Saturday, December 30, 2017

Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker

Carolyn:  This is an older novella; I acquired it in 2015. Although I'm most definitely NOT into hardcore erotica, I'm not sure this would qualify as such, but maybe it would. What do I know?

Here, have a blurb:

Tzipporah Berger is thirty-seven and single, which is practically unheard of in the Orthodox Jewish community she now calls home. Her increasing religiosity and need for kink may have broken up her first marriage, but she’s decided it’s time to try again. And the rabbi’s wife has just the man in mind.

Elan Klein is the neighborhood butcher whose intimidating size and gruff manner hint at a deliciously forceful personality. But BDSM isn’t exactly something you discuss during an Orthodox courtship. Will a marriage to Elan solidify her place in the community that she loves and provide the domination and pain Tzipporah craves or will she forever have to rely on flights of fancy to satisfy her needs?




Lori:  Carolyn mentioned this book and suggested I should try it. Not for the BDSM but because of the religion. I love religion and a book that delves into Judaism that's also kink sounds interesting.

It was fucking brilliant.

Tzipporah is a religious studies teacher. She is Jewish raised in a secular household. She likes rough sex and was married to a man who didn't. Didn't like rough sex, didn't care about religion and was the wrong man in every way.

Tz (I'm shortening it for heaven's sake, and my sake for writing this) ends her marriage and moves into Orthodox Judaism. In the sense that she physically moves into an Orthodox neighborhood, adopts the laws and rituals and becomes a practicing Orthodox Jew.

Elan is the butcher, a widower, a man Tz is attracted to for his size and brusque manner. When the Rabbi's wife suggests a match and Elan is among the choices, Tz says yes. They have a few meals together, agree that they want children, will both continue to work and they get married (it really is that cut and dried).

Elan, on their wedding night, says what do you like? And Tz takes a chance and tells him. And discovers that her new husband understands BDSM quite well and gives her exactly what she needs.

What she needs... is the theme of this book and how BDSM and Orthodox Judaism merge together. It's about accepting restrictions and forms of bondage to find freedom. To take flight. What this book does is gives us a heroine who can only be free by choosing her shackles and losing herself in the bonds.

The sex is so necessary to this story but it isn't purple cock heads and glistening drops of pre-cum. It's pain and discomfort. It's being bound into immobility and learning to let go while bound. It's about modesty on the outside and complete freedom on the inside.

My reaction to this book was ... well... right now I have tears skimming my eyes when writing this. It was one of the best books I've read this year and possibly among the best I've read ever. It's glorious.


Carolyn: Lori's just about said it all, really, and much better than I could. I just know that this is an amazing book and deserves a wide audience.

I still have difficulty relating pain to pleasure. Perhaps it's like scratching an itch until you bleed? It certainly couldn't be equated to a gallbladder attack because there's NOTHING pleasurable about that and nothing to be learned either, except pain hurts along with a longing for immediate surgery.

And still, the silly side of me wonders ...  They want children and what happens if little Tz or Elan Jr wander into the bedroom to find mama strung up by her hair (to all appearances) and bound with pretty blue rope? I'm being facetious, of course, but still ... I do wonder.

I could see that Tz wanted to live an Orthodox life and tried her best to do so but it was never linked with her religion; kosher is part of being Orthodox but how and why does it relate to beliefs? The BDSM fit in, yes, but it seemed kosher closed her in, rather than letting her fly as the sex did. Was kosher a religious experience to her? Seemed like more of a hassle. How did covering her hair fit in her religion?

The book needed to be longer, damn it!

Lori: In Orthodoxy, Carolyn, people keep their head covered in respect to God. Men wear a yarmulke and women cover their heads with scarves or oftentimes, a wig. So that explains why nobody knew her hair color. And why it mattered to Tz.

And of course keeping kosher is how one is an observant Jew. It's following the rules and laws. And I truly believe that the entire point of who Tz was, is that in being bound by laws, rules, observance and rope was all that could set her free.

This is just such an excellent book. I could never find pleasure in pain although as Carolyn pointed out, sometimes in scratching a certain itch or probing a painful spot feels deliciously bad. We've all felt it. So I guess there's a small awareness of how it can feel good while feeling bad.

Although I'm not interested in pain as pleasure or even the sexual aspect of the story really, it was all about finding freedom. Taking flight. 

I can't say enough about this book. Read it. Feel it. It's amazing.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Is It Time for Resolutions?

Yes, I'm one of those. There's something about a new page, a fresh start, a second chance that delights me. It isn't just the idea of decoding to go on a diet or resolve to write 500 words a day... it's bigger than that.

A new year. A new beginning. A new chance to grow and learn. To come closer to being who it s you really want to be. To a life not mired in regret or sadness. To a life lived and a life appreciated.

My so-far defining moment happened on Christmas day. We sat together around the tree and unwrapped presents. Mollie almost busted a gut in joy, so many K-Pop things she wanted. Video games, clothes, gift cards. I was so happy to see her excitement.

I didn't get what I really wanted most. There were two books I asked for and a 2018 calendar. They were the things I wanted most. And I didn't get them. I did get other things I wanted: a shoe rack, a beautiful journal, new pillows. But I wanted those books and disappointment settled into me like an unwanted but persistent friend.

