Sunday, April 17, 2016

Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) by Richelle Mead

Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1)

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Everyone has a right to their opinion. Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Is it possible – Please, Lord, tell me it is! – to ask (No, not ask. Beg! Plead!) for people to let their common sense be their true north no matter what their opinion is? That they stop reading books that are outside of their preferred genre… especially if they hate any and every book outside of their preferred genre?

NEWSFLASH: If you hate historical fiction, you’re going to hate a book that is a historical fiction. Because of that, I’m going to strongly encourage that you avoid historical fictions… that you close the book and move to the next one if you accidentally open a historical fiction and begin reading it… that you read and rate only books that are firmly embedded within the genre you love.

I’ll tell you what’s forcing me to climb up on to my soapbox – once again – and call people out on something that I truly believe to be their problem and not the poor defenseless books that just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, usually because the person got the book for free (or via an ARC) and their rating of books negatively is something they do for.... (I'll let each of you imagine all the reasons these negative reviews could be posted.) Please know, I’m not on this soapbox because someone read one of my books at hated it (though I’ve had my share of these exact types of situations). I’m on it because lots of people read Richelle Mead’s newest book, The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1), and have rated it abysmally, and I’m appalled by the ratings and the comments.

I read The Glittering Court from cover to cover and could not find the flaws the people reading and rating this book negatively ‘claim’ to have found. The story was unique. It was beautifully told. Perfectly paced. There were twists and turns in such a way that you could not tell at the beginning of this story where the characters were going to end up. Also… let’s face it… the author is Richelle Mead. Her publisher is Penguin Random House. Does anyone actually believe either of them would produce and/or release anything that is not the best of the best? The answer: ‘No! Hell no! They wouldn’t.’

Because this wonderfully written and carefully plotted book has over 1,200 ratings and 429 reviews and an average rating of 3.53 stars, I’m left to conclude that people are reading this book with the assumption that it will be filled with paranormal characters because this author is best known for her vampires, her alchemists, her succubus, her fairies, and her Gods and they are left disappointed when they find this series contains none of that… though it’s just as glamorous in it’s own way.

The fact is that this book and it’s characters’ stories are meant to do more than entertain through paranormal. It’s meant to gently bring to the surface religious intolerance from the eyes of people living in the 1800’s while reminding us that we see the very same types of narrow-mindedness everyday within in the headlines of today’s worldwide newspapers. It shows where women – and their lack of rights – were during that era and helps us understand that there are still cultures whereby these same practices are carried out on a daily basis… that some women live in countries/cultures where girls’ still do not have the right to chose their husband themselves and/or are forced to do what they have to do in order to protect their families.

It is completely possibly that there are people who are reading for pleasure do not want to be reminded (even if the reminders are embedded so deeply and the subjects are brought up so gently that you barely even notice them) of where we, as women, have been and where we, as women, still have to go. That we must take each and every one of those steps hand-in-hand, united, and together. We should begin our journey by embracing Richelle Mead and thanking her for taking a chance and writing this book, for envisioning these characters, and for asking us all to step out of our comfort zone. We could demand that other women stop beating her up for not writing one more vampire book or for forgoing another book of fairies.

For me, this series has the power to take root, to grow, and to make a difference. If we allow others to beat it up and pretend as if it is not as good as it is, there might never be another in the series. Preventing an author from following her heart and listening to the characters screaming their way through her/his mind is a travesty in and of itself. It’s something I hope Richelle Mead is not forced to experience with this series.

