Monday, December 31, 2012
2012 was a year of turmoil and trauma for me with my father becoming very sick first with shingles and then enduring 3 surgeries to remove gallstones (two failed attempts), only to have his gall bladder removed in the end. He is recovering slowly but surely.
While that was going on I had a cervical cancer scare. It's thankfully not cancer yet, but they will be monitoring me closely.
On the day that I found out I didn't have cancer, my son discovered a lump on his hip. What followed was a nightmare experience where they told us he had terminal vascular cancer - only to learn he had a very very rare benign vascular tumor. He underwent two surgeries and while he'll be monitored yearly by Dana Farber, they don't expect any recurrence.
He left for college 3 weeks after the second surgery, while still recuperating. Unfortunately, the challenge of having Aspergers Syndrome, dealing with that and all the changes that living away from home presented sent him into a tailspin. He decided he no longer needs his medications which control his perseverations and inflexibility. We medically withdrew him from school at the end of October when we realized he was not eating, sleeping, brushing his teeth, showering or attending classes at all. It has been a roller coaster ride since with the only constant being complete chaos.
The reality is that he may never be able to live on his own. It has been .... discouraging and disheartening to say the least.
In addition, a month ago my beastie (dog) couldn't get up one day. He's only seven years old. I made several trips to the vet for bloodwork, meds, xrays, etc only to determine that they think he suffered a catastrophic injury to his back - probably chasing the cat down the stairs. That triggered already developing arthritis to rapidly flare. (Or it could be a tumor, but I'm not putting him through more stressful tests to check that because if it is, there is little they'll be able to do.) He can't get from a lying position to a standing position without help and has to be held in place until his legs and back will support him. He also needs a sling and help to get down the stairs and is currently on 4 different meds to take away the pain. (At the moment he is not in pain.) If he doesn't improve, I will most likely have to make a quality of life decision that I'm not ready to make yet.
This dog has been my companion, comfort and savior over the last seven years.
Needless to say, I can't wait to see 2012 end. (END ALREADY 2012!)
I can only hope 2013 is a better year.
Tomorrow I hope to post a final count of the books that I've read this year. I'm currently reading The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong and enjoying it immensely. I love strong female characters and Maya, the protagonist, is definitely that. It's very well written, with a good story, well developed characters and an interesting world. Stay tuned and don't give up on me. I will be blogging about books again hopefully soon.
Have a happy and safe New Year everyone. Don't drink and drive.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Life got away from me again.
It's actually kind of amazing that I'm sitting here typing a blog. My world did another 180 and knocked me on my ass for a while. Why? Well, it became apparent that kiddo was not managing himself at college. We went to visit him for parents weekend and ... well, he was ... He'd stopped taking his meds. He wasn't showering. He wasn't brushing his teeth. He hadn't done his laundry once. He was dirty, smelly (as was his room) and he'd lost about 40 lbs. He wasn't eating. He wasn't sleeping. He was failing all his classes.
It took one week - one week where I don't think I slept - until I convinced him to see his psychologist. It took the psychologist one visit (granted it lasted 3 hours) to decide we needed to convince him he needed to withdraw. It ended up taking very little convincing. He knew he was in trouble.
He's been home for about ten days. He's gained back about 5 lbs. He's been eating and sleeping and not much else.
Obviously, I've been a little preoccupied and distracted. My opportunities to read have been limited. My opportunities to blog? Nonexistent.
Things are easing up. We've all accepted that he cannot live on his own, at least not now. Nor can he manage college class loads without a lot of help. My empty nest is full again. I am drained.
I've learned one thing from my crazy life - when things go to shit (and they usually do), you suck it up and keep on moving.
And that, people, is more than enough emo drama for today.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Yesterday I received an Amazon book delivery. And damn if I didn't order the same book twice! I can't even figure out how I managed it. I guess I'll just chalk it up to a brain glitch. So here's the deal...
The book is London Eye by Tim Lebbon
It's a young adult dystopian urban fantasy - here's the blurb on it.
I'll talk books tomorrow.
And I'll draw the winner from a hat (cause lets face it, I won't have that many entries) on Halloween!
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Tin Swift is the follow up to Dead Iron, a steampunk story set in the wild west. Well, that's how its described. I would call this series a romantic steampunk horror urban fantasy western with faeries and magic and werewolves and well, it's just plain fucking fantastic.
I hate westerns. Really, I'm not kidding. And while I love dressing and decorating my house steampunk, stories in the steampunk genre have to be perfect for me to like them. Creating mechanical creatures and an alternate world run by steam is tricky business. When this book was announced, I thought - "ptht, not my thing" - and almost didn't buy it.
Devon Monk creates a steampunk/western world with such skill, it all makes beautiful sense. Her characters are fantastic and fascinating. And the action makes the book fly by much too fast. In fact, this is one of those series I actually pace myself because I want to devour it, but I also don't want to miss the smallest detail.
The detail is amazing.
