Commentary #22: “July TV Show Photo Challenge” (Day 17)

Image Credit gettingthroughanxiety

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Favorite TV Animal

This one, no pun intended, was quite a challenge!

I love animals, in general.

When first thinking about this one, I thought of Lassie, Kermit The Frog, Flipper, Miss Piggy, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Snoopy, Woodstock, and a few others. There are so many!

Then, I remembered one of my favorite shows from my childhood!

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Wishbone was one of those shows that I watched every day after school. When I started reading the classics, I knew a lot of the stories already, mainly because of Wishbone!

For example, when I first read Tom Sawyer, The Man in the Iron Mask, and Ivanhoe, I found myself imagining Wishbone in costume! I found myself wanting to read all of the books that were featured on the show. Who knew that a little dog would inspire me to read so many different books?

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Did you watch Wishbone? Did you read the books?

The entire series is available on YouTube!

And like Wishbone says, visit your local library!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Blog Awards #2: Bloggers Recognition Award


I don’t have an official credit for this image, but whomever created it, thank you! I love vintage typewriters!!

Wow. I’m so humbled to say that I was nominated for another award. I was nominated for the Bloggers Recognition Award by gettingthroughanxiety. She has an amazing blog – One that I can relate to on a personal level.

Thank you!

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Attach the award to the post.
  • Give a brief story on how your blog started.
  • Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you nominated them and provide a link to the award post you created.

A Brief Story on How Hot Shot Headlines Started:

This blog started, in part, with Dr. Bill Stuart, affectionately known as Dr. B. I took his Computer-Mediated Communications class at Longwood University in the spring of 2010. One of our assignments was to create a blog, on any topic we wished, and do regular posts throughout the semester. Admittedly, I wasn’t too fond of the class – It felt like I was learning a lot of the same information that I had been taught for the last three years as a Communication Studies, Mass Media major.

Oh, how young and stupid (a.k.a., absolutely wrong) I was.

My blog was called “The Best Entertainment You’ve Never Seen!” and I structured it around the Greenwood Library’s selection of DVDs. I picked movies that I figured most of my classmates and friends had never seen, watched them, and then wrote synopses of them. I started to enjoy the assignment about halfway through the class. Along the way, I realized that I was growing fond of Dr. B. and his teaching methods.

By the end of that semester, I knew I wanted to keep blogging, but start something that was truly my own. It took a couple of tries before I arrived here, but I’m grateful for that process.

Sadly, Dr. B. passed away from a heart attack just a few weeks into the fall semester of 2012. He was just 44 years old. It had been more than a year since I had graduated, but the entire COMMunity was devastated.

I have to give credit to him, for giving that assignment, which opened my eyes to blogging. I realized that blogging was a great platform for my writing, especially if I wanted to become a published novelist at some point.

So, here’s to you, Dr. B. Thank you for inspiring me!

In addition, writing is one of my biggest therapies. I’ve enjoyed writing since the age of 10, and I’m thrilled that I have this platform available to me to do so. When I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) last summer, I knew this blog was one of the best medicines for me. It’s been a wonderful outlet.

My Advice to New Bloggers:

  • As others have said, blogging is about writing what’s important to you, the writer. Your blog is a platform for you to express yourself. Listen to your heart.
  • It doesn’t matter how often you write or post. Don’t put pressure on yourself to write every day. Don’t set a schedule, if you don’t want to. Everyone is different.
  • If you want people to read your blog, it’s important to share it. I’ve gotten so much feedback just by sharing my blog posts to my personal Facebook page. It makes a huge difference!

My 15 Nominees:

  1. Virginia Ashley Photography
  2. Earth Pilgrim
  3. Ordinary Adventures
  4. David Snape and Friends
  5. Nerdy Book Club
  6. Just Wunderlust
  7. Sincerely Reine
  8. Toulouse and Tonic
  9. Becky Due – Author
  10. The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise
  11. Simply Marquessa
  12. The Daily Kickstand
  13. Brilliance Within
  14. Freckled Italian
  15. BeautyBeyondBones

All of these nominees are amazing in their own way. Two of these writers are women that I know personally – Virginia Ashley and Freckled Italian. The rest are those who have followed my blog, liked a post, or commented on a post. Thank you to all of you for your support in my blogging journey!