Later that day more family came and Mary gave me a present she made herself: a purple shawl/blouse, flowy and light weight and made for me. Made expressly for me. Everyone had a story about how frustrating it was for her to make it to my changing size, to figure my bust and height, and to make something she'd never made before but to want to take the time and effort because, as she told me later, she wanted to recognize how much I do for my family that goes unsung.

That was the moment the window opened and I got it. Almost 60 years old and I got it. I went onto Amazon and ordered the books I wanted. I told Mollie we were going to go and find me a perfect calendar for 2018. I refused to allow the disappointment I knew so well to take a deeper root.

Mollie and I discussed it yesterday in the car. I told her about my epiphany. I told her that it doesn't matter our age, we are always growing and learning and to embrace it. It's okay to be sad about something or disappointed in someone but does that have to be what defines you?

This is the blouse, by the way.

A lot of other things have happened since I started this post. But right now I'm going to end this. We have a long haul.

It's almost 2018.

I can't wait for the new year.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

The blurb:


BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass. 

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer. 

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don't expect me to actually go through with it.


TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life. 

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.




Lori:  "Try it," Carolyn said. "It's funny."

Ladies, Carolyn didn't lie.

I laughed out loud on page 2. I finished the book in one day. I laughed out loud a few other times. I snickered, I snorted and for once, I read all the sex scenes.

It's an erotic romance without erotica. It's romance with actual heart. 

It worked. It seriously worked.

It wasn't just that it was funny. This book took a trope I despise and made it work. And that's sex between strangers. It sets my teeth on edge. But in this, I was okay with it. Brynn is newly divorced, she's at a party and she sees her ex with a woman who is basically a younger version of herself and she can either fall apart or launch herself at the gardener.

She launches. Has sex. Condom is involved. And then later things go all wrong. But at that point, I was all in.

Carolyn:  It is truly a romance for modern times. Brynn likes to cook and she started a blog and uploaded three recipe books to Amazon. So when a partygoer videos her ... um ... experience with Tom, her book sales go out of sight and here blog gets all sorts of hits. It just tickled me, it was so millenium, lol.

And, like Lori says, it's erotic and yet not. I think it's because they're doing stuff beside tab A into slot B. You know, dialogue, shit like that. There was no time for precum! Thank God!

There's also the usual girl herd - well, in this case a trio. Ash shocked me just a bit, both her name and her language, but I got used to her and the part she played at the end of the book had me in stitches, lol. Bet the next book is about her.

Love the sense of humor displayed by these authors and despite the crazy blurb, loved the plot. These people were adults; any misunderstanding was not allowed to grow. They TALKED to each other.

And they make the cutest damn couple.  :-) 

Lori: Because no book is perfect, we will say that the cover sucks. I mean, it really sucks. Like yuck.

And I had some small issues with the girl posse because they had a lot of shit going on with them and I didn't know if they were just being set up as sequel bait or if we weren't supposed to care. I cared, dammit!

But the book was adorbs and I can't suggest it highly enough. Thank you Carol for promising I'd laugh. You were right. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Japanese Fundraiser

I'll try not to be too embarrassed to post this here... my daughter and two other young ladies from her high school are going to Japan in June as part of an exchange program. Mollie has been studying Japanese for three years and intends to go to college and major in languages and Asian studies in the hopes of living/working in Japan and/or Korea.

We're fundraising to help with expenses.

I won't be too obnoxious with this.

πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

Fans of Debbie Macomber and Jojo Moyes will love this warm, funny, moving holiday tale from the New York Times bestselling author of Christmas at the Cupcake CafΓ© and Little Beach Street Bakery.
It’s a white Christmas in England, and Rosie Hopkins is feeling festive: Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, luscious chocolate boxes, and happy, sticky children, and she and her boyfriend are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their families.
But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their charming town, all of Rosie's plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she and her loved ones see their way through the difficult times?
Sweet and soulful, heartbreaking and heartwarming, this is the perfect novel for the holidays (or any time of year).


THIS NON-REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.



Lori:  Bah and humbug. 

I love the holidays and this year is just swimming in holiday goodness. I've already got the Christmas Pandora station streaming, I've watched 2 holiday movies with kissing and my Kindle is festooned with Christmas romance book covers.

This was the first book in the Christmas season and it drove me damned close to burning a gift and ripping down some mistletoe.

Rosie is a nurse who runs her aunt's sweetshop in a small English village. Her boyfriend Stephen is a schoolteacher, gentry type who has title and property and no cash. His mother is a bit of a witch, the town is all adorbs the way small towns are... there's the sweet best friend with the heart of gold boyfriend, the man crazy aunt who can't forget the love of her life and the mystery man with dementia. Also lots of cute kids. Lots of cute kids.

Did I mention the cute kids? Cause Rosie has a sweetshop. 

Anyway, the reason I disliked this book so much was because it was impossible to like Rosie or Stephen. What's the point of a holiday romance when you don't feel the main couple have done anything to deserve a HEA?


