Saturday, September 1, 2012

2 Books finished

I finished two books at almost the same time.  It's been a while since I've had so many book going on at once, and I can see how my memory was so much better back then because when you put down one book and pick up another a bit later, it really takes a lot of brain power to remember what was going on!  :-)

I just finished the following two books:
  •  Story of O by Pauline Reage
  • The Phoenix Rising: A Survivor's Story by Olivia Burgess
It wasn't as difficult as I thought to read two books at once as i remember... I found so many similarities in these books that it wasn't like I had to totally switch my way of thinking for either one.  Both had very strong female characters in different ways.  I don't think I can really talk about both of them coherently, so I'll just start off with the first - Story of O.

I actually borrowed this book from a co-workers after she and I started to talk about the Fifty Shades books which she had just started reading.  She had asked me if I had ever read this book - Story of O - because she said that she found some of the books similar.  Well, now that I've read both, the Fifty Shades series and Story of O, I can see some of the similarities.  Both were about the world of BDSM (if that what it's called - well, whatever, you know what I mean) but each book had a completely different story.

You all know that I'm not all that crazy about the Fifty Shades books because of the unrealistic happy-rainbows, singing lolly poops, fairy tail ending.  Story of O, on the other hand, is exactly how I would expected a book with characters like Christian Grey to behave.

In Story of O, our main character, simply named O, is introduced to this whole nasty world of submission, whippings, and total obedience by her boyfriend of two years, Renee.  Renee claimed that he loved O, and she was stupid enough to continue believing him even after she received her first whipping and wanted to continue to please him because for some strange reason, she felt that she still loved him in turn.  She did find some kind of strange attraction to being shared by different men, and though she didn't like the pain of being whipped, knowing that is made Renee happy, she was happy as well.  It's a stupid way of thinking, but hey, my personality would never put up with that kind of crap, so I wouldn't and could never understand.

Unlike the Fifty Shades books, O learns that total obedience that Christian wanted at first from Ana.  Ana was a teeny bit smarter by not letting herself become a mere object like O became, but I still think that if Ana and Christian existed in real life, that a relationship like that would have never lasted.  Since I talk about a bit of realism associated with the story of O, then you can guess that Renee did not stay with O for that long term relationship that she was hoping for.  The story takes an interesting twist, but I'm not going to spill too much!  :-)

One thing that I did appreciate in this book was that all of the sexual encounters were not super detailed like I saw in Fifty or many of the modern day romance novels that you can pick up anywhere.  The writer did leave some to the imagination, but it was still in the "erotic" category, just not the letters to Playboy or whatever that magazine is, type of bad.  There was some taste with this book, but I'm not sure if it has something to do with the fact that this book was originally written in the mid 1950's or that it was originally written in french.

Because this book was translated, I'm not sure exactly how much could have been lost.  I can't remember taking so long to read a book in a long time.  The reading was a bit difficult and it really slowed me down.  But then, I've also read Fanny Hill and that was written in English - but it was still damn hard to read!  So, in a way I kind of liked the writing, thought the story was okay, but didn't care too much for the subject content.

Okay, down to my favorite part - talking about the characters.  All of the characters were so perfect that I don't think they knew how to fart!  There was really nothing unique with these characters other than they were all mentally sick.  I admired how much shit O was able to put up with for her "love" for Renee, and I can understand to a small extent how being a submissive was important for her... but come on!  Since I do  not know anything about that dominant/submissive world (other than from fictional books), are there people that are really like that and have their roles take over their lives?  I mean, if there was a guy that liked to play dominant in the bedroom at home, does he take that to work and treat any woman he works with or deals with in a daily basis like shit as well?  What about a woman?  Well, if a woman took that dominant type of personality to work, she's be considered a bitch, and unfortunately some companies in corporate America still require women that want to move up in the ranks to be like that because they have to prove themselves ten times more than men to succeed (but that is a different subject for another day).  Anyway, I was not really impressed with the characters.  They were like what I like to call  - puppets - other than O who screamed and cried whenever she was beaten or whipped, no one really had much emotion.

I think one of the most annoying things when I read a book that makes me really judge a writer is in their ability to write dialogue into the story.  And this writer's ability for that was lacking.  I shouldn't say ability, because maybe she can write dialogue wonderfully in other books, but this book could have used a little more... no, make that a lot more!  Maybe this is why it took me so long to read this book - there were just too much that got on my nerves.

This book did have a certain aura to it though... it reminded me of a series by Ann Rice - the Sleeping Beauty series.  No, it's not the Disney version - this is on a completely different universe.  It's the same type of sexual slavery type of genre, but Ann Rice puts more detail in her writing.  I'm actually a bit surprised that the Beauty series did not start this whole 'mommy porn' trend.  It also had ridiculous characters with a true fairy tail ending too.  Maybe the it was a little too dark?  I don't know what starts the trends, but I've read enough of this genre to keep me away for a little while.  :-)

Okay, the next book is called Phoenix Rising.  I find it funny that the main character of this book also has a name with the letter "O" - Olivia - who is also the writer.  This is her story and how she survived abuse in every way you can imagine.  She was sexually abused by her stepfather, emotionally neglected by her mother, and just messed up in her head all around by both.

When I mentioned earlier that both characters in these two books were strong, though O put up with a lot for what she thought was love, well, Olivia's strength comes from that rawest form of humanity that is in all of us that makes it possible for some people to survive.  Olivia's story was hard to read on the emotional aspect.  It's difficult for me to read about children suffering and especially when they're stuck in a situation that they can't easily escape from.  This book also took me a while to read as well, simply because emotionally, I just had to put the book aside for a little while because it was too much for me.

I admire how much details the writer shared in this book.  It was well written and I liked the flow of the story, but I don't think I can read another book like this for a long time.  I would find myself shaking with anger when Olivia had to deal with her mom.  I can't understand how she still wanted to have a relationship with her mom, especially when her mom put her through so much.  I've never walked in her shoes, so it's not up to me to judge, but I can have an opinion, right?  :-)

I was kind of hoping that Phoenix Rising would have had a little more story on Olivia's husband and other children.  They were just kind of like accessories in the story and not really part of the main story at all.  I found that a little sad.  I can understand that Olivia needed to get everything out on what was going on in her head, and obviously dealing with what her stepfather did too her and how her mother was in total denial about what her husband did to her child and not being involved enough in her life to have noticed - well, that's a lot for a person no matter what their age to deal with.  If her emphasis was on these characters is what it took for her to heal and get better to become the wife and mother that she needed to be, then i guess I can accept that.  But it was still a book - and I like to be able to see my characters in color and unfortunately the people in Olivia's direct family were cardboard cut outs in black and white.

There was a lot that could have been improved with this book, but I kind of feel funny writing about it... simply because this book is such a personal account of a true story.  I'm sure the writer put this book together with so much emotional attachment that the last thing I'd want to do is to sound like I'm disrespecting what she did and what she survived.  I think this is probably why I didn't mind writing about both books in this blog... I don't really want to talk about this one too much.

I did just get the next book from one of my all time favorite authors of all time - Terry Brooks.  I can't wait to read this one!  I'm back to my comfort zone - fantasy fiction.  Yeah, this series has a lot of stuff that is hard to believe, but then, it's fantasy fiction - almost everything is hard to believe!  :-)  :-)  So, I'm off to read and satisfy my fantasy fiction itch that I've been ignoring for way too long.

Happy reading,


Monday, August 27, 2012

Scarry stuff...

No, I'm not writing about a book tonight - though I'm reading two at the same time right now.  I'll let y'all know my thoughts on one of them when I finish...

I did feel like writing about something in my personal life - yeah! gasp!  Me - writing about my person life?  I haven't done that in a long time.  I don't know why I don't really write about my personal stuff, but I just felt like writing about it tonight.

Almost two weeks ago I went in for a regular ole, yearly, routine, something that every woman over 40 needs to do though it's torture, mammogram.  I went went it, got tortured, then left without thinking about it anymore.  I expected the usual response that I got earlier that week for the other stuff - all hunky dori normal and I didn't have to think about it anymore until next year.

Well, I wasn't so lucky...

I was told that I had something show up on the mammogram and that I needed to go back for followup mammograms and should see a specialist just to make sure everything was okay.  I really thought everything was going to be okay because my first mammogram showed some weird stuff in it too and they just said that it wasn't anything to worry about.

I don't know why this time is so different, but I've had more appointments in the past few days than I'd ever care to have for the rest of my life!  On Friday I have one doc say that she didn't see anything and that everything is fine.  She even went on to mention that the report she got didn't match what she saw on her ultrasound... but today I had not only another painful mammogram session, and had another ultrasound - and I actually saw something on there!!!!  I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest... everything else around the tissue was just kind of grey with some white going through here and there - but that black spot stood out to where an untrained eye like mine could see it.

Now, I was told that most likely that it's a lymph node and that there's nothing to worry about, but they wanted me to come back in 6 months just to make sure.  If this whole thing is "nothing", why do I need to go back in 6 months?

Oh goodness, I don't need this kind of stress.  I just want the next 6 months to pass so they can say "Okay, it really is nothing to worry about - see you again in a year!". 