And, thanks again to gettingthroughanxiety for the nomination!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #21: “July TV Show Photo Challenge” (Day 16)

Image Credit gettingthroughanxiety

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Show with Most Seasons

I’ve seen several shows with a lot of seasons.

My first instinct would have been Cold Case, since I’ve seen every episode of all 7 seasons.

As I started counting seasons of shows, I thought of Full House (8 seasons), and Castle (8 seasons), and Forensic Files (14 seasons).

However, I’ve also seen every episode of ER. I don’t own all of the seasons on DVD, but since ER ended with 15 seasons, that’s my choice!

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ER is action-packed and a great show!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Blog Awards #1: The Liebster Award


Yesterday, I had the great honor to be nominated for The Liebster Award by the amazing Kristian Weigman, the author of Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table!

Thank you so much for the nomination, Kristian – I was so shocked when you commented on my most recent post! I’m honored!

The Liebster Award is unique – It’s given by bloggers to bloggers. It’s a great way to get to know the blogging community!

Here are the rules:

  • Recognize 5 other new bloggers.
  • Give the answers to 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  • Tell readers 11 random facts about you.
  • Ask 11 more questions to the new bloggers.
  • Link this post back to the blogger who nominated you.

My questions from Kristian were:

Question #1: What was one of your most defining moments in life?

A: One of the most defining moments in my life was when I went on my first date with my now-husband, Al. It was my first true “first date” – All the other boys I dated, I’d met through my church, and all those relationships started something like, “Hey, we’ve known each other for a while, let’s give this dating thing a try?”

Al was the first guy who was someone I didn’t know very well. His brother had set us up, and after two weeks of texting and phone calls as I started my senior year of college, we decided to go to Virginia Beach for dinner and see Chicago perform on the boardwalk. I remember every single detail of that September Saturday. I remember thinking, “Wow – This is what dating is supposed to be.”

We’ve been together ever since. We wrote love letters to each other as part of our wedding vows, and without knowing it, we both wrote about that first date. Funny how that works. We will celebrate six years together on September 4th!

Question #2: How do you spend your free time?

A: I spend my free time with Al, my family, and my friends, as much as possible. When I don’t feel like being social, you’ll find me curled up on the couch with a book, or busy writing the next blog post or a new story. If I’m not reading or writing, I love to play softball, travel, take photos, cook, and enjoy my American Girl dolls.

Question #3: What are your top 3 favorite books, and why?

A: My favorite book is The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although I had to read it in high school, I fell in love with the story and I got caught up in the characters and their world. It’s one book that I re-read multiple times every year.

My second favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. This was another assigned book in high school, but it’s one that I’ve re-read almost every single year. It’s taught me several life lessons over the years, and Lee’s talent as a writer is paramount.

My third favorite book  is The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a delightful memoir that chronicles a year of her life, with the single goal of becoming happier and finding more joy. It gave me a lot of perspective about my own life, such as really not taking anything for granted, and enjoying the little moments in life.

Question #4: What is your idea of a perfect day?

A: My idea of a perfect day is coffee in the morning, snuggling / cuddling with Al, reading at least part of a good book, taking a walk or a bike ride, listening to amazing music, taking a nap in a hammock, watching either the sunrise or the sunset, and just enjoying every minute of the day.

Question #5: What is the best compliment you have ever received?

A: This one was tough!

” … Also, thank you for using your voice, it has been my experience that being brave with ones voice, more times than not, inspires others to be brave with their own. Our collective voices create countless ripple effects and that, in my humble opinion, is where the magic is …”

This is an excerpt of a comment from Elin Stebbins Waldal, an author of a powerful memoir called Tornado Warning. I read her book twice, and then wrote a review on it.