Carolyn: I'm sorta ambivalent about this book. After we talked, I went on and finished the book and found myself becoming more and more immersed in it. I enjoyed the snarky dialogue between Rosie and Stephen and between most of the characters, really. But I really, really dislike the 'big misunderstanding' trope and that's what this book was based on.

I understood and felt for Stephen re his PTSD. I didn't understand Rosie not clueing in on it, especially with her medical background.

It's hard to state some of my feelings without spoilers, so I will scatter warnings around and just plow on ahead.

I cried when James/Henry's story ended. On the other hand, I thought the ending of the book contained more than a little treacle and was a real downer for a Christmas book.

And I never really got a handle on all the characters except the three year old; she could have been Mollie, lol. (a younger Mollie, of course)


Lori:  To me it wasn't the big misunderstanding that killed the book for me: it was Rosie. 

I'm completely heroine-centric and if the heroine doesn't work for me then the book is a dead end. And Rosie didn't work for me. There was nothing about her that I really liked.

The worst part of the book was that Rosie's family all lived in Australia and were coming to visit for Christmas and Rosie never told her live-in boyfriend that her family was descending upon them. 

Rosie just did what she wanted and didn't pay attention to what it meant to other people. And all her choices were selfish. Even the selfless choice to keep the school open was selfish because she wanted to keep her sweetshop open and keep her boyfriend employed.

Rosie was a git and I didn't root for her. Also I don't feel she'd be a good life partner since she never treated anyone in her life with honesty or true empathy.

Carolyn:  I'm not heroine-centric, thank the lord. I did get outdone with Rosie. But, you know, she sorta reminded me of me, the way she kept putting things off. When it's something you don't want to do, that you know will cause problems and/or fighting, emotionally insecure people do tend to think "I'll do it tomorrow, I can handle it better then because ...blah, blah, blah". (That's why my house looks like it does. ;-))

I also think if you squint real hard and angle your head in precisely the right position, you can see the school/Stephen thing differently (well, not you you, but a general you). She really did want the best for Stephen. She really did have low self esteem but I didn't buy how she talked herself into believing he didn't love her. But that's what folks with low self esteem do.

It was the Aussie family that got on my nerves (sorry Lea). When first they arrived they were horrible. Trashy even. And then, for no particular reason that I could see, they became acceptable, behaved better and were gathered into the loving arms of the village, or at least Stephen's mother. Didn't buy it. But it is a Christmas story, so whatcha gonna do??

Lori: Well, because it's the season and all that fa-la-la, I'll be kind and say there is probably something in the book to enjoy. Just not for me.

I do understand how you could see Rosie as insecure but I saw it as selfish. However... it wasn't a DNF and it was an easy and moderately pleasant read. I'd love to know how other people feel about it.

And on another note: we plan on reviewing at least one more Christmas themed book as well as Loretta Chase's newest. And we'll be pulling a mean trick on one another soon and choosing a book for the other person to read. Anybody know any Amish bondage books I can force on Carolyn?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Still Old, Still Farting and Still Talking Romance

We're still here.

Where there's a Lori, there's a Carolyn and behind every Carolyn is a Lori. We're still a team, still together and still talking.

We're just the same and different.

Mollie is a junior in high school and already going to college fairs and starting to look at scholarships. She'll be leaving me soon and my life is on the cusp of that great loss... right now I'm living in every moment enjoying the last years of being a mother to a child.

My heart swells and breaks every day.

Carolyn has been adjusting to life on her own in the middle of Trump country. It's a struggle sometimes to find a reason to get up and keep moving and she's working on that. This is not a world created for aging people.

We're still laughing and fighting. We still look at pictures of Jason Mamoa and clutch our pearls. (We'd rather clutch something else .. nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

We miss the romance community.

But we're figuring things out and where we want to be.

These old farts aren't done yet.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Overwhelmed

Life has just become overwhelming as of late. Time is at a premium and free time is hard to find. Work eats up my week with long hours and endless commuting and non-work time is chores and child, a lot of movement.

I am writing a murder mystery on Wattpad. It's fun and relaxing and writing not for profit has taken the stress out of it.

Carol and I are still talking but not as much as before **insert sad face here**. Time difference and work sometimes makes the connection hard. But there's still a lot of laughs we share.

Family is pretty okay. Mollie is discovering the bad side of teenage girls and having a slightly harder time recently. We're all navigating this together and trying to help her learn and not get too damaged by teenage girl meanness. (No bullying, just friendships gone bad and friends being pulled in different directions.)

Anyway, I'll put up a link to Wattpad soon for the story. Hope all our friends are doing well.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Carolyn's September Buys

Haven't done this for awhile and to be honest, I'm mostly doing it now to keep track of the books. It seems I've preordered quite a few for September. Hopefully, if someone reads this, a book or two will strike a chord in the reading heart and you'll discover you can't live without that particular book.  ;-)


1.  Cover of Night (Alpha Crew Book 3)
     
      Author: Laura Griffin
      Publisher: Simon and Schuster
      Price:  $3.99
      Release Date: September 4, 2017


Sparks fly when a journalist and a Navy SEAL cross paths in Thailand in this third entry in the thrilling and sexy Alpha Crew series from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.

