Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I'm sorry for my absence from the blog. I've been dealing with some heavy stuff and talking books fell by the wayside. I'm hoping to get back to blogging soon - it helps to keep me sane and I miss it desperately.

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.

Karen





Sunday, November 4, 2012

...Can you hear the crickets??.....

Can you hear the crickets??....

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.
Karen


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wherein I Fail & Offer Up A Book

As you can see my resolve to blog every day is a total fail! And sadly, I'm not going to review a book tonight either. I swear my life is like a bad country music song.

However...

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.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. The rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.
But Jack and his friends—some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday—know that the reality is very different. At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London—and it is incredible.
Because the handful of London's survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.
Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside London, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins. Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets, looking for survivors to experiment upon. The toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends... and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.

Sounds good, doesn't it? So how do you get me to send you my duplicate hardcover book? 

Post a comment. Tell me about your favorite Halloween costume. Mine is the witch costume I'm wearing in this picture. My mother painstakingly created every costume that my sisters and I wore over the years. Until I had a kid (and yes, I made every one of his costumes, too) I didn't truly appreciate the amount of work she put into Halloween for us (thanks Mom).


If you don't want to talk costumes, tell me your favorite Halloween candy. (Mine is anything chocolate. lol) Or hell, just say hello.

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!
Karen

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tin Swift by Devon Monk

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Devon Monk. If you've never read her Allie Beckstrom series, you're missing out on a fantastic story with characters you will love.

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.

Karen
(Hey, 4 posts in 4 days! Go me!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Technomancer by B.V. Larson

I'm not going to discuss the books I read in order. Instead I'm going to talk about the book I'm most interested in each day. Today I want to tell you about Technomancer by B.V. Larson.

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!
Karen

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

After the Crux by Dani Worth

This is a short e-read and in all honesty I wanted it to be longer! I'm giving it 4 stars, but I was leaning toward 5 stars. In the end, the shortness of it gets it the 4 stars, but I definitely recommend it.

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

Let's Talk Books!

I just want to apologize for not posting. I've been working my way through some of the most difficult days of my life and I'm finally (hopefully) seeing an end to the endless tunnel of stress, anxiety and depression.

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:


Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent *****
After the Crux by Dani Worth ****
Between by Cyndi Teft ***
Glimmer by Vivi Anna ****
Knight’s Curse by Karen Duvall ***
Darkest Knight by Karen Duvall***
Tin Swift by Devon Monk ******
This Dark Earth by John Horner Jacobs *****
Tainted Night, Tainted Blood by E.S. Moore ****
Dawning by Vivi Anna ****
Dark Beauty by Taryn Browning *
Unbound by Adriane Ceallaigh **
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead ****
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead ****
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones *****
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews *****
Bait Dog by Chuck Wendig *****
All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman *****
A Wolf at the Door by K.A. Stewart *****
Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake ****
Technomancer by B.V. Larson ****
Under the Moon by Natalie J. Damschroder  ****
No Peace for the Damned by Megan Powell ****
Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan ***
Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway ****
Biting Cold by Chloe Neill *****
Haunted by Jeanne C. Stein *****
Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig ******
Taken by Benedict Jacka *****
Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire *****
In A Fix by Linda Grimes ****
The Killing Jar by Justin Zimmerman ***
Awakenings by Edward Lazellari **
Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker *
Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride *****
Vampire Assassin by Samantha Warren **

Like I said, its a LONG list - 36 books. My scale 0-6 Stars.

0 stars means I didn't even attempt to finish and is my own private list. I don't mention them because I don't want to crush any author. If you write, you put your heart and soul into it and you don't need anyone telling you that's worth shit. (Mom always said, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all - its good, solid advice.) BTW, its a very short list since I find redeeming qualities in pretty much every book.

1 star means I skipped large portions of the book because it didn't appeal to me personally, and I'm happy to share why with these books because someone else might actually enjoy them for the very reason I disliked them.

2 stars means I skipped small portions of the book because I had issues with some aspect of it. 

3 stars is a good book. It probably has minor flaws in my opinion with plot or character or world building, but I would still recommend it. 

4 stars is a good book, leaning toward great.

5 stars is a great book with well developed plot, characters and world. 

