Category Archives: baseball

A Melancholy Joy

I jotted down those words on Christmas Eve because they so perfectly described how I was feeling, and the more I’ve thought about them, I’ve realized how they also sum up 2016 for me. This year has been absolutely life altering, both on a personal level and as an American. I did some travel in the early part of the year to see Josh Groban in concert, attend Rays spring training games, and visit with Florida friends. I returned home to get ready for a hysterectomy in the same month. I keep telling myself I should have feelings about now being barren, but I just don’t, ha! Not long after I recovered, My relationship ended and I fell in love again, and moved to Washington. Whoa, right? I watched Brexit unfolding on Twitter and prayed America would learn from Britain’s decision, and my hopes sank into fear and disbelief as my country elected, deep breath, I cannot write his name.

It’s hard for me to believe the turns my life has taken this year, some wonderful turns. I want to hate 2016 for all the awful, the terrorist attacks, the shootings, the steps backward in civil liberties, but I can’t help but love 2016 for what it has done for my mental health and writing. I completed the first draft of my memoir for National Novel Writing Month and am actively working on draft two. I took a fiction writing class and feel more in touch with my creative side than I remember being in a very long time. I have a file now rich with story ideas and character traits and observations. While working on draft two of the memoir, I’ve noticed how much I’ve learned about telling a story.

I thought that writing my own story would be easier than fiction. I know all the twists and turns, so it should be easy to write, right? Ha! Not only is it just as challenging to shape each sentence, it’s been taxing mentally to spend so much time in my past, especially during the holidays. That’s where the melancholy joy set in, when I received a Christmas card from my uncle and realized that I would not be getting one of his awesome hugs this year for the holidays or my birthday, the hug that he pours all his love and feeling into. I ran my fingers over the textured, glittery card as if it were braille and an ache grew in my chest and dissolved into tears. David and his son were putting up the tree, anticipation and excitement palpable, and my own joy at being here began warring with my sadness. Which one wins? The one you feed. I let the melancholy come, let myself feel it so it could pass, and moved on. I had a wonderful Christmas with my new family. David got me a soprano ukulele for my birthday, which was yesterday. I want so badly to play with it right now, but I promised myself I could have it as a reward if I worked on rewrites and posted a blog. Discipline baby!

So, 2016 comes to a close. I know many of us are ready to see the back of it. So much death this year. I won’t rehash it since we all know, we were all here, and we’ve all had our fair share of hardships along with worldwide hurt. I hope that 2017 will be better, I cling to that hope, though the pragmatist in me says, “hold on, darlin’. It’s only just begun.” I’ll focus on my art. I’ll work on making this book be the best it can be so I can share my silver linings and hope with the world. That’s my goal for 2017, to publish, yes, but most importantly, to continue to be a bright spot, continue to let my light shine. my goal is to make people smile, whether it be David or his family, a stranger on the street, a stranger on Twitter, or a reader of my blog and (hopefully) book. Let’s all strive for that, yeah? Let’s all hold on to our asses and protect those around us and love. All you need is love, right John Lennon?

Happy New Year! We can do it!

Ooooh now I can go play with my ukulele!

Here’s the first song to make its way into my memoir. It appeared during work on the second draft today.

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Filed under baseball, birthday, family, gratitude, mental health, music, twitter me this, writing

Let it snow! Let it um, snow…oh crap it’s gonna snow

Happy holidays, everyone! Whoa wait, what? Who am I and what have you done with Ro? Yeah yeah yeah, so I’m not all bah humbug this year, what can I say? something about being a part of a happy family with a child, in the cold, with the scent of a pine candle on a warmer next to my computer has made me embrace the holidays like I haven’t done since I was newly sober and life was shiny and new. Hmmm, shiny new life, happy with the holidays. coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, snow. The first time it snowed here a week ago, it felt magical. We woke up to everything covered in sparkling white, at least that’s how I imagined it. The kids had the day off thanks to the once monthly teacher planning day, and the sounds of happy children filled the air.

I put on the heavy winter coat I bought at Value Village over my normal layers, added a heavy crochet scarf (granny squares sewed together that was supposed to be a bed coverlet that I gave up on) and my new fur lined boots and went outside with Jayden. We walked up and down the street with the kids and I marveled at the feel and sound of crunching underfoot. David’s ten year-old kept brushing piles of snow off Jayden’s nose. the kids filled a wheelbarrow full of snow from people’s cars to build an ice fort in the front yard of the house across the street from David’s. There was so much joy!

Then I started feeling the cold and my scarf was getting kind of gross since I had it wrapped around my nose and mouth and did you know that cold makes your nose run?

When we stepped into the house, my body instantly began baking in my layers, my boots squeaking as snow melted and I realized my feet, and Jayden’s, were wet and tracking snow into the house. Not so magical, I thought.

I peeled off layers and dried our feet and settled in to drink coffee and read some Twitter while the kids played outside. When it was time for Jayden to have a pee, I bundled up, wrapped the scarf around my face, laced my feet into my boots, and went back outside to enjoy the snow again. David’s son came into the yard and pelted me with a snowball. It was on!

I picked up the nicely packed snowball and rubbed it up, imagining red stitches against the white, my fingers across four seams. I narrowed my eyes at the giggling child at the plate, wound up and let fly. It went way left and was most definitely a wild pitch. A runner on third would have scored easily. All the ten year-old’s snowballs hit me squarely. Hmmm, this isn’t fun like I remember it the few times it snowed in Tucson when I was sighted, I thought, as a kid, or as an adult at the pool hall when we scooped snow off of cars to throw at each other since it didn’t stick on the ground. That night had been the first time I’d driven in the snow,, and last, unbeknownst to me. It looked like warp speed on the Starship Enterprise as the flakes were caught in the beams of my headlights.

This time, there was no snowball fight with friends in a parking lot and no warp speed stars. the kids went off to a friend’s house and with no happy little voices frolicking around, just Jayden and me crunching around in the snow alone, we went inside to where it was warm and where David, accustomed to the Washington weather, waited with coffee and a hug.

The snow turned to ice after some lovely freezing rain and temperatures, and I got used to bundling up for the minute it takes Jayden to relieve himself. Apparently, this weather hasn’t been normal around these parts for quite some time, though more snow is coming. Just in time for the frigid air, a big box full of winter clothes arrived on my doorstep from a Rays fan friend in Florida. She’d lived in the Pacific Northwest for awhile, and those clothes were going unused, so now I have a variety of sweaters to choose from, rather than this Rays shirt, or that Rays tank top, with this Rays hoodie, or that one. She even sent a hooded wool coat. thanks, friend!

I think I’ll wrap this up and go make some chocolate peanut butter candy to see how the boys like it. I get to make Mom’s old favorite holiday sweets now that there are plenty of people to enjoy them.

Merry Christmas!

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Filed under baseball, coffeeholic, crochet, family, gratitude, holiday, Jayden, mom, num num food, relieving, sobriety, twitter me this, weather, working dog

Ro Goes to florida 2016

So, back in 2014, the Tampa Bay Rays family on Twitter decided it was going to get me to St. Petersburg for the opening series of the season. This involved fundraising via Paypal to raise the money for my flights and hotel, as well as game tickets and food. The Rays got wind of this and donated a suite for three games, so tickets were covered. Sweet! the rest of the trip was completely funded by cash donations. How freaking cool is that? All those strangers new how much I love the team, and that since I was on a fixed income thanks to my disabilities, I’d never be able to afford to attend games in St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field. So they made it happen. You can read about the donations and stuff here, and about the trip through the #RoToTrop category on my blog.

Just before the idea for that trip came to fruition, I fell in love with singer Josh Groban, @JoshGroban thanks to William Shatner, @WilliamShatner, constantly tweeting a love fest about the guy. I looked Josh Groban up on iTunes one night out of annoyance at Shatner and his man crush, and holy wow OMG Josh Groban wow oh this music holy crap let me just buy this album and that one and that one and I followed him on twitter and stalked him er I mean his timeline and fell absolutely and totally head over heals in love. He’s pretty much the only one on my freebie card now, though, unlike Ross Gellar’s, mine is not laminated.

Ok so what do my trip to Florida to see the Rays back in ’14, and my slight obsession with Josh Groban have to do with one another?

My friend Professor Twain, @PRTwain tweeted me one day last year to inform me that my Josh, I mean, that Josh Groban will be performing in Clearwater, FL on March 1, right as the Rays begin Spring Training.

A plan was born.

A generous Rays family member donated frequent flyer miles. My flights are booked.

Another generous Rays family member donated hotel points in clearwater. Those hotel nights are booked.