When I was first told last week that the mammogram last week was not normal, it's true that the nurse didn't explain it very well to me and I misunderstood something, but it really freaked me out.  I felt so bad for my co-workers and manager.  I am not usually such a cry baby, but I've broken down crying in front of my co-works 3 times already!  I've only been there for 6 months!  Yeah, I think I'm back to cry baby status.  All I could think about was what was going to happen to my husband and kids if something happened?  I didn't worry about myself, all of my thoughts concentrated on my family.  Oh crap, just remember that day has started the water works again...

So, in 6 months I'm expecting my own fairy tail happy ending with puppy dogs, rainbows and singing lolly pops when my doc tells me that I don't have anything to worry about.... but in the mean time, I'll continue just doing what I always do. 

Take care,


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Hidden Witch - Modern Witch Book 2

Yep, I went ahead and read the second book of the series.  I know I had my problems with the first one, but hey, what can I say?  I know what I like to read.  :-)  This bit of rambling, though, will sound much better than the first.  I still have my usual complaints about the characters, but I think some of them came out a little more in this book.

I just finished reading A Hidden Witch by Debora Geary.  I noticed that my write up on the first book got a whopping 13 views!  That's almost a record for me.  :-)  So, I guess that means that this book series is a bit more popular than I thought if I had that many views.  :-)

Okay, back to the book.

I have to admit that this writer's style is starting to grow on me.  I feel that this book was a bit more playful than the first one.  Some of the characters' personalities started to pop a bit more, but there were just as many puppets walking around as well.  For example, what's the scoop with Sophie?  I know that she's a healer and trained with Aunt Moira, but what is her story?  Why does she live by herself and doesn't feel comfortable going back to Nova Scotia?  I know it has something to do with Elorie, but she never really got into much detail other than Elorie's jealousy of Sophie being a witch and she not.  But that's no reason to give up your family, so I know that there has to be more to it.  I'm sure that she can have a pretty good story there and I hope that the writer will take the time to give us a glimpse into her world, but for now I'm sad that she is still one of those puppets I just talked about.

The focus on this book is on another character rather than Lauren.  Lauren is just a minor character in this book, but our favorite witching mom, Nell, and her little trouble maker Aervyn are still pretty major characters in this book as well. 

Some of the new characters are kinda neat in this book.  My favorite is probably the one that no one else likes - which with me it would figure - and that is old uncle Marcus.  This is the kind of character that no one really likes and makes children cry (no, really, it said in the book) so it makes me like him instantly.  And no, I'm not so evil that I like to hear when old geezers make children cry on purpose, but it always cracks me up that characters like this are always written the same - they are so incredibly uncomfortable around kids that they don't know what to do and therefore, instead of trying to get the kids to like him, he just acts his usual grumpy self and scares the kids to tears.  :-)  Ha, ha!  Love it.  But then, on the other hand, these same types of characters usually soften up during the story as well.  Sigh... and that's always a pity.

Yes, one of my hero's is Gru from Despicable Me - and uncle Marcus kind of reminds me of him - and yes, even when he gets that soft spot for the kids.  But thank goodness that our writer kept some grumpiness in him even through the end.  :-)  Yaye!  :-) 

I find is fascinating that in so many of these genre of books that there is almost always someone that is stinking rich.  And in this case, it's Nell, Jamie and their family.  They make plans to go to Nova Scotia and move up the trip at the last minute - and they can afford to do that!!!  Jamie uses his shrinking magic to make jewelry sized iphones so that they can be put inside jewerly.  It must be nice to be able to spend that kind of money in real life but I don't know... and even if I did have the money, I'm so cheap that I may not want to buy a dozen iphones for a bunch of people that I may not know that well.  :-)  :-)  I also found it interesting that Elorie and her husband, who run a local bed and breakfast, always seem to be feeding a whole bunch of people at once.  I wonder how they can afford that?  I'm wondering if they're loaded too.  :-)

What made this story a little more interesting is the new type of witch magic that is discovered in this book.  It's a technology based magic that has everyone scratching their heads at first, and it takes one of the Nell's 9 year old triplets to help figure it out.  I cracks me up how this child is supposed to be only a year older than my own son and she's a total genius and knows how to code internet games, set up networks and computers and all of that fancy technology stuff.  Sure, my son can figure out how to use my phone better than I can, but he's still trying to figure out his mutiplication tables and how to write in cursive.  This girl almost puts Doogie Howzer to shame!  :-)  :-) 

Sure, fantasy books are pretty unbelieveable, but hey, so are comic books and look at the popularity of those!  :-)  This was a fun book to read, but I'm ready for a break.  I need something with a little less playful, kids, cookies and chocolate ice cream.  Maybe another Revenloft book is in my near future?  :-)  :-)

Happy reading,


Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Modern Witch Book 1

I don't know where I had heard of this book or who recommended it, but I'm glad that I was able to find them fairly cheap on Amazon last week.  I downloaded all four of the books that were available for the Kindle and started reading.  :-)

I just finished the first book of a series called A Modern Witch by Deborah Geary.  The writing style and story type very much reminded me of Debbie Macomber with some paranormal twists, and the book was all very sweet and happy.  I read two of Debbie Macomber's series, and they all were pretty much the same - what I call the rainbow and puppy dog type of style.  It's not the usual kind of book that I like to read, but I'll read the rest of the books I downloaded for two reasons:  I paid a buck 99 for each one, plus I'm curious to see how she takes the rest of this story.  Is she going to continue with the focus on the same characters, or will she jump around like in the Macomber books?

I had a little bit of trouble really getting into this book for a few reasons.  The characters were really shallow - I hardly knew anything about them and I had a hard time wanting to read this book.  As the story went on the characters started to come alive a little bit, but it's hard to read a book that has a bunch of puppets for the first 1/3 of the story.  Okay, I'm being mean here and I know it.  But as I get older, I guess I get meaner, and in my old age, I have no problem telling it like it is - at least in my own warped mind.  :-)

There is one specific part that I found myself rolling my eyes because it lacked so much... our main character in this book, Lauren, meets her trainer who also happens to be a world known photographer - Jennie.  Jennie is showing off pictures of her three newborn grand babies and all I know about these pictures is that the babies are 'adorable'.  Okay, so what made them adorable?  What were they doing?  What did they look like?  Even a couple extra lines of description could have made this almost insignificant part of the book a little more interesting.  She certainly took the time to describe one of the photos that was on the book on the coffee table that Jennie had taken.  Why couldn't this be applied a little more to this part of the book or the rest?

I think this has become one of my issues with some of the books that I've been reading lately.  I want to know the characters and like them.  When I don't know anything about them, but the books progression has them going through a fun and cute story, it's not enough for me to really want to read more by this author.  I want to know what makes some of these characters tick.  I got to know Lauren's best friend, Nat, a little more in this manner than we did for many of the other characters.  I know that Nat grew up as an only child with parents that were a bit cold.  I also know that Nat had a secret longing to have a large and loving family - something that she didn't feel that she had with her own parents.  I find out later in the book that her parents are indeed the cold hearted jerks who had never taken the time to look at the business that their daughter built or see the life that she made for herself with much success.

I know that Lauren also grew up as an only child and her parents had moved away from Chicago to retire in Florida.  But other than being a bit lonely and having the dream of having siblings, I really don't find out much more about her.  Maybe this is one of those feel good stories that I need to give a bit of time in order to have the characters really come out.  I've read plenty of books that are like this - and i really haven't written about them much in the past because there isn't much I could have said.  Well, I know what to say now and I think I'm saying it right... if not, just blame it on my mindless rambling.  :-)  I'm not a writer, so half of the stuff I ramble on about may be total rubbish to a more educated reader than me.  But I know know what I like to read...  :-)

Okay, enough about the characters and how this part of this writer's talents needs a little more help (only in my own, uneducated, humble opinion), but story was pretty good.  This writer has an amazing skill to keep the story going nice and smooth.  I don't like jumpy stories very much, and this didn't really have any of that.  The progression was logical with nice transitions.  I liked how the ending of each chapter had that perfect "i can put the book down for the night" transition, then the beginning of the next picked up right where I needed it.  I don't know how else to word this... but it made sense to me at the time i was writing it.  :-)

I also liked how the conflict in the story was so minimal compared so some of the books that I tend to read.  I'm trying to expand my reading 'horizons' where death and destruction are not the normal course of the story, so give a girl a break if I can't embrace this type of style that easily or quickly.  :-)  One of the little things that really stood out in this story that I am looking forward to in the next books is the playful banter between the characters.  I liked now Nell lost multiple bets for who knows how much dark chocolate and ice cream on how Lauren and Net were going to make Jamie do certain things (sorry, you'll have to read the book to find out what they were).  The connection that Lauren and Aervyn was really cute and I liked how poor Jamie was the victim of their practical jokes as well.  Jamie, being the good sport that he was, took it all in stride but played his own little jokes as well.  I don't see this kind of playfulness in some of the books I usually read - well, there is playfulness, but not in this same manner.  This kind of playfulness can only be written this this genre of book.  :-)  I'm not being specific here on purpose... You'll just have to read the book to know what I mean.  :-)

Overall, I can understand why the popularity of this book series has grown and is passed along - through blogs like this one, or on social media networks like I'm about to do when I post the link on my Facebook page.  Even though I do not think Debbie Macomber is the best writer, and I'm pretty sure I'm done with that author for now, she has a huge following that keeps growing.  I have a feeling that this writer is going to have the same - if she doesn't already.  I looked up to see how many other books she has under her belt and she is a pretty established writer - and because this is not one of my usual types of books, I'm not surprised that I had never heard of her before.  Well, I've heard of her now, so the next step for me is to get started on book number two and see how well that one turns out.  :-)

Happy reading,


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What to do when you're not feeling well?

