Disclaimer 1: I didn’t  set out to do a study of bondage, but the theme emerged in every book of my most recent reading spree.

 

Title: Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed (Vintage)

Author: E. L. James

Synopsis: A rich control-freak falls for an innocent college graduate who looks like his delinquent mother; glitz and glamor, high-speed chases, and deviant copulation ensues.

Why Did I Read This?  Everybody else was doing it?  I wasn’t planning to succumb to peer-pressure, but when I found the first book in the series at the Goodwill I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  As for why I read the second and third books, well there’s no good excuse.  I guess once you jump off the bridge with your friends  you can’t just stop falling.

Was it Worth It? The series may be best enjoyed if you check your intellect at the cover. On a positive note, the improbable scenarios are a diversion from mundane life. The shallow characters and redundant inner and outer dialogue made it a super quick read. The element  of “how much weirder can this possibly get?” and “how will this ever be justified?” may keep you reading.

You May Like This If You Liked:  The Twilight Saga Complete Collection

Title: Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel (P.S.)

Author: Isabel Allende

Synopsis: The life of a slave, Zarite, is portrayed from her girlhood on the island of Saint-Dominque to the “freedom” she finds in New Orleans.

Why Did I Read This? Isabel Allende is a master storyteller who never fails to bring history to life in her brilliant, complex tales. My worldview widens every time I read her work.

What I Loved About This Book:   The characters were layered and multidimensional. I admired Zarite’s quiet, persistent dignity and the rich duplicity in her relationship with her Master and their children.  The history of Haiti was fascinating, as was the view of New Orleans in the early 1800s.

What I Didn’t Love: The brutal bits were hard to stomach.

You May Like This If You Liked: Daughter of Fortune

Title: Burn: An Anna Pigeon Novel

Author: Nevada Barr

Why Did I Read This? Many years ago I joined a mystery readers’ book club at Bartlett Books.  I wasn’t particularly fond of mysteries, but I was fond of cake and I was always looking for an excuse to eat it regularly.  Bartlett Books had the BEST Italian cream cake in all the realm and all their books smelled of coffee.  I convinced my sister to join the club too. She provided my ride to the cake place and served as a social buffer.  I was the youngest member of this book club by at least a decade or three, and her presence allowed me to eat my cake in relative peace. While I always read the book selections, I rarely enjoyed them and I never actually spoke to anyone in the club about them, except my sis. I dismissed most of the books we read as “Scooby-Doo mysteries.”  There were a few notable exceptions, particularly Nevada Barr’s  Track of the Cat (Anna Pigeon Mysteries Book 1), which I loved. I identified with Park Ranger Anna Pigeon, who preferred the company of animals to people.  Anna was gritty and tough and she had a deep reverence for nature.  The other clubers thought Anna too “dark” and “serious,”  which is exactly why I liked her. Over the years I’ve followed the series, but I got behind at some point. Burn has been sitting on my bookshelf unread for about 4 years, so I finally decided to read it.

Just Let Me Say:  Barr went over the deep end of darkness here.  The content was extremely disturbing.  The plot revolves around a child sex-slave and skin-trade industry in New Orleans. Barr zooms in for a horrifying close-up view of a problem that many would prefer to ignore. The details were as repulsive as one might expect from the topic.  In the midst of all that, with smoke, mirrors, and voodoo, she created a huge brilliant plot twist that I never saw coming.   And to confuse matters even more she peppers in a liberal dose of strange  humor  in the most violent scenes. There were several times I had to put the book down and wonder:  what the hell?  

Who Would I NOT Recommend This To? This is definitely not a mystery for the faint of heart or the lovers of Scooby-Doo mysteries or “cozies”.  Based on the reviews of her regular readers on amazon.com, it appears that this is not a mystery for most of Barr’s regular readers either.  All that said, I went out and bought two more books in the series after I finished it.

—-

Disclaimer 2: I’m an Amazon Affiliate, which means 1.) I can use their book cover images in my posts without having to worry about them suing me, and 2.) if you use one of the links I provide in the blog to purchase the book on amazon.com I’ll get like a nickel or something.  I’m disclosing this so you will be aware that if you click on a book link, our electronic “footprints” will be walking together toward amazon.

 

This mind has a life of its own.

It invents infinite lists…
of tasks to do,
of whos to be,
of conversations to replay,
of facts to analyze,
of images to dissect,
of memories to revisit,
of futures to find,
of art to create,
of words to compose,
of dances to choreograph,
of stories to live…

of needs
of wants
of likes
of loves

and so it goes…
on and on.

I’m immersed in the mind as I sit with it all,
the time ticking by and I’m…
Impatient.
Anxious.
Hungry.
Thirsty.
Itchy.
Too hot.
No, too cold.
I’m entirely too dog-covered!

