I am relatively new to the steampunk world. It was a little difficult for me to understand that universe in the beginning. I felt like I needed to read a steampunk guide in order to understand. But after the submersible (submarine) was introduced, I finally got the hang of things.
This story takes place in Victorian London and Romania. In this world, they have automatons (think Bicentennial Man) and ray guns. They refer to electricity as Tesla (as in Nikola Tesla), especially the specific type of light bulbs used. Carriages are drawn by mechanical creatures, not live animals.
That is the gist of the steampunk universe. Now, on to the story…
This story is a mixture of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Dracula,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “Tangled,” and “Into the Woods.” Crazy, right?
Hazel is a young woman employed by Dr. Sam MacInnes. She has an extraordinary ability to heal people. She is an academic and loves to spend her time at lectures and reading books. She is on the fringes of society, while her employer is smack dab in the middle of society. The two differences in their social status keeps them from courting, even though they are attracted to each other.
At an event one evening, a mysterious count arrives. He cannot take his eyes off of Hazel and asks her to dance. Sam feels like he needs to protect her, since she has no family members (besides her adoptive mother) to watch out for her.
What Hazel soon discovers is that she is the niece of this mysterious count and that she has a twin sister. The count came to London to persuade Hazel to come to Romania to help her sister. Her healing powers could help her twin’s madness.
She agrees to go to help her sister, because she has seen her twin’s deterioration in her dreams. Sam decides to invite himself along on this journey, because someone needs to look out for her (and because he does not trust Count Petrescu).
Their mode of transportation from London to Romania is a submersible (a submarine similar to Captain Nemo’s submarine). This, of course, makes Sam sick to his stomach, because he has claustrophobia. But he bears it because he needs to be there for Hazel.
On the trip over to Romania, strange things happen on board. All the while, Hazel and Sam are trying to uncover the mystery behind the count. They suspect he is a vampire.
Petrescu’s intentions are nefarious, something that is suspected throughout the book. What he wants with Hazel is maddening, but that is something you won’t discover until the end. She follows him to Romania, because first and foremost, she needs to save her sister.
I loved “The Lady in the Coppergate Tower.” The Vlad the Impaler reference really lifted this to five stars for me. Once Count Petrescu was introduced, I was hooked. I didn’t know what he wanted with Hazel. I kept trying to guess, but I had no clue what he wanted her for. When that is revealed, the word “maddening” is the correct word to explain it.
Being new to the steampunk universe, I have to say that Nancy Campbell Allen did a marvelous job intertwining all of the different types of stories together. From Jules Verne to gothic to the Disney version of Rapunzel, she did a great job of bringing these elements together to create a rather scary love story.
For those who are not big on romance, just FYI, the romance takes a back page to the nefariousness of Petrescu. But like any good movie, you have to throw a little bit of a love story in there, even if it is not the main part of the story.
I think I’m still a little giddy that Vlad the Impaler is a part of this book. I have to admit, I just loved that part. I can handle vampires. Zombies, not so much.
I recommend reading this adventure. It is PG, so not too dark and not too mushy with the love stuff. It is a little scary, but very thrilling and shrouded in mystery.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]
This month, I am reading up a storm. Ironically, I noticed a theme. A lot of the books I am reading are by women of Asian descent. Today, I am going to discuss two such female writers who wrote “Searching for Sylvie Lee” and “The Night Tiger,” two very different books set on opposite sides of the world.
You’ve probably heard of this book. It was Jenna Bush Hager’s book club choice for June 2019. It was also the book club pick for The Book Club Girl.
The great thing about Jean Kwok’s book being featured in different book clubs is that it gives the readers a chance to connect and interact with her.
Personally, I love this book. This mystery takes place between New York (Queens) and The Netherlands, two places the author has called home.
Destination: New York City and The Netherlands
A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation
It begins with a mystery. Sylvie, the beautiful, brilliant, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother—and then vanishes.
Amy, the sheltered baby of the Lee family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Seven years older, Sylvie was raised by a distant relative in a faraway, foreign place, and didn’t rejoin her family in America until age nine. Timid and shy, Amy has always looked up to her sister, the fierce and fearless protector who showered her with unconditional love.
But what happened to Sylvie? Amy and her parents are distraught and desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it’s Amy’s turn to help. Terrified yet determined, Amy retraces her sister’s movements, flying to the last place Sylvie was seen. But instead of simple answers, she discovers something much more valuable: the truth. Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets . . . secrets that will reveal more about Amy’s complicated family—and herself—than she ever could have imagined.
A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.
So. Ummm. Wow. The ending is intense! I had such a mixture of emotions. I was screaming, going, “WHAT?!” Yet, I was also sad. But I don’t know if I was sad for what happened, or if I was sad because I saw myself as Sylvie Lee.
There are a lot of things that Asian Americans, or frankly any Asian immigrant, go through that is hard to explain to a culture that will never know what it is like to not be white. I think that is one of the most important statements made in this story.
Add to that discrimination, what it is like to be a woman in a man’s world. The struggle to be accepted as an equal and not a piece of meat…I mean, can anybody win if they are not male and white?
Jean Kwok does an excellent job explaining why some Asian Americans work so hard to be perfect. We are trying to be accepted in a culture that will not accept us. From the good grades to the perfect schools to the perfect jobs and husbands…it is all about trying to be accepted and loved in a world that rejects us. In so many ways, Sylvie Lee is me. And maybe that is the part that made me sad. I could see her in me and it made me feel that maybe I, too, want to be free. [Jean Kwok, you are killing me here!]
My site is called Perfectionist Wannabe. I think Sylvie Lee explained to me exactly what I could not explain to myself, maybe even why I settled on this site’s title.
The story is deep. Way too deep.
Mind you, everyone takes different things from stories. For me, it was the profound messages I could relate to. Someone who does not know what it is like to be an Asian woman will not take the same message from this story. Yet, that is kind of the point Jean Kwok is making.
An excellent read. This is a must for everyone.
[Side Note: Couscous. I love that Jean included her cat in the story. I think I’m going to have to write Matthew Lucifer into my book.]
I chose this book as my Book of the Month a few months ago. Like Pachinko, I kept thinking…I will get to this eventually. I finally forced myself to pick it up and then I thought, “I should not have waited so long to read this.”
A sweeping historical novel about a dancehall girl and an orphan boy whose fates entangle over an old Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers.
When 11-year-old Ren’s master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth, unable to rest in peace.
Ji Lin always wanted to be a doctor, but as a girl in 1930s Malaysia, apprentice dressmaker is a more suitable occupation. Secretly, though, Ji Lin also moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her beloved mother’s Mahjong debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir: a severed finger. Convinced the finger is bad luck, Ji Lin enlists the help of her erstwhile stepbrother to return it to its rightful owner.
As the 49 days tick down, and a prowling tiger wreaks havoc on the town, Ji Lin and Ren’s lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. Propulsive and lushly written, The Night Tigerexplores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love. Braided through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.
Loved this story from start to finish.
I learned a lot about the mysticism of Malaya. I love stories like this because you learn a lot about superstitions and the culture of the people. This really appealed to the anthropologist/archaeologist in me.
My favorite character is definitely Ren. Here’s this 10 year old orphan boy who is so smart and more in tune to his intuition and the universe than anyone else in the book. He is the one who has suffered the most loss, but doesn’t let it weigh him down. Here he is saving people’s lives, and has the biggest heart of all of them. He cares about everyone more than they care about themselves.
I wish we were all like Ren.
In “The Night Tiger,” I had just finished the part where she references “The Ghost Bride.” I was not even aware of the author’s other titles until someone posted a picture of her book “The Ghost Bride.” Absolutely love when there’s a hint to a previous title. That book is queued up to be my next read.
The story is very enjoyable. I definitely recommend it.
This month was definitely a great month for literature by women of Asian descent. After I read these two books, I ended up reading a graphic novel series written by two Asian women. Then I took a look at my recent purchases over the last few months. The majority of the books I purchased are written by Asian women. I kept thinking it is about time there were more female Asian writers on the market.
When I was first discovering my Asian roots (something my mother never discussed), I was in college. In the mid-90’s, I only had Amy Tan. “The Joy Luck Club” was the first Asian American film I ever saw. It became my window into a world that made me feel like I was not alone. I absorbed every single Amy Tan book I could get my hands on.
Since then, books written by Asian women became sparse. The only other author I knew of was Adeline Yen Mah. Now, we see more and more Asian women writing incredible stories.
I think over the last few years, I am drawn more towards choosing books by Asian women. I don’t do this purposely. The titles and the stories are what draw me in. When I check my shelves later, I see a theme. I am drawn to Asian women telling their stories; and they are incredible stories.
The stories that really stay with me are the ones written by Asian women. From Kim Thuy who wrote “Ru” and “Man” to Lisa See and Min Jin Lee, the stories are incredible. Maybe it’s that Sylvie Lee in all of us that inspires them to work hard to be perfect in what they are creating that explains why I have not read a bad book from an Asian woman. Everything has been 5 stars across the board.
Maybe that Sylvie Lee in us all is the reason why women of Asian descent write better books. And that is probably the reason why I freak out all of the time as I write my book…that need to be perfect in order to be loved and accepted by a culture that will never understand what it is like to be us.
Part of me does not know if that desire is a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe it is a bad thing, but at the same time, these women are making something extraordinary. It is not mediocre. It is exceptional. If we did not strive for that level of perfectionism, we would be like everybody else.
In an odd way, maybe we are just trying to prove we are better than that culture that does not accept us. These women are definitely proving that we are.
[Side Note: Shout out to all the book lovers who have fur babies. There seems to be a direct correlation between book lovers and animal lovers.]
Since I announced I will no longer be sending book sales to Amazon, [Amazon is Selling Counterfeit Books] I reached out to other retailers to see if we could form a partnership. Barnes & Noble is one of my new partners.
Each week, I will be showcasing each new partnership. After all of the new partnerships are introduced, I will be pooling all of the Book Deals I can find from each of the different retailers to share with you each week.
I am also working on a master list of online booksellers for people to use. This will include those retailers that ship internationally (for those of you who are outside of the US).
This week, I am highlighting Barnes & Noble and their sales for July.
But here is the deal I like going on this weekend: Select Books are only $2 with purchase of $35 or more. Here are a few of the offerings (price does not always reflect complete discount):
So for those still on the fence with whether to buy at Amazon versus another retailer, I highly recommend taking advantage of the sales you will find on other sites. Those sales with other booksellers are sometimes better than Amazon. Every now and again, you can even get free books. Amazon usually only does free ebooks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a buy 2 get, the third book free at Amazon. Have you?
I recommend doing what I do. Create a list of books you want to purchase. When I peruse sales, I look to see if that book has made their clearance or sale section. When the sale is too good to be true, that’s when I know it’s time to buy it.
I usually find the month following the Book Expo to be the time when I read more books than I normally would read. June was no exception.
I decided to do something a little different. You can thank a 10 year old girl for this. I usually pick up some books for my friend’s twin daughters every summer before they go away to their dad’s house. One daughter devours books. The other one is a comic book reader.
While her mother prefers that she read books, her daughter responded that she was not ready to give up picture books yet. This made me think…if comics and graphic novels are what it takes to get her to read, far be it for me to judge her. I should be encouraging her to read by any means she enjoys.
Which means that I am now reviewing comics and graphic novels. To my surprise, my male readers actually cheered when they heard this.
So far, I’ve picked up some great graphic novels and comics and I can’t wait to share this with you.
This was a really good book. I enjoyed the story, but after page 280, the political stuff got to be too much. It’s a great book to understand the history of Cuba, what led up to the revolution, and the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. It also shares what life has been like since Fidel Castro came to power.
We follow the story of Marisol (present day) and her grandmother Elisa (late 1950s). Elisa has passed away and Marisol has returned to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes. As a reporter, she is looking to write a piece on tourism, while trying to find the right spot to release Elisa’s ashes. What she was not in store for was a box of letters her grandmother wanted her to have.
The letters tell a much bigger story, as well as Elisa’s biggest secret. Marisol realizes she must find the answers in order to determine where the best place would be to lay her grandmother to rest. While she searches for answers, the regime follows her around. She could be seen as a spy if she doesn’t watch her step, because the questions she is asking will lead to trouble.
GOOD NEWS: As of this post’s publication date, you can get the eBook from Barnes & Noble for $1.99.
[usr 5] Daisies and Devotion. If you love Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, you will enjoy the latest novel from Josi S. Kilpack. “Daisies and Devotion” is the second book in the Mayfield Family Series.
It may be a little slow getting into, but once that dance happens, you will have a hard time putting the book down. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I really enjoy Josi S. Kilpack’s books. They are G-rated. Believe me when I say that sometimes the best love stories are the ones without all the sex and heavy petting. When it comes to real love, you have to talk about matters of the heart, not the lust. Josi’s focus is telling the stories that go on from the heart.
