First Week of College…and Other Stuff

Boy oh Boy!!! This past week has been so exhausting, exhilarating, emotional. As you already know, I started college on September 8th. The day before, I swear I think I nearly lost my mind I was so full on anxiety and anticipation. I barely slept at all and finally just got out of bed around 8am. I don’t know how many times I picked out my outfit, only to change my mind. I finally settled on blue jean shorts, a black t-shirt and some comfy sneakers. I thought I’d burst out crying when my girlfriend dropped me off, but surprisingly I only had good nervous energy.

My first class, Creative Nonfiction, was quite interesting. I love my professor already. He’s strict, but in a good way. He has high expectations of us, but he actually teaches us and the one thing I appreciate the most is the fact that when he corrects you, he does it respectfully and educationally. He never makes us feel like crap for getting things wrong. He gave us homework the first day. An analytical response essay on a paper we read in class. To say I was nervous to write my first paper in six years would be an understatement. But I emailed him the paper the night before it was due (he asked us to do that so he could share in class) and he said I did a nice job. He read my paper and another girl’s paper in class the next day, and when he corrected some of my work, as well as hers, he did it in a way that made me want to be better. I felt like a wide eyed school girl soaking up every piece of information he doled out. I felt like Hermione Granger!

My second class Race and Ethnicity, was also a great class. My professor is a doctor in her field and it shows in her knowledge. She’s funny, and non-conventional, but in the second class I realized how knowledgeable she was and how much I’d actually learn from her. I was alert and ready. One thing that resonated with me the most was when she went around class and compared her skin tone to ours. When she got to me and our arms were outstretched next to one another, we couldn’t see who was darker than who. She’s white and I’m black and that exercise was bonkers. It made me think. I’m looking forward to the rest of that class and am pretty sure it’ll be one of my favorites.

Even though I enjoyed both classes, they exhausted me and filled me with doubt. I’m doing pretty decent mentally and physically right now, but I know bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia are so unpredictable and can be triggered with stress. I’m scared. I want to succeed so badly that I know I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself, but failing is not an option. The winter months are coming and those are the worst times for me. The depression is deep and my body pain goes to another level. Mentally my brain fogs up and I’m more zombie than human. But I’m trying to stay in the present and not focus on what I can’t control. Today, I’m listening to my body and giving it the rest it’s asking for. After yesterday, it definitely deserves it.

Yesterday, me and my girlfriend (Mag) took our niece and her friend to the One Direction concert at Gillette Stadium. We’d never been to a concert before so we didn’t expect the traffic, and sweet baby Jesus was it crazy. A drive that should only have taken an hour and a half ended up being four hours long. And that’s only going TO the damn concert. My niece got out down the street with the rest of the kids going to the concert, and we ended up driving for two hours trying to find a parking spot. We were supposed to go to the movies while the kids were at the concert but since we didn’t factor in the traffic, we thought it would be cutting it too close and decided to walk around. It was Amazing! When we went up the escalators at the cinemas, we never expected to find an outdoor shopping mall. Never-mind being able to actually listen to the concert. It made me and Mag want to go to a concert of our own. That is, until the concert was over and we had to drive home. Good God, we stayed in ONE spot for two hours! The concert was over around 11pm and we didn’t get home until 4am. I had the biggest of migraines, my fibro flared up, and I was scared. The GPS kept trying to reroute us in a direction that was cut off by the cops directing traffic so we ended up going the completely opposite way of where we needed to go. I enjoyed having a new experience with Mag, but I didn’t enjoy the struggle. We probably will go to a concert together, but no time soon! She had to work at 9am so I felt really bad for her. We completely and utterly took over the mantle of best aunts in the world, lmao.

Anyways, that was my week and hopefully I didn’t bore you to death. I haven’t been able to read anything besides school work so I’m sorry I’m not able to post a review. I’m trying to get this school thing down and get my bearing before I start writing reviews. It’s a matter of balance and organization. Just bear with me for now please.

Love and gentle hugs,

Patricia

ps. I’m sure there are a few mistakes in this post, but my brain is fried and it’s hard thinking/writing coherently. Let me know if there’s anything you don’t understand or anything I need to fix. Thanks!!!

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College Starts Tomorrow….FINALLY!

Holy Hell… I can’t believe I start school tomorrow! After all the anxiety and loooong waiting, it’s finally here. I can’t even pinpoint exactly how I’m feeling, since there are so many different emotions bubbling up to the surface at different times. At moments I feel anxious and totally terrified. Then I feel really excited and impatient to start my new journey. Then there’s that pesky self doubt that tries to creep up only to get smashed right back down. Yesterday I spoke with my girlfriend about how nervous I am and she actually offered to walk me to my classes. I told her as sweet as that would be, I am not trying to be the laughing stock of school on the first day. Between you and me though, I really would love for her to walk with me. But I’m gonna put on my big girl panties and take the walk by myself.