Journalist Karly Bonham is on her first overseas mission, covering the new United States ambassador to Thailand, when she is taken hostage by terrorists, with only her wits and courage to keep her alive--until help arrives in the form of Navy SEAL Ethan Dunn.

As part of an elite SEAL team called Alpha Crew, Ethan has been on countless harrowing missions, but he knows this one is different the instant he meets Karly—the sexy young reporter who somehow managed to escape the terrorists’ clutches. Ethan is impressed by her, especially when he learns she has intel that could be the key to a successful rescue op. Ethan knows working with a civilian raises the stakes on an already dangerous mission. But with the clock ticking down, he enlists Karly’s help to thwart a vicious plot and bring a terrorist mastermind to justice.


2.  Secrets in Death
     
      Author: J D Robb
      Publisher: Macmillan
      Price: $14.99
      Release Date: September 5, 2017


A new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series: Lt. Eve Dallas must separate rumors from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced.

The chic Manhattan nightspot Du Vin is not the kind of place Eve Dallas would usually patronize, and it’s not the kind of bar where a lot of blood gets spilled. But that’s exactly what happens one cold February evening.
The mortallywounded woman is Larinda Mars, a self-described “social information reporter,” or as most people would call it, a professional gossip. As it turns out, she was keeping the most shocking stories quiet, for profitable use in her side business as a blackmailer. Setting her sights on rich, prominent marks, she’d find out what they most wanted to keep hidden and then bleed them dry. Now someone’s done the same to her, literally—with a knife to the brachial artery.
Eve didn’t like Larinda Mars. But she likes murder even less. To find justice for this victim, she’ll have to plunge into the dirty little secrets of all the people Larinda Mars victimized herself. But along the way, she may be exposed to some information she really didn’t want to know…


3.  A Conspiracy in Belgravia (The Lady Sherlock Series)
      
      Author: Sherry Thomas
      Publisher: Penguin Group
      Price:  $9.99
      Release Date: September 5, 2017

The game is afoot as Charlotte Holmes returns in USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas’s Victorian-set Lady Sherlock series.

Being shunned by Society gives Charlotte Holmes the time and freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office.

Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half brother.

In the meanwhile, Charlotte wrestles with a surprising proposal of marriage, a mysterious stranger woos her sister Livia, and an unidentified body surfaces where least expected. Charlotte’s investigative prowess is challenged as never before: Can she find her brother in time—or will he, too, end up as a nameless corpse somewhere in the belly of London?


4.  On the Chase (Rocky Mountain K9 Unit Book 2)
      
      Author: Katie Ruggle
      Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
      Price:  $6.15
      Release Date: September 5, 2017

Injured in the line of duty,
His orders are simple:
Stay alive.
But when a frightened woman bursts into his life, Hugh and his K9 companion have no choice but to risk everything to keep her safe.
The sole witness to a horrific crime, Kaylee Ramay flees to the Colorado Rockies to start a new life. There she becomes Grace, a dog kennel employee desperately trying to avoid attention-especially from dangerously attractive K9 Officer Hugh Murdoch.
Because Hugh is tall, dark...and nothing but trouble.
Hugh is anxious to get back in the field after an act of heroism left him warming the bench.
Until then, he and his K9 partner Lexi spend their hours teasing the town's mysterious newcomer. But when their simmering attraction is nearly cut short by a sniper's bullet, Hugh's mystery woman must come clean about the secrets she keeps...
Or both of them will pay the price.

5.  A Taste of Honey (Lively St Lemon Book 4)
      
      Author: Rose Lerner
      Publisher: self published?
      Price: $0.99
      Release Date: September 12, 2017


Fire and ice cream...

Robert Moon risked everything, including his father’s hardwon legacy, to open his beloved Honey Moon Confectionery on the busiest street in Lively St. Lemeston. Now he’s facing bankruptcy and debtor’s prison. 

When a huge catering order comes in, he agrees to close the sweet-shop for a week to fill it. There’s only one problem: his apprentice is out of town, so his beautiful shop-girl Betsy Piper must help Robert in the kitchen.

Betsy’s spent the last year trying to make her single-minded boss look up from his pastries and notice that she would be the perfect wife. Now the two of them are alone in a kitchen full of sweet things. With just one week to get him to fall in love with her, she’d better get this seduction started...

She soon discovers that Robert brings the same meticulous, eager-to-please attitude to lovemaking that he does to baking, but can kisses—no matter how sweet—compete with the Honey Moon in his heart?


6.  The Duke's Bridal Path
      
      Author(s): Grace Burrowes, Theresa Romain
      Publisher: Grace Burrowes Publishing
      Price:  $3.99
      Release Date: September 12, 2017

Two Regency novellas of true love deep in the English countryside....Legend says that the first gentleman a lady kisses on the Duke's Bridle' Path will become her true love. Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain say it's not that easy... 

In His Grace for the Win, by Grace Burrowes, Philippe, Duke of Lavelle, has sworn off all things equestrian after his brother's riding accident. Just one tiny problem: The woman who steals Philippe's heart, Harriet Talbot, loves horses, and generally only notices men when they're in the saddle. Will Philippe rise to the challenge, or come a cropper for the sake of true love? 