Tin Swift gets my highest marks - 6 stars. It deserves it. This is one of those books that I tend to adjust bookshelves for (shhh...don't tell) in B&N. I've recommended it to complete strangers standing near me in the sci-fi section. In fact, I can't recommend it enough. It's different. It's interesting. And it's phenomenally well written.
(Hey, 4 posts in 4 days! Go me!)
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
I'll be honest, I bought this book because I liked the cover. Yes, the premise sounded good, but I really wanted to see that cover in person. And then I read the book...
The story centers around Quentin, a man who wakes up in a mental hospital room with no memory of who he is. You know pretty much immediately that there's something very unusual about him - not to mention the hospital and the people there. It unfolds as Quentin attempts to figure out what the hell is going on, who and what he is and accepts it all so that he can take care of business.
I really enjoyed this book. There was plenty of action, the story was well-developed and the world was interesting. So I'm giving it 4 stars. Buy this one. If you want to save money, buy it in ereader form. Its definitely an entertaining read.
(Sorry, this was a short post. I had to make a round-trip visit to my kid at college because someone stole his jacket & his phone croaked. Then I went antique shopping - New Beford, MA has a massive antique mall!! By the time I got home it was dinner time and then I had to watch Supernatural! Why? Well because Jared Padalecki is my secret crush & nothing comes between me and him. Lol.)
More book talk tomorrow!
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Ross, the main character is one of a group of survivors of a plague. They live together in a communal like setting. He's secretly in love with Jenna, a girl who he saved when they were kids. Jenna, however, is with Dorian who he also saved. Jenna and Dorian both love Ross and they decide its time for him to come to terms with not only what he's feeling for Jenna, but what he's pretending he doesn't feel about Dorian.
And then Ross is injured rescuing a boy from an abusive group when he's out on a supply gathering mission...With him incapacitated, Jenna and Dorian are presented the perfect opportunity to set their plan to seduce him in motion.
Now, I love to vent about sex in books, because most of the time its unnecessary or over the top. And you'd think this scenario would throw me for a loop because its not just male/female, its male/male. But here's the thing - it was kind of beautiful. The characters are well written and sympathetic and I just wanted them all to be happy. It was also integral to the story and very well written.
So, this book is more than a love story. It's about survival and hope. There is a plot other than the romance. And its all far far too short. I loved it.
And hell, its only $2.66 right now on Amazon. Now, go and buy!
Monday, October 1, 2012
Sooooooo....LETS TALK BOOKS!!!
Here's my plan. This first post is to give you a list of everything I've read since I last posted about books. And I've read a lot! But even better, I'm making October a review month. Every day I am going to review at least one of these books until I'm completely caught up. Or at least hopefully I'll be caught up, (I'm laughing right now, because it's going to be iffy) because I haven't posted the books I've read since June!!
So, here we go:
Books Read in July, August & September:
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Right now, I'm sitting in my armchair watching my kid sleep. We got back from Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston about an hour ago and we're all pretty exhausted. If you didn't catch my last (somewhat ranty) post, I hinted at what we've been dealing with. I'm just going to briefly share a reader's digest version of the last month.
7/4 - kid notices weird bulge on hip
7/5 - bulge is bigger and weirder; we go to local ER; ultrasound shows a mass the size of an egg; follow up xray shows no other growths; meet with surgeon who says no biggie, let's give it a week; believes its a pocket of bloody tissue from a bad bruise; schedule appt in his office to re-examine & maybe remove
7/7 - back in ER; mass bigger & darker; CAT scan shows no significant change but they encourage us to try to see surgeon sooner
7/11 - surgery to remove growth in office; things go horribly wrong; removal almost causes kid to bleed out; thankfully dr is prepared tho he had a moment of panic; dr says should have been done in hospital, but feels nothing to worry about - thinks its a blood clot from ruptured blood vessel
7/18 - follow up with surgeon; they take me to private room & tell me kiddo has hemangioendothelioma, a rare malignant vascular tumor - so rare dr knows nothing about it; refers us to Dana Farber; says he doesn't think he got it all out; he's traumatized, so are we
(A week of chaos & emotional upheaval ensues.)
7/25 - meet with dr at Dana Farber; says it IS an extremely rare vascular tumor but its benign; it is so rare that there are only 30 cases worldwide that have been recorded since 1990; there is no name for it & only anectdotal information available; schedules us to meet with surgeon
8/2 (today) - we met with surgeon who repeats what first doc said; adds that it can come back locally if not completely removed; schedules MRI for tomorrow; next week kiddo has Freshman Summer Institute for college; the following Mon will meet with anesthesiologist; surgery to go back in and make sure its all out scheduled that week so he has time to heal before college starts 9/2.
As you can guess from that, its been a traumatic month. We went from the high of kiddo going off to live at college, to preparing ourselves for the reality of him dying within the next few years, to discovering he's going to live but preparing for more surgery and regular follow ups for the rest of his life and back to him going away to college.
Books have been my refuge through this, they've been my buffer from the real world which has been at times too much to bear. But we're here, we're functioning and kiddo is going to live! We're taking that and running with it.
