Saturday, June 25, 2016

Six To Eight Mathematics Rocked Clash Bar in Clifton on June 24th

L to R: Ali McDowell, lead guitarist; Alana Quartuccio, lead singer; Dan Peacock, drummer & former Hollywood Stuntman; and Mary Beth Kochmar, bassist.

Remember last week when Runnin' Down a Dream's interviewed our buddies Six To Eight Mathematics?  

And remember, the amazing story of how Alana Quartuccio, the lead singer, had a tumor removed which resulted in her losing her voice and hearing in one ear?  

And remember how the band - Ali McDowell, guitarist; Mary Beth Kochmar, bassist; and drummer Dan Peacock - talked about sticking it out during Alana's recovery?  

And, finally, remember how Six To Eight was making a comeback by headlining a local show here in New Jersey on June 24 at the Clash Bar in Clifton, New Jersey?  

How did it go?  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Six To Eight Mathematics to Headline Concert at Clash Bar, June 24th

Image Courtesy of Six to Eight Mathematics.
I am sure it is known that many musicians - whether they be fine, classical, poppy or jazzy - call New Jersey their home. 

However, there are some bands that just plain kick the teeth out of music and take no prisoners! And one of those bands is the North Jersey based punk band - Six to Eight Mathematics! 

Six to Eight, as they are known to friends and fans, has been around since 2004. The band has two CDs available on CD Baby - High Heels, Whiskey & Mayhem and Mental Melodies (click on the links to pick 'em up!). 

I was able to sit down with them back in May to promote an upcoming show on June 24th, at the Clash Bar in Clifton, New Jersey. Six to Eight will headline the DIY Radio Presents Concert. They concert will feature many amazing bands and begins right at 8:30 pm.

I had been following them since 2011 and I saw them live in 2015 (see pictures below)! It is amazing to see real music on a real stage on a local level that is not some cheap cover band! Their name comes up from time to time in punk circles here in New Jersey and - wow! - everyone agrees - this is the band that takes the stage, puts on a show and leaves 'em wantin' more!

Image courtesy of Six to Eight Mathematics.

Since 2014, their current line up, which has featured Alana Quartuccio the lead singer and rhythm guitarist; Ali McDowell, lead guitarist and backing vocalist; Mary Beth Kochmar, bass guitarist and Dan Peacock, drummer.

And when I sat down to talk with the quartet, they discussed it had been a year of challenges! However, it was challenges they overcame and June 24th will be their first back! 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Review: “The Pug List” by Alison Hodgson

Synopsis from the back cover:

“What if a wheezing, sneezing, allegedly house-trained, ticking time bomb of an orphan pug is the key to helping a family feel at home again, after an arsonist set their house—and life—on fire? If you asked me, I would have said it’s a bad idea; we can do better. Unfortunately no one asked me, and The Pug List is my family’s story.”

In the fire’s aftermath of insurance battles royal, rebuilding plans, parenting in the face of life’s hard questions and a scorching case of post-traumatic stress, now is absolutely the worst possible time to adopt a dog. But to Alison’s seven-year-old daughter, Eden, it’s the perfect time—and The Relentless Campaign begins.

Until one day Alison peeks inside Eden’s diary—dubbed “The Pug List”—and realizes in one fell swoop that her girl’s heart is on the line, and resistance is futile (“The pugs make me happy FOREVER.”).

Enter “Outrageous” Oliver, and the hilarity, healing, and irresistible hope that follows.

The story of a family who loses their home and almost every material possession they own after an arsonist burns their house down should not sound like something any reader would enjoy. Yet enjoy this book was exactly what I did! While the Hodgson family did suffer through this very tragedy, the story isn't really about the fire itself but rather how each member of the family – wife and mother Alison, husband and father Paul, and their kids Christopher, Lydia, and Eden – travels the emotional journey to grieve for what they’ve lost and eventually come to terms with this tragedy that has beset their lives and start rebuilding their lives. Each person learns to cope in different ways, but what finally brings them all together is one absolutely ridiculous little black pug dog named Oliver – or "Outrageous Oliver," the moniker his breeder / foster mom has given him. Oliver's appearance in the Hodgson family's lives is what finally shows them how to begin enjoying life again and get themselves back to some semblance of a new normal.