I haven't been feeling well for the past couple of days and other than watching a bit of TV (which I don't really do that much anyway) and sleeping, I've been reading.  I just finished the book Clair-obscure by Billie Hinton.  This was a really interesting book and made me think of the messed up characters from Fifty Shades of Grey without all of the sex.  There is sex implicated in the book, but not with the detail that you get from Fifty Shades.  You still have the messed up characters, starting with our main character, Clair.

This writer has a unique writing style that I've not been comfortable with in other books.  She writes in the present tense but it's kind of choppy, but in a strange way that worked for this book.  I've started The Road and one other book that I can't seem to find the title of, and I just couldn't get into them.  This book had an interesting story - at least interesting enough to make me want to keep reading despite the writing style.

So we start with Clair, a constant victim - a child neglected by her mom, who always did everything she could to get her approval and most of all, her love.  She's a victim of divorce after her father decides to leave her mom because he finally admitted that he was gay.  She was a victim of rape from a date she had in high school after the Spring Dance.  Her date was not only drunk, but he was also driving her around in his inebriated state.  So, all we know about Clair is that she is poor, little Clair that is constantly depressed and liked to write letters to dead writers - but just not any writer... Virginia Wolf who was the writer that is known for not only her work, but for killing herself.

There is a bit of hope with Clair with she meets Finn... and oh boy, Finn is one messed up person.  He's a med student that has some serious issues.  He makes Fifty Shades look normal!  Okay, Christian can never really be 'normal', but he and Finn can sure compete against each other on who's more messed up.  :-) 

So you get messed up Clair and messed up Finn and you start getting a really interesting story.  Clair ends up moving in with Finn but their relationship doesn't progress like she expected it to.  Clair has her own room.  Finn locks his bedroom door every night and every time he leaves to work at the hospital.  Finn doesn't even kiss Clair until she's been living with him for a few months.

In her desperation for acceptance and what she thinks is love, she goes out and has a one night stand with an off duty police officer that liked to have sex with his gun next to them.  Then she meets Raoul (interesting spelling) who not only saves her from her own depression, but ends up saving her from Finn.

The best part of the book is the fairy tail ending... no, it doesn't say if Clair ever moves in or gets married to Raoul, but she does finally get into therapy and moved out on her own to become her own person and learns to not have to depend on someone else for company.  She stops writing to Virginia Wolf and gets out of that depression.  Not quite fairy tail, but a good, logical ending for someone with problems like she had.

If only this book were displayed next to the Fifty Shades of Grey books in the book store with "now this is how the stories should end" over the Clair-obscure book.  I just saw that there is a second book to this series on the writer's Amazon page.  I'll have to check that one out.  I may not download it right away, but I will seriously think about it. 

Happy Reading,


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Feel good book. :-)

Yes, I've been reading more crap that good stuff lately and I think I finally found a winner in the stack.  I really enjoyed this last book because it was really cute and adorable with babies, men who didn't know what the heck they were doing, best friends that didn't know what she was doing either but didn't break down like the guys... I'm glad that the book didn't have super cheesy pegacats or eye rolling ridiculousness like that, but this book was still up there in the cute factor.

The book I just finished reading was called Drew in Blue by J.M. Kelley.  We have our main character, Drew, who finds himself thrown in instant daddy-hood by a two night stand 'girlfriend' who decided that she couldn't be a mom.  She just shows up one night and deposits a two month (or was he 4 months? either way, he was a teeny little guy) old baby on Drews lap and takes off.  Since Drew's own childhood was spent in foster care after the death of his own mother, he couldn't think of putting this baby through the same kind of thing.  So, he tried his hardest to become a father.

His best friend, Kris, is the one and only person he knows he can depend on to help him since all of his other 'friends' kind of disappeared after little Nick showed up.  Since Drew and Kris had been best friends since they were 8, it kind of made sense that they had feelings for each other - but it took something like 28 years for them to finally admit to each other that they were in love (even though they were already acting like an old married couple for the past 20 years).  :-)  :-)

The baby adventures that Drew has with his baby Nick are really adorable.  I think anyone who has had the pleasure of being around a newborn and having to be their main caretaker can see the humor in explosive diapers, constant drooling, projectile spit ups, and toothless grins.  What makes this story so sweet is they way that Drew falls in love with his son.  He didn't have the pleasure of falling in love with his son while he was still in the belly and actually walked away from his son the day he was born.  But making sure his son didn't grow up the same way he did made Drew determined to become a father - and even though it took him a while, he actually did.  Just because someone knows how to take care of a baby doesn't make them the parent (even if they are genetically a mother or father).  What makes a parent a parent is the way they fall in love with their baby.  The diaper changing is just something you do, not this awful, stinky chore (okay, sometimes it can be) that makes you want to ship your child to someone else. 

As I read this book, I felt myself falling in love with the characters.  The development of all characters, even the baby, was awesome.  Every single one of them had their little quirks that makes certain writers stand out so much more than others. It's these little quirks and imperfections that make characters so much more real.  :-)  One example was the way the writer described of the Drew's temporary girlfriends that as a teenager in high school was a little heavy.  She lost all kinds of weight and really watched what she ate in order to maintain it.  So, she had to habit of taking her time rearranging her food, picking stuff off that she couldn't or wouldn't eat and putting the stuff she would eat back to where she would eat it at even intervals.  She did this with her salad topping as well as the toppings on a pizza.  It is this endearing quality of writing that I love!  This is the kind of stuff that the last two books were missing.  I'm sure that the writers of the last two books i read could take some lessons from this writer.  :-)

I just looked up the writer on Amazon and it looks like this was her first book.  I'm glad that she did so well with it and can see why she won so many awards with this book.  It was an awesome debut book and this is the reason that I like to read some of these free offered books from Amazon.  I've gotten to the point where I hardly read established authors that much.  I love to find these hidden gems with newer authors!  I see that the writer will have a new book next year and look forward to reading that one when it comes out.  :-)  :-)

Happy reading!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Paranormal? Kinda....

When I first read the description of this book, it sounded like an interesting ghost story.  I like ghost stories - especially if they spook me out.  :-)

I just read Loss: A Paranormal Thriller by Glen Krisch.  I was hoping to have more to this book than there was, but oh well... can't have it all.  I think the ending could have been explained a little better, but I'll get to that a bit later.

So, this supposed "ghost story" story start off with Angelie and her husband getting into a car accident after a family party.  Of course it's evening, and of course it's snowing - if the story would have taken place in an area that doesn't snow, I would have expected rain instead.  :-)

Angelie's husband, Paul, dies in the accident and "Ang" is left to deal with his loss on her own.  Even though Paul had three other brothers, they all had their own families and I guess since their mother didn't like her, they didn't really bother keeping an eye out for her.

Which takes me off on my first (of possibly many) tangents.  Now, I know that it's having this messed up family that makes the story work, but how sad is that.  Angie's brother in law and his girlfriend take her home from the hospital after suffering so many injuries of her own and leave her alone that night!  What the heck were they thinking!  She was in the hospital for three weeks and they think that she could just start taking care of herself that easily?  It was their brother that died, so out of respect for him I would have thought that they would have felt more responsible for making sure his widow was okay.

Instead, Ang decided to start numbing herself with vicodin and alcohol and spent months in a stupor as she tried to get over the death of her husband.  Instead of taking care of her - who wouldn't notice that she was harming herself! - they started to visit less and less often.  The only thing that kept Ang from totally killing herself was this ghost that she kept imagining... at least she thought she was imagining it - and what comforted her was that this ghostly figment of her imagination looked just like her Paul.

I don't know if it was the way it was written or something else that was going through my mind at the time, but the first third of the book kind of spooked me out!  I don't say that often!  I like watching spooky movies, not bloody hack-slash type of movies, but spooky.  Of course, the last time I got spooked by one of these movies was... oh what was it?  Blair Witch I think?  That was a while ago. 

As short as this book was, I really did enjoy it.  Yeah, it was a bit sad and I know that I mentioned before that I'm tired of sad books, but this one was different.  It wasn't about a stupid teenager that had an unhealthy obsession with her boyfriend, or a fat chick that couldn't see the beautiful person that she was... Ang had lost her husband and I'm sure that there are many windows that spend a few days/weeks/months in a depression.  Of course, not everyone would take it as far as Angie did with alcohol and drugs, but I'm sure that it passes many of their minds.  I can't and don't want to imagine myself in the same situation, but I'm sure that there are a few ladies out there that can relate.