6 stars is a book that knocked me on my ass with its brilliance.

So, welcome to October - my favorite month of the year! Why? Because it ends with Halloween (my favorite holiday) and contains my birthday. Yay! This year I turn 50! Scary, hunh? Well, not so much. You see, my older sister turned 50 last year, so in the true spirit of sisterhood, I spent the last year telling people I was almost 50 in solidarity. So, it's not such a big deal. What that has to do with books, I don't know. And you know what? 50 really isn't all that old mentally. I can't do cartwheels anymore, but I still love microbrew beer and angsty indie rock music, and I'm still a hardcore video game junkie. 

I will be posting my first review later today.
Karen













Saturday, September 1, 2012

Remember how I was going to talk books??...

I was totally serious. The problem is, my life for the last month has been what I like to call The Month Of Surgeries & Scary Moments.

The good news is, after a second surgery - this time at Dana Farber (well, Brigham & Women's to be technical) - kiddo is healing up nicely. We've been running around for the last week shopping for everything he needs for college. Yes, he IS going. That was in doubt for a good week & believe me, I was freaking out about it. But I'm smart and resourceful. I sat him down and told him if he didn't go, he would have to get a job (gasp) and pay rent (eek) and do his own laundry (gulp) and learn to drive (agh). It took about 24 hours for that to absorb and then he announced he was going. Woot!

I'm going to miss him horribly. I've been packing him up all day today. We drop him off tomorrow. But as much as I'm going to be having The Empty Nester Blues, I want this to work for him desperately. Cross your fingers everyone.

While all the medical crisis with my son was going on, a separate and equally scary medical crisis was unfolding with my father. Two weeks ago, he had his gall bladder removed after it was determined the fucker was doing more harm than good. What has ensued is a series of disasters - and yes, he's still in the hospital (and probably will be for another week at least), but he's on the mend. Finally. 

I have a stack of books to blog about. Cross my heart and hope to ... ummm ... well, not die. Geez. If I say that, it might just happen considering everything that's gone down since the beginning of July. So, don't give up on me. I'm going to have lots of time on my hands to blog. Lots. Of. Time. *sob*

What the hell am I going to do with myself? I've been in full-time mom mode for 17 very long years...This is so weird.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons, Chew Them Up & Spit Them In It's Face

I swear, I am trying to separate my personal life from this blog. I have a boatload of books I read in July - and I can't wait to blog about them.

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.
Karen


Friday, July 20, 2012

What the hell is going on? My thoughts on Goodreads

I have to admit, I haven't followed the whole Goodreads fiasco. To be honest, I don't even know what started it other than what little references to it I've seen in authors' and other bloggers' posts. It all seems kind of ridiculous to me.

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...

For reviewers:

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.

For authors:

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.

Karen

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Link to a Vent...

I'm attempting to separate my life from my blog a little bit. I created a second blog for myself to talk about Aspergers and the challenges it presents in our daily lives. For those who have no desire to read about it, just ignore the link. For those who are interested in what life is like for someone with social deficits and for their family, feel free to follow the link. What you will read might make you rethink the way you treat people. My posts are honest and frank. They are often painfilled. Life is never simple, that's for sure.
Karen

Link: http://adailydoseofaspergers.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Books Read in June (I think)

First, I have to say if you're going to read as many books as I do, you have to remember to log them in. In that, I was epic fail (taking a term my son loves). I have my list - but, unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I'm missing a book or two.

That being said, lets talk books:


Fated by Benedict Jacka *****
Cursed by Benedict Jacka *****
The first two books I read in June were Fated and Cursed by Benedict Jacka. I don't know why I didn't expect to like these books...I think maybe is was the less than spectacular cover. In fact, I overlooked them several times until I read a review of them and decided to try them. Am I ever glad that I did because they were fantastic. The books revolve around Alex Verus, a diviner mage. Basically, he can see all the potential paths in a situation - a very useful trait. I loved the world that Benedict Jacka created. The characters were strong and understandable. The stories were fast paced and exciting, with a lot of action. I can't wait for the next one! 


Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan ***
This was an e-reader book about a girl who is born with the ability to cause lesions and kill just by touching someone. She's spent her entire life being "the freak" because she has to cover herself up to keep from touching accidentally. Her father is an alcoholic, her mother died giving birth to her. She's tragic. Enter a scrawny, abused dog and a boy who has his own unique power, and the story becomes something more. It's about love, loss, hope, doing the right thing and being strong when you want to give up. I've already invested in the sequels. 

Caleb by Sarah McCartney *
Remember my post about things that annoy me in a book? Okay, this book was not for me. Don't get me wrong, it's well written in many ways but I (a) had a problem with the whole concept of her vampires - because I'd totally kill them all and (b) didn't really like the heroine and (c) got very very tired of the sex, which (sorry) was kind of repulsive to me. Seriously, the girl needed to start wearing skirts if every time she and her vampire man were together he used his claws to slice open the crotch of her jeans so he could fuck her. Ick.

Sterling by Dannika Dark **
Another e-book. I liked this book for the most part. The main character, Zoe, is attacked on her way home from work and the attacker does something to her. A man rescues her and when she comes to, she discovers she's no longer herself - by that I mean she's completely physically transformed and she's developed some unusual powers. I thought the characters were interesting, but I got a little frustrated that Zoe went from one guy to another guy to another guy just because they came along and said they could helps  her. It would have been better if it was more in-depth, both in the world and the development of the characters. Still, I didn't hate the book and I liked the end enough that I bought the sequel. I actually want to find out what happens. It was a good first novel.

Reaper by Mina Carter ***
This e-book was an interesting take on the end of the world as we know it. Andy is a reaper. She sees ghosts and sets them free from their attachment to this world. But she also takes care of bad things. Mason is living in a settlement which is being harrassed by werewolves. The people of the settlement don't like strangers. Mason and Andy find themselves in a situation where they have to fight to protect the life he's created. It's worth reading.

Finding Magic by Stacia Kane *****
Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane ******
I think I'm pretty clear in that I would bow down and worship at Stacia Kane's feet. I connect with her books and her main characters on a visceral level. Her writing is amazing. The world she's created is amazing. And I own this series in both paperback and e-reader. If it was published in hardcover, I'd pounce on it. A must own!

Silver by Rhiannon Held *****
This book was another one that caught me by surprise. It's main characters are werewolves, but it's not truly a werewolf story. It's more of a story of loss and redemption, of pushing on when there's no reason to, of doing the right thing even if it means walking away from everything you've built for yourself. I loved this story. I was close to tears at points. I stayed up until I couldn't keep my eyes open to read it. I highly recommend it.

Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep ****
I love Jennifer Estep's Mythos series - about a gypsy girl who attends a school with the sons and daughters of gods. Dark Frost picks up where the last book left off. It's action packed with humor and plenty of angst. Another one you should read.

Blood Kin by M.J. Scott ****
This book isn't my normal reading. It's set in an alternate world and I sometimes get frustrated with that, but I loved it because of the world. The main character is a thief for hire. There are Templars, vampires and werewolves. There's political intrigue. What I liked best was the world itself (not that I didn't love the characters - I did), but the world had this feel of a victorian era and yet it felt completely modern as well. I can't explain it better than that. I definitely recommend it tho. 

So...that's the list for June that I can remember. I'm 100% sure there should be two more books on that list, but I'm damned if I can remember what they are. It's...well...frustrating. Damned ADD.

Happy Reading!
Karen


Monday, July 2, 2012

Oh CRAP!

I was going to do a rundown of the list of books I read in June only I didn't log my books for the month!!! *Runs screaming thru the house in horror*

Where is my brain?? Who stole my brain?? Aghhh! *Grabs iPad and runs for the bookshelves*

....I'll be back.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Drives Me Nuts In A Book...

I've read a few excellent books this month....and I've read a few (hmmm)...well I don't want to say they're duds. They're not. But I can't say they were good.

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

Creativity vs.Mental Exhaustion

I'm a creative person. I love designing and making things. Writing. Crafts. Curtains. Miniatures. Jewelry. Well, you get the idea. The point is my house is littered with projects I'm working on - a bulletin board for my kitchen, earrings (that I'm hoping to sell on etsy at some point), 1" scale miniature furniture and decor, a series of sepia tone nature photos that my son and I took for my living room wall, polymer clay flowers, etc. My computer is also cluttered by ideas and random writings. If I'm not creating something, I become a very grumpy girl.

