, but when wagon becomes waggon and job becomes jobb, it gets a little annoying. Oh and the lack of -ed in favor of -'d. Words such as completed became complet'd, very annoying. Also, I'm not sure if these were typographical errors or if this is what he actually wrote, but there were a lot of words that were clearly mispelled...chuse as opposed to choose? I had to read the sentence again to make sure that was the proper word. I even used the Kindle dictionary, and no definition came up. OK, I'm not the best speller, but I'm not a founding father either.

I give the 1st half of this book 4 1/2 stars. I give the 2nd half 2 1/2 stars. I cared in the beginning, but not so much at the end.

The book ended with him and his son arriving in London on July 27, 1757. The last part of the book is a letter that Franklin wrote in the last year of his life to someone or another about something I could care less about.

So I suppose I give the whole book a 3 star rating. Lots of good and interesting history, but I think for someone as brilliant as Franklin, it could have been made to read as such.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FREE - Recent Free Kindle Downloads

I've had my Kindle for 2 years, and every once in a while, I like to search Amazon for some freebies. I've already downloaded all the 'required' free stuff like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, so I am always in search of something else, something that is not so common. Here are some things I have found.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft by Sir Walter Scott
The Heart of Rachael by Kathleen Thompson Norris
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

There are many free ebook sites out there for everyone, no matter what your reader. These are the ones I've used with success.

I have found some interesting stuff at the above sites. Now, it takes a little more work to get these on your device, but the price is right. You will have to read your instructions to see how your particular device handles these. Kindle's only need them PDF'd and emailed to the Kindle.

Enjoy...Happy reading.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

The Given Day
By Dennis Lehane

The Given Day tells the story of two families--one black, one white--swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power.

This was a long book, but it had a lot of action. There was not much of a lull anywhere. It went from family to family and event to event. Riots, strikes, disasters, deaths, killings…you name it, this book had it.

Set in 1919 Boston, it mixes fact with fiction. This is a great historical novel that will bring you right into the heart of the story. There are happy endings and bitter sweet ones that will stick in your memory for a long time. I learned a lot about this era that I hadn’t known.

The only other story I am familiar with by Dennis Lehane is “Shutter Island” which I saw in the movies. I loved that movie, and probably would have loved the book. He has several novels out and I would like to read another. However, I will go on to read other stuff now, but will keep him in mind for the future.

This book: 4 out of 5 stars.

Who would I recommend this book to:
1. Anyone who likes historical fiction especially from the 1918 – 1919.
2. Anyone who likes a sweeping saga with a lot of rich characters and a great story line.
3. Anyone from Boston, USA

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 E-book Challenge

2011 E-Book Challenge

Challenge Guidelines:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

--Non-bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:

-- Curious – Read 3 e-books.

-- Fascinated – Read 6 e-books.

-- Addicted – Read 12 e-books.

-- Obsessed – Read 20 e-books.

-- Possessed – Read 50 e-books.

-- Fanatical – Read 75 e-books.

-- Monomaniacal – Read 100 e-books.

3. Any genre counts.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1, 2011 and lasts until December 31, 2011.

I've decided to join in after I saw it posted on Wendy's page. I had planned to read from my Kindle more this year anyway, so why not. I will probably do -- Obsessed – Read 20 e-books. If down the line I do more, then I'll revamp the post.

No book list yet, I don't like to do that, but here is a list of the completed books so far:

1. The Given Day - Dennis Lehane
2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin
3. Heaven is for Real - Todd Burpo
4. Macrobiotics for Dummies - Verne Verona
5. The Shunning ( (Heritage of Lancaster County #1)-Beverly Lewis
6. Poke The Box - Seth Godin
7. Imaginary Jesus - Matt Mikalatos


It is January 20th and I have so far managed to keep my New Year’s Resolution of de-cluttering and staying that way. It is a long journey, my house is very cluttered. I am almost done with my bedroom, only a few more areas to attack such as my closet and drawers. The next room I plan to tackle is the Living-room. This room needs an overhaul, so that will take a month at least.

I did manage to clean the coat closet in my foyer. That was serving as a ‘junk’ closet. The ‘junk’ that was in there was old electronic devices (mostly). TVs, VCRs…etc. I don’t know why I was holding on to them, I suppose I was hoping I could fix them one day, but much of that stuff is over 5 years old.

I also am planning to thin out my book shelf. Yes guys, I will be giving away my books. I was thinking of sending the paperbacks that are in good condition to the prison libraries, and the hardcovers I’ll send to Catholic Charities, maybe they can sell them.