I’m trying to keep myself busy just so I can get through the day faster. As soon as I woke up I reorganized our clothes closet while I watch NCIS ( I just started watching that show and now I’m thoroughly addicted!) and then finished braiding my hair. I decided to put in box braid extensions just so I have one less thing to worry about for awhile. It took me a few days, but I’m glad it’s done and over with. I TRIED to reorganize my backpack, but dammit I’ve already done it so many freakin times that there is nothing left to organize. I keep wandering if I should bring my books to school, since all I’ve heard is that the first day is dedicated to going through the syllabus. I don’t want to carry such a heavy backpack (I’ve got 3 books for Creative Nonfiction and 1 for Race and Ethnicity) considering that I have Fibro and back problems and I know I’m going to get a flare up because of it. But if for some reason our professors tell us we don’t need certain books, it’ll be convenient to have them on me so I can just bring them back to the bookstore.

Making friends is also something I’ve been worried about. Naturally, I’m a very introverted person. I love my books and throwing myself into a new world with every book I read. My problem is doing the same thing in the “real world” and not getting overwhelmed by the normal things. When I was younger, I was guilty of camouflaging myself to be like the people around me, too scare to be my own weird self. But getting older and going through lots of therapy, I realize that that’s not something I want to continue doing, whether consciously or not. I’m a girl who’s totally obsessed with Harry Potter, reading fanfiction, books, drinking wine, eating food, staying in the house and just being chill. I could careless about the Kardashian’s, or whatever the latest celebrity news is. I could careless about clubbing, cheating, drugs, drama, gossip, backstabbing, rap music, or anything else that it seems people nowadays are interested in. I’m a boring chick who wants a friend who’s as boring as me, but when we get together we have fun. I don’t know. The whole friend thing gives me anxiety. But I’m a nice person, so if I see someone and we make eye contact, I’ll smile or say hello. I’ve been told that I look mean, but that’s only because I’m blind as hell and spend most of my time squinting trying to see what’s in front of me. I’m sure I’m making a big deal outta nothing and it’s my imagination that’s running wild giving me problems, but it’s really nice to get it all out. Maybe there’s someone out there like me who’s reading this and needed to know other people feel the same way.

How do you all deal with meeting new people? New situations? Are you introverted? Extroverted? Are you on your way to college like me? I’d love to hear your stories.

Gentle hugs and lots of love,

Patricia

ps- I’m sorry if this post seems disjointed, my mind is all over the place.

Back to College…My Fears

After six years, I will be stepping back into the college life and it scares me to death. Given, I’m only going to a community college, but still. The last time I was there I was in complete denial about having Fibromyalgia, Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, (those are only a few of my issues) and I thought i was capable of taking on a full-time schedule without the need of any help. I was stubborn and delusional and it led to my failure. Boom! I lost my financial aid and any dignity that I possessed for being the first one in my immediate family to go to college and join the military. In my eyes, I completely failed at both because I was too weak, too stubborn and just not good enough. All the negative thoughts that could run through my mind, did. I holed myself up in my room and closed myself off to the world. I was drowning in depression. My girlfriend told me (after I started getting help for my problems) that she was in constant fear that she’d come home from work and find me dead. I put her through so much pain, but was too blinded by my own pain to realize it.

What I will say about myself is that I am resilient. I am a fighter. And no matter how down I get, no matter how dark it gets, there is a seed in me that refuses to give up. I can’t settle for failure, it’s not in me to do so. I may fall, but I will always pick myself back up. And so I did the only thing that would allow me to get back up; I sought help. I admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it alone and that my girlfriend did not deserve to live in constant fear and anxiety. I won’t lie and say it was easy, by no means was it even remotely easy. But I put in the work. I’m still putting in the work and because of my disabilities, I will always have to put work into have any sort of quality of life.

That’s why after six years, I decided to go back to school for creative writing. One of my passions has always been English. I loved reading and Harry Potter sparked a love of writing (I’m totally and utterly obsessed with HP fanfiction). I now can say that I can’t take this journey alone, and that I will need help. I am able to see that I am disabled, but that doesn’t mean the world has ended. All it means is that I’ll have to do a bit of rearranging in order to get to where I want to be. And there’s no shame in that. The only shame would have been me throwing in the towel.

But there is still a part of me that is absolutely terrified. What if this is just my bipolar mania taking over, believing that I can do anything? What if school’s too hard and I’m too stupid to understand my work? What if I have a really bad Fibro Flare Up because of the stress and I can’t get out of bed? What if I fail? There are so many ‘What ifs’ going through my mind that I make myself sick with anxiety.

The fact still remains that I’m off to college in 2 weeks. I’m only taking 2 classes to start (I’m being responsible with what I can handle) which are Creative Non-fiction and Race and Ethnicity. I’ve got myself a new desk from Ikea and organized it for success. I also got myself a life planner from Hobby Lobby that I’ve color coordinated so at a glance i know exactly what’s going on. On Tuesday I’ll be taking a ride up to school in order to buy my books. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be! My goal is to make the Deans list and prove to myself that being disabled is not the death sentence I originally thought it was. Wish me luck! And please comment on how you feel doing something new, whether it be college, a new job, a new hobby. Anything at all. And if you have any questions, drop ’em down below!

