Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jingle Bells Original Paintings FOR SALE

Another of my paintings for the holidays. This is a pair of Jingle Bells that I painted for Christmas.  Up for grabs on eBay. Check it out here.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander

Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found

My thoughts
Rebecca Alexander Usher S type III where she will gradually lose her sight and hearing. Yet, she doesn’t give up and accomplishes what she sets out to do and enjoy life every single minute of it. This is her story and although inspirational, it didn’t leave me all mushy inside. It is both serious and funny at times, but yet I felt I took nothing from her story. A quick read.

Book Description
Born with a rare genetic mutation called Usher Syndrome type III, Rebecca Alexander has been simultaneously losing both her sight and hearing since she was a child, and was told that she would likely be completely blind and deaf by age 30. Then, at 18, a fall from a window left her athletic body completely shattered.

None of us know what we would do in the face of such devastation. What Rebecca did was rise to every challenge she faced. She was losing her vision and hearing and her body was broken, but she refused to lose her drive, her zest for life and – maybe most importantly – her sense of humor. Now, at 35, with only a sliver of sight and significantly deteriorated hearing, she is a psychotherapist with two masters’ degrees from Columbia University, and an athlete who teaches spin classes and regularly competes in extreme endurance races. She greets every day as if it were a gift, with boundless energy, innate curiosity, and a strength of spirit that have led her to places we can't imagine.

In Not Fade Away, Rebecca tells her extraordinary story, by turns harrowing, funny and inspiring. She meditates on what she’s lost—from the sound of a whisper to seeing a sky full of stars, and what she’s found in return—an exquisite sense of intimacy with those she is closest to, a love of silence, a profound gratitude for everything she still has, and a joy in simple pleasures that most of us forget to notice.

Not Fade Away is both a memoir of the senses and a unique look at the obstacles we all face—physical, psychological, and philosophical—exploring the extraordinary powers of memory, love, and perseverance. It is a gripping story, an offering of hope and motivation, and an exquisite reminder to live each day to its fullest.

Disclosure: I received this book for review through I received no compensation for my thoughts.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Art on the Sussex Branch Trail

I took a hike on the Sussex Branch Trail recently to view the autumn leaves changing color and saw that spray paint artists colored the tunnel with their artwork.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

Those Who Wish Me Dead

My thoughts
Jace Wilson, a young boy playing in an old quarry witnesses a murder. To protect him, he goes into hiding, has his identity changed and is thrown into a group of troubled boys on a survival program in the mountains of Montana. But somehow, this doesn’t stop the pair of killer brothers from tracking him and killing all those stand in the way of their objection: killing Jace.

From the opening sentence, to the final paragraph, this book is an emotional thrill ride with twists that achieves getting my heart pounding. The characters are well developed and I felt for each one of them although those two murderous brothers were strange. Made me think they were robotic and hoping there was a sci-fi aspect to it (and there wasn’t). The descriptiveness of the mountainous region can be easily visualized in my mind’s eye. A thoroughly enjoying suspense story that is worth reading.

Book Description
When fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he's plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.

Disclosure: I received this book for review through I received no compensation for my thoughts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Art on the High Line

This is the type of stuff I usually post on Twitter because it's quick and easy to post a photo and a short comment.  But I thought I would share with my blog readers.  But if you are on Twitter come follow me at @grumpydannyboy for more spontaneous photos, contests and silly stuff.

For those who don't know The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Drop by Dennis Lehane

The Drop

My thoughts
A short story expanded to use it as a tie-in with the recently released movie of the same name. The short story was titled “Animal Rescue” which I was unaware of when I received this book. I just like Dennis Lehane.

Bob Saginowski is a lonely bartender with a secret when he finds a puppy in a trash can. His boss is Cousin Marv but not really the owner of ‘Cousin Marv’s since it is now run by the Chechan mob. Then there is the police detective at his church who wants to know his secret. Toss in a recently released convict, the upcoming closing of Bob’s church, the new woman in Bob’s life and you have a pretty good story in a little of 200 pages. I really liked the development of Bob’s character but at times the story was slow and my mind drifted.

Book Description
Three days after Christmas, a lonely bartender looking for a reason to live rescues an abused puppy from a trash can and meets a damaged woman looking for something to believe in. As their relationship grows, they cross paths with the Chechen mafia; a man grown dangerous with age and thwarted hopes; two hapless stick-up artists; a very curious cop; and the original owner of the puppy, who wants his dog back. . . .

Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher. I received no compensation for my thoughts.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Anybody's Daughter by Pamela Samuels Young

Anybody's Daughter (Dre Thomas Series Book 2)

My thoughts
Brianna Walker, a thirteen year girl sneaks out of her house to meet a boyfriend she met on the Internet and is soon kidnapped for to be used in the sex trafficking world. Her Uncle Dre, a former drug dealer uses all his connections, anger and force to make get her back before it is too late. But will he?

This is a harsh story of reality and what it is like in a world most people don’t see or ignore. The sex trafficking of young girls has grown into a huge business and the author shows the reader the horror of it all. She also deals with the court system, halfway houses, dysfunctional families; all good subjects. The subplots make it even more fascinating. But with all that said, although I enjoyed the story, I felt there are some areas that seemed unbelievable and that it needed some more editing. That’s why I give it three stars as a good book.

Book Description
Based on the real-life horrors faced by thousands of girls, award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young takes readers deep inside the disturbing world of child sex trafficking in a fast-paced thriller that educates as much as it entertains.

Thirteen-year-old Brianna Walker is ecstatic. She's about to sneak off to meet her first real boyfriend—a boyfriend she met on Facebook. But Brianna is in for a horrifying surprise because her boyfriend doesn't exist. Instead, Brianna unwittingly becomes the captive of a ring of drug dealers- turned-human traffickers who prey on lonely girls from dysfunctional homes. But they’ve made a big mistake in targeting Brianna because she doesn’t meet either of those criteria.

Brianna’s Uncle Dre, a man with his own criminal past, is determined to find the niece who is more like a daughter to him. Rather than sit back and rely on police to bring Brianna home, Dre scours the dark corners of Los Angeles looking for her. He is stunned to learn that the trafficking of children isn’t just happening in other countries. It’s occurring at epidemic levels right in his own backyard.

Dre is not alone in his desperate search. Loretha Johnson knows this world well. A social worker who previously lived “the life,” Loretha now dedicates her time to saving as many young girls as she can find. She turns out to be an invaluable resource for Dre, who ultimately gets a lead on The Shepherd, a mastermind in the trafficking world whose every move is fueled by ego and greed. Dre vows to bring his reign of terror to an end.

While Brianna makes a futile effort to thwart her captors, Dre is getting closer and closer to finding her. The woman he loves, attorney Angela Evans, knows the dangers faced by sexually exploited children because she represents them in juvenile court. Angela lends her moral support and, eventually, an important clue to Brianna’s whereabouts.

As he races against the clock, Dre ultimately comes up with a daring plan—one that puts many lives in danger, including his own. But will he find Brianna before it's too late?

Disclosure: I received this book through I received no compensation for my thoughts.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Candy Corn Original Painting FOR SALE

It's that time of the year with leaves falling, and the ghouls ready to approach the house asking for Tricks or Treats.  I have put up my original CANDY CORN painting on eBay.  Check it out here and share the link.  I appreciate it!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Everitt's Fruit Farm, Lafayette, NJ

We passed an abandoned fruit stand and I saw this old gas pump on the property.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

This book will be released on October 14, 2014

Leaving Time: A Novel

My thoughts
Jenna Metcalf’s mother disappeared ten years ago from the elephant sanctuary where she worked.  And Jenna keeps wondering why she never came back.  Now thirteen, she decides to search for her on her own.  Reading her mother’s journals on elephant’s behavior,she enlists the help of Serenity, a psychic and Virgil Stanhope, a private detective and the former cop who brought Jenna’s mom, Alice to the hospital before she disappeared   Does her disappearance have to with the death at the sanctuary by an elephant and will Jenna eventually get the answers she so seeks?

Although the characters weren’t lovable and had many problems, I certainly was intrigued by the plight of the elephant and the research done of them.  Yes, I was also intrigued by Jenna’s search for her mother.  I too wondered why a mother would leave her daughter.  I believe death would be the answer.  But Alice was alive through her journals, as the author tells each characters stories through individual chapters told from their point of view. The surprise ending (and it was certainly a surprise for me) made it all the more exciting for me.  I enjoyed learning about elephants and the mystery of Alice’s disappearance.

On a different note, I have read other reader’s reviews and the complaints some had.  I am not a regular reader of Jodi Picoult’s books so am an aware of her use of the individual character’s point of views and the surprise endings and could see why one would tire of that if that is all they read.  And those who say that the surprise ending was done before.  Guess what every story has been done before, it is the way that is portrayed that makes it different.  And Picoult has written a stimulating story for this reader.

Book Description
For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

Disclosure:  I received this book through the vine program.  I received no compensation for my thoughts.


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