In Desperately Seeking Scandal, by Theresa Romain, ambitious London reporter Colin Goddard follows a trail of scandal to the Lavelle seat in Berkshire, hoping to save his career with articles on how to snare a wealthy spouse. What was intended as a humorous series turns seductive, as Lady Ada Ellis, sister to the duke, uncovers Colin’s true purpose and challenges him to a battle of wits…and wills, and hearts. But if they fall in love, one of them will lose everything. Who will triumph?


7.  Wicked Deeds

      Author: Heather Graham
      Publisher: Harlequin
      Price: $7.99
      Release Date: September 19, 2017

Eager to start their life together, historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce take a detour en route to their new home in Virginia and stop for a visit in Baltimore. But their romantic weekend is interrupted when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe–themed restaurant. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the corpse, the FBI's Krewe of Hunters paranormal team is invited to investigate. As more bizarre deaths occur, Vickie and Griffin are drawn into a case that has disturbing echoes of Poe's great works, bringing the horrors of his fiction to life. 

The restaurant is headquarters to scholars and fans, and any of them could be a merciless killer. Except there's also something reaching out from beyond the grave. The late, great Edgar Allan Poe himself is appearing to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. Unless they can uncover whose twisted mind is orchestrating the dramatic re-creations, Vickie and Griffin's future as a couple might never begin…


8.  Archangel's Viper

      Author: Nalini Singh
      Publisher: Penguin
      Price: $7.99
      Release Date: September 26, 2017

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn't a vampire or an angel...or human...
 
Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it's not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman--it's the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.
 
Now, someone has put a bounty on her head...
 
Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael's private guard, and he's as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly's. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself--because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening...
 
No one is safe.      
      

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

White Guilt

This is a terrible time in America. We have a man leading the country who says there are good people in the ranks of Nazis and White Supremacists and violent people in the crowd of counter protesters who brought no weapons and were standing against hate.

Marginalized people are suggesting the only thing new is that the Klansmen no longer feel like they have to wear hoods and for the first time, for the first time since I'm aware, white people need to shut the fuck up finally and start learning how they're complicit and how to change.

It's hard. It makes me personally feel bad. I read posts that say white people are complicit and I want to whine, "not me, I'm not a racist" but seriously, of course I am. I'm not color blind. I have white privilege and I know it. And it makes me shamed because whether or not I feel I deserve it, I get treated a fuck of a lot better for being white than people more qualified than me who are of different races.

Maybe I'm luckier than most because I've faced prejudice as a Jew, as a woman, as a mother of a gender bending Chinese child. I've heard Chink as a description of my daughter, I've been told that Jews are going to hell and we are waiting for our messiah, the anti-Christ (hey, I didn't vote for him, you did!!)

I've never felt white guilt before because I could claim to be marginalized. But I wasn't. A teaspoon amount of hate in a vast ocean doesn't allow me to claim understanding.

I hate this feeling. I hate not knowing what to do, where to turn. My country is being destroyed quickly. This isn't a small dismantling of pieces but a huge rending of our nation and we need to stop it and I don't have a fucking clue what to do.

I hate being told that being white is complicit even though I know it's true. Even more, the guilt of knowing that unless we figure out as white people how to get this country back from hate then we're as bad as those marching with their tiki torches and racist chants.

This is America and we've let our silence bring us here. Now we need to let POC show us the way to get out of this mess. So shut up for once white Americans and lets listen and follow someone else's lead.

This really is on all of us.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

And The World (And My Head) Keep Spinning

Reasons I don't want to get out of bed most mornings:

1. Fox News put up an opinion piece saying that Russia did meddle in the election and the Trump campaign was dirty but do we really care? After all, Trump is go good for the economy that we should overlook any criminal activity. (Still: Hillary's emails.)

2. The growing racism/Islamphobia/sexism of this country is terrifying.

3. HBO having a show whose premise is the civil war never happened (or different ending) and blacks are still slaves. And people don't understand why it shouldn't be made. Judd Apatow saying that maybe it will be like All In The Family and I'm just shaking my head. It's 2017. No. Just no. It's every shade of wrong and if you can't see that then I'm pointing a finger and saying you're part of the problem.

4. Reclaiming my time. Jay-sus. Don't tell me how wonderful I am, answer my question.

5. Check AztecLady's blog for the teach your daughters how to properly say no. Almost amusing since the author then called all the women saying no "outrage Twitter" but again with the sexism.

6. Personal note: I can't afford having a teenager. I just can't.

7. Body acceptance. Suddenly I'm reading about how dieting is bad and weight watchers is bad and body acceptance is the only good. And I want to post and mention that there's more empowerment in gaining control of eating issues and weight than in just telling a fatphobic world they should appreciate my obesity. I feel like I'm supposed to be happy with being fat and feel guilt because I'm not. (I'd rather not judge those who are happy in their skin at any weight and support those who aren't. And I'm not. Stop making me feel bad for losing weight and liking myself more.)