We read about the fear that goes on inside of their minds and the self-doubt. There are the lies we tell ourselves that we are not good enough, pretty enough, or desirable. There are even the stories we tell ourselves that someone doesn’t like us, we are not their type. Or that we may have misunderstood what was happening, so we break our own hearts and move forward in life…and when they try to tell us we were right, we refuse to believe them.
Kilpack does an excellent job of delving into the issues of love and learning how to love. She examines it, dissects it, learns from it and issues out the truths, no matter how difficult it is to accept. Seriously, where were these books 20 years ago? I could have used them then!
This book begins in Korea, before there was a north or a south, and then ends in Japan. We begin in 1910 and end in 1989, following the lineage of one family as they move from poverty to riches.
There are two quotes that sum up Pachinko:
“A woman’s lot is to suffer.”
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
As we follow Sunja’s life, a miracle that she was to be born, we see how the evil of the world tries to take advantage of such an innocent creature and shape her to make decisions that would lead her from Korea to Japan. She suffers greatly over and over again, but isn’t that life? Her children are her saving grace, but even the sins of her past can destroy her happiness.
This book is beautifully written, detailed and well done. Each character is developed so well that we watch them grow from infancy to old age.
It is shocking to me the prejudices that Koreans had to endure. It is rather sad that they are looked down upon by the Japanese, even if they were born there, as well as their fathers. They are still not granted citizenship and can be deported at any time. It was really heartbreaking to read this and how evil Japanese people are to the Koreans. It really makes you look at what happens in America and see that it happens everywhere. There is always one race that thinks they are better than another.
There are content warnings for this book. The following elements are present that may present triggers for those sensitive to these subject matters: abuse, death/dying, strong language, miscarriage, abortion, sexual situations, self-harm, violence and suicide.
Overall, this book is a must read.
[usr 5] Salvage the Bones. Jesmyn Ward is an incredible writer, probably one of the best living American writers today. “Salvage the Bones” is just another example of her extraordinary talent.
This book really helps you understand the conditions of living in the Bayou of New Orleans. Here, we enter into one household just days before Hurricane Katrina hits. One thing I cannot stop thinking about is the phone call everyone receives from the State right before any major hurricane. Evacuate or you risk your own life. No one is coming to save you.
But how do people living in extreme poverty evacuate? Where do they go? How do they get to a safe place? For the State to give out that warning, it’s a bit classist if you truly think about it. That warning is for people who can afford to leave. For everyone else, they have to wait out the storm.
For those who remember, when the levees broke, it flooded much of the impoverished areas. It literally wiped out many neighborhoods.
One of the things Ward discusses that I remember hearing about when Tarboro, North Carolina (another black impoverished town) was flooded in 1999, were the dead bodies from the cemetery floating by. Her depiction and detail is the same as it was there. The similarities between the flooding of both areas are haunting. There was no warning for either place.
I can’t stress how well written this book is. Jesmyn reminds me so much of a Mark Twain or a Charles Dickens with the way she describes the life of humans along with their use of language. She is an incredible writer. You walk away from her books feeling so much more complete because you now understand something far greater than you ever did before.
[usr 4] The Strange Case of Finley Jayne. For those looking for a quick read, this little novella is only 84 pages. It is the prequel to The Steampunk Chronicles.
What I loved about this book is that Finley Jayne is a bit of a kickass, no nonsense woman. She is a great daughter and friend. She protects the innocent and is smart enough to trust her instincts when things seem awry. She investigates questionable people even before she’s asked to do it. She is the one saving the day, even before she knows it.
Some superheroes are heroes because it is the right thing to do. Finley Jayne is a hero because it is who she is. She is not trying to be a hero. She just is.
Great story. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
[usr 5] The Starless Sea. I wish I could give this book a gazillion stars. It is literally a masterpiece. It has been eight years since Erin Morgenstern released her debut The Night Circus. I was talking to someone from Doubleday Books when a couple of women walked up asking for a copy. I had apparently picked up the last one. The look on their faces as they looked at my book. I could feel something crazy in the air, so I turned to the publicist and said, “I think I am going to hide this away before a mob scene breaks out.” She responded, “I think that would be wise.”
In other words, this book was THE MOST COVETED BOOK at the Book Expo.
This book is not set to be released until November 5, 2019, so make sure you pre-order it now. Before you do that though, I recommend that you read my review first. This book is only for certain types of individuals. It was not created for everyone. I only tell you to read the review first, because I don’t want anyone leaving bad reviews for something they did not understand completely. You can read the entire review (no spoilers) HERE.
[usr 2] Moonlight Travellers. I have been trying to remember where I picked this book up from. I guess it was when I was wandering around W.W. Norton, looking at their shelves. I probably thought…oh, this will be a light and easy read. Well, I was correct about that.
I did not rate this highly, because I had a problem with Will Self’s narrative. I don’t think the narrative matched the artwork appropriately. It read like this was a letter to someone…a specific someone. It was too personal and not something that should have been shared with everyone else. Those words belonged to one person…the intended.
While those words were beautiful, I felt like I had read something that did not belong to me. The artwork is interesting and entertaining as you go through each one, you’ll notice that the artwork alone is telling its own story.
[usr 2] Raw Thoughts. Well, I actually gave this poetry book a higher rating on Goodreads. 3 stars. But I am going to change that.
I created the posting for this, because the system had not been updated. I went to double check my rating and saw it was 3 stars, but strangely enough, it says 4 stars at the top. I think…who in the world rated it higher than 3 stars?
The author did. He gave it 5 stars. Ummm…note to all authors out there…don’t do that. I understand you want your book to sell, but don’t do that. I am not even going to link this book for people to buy it.
I am going to explain why I originally gave this book 3 stars…I wanted to be fair. I did not like it, because the first 3/4 of the book is depressing and suicidal. The photos are mediocre. The best of the bunch is definitely the cover photo. There were two poems that I did like at the end.
I know that John Casey’s aim was to help people who are in complete sorrow/depression relate to the poems. The ending was supposed to be a light out of that pit, but I don’t think there was enough light to do that. The 3 stars was for the effort in trying to do something good, but failing to do so.
It’s the old Frankenstein meets new Frankenstein. The new Frankenstein is created by an angry black mother. Akai was shot down by the police on his way home from his little league game. Someone called in a report that an 18-20 year old black male was walking around with a rifle. He was 12 years old, wearing a baseball uniform, carrying a baseball bat.
Out of her anger at being seen as monsters because of their skin color, Dr. Baker decides to bring her son back to life using nanobots along with Victor Frankenstein’s notes. All the while, Frankenstein himself, the original creature, is hunting her down and destroying all humans in his path.
LaValle decided to bring Frankenstein and a major societal issue in America together to create “Destroyer.”
[usr 5] Teen Titans: Raven. I really enjoyed reading Raven’s back story. Unlike the TV show/movie, this graphic novel is not funny. It’s rather serious and sad as we begin to see who Raven really is and where she came from.
After being involved in a car accident that kills her adoptive mother, Raven is sent to New Orleans to live with her adoptive mother’s sister and niece. The only issue is that Raven has amnesia. She has no idea who she is or what her past is.
With the help of her aunt and cousin, their voodoo protects her as she starts to remember who she is.
What I love about this the most is that a woman wrote this. We need more women’s voices in comics.
[usr 4] The Magicians: Alice’s Story. I am a big fan of the television series on SyFy. This graphic novel is sort of the condensed version of Alice’s story. The characters do not look like the TV characters. While the show has diverse people playing the roles, the comic does not. It is whitewashed.
Beyond that aspect, I decided to give this title 4 stars because it helped me understand Alice a little better and what ended up happening to her. It is sad to a point, but in a way, freeing to understand what happened to her, as well as the relationship she had with Quentin.
I always believed that Quentin thought he loved Alice. Never thought for once that he actually did. I still think that, even after reading this graphic novel. Perhaps talking about love between Magicians is not realistic, because of the cold harshness of the subject matter of magic. It’s kind of something they want, but never really do attain.
This graphic novel is for mature audiences only.
[Content Warning. These elements are present: death, strong language, sexual situations, nudity and violence.]
Children & YA
[usr 4] A Place to Land. This was an interesting tale of why King decided to do the “I Have a Dream” speech that day on the Mall. Apparently, it wasn’t the speech he prepared for that day.
The advance copy I received did not have the speech in it. I am unsure if the finished copy will have the speech in it.
Either way, I definitely learned something from this children’s book.
The artwork is well done. It’s a short read, but a very interesting take on that day. It gives this little piece of history a more in depth look behind that day.
[usr 4] Doc and the Detective in Graveyard Treasure. What a great mystery for kids. I think what I liked most about this is that you learn a little bit about the Choctaw Nation and the Trail of Tears. While you are getting a little bit of a history lesson about this Native American group, you’re also learning about caring for those with Alzheimer’s and learning to respect seniors, all the while, drawn into a mystery.
When seniors start complaining that their things are going missing, people assume they are just forgetful or they don’t know what they’re talking about. They are not taken seriously, until one day, Timmy and his neighbor, Dr. Moore, see a flower pot for sale that looks exactly like the one his daughter gave to him that went missing. When they see who is selling it, they realize a much bigger situation is going on.
With the help of the local police, Timmy with his family and his friends, help uncover a ring of thieves that are taking advantage of the elderly. But the lessons here go far beyond just the adventure.
A great read for children 8-12 years of age.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of A Place to Land, Victor LaValle’s Destroyer, Teen Titans: Raven, Daisies and Devotion, The Magicians: Alice’s Story, Pachinko, Doc and the Detective, The Starless Sea, Moonlight Travellers, and Raw Thoughts from publishers in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.]
Erin Morgenstern’s second novel “The Starless Sea” is due to be released on November 5, 2019. Her debut, “The Night Circus,” came out in 2011 to much critical acclaim. It’s taken her eight years to deliver her follow-up, and after reading “The Starless Sea,” I have to say that it was well worth the wait.
I loved “The Night Circus.” I actually read this years ago, before my surgery in 2013. I ended up reading “The Night Circus” over again while I was reading “The Starless Sea.” I needed to see that the opinion I formulated about the book on page 70 was the correct one, that I was in actuality reading a masterpiece.
Remember, I loved “The Night Circus.” I do not say this lightly, but her debut is amateur compared to “The Starless Sea.” I am going to explain why…
I am not going to give you a synopsis of this book. You can get that anywhere. I will say though that the synopsis provided online does not do the book justice. It actually doesn’t really tell you anything of importance. It just makes “The Starless Sea” look like a normal book. Not a great way to sell it.
What I am going to share with you is what I really thought of this book.
I did not truly grasp what was going on until the end (I am talking about that something magical moment happening). There were 43 pages left in the book. I tried to delay the inevitable that the book was coming to an end. By now, I had become a part of the story. I was so absorbed in the book, I was the story. But in a strange “Neverending Story” kind of way, it was like she knew I was there. She knew what the reader was thinking and feeling.
The reader is at the point where they are so much a part of the story that they do not want it to end. But it is at this juncture that she explains that all stories must come to an end. So she tries to coax us out of our little hole, as we cling to the book as if it is our very own existence, by explaining in length why stories must end.
That fear you have when you are almost at the end, because the book is brilliant so far, is that she is going to let you down and mess up the end. I mean, you really think she can’t pull it off. So she does what you hope she is not going to do. She let’s you down.
But she did that to you on purpose. It was as if she sensed your doubt. In the last two pages, she laughs, as if she is Fate. She laughs at the reader who thinks she is not going to pull it off to give us our happy ending.
With a mixture of storytelling, poetry, and fairy tales, she weaves her stories together. Each tale has a meaning. Each tale is important. When she brings them all together in a crashing crescendo, you feel like all of the stories are going to drive you insane. It’s becoming too much.
She inserts a person who has gone insane because of all of the stories. At the exact moment those stories are beating in your head, she introduces the crazy person and then leads them out of the crazy.
I mean…HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
Seriously, WHAT THE F*CK JUST HAPPENED?
If you do not believe in magic, perhaps you will after reading “The Starless Sea.” That is the only way I can explain what happened at each juncture.
I’ve read a few of the reviews from others who were lucky to get an advance copy and I feel like I should say that they read the book wrong.
“The Starless Sea” is not the kind of book that you can skim through or read quickly. You need to take your time and absorb the story. That is the only way you will be able to understand how this is a masterpiece. If you go through the book too quickly, you will miss out on the clues and the greater meaning of what you are reading.
This is also not a book for people who do not believe in Fate. If you do not believe in fate or synchronicity or that weird thing that happens in life that cannot be explained that can only be described as God winking back at you, then this book is not for you. You have to believe in fate, synchronicity and God winks in order to understand this book.
You have to believe in the impossible, that it can, in fact, be real.
I knew by page 70 that I was curating this book into my collection. I still had another 426 pages to go, but I knew on page 70 that I had something special in my hands. Page 70 is where fate and time’s story are whispered and it is here where you can see Morgenstern’s mastery of storytelling, especially when it comes to telling fairy tales and myths.