My next post will be about nothing but books. Promise.
Friday, July 20, 2012
I'm one of four sisters, all raised in the same house, all within 4 years of age of each other. We are all avid readers. We all had access to the same books growing up. But ... Oh my God ... We all like different books, different genres and different authors! How can this be?
Shhhh. Lean in close and I'll tell you.... We are all different. Thats it. Thats the secret. No two people are going to like exactly the same things, no matter how much alike they are.
So here is my advice...
If you didn't like the book you read, that's okay. Taste is subjective. You have every right to say so. But explain why, for God's sake. Was it the characters, the world building, the pacing, the dialogue, the genre? Or did it strike a negative cord based on your life experiences? These are all fair and acceptable reasons to not like a book.
However, it is not okay to attack an author personally. If you don't like them for whatever reason, use the good sense your mother gave you and keep it to yourself. That has nothing to do with their book. And giving a negative review to a book because you don't like an author's lifestyle or opinions, is just mean-spirited. Cut it out.
If you're giving a negative review just because you're a miserable person. and you can leave a negative review...well, that makes you an asshat. Grow up and find something useful to do with your life.
Not everyone will like your book. Taste is subjective. Most readers pick the books they read based on their tastes, and they don't really give a shit about the reviews. A large number of them don't even read reviews. I have actually bought books based on negative reviews. Relax. Give readers some credit. We can tell when someone is just being a douchecanoe. Its pretty obvious when someone is just out to attack a book because they can.
Don't do stupid things like post personal info about a blogger who has pissed you off. Use the good sense your mother gave you. Thats not only mean spirited, its dangerous. You don't know what kind of whack-a-doodles might be out there reading your post. Is your offense over some dickhead insulting your book/you so huge that you would want them to be maimed or killed by some unbalanced fan? Seriously?!? That makes you ten times the asshat of the person who posted the review, even if they are a complete asshat to the tenth degree.
Look, life is short people. I'm sitting here tonight trying to wrap my head around the fact that my 17 yr old son has an extremely rare vascular cancer that has no known effective treatment and you're getting all pissy because someone doesn't like you. Kind of puts your temper tantrums into perspective, doesn't it?
Grow the fuck up. Grow a thicker skin. And quit being a douchebag because you can.
The world would be a much nicer place if we all made an effort to take care of each other, rather than trying to undo each other. We are all unique with unique tastes and unique views. That, in itself, is a fucking miracle. Appreciate it.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Sunday, July 8, 2012
That being said, lets talk books:
Monday, July 2, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
I do think any creative endeavor that helps a person express him or herself is a worthwhile effort. And there were parts of these books I enjoyed...until I didn't. I was even swearing and cursing at one to just END (which is really bad) as I skimmed the first sentence of each paragraph and skipped most of the dialogue because it made me want to take my iPad and feed it into my husband's shredder....(I know. Calm down, Karen, it's okay.)
So without further ado, here are things that make me want to take a book and shake it with frustration:
1. Snark where it's not necessary.
Don't get me wrong, I love snark. I love wise ass characters that spit in fate's face with a smile on theirs. But damn it, when you have a character randomly spit out snark because you've thought of a witty comeback - but it doesn't fit with the character's personality or with the flow of the book - well, its not necessary. If your character is serious, let them be serious. If they're snarky, let them be snarky. But if they're a sweet, naive, serious character who talks in a sweet, naive, serious tone only to have a wicked, sexually forward, snarky comeback to someone that doesn't fit with their character....aaaagh! Don't do it.
2. Characters who talk like they went to formal diction school in the 1700's. I mean, what 17 year old says "One moment please. I am going to peruse the tomes on these shelves, and then I am going to procure my wallet to pay for my selected purchases." (I made that up, but you get the point, right? Right? Do you expect me to believe your character is normal? Or that they even exist in this world? What kid talks like that? He'd better be a time traveler from the past.
3. Characters who don't have a steady personality. This reflects on the last two entries. I'm sorry, but your character can't be innocent and promiscuous. They can't be tough and a wimp. Sure, they can have moments where they do something unexpected, but they can't just do things that go against who you've created them to be without a damn good reason. A character that's a werewolf enforcer isn't going to cower when they're attacked by three guys any more than they'd cower when attacked by one. They're going to fight. Unless for some reason they have a phobia about the number three (maybe they were raised by an evil three headed hell dog and they have a flashback to a vicious beating). See - ridiculous it may be, but it's an explanation. Don't make your character do things out of character unless its part of their character.
4. A World out of whack. Okay, so your character lives in a world where supernatural creatures - lets say faeries - exist. Only no one knows they exist. Well, they can't walk around with six fingers on each hand, and an extra set of knuckles on each finger, razor sharp pointed teeth, green skin and pink hair without some sort of glamour. Hello? No one's going to notice that? Seriously?