Gentle hugs,
Patricia

The President Killed His Wife by Steve Richer

Author- Steve Richer

Publication Date- May 31, 2015

Genre- Action, Thriller, Mystery

Series- Yes (Book 1 of 2)                 

Pages- 444

Price- Kindle($3.99 to buy Free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers)

Rating-3/5

 The President Killed His Wife

Summary-

 

The President has killed his wife… on live TV, during the State of the Union address!

FBI agent Rogan Bricks is a recluse with a murky past. Just an ex-soldier happy to be low-profile. While he’s shocked watching from his mansion in Alaska, he’s not particularly distressed. He’s never cared about politics anyway.

But everything changes when he’s personally summoned to Washington to lead the investigation.

Why him? Why is his life suddenly in danger from assassins? And why is everything starting to point toward a conspiracy?

 

My Thoughts-

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book full of conspiracies, (I love me a good conspiracy!) suspense, betrayals, humor, with just a spot of romance and The President Killed His Wife was just that book. Now…I’m gonna be quite honest, this story often traveled into the realm of improbability. Certain things that happened would never happen in real life. For instance -and I’m going to keep it vague because I don’t want to spoil anything- as an FBI Agent, the main character Rogan Bricks would have carried a heavy dose of paranoia (I don’t quite like that word for this situation, but I can’t think of another one, ugh!) for those around him while he was investigating his case. I’m mean seriously, we’re talking about a President murdering his own wife on national tv! I would have thought he’d be more observant and aware of things that a normal civilian wouldn’t have. At times it seemed like he wasn’t a trained FBI Agent at all, on the contraire, he seemed like an average Joe off the street thrown into a James Bond type mission that would have landed him dead, quick fast and in a hurry. In those instances, I just shook my head in exasperation, laughed or flat out yelled at my Kindle screen. Either way, I was engaged. I couldn’t stop reading, and desperately wanted to know what the devil was going to happen in the next moment. Books like that are my own personal wet dreams. I want to be so immersed in a story that I add myself as a supporting character just so I can scream “Hey dipshit, watch out for so-and-so!” or “Are you really such a dunderheaded ignoramus that you can’t see what’s going on right before your eyes?!” I swear, some folks need a little guidance into the land of common sense, lol, and I only want to bring as many people there with me as possible.

I loved Agent Brick, and found his sarcasm and wit to be chuckle worthy. I know a few folks will think the joking is entirely too much, or forced at times and I can understand that. I felt the same way a few times, but all in all, I laughed more than I didn’t and so that’s a plus for me. I especially liked his relationship with his dog Glut. He reminded me so much of my girlfriend’s family dog Cherity. She was the most beautiful Akita you’d ever set eyes on. I’ve always been scared of dogs, but Cherity made it so easy to love her with her constant need for scratches and cuddling. She loved loved loved a good petting, and don’t you dare think about stopping! You wouldn’t get any rest until she was properly petted. But Lord knows she’d eat anything in her path. She once ate an entire thing of ribs that were set on the counter to unthaw. She was so very unapologetic about eating everybody’s dinner! Anyways, Bricks’ dog reminded me of her (RIP Cherity, we miss you girl!) and so I took an instant liking to their relationship and wished I got to see more of it.

The twists and turns we go through while trying to figure out why the President murdered his wife on national television are unexpected at times, and at times they are not. I feel the need to say this; Guys (and gals) if a woman is trying to seduce you while asking questions that you normally wouldn’t answer…RED FLAG! Slam those walls down and put her on the Do Not Trust list. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

When I reached the ending, I felt like the discovery of WHY the President did what he did fell flat. The action scenes were awesome, but I felt like the discovery should have been just AS awesome. That’s the main reason I gave this book a 3 out of 5. Whatever the point of a novel is, I need to feel like the explanations/wrap up should be just as engaging and spectacular as the rest of the stuff in between, if you know what I mean.

When push comes to shove, I liked this book and would recommend it. It was an exciting and easy to read book that I found to be enjoyable. And it definitely didn’t feel like I was reading over 400 pages. This was my first time reading a Steve Richer book and it won’t be my last. Hopefully there is more Agent Bricks and Glut to be read.

Happy reading and gentle hugs everyone!

Patricia

 

Book Review of Carrots: A Shelby Nichols Adventure

Author- Colleen Helme

Publication Date- February 23, 2011

Genre- Psychic Fiction, Mystery

Series- Book 1 of 7

Pages- 276

Price- Kindle($3.99), Kindle Unlimited (Free)

Rating- 3.5/5

 Carrots

Summary-

Shelby Nichols is an average woman who is married to the only guy she ever fell for. Her life is organized and predictable, revolving around her husband and two children. All that changes the day she stops at the grocery store for some carrots. As the cashier rings up her purchases, a gunman is busy robbing the bank inside the store. When a customer grabs the robber’s mask, he is shot and everyone runs for cover. Everyone except Shelby, who finds herself face to face with the killer. The next thing she knows, she’s lying on the floor with a bullet wound to her head. Luckily, the bullet only grazes her scalp, and she doesn’t suspect any lasting affects until later, when she suddenly ‘hears’ what people are thinking. With this uncanny ability, her life takes on a whole new dimension. Her kids think she’s bossy and too old to understand them, but that’s nothing compared to her husband. He says he loves her, but what is it about the redhead at work that he doesn’t want her to know? As if that isn’t enough, the gunman knows she can identify him, and he’s out to silence her forever. In her fight to stay alive, she is saved from certain death by a handsome hit-man with ties to organized crime. This pulls Shelby even deeper into danger, where knowing someone’s thoughts can not only hurt her feelings, but get her killed.

