Archive for the 'Reading' Category
Thursday, April 2nd, 2020
How are all of you holding up with the coronavirus? Got fun stuff going on at all? Want to kill family members?
I get out every day to walk the dogs, though a lot of the time I just want to hide under the covers. I have zero writing discipline. Both kids are home and the girlie really doesn’t like me homeschooling her. Sigh. I’ve accomplished things like grading for my class, writing a letter of recommendation, cooking food, and not really doing well at writing. Trying to give myself a break because all of this coronavirus thing is getting to me. I need to avoid the news and especially news from the Whitehouse, but I can’t seem to do that very well. At least in Oregon, the social distancing is helping. Right now we should have enough ventilators for w
hen the peak gets here. This makes me happy because my husband has asthma. I’ve been making my family wear cloth masks out in public, especially at the grocery stores. It may not help us not get the disease, but it will help us not spread it, especially cashiers.
I kind of want to go for a drive up into the mountains or out to the coast, but I know there aren’t any bathrooms open, so . . . Staying home like we’re supposed to.
I have been trying my hand at amigarumi. My first project has its problems, but it looks reasonably like what it’s supposed to. It’s crochet, so that’s a little easier on my weird shoulder/elbow tendonitis thing. That’s my little dude, there. He’s a flat mouse, because it’s supposed to be a bookmark. I need to iron it a little, I think. But at least it’s looking kinda like what it’s supposed to. I’m going to make a cat next, though I have to wait for yarn to get here, unless I can find some smaller cotton yarn in my stash.
My writing is almost nonexistent this week. I’ve got to find a way to get back on task. I’d like to get outside and do some gardening, but we’ve had rain. So I’ll have to wait. I need to call an order in to the garden store so I can go pick up some things like sawdust for my blueberries, and a trough and various other things to be a planter for my cool weather veggies. It’s tough because I’m trying to work out a schedule that will work for my kids and me. You know, the me who doesn’t want to do anything right now.
I have been doing some reading. I have been reading some romantic suspense, and have a billion other books to read, so I’m going to have plenty to choose from. I just finished a book by Laura Griffin, one of my favorite writers. This one was a stand alone, except there were cameo moments from her Wolfe Security and Tracers books, which I appreciated. None of her books have to be read in order, so I’m going to dip into the series again here and there. I’m reading some Netgalley books, so I may be bringing you a review or several. I don’t review what I don’t like. I don’t want to tear authors down.
So what have you all been up to to pass the time? Been able to find all the things you need? Flour? Yeast? Toilet Paper? Cleaners? Dish Soap? (that one floors me that it’s been running out).
Friday, March 20th, 2020
I haven’t posted in a long while and I don’t know why. It’s crazy. Updates seem silly given the coronavirus, but yanno, life has to go on to.
But let me ask you how you’re doing? I’m in Oregon and right now we are okay in the house. Moved my college-going son home because all his classes are going online and it’s safer to have him home not going to the dining centers on campus for his meals. My high-school-aged daughter is out until April 28th, but I think it will be the rest of the school year so I’m trying to come up with some homeschool plans. My husband has asthma, so I’m deeply concerned about him, but at least he works in a machine shop and so social distancing isn’t a thing there because everybody’s distanced by their machines, so they are all very far apart. All the same, I wish I had some masks for when I go shopping so that I don’t bring it home.
In the meantime, we’ve had a seriously sick little corgi, but he’s a lot better now. Last week we were in the vet several times and I was really worried. We’re getting out to walk the dogs and I plan to get out gardening, but otherwise staying away from people.
I’m working on DCM 5 and it’s Loooooong already and getting longer. I’d hoped to be all done well before now, but I’m not, so I’m plugging away.
I’m trying to find some TV shows I want to watch, but can’t find anything I like right now. I like romantic suspense, but more in books. I like funny and light, but I’ve seen a lot of those, and some that a lot of people like, I don’t. Documentaries are my next go-to. Actually I’ve been watching some YouTube stuff where experts talk about how things are portrayed in movies and TV shows. Like a spy disguise specialist talking about spy disguises, or a jewel thief talking about stealing, and so on. I’m hoping to write some romantic suspense, so watching these are useful and also really fascinating.
I think I want to watch some how-to stuff and get some knitting projects finished. I keep stopping halfway. Cuz I’m a dork. Yes, I am.