As for me, I rate this book with a solid 5 stars. Please keep in mind that I am one of those people who avoid historical fictions in most situations, and – even then – I will continue to read all of the books in this series because I see how enlightening it could be and where this series could end. In my humble opinion, it simply needs a chance to evolve and enough people demanding it be allowed to do just that.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

the CATCHER in the RYE - J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye. A book that captures teenage alienation in a way no other has before starts with a seventeen-year-old boy, Holden Caulfield, in an undisclosed ‘crumby place’ not too far from Hollywood (Los Angeles, California) where his brother, one who visits him practically every week, lives. There are those who assume he’s in a psychiatric hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown. Others swear he’s in a tuberculosis sanatorium because he was so sick when he neared the end of his recount. No one knows for certain where he is, and quite frankly, no one cares. When given the chance to look back to the beginning of the book, those who finish The Catcher in the Rye, who have compassion for Holden, and who care about his plight are simply relieved to know he’s not killed himself and/or gotten killed and is receiving the help he very obviously needs.

Regardless of where he is or why he’s there, Holden cynically – endearingly – narrates his story, beginning when he’s at Pencey Prep in Agerstown, Pennsylvania, a fictional town believed to be near Wayne, Pennsylvania. At sixteen, over six feet tall, partially grey, extremely thin, and out of shape, he’s been kicked out of his boarding school for not applying himself. With his retelling, it’s apparent he’s having trouble dealing with his past, his future, and his need to admit his failure to his absent and unforgiving parents. Even though they are inattentive, his parents have expectations of their son, and Holden knows his father will be disappointed once again.

After leaving Agerstown in the middle of the night via a train and upon arriving at Penn Station, Holden does everything he can to stay away from his parents’ apartment… to catch up with old friends/flames… to act as if he’s already a grown-up who lives on his own and answers to no one.  While in New York and living in a hotel, he spirals down – mentally, physically, and emotionally – until he has a breakdown while watching Phoebe, his sweet, innocent sister, ride a carousel while living in a world filled with all of the terrible things he wants to protect her from.

In a depressed and haunting manner, Holden frequently reminds readers that he can never forget Allie, his younger brother whose tragic and premature death from leukemia three years before, has changed him forever. Based on the events disclosed and thoughts shared, Holden realizes he’s becoming an adult and will soon be completely responsible for himself and his actions.

And their ramifications.

Because this reality both terrifies and depresses him, Holden dreams of becoming the ‘Catcher in the Rye’ (someone who stands at the edge of a dangerous cliff and catches children before they fall off) so he can protect young, innocent children from the same fate… from becoming an adult. Logically, he knows that there is nothing he can do for himself or others and that short of dying (like Allie died) everyone becomes an adult. Everything about this depresses him in such a way that it’s quite nearly palpable for the readers who have invested themselves in his story and the inner turmoil that comes with him.

The messages deeply embedded within The Catcher in the Rye are numerous, and are ones Holden himself seems to understand as he looks back at his very necessary coming of age adventure. First, he realizes that Phoebe and all other children must be allowed to take risks even when those risks are dangerous. Second, resisting changes – including that of growing older – is resisting life, and resisting life and its changes can lead to misery and madness.

This post was envisioned by and done for Cotopaxi. The company is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, and as you can tell, they are unique when it comes to creative ways to engage new and existing customers. Those really are my favorite types of companies. 

Thanks so much Cotopaxi for allowing me to be a part of this project. It was GREAT fun, and  - without a shadow of doubt - you have a brand new customer and fan!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Grey (Fifty Shades #4) by E.L. James

Grey (Fifty Shades #4) by E.L. James

I have to say I couldn't be more disappointed in the people - some who claim to be Christians - who believe it is their God given right to demean, belittle, and demoralize others (by that, I mean E.L. James)... to post not just bad reviews but reviews evoking images of blood lust and evisceration.

In my humble opinion, I believe there are teachers, movie executives, publishers, merchants and - yes - even other authors who should be worshipping at the feet of this woman. I'm sure I'll get mean-spirited comments for exercising my right of speech and daring to dispute any one of the many people who PASSIONATELY hate the Fifty Shades of Grey Series and all it represents. Just bear with me.