8. Work. I hate the anxiety. But I like the paychecks.

9. We have a congress nowadays who are passing laws to restrict the president's power because they don't trust Trump. The fear that our lawmakers are showing that Trump will send a nuke or start a war does not make me feel confident.

Our country is going to hell in a handbasket. And... my Fox watching, lib hating brother who openly calls Trump a loon... still supports him. Says he's a terrible president and supports him. Continues to say Hillary should be jailed. And he's representative of republicans nowadays. Hate the president but support him. Because he's white, male and not other.

If women don't take over the country soon, I worry there won't be a country left to take over.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Wildfire: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews

Carolyn:  It's going to be difficult to discuss this book without giving out spoilers, so since I'm up first, I'll post the bookcover and the blurb.  Heh.

As far as the cover's concerned, it's the standard romance-type cover, only this time they put an undershirt on "Mad" Rogan. None of the covers in this trilogy do justice to the stories behind them. These books are so much more than your vanilla romances plus each one is a solid five stars on Amazon.  Wildfire has 296 reviews; White Hot has 645 reviews and Burn for Me, the first book, has 1318 reviews and they ALL have five solid stars.**

But, take a look at the cheesy cover:



Meh.

And the blurb:

Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating—harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancΓ©e, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.
Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?


**as of this writing.


Lori:  If there was ever a reading slump happening, this book kicked it to the curb while wearing stiletto boots and looking like a boss.

This book was perfection.

Yes. Perfection.

I liked the first book but it wasn't something I'd burn down a house to get to. The second book was much more enjoyable as Nevada and Connor's relationship blossomed and their power became a large part of who they were. I enjoyed Nevada's family. My only issue with the second book was the cast of characters had me confused at times.

But. This. Book. Was. Perfect.

There's a mystery going on but that's so secondary to the enjoyment. It's watching Nevada navigate being in love with a man who is larger than life and just as dangerous, it's watching Nevada deal with jealousy and love and familial obligation, it's watching Nevada make choices that might hurt those she loves while protecting them at the very same time.

I was 100% on Nevada's side and cheering her on with every step.


Carolyn:  And it was seeing Connor Rogan through Nevada's eyes, her realization of his true self and how much he loved her. How he let her do her thing despite his knee jerk reaction to protect her. Both characters grew so much in this book; I think all of the characters did and that's what made it such a satisfying read.

So, what did you think of Victoria? Or, as they call her on the Andrews' blog, EG (Evil Grandma) lol.

And I have to admit I was a little disappointed in Penny, Nevada's mom. She couldn't seem to learn from the past and wanted to handle the current situation with Victoria as she and her husband did in the past. I don't think she ever did buy into the House solution, but still, I'm pretty sure she'll back up any decision made through family consensus.

I'm totally hoping for a fourth book ASAP. Because I am an Old Fart, after all. And when my time comes I'm hoping to take all my Ilona Andrews books with me and I by God will figure out a way to read any new ones after my departure. Heh.


Lori:  Carol, if I outlive you then I'll visit your grave and read the damned books to you myself!

I found Penny to be somewhat ineffectual. Nevada has taken over the family and is doing what she can to keep everyone safe. Obviously hiding won't work so her constant harping about it is foolish

Victoria was a terrific character. Her evil was tempered. I could see her becoming an ally to Nevada in later books if the authors decide to take it that way. Victoria is the kind of person who admires strength and the Baylor family has that in spades.

I just loved this book on so many levels. It was brilliantly paced, there was a great love story, especially in seeing how two strong people can make it work, despite having boundary issues. Rogan is a wonderful hero, Nevada is a wonderful heroine.

Oh, and their dinner date from hell was pure joy as other Primes kept coming in and harshing their vibe. Just damned excellent!

Okay older fart, wrap this baby up.


Carolyn:  Not much more to say. Buy the book. Read the book. You won't regret it. This is a 10 star book in a 5 star universe.  :-)

I wanted more Cornelius and I got it. I wanted more ferrets ... well, I didn't get that but we did get Loki, a cat with a tentacle neck ruff, so that was neat. Still want more Cornelius though because his animal magic is so damn neat.

And although this book is touted as the conclusion to the trilogy, I don't believe it will remain a trilogy for very long. The ending was more or less open ended; even though the main plot was brought to a satisfactory conclusion, several plot threads remain open, including the identity of Caesar. I know, Lori, you think you know who it is, but it was never stated for sure. And the Andrews can be verrrry sneaky.

Best book ever.  Time to reread.  :-D

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

It's Saturday morning and I haven't exercised at all this week. I should be at the track right now walking in endless circles while listening to female empowerment songs but it's raining and I'm glad because I just need a day off. A real day off.

A day where books and coffee and quiet are the norm.

And oh my, let's talk a moment about books.

I've been reading very little in recent years. I used to gobble books like candy but life gets hectic and there's so many responsibilities and nowadays if the book doesn't grab me or impress me within the first couple of pages then I'm moving on.

Recently I've been grabbed.

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas was a damned good grabber. It's a Sherlock Holmes mystery but get this... Sherlock is a woman. Watson is a woman. And Sherlock who is really Charlotte can only use her brains to solve mysteries because in England way back whenever.... women were constrained under societal rules. So Charlotte/Sherlock uses her brains and sends Scotland Yard chasing the clues she needs.

