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.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blue & Black or White & Gold

I'm not sure what makes this 'blue & black' dress a sensation, but it is. Equally puzzling for me is the fact that half of my family/friends see it as black and blue while the other half vehemently argue that it's as white and gold as white and gold can be. Needless to say, the debate (familial and national) has been the tiniest bit frustrating.
 The disagreement is unsettling because the people who aren't seeing the dress in the same 'light' as you - in some situations - are people you love and respect, ones you admire and ones you know would never maliciously try to mess with your head. The reality is I've long suspected that everyone sees colors differently. 

The whole discussion made me realize these differences of opinions happen all day every day and no one questions them to this degree. I suspect that has to do with the fact that the interpretation of colors (excluding people who are color blind) should be relatively objective. Black is black. Blue is blue. White is white. Gold is gold. Usually!  When it comes to books, music, movies, paintings, photography, etc., we've long known that the like or dislike of them is completely dependent on our moods, a lifetimes' worth of experiences, our morals/ethics, our training, our preferences, etc.; therefore, disagreements are not only expected but welcomed. 

I've been writing for years now and have come to the realization that everyone is not always going to think my books are the best thing since sliced bread. This acceptance was a critical step in maturing as an artist and my ability to continue writing. Now, I understand that one reviewer might send me a very personal message, one so sweet it leaves me in tears, letting me know just how much she loved my book while another might hate that same book so much that his/her very public condemnation of my work might be gentler coming from Ming the Merciless himself. 

I've said many times that I only read Fifty Shades of Grey because of its horrible reviews. I knew that if it was on the best sellers lists it couldn't possibly be as bad as the reviewers were making it out to be. Now (and not because of the erotica in the book... in fact... despite the erotica in the book), it's one of my favorite go-to stories/characters. 

As with all great national debates, it proves that not everyone sees the world in the same light. One person's black and blue dress is another person's gold and white dress. One person's favorite book is another's 'worst waste of time'. The most important thing to come from this is the acceptance that we all see things differently. As such, reviews of books (and movies, music, etc.) should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because one person hates a book does not mean that you will. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised when you take a chance on something others despise.