 

My Thoughts-

So I found myself in a reading slump and to say it was torturous trying to read anything would be an understatement. The reason I found myself in this slump was completely an utterly not my fault! What had happened waaaas, my local library sent me an email that Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was available for pickup. Now y’all know, once a book lover steps into the library, all hell breaks loose. All the pretty books just calling out for you to rescue them from bookshelf prison… how could I refuse?! I went crazy. By the time I got to the circulation desk, I’d accumulated more than my fair share of books. I figured I’d take the time to read simply for my enjoyment and not feel obligated to do anything but read and relax. Well let me tell ya, I read so much my brain fried itself. My girlfriend even caught the bug and read a book too *squeals* and she absolutely hates reading! Sitting still is not a gift she was granted, so the idea of sitting down and reading a book is not appealing to her. It takes a pretty special book to keep her interested. She almost finished the book she picked out (I forgot what it was called but I remember it was by Iris Johansen) but it had too many flashbacks and ended up pissing her off enough to bring the book back. She had less than 100 pages left. I couldn’t fathom putting all my energy into a book just to give up when I’m so close to the finish line! Plus, I’m too nosy for all that, lol.

Ok, let’s get back on track….I read myself into a slump. In order to get myself out of said slump, I’d look through all the books I have on my Kindle and if anything caught my attention, I’d read it. Nothing did for quite awhile. Then one day I scrolled passed Carrots, scrolled back, scrolled passed it again, and then finally opened it up. It was just the type of book I needed to jump start me into reading again. It was simple, it was entertaining, and it was a delightfully quick and easy read.

Carrots is one of the books in the Shelby Nichols Adventure series. It’s about Shelby Nichols (of course) who is a stay at home mother and wife whose life changed over some damn carrots. Seriously, lol! All the woman wanted to do was simply go to the grocery store and pick up some carrots. Well… she got more than carrots alright! What she got was a gunshot wound to the head and some new mind reading abilities to boot. The monotony of her life was forever changed in those few moments in the supermarket. Because she survived, Shelby became the target of the robber who meant to kill her for seeing his face. Life gets hectic for Shelby as she tries to juggle running from a killer, becoming an interest to the local mob boss, and reassuring her husband who wishes dearly for her to stop reading his mind and to stop putting herself in dangerous situations.

Author Colleen Helme has provided her audience with a funny, down to earth, character in Shelby Nichols who can also be exasperatingly naïve but always likeable. I found myself routing for Shelby from beginning to end. I want to know more about her. I want to know more about her relationship with her husband and how her mind reading abilities will affect their relationship. Will her children ever find out that their mom can read their minds? And Ramos! Omg, what will happen with Ramos? I want more of him. I need more of him.

I didn’t expect to like Carrots as much as I did. Originally, I gave this book 2 out of 5, but now I think I’ll give it a 3.5. The more I write about it the more I realize how much I like it. I haven’t stopped smiling since I began writing this review. Was the writing superb? No. Were there grammatical mistakes? Yes. Was it unrealistic? Yes. Do I care? No. Emotionally, I became invested in Shelby’s story, and for me that is enough to want to continue this series.

Happy reading,

Patricia

Books in the Shelby Nichols Series

Book One Carrots

Book Two Fast Money

Book Three Lie or Die

Book Four Secrets That Kill

Book Five Trapped By Revenge

Book Six Deep In Death

Book Seven Crossing Danger

Working on a Few Things

For those of you who follow me, I swear I haven’t been kidnapped! I went on a reading binge and then a slump right after that. I’m also dealing with a flare up due to fibromyalgia. Slowly but steadily I’m getting back into the swing of things. The next review should be up within the next week.

Gentle hugs and lots of love,
Patricia

Sugar By Deirdre Riordan Hall

Author- Deirdre Riordan Hall

Genre- Young Adult, Literary Fiction, Coming of Age

Pages- 276

Price- Kindle($4.99 or Free for Kindle Unlimited Customers)

Rating-4/5

Sugar

 

Summary-(Copied from Amazon.com)

I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia wasn’t always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn’t gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she’s large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar’s life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their run-down home—cooking, shopping, and, well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan—his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother.

Soon Sugar will have to decide whether to become the girl that Even helps her see within herself or to sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.

 

My Thoughts-

To be honest, I have no idea why I started reading this book. The summary isn’t powerful enough for me to want to immediately pick up the story and read it. It’s something that I’d skim, and then move onto looking for another book. I reckon the cover is what really caught my eye, and I still can’t tell you the reason for that. Either way, I’m really glad I decided to read it.

