Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things...Well, More Like Books but that didn't have nearly the same flow

I thought I'd take a moment to share with you some of my favorite books.  I'm not going to review them all or justify why I like them because honestly, who has the time for that?  NOT ME!  I just wanted to list them here for you and if your looking for a new book to read, maybe you'll find one here that you would like too.

1.)  The Catcher in the Rye  
2.)  Citizen Girl 
3.)  The Bell Jar  
4.)  The Shack
5.)  The Devil in the White City
6.)  Bloodroot
7.)  Water for Elephants
8.)  Little Bee
9.)  The Girl Who Chased the Moon
10.)  The Memory Keepers Daughter
11.)  The Harry Potter Series
12.)  Her Fearful Symmetry
13.)  The Weight of Silence

I'm sure I'll probably continue to add to this as I discover more that I love.  Or maybe I'll mark this as Part I and continue when I get a list together...I don't know yet.  Regardless, I have really enjoyed these stories and highly recommend all of them! :)

Oh, My Sweet Tooth

I'm trying to take better care of myself by attempting to exercise and eating better.  In fact, it's almost lunch time and I've only eaten a nice fiber filled 100 calorie english muffin w/ peanut butter, toasted, and 6 oz. or blackberry yogurt.  Plus I also had a whole bottle of water to drink.  Trust me, this is an accomplishment.  So, while I'm trying to curb my sweet tooth I decided instead to just read about sweets instead.  I just finished reading Donna Kaufman's Sugar Rush, book #1 in her new series entitled Cupcake Club.  

As you can guess, this fun, cute book is about cup-
cakes...oh, well there's also some romance thrown in there too of course!  The book tells us the story about Chef Leilani Trusdale, who at one time ran one of the most elite patisserie's in New York, Gateau,  but ran away from it all.  She ran away from the pressure, the hurry of everything, the excitement, the stress, but most notably she ran away from her crush and mentor, the sexy owner of Gateau, Baxter Dunne.

Leilani runs to the one place that feels safe to her, Sugarberry Island, GA, where her father, the sheriff, lives.  She opens her own  little cupcakery.  Life is good and the pace of life is easy going.  Leilani loves being able to come up with creations for people who she cares for and who care about her in return.  She's getting over her heartbreak when who should suddenly decide to go on the road for his hit cooking television show and shoot the first episode right there on Sugarberry Island?  Yep, you guessed it!  It's Baxter Dunne in all his mega celebrity status, complete with 3 full giant trailers and production people galore.

Though she is very against the show shooting on 
"her island" and in her shop, Leilani eventually allows it without hard feelings.  In fact, Baxter and Leilani have several conversations about their feelings.  She learns that for the 10 years that she crushed on him, Baxter had the same feelings for her.  Go figure!  Neither of them did anything about it because of their professionalism in the working environment since she was working for him.  

Baxter has come back to tell Leilani that he loves her.  In fact, the entire filming there was all a ruse to be able to see her again.  That's all fine and dandy, but Baxter's going back to New York after filming and Leilani has a shop to run now.  A relationship is impossible, they both admit.  They decide to make the most of the short time they have together.  Essentially they shack up in the room above the cupcake shop and make like rabbits for 2 weeks.

Now, I don't want to give away the ending or tell you too much about this story, but let's just say that when love reigns supreme, nothing can keep people apart.  Or at least it can't in a fictional novel. :)

Sugar Rush was a really sweet story...pun intended.  The characters are fairly well developed and although you KNOW what's going to happen with Leilani and Baxter, it's still a fun story to watch unfold.  Some of the reason for that is the supporting characters in the story: Charlotte, Leilani's BFF who hooks up with Carlos who works for Baxter; Alvina who is a nosy old lady who loves to gamble and even has a propensity for baking; Leyland who is Leilani's very protective father; and Dez, the artistic assistant at the cupcake shop.  They provide laughs throughout the book, as well as act as a "conscious" for Leilani.  