Another generous Rays family member donated hotel points for my stay in Port Charlotte for spring training games. those nights are booked.

another generous Rays family member donated two concert tickets for me to see my Josh groban, dangit, for me to see, ahem, Josh Groban on March 1.

pardon me while I scream.

All that was taken care of within two days of us announcing the trip on Twitter. Two days. It’s amazing how much happens when so many people love a person. I still, even after that first trip, am astounded that the person all these people love is me.

thank you. thank you, a thousand times thank you. My friends and followers know my life isn’t a cake walk but, though I’m blind, I always see the silver linings. These people are such a radiant silver lining, they shine like the brightest of stars.

We’re still raising money via my Paypal page using my email, raynaadi @ gmail . com

We raised enough that first day for me to be able to reimburse the person who donated hotel points, but who had to pay cash for the last night since he was out of points. That’s quite a bit of money. So amazing right? A Rays family member bought two seats each at two games in Port Charlotte and one in Ft. Myers, just in case they sold out. I’m hoping to be able to reimburse this person with further donations.

*Squeak* Josh Groban just shuffled in, singing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables and I get to hear him sing it in person! OH MY!

Anyway, so we raised $270 right after we announced the trip and I reimbursed #200 of that, so my current donations tally is $70.

I’d like to reimburse monies for the game tickets, which totaled $210,and cash for meals, checked baggage and tips for airport assistants would help. Did you know people at airports who assist the disabled work on tips?

Itinerary and Logistics

I’ll be flying from tucson to Tampa on Monday, February 29. When i told my friend yesterday that I feel like flying on leap year day might make me end up in an alternate dimension, he accused me of reading too much. guilty as charged. I’ve got a ride from the airport to the hotel covered.

Tuesday, March 1 – I’ll have time for visiting in the Tampa area before the Josh Groban concert. We’ve kicked around the idea on Twitter to have lunch at Evan Longoria’s restaurant, Ducky’s. I figure that would be a great place to congregate and hang out. March 1 is the only time I’ll have available in the Tampa St. Pete area. Transportation is needed.

Wednesday, March 2 – It’s down to Port Charlotte and the Rays spring training facility. Woo! I’ve got that trip covered. Who’s going to the game? It’s Nationals at Rays at 1pm. Let’s meet up! Maybe dinner after?

Thursday, March 3 – Baltimore at Rays 1pm. this game is not covered. I’m staying in Port Charlotte, so I just need a buddy to attend the game with, maybe grab dinner, and a ride back to the hotel.

Friday, March 4 – Rays at Boston in Fort Myers at 1pm. This game is also not covered. I’ll need a ride from Port Charlotte and back.

Saturday, March 5 – Rays at Baltimore in Sarasota at 7pm. This game is covered. Who else is going?

Sunday, March 6 – I fly back home. Awww. I need a ride from Port Charlotte to the Tampa Airport. My flight leaves at 4pm so I should probably be at the airport between 2pm and 2:30pm. ***This ride is covered as of a few hours of posting this!***

So, there it is. If you’re interested in helping with transportation, contact me on Twitter@Raynaadi. Any vehicle I ride in must have air conditioning. I swear I’m not picky, but my MS makes me sick if I get over heated. I will also have my yellow lab guide dog with me and he’s trained to ride in the foot well of the front passenger seat between my feet. If you don’t want a dog in your car, it’s probably best not to volunteer for transportation. Also, I’ll only get in the car with people I’ve talked with on Twitter, and who others I know have met in person at games. Lastly, I won’t get in a vehicle if the driver has had any alcohol. It’s not just me i’ve gotta worry about, but my guide dog too.

We can do this, right? I’m so excited and grateful! Wow!

I’ll update this post with the donations tally as well as keep track of transportation volunteers. I can’t wait to hang out with my florida family again!

~*Meeting the person who started it all*~

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Filed under baseball, evan longoria, family, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, leap year, music, spoons, twitter me this, wow

My first Published (not here) Book review

What? Ro is writing a post in the middle of the month? What’s going on here? (Sorry, I’ve been writing about myself in the third person for bios on sites and stuff.)

You know what else is crazy? the Cubs are in the playoffs, the National League Championship series at that. Back to the Future could be right, ya’ll.

I’m posting today to link to my first published book review over at Disability in Kid Lit. They are a wonderful group of people spreading awareness about disability in young adult literature. Here is my review of Romancing the Dark in the city of Light by Ann Jacobus. I first mentioned reading this book back in August’s book post. Can I pretend August never happened though? Ha!

I had a great time working on this review and am thrilled to announce that I’ll be doing more for them. Exciting! I learned a lot during the editing process and having something published somewhere other than here, by someone other than me, is just cool.

I’ve been asked if there is an audio version of ‘romancing the Dark’ and as of now, I know Audible doesn’t have one. I’ve sent a question to the author about that. I read the book in my Kindle app with Voiceover.

Hey, Ann’s book people? You should get Allison McLemore to do the audio book. though I’m not sure how she does with French accents. She’d freaking nail Summer’s snark, though. Ooh ooh or Julia Whelan! yeah!

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Filed under Audio books, baseball, plugs, twitter me this, Voiceover

September’s Audio Books, etc

Where did September go? I’m really not sure what I did all last month. Though I suppose it’s evident I did a lot of reading. I also focused on recovering from the awful depression of August. Which, by the way depression and anxiety? I feel you lurking there, just below the surface, ready to drag me back under. I know you’re still hungry. I’m not going to let you have me.

I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo in November, writing bits of the book in my head since nothing can be written with my keyboard until November 1. I cannot wait to write the opening scene, especially since last night I came up with another angle that’s going to give my female protag the problem I’ve been searching for. Can’t wait to start! Ancient Egypt research has been done, thanks Amanda for all the links you’ve stumbled upon. Oh that reminds me, I need to get with my friends daughter to discuss some terms for that one thing…

In brand new and very exciting news, another trip to Florida is now in the works for the beginning of March. The only thing set in stone is the, drum roll please, JOSH GROBAN CONCERT I’LL BE ATTENDING! Ahem, ok I’m done screaming now. The tickets were purchased and I was given the express instructions to be in Clearwater on March 1. I’ll also be going to Rays spring training in port Charlotte, and seeing my florida friends so woo hoo!

I have the most amazing people in my life, that’s all I gotta say.

Happy birthday, Gamma! I miss you. 🙁

*Ten full books this month*

78. “Crux” (Nexus book 2) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Mikael Naramore

Finished September 30

the first book in this trilogy is a few headings down in this post. I read another book between books one and two since they have different narrators and Luke Daniels narrated the first book and he’s just awesome. Naramore was ok but he’s no Luke Daniels and I have to wonder if Daniels passed on doing this book on purpose. What a let down after the first one. I think “Crux” needed another revision or two. I felt like the information was being forced on me rather than shown to me. It ended up being terribly confusing since there were several parallel story arcs that didn’t mesh together. There seemed to be endless passages where characters were thinking. Thinking thinking thinking. So and so did this to me, I’m gonna do this, I really shouldn’t do that, what if this happened. The book just needed to be tightened up and it would have been fine, instead, those screws loose killed the pacing and bored me to tears. I kept thinking about the new White Trash Zombie book out on the sixth and how I was going to reread book four to prepare.

Ricardo says book three is good and full of action, so I’ll give it a try, but I’m glad for the break with my zombies.

77. “Cold Cold Heart” by Tami Hoag – narrated by Julia Whelan

finished September 27

I’ve taken to buying any book narrated by Julia Wehlan, or as Ricardo and I call her, our Gone Girl girl.

‘Heart’ is a book I found while doing such a search and wow. What a great freaking book. Dana Nolan was kidnapped by a serial killer. The book opens with her escape and agonizing recovery. Does one ever really recover from something like that, though? She’s lost not only her ability to think clearly and speak easily, she’s lost her identity as a reporter. Instead of doing the reporting, she’s now reported on.

In order to find a new purpose in life after she returns to her mother and stepfather’s home in the small town where she was raised, she decides to brush off her old investigative skills and look into the disappearance of her best friend from high school. If only she could remember to turn off the water faucet.

What follows is a riveting mystery with a deeply flawed protagonist struggling to make sense of the world post brain injury. though our situations are nothing alike, boy did I relate to Dana Nolan and her “before Dana” and “after Dana”, the way her relationships changed when she became “after Dana”, the way she struggled to figure out who she was after the “accident”. Oh, and there was a great mystery too, and a cute cat who looks like my Anastasia.