The first few pages weren’t so interesting to me, but as I continued reading (I usually give a slow book a few chapters before I give up) I became more and more invested. Emotionally.

That’s exactly what this book was to me. Emotions. Emotions that all of us feel at one point or another and tough situations that a lot of us go through and sometimes feel like we’re drowning in.

The self hatred Sugar felt was something that I could closely relate to. Being bullied because you don’t fit people’s idea of what’s pretty, or cool. Crying and hating yourself because you want to change but you don’t know how, or you think that your situation is permanent so there’s no use in trying at all. Resigning yourself to being the freak that these bullies think that you are and hating yourself for not being better. Even as I write this, I can feel the old emotions bubbling up inside of me and no matter how long ago it was, these feelings are still painful.

That is why I love this book. It’s uncomfortable, in your face, and you can’t run from the negative emotions that Sugar feels. And it’s perfect in that way. Every corner Sugar turns she’s getting slapped with how worthless she truly feels. She can’t escape the negativity in her life, so why as a reader should we get a break?

Even was a positive influence on Sugar, but she still couldn’t completely let herself go with him. She was always wondering when the other shoe would drop, and if he was just another douche bag trying to humiliate her. Her own mother didn’t help one bit, always reminding Sugar that she wasn’t good enough and that no one could possibly ever want her. She sure as hell didn’t.

Speaking of Sugar’s mother, I hated that woman with all of my heart. She was a hateful, pathetic woman who wanted to pass her misery onto everyone around her. I hated her from beginning to end. No excuse is good enough for the way she treats the people around her, especially her own children. A mother is suppose to love, cherish, and protect their children, and Sugar’s mom was the complete opposite. Sugar had to be the caretaker for her lazy and abusive mother and brother, when her mother was supposed to be taking care of her own children. I hoped and prayed throughout this book that Sugar would just run away. Neither her brother nor her mother deserved her loyalty.

Sugar’s spinelessness was the one thing I couldn’t stomach. I was waiting for her to snap, and finally stick up for herself, especially when it came to her good for nothing brother. But she just took all the abuse with her head down and spirits broken. I swear if Skunk was my brother, I’d have made him think twice about ever laying a finger on me or trying to treat me like I’m his own personal servant. But I guess that’s just my fiery personality. After all that bullying, I did eventually snap and life got better. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t have to deal with that crap anymore. And that’s exactly what I wished Sugar would do. I won’t say if she eventually did start sticking up for herself, that’s for you all to read for yourselves.

I loved the relationship between Sugar and Even. I found myself holding my breath hoping and praying that Even wasn’t an undercover a**hole. I thought if anything went wrong, Sugar would have snapped, but not in a good way. I will say that Even’s character and relationship to Sugar definitely felt unrealistic, but even still, I loved their interactions and rooted for them from start to finish.

I can’t say anything about the ending of the book without giving too much away. To say anything would spoil it, so I’ll just say this; I’m better for having read this book and am in no way disappointed.

Go read it and tell me what you think!

Lots of love,

Patricia

Love Always, Kate (Love Always Series Book 1) Review

Author- D. Nichole King

Genre- New Adult/College, Romance

Pages-366

Price- Kindle(Free), Nook($2.99)

Rating- 5/5

 Love Always Kate

Summary-

Kate has been battling cancer since she was 11. Six years later, the cancer has returned and now Kate has some major decisions to make. She can either go through chemo once again, try an experimental drug, or let go and enjoy whatever life she has left.

Her decision only gets harder to make when she meets the troubled son of her doctor. Damian. Not only is Kate drawn to him because he’s hot, but his pain also calls to her. She knows pain and she knows loss. What could it hurt talking to him? But Damian is also still hurting from the recent loss of his mother and brother, and because of Kate’s own battle with cancer, she could likely bring him into an even darker place.

Will Kate and Damian find salvation in one another? What will Damian’s influence on Kate’s life have on Kate’s decision? Will she keep fighting or let go and enjoy the time she has left? What affect will her decision have on Damian?

My Thoughts-

This review will be short and sweet. If I make it any longer I’m likely to make the whole damn thing a spoiler and I really want you all to read this book. Seriously, you MUST read this book!

Love Always, Kate has become one of my favorite books of all time. Why? It calls to me emotionally. I laughed, cried, reminisced, cried, swooned, cried, smiled softly, grew angry, and cried. Did I mention I cried? LOL. It was simply amazing! I rarely cry with books or movies- at least not when everyone else cries. Its takes something special for me to go there. It takes the author pulling me into their world, fully and whole heartedly, in order me to give them the emotions they seek from their audience. Love Always, Kate took me there and so much further.