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.

Karen

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hello? Is anyone still out there?? lol

I'm alive.

Well, I'm functioning.

Um....

Yeah.

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:


April – 12 Books

Blood on the Bayou by Stacey Jay ***** Loved it! 
Magic Without Mercy by Devon Monk ***** Loved it!
Forgiven by Jana Oliver **** The two characters in this drive me nuts because they refuse to see how important they are to each other...loved it.
Burned by J.F. Lewis **** How can you not love Eric? Come on.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - my personal hero. When I'm feeling that monster called depression tearing through my brain, she makes me laugh and reminds me that I can stomp him down.
To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore *** Good first book. Definitely will read more.
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James ***** Loved it (yeah, yeah, I know)
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James ***** Loved it (see above)
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James **** Didn't love it as much. It was still good, but it was a lot of repetitive shit. Still happy to see the HEA.
Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett **** Loved it.
Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett **** Love Jupe and Lon and Cady. Such interesting characters -- and unique.
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig ****** Okay, this book was the ultimate of the month. Maybe of the year. I cannot recommend it enough. Buy it. Buy copies for friends and family (you're gonna wanna keep yours). Make sure you have time to read it uninterrupted (cause its that kind of book).

May - 17 Books

Tricked by Kevin Hearne *** I like this series. I love Atticus and most of the characters. But Oberon pisses me off. :(
Derik’s Bane by MaryJanice Davidson *** A light and entertaining read.
A Little Night Magic by Lucy March ***** This was really good. Definitely worth reading. You won't regret it.
Stone’s Kiss by Lisa Blackwood ** So begins my e-reading binge. This was okay, but not my favorite. It just had some flaws I couldn't ignore. And then again, it might have been my stress level.
Serengeti Heat: Serengeti Shifters 1 by Vivi Andrews *** I like these. They're short and formatic, but entertaining.
Serengeti Storm: Serengeti Shifters 2 by Vivi Andrews *** See above.
Serengeti Lightning: Serengeti Shifters 3 by Vivi Andrews *** Again, see above.
Leopard Moon by Jeanette Battista *** This was pretty good. I'll definitely read sequels.
Neon Chaos by Karen Erikson ** I wasn't a fan of this one, but it was me, not the author.
Home: Downside Ghosts novella by Stacia Kane ***** LOVE!
Guardian: Creepy Hollow 1 by Rachel Morgan *** I liked this one enough to buy the sequel.
Along Came a Demon: Whisperings 1 by Linda Welch *** Again, will be reading sequel.
Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig **** Much too short, Chuck. 
Tab Bennett and the Inbetween by Jes Young **** Loved this one. I want it in paperback for my shelves.
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis *** Liked.
Love is Darkness by Carolyn Hanson **** This was very good. Already bought sequel.
Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes ****** This is maybe my favorite teen series. I love it. This one devastated me and was so fantastic. (I actually might have cried...but I'm not admitting it.) Really, I've got this series in hardcover & on my e-reader. It's that good.


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.
Karen

Friday, May 18, 2012

Where Have I Been?...

So, the last few weeks have been a bit of a blur for me. First, we're doing necessary home improvements and I'm dealing with roofing contractors, landscapers, etc.

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).
Karen



Monday, May 14, 2012

Blarg Blog

That title just about sums it up.

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

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

I have to talk about Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (which by the way gets the golden rating of 6 perfect stars)!

Blackbirds is about a girl, Miriam Black. She has the unfortunate ability to touch someone and know exactly how and when they'll die. In fact, she sees their deaths in gruesome detail. Miriam is a hardened loner. She lives a nomadic life - traveling from place to place - and survives by being at the place of the people she's touched deaths where she relieves them of their money after they're dead. Yeah. She's not exactly a nice person. But she's understandable. Sympathetic, even. Most definitely tragic.

Despite her scavenger lifestyle, self-depricating behavior, and angry brittle wit, I couldn't help but feel horrible for Miriam. She's deeply troubled, thoroughly damaged and so very lost. Enter Louis, a truck driver, big and genuinely likeable, who helps Miriam out of a bad situation. Miriam touches Louis, she sees his death - and he's calling out to her. For the first time in a long time, Miriam doesn't want fate to win. Then there's Ashley, a total fuckup and smooth talking con man who has discovered Miriam's secret talent. He has a plan and a past - and neither is good. Mix in a lot of dark, action-packed bad shit and you have Blackbirds. 