I need a cookie.

and I’m…
smelling flowers that are wilting.

and I’m…
waiting for this 15 minute self-imposed morning meditation to be over,
so I can go on with my *very important* day.

I have forgotten what the point is.

I try yoga-teachering myself, in an attempt to remember,
but the undone stuff calls, waits, looms, threatens, even.

Then, a subtle shifting.

A clicking.

Faint on the periphery
a thousand cicada tymbals vibrate
their persistent little stream of sex and magic.

The chorus swells
into a tidal wave of sound
breaking through
scattering the thought-sandcastles

the mind awash disintegrates like salt

and in the undertow…
the present.

Ever wondered what do with an unsightly tree stump?

I had  a tree stump in my front yard and I thought I was being creative by hollowing it out and planting a flower in it.

But then my sister took tree stump creativity to a whole new level.    Skattur of SoKaN and Recycled by Skattur fame, transformed her ugly stump into a fabulous little gnome house.

 

gnome house 2j

 

You can check out all the adorable details in the pictures on her blog:  Skatturcast’s Blog

I had a magical woodland fairy moment last night.

I stepped into the back yard at dusk, my mind all a-flutter with at least 15 different undone things on my daily ToDo List. I don’t remember why I was headed out back…the ducks were fed, so what could I possibly have had to do out there at nightfall? What I do remember is looking down at the ground and being so lost in a swirl of thoughts that I was seeing, yet not seeing.  Then suddenly I lifted my gaze and my attention snapped back into the living, breathing world as a family of deer – two adults and two babies – came bounding out of the treeline and into the little meadow on the other side of the pond.  I stopped in my tracks and they in theirs as we all stood looking dumbfounded at each other by this chance encounter.  After an eternity or maybe a few seconds, the adults sauntered on through the clearing on their spindly legs and the two babies frolicked, literally frolicked, on as if the word had been invented just for them and they had to show everyone what it meant.  It was so ridiculous and adorable, I could hardly stand it.

Prior to all that I was having “one of those days.”  I had an afternoon class to teach and I had spent all morning- from 6 a.m. ’til noon – preparing for it, and when it was nearing time to leave, I did a final mirror check and realized I had glitter all over my face.  My attempt to brush it off succeeded only in adding considerably more sparkle and smearing it around, for the glitter was all over my hand as well.  Apparently one of my little friends had overturned a jar of glitter in a drawer I had been digging around in for supplies. Another glance in the mirror revealed little chocolate polka dots all along the backside of my skirt.   I had sat in my own chocolate chip cookie crumbs.  On my race to the kitchen to check the time (there was none left) I stepped on a tailless lizard that Yip had been torturing in the living room. It was  on its back – still somehow alive and waving its front lizard foot at me as if trying to tell me there was no time left for either of us. “Go on, go on…” his little gesture seemed to be saying.

So I did.

And I taught my class sparkling like a Stephany Meyers vampire, smelling of chocolate, with lizard blood on my shoes.  I wonder what this will do to my teaching evals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time of year I think a lot about my grandmother.  She was born into this world and left it during the summer months.

Kiki was a fabulous and funny lady. She taught me lots of things: the names of flowers, my first prayers (“Dear God, Bless Roy and Cathy and Carey…”), how to multitask (she would exercise in the den during Wheel of Fortune), how to drive with my elbows, how to be independent (“It’s my money and I’ll wipe my ass with it if I want”).

She taught me beauty secrets such as taping your face at night to prevent wrinkles. And on that last note, when I came across this funny video today, I immediately thought of her….

 

Flowers!

Flowers!

More Flowers!

More Flowers!

Daffodil Duck (aka Daffy)

Daffodil Duck (aka Daffy)

Lunar Euphoria:

Facebook’s exploits never fail to creep me out…

Originally posted on LibrarianShipwreck:

Have you ever found that you felt rather depressed after using social media? What about quite happy? It is probably no great stretch to imagine that the answer to at least one of those questions is “yes.”

Now, what if you realized that your emotional reaction was not the result of a normal response to the unfiltered content you were seeing, but was instead reflective of manipulation on the part of the website? What if your emotion was a result of those behind the site trying to see if they could swing your mood. If the social network you are thinking of is Facebook, than there is a chance (was a chance) that some of what you were feeling (at least in January 2012) was the result of a psychological experimentone that you agreed to participate in by hitting “I agree” for Facebook’s terms of service.

The…

View original 1,688 more words

Lunar Euphoria:

Debra Parmley gives sage advice for writers and artists.

Originally posted on Threading the Web:

The author reader connection, how do we create it? How do we create any sort of good connection between people? Allow me to teach you what my father taught me.