This isn't a book that's going to keep you in deep thought scratching your head, or even change your life, but it is a fun read and a great one to take to the beach with you over the summer.  I would give it a 8 out of 10.  It made me smile and feel good and sometimes that's better than anything else!

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inspire Me!

Well great!  I hate when this happens.  Really, I
truly and honestly do because it drives me bonkers.  What am I freaking out about, you wonder?  Well I know it's probably not a huge deal to the world at large, but I have this interesting idea for a story to write and I have NO IDEA how to do anything with it.  I mean, I do but I don't.  Ugh!

Okay, a good friend of mine actually came up with this suggestion of a story to write and hinted that I should try to do something with it.  I should.  I totally should.  I can see parts of the story in my head and can write parts of it in my mind but then when it comes down to putting my fingers on this blasted keyboard I feel like I'm lost.

Basically it's a story of three women who meet on a diaper chat site because they all have young children.  They  continue on to have a long distance friendship, over many years, many other children, relationships (marriages, divorces), world events, etc.  They've never actually met in person, or even spoken to each other but are still somehow kismetly connected to each other.  

I'm thinking the story would be told in segments, done by each woman's perspective, detailing their life so that you can get to know each one of them through their individual sections. Somewhere near the end, the woman will finally meet.  Everything in the middle is a mystery to me though.  I don't have any idea what to do with this.  Any thoughts?  Ideas?  Suggestions?

Maybe I'll start playing with it, working on pieces and then see if I can somehow put it together.  I don't know...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Getting Hot in Here!

Wow!  I'm not even sure where to go with this one. Let me start by stating that if you thought Fifty Shades of Grey was a hot steamy book then you haven't read nothing yet!  Coined as a "similar" style book to Shades, I found a new story to read, Bared to You by Sylvia Day, the first in a new series entitled Crossfire.  

Day's novel starts much like a typical romance 
novel but quickly takes the reader into a much more sophisticated journey between the smart and hard working Eva Trammel and the white-hot mega billionaire, Gideon Cross.  Eva and Gideon instantly feel a connection between them and Gideon isn't shy about telling Eva exactly what he wants from her right from the get go.  The two, who initially want nothing more than a physical relationship, quickly begin to develop a more serious relationship and through this, we also start to see the flaws that both characters have.  Both are scarred and have some type of non-consensual sex pasts that they are reluctant to fully divulge to each other.  

We go through this roller coaster of a relationship with Eva and Gideon with both characters making mistakes, following old patterns, etc.  I like that Day made the characters real.  They mess up in relationships and say dumb things like the rest of us.  They run away from their problems instead of confronting them.  Both characters yell and scream at each other and it is very volatile.  They then tend to fall back on the one thing that they're both good at, and good with each other at:  sex.  They have cataclysmic, eye-popping, writhing in your pants sex.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Now, I'm no expert but this is the one thing that seemed a bit unbelievable to me.  I'm not saying that two people can't have a great time and trust me, the author did a phenomenal job describing the hot, steamy sex scenes but I just think that it would be more believable if they had more awkward moments between them...between the sheets.

I also wish that Day had developed the characters a little more.  I didn't feel a big connection with them or the intense emotional connection between them.  It was clear there was attraction, but I didn't feel much more.  I don't know if the writer's intention is to drag that out more and reveal more in the next couple books in the trilogy or what.  This book deals mostly with Eva and her issues and her past, while revealing only a small amount about Gideon.  We only know that they're both emotionally scarred.  There is no real emotional depth to either of them.

Yes, there is a lot of sex going on in this novel and 
a small amount of discussion about being dominate and submissive (personally I think the writer should've left it out altogether; that part really did seem like a rip off), but that is where the comparisons should end between Bared to You and Shades.  They are both very different books with relationships and characters that are very unique to their writers.  

Though I read this book easily in a day, I'm still not entirely sure if I liked it.  Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike it either.  I'm just not sure.  I'm looking forward to the follow up novels in this series, hoping that putting them all together will make for a more cohesive story and better understanding of the characters and their lives.  So for now, I will give it a 6.5 out of 10.  

