Book of The Month – April: The Asylum Tour

cartoon girl sitting on bench reading a book_book of the month_the asylum tour_rockinrandommom

I am dedicating April’s Book of the Month to my friend and fellow blogger Debbie Stansil. Her new book just came out. The Asylum Tour is a hauntingly entertaining book about, you guessed it, a haunted asylum. I love scary stories! This is more than just a good ghost story though. There is an underlining social justice/injustice tone which really drew me in and made me feel very connected with some of the characters.

So what’s this book about?

The book starts us off in the prologue at Riley Asylum in 1953. It’s a brief but alluring description of what starts this fascinating ghost story. One of the main characters is Jeanie, who is a reporter at The Daily Chronicle newspaper. She also happens to have a personal connection to the Asylum. You’ll have to read it to find out how.

Anyway, the gist is a mysterious billionaire has bought the old abandoned asylum and turned it into a tourist attraction. Only thing is, it’s opening on Halloween night and it’s by invitation only. How this person decides who gets an invite is a story within itself. Jeannie does a lot of digging and finds the very sinister reason behind this tour and that the people invited are in serious danger.

The Asylum Tour is more than just a bunch of people walking through a scary old building for a few scares. Unbeknownst to them they’ve been hand picked to die, but why? You’ll have to read it to find out.

long empty hospital hallway_theasylumtour_bookcover_rockinrandommom

What’s my take on the book?

The Asylum Tour is definitely a book I would have on my shelf. I really enjoyed it but not just because it’s a scary ghost story. I love how Deborah changes between the characters by labeling each section with the name and date. I thought that was an interesting touch and made the story very easy to read. I also love the humanity behind the history of some of the characters all while showing the inhumanity of many others.

There is definitely some evil characters in this book but what I love is how the good characters are written. They are honest, filled with self-doubt and scared but they stay true to themselves. You don’t see much of that in the world anymore and I can’t remember the last time I saw a ghost story with flawed but truly good characters at the front of it.

Why I think you should read this book:

The Asylum Tour gives you, the reader, a good ghost story to follow that is really riveting in my opinion. It also gives you really good characters to fall in love with and a few good characters to absolutely loathe. When I first started reading this book I thought of the movie, House on Haunted Hill.

I don’t know if anyone is familiar with it but there is the original version and then there is the 90’s version. The 1959 version starred one of the best horror movie actors, Vincent Price.

But as I read the book further, I realized the original story to it. While Deborah brings to light the barbaric treatment of the mentally ill back in the 50’s, it’s the personal stories that I was drawn to the most.  I really felt for two of the characters at Riley Asylum.

So give this book a look and see if this is the kind of story you would read over and over again. Download your Kindle copy today! Amazon Kindle

Thanks so much for reading!

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Celebrating Women’s History Month with These Amazing Heroes

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I don’t know when this happened but Women’s History Month is finally a thing. All I can say to that is it’s about damn time! When you think of Women’s History, who do you think of? Do women like Amelia Earhart and Susan B Anthony come to mind? Or did you learn about Harriet Tubman and Cleopatra? They were very famous women in History that’s true.

I played Rosa Parks in my 4th grade school play for Martin Luther King Day (from 3rd to 5th grade I attended an all white school. It just happened that way. Don’t hate me for it).

I didn’t learn about too many women throughout school. One woman here or there was mentioned in history classes but those women left a major impression on me.  So here are  5 of 10 Women in History who made a big impact on my life.

Maya Angelou – American Poet & Writer

Maya Angelou_Women's History_RockinRandomMom

Women’s History Month can’t start without this first lady on my list. I was first introduced to this lovely lady in the 9th grade. We were given an assignment to pick a writer from the list and research that writer’s life. I really wanted Charles Dickens but my teacher tasked me with Maya Angelou. I was very disappointed because I knew nothing about her. Then I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and I was hooked.

Women's History Month_a quote by Maya Angelou_Amazing_RockinRandomMom

I identified with the abuse she suffered as a child by her mother’s boyfriend. That’s how I related to her through her book and it left a huge impression on a 14 year old girl. The only difference is she forgave while I still couldn’t. I wasn’t ready but I respected and admired her for finding her strength. She was a writer and poet but she was also an activist, working alongside Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights movement.

Marie “Madame” Curie – Polish Physicist

Women's History Month_Madame Marie Curie_Nothingtofear_RockinRandomMom

Are any of you familiar with Pollock jokes? I am! Growing up in a polish family I heard them all the time. They were meant to be funny but being polish was also used as an excuse for any mistake we made. Yes, they were funny but for a young girl who was always told that she would never amount to anything, the constant reminder that one of those reasons was because I was Polish put an extra weight of shame on my shoulders.