Merlin, the bitey puppy, is a lot better and hasn’t bitten us in a really long time. He’s still working out some issues with the older dog, but he’s learned he really loves attention and doesn’t like hurting us. It’s funny because when he makes his groaning noise that could mean he’s happy or that he wants us to stop, we all do a hands up sort of thing to show him we’re stopping and we’re backing off and giving him his space. He’s finding that he doesn’t like us stopping. We don’t want to tell him not to growl because we need the warning, but we also don’t want to get bitten. But he’s figuring out that he’s in control and doesn’t have to be afraid, since a lot of his aggression was fear-based.
I hope to be reporting in here a little more often. I hope you are all doing very well and your are staying healthy. Please do that.
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
First, so you know, I got Dead in Dublin from Netgalley. Also, Catie’s a friend and I love her books in general, and pounced on this one super fast because it sounded so good and did I say I love her books? She’s an amazing writer.
Now, onto the book. Here’s the backcover copy:
In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, murder occurs at the feet of sweet Molly Malone . . .
Ferrying tourists around Dublin for the Leprechaun Limo Service makes quite a change after years in the military. Still, Megan Malone is enjoying her life in Ireland. She likes the scenery, the easy pace, the quirky, quick-witted locals. Everything—except having one of her clients drop dead at the statue of fabled fishmonger, Molly Malone.
Most restaurant critics notch up their share of enemies. Elizabeth Darr, however, was a well-loved international star. She and her husband, Simon, had just had dinner when Elizabeth collapsed, and spoiled seafood is the first suspect. The restaurant’s owner, worried her business is doomed, begs Megan to look into it. Between her irate boss and a handsome Garda who’s both amused and annoyed by her persistence, Megan has her hands full even before she’s cajoled into taking care of two adorable Jack Russell puppies (which she is almost definitely not keeping). But if cockles and mussels aren’t to blame, can Megan find the real culprit . . .before another fishy death occurs?
I’m going to start with why I wanted to read this book. Catie lives in Dublin. Having her character be an American living in Ireland really grabbed me, because I felt like it would give me a really good sense of the place from an American perspective, but without any obnoxious judginess. Megan appreciates Dublin and the Irish people and culture. Her point of view makes it so an American reader can easily understand the differences and sometimes quirkiness of Ireland, but without it being condescending and obnoxious. I felt like I was in Dublin and I could almost hear people speaking.
This is a cozy mystery, so it moves at a slower pace than other mysteries, and yet this one felt like it moved at a quick clip. I was hooked by the mystery and hated having to set the book down to do anything else. I appreciated that Megan’s involvement in the mystery happened so organically, and that she wasn’t looking to horn in at all. She was a fresh take on the amateur sleuth. But then between her boss and the grieving relatives, she feels compelled to help solve Elizabeth’s murder. The little bits of information she tracks down for them pull her deeper and deeper into the mystery.
I really liked her developing friendship with Detective Bourke. He’s very real and takes the information she gives him without a lot of bitching about how she shouldn’t be involved. He points out she shouldn’t be, but he’s the type of detective who wants to solve a case and so the clues she finds are useful. Also, she doesn’t get in the way or ‘t withhold information from him, or treat the Gardai like an enemy.
Megan is a really likeable character. She’s good at her job, reasonable, thoughtful, generous, and a good friend. She cares about people, even strangers, and she’s smart. I really loved this book and I strongly recommend it. It’s perfect for a rainy day by the fire. By way of teasing me, the first chapter of the next book was included, and I was very very very disappointed that I couldn’t get it right now. Sigh.
Monday, October 7th, 2019
I’ve been doing a bit of reading on and off as I can squeeze it in around the rest of life–when I was younger, I seemed to have a hell of a lot more time in a day. What happened to it all? Anyhow, I finished The Perfect Brew today, and I want to share.
First, the back cover copy:
When a witch inherits trouble …
An unexpected inheritance turns Cassie Black’s world upside-down, and she finds herself the owner of a sentient coffee-house that comes with an inter-dimensional portal and a side of ancient curse. When Cassie is summoned to attend the funeral of her great-aunt Ophelia, she finds the picturesque village on the edge of the ocean is not at all what it seems. Her benefactor’s death is suspicious, and to make matters worse, after Ophelia’s lawyer explains her will to Cassie, he drops dead in a plate of cookie crumbs. That makes two unexplained deaths, which is two too many for a good witch to swallow.
Up to her neck in mysteries, and weighed down with a curse, Cassie canvases the town to find the murderer. Of course, there are many unusual suspects, a tall, dark and annoying human detective keeps getting in her way, and a seductive warlock offers his assistance.
Will Cassie catch the villain before he kills again? Will she be able to free herself from the curse? Will Sid, her beloved cat familiar with a naughty mind, convince her to play dirty with the boys?
This is the first in a cozy mystery series–I’m not sure how long the series is intended to be. It does read somewhat as a standalone, but it leaves a lot of major questions hanging, which is frustrating. I liked the story, I liked the characters a lot, and I liked the writing. Cassie is a great character. Everybody expects her to be goody-goody, but she’s got a lot more going on and is refreshingly snarky for a girl who appears to be the proverbial girl next door. The love interest characters are definitely interesting, particularly Sanjay, and I really liked Cassie’s familiar, Sid (short for Obsidian).
A murder happens shortly after Cassie arrives in town, and she decides to track down the killer, but though that was the storyline that wrapped up in this book, it felt like it was just a subplot. The real plot was Cassie discovering her aunt’s history, that she was murdered, more about magic, and the Perfect Brew–a sentient coffee shop, which, by the way, is a very cool place. I love it.
For me, though I enjoyed the book, I feel like it wasn’t robust enough. That it really needs to be read with the other books in the series to get a better sense of the meatier part of the story, which I really want to know more about. I do plan to get the other books, because I really do like the book. It wasn’t a cliff-hanger ending, by any means, but it just felt like the end of the opening scene of a play, and that there’s a lot left unanswered and undeveloped.
Thursday, September 12th, 2019
Hello Everyone! I’ve been doing a bit of reading here and there and this one I’ve just finished. A SPELL OF MURDER is a supernatural sort of cozy with witches. Before I get into my thoughts, here is the back cover copy:
In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…
Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.
When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.
If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?
There’s something I really like about small town mysteries with busybodies, smart country cops, and quirky denizens. This book falls into that category. Temerity is an engaging characters and I like that she has friendships throughout the community and that she’s known for being a psychic antiques expert. Specifically, she’s known for tracking the provenance of antiques that nobody has any idea about. She’s world-renowned, actually. However, despite being so famous, she rarely leaves the village, even to be the keynote speaker at a major upcoming conference.
A murder happens soon within the story–a local school teacher–and Temerity gets involved with the local police chief asks for her help, as she’s helped before with missing persons and so on. She ends up working with a new deputy who she finds offputting and a bit rude, although very handsome. There’s a bit of romance in this book between them, but not much.
One of the things I like about this book is that everybody’s smart and nobody’s bumbling. I wasn’t as much a fan of the overall mystery as I could have been because for the murderer, there’s not really any clues. The background of the story and the reasons for the murder aren’t terribly simple or obvious, which I appreciated. I just wanted a few more clues sprinkled in.
Overall, though, it’s a fun read. The characters are engaging and the magic and locale are unique and interesting. I loved the animals, particularly the cats and the parrot. I loved that Angus wasn’t at all stereotypical as the handsome potential love interest. He was smart and interesting and didn’t ever get weirdly high and mighty or put Temerity down. She was confident and strong, and yet vulnerable in a couple of ways, but not in a way that irritated me.
I’ll definitely look for the next book in the series.
Sunday, June 2nd, 2019
I recently read The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White. It’s a romantic suspense, and I’ve got to say, it’s just about a perfect book.
First, the back cover blurb:
She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.
When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.
To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.
And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.
Like I said, this is just about a perfect book. Why? First, the structure of the story maximizes tension, surprise, and keeps you wondering all the way to the end. Second, the atmosphere. It’s set in a small town in the Canadian winter. The cold seeps into you and the isolation, the dark, and the poverty and lack of resources, along with a sense of claustrophobie: that everyone knows everybody’s business and you have no privacy. Third, the characters. Rebecca’s father comes alive, even after his death. So does Whitney. All the characters are flawed, with compelling stories. Even the secondary characters feel complex and rich. Rebecca is driven, smart, and logical. She’s got a lot in her past to deal with. That’s slowly revealed through the book as she deals with her grief, guilt, and old feelings for Ash.
The relationship between Rebecca and Ash is far more complicated than she is aware of. There’s more in their past than he’s revealed to her, and those secrets continue to drive them apart and as they come to light, implicate him in her father’s murder. Ash is still in love with Rebecca, but a mistake when he was seventeen broke them up and Rebecca can’t forget his betrayal. But she learns more about the past, about a long ago murder, she starts to understand that what she thought she knew was wrong. That she’d interpreted the facts incorrectly.
What I like is that she doesn’t start doubting herself as a cop. She keeps investigating and looking for the truth. She grows and changes, as do many of the other characters.
The addition of Ricky and Tori adds depth and highlights the tension, the atmosphere, and motivations. White weaves all these elements into a complex story that is hard to put down. I highly recommend this book and plan to pick up more of White’s books.
Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
About the book:
An unlikely pair, an impossible mission, and a hilarious hunt for somebody to love.
Henry was only tasked with fixing the leaky office pipes. So, when a crazy woman barges in and confesses all her secrets like a challenge, he’s faced with two choices: Tell her he’s not the man she’s looking for, or roll with it.
Rachel knows there’s something amiss about her new shrink–he’s far too handsome for starters–but she’s desperate to straighten her life out. With only three weeks to find a date to her best friend’s wedding, she’s willing to try anything. Even rely on a complete stranger to help her find love.
I’ll be honest. I was a little put off at first by Cassy, who I was afraid would be a more prominent character in the book, but luckily, she wasn’t. Mostly she was really obnoxious and Rachel took it laying down in the beginning, which I found annoying. But then she walks into the office and she’s so funny, and so real, and she’s not at all flat or one-dimensional. She’s got some hangups as we all do, but she’s also talented and smart and not at all a doormat. AND she stands up to Cassy at the end, which made me very happy.
I like Henry. Clearly he was an asshole and knew it, but meeting Rachel made him reevaluate himself and his friends. It wasn’t an instant transformation, but one where he grows into love, same as Rachel. His family is amazing, and I’m really hoping Taylor and Neil figure things out. His friends are both obnoxious and wonderful, which I found delightful.
Nobody was perfect, and Henry showed his true colors in a dramatically embarrassing and realistic moment and I may have fallen a bit in love with him at that point, too.
The story is well written, fun, breezy, real, and feel good. It’s fast and I really love Rachel and Henry as people and as a couple. Definitely read this book. I’m going to look up other books by Fray for sure.
Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
I first learned of Thea Harrison when Patti Briggs said I should read her books. Sadly I was slow to get around to that, but discovered I love her writing very much. Still, with so much going on, I didn’t get to read very many of her books, though they remain waiting in the TBR mountain.
American Witch is her upcoming release, and you can get your hands on a copy on April 29th. I suggest you preorder.
So first, what it’s about. From the back cover copy:
Power can change a person…
For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.
Revenge can shape a person…
Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.
Danger can bring them together…
When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.
As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.
As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?
I loved this book. Found it hard to put down, in fact, which says a lot since I’ve been having trouble reading through to the ends of books for awhile now. This was a compelling read for me.
Molly was an amazing character. Strong, stubborn, flawed, and wholly likeable. She wasn’t a doormat. She’s sharp as hell and brave as well.
Josiah wasn’t your typical asshole. He came off as focused and an ends-justifies-the-means sort of guy. He’d suppressed most of his emotions and to a large extent his humanity over years of seeking his end goal.
Also, neither are super young. They have scars and have earned those scars.
Then he runs into Molly. At first he sees her as a tool, but she doesn’t let him view her that way. She thinks and she argues and she refuses to put up with his habits of being in charge and telling people what to do. This startles him into looking at himself and he doesn’t like what he sees. Their relationship isn’t easy and grows out of respect and admiration. It’s very organic.
The path to their HEA isn’t an easy one and both are willing to walk away at various times, and then they feel compelled to do so for very good reasons. You don’t read the situation and roll your eyes and say oh, please, this could be solved with a simple conversation. No, the obstacles are real and require them both to find ways to bend if they are going to work things out.
I love the magic of the world and the intrigue of the story. There’s more to it to come in future novels. That’s clear. A struggle that will be ongoing and building toward a crescendo at some point. I’m totally planning on being on board for that ride.
I also love the descriptions of their attraction and the sex because its so very emotional. It’s not about the sex and not so much graphic as powerfully written, if that makes any sense.
I highly recommend this book and hope everyone out there will go grab a copy because it’s just that good.
Sunday, April 14th, 2019
I happened to get my Bookbub mailer today, and in it was a bundle for “Alien Mail Order Brides.” That tripped me up. It’s on trend in a lot of ways, but it overlays the old west and even current practice of mail ordering a bride, which I find a bit unexpected. (But why is it never a man? Would gay or lesbian people be able to mail order a spouse? What does marriage mean in an alien culture? Would it be more like a mail order baby-mama?) In these books, the aliens are invaders, and no doubt superlative human-like male specimens with huge dongs and twelve-pack abs and the sexual stamina of a diesel locomotive. From the description, the women are going to be seriously happy in bed.
But the concept made me start thinking of mail order spouses in a futuristic landscape. It made me think of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild (which is amazing and you should read it if you haven’t, and again if you have!). It also made me think of Pat Murphy’s “His Vegetable Wife.” Both are a case of alien ‘marriage,’ (and I define that term very loosely), where the difficulties of mating between two species/cultures is highlighted. (And to be clear, “His Vegetable Wife” is not a case of voluntary ‘marriage,’ but of the essential enslavement of the wife. BUT! The ending is awesome and again, if you haven’t read the story, you must.)
And then I got to thinking about ‘aliens’ and marriage in our own world, with aliens because Others of all sorts, whether othered by race, culture, education, wealth or lack thereof, age, weight, religion, and so on. Romances are often about how two ‘alien’ type of people come together and find commonalities and love. A lot of SF and F is also frequently about ‘aliens’ coming together and working together for a common goal. They also often highlight the fear of the ‘alien.’
Thinking about what I’ve written about, that’s a pretty pervasive theme in what I write. I hadn’t really thought about it that way until I started thinking about the mail order alien brides. But it makes me feel better in general knowing that a lot of books in multiple genres are tackling the ‘alien v. us’ theme and demonstrating that hatred isn’t the way to go, that people are people, no matter what color, shape, language, gender, or anything else that separates them from being the same as me or you.
Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
I read this erotic BDSM novel today. I thought the world was pretty cool–slightly alternate earth, slightly fantastical. What got irritating was the BDSM. ALL the relationships were BDSM and it got really annoying. And it wasn’t the BDSM parts per se. I get BDSM and I obviously wouldn’t read it if it bothered me. That wasn’t the problem. That’s not what annoyed me. It’s that all the women secretly wanted to be dominated. That, despite having life experiences that would indicate any sort of BDSM experience would likely be horrifying (we’re talking molestation, rape, plus a lot of violent abuse by male relatives. And then there’s forced submission and bondage situations for unwilling women who later want to be bound and hurt in order to have an exciting sexual experience). These women had clearly been through horrific experiences, and then the “cure” for them was a BDSM relationship.
Another bothersome thing was that women were always the submissive and men were always the master. Never the reverse. And the dominance thing overflowed into their real lives. The women were portrayed as always in the wrong, men always had to be patient and correct and rescue them and even though the women were supposedly strong, their strength was always requiring male guidance and discipline. The women turn out to be more childlike than adult. And again, not in a sexual way. This is in ordinary interactions. One woman who is a specialist doctor demonstrates complete incompetence and the men who have no idea what they are doing in the field always know better than she does and she’s always having to apologize or hang her head in shame. It’s really appalling.
So let me stress it’s not the BDSM I have a problem with. It’s the portrayal of the characters and the overall situations. Now the author does create a culture where the laws of society puts men in positions of power and women are essentially in traditional female roles. There almost seemed to be an unspoken genetic male impetus to be sexually dominant in a BDSM fashion. The thing is I liked some of the characters and the world, but kept getting annoyed at the way women were portrayed. Kept driving me nuts and throwing me out of the story.
The fact is, though, I’ve been encountering a lot of these sorts of stories where the women can only feel like real women or feel whole if a man abuses them emotionally or physically. And again, I’m not remotely saying that BDSM is abuse. It is not. It is consensual and the submissive has the power to stop at all times, which means that person has the power to say when things go too far for him or her, which means that person holds the power in the room. It’s a relationship of trust and vulnerability, which this book does talk about, but then makes it impossible to believe that these women could have have that vulnerability and trust in these men. In a lot of novels I’ve been seeing, including the one today, the woman (always submissive) has to suffer through agonizing pain, all for her own good, and even though she often clearly struggles against it, she always suddenly gets an amazing orgasm. What’s clear is that the situation is frequently not consensual, which is the part that bothers me. A lot.
I’m trying to figure out if there’s a titillation factor here that makes the BDSM a fantasy, but one that the writer doesn’t bother to understand. Or who twists it for a weird romantic angle. Fifty Shades tends to fall in this category for me. Twilight does in its own fashion, as the male protagonist is a stalker and a pedophile, and the female is passive and weak, requiring rescue and male care.
I guess what’s bothering me throughout is that I didn’t feel that any of these women freely consented, or that they had the ability to say no. And that means the scenes are abuse, not actual BDSM.