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Try Your Luck

Born Under a Lucky Moon, by Dana Precious was on my Wishlist of books to read for quite some time...like a year but finally I checked it out from the library to read on my iPad.  Isn't it great that we can do that now?  I am starting to love that; if only they would carry the newest selections.  I digress, this book is definitely worth the wait although I sincerely wish I hadn't waited so long.  I just finished it this morning and am still smiling ear to ear.

This book tells the story of Jeannie Thompson, the youngest of 5 children...you know, the one the parents forgot the Pill with.  The story alternates between present day where Jeannie is a busy movie ad exec in LA who barely has time to sleep while struggling to keep her job away from conspiring forces, and Jeannie's earlier years when she was younger and lived at home with the whole family in a charming small town in Michigan.  

In her current life, Jeannie has all but alienated herself from the entire family by moving across the country and doesn't speak to them often, including the one sister who lives in the same state as her.  This is mainly because she's embarrassed of her family and how "things" just seem to happen to them.  In fact, she's so embarrassed by them that she refuses to let her almost-fiance, Aidan, even meet them.  She's unsure of marriage when he pops the question because she's certain that with her family's track record it will scare Aidan away; it has scared others away and she can't risk that again.  Thus we begin the tales of the Thompson family.

Jeannie believes her family is somehow cursed because of all the strange things that seem to happen to them.  The author, Precious, takes us on an adventure through Jeannie's family life and does it so brilliantly that you feel like you too are part of the Thompson family.  What Jeannie considers back luck, in my mind, are merely all the little trials and tribulations that a large and loving family may go through:  a grandmother with possible dementia, a runaway dog, sisters running away to join the military, sisters getting knocked up, or the house catching on fire.  The telling of these stories had me captivated and smiling to be honest.  The grandmother especially was quite the lil' devil.  Can you imagine a grandma running buck naked through town during a parade?  Or how about the minister of a small town who has naughty drawings on his desk?  I could visually see the scenes in my head and had tears running down my cheeks as I laughed. 

Precious also does a fantastic job in building up the characters in this story, at least as far at the family is concerned.  By the end, you feel like they're your friends from school that you've known your whole life.  Each of the five Thompson kids has their "role" in the family and for the most part they all stick to it.  These roles don't, however, always mesh the best when forced together as illustrated throughout different times in the story.  Underneath all of their craziness lies a family that truly and deeply loves each other and cares about one another and that is what Jeannie has forgotten.  There were parts of Jeannie's story that had me huddled up, wishing and praying, with tears in my eyes.  There were parts that simply moved me.

When Aidan, the almost-fiance, has had enough of Jeannie evading his proposal he just leaves.  Jeannie is heartbroken and doesn't know what to do.  Her work suffers, she finds out he's in Australia on business with an ex, and she's a mess. So what does she do?  She goes home of course.   We soon understand that everything Jeannie thought she needed to run away from is exactly what she needs to find herself again.  When the going got tough, she needed her family more than anything.

In her debut novel, Precious sets quite the 
precedent for herself.  After reading Born Under a Lucky Moon I am now anxiously awaiting another novel by this very talented writer.  (Hear that Dana?  Get to typing!!  I'm waiting...)  I love the way that she carried me through this story like I was really a part of it because that doesn't happen in most books.  It takes a special and very unique writer to do that.  Clearly, this writer too was born under her own lucky moon.

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Like Big Books (and I Cannot Lie)

Just thought I'd break it on down for you folks...

I like big books and I cannot lie
You other nerdies can't deny
When a book fair comes to town
I go crazy
Pull out my glasses and get lazy...

It's still a work in progress, but I'm down with it.  I'm considering changing the name of the blog to "I Like Big Books (and I cannot lie)" too.  What do you think?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Trylle-y Awesome Series

I'm aware that I didn't write anything yesterday but time got away from me.  I'm hoping not to use that as an excuse all the time, but it really and truly did this time.  I had to spend some quality time with the family and all that jazz...you know how it is!  ;)

Anyhow, I decided the next books I would talk about are from the Trylle Series, including SwitchedTorn, and Accend by Amanda Hocking.  These are in the Young Adult section and were really fun books.  Once again, I had never heard of the author so I wasn't sure what to expect but was soon pulled into a world the paranormal and fantasy.  Yep, my inner nerd is shining through big time now!