Miriam is a strong believer that she can't control fate. She's tried to stop deaths from happening, but it never works. She believes she's cursed - that she's the catalyst for the deaths. Maybe she is. Maybe she isn't. Either way, she is broken. Chuck Wendig draws you into Miriam's head - into her darkest thoughts and her deepest fears. It's so intense, I swear I could feel the words. Miriam hurts. This book hurts. And that's what makes it so incredibly good.

It's a dark roller coaster through the hell of Miriam's mind - doused with other, darker minds that make her seem like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. And through it all is Louis - hope - light - redemption maybe - if only Miriam can stand up to fate.

I don't think I've been so haunted by a character since the first time I read Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (Odd haunts me to this day - and I have a feeling Miriam is gonna snuggle right up there with him in my brain). 

Blackbirds earns the 6 stars of excellence. That means, people, that if I could I would own it on e-reader (done), paperback (done), and hardcover (damn - no hardcover??). It's a book that I'll read over and over. It's a book that might just sit on my nightstand for a while so I can pick it up and feel the emotion from it again. (Okay, that sounds creepy but it's really not. I just honestly loved the story.)

And the artwork on the cover?? Amazing.
Karen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm A Little Bit Emo...A short story.

Okay, I promise after this I'll lighten up & go back to talking books. I'm anxiously awaiting several new releases (peek at my post of what's coming out, if you're curious). I'm doing better today - not great but getting there. I wrote this little bit this morning and I think it expresses how I've felt the last few days. My happy pills didn't even help. I'm hoping to sit in the sun on my deck today and chill. So, without further ado...
(and, hey, don't read it if you don't want - its just a dark love story)


DEPRESSION

He doesn’t use the doorbell but still I know he’s there, patiently waiting for me to open the door and invite him in. And so, of course, I do. He stands there, beautiful and seductive as always in his black suit with no tie. His white shirt is unbuttoned just enough to be tantalizing. Barefoot. Dark hair touselled like he’s been running rough fingers through it. His mouth is twisted into a wry smile that promises so much pain. His head is bowed just slightly, his dark hair hiding eyes that I know carry all of my bleakest thoughts. He’s a dark angel and I’m drawn to his power. He’s better than the best sex. Just looking at him makes me hurt.
I back up and let him in.
He steps close, so close that I can feel the softness of his breath on my skin, and he wraps his icy arms around me and draws me against him. His lips brush my ear in a gentle kiss and he whispers the words I’ve been waiting to hear.
“Fat. Ugly. Cow. Stupid. Loser. Friendless. Worthless. Hopeless. Alone.”
I know these words so well, as well as I know him – my dark dangerous love. If I had the strength, I would send him away, but instead I press closer. My body fits against his as if it was made to rest there. I want him. I always want him.
I haven’t missed him. I’ve missed him desperately. He’s my poison. He’s my  pleasure. He is, above all else, home.
He steps away and I am bereft. I need his touch – the void of emptiness, so full of dark emotion. I need it like a starving man needs food. He shuts the door behind him and takes my hand. His touch enfolds me, encompasses me, envelops me. He leads me into the house. We settle down together on the couch, as close as we can get, but it can’t be close enough. It's never close enough.
“Disgusting. Gross. Repulsive. Unloveable.”
His words are a melody that draws me in – a song that is all mine. He’s written it for me and me alone. And then he says my favorite words again, the words I’ve been waiting for, the words that are my life. “Ugly. Unloved. Loser.”
Magic. Such dark beautiful magic. He knows just how to please me. The ice of his grip turns painful and it’s wonderful. Joyous. I want more. This is where I belong. I can never get close enough. He can never cause enough pain. He is so beautiful to me.
He stays with me as long as I need him. He’s always there with a torturous touch, or the bite of a word, or a knife to my chest. He cradles me in his arms at night and whispers to me until I sleep. He feeds on my tears and my hopelessness. He knows just how to hurt me. He knows just how to make me feel. And I feel so much when I’m with him.
If he stays, he’ll destroy me.
Ours is not a healthy relationship. It’s unforgiving and dark, and it consumes me. The emotions are too strong. The words too painful. His touch too sensitive to my skin. It burns. The darkness is too all-encompassing. His words draw blood and I'm already so bloody. I'm tired. I need more….
I need light.
It is the one thing he cannot give me.
It’s heartbreaking. It’s enlightening. It’s freeing.
I wake one morning and he’s waiting by the door. His warm gaze meets mine and that crooked smile is there. It doesn't move me. I’ve had my fill of him. His words are burned into me - a reminder of all I know. They won’t disappear for a long time. He’s fulfilled my every need. I'm ready to let him go for now. I’ll be okay without him.
I might even learn to enjoy the light.
Once he’s gone, I tack his picture on the wall with the countless pictures of him. I do this each time he’s visited. I want to remember him. I need to remember him. My walls are so full of his face, a memorial to his empty beauty, that there’s no space for anything else. I can never forget him. I don’t want to ever forget him. But I can go on without him and I will be better for it.
He’ll be back the next time I need him.
His quiet strength is always there, ready to pull me into the darkness of his embrace. His cruel lips are waiting to bring me the ultimate pleasure. Pain.