At the risk of repeating myself, I really did enjoy this book; while the sadness and tragedy of this true story – every family’s worst nightmare, I think – is palpable throughout, the way that the Hodgson family learns to lean on their Christian faith to get through the fire and its aftermath – and how that faith then grows in the process – is something that every Christian can appreciate and ultimately relate to. What’s more, Alison Hodgson’s writing is also raw, honest, and uncensored, which is something I, as a fellow writer, can appreciate, and that readers will appreciate as well. She doesn’t cut corners or leave out the gory details, she puts everyone’s humanity out there for the world to see, which is something I find admirable in an author – and something that makes this a Really Good Book.

That said, my only disappointments with this book were that, for one, I expected Oliver’s appearance to happen much earlier in the story; Hodgson doesn’t actually get to him until more than halfway through the book. But once “Outrageous Oliver” is finally a part of the story, he’s there to stay, and readers won’t be able to get enough of him. I instantly fell in love that “ridiculous little dog” and how he becomes a cherished member of the Hodgson family.

So if you’re a person of faith, a dog lover, or if you just want to read a story with a great happy ending, “The Pug List” is for you! Find your copy on Amazon today.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of "The Pug List" free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: “I Work at a Public Library” By Gina Sheridan

A Cold War spy in desperate search of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Cuckoo Carol dumpster diving for cans...again, and the inevitable fact that one day, somewhere, human excrement will end up on the floor. Maybe you expect these kinds of things to happen on, say, reality TV, but you never expect this to happen in your local library. However, as any public librarian will tell you, happen they do! (Taken from the Introduction of the book)

I am a book nerd who also works in a library – which can be both a blessing and a curse sometimes, thanks mostly to the often colorful characters – er, patrons – that walk through our doors. So when I heard about a book called I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan, there was no question; I had to read this! I checked out a copy from the library (of course) and began to read...and within moments I was laughing my head off – and shaking my head at how relevant these stories were to myself and my coworkers. After all, to anyone who thinks librarians just sit behind a desk all day checking books in and out and telling people to be quiet, well you really must think again!

As a librarian in St. Louis, Missouri, author and blogger Gina Sheridan began keeping a notebook and writing down the the various oddities that she encountered because they were too juicy not to be documented! Running the gamut from completely bizarre reference questions and annoyingly ignorant patrons to precocious kids and an eccentric Dumpster-diving regular nicknamed Cuckoo Carol, this little book is full of treasures that every library worker across the globe can easily relate to! And what's really great is that at an easily digestible 152 pages, you will be able to polish off this little book in less than an hour – of course, once you start reading you won't be able to stop anyway, because each anecdote is even better than the next!
Me: Good morning!
Patron: It's always nice to see your smiling face. You must be on the good drugs.

Learn more about author Gina Sheridan at her website and on her blog, and find your own copy of I Work at a Public Library on Amazon

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review – “My Name is Mahtob” by Mahtob Mahmoody

Two decades ago, millions of readers worldwide thrilled to the story told in the international bestseller Not Without My Daughter—subsequently made into a film starring Sally Field—that told of an American mother and her six-year-old child’s daring escape from an abusive and tyrannical Iranian husband and father. Now the daughter returns to tell the whole story, not only of that imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Tehran: living in fear of re-abduction, enduring recurring nightmares and panic attacks, attending school under a false name, battling life-threatening illness—all under the menacing shadow of her father.
 This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness. Taking readers from Michigan to Iran and from Ankara, Turkey, to Paris, France, My Name Is Mahtob depicts the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by faith in God’s goodness and in his care and love. And Mahmoody reveals the secret of how she liberated herself from a life of fear, learning to forgive the father who had shattered her life and discovering joy and peace that comes from doing so.