That is until this wonderful, amazing woman came into my life. She was, again, another assignment. This time through History class in my first year of Community College. Also, again, it was a man I wanted to do a report on. At that time I was a bit obsessed with Billy The Kid and wanted an excuse to do more research on him. My professor knew better though and thank God he did.

Madame Marie Curie came into my life at just the right time. There was a lot of pressure on me during these years. I was the first of my immediate family to ever graduate high school and the only one of my siblings. So you can imagine the pressure that going to college put on me.

Anyway, Madame Marie Curie helped to spark a new fire inside me. She gave me a new hope and she made me realize that my Polish heritage need not hold me back from what I want to do.

In case you haven’t heard of this remarkable woman, she discovered radium. Here are some outstanding facts about her:

Women's History Month_Marie Curie Facts_RockinRandomMom

Not bad for a pollack woman eh?

Frida Kahlo – Painter

Women's History Month_Frida Khalo self-portrait_RockinRandomMom

 

I actually learned of Frida in one of my Women’s Studies Courses during my second go at Community College. We watched the movie with Salma Hayek. Frida was a darker woman and I’m talking about her skin color. Her soul was a bit darker. She was a mess at times and wasn’t afraid to admit it. That’s what impressed me most about her.

I’m just going to leave this with some Frida Kahlo quotes that I found to be incredibly honest and inspiring. Look up the movie with Salma Hayek. It’s definitely worth watching.

Women's History Month_ Frida Kahlo Quotes_RockinRandomMom

Mary Wollstonecraft – Feminist Activist and Writer

Women's History Month_Mary Wollstonecraft_RockinRandomMom

You all have heard of Mary Shelley right? You know, the woman who wrote Frankenstein? Yeah, that’s her. Well Mary Wollstonecraft was her mother. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree does it? Anyway, Mary was a famous activist for Women’s Rights as well as a writer.

I learned about her through another Women’s Studies course.

While her career was brief (she died giving birth to her famous daughter), She is most famous for her writing The Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which was published in 1792. She lived an unorthodox life during that time but by the second feminist movement she was regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers and activists.

Harriet Ann Jacobs – Former Slave, Writer, and Abolishionist

Women's History Month_harriet Jacobs_RockinRandomMom

I am going to end with this awesome and determined woman, Harriet Ann Jacobs. I learned about her through a literature class actually. She wrote a book about her brutal and heartbreaking life as a slave in the American South in the 19th Century.

Harriet’s story broke my heart but also inspired me in a way I never thought was possible. She was a young woman brought into a very violent world and treated as nothing more than cattle. She was beaten and raped. Her children were torn from her arms – something I can’t even imagine yet I felt like I was right there with her as she describes every detail and every emotion.

Despite all of this and despite having a “master” who sought to break her at every opportunity, this incredible woman didn’t break. She remained steadfast and was very determined to get to freedom. That’s exactly what she did and not just for herself but for her children as well.

I highly recommend you read her book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. It will rock your world. I still have the book on my book shelf!

Women's History Month_ I have 5 more women_RockinRandomMom

Thanks so much for reading!

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Book of the Month of March: Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

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For the Month of March I thought what better book to read than a good ole’ fashioned Irish book. I love St. Patrick’s Day. Until two years ago I had no idea I had any real Irish blood in me but as it turns out – I have a bit. Yay! I’ve always wanted to be Irish. Not that it matters really because here in America during the month of March, everyone gets to be Irish. So I read Irish Tales and Folk Tales.

So What’s this book about?

Well, I’ll tell ya. Irish Tales and Folk Tales are a collection of old stories put togehter in this volume by 19th century literary scholars as a way to save these old tales in a time when oral telling of these tales has become all but obsolete. To better explain it, I’ll insert some of the introduction below:

These stories that passed down through the ages, virtually unaltered in their telling. To the sophisticated, they were a record of long-held superstitions and quaint folk beliefs of the Irish peasantry. But to those who told and listened to them, they were not at all far-fetched; rather, these stories expressed something fundamental about their culture and way of life.

Book_Irish Fairy and Folk Tales_sitting besides two candles_ rockinrandommom

There are 13 different tales collected in this book. Starting with one simply titled, The Fairies and ending with a tale in poem format called The Leprechaun, Or, Fairy Shoemaker.

What’s My take on the book?