If I could get you to come away with only one idea about this book, it would be this; it’s not just a sad story of a teenage cancer patient. This book is about looking deep and finding the strength you need in order to get through a difficult situation. Finding the courage within yourself to make difficult decisions that others may not agree with, but that you know is right for you. You don’t have to have cancer in order to relate to Kate. Kate’s feelings are ones that we’ve all felt sometime in our lives. I found myself recalling strong memories of times when I felt the same as Kate, and even Damian. I found myself thanking God that I didn’t have children, because I have no idea how I’d get through potentially having a sick child. I also found myself gaining more respect for all the parents out there who do have sick children, or who have perfectly healthy children. You folks are some strong people!

Please go and read Love Always, Kate. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. And I also promise you that it’s not a knock-off of The Fault in Our Stars. They are both equally brilliant books, and they’re both on my Most Favorites shelf.

Lots of Love,

Patricia

Maternal Secrets Book Review

Author- Brookita R. Braxton

Genre- African American Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Romance

Pages-269

Price- Kindle($2.99), Nook($2.99), Kobo($2.99), Smashwords($2.99)

Rating- 1 out of 5

 Maternal Secrets

Summary-

After being ceremoniously dumped by her cheating ex-fiancé two weeks before her wedding day, Coldra Ashe flees back to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. After being away for many years, she hopes to find the peace she needs in order to put her life back together after such a deep betrayal. Instead of peace and stability, Coldra encounters family secrets and deeper betrayals.

Lauren Ashe holds many secrets that she hoped would never come to light. But with the appearance of her daughter Coldra, the secrets that she’s held so close begin to unravel faster than she ever believed. Lauren must make some difficult choices that could either give her the family that she craves, or tear her and her daughter’s lives apart.

My Thoughts-

When I received a comment on one of my posts from the author of Maternal Secrets, Brookita R. Braxton my heart froze. I didn’t think anyone really read my reviews and to have an author contact me to read and leave an honest review on their book… well it just about blew my mind! No matter my feelings about this book, I will never regret reading it, and it will always hold a special place on my bookshelf.

Having said that, here is my review.

If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now. I’m an emotional reader. Grammar is one of the last things I notice about a book unless the writing is absolutely spectacular, or there are so many mistakes I can’t help but acknowledge them. Unfortunately, Maternal Secrets falls into the latter category. Right away I noticed more than a few grammatical errors. Here is an example from the prologue.

I served myself a piece of pie. My favorite, while I ate it I tried to control my thoughts. As quite as it’s kept my mother was very good at being a telepath. That’s one thing my father resented over years. I was certain that she would step up lead them after he passed on. It’s been year so I know why she is set on me returning.

Seeing so many mistakes on the first page of a novel lets me know that either the author didn’t solicit the help of an editor, or whoever did the editing wasn’t a quality editor. Because I received a printed copy and I was able to read the Acknowledgment page, it’s safe to say that unfortunately Ms Braxton didn’t invest in quality editors. Over the course of seven years, (the amount of time the author worked on this novel) Ms. Braxton had the help of six people and the Writer’s Relief Proofreading Services to assist editing this novel, and it’s amazing to me that so many simple mistakes could get through all of them.

I wish that the only flaw I found while reading Maternal Secrets was the grammar, but sadly it wasn’t. The writing was choppy and didn’t flow like a good book should. It was more like, “She did this. He did that. She said this. And then this happened.” Here are two examples of the dialog.

“That is fair. Look, I am not arrogant, but women throw themselves at me because I have things going for me. I’ve played games but I am not playing with you. If you want the position, you can have it.”

“Look, I am sorry. You have treated me with respect. You didn’t have to check on me or share your cobbler. I apologize; I guess I need to work on my assumptions.”

“No, you’re fine. Look, I don’t know you, but that comment you made about women tells me you’ve been played. Like I said, I’m not playing with you.”

“I know.”

In this second example, I also noted that there was no distinguishing of who was saying what.

Slight Spoiler! Skip if you need to!

“Son, how are things going?”

‘Dad, not so well. Coldra’s aunt was here.”

“Can’t say I am surprised.”

“How is Dr. Ashe?”

“He is still under observation, but it doesn’t make sense to me.”

“The crash?”

“It was bizarre. A car came out of nowhere driving toward us at full speed. Luckily I turned the rental car so the impact wouldn’t be as great. It was like the drive intended to crash us.”

The passage doesn’t end there, but I can tell you that by the end of it I was confused as hell. Lost in Translation is the first thought that comes to mind. It felt like a lot of what the author was thinking didn’t translate to paper. More often than not, when we are writing, the actions, reactions, thoughts and ideas we have only halfway make it to the page. And if we reread our work ourselves it’s very hard to catch the mistakes because we as the writers know exactly what we were thinking and will subconsciously fill in the blanks. It takes a great editor to ask the hard questions and show the author exactly what needs fixing and reworking before publishing. I truly wish Ms. Braxton could have had that.

As the plot thickened, the characters reactions became less and less realistic. Often, I found myself rereading entire pages, confused or simply frustrated because I couldn’t make sense of things no matter how hard I tried. Those are not the reactions I want to experience while reading.

One scenario that really pissed me off with not only how completely unrealistic it was, but also because of its implications, was the court room scene. For those who want to read the book, have no fear that I’m going to reveal a major spoiler. Let’s just say that this entire scene made me want to close the book and not finish it. It deals with a very serious matter, and to me it wasn’t handled realistically or with any finesse.

