Monday, May 4, 2015

Life Is Getting In The Way

I'm going to be taking a break for a few weeks, for the simple fact I don't have the energy to do anything with the blog right now.  On Monday of last week, I was informed that a very good friend of mine killed himself, and the funeral was on Friday.  Then on Friday, after the funeral, my car was totaled after a woman going 50 in a 35, slammed into the rear of my car, pushing it into another one. Luckily, my roommate, who was driving the car, was not seriously injured, but I'm going to be dealing with the consequences of that accident for a the next two weeks.  I've haven't slept all that much the last few days, and about the only thing I have the energy to do is read.  So I need to step back from the blog for a bit, and get this stuff taken care of.  I promise I'll be back.  Take care of yourselves.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I'm At Book Bloggers International Waxing Poetically Over Doctor Strange

If any of you guys are interested in reading how much I love Doctor Strange and why I think Benedict Cumberbatch is an odd choice to play him, head on over and give it a go.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Favorite Fictional Character --- Sooki the Saggy Baggy Elephant

I don't think it's possible to grow up without having body issues.  I don't care what you look like, none of us are completely comfortable in our own skin.  Between thinking we are too fat, too scrawny, not cute enough, too gangly, too whatever, it's hard to be like the way we look when we look in the mirror.  It's why so many of us have eating disorders, or get obsessed with working out, building our bodies into muscle bound temples.  It's the reason why plastic surgeons rake in the money.

There aren't a lot of characters who make it okay to like the way you look, regardless of what others think.  The Ugly Duckling is one that comes to mind, but for me, that story was about how our bodies will change as we get older, how we grown into our looks.  It's Sooki, the Saggy Baggy Elephant who is a better example of a character who comes to realize he is fine just the way he is.

Sooki doesn't know that he is supposed to look a different way, that is until a parrot makes fun of the way he looks.  At first, the poor guy is heart broken.  Nobody likes to be made fun of, and Sooki is no different in that regard.  But as the book progresses, as he starts to see all the different body types that animals come in, he starts to realize that maybe his body is the way it's supposed to be. It's when he sees himself, reflected in others that look just like him, that he truly realizes he is beautiful the way he is. 

I would like to say that I took Sooki's lesson to heart as a kid, but I was that typical scrawny guy who was always wanting to have more muscle, to look like what I thought a man was supposed to look like.  As I got older, as my metabolism finally started to slow down, I had the opposite problem, I didn't like the way I looked as I started to gain a little weight.  It's really within the last few years that I've started to understand that my body is my body.  Yeah I can obsess about changing it, and I do think I can lose 10-15 pounds, but I'm pretty okay with the way I look.  I'll never be model material, but I'm okay with that.  Like Sooki, I think I'm perfect the way I am.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Learning Curve By Kaje Harper

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Mac is afraid he'll never recover enough to go back to being a cop, while Tony is afraid he will.

Three months after being shot, Detective Jared MacLean is healing, but he's afraid it may not be enough to go back on the job.  He won't give up, though.  Being a cop is written deep in Mac's bones, and he'll do whatever it takes to carry his badge again.  Tony used to wish he could have Mac safely home, but watching his strong husband battle disabilities is farm from Tony's dream come true. When Mac is asked to consult on a case involving one of Tony's students, both men will have to face old demons and new fears to find a way to move forward together. 

All good things must come to an end, and unless Kaje Harper writes a fifth book, which I'm praying for, I have to say goodbye to Mac and Tony.  That doesn't mean that this won't be a series I continuously go back to, because I will, but I'll miss getting to see where their lives take them after what proved to be the most life affirming book of the series.

Mac is struggling to not only go back on the job after his near fatal shooting left him battling aphasia, but he is having to figure out who he is as a person, a husband, a father, and as a cop.  Before he met Tony, and formed their family, most of his identity was wrapped up in his career.  If he can't go back to it, which I'll relieve your fears here, he does, he isn't sure how to go about redefining himself.  He loves Tony and the kids, but he is his job, it's who he sees himself as.

Then you have poor Tony who someone has to come to terms with the man he loves, the husband he almost lost, going back to a job that almost killed him. I can't imagine being the spouse of a police officer.  I would be terrified every time he went to work that he wouldn't be coming back, it's not a situation I envy anyone, especially in today's climate.  I think the author does a wonderful job balancing Tony and Mac as individuals, as well as a couple.  They both need different things, in both of those roles, and it's not always easy to reconcile them.  Tony's fears, and Mac's need to be the man he sees himself have are two vastly conflicting issues, and the two of them handle them in a very affirming way.