I love Julia Whelan so much I found her on Twitter: @justjuliawhelan. She’s been added to my list of favorite narrators. Great company with Scott Brick and Ray Porter, and so far, she hasn’t done a bad book that I’ve found.

@TamiHoag is also on Twitter but she’s not very active. She has an interesting author’s note at the end of the book, in which she describes her own traumatic brain injury and gives resources for others. She also tells the story of people who inspired another character in the novel, a war vet with his own traumatic brain injury.

76. “Nexus” (Nexus book 1) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Luke Daniels

finished September 23

Ricardo recommended this one. It took me a few hours to really get into it but once it grabbed me, it wouldn’t let go. Imagine a drug that lets you communicate with your own mind as if it were a computer. You could write code in your brain to make things happen, all with thoughts. You can even install apps. Want to be able to win a fight? There’s a Bruce Lee app for that. Now imagine if you could link minds with others on the drug and communicate by just thinking. At first, I was like ok that’s cool, but then it got scary. A woman is held captive, her mind under the control of those who have her, and she’s completely paralyzed. A hacker could break into your mind and make you do things. Totally shudder making. This is the first in a trilogy and it’s narrated by Luke Daniels, who I like. Definitely a good read. I look forward to book two.

Twitter: @ramez

75. “Darken the Stars” (Kricket series book 3)

Finished September 19

This is the last book in the trilogy, which I read all of this month. Book two is below this and book one a few headings below that.

I was bummed when this book ended, dangling bits and all. This trilogy was the perfect escape and I’ll miss Kricket’s sarcasm read with Kate rudd’s voice. I checked out the reviews on Audible last night and my were readers upset with the ending. I thought it stayed true to character and was a good lesson that not everything is a happy ending. I’m going to miss that world, that’s for sure.

Notes I took while reading*

I don’t want to like Kyon but his character is so awesome for humor. Was just eating mini wheats when he made me laugh so hard I slapped my leg and almost choked on cereal.

I did a search to find the spelling for Kyon’s name and I am so grateful I can read books just to enjoy them, not feel the need to dissect every character and the tropes they fall into. My goodness. This series is fun for book’s sake. You know, fun? That thing that’s well, fun?

Had to stop my vacuuming to jot this thought down. The teen reviewers of these books love them. Since the books are classified YA, the teen reviews are all that matter to me. On the adults writing about the violence and sex in the books? Well, adults enjoy violence and sex in their entertainment and teens are, wait for it, YOUNG ADULTS.

74. “Sea of Stars” (Kricket #2)

Finished September 16

*Notes I took while reading*

She says something like, I open my eyes, trying to get my wits about me, I can’t keep them open. She can’t keep her wits open. She’s feigning delirium, telling the enemy to be sure and follow the white rabbit, and then, you killed Kenny…you bastard. The aliens are dumbfounded. I laughed out loud despite the migraine.

*End notes*

73. “Lone Wolf” by Jodi Picoult – narrated by Natalia Payne,Louis Changchien,CelesteCiulla, Nick Cordero, Angela Goethals, Mark Zeisler and Andy Paris

finished September 15

This was yet another daily deal I picked up at some point since I generally enjoy Jodi Picoult books. they are always about regular people and family being shoved into a supremely awkward situation, testing the bonds of love within a family. I don’t know why these books draw me in. Maybe because there’s always siblings, and I’ve always wanted siblings.

“Lone Wolf” was interesting because the supremely awkward situation was the father in a coma, but he’s not just any father, he’s a conservationist who went into the wilds of Canada to insert himself into a wolf pack for study. He literally gets the pack to accept him as a wolf. I thought this rather unlikely until Ricardo found an article for me about a guy in real life who did just that. I should have saved the link but I’m sure, if you’re interested, some googling would find it. I should have known this actually happened since Picoult writes books ripped from the headlines. She’s got one good eye for spotting true events that will make compelling fiction. She also added a second ripped from the headlines instance of, should life support be continued on this patient?

You know, I wonder if she wrote the book after the true wolf guy. I meant to check on those dates but now the total curiosity has passed and since this is my blog and not, like, true journalism, I don’t feel like it. So there. *stomps foot*

I always enjoy how each chapter is told from the point of view of one character, which means the audio books introduce several narrators. The books are always excellent entertainment.

I could have done without the epilogue though. Cheeseball!

72. “Before He Finds Her” by Michael Kardos – narrated by Julia Whelan

Finished September 12

Audible, Have I told you lately how much I love you for the daily deals? I’ve had to stop buying them over the last few months since summer electric bills don’t allow for extras, but daily deals have added so many books to my library that I always have something to read. I remember when I first became a digital audio book listener, it was hard to afford them through iTunes. then I became an Audible subscriber and I’d have to stretch my reading between credits. These daily deals have stocked up my book collection so that I never have to wonder where my next listen is coming from and I have read books I never would have known about otherwise. The last few books on this list were all daily deals. I got this one because Julia Whelan narrated it and she has quickly become a narrator I’m guaranteed to buy, like Scott Brick or Ray Porter.

This mystery was fantastic. I didn’t want to stop listening, and I didn’t want it to end when everything was being resolved. Man but this book was gooooood. The main character was annoying at times but what pregnant seventeen year-old raised in witness protection who lives on Nancy Drew books wouldn’t be annoying when she decides to go into the world and find her father since law enforcement can’t seem to and she’s sick of hiding?

I hope you don’t get motion sickness because the twists and turns in this book will leave you puking on the side of the highway. So freaking good. Julia Whelan, will you marry me? I love your voice.

71. “Under Different Stars” (Kricket, book 1) by Amy A.. Bartol – narrated by Kate Rudd

Finished September 10

Total soap opera teen romance fluff set in a sci-fi world, terribly written with dangling bits everywhere, but I enjoyed it despite all that. It was highly distracting and a lovely escape from reality. this is not a serious book that’s going to dazzle the reader with beautiful prose. Instead, it’s full of tropes. Girl all the guys are crazy about but she’s oblvious, total meat head, overbearing men etc etc etc. the girl is nice and tall on earth but on this other planet she’s tiny and adorable. Awww. Total eye roller I didn’t want to end. Lucky for me there are more books in the series. Honestly though, I’m surprised it won UtopYA awards (I wonder what those are) for best book of the year and sci-fi. On what planet? Maybe Ethar. Audible got me on this one. Hook me with the daily deal so I get addicted to the series. Well played, Audible, Well played.

Twitter: @Amy_A_Bartol

70.“The Magician’s Lie: A Novel by Greer Macallister – narrated by Julia Whelan and Nick Podehl

Finished September 8

Oh man this book was so freaking good I pretty much listened non-stop. I am on a roll with good books right now. This was a daily deal I picked up since Julia Whelan narrated it. She did “Gone Girl” and she’s just plain good.

‘Magician’s’ did something I contemplated doing in my own novel, writing one character’s POV in the first person, and the other MC in the third. In my novel, I wanted to use first person to put emphasis on my female protagonist but I decided it wouldn’t work. In ‘Magician’s’ however, it totally works. Whelan narrates the character of the magician, written in first person, telling her story to the police officer who apprehends her for the murder of her husband. The chapters alternate between her and the officer, written in the third person, conducting the interview. Podehl reads those chapters. He’s familiar but I’m not sure what other books I know him from. He’s also good. I thought the book was extremely well done and the story the magician tells is absolutely captivating. the title of the novel tells the reader there’s a lie, so the narrative of the magician is completely unreliable which makes for a very uncomfortable reading experience. This book freaking rocked. I wish the author was on Twitter. If she is, I can’t find her. Her? the name makes it hard to know, but I feel like a woman wrote the book. Yep, she’s a woman. I looked her up and found this interview, in which she mentions nursing her child. I can’t wait to read more from her!

69. “A Curious Tale of the In-Between” by Lauren DeStefano – narrated by Brittany Pressley

finished September 6

This book was awesome! I had been looking forward to it for so long since I follow Lauren DeStefano on Twitter and love her but had yet to read any of her books. She has really engaged with me over writing and she’s just plain hilarious so I’m so glad I liked this book. I was a little worried since the last book involving ghosts that I had been looking forward to was a serious disappointment.

Not this book! Eleven year-old Pram Bellamy can talk to ghosts. She lives with her two aunts in an old colonial house turned nursing home. She knows she’s an orphan, that her mother died in childbirth and her father is absent but she doesn’t quite understand why her aunts are so protective of her, schooling her at home. Her only friend is a ghost named Felix. When social services insists she attend school, she meets Clarence, a boy who’s mother is also dead. The two set out to uncover secrets. What follows, to me, is more a terrifying tale than a curious one. It reminded me of the old Goosebumps stories I read as a kid. It was so good I clapped when it ended. I only wish it had been longer. It was so good!