I love these old tales! There is something about listening to or reading old folk tales, no matter the culture, that makes my imagination soar. I remember way back in elementary school reading the Aesop Fables. I loved those tales because at the end of it, it always taught you some sort of lesson. The Irish Fairy and Folk Tales collection does the same thing. There is always a lesson to be learned.

I also learned many other things though, like the word pooka. No lie, there is a tale in the book called The Pooka. It’s, from what I am understanding of it, is a sort of goblin. Right under the title is a quote:

Goblins haunt from fire or fen.

Or mine, or flood, to the walks of men.

                                             -Collins

You’ll have to read the tale to understand.

One of my favorite tales though was the tale of Three Wishes. It’s about a rogue scoundrel named Billy Dawson who tricks the devil. Seriously, this guy actually tricks the devil and he doesn’t just do it once. He does it several times throughout the story. I actually got to the point where I felt sorry for Satan. Who does that? But Billy sort of gets his in the end but I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

Many stories were a little familiar simply because of the creature the tale was talking about. The Bunworth Banshee and The Changeling are familiar creatures to me. I remember the first time I heard about the banshee. I was about 9 or 10 and my aunt had borrowed from the video store, Darby O’Gill and the Little People.

Does anyone remember that movie? It is one of Sean Connery’s earliest works. You have romance, leprechauns and of course, the banshee. I remember she scared the crap out of me. I really need to look for that movie now. I would love to watch it again. Anyway, so yeah. Give this book a read this St. Patrick’s Day.

So what do you think of these old Irish tales? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Dear Blog, Where Do We Go From Here?

a notebook, coffee, laptop_dearblog_rockinrandommom

Dear Blog,

The last couple of weeks have been very hectic. I needed a week to unwind but I found myself restless. You give me direction. I also found myself getting some inspiration about changing your name and the direction I want to take you. I even wrote down several different blog names and designs ideas.

Dear Blog,

When I came back, however, I tried to make some minor behind the scene changes but you were not cooperating. I purchased that stupid SSL certificate thing because I want my viewers to see that you are a secure site but all that did was give me a headache and three hours of wasted time talking to two different Host Gator agents. Long story short, I got some security but it’s not complete. This was really stressful and very frustrating.  You almost had me calling it quits. Completely. Bam! Kaput!

Merida frustrated_dearblog_rockinrandommom

Dear Blog,

There was a moment though when I really thought I was going to lose you. It broke my heart. All that we’ve been through together for the past 2 1/2 years – all the frustrations and mistakes we both made – all of our hard work and most important our connection to each other and to other bloggers – I nearly broke down. I thought when I got locked out and it took nearly an hour for the Host Gator agent to figure out what I did, that I would never see you again. That was really painful.

Apparently there is a problem somewhere in the back door of all of this that I still don’t completely understand. Host Gator told me I have to contact my web developer to get it straight. Cue the crickets. *Crickets* *Crickets* *Crickets*. I am an intelligent person but I am not ashamed to admit that this tech crap is way over my head. This shit should not be this complicated for the average blogger who doesn’t know jack about coding and web developing nonsense.

will smith_what?_dearblog_rockinrandommom

I feel like I have to go take some classes in order to understand any of this. Instead, what I did was I walked away for a bit. I grabbed a coffee and binge watched Netflix, all the while thinking of you, my dear blog. I thought of all of the changes I want to make and the new name I know I am getting close to discovering for you.

One example is that  I want to add a book of the month. I don’t think I will be calling it that though. Probably something like what I am reading this month.  I also want to add my favorite artist of the month as well. In music that is. That should go without saying but you never know how the word artist will be interpreted by our lovely readers. Artist can mean someone who draws you know. A writer is also an artist and since I do write, well, you know what I mean.

Of course changing my blog name means changing a whole lot of other things. My tag line in every photo for one thing. It will be a lot of work and that means we will have to take a week or two away from the world but I think it’s time we evolved, you and I, my dear blog. July will be three years for us. It’s been an amazing ride so far. I’m looking forward to another three years of working with you, creating with you, and meeting many others like us.

I will admit though that it is hard for me to part with RockinRandomMom. I have grown fond of the name and I will miss it. The thing is, I want to draw more readers to my blog. I want to bring in more music lovers and those suffering from a mental illness. That is the reason I started writing in the first place. To reach out to those who are suffering and inspire them to see a better tomorrow for themselves.

my quote_reach for the stars_dear blog_rockinrandommom

I also really want to share more of my creative writing with my readers and I want to keep the parents around too. Especially the moms who also suffer from a mental illness while trying to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids. It’s not easy on any parent to meet today’s expectations but it’s even harder on those of us who suffer from depression and other illnesses.