We also get to see more of Mac's background in this book, and after meeting his siblings and dad, it's very easy to see how he became the man we met in the first book.  The fact he was able to overcome, and accept a life with Tony, after his childhood is amazing, and speaks to the inner strength he has. And when you compare his family to Tony's, it's even more apparent that Tony completes Mac in ways that I don't think another man would have been able to.

Challenges: Men In Uniform

Friday, April 24, 2015

Wordsmithonia Radio: Windy Days

The wind is blowing like crazy right now, but with living in Kansas, I should be used to that by now.  I love the wind.  I love listening to the trees rustle, the house creak, and the sound it makes coming in a window.  I love the way it feels on my skin and in my hair.  I love the way it heralds in a storm, and the way it lifts a kite into the sky.  So for the next few minutes, I hope you enjoy some of my favorite "windy" songs. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Favorite Fictional Character --- Poky Little Puppy

I'm pretty sure that at some point in our lives, we have been just like Poky Little Puppy.  There are always those moments when something catches our eye, and we get distracted.  It may be a really cool shirt at the store, you stop to look at it, and the next thing you know, your friends have disappeared on you.  I find myself copying Poky Little Puppy every time I'm in a bookstore, record store, or an antique mall.

You see, Poky Little Puppy just can't seem to turn his curiosity off.  He finds himself being left behind by his brothers and sisters all the time.  At first, it keeps him out of trouble, but after a while, he starts getting so behind, that he ends up in trouble.

Now I don't know about you, but when I get in a bookstore, I'm always in trouble.  I go in, thinking I'll only be in there for a 10 to 15 minutes, before I know it, I've been in there for an hour or two.  I would see the bargain stacks, get distracted by the new paperbacks, and get stuck in the cafe, staring at the cheesecake.

Poky is my hero in a way.  He doesn't allow himself to feel guilty over his curiosity, he lives his life the way he wants to, and doesn't let those around him dictate the speed he lives life.  He enjoys his life, and doesn't stress out when plans don't go quite his way, well unless he misses dessert. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Anniversary by Amy Gutman

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

It's been five years since the execution of Steven Gage, a devious, charming psychopath who took the lives of more than a hundred women.

In those five years, three women connected with his case have moved on.  His attorney has rid herself of the stigma of defending Gage.  A true-crime writer has started a new project after her bestseller about his rampage.  And Steven's ex-girlfriend has made a new life for herself - one where she won't be reminded that she once shared her home with a monster. 

But someone hasn't moved on.  On the fifth anniversary of Gage's execution, each of the three women gets a private note... a chilling message that lets them all know they haven't been forgotten, and that in someone's dark imagination, Gage's legacy of terror lives on. 

At the time of his sentencing, Gage issued a terrifying edict that all three women hoped was meaningless.  As threats against them turn deadly, the past explodes into the present.  And one woman is in the fight of her life to uncover who is responsible - a killer who is determined to start up the string of murders right where they stopped. 

Before I go on a semi-rant, I should probably let you know that I don't dislike this book.  For what it is, a typical thriller, it's well written and I really do enjoy the characters.   There was nothing about it that surprised me, but it kept me entertained enough to finish reading it.  Who knows, I may even reread it at some point in time.

After reading this book, and comparing it to the various thrillers I've read over the years, I think I'm finally figuring out the problem I tend to have with them.  When I say "them", I'm really talking about the books that feature a female protagonist, who just happens to have a deep dark secret in her past.  They all seem to use a particular plot point, and it's getting rather old.

I'm trying to figure out why, when the female protagonist starts to have their lives fall apart, they start to suspect their boyfriend/husband.  Whether it involves people around them getting killed, harassing phone calls/letters, or odd occurrences, the suspicion ends up falling on the man in their lives. Normally the man tends to be a second husband, or the first serious boyfriend after whatever traumatic event happened in the past.  I will have to admit that the suspicion seems to come naturally to the women, normally because it was at the hands of a previous relationship that the bad thing happened to them.  But that doesn't excuse the laziness of the author, and I do think it's lazy.

I think plot points that are as predictable as rainfall during a hurricane hurt a book.  Is there really no other red herring you can throw in there?  It rarely ends up being that the new bad guy is the new man in the protagonist's life.  In these books, the new guy is really just a stooge thrown into the book to divert the woman's attention away from the real threat.  Just once, I would like to read a book where the new guys is a fully drawn character, integral to the woman's life, and never comes under suspicion.  I'm not going to be holding my breath, cause I think I would suffocate before it ever happens, but a guy can dream.

Challenges: A-Z Mystery