It’s been two weeks since I put this book down and I feel as if I am going through withdrawal. The last time a book made me feel this way was Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “The Shadow of the Wind.”
I absorbed “The Starless Sea.” I made this story a part of my being, because it deserves no less in order to truly understand it. Believe it or not, the message she is sharing is something so much grander than you can imagine. I felt like I was nodding my head in agreement thinking…SHE GETS IT! She understands the mysteries of this universe and she’s doing an incredible job of explaining this to the reader.
BUT only people who understand the answers to our universe can see what she’s done. A spiritual person can understand this book and its meaning. If you understand and appreciate Paulo Coelho’s message, then you’ll understand “The Starless Sea.”
Paulo Coelho, fate, spirituality, magic, and synchronicity are not everyone’s cup of tea, because it goes against their beliefs and understanding of the world. If you are one of those people, do not waste your time with this book, because you’ll leave bad reviews. But for those who believe in something greater because they witness it every single day, this book is definitely for you.
“The Starless Sea” is very different from her debut. Her debut feels like every other great read out there. “The Starless Sea” is her PhD. I can understand why it took eight years for this book to show up. It is as if Morgenstern has mastered the art of writing over the years and has put her masterpiece forward.
I just don’t know how she can put out another book any better than this. I mean…how do you come out with something better than a masterpiece? Is that even possible?
You can pre-order this book now by clicking on any of the following Perfectionist Wannabe preferred retailers below:
[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.]
Hey Bookworms! I have some book deals for you today. Since my announcement yesterday that I will not be referring people to purchase books with Amazon (due to counterfeiting), I reached out to other booksellers to see about working with them.
One of the booksellers I will be working with is Books-A-Million.
As I was perusing their clearance section, I noticed “Buy 2, Get 3rd Free!” But when I saw what they were offering, I kept thinking…why, the girls from the Book Club Girl and the Read It Forward book clubs would love this! These are the books everyone is already talking about and they are so much cheaper than Amazon!
A few of these titles were even listed as our most recent book club selections, including this month’s Book Club Girl selection “The Almost Sisters” by Joshilyn Jackson. It’s $6.97!!!
Oh, and remember I said this was under the “Buy 2, Get 3rd Free!” section. You can also use the Coupon Code for additional savings.
Go crazy! I definitely did. 😉 And if you know me…you know I really did not need another 19 more books (six of the books were free). I’m telling ya, the struggle is real.
In another big exposé, the New York Times reports that Amazon is selling counterfeit and plagiarized books…and they don’t care.
People may think that there is nothing wrong with buying counterfeit. That is why we see fake designer handbags out there. People accuse major designers of exorbitant pricing, so they deserve it. But is it really okay to punish the book industry?
Amazon is a topic of discussion at the Book Expo every year. Even though Amazon Books has their own booth, each year there is always talk about the problem with Amazon.
Amazon controls upwards of 50%+ of the book sales in America. People hear the argument every day that Amazon is putting brick and mortar shops out of business. Barnes & Noble is coming close to being the next casualty. People have heard the arguments against Amazon, but it does not stop them from buying the cheaper priced book, even if they love their local bookstore.
Why Buying Counterfeit Books is Bad
First, the quality is bad. The pictures in the New York Times gives an accurate depiction of the bad quality. From smudged charts to books that have no formatting (no paragraphs or indentations), this is what you can expect from counterfeits. In some cases, you are getting a bound photocopy of the real book.
Second, the author spends a considerable amount of time creating this book. As a fellow writer, I know how difficult it is to write a book. All writers lament having the same issues while creating a literary masterpiece. It is not easy.
Put yourself in their shoes. With all of the work and the hours you put into creating a finished product, you find out someone is stealing your sales. You can see the number of books sold, but it is not reflected in your royalty check. What is going on?
Ends up the book sold did not come from your publisher. Someone stole the book and put out their own version of your book so they could reap the sale (not you or your publisher). Usually, they charge a lower price. The consumer thinks they are getting a good deal, not knowing they are getting a counterfeit, not the real book.
As a result, that hurts both the publisher and the author.
If you look at the bigger picture here, what happens to the publishing houses in the long term if Amazon keeps selling these counterfeit books? Remember, Amazon is putting booksellers out of business. Next up, it will be publishers. Is that why they created Amazon Books (their own publishing house)?
Where will authors go? How will they be able to publish books that won’t be stolen, plagiarized and sold over their own authentic work?
For book lovers, how can you choose to hurt the publishing houses and authors that you cherish just to save a few pennies?
Amazon Does Not Care
I feel like we are back to the Backpage dot com argument. For those who don’t know, Backpage dot com was selling children on the internet. Trafficked children were sold for sex and there was not a single court in America that could stop them.
You are probably thinking, “but that’s illegal.” Until last year, it was perfectly legal to do this ON THE INTERNET due to a law called CDA 230.
Back in the day when the internet was new, Congress enacted a law that allowed a free for all on the internet in order to help boost the internet into the mainstream. It held companies blameless for whatever they decided to do on the internet. If a third party decided to use their platform to sell children, it was not the company’s fault.
The media discovered that Backpage dot com was making money from the sale of children for sex on their platform. Their sales increased dramatically as they changed how people could post these ads on their site. They even changed the wording of the ads to thwart law enforcement.
When the victims and their parents tried to seek justice for what happened to the girls, every court dismissed their claims because of CDA 230. The law protected Backpage dot com.
When members of Congress read the media reports, they decided to change CDA 230 to protect women and children from sex trafficking on the internet. BUT guess what? This law is also the same law that protects Amazon.
Amazon can say they are not responsible for what third party sellers sell on their site, even though there are copyright and trademark infringements. Amazon is protected under CDA 230.
CDA 230 has been problematic in that it allows what is illegal throughout our country to be perfectly legal if the act is conducted on the internet. So if some third party wants to sell illegal stuff on Amazon, it is not Amazon’s fault. That is why they do not care.
If publishers and authors bring suit against Amazon, they will find that this is like Backpage dot com all over again. It would take an act of Congress to change the law.
[For more on Backpage dot com, see the movie “I Am Jane Doe.” This film is available on Youtube and Netflix.]
What I Am Doing
It is disappointing that Amazon decided to take the “don’t care” route in this problem. I am a loyal Amazon everything. Amazon literally controls my entire existence. But when it comes to books, I have to take a step away.
After reading this article by Jessica Mizzi on Read It Forward, I started to think differently about how I purchase books. I generally do not purchase books often because I receive the majority of my books from publishers and the library. I’m also a big fan of Book of the Month. They supply a lot of the bestsellers I may have missed from the publishers.
But when you see articles about the purchase and restructuring of Barnes & Noble, you start to re-think how you are buying books. My only issue with BN is that I’ve already read everything they are pushing or I have it in my to be read pile already.
Thankfully, I found a way around this. Like Jessica Mizzi is doing, I am purposely going to buy at least one book from Barnes & Noble every month, as well as from other local bookstores and reputable websites that are not Amazon.
Just last week, I ventured into the children’s section during my last visit to Barnes & Noble. I was there for a book launch, but I ended up buying a few children’s books for Matthew (the Maine Coon). Ends up, cats like to be read to. Who knew?
As far as this site goes, until Amazon changes their ways, I will be promoting the sale of books through other booksellers. I spent most of today contacting booksellers to work with them from now on.
You will find the PW Book Shop has changed. If you follow me on Goodreads, the books I’ve reviewed throughout the years are featured in the Book Shop, along with my Goodreads review.
For future book reviews on the site, I’ll be promoting other booksellers and not Amazon (unless it is an Amazon Book title or a self-published title). For other book bloggers out there, I recommend you make the switch to different affiliate platforms.
This is a slippery slope Amazon is on. We need to take a stand now.
Yesterday’s post was about the Book Expo/Book Con. Today’s post is about getting free ebook ARCs electronically.
To recap, ARCs are Advance Review Copies of books. These books are handed out prior to a book’s publication date. They are not completely finished, may contain errors, and the title or cover may change. Simply put, it’s the unfinished product, but the book is slated for publication.
At the Book Expo and the Book Con, people can pick up copies of ARCs in its physical form. There are ways though of getting ebooks of ARCs too.
Not too many people know this, but you can get free ebook ARCs through Amazon. Authors, publicists and sellers have contacted me through Amazon based on the reviews I left for books and products similar to what they are promoting. How do they do this? You need to set up a profile on Amazon.
Login to your Amazon account.
Click on Account & Lists.
Click on Your Account.
Under Ordering and Shopping Preferences, click on YOUR AMAZON PROFILE.
Note that the more you review, the higher your ranking.
Publicists and authors will reach out to you via email to pitch their book they would like for you to review. They provide different ways to get the book to you. From hard copy to PDF to ebooks, all they want is just a review up on Amazon, because it helps boost the book’s ranking.
Please note that when you do leave a review, you must state in the review (as well as anywhere else you post the review) that you received this book from X in exchange for an honest or unbiased review. There are numerous ways you can state this, but it is a legal notice you must post. You must do this for any free item you receive no matter which platform you use to receive the books.
A go to source for everyone to get free ebook ARCs is NetGalley. You will need to register to become a member. After you register, you will need to setup your profile.
You will also need to link your device you plan to use to read the ebooks to your NetGalley account. Make sure to go through the Help page to understand how NetGalley works.
There are different ways you can go about requesting books. For those who do not have the numbers or the affiliations (e.g. libraries) to request books from the publisher, look through the titles available under Read Now. You can download the titles right away and don’t have to wait for approval.
If you have the numbers or the professional affiliations, you can request titles from the publishers. They will either approve or deny the requests. If you prefer a published ARC, you can send an email through NetGalley to the publisher to request (but keep in mind, these are not always approved).
After you read the title, you must post your reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You must also submit your review through NetGalley so that it will go directly to the publisher.
For bloggers, it is essential that you have all of your information up to date. Make sure that you list your current numbers in your bio.
Also, don’t do like I do and request a bunch of books. You need to have an 80% review ratio of reviews to requests.
Edelweiss is my preferred platform to request titles. Publishers prefer NetGalley over Edelweiss though.
The process is similar to NetGalley. You can request books from the publisher. You can also immediately download titles under “To Download.”
With Edelweiss, your reviews go directly to the publisher. If you do a blog post, you will need to give them the link to the review. You will also have different options with which to submit your review. You can submit to the Publisher, Indie Next, SIBA and/or Libro.fm. When you request books, they also request that you explain why you are requesting.
As far as usability, NetGalley is much simpler to navigate. Edelweiss is a bit more complex. Also, publishers tend to monitor NetGalley requests more than they do Edelweiss. They may check Edelweiss once every few months.
On Goodreads, set up a profile. Review as many books as you can. Join the Reading Challenge. Review, review, review.
To get free ebook ARCs, under BROWSE, click on Giveaways. Here, they will list all of the different giveaways available. It’s not guaranteed you will win, but keep entering the giveaways.
Another place to get ebooks for free in exchange for an honest review is Booktasters. Follow them on Twitter @BookTasters (they list their titles daily and you request through the Twitter links). Like the other sites, you choose books and post reviews on the different platforms (GoodReads, Amazon, etc.).
Booktasters also made reviewing books a competition. The more points you score, the higher your chances at winning prizes.
I received a lot of questions regarding the Book Expo last week and I am going to try to explain this as best as I can. Simply put, the Book Expo is for people in the industry (Hollywood, authors, agents, librarians, booksellers, educators, media/bloggers and book clubs). The Book Con is for everyone else that is a fan of books.
Book Expo of America
The Book Expo usually takes place every year in New York City (one year they were in Chicago) at the end of May. At the Expo, publishers showcase their upcoming titles for the year. This gives people that deal with books an opportunity to discuss business with publishers during this three day event.
The books available are generally ARCs. ARCs are Advance Reader Copies. These books are not the final copy. The editing is not complete. The cover and title may even change. This incomplete book is made available to readers that will either purchase the book in bulk, option the book (to be made into a film), or review the book and publish their review.
ARCs are not for sale. They are free copies.
At the Expo, they invite authors to attend for signings and to speak. Hollywood superstars like Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, John Cena, George Takei and Alyssa Milano have attended the Expo in the past.
The more popular the book or the author, the more likely you will have to stand in a very long line to get your copy.
For more info on the Book Expo, click here. But before you do that, keep reading…
Book Expo for Bloggers
Now, for those thinking you have a blog or a Youtube channel, you can attend as a blogger…I’m going to put a stopper on this hope right now. The only group that is looked upon with much scrutiny is the blogger. There are several factors involved that will determine if you’ll get in. There are not many that are allowed in. I can count on two hands how many bloggers I saw at the Expo over these last few years.
First, the blogger is charged the most to get into the Expo. The registration fee depends on your business (as far as how you are affiliated with books). The reason why the blogger registration fee is so high is because it eliminates 99.999% of bloggers out there. Most bloggers can’t afford to go. Only the successful bloggers making money (or those with money) can get in.