I kind of wish that the ending would have gone on a bit more.  Ang does get to see her husband's ghost at the end, but then it jumps to a year later and she's still talking to her husband.  What???  Just as the story started becoming the ghost story that I thought it was going to be, the story ends!  The writer could have extended this part of the story just a bit more.  Not sure exactly how at this exact moment, but I'm sure I could come up with an idea or two.  :-)

I see that this writer has a few books at Amazon and I'm really curious to read more - but I'm such a penny pincher that I wouldn't want to pay $2.99 for a short story length like this book was.  I'll have to look into it because I did like his writing.  :-)

So, what's next?  Another sad story?  I have no idea.  I may pick up an actual book next, or just choose another random book from the Kindle.  With Rent playing in the back ground, a crazy dog rubbing her back all over the carpet with her paws in the air and writing about what I like doing - reading - I guess it really doesn't matter much.  Life is good and comfie.  :-)

Happy Reading,


Monday, August 6, 2012

Twenty Weeks

If the writer of this book wasn't trying to make a political statement, I'm sure that someone is going to use this book and try to shove it down someones throat to try to change their mind.  I really don't want to go into my own personal opinions about the whole abortion thing yet, but I can tell you this - this book is so unrealistic with the happily-ever-after ending that any kid who thinks that this may happen to her will be really disappointed.

I just read Twenty Weeks by Melisa M. Hamling.  I liked the writing style and how she told her story, but her story is just so fairy tail like that it just about ruined the book for me.  Okay, so I'm in a bad mood now.  Not only because this book was depressing and there was so much crying in it that I hoped that something different would happen to make up for it all.  But instead the writer went with the traditional, super predictive happy ending that I would have expected from an After School Special that used to be aired so many years ago.

The book started out pretty good.  Our main character, Maya, and her boyfriend, Alex, go to a party and 'accidentially' try some ecstasy.  Though they were trying to wait as long as possible before taking their relationship to include sexual activity (come one, they were only 16), they end up having unprotected sex that night.  The ecstasy ended up with something else in it that made them really sick and Maya almost ended up dying.  Of course, with a title like Twenty Weeks (which is a too obvious and probably really bad title for this book), Maya ends up pregnant.

Now, what I don't understand is why Maya, who seemed like she had a good relationship with her parents and sister... heck, even her relationship with her boyfriend seemed ideal - gets really stupid and starts hiding stuff from them - like the fact that she's pregnant!!!  I don't know, I didn't have that great of a relationship with my parents - heck, they were borderline jerks at one point, but I know that when my sister had an unplanned pregnancy, they would have done everything possible to help her.  Heck, even after the hell she put them through after my niece was born, they still did everything they could to help her.  My dad accepted an early retirement in order to be his first grand daughter's main caretaker while my sister went to work and school.

So, why Maya all of the sudden turned stupid, I don't know.  But then, I won't try to explain teenage behavior because we all know from experience that we all went through bouts of stupidity during those tender years.  But Maya goes to a clinic to look into getting an abortion.  She ends up having a really bad and traumatic experience right before she goes in for the procedure and she ends up keeping the baby after all.  I can understand why she would think she was not worthy of her baby because of what she almost did, but you'd think that with all of the love and support she had around her that she'd get it in her thick skull that the whole point of the matter was that she didn't!

Two books in a row with stupid characters.  What was I thinking when I downloaded these?  Oh well, books read and now I'm bitter.  I'm probably giving this book an undeserving bashing just because I'm in a bad mood now.  I was expecting just something a little more different for the ending.  But it just felt so rushed and short... and shallow.  She may as well just wrote "and the lived happily ever after" instead and it would have had the same effect.  Instead of drawing out the whole abortion thing (I know she has this whole political agenda hidden in there - yes, I'm being ornery now, so I'll shut up about this subject now), the writer should have had Maya have her baby a little earlier and concentrated on some kind of conflict after the baby was born to show how hard it is to keep a relationship alive with a baby around.  Heck, this is universal no matter how old you are.  Hubby and I didn't have our son until we were 33 years old and have had the usual fights on who got more sleep during those first few years. 

I wish the writer would have gone into the characters with a little more depth.  I feel like I kind of got to know Maya, but wanted to know stuff like what made her so smart in school?  How smart was she in school?  What did she want to be when she grew up?  How did she really feel about having a baby?  The story went into how Maya wanted to protect her boyfriend so much but didn't really get into how Maya felt about herself.  Did she want the baby or not?  She just kept going on and on about how Alex wouldn't want the baby.  If the writer did mention it, it certainly was washed out by Maya's worry over how Alex would feel, or how her parents would react.

I think the talent for writing was there, but the story was just too naive and idealistic.  Too much of a fairy tail and the subject matter was too mature to present it as a fairy tail.  I just looked up on Amazon and it looks like this is the writer's only book.  It also looks like it may be self published.  If this is true, then I actually admire what she's done with this.  Sure, the story can use a lot of help, but she still did a pretty good job for being her first book.  I hope that someone with the right connections can help with her next book and get it properly edited.  I'm sure that if she continues to stay in the controversial subject matter that she may be able to make a difference to someone out there... just not with this book.

Happy reading,


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Lighter Side of Large

Even though this was supposed to be a funny or humorous book, I didn't really find it as such.  I don't know, may I'm just being sensitive because I'm a "large" woman but have never experienced what the main character of this book did.

I just finished reading "The Lighter Side of Large" by Becky Siame.  I don't know if New Zealand or the area of that country that our main character, Bella, is from, but oh boy - she lives around some pretty nasty people!

Now, I have to admit that I have not been heavy my entire life.  Actually, as of 9 years ago, I was quite the opposite.  I was wearing a size 3 when I became pregnant with my son.  It wasn't until after my son was born and had all of these health problems that my body changed and became swollen and heavy.  Of course, eating all of those cookies and candy certainly doesn't help.  :-)  :-)  And I like eating those cookies and candies!

So our story starts off with Bella being pretty much thrown out of her house by her husband who no longer loves her - all of this happening two weeks after the birth of their second child.  The worst part about it is that Bella's husband, Mika, abandons her for her own sister.

Okay, yes, this is sad, but Bella builds a new life for her and her kids and even though her husband makes a bunch of money having his own law firm, Bella refuses to take any kind of financial support from him.  I admire that kind of pride because it takes a lot of strength to turn down the kind of money that he was offering.

So, our dear Bella turns into a character of contradictions that really starts to get on my nerves.  She obviously has a lot of pride, but she carries around the baggage that her husband left her when he did like all of the fat on her body.  People treat her badly and make faces and rude comments because she's fat and she feel so bad about it - but doesn't really do anything to change the situation!  She has these extraordinary supportive friends that try to get her out of this funk to change her life, but it take the news that her ex husband and sister are going to get married for her to finally step up to make a changes in her life.  She sets goals - one being to lose weight and achieve that 'perfect' body.

During this quest, Bella meets a man in the grocery store that obvious finds her beautiful and very attractive.  At this point I think she's still teetering around the 300 pound mark (the book shows kilos and I'm not going to do the math right now), but she has a good looking man that likes her and sees her for herself, not all of the extra pounds.  Then, twice, Bella is convinced that he didn't like her anymore and didn't want to be with her because he didn't call or text her.  Sure, I can understand that she would feel a bit hesitant to put all of her trust in this mew boyfriend, heck, she put her trust in her husband and look at what a scum bag he turned out to be!  But the worst part is that she didn't even give her new beau, Jae, an chance.  She never asked him or talked to him about her insecurities.  How can you start off a relationship with these kind of secrets!

Well, the book goes on with Bella working out, eating right and losing lots of weight.  During this time, her relationship with Jae continues to get more serious but she is still not satisfied with her body.  She's convinced that she's not losing the weight fast enough and goes in for lap band surgery that almost kills her.  Even though Bella's friends were against it, they still supported her and were there when she almost died.  Jae was there every day while she was in the hospital and even after being in bed and sick for so many days, still called her beautiful.

Yet, this was still not enough for Bella.  She starts a blog to talk about her quest of losing weight and because of the popularity that it gains, gets offered writing related jobs and a book offer.  She talks about being treated badly when she was still really heavy and how large people get discriminated against even today.  She fights for equal treatment for over weight people that we start to see a much stronger Bella, who after all of the positive and wonderful things going on in her life, is still not satisfied with her own body!!!

Well, it takes the whole book and almost losing her friends and Jae, but Bella finally gets it in her thick skull that she could never be totally satisfied until she started to accept herself as she was.  She was no longer heavy - going from a size 22 or something like that, to a size 12 - so she as more 'socially acceptable' body, she had a wonderful boyfriend that loved her even with all of that lose skin and bit of extra weight, supportive friends and family that loved her.  She finally saw how good her life was but she couldn't enjoy because she was still so obsessed with her own looks and weight.

I'm glad that at the end Bella finally saw the truth that she had to love herself to enjoy all of the good things in her life, but the writer certainly took her time getting there.  I was getting tired of hearing Bella whine and complain about being fat and being treated badly and obsessing over a handful of bad experiences.  She reminded me too much of Louie from Interview with a Vampire - whine whine whine, blah blah blah.  Makes me want to roll my eyes.  Oh wait, I can roll my eyes, there's no Fifty Shades of Grey jerks in my life!  :-)  :-)  *rolls eyes with much enthusiasm*  :-)  :-)

So, as you can see, I kind of liked this story but then it got on my nerves at the same time.  I liked where Bella ended up but didn't care for her drawn out quest to get there.  I'm a heavy lady and have never been treated even close to what Bella experienced.  If I have, i don't really remember - but I really don't care!!!  I know I'm heavy, the fact that I don't really work out and enjoy eating keeps me fat.  But I'm healthy, not counting the countless number of drug allergies, but I'm not on any medications that are so common for heavy people - like for high cholesterol, high blood pressure or high blood sugar.