And that’s what depression is like for me. - Karen

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Very Short Emo Post

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

So I Read This Book.....

Yeah. Um....I'm not going to ask if you've heard about the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. You probably have. But have you read it? I've been seeing posts and blogs about it for a while, but to be honest - erotic romance? Not really my thing. I love my urban fantasy. I love paranormal romance (as long as its heavy on the story). But erotica...well, there was that time in the 80's in college where I subscribed to Playgirl *blushes furiously*...um...never mind. Fact is, I don't have the patience for stories that are all sex and no substance. Plus, trying to read smut in front of my 17 yr. old son & husband -- well... No. Can. Do.

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.

Karen



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge

So, Chuck Wendig is having this little contest. 1000 Words. Subject? Death. So here is my entry:

(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)


I never thought I would be a card carrying member of the 27 Club. Twenty-seven is a crappy age to die, especially in such a humiliating way. I should have known Alex wouldn’t be able to keep his shit together.
I thought we were being smart. We’d talked about taking our relationship to the next step for months. It wasn’t like the sex part was new to us. We’d been playing at friends with benefits for over a year. But Alex kept talking how much better it would be if I just trusted him enough to try it. Everybody I asked said it would be okay as long as we were careful. We’d even created a safe word. “Day-Oh.” It was a joke between us. When we were ready to call it a night, we would sing that stupid song. You know the one: “Day-Oh. Day-Oh. Daylight come and me want to go home.” It really meant, “I’m done. Get the fuck out.”
Day-Oh seemed like such a perfect word for “stop”.
Fat lot of good it was doing me now.
Alex had me pinned to the bed, his big body over me, my wrists clamped in his large hands to hold me down, not that I was fighting him. His body moved in mine in a rhythm that I was familiar with but had long since stopped enjoying tonight. I didn’t dare move at all for fear it would push him further over the edge, but I was dangerously close to losing consciousness. Considering how much he was enjoying my submission, fear would probably send him right over the top.
“Day-oh, Alex. Oh fuck, come on. Day-oh.” I couldn’t believe how warbly and weak my voice was, not that it would help. His mouth didn’t budge. His fangs were sunk as deep as he could get them into my throat. The rumbling noises coming from him sounded like a cat purring, only bigger and more psychotic. This was not the fun loving, party animal Alex who sang Jimmy Buffet when he’d had too many jello shots.
I didn’t know this Alex. This Alex was fucking predator.
If I survived this Jacinda was going to kill me. She’d warned me that some vampires lost themselves in the bloodlust of sex mixed with feeding. She’d begged me not to do it. But Alex had insisted that losing control almost never happened, and that it had never happened to him. I believed him.
Who would have thought Jacinda would be right?
I could feel how hard my heart was working, erratic, the blood flowing in my collapsing veins weak and thready. The sparkly little stars in my vision were wreaking havoc with my eyesight. I blinked in an effort to clear it, but my lids felt as dry and gummy as my throat.
You’d think Alex would have picked up on my distress. But no. He was having too much fun. And just when things started to go a little black around the edges, he started pounding into me. I could actually hear him swallowing as he sucked fiercely. With one final powerful thrust, he came. His teeth retracted from my abused throat and he shouted with his orgasm.
After a ridiculously long moment where I wondered what the morgue would say to my parents when they came to identify me, he lowered his mouth to my neck again, this time lapping at it gently, sealing off the wound. Jesus.
My heart was in its death throws and he was cozying up.
How is it possible that one man (granted Alex is six foot two and built like a lumberjack) consume that much blood? I mean, I know he’s a vampire. And at 125 lbs., I probably have less blood than the average 6 pints - before he turned me into a human slurpee. But even half that amount should be tough to drink down for anybody.