You’re probably thinking WTF?!?!?!
A friend of mine at HarperCollins explained this to me. Luckily, he was one of the people that decided which bloggers were allowed to go. Back in 2015, the Expo welcomed the blogging community. They had panels that helped bloggers determine the next big reads and how to blog about books.
Well…for the serious bloggers, this was an incredible event. BUT there were problems. The attendees wiped out the publishers reserves, wrote BLURBS about the book (a couple of sentences, not a full review), and some even tried to sell the ARCs on Ebay prior to the book’s release date.
This really pissed off the publishers. So in 2017, they decided to be more selective with the blogger process. If I remember this correctly (I could be wrong), a group of individuals from the different publishing houses decided together who would be allowed to go to the Expo. So the hundreds of bloggers went down to about FIVE in 2017.
Oh, and the bloggers trying to sell on Ebay ended up in some legal trouble with each of the books’ respective publishing houses.
Which leads to…how in the world was Perfectionist Wannabe one of the ones allowed to go? 1) I actually blog full reviews about books, 2) I have a history of being a professional writer, 3) I have over 2,000 Twitter followers, and 4) one of the people deciding was a friend of mine I’ve known for over 10 years. I only learned what happened a year later. I didn’t even know he worked at HarperCollins.
How to Be Seriously Considered a Book Blogger
Like I mentioned above, you have to have full book reviews on your blog or vlog. A little blurb does not count. The only ones that can get away with this is Popsugar and other major media platforms. They have the numbers and can get away with doing lists with two sentences. Why? Because those lists generate major sales.
One requirement of bloggers is that you must submit your website’s numbers with your registration. One thing they are looking for is GROWTH. Your numbers must be constantly growing.
They do check your social media accounts. The number one thing they want to see on Twitter is that you have over 1,000 followers. That is their magic number. Only 3% of book bloggers have more than 1,000 followers on Twitter. [You also can’t cheat this number, they will check to see if your numbers are legit and not bought.]
Where are you posting your reviews? In this day and age, it is required to post your reviews not just to your blog, but to Goodreads and Amazon. Bonus points if you also post on Barnes & Noble. You also need to post something about the books on every single social media platform you have: Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Are you tired yet?
When you post reviews, you need to tag the author and the publisher in your tweet or Instagram post. This gets the attention of the publisher that you are actually serious about reviewing books.
Have you figured out this is all about how you are marketing that free book you received? How many hits can the publisher get out of you to promote their title?
So what do I discuss with publishers when I attend the Expo? This blog and marketing their titles. I want to know which titles they will be pushing aggressively. I want to know what they want from me as a blogger. I tell them what I would like to see from them as a publisher (because we are constantly growing and for true book lovers who want to see more books in people’s hands, we study how this is done and share intel on what is working).
What is also great is that publishers are well versed in what they would like to see from bloggers. They are more than happy to let you know what that is. This year, I learned that they want to see: 1) growth – are your numbers generating more hits and more followers?; 2) are you posting your reviews on Goodreads & Amazon?; 3) community – are you following other book bloggers/lovers? Are they following you? Are you talking to each other?; 4) are you consistent with your posts? [Publishers cite this as their #1 requirement.]
So for those thinking they can just start up a blog under the guise of going to next year’s Expo to get free ARCs, it’s not as easy as you think it is. There’s a lot of work involved to prove yourself worthy. But guess what? There is still a way you can do some of this stuff and not even be in the industry. All that is required is just a love for books.
The Book Con
The weekend following the Book Expo is the Book Con. It is a little bit like Comic Con, but scaled back. You will still be able to pick up free ARCs, get your books signed, sit in on panels, and even buy books. The lines are longer, people are a little crazier and there is way more excitement from the fandom.
The Book Con is generally cheaper than the Expo. You don’t have to be pre-approved by a group of people to get in. You don’t have to prove yourself worthy. You don’t have to put a lot of work into being accepted. You just have to love books!
The titles offered are sometimes different than the books offered at the Expo. There are also more books that are available for purchase.
Simply put, the Book Con is just crazier. The Expo is more the business side of books. The Con is just for the love of books for everyone else out there.
You can find info on the Book Con here. Their info will be updated early 2020. The event is in May. Early registration is a must.
Tips for Attending
The number one thing you need to do is bring a rolling suitcase. This suitcase is left at coat check (this year it was $4 to check your bag in; $2 each time to drop off your books into your suitcase and then re-check the bag in).
They give out free tote bags all around the event, so if you forget to bring one, they have you covered. But do bring the biggest, most durable tote bag you own. I highly recommend something that is lightweight and can take a beating.
When you fill up your tote bags (or they become too heavy), just drop the books off in your suitcase and go back for more books.
For those going to the Expo, bring your business cards.
Food at Javits Center can range between $10-$25 for food and drink. You can bring your own food/drink, but it’s not recommended. The Starbucks lines are insane, so bring your own coffee from outside.
When you need a break, make a point to sit in on a panel or five.
Make sure to pick up the Book Expo/Con guide (free), as well as the PW (Publisher’s Weekly). You can usually find them either when you pick up your badge or right before you enter the exhibit hall. There are usually people handing out PWs when you walk in. The guide is vital in finding out who, when and where authors are signing their books. It will help you plan out your day to make sure you get to the books/authors you really want.
When you stop at each publisher, stop by their information desk. They generally will have a flyer of events going on related to their titles, including galley drops (galley is another name for ARC, galley drops are when they are making the book available for pick up), author signings and their locations.
Do not show up to a galley drop or author signing right at the start time. Show up 15-30 minutes before the signing/drop. The line starts forming early. If you show up on time or too late, you may miss out.
Speaking of arriving early, arrive early to the Expo/Con. You’ll need to get to the coat check as early as possible. They fill up quickly and you can’t bring your suitcase onto the show floor.
Also, in order to check into the Book Con, that line can stretch a few city blocks. Get there super early on the first day when you pick up your badge. The Expo is different. You don’t have to show up super early to pick up your badge, but you will need to show up early to drop off your suitcase.
For those shipping their books home, do not use FedEx at the Javits Center. I recommend taking them either to a FedEx or UPS outside of the Javits Center. Take that as a warning.
For author signings that require tickets, I strongly urge you to purchase the Avid Readers Pass (this may only be available for the Expo, not sure about Con). Or you can wake up super early to get in line for the author signing tickets the day of (all free). They may limit you to the number of different tickets you can get. With the Avid Readers Pass, you pay to not have to wait in line to get the tickets, you get first pick, plus you get one Front of the Line pass. You’ll get the author signing tickets when you pick up your badge.
Not all author signings are ticketed events. Usually, the ticketed events are for the big names. For some in booth signings, if the author/book is very popular, they may require a ticket or bracelet. Check with the booth’s information desk to find out if the events you want to get in line for require a ticket. For instance, Disney/Hyperion requires bracelets for their big name signings (like Rick Riordan). Find out which events require this and when you can pick up your ticket/bracelet.
I hope that answers most of the questions people had. If you have more, ask them below and I’ll do my best to answer them all. It is a guarantee that if you have a question, someone else may have the same question too.
If you plan on going to the Expo in 2020, make sure you ping me after your registration is accepted. I’m considering doing a meetup. I do not attend the Book Con, because it’s a little too intense for me and 150 books over 3 days is plenty. ; ) Two more days would be overkill.
I am a bit late getting this book review of “Daisies and Devotion” up. I do have a reason why. Last month, I won the most coveted award at my office, along with my team, for most outstanding work. While that’s all great, what goes with being “most outstanding” is triple the workload the very next day. What adds to this was the type of work I was doing was not fun or pleasant because I had to read about child sexual abuse. 300 cases. So being able to completely focus on a book review was just out of the question.
Since I haven’t had to read a case in the last two weeks, I can refocus on reviewing books. So let’s get to this story.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
If you love Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, you will enjoy the latest novel from Josi S. Kilpack. “Daisies and Devotion” is the second book in the Mayfield Family Series. The first book in the series is “Promises and Primroses.”
You can read “Daisies and Devotion” without having read the first book, but all I can say is…WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT???? You would be missing out on such an incredible *sigh* worthy book!
Another reason why you should read the first book is that it goes more into detail with the marriage challenge being presented to the Mayfield siblings. It was first presented in the first book and it ended up working out very well, because Peter Mayfield found love. In book two, Timothy Mayfield’s response to his brother finding love before marriage is that it is simply unheard of. Imagine how modern the concept of love before marriage is!
Some elements of Book One are brought into the second book, but the book is written where even if you do not read the first book, you will be ok.
In “Daisies and Devotion,” Maryann Morrington has entered the London season looking for a husband. Her entrance into the season was delayed a few years because she was helping her mother while she was ill. Before her mother passed away, her sister married and later miscarried a child. Deborah moves to London with her husband, Lucas, and sponsors Maryann (now 22) while she is in London.
After her mother’s passing, Maryann comes into her very lucrative inheritance. With that information becoming public knowledge in London, the majority of men that knock on her door are only interested in her because of her money.
Deborah and Lucas decide to introduce Maryann to Lucas’s childhood friend, Timothy Mayfield. He is up front about his reasons for courting her – he needs a woman with a fortune. Oddly enough, Maryann appreciates his brutal honesty and begins to fall for him.
When Timothy’s uncle puts forth the marriage challenge proposal, guaranteeing a well off livelihood, he no longer needs to look for a wife with a fortune. He now has the freedom to marry any woman he chooses.
When he informs Maryann he is no longer obligated to find a wife with money, he tells her of his list for a perfect woman and it is everything she is not. She tells him this list is foolish, there is no such thing as a perfect woman. But Timothy insists on finding this kind of woman.
Brokenhearted, she parts ways with him after they have harsh words with each other. He does not even understand what he did, but feels remorseful he hurt her feelings, so he sends her daisies he picked himself, her favorite flowers.
The two finally come to an accord, agreeing to be just friends. Then they agree to help each other find the right match. Timothy introduces her to Colonel Berkins and she introduces him to Miss Shaw (the woman who is literally Timothy’s list).
The only issue is that Colonel Berkins is courting Maryann under false pretenses. When Maryann discovers the reasons behind his courtship, she decides to leave London and go back home. She is done with the season and the idea of looking for a husband.
This announcement shocks Timothy. Yet, it takes one dance to make the situation as clear as day for him.
Like all of the titles from Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance, this was another sigh worthy book. It may be a little slow getting into, but once that dance happens, you will have a hard time putting the book down. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I swear, this book was like looking into my own past and seeing the similarities, dissecting each issue to better understand it. Luckily for Maryann, when she ran, deciding to give up on love and move on with life, love followed her. It wasn’t ready to give up on her. Love was willing to fight for her…and that is what makes you sigh.
Part of me wishes that we still had London type seasons where if you are looking for a spouse, you attend all of these gatherings hosted by the same group of people who help people find matches. Everyone attends the same dinners, dances, events, etc. There are certain rules involved in getting to know people, as well as a certain decorum in how men and women should act towards each other.
I really enjoy Josi S. Kilpack’s books. They are G-rated. Believe me when I say that sometimes the best love stories are the ones without all the sex and heavy petting. When it comes to real love, you have to talk about matters of the heart, not the lust. Josi’s focus is telling the stories that go on from the heart.
We read about the fear that goes on inside of their minds and the self-doubt. There are the lies we tell ourselves that we are not good enough, pretty enough, or desirable. There are even the stories we tell ourselves that someone doesn’t like us, we are not their type. Or that we may have misunderstood what was happening, so we break our own hearts and move forward in life…and when they try to tell us we were right, we refuse to believe them.
Kilpack does an excellent job of delving into the issues of love and learning how to love. She examines it, dissects it, learns from it and issues out the truths, no matter how difficult it is to accept. Seriously, where were these books 20 years ago? I could have used them then!
Hey everyone! So May was a bit of a crazy month for me (as far as work goes), so I was not able to read everything I needed to read. I was not able to review a couple of books in my TBR pile for the site, so they are a bit late getting up on the blog. But no worries…I am reading them now!
I know that most avid readers read between 3-6 books a month. It is a bit unheard of for someone to read between 10-12 books a month (or more). Anything under 10 books is a bit of a slow month for me, especially when a couple of these were children’s books that I got through in about 20 minutes.
I will say that every book I read last month was great, except two. The Envious Siblings was morbid and I did not understand what I read. Behold the Sign was an old book I picked up at a library sale that I found interesting in the occult section. It’s that Supernatural girl in me that wants a bunker library like the Men of Letters do in the show. That’s why I picked it up.
So the annual collecting of my Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) took place over the last three days of May. I headed to the Book Expo, which is designed for industry people to meet with publishers and to discuss business. The Book Con takes place right after the Expo, and that event is for everyone else (i.e. all of the bibliophiles and book lovers out there).
I picked up over 150 titles. Yes, I will be busy.
Before the Expo, a mother of twin 10 year old girls told me about her dilemma with getting one of her daughters to read. She only reads comic books. It drove her mom crazy, because she wanted her to read books like her sister. But the girl’s response was, “But why would I give up pictures books?”