I haven't had anyone leave me because I'm fat - as a matter of fact, hubby and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last month and he still sees me as beautiful and sexy.  I know that for everyone one else on earth that I'm not, but that doesn't matter.  My husband loves the way I look and that's all that matters.  Sure, I can probably stand to lose a bit of weight and I probably should... when the weather turns a bit cooler.  :-)  Yeah, excuses excuses.  :-)  I'll get there, but I know that I'll stay happy until I do.  :-)  :-)

Happy reading,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Zen Queen

Give me a book and the world feels complete.  :-)  Can you tell that I love to read?  The only reason I don't read all day long is because I have to go to work and spend at least a little bit of time with my family.  :-)

Okay, so I just finished Zen Queen by Kristy McManus.  It's your typical romance comedy that doesn't really have all that much exciting or original stuff about it except that it takes place in Japan.  The basic story is the same, but it does have some parts that are cute.

I don't want to put the whole book down, because it was an entertaining book.  It's just the type of book that I feel like I've read a couple hundred times before.  The writing is good and the characters are funny.  The writer knows how to write comedy pretty well so that all of the disasters happening to the main character, Jessica, sound funny when they could have been amazingly depressing if written in a different tone.

So, we start off with Jessica, who finds herself on a job assignment in Japan and somehow gets fired, deserted and homeless.  Yeah, yeah... i know, it all sounds quite depressing.  But believe me when I tell you that it does come across as funny.  :-)  Jess ends up living with a Japanese family then gets a job teaching English at a school with all of these other ex-pats because she doesn't have enough money to fly herself back home.

A good part of the story is how Jess meets her new friends and I did enjoy reading her descriptions of the different places that they went and some of her shopping adventures.  I actually liked Jess - she just sounded to adorably cute, even though she was a magnet for bad luck.  But as the book goes on, Jess does end up turning things around.

Sorry that this is such a short write up, but there really isn't all that much to tell about this book.  It's not fantastic, but it was a nice quick read.  This is the type of book you take with you to the side of the pool to sit in the sun for a spell.  I'm either getting really fast at reading or this was a really short book, but if I didn't have to go to work, I'm sure I could have read this book in one day.  :-)

Happy reading,


Monday, July 30, 2012

Nothing Else Matters

No, I'm not trying to be depressing or philosophical or anything.  That is the title of the book I just finished reading by Leslie DuBois.

I had actually read one of her other books and totally loved it.  You have your typical teenage angst stuff in the books, but they were written well.  I also realized that i didn't write about that last book which kind of makes me sad because now I don't have anything to refer back to.  Oh well...

Since I usually read so fast, I can't really remember the exact details from the other book, so I'll concentrate on this one, referring back to the other book, The Queen Bee of Bridgeton, on things that I remember.

I love the fact that this writer has really strong female characters.  Both Reyna and the main character from Queen Bee were minority young women in high school that knew what they wanted to do with their lives and were taking the steps to get there, and hope to influence others in their quest.

Reyna did it all - she was valedictorian, tutored on Saturday, president of the school? or was it class?  Okay, that I can't remember, but she was one busy lady!  In her senior year, she was able to almost single handedly assure that the other black students (and I think there were a total of 12 in her school?) pass or get on the honor roll in the college prep school that they attended. 

Her best friend, Scott, had been her dear friend since 6th grade.  They loved each other, but Scott's mom didn't approve of her.  The year in the book is 2008, so it's not like they live in a time where inter-racial relationships was unheard of.  But they lived in the south - I think it was South Carolina?  Ah, my short term memory!!!  But either way, it should have never been such a big deal.

Now, I've never really been in the south, so I don't know what it's like there.  My only experience was one time when I went to West Palm Beach, FL and was treated like I criminal at the local mall near the hotel that my mom and I were attending a conference.  I realized that it was just one stupid person acting in a stupid way, so I didn't let it bother me.  No one else treated us badly for the rest of our stay, so I never let it bother me.  So, again, I have no idea if people like Scott's mom still exist in the south - I'm sure they do because we have stupid thinking people like that in AZ, and even in CA when I grew up.  Heck, even my best friend from Jr. high and high school (and part of college) - her parent's didn't like me at first because I was a Hispanic that lived in a bad area of San Jose.  But they got to know me and hopefully got over it - unless they were just acting well enough to fool me (which I doubt).

Anyway, Reyna and Scott fall in love... but what makes this interesting is that Scott is white.  I believe that the writer had a similar story with Queen Bee - where the main character is black and her love interest is white.  The story does have some of the interesting conflicts in it, which not only intrigued me, but really made me think.

My niece, who I consider my daughter since she moved in with us at age 15, has the sweetest boyfriend ever.  I am so proud of them because they just got their first apartment together, and even though I would have loved having them home for longer, knew that they had to get their own space and be on their own.  They are so good together and I can tell that they really love each other.  On the other hand, my poor niece has been torn because her grandparents, my own mom and dad, who taught me from childhood that all people are equal and all require the same amount of respect; do not approve of Bunny and her boyfriend's relationship.

What the big shocker to me is that I can't believe that these are the same people that raised me.  Was it all an act?  It must have because thinking back in it, even 20 years ago they treated my husband like crap.  Was it because he was white?  Oh, I hate to think of this as a whole black/white/racial issue, but I really can't tell anymore.  My parents eventually accepted my husband, though never as well as I was accepted into my husband's family; and it makes me wonder if they will ever accept my daughter's boyfriend?  I love those kids with all my heart and only hope for the best for both of them.  I don't care what my parents think and I hope that my support and unconditional love will help both of them get over my parent's stupidity.  They are both good kids and they love each other, so just like the title of the book, nothing else matters.  Nothing else should matter when it comes to love.

The writer made a really good point when the main character, Reyna, had a moment of clarity.  She realized that so many people go around looking for their true love their whole lives, and so many never do.  So why should the color of someones skin make a difference if she and Scott loved each other?  They had (or at least she thought they had) that true love that the proverbial soul mates have for each other.  I really liked this point and know that I point that out to people often when I talk about why I support same sex marriage.  When you love someone, it shouldn't matter.

Reyna and Scott end up getting married despite Scott's mom and her horrible attitude.  I hope that nothing will stop the true life romance story happening in front of my very eyes between my Bunny and her boyfriend from living their happily ever after as well.  That story is still unfinished, and we'll have to wait and see...  :-)

Happy reading,


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Now here's a different type of book

Now how many people do you know that would go from readying a book like Fifty Shades to a self-help book called The Ultimate Investment?  Am I the only one?  I can't be, so I hope someone out there will let me know (out of the 3 of you who read my blog).

I just finished reading "The Ultimate Investment, Achieving Life's Highest Returns, An Allegory" by H. Bradley Stucki.  It was a really short book and wasn't written very well - which is why I don't really read books like this very often - but I stuck through it and even if I didn't care for the writing, I can appreciate the message that the writer was trying to get across.

Basically, this is a self help book to learn to achieve success.  The basic principal is that success does not necessarily mean making tons of money.  I think there are more middle class people that are successful than a few of those millionaires that you see on TV.  They may not have the same amount of money, but how many celebrities can brag about being married 20, 30 or 40 years?  There aren't that many... I bet there are more middle class working shmo's that can brag that success.  :-)  I can understand that and can totally put my mind around that idea.

So, in this book, instead of being one of those 400 page sales pitches on how to invest your money to make a gazillion in three minutes, it's a story about a desperate man, Dan, who needs to find something that could help him make more money and be able to spend more time with his family as well.

Dan goes to one of my favorite places in the world - the library - to try to start his quest to make more money.  As he starts to skim through a bunch of sales pitch investment books, he finds an old note.  This note talks about the ultimate investment and gives hints as to what parts make up this ultimate investment.  The clues are pretty basic - but there are so many people that don't really see it or know how to put it into practice.  I guess that's why these get rich quick books and programs are so popular because the people who put these together did know how to put it all together and then how to sell it.  But basically this is what they are:

  • Desire - if you really want to turn your life around, you need to have that desire and be willing to do what it takes to get there.  Nothing comes from just sitting back and watching everyone else do what you want to do.  This is what Dan figure out when he went to the library - he knew and wanted to change things.
  • Incremental Investing - this was the second clue.  It talks about how to learn to invest.  Only invest what you can afford to lose and invest wisely.  Invest for your future, but also take into consideration what you want to do now.  Want to take the kids to Disneyland?  Learn what it will take to make that possible.  It also talks about learning how to invest so you don't lose your shirt.
  • Family - the third clue.  The book talks about how nothing can be as successful without the love of a family to surround you.  This makes total sense.  Lots of people want to make more money in order to be able to give more to their families.  That's why there are so many two income families.  Families want to live in a nice house, nice neighborhood and send their kids to good schools.  They want to be able to send their kids to college without getting into so much debt that they'll be paying off their student loans after retirement.  But all of this costs money and you can't do that on one income alone anymore.
  • Love - still part of the third clue.  This part is directly related to family, but along with loving your family, a person should love what they do.
  • Time - this is what is considered the ultimate investment.  It was a little long winded to get there, but I got it pretty quick. (I'm good a riddles, what can I say?)  This clue basically said that this is something that everyone gets pretty equally - 24 hours a day -  no matter how much or how little money you make.  How you choose to use it is what may make the different between what makes a person successful or not.  This makes so much sense but so many choose to use their time doing what they want and not what they should to achieve success.
So, it all goes back around to that  desire.  Are you willing to give up a little bit of time watching TV in order to learn a little  more about investing money?  Or going back to school to get a better job?  Or just going back to school because it's fun?  What about work?  Are you doing something you enjoy?  What will it take to make it enjoyable?