I will soon post pictures of my newly de-cluttered spaces.

I am behind on my reading, I’m only on my 2nd book of the month. “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane, which I’ve been reading since December. I’m over the ½ way mark, and hope to finish it by next week, because I have another book waiting. “The Warmth of Many Suns”, is a non-fiction book about the African-American migration from the South to the North during the early part of the 20th century. I’m interested in this subject because my grandmother migrated. This book highlights 3 different people and their experiences. After that, I’ll probably read “The Help” as a movie is due out in August, and I also want to read “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua. I got a lot of high hopes. I am concentrating on reading many of my shelved books. During my cleaning I found some books that I forgot I bought. Other than stuff on my Kindle (that I might purchase) I will not buy any more physical books until I read some that I have. How am I supposed to de-clutter?

Movie watching as only slowed a bit. This week and next I’m working long hours, but I’ve caught some stuff prior to this week. I saw “The Green Hornet” what a great film. I loved Jay Chuo, who played Kato. I have to say, he blew Seth Rogen out of the water. It was campy, funny, action packed. I highly recommend it. Even if you are not familiar with “The Green Hornet” you will love this movie. There is no pre-existing knowledge required.

I also saw “Season of the Witch”. The critics panned it, but I thought it was OK. I’ll give it 3 out of 5 stars. It took an interesting turn, and I like period pieces. The acting was pretty good.

On DVD I got to see:

The Town – What is all the hype about? It was an OK movie, nothing to spectacular or extraordinary. Acting was good, but it was kind of slow for a movie about bank robbers. 3 out of 5.

Winter’s Bone – This one was up for a Globe as well. OMG…boring! It is labeled as a film noir, but it was a film snore. 2 out of 5

Toy Story 3 – I was going to pass this one up, but my son was home for Christmas break and he said he’d like to see the 3rd installment, as he remembers 1 and 2 and really liked them. So for my 19 year old son, I rented it. It was pretty good as far as sequels go. I can see why this one was up for an award. 4.5 out of 5

Case 39 – My friend Patrick said the little girl in this movie reminded him of my daughter. He said she looked like her, I didn’t see the resemblance. However, I did like this movie. This is what a Thriller should be; enough suspense to keep you interested, but not cheesy or gory. 4 out of 5.

The Kids are All Right – Another Globe nominated movie. I think Annette Bening won for Best Actress. It also stared Julianne More and Mark Ruffalo (yum). Good drama, good pace, good story, good nude shots of Mark…ahem. 4 out of 5.

City Island - Since I'm from The Bronx, this was a must watch, and it was up for a Globe as well. Starring Andy Garcia as a married working man who lives with his wife and kids in City Island in the Bronx. Typical dysfunctional family but with funny and touching moments. Andy works in at a prison and he discovers his son is an inmate. The son does not know that this guard is his father. Vince (Andy's character) takes his son home on a month trial probabtion. It all takes off from there. 4 out of 5.

You Don’t Know Jack – One of the TV movies up for a Globe. About Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s activities during the 80s. If you don’t remember him, he was also known as Dr. Death. Al Paccino played him exceptionally well. 4 out of 5.

Temple Grandin – Another bio-pic that was a TV movie and it was also up for a Globe. About autistic woman Temple Grandin who single handedly created a humane system that would allow cattle ranchers to safely process the cattle without loss of cows and money. The first part of the movie dealt with how Temple grew up and went to college. The second half deals with the way she was treated as an autistic adult. Inspirational movie. 4 out of 5.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


January 2011 has finally arrived. This year has not been that great. I lost my job, still haven't found another. I lost 3 childhood friends, the last one died on December 29th and one of my favorite singers died on December 26th (Teena Marie).

I have managed to only read 55 books this year. A slow down as I did not have travel time to read. You would think that being home would give me oodles of time to read, but no such luck, I seemed to have found other things to do.

I've watched 345 movies this year. I watched 349 last year, you would think I would have watched more since I've been home for months and months, but no such luck there either. I don't know why my consumption was lower, but I suppose my movie watching is average for me. That is almost 1 movie a day.

My first movie of 2011 will probably be TRON, as I am planning to see it in 3D today.

My New Years resolutions this year will be:

1) to lose weight (as usual)
2) to declutter my home and keep it that way. I am starting with my room. It is small, it is cluttered and it needs to be cleaned. I am home, so I might as well.

I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year.