It made me think that maybe as bibliophiles we should not discriminate when it comes to how people choose to read. If comics and graphic novels get them to read, then we should be encouraging them to read more comics. Perhaps some comics will lead them to read books.
It’s keeping that in mind that I decided to expand on the types of reading material I review. I will be reviewing comics and graphic novels along with the other 150+ ARCs I picked up.
Over the last few weeks, I began research to determine the direction this site should go. I spoke with publishers and readers to determine what they want. One thing I discovered is that we are in need of content warnings on books. Not everyone will agree with that, but the people who do need it agree with this concept profusely.
So I decided to blog about books differently. I want to start listing in my reviews warnings about books that may have triggers. I am going to try to use the warning system below to help those readers who need the warnings. Everyone else can just ignore the notations.
If there is a trigger not listed in the graphic above that you would like included, please comment below. I will do my best starting in the June reads and reviews to list these triggers so that you will have a better understanding of what you are getting into when you pick up a book.
What Should Be Wild – This book is literally a modern day Grimm’s fairy tale…the scary kind. This isn’t the kind of book where you can guess what the outcome will be or what is going on. You have to leave the details to the writer. Julia Fine masterfully tells this story from beginning to end.
It is a very strange tale, but this is the kind of story that will stay with you like most Grimm’s fairy tales stay with you (especially the scary ones). I enjoyed this book. I did find it to be a bit of a strange story, but my heart went out to Maisie. Imagine spending your life never being touched, hugged or held, because your touch could kill them. I am happy that the author at least threw her a bone and let her have a dog that did not expire when she touched him.
There are so many elements in this story that make it scary. It’s not just Maisie’s touch of death. It’s the woods, evil people, shadows, and the people that have gone off into the woods, never to return. Maisie is the one that has to navigate through all of that to cure the woods (and herself) of the curse that plagues them.
Content Warning: [A, AC, D, K, S and V]
The Gown – What a marvelous book! I really enjoyed this one. Set in post-WWII era, in a time when people are trying to move forward with their lives. We are introduced to three main characters: Heather (present day), Miriam Dassin and Ann Hughes (1947). Heather is the grand-daughter of Ann Hughes. When this story begins, Ann has just passed away and has left her grand-daughter a box containing old photos and embroidered samples (that upon further searches online, she discovers they are from Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown). She is perplexed as to why her grandmother had these things saved for her. Where did she get the samples? Surely it was not clipped from the gown itself.
Ann never told her daughter or her grand-daughter about her life in England or that she was one of the embroiderers of Princess Elizabeth’s gown. Heather seeks out help from the only known clue she has – a photo of Ann with the famous artist Miriam Dassin.
The book switches between present day and the past to explain the special relationship between two women during one of the most important moments in British history. But instead of focusing on just the big wedding day, the story focuses on the women who helped create the beautiful gown and their own personal challenges. The book was absolutely beautifully done. I loved it from start to finish.
[Content Warning: D, R]
Good Omens – I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this story. I wanted to get through this book as quickly as I could because Amazon Prime was premiering the show on May 31. The book (and the show) did not disappoint. This is a humorous tale of an angel and a demon issuing in the apocalypse, only to discover they completely screwed everything up because they lost the anti-christ.
Who knew that an angel and a demon could become friends? They are on two separate sides, but then they realize that there is a third side…their own side, the one that loves their lives among the humans. If an apocalypse blows everything away, then all of the things they’ve grown to love about Earth will disappear. What a terrible universe that would be…for them.
They decide to ban together to save humanity, even though heaven and hell does not want that.
The Ghost Manuscript – You may start to see a theme with some of the books I am reading these days. That theme has everything to do with King Arthur. This is a new title from Kris Frieswick. I really loved this book more than I thought I would. It’s like The Librarians meet Indiana Jones (and a female Indiana Jones at that). I also find it ironic that our heroine’s last name is Jones, so it adds to the Indiana Jones effect. There are a lot of strong female characters that put the men to shame in this book. It’s a nice change. I highly recommend this book. This is book one in a series.
[Content Warning: D, S, V]
CHILDREN & YA
The Gilded Wolves: Loved this story. I loved being transported to Paris in an alternate 19th century where people can forge objects in a magical way. I loved the character struggles, each one developing independently. The adventure to restore Severin’s claim to House Vanth and new friendships from a patriarch that is in desperate need of friends, makes for an interesting tale. So much involved, but weaved together beautifully.
The ending though will rip you apart. I can’t wait for the next book.
[Content Warning: A, AC, D, SH, V]
The Third Coin – This was an excellent story. I had a hard time putting it down. While Rick Riordan seems to have the market down on the gods and the demi-gods, J.A. Howard has opened up a new door to the Mists of Avalon/King Arthur world for young adults. What makes this series unique is that J.A. Howard focuses on young girls taking the lead in this story.
We see the caste system inside a girl’s school between the popular girls (Top Pops), almost popular girls (Almost Pops), the girls that focus on their expertise (i.e. science, musical talents, etc.), and then the outcasts. Bea, being new to the school, has got the Top Pops down and quickly works her way into the popular group. In her science class, she is teamed up with Nisha, the gypsy girl.
Nisha lives across the street from Bea. Her Aunt Faye runs a Fortune Teller shop. She tries to stay hidden and out of sight from the Horribles (i.e. the Top Pops) because they like to bully her. So when Bea discovers that she can communicate with Nisha without saying words, a door opens for them to become friends.
Which leads us to The Third Coin. Along with the weird skateboarder boy that tends to stalk the front of Bea’s haunted mansion, they set off on a doomsday adventure. They have until their 13th birthday (Bea and Nisha share the same birthday) to find the Third of Five Coins (the Coin that balances the other 4 coins) and return it to Avalon.
This adventure was so much fun to read. What I enjoyed the most were the strong female characters. I loved seeing a popular girl that is intelligent, loves science and books. I also loved the emotional side of Nisha. She is fearful, because she knows she is different. But a good friend will fight to be the light in that darkness. And then there’s Indy. I loved that the author chose that name, because it says a lot about the character. He’s like a younger version of Indiana Jones, so you know the story is going to be good (especially if you are a huge Indiana Jones fan). He is the person that binds the two girls together.
I highly recommend this book if you love Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. I can’t wait for the next books in the series.
Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories – This is one of the children’s books I read in May. I really liked this story. If your child likes scary stories, this is a cute set of tales they will enjoy.
The author’s introduction explains why he created these tales. He received a box with different object in it (as well as around it). The note was from the village children asking him to create a story based on each of the objects.
And that is what he does here.
This book is a nice segue into introducing them to Bunnicula and R.L. Stine’s books. It is a safe scary level for young children who love scary stories. [To Be Released: September 3, 2019]
The Envious Siblings – This is one of those books where I was completely perplexed as to what I was reading. Was this for adults or children? Like the title suggests, it is MORBID. I went ahead and handed this book off to a 4-year old girl that loves scary stuff. Maybe she will understand it and enjoy it. For me, because I was confused as to what exactly I was reading, I am going to have to give this a low rating. Maybe when the little girl gets back to me on what she thought, then maybe I can change this rating. [To Be Released: October 8, 2019]
I am a little late getting these reviews up. It all started with a horrible book. I rarely if ever give a 1 star review, but this book received my second 1 star review I’ve ever written.
As a book reviewer, it is difficult to publicly voice my thoughts when I believe the review (and my constructive criticism) should only go directly to the publisher and the writer. But there are certain rules when it comes to receiving advance copies. You have to post your review everywhere.
But for this site, I can be more selective with which book reviews I publish here. I read 2-3 books a week. You won’t always see my reviews for everything I read. I am not even going to share the name of the book that received my 1 star review here. I mean, why waste your time?
The thing I do not like about horrible books is that it turns me off from reading. It takes me some time to get back to wanting to read again. That is why I try to be very selective with the books I read and the publishers I work with. But every now and again, you give someone a chance and then you’re left angry with yourself for making a mistake.
I read the horrible book four weeks ago and I am still mad I read it. But because I am a book reviewer, I pressed through and read titles from the tested and true publisher Shadow Mountain Publishing. Their books helped me get back on track to reading 2-3 books a week.
Today, I’m going to share two of their latest titles that I escaped into to try to forget that horrible book. The first one is one I highly recommend, “A Song for the Stars.” The other title, “Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed” was such a fun adventure and well done. Both of these books got me right back on track and I’m here to share my reviews. So here are a couple of books to escape into.
A Song for the Stars
Destination: Hawaiian Islands Date: 1779
Rating: 5 out of 5.
*Sigh* This was an amazing story. If you are in need of a vacation, but can’t get away, I recommend reading this book. It sweeps you away to the Hawaiian islands. You can feel the warmth of the sun, the sand beneath your feet and hear the ocean brushing up against Hawaii’s shores. Paradise…still untouched by European colonization.
If you loved Moana, you will enjoy this story. I visualized Maile as a grown up version of Moana. I felt like I appreciated the story so much more imagining Maile as Moana.
Through this book, I learned so much about native Hawaiian traditions and their culture. The Hawaiian native’s life is so intriguing, especially as you learn about their love and understanding of nature. You’ll start to see nature differently, knowing how it tells us everything we need to know without our maps, books or technology.
With every book comes life lessons. In this tale, the most important lesson is about forgiveness and learning how to love your enemy. It’s also about learning to love again after you’ve lost someone you love.
I highly recommend this book. It really made me sigh…a lot. Maybe it was the love story part or maybe because it painted Hawaii so well…whatever it was, I’m glad I read this. Also, if you’ve read my previous reviews about ‘love stories,’ for me to say I sighed…that says a lot. This is coming from someone who doesn’t like love stories. I SIGHED A LOT! Perhaps Proper Romance has changed me.
Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed
Destination: Portland, Oregon and New York, NY Date: Present Day
Rating: 5 out of 5.
I reviewed Wizard for Hire Book One last year. After that cliffhanger at the end of the first book, I could not wait for the continuation of the series. So when Shadow Mountain sent me the next book in the series, I was so excited to dive into this world of magic (or is it reality?) once again.
After reading Book Two, I have to say that I absolutely loved it. This is so much better than the first book. Obert Skye is really progressing into a better writer (practice makes perfect), making his stories even more enjoyable.
The constant banter between the 4 main characters is comical. I love Clark, the mechanical bird. I really do.
Book Two gives us one more piece to this puzzle of what is really going on with Ozzy and his family. Is Rin really a wizard? As much as I doubt it throughout the book, just like Ozzy, Sigi and Clark do, I am beginning to see that maybe Rin isn’t lying about being a wizard. Or is he? Skye likes to leave us with cliffhangers, which he does again in Book 2. And what a cliffhanger it was!?!?!
Book Three cannot come fast enough.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of these books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
Ever feel like taking a chance in life and leaving your comfort zone for the great unknown? Erik and Emily Orton decided to do just that. They left their lives in New York City behind to spend a year on a sailboat with their five children and they tell their story in “Seven at Sea.”
Erik wasn’t even an experienced sailor six years before their trip. Watching sailboats pass by as he looked out his corporate office, he decided he wanted to learn how to sail. He signed up for classes at a nearby marina and began to learn. Soon after, he realized it would be cheaper and easier if he enlisted his family to take the classes with him to become certified to sail.
Now, don’t think Erik and Emily are multi-millionaires and can do whatever they please whenever they please. They are not rich. They are just a normal middle class family with a dream to be free from the doldrums of the corporate world, and free to set their days as they please.
Even as a family of seven, they were able to find a way to make it work…this dream. They got in as much training as they could, finding economical ways to rent boats, earning money while shuttling their friends around on excursions. But the big step they wanted to take was to buy a boat of their own to take some time away from the city with their family to sail to parts unknown (to them).
It took six years to make that dream a realization, but they stuck to their goal together as a family. Then one day, they bought a boat and their adventure began.
What “Seven at Sea” teaches us is that we should all work towards our goals and dreams. For the Ortons, it took a lot of planning, preparing and learning before their dream could even begin. Even at the start, when they first arrived on their boat, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There was still more to learn and mistakes that needed to be made, because no matter how much you prepare, when you are in the thick of it, it is not necessarily what you envisioned.
With Erik micromanaging their schedule, he quickly learned that you can’t plan life or dreams. You have to sort of go with the flow. They spent the first few months in their first port of call, Sint Maarten (the Netherlands side – the French side of the island is Saint Martin). Between fixing the boat and equipping it with the things they would need to make their journey, they were stuck on Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.
But it was a good thing this happened. It allowed them to get their sea legs taking short jaunts to nearby islands, preparing them for the longer stretches. They made friends with other families doing the same thing as them (always good to know you’re not alone). Thanks to fellow sailors, he was able to learn how to fix his boat – a vital source of knowledge when you’re alone on the seas and no one nearby who can help. These are all things he could only learn with hands on training. Books and the internet can only get you so far.
