Feb 232017
 

The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy.

The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy. by Tom Rinaldi

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (September 6, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594206775
ISBN-13: 978-1594206771

What would you do in the last hour of your life?

The story of Welles Crowther, whose actions on 9/11 offer a lasting lesson on character, calling and courage

One Sunday morning before church, when Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. Welles kept it with him that day, and just about every day to come; it became a fixture and his signature.

A standout athlete growing up in Upper Nyack, NY, Welles was also a volunteer at the local fire department, along with his father. He cherished the necessity and the camaraderie, the meaning of the role. Fresh from college, he took a Wall Street job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, but the dream of becoming a firefighter with the FDNY remained.

When the Twin Towers fell, Welles’s parents had no idea what happened to him. In the unbearable days that followed, they came to accept that he would never come home. But the mystery of his final hours persisted. Eight months after the attacks, however, Welles’s mother read a news account from several survivors, badly hurt on the 78th floor of the South Tower, who said they and others had been led to safety by a stranger, carrying a woman on his back, down nearly twenty flights of stairs. After leading them down, the young man turned around. “I’m going back up,” was all he said.

The survivors didn’t know his name, but despite the smoke and panic, one of them remembered a single detail clearly: the man was wearing a red bandanna.

Tom Rinaldi’s The Red Bandanna is about a fearless choice, about a crucible of terror and the indomitable spirit to answer it. Examining one decision in the gravest situation, it celebrates the difference one life can make.

My Thoughts:
I was really excited to read this book but the first half wasn’t what I was expecting. It told of Welles life, from school, his friends, his family, things he did growing up, just about every aspect of his life leading up to 911. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in his life’s story, I just thought it gave too many details.

Then it got to the morning of 911 and what happened, told by the people that were in the tower with him, and survived, because of him.

The images that the words put in your head are horrendous. I can not even imagine being in that situation. And for him to have the state of mind to do whatever he could to lead as many people as he could to safety is amazing. He could have gotten out many times over, but he stayed and directed them to safety.

I won’t go into the details of what everyone went through, but I can tell you that Welles was a true hero, over and over, that day.

This is one book that will stay with me for a very long time.

Feb 092017
 

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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Written by: Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Length: 4 hrs and 12 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:01-12-16
Publisher: Random House Audio

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

What I Thought:
Lucy hasn’t had the best life. Her childhood was spent being so poor that they barely had enough food, didn’t have indoor plumbing for a long while, and she was picked on at school, mostly because of the clothes she wore.

What she did have was gentle heart and a lot of love for her family, her two daughters, and for writing. She also said many times throughout the book about the people she had met, that she loved “her” “him”, “them”. She was very grateful for the people who showed her any kindness.

The book is about Lucy’s life, told in a random order, whatever she thinks of at the time. Still, there’s an even flow to the story.

I thought the conversations between Lucy and her mom were a bit strange at times. I can’t imagine having a relationship like that with my mom.

The narrator did a great job with each characters. I thought it was interesting tha there were characters with the last name Nicely. It’s a very unusual name, and is my mother’s maiden name.

This is the first time I’ve tried a Strout book, but I plan on reading/listening to more from her. I enjoyed learning about Lucy, she felt like a friend telling me her life’s story.

The ending came quite abruptly though, I would have liked more.

Feb 072017
 

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50 States 5000 Ideas by National Geographic

This richly illustrated book from the travel experts at National Geographic showcases the best travel experiences in every state, from the obvious to the unexpected. Sites include national parks, beaches, hotels, Civil War battlefields, dude ranches, out-of-the-way museums, and more. You’ll discover the world’s longest yard sale in Tennessee, swamp tours in Louisiana, dinosaur trails in Colorado, America’s oldest street in NYC, and the best spot to watch for sea otters on the central California coast. Each entry provides detailed travel information as well as fascinating facts about each state that will help fuel your wanderlust and ensure the best vacation possible. In addition to 50 states in the U.S., the book includes a section on the Canadian provinces and territories.