Twitter: @LaurenDeStefano

68. “Dies the Fire: A Novel of the Change” by S. M. Stirling – narrated by Todd McLaren

finished September 4

This book was so fun in the beginning. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale which I love. something happens to electricity and even compustian. What is it? No one knows. Planes fall from the sky, technology is dead, guns don’t work. So who survives? Wiccans and SCA members since those two groups of people already knew how to live off the land. It took me right back to my teens and early twenties, it did. I was a Wiccan and briefly an SCA member. In case you’re wondering, the SCA is a group that gets together and holds old renaissance festival type things.

So those people who respect the earth and can fight with swords are the ones to survive. It’s plausible to me. The book began to lose me the farther into it I got with the two main characters and their constant inner dialogue. I can’t explain why it got so annoying. then the story seemed to unravel near the end, like the author just wanted to move on to working on the next book or something. About the last quarter of the book suddenly got confusing, with no explanation of exactly how and why something was happening. It felt like the author was figuring out the story as he wrote it and didn’t quite tighten it up in revision. It’s becoming harder to just read now that I’m also a writer, that’s for sure. It’s an entertaining read if you’re able to suspend your disbelief. An attack on a strong hold with hang gliders? Really? In the dark? By people who had only a few days training with them? Alrighty then. Oh, or what about the fourteen year-old who teaches herself sign language out of a book in just a few months after she discovers there’s a deaf girl in the Wiccan camp? Uh huh. Oh well, it was the perfect book to follow Fitz and the Fool and I wasn’t yet ready to return to reality.

67. “The boys of Summer” by roger Kahn – narrated by Phil Gigante

finished September 2

This is the book I read for the book club I’ve mentioned in the last couple posts I think. The book club consists of Rays fans reading books about baseball. I could not get invested in this book. the writing didn’t grab me. The first part of the book is basically Kahn’s own biography and I was reading the book for baseball. The second part was Kahn visiting the old Dodger players he had written about in the fifties. parts of the book would be really interesting and then I’d find myself bored again. Discussing the book was interesting, reading the comments the people in the club wrote. since I couldn’t just leaf through the book for names, I was at a loss, not remembering which name went with which story.

the baseball history was interesting, especially Jackie robinson of course. The book just didn’t hold my attention. I have to wonder if the depression I was slipping into didn’t play a part.

I’ve always liked Phil gigante. He’s a great narrator, doing accents well, very easy to listen to.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, birthday, cats, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, mental health, music, twitter me this, writing

August’s Audio Books and a Case of Crippling Depression

So can we say wow Ro, you are sure late on August’s post. Ummm, Yeah. I’ll just say I’m grateful I can actually write this today. I am emerging from my worst…depression…EVER. Like, ever. Like, oh please oh please can I never go through depression that bad ever again? Please?It was awful. I’ve narrowed what I think to be the cause down to yet another physical problem with yet another new medication, though there doesn’t have to be a cause for depression. In me, there is typically a cause though. I’ll have what I call minor depressions, where life just gets too overwhelming, especially around money, but they usually pass. This one began as a minor depression, my story wasn’t published though I really felt ok about that, I plunged myself into work on the novel, then I read a book that brought back all my old alcoholic feelings, then a seriously dark and disturbing YA novel, and then the new medication was added and then yet another shooting happened and holy crap what the hell oh man no, stop it, no, go away, make it stop no no no, there’s no hope, life is horrible, humanity is doomed, make it stop. I quit reading the internet. I quit writing, all I wanted to do was read fiction. I even found it hard to care about baseball. then I finally told B all the things that were in my head even though I was scared to, afraid he’d lock me up, but he just listened and let me cry and that, along with not reading the internet, with talking to close friends, finally helped me ease out. It’s getting better by the day and today I was able to finish the first draft of a book review I had promised to others and send it off.

So now I’m working on my own stuff. It’s rainy today. I’m listening to music. The Rays are out of it for this season but they come to Arizona next year so that’s exciting. I spent the day in bed yesterday, just feeling physically “off”, worrying that I was doomed to not be productive yet again this week but today has been good so far. Minute by minute, that’s how I’m taking life at the moment. So, On to August’s books. Grateful I had the presence of mind to keep track of them. And grateful to Jayden for keeping me functioning during that horrible, dark time.

Happy birthday, Taylor!

*four books this month*

66. “Fool’s Quest” (Fitz and the Fool trilogy, book 2)
by Robin Hobb – narrated by Elliot Hill

finished August 31

I love robin Hobb’s Farseer books so dang much! This is her latest book which came out in August. Ricardo and I were both excited to read it and it was fun to complain about this new narrator with him. The way Hill voices the Fool is just plain awful. It definitely detracted from the book for me but at least this second book in the current trilogy was better than the first so that helped. I didn’t want to be done with the book when it was over. It was the absolute perfect escape for me, in fact B even told me to just disappear into it haha. I can’t wait for the third in this trilogy! Hobb’s Twitter said something about 2017 though, so that’s not happy making.

Twitter: @RobinHobb

Two books I walked away from: “The Accidental Alchemist” and “Mort(E)

I think I made it an hour into the alchemist book, bland narrating, or was it the writing with its dangling bits, who knows. Just didn’t care. Good thing it was a daily deal. I wanted something light hearted after ’ember’. Maybe it was a combination of my worsening mental state and the excellent writing it followed. I then tried the Mort book and made it a few days but gave up August 24 with four hours left. I just couldn’t do it. It was sheer freaking torture it was so bad. I blame you, Bronson Pinchot, for normally being so wonderful. Even you sounded bored to tears. I recorded a small segment for Ricardo since he’s also a Pinchot fan. I used to always suffer through bad books to see if they’d be redeemed. Not anymore. If they don’t at least entertain me, that’s it.

65. “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir – narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West

finished August 18

Holy crap, this book. So dark. So disturbing. So bloody. So good, but glad it’s not at all based in reality or I don’t think I could have handled it, it was so dark. Excellent narration and the book grabs you from the very start, never letting go until it ends, and you’re left wanting more. At least, I was. There’s a sequel and it’s written and hopefully out next year. I highly recommend if you’re a fan of young adult books and even if you aren’t. If you like dark fantasy, this is the book for you. Wow. I mean, wow. What did I say on Twitter? It’s “The Hunger Games” meets “Divergent” meets “The Bone Season”. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though. wow is it dark.

Twitter: @SabaaTahir When she responded to me on Twitter, I was like aaaah scary author, scary author!

64. “Romancing the Dark in the city of Light” by Ann Jacobus – narrated by Apple’s voiceover

finished August 13

the above link is the Goodreads page for this book since it’s not out until early October. I was given an advance review copy since I’m reviewing the book for Disability in Kid Lit. I’ll link to that review once it’s up.

And, here is the review. It was posted October 16 and was a very cool experience. I’ve been asked if there’s an audio book, and currently there isn’t. I have a question in to the author about it.

Twitter: @AnnJacobusSF

63. “Sarum: the Novel of England” by Edward Rutherfurd – narrated by Wanda McCaddon

Finished August 12

Notes I took while reading:

It’s like trying to see an accident scene as you’re driving by on the highway. It’s like oh there’s Bloody Mary oh now she’s gone. The book tries to be character driven but the expanse of time is so vast that by trying to develop characters and stories takes away from historical detail. The balance is off. There’s not enough time to care about characters and not enough detail about history.

End notes.

There were moments of pure fascination and then moments of sheer boredom. After reading Rutherfurd’s New York book, I was expecting exquisite pacing. I think that would be next to impossible with the England book however. It begins with the dawn of man and ends in the, oh crap, I can’t remember when it ended. I was just so relieved it ended. Oops!

I love Wanda McCaddon though. She’s very easy to listen to.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, birthday, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, mental health, spoons, twitter me this, writing

My First Submitted Fiction – What A Ride

I need to just free write a post while my body calms down. I just submitted my final draft of ‘That Meddling Dog’ for the YA anthology. Now I wait. Will it be chosen? Will I get my first real rejection? What happens next?

I began work on the story on May 30 and received the final draft from my volunteer copy editor yesterday. the writing and revising was awesome, ending up five hundred words over the limit and getting it down to the six thousand, sending new revisions off to my friends and getting their feedback and talking about things that happened and how the story affected each reader differently and change this word for that and get rid of that story line all together because there’s no room for it and I wasn’t ready to introduce that character anyway but oh I still need to reference him ok let me just change his name.