Why the book works: Charlotte is different. She's brilliant and doesn't fit into conventional society. She knows it and her family knows it and her father gives her lip service promising to let her find her own path if she plays by the rules till she's a certain age. She plays. He lies.

Charlotte creates her own downfall to try and get what she wants. It doesn't really work. But then she meets Watson, a friend of a friend who helps her out and becomes her mentor in a sense.

By the way, Charlotte is in love with a man she cannot have. Marriage and morals keeps them apart (not Charlotte's moral, his).

Why the book doesn't work: since Charlotte is a woman and can't be out there solving the crimes, the book relies heavily on Inspector someone and someone else to do the legwork and get the juicy stuff. Then there's the paramour and that's 2 or 3 men and I couldn't keep them all straight.

I just wanted more Charlotte. And more of Charlotte's sister Livia who is on the edge of being another great character. The men were forgettable but the women were stunning.

So it wasn't a 10 out of 10 book because the men didn't grab me. It was a 9 out of 10 book because the women grabbed me and didn't let go. If the next books could send the women out to solve crimes, I'd purr like a contented kitten and never stop.

Charlotte Holmes is an awesome as fuck character. Thank you Ms. Thomas for her.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

NSV

An NSV in weight watchers lingo is a Non Scale Victory.

So last night the neighbors across the street had a 50th anniversary party. I only know them because they're yellers and constantly are yelling either at the dogs to stop barking or fighting with each other (quite loudly) dropping F bombs the way I used to drop my panties for good looking fellas.

Anyway, we went to their anniversary party. And I wore a top that I bought months and months ago that I realized I could wear as a dress now, it's so loose and long. NSV.

As an aside: last night as I was falling asleep the neighbors got home from their party and started yelling again and it was the perfect moment. Got to admire 50 years together and still screaming fuck-you at each other.

So in other news, I'm actively seeking other employment since my boss called me a shithead. Do not ever let me be a woman who allows abuse. I have an interview this week at my dream place of employment so Mollie and I are hitting the mall today to try and find an interview dress and shoes. To say I have nothing to wear is true. I have workout clothes and scrubs and 3 casual tops. Yikes.

Still working on outline for Carol and my new project. It's interesting to outline since this is something I haven't done before. But it's really helpful and I can already see where plot is going to need to be beefed up. In other words: Carolyn, get ready to start working...

Reading A Study in Scarlet Women, a Sherlock Holmes retelling by Sherry Thomas. Expect a joint review soon. I will say, more enjoyable than I thought but a little problematic.

Not much more else to say. Read the NYT interview with POTUS. Amazing to see how truly ignorant the man is. I would make a better president than him and there's so much I don't know. Fascinating reading though. He's a classic there's no there, there.

Love to all...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#skinnyforsanta2017

So had two bad work days. Okay, have had more like nine bad work months but the last two days were really disheartening. And with the boss calling me a shithead the previous week, I'm pretty done with this place.

But that's okay. The money there is good and we all know he pays well because he's impossible to work with. And I figured for the money I could put up with a lot. But my limit was reached with the shithead comment and then two days of disrespect with co-workers put me over the edge. I took today off to polish my resume and start applying for new jobs.

Happily I can say my resume is updated and I've already put in applications at the hospital.

However.... I got home last night in a slightly foul mood and ate chips. Stayed in my weight watchers points but damn, I ate chips and they were good. Then I scanned through the Weight Watchers chat and saw a #skinnyforsanta challenge. And I joined. So 5 months from now I want to be 170. As of this morning I'm 192 which puts me at exactly 60 pounds lost.

I'm fucking proud of myself.

Other news:
1. I cannot read Jill Shalvis. Sorry Carolyn. She just isn't a good enough writer.
2. I want to reread the Hitchhikers Guide books.
3. Mollie still hasn't gotten contacts because her eyes are too small. Second set of specialty contacts are ordered for her to try.
4. I've given up on jogging but I'm still walking. And saving my money to join the gym.
5. I've gone from wearing 4X tops to XL tops. My wardrobe is shrinking but also my new tops are really much cuter.

6. Carolyn and I are working on writing something new.

It's going to take us forever and a day but the premise is solid, the characters are interesting and I'm excited.

Love to everyone.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

How To Be Good





Katie Carr is a good person…sort of. For years her husband’s been selfish, sarcastic, and underemployed. 

But now David’s changed. He’s become a good person, too—really good. He’s found a spiritual leader. He has become kind, soft-spoken, and earnest. Katie isn’t sure if this is deeply felt conversion, a brain tumor—or David’s most brilliantly vicious manipulation yet. Because she’s finding it more and more difficult to live with David—and with herself.


Have you ever read a book that enraged you? A book that had a good idea but was written with so much spite and disdain that you wanted to punch the author in the face? If you haven't, might I suggest that you try How To Be Good by Nick Hornby.

This is a well written book in the sense that Hornby can write and he has an engaging voice. But...