“Oh baby, that was so fucking awesome.” Alex whispered in his ‘sexy voice’, all husky and dark. Usually, I thought it was funny. Today, I just wanted him to get off and shut up. “You were amazing, Cass.”
Yeah. That’s me. The amazing, nearly dead girl. I tried to clear my throat so that I could tell him exactly what I was thinking at the moment about his post-coital dirty talk, but it came out more like a gurgle. Talk about frustrating.
“Cass?” His deep voice took on a concerned tone. I tried to focus on it without much luck. I think he finally realized something was wrong, because decided to shake me like a rag doll. I was going to stake him with the thickest broom handle I could find.
“Oh shit! Cass? Come on.” Great. Now he was panicking. Better late than never, I guess. I wanted to open my eyes and glare at him. I wanted to move, but my stupid body wouldn’t obey. I couldn’t even lift my hand. And it wasn’t like the jerk had moved off me. Or out of me, for that matter. He was primed and ready for round two, something I’d always appreciated about him. Now it just pissed me off.
Something hard smacked my face. I gasped, wedged open my eyes, and wished I hadn’t. His jaw was coated with my blood. His eyes were glowing just a little like a cat’s at night. It freaked me out.
“Cass?” He looked as scared as I felt.
I managed two words. “Call. Ambulance.”  
He lurched away from me and scrambled off the bed. For a second, he just stood there looking at me in horror. “Oh shit. Shit!”
Then he did the damnedest thing. He grabbed his pants off the floor and left the room at a run. Right into the bathroom. I could hear him in there puking. He drank my fucking blood and now he was regurgitating it? What a fucking waste.
If I survived, I was never letting him touch me again. 

Burned by J.F. Lewis

I recently had a twitter exchange with J.F. Lewis about his books. He'd tweeted that he was at the point in the book he's currently writing where things start to roll. I happened to be at the point where Burned started to roll, so I tweeted him (as a fan and a follower and ... is it just me or does twitter sometimes seem like you're stalking people you're fans of?!?). Anyway, he tweeted me back and asked a serious question about where, for me, the action in his books started to roll. It took me about 7 tweets to reply and I'm not sure I explained myself well in those tweets, so I thought I'd talk about it here. I promise to not go all spoilery on you in case you haven't read his books. (I highly recommend you go out and get them, tho. They're not only incredibly entertaining, but they're unique within the urban fantasy genre.)

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.

Karen


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Long Overdue Post (egads)

It occurs to me that I completely fail at blogging this month. Actually, blogging in the last two months has been a challenge. This is due to my inability to multi-task. I can't blog, discuss the latest technologies with anything resembling intelligence, spring clean, line up various contractors, plan college for kiddo, and play with the cat & the dog, all at the same time.

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.)


February - 7
River Marked by Patricia Briggs *****
Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter *****
Wrong Side of Dead by Kelly Meding *****
Unbroken by Rachel Caine *****
Almost Everything by Tate Hallaway *****
Raven Calls by C.E. Murphy *****
A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison *****

March – 10
The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney ****
Curses! A F***ed Up Fairy Tale by J.A. Kazimer ****
Headrush by Carolyn Crane ******
Doubletake by Rob Thurman ******
Devil’s Luck by Carolyn Crane *****
A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang *****
Tooth and Nail by Jennifer Safrey ****
Stargazer by Claudia Gray ****
Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane ******
The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton ***

So, there it is. My list. While posting this, I learned that newbs should not post on forums for experts asking why there isn't a manual for C++ when using Visual Basic, that the new Commodore 64 (yes, they are remaking them for computer geeks) can be returned for a replacement since it doesn't work, that Microsoft sucks, that Apple sucks, that Android sucks, that the dog needs to go out, that the husband needs gas for the lawnmower, that the kiddo has no underwear (how the hell did that happen?!) & that the kiddo is hungry wants me to make him a turkey sandwich with pepperjack cheese and lettuce. 