All the creative stuff was awesome, naturally, then it was coming down to the wire, the story pretty much done, the surface so shiny from all the polishing that I could see my reflection and all that was left was formatting. the visual part.

I’ve known I have a trigger happy thumb. I’m sure it’s evident in this post since I’m not being careful at all, just getting thoughts down. I enter way too many spaces. There’s no way with Voiceover and my word processing program, Pages, to easily tighten up spacing issues. So I went character by character of a six thousand word document, deleting spaces.

Wanna hear a sample of that process?

After I got done deleting extra spaces, I went through and added all my paragraph indents. I do all my first drafts in a basic app called Text Edit, kinda like Notepad for Windows, since it’s the easiest for me to use with voiceover. When I’m writing my first drafts of a fiction story, I never remember to tab for paragraphs and dialogue and I’m not sure that would copy over to Pages anyway.

So I went through and added my tabs and then I counted the new lines of a blank document. fifty lines. I wanted to do that thing with new chapters so the chapter would begin halfway down the page, right? So I’d find the new chapter and press enter twenty-five times. In my head, there’s the white space for the chapters.

I exported the Pages document, was it twenty-seven pages or seventeen I can’t remember. Anyway, converted it to Word for my volunteer copy editor and sent it off Wednesday. Deadline Sunday. today is Saturday. Are you with me?

I’m feeling so good about it. Really good. I feel like the story is solid, the protagonist being a secondary character in the main novel I’ve had in my heart and have worked on for years, and the protag from that novel in the story too. I feel great about it. I’ve had fun hanging out with my kids and creating new ones.

Then Thursday morning, before I’ve had coffee, before I’ve played Trivia Crack, I check email on my phone.

Don’t check email on your phone when you haven’t had coffee or played Trivia Crack and you’re already a bundle of nerves from this whole process oh and when Brian is in Sedona for a conference and your sleep is all messed up from staying up all night on Tuesday in a Google hangout with your besties.

email from copy editor lets me know he found extra spaces and other formatting stuff. Extra spaces. After I spent two days going character by character to get rid of them. Words that aren’t capitalized, crazy stuff. Stuff I know I fixed right?

turns out, when you export from Pages to Word and vice versa, formatting errors occur. So I can’t just go through, read his comments, fix what I agree with, stet the rest. this isn’t going to work. I can’t fix those visual errors. I can’t figure out how to make his comments correspond to the area of the manuscript which they refer. I start to panic. I’ve worked so hard. I love this story.

I’m reminded that I’m blind.

later I talk to Ricardo on the phone. He looks at the document with voiceover on his Mac. We try and figure out the comments thing. It’s all so overwhelming. It’s Thursday and the deadline is Sunday. Should I send the manuscript to Amanda who is also blind but uses Jaws with Word? She can fix the formatting issues, keep it in the blind family. but then I still can’t convert back to Pages.

Oh crap I totally left out the cathartic screaming crying fit from earlier in the day. I threw myself on the bed and screamed into my pillow so hard it hurt. I sobbed and sobbed. the cats piled on the bed with me. All I want to be is a writer and there’s all these barriers.

When I’m talking to Ricardo I’m trying so hard not to let the tears come but they do because I can’t do this. I can’t be a writer. There are too many challenges. I need Jaws and Word. All those things I’ve heard for years about Mac and voiceover not working well for professionals, all those things are true. Who am I kidding? I’m a blind disabled nobody and that’s who I’ll stay.

No.

Fuck that.

Deep breath.

Talking to Ricardo. He’s saying all the things I know in my heart, all the things my doubts want to kill. Sure it’s hard. Sure there are barriers. But there are also resources. Amanda told me to use my tools. What are my tools.

Email from the Professor. He can fix the visual stuff. He can just do it, we can talk in the morning, Friday, then he sends me the Word file, I don’t touch it, I submit that.

I tell Ricardo. Should I do that?

Hell yeah!

Weight lifts from my shoulders. People. People are my tools. People are more than happy to help a person who’s doing as much of the hard work as she can on her own.

I think back to the meetings. God will do for me what I can’t do for myself. For me right now, god is those people.

I’m going to be a published writer. I know this. This experience has been so valuable. Even if TMD doesn’t get picked for the anthology, the things I’ve learned from making it the best story it could be are invaluable.

And if it does get published? It could be a launching point.

I struggled with whether to include in my bio that I’m blind. I don’t want to be picked because I’m blind I want to be picked based on the merit of the work. But then I thought back to my last job, the one voc rehab helped me get and they told me not to disclose my MS. Look where that got me? I didn’t get any of the help I needed to be successful while working with a debilitating disability and I went blind.

so I chose to disclose. If I’m going to use the resources available as a blind writer, I can’t pretend I’m not. Hey look at that, tense change. I’m really bad at staying in tense. Hehe! Wait, in tense. Hahaha. Oh but I am so intense at times. In tense. intense. I love freaking words.

I thought back to an essay I read years ago that pissed me off so bad I almost wrote about it here but chose not to. the essay was written by a visually impaired woman who had kept her impairment secret for the same reasons I almost did. She had to admit it though, because she was loosing more and more of her vision.

I was so angry at her at the time but now I get it. It sucks to have to look your weakness full in the face. it sucks to admit oh crap, I can’t do this all on my own. It sucks. It’s painful. I understand now why she wanted to hide it and how much pain she must have been in the day she decided to post that essay.

I have put myself out there now. Until today, five people read TMD. Two blind friends, a young adult friend, and two sighted friends. Friends. All people who care about me. Now the story is in the hands of strangers.

It’s like bearing your soul, which Strunk prepared me for when I read his book.

I slept and slept and slept last night. I woke up at eleven this morning, an hour into the Rays game. So not like me! I was, and still am, exhausted.

After the Rays won (yay!) I opened the submission manager. Deep breath. Heart began racing.

“My heart is racing,” I say.

“Why, because you guys won?” Brian asks.

“No, I’m about to submit the story.”

“Oh!”

He knows what a journey this has been. He’s heard me mumbling during revisions, that doesn’t sound right, how can I reword that, he knows how important this is to me.

Of course I ran into a quick technical issue while looking for the file, the only one on my desktop, to submit. Silly mac.

I clicked submit. There goes the bio I wrote, there goes my baby, bye!

“Your submission has been sent.”

Oy vey, right? Holy crap. I mean holy crap! I tweeted, then grabbed Timmy and went to cuddle him in bed. His purring soothes me. I lay in bed, collecting my thoughts, the feeling slowly returning to my feet.

Now we wait. I posted on Facebook that I’m equal parts sure it will be accepted and that I’ll get my first real rejection.

Whatever happens, I’ll keep writing. Ren and georgie insist on it and their story isn’t done. They’ve got at least an entire novel to appear in, if not two or three. And my friend Dulce made her appearance in TMD when I had to work in a flashback to explain something. We find out she had her first kiss. And Dulce the character needs to meet Jedi the dog, who will love her as much as Jayden loves the real Dulce.

This story isn’t over. It’s just beginning!

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June’s Audio Books, Writing, Etc

I’m late on June’s post because I was going to include the book I’m currently reading which is seriously long and which I’m now half done with, but while working on the post today, I decided I’d just put that in with July’s books.

It’s a very busy writing time for me since I’ve been working on a piece of short fiction for this call for submissions for a YA anthology. Did I write about this last month? anyway, I’m super excited about it and the story is done (I wrote, The End, Lyndsay Faye!). I’m working on my second revision, third draft. The story is a prequel of sorts to the main YA novel I’ve had in my head for ages now. The deadline is the nineteenth and I’ll make it, for sure. I just need to trim around five hundred words or so to meet the word count limit, so sorry Thomas, the character I made up on the fly, you gawn. You’re not important to this story. Kill those darlings! though actually, he was a little shit anyway, and I’m not ready to develop that particular character who will indeed be in the main novel.

I’m also developing a new novel for this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which I’ll be doing for real. Between finishing the YA short story, working title “That Meddling Dog”, and November when NaNoWriMo starts, I’ll be mapping out the new novel and doing research once I decide in which direction I’ll be taking it. I already know about my protagonist and main plot device, but I don’t yet know if it will be Alternate history, historical fiction or a dystopian future. I’ll also be working on finishing the memoir so I can begin revisions. I’m pretty much writing full time now, though nothing yet to show for it other than pride, which is worth more than any dollar. too bad I can’t pay bills with pride. Ha! the money will come.

On to the books for June. Reading is all part of honing the craft. yay books! Oh right, also joined a baseball book club this month, so I’ll be adding the chapters we read in with my normal reads. All this while trying to keep up an exercise regime. At least I’m feeling pretty good, *knock on wood*!