Every single character in this book is despicable. There's the married couple, the faith healer, two children, the man on the side and pretty much every single character in this book sucks. The main character, Katie is a doctor who is having an affair and thinking about divorcing her asshole husband. And her husband is a dick. Contemptuous, rude, just a horrible human being.

But wait. He gets touched by a faith healer (who is also a stupid character) and then becomes a nice person. Except he isn't really nice at all. He gives away money, gives away his kid's toys, is sanctimonious and although he's no longer bitter and sarcastic he's still a major dick.

So do we like Katie? Fuck no. Katie is insincere, selfish, emotionally unattached from her family, her life, her children and the people she treats. She blames her husband for her straying but she's not decent enough to make choices to connect to her life or even try a little harder. Her entire life is a Katie vs the World and everyone loses.

So as selfish asswipes, the main characters suck. As good people the main characters suck. Even the kids are written that one is a kiss-ass pretender and the other is a bitter thief. Jeez. Nobody in this entire book is someone you'd want to spend 5 minutes with.

Oh, and the ending. Let's not forget the worst ending ever.

Yeah, SPOILER h 

it the book ends with Katie and David admitting basically that they're both faking it and neither feels connected to anything. There's no love, no hate, no caring. Just two soulless people sharing a life, destroying their kids and trying to pretend they're human.

These are two people that you know one day will be driving a van, picking up hitchhikers and murdering them in the basement just to feel a thrill as their victims die. And what I seriously hated about the book was the feeling that the author was being sincere. Which made me hate him too.

This book gave me a headache. Don't read it. And avoid Nick Hornby. He's the devil. ee....

Friday, June 30, 2017

Waving Goodbye to June

Well dear friends and gentle readers,

we are living through a time that will be wildly dissected by historians and mental health professionals for decades.

There's nothing I can say about our current political mess that people aren't saying better than I am. So let me say instead: anybody currently supporting the Republican party and current administration is simply the same as a good German who turned away when the Jews started getting rounded up. There's no difference.

And yes, my sibling still supports the party and administration. All I can think of it is something that someone tweeted which, I paraphrase: I can't explain to you why you should care about others.

They don't. They just don't. And they never will.

So moving away from the depressing morass of emotion... I was walking yesterday and came upon some very gross yet cool wild pig skulls (and assorted bones). There were three skulls, one still had tusks. I took 2 and brought them home and they're currently in a bucket of water bleaching the gross shit out. I plan to clean them and paint them and display them because they're so cool.

I need to decoupage one. So I need to learn decoupage.

I set a personal goal to lose 6 pounds in June and didn't think I'd make it. This morning I was down the 6 pounds exactly. Pardon me while I crow: I rock!!!

And current journal pages I love:




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata


Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.





Lori:  This book was 50% fun and readable and 50% crap.

The book begins with Ruby emailing Aaron who doesn't respond. It takes him awhile to respond to Ruby who is rather tenacious and via written words, adorable. I would like that Ruby. When Aaron finally answers, he tells her that his girlfriend had just dumped him and he wasn't in the best place.

The emails between the two are fun and fun to read. They both have their charms and there were a few moments when I giggled and/or grinned. Very enjoyable.

Then the writing goes from emails to online messaging. Still fun to read. Still charming. 

And then Aaron's tour ends and he comes back home. And suddenly the book at the half way point goes into Ruby, first person.


Carolyn:  Yeh, that it did. 

And it all went downhill from there.  

I think we'll both agree that the second half did not live up to the first. Ruby navel gazed through pages and pages and pages and when I realized I was mostly skimming, I quit reading. Because life is too damn short.

The big hangup was they were supposed to be friends and each of them feared to take it further. Ruby was in love with Aaron; Aaron, we can assume from some of his reactions, was in love with Ruby (of course she's too damn busy navel gazing to pick up on that!! grrr!!). And I got sick and tired of it.

I wish she'd worked it around to where all of the book was epistolary (I can spell it but I can't say it, lol) and had them meet at the very end when they KNEW they loved each other.

Because I LOVE epistolary books but I HATE navel gazing!!!


Lori:  It wasn't just the navel gazing either. It was that Ruby became a suddenly unlikable character. She was afraid of everything, she picked up on nothing and she was just pathetic.

I liked Ruby. Then I didn't. And to me, that was the worst thing the book did.

I skimmed the last part too and looked at the ending to see they got their HEA. For a reader to get a HEA out of this book my suggestion would be to read half of it and then write your own. Because unfortunately the author messed it up way too much.

Carolyn and I both had to give this a DNF.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

White Hot by Ilona Andrews



The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot
Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.
Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …


Lori:  I haven't been reading as much as I used to so this was a great book to kick my reading mojo in gear.

This book did great in balancing stories. There was a definite romantic storyline between Nevada and Connor, there was the mystery of who killed Nevada's client's wife and also a plot line (probably leading into the next book) with a family issue that's bound to explode.

The sexual tension between the lead characters was great. Of course I had issues with Connor's over-protective urge. There were too many times he overstepped and took away Nevada's power. Despite his accurate reasoning, it always pissed me off. Nevada's independence rests too much on Connor keeping his word, not an okay situation.

Also the one sex scene purple prosed so there was that too...


Carolyn: