Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's been a while!

Okay, so I've been bad about posting anything new and exciting (well, at least exciting to me)  :-)  :-) but it's been hectic around here!  :-)  I've been working my new job for almost a month and I've been finding that personal computer time is the last thing on my list of stuff to do when I get home.  I'd rather spend those few precious hours with my baby boy than on the computer.  Sorry, but y'all have to take a back seat to my kiddo.  :-)

Well, enough of that.  Lets talk about something we all know and love - YARN!  :-)  :-)  I've been playing with all kinds of yarn lately.  Yes, quite literally as well.  I've been hoarding so much yarn that I've been putting aside as "free form" yarn that I can't quite find anymore storage room for it anymore.  So, I've decided to use some of it up.  I've been making these really cute scrap yarn scarves for Christmas and not only am I using up some of that 'free form' yarn, I think these scarves are looking quite cute!  :-)

This has also been an awesome exercise in color as well.  I've been finding out really quick as to which colors work well together and which do not.  Most of my color choices are coming out fine, but I find myself having a little bit of trouble with the lighter and pastel colors.  Some of these do not blend well together - especially the lavender or purple color families.  Gray is another color that I've been having trouble with as well.  I don't have enough to make a scarf by itself, but I'm finding it hard to blend with other colors other than black.  And I don't have enough black to mix with it either.  So, I find myself putting those colors aside and hope that they will either start to multiply so I can make a scarf, or hopefully find a color that I can successfully mix with it.

So, color is one thing that I've been learning with this exercise, but another is about yarn weights and density.  Yes, this is going to become a short science blog because I've never really thought about this too much or for very long until I started making these scarves.

I find that I can take three or four different yarns from different manufacturers that all claim to be the same weight - lets say that in this case it is worsted weight.  I have found that not all worsted weight yarn makes the same type of fabric.  It doesn't matter if it was knitted or crocheted because a wool will not necessarily have the exact same gauge as an acrylic even if they both claim to be worsted weight.  One yarn will be a little more fluffy than the other and the non-fluffy of the  two will have a more dense fabric even when knit or crocheted with the same size hook or needle.  Even if the difference is slight, it's still enough to mess up gauge if I'm trying to match for a pattern.

This reminds me of a lady that I met a couple weeks ago at the yarn shop that was substituting a different yarn for a Caron brand pattern.  She was using worsted weight as the pattern called, but even if her stitch number was right on gauge, her row gauge was off a bit.  Because this was a sweater that was worked from shoulder to shoulder, her off gauge row count would have ended up messing up the shoulder and neck width if she followed the instructions exactly.

This is what we had to do:  since her stitch count was right on gauge, we didn't worry about having to alter the stitch pattern.  All we had to figure out was the number of rows that she had to increase because her row count was higher than what the gauge stated.  It wasn't too difficult.  Since she wasn't working a very complicated shaping, all she had to do was add an extra four rows of working even to make up for the difference.  I advised her to work to measurement instead of number of rows since I knew that she's be short.  So instead of working 20 rows, she had to work 24 rows to achieve the desired inches.

So, no matter what everyone says about it being easy to substitute yarns, it's not necessarily true.  This lady's pattern called for a worsted weight acrylic and she substituted an acrylic/wool blend instead and ended up off on her row count.  So what does that mean?  My guess is that the Caron brand yarn is a little more dense or less fluffy by a small amount to make the rows a little taller.  The substituted yarn was a little more fluffy and squished a little more making the row a little shorter even though the stitch count was exactly on gauge.  I don't think the row problem would have been fixed with a hook change either, because then at that point her stitch count would have been off.

So, not all yarns are created equal.  If you find a really cute pattern that you've fallen in love with and want to substitute the yarn, make sure you practice that gauge to make sure your fabric will be the same.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where does the time go?

I've been hearing this a lot lately as I hunt down former co-workers and long lost friends to be professional and personal references for the job hunting that I've been doing lately.  This is always their reaction to hearing how old Caeden, my 7 year old son, is now.  :-)  :-)  After thinking about it for a bit, I think I know how to answer this question.  :-)  :-)

We all know that there are times when time seems to slow down for us, as well as speed up.  Below are a few examples of when times seems to change:

1.  Time slows down during labor.  Especially when it's a difficult and long labor.

2.  Time speeds up as you watch your newborn discover the world around him.  Discovering his hands for the first time, his foot - and having to try to taste that foot as well.  :-)

3.  Time slows down during each night time feeding and diaper changing during those first few months.

4.  Time speeds up during those few precious minutes of sleep when the baby is actually asleep as well.

5.  Time slows down when you have to put your baby in time-out for the first time.

6.  Time speeds up when you get those adorable baby hugs and kisses.

7.  Time slows down while the bus pulls away from the stop for the very first time with your baby inside.

8.  Time speeds up during birthday parties, Christmas and summer vacations as you spend time with your kiddo.

9.  Time slows down when a difficult homework assignment makes your kid grumpy and starts to cry, yet you need to be firm and consistent to make sure it gets done.

10.  Time speeds up on weekends when you get to sleep in or get woken up earlier than normal for cuddle and play time with your kiddo.

11.  Time slows down when your baby gets sick - with the simple cold or with a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder which caused so much weight loss.

12.  Time speeds up when you realize that your baby no longer sounds like a baby in his pronunciation or speech.  He sounds like a real person!

13.  Time slows down during the few quiet moments after bed time for the kiddo but before your own bed time.

14.  Time speeds up as you run around each morning trying to get lunches packed, breakfast made and hair tame and still hope that your kid picked out a decent outfit to dress in for school.

Now these are just a few examples of how time speeds up and when it slows down.  My personal theory is that most of the fun and good times usually feel like time passes by too fast.  So, as a parent you find yourself wondering where the heck time has gone - I see it as a sign that there have been more good times during your kids childhood.  :-)  :-)

So, where did the time go?  I'm happy to ask and answer that question!  :-)  :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lady of Hay

Okay, last night when I was talking about destroying yarn to see how much stress it can take, I mentioned finishing a really good book.  It's called Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine.  I downloaded it as a free book through - I had heard of it through a newsletter called Pixel of Ink.  Wow, this site and newsletter has me stocked up on free or really cheap books to last quite a few years!  :-)

Anyway, back to the book...

I almost didn't download this book because I thought the title was kind of weak - and well, it is.  It almost sounds like a cheap romance novel.  Oh, but this book is so far from one of those sleazy romance novels.  Once you get all of the characters straight, it's so hard to put the book down!  I was reading it a little at a time when I first opened it and it took more than a week to read it.  I do have to say that the last half of the book was read in just a couple days though.

Okay, so here is the basic concept of the story: The main character, Jo, is a reporter who is researching the whole concept of using hypnosis to regress people to find out if (or about) their previous lives.  Well, Jo finds out that she did live before as a noblewoman in the 12th century.  Then there is an interesting twist to the whole story... apparently a few of the main players of Jo's previous self from 800 years ago have also found new lives in the 20th (current time in the story is 1985) century and are trying to change what had happened before.

Once that whole twist was introduced it was a little confusing remembering who everyone was and how they played in the story, but once I got my characters straightened out, I was able to pick up speed in the story.

I was really impressed with the amount of research that went into this book!  I was reading the timeline and authors notes about this book and the characters from the 12th century were real!  Now, the story that she wrote for them may not have been, but she work off of speculation and legends from the area.  I love knowing that a writer put that kind of effort into an story.  It makes me appreciate it even more.  :-)  :-)

What is also fun about this whole story is the concept of reincarnation.  Do you believe it or not?  I guess it all depends on what kind of religion you've grown up with or what kind of religion you are now... but after reading this book it kind of did make me think.  :-)  And thinking about it is also half the fun.  Coming up with all of the "What if..." questions and wondering.  If it were really possible to get hypnotized and regressed like this book talks about, it would be a cool way of jumping back in time to see what life was really like back then... "then" being whatever time frames your previous life lived.  :-)  I love to read about history and historical novels like this one, but sometimes the details are just not detailed enough.  To tell you the truth, I've always wondered how certain hygiene habits that we take for granted today were dealt with back then.  Daily showers?  Deodorant?  Dental floss?  Feminine hygiene products for menstruation?  Not very many books talk about that - at least none of the books I've read.  :-)  :-)

I also loved the writing style for this writer.  It was smooth but not over worded.  Maybe that's not the right word I'm looking for... I don't believe that something can be over worded.  It's kind of like trying to tell someone that a certain piece of music has too many notes.  But some authors take description a little overboard.  Some people like it; I personally don't.  With this writer, I got a good sense to where she was and what the castle, room or whatever she was describing and the actions and feelings of the characters were excellent.  When Mathilda was starting to suffer from arthritis, I could almost feel her pain.  The stress and anguish she must have felt when she was abandoned by her husband when he didn't show up with the money he owed the king... it's painful to read that kind of sadness but the writing was so well done that I could almost imagine what she was feeling.

I do have to warn you though, this book is long.  I don't know how long because Kindle doesn't give me page numbers, but it did take me a while to read it.  I don't think she would have been able to write such a good book in less pages.  I personally think that she could have gone into just a wee bit more detail in certain areas, but the book is a wonderful story either way.  :-)  :-)  I was a little sad that the story didn't turn out like I wanted, but then, I didn't write the book now, did I?  :-)

I have a feeling that this book may have been written around the same time as the book's timeline - 1985 - so this book may have been out for a while.  There has to be someone that has to have read it that would like to talk to me about it....  :-)  Please feel free to email or leave a comment.  :-)  :-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How do you know?

Oh my goodness... I just finished one of the most awesome books since the Promises to Keep series.  But I'll have to tell you about that later.  I don't have the energy to write about that now.

Amazingly enough, though, I do feel like writing about a common problem that so many of us may have with so much of the yarn in our yarn stashes/reserves/pets/whatever you want to call it.  :-)  :-)  Let's say that you want to use up some of that stash on a baby blanket or baby toy but you're not sure what these various little balls of yarn are or know if they'll be strong enough?  I can tell most of the time just by look and feel (and sometimes memory) on what brand each ball of yarn may be.  But sometimes it's not as easy - especially if you've just inherited yarn from someone else's stash.  :-)

So, other than the usual burning test to see if the yarn is acrylic or wool, you can do the stress test that a friend taught me years ago (can you believe that I almost typed 'yarns ago'?  :-)  :-)

I like to use this especially when I'm making something that has a good chance of being abused.  Baby sweater/toy/blanket.  It can even work for socks or mittens.  :-)  You need to use a yarn that is going to be fairly sturdy and will  not disintegrate too easily with lots of abuse.  So, you get a couple yards of yarn and try the following:

Make a chain (finger or you can use your crochet hook) for the entire length of yarn.  Make a chain with that chain, and if you can, make one last chain.  Make sure when you finish off at the end of each chain that you don't tighten it up too tight because you'll need to take them out next.

Holding the chain in your other hand as tight as you can, pull chain to undo it (or frog it).  When you hold the chain tightly in your other hand, it causes a lot of friction in the  yarn.  At this point, you should have seen a few fragments or shedding of the yarn.  If it hasn't fallen apart completely, then you know that the yarn is a little strong.  Unravel the second layer of chain, and possibly the third (all while holding tightly in the other hand), then look at what you have left.  The yarn will look like total crud.  Not much gets past this unscathed, it will have untwisted a bit, it will looks a bit fluffy where most of the abuse was given... grab an end in each hand and give it a nice tug.  Does it fall apart or break?  No?  Well, then you have got yourself a really strong yarn!  :-)  This will probably survive the abuse that any baby/toddler/child can give a blanket, toy or sweater on a hourly basis.  Make a quick swatch with this bit of yarn, and no, it does not have to be in the stitch that you will be using.  Just stockinette or single crochet will do, then wash it.  It doesn't matter what you wash it in, you want to see if it will survive the gazillion washes that most kid stuff must endure in it's lifetime.  Then, throw it in the dryer - I personally throw these swatches in with the whites where it not only takes further abuse by being washed in hot water, but also bleach.  Then, you'll undo one of the ends and holding it tightly again, take it apart.  How does the yarn hold up now?  :-)  :-)

I've only known two brands that have survived both the chain torture test and the wash test, but I'm not going to tell you.  Put your favorite brands to the test and let me know.  :-)

I will need to tell you that most of that fun and fancy lace weight yarn falls apart really easy.  But then, I'm not going to spend a million hours on a lace shawl and give it to a baby now, am I?  :-)  I have also noticed that home hand spun is stronger than heck and back, but others don't survive the first layer of torture.  So, what kind of fiber is stronger?  Or can it all go back to the spinner?  :-)  :-)  Don't know, I just do the test.  :-)  :-)

I need to get batteries for my camera and take some decent pics to post.  I'd love to hear your comments though so please share!  :-)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Two short stories

I'm a little (okay, I'm actually very behind!) on sharing my thoughts on the last few books that I've read in the past couple of weeks.  I've actually read some really good ones - including two short stories.

The first one is called The Second Ward by Robert DeCoteau.  For a short story, the writer sure has a way of pulling you into the story quick!  The story kind of reminded me of a movie that I watched a long  time ago but I don't remember the whole story - something about a bumble bee - but anyway, the story is basically about a kid in a mental institution that has been there since he was 9 years old.  Everyone claims to want to help him, but he really doesn't understand what is wrong with him.  He keeps having these dreams about driving a car but no one wants to talk about it.  Neither his doctors or is he really allowed to talk about it in the group sessions either.  I feel really bad for this kid - he doesn't know anything about the outside world and wants to escape so badly.  His parents no longer visit and he's basically all alone.  The story takes an awesome turn and really picks up, then bam!  You find out what was really going on to this kid.  I didn't expect it at all and when I can't predict how the story is going to finish, I am pretty surprised.  I didn't even realize that the story was over!  I suppose that this short story can eventually lead to another book, where this other plot left off.  If the writer can tell a tale this good, I can't wait to read more.

The other short story I don't really think was meant to be a short story.  It went by really fast but since the Kindle doesn't have page numbers, I have no idea how to figure out how long the book actually was.  The book is called 8810 by Nicholas Taylor.  Where the last short story was serious and in a way, a bit disturbing, this book was funny.  The whole story takes place in an office - the whole corporate world.  If you've ever worked for a large company in any department, you'll find the same kind of personalities and the same kind of activities going on.  In a way it almost made me miss working a little bit, but only for the entertainment value.  When I had the time, it was kind of fun to see all of the personalities interact with each other.  I guess this book could have been a little boring to someone that couldn't relate, but since I could, I found it just so much fun to read.  :-)  It was really short - I guess that's why it was a 'short' story - but I really liked the way this writer told his story.  Nothing was too serious even though it could have.  The beginning of the story started with the whole Monday morning moodiness routine and the first day on a new job.  The main character could have been written as being a bundle of nerves, jumpy or even a little too anxious.  Instead, the character had an almost cynical (but funny) "Holden Caulfield" (from Catcher in the Rye) attitude to the whole thing.  No, he didn't call everyone phony, but he just kind of went along with everyone until they did something stupid, then he let his true opinions about them come out; but for some strange reason, he still maintained a almost friendship with them afterwards.  The paranoid guy that kept thinking that everyone was against him was made a little more paranoid, the guy that always ate lunch in the park got a lunch partner every once in a while (who got the same nasty looks from the play ground moms)... unlike the Catcher in the Rye guy, this guy (oh, what the heck was his name again!) was a little more light hearted.  I'll be curious to see if this leads to another book because this one was fun to read.  The writer had a good way to keep the mood fun in the book which also made it so neat to read.  :-)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Griffin's Daughter

This is the first of a trilogy called the Griffin's Daughter Series by Leslie Anne Moore.  Griffin's Daughter is the exact type of fantasy fiction book that I LOVE reading!!!  I love fantasy worlds... in this case, we have humans and elves.  There is a poor, tortured soul that goes off on an adventure to find a person that she has never met but gave her life.  During this adventure she meets and falls in love with an elf soldier who is also from a noble family.

There are so many little things that I love about the way this writer tells her story.  First of all, I love all of the unique names in this book.  Maybe they are common somewhere else, but I've personally not heard of many of them before.  :-)  There is our main character, Jelena, her husband, Ashinji of the Sakehera family... what cool names are those!  I also love how each character has these little things about them that makes them more 'alive'.  You can't believe how many books I've read where the characters are pretty much just robots that don't have very many thoughts or unique feelings, or their personalities are just too shallow.  Yes, I'm talking about some of the traditional 'romance' books that I am stupidly still reading, hoping to find something that I'll like.... this book would  not be classified as a romance, but you still have some of the romantic aspects that are found in that genre.  Though I have to say that I'm glad that the bedroom parts, with the exception of one, are tastefully written.  The part where Jelena and Ashinji make love for the first time, okay - it's definitely something that prevents me from recommending this series to a younger reader, but so much of this book would be so much fun for other readers!  So, I really don't understand why this part had to be so detailed.  It was written well, but really?  I broke my heart because I love to share book names and authors with other people, and well, a lot of them are the type that would not appreciate even one small part written with so much detail.  It makes me sad that I can't go out and tell my groups to get this book now!

Well, let's move one... for the ones that do not mind that kind of reading, like I said before, there is a bit of detail but it is tastefully done.  The writing is very impressive.  What I like about this writer is that she puts personality in many of the smaller things... the horses have personalities, one trying to bit another, and even the brief encounter with a wild boar was written so well that I could almost see the whole part in my mind.  This is what I like to describe as writing with all 5 senses and not very many writers can do this without over wording or just plain going overboard.  This writer has a nice balance and makes so much of her book come alive.

Now, you all know that I'm not a very patient reader.  The story does have a nice transition at the end of this book to go into the next, but now I'm very curious to how the adventure will continue.  Though I'm happy to say that this can also be a stand alone book - there are a few small issues that are not completely resolved in the first book, but it's enough to get some closure.  So, unlike some of my favorite authors, I don't feel like I'm left dangling.  :-)  :-)  I hate being left dangling but also love it at the same time.  I get too anxious for the next book and if I have to wait a whole year, I am not a happy person with that.  I'll be curious to see how well the next two books stand on their own.

So you're probably asking, am I going to get the next book?  I just looked it up on Amazon.  The answer is yes!  The price is not too bad and I can download one book this week and if I finish quick enough, I can get the last book next week.  :-)  The price is comparable to getting a used book, so I feel that the price is right.  :-)  If I would have had to pay full retail for a paperback or higher, I can't justify getting the ebook.  I'd rather go hunting for the book at the library or in a used copy.  I'm just cheap that way - I can't justify paying full retail price on anything anymore... because I can't afford it!  Do you realise how many books I read a year!!!?!?!?!

At the same time with this book, I've been listening to the final Harry Potter book.  No, I haven't read it before.  I've actually only read the first book, and the first two chapters of the second - I've reading the books to my 7 year old  for the past year.  I have, though, listened to all of the other books in audio book.  I need something to keep my mind busy as I do my daily chores and laundry and such.  :-)  Plus, when I can actually knit, crochet or bead, if I'm working on something really simple, I'd much rather listen to an audio book than watch TV.

But reading has always been my first passion.  I love books and now love my Kindle.  I have to thank Pixel of Ink and the author for offering this first book as a free download.  If it were not for this first free book, I would have never discovered this talented author.  I look forward to not only finishing this series, but reading any other books that she may have written.  :-) 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Blood that Bonds

I have no idea how long this book took me to read!  Hubby's been on vacation this week and I think I started it last week but am not sure.  This book was not all that short, but I have a feeling I just kind of flew through it.  The book that I'm talking about is called The Blood that Bonds by Christopher Buecheler.

This is the first book for a series from this writer and I have to say that I am really impressed with the quality of the writing and the story.  You have fantasy fiction and a pretty good story along with interesting character names; the main character being named Two (yes, like the number).  :-)  :-)  I can see how this kind of book may have more of a female reader following because of the romance aspect, but I actually like the way it was written.  I don't remember reading any of the super uber cheezy cliche phrases that so many writers overuse, and though still a bit explicit with the beedroom parts, not as bad as some other books that I've read.

Of course, I have to complain about something, right?  The book probably could have had a better editor or had a final editing before publishing.  In many areas the wrong word was used or it looked like the writer started to say something but changed it - forgetting to delete some of the original phrase.  There was also the part that kept getting on my nerves... Two's lover, Theroen, how old was this guy?  Sometimes the numbers just didn't add up.  Half a millennium? or century?  Both were used at one point.  But considering that one of his "sisters" was 140 years old, I think the half a century was a typo.  Come on, I'm a former accountant, counting and adding is second nature to me so give me a break!  :-)  :-)  Also, one word that I think was misused (and that gets on my nerves too) was the use of millennium.  The writer used the phrase "half a millennia" - but the word millennia is plural for millennium - so how can you say that Theroen's age was half of multiple millenniums?  So, maybe emphasising his age was not the best idea?  Okay, enough of the English lesson, I'll shut up for now.  :-)

I was able to get past all of these little things, though, and can truly say that I enjoyed this book.  This story is not your typical vampire romance story and it looks like it will continue with another book that should be coming out soon.  I'm looking forward to seeing it out and possibly downloading it to continue reading about Two's adventures. 

Two has a lot of potential here.  She was turned into a vampire but reverted back to human because the vampire that made her was killed only a few days after she was turned.  Now, it was either tremendous amounts of luck or some kind of skill that she didn't know she had in her, but Two was able to defeat the evil vampire that considered himself a god, Abraham.  This was supposed to be the same vampire that killed Theroen, who was supposedly very strong himself at about 500 years old.

So, either Two's mother was Anita Blake and her kick-vampire-ass is a genetic thing, or Two is not who she seems.  I think our writer is trying to save this kind of surprise for us later in the series.  :-)  :-)  I can be wrong, but I can usually smell this kind of stuff in books.  It would be dumb if he didn't come up with an explanation like that.  There is no way that a new vampire who is reverting back to human again can actually kill such a strong vampire with a bit of heroine and a machete.  I guess we'll just have to see.

The writer himself has so much potential.  Like I said before, the story is really good and I like flow and where he's trying to take this series.  Of course, I can only guess as to where he's taking it, but the build up is still very impressive.  From what I read of him on Amazon, he seems to still be very young himself so he has lots of time to improve his already impressive writing skills (if he can find someone to do the editing).  I would almost like to compare him to another writer that I knew a long time ago that went by the pen name of Gustav Benjava.  I was fortunate enough to read both of his books before publishing and the writing style seems so similar.  It was funny how I thought of Gus while reading this book, but I'm pretty sure that it was the writing style that brought back those memories.  :-)  Unfortunately Gus didn't continue his writing and we lost contact, but I hope that Chrisopher Buecheler finds success with his writing.  :-)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hit List - Anita Blake book 20

I am an Anita Blake fan... yes, I'm proud to say it and will admit it openly to anyone.  :-)  So you are probably going to expect having me gush all over the latest book, Hit List by Laurel K. Hamilton.

I'm going to surprise you a bit (as it did myself) that I started out really liking this book because one of my favorite characters, Edward/Ted, was in it.  This character just really cracks me up.  He reminds me of Tackleberry from Police Academy mixed with the Terminator and a few other characters mixed in between.  He seems to come up with a new mega weapon each time he makes an appearance and he didn't disappoint this time either.  :-)  :-)

The book started off pretty well and I was really enjoying it until something just kind of happened.  I can't really put my fingers on it, but the story just started to fizzle out.  There was a little bit of deja-vu from some of the other stories so I wasn't as impressed as I was with the others.  Maybe Anita Blake needs to either retire from the US Marshals or something else needs to happen to change the direction of the series because I think (and this makes me gasp) that I may be getting a little bored with this series.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the characters and enjoy reading (or listening if on audio book) about their shenanigans.  But really, how many more lovers can Anita really bring back to St. Louis?  It almost seems like she picks up lovers like those lonely old women and their stray cats.  I can almost see Anita showing up back at the Circus of the Damned asking Jean Claude, "Can I keep him? Please?"  :-)  :-)

Now that Olaf (I can't remember if that was how to spell his name and I'm too lazy to grab one of the books that are way, way over there in the other room) caught the lycanthropy virus, who knows where that may lead.  Hopefully into something a little more interesting and not with Anita taking him in as one of her lovers either.  Gosh, come on Laurel K. Hamilton, does Anita really have to have that many lovers?  Plus, I do find it funny that almost all of Anita's lovers are so needy and so emotional.  Yeah, I guess Anita did describe herself as being more of a guy to an extent, and I think that is the appeal that she has with her fans.  I also like the fact that she's part Hispanic and that even though she's still small, she's not skinny and can really kick butt.  :-)

I'll be curious to see what happens with the next book, but I'm in no hurry to read it.  I'd rather have the writer come up with a brand new twist than regurgitate the same old stuff.  Have you ever read any of the Christine Feehan books?  You want to talk about regurgitating!  The only difference in the books are the character names and a bit of plot, but those books are almost all the same.  I didn't have to read all of them to know this, but I read enough.  :-)

I have gone back to re-read the very first book in the series and really enjoyed it.  I like re-reading some of my favorite books.  I hope I can find books 2 and 3 at the used book store sometime soon so I can read the whole series in order.  It really annoys me when I can't do that.  :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seduced by the Wolf

Okay, this book is called Seduced by the Wolf by Terry Spear.  The title is a little cheesy, but I shouldn't complain too much because I probably couldn't come up with a better one either.  :-)  :-)

I have to tell you that I have mixed feelings about this book.  It started off really good and it was very interesting and had my attention.  The characters were good, the story was interesting, and the writing exceptional.  But once the seduction happened and the writer started adding those descriptive sex parts, the story kind of fell apart.  If the writer is that good at writing fantasy fiction, she should have made this book a true fantasy fiction book.  The seduction and the sex parts were okay if you like reading that kind of stuff, but the overall story kind of starting falling apart from that point.

The story went from being fun and exciting to read to all of the sudden being an "oh gosh, you've got to be kidding" type of ridiculousness.  Now I'm not trying to say that I could have done better, because I know that I couldn't, but the story just didn't have the same... oh, could I say quality here? - that the first half of the book had.  All of the sudden you have this character that is very strong and almost impressive that she's been able to accomplish all she had alone or with only a little bit of help.  I can almost say that I admired Cassie and her approach to her studying wolf packs and her work.  But then she runs into an alpha wolf, Leidolf, and her whole personality changes!  Okay, yeah, she's in total lust with this guy, but all of the sudden she almost turned into a ditz.  Yeah, I'm being mean here, but if anyone else read this book, please feel free to prove me wrong.

Then you have Leidolf, former loner wolf that all of the sudden finds himself the leader of a wolf pack and finds himself in total lust with Cassie.  His character was not all that strong to begin with - and I'm talking about him being kind of wishy washy - so I can see where a strong, no-b.s. personality like Cassie's could change him.  His changes I can see happening... having a soft spine to being almost a jerk for wanting to be protective over his new mate.  But it was done in such a cheesy way that it got on my nerves.

Okay, I need to change my approach here because I don't like concentrate on negatives here.  I do want to mention again that the first half of this book was awesome.  I liked how the writer developed the story and characters and gave me a good sense to who they were.  I think I'd go looking for more books by this writer is the book was written like the first half.  I also think that this author has way more potential if she stuck to pure fantasy fiction.  Sure, it is possible to still have fantasy fiction and romance in the same book without all of the descriptive sex.  Look at Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson series.  I can see this writer going to that level and I'm sure that her books would do really well.  Take a strong character like Cassie, put her in similar situations like in this book (without the whole Leidolf part) and you'd have a new series to enjoy.  Cassie knows how to kick butt and is very passionate about her work.  She does whatever it takes to accomplish her goals even if it means stealing a car and running around in the woods with an injured arm.  But the writer will need to be careful to not change Cassie too much (or a Cassie equivalent) like she did in this book because by the end I kind of lost interest in her.  Her personality changed too much once she became Leidolf's mate.  If I were to compare Mercy Thompson, she didn't really change too much after she married her mate, Adam.  Now, it has been a while since I've read the Mercy Thompson books so I could be wrong here... so please let me know if you think I am.  I'd love to compare notes.  :-)

If you've had the opportunity to read anything else by this writer, I'd love to hear what you think.  As I feel right now, I don't think I will look for anything else by this writer.  I'm kind of tired of the whole love-sick, give everything up for the guy type of romance novels right now.  I think that is why I've taken a liking to my new favorite character, Riley Jensen.  :-)  :-)  Well, I just downloaded four new free books from Amazon that I'd like to eventually read, but it's not going to happen if I spend too much time on this computer.  :-)  :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Riley Jensen Series

I've listened to the first two books in this series and am hooked.  I think the best way to describe the main character of this series, Riley Jensen, as the Australian Anita Blake.  :-)  :-)  The two books are called Full Moon Rising and Kissing Sin by Keri Arthur.  Riley has the same qualities that Anita has... she can kick butt and take care of herself in a scary world, but she is beautiful and desirable.  Yes, like the Anita Blake books written by Laurel K. Hamilton, there are pretty explicit love scenes in these books.  But if this doesn't bother you, you'll love the rest of the story.  :-)

I can't wait to get the third book of this series because the second book really built up the story.  Like the first book helped build up the characters, the second book is the stepping stone to what I hope will be an awesome series.  :-)

Riley is kind of a freak of nature - going back to Anita being a necromancer, Riley and her twin brother, Rhoan, are part werewolf and part vampire.  You have your mix of characters that are really adorable - Riley's brother - and some that are just annoying.  I don't have a favorite character quite yet, but I'm leaning towards Rhoan's lover who is an ex-military but current make up magician.  :-)  I'll have to see what else this very minor character will have up his sleeves later on in the series.

I like the fact that the writer does not use too many super generic and now getting boring names.  Riley is not a name that I hear very often, neither is Rhoan.  Their vampire friend is called Quinn, which is also a name that I do not personally hear very often either, so it's quite refreshing to have some new names to put to new characters.  I also like the fact that the story takes place in a country that I'm personally not all that familiar with.  I have a few friends from Australia, and I'm sorry to say that I haven't taken the time to even read about the country or even look at a map.  So, this book got my curiosity going a bit and I at least had to see where some of the main cities are located.  :-)

I'm not going to really get into the story much because of two reasons - my brain is pretty tired right now so it's hard to think, plus my arm has been killing me for the past few days so I didn't retain as much as I would have liked.  So, it's a bit difficult to regurgitate some of the story for you.  I can remember, but don't know how to put that in words right now.  I'm sure that I'll be writing more about this series as I finish the next few books, so hopefully I can talk a little more about it then....  :-)

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser

Wow, I thought this day would never come... being pain free enough (well, almost pain free) to finally write about some of the books I just finished reading!  :-)  This blog is about The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser.  I believe I downloaded this as a free book through, but I'm not completely sure.  I've looked up the second book for this series and it's way beyond what I can currently pay for in an ebook, so unfortunately I don't think I'll be reading that book anytime soon.

Well, let's get back to the book... now this is what I like in mystery type of books.  This book was awesome.  If you look up this book it will probably fall under religious fiction, but that was just a small part of the story for me.  It was not a murder mystery, but a mystery still - and a very good one!  The main character, Mary Swan, is a 16 year old high school junior that was chosen to solve a very important puzzle for her school.  It would have been just a regular fun challenge if it did not relate to her recently deceased mother.

So, this is where the mystery part starts in the book... Mary Swan gets her riddle that she has 8 months to solve, she finds out that her mom has died in a horrible plane crash.  The riddle is about 3 paintings that were supposed to be donated to a local museum and one was a painting from her mother... but just before the paintings were to be taken to the museum, they disappeared.  So part of Mary Swan's healing and dealing with her mother's death is to try to find out what happened to these paintings.

During the time that she tries to find some kind of hint as to what happened to the paintings, Mary Swan finds out that her mother had some dark secrets.  Not only does this eventually help her understand her own mother and the relationship that she had with her father, but it helps her find her own passion in painting.  Plus, while she's on the hunt for more clues about these paintings, Mary Swan finds out how precious her friends are with their support.

So the mystery may have only been a minor part of the book, it was still really good.  The other sub plots to do with Mary Swan finding a relationship with God, the civil rights movement in Atlanta (the book takes place in 1962 and 1963), and of course, boys.  Mary Swan had a huge crush on a boy named Carl but because having a relationship with him would not be considered socially acceptable, they couldn't take their relationship any farther than friendship.  But Mary Swan did go out with a boy that was socially acceptable - coming from a fine Atlanta family - but she only liked him as a friend and didn't want to take it any farther.

It was fun reading this story.  I really liked Mary Swan and she is pretty naive about religion and race... and this is what made her so lovable.  She's young, but what was so endearing about her is that she was pretty color blind and didn't understand why it was necessary to have segregation.  She also didn't understand why so many people didn't think her best friend was good enough because she was Jewish. I'm sure that for 1962 Atlanta that Mary Swan was very unique her way of thinking... but I see it as something that he parents were doing right - they were not influencing their kids to think like they did... just because it was the way that they grew up. 

There was just one little tid bit that I wish the writer would have done - and it's more of a problem with me because I get myself so involved with the characters.... I didn't feel any closure with what happened between Mary Swan and Carl or Robbie.  What happened to Rachel?  The story just sort of stopped, then the next thing I knew I turned the page and saw the epilogue.  Maybe all of this is explained in the sequel, but I don't know and I may never find out.  Oh well...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ex-Boyfriends Handbook

So this was a book that I finished reading last week.  But it is still worth writing about.  :-)  This book was so funny that I had to sober up and read a more serious natured book before writing about this one.  I would have told you the whole story if I didn't distance myself a bit.  :-)  :-)  :-)

So this book is called The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook: Eddie will do whatever it takes to become her Mr. Right by Matt Dunn.  The title pretty much says it all - Eddie will do whatever it takes to get his girlfriend back - and he does!  But the journey to becoming Mr. Right is so funny!  The writer must have really vivid memories of starting an exercises routine and what it feels like from getting sick to his stomach to the soreness the next morning.  :-)  I remember when I was in my mid 20's and tried to take an advance ballet class (after all, I had only taken a 3 year break) for the first time.  Everything that Eddie went through on his first day of working out happened to me during that dance class - yes, even getting sick to my stomach.  I laughed because I could relate to that pain - especially the soreness the day after - where it even hurts to blink your eyes!  Yes, I've been there.  But then I've also been there when it all starts to get a bit easier and Matt Dunn makes that funny as well.

So not only does our out-of-shape, abandoned by his girlfriend of 10 years, friend Eddie start to get back into shape, he gets new furniture, a new car, gets rid of the glasses and gets his teeth fixed.  Oh yeah, he also spends a small fortune on a new wardrobe as well.  He does it all for his ex-girlfriend and hopes that she will go back to him.

Well, it may have been sweet that he went through so much in order to get his girlfriend back, but as he starts to transform himself, he starts realizing other bits about himself.  Like - is this ex really worth it?  Did she really love him to begin with?  If she did, it shouldn't have mattered that he gained a bit of weight and didn't care what he dressed in, did it?  All of the usual questions that you'd expect to come from a transformation like this comes out - but the writer did such an awesome job at making it funny.  I have to admit that I found myself laughing out loud - a lot! - while reading this book.

Now, on about some of the other stuff that I like to mention after reading a book - the story itself and the flow of the writing.  Yes, all of that was good... the story itself was a bit predictable, but the writing made it worth sticking to it and getting to the end.  The story flow was nice and smooth and at least I don't remember anything that got on my nerves.  I was so curious to see if what I guessed was going to happen at the end that it didn't make a difference if it was choppy.  Now that says something to me... if I didn't notice, the writing and story have to be good.  I don't read funny stories like this very often so it was a lot of fun and I didn't pay much attention to much other than the characters and what antics they were up to.

This is going on my "must read again" list - and out of the hundreds of books that I read each year, not very many get on that list - but I know that I'll need some inspiration when I get this 40 year old fat body back at the gym to get back into some kind of shape that hopefully will not resemble a beached whale.  :-)  :-)

Solitary: A Novel by Travis Thrasher

Okay, so I've been a little lazy about writing about the books I've been reading or listening to lately... but then, a couple of the many books that I''ve finished reading the past week have been... oh, how can I say this nicely... well, not worth mentioning.  :-)  One was called The Journey by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  The next one was The Cat Who Killed Lilian Jackson Braun: A Parody by Robert Kaplow.  If you've read either one of these and would like to talk about it, please email me!  :-)  I'm not going to say more about these books other than that I've read them to completion.

Okay, on to the good stuff.  I finished reading Solitary: A Novel by Travis Thrasher this morning.  The past couple of nights have been bad ones for my arm and the pain has been keeping me up - so it was a good excuse to spend a couple sleepless nights reading this book.  :-) 

What can I say about this book other than it was such a breath of fresh air to some of the teenage angst books that are so popular today!  Yes, you may already have guessed that I'm am in no way a fan of the Twilight series - as a matter of fact, those books are an insult to anyone with average intelligence... okay, maybe I shouldn't be that nasty about those stories, but I really didn't care for them personally.  But then, I'm no one important, so my opinion doesn't matter anyway.  :-)  :-)

This story on the other hand... yeah, it still has some of that typical teenage angst - that moodiness that some teenagers reek of because of their insecurity and confusion.  But this also has something that I haven't seen very much in a teen type book - a type of innocence that I haven't really seen much currently or in past books that so many modern-day teens have at one point.  But the main character, Chris, shows so much of this.  Maybe because the book is written in the first person, maybe because Chris is a bit more honest than some other stories I've read, but at 16 years old, he still has such an innocent view on life.  Okay, I'm not doing a very good job here at describing Chris at the beginning of this book, but he doesn't have that conceit that know-it-all attitude that so many teenagers have at this age.  Is there a single word that can describe that?  When teenagers suddenly think they their parents are stupid and they have all the answers?  Oh, my brain has too much Tylenol in it to think straight... but let's move on.

Okay, I know I'm not making sense here... so here is an example.  Chris and his mother move to his mom's former home town and move into his uncle's cabin.  Chris is not totally naive about the world, he has to take care of him mom when she has her nightmares or is passed out drunk, but he still thinks that he can get answers to his questions just by asking "Why?".  My own 7 year old still thinks he can get any answer he wants with that simple question and I get pelted with that one word a few hundred times a day!  :-)  Chris still hasn't figured out that sometimes you just can't keep asking so many questions.  So, in his curiosity, he starts to stir up a bit of trouble.

I was quite impressed with the ability of this writer to dive into memory (or maybe he has teens of his own to be inspired by) and really be able to write from a teenager's viewpoint.  It's been a while since I was a teenager, but having my niece move in with us when she was 15 years old certainly brought back so many of those memories.  So I was able to relate to what Chris was going through - his confused thoughts, his reckless decisions, his desire to be secretive... heck, even as an adult, if I were to find out that some of the stuff he discovers was going on in my town, I'd be secretive, confused and reckless to an extent too!  But the point I'm trying to make here is that I can see that in his innocence of asking why, he starts to uncover what is so strange in this town and uncover some of their secrets.  He also has to find a way to protect the girl that he's so enamored with - Joscelyn.

The story may have started a little slow, but I'm glad that it did.  It gave me a good sense of the characters and the town before all of the action starts.  But once Chris starts getting some of his answers, this is when the books really starts to pick up.  Even the few hours of sleep that I was able to get, I found myself dreaming how this book was going to end.  I was glad that it didn't have a fairly tale ending, but it does leave a pretty good cliff hanger (which I personally don't like - but that's because I'm not the most patient type of readers...). 

There is a second book to this series available on for the Kindle... but it's at a price level that I can't afford... so I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed that I'll be able to find the book at my local library.  I will have to look for more titles by this author because I really liked the way he writes... the flow is just right and the story is nice and smooth from the start.  If you've read any of my previous thoughts of books, you'll know that I really dislike what I call choppy stories.  This is why I like reading over watching movies... movies are hacked and chopped into bits of story here and there and doesn't have the flow in story like books do.  So, this author is definitely worth my time to read more of.  I'll be really sad if my library doesn't have any of his titles though... but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.  :-)  No, I'm not a patient person at all.....

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow

It's taken me a few days to finally get here, but I wanted to write about one of the books that I've recently finished reading: The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin.  I'm not really sure what this is categorized under, but I'm not sure if it really is Christian fiction... but either way, it was a good book.

The story is mostly about two sisters, one who has dedicated her life to taking care of her 600 pound sister.  Griselda doesn't mind taking care of her sister, Agnes, and has been doing so since her parents died.  It was not clear (or I can't remember) how long since their parents have died, but both women are in their 40's and neither married.

The town is convinced that Agnes has been touched by God and is doing His work through prayer.  According to the town, she has been able to heal cancer, stomach ulcers, help temperamental children calm down, to finding lost items - all through prayer.  She even keeps a notebook with her with all of her notes so she knows what to pray for.

Of course, a story like this would be just a little too boring, so here comes a stranger to the town, Hezekiah, who had heard about Agnes and her miracles.  Agnes prays for Hezekiah, like she does for anyone else in the town who asks for it, but the prayers go unanswered.  Months go by with nothing and the town starts to doubt Agnes' ability to perform miracles. 

The overall story was pretty good but some plots were not written as smooth as they could have.  Of course, I have no idea how they could have been fixed, but it seems like some of these different sub-stories could have used a little more help.  They felt like they were fixed or finished just a little too quickly.  This made parts of the book a little choppy to me.  It didn't stop me from enjoying the rest of the book though.

It's funny because my favorite character in this book was one of the main characters - the poor, long suffering Griselda.  She almost seems too good to be true, but the author still wrote some humanity in her.  Griselda loved being a librarian and found a type of peace when she was surrounded by books.  She didn't mind taking care of her sister, which made it impossible for her to date, get married or have children.  Even when she tried to go on her first date since high school, Griselda and her date get called away because Agnes was having a bad asthma attack.

It is shortly after this that Griselda starts questioning if giving up her life for her sister was worth it.  It seems like she can't really do much because Agnes does not like being left at home by herself at night, and if she does go out to church or town meetings, she has to return right away.  She starts to dream a little more about getting out of that small town to see what else there is beyond the mountains that she can see from her bedroom window... until Agnes calls her back to reality and downstairs so she can help her walk to the bathroom.

Despite all of the growing resentment that Griselda has for her sister, she still stands up for her and defends her to the town.  When the town wanted to put up a sign with Anges' name on it, Griselda was the first to try to get that idea shot down - knowing that it was not what her sister wanted.  When the town started to question Agnes' power in her prayers, Griselda is the only one that stands up and asks the town if anyone has been praying for Agnes while she's dedicated her life to praying for them.

If you can get past some of the bumpy parts in the writing, it is overall a good book.  It hardly took any time at all to read it, even though I think it was twice as long as the last book.  The characters are really neat to read about and some of the stories are really cute - re: Jesus pie (yes, you'll have to read the book to find this precious story).  :-)  :-)  :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Fine Life: A Novel

I just finished reading yet another book - what a surprise - called This Fine Life: A Novel by Eva Marie Everson.  I was really impressed with the book and author's way of pulling you into the story.  I've read other books that started out this way but didn't have the  same pull as this one did.

The story starts off in 1964 with a young woman in the early stages of labor.  She gets her purse, gloves and is ready to go wherever she thinks she needs to go.  At this point I gather that her husband's name is Thayne and that at one point she and her husband were living in her old room at her parent's home.  So, the questions start up in my head... where is he?  Why is she living with her parents but her husband isn't?  What was he doing studying the bible at one point?  Where is she going now?  To the hospital?

So all of these questions make me curious as to what the story is for Mariette and totally drew me into the story.  I don't know what it was - maybe the curiosity of her being pregnant and in early labor?  What is it about women and their labor stories - I remember sitting at work gatherings (when most of the men found their ways back to their desks) when the mom's of the group starting comparing their stories of labor and childbirth.  Not being a mom at that point, I remember being horrified at those stories and making a mental note that I didn't want to go there anytime soon.  Now that I'm a mom, there must be something about being drawn into a book that starts off with a woman about to have a baby... maybe it's just a mom thing or me - or maybe this is exactly that the author intended or she was able to weave some magic spell into her words... well, whatever it was, I was mesmerized and had to find out what happened.  :-)  :-)

I really liked this book.  The story was really cute, with some parts that were filled with pain - well, okay, there was a lot of parts that I found a bit sad and had me crying, but it was all written so well!  :-)  :-)  :-)  But more than anything, this story, even though it's a romance, seemed so much more realistic to me than so many of the other romance stories that I've read in the past.  There are few writers that can do that.  Sure, I love reading those "happily ever after" books every once in a while, but even the most avid romance novel fan can get tired of these kind of fairy tale type of stories.   This one had so many of the typical challenges that as a married person, I can totally relate to and have experienced some of the same in my own marriage.  It was nice to read about a newlywed couple having a few problems - just like so many of us that were married fairly young had to face.

I remember when hubby and I were first married and our first little apartment and the money problems that we had.  I remember how frustrated I felt when so many of the people that I considered family were so convinced that our marriage was not going to survive.  I also remember how good it felt to have our little victories when we succeeded at something - graduating from college, getting our first "real" job with real pay, getting our first home... I think there is something that we can all relate to in this book which was more like reading a true life dairy than a fictional novel.

I'm sure that the writer had intended all of this but wanted to make the more important part of her story about the main characters relationship with God.  Sure, it's a Christian fiction book so it's to be expected... but to tell you the truth, I really didn't pay much attention to this part.  Sure, you'll have your fairy tale ending where Mariette find God and becomes the person she is intended to be, but I found more appealing how her husband had always accepted her and her little quirks... and the people in the town they lived in had also accepted that part of her eight years later - even though they really gave her a hard time about it when they first moved there. 

To me, it makes no difference that this is considered a "Christian" or religious genre novel.  It was written well and I had a fun time reading it.  The whole religion part of stories like this will not change my personal way of thinking, nor will it all of the sudden make me want to take bible study classes or anything like that.  To me, this was an impressive book and I look forward to getting more books by this author to add to my list of books to read.  :-)  :-)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal

Okay, so this was a book that was recommended to me a little while ago for a good mystery - The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal by Lilian Jackson Braun.  Apparently, this is only 1 book of a whole series of mystery novels that start with "The Cat Who....".  I downloaded the audio book and finished listening to it this afternoon.

This book was really cute.  I didn't care for the reader very much, but that is just personal preference for me... I find it more soothing to have an audio book read by a female than have a male reader.  I know, I know... I'm being silly about it, but I just think there are some female readers who do guy voices better than male readers that do female voices.  It's just me, I know... nothing against the reader, he did a fine job, but I think I would have preferred a female reader.  :-)

The story itself was really cute.  Of course my favorite characters were the spoiled rotten cats that ate better in one week than I have in my whole lifetime!  Can you imagine getting lobster tail as dinner on a regular basis?  I've only had lobster tail once!!!  But these cats were really cute and way smart - I'd almost want to say a little too smart, but I've know some crazy cats that almost can predict the future or read people so well that I had learned to trust the cats instincts over my own.  :-)  :-)

I can't wait to read a few more books of this series.  Since the library only had one audio book (and since I wasn't too crazy over listening to it anyway), I know that I'll have to put the other books on hold.  :-)

It's been a long time since I've really read mysteries.  But I think this was a good re-introduction to the genre with it's fun story and characters.  I love how the cats owner, Qwilleran, had the nervous habit of stroking his moustache while he was thinking.  :-)  I've seen my own husband do that a few times and loved how that little quirk was written into the character.  :-)  :-)

The overall skeleton of the story was just like a typical mystery - someone dies and the characters try to figure out what happened, and I was able to pretty much guess the ending about half way through the book.  I know that it bothers some people to be able to guess the ending too easily (well, it was obvious to me, but that's just me), but I found it to be a lot of fun to see if I was right.  :-)  :-)  But guessing the story was not the point of this book for me.  I fell in love with those crazy cats so much that I just wanted to see what other antics they were up to.  I have a feeling that it may be the case for any other book that I read in this series as well - I just love those cats!  :-)

So, thanks to my friend, who I call Kitty Kat, that suggested this series for me.  She knows that I love cats just as much as she does and I can see her attraction to this series - because I have a feeling that I loved this book for the same reason - those spoiled rotten cats.  :-)  :-)

Saying Goodbye to the Sun

I just finished reading Saying Goodbye to the Sun by David McAfee.  It was one of your typical vampire books with some guy getting turned from human to vampire by a girl that he really liked.

I had a hard time reading this book - not because it was written bad or the story was bad, but it was just a little slow for me.  I found out this morning in the "About the Author" part of the book that this is David McAfee's first book.  He also admitted that he's not really a writer either.  If this was his first attempt, then I'm pretty impressed.  The story had a nice flow to it - something that I usually haven't seen from other first time writers.  This is one of my pet peeves while reading... sometimes the story jumps around without any explanation or a half attempt to patch up that break in the story.  I'm used to seeing this from first time authors in certain romance novels which is why I stay away from that whole Harlequin-type of romance book line.

So, there is good and bad about this book.  You have a decent story and impressive writing, but I can't really pin point what exactly give me a hard time in picking up this book and finishing it in a couple days like I usually do.  Maybe I'm just getting tired of vampire stories?  That can be the case because I haven't been downloading any more vampire or paranormal type of free books from Amazon for a few weeks now.  But if you're into vampire stories, this may be one that you'd like.  :-)

The e-book also has a good size portion of his next book.  I didn't read it and probably won't.  I think i need to give myself a break on the paranormal stuff for a while and just read what my brain feels like reading right now.

I really wish I could have been in a better mood while reading this book.  I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't write better stuff about it.  I'm saving the author's name so I can look up his books at a later date - if his first book was this well written, his next books should be much better with practice.  This is definitely a writer to keep an eye out for.  :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

I finished reading Left Neglected by Lisa Genova this morning.  Wow... that is pretty much all I can say about this book!  Wow! Wow!  Wow!  I've been left speechless believe it or not.  That's how good this book was.  :-)

Okay, let me try to sound a little more intelligent here... why did I like this book?  To start with, the subject matter was absolutely amazing!  The main character of this book, Sarah, suffers a brain injury where her brain does not register the left side of anything... her brain doesn't even acknowledge that she has a left side of her body either!  The story starts with Sarah's crazy schedule... getting up before the sun to check email, feed her kids, get them ready for school, then trading chores with her husband so that they could get them all out of the house, to school and daycare, then off to work on time.  Reading those first few chapters left me feeling tired!  :-)  :-)  Then the day comes where Sarah has a car accident on her way to work.  She wakes up in the hospital a few days later with half her head shaved and staples in her scalp.

The main chunk of the story is about Sarah's rehabilitation in the hospitals and at home.  The details about what Sarah goes through is amazing.  It's hard to imagine what exactly she is going through, but the author did an excellent job at opening that door to let us peek into Sarah's mind.  While reading this book, I suffered with Sarah and felt her frustration as well as her stress.  Even though she was supposed to be concentrating on getting better, all Sarah could think about is getting back to work and the craziness that she was accustomed to for so many years.  She was convinced that she would be back to work in a month - talk about major denial!

There were other parts of the book that was also interesting to read.  The subplot with Sarah's mother.  With the few Christian fiction books that I've been reading lately, this could have been the perfect opportunity for the writer to throw in the whole "finding God" subplot at this point, but instead she brought in Sarah's estranged mother.  Sarah finally learns to accept that she needs the help and the only person that can truly take care of her and her kids is her mother.  She finally forgives her mom for mentally abandoning her so many years before when she was a child and is eventually grateful for building that relationship now.  This worked out so much better for me than the whole religion angle.

One of the things that Sarah learns from her mother is how to slow down a bit... the rest she figures out on her own.  But that crazy rat-race life that she once loved and craved no longer seemed like a good option for her current state of mind.  At this point she is still not completely recovered from the left neglect and is still slow at reading and even typing.  So even when she is given the opportunity to go back to work for her former company, she's not sure if that is the kind of life that she really wants anymore.  Thanks to Sarah's mother, Sarah is also building better relationships with her own kids as well - and she finally figures out that they are more important that any six figures a year job where working 70 to 80 hours a week is normal and the kids only got the left over 1 or 2 hours a day of her attention.

Even at the end of the book Sarah is still not completely recovered, but her life is better - even with the challenges that she still has to deal with due to the left neglect.  The whole journey that the author takes us in Sarah's head is just amazing.  I remember back when my job and career were more important to me than anything else.  I didn't care how many hours it took but I was going to get what needed to get done done and done well.  And now I'm a stay at home mom and have been since Caeden was 2 months old.  We don't live like we used to and I have to admit that we are broke more often that I'd like to be.  But Caeden has me to take him to the bus stop in the morning, to greet him off the bus in the afternoon, to help him with homework and any project for school.  He has me to play board games or Lego's with and to take him to play dates.  Sure, I don't dress as well as I used to and I only own about 3 pairs of shoes now, but like Sarah, I've learned to slow down and am really enjoying it and do not regret giving up the rat-race at all.  :-)

Wow, so much for being speechless!  Ha! ha!  :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Plain Wisdom

The book that I just finished listening to in audio book is called Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud.  I didn't realize what kind of book this was when I downloaded it because this was just not my type of book at all... yet I am still interested in checking out the book at the library just so I can copy some of the recipes in it.  :-)  :-)  :-)  So, there was still something positive in this whole experience.  :-)

The reason that I said that this was not my kind of book is because this takes the experiences and stories of two women, in this case Cindy and Miriam, and their outlook on life and their faith in God with their traditions and backgrounds.  Cindy is a best selling author that has lived a typical American life with a husband, kids and a career.  Miriam is an Old Order Amish that was not very familiar with our "English" ways.  I admitted in my last discussion about Cindy Woodsmall's book that I am not very familiar with the Amish and their traditions.  Well, this book certain took care of that!  :-)  :-)  But there were certain times that I tended to zone out because it was just a little too much in the religious discussion for me - but this is exactly what this book is about.  It's about how even with completely different backgrounds, these two ladies found a common ground to base their friendship - their faith in God.

I keep saying time and again that I am not a religious person, but I do keep an open mind to some Christian fiction because some books are written well and sometimes the stories can be fun to read.  But when I feel that I'm hearing a sermon instead of listening to a book, then I tend to shut down.  That is just me - it's the way I've been since before I can remember.  I don't want to get into what my religious views are now, but they are no where near where either one of these ladies are.  So I guess I would not be a good friend if faith and God were what they started their friendship on.  But then, thinking of it, I've had some friendships that I thought were really good friendships that fizzled away when religion came into their lives.  Because they couldn't talk to me or talk me into converting, the friendship just went away.  It's too bad because I really miss some of those friends.  It was too bad that they let their religion dictate who they could be friends with instead of just letting the friendship continue with what we already had in common.

Now, now... I'm not saying that the whole book was like a sermon and the whole thing was about God and the bible... there were actual good parts that I really enjoyed.  The stories on early childhood friendships, the funny stories about their kids (the one about the kid that couldn't find his pants and forgot his hat was probably my favorite - yes, you'll need to read the book to find out) and my all time favorite... the food!!!  I totally know that I love food and have accepted that this is exactly why I'm overweight.  I hate being in the kitchen, but I love to eat.  So if that means that I need to figure out how to make a few good things to eat in the kitchen, then so be it.  I'll cook just so I can enjoy the outcome.  :-)  :-)  Now all of the recipes sounded interesting, but a couple have me so curious that they have become an absolute must to try out... the peanut butter spread and the sweet rolls that someones aunt used to make.  If I could find some kind of common ground with an Amish woman, this would be it.  I love food!  :-)

I have to make a side note here - my arm has been bothering me really bad for the past few days and the annoying pain has been taking over my brain.  So, if I am a little more scatterbrained than usual, it's because it is hard to concentrate and keep my mind focused.  Yes, believe it or not, I actually know how to focus!!!  :-)  :-)  :-)  I've been having more and more trouble remembering or just coming up with words; normal, everyday words to express what I'm trying to say.  Can you believe that I've been forgetting words like "I" and "the"??  Can't blog much without those now can I?  :-)  :-)

Okay, back to the book.  Other than the recipes that I want to try out, it was really interesting on learning how both families live.  I learned that the Old Order Amish do not live as simple as I originally thought... as if they were living 150 years ago.  They still use some modern conveniences, so in terms of what is used in their household, it's not all that different from us.  Sure, there are some people, my niece is a perfect example, that cannot live without their cell phones or computers.  Okay, I've never been one to be glued to my cell phone, but I used to live my life on my computer.  It's how I made a living.  But after this wonderful invention took away what I consider my 'normal' life with an injury, I now have to really limit my computer time... so the computer is not as important as it used to be.  Now I use it more for fun... like writing this blog is fun.  :-)  Because they do not use electricity for things like TV, they fill their evenings with stuff like reading.  Jeez, that's a strange concept... NOT!  I don't watch very much TV and read every chance I get - that's why I started blogging more often!  :-)  :-)  :-)

Okay, I just had another thought but it must have been lonely and ran away... so I can't write about it now.  But if you are the kind of person that likes to read religious stuff, then you'll probably love this book.  It was very well written - I've enjoyed all of Cindy Woodsmalls books - and at times it is really fun to read.  Maybe you'll even know what scriptures they're talking about - because there is a lot in this book, and know how they apply to each story.  :-)  :-)  That was something that was completely lost on me... but for me it's no biggie.  I'm not ashamed to admit my ignorance.  :-)

Take care,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Place of Peace

I didn't think I was going to finish this book today... but I just did.  It's called Place of Peace by Debra Diaz.

This book is a historical fiction book that starts 12 years after the end of the Civil War.  A good part of the book is in Memphis during the yellow fever outbreak that took place in 1878.

The book was well written and I was a bit surprised that it captured me so well I hardly took any time at all to read.  One of the characters, the main character to be exact, was just really annoying to me.  I didn't like her and I haven't disliked a character like this since I read Gone With the Wind so many years ago.  Genny was a spoiled brat that thought that her family didn't love her when she was encouraged, okay - wrong word - forced - to accept a marriage to someone that she didn't love.  So, she runs away.

She ends up being employed as a bookkeeper and assistant to a doctor who ends up finding out what her secret is.  His weak marriage proposal gave her the choice to get out of the marriage that her family had arranged for her, but it really didn't take her away from that loveless marriage that she was avoiding.  It was still a marriage of convenience... but ah, just like a typical romance, Genny and her doctor husband, Ethan, do end up falling in love after all.

Okay, here is where I'm totally bitter with the character Genny.  Just like I've said before... lack of communication!!!!  Oh, that just gets my ladies fruit of a loom in a twist!  Genny accidentally catches the last part of a visit from Ethan's former fiance who has found him out with hopes that he'll help her.  He agrees to help her to an extent but does not react to her advances.  He's married after all, and even though the marriage had only taken place a couple days before, he was convinced that he loved his wife and didn't want to do anything to hurt her.  So, instead of approaching her husband like any normal human being would do, little spoiled brat Genny is convinced that Ethan has been using his former love as a mistress and that he really didn't love her after all.  She moves out of their bedroom and becomes very cold and nasty with him.  Ethan tries to be patient with her and tries to give her time, especially since he thinks that it may have something to do with the fact that she had been attacked shortly before she ran away.  But then, he's just a stupid and doesn't try to reason with her or try to figure out what is bothering her without causing a fight.  Oh, come on!!!  If I ever tried any of that kind of bull my husband, in his very caring way, would make sure that I knew that I could trust him and keep trying to get whatever it was that was bothering me.  But then, I would have approached him that same night instead of trying to build whatever sorry excuse of a 'brick wall' that Genny tried to build around her feelings.

Okay, so Genny finally finds out the truth - only 9 months later and a missing husband to find... but she does end up finding him and follows him to Memphis where there was a bad outbreak of yellow fever.  Even with all of the sickness and death around them, they find each other and fall in love again...

Okay, I'm sounding like I totally hated the book, but I really didn't.  This was a fun book to read... I found myself almost yelling at Genny for being so stupid.  You know, have you ever yelled at the TV during a movie or a game as if the people on the other end can hear you?  Well, that's what I experienced with this book.  As cheesy and predictable the plot was, it was still very well written and I really did have fun reading the book.  Now I have a craving to re-read about another spoiled brat southern gal that I just love to hate.  :-)  :-)  :-)

The Hope of Refuge (Ada's House Series, Book 1)

This is the first book of a series by Cindy Woodsmall called The Hope of Refuge (Ada's House Series, Book 1).  I downloaded this from the library as an audio book read by Cassandra Campbell.

I thought the author's name sounded familiar, which is why I downloaded the book.  I had read one of her series, Sisters of the Quilt, a couple years ago and really enjoyed it.

I'm not usually a fan of Amish religion based novels, but I was glad that I gave Cindy Woodsmall a chance.  Her writing is superb and very impressive.  Since I don't know all that much about the Amish, I really can't say much about her research, though I'm sure that just like any other writer, she did her best to make sure everything seemed as authentic as possible.  :-)

I wrote about how there are some authors that can write about the anguish and pain that one of the characters is going through with such detail and feeling... sometimes I'm in the mood for one of these kind of books and even if I wasn't, this writer has that talent and draws you in and keeps you there even when you try to stop. 

Our main character of the story, Cara, is the daughter of a shunned Amish woman that fell in love with an outsider.  Cara and her daughter are being stalked by some crazy man that she had met when growing up in foster.  The last time she ran away from that man, she ended up going to an Amish community that she remembered visiting when she was a young girl.  She thought her mother had friends there and was trying to find out who they were - and possibly hope that she'd be able to find a job and place to stay in the mean time.

The pain that was going through Cara had me crying!  I'm not a religious person, but seeing how Cara's relationship with God changed through the book made this book amazingly good.  I'm sure that anyone who is a mom and has had to make sacrifices so that their own children/child could be more comfortable can relate to what Cara is going through.  There was a bit of romance going on through the story as well, but that was not important to me.  When Cara found out that these 'friends' that she thought her mother had were actually family and people that her mother had grown up with, the shock of the whole situation was more than enough to force her to take a fresh look on her life and situation.

Of course, even though I don't think it was necessary, Cara's love interest, Ephraim, tried as best he could to give her his support and prayers through the whole book, which eventually caused his own problems with the community.

Now, here is why I don't think the whole romance thing didn't really work in this book... I got the impression that this book is more of a woman's journey to find God and peace for herself and her daughter... and she was able to do this with the community that her mother loved and missed so much.  To have lived such a lonely life in foster care, then after the death of her husband, then to find everything she ever wanted and more... this is what made the story work.  As cheesy as I make it sound, the writer did an awesome job in getting this across.  The romance part was too typical... with the lack of communication... the "Oh, I love him/her but I can't say anything"...  Now, to a person that reads a whole lot of romance, that plot is getting old.  One thing that I've learned in 19 years of marriage is that you need communication to make anything work!!!  In a relationship between girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, parent/child... that whole "I can't say anything" part of the plot just doesn't work for me anymore.  Now, if that subplot were written just a little more different.. but of course, I have no idea how, but let's just say "if" it were so that it didn't make me want to roll my eyes like a teenager, then I think this book would have been way better.  Not that it wasn't good, but it could have been spectacular.  :-)

Now, the next question is... will I continue reading (or rather, listening) to the series?  Well, I believe that the library does have the second book that I can download, but my interests may take me in another direction so I really can't say.  I can say that I was happy to have read this book though.  It doesn't change anything about my cynical views on religion, but seeing a relationship bloom, even if it is with God, is almost as good as a well written romance.  :-)  :-)  :-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Harriet Tubman - The Moses of Her People

One of my most absolute favorite historical figures - Harriet Tubman!  This book, by Sarah H. Bradford, looks like it was originally published when Harriet Tubman was still alive!  Wow... this book was such an awesome read for me... I have no idea how I had never read this book before considering that Harriet Tubman has been one of my heroines since I was around 10 years old or so. 

The book , in my own humble opinion, was a bit too short and didn't get into some of the details that I had read in other books.  But it was still really cool because there were some parts that I never knew about.  After researching and reading just about anything I could get my hands on about Harriet, I still found myself learning more!  :-)  :-)

The read itself is a little dry, almost like reading a history book, so if you don't enjoy that kind of stuff, then you may not like this book.  But it is amazing if the subject matter interests you - like it did with me!  :-)  What I liked about this book as well was that the writer was actually able to confirm many of the stories that she got directly from Harriet herself, in letters - which is part of the final chapter of the book.  Wow... to read the letters from other historical figures like Frederick Douglass, William Seward, James Montgomery.... just take out your history books and you'll find at least a couple of these names in there.  And all of these letters are corroborating the same stories that Harriet shared with the writer.  This was really cool - it was better than a historical novel - this stuff was coming from the actual people that lived through it themselves.  :-)

When I saw this book being offered as a free book for my Kindle on, I jumped on it and made sure I didn't wait to download it.  :-)  Since I never know how quickly the prices change for some of these books, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out.  I did find that the book was a bit too short for me - but then, like I mentioned before, I just love reading about Harriet!  :-)

Okay, before I start rehashing her whole life story from memory, I'll let you download the book and read it yourself (I believe it's still free as of tonight when I checked).  Don't expect a novel, this book is made up of a bunch of stories... a little out of order but so neat to read. 

A few weeks ago I was talking about heroines from the past couple centuries and could not believe that some of these people didn't know who Harriet Tubman was!  I just couldn't believe that... my husband said that maybe it's because she's not as big of a historical figure as Lincoln or Washington.  I know that I'm a bit nerdy here, but come on!  If you don't know who Harriet Tubman is either, shame on you!  You can start learning about her here:

Now get off the computer and go learn something!  :-)  :-)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back on Blosson Street

I just finished listening to Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber this morning.  :-)  I was actually really excited for two reasons... the obvious one was that I enjoyed the book and wanted to share my thoughts with you all.  :-)  The second reason was because I was actually able to knit while listening to the book!!!  Yes!!!  I was actually able to pick up my knitting needles again and knit a few rows pain free!  I has been a good weekend for me.  :-)

Okay, lets go back to the book.  I didn't realize that I had actually read this book already until I was well into the book... chapter 5 or 6 I think.  :-)  It's been a few months since I had read it, so I was a bit surprised that I didn't sound familiar until one of the plots started to bug me... then I realized what a nit wit I've become.  :-) 

I'm not the type of person that reads a book just once then puts it aside... I love reading books multiple times - especially my favorite ones.  This book has kind of fallen into that category because I can totally relate to one of the characters in this book - Alix.  In this book, Alix is in the process of planning her wedding to her sweetheart from the first book, Jordan.  I'm sure we can all relate to the pressures and stress of planning our own weddings, but this one especially hit me hard because I could relate to Alix in so many ways.  Almost 19 years ago when planning our own wedding, I went through similar problems with my mother-in-law.  Now, it was no where near to the same extent as Alix's future mother-in-law (thank goodness), but having someone completely ignore your wishes and just go ahead and do what she wanted... Okay, I'm going to tell you a bit about me and my experience 19 years ago.

I really didn't care about the details concerning my wedding.  I just wanted to marry my sweetheart and get on with our lives.  I would have been happy to have gone to Vegas or get married by a judge.  It didn't matter to me and I would have been happy either way.  My mother-in-law, who was planning most of the wedding because of the problems I was having with my own parents at the time, was able to talk me out of a judge and into having an actual wedding.  No big deal... there was a park that I fell in love with that was a beautiful alternative to Vegas.  :-)  :-)  But I told her that I wanted to have a small wedding and no alcohol.  The last thing I wanted was to have a bunch of people that I didn't know or didn't care to see around me on my wedding day - which is why I would not have minded that wedding in Vegas.  :-)  :-)  Well, I ended up insulting and hurting a lot of people from my side of the family because they didn't get invited to the wedding, but hey, I didn't care.  What bothered me was that my mother-in-law had invited so many people that I didn't know - and people that had never even met my honey because the last time they even saw my in-laws was on their wedding day!  Okay, that really annoyed the heck out of me.  To this day I still resent my mother-in-law for that, but I can look past that to a certain extent.  What really bothered me was when I saw my father-in-law and his own brother-in-law drunk as skunks at the reception.  Oh, that was the reason that I didn't invite so many of my own family - I HATE being around drunks!  But of course, my mother-in-laws excuse was that the reception was more for them and for us... but she didn't think that maybe it would have been a better idea to keep the booze out of the drunks hands until after we left!  She was also stupid enough to pour campaign in my glass for the toast.  I hate campaign!  Even to this day I can't stand the stuff.  So, I just didn't drink it - which meant that I didn't toast my own wedding... well, there is a reason that I don't drink very much now and this experience was part of it. 

My mother-in-law and I are not really close.  I love her and can forgive her inconsiderate thinking on our wedding day... but that was just the beginning.  I'm not going to go into any other stories, but I know that my life is much better now than I could have expected 19 years ago.  I love my life now, even though there have been a few unexpected changes.  Life in Arizona and becoming a stay at home mom has been one of the best changes we've made.  :-)  :-)

Okay, so now back to the book.  I had a hard time reading about the life changing experience that Lydia's sister and her niece experience after an attempted car jacking.  I think my own imagination helped me feel the anguish and pain that was going through Margaret and her husband, knowing that this was not the type of injury that could be easily treated in their daughter.  I've read other writers that can take a situation like this and really make it heart-wrenching and emotional.  I don't think Debbie Macomber did this very well, but in a way I'm kind of glad that she didn't.  I think I would have been a bit overwhelmed with emotion to be able to enjoy the rest of the book if that were the case. 

Macomber writing - it all works out at the end.  :-)  :-)

I almost feel like some of these books need to start with a "Once upon a time..." because the endings are almost all "happily ever after...".  I'm not complaining, it's good to read a book like this every once in a while.  Now, if I can only figure out what the next book int he series is, I may consider putting it on hold at the library...  :-)  :-)  :-)  Anyone want to help me?  :-)  :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lisa Kleypas: Capitol Theatre Series

I didn't realist how old these books were when I downloaded them to my ipod to listen to them from the library.  The first one of the series, Somewhere I'll find you, was published in 1996.  Now, it's really not that old of a book, but I've just gotten used to reading stuff from much newer authors or much newer books.  :-) 

I've read some of Lisa Kleypas' books before and found them a bit entertaining.  It's your usual basic plot with boy meeting girl and they fall in love at the end.  What I find entertaining is that you have the usual stuff going on where at least one of the characters has some kind of tragic history about them with the other being some kind of band-aid to their healing.  Also common in this series is the whole "oh, he doesn't love me but I won't tell him that I love him..." kind of bull.  Yeah, I find that kind of annoying, but the writers talent in writing this so well that it's not as annoying as it could be.  :-)

Because I listened to these books on audio book, it could have been more to do with the talent of the reader, Rosalyn Landor.  Her voice is really quiet and soothing.  Though almost all of her characters sound very familiar to each other, they are still different enough that they can be told apart.  It's either that of the fact that the book was written so well.  :-)

What I also liked about this series and this writer is that the books are not always so serious.  I think some of these romance writers that I choose to not blog about try too hard to make their stories too serious, hoping to make their readers swoon with the uber romance in the stories.  Bleh!  No, not for me.  I like the bit of humor that this writer puts into her stories - actually, I like that when any writer puts a bit of humor into their stories.  It makes the characters a little more realistic to me.  It gives them a bit of humanity that so many forget to weave into their characters.  Well, Lisa Kleypas does this well with the characters in this series.  It's not a comedy at all, but you may find yourself relating to the characters more than you think.  :-)

The fact that this series is considered a historical romance is not really the reason that I liked it.  It really didn't teach me about history or the "human" aspect of what life would have been like during the time of the story.  There is more story here than history, which sometimes is a disappointment, but if I wanted historical fiction, I'd go and look for titles in that section instead of romance.  :-)  :-)  ...and believe me, I've read my fair share of both.  :-)

I don't have much else to say about this series, which is kind of strange because unless I'm really putting a writer up on a pedestal or beating them down, I don't have much to say in between.  Meh... oh well, maybe I'm just feeling a little tired today.  :-)  :-)