-        from the book jacket of My Name is Mahtob

It's been many years since I read the book Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody, but I will NEVER forget how deeply the story affected me – Betty's true account of how her Iranian-born husband Sayed “Moody” Mahmoody held her and their preschool-age daughter Mahtob hostage in his homeland and subjected them to a life of abuse and fear churned up such anger in me that, if the copy I was reading at the time hadn't been a library book, I would have thrown it at the wall numerous times (the movie adaptation made me even angrier and to this day I cannot look at Alfred Molina, the actor who portrayed Moody, and not want to reach through the television and punch him.).

Needless to say, I had always wondered about what happened to Betty and especially Mahtob after they began to re-establish their lives in America, so when I learned that Mahtob had written her own book I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Just as I had expected, My Name Is Mahtob stirred up just as many emotions as Not Without My Daughter, only instead of getting angry, Mahtob's story brought me to tears (and ultimately caused me to feel sorry for her father who, right until his death in 2009, clung to the opinion that his wife and daughter's recollections of what happened were untrue). And while it seems unfair to say that I enjoyed this book, given its premise, I did enjoy this book – because My Name is Mahtob is not simply the seemingly tragic story of a little girl held hostage for eighteen months with her mother by her Iranian father in his homeland – it is also the victorious story of a resilient child who, BECAUSE of her father's actions, found strength, courage, and an unwavering faith in God that would help carry her into adulthood and become the intelligent, humble woman she is today.

To anyone who read Not Without My Daughter, I would highly recommend taking the time to read My Name is Mahtob because while It IS a story of heartache and trial, it is also a story of resilience – and how forgiveness can give you the strength to rise above those trials and emerge stronger than ever.

Note: This book was provided free of charge to me from BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review of the text.

Get your own copy of My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody on Amazon.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Conversations For the Better...

Minister Steve Brigham is working in Lakewood, NJ to help the homeless via a new movement called the #TentCityMovement. With the weather changing, I reached out to him asked what the local homeless needed.

We talked in depth about the goals of ministry and the Lakewood Outreach Community Service Ministry!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: "Life Is___________ Forty Day Experience" by Judah Smith

Book Description: What is life? What are we here for? What will bring us true satisfaction and lasting happiness? In this companion to his highly-anticipated new book, Life Is ___, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Judah Smith takes readers on a forty-day devotional journey through Scripture to find the answers to these and others of our deepest questions. In forty daily readings, Judah helps readers understand that the meaning of life is found in loving and being loved, in enjoying God to the fullest, in trusting Him in every moment, and remaining at peace with God, others, and ourselves. This thought-provoking and inspiring collection of meditations is sure to reveal new and illuminating truths about what God intends for every person's life.

All in all I really liked this devotional because for me it was different from any other devotional I have used. The purpose of this devotional, as explained by author Judah Smith in the Introduction, is to inspire people to live the fullest, most complete life possible, since that's what God wants for us! I loved that Smith writes each day's entry in plain language and uses examples from his own personal experiences to back it up that any reader can relate to. Divided up into four key sections, each day's entry begins with a scripture verse, followed by several paragraphs about how the author's own life relates to the topic being discussed. Three reflection questions wrap each day's entry up at the very end, inviting readers to either answer them mentally or keeping everything written down in a journal. I feel this devotional is great for any Christian looking for a worthwhile Bible study tool, whether you read your Bible often or not. I highly recommend it!

About the Author: Judah Smith is the lead pastor of the City of Church in Seattle, Washington. The City Church is a thriving multisite church noted for its cultural relevance, commitment to biblical integrity and faith, and love for Jesus. Judah is known round the United States and the world for his preaching ministry. His fresh, anointed, humorous messages demystify the Bible and make Christianity real. Judah is also the author of his most recent New York Times bestselling book, Jesus Is _____.

You can find Life Is _____ Forty Day Experience on Amazon.
Note: This book was provided free of charge to me from BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review of the text.