For years Wendy wondered why her mom hated her so much, so much in fact that she tried to kill her. She always wondered why she was different, even among her brother and aunt who raised her.  All that changed when she meets Finn, the good looking guardian, who introduces her to a brand new world.  Wendy discovers who she really is and it is truly the stuff of fairy tales.

After discovering her powers, Wendy must
then learn how to use them and how to control them.  At times this is funny and other times you feel like you are right there with her because the writer did such a good job with her character development and plot descriptions.  Wendy meets others along her journey and must soon decide between what her heart wants and what her world needs from her.

Facing an almost impossible choice, Wendy must make a sacrifice of epic proportions.  We see by the third book how she's grown from a cocky, sarcastic girl into a bold and strong leader, ready to rule.  This wraps up Wendy's story and left this reader wanting desperately to read anything and everything by Amanda Hocking.

Hocking has an innate ability to weave realistic and believable characters into her story line.  I had no idea the journey she would take me on when I started reading; quite honestly, I just liked the cover of the book and though, "why not?"  I was supremely pleased with my selection and the follow up books in this series.  Each book helped to develop Wendy's character & story, introduced new and appealing characters, and pulled me further and further into this world of fantasy and fiction.  I would give this series an 8.5 out of 10.

It's been rumored also that this series has 
been optioned for a movie in the future.  Who knows if that will ever come to fruition, because that happens often and then nothing ever is produced.  I hope it does though because I think it could really make for a fantastic teen sci-fi movie.

A couple other great reads by this same 
author include The Hollows Series, and the My Blood Approves Series.  I've read both and really liked them as well.  They're all very quick reads and once you start it's hard to put them down.  Hocking has a new series, Watersong, starting with the first release of Wake in August, 2012.  I, for one, cannot wait!

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mystery and Mayhem with a LOL

One series I read this Summer includes the 
Ivy Malone Series, by Lorena McCourtney.  This mystery series features Ivy Malone, a sweet, widowed,Christian, little old lady (LOL) who just happens to continually find herself in the middle of a murder investigation. 

The circumstances surrounding Ivy are 
grim, but she is a spunky and fun character with a lot of wit.  Her curiosity leads her to try to figure out exactly what is happening around her.  There is also a slight "religious overtone" to the stories, as Ivy is a proud, Christian woman who reminds herself that God will bring her through the challenging situations she finds herself in.  This isn't overbearing in anyway, however, so if you don't want a Christian novel, there's really no worries; it's subtle.

When we begin following Ivy's adventures, we learn about how she witnesses something unexplained and then leads the authorities to finding and putting away the bad guys.  Unfortunately for Ivy, these bad guys are part of a mafia-like group and they vow to find her and get rid of her.  Uh oh!

After a fire, Ivy decides to leave her home and go on the run.  First she visits her family's home out of state (while they're elsewhere) but once again, Ivy finds herself among more trouble when the lady across the lake ends up dead.  Then she gets a motor home and decides staying in any one place probably isn't a good idea, so she's ready to travel the country.  While traveling she encounters some stupid emus, a traveling companion named Abilene, a pot bellied pig, and a whole lot of adventure and mystery!

This series is light and full of humor.  Ivy is 
one very likable character, and her friend Abilene becomes a character you care about too.  They have a mother-daughter type relationship of looking out for each other and in more than one way are very important to each other's lives.

I would definitely recommend this entire series to mystery lovers.  I give it a 7.5 out of 10.  The stories are all pretty short and easy to read but I regret being able to score it higher.  After reading the first 4 books and enjoying them quite a bit, I discovered that there were no more...nor does there appear to be any more in the future.  The last one came out in 2006 and sadly there was no resolution or wrap up to Ivy's story.  That was extremely disappointing and put a bad taste in my mouth.