She was so gracious – She not only read my review, but took the time to comment on it. Her words have stuck with me ever since.

Question #6: What do you enjoy most about blogging?

A: I love that I can write about anything that I want, and there are people in this world who actually read my writing! I’m so happy that people want to read what I write. I’ve always wanted to write, and to see that people appreciate my writing through my blog, it gives me incredible joy and satisfaction. So, thank you for reading!

Question #7: If you could have personally witnessed anything, what would you want to have seen?

A: Ohhhhh, wow. What a question!

I would love to have witnessed Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. I can only imagine what it was like on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial. He was such a powerful speaker and advocate for peace. That would have been so special.

Question #8: What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

A: I tried pickled pig’s feet once, as part of a contest at church camp. It was super salty! I think I downed a massive glass of ice water immediately afterward.

Question #9: What instantly cheers you up?

A: Kermit The Frog! He’s my favorite Muppet. If I’m down, I’m known to find my stuffed Kermit and hold him for a while, or watch a few minutes of him on YouTube. Muppet Treasure Island is one of my favorite movies!

Question #10: If you could ask any person in the world, alive or dead for advice, who would it be, and what would you ask?

A: I would ask Princess Diana for advice. May God rest her soul, she was taken too soon.

I would ask her how she would deal with our world today, in the face of so much grief, terrorism, despair, war, and racism. Would she face our circumstances with as much compassion and care as she did the lepers, and AIDS patients, and the homeless?

Question #11: What is your favorite word or phrase?

A: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. I have hazel eyes.
  2. I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket.
  3. I’m exclusively left-handed.
  4. I hate the feeling of my head hair when it falls on my skin. It drives me nuts – I zero in on it and I have to find it and remove it immediately.
  5. I’m a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan.
  6. I’ve never traveled on an Amtrak train, not yet!
  7. I was kissed on the cheek by a sea lion at the San Diego Zoo.
  8. I’ve worn glasses since sixth grade.
  9. In college, I wrote my senior thesis on the Nicholas Sparks romance novels.
  10. I do not like being called just “Laura.” I appreciate “Laura Beth” or “LB” much more.
  11. I had braces twice!

Here are my 5 nominations:

And, my 11 questions for the new bloggers:

  1. Who is your favorite hero or heroine?
  2. What is your favorite drink?
  3. What was your favorite subject in school?
  4. If you could travel to any one place, where would you go, and why?
  5. Do you have a favorite color?
  6. What time period would you like to live in, and why?
  7. What is your favorite or most cherished memory from your childhood?
  8. Aside from blogging, how else do you express yourself?
  9. If you could pick three people, alive or dead, to share a meal with, who would you pick, and why?
  10. What is your favorite movie, and why?
  11. What inspires you?

Thanks again, Kristian! I really enjoyed this!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #20: “July TV Show Photo Challenge” (Days 1-15)

Image Credit gettingthroughanxiety

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I just discovered / stumbled upon Getting Through Anxiety through a few other blogs earlier this week, and I loved her TV show challenge posts so much, that I wanted to try this for myself!

I’ve tried month-long challenges like this before, typically through Facebook posts. Most of the time, though, I’ve failed miserably, or given up within a couple of days.

Since I discovered this challenge close to the halfway point of July, I’ve decided to summarize the first 15 posts here, and then post the remainder on a daily basis until the end of the month.

I think I’m up to the task!

  1. Favorite TV Show
  2. Favorite Season of Favorite Show
  3. Favorite Crime Show
  4. Favorite Animated Show
  5. Favorite Character
  6. TV Crush
  7. Show From 80s
  8. TV Best Friend
  9. Most Hated TV Show
  10. Show from 90s
  11. Show from 2000s
  12. Favorite TV Relationship
  13. Most Hated TV Relationship
  14. Show with Best Lines
  15. Favorite Superhero Show

Favorite TV Show

Ooooh, there are so many favorites!

But, my favorite show of all-time, one where I can watch episodes over and over and over again, is …

Cold Case

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At this point, my understanding is you can only watch full episodes in syndication – The ION televsion channel has run regular marathons in the past, for example.

YouTube has a good collection of clips, but due to copyright issues regarding the music used in the show, I don’t think the series will EVER be released on DVD, and that makes me super sad!

I’m sure there are other websites that advertise the full episodes, but I’m always a little leery of these types of sites. I don’t want to give my laptop a nasty virus!

Regardless, Cold Case is one of my absolute favorite shows. I love the cast, I love the drama, and I especially love the history angle involved in the episodes.

Favorite Season of Favorite Show

Season 4 of Cold Case

This was one of the most emotional seasons, in my opinion.


“Rampage” — Rush (Kathryn Morris, pictured here with John Finn, far left, and Jeremy Ratchford) reopens a 1995 case involving two teenage boys who committed suicide after going on a murderous rampage at the local mall, on the fourth season premiere of COLD CASE, Sunday, Sept. 24 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Mitch Haddad/Warner Bros./CBS ©2006 Warner Bros.Television/CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Image Credit:

Here’s a few recommended episodes:

“Forever Blue” (Photo below)

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“Saving Sammy”

“Lonely Hearts”

“8:03 AM”

“The Good-Bye Room”

“A Dollar, A Dream” – You may recognize Jennifer Lawrence in this one!

“Stand Up and Holler”

Each individual episode typically covers a different time period, and I feel the writers have done a good job of balancing the past with the present. They have always tried to show important facets and facts of life – Bullying, shootings, unwed mothers, homophobia, homelessness, loneliness, love, heartbreak, peer pressure, racism, sexism – Not only in this season, but in all seven seasons.

Favorite Crime Show



Melina Kanakaredes and Gary Sinise star in CSI: NY, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. from left, Carmine Giovinazzo, Eddie Cahill, Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes and Hill Harper. Photo: Anthony Mandler/CBS ©2005 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved Image Credit:

New York is where I was born. Even though I have no memory of living there (We moved to Alexandria, Virginia when I was two-years-old), there’s a huge part of me that identifies with the city. I was born 15 weeks premature, and every summer until my 16th birthday, my parents took me back to the hospital where I was born to see the doctors and nurses that took care of me. My high school orchestra received the tremendous opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall in April 2007, so that was a thrill as well.

To this day, I enjoy visiting the city. I dreamed of living there when I was younger, but now I’m happy to have stayed in Virginia! My goal now is to get my husband to visit with me, at least once 🙂

CSI: NY is my favorite of the CSI: series. I’ve enjoyed all of them, having some family connections to Miami as well, but the team and the city they live and work in captured my heart very quickly. Gary Sinise is perfect as Mac Taylor, and the rest of the cast fits very well. I found myself attached to all of them, at some point.

Favorite Animated Show

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!

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I’ve always liked mysteries, and I’ve enjoyed seeing Scooby and the gang figure them out.

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Favorite Character

I couldn’t pick just one!

Lilly Rush – Cold Case

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Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush. Image Credit:

Lilly is smart, courageous, and hard-working. I admire her strength. She has quite a rough-and-tumble backstory, and her being one of the first female in the Philadelphia cold case unit is fitting.

Frank Reagan – Blue Bloods

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Tom Selleck as Francis “Frank” Reagan. Image Credit:

I fell in love with Blue Bloods because of my parents. The cast is stellar. And, no surprise here, the series is set in New York.

Frank Reagan has one of the toughest jobs – NYPD Commissioner. He’s excellent at his job. Besides work, he’s an awesome patriarch. I would’ve loved to have had him as a father or grandfather.

Jamie Reagan – Blue Bloods

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Will Estes as Jamison “Jamie” Reagan. Image Credit:

Aside from his father, Frank, Jamie is my favorite. He’s handsome, tough, and just a great guy. He appears to be the epitome of a police officer – Tough, smart, funny, has a good rapport with his partner, colleagues, and family; and community-oriented. I think he would make a great brother.

I first fell in love with Will Estes on another show – American Dreams. It only lasted for three seasons on NBC, but it was a decent historical drama.

Eve Baxter – Last Man Standing

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Kaitlyn Dever as Eve Baxter. Image Credit:

Eve is my favorite of the Baxter girls (Read on for more about her siblings, Kristin and Mandy). She’s still in high school, but she’s funny, sensible, hard-working, and determined. I have great admiration for her character.

TV Crush

All-time favorite: Richard Castle from Castle

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Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle. Image Credit:

Swoon! I’ve loved Castle from the beginning. I knew Fillion from Firefly and Serenity, but I took to Richard Castle immediately. I found myself wishing, a lot, that I was Stana Katic!

Close second: Derek Morgan from Criminal Minds

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Shemar Moore as Derek Morgan. Image Credit:

It was really hard to choose between Morgan and Reid (See below). But Morgan is a smooth-talker, tough, and hot! Haha.

I also love, love, love his relationship with Garcia (Read on for more!). I found myself going back week after week to see their interactions!

Third: Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds


CRIMINAL MINDS – “Criminal Minds” stars Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid. (ABC Studios/Cliff Lipson) Image Credit:

Reid is goofy, and nerdy as all-get-out. I love his character! He’s a genius, and I love his interactions with the rest of the team.

Fourth: Barry Allen / The Flash from The Flash

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Grant Gustin is a local boy (Norfolk, Virginia). So handsome! The show is pretty kick-ass, too. He’s a forensic scientist (Awesome), and doubles as one of the coolest superheroes ever (Fantastic)! He’s almost perfect for the character!

Show from 80s

Full House

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I didn’t watch Full House while it was on the air; I was too young.

However, I discovered it in syndication on ABC Family in college, and fell hard. I found myself planning my classes around the TV schedule! I’ve seen every episode!

And, if you haven’t seen Fuller House on Netflix, I recommend watching it. It’s pretty good! Check out how I plowed through season 1 within 24 hours. I can’t wait for season 2!

TV Best Friend

This was one of the toughest ones to pick!

For me, I would love to have Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds as my best friend.

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Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia. Image Credit:

She’s smart, goofy, funny, and I absolutely adore the relationship she has with Morgan. Her style is a bit wacky, but it just adds to her character! She’s a seriously cool chick and I would absolutely love to be friends with her. I can see myself hanging out with her a lot.

Most Hated TV Show


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Ugh. I tried so hard to like this show! I was very excited when I heard that Melissa Benoist (Glee) was chosen as the star. I’m hoping that the decision to move season 2 over to The CW will help. I’m not holding out much hope, though.

Show from 90s


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I credit my parents (again) for getting me into ER. They recorded it first on VHS, and then the DVR, almost every week. Once I was old enough to stay up late and watch it, I loved the drama, action, and characters. It lasted for 15 seasons from 1994-2009, and was a juggernaut. I own most of the series on DVD!

Show from 2000s

Criminal Minds

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Based on several character profiles already mentioned in this post, you can probably tell that Criminal Minds quickly became one of my favorites when it premiered in 2005. I like the work that the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) does, and in college, I even considered applying for the FBI because of the show.

The only drawback is that the show is so vivid for me, I can’t watch the show at night anymore. I’ve had several terrible nightmares from the graphic portrayals of crimes in the show.

Other than that, I’ve found myself getting attached to many of the characters and their interactions. The show is action-packed, too.

Favorite TV Relationship

This one is a three-way-tie.

Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky – Full House

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John Stamos as Uncle Jesse and Lori Loughlin as Aunt Becky. Image Credit:

When I first discovered the show in college, I quickly fell in love with these two and their relationship. They’re silly, funny, quirky, and great parents to their boys.

Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia – Criminal Minds

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I love these two! They are perfect for each other.

Castle and Beckett – Castle

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Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle and Stana Katic as Katherine “Kate” Beckett. Image Credit:

These two are amazing! They’ve had their challenges throughout their series, but I admire their determination.

Most Hated TV Relationship

This one was a near-tie between two of the sisters on Last Man Standing.

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Jordan Masterson as Ryan Vogelson and Amanda Fuller as Kristin Baxter (left and center). Image Credit:

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Molly Ephraim as Amanda “Mandy” Baxter and Christoph Sanders as Kyle Anderson. Image Credit:

However, the one that’s bugged me the most has been Kristin Baxter and Ryan Vogelson. I liked Kristin’s character early on, but I loathed Ryan, especially in the beginning. It made me so upset that he left Kristin when she got pregnant with their son. I can remember getting irritated as soon as Ryan came on screen in many episodes!

However, his character started to improve as the seasons have progressed. I’m still a bit leery of their relationship as a whole, but who am I to judge? They’re just characters on TV. Frankly, Kristin’s sister Mandy doesn’t treat Kyle very kindly, either!

Despite my personal opinions, I’m going to keep watching the series, in part, because of their relationships. We’ll see how this goes with the new season in fall 2016!

Show with Best Lines

Last Man Standing

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I remember watching a few seasons of Home Improvement, and enjoying Tim Allen. He’s so funny! At this point, Al and I have watched every episode of Last Man Standing, and are eagerly awaiting the new season to premiere this fall. It’s a great comedy, and we’ve found ourselves quoting several lines over the years. If you haven’t watched it, we both recommend it. All seasons are currently available on Netflix.

Favorite Superhero Show

The Flash

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I’m not a huge superhero/sci-fi fan in terms of TV shows, but The Flash is the one that has stuck with me since the very first episode. It’s well-written, and the cast is great. I’m very excited for season 3 to premiere this fall!

Look for my daily posts for the rest of July, starting tomorrow!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #13: “No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic”

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have a long history with the American Girl brand. I was fortunate enough to have amassed quite a collection of the books before I received my first doll on Christmas Day, 1996 – My very own “American Girl of Today” that I promptly named Stephanie.

Since the early 1990s, I’ve read nearly every AG historical book that has been released. My original personal collection was eventually given away to other girls that wanted to read them, but the libraries I’ve visited have always had them in stock.

When the company announced that they were revamping their historical line of dolls into the “BeForever” collection, I was super skeptical, and actually really upset.

But then, I realized, that the company was probably doing it to expand their books, dolls, and worlds into more lives of girls and women.

At this point, I’ve accepted the change, and started to embrace it.

I’m slowly getting around to reading the revamped books. This one was the first one that I purchased, and I’m happy I did so. I plan to donate this to my local library very soon, so other girls and women have a chance to read it.

When Melody’s character was announced earlier this year, I was immediately intrigued. This was their first African-American historical doll to be released since Addy! And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that their timelines are exactly 100 years apart (1864 and 1964).

I love stories/media that come out of the 20th century, probably because of Mr. Allen’s 20th Century History class that I took in my senior year of high school. I’ve found myself drawn toward the period between The Great Depression / World War II and the end of 1970s, in particular. I can’t explain why, but I’ve greatly enjoyed learning as much as I can about that time period.

I flew through Melody’s first volume over the 4th of July weekend. I know it is written for younger girls, roughly 170 pages, but I still get great pleasure out of seeing how these authors construct their characters and their worlds. And I can tell that every detail is researched and carefully constructed, so that the historical accuracy shines through.

While reading, I felt great sympathy for Melody and her family, working together to live in 1963 Detroit amidst the struggles that African-Americans faced. I was born at the end of the ’80s, as a white female, so all I know about the Civil Rights Movement is through oral or written histories.

At the same time, I found myself drawing several comparisons to the world we live in now, in 2016. African-Americans still struggle immensely. There is widespread media coverage on many issues: Housing, jobs, poverty, #BlackLivesMatter, prejudice, protests, calls for justice. The list seems endless.

I wrote this post a few days ago, still reeling from the events of this last week. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot and killed by law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, outside of Minneapolis. And then, last Thursday night, 12 police officers in Dallas, Texas were shot, as peaceful protests on behalf and in memory of Sterling and Castile were underway. It was the deadliest day for police since September 11, 2001.