Oh right, baseball. The Rays were in first place of the American League East for several weeks despite their many injuries. they’re slumping right now, so fell out of first, but they’ll be back at the top in no time, believe you me.

Ok, to the books for real. This post is not revised and polished like my fiction haha. I’d never get these monthly posts done if I spent all the time polishing that I do on my fiction.
*7.5 books this month*

54. “Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian” by E. L. James – narrated by Zachary Webber

Finished June 21

Ah, but how fun it is to read the Sharknados of literature. It’s like flipping through channels and pausing to watch some trashy movie one has seen a million times. That’s how I feel about these books.

The first three were truly terribly written, yet they kept my attention and wiled away the hours just like Sharknado and “Grey’ was no exception. Honestly, I just want to copy edit the entire collection and solve instances of, hey, wasn’t Christian just in that room? How is he now at the office Or, wait, is he leaning against the chair or the desk? James, do you not believe in revisions?

Still, no matter those flaws, and perhaps in spite of them, I find the books endearing.

‘Grey’ is just the first fifty Shades book retold from Christian’s perspective. It was fun to see what he was up to when the couple was not together, and the thoughts going through his mind. It was also nice being out of Ana’s head and not hearing about her stupid inner goddess. the male narrator was nice, too. Wait, nice? Is this nice?

This was simply a for fun book and I very much enjoyed talking about it with my friends. I’m also grateful I’ve read these books so when they are discussed on social media as being about abuse and rape, I can roll my eyes and think, have you *read* the books?

53. “The Fatal Flame” (Timothy Wilde book 3) by Lyndsay Faye – narrated by Kirby Heyborne

finished June 17

*sob* the end of a trilogy *sob* nooooooo! Damn, but can Lyndsay Faye write. She’s most definitely up there with my favorite authors and Timothy and Valentine Wilde are characters who will be with me forever. I’m going to miss them terribly!

What more is there to say about this book? I highly recommend the series so since I want you to read them, I don’t want to give anything away. Just go read them. My friend Brooke did and she loved them too.

Lyndsay Faye also very much inspired me as a writer when I listened to a podcast she did about the trilogy and her Sherlock Holmes book and her writing. I literally cheered out loud because neither of us were formally trained in writing, we both had a teacher in high school who was instrumental in the way we write and self edit and since all it took for her to become an author was dedication and hard work, I know it will happen for me, too. So cheers to Lyndsay Faye! I can’t wait for her next book which she talked about in the podcast which I’m not linking to because it’s spoilery for the timothy Wilde trilogy, so there. Just go read her books.

52. “The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving – narrated by Bob Asky (? Talking Books recording)

Finished June 14

This book is not available in English on Audible, which is interesting since it’s an American book. The copy I have is an old Library of Congress talking book, that’s why I put a question mark next to the narrator’s name above since I have no way to check spelling. The audio quality of this book was really bad, but I’m grateful for it since I remember enjoying the movie years ago and wanted to read the book. My friend Chupa loved the book as well, so now we can talk about it. I don’t want to go into detail about the book in case it makes you want to read it. Perhaps it’s easily available in print.

I’m not really sure how I feel about it, if I liked it. Parts of it were good and there were some laugh-out-loud moments but I’m not sure how I feel about taking such dark matters as rape and incest and spinning it into a tale of quirky humor. Then again, maybe that’s the only way some people are able to digest such serious topics. I’m definitely not depressed like I have been with other books about terrible things written without levity. So maybe I did like this book. Maybe I’m still digesting it since I just finished it this morning.

“Keep passing the open windows.”
“Get obsessed and stay obsessed.”

51. “The Coroner’s Lunch”(Dr. Siri Investigations book 1) by Colin Cotterill – narrated by Clive Chafer

Finished June 10

Several laugh-out-loud moments. Dry humor, deadpan narrator, coroner turned Sherlock Holmes with a paranormal element.

Good luck instead of cheers?

Those were the notes I jotted about this book while I was reading it. Very fun book, and part of a series which I will definitely be interested in checking out. I really thought perhaps it was translated because they kept saying “good luck” instead of “cheers” when they toasted. Maybe that was normal for the time and place in which this book was set, Laos, 1975. Good read, I recommend.

50. “The Killer Next Door” by Alex Marwood – narrated by Imogen Church

Finished June 8

This book gives Stephen King a run for his money. I’ve never had a weak stomach, but several times I wished I had not been eating while listening to it. It reminded me of the movie Seven with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. It had that sort of feeling of wrongness about it. It’s shiver making. It gave me the heebie jeebies and made me want to walk quickly away, put it in the freezer, hurry and get back to it…

I jotted those notes down yesterday and today I could not put the book down. Wow. I applauded when it was over. This book was filled with unimaginable, and unfortunately imaginable, horrors, yet I don’t want it to be over. I’m going to miss these characters. Every single one of them were real and relatable, even the um ok what is wrong with you characcters. I felt as though I could just as easily find myself in their situations. Well, maybe not all of their situations…

A freaking plus. I think I’ll start grading books as of now. Man, what on earth will I read next? I’m not at all sure what can follow this one.

*Note written July 3 – my paratransit driver creeped me out yesterday and I didn’t know why until I realized he reminded me of a character from this book. I tweeted this to the author, who replied with an evil laugh that her job was done. Authors, *fond shake of the head*.

Twitter: @AlexMarwood1

49. “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, E. B. White – narrated by Frank McCourt

Finished June 5

I immediately replayed this book after finishing it. Only being four hours long, it took no time at all and the information gathered was invaluable. The book was also just entertaining. The older I get, the more I enjoy educational books as long as I’m interested in the topic.

Stephen King recommended this in his book ‘On Writing’. That book was a huge influence on my writing. This one changed my life. It brought everything back to basics. Most invaluable? Write for an audience of one. Myself.

I felt like I was back in school and loved every minute of it. A lot of it was refresher, like continuing education. Many times during the listening, I felt invigorated as a writer. Nodding my head I thought, yes, that is what I do, or, no, I don’t make that mistake. On the other hand, I learned to “omit useless words” and never write, “the fact that”. Great fun for a word nerd!

48. “New York: the Novel” by Edward Rutherfurd – narrated by Mark Bramhall

Finished June 3

The first thing I noticed about this book was Rutherfurd’s tremendous understanding of human nature, making the characters and their emotions feel real. The book follows the stories of several generations of many families from before the Revolutionary War into the twenty-first century. The constant family is the Master family and it encounters members of other families throughout the decades, the lives of everyone weaving together seamlessly. I couldn’t help feeling a little sad when the female lines of the families faded out, but that’s reality.

The tone of the book shifted with the times, the thirties becoming looser than the late eighteen hundreds, the women becoming bolder, the social rules loosening.

An Italian family immigrates to the US and we arrive at Ellis Island with them. I rarely feel an overwhelming sense of pride for my country the way I did when the Italian immigrants saw the Statue of Liberty on their way to Ellis Island. There was a sense of majesty as Lady Liberty was discussed excitedly between the members of the family.
I was never bored. Not once. The passage of time blended together seamlessly. Time passed in the book the way it does in life – one experience after another. Absolutely brilliant. How Rutherfurd managed the pacing in such a monster of an undertaking astounds me.

I love historical fiction novels because even though I’m in my mid-thirties, I know very little about history. I’m working on changing that and historical novels are huge in that endeavor.

Twitter: @ERutherfurd

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May’s Audio Books Etc, Etc, Etc and Etc

I’ve got a lot of writing to do in the next month so the memoir is on hold for a bit. My first project is the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival who’s topic intrigued me. this round’s topic is, regrets. There isn’t much I regret about Jayden but I’d be lying if I said there were no regrets in the way I trained him in the home. Keep an eye out for that post if you’re curious.

I’ve just begun work on a piece of short fiction which I hope to have published in this young adult anthology which was just opened for submissions. The story is a prequel of sorts to the YA novel that has been in my heart, and partially written, for years. It’s the back story of one of the secondary characters who has a compelling story of her own which wouldn’t quite fit in the main novel. I’m thinking if her story is published, I could reference it in queries about the main novel. I’m excited! Usually when these calls for submissions come up on Twitter and I check them out, I don’t qualify for whatever reason or they’re looking for some kind of fiction I wouldn’t know how to begin writing. This one is right up my alley.. I was overjoyed when I read that this one is open to the world. yay! I mapped the story from start to finish today which is something I haven’t done in the past. I am learning so much about writing, just from following writers on Twitter. They tweet the best stuff!

I didn’t work on this post at all as the month of May went on. What did I do in May? Hmmm. Oh, B went on a road trip and was gone for two weeks. Cooking in this kitchen was interesting and different. Oh and I was deathly ill for the first part of his trip. He was sick, passed on his germs and then went out of town. What a guy! Haha!

I’ve been steadily ramping up my workouts yet again and I just love my writing room/office/gym. It has a hook in the ceiling for my TRX and when I position my rebounder underneath it, the TRX straps become the perfect balance handles for my Zombies Run! jogs. I’m feeling steadily better and better even with the heat of summer having so quickly descended upon us.

Baseball has been interesting this season, too. I’ve learned from watching Kevin Cash in his first year managing that I’d never want to be a baseball manager. despite new management and tons of injuries, my Rays are tied for first as I write this Sunday evening. granted, the division in which they play, the American League East, isn’t all that great this season, but still! First place is a fun place to be. Let’s see how they do on the west coast this week. Late night with the Rays on Twitter should be fun as usual. While I’m dreading the later games, I really can’t complain since they aren’t late by east coast standards.

Ok, on to books.

*Seven books this month*

47. “Trauma: A Novel” by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer – narrated by Xe Sands

Finished May 27

Did you know that Michael Palmer died? I had no idea. I thought he just collaborated with his son on this book. It wasn’t until the end and I was surprised to hear an interview with Daniel Palmer that I realized Michael had died. It turns out Michael had the idea for ‘Trauma’ and had begun work on it when he died suddenly and his son, who writes non-medical novels decided to pick up the pen and continue it. I thought he did a pretty good job.

I very much enjoyed ‘Trauma’ being the medical junkie I am. The book begins with the protagonist Carrie in two different surgeries. Something goes terribly wrong and as a result, her life and career take a turn and end up on a completely unexpected path.

Carrie is brought into a program at the VA using experimental surgery to cure post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers. Carrie has high hopes for this procedure to work on her brother, who suffers PTSD.

Naturally something isn’t quite right about this program and Carrie teams up with a young investigative reporter to discover the truth.

I very much enjoyed the cutting edge science even though it seemed to take an unbelievable scifi twist at first. It was definitely a page turner. The narrator was decent though she tended to oeveract a little bit and voice Carrie like a damsel in distress rather than the strong female under duress she was. I’m glad Daniel pointed out in the interview that Carrie was a strong woman because the narration really overshadowed that until I thought back on it.

Oh, a quick detail that stood out to me was Carrie’s skin growing suddenly hot beneath her scrubs during surgery. That happened to me countless times during my blood drawing days when I’d encounter a problem. It was such an awesome and accurate detail.

@DanielPalmer on Twitter

46. “The Gods of Guilt” (Mickey Haller book 5) by Michael Connelly narrated by Peter Giles

Finished May 23

Sigh, no more Mickey Haller books out for awhile. I looked up Michael Connelly and it looks like the next one is also a Harry Bosch book so that’ll be cool. These books are just fun. I don’t want to go into any detail about the book since there’s an interview with Michael Connelly at the end of the audio book before this one which, taken with details of this book, might be spoilery. Thanks for that word, John Green.

I can’t decide if I like the narrator. He’s good, don’t get me wrong. I can’t figure out how to describe his voice. Almost mechanical maybe.

45. “Jurassic Park: A Novel” by Michael Crichton – narrated by Scott Brick

finished May 2-0

When I first discovered I could buy audio books on the internet, I began trying to restock my “book shelves” with books I’d always had when I was sighted. ‘Jurassic Park’ was one of these books, however I could not find it unabridged. How disappointing. Abridged audio books need to go away.

so imagine my elation when Audible should tweet one day that for the first time at Audible, ‘Jurassic Park’ was available unabridged! And who should narrate it but Scott Brick! I was about to buy extra credits until I noticed the book was only ten bucks so I snatched it up immediately, symbolically hugging the book to my chest. Would there be cause for Brick to growl? I’ve heard of his famous growl but have yet to read a book he narrates that calls for a growl. I’ll leave you to find out if you so desire.

I enjoyed the book just as much as I had in the past and am so so grateful I have a copy of it once again! It really is worth a read since there are many differences from the movie which I think are good ones, and the science is just plain fun to hear about in detail.

44. “The fifth Witness” (Mickey Haller book 4)by Michael Connelly – narrated by Peter Giles

Finished May16

This book was goooooood. It was so good in fact that I stayed up until three in the morning to finish it after being on Google Hangouts with my friends until one in the morning since B was on his trip haha! I had only intended to listen for a few minutes before I slept and the next thing I knew I was finishing it. And it had a wonderful holy crap moment at the end. Damn but Michael Connelly can write. Maybe it was the interview with him at the end that caused me to stay awake until three, though it was really only about ten minutes, ha! Mickey Haller is just a guy you want to root for despite his many flaws. He is such a well written character. I am so hooked! I had forgotten I had this book somehow and was delighted to discover it in my Audible library.

Haller uses the song Bolero to describe the prosecution’s case to his client so naturally I had to play the song which I have in itunes. If you’ve never heard it, give it a listen. it’s about fifteen minutes long and begins very quiet so turn up your speakers. Bolero on Youtube

My friend Sadia on Facebook commented when I posted bolero, asking me if I’d heard this podcast called Unraveling Bolero I had not. Wow. Just wow.

43. “Little Mercies” by Heather Gudenkauf – narrated by Kate Rudd and Tanya Eby

Finished May 12

I got this book with my listening rewards from Audible. I’d had it in my wish list ever since reading “The Weight of Silence by the same author. ‘Mercies’ was really good. It’s about a social worker who’s life intersects with that of a ten year-old child and the two help each other in ways neither of them expected or wanted. The Reader cares about the characters right away and Kate Rudd does a wonderful job as usual with her narration, though sometimes she sounded incredibly whiny rather than just emotional. Eby voices the chapters of the child and while she does a decent job, I rarely enjoy it when an adult tries to sound like a kid. It more often than not just sounds creepy.

Great book though, and there’s an interview with the author at the end. She discusses how she did her research on social work for this book. Seems like the theme for this month is interviews with authors haha.

@hgudenkauf on Twitter

42. “The Caine Mutiny” by Herman Wouk – narrated by Kevin Pariseau

Finished May 9

I had to record this quote because I loved it.

This life is slow suicide, unless you read.

One of the characters says this in the beginning of the book and I just find it to be oh so true, though I think he was referring to military school haha!

this book was really good though in the beginning I was losing patience with Captain Numskull as I called Captain Queeg, the captain of the Caine, an aging ship with the Navy during World War II. After awhile though, I got sucked into the story and the characters, all of whom are fairly deeply flawed. Nothing was predictable except the mutiny which seemed to take forever to happen. When it did however, wow. I’ll be reading more books by this author.

There was just a good article in The Atlantic about him. I was surprised to see that people didn’t like his books back when they were published. Weak women? I didn’t think the woman in this book was weak at all, especially for the time in which she was written.

Oh and if you’re terrified of the ocean the way I am, just prepare yourself for a very vivid typhoon scene. *shudder*

41. “Tabula Rasa” by Kristen Lippert-Martin – narrated by Kate Rudd

Finished May 2

Oh man this book was so good, so so good! It was a daily deal and oh thank Audible it was because I loved it! It falls into YA but really it could fit into most any genre where an evil agency decides to “help” people by erasing their memories. I can’t describe it any better than the publisher’s summary at the Audible page. I’ll just say I freaking loved this book! I can’t wait for more from the author. this was her debut novel. wow! I’m so jealous. Highly, highly recommend this book for non stop action and awesome sarcastically funny characters.

@KLipMart on Twitter

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, Jayden, music, twitter me this, workouts, wow, writing

April’s Audio books and Life Update

In case you read last month’s post and are wondering how Jayden’s neck pain turned out, he’s totally fine now. We never did have to have x-rays since after the ten day course of anti-inflammatories, he was no longer whimpering and was slowly getting back to himself. I kept him calm for several days after he finished his meds just in case, but he’s totally fine now and we’re returning to the vet this week to get his shots which the vet did not want to give Jayden while he wasn’t feeling well.

I seem to be responding well to my new thyroid med and iron supplement, knock on wood, which I just did. I worked out all last week and am looking forward to doing a zombie run for the first time in forever tomorrow. I saw the neurologist this month and since I have no new symptoms I’m good to go until my next MRI in October. I told him I still have bouts of fatigue and he said that’s the MS, not the gilenya. So Gilenya doesn’t help with the fatigue? Nope. But, the thyroid med and iron supplement is helping with that so all’s well that ends well right?