Here is one of the reactions that I do feel comfortable showing you.

“Coldra, I know you are wondering about the incident with my father’s entrance. He received a letter from a former employee. Now I have made no secret about my past irresponsibility when it came to sleeping with different women. I do want to come clean with you.”

“What are you talking about, Andrew? You are scaring me. The day is bright, the park is beautiful, so why do I feel like all of that is going to change?”

After hearing something like, what woman would give a damn about the day being bright and the park being beautiful? I can see if the author started off saying how those two met up at a park and how bright the sky was matched with how beautiful the park was, but as is? It just didn’t fit.

While reading, I made several notes and the one that sticks out the most was this; it’s messy, needs editing and should be taken out of print/offline for reediting. With the help of a quality editor, I think Ms. Braxton has a true gem on her hands. I love the idea of the novel, and if I’d have saw this book in any store or library I’d have wanted to read it. I don’t say this to simply appease Ms. Braxton but because it is the truth.

I absolutely love the cover. Both women on the cover have such serious pain-filled expressions on their faces. It calls to that part of me that loves reading books with just the right amount pain and sadness in them. And the fact that the synopsis tells me that Coldra was dumped two weeks before her wedding, well that just seals the deal. Because of those two things, I’d have naturally picked up the book/downloaded it to read. And because of the poor editing, I’d have naturally been pissed off, more so because I’d have paid either $2.99 for the eBook version or $15.00 for a printed copy.

This story has so much potential. The fact that Ms. Braxton spent seven years writing and trying to make this book as perfect as she knew how, tells me that she really cares. As a debut author, this is her baby. Her first among many, but always her first. There is no shame in recognizing that more work is required and doing everything needed to make this book it’s very best. I would definitely be interesting in reading a reprint of Maternal Secrets. More importantly, I look forward to reading more from Ms. Braxton. She has a great imagination that will translate even better with a proper editor. But the biggest reason I’d be willing to read more from her is because she was humble enough to acknowledge that she has more to learn. Everyone starts somewhere and the best way of getting better is to know your shortcomings and work your ass off for them to become your strengths.

Lots of love and gentle hugs,

Patrica

Virtual Strangers (Love and murder in cyberspace) Book Review

Author- Susanne O’Leary & Ola Zaltin

Genre- Mystery/Suspense, Romance

Pages- 267(approximately)

Price- Kindle(Free)

Rating- 1 out of 5

Virtual Strangers2 

Summary- (Copied and pasted from Amazon.com)

Did you ever want to cast off, to sail into the sunset with someone you just met, a kindred spirit, a twin soul, leaving everything behind? It is possible in the virtual social world of the Internet, which can become a comfort zone you’ll never want to leave. You might, one day, want to meet that person with whom you have become strangely intimate. But reality is never as lovely as the dream. Be careful what you wish for… A man and a woman – Seabee and Annika – hook up on a wannabe authors’ site where they flirt, banter and play around. Just like you and me and everyone else these days. Don’t we all spend part of our day on the Internet? On a forum, a blog, Twitter or Face Book. It’s all innocent fun, isn’t it? But for Annika and Seabee it became a chilly reality. After having joked around openly about killing off their significant others, both their partners actually do die in what seems to be unrelated freak accidents – or are they? The dark realisation begins to dawn on the uneasy duo that their murderous joke fantasy has become all too dangerously real and that the deaths were no random accidents. Someone is watching them. Seabee and Annika find out in a hurry that cyberspace makes strange bedfellows and, if it’s not he or she who did it, then who has done the killings? The two team up to find out who has hijacked their fantasy and turned it into a frightening nightmare. Join the endearingly mismatched would-be detective duo Annika and Seabee as they investigate the deadly mystery of how the seemingly innocent cybernetic world of two virtual strangers was hi-jacked and transformed by an unknown faceless killer into real-life hell, where “homicide” isn’t just a word highlighted harmlessly on a computer screen. With more than a passing nod at the classic ‘Strangers on a Train’, Virtual Strangers is a darkly humorous, romantically witty-edged adventure that will take you into the deep, dark and sometimes deadly uncharted wilderness which lurks beyond the fringes of the strange and unpredictable netherworld that we casually call…CYBERSPACE. Don’t read it if you don’t want to be jolted out of your comfort zone. Keep the lights on, change your password, use a pseudonym and never, ever give out personal information on the Internet… Contains strong language

My Thoughts-

Before I begin my rant on this book, let me just say that this is the second time I’m writing the damned review. My laptop decided to take it upon itself and freeze while I was trying to save the stupid file and then it had the nerve to delete it. Ask me if I was able to retrieve ANY of it? Nope. I was so angry I had to go for a ride and get away from the laptop before I chucked it out of the window and down 3 stories, to its well deserved death. Suffice it to say, I’m back. The laptop is unfortunately still alive and I’m not so angry anymore. Let’s try this again and see what comes.

On to the review!