5. As an extension of that - your setting has to be believable, too. A city full of vampires that burn to ash in the sunlight isn't going to have buildings with huge plate glass windows that let the sun in all day long. I'm pretty sure the vampires would design buildings that protect them from the sun's rays. Do you see what I mean? You can't just take a setting you're familiar with and throw characters in it when you're writing urban fantasy. That's the whole point. You have to think about it. What would a city full of vampires who only come out at night look like? (Again, this is just an example.)
6. Unnecessary extraneous characters. Yes, you need to have characters for your main character to interact with, but don't dump forty million useless characters on me only to have them stick around for one chapter and be gone, never to be heard from again. I don't need to meet Bobby's cousin Darrell, who's in town for the city wide vampire purging unless Darrell's going to do something to affect it. Screw him. He's unnecessary.
7. Evil bad guys with no reason to be evil. If you're going to slap a bad guy in and make me like him or hate him or feel sorry for him, then you'd better give me a reason. If he's a total evil asshat without any redeeming qualities, why is that? You can't just make someone evil and say 'he's evil because he's the bad guy'. Maybe I'll like him more than the hero. Believe me, I've read books where I was rooting for the evil dude to kill everyone just so the book would be over! (I read two of them this month.) It's frustrating.
8. Sex where its not necessary. Yes, sex is good. I like sex in a book when it belongs there. But if you have sweet Suzie Sugarpants, who is all of seventeen and untouched, dry humping the hero (sorry, I know that's rude) because he's cute (and that's the only reason), I'm probably going to vomit in my mouth. And if you've got two characters having sex against walls and doors and under tables in busy restaurants, but the conversation/interaction between them is so stilted that it can't even create a reason for them to be doing it...well, ptht. I'd rather read Charlotte Bronte. (No I wouldn't, but honestly...sex for sex's sake does not make a good book.)
9. No reasoning behind the emotion. This is probably one of the most frustrating issues I have with characters. Here's heroine Bonnie, clearly distraught at finding a woman wandering on the side of the road. She's in tears as she helps the obviously injured woman into her car & later breaks down with emotion. Why? I don't know! You tell me! If you don't give me a reason to go on, I just think your character is a nutjob. Jeez. God.
10. Gorgeous heroes/heroines with no other redeeming characteristics. Sure, hot guys are nice. I wouldn't kick Thor out of bed with two feet, but don't give me a guy with six pack abs and a face to die for and have him be a chauvinist pig or a total douchecanoe or a wimp and expect me to believe that the heroine would still want to be with him. I wouldn't put up with any of that - and if she's a strong woman, neither would she. Sorry. Don't buy it. Leave the pretty face out of it. Make him average. I don't give a shit. I'd rather lift my skirts for a guy who's likes me being tough and looks like he was hit by a mack truck, than for a guy who looks like Thor and wants me for a naked housekeeper.
That's all. Vent over.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
I'm a very grumpy girl.
Before my son was born (yes, I'm going back 17 long years), I had started selling my miniatures on ebay and was beginning to make a living at it. I also made simple crafts that I sold at small craft shows in the area. I wrote poetry and short stories. I was probably the most well-balanced and happy I've ever been. Then came kiddo (I wouldn't change that for anything. My son is my light.) - and Aspergers Syndrome. My arts and crafts were put away. My focus was on raising my son. There was no time for arts, crafts or writing (or reading for that matter) when I was dealing with doctors, therapists, the school district, and all that crap. His needs were so huge, that they sucked the life out of me. I missed my creativity. I missed it - but I didn't have time for it. And I was too damn tired all the time to think about it.
Somebody eventually gave me some very important advice. I was no good to my kiddo if I wasn't taking care of myself. I started making time for me. It wasn't much. An hour in the morning before he got up to have a cup of coffee and a bagel while I geared myself up for my day. An hour or so at the end of the day after kiddo and hubs were both in bed where I could surf the web, read, draw, etc. These times were mine. They helped me find the sanity I needed to get through some of the very worst years of my life - the years of kiddo's nervous breakdown at 10, the meds, the psychologists and psychiatrists, the specialized schools and administrative bullshit my school district put us through. The homeschooling and dealing with kiddo dropping out, getting his GED and starting to find his own self and life.
Through all of that, I had my time. Those little snippets of time where I refreshed myself and reminded myself that 'this too shall pass'.
In the last eight months, that me time has vanished. Kiddo is his own person. For that I'm eternally grateful. But with that came an end to my time. My down time at night is gone. Kiddo stays up until 2 am like a typical college student. The difference being that he talks computer speak non-stop all day. The only way to get away from it is if I go to bed. If I try to read, to write, to craft, he's there hammering his computer facts that I don't even pretend to understand through my head with the persistence of a badger. I can't think. I can't read. I can't write. I can't create. It's there, in my head, but I can't get it out past his voice. It's killing me.
I've tried getting up even earlier in the morning, but then hubs is there wanting to talk about kiddo's issues and how much he hates work and I can't even have a cup of coffee in silence. Its....horrific. By the time hubs heads out the door, kiddo is getting up. And there I am, listening to lua jit, recursive this, blah blah (insert computer related words) that until I feel like the creative part of my brain is suffering a painful, screaming death. I feel like I can't breathe. It's torture.