I will admit, reading this book turned me off from that fantasy of learning how to sail. It’s something I always thought about doing, not necessarily around the world, but maybe off the coast of New England or in the Mediterranean. I’ll explain why I was turned off – learning how to fix your own boat, the problems that could arise, being stuck on a boat with other people – really, it was all of the technical details that turned me off from learning how to sail. Then again, I would probably be the worst sailor of the group like Emily, so maybe someone else can sail and I can just be the matron.
At any rate, being on a boat allows you to have some soul searching moments. Erik shared a lot of his thoughts in this book and they really rang true with how we should look at life, especially the dreamers.
“A lot of times people feel like, ‘Oh we have kids so we can’t do that until the kids are out of the house.’ The time to go is when you have your kids with you because you only have them for a short period. There will be plenty of time to make more money. There’ll be plenty of time to take it easy in retirement when you’re older, but the reason we’re going now is because we want to go while our kids are with us. Let your kids be a reason rather than an excuse.”
I also appreciated Erik’s thoughts on having patience and playing the waiting game.
“For so many weeks, I’d been trying to push and force the situation. I wanted the engine fixed on my timeline. I wanted to hustle off to the BVI (British Virgin Islands). I wanted to know when and where we would arrive in the Bahamas. The truth is, there was no way of knowing. I would have to let it emerge. I could predict, plan, and hope, but in the end, the wind, sea, and a thousand other breezes would shape the unfolding events. I had to wait, just like everyone else. No amount of planning or willpower could make it otherwise. I learned to become fairly zen about it. “It will emerge” was the yin to the yang of “trial and error works every time.” Tenacity has its place. But so does waiting; engaged, curious, and resourceful, but patient.”
On fear and the uneasiness of taking the first jump:
“At the moment, Jane was happier to be at the top of the grotto, barefoot, hot, and scared, than she was to be in the cool, clear water below. Her anxiety over what she could no longer see, and the fear of what it would take to get there, were more powerful than her will to jump. We did our best to help her shift the balance, but it was up to her. Only she could decide when she wanted to move and how she would do it. She could climb back down or she could jump. The push of her current situation, the pull of her new situation, her anxiety about her future, and her loyalty to her present were all shifting moment by moment. We change when we’re more excited about getting the new thing than we are scared about losing the old thing. I go through this same semiconscious process every time I face my own fears. I think we all do. It’s very personal. I internally weigh all these factors in the balance, and something happens or it doesn’t.”
Karina Orton, after being asked how she had changed on Fezywig (their boat):
“I don’t think I’ve changed,” she said. “I’ve become even more myself. I’ve gone further down the path that I was already on.”
Emily Orton on the ‘confidence that it will emerge’:
Erik – “Why do you think the last one is more important?”
Emily – “Because it lets us get started. We don’t have to know everything. We don’t have to control everything. It lets us be patient while we’re figuring it out.”
Why you should read “Seven at Sea”: If you’re a dreamer thinking ‘someday,’ this book will help give you the confidence to take risks and chase after that dream. It is a raw look into how difficult it is to make your dreams come true. From making excuses to planning and researching for that big day, it’s all about getting over that fear and taking the leap. You have to have patience that the journey “will emerge.” You can’t force it to happen on your timeline. It will emerge on its own.
There are a lot of life lessons here for those who have dreams that want to make them come true. This book is not just about a family who bought a sailboat and sailed from the Caribbean to New York City one year. This is about living your best life and taking the chance to live your life to the fullest and the Ortons are here to inspire you to do so.
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
It is rare I come across a novel that astounds me. That moment is so rare, I can probably count how many times that has happened to me on one hand.
Enter “Waiting for Fitz.” What makes this book so unique is that this story allowed me to see into the mind of teenagers with mental illnesses, and it was eye opening. Yet, it was not just the story that astounded me. It was the words and the way the author chose to share the lessons he’s learned about life.
There were a lot of elements involved in my decision
to curate this book into my personal library.
I like to look at my personal curated library as a place that if the end
of the world came, and someone came across my library, they would learn so much
about the world and humanity through that collection. It’s not just about the story or whether it
was well written that qualifies a book to be curated into my personal
collection. It is all about what I learned
from the book and whether the philosophical lessons helped mold me into the
human being I am today.
That is what makes my curated library what it is. It is a statement of who I am as a human
being. These are the books that helped
mold my way of thinking or made me understand things in a new light. These are the stories that become a part of me.
Addie is OCD…like really bad OCD. She redefines what it means to be OCD.
Each morning before school, I’d walk to the bathroom, careful not to brush the wrong carpet thread when I reached the threshold. I’d stand up and sit down three times before entering the bathroom. I’d sniff two times with each step while also counting the tiles beneath each foot. I’d make sure I blinked with my left eye before entering the shower. Counting each time I tapped on the shower wall, each tap on the faucet, and each throat-clearing, I’d net two hundred and seven. I’d do this seven times before exiting the shower. Then I’d wash my hands forty-three times. Those two numbers added together made two hundred and fifty, and the two and the five made seven, of course – my favorite number. Finally, I’d dry off, sit on the bed, and count to eleven. What a great number, eleven: it’s first place two times, or seven and four, which is nice.
These little ticks and rituals are one thing, but the
moment when she really needs help is when she believes that if she did not do
all of these things, those she loved (her mother or her dog) would die.
So her mother does what is best for her and admits her
into a hospital to work with a doctor that can help her. It is here that she meets other teenagers
with mental problems, including Fitz.
Fitz is schizophrenic.
He hears voices in his head and constantly talks to them. He’s smart and witty, just like Addie. The medication he’s on helps him to be more aware
that the voices are there, but he is the one in control, not the voices.
Fitz and Addie develop an attraction to each other,
mainly because of their love for words and witty banter as they constantly put
a spin on words and phrases.
Yet, Addie can’t figure Fitz out. He goes into moments of anger that are
unexplained. He walks away and refuses
to talk to her for days. She never knows
what triggers his anger, but he always comes back and asks for
Then one day, he slips a note under her door asking
her to escape the facility with him.
This is not his first attempt.
The only thing she can get out of the other patients is that this has
something to do with Quentin…and she is not sure if Quentin is a real person or
a voice in his head. All she knows is
that Fitz is seeking forgiveness…atonement.
She decides to help and escapes with him, because one
of the things she’s learning is that maybe if she focused on others by helping
them, it will help her take the focus off of herself. It will help her get to a normal stage where
she’s focusing on others, rather than her own ticks and obsessions.
With the help of the rest of the group, they are able
to escape and go to San Juan Island, Washington. She follows Fitz and lets him unravel his
story piece by piece, never pressuring him to explain why they had to go to San
Juan Island. What Fitz reveals to her is
heartbreaking, explaining who Quentin is and why his mother never visits him at
As they make their return to the mainland, Fitz, being without his medication, begins to unravel and he loses control over the voices. They take over and Addie is forced to seek help, because she is now in danger.
These quotes are the reason why I decided to curate
this book into my library.
“A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you
cannot do…I guess it’s time to start living the words instead of just reading
“Behind her, a few candles burned low in their cups of
wax, and I wondered what my life would be like: would I get blown out, or
flicker and come back stronger? We all
flicker; it just depends on how willing we are to emerge again, and with how
“Like, something that is dead and gone can still light
up our world. What was can still be an is if
we put ourselves in the right place.”
[This made me think of the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Gilgamesh spent his entire life seeking a way
to be ok again after Enkidu died.]
“I guess we all have an interior monologue, but for it
to be so insistent and loud and populated would be impossible to ignore. Maybe his life was a series of interruptions,
and he lived in the space between. He
lived in the spurts and spats between the longer moments of conversing with the
imaginary group that followed him everywhere.”
“Everyone wears a mask, but actors get to change
theirs constantly. I kind of envied the
way they played different parts and got to live different lives. They could empathize with so many types of
people, of personhood. If actors were
the opposite of people, what did that make me?
A series of masks, maybe.”
“We dive as deep as we can and hope somebody is
listening to our call across the deep waters.
All of us, at some point.”
“Because she’s amazing. Because she knows how to love. Because her heart has enough room for
everybody and everything.”
“I thought of Aeolus opening up his bag of winds and
how winds can take you everywhere you need to go, just like language can do
great things, poetic things, but ultimately you can’t tell someone how much you
love them because even that won’t adequately express how you feel. All the winds except the one you want or
need, I guess.”
“Truth is overlooked, ignored, searched for but never
found, and only when we think the character can’t possibly make it out of the
innermost cave alive, we witness a resurrection.”
“Hope is meant to surprise us. Existence is meant to surprise. Love is meant to surprise. Love does not bow to the odds. Never has.
On the meaning of Waiting
for Godot: “Because they had
everything to wait for. They had
everything to show for it, as soon as that thing showed up…But life is just a
series of absurd rituals until something
or someone comes along to give it all
meaning, right? They were waiting for
that thing. For that person…Sometimes it
doesn’t show up. We’re lucky if it
does. But if it does, then we have
something to live for. We don’t always
need to wait, but when we do…Well, it’s worth waiting your entire life for that
one thing, that person, to come along.
It’s what gives life meaning.”
“I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They
deserve respect. If you get the right
ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” – Tom
The quotes above are the reason why this book will
stay with me for the rest of my life. It
was like taking various moments in my life, sprinkling a little gold dust over
it, making the wounds heal a little faster.
As a writer, the quote from Tom Stoppard really made me think about the words I am writing in my own novel. That is the ultimate goal of the writer, to nudge the world a little, just as Spencer Hyde has done in “Waiting for Fitz.”
The words he chose to deeply contemplate the world
around us were completely breathtaking and drove to the point. This book is more than just a story. It is a philosophical wonder that leaves the
reader walking away with a deeper understanding to many of the obstacles we
face in life, an angle we may not have considered.
As for the story itself, I don’t think I’ll ever use
the term “OCD” lightly anymore. I never
really understood what mental illness looked like. It is so difficult to step into the shoes of
others who struggle every day to find normalcy.
What Hyde has done here is open up that gateway of understanding, so we
can feel their struggle, fears, and desire to be okay again as they try to stop
hurting those they love because their brain is not okay.
More importantly, this book helps the reader to understand that people suffering from mental illness are not at fault for what they are going through. There is that fear people who commit suicide do it because of a mental illness. Many are left asking why, not truly understanding the struggle. Sure, we should have compassion, but I always wondered why. I don’t have to ask that anymore.
In terms of modern day works that I expect to become classical pieces of literature in the future, “Waiting for Fitz” is a novel that I believe deserves to be ranked amongst the greats. It is unlike any other book I’ve ever read. It belongs alongside the shelves of Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Frankenstein and Lord of the Flies, because it makes you explore the depths of the unknown and come out a better human being because of it. That is what “Waiting for Fitz” does. It should be on everyone’s list of Books to Read in this Lifetime. Except, don’t just put it on a list. Buy it. Absorb the words and then curate it into your own library.
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
What if you had a tumor on your face? That’s what young Sophie has, a hemangioma (a
benign tumor birthmark) on her face.
People stare at her, so she tries to hide it behind her hair and her Big
Book of Monsters. When children see her
birthmark, they call her a monster.
It’s easier to beat the bullies to the chase and believe you are a monster before they call you one. Better yet, it is better to believe everyone is a monster or a mythological creature so that you can feel like you are not alone, that this world you live in is filled with creatures that are either good or bad.
This is how Sophie copes with her monster mark. But it doesn’t stop the bullies or reality
from crashing in on her world. Along
with her fairy friend, Autumn, they collect pieces to create a magical amulet
that will cure her from being a monster, making her human again.
What she finds in her journey is that a monster mark is
not what makes you a monster, it’s what you do that makes you human.
This book is rather magical. If we could only see the world the way that Sophie saw the world. It is so much easier to see the world filled with monsters, witches and fairies to explain the good and evil that happens in the world, than to see that humans can be monsters.
What makes us monsters? Is it a disability or a birthmark? Or is it the circumstances with which we live
that can force us to lash out and hurt others because we are hurting
A Monster Like Me not only explores what it means to be a child that looks different, but it also takes a look at bullying in a way that helps bullied children understand why bullies are bullies.
Sometimes when we dream so big and wish for something
so great, it is hard for us to see anything but ourselves and our wants. For Sophie, she learns to see what she has is
a gift that not everyone has. There are
things we have in our lives that we take for granted that someone may wish they
had themselves, like the ability to run around and play, instead of being stuck
in a hospital bed.
It is not necessarily what you look like on the
outside that makes you human, but what you do that defines your humanity.
This book is well worth the read, especially for young
readers facing challenges in school.
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
For all of those lovers out there who need a little bit of Valentine’s Day reading, I would like to introduce you to “Healing Hearts.” This is the latest title from Proper Romance (Shadow Mountain).
If you are a fan of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, then Proper Romance should be your “go to” source for romance books. The books are PG-rated (so no blushing in public during the heated scenes).