Top dealing with your own shit and try raising one child with Autism and another with ADHD. Yeah it can be rough but again, I want to inspire parents to reach for the stars. There is no limit to what we can achieve if we really want to.

These are the goals I set for myself when I started you my dear blog. And as I’m writing this I know this is still my goal. These are the people I still want to reach out to. It isn’t my goals that have changed but the way I present them.

So that is where I am at. What do you, my lovely readers, think of my plans? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Choosing Not to Spread Valentine’s Day Cynicism to My Children

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Valentine’s Day is over and the stores are selling all the leftover chocolate for half off. Or 75% off, whichever. I’m writing this post in the aftermath of the holiday because for one, I have pictures to share and two, I want to talk about how parents influence their kids, even when they don’t mean to. My Valentine’s Day cynicism is the perfect example of that.

For any of you who read my blog and have read my past posts on Valentine’s Day I am a bit of a cynic. It’s not that I don’t believe in love (though my thoughts on that are quite complicated) but that Valentine’s Day puts too much pressure on couples, especially married couples with kids. However, around Valentine’s Day I get a bit extra cynical and it has affected my boys. Because of them I have learned to curb my Valentine’s Day cynicism.

my sons playing an arcade driving game_valentinesdaycynicism_rockinrandommom

For the past few years I have verbally expressed my dislike for Valentine’s Day and romance. I did this without realizing that young ears were listening and young minds were being influenced by their mama’s negative opinions. My Valentine’s Day cynicism was rubbing off on my favorite and most precious people on the planet.

Take Adam for instance. He loves celebrating all holidays. Or at the very least getting excited about them and making everyone aware of said holiday. Hanukkah is one such day. We don’t celebrate this holiday but rest assured that Adam makes it known when it arrives every year. His knack for knowing these things is incredible to me. Even smaller days that most people don’t even know exist. So when Valentine’s Day comes around he wants to celebrate with as much enthusiasm as we do with Christmas and Halloween.

Only one problem with that. He heard me tell someone else how much I dislike the holiday so now every year he gets upset and has adopted the same attitude towards it. My Valentine’s Day cynicism rubbed off on my sweet, funny, happy-go-lucky boy.

my son at his old elementary school playgroud_valentinesdaycynicism_rockinrandommom

Have you ever said things to someone else that you never intended for your kids to hear but they heard it anyway? Yeah, it’s happened to me. This goes beyond Valentine’s Day though. I have developed a very negative outlook on romantic relationships and love. I have been a bit more outspoken about it than I probably should have considering little ears were listening.

This is Conner. He swears up and down he will never get married and never fall in love. Now anyone reading this is probably thinking he’s just a kid and doesn’t know yet. You’re right. He is just a kid but I see in some of his mannerisms and remarks he makes that make me aware of my mistake. Both his father and I have repeatedly said over the past 6 years that we will never remarry.

Over the years he has developed the same attitude and I don’t like it. Not one bit. While I understand as a parent I do have the most influence over my kids, I also encourage them to find their own way. Their dad and I both encourage our boys to have their own opinions and beliefs. But here I am with a child who sees something he barely understands the same way I do. It’s not fair to him. I don’t want my boy to go out into the world with this cynicism about love and relationships.

my son at the arcade_fighting Valentine's Day cynicism_rockinrandommom

So My ex and I had a conversation about this and we thought, “Hey, why not turn this day into a fun family day?” We both decided in order to change our children’s way of thinking about this holiday and about love and relationships, the best way to start would be Valentine’s Day.

We are in agreement that yes, we are both products of divorce and we were never really shown what a healthy relationship looks like. We know that while our marriage failed we have worked very hard to have a healthy co-parent relationship and friendship. We also agree that just because we aren’t together doesn’t mean we’ve doomed our kids to a lifetime of negative relationships.

So to fight our own Valentine’s Day cynicism and to help fight for our kids, we planned a fun night with our boys. I made them cupcakes and chocolate gift bags with their favorite candy inside. Then we took the boys to this new arcade that just opened up at the mall.

giant pac-man game at arcade_fightingvalentinesdaycynicism_rockinrandommom

As it turns out Valentine’s Day wasn’t so bad after all. It all depends on how you choose to celebrate it (or not). We didn’t need a whole bunch of extravagant gestures. All we needed was an evening at the arcade then we ordered some take out afterwards. It was a great night for all of us!

What do you think about how much influence you have over your kids? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks so much for reading!

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