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Speak to my Soul

Recently I finished reading Slammed by 
Colleen Hoover.  I had no idea what to expect with this book because I've never heard of this author before (Slammed being her debut novel) and it was a "cheapie" in the Amazon e-books area.  I'm happy to report, however that it was fabulous.  In fact, I couldn't put Slammed down and finished it in a day. 

Hoover tells us a story of a young girl Layken who moves across the country following her father's death.  Her life is in shambles and she feels like there's nothing to be happy about.  Enter Will, the cute older neighbor from across the street.  The book starts off as a simple romance but quickly becomes a story about ethics, morals, and following your heart.  Hoover does an excellent job of building these characters into real people in the reader's mind and has such emotion weaved throughout the storyline.  The characters seem real and believable.  They have quirks, are witty and funny but also have real flaws.

Another unique part of this book is that Hoover laces bits of poetry throughout the story, which adds to the depth and overall emotion.  She uses pieces of music from the artists The Avett Brothers as well to lead into each chapter.  The Avett Brothers just happens to be both Layken and Will's favorite band so I felt this added a little extra something to the story.

Honestly, it's been a long time since I've read something that has evoked as many emotions in me as Slammed did.  It's hard to even describe everything I felt when I was reading it but it pulled me in on such a personal level and I felt like I was going through the same emotions as Layken.  I think the scattered poetry helped for me because I'm a poetry junkie.  It spoke to me.  The story led me to explore feelings I hadn't thought about in a long time and forced them to the surface to confront them.

I still cannot believe this is Hoover's debut novel.  If all of her follow ups (and I DO hope there are many) are half as good as this, then she's well on her way to great success.  I highly recommend this for a quick read.  I give it a 10 out of 10 without any second thought and hope you'll help support this new writer by checking her out.  She is butterflying amazing!

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

So Many Books, So Little Time

There just isn't enough time in a day for me to read as much as I would really like to.  Eventually I have to go to sleep, wash dishes, feed my kids, whatever!  Why do they always need to eat?!?  I mean, don't they seem me engrossed in my book?  Okay, so really I read on my iPad, but still...don't they seem me swiping my finger across that screen while my eyes are glued to it?

I'm sitting here trying to decide which book to talk
about next because I've read a lot lately.  I do mean, A LOT!  Seriously, I'll just list them.  Since the summer began, I have read Slammed and Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover, The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines, Love Unlisted and Love Regifted by Stephanie Heddad, My Blood Approves, Fate, Flutter, Hollowland, Hollowmen, Switched, Ascend, and Torn by Amanda Hocking, Gabriel's Inferno and Gabriel's Rapture by Sylvain Reynard, Providence, Requiem, Eden, and Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, In Plain Sight, On the Run, and Stranded by Lorena McCourtney, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean, The Witness, by Nora Roberts, Vampire Love Story, The Werewolf Whisperer, Forever and Always, Werewolf Love Story, Part 1, and One Love by H.T. Night.  Wow!  That is even more than I realized.  That's a whole lotta nerdiness goin' on here, that's for sure and I've still got wish lists of books to purchase on both my Amazon and Barnes&Noble accounts too. 

I read so much, and so quickly that I often forget parts of the stories too and I hate that.  I wish I could remember more, but I just don't.  Maybe tomorrow I'll write on the most recent ones I finished since they're probably the most fresh in my mind.  Until then, I'm going to go back to my current read, Born Under a Lucky Moon by Dana Precious.

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Ooh la la, Mr. Grey!

Well, unless you've been living under a rock 
for the past 5 months or so, you've inevitably heard of the nation's chart topping best seller, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.  This erotic trilogy, starring innocent Anastasia Steele and the ever creative and domineering Christian Grey is the fastest selling paperback in history.  What does that tell us?  Women are sexually depraved?  Mommy porn is a-ok?  I don't know what it really tells us but this book has sold millions both through actual paper books and through e-book sales.

I'm not going to pretend like there was some award winning writing in this book because there wasn't.  Not even close.  If I had to read about Ana's "inner goddess" or how Grey reached down and cupped "my sex" one more time I might've put a shotgun in my mouth.  Most critics either love or hate the writing; there is very little grey area.  The writing in my opinion was weak and monotonous but if you could get past  that and let yourself get to the heart of the story, then it was a good read. 

I think it's the complicated relationship 
between Ana and Grey that truly pulls Fifty Shades readers in.  The story shows you that appearances aren't always what they appear to be.  Ana, who is a virginal college grad, is willing to try new things despite her naivety.  She ventures into the Red Room and even experiments with a bit of BDSM, though she discovers there is much of it that she does not like.   On the other end, Grey has a soft side under his power hungry domineering side. We come to discover that Grey's need for control and dominance aren't merely because he's a weirdo who likes "kinky fuckery" but because of reasons far deeper from his childhood.  (isn't that always where our problems come from?)  The way that Ana responds to Grey's inner aching and the way that he ultimately shows his love for her (watching her sleep for hours, for example) proves that Fifty Shades is not just mainstream porn, but a love story...and I'm a sucker for a good love story.

This isn't a story or series for everyone and I get that.  mean,  I can't really see my mother reading this, but then again, hey!  Who knows?  With the age we live in and the ability to buy such erotica electronically, it's like our own little brown bag.  More woman feel that they can covertly make such purchases without embarrassment. 

Overall, this was a good series and I enjoyed it a lot.  I'd give it an 8.5 out of 10, as long as I'm not evaluating James' actual writing style, which left a lot to be desired.  I'm excited to see how this story plays out on the big screen.  I'm excited to see who could possibly pull off the roles of Ana and Grey successfully too.  I'd love to see Emma Watson play Ana...but I have no idea about Grey!

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*

Take a Memo...

This is attempt # 3 at writing a worthwhile 
blog, so who knows how this is even going to go.  I might write 4 entries again and call it a day.  Then again, I think I am more focused on this one and I've decided to write about something I know, something I'm actually passionate about:  BOOKS!  Okay, okay, I know I'm a big nerd.  Seriously, I never used to be but the older I get I seem to get nerdier.  Shhh, don't tell but I've even developed a sort of love-hate relationship with sci-fi.  I'll deny it to my grave but secretly there's a lot of it that I enjoy.

So anyway, back to the reading and books.  
I've been a voracious reader since I was a kid.  I remember being in third grade and riding my 10 speed bike the half mile to the library almost daily.  I lived, and I mean LIVED, for those Summer Reading Programs .  I wanted to read as much as I could, as quickly as I could to earn all the great little prizes.  It was such a rush!  I was reading Sweet Valley High as a third grader and by 6th grade I was all about The Catcher in the Rye.  As an adult now, my interests vary.  Sometimes I was a good old fashioned happy romance, or a fun mystery.  Other times I'm all about the chick lit or enjoying whatever is on the top of the best seller charts. 

My first goal with this blog is simply to capture my thoughts, ideas, and impressions of the books I read. For the most part they will be adult fiction because that's what I like to read. You might catch some Young Adult Fiction because I still like some of it, or even some Children's books once in a while too. Like I said, I'm a mom so when I find a good kids book I want to tell everyone about it. 

My second goal is simply to allow make myself write again.  Along with reading, I've loved writing since I was a little girl too.  Hell, according to all of my childhood dreams, I should already be a published author.  Well...you see how that turned out.  I get so excited and have these great ideas for stories but then I can't seem to do anything with them.  I've literally had writer's block for a decade.  That's sad and pathetic but soooo real too...and it's the worst feeling ever!  So, I am challenging myself to spend at least 30 minutes a day writing and I figured maybe if I focused my writing on the reading I'm doing it might turn out alright. 

There you have it folks.  I hope someone gets some enjoyment out of my writing, but then again even if they don't I just hope that I continue. 

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.*