“Healing Hearts” is a heartwarming story that will make you smile. When Miriam arrives in Savage Wells, she believes she is there to take a position as a new nurse. As the town whisks her into the local chapel, she realizes she was misled. Doctor Gideon MacNamara has requested a mail order bride, who can also serve as the town’s nurse.
When Miriam realizes she is supposed to marry Dr. MacNamara, she runs from the chapel.
Even though Gideon’s pride is hurt, he cares about the town more and is willing to let bygones be bygones and hires her on as a nurse. After all, it was not her fault that she did not know this was an arranged marriage.
With Miriam comes many dark secrets. These secrets eventually see the light of day as Dr. MacNamara and the town gets to know her. Even though she starts off on the wrong foot by not marrying the good doctor, the town grows to forgive her after she saves them from an epidemic that spreads like wildfire.
And when her past comes back to haunt her, the town rallies around her to save her.
You will enjoy this story from start to finish. There are parts that will leave you smiling with pure happiness. Then there are parts that will leave you at the edge of your seat, wondering just how bad things really are for Miriam…what is she escaping? And when you discover what she’s escaping from, it will leave you horrified.
I always say this about the Proper Romance books from Shadow Mountain, but I really love the stories they publish. Romance books that leave me blushing while I am reading on the train or on the bus are just not the type of books for me. The good old fashion stories from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte where a simple kiss is all that is needed, as well as honesty at how one feels about another, are the perfect romance stories for me.
I enjoyed this story because I could see a little of myself in Miriam. When she says to the doctor that if he really knew who she was, he would find it a blessing he did not marry her, I know I’ve felt the same way time and time again. In a way, it’s rejecting yourself for the other person because you know they will reject you if they really knew you. It saves yourself from whatever heartache will follow.
Of course, in Miriam’s story, he didn’t care. But isn’t that what every person that rejects themselves wants? To be told everyone is broken somehow, so it does not matter?
One very important aspect of the story I found extremely interesting is insanity and how women were treated. It is only in the last few decades that we’ve treated illnesses differently. Women lost all individual rights and deemed insane if they had a seizure or had heavy or erratic menstrual cycles. They were committed to asylums to be forgotten by loved ones. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s were “treated” until they stopped showing any signs of life.
Can you imagine today being committed to an asylum and labeled insane just because you suffered from epilepsy or had a horrible menstrual cycle? These were the issues women faced back then.
“Healing Hearts” brings a lot of these matters to light. It will shock you to discover just how bad things were back then. Even though this is a work of fiction, what happened in asylums, especially to women, still rings true historically.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. The love story will warm your heart. The part where you can’t stop turning the pages is when you discover what happened to Miriam. Stories like this will not only help you to understand the past, but to see that many of the issues that broken people face are still the same. It takes a lot to convince them that people will not hurt them and that they can actually trust people.
That’s the thing with this story, there’s proving to people that you are not what they think you are. You are better than their misconceived notions. You can change the way they think by being yourself. But it takes a lot to trust an entire community with your secrets that they will protect and save you and not turn you over to those who seek to do you harm.
Getting to that point that you can trust people…that is something that Miriam will make you ponder if you could do the same if you were in her shoes.
[DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
My 2018 New Year’s Resolution was to read 100 books. I did not accomplish that goal this year. I was 16 books short. The prior year, I read only 64 books. This year, I read 20 more books than the previous year for a total of 84 books. That’s not bad. That’s 1.6 books each week.
If I keep this up, I’ll be able to finally reach my goal of 100 books in 2019.
Along the way to my goal, I discovered the secret to getting in an extra book a week. On Sundays, I choose an easy read that’s 225 pages or less and read it in one day. Of course, I didn’t discover how this could help my numbers until I was 3/4 of the way into the year.
In 2018, I became more selective with what I chose to read instead of reading whatever is sent to me. I am fortunate that the books I read were the ones that helped me grow this year. I learned so much from every single book, but more importantly, I learned more about myself this past year.
All 84 of the books I read this year helped me to answer the questions burning inside of me. They educated me. I learned that everything happens for a reason, and books can find their way into your hands when you need them the most. In May, I was asked to leave New York and travel the world indefinitely with this guy I’ve been crushing on for the last 7 years. When I decided to stay, I realized what was really going on in the grander scheme of the universe. This beautiful man was trying to wake me up and free me from the cage I had built around myself since the tumor was removed (2013). I was blind to what I had done to myself out of fear.
As my crush left for Tibet, Tal Gur contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of his book to review. I read it and thought to myself…WOW. This was the book I needed in this moment. I understood what I needed to do. I needed to free myself so that the next time when the hottest guy I know offers me the world, I will be in a position where I can drop everything and run away with him, because in my heart, that’s what I really wanted to do.
Publishers and authors sent their books. As I read each one, I realized that each book isn’t just an escape from this horrible 2018. It was also the universe’s guide book into helping me get back on my feet again, to seeing what I was doing to myself out of fear, but most importantly shining the beam of light to show me how to be me again.
Sometimes it was the entire story, or it was just a sentence or a paragraph. All 84 of the books listed below were the words I needed in 2018.
The Best of the Best
For those looking for some ideas on what to read, these are the books that I found to be the best reads of 2018.
The Books I Curated Into My Library: For the books I thought were the best of the best were very few. It’s a given that I curate all autographed copies and classical literature into my library. But the books that entered into my collection based on its own merits (i.e. the books I would want saved for mankind to read if there was some cataclysmic end) are as follows: Slade House, Hag, The Air You Breathe, Melmoth,The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Scribe, Dietland, Neverwhere, Sommelier of Deformity, The Stuff of Stars, Everything Happens for a Reason, A Higher Loyalty, Anansi Boys, and The Tuner of Silences.
The Stuff I Learned from Self-Help: This year was a tough year. I literally fell apart. My poor work husband spent most of this year trying to put me back together again. When he wasn’t around, I read a lot of self-help books to try to get back to who I was. Of all the books I read, I think The Abundance Project and Make Peace with Money were two of the most important books, because they speak my language. At work, the Speed Reading book taught me how to perfect my craft (reading).
What really helped me in understanding why everything was happening was Everything Happens for a Reason. When one of my colleagues left to travel the world, Tal Gur contacted me about his book, The Art of Fully Living. I made the difficult decision to not run off with my colleague. While I do regret doing so, I thought…maybe my circumstances will change. Gur’s book helped me to make the decision to free myself from the cage I built around myself that prevented me from running off with the hottest guy I know who was trying to give me the entire world. [Review: The Abundance Project]
The Best YA/Children’s Books: When I tell publishers I read almost everything, that includes children’s books. Oh, and I love YA. Besides Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” collection (I curate all of his titles into my library, because he signs everything I have), I curated in The Stuff of Stars. When I met the author, there was a moment between us when she asked me to read/review her book. I haven’t written about her book yet, because I don’t know how to describe it beyond it being the most wonderful children’s book I’ve ever read. It gave me goosebumps. I cried at the end because it was so beautiful. I thought…if I had a kid, this is exactly how I would feel telling them the story of how they came to be in my life. It was just…I have no words. The story took my breath away. I feel like this book became a little secret in my life that I want to tell the world, but I don’t know how to accurately describe how this book made me feel. So parents…pick up the book. Read it to yourself and then decide.
As for the others, Prince & Knight was beautifully done. Loved it! To finish off the year, I ended with Wundersmith, Book 2 in the Nevermoor series. I love this series. It sucks that I have to wait for Book 3 now. [Review: Nevermoor]
Proper Romance Changed Me: I have a rule. Or maybe I should say I had a rule. I don’t do romance books. But Shadow Mountain Publishing changed my mind about romance books when they launched their Proper Romance group. The book that changed me was Promises and Primroses. Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s followed. They even have a steampunk series that I’ve been trying to finish (when I’m not trying to meet deadlines). What I like about their stories is that it’s not mushy all unrealistic lovey dovey romcom books. There’s no over the top “well this is just unrealistic” love stories. It’s all PG rated. None of that 50 Shades stuff I turn up my nose to. In other words, it’s a clean romance. It’s the way I like stories to be told (in a Jane Austen kind of way), especially because I am the type that will vomit after I say the words “be in a relationship with” or “get married.” [Review: Lies, Love and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Christmas by Accident]
The Scary & the SciFi Books: I read a lot of the Cirque du Freak series this year. I have two books left. Neil Gaiman’s books are excellent. American Gods is still my favorite, but Anansi Boys and Neverwhere were just as good. Erik Therme’s Roam scared me. Scribe was one of the best ghost stories I’ve read in a while. Melmoth made my mouth drop. It disturbed me so much, I had to text my brother (who never reads) about it. Did I mention I curated Melmoth into my library? Hag was excellent (my first book I’ve read that has roots in Scotland). But the story that really scared me this year was David Mitchell’s Slade House (another curated book).
The Best Stories: The stories I really enjoyed in 2018 beyond the ones mentioned above are: Before We Were Yours, The Air You Breathe, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Sommelier of Deformity, Dietland, The Escape Artist, The Girl You Left Behind, and The Other Side of the Bridge.
The Book Deserves Its Own Category: James Comey. A Higher Loyalty. The book was excellent…until the last 3 chapters. This book helped me to understand my guys a lot better, because they used to work with Comey. There’s so much about leadership that I recommend for all lawyers/public officials to read. But the parts that really stood out to me is how he found a silver lining in life when he was faced with tragedy. It made me understand the book Everything Happens for a Reason so much better. [Review]
Food: Every single cookbook I read this year was so amazing. I loved Siriously Delicious so much, I bought the book. Then I found out Siri Daly was signing the book. I showed up and told her who I was and she said she read my review and loved it. Copycat Cooking from Six Sisters’ Stuff is also one of my all-time favorite cookbooks now. The In N Out Burger and fries recipes were so much better than the real thing. I can’t visualize a burger any other way now. Glow 15 made me look at caring for myself differently now. I take different vitamins now and eat differently because of it. I recommend all 3 of these books. [Reviews: Siriously Delicious, Copycat Cooking, Glow 15]
The Classics: My work husband saw Villette sitting on my desk and he asked me about it. He was a literature major in college, so naturally, he would ask. I didn’t have the heart to tell him why I was reading it. It’s a book you read when your heart has been broken. It’s about unrequited love. It took me most of the year to read it, but when I got to the end, I sat there heartbroken for Charlotte Bronte. My friend was going through something similar where someone was in love with her and acting like M. Paul. She couldn’t understand his crazy. I explained to her what was really going on. Men haven’t changed so much in the last 200 years.
I finally read another monster classic: The Invisible Man. I will say I was unimpressed. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow read exactly like the Disney cartoon. Kudos to Disney! I don’t understand why Of Mice and Men is a classic. I’m wondering if it has more to do with the language Steinbeck chose. The highlight and uplifting classic of the year beyond Villette was T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. It had a very profound affect on me.
I also finally read The Great Gatsby. I read it alongside The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark. It helped me to really understand the depths of how beautiful this book is. I do not recommend reading The Great Gatsby without Clark’s commentary (it’s only a chapter in X-Ray). You will miss the importance of some of the elements used in the book, like color.
Best Non-Fiction: Slave Stealers. I learned so much about slavery then and now. It’s not so different. The providence at work for Tim Ballard and his team as they try to free children from the depths of hell just amazed me. I remember sitting in bed, reading, exclaiming out loud, “No fucking way!” Just amazing to see the Universe working to help people who are saving the innocents. I highly recommend this book about real life work around the world to stop human trafficking (aka slavery). [Review]
Below is the complete list of books I read this year. If you’re interested in any of them, just click on the book and it will take you to Amazon where you can read more about the book and you can order it from there.
Christmas by Accident is a story about an insurance adjuster who is fired for embellishing his reports (instead of writing just the dry facts, he wrote the reports in a way that would make you think you were reading the latest thriller). His last case involves an accident where the driver’s insurance was canceled.
When Carter inspects the car, he finds a photo of the driver, Abby, and he knows he just needs to meet her. So he begs his coworker to let him deliver the cancellation letter to Abby (after he’s been fired).
Abby helps run the ReadMore Cafe, a bookstore owned by her Uncle Mannie. On the day Carter arrives, Abby isn’t in, but something sparks his eye. It’s October and they already have their Christmas display of books up. He is not a fan of Christmas, but he has an epiphany that he could write a book about Christmas. So he purchases every Christmas title to figure out the formula for writing a bestselling Christmas book.
Abby, meanwhile, is visiting her uncle in the hospital. He refuses to tell her that he has a rare disease that is enlarging his heart and wreaking havoc on his organs. The doctors give him only a couple of months to live. All he wants is to make it through Christmas, Abby’s favorite time of year. He doesn’t want to destroy the holiday for her.
When Carter and Abby finally meet, she’s knocking on his door trying to understand how her insurance could be canceled. She has the canceled check in her hand. Even though Carter no longer works for the insurance company, he offers to help her navigate the system. He finds out she’s an editor and they make a trade off that he’ll help her and she can help him edit his book.