And those are the stories the media is currently covering / focused on / obsessed with – There are plenty more stories that are not being covered.

It makes me sick.

And as I think about all of that, I realize more and more that I use reading as a true escape from the world that I / we currently live in. I surround myself with fiction and historical fiction (and non-fiction too) to get away from the reality. It may sound like a cop-out (No pun intended), but I think reading, and writing, are two things that help keep me sane in this crazy world.

I applaud the author and all the sources she used to create a historically accurate world of a little girl trying to make her way, and let her light shine, through a tumultuous time in our storied history. I hope to get my hands on volume 2 very soon.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Scottsburg, VA Edition (Round 4 – Memorial Day Weekend 2016)


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I need to get better about posting these adventures sooner!

For Memorial Day weekend, a good portion of the Vardaro family gathered at the farm in Scottsburg, Virginia:

  • Mom and Dad V.
  • Al and Laura Beth
  • The “Bengdaros” – Nick and Savy
  • Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Dan – Dad’s sister and brother-in-law

We also had an awesome guest:

During the weekend, we enjoyed fishing on the pontoon boat, amazing food, great conversation, and we even ventured out to the World of Sports – Cinema I & II in South Boston to see X-Men: Apocalypse!

Photo montage!


Picture perfect – The pond, the pontoon boat, and the tractor, at sunset.


Just gorgeous.


Campfire, with s’mores!

We also got to see the progress on Dad’s garage!


The front. Almost finished!


It looks like stairs to a treehouse!


It really feels like you are in the trees!


This is the second story – Dad’s future “Man Cave.”


Al on solid ground, flying his DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter.


My first fish, in a long time! This is a brim. Photo Credit: Nick Vardaro

Fishing 2

Mom and Dad showing off the big bass! I think this was the one Al caught. Photo Credit: Nick Vardaro

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #12: “This Is Where It Ends”

This Is Where It Ends - Goodreads

Image Credit:

“You can’t always keep your loved ones with you. You can’t always settle your life in one place. The world was made to change. But as long as you cherish the memories and make new ones along on the way, no matter where you are, you’ll always be at home.”
Marieke Nijkamp, This Is Where It Ends

This is the second book from my 2016 Reading Challenge!

Back in early January, when I decided to embark on the reading challenge, I was immediately drawn toward this book. I remember reading the description on Goodreads, and then seconds later, heading for Amazon to order it.

It took me until the middle of June to finish it, but oh well!

I think my expectations were a bit high with this book. I admire what Nijkamp has attempted to accomplish here. But, considering I was wrapping up this book just days after the terrible massacre in Orlando, Florida, I felt a bit desensitized. To me, it felt like Columbine, but “updated” for 2016.

Also, this book is told from four different perspectives. I took that as a challenge when I decided to buy this book. If you remember my review of the Divergent trilogy, I have struggled with multi-perspective novels.

I’ve always had a strange fascination with crime and investigations and forensics. I’ve watched every episode of Cold Case and Forensic Files. This book took a high school shooting in a small Alabama town, and tried to put a modern spin on it. I appreciated Nijkamp’s attention to certain details, in particular, incorporating social media aspects.

But the multiple perspectives, once again, tripped me up. I really wanted to like it and make it work with my brain. However, since I wasn’t able to finish the book in quick succession, I had to backtrack a couple of times to find my place before I could forage ahead. That really bothered me.

On a more positive note, I liked the characters, and how they were all connected, in some way, to the shooter. Nijkamp was really invested in these characters and I could tell that she wanted to explore every detail possible, in the limited time frame that the book was set. Seeing the connections really made me want to finish the book, to see what the outcome was.

The ending was a bit of a letdown, and it was unsettling. But, as I was explaining these feelings to my husband, Al, he brought up a good point. The plot centers around a high school shooting, and the real-life massacre in Orlando had just happened. What more was I expecting?

I wondered that, too.

4 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