Teachers - I'm confident there are millions of ex-students who refused to read a single book until this one came along. They accepted failing grades so they'd not have to embark upon the dreaded task of actually reading a book. A portion of those same people are now avidly devouring as many books as they can read. Who cares the subject. Reading is reading. It's proof positive that you can get anyone to do anything if the motives are right. All of that reading has to translate out into a world whereby people are better off. I understand the rub for most of these people is not the fact people are reading... it's what they are reading. In this situation, it would be best to look at the bright side and thank E.L. James for all she's done when it comes to the world's literacy/illiteracy rates.

Movie executives - If you think there are a lot of Spider Man movies... holy heck! You ain't seen nothing yet.  They could keep making/re-making versions of this movie until people stop going to see them. Of course, that will occur when people stop buying the books, which hasn't happened yet. ;)

Publishers - There are so many books sold who have become famous simply because readers detoxing from the Fifty Shades of Grey Series needed their next fix. Say what you will, E.L. James pulls her fans in and gives them what they want. These publishers are taking full advantage of the series' popularity. Some people - ones who don't have billion dollar empires built on the marketing and selling of their books - claim this is a way to milk money from fans. I say its a way (the only way fans will accept) for E.L. James to put her readers' wants and needs ahead of her own.

Merchants - Anything with the word grey in it is snapped up and purchased by fans of this series faster than the merchant can say 'Christian'. There really is no losing side here.

Authors - There are authors who never would have made it out of the Indie category if not for E.L. James. There are plenty of them that should give her a standing ovation. They've found their fans, and everyone is happy. Win-Win.

Readers (I became one after reading the first phase of negative reviews and decided to read the series and form my own opinion.) - Let's face it and unless you are completely oblivious to the world around you, everyone knows this book is Christian's version of the very same story. Anyone buying the book, rating, and claiming they had no idea they were buying a retelling of the same story is asking for me to roll my eyes and ignore their rating all together. Yes. It is the same story told with a little different twist. Just as it is marketed.

The point I'm trying to make is... if you hated the first book, don't buy this one (or rate it) and claim you are surprised by its contents. The author hasn't changed. The story is the same. The character's actions/reactions predictable (if you've read the first book). For me, I'll rate it the same as the others. 5 Stars

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Gift

As is the norm with me, I want to take the opportunity to celebrate this very special holiday by offering a coupon for a FREE book to mothers... to children who want to give a gift to their mother for Mother's Day... to people who are not mothers and have no intention of becoming a mother. In other words, it's a gift for anyone and everyone in the spirit of the day.

Book: Cheating Time (Longevity, #1) 
Coupon Code: LF77J
Expires: 5/15/15
Age: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia/Sci-Fi
Pages: 400+
Goodreads Average Rating: 4.5


Carles "Carlie" Enoche's world is one that can barely be imagined. In it, babies have micropharmeceutical devices inserted in their hearts within hours of birth. The MicroPharm implant holds code that secretly counts down until the date of that baby's death (as determined by its genetic analysis) and contains drugs that are released in such a way that chemicals and hormones are in perfect balance at all times, making illness almost unheard of.

Theoretically, the known but unexposed date of the babies' deaths and the maintenance drugs geared toward giving the baby a long life have benign consequences. It is the unknown and unbelievable and unexpected way President John Barone gathers data about every child and the way he releases contraceptives from the device in order to control the population and terminate pregnancies when embryos are identified as weak or mutated that makes the device and its technology as dangerous as any malignancy.

For President Barone, seventeen-year-old Carlie isn’t just a MicroPharm first generation; she is the great-granddaughter of the man who discovered the ability to determine life expectancy down to the day and the daughter of the woman who invented the MicroPharm chip. Carlie and her family are important to President Barone's political career and the plans he has of creating a nation of strong, healthy, and superior people, who give more to their country than they take.

Jayden St. Romaine, one of the Facet's most loyal Surrogate Soldiers, is ordered by President Barone himself to find the Enoche family and kidnap Carlie. Through blackmail, he plans to leverage control over the Enoche's scientific research and the ability to develop even more tools that can be used to genetically engineer a superior race.