In the battle of creativity vs. mental exhaustion, mental exhaustion wins. I lose.
*Waves white flag of surrender*
I give up. Just get me to September, when kiddo goes away to college. I just hope I don't go completely irrevocably insane before then.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Well, I'm functioning.
So, I've had a busy few months. Let's see. Kiddo applied to a different college where he can study computer engineering AND electrical engineering, and was accepted. He'll be living on campus which is huge since he's never spent a night away from home. We also weaned him off a med that wasn't working anymore, which means he's much MUCH more aspie than he was. It's a good thing, although it makes things tougher for me. Perseveration is a challenge.
My dad gave us a hell of a scare. He's still having some trouble, but we're hopeful the doctors will figure out what's going on and its (any more/so far) not life threatening.
What that meant, tho, is I've barely touched my computer. I've been multitasking a new roof, new windows, new flooring, kiddo's college stuff, shopping for dorm shit, etc. and in order to stay sane reading is fundamental. Blogging, well...not so much.
That being said, I did A LOT of reading in the last couple of months, and here's the list:
So that's it. Two months. 29 books. This month, I've managed 2 books so far. That's really sad.
However, I want to send out a special thank you to Tyrus Books (@TyrusBooks on Twitter) who offered up a free book yesterday morning to anyone who responded for Friday reads. I tweeted back and am anxiously awaiting Ghost Soldiers by Keith Melton! If you're a tweeter, he's worth following. And he publishes some pretty damn awesome books (many of which I own). :D
Finally, I hereby promise that I'll do better about posting. After all, come September 4th, I'm going to be a very lonely girl.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Second, we're prepping for kiddo's entry into real college life. He's been accepted and will be living on campus (which is incredibly scary for me). With that comes boatloads of paperwork and shopping, since he has nothing that he needs. Plus, we're sorting out the financials for that (ugh).
Third, we're bringing kiddo off some heavy meds - stuff he's been on since he was 10. It's nerve wracking, but going well. In another 2 weeks, he'll be free of them entirely.
Fourth, hubs was promoted which has resulted in longer hours as he transitions from one job/office location to another. He's working 5am-8pm most days, which puts everything on me.
And finally, we had a major scare with my dad. Long story short, he had a medical condition that needed immediate treatment. The doctor at the local hospital (Podunk Central) suggested he go to a major hospital, but agreed he could perform the life saving surgery. My dad is the kind of guy who (a) doesn't like/trust strange doctors (b) doesn't like being far from home (c) tries to be tough and strong when he needs to not be. The surgery, of course, failed. Which meant a trip to the real hospital - where a team of doctors attempted it and also failed. Apparently, he has an "unusual" layout of his organs & intestines that prohibit normal procedures. (ie. I'm apparently part mutant - sorry dad). Sooo, the third surgery they were prepared with 2 teams of doctors. And it was more invasive. But it was successful. However, during surgery several large air bubbles freakishly got into his blood stream and traveled through his heart!! (The doctors had never seen this before & there are only 3 cases on record of it happening.) His blood pressure and oxygen bottomed out (he was never without, but it was dangerously low for 5-6 minutes). He was placed in a medically induced coma while they determined if he suffered brain damage. (My siblings and I all raced to be with my mother - a nightmarish 3 hr. drive for me & a long 24 hr. wait for all of us.)
The good news? He's fine. No brain damage. Expected to recover fully. (I don't know if the rest of us are okay, but we're getting there.)
What saved him? His heart. It beats irregularly, so (and this is fascinating stuff), because of that irregular beat, his brain knows that if the heart stops, it has to send a signal to start it up again. Most of us don't have this ability because our hearts beat regularly, so our brain never learns this trick. That's why we're likely to die if we have a heart attack. But when the air bubbles passed through my father's heart, his brain said to his heart "keep beating". It saved his life - not the 2 teams of doctors monitoring the event. And that's an interesting little phenomenon that would be great in a clutch moment of a story, isn't it?
So, again, I'm sorry there's no book postings, but I have a little preoccupied. I have been reading e-books on my iPad tho, so I do have a bunch of indie books to talk about. But today, I am brain dead. (Geez, that's probably in poor taste saying that considering...oh, whatever).
Monday, May 14, 2012
I fully intend to post soon, but right now I'm dealing with family stuff, so bear with me. I promise I have interesting books to talk about and I'll be posting hopefully in the next few days.
p.s. If you haven't read Jenn Bennett's books, for goodness sake what are you waiting for? Her character relationships (a slightly older man with a teenage son who's a hoot) are awesome!
p.p.s. Someone shoot me, please.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
(and, hey, don't read it if you don't want - its just a dark love story)
Monday, April 23, 2012
Depression came sneaking into my house yesterday. It hunkered down beside me and whispered in my ear. I know the things it said are lies, but still they eat at me. I've asked it to leave but its a sneaky little bastard. It keeps tiptoeing up behind me and catching me unaware. I'm doing my best to ignore it in the hopes that it will get tired of trying to manipulate me and go away. But I have a feeling its going to put up a fight.