I’m up to 51,500 words on the memoir. I’ve hit a rough patch on that, getting to a point in my life where nothing much seemed to happen and I’m just pulling taffy to get to the fun baseball stuff haha! I started off strong on the Stephen King plan working up to 2K words a day but I just could not keep up that pace. I’m doing some sort of writing every day though for the most part, even if it is just playing with some fun fiction that isn’t for publication.

Baseball is back and the Rays are off to a good start even though they are the walking wounded. they’re playing at and above .500 baseball without all their parts so I’m pretty happy so far with 2015.

Ok, on with the books!

*Six books this month*

40. “Rogue” (The Talon Saga book 2) by Julie Kagawa – narrated by Kaitlin Davies,MacLeod Andrews, Chris Patton and Tristan Morris

finished April 30

See my review for the first book in this series below. This second book wasn’t as good as the first one but it was still most definitely a page turner what will happen next book. I just wish there was a different female narrator.

This second book had the dragons leave the beach for all the lights of Vegas as they ran for their lives from two big enemy orders. The action was good but nothing can quite beat the ending of the first book, in my opinion. I wonder if this will just be a trilogy or one of those series that goes on and on. I think there should be an ending no matter how much I enjoy the series because people can only run from their enemies for so long.

39. “Dangerous Women” by George r. r. Martin, Gardner Dozois

Finished April 27

I got this anthology specifically because Scott Brick reads a story by Diana Rowland. This I found out on Twitter after mentioning how good Scott Brick is. Diana rowland saw it and told me about the story of hers he read and I knew I had to hear it. I’m not a huge fan of anthologies since there’s no guarantee every story will be enjoyable and this one was cross-genre so There were some sci-fi stories that were like wtf? But some that were really good. Knowing the stories are all about dangerous women made some of them predictable and some I wondered which woman was supposed to be dangerous. It was over thirty hours of stories, so it took some time to read, especially with baseball being back.

Ok I’m skipping through the book and have to mention a story read by Jonathan Frakes that disappointed me because it’s Jonathan Frakes! Commander Riker! number One! He should stick to acting with scripts though. He’s not a great audio book narrator. The story was called, the Hands That Are Not There and it was just weird. Hmmm, furry alien sex.

Oh! So there’s a story called Neighbors and in the introduction, the author’s name is given but her pseudonyms too, one of which being Robin Hobb! I was so excited. I love Robin Hobb! This story was set in present times though and was rather depressing since it has an older woman dealing with episodes of dementia and her family is arguing about putting her in a home. there’s a supernatural’ish element and in the end the woman escapes into an alternate dimension. So I was excited but then let down. No dragons or royalty or Fools haha.

My favorite story by far was I know How To Pick ‘Em by Lawrence block. The story was only forty-five minutes and that’s all it needed. Block hit it out of the freaking park with this story and i looked him up. I’ll be checking out his other work which is a lot. I’m rather surprised I’d never heard of him. this guy has been writing since before I was born.

There was a futuristic dystopia called Second Arabesque, Very slowly by Nancy Kress. This story was soooo good. I think she’s another author I’ll be looking up. It was beautifully written and had women rebelling. Oh and ballet, don’t forget the ballet.

Diana Rowland’s story was good but had no zombies or demons! It was set in Louisiana like her other books and while Scott Brick dropped rowland’s sarcastic lines with his usual ease, his voice is more New York than New Orleans. The story had a male protagonist which was a fun switch from Rowland’s usual females but he wasn’t likable in the least. Bad cop, need I say more? I’m glad he encountered a truly dangerous woman.

There was a story by S.M. Sterling which just so happened to be in the canon of a series my friend Ricardo wants me to read about a future dystopia with Wiccans. I thoroughly enjoyed the story in this anthology so I can’t wait to get started on the series. This story was good, with people in the future trying to prosecute a sexual assault using their own brand of justice.

Another good story was Caretakers by Pat Cadigan. Here we have an elderly lady again but with her two sharp tongued and witty daughters. the dialogue in this one was laugh out loud funny and the end of the story was goose bump inducing. I’ll be checking out more Pat Cadigan, to be sure!

A story called Lies My Mother told Me by Caroline Spector was like wtf but in a good way. A super hero who gets fat and then throws fat bubbles with the deadly accuracy of a sniper rifle? A woman who can call dead people from the grave to become her very own zombies? A dude who can steal powers with a touch? Oh and how about a child who’s half insect half human? Alrighty then! It all works in this story which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The last story was by George R. R. Martin of course and by then I was just ready for one novel with plenty of character development and plot. Martin’s story was set long before the happenings of ‘A Game of thrones’ and I’m sorry but an epic just doesn’t work in a short story. I fell asleep and missed the ending and didn’t really care. There wasn’t time enough to develop any feelings for the characters.

This was a fun anthology and I discovered some writers I plan to check out. and who knew Janis Ian was a good audio book narrator? she read several of the stories I liked. In fact all the narrators were good except Jonathan Frakes, though I’m a pretty picky person when it comes to audio book narrators.

38. “Talon” (The Tallon Saga book 1) by Julie Kagawa – narrated by Kaitlin Davies,MacLeod Andrews and Chris Patton

Finished April 16

This was an Audible daily deal that caught my attention and which my friend Ricardo also picked up. I began it grudgingly after the Ledger book at Ricardo’s urging even though I really wanted to begin an anthology with a Diana rowland story.

At first I didn’t think I’d like this book. I couldn’t, and still can’t, stand the female narrator. she’s just so whiny and sounds like a bad soap opera actress. I wish someone like Kate Rudd had narrated but oh well. You can’t have everything. At least it had MacLeod Andrews! Love him.

I didn’t realize this was a young adult book until Ricardo wondered if it was and I began reading. At first I was put off by the usual YA tropes, sixteen year-old girl figuring out who she is, deciding to defy the only organization she’s ever known, needing rescuing by males etc. But when that sixteen year-old just happens to be a dragon who shifted into human form so she and her twin could infiltrate a small beach town and blend into human society, it was easy to move beyond what annoyed me and escape into the characters and eventual heart pounding action.

I loved the parallels between two of the main characters, who both ended up on a journey of self-discovery, stumbling together along the way. Would they realize too late that they were centuries old enemies? I immediately preordered book two in this series. I wonder how many books it will have!

Julie Kagawa on Twitter: @JKagawa

37. “Predator One” (Joe Ledger book 7) by Jonathan Maberry – narrated by Ray Porter

finished April 13

Holy crap wow best Joe Ledger book yet! Holy crap. I mean wow. Laugh out loud quote? “Well fuck me blind and move the furniture.” Haha! No one could have dropped that line in top’s voice better than Ray Porter.

This book was freaking awesome and totally terrifying even more so than deadly plagues and zombies. One word – drones. Drones everywhere. Drones controlled by hacked software done by a genius held under duress by a madman. While I was reading this, and for a time after, every mention of a drone or any kind of autonomous vehicle on Twitter gave me chills. Of all the Ledger books, this one seemed the most feasible.

the only complaint I have about this book is the beginning, which takes place in Philadelphia on a Sunday afternoon for “National League Opening Day”, the Orioles visiting. I really thought Maberry was a baseball fan since he mentions the Orioles in every Ledger book, but that’s just not accurate. Terrifying though, a drone strike at a baseball game. *Shudder*

Jonathan Maberry on Twitter: @JonathanMaberry
Ray Porter on Twitter: @Ray__Porter

36. “Vengeance of the Demon” (Kara Gillian book 7) by Diana Rowland – narrated by Liv Anderson

Finished April 9

I so do not want to wait a year for the next book in this series! I tried not to fly through this one but it’s just so hard to take it slow. This book had more twists than a Renaissance Festival hairdo. There were wtf moments that had me screaming and at one point I was crying as hard as I did to “The Fault in Our Stars”. Whoa. After I got myself under control I wondered how I would do that to my own readers one day. Beware!

This series is just sooooooo awesome! Man. A year? I have to wait a year? Noooooooo!

“35. “Persuader” (Jack Reacher #7) by Lee Child – narrated by Dick Hill

Finished April 6

Ok Why does Jack reacher just get to come in and take charge away from all FBI people, Secret Service people etc? He’s issuing orders and I’m like really? I don’t know; I’m grumpy with this book. I just can’t suspend my disbelief with this one I guess. Who died and made Reacher the king of all badass drifters?

I jotted those notes a couple hours before finishing the book and my opinions didn’t change with the conclusion. I just couldn’t support the mission of vengeance Reacher was on in this one. There was nothing to like about him.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, doc, Jayden, twitter me this, Uncategorized, vet visit, writing