I can tell you from experience that the job part is probably the most difficult when it comes to this whole book.  When I got my degree in accounting, I knew that I had to do something where I knew I could make a decent living.  My hubby was getting his degree in English Literature and didn't want to teach... so what did that leave us with?  I knew that I'd have to be the main income earner in our family - which was not all that bad because I always wanted to do that, even as a kid.

My accounting degree was working out to be pretty helpful and I was enjoying my first job out of college until the company got purchased by another.  I actually had to look for another job and the next two jobs were okay, but not like the first.  I learned from my classes in college that I really enjoyed the subject of taxation.  I am good with  numbers, but needed just a little more of a challenge than a bunch of number crunching.  I was fascinated with accounting because it wasn't black and white like engineering seemed to be.  Tax seemed to be even more challenging and even less black and white than regular accounting was.

I tried to get into the tax department in at my previous three jobs, but the openings were so rare that it seemed like I had to wait for someone to retire before I could get my chance... which didn't happen.  This year I finally got my chance... and I really like this job!  So, I'm doing something that I like - I don't love it because I'd rather be teaching instead - but I can handle doing this for a while.  The people that I work with are awesome and as long as we can continue working as a team I'm pretty sure I'll be happy where I am.

Now, how do I now take the other steps of this book and apply it to my life?  Well, other than trying to get out of our small debt that we built up during the time hubby got laid off last year, I know that I need to start putting aside a bit more money to invest for both the future and the present.  Something safe and secure for the future, but maybe something a little more aggressive for the short term.

I know that I need to spend a little more time doing research and talking to our financial advisor about that.  This will all pay off in time, but I know that I've already taken the right steps to get to where I want to be.  I'll continue teaching a few classes here and there just to keep the itch at bay, but I'll continue working where I am until I feel more comfortable with this new role, then take it up to the next step.  How long will it take?  I don't know, but I know that I'll have fun getting there.

Happy reading,


Friday, July 27, 2012

*sign* (shaking head)

Yes, yes... I did it.  I spent another 10 bucks for the last Fifty Shades book in the series....

I know that I've been mentioning that I bet I can guess how the third book was going to go.  Well, I just lost my own bet!  Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James actually exceeded my expectations and I hang my head in shame that I didn't give the writer a benefit of the doubt.

The third and final series writing-wise was a little choppy and just didn't feel that finished and refined to me like the other two books did.  But then, my opinion doesn't really matter.  I'm just another nobody that spent my hard earned money on a new genre of stories that I just found out are called "mommy porn", which after hearing that, makes me feel quite different about this book.

Like I started saying, the beginning of the book was one of those current day, then flash back, then back to current day type of writing.  I'm usually not that crazy about this type of story telling because to tell you the truth, it just confuses the hell out of me sometimes.  I didn't really get lost while reading this story, but it still got on my nerves.  I was just glad that the whole book didn't go like that.

Two of my favorite characters, Ana's subconscious and inner goddess are not as visible as they were in the second book and I kind of missed them.  I found these two additions to Ana's personality a bit annoying at first, but by the end of the first book, I was really enjoying them.  They made the sex parts kind of funny and helped me tolerate the fact that Ana's Mr. Grey was mentally unstable - and anyone who knows me even a little bit will know how I feel about that.

So Ana and her Mr. Grey continue their adventures together and do what they do best - have lots and lots of sex.  What made this book popular, what Ana calls "kinky fuckery", makes it's appearance, but I don't think it's as much part of the story as it was in the first book.  Ana continues to put pieces of her puzzled Mr. Grey back together and he is almost like a normal guy at this point. 

I was expecting a little more with Ana's former boss but that last chapter in the second book just inflated my expectations for such a tiny balloon in the third book!  :-)  The story went completely different (with the exception of the sappy ending) to what I was guessing.  I knew that Ana was going to end up getting hurt or something to that extent and that it was going to be Mr. Grey's turning point to finally fully accepting Ana's love.

The story was sweet and I guess it was nice to finally have Christian open up to his Ana.  I was totally expecting that, but the flow of the story just didn't go like I was expecting.  It wasn't bad, it was different.  Just like I mentioned after reading the first book, Ana was her Mr. Grey's salvation.  I expected him to change - and he did like every romance novel male (not real life at all) - but it took so much longer than I thought!  I really give credit to the writer to being able to pull that off without making the story sound too repetitive.  Even the sex parts didn't seem as repetitive as so many romance writers tend to do... ie, Christine Feehan and her Carpathian series.  *shuttering*  You want to talk about boring and repetitive?  Almost as repetitive as I've used the word "repetitive" in the paragraph!  :-)  Ha ha!

*clears throat noisily* Okay... back to the book.

So, now that the story of Ana and her Mr. Grey is done and over with, the writer did give us two tid bits extra at the end and one that I really enjoyed.  The first was a short story written from Christian's perspective as a four year old experiencing his first Christmas.  It was written pretty good and I think she makes a pretty good attempt at making it sound like it was coming from the a four year old's mind.  My favorite part was how he described his New Mommy's teeth being so white and small.  :-)  Yeah, kids have a funny way of looking at things.  My son is 8 so these kinds of observations were not that long ago for me.  I'm so glad that my son opened up to me and let me into his head whenever I asked him to describe what he saw to me.  I wonder who's head the writer had to get into to be able to write this short story so well?

The second tid bit was the beginning of the first book from Mr. Grey's perspective.  It was as dirty and full of cursing as I expected.  It was interesting but crude.  I'm glad that the book didn't share his perspective because I really wouldn't have liked this character at all.  I'm not crazy about Christian Grey (which is why I call him "Mr. Grey" through my writings instead of his first name) and I think it was really selfish of him to prey on young Ana.  Sure, she was old enough to make her own decisions, but come on!  Really?  How the heck could she really fall in love with a domineering, controlling ass like Christian Grey?  Sure, she had a little bit of a back bone, but not that much.  But then, I guess these characters kind of rub me the wrong way anyway because they are so unlike me!  I am what some may say as having a strong personality, but I'm not rude or mean about it!  Now, I can get mean if someone tries to push me or my family around or take advantage of us, but I would never be able to do what Grey did with a few of the characters in the book.  I believe that there are people that actually exist that can ruin a person's life without thinking twice about it.  Oh, I don't know.  These characters are just so fucked up beyond their fifty shades - yes, both of them! - that I guess they deserve each other.  I just feel really bad for their kids...

But then, thinking back on it, it makes me really happy that this was a fiction book.  Hearing that this new "mommy pron" is the whole new fad makes steam come out of my ears, but then what can I say?  Sex sells.  I'm just sad to see that good writers like E. L. James has to go to this trashy level to make her living.  She's a good writer and I believe that she can still write a good story without all of the sex, bdsm (or whatever it's called) or even vanilla sex in it.  I just found out that one of my other favorite writers, Laurell K. Hamilton, has a new book that just came out last month.  A new Anita Blake book... but I don't want to read it.  I know that it will be 'mommy porn' like the last 10 Blake books and I'm not sure I can handle another story like that right now.  I need to look for a good fantasy fiction book to put my mind, nerves, brain or whatever at ease.  I don't need to read about sex to be entertained.  When I read I want to relax and escape.  Fifty Shades was a well written book series, but it was not that relaxing for me.  I hope that it relaxes someone out there though...  :-)

Happy reading,


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Hero

My hero does not have wings, does not come from another planet or have a gazillion dollars.  He doesn't sparkle, doesn't have spidey senses or is considered a mutant.  He's a romantic but not in the googly eyed romance book cheesy way.  He's still a guy's guy, but will always be my knight in shining armor.

My hero is my hero because he thinks the way I do, likes the same kind of music, books and food.  He likes to quote movies, books and comics and shares the hidden meanings of triple play and high five days with me.  He understands my obscure references and knows when I need chocolate before I start craving it. 

My hero saved me from being fifty shades of fucked up, thought that I was beautiful at 60-some odd pounds as well as now... just a few pounds heavier (like 100).  I don't care that there are more people that would think I'm not pretty or kinda plain and ugly - it doesn't matter because my hero makes me feel like I'm much more than that.  My hero is the most handsome man in the world in my eyes and I guess that is all that matters.

My hero knows I'm kinda messy and leave all of my yarn and bead projects scattered around the house.  He knows that I can't stand cooking and get grossed out when I have to touch raw meat.  He willingly gave up eating bacon for years because he knows that I can't handle the smell when it's cooking.  What kind of guy will do that!

My hero takes care of me by doing the laundry, cleaning the kitchen and taking care of our son.  He's a 'mini van' dad without the van, helps with homework and does bedtime stories.  He picks up toys because one thing where my son and I are alike is that we love to scatter ourselves all over the house!