Depression is a sneaky lying motherfucker and it sucks ass.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
But all the talk about Fifty Shades had me curious. Why the hell was this book getting so much promo? I decided to look it up on Amazon and read the excerpt. And...shit...I was hooked. I had to buy it.
It came Friday. I finished it this morning. (To be fair, I'm also reading two other books - a feat I don't recommend. It makes me scattered.)
I'm going to say one thing -- I've already ordered the next two books in the series AND I'm sitting here trying to convince myself I can wait for them to come in the mail. Honestly, I want to order them for my e-reader too, because I don't WANT to wait.
Fifty Shades of Grey is more than erotica. Yes, there's some racy hot scenes in it that will make your hair curl (and perhaps raise your blood pressure *clears throat*). Yeah. It's something. But that's NOT what makes this book phenomenal. It's the story. And, good God, it's a fantastic story.
Anastasia is just about to graduate from college when she takes her roommate's place interviewing businessman Christian Grey. Christian is ...oooh boy. Hot. Dangerous. Fascinating. Damaged. Just like Anastasia, I wanted to know his story. What makes him the man he is? How damaged is he? It appealed to that part of me that loved Jane Eyre and Rebecca and all those Victorian era stories with the innocent young girl trying to figure out the enigmatic older man who's fucked up. Yeah, except with a very modern twist, because Christian? Well, he's seriously fucked up.
They're not equals. Sexually, she's a total innocent. Romantically, he is. Emotionally? Well, he's rigid and stunted and in desperate need of learning that not everything can be controlled. And she's so unsure of herself in so many ways that she appeals to his need to control. She's light. He's dark. She makes him lighter. He makes her darker. Can they find a balance? A way to come together in a healthy way?
The story is very clever in that some of the most amazing conversations happen in emails which are both clever and funny. They lighten up what would otherwise be a dark dark story. The book ends on a cliffhanger that left me emotionally drained and desperate to know more. I'm invested in these characters. I need to know if they're going to work it out. And how they're going to work it out without Ana destroying herself. Can she find a way to accept Christian and his ... um ... unique likes?
This book has a heart. It has a soul. It has a story to tell. That's what makes it so good. And that's why everyone is talking about it. Do I recommend it? YES! But only if you can handle bondage scenes. (Trust me, there aren't that many and they're ... um .... interesting? enlightening? well written? *turning beet red*.) Shut up. And don't laugh at me. I'm a good little Catholic girl. ;P
I'm kind of shocked to say this, but this may have been one of the most enjoyable books I've read so far this year. Go forth and buy. You may wish to invest in something to fan yourself while you read. And don't blame me if it's too much for you. But you can definitely thank me for recommending it if you love it.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
(yes, its a little...um...graphic so I apologize in advance to anyone I might offend *cough* family members *cough*, but it's what popped into my head)
So, in deference to J.F. Lewis (should he ever come across this blog), I'll tell you why I love his books.
His main character, Eric, is an unapologetic asshole. But he's one of those assholes that no matter how much you want to be pissed at him or dislike him, it's impossible. He warns you he's an asshole and guarantees you will not like the things he does, and yet you can't help loving him anyway. Because despite his being one of those guys that just can't help but do stupid things, underneath it all he's a good guy. You know the type I mean, right? I dated one in college. He was a big, buff, wealthy, good looking guy who I knew from the start was going to piss me off regularly until I dumped him. (I helped him fake-cheat on his previous girlfriend so she would dump him.) Eric reminds me of him in so many ways.
Then there's the cast of characters that support the story: Tabitha, Rachel, Talbot, Fang, Marilyn and especially Greta. Each of them is essential to driving the story forward. Each of them is unique, cleverly created, and brilliantly integrated. And the "sub-characters" - the police, the thralls, the werewolves - as a whole and individually are well laid out, too. J.F. Lewis has created a complete world. That's incredibly hard to do.
His books are beautifully paced. They're laid out like out a complex puzzle. They all start off with Eric, who is dealing with memory loss, trying to win back his lost love, trying to deal with his current sex interest, trying to handle his business, trying to handle Greta (who may I say is both the scariest and funniest vampire on my bookshelves). With each character, the story takes shape and picks up energy, and then he brings in Greta.
Greta is nuts. Insane. Crazy. And a catalyst. When she enters the story, all bets are off. Whatever Eric thinks is going to happen with his half-assed plans (because with his memory loss, lets face it, his plans are in trouble from the start), well....things just aren't going to work out quite the way he thinks. He can plan it, but each character affects how his plans are going to work out - and Greta, well she can send them spinning out of control.
It's at that point - for me at least - when the books start to roll. It's different for each book, though - by that I mean it doesn't occur on page 50 or whatever. The momentum builds fairly quickly, and then wham! The book is off and running.