Over and out. Must go multi-task other things.
Karen


Sunday, April 8, 2012

My weekend Part II - Anime Boston

Right now, the hubs is making dinner, so I thought I'd finish my weekend tale of geekery. Yes, you read that right. The hubs cooks most nights. And yes, he is a far better cook than I could ever hope to be. (He ought to be a chef!)

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.
Karen

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Crazy Weekend Part 1

Today is Good Friday and the start of Passover, but that's not what makes it great in my household. We're celebrating because today is the first day of PAX East and Anime Boston.

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!
Karen



Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Releases for April - oh dear its soooo long....


I'm not going to buy all these books. I repeat, I'm NOT going to buy ALL these books. :D

I spent the last 2 weeks updating my new release list for 2012 and my Urban Fantasy Book list. It took that long because I've been neglecting them with all the chaos in my house. I'd rather be reading than organizing, you know what I mean? Anyway... I thought I'd post a list of all the books that are out this month (that I know of). If you're curious which books I'm definitely buying, I'm going to highlight them. I think it might be a manageable list (given the right circumstances, I can read 16 books in a month) ... if my TBR pile wasn't so deep I'm drowning under it. As it is, I'm probably just going to bury myself deeper. 

1 – Crystalfire – Kate Douglas
3 – Devil’s Punch – Ann Aguirre
3 – Pure: Omens & Shadows – Kelley Armstrong
3 – Black Heart – Holly Black
3 – The Lingering Dead – J.N. Duncan
3 – Plague Town – Dana Fredsti
3 – Sworn in Steel – Douglas Hulick
3 – Magic Without Mercy – Devon Monk
3 – Enraptured – Elizabeth Naughton
3 – The Marked – Inara Scott
3 – The Shape of Desire – Sharon Shinn
3 – Nocturnal – Scott Sigler
3 – Cain’s Law – Matthew Stover
3 – Blood Right – Karin Tabke
3 – Savage Awakening – J.D. Tyler
3 – Werewolf in Seattle – Vicki Lewis Thompson
3 – Hunter’s Rise – Shiloh Walker
10 – The Calling – Kelley Armstrong
10 – Blue Magic – A.M. Dellamonica
10 – Wicked City – Alaya Dawn Johnson
10 – Royal Street – Suzanne Johnson
10 – Assassin’s Code – Jonathan Maberry
24 – Lies & Omens – Lyn Benedict
24 – Binding the Shadows – Jenn Bennett
24 – Deadly Descendent – Jenna Black
24 – The Fallen: Warrior – Kristina Douglas
24 – Siege – Rhiannon Frater
24 – Evil Dark – Justin Gustainis
24 – Ascend – Amanda Hocking
24 – The Immortal Rules – Julie Kagawa
24 – Shadow Play – Erin Kellison
24 – Coveted – Shawntelle Madison
24 – Wishful Thinking – Gabi Stevens
24 – On the Prowl – Christine Warren
24 – 32 Fangs – David Wellington
24 – Blackbirds – Chuck Wendig
30 – Magic Unchained – Jessica Anderson

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

First, I have to say how much I love this series. There is so much that is fantastic about it - from Chessie with her drug addiction and emotional instability, to Terrible with his hardcore non-hero status and his love for her, to Lex with his humor and his sexiness, to the world of the Church and Downside. Honestly, as far as I'm concerned these books are poetry for the soul. For a book lover there is nothing better.

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

Books Glorious Books

Yesterday my most recent book purchases arrived in the mail. Woooot! But I had a problem - which book to read. It was horrible. Stacia Kane's Sacrificial Magic or Stacey Jay's Blood on the Bayou. Both have strong female characters with serious issues. Both have angst and action. And I know both of them are going to knock my socks off.

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.

Karen