I am the daughter of a newspaperman. Ink is in my blood.

My father worked all his life for the Springfield News and Sun in Springfield, Ohio selling advertising. I grew up watching him create ads on his drafting board, watching him deliver proofs. Every Saturday he took me with him on his rounds. Sometimes late at night he would take me down to the paper to watch the presses run. Ink is in my blood. From the letters of the typesetter, to the large round rolls of paper, to the production line of folding and inserting the Sunday inserts, all this went into the raising of this author. Even now I can close my eyes to see and hear…

View original 1,334 more words

Dear Far-Flung Family & Friends:

I am alive and well despite my lack of digital communications.  I’m having difficulty facing the screen when there is so much  presently unfolding “out there” in multiple dimensions that is demanding attention. Nonetheless, I miss you! You really should come for a visit.

This month marks two years since we arrived at Peace. Love. Home.  I continue to be awed everyday by the largest and smallest things.  Eggs for instance appear daily, as if by magic, in the dog house.  I could build a pyramid  large enough for all four of the chickens to live in with the eggs they laid this month.  How do all these eggs fit inside these fluffy feathered girls?

all my eggs in one basket

this is not even a quarter of my eggs in one basket

The chickens are comical in so many different ways.  When I go around the barn to tend to the ducks, they try their hardest to spy on me.  They cram themselves in the corner between the doghouse and the fence practically on top of each other as they vie for the best view.  When I walk back around the corner into their line of vision, the chicken totem pole disbands and they scatter as if those nosy girls couldn’t possibly be interested at all in anything I could ever do.

Apparently, word has gotten out that this place is “bird friendly” because we’ve been visited recently by interloping fowl trying to figure out how to get IN on this domesticated action.  The two wild mallards below have been touring the property regularly, checking out the ducks’ pen and the chickens’ digs.

 

june2014 003

Myrtle, Pearl, and Gertrude bow respectfully as they bid the interlopers adieu.

 

There’s also a lone Canadian goose who drops in to check everyone out.  He wanders around in the mornings honking incessantly for hours at at time.  One afternoon last week I spotted a coyote who was drawn in by all this birdy action.

Perfect strangers (of the human variety) have also dropped by this summer to share stories and cry at the kitchen table with me about things that matter, which turns out is quite a lot.

 

While I certainly enjoyed my share of audiobooks during the Hell on Wheels phase of my life, I am mostly a paperback book kind of girl.  The gravity of hardback books is way more than I care to commit to with all the keep-me-pristine-and-put-me-on-a-bookshelf vibes they emit and I have yet to read a complete e-book, though I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried! But I’m a reckless reader with a need to tear through books like the Tasmanian Devil (of the Looney Tunes variety).  There must be spines to break, covers to crinkle, and pages to stain with drops of steaming tea. Yes, I need pages and pages, in between which cookie crumbs are buried.  There must be pages to write on, to highlight, to underline, and to fold….pages to get waterlogged during boat rides and baths. And then when I’m done, the book (well, what’s left of it) can be passed off on a friend or abandoned in a public place, where the story can find its way to another home.

Here are a few more of the books I devoured this winter…

Title: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker

Synopsis:  A daughter travels to Burma to find the father who abandoned her. What she finds is the beautiful love story of Tin Win and Mi Mi.

Why Did I Read This?  The title captivated me.

Was it Worth It? Yes.

Title: Full Dark, No Stars

Author: Stephen King

Synopsis: Here we have four short stories with mean people doing nasty things.

Why I Read It:  Stephen King’s Different Seasons was one of the first “grown up” books I’d ever read that I wasn’t assigned in school.  I was 11.  This was probably not something 11-year-olds should be reading, but whatever. I went on a Stephen King reading spree at that point and blazed through a buncha his books. Then I got tired of his cheap thrills and didn’t read him for like a few decades.  Then I saw this at the library and it was like seeing an old boyfriend.  I wanted to see what he was up to these days and how he might have evolved as a writer.

How Did the Affair Go?  It was a one-night stand.  We won’t be seeing each other anymore. He’s still into cheap thrills and I’ve moved on.

Title: The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense

Author:  Joyce Carol Oates

Synopsis: Here we have four short stories with mean people doing nasty things — nope, that’s not a typo.

Why I Read It: I have this problem.  I really WANT to like Joyce Carol Oates because I feel like I’m supposed to.  She’s supposed to be all literary and stuff, so I keep reading her disturbing stuff and I keep not liking it.  Oddly, I checked this one out from the library the same day I got King’s Full Dark, No Stars.  After reading them back to back I realized that Joyce Carol Oates is the female version of Stephen King.

 

 

 

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