When President Barone sends Jayden on his mission, he never expected his perfect soldier to develop a conscience… betray his trust… fall in love with Carlie, but he's dispatched a backup Surrogate Soldier just in case. With the ticking of the clock and the second Surrogate chasing them, Jayden's chances at redemption and Carlie's chances of living a life where she is free to make choices about her life and her body are in jeopardy.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rock Chick Series - by Kristen Ashley

It's been a while since I've done a formal review of a book, and I've never reviewed an entire series at one time. With Kristen Ashley's Rock Chick Series, I'm breaking my dry spell... I'm speaking out and begging, pleading, insisting, and (insert here whatever works) for you to stop what you're doing and buy this series ($3.99 each and only a $1.99 if you add the audible version). You heard me right. Don't just buy the first book. Go ahead and buy them all because you're going to buy them eventually anyway. You might as well have them at the ready.
I'm going to be honest with you and admit that I must live with my head in the sand (considering how many phenomenal ratings/reviews Ms. Ashley has on Goodreads) because I'd never heard of this series until Amazon recommended it to me as one it thought I'd like based on my previous purchases. While those recommendations are not always accurate - in my case anyway - this one couldn't have been more perfect.
If you know me at all, you know that I only review books I consider to be excellent. I've certainly read books that weren't 'my cup of tea', but I go out of my way to keep those opinions to myself. In the case of the Rock Chick Series, I don't have to sugar coat anything. The writing is wonderful. The characters are endearing, hilarious, morally and ethically upstanding, sweet, tender, protective, tolerant, committed, vulnerable, passionate, adventurous, family and friend oriented, and periodically lovingly obtuse. The stories are full of ups and downs, and despite the number of pages/words, they go so fast that you mourn each's ending. In case there is any doubt, I whole-heartedly rate each of these with the highest 5 Star possible.
Each book is the love story of a different couple, but the same cast of characters return, grow, and entertain us with each book. It's not about one person, one couple, one story. It's about all of them and all of it. And... even though I love all of them and all of it, I have a favorite couple. It's the Rock Chick vigilante Jules and the Hot Bunch's protective Vance. You won't get to them until book #4, but they're worth the wait. I promise. 

 Rock Chick (Rock Chick, #1) - by Kristen Ashley
      • 4.23 of 5 stars — 30,571 ratings 

      • 4.32 of 5 stars — 20,601 ratings 

      • 4.44 of 5 stars — 19,528 ratings 

      • 4.48 of 5 stars — 18,555 ratings 

      • 4.53 of 5 stars — 18,836 ratings 

      • 4.45 of 5 stars — 17,615 ratings

      • 4.57 of 5 stars — 17,270 ratings 

      • 4.47 of 5 stars — 14,501 ratings 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Breaks and Nature Walks

Just in case anyone assumes I live a life full of constant and consistent drama (or why else would I force my books' characters to live through it... right?), I can assure you that my home life is anything but dramatic. I work hard at maintaining a zenlike balance because I have a day job in healthcare where the only constants and consistents are change and need. It makes for hectic days, and when coupled with the commute from hell (trust me... Houston's rush hour traffic is nightmarish enough to warrant it's own horror flick ), I go out of my way to make sure my time away from my healthcare job is not spent hustling, bustling, and/or jockeying for anything anywhere.

As such, it stands to reason that when the rest of the world is heading - by the thousands - toward crowded beaches for their wild and crazy spring breaks, I head in the direction of a beach that is exactly the opposite. As boring as it sounds, I want - need peace... calm... tranquility, and I need it like a man dying of thirst needs a drink of water.

Because this particular spring break was so wonderfully relaxing, I thought I'd share some of the photos I took while going on nature walks, strolling the quiet beach near my writer's retreat, and/or staring out at the bird sanctuary from my balcony. Let me be the first to warn you that there is nothing scandalous, risque, or salacious. You will only witness evidence of the brief moments in time when I found the peace, the calm, and the tranquility I'd been in desperate search of.