Their friendship leads to romance which leads to making important life decisions, choices that could jeopardize this new romance.
An accident brings them together, but it is also an accident that could rip them apart forever.
If you like Hallmark Christmas movies, this book is perfect for you. What I loved reading about were the mouthwatering treats served up at the ReadMore Cafe. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Christmas inspired recipes were at the back of the book!!!
I am a fan of Camron Wright’s works. This story reminds me a lot of The Other Side of the Bridge, but with a Christmas spin. The thing about Camron’s stories is that you will never forget his tales. There is always something that will strike a chord within your soul that will have you remembering his stories for the rest of your life. That is the magic of his works.
For me, the accidents hit me hard, because it reminded me of the time I contemplated a life lived, at a time when I pondered if I was going to live or die after my surgery. All of those questions we ask ourselves when our lives are hanging in the balance he covered well.
I think I will always be asking myself if I will have a smile on my face when, at the end of this lifetime, I look back on the life that I lived. Why? Because that’s one of those little gems Camron poses that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
Everyone takes what they need from the books they read. For me, this story made me think about life. For others, they may see something in the love story and discover that love is the choice you make every time. Some may even see their faults in trying to focus too much on selling that they forget the true meaning of what they are doing. Others may see the power of family and being there to protect them, even long after they are gone.
Whatever you take from this book, it comes at just the right time as the holidays approach. It helps us to re-evaluate the decisions we are making, so that we can focus on the things that truly matter in this life. After all, isn’t that what the true power of Christmas is all about?
[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase the books in any of these links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.]
For those who know Matthew Lucifer, they know he is a very unusual cat. Actually, he is just not a normal cat at all. He is highly intelligent and understands everything. He also knows how to communicate what he wants very effectively. We’ve been through some stuff, including dealing with Maine Coon allergies. Here’s what happened. Scroll to the 2023 Update at the bottom of this page, if you want to learn more about what we learned from Matthew’s allergies.
Back in August 2018, I made the difficult decision to help Surita die. She was 21 years old. When I told Matthew it was time to let Surita die, he became so upset. She was in the kitchen at the time. He ran up to her, collapsed in front of her and started crying. I was so worried he was going to tell her. I wanted her last week of life to be a happy one.
Those two never got along. Surita hated him, but he loved her.
He wanted to be there when we euthanized her, but Surita did not want him there. I didn’t want her to go into death seeing Matthew staring back at her, so I kicked Matthew out of the apartment.
He cried on the other side of the door wanting back in. That is unusual for him, because when he goes out into the hall, he runs around. This time, he wanted to be there for her.
I held her until I felt her spirit leave. After she had passed, I let Matthew back in. He sat down next to her, checking out the two strangers in his home. Then we motioned to Surita and he looked down.
He said a few words, kissed her and walked away. I asked him, “Is that all you are going to say to her?” He responded in the affirmative.
They boxed her up and took her away. My baby girl.
He was depressed for a month.
Letting Surita go was very difficult for me. I think I struggled with if I made the right decision. I realized during that last week that she was asking me to help her die. She was in a lot of pain. I miss my baby girl.
The Bloody Mouth
So Matthew Lucifer had a medical emergency. He was showing signs something was amiss for some time, but it was hard to figure out if this was something serious.
Saturday morning, he woke me up. His kiss was a little wetter than usual and then I saw the blood on his chin. I got out of bed to wash the blood off of my face. When I turned to check on him, the blood was gone.
The rest of the day was fine. But when he showed up for bed that night, his mouth was bleeding again and it wouldn’t stop. The animal hospital was closed for the night, so we had to wait until the next morning to call them.
I sat there watching him bathe himself in blood. I just stared at him in shock and disgust thinking…this is why your middle name is Lucifer. You bathe yourself in blood and you don’t care.
The bleeding continued after he fell asleep. He woke me up at 3AM (like he does every night), shook his head and sprayed blood everywhere. It was so bad, I had to change the sheets. I started Googling what was wrong and the only thing that came up was that he had gum disease and possibly a bad tooth.
When we got up a few hours later, his mouth was still bleeding. I read that I should try cleaning the blood with a cotton swab, so I handed one to him. He chewed on it like he normally does. We did this three times and then the bleeding stopped.
When I called the vet hospital, Matthew sat next to the phone waiting for the receptionist to pick up. The second she did, he started talking into the phone. I assume he was telling her what was wrong. We made an appointment for that afternoon.
I had him take an early nap with me, because I knew this was going to be a long day for him, especially since the doctor visit was during his nap time.
When it was time to go, I put his coat on, made a little blanket cocoon in his stroller, and we walked the mile to the hospital, going farther away from home than he’s ever been. He actually enjoyed this little adventure. I could tell he was nervous, but excited.
At the vet’s office, we discovered that Googling at 3AM is not wise. My baby did not have gum disease. He was having an allergic reaction.
The vet noticed there were scabs on his back, which I knew were from a mosquito bite. We had a few flying around a few weeks ago, and I know he started scratching right after we encountered them. She double checked to make sure it wasn’t fleas and luckily, it wasn’t.
That bloody mouth of his was all about that mosquito bite. Add the fact it is allergy season, and he has allergies, it sent his body into a white blood cell tornado frenzy. His lips were swollen (which I noticed right before his sister died, but couldn’t remember if this was normal for him).
All of these different allergens were just too much for his body to handle, so that’s why his mouth started bleeding.
Come Monday morning, the doctor says his blood tests were fine, except he had anemia. He’s three points below what was considered normal. I asked if this may be because he bled so much the night before. She replied that is what she thought, but the specialist said it was more likely due to a blood disorder or a parasite or…
I’m thinking, “Doomsday much???”
So we have to go back for more blood tests the day before Thanksgiving. He has another round of steroid shots in a month. He also has to take a daily medication (which he ironically likes to take via syringe) for the next 30 days.
Luckily, he is responding very well to the steroids and medication. His lips are no longer swollen (the swelling disappeared the next day). He’s running around with more energy (good sign he is not anemic). And he stopped scratching.
Here were the warning signs something was wrong that was very hard to determine if something more serious was going on:
The scratching (he scratched his face, ears and his back). Scratching is not normal for him. I could not determine if this was fleas, mites or something else because it was a new spot every time.
Swollen lips. He had 2 little open pockets under his upper lip. I could not remember if this was normal for him or not. Ends up, it was not normal.
Itchy nose and lips. He would use his brush to aggressively scratch his nose and lips.
Scabbing on his back (from the mosquito bite).
I am surprised Matthew started bouncing back so quickly. He loves his medicine. I explained to him that he needs to eat right after he takes his medicine or his stomach will hurt. So he eats immediately after each dose.
With this little guy, communication is very important.
He Brushes His Teeth
He heard the doctor and I talking about brushing his teeth daily and how he likes to brush his teeth himself. I just have to hold the toothbrush for him.
Matthew is extremely intelligent. He understands everything. Since the conversation about brushing his teeth, he now goes into the bathroom and tries to brush his teeth by himself without my help.
He still hasn’t mastered turning on the faucet yet, so I still need to help him.
The Baby Gets Spoiled x10
As of right now, I think he likes all of the attention he’s getting. He likes being told he’s a good boy and he’s doing a good job. I think he’s taking advantage of all of this attention…you know, worrying the hell out of his Mama. He is not eating right now because he knows it’s worrying me. Loss of appetite is not a side effect for what is going on.
The side effects for his medicine are actually eating more and drinking more fluids. So I think this whole ‘loss of appetite’ is an attempt to get my attention. Either way, I’m going to pick up his favorite Friskies (that he’s not had since his sister died, because they don’t sell them in individual size and god forbid the food come from the refrigerator) and Korean fried chicken for dinner tonight.
When Surita was alive, I would get Korean fried chicken. I ate the skin and gave the meat to Surita. Matthew preferred the skin too, so he’d grab an entire piece of chicken from out of the box and go crazy. He can eat three all by himself. [He is a sugar fiend, so the sweet fried chicken is cat nip for him.]
So if Friskies and Korean fried chicken do not revamp his appetite, I’m going to have to let the doctor know he’s not eating anything except dry food and a few bites of wet food after his medicine.
Unfortunately, for Matthew, he’s medically grounded from going outside. I broke the news to him this morning and he looked at me like…you’re telling me the doctor betrayed me?
He’ll be able to get around that grounding by being confined to seeing the world through his stroller.
When I first published this back in 2018, this was just the beginning of Matthew’s allergies. Ends up, that bloody mouth was due to an allergic reaction to his food (plus, add in being allergic to mosquitoes and fall seasonal allergies). We switched him to a hydrolyzed protein diet, then slowly started adding foods back to see what he was allergic to. Ends up, he’s allergic to processed chicken and turkey, which seems to be the case with many cats and dogs these days.
He’s currently on a vet diet eating only Royal Canin PR and PD, along with Tiny Tiger and Sheba seafood. He gets Thrive Market’s wild caught tuna on Sundays. He also eats whatever I’m eating. He’s not allergic to chicken or turkey, unless it is processed. If you think about it, we have no idea what they are putting in processed foods.
His food may cost more than mine does, and it scares me if Royal Canin can’t get their food into the US (it’s sourced and made in France), but this is the only thing he can eat without turning into a bloody mess.
Another issue that came up for Matthew during this time was a swollen paw. It got worse and worse. It ended up being allergy related. When we moved, it healed within a month. So it is possible that the previous apartment was an environmentally bad place for us to live, as far as his allergies went. Moving someplace more modernized helped him completely.
He hasn’t had any major allergy issues since we moved. He doesn’t need steroid shots anymore. [Long term use of steroids is bad for him.] He’s still running around outside. He still has seasonal allergies in the fall, but luckily, he hasn’t ripped the hair off of his face. During the fall allergy season, every other day, I give him a little bit of local honey harvested from the bees in our area. That seems to help him a lot.
Some tricks I learned when the allergies got really bad: 1) use cornstarch to stop the bleeding (vet suggested this); and 2) use unrefined organic coconut oil on areas where they’re scratching a lot (especially, if there’s a wound there from the scratching). I need to stress that you need to use UNREFINED organic coconut oil. Refined coconut oil has stuff in it that can be potentially harmful to your animal.
Lies, Love and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A young woman trying to make it in Hollywood as a film editor finds herself in a predicament. She is a brand new employee at Portal Pictures and her boss is a drunk. All of the work he was supposed to put into Sliver of Midnight fell upon her. She ended up doing everything.
When it comes time for the final cuts, he is passed out on the couch and she needs to get final approval for the film. She needs someone to take a look at it. So when she runs into her friend and colleague from a rival studio at a club while she is trying to get her boss to go back to the office, she turns to him for assistance.
Silvia Bradshaw edited her heart out for this film and the executives realize that this could be an Academy Award winning film on their hands. But it is her boss that takes credit for the film, even though the filmmakers know he did nothing.
Meanwhile, Silvia’s feelings for her former colleague, Ben, starts to blossom. But he has a girlfriend already. Or does he?
The danger lies in anyone finding out Ben worked on this film. It could jeopardize their relationship and careers forever.
The real story goes much deeper than just a romance and a girl trying to make it in Hollywood.
Silvia has a disability. She lost her eye to cancer when she was a child. Audrey Hepburn died the day she lost her eye. So she imagined Audrey as being her angel and protector while she battled cancer.
When she received her first prosthetic, she called the eye ‘Audrey.’
Overcoming this adversity adds to the difficulties women go through in Hollywood just to be accepted. Silvia is supposed to be a heroine in this story, fighting for recognition. Yet, she has to bend to her male boss. He is the one that will take all the credit for her work, because that’s the way it is.
The author’s dedication is really symbolic to the message she is trying to share in Silvia’s story. “To all the women who work in Hollywood, and in other creative endeavors, who are making the changes needed to have their creativity and voices heard and recognized.”
There’s also the ghost of change in this book, Audrey Hepburn. What Silvia knows about Audrey mostly comes from her films. She never really saw how Audrey lived her life. When she learns how inspiring and meaningful life can be by being the change, she decides to follow Audrey’s example of how she lived her life.
What this book ultimately represents beyond a romantic comedy is inspiring change for women trying to make it in a boy’s club world. The author seeks to inspire women to live inspirational lives (like Audrey), but also to fight for their work.
If you’ve put in all the work, don’t let someone else take credit for it. Fight for your right to get your name put on it. Get exactly what you worked hard for. Speak up for yourself.
There’s also the need to have more representation in these industries. Women, as well as men, should help to encourage other women to enter these sectors. Even if she’s dating the guy you’re in love with, help her get her foot in the door, because the world needs women in the business.
You have to uplift each other, not sabotage each other’s efforts. In other words, we’re all in this together with the same mission in mind…more equal representation.
The book is inspirational and a fun read. I enjoyed it because it talked a lot about Audrey and movies, two subjects I love. Even moreso, I am happy the book discussed Audrey’s life works beyond movies. It helps give you the road map on how one should live their life.