What I Thought
I love going on day trips, I love traveling, and I love this book! I learned a few new things about each state.

The book brought back a lot of memories from when I lived in California and Ohio.

Here are a few of them:
California: I’ve seen the lettuce fields in Salinas and even though the photo in the book is amazing, they are even more beautiful in person.

I lived in Monterey and 17 Mile Drive is a beautiful place to spend the day.

Ohio: Cedar Point. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been there. It was one of the world’s first theme parks, and I loved going there as a child.

I loved spending days swimming and boating at Lake Erie. Lots of childhood memories from there.

The book mentioned the Cincinnati Zoo, but not the Columbus Zoo, which I thought was strange. Not that the Cincinnati Zoo isn’t amazing, it is, but my favorite is the Columbus Zoo.

Florida: Disney World, Sea World, Legoland, not to mention all the amazing beaches. Everglades National Park. I haven’t been to the Keys, but have wanted to go for years.

Places I put on my Bucket List after reading this book:
(Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, and Arizona were already on it)
New England States, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana…to name a few.

There are beautiful photos scattered throughout the book, and each state has plenty of places to see and things to do. There are also  a few sections each for each state called Little Known Facts, State Of The Art, Local Flavor, Road Trips, Capitalism, Tourism Information, Festivals, Hidden Treasures.

I love this book and will keep it where I can pick it up and scan through it from time to time. It will come in handy whenever I travel, even while traveling in my own state. It would make a great gift for anyone who loves to travel, or wants to travel.

About The Author
During three decades as an editor, writer, and photographer, Joe Yogerst has lived and worked on four continents—Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. His writing has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Islands magazine, The New York Times (Paris), and numerous National Geographic books. During that time, he has won four Lowell Thomas Awards, including one for Long Road South, his National Geographic book about driving the Pan American Highway from Texas to Argentina.

Purchase Links

National Geographic Store | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

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Feb 062017
 

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Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café  by Max Lucado

with Candace Lee , Eric Newman
Narrated by: Ben Holland
Length: 5 hrs and 39 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:02-03-15
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

What I Thought
I was excited to listen to this book. I liked the blurb and thought it would be an uplifting story, and it was. I liked all the characters, especially Manny. He sure added a lot to the story, and I grew very fond of him and his quirkiness.

While I liked Chelsea, she jumped to conclusions a bit too quickly for me, especially about her husband. Everything is not what it seems, which she found out.

The narrator was good, but it seemed that he took a big deep breath at the beginning of most sentence, and listening to that over and over kind of got on my nerves. He did, however, do a terrific job with all the different voices.

This was a quick listen, just a bit over 5 1/2 hours. I liked that it was a good clean book with a positive message. I really enjoyed this book.

Jan 262017
 

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:08-05-14
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon – the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell.’ But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

What I Thought
I started this audio book a few months ago but didn’t finish it. Then I started it again, and again I didn’t finish it. To be honest, Ove got on my nerves. I thought he was a grumbling grouch. I decided to give it one more try since I kept seeing so many 5 star reviews for it. This time, finally, Ove’s gruff personality didn’t seem so annoying. I actually started liking him. I laughed more than a few times at some of the things he said and thought. I especially thought the names he gave everyone were funny…the lanky one, the pregnant one, white shirt etc.

Poor Ove can’t stand things that are not what he thinks they should be. It truly angers him. He says “right is right and wrong is wrong” quite often throughout the book. And he can’t trust anyone who doesn’t drive a Saub, among other things.

I loved learning about Sonia, I liked her a lot. I felt bad for Ove because I know what it feels like to lose your spouse.

There a quite a few characters in the book, all personable except for two (not counting Ove), and I enjoyed each one of them. I loved all the different stories from Ove & Sonia’s past, and how Ove’s relationships with the other characters grew into something that surprised everyone who lived in his neighborhood. I was surprised too. I  learned that there was a kind soul behind all that gruffness. I loved how Ove fought so hard for the right thing concerning the people he cared about, just because “it’s the right thing to do”.

I’m so glad I gave this audio book another chance. It made me laugh a lot, and even made my eyes leak a few times.

This was the first book I’ve listened to that is narrated by George Newbern. I’m very picky about narrator’s, but I thought he did an amazing job with all the voices. He made the book very easy to listen to.

Although it took me a few times to start enjoying the book, (I don’t think I gave it enough time the first two times I started it), I ended up loving it, and I even ended up loving Ove.

I highly recommend this, both print and audio.

Jan 232017
 

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In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett

Comedy legend Carol Burnett tells the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of her iconic weekly variety series, The Carol Burnett Show.

Who but Carol Burnett herself has the timing, talent, and wit to pull back the curtain on the Emmy-Award winning show that made television history for eleven glorious seasons?
In Such Good Company delves into little-known stories of the guests, sketches and antics that made the show legendary, as well as some favorite tales too good not to relive again. Carol lays it all out for us, from the show’s original conception to its evolution into one of the most beloved primetime programs of its generation.

Written with all the charm and humor fans expect from a masterful entertainer like Carol Burnett, In Such Good Company skillfully highlights the elements that made the show so successful in a competitive period when TV variety shows ruled the air waves. Putting the spotlight on everyone from her talented costars to her amazing guest stars—the most celebrated and popular entertainers of their day—Carol crafts a lively portrait of the talent and creativity that went into every episode.

What I Thought
My favorite show growing up was The Carol Burnett Show. Every week she made me laugh until my sides hurt. I never got tired of seeing Carol and her cast mates get into all kinds of funny situations. I loved the different characters they played. Mrs. Wiggins & Mr. Tudball were my favorite, and anything with Tim Conway. Everything he did cracked me up. Vicki Lawrence did an amazing job in everything she did, and grew so much as an actor. I loved seeing Tim Conway and Harvey Korman do skits together. They had such a hard time not laughing, and failed quite a lot. And then there were The Old Folks and The Family. I’ll never forget “Went With The Wind” when Carol wore the curtain dress, The Pigeon Lady, and As The Stomach Turns. I really miss this show and wish I could watch re-runs on tv. It never got old.

This book brought back a lot of memories, and now I’m jonesing for a Carol Burnett Show fix. I might have to go buy the series on dvd.

Whether you were a fan of this show or not, or even if you’ve never seen it (why haven’t you?) this book is quite entertaining. I loved it, and would recommend it 100%

Jan 122017
 

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Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan

Thomas Gonzalez (Illustrations)

There is a ship, a navy ship. It is called the USS New York. It is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about the USS New York. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the governor of New York gave the Navy a steel beam that was once inside one of the World Trade Towers. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana. Metal workers heated the beam to a high, high temperature. Chippers and grinders, painters and polishers worked on the beam for months. And then, seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ships bow. This powerful story reveals how something remarkable can emerge from a devastating event.

What I Thought
I had no idea that a beam from one of the World Trade Tower was used as the USS New York’s bow. How amazing is that?

I can’t remember the blog where I first saw this book, sorry. As soon as I read what it was about, I knew I wanted to read it, and I’m glad I did. The story is full of information about how the beam became a ships bow and the illustrations are great. I loved reading how that beam traveled from New York to a foundry in Louisiana and how all the different workers tuned it into a bow for the ship. I learned about that many workers lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina, and how Kamp Katrina allowed them to finish the job.

This book brought back a lot of memories and gave me the leaky eyes. But that’s ok, I want those memories to stay with me. So many lives were lost or changed forever that day. This country came together like I’d never seen before and haven’t since. This book should be required reading for elementary schools. The target reader is Grades 3-5, but I highly recommend it to anyone of any age.