The action is insane - and I often have to pause because I find myself wanting to go back and re-read chapters. Not because he's lost me, but because they're so enjoyable. In fact, reading his books probably takes me longer than any other book because I do re-read them while reading them. Yes. J.F. Lewis makes me want to savor each chapter in minute detail. I can honestly say, he's the only author whose books make me want to do that. (I do re-read portions of books that I love, but only after I've finished reading the book.)
His books make me laugh, cringe, laugh, panic, laugh more, and freak out occasionally. I want to grab Eric and shake him, and then give him a hug. I want to hang out with Greta and run screaming from her at the same time (although either way, I'd be DEAD). I want to smack Marilyn upside the head. I want to tell Tabitha to grow up and stake Rachel even tho she's not a vampire. I want to cuddle up to Talbot and learn more about him (he fascinates me). I want to live in that bowling alley of craziness.
If you haven't read the Void City books, I recommend them. Because J.F. Lewis writes his books in the same way Eric lives his life - unapologetically.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Especially the techno-discussions - they freaking kill me. And kiddo accepts nothing less than my full and complete attention when discussing them. In fact, right now we're discussing C++, Visual Basic, newbs and oh hell, I don't fucking know.
Anyway, I never posted the books I read in February or March. (What kind of loser blogger am I?)
Here's the list. Unfortunately, I'm going to keep it simple, because I'm losing my marbles...remember, my rating system is 0-6 stars.
0 = didn't finish, didn't want to finish. This book is not for me.
* = didn't read entire book, skipped large portions, read the end. Won't read additional books.
** = read book, but may have skipped portions. Probably won't read additional books.
*** = read entire book, liked it. Will read additional books.
**** = read entire book, loved it. Will definitely read more books.
***** = fast read entire book. Loved it! Will read every book written by author.
****** = couldn't put book down. I am a fan girl for life. Will follow on social media for book news.
(Yes, I am weird. But I'm not creepy.)
Sunday, April 8, 2012
So yesterday was Anime Boston, which for those who don't know is a convention for fans of Japanese Anime (animation) and Manga (graphic novels). Its held at the Hynes Center in Boston, attached to the Prudential Center which is attached to Copley Place. The people that go to Anime Boston are pretty amazing. Most of them are very into Japanese culture in general. They're also kind, respectful, friendly, helpful and welcoming. And geeks. Oh my goodness (as a geek myself) I can say they are geeks. They cosplay - which means that they dress in carefully handmade costumes of their favorite anime/manga/game characters (often perfect down to the tiniest detail). If their character carries a sword 3x his body size, then they craft a sword 3x their size and lug it around with them. (And yes, this is allowed - guns, swords, whatever - there is no violence at Anime Boston, just fun and acceptance.) If their character has wings that are 4x his width, they create wings 4x their width. (Yes, there was a girl with wings that spanned 20 ft. & no one gave her a hard time at all!) Boys dress as girls, girls dress as boys - and nobody cares. There are gothic Lolitas, steampunkers, cyberpunkers, soldiers, gods, pokemon, digimon, domos, and more. 17,000-20,000 people fill three stories of the Hynes and spill out into the Pru, the Copley, and the streets outside. They travel the subway system in full costume. For this weekend and this weekend only, they gather en mass and enjoy the freedom of being who they are and expressing themselves without being bullied.
Strangers hug each other and compliment each other's cosplay outfits. They take pictures with each other. They laugh and sing and shout out to the crowd "Marco" and the entire crowd replies with "Polo". They gather around the manga/anime booths and have intense discussions about their favorite series.
There are panels and workshops and video showings and dating games and contests and shopping. Oh my God - the shopping! You can find pretty much anything you can imagine that geeks love. (I even saw amigurumi Star Trek characters.) I purchased a beautiful leather hand-made steampunk hat with a huge plume of peacock and chicken feathers; a t-shirt that bears a cartoon of a bunny chewing on a human skull with a background of bloody screaming faces that says num num num; and an amigurumi zombie cat. The kid bought a handcrafted fedora, anime poseable figures, shirts, a hat with cat ears, keychains, posters, and...geez, I can't remember it all. Yeah, it was a good day.
I LOVE Anime Boston. I love it because it's a place where a 49 year old mother can walk around with her 17 year old son, wear a steampunk hat & a gaming themed shirt, and join in with all the other geeks - and nobody thinks that's odd. And yes, there were more parents hanging with their kids there than you might think. These kids high fived me and complimented me on both the shirt and the hat (which did not go together). They even complimented my hair color. Strangers chatted with my son and didn't care that he struggles socially. In that crowd, he was connected.
Today was a day of recovery. We're both exhausted from two fantastic days where we gorged ourselves on a culture where we both fit. Thank you PAX East and Anime Boston for seeing the value in creating places where people - who often feel on the fringes of a society where they don't quite fit - can be with other people just like themselves, and be reminded that they are not alone. They are part of a huge group of equally unique people who accept them unconditionally.
That's all. Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Spring.