First and foremost, let me just say that because my original review kicked the bucket doesn’t mean this review is going to be all roses and wonderful smelling things. The fact is, this book is still bad. Even worse, the summary is a piece of dung beetle crap for making me believe this would be anything but the travesty that it really was. My word I hated this book with all of my heart, and I HATE hating books!

In this novel we get to hear both Seabee and Annika’s voices, but sometimes it was difficult knowing just whose POV I was reading. Maybe if this was a printed book it would have been easier to follow, but in eBook format it just didn’t work. The idea was nice. The execution? Not so much.

The characters were under-developed, juvenile, verbally abusive towards one another and all around not likeable. The summary says that Annika and Seabee “flirt, banter and play around” with one another, but I just saw them as mostly verbally abusive to one another. Better yet, Seabee was more like a sarcastic know-it-all teenage boy who could barely think of anything besides sex, and Annika was an annoying “mean girl” who resorts to name-calling and tantrums.

Seabee is in train wreck of a relationship to a woman who purposefully killed one of his dogs as revenge. He knows it, and she knows it. Why does he stay? Because he likes his comfortable apartment, her money and the sex. He’s lazy and content to stay with an abusive psycho (seriously, who kills animals on purpose because they pooped on a rug!) all because he wants to stay comfortable and lazy.

Here is a passage that I found to be a perfect description of both Seabee’s character and his relationship with his girlfriend.

“I’m not going to give her the satisfaction. Or the chance to sell this flat. Or give up the comfort of her money. I can take the flak and the bitching and the sniping and the slammed doors and the slaps to the face. I can even take the refusal of sex, which is seldom, but happens. All of which I dull with a constant supply of beer and vodka, with the occasional fistful of benzos. It’s Okay. Moving would be such hard work and I’d never be this comfortable again.”

As for Annika. I hated her. She’s shallow, childish, lacks common sense, and plays the victim card like a pro, but can also be mean spirited. The toxic relationship she had with her invalid husband drained her to the point that she craved an escape from reality, so when she found Authorspot she took to it like a duck to water. That is probably the only thing I could relate to with this woman. Everyone longs to belong someplace where people are like them. Why else do we blog, spend hours in chat rooms, and are obsessed with social media? But the obsessive way that Annika took to Authorspot, even at the cost of something dear to her was unrealistic (I won’t say what that something was, because for those of you who want to read this novel, I don’t want to spoil your own genuine reaction to it). For me, it cemented my dislike of her.

What bothered me most about Annika was her ability to dish out verbal abuse but her inability to take it. In the first passage I’m going to show you, Annika is dealing with a troll on Authorspot. He’s a mean spirited jerk who gets his kicks off of bashing people. This is what he says, and Annika’s reaction.

“Rambo- That fucking bitch will get hers one day and I’ll make sure I’m there to see her suffer.

“Where is Seabee? I wonder as I read the never ending abuse from Rambo.”

First of all, why does she need a man to stick up for her? Grow a backbone and stick up for yourself! Anyway, everyone knows that you don’t engage trolls on the internet. Not unless you’re dead set on giving yourself a heart attack. But what bothered me the most is the fact that this woman can be just as mean spirited (I refuse to call it playful banter or flirting).

These next two passages will be interactions between Seabee and Annika. Normal interactions.

“’Shut up.’

‘My pleasure.’

‘You always have to have to last word, don’t you?’

‘No, I don’t.’

‘See? There you go again!’ She throws something against the dashboard in charming frustration.”

And the next example.

“Annika’s voice gets all hysterical. ‘I have to have it! I must keep plugging my book on Authorspot now that it has slid so far down. And I have to check my e-mail and other stuff. I can’t manage without it, don’t you see that, you moron?’”

Like I previously stated, these are normal interactions between Annika and Seabee. I don’t find any of it “endearing” or “playful”. I found their constant bickering annoying and tedious and nowhere near romantic. Any relationship between them is bound to be unhealthy and definitely bound to fail. I tried. I really did, but there was no getting around the fact that I couldn’t relate to either of them.

When it comes to the mystery of the killer? There was no mystery, except in wondering when Seabee and Annika would grow a brain and realize what every reader with common sense already realized. The killer is soooooo obvious, it’s not even funny. There is no mystery in this mystery.

My hopes were so high beginning this book. The cover drew me in and the summary made me want to stop what I was doing and read! read! read! I guess that’s why I’m so angry about how flat this novel fell. It made me invested from the beginning and then crushed my spirits. There are people who actually enjoyed this book, and more power to ‘em, but I’m completely baffled as to why. To each their own, I guess. If you’ve read it and liked it, talk to me in the comments and let me know your point of view.

Because my review was negative, I will put in something positive that made me laugh. It’s something Seabee said that made me laugh out loud.

“God invented war and misery, but luckily he also created Absolut and Xanax.”

I can’t tell you why I found that so funny, but I did.

I will say that this hasn’t turned me completely off of reading anything else by these authors. Even the best of authors don’t always have bestsellers. I loved the idea of this book, and because these authors came up with something that piqued my interest, I will try reading something else from them. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Until next time,

Patricia