My hero is a writer but gave it up to take care of us when I couldn't work.  He takes of me when I get sick or is just there to comfort me when the pain gets really bad.  He goes downstairs to get me a drink of water when I wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, or kills the bugs that gross me out.

My hero has learned to sleep on a sliver of the bed because I hog the bed while he hogs the blankets and I look for him in my sleep to warm up (only because he loves to sleep with the fan on all year long).  He has learned to cook Chinese food and do the laundry when I went back to work.  He changed as many diapers as I did and would have gone through labor for me if it were possible.

My hero is a dad and has had just as many sleep deprived nights as I did when our son was an infant.  He learned to feed and bath our baby at the same time I did.  He walked the miles and miles from one of the the house to the other trying to get a colicky baby to sleep when I could no longer keep my eyes open.

My hero watches cartoons with our boy and picks him up from the bus stop.  He makes his breakfast and packs his lunch.  He would pack my lunch if he could get himself up early enough, but that's okay.  I prefer to pack my own lunch anyway, so no complaints from me.

My hero endures my strange taste in paranormal or 'ghosty' TV shows and usually makes 'football food' worth the 6 months of NFL torture.  My hero trusts me and supports me even though I can't write as well as he does, he still encourages my scattered ramblings.

My hero loves me and I love him.  Even though I know he wishes he had all of those hero powers, he will always have something way better instead - and though it's cheesy and romance novel-like, there really isn't any other way to say... but he has the awesome power of love and 20 years of marriage today to prove it.  :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back to reading the classics....

Okay, so it's not a classic like so many of you would think.  It's one of MY classics.  Way back when I was still fairly new to reading fantasy fiction - and NO! it's not Tolkien!  I'm talking about the good ole TSR novels from the world of Ravenloft.  This was way back when Gen Con was still held in Milwaukee, WI (at least i think it was), and I was still considered a newlywed being married to my hubby at that time for a mere 3 years.

I just finished reading Death of a Darklord by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Yes, it's the same Laurell K. that created one of my favorite characters - Anita Blake.  :-)  :-) 

This is what I like about Revenloft - it's dark and it's scary.  It has monsters that are truly monsters and they act like monsters.  They don't sparkle and they don't get all googly eyed in love.  This book didn't have a happy ending with rainbows, puppy dogs and lolly pops.  The best way I can describe it is that it reminded me of the reason so many enjoy Shakespearean tragedies - they don't have happy endings either, but the stories are good.  :-)

I'm sure that there are more people that will disagree with me than there are people that would agree.  I really don't care, and here is why.  I think the whole paranormal genre has gone too soft.  You have Louie from Interview with a Vampire whining and  crying over this dead wife, then over that little girl that acted more like a vampire than he ever did.  Oh yeah, and he made himself seem like such a victim to that bully Lestat.  Oh shut up Louie!

I mean, you have the true classic monster, Dracula, that is so heartbroken over his dead wife that he spends centuries looking for her - which came in the form of Mina.  But have you ever read the book or really watch the movie?  He's still a monster and even with his broken heart, you don't get any impression that he's anything else but that monster!

Laurell K. Hamilton starts her Anita Blake series with the monsters being monsters and her hunting them down to dispose of them as needed.  But her later books in this series has her falling in love and getting all magical and stuff.  I'm pretty sure that it sold way more books than the original books, but come on!  Anita Blake was so awesome without all of that oogly-googly-heart-in-the-eyes romance.  Yes, this is my personal opinion.  I can imagine what the series could have become if the general public and their $$ didn't dictate which direction these books went in.  You could have had an awesome series that is more comic book worth than what there is now.  I've seen a few trade paperbacks of the Anita Blake books, but those were the clean ones - the ones before the romance - where the characters were exactly what I expected them to be.  Those were comic book worthy and I'll be curious to see how far they get in that comic book series before they stop having enough story to be able to keep clean.  :-)

Okay, so back to Death of a Darklord...

Let's go back a bit to talk about why I like or dislike certain writers.  I love seeing characters come to life and Laurell K. Hamilton definitely does that in this book.  The two main characters, twins, just pop out of the book.  She adds little quirky things about these kids that shows what kind of personalities they have.  How they learned to knit and all of the gifts that they made their family members... it's little things like this that make me fall in love with a book.  This was a whole whopping page and a half of the total book, but it stayed with me for the rest of the story.  It made their banters more real - especially when Blaine was trying to describe how a young horse that didn't like Elaine was just young and full of vinegar.   Elaine replied by snapping that if the horse was so full of vinegar that it should be a pickle.  :-)  :-)  Okay, okay... maybe you just have to read the book for that to be as amusing as I think it is.  :-)

No, there are no happily ever afters in this book.... and it's so refreshing!!!  :-)  :-)  One of my friends asked me why I haven't downloaded the final book of the Fifty Shades series and I'll tell you why.  Because it's going to have a happily ever after ending!  That's why!  Sure, our two fucked up, neurotic, emotionally unstable... oh, pick a phrase - characters will surely have an adventure on their hands with Ana's former boss trying to hunt them down, but we all know that she and her Mr. Grey are going to be all happy and perfect with ice cream, fairies and everything that is good on their side.  :-)  :-)  Yeah, can you tell that I'm getting tired of these kind of books?  :-)  :-)

So, if you want to read a good story without it being too happy and cheery at the end, just choose any of the Ravenloft books.  :-)  They all pretty much do the same thing.  Or you can try reading Edgar Allen Poe and get the same thing.  :-)  :-)  But there is just something about sinking my teeth and  enjoying a good "trashy" fantasy novel that almost makes me feel guilty - like the kind of guilt where you eat those extra three pieces of cake.  :-)  :-)  Yes, if you can imagine what I look like, I have as close to a Cheshire cat smile on my face right now.  Yum!  :-)  :-)

Happy reading,


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Breaking TWIG

I knew there was a reason why I usually stay away from current fiction.  I have a tendency of choosing books that end up being really depressing and sad.  Sure, the writer tries to put in a happy ending, but the fact that the character has to suffer so much to get that bit of happiness makes me sad...

Okay, I just finished reading Breaking TWIG by Deborah Epperson.  It looks like this is her only published book from what I was able to pull up on Amazon.  If it is, then I am really impressed.  But I do have one question... why such a sad book?

So we start off with a young teenager (I think she was 13) in the year 1963 who is raped by her new stepbrother.  Her mother had only been remarried for a little while when this happened.  Her mother didn't believe her - and we find out all kinds of things about how horrible this woman is after that.

Becky is our main character who is not only small for her age, but defenseless against her bully of a mother.  If it were not for her step father putting himself in the middle, her mother would have killer her on more than one occasion.  It was really hard reading about the beatings that Helen, Becky's mom, gave her because I just can't read about when a kid suffers.  Heck, that's why I couldn't get through the Hunger Games that everyone is going all crazy about!  If there is too much suffering, I can't read it and that's just how it is.

So Becky's hero comes in the form of her step father, who sends his son away and piles on more stress onto himself in order to keep Helen from giving Becky more beatings.  Since he can't be home all the time, Helen still ends up beating Becky to the point where she breaks ribs, gives her a concussion and a gash on her forehead that needs multiple stitches.

Our story starts getting kind of twisted at this point... to the point where I'm not really sure I can tell you about it any more than I already did.  The best thing to do is to read the book yourself.  If you can read the Hunger Games, this will be a piece of cake.  At least Becky grows up a bit more and is no longer a defenseless little kid - though she still needed some protection - which the good step father, Frank, is there to provide.

Now the reason I say that I'm impressed if this book is the first for this writer is because she hasn't made so many of the mistakes that I've seen in other debut books.  This had a good story that flowed well.  The characters seemed very real - and she used all five senses! - to make them more real.  The only one that she could have used a bit more in the book was the sense of taste... especially when Becky and her mom try their hands at building a catering business later on in the book.  But eyes, ear, nose and touch were all there and I'm happy that she put that kind of thought into doing that.

Even if the story was sad and at parts hard for me to read, there were good breaks and logical conclusions to the story.  I don't know the actual technical term that writers use to describe this... I'm just doing what I can.  I've read books where sometimes certain parts of the story, just to force the rest of the story to work, makes absolutely no sense at all and is not very realistic.  It make me wonder why a character is doing something so unlike them... then as I keep reading, it makes sense what the writer is trying to do, but didn't achieve it very well.  I saw this in almost every book that I read from those trashy romance series... oh, what where they called?  Sniglets?  Hallmark?  Oh, whatever they were called, the few that I read were written really bad.

I'm not sure if this book would be considered a romance.  Though there is a very sweet and tender romance story in there, I would probably not recommend this book to any romance novel fan that I know of because of the dynamics between the two romantic characters.  Frank becomes more than a step father to Becky after a while.  Even when his marriage to Helen has been dead, Frank puts all the energy he can to protect Becky from her mother.  They fall in love and it's a really sweet story but anyone that has a problem with that step-father-turned-lover part of the story may have a problem with this.  When it comes to love and romance, I don't think there is much that is out there that can shock me. I've already read probably the novel that most claims to be the most shocking ever written - Fifty Shades of Grey, and it didn't shock me at all.

What I liked about the story as well, was reading how Becky developed her inner strength - even if she didn't realize that it was there until her beloved Frank was gone.  She use a therapy that I've been readying about (yes, I did end up doing some research about therapies after reading the Fifty Shades books) and have been practicing for years.  It's writing a journal... yes, as simple as that.

I found out how therapeutic writing in a journal was when I was a freshman in college and suffering from my first broken heart.  I used to write letters to that the person who broke my heart, telling him how I was suffering and how mad I was at him... and even if it didn't take the ache away, it did help me get over him.  Would I have gotten over him without the letters?  Probably, but I don't know how 'over him' I would have been when I started dating my husband to be.  I learned a lot about myself in those letters and when those letters went away, so did all of those hurt feelings.  Sure, I think about him everyone once in a great while, wonder if he ever married, had any kids or what he did for a job... but they are just curious wonderings that I don't care if I ever find answers to.

Another therapy that Frank help Becky with was in planning their futures.  They talked about what they would do and how they would get there.  It wasn't described in total detail, but this is what I liked about the writer as well... she left certain parts of the story to our imaginations.  What exactly did they talk about when planning the next expansion of the store that they owned?  Some writers just like to dwell on the parts that are not that important to the rest of the story, but sometimes gives us readers a little food for thought.  As I put the book down at night, I'd think about these kind of things - what Becky and Frank would have been planning - before I would fall asleep.

This is another therapy that I read about that I also used many years ago - but I called it my dream board.  :-)  This consisted of board with exactly what it is called: your dreams.  Everyone has their own way of making a dream board - some like using pictures and making a collage, others may make lists.  I liked to use the typical brainstorming method - start with your main goal in the middle, then the steps that it will take in order to make that goal happen.  Next to each smaller bubble, it would have thoughts and questions to how to make each step happen.  Sure, it's not as colorful as pictures carefully clipped out of a magazine, but it worked for me back then and I'm sure if I did it again, it would work again.  :-)  :-)  I believe that this is kind of what Grey's doctor had him trying as part of his therapy in the Fifty Shades books - he had him concentrating on his future instead of dwelling on the past.  The only thing was that Grey didn't make his dream board and I think he was slowing down his own therapeutic progress leaving this part out.  How can you achieve your dream if you can't see it laid out?  I'm sure that with his business success that he had to have some kind of plan in mind for get to that point, so what was keeping him from being a success mentally as well?  Okay, enough about that book and back to Breaking TWIG.

Becky's story was actually pretty good.  I took my time reading this book this time.  I just had to put that book down sometimes because it made me feel sad.  Actually, that last book I read, Chasing China, was the same way.  Hmm, I don't like that.  The last time I did that I ended up spending $20 on the stupid Fifty Shades books!  No, no... can't have that happen again.  I'm still going to hold off on getting the final installment of the Fifty Shades books and probably reread one of my favorite fantasy fictions books.  I haven't picked up a Terry Brooks book in a while so maybe I'll do that... or the next Ender's Game book in that series.  I just need to stay away from these sad books for a while!!!  :-)

Happy (hopefully happier than my last two books!) reading,


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chasing China: A Daughter's Quest for Truth

Oh wow... what a good book.  It could have used a little more detail here and there, but over all, it was such an awesome story.

I just finished reading Chasing China: A Daughter's Quest for Truth by Kay Bratt.  I had heard about different horror stories of abducted babied being adopted out to foreign families in order to get donations that were used on just about anything but the orphanages.  I remember as a kid in jr high or high school, reading a series of stories in some news magazine about China and some of the sob stories from some of the lucky ones that were able to get out of the country.  I'm sure that there are sob stories from just about anywhere in the world, including our own country, but this story is about Mia...

Mia was adopted by her American parents at the age of 4 from an orphanage in Suzhou.  Wanting to learn a little more about her roots and possibly find an reason why her parents abandoned her, Mia went back to China with hopes and dreams of her other family.  Of course, while she was there, she ended up meeting another American.  This was the part of the story that I felt was a little too far fetched, but I guess she made it work.  Not only was Jax Asian-American on an internship in China, he just happened to live in the same state as Mia and lived a mere 2 hours away.  Yeah, what were the chances of that happening (as I roll my eyes).  :-)  :-)

Okay, okay... I don't want to bash this book because it was good.  It looks like this was only her second book and I'm impressed with some of the details.  I can tell that this writer is really passionate about wanting to help the orphans and children of China from Mia's story and what she witnessed during her visit.  I'm not going to repeat any of it here because I don't think I can without breaking out in tears again. 

I was impressed with the detail that she used to describe one of the babies that Mia became attached to - a 9 month old precious little girl with a heart condition named Xinxin.  I wish the writer would have used the passion that she used in describing this little girl for her main characters, but from what i understood after reading the acknowledgements at the end of the book, Xinxin was based on a real person.  It then made sense to me as to why the little girl seemed more real than the other characters.  Since I'm not a writer, I really don't know how to make a fictional character more 'real', but little Xinxin was real and she really popped out of the story even though she was only a minor character.  I wish I knew how to fix it or make suggestions for future characters, but the main characters were just a little too empty.  I was able to see Xinxin in my mind more than any of the other characters - I could almost be able to feel her light weight little body in my arms and hear her breathing and feel her moving her little body while she took everything in.  I think because these descriptions were written from real memories, they just make that part of the book way more interesting.

I'd be really curious to see how the writer is doing with this in her other books.  But after thinking about it, even if her writing style stays exactly the same as in Chasing China, I hope that she is able to continue being an advocate for children in China and where ever else she sets her mind to.  :-)  :-)

Happy reading,


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hidden Steel

Nope, I didn't download the third of the Fifty Shades book yet.  I need to slow down my spending a bit so that one will just have to wait.  It's not like I don't already know what's going to happen!  :-)  :-)

So, I've been reading some of the treasures that I somehow manage to download from Amazon for free!  The best price to pay for a book ever.  :-)  This time I read Hidden Steel by Doranna Durgin.  :-)  I looked up what else this writer has available, and it looks like she is a very established writer with a whole lot of books.  Yummy!  I can't get my hand on one of her other books because I like the way she writes!  :-)  :-)

This particular book is not really a genre that I really care to read - your Clancy-type-thriller kind of story with spies, CIA, FBI, ABC and whatever other kind of government agency you can think of.  I was humbled to not give this genre much of a chance after reading the first chapter of this book - it had me hooked!!!  The beginning did not start slow at all.  It was action from the first page to almost the very last.  :-)  :-)  I haven't actually read any Clancy or similar writers, but if they're like this, I may have to sneak in a book or two just to make sure.  :-)  We have a few books that were gifted to my hubby so it's not like I need to purchase them or anything.  :-)  My wallet and bank account are safe.  :-)

I think another reason that I really enjoyed this book was because of the main character - Mickey - yes, as in the mouse (and that line is used in the book).  She's playful, likes to dance with brooms, dance on the bed and sings about rainbows when she gets nervous.  All of that and she's an uber dangerous not-just-kicks-your-ass kind of lady.  I love her!  :-)  :-)  I love super strong characters like Mickey.  That was one of the reasons I put up with all of the romance stuff from the Anita Blake series - I really like to read about women that can kick butt.  :-)  :-)

Now, this book is considered a romance, but it's such a small part of the story that I think even a guy would approve of the story - unless he has a problem with her being more skilled at fighting and weapons than the guy she meets and becomes friends with. 

There are some really awesome parts of the story that really touched my heart.  Because Mickey needed money to get supplies for her next adventure and couldn't risk having a credit card tracked and that kind of stuff, she went out to where muggers would hide in the shadows to wait for their victims.  Then she would go and mug those muggers!  And she did it with a sling shot and a tank top hiding her face.  Now that's not what made me laugh - she tied the top of the tank top in a bow at the top of her head and cut out two eye holes so she could see.  :-)  :-)  She then turned in whatever wallets, purses and/or weapons that she was able to take off the muggers to the police, and use the cash to purchase what she needed.  Whatever she had left over, she would go to a store and buy necessities like toothbrushes, toilet paper, peanut butter and such and distribute them to the homeless people that helped her out at the very beginning of the book.

Now, even with all of this praise that I've written about this book, there was one small weakness that i found.  I was not impressed with the ending, but it didn't ruin the whole book for me.  I have a story for you about a ruined book because of the ending:  in 1992 when hubby and I were on our honeymoon, I read a fairly new book called Dance of the Dead by Christie Golden.  This was my first taste to the D&D world of Ravenloft and was drawn into this book not only from the curiosity, but was fascinated by this whole new world.  I was able to read this book in 1 day... and just about threw a fit (though my new husband at the time would say differently) with the final line of that story.  It was so disappointing that I hated that book since then.  I can't even look at the cover without pitching another fit.  So, endings are a bit of a big deal for me every since.  Thank goodness that even with this weaker ending, it was still good enough for me to not hate it.  :-)  :-)  If I were editing this book though, I would have asked for a different closing line because that line just about started making my eye twitch...  :-)  :-)

Now, I know my ramblings are not making all that much sense here, but you've got to give this book a try!  It's no longer being offered for free through Amazon, but it's still fairly cheap at $4.49.  It's not a very long book at 250-ish pages, so it's perfect for a short weekend read or traveling companion when you don't have anything else to do while at the airport.

Happy Reading,