Friday, April 6, 2012
For those who don't know (and don't follow my tweets), PAX East is an enormous gaming convention. If you can think of the gaming company - and I'm talking computer games, XBox games, Playstation games, Wii games, board games, D&D type games, card games, etc. - the likelihood is they were at this convention. So were about a billion gaming geeks.
We only managed to snag tickets for PAX today, but I'm so glad we went. Kiddo doesn't do well for long in crowds or in lines - and if we wanted to play a game, standing in line for as much as an hour (or maybe more) was guaranteed. So we settled for walking (or shuffling along with the crowd) around and watching other people play games. And...it was cool. My ADD kicked in numerous times ("oooh shiny") - as I saw game dice, tee shirts, and everything you can possibly imagine that goes along with gaming - and from the games themselves. There were some that I can't wait to get my hands on.
Most of all, tho - I (of course) love the shopping.
The most awesome items for sale? Customized, hand crafted tables for setting up Dungeons & Dragons games. I can't even begin to describe the sheer beauty of these pieces of furniture. There were also coffee tables built to put your 50-60 inch touch screen television in. OMG, people! I nearly wept over them.
I ended up buying a beautiful, handmade wooden sword from the furniture booth - they had swords, knives, a 'sword in a stone' (wood and stunning), and all kinds of wood items. Of course, kiddo needed one as well. We could probably battle with them, but I'd rather just enjoy it. It's three feet long and stained to match my woodwork. I'm going to see if I can find something to mount it in my family room. And yes, I will probably play with it. I'm a kid myself that way.
I also bought a tee shirt. It looks like the cover of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, only instead of a kid, it has Link from Legend of Zelda - and on the tree it reads 'The Deku Tree'. It's a totally totally geeky piece of perfection.
Surprisingly, kiddo lasted 3 1/2 hours - I would have thought from the noise level and crowd motion, he would have been in brain overload 15 mins. in. But he was having too much fun.
The final thing I want to say about PAX East is this....if you ever get the chance to go to a convention for geeks (PAX, AnimeBoston), I highly recommend it, if only to experience the people. Nobody is rude at these things. If someone bumps into you, they apologize and ask if you're okay. People talk to each other and call out friendly greetings to other people they don't even know because they like their tee shirt or hair color or costume. If you drop something, people will chase you down to return it to you. Geek cons are filled with the best of humanity. They are what the world should be.
After PAX East, we headed to MicroCenter - the best place to buy anything computer related in the entire world. Its in Cambridge, right next to the Charles River. The ride in along Storrow Drive is lovely with the sun shining off the water. And today there were teams prepping their sculls for racing.
Tomorrow is Anime Boston, another favorite con for both kiddo and me. Picture 17,000 people dressed in cosplay singing, high-fiveing, shouting out to each other and just enjoying being together and being themselves in a bully-free zone. Again, the world should be this way. I'm going to be exhausted by Sunday, but I can't wait to soak it in.
Happy Easter, Passover and Geekdom everyone!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Now, I'm not going to go all spoilery on you. Chess is, as usual a mess of angst and insecurity magnified by her need to drown out the horrors she's endured in her life. Terrible is dark, dangerous and .... well, I have me a soft spot for yon Terrible, dig? ... heh. And then there's Lex. Every time he makes an appearance, I'm seduced. The story is exciting and intense, the ending both powerful and worrisome.
Poor Chess doesn't have an easy time of it in this book. But then again, when has her life been easy? Despite the drugs that fuck her up, despite her fears which fuck her up, despite her getting in her own way in so many ways, she still keeps fighting. It's heartbreaking and inspiring.
Stacia Kane creates a world that is so visual, so complex, so fascinating you can't help but be drawn into it. You will feel everything Chessie feels - her pain will be your pain - and you'll think about her long after you finish the book. This series is unique and brilliantly written. If I could give this book 100 stars, it would have it. It left me emotionally drained and yet intensely satisfied. 6 Perfect Stars - my highest rating.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I carried the books around with me from dinner time to bed time and I couldn't read either because I was so excited at the opportunity to read them, I couldn't make a decision which to read first. Is that ridiculous or what?
This morning I got up and did it again. I'm chalking it up to extreme stress from other factors in my life. But finally I broke down and started Sacrificial Magic. And still, I feel almost guilty about making Blood on the Bayou wait. (Yes, I am weird.)
But I love LOVE Chessie, Terrible, Lex and Bump. I love the language in this book - the way the characters talk as well as the descriptive ability of Stacia Kane which makes the world come to life. Chess is such an incredibly complex character. And Terrible? Well, lets just say he's just incredible. Not a pansy-ass, pretty boy with fancy pants muscles. No. He's hard and dangerous and not exactly a good guy. And it makes him all the more powerful of a love interest, because he should be scary (and he kind of is) but he's also so accepting of Chess and her faults it makes you want to weep.
If you haven't read this series, you absolutely have to right now! And while you're at it, you should also buy Stacey Jay's series, too. Cause, seriously folks, these books are amazing. Now, I'm going to go read until I've finished both books. I might throw some tweets up (non-spoiler) as I read just for fun, tho.