Category Archives: family

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

I’m Home

It wasn’t a geographical in the AA sense of things, since I wasn’t running away from something, I was running to something. And I think I’ve found way more than I bargained for.

That was the thought running through my head this morning that made me run to my computer after refilling my coffee, knowing I needed to write a blog post. I got out of bed early today since I lay awake thinking of how close I was to finishing the first draft of the memoir – finally. I used NaNoWriMo this year to fully commit to the memoir. I studied memoir in October, reading “The Memoir Project” by Marion Roach. The book was recommended on Twitter by Josh Hanagarne @JoshHanagarne), author of “The World’s Strongest Librarian”, and I will be forever grateful to him for that recommendation. The book showed me how to structure the memoir and how to plan to write it. It showed me to find the message I wanted to convey, and that helped me narrow down which parts of my life were relevant.

What I have is a 50,550 (cool number, eh?) word sketch draft of this memoir, with the ending I imagined while doing my prep work.

I have a finished, first terrible draft of a book!

I’m pretty sure it’ll be longer than what I have now, because as I wrote, I would remember things that will need to go in, but I just jotted those down as notes to be added during rewrites. I’ll be learning Windows and Jaws *gulp* for the editing process, because the Mac and Voiceover is sorely lacking in the word processing department. Luckily, I’m in the right place with a Windows geek who can help me with that. Pray for him. *wink wink*

When last I posted, I listed all the challenges I’d been through with my benefits. I had planned to post again with fun stories about moving here, and I’ll still do that, but not in this post. Today I just wanted to post about finishing my first draft, because the feeling is incredible. I’ve finished multiple drafts of two short stories now, and those felt great, but finishing the first draft of this memoir, a book that’s been fighting to get out since way back when I had a Blogger blog, feels absolutely incredible.

I think it’s this move to Washington. It felt like home before I ever got here, and I’m so grateful it has felt more and more like home the longer I’ve been here. My creativity has grown in leaps and bounds here. I can stand outside in the front yard and just be, just listen and feel and smell. It’s so alive here! Everything is alive. Grass, trees, the nearby ocean that I smell when I step outside, everything is living, including me.

Without a doubt, I know this is home now. though I suppose we’ll see what I say in February, eh?

I’ve had to put some money down on warm stuff, but not much. I got thermal underwear on Amazon that I wear every day under my sweats and three tops, ha! David’s, and now my, friend took me to Value Village for a member’s only sale. This woman knows how to bargain hunt! I got two winter coats and a bunch of warm stuff to wear around the house. I’m currently wearing wool socks, thermal pants, sweats, a tight tank top, thermal shirt, fleece shirt, hoodie, NaNoWriMo beanie, and fingerless gloves. I’m pretty much warm, ha! I freaking love it!

It’s not so fun when it’s wet, but I’m getting used to it. The raincoat I bought for guide dog school hangs in the mud room, ready to grab to keep dry, and I’m waiting on a rain coat I ordered from GDB for Jayden. I certainly never expected to be buying a doggy raincoat. I never expected to move to Washington, either, so it just goes to show how unreliable expectations are. Tip: don’t have expectations, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Near the end of October, while I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and taking a fiction writing class, we met up with some of David’s family and went to the Hobuck beach at Neah Bay. David, his son, and cousins, all surfed. In the cold. I’ll be trying it in the summer if all goes as planned. Hey now, watch those expectations.

For Thanksgiving, we went to David’s parents’s house for salmon dinner. A lot of Salmon is eaten here, which is excellent, because salmon is a good anti-inflammatory food. Antiinflammation food? Hmmm. Anyway, we eat a lot of salmon and I love it.

There have been challenges. I’m still ironing out all the benefits stuff. It turns out that Medicare does follow you from state to state, but if you have a Medicare advantage plan like I had in Arizona, tying Medicaid and Medicare together with an insurance company like United Healthcare, you have to do more than just cancel your state’s Medicaid. Unbeknownst to me, my Medicare stuck to Arizona even after I cancelled Medicaid, and the only reason I found out was because when my new doctor tried to write a neurology referral, my new health group didn’t take my Arizona insurance, which I thought I had cancelled. Long story short, I had to call Medicare and get on a basic plan, and get on a prescription drug plan. As far as I understand it, everything should be straightened out on December 1, and I’ll officially be a Washingtonian, *knock on wood*.

I wasn’t planning on going into all that, but the fingers write what the fingers write. I have another call to make about my Medicaid, because I have a navigator woman with my medical group, who said I should not be on that ridiculous spend down thing. So fingers crossed she’s right.

So there’s another update for you, my one dear reader *cough* Torie *cough*. I’m thinking as I revise the memoir, maybe I’ll post things that end up on the cutting room floor. Though perhaps not until I know for sure. Better safe than sorry.

***Tip*** When taking your dog to the beach, no matter how short a leash you have him on, he’s still at risk for beach gut. Did you know that’s a thing? Yup, that’s a thing. My did Jayden get sick. Silver lining: I took him to the neighbor’s vet, which I really liked.

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Filed under accomplishment, coffeeholic, family, GDB, gratitude, holiday, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, num num food, twitter me this, vet visit, Voiceover, weather, writing

Moving State with a Disability

I’ve needed to write a post about moving and simply have not gotten around to it. Then this morning, it occurred to me how I can sum it all up with the aid of lists. So let’s see how this works. I’ll attempt to briefly sum up the reason for the move, and then add some lists. Ready? Here we go.

I’ll not give details, but B and I split up and tried to stay in the house in Tucson as roommates, since I didn’t exactly have easy options for moving out. Life tends to offer little choice when living on disability, as I’ve learned all too well. Our lease was up at the end of September, and we were going to go month-to-month while I figured out what I was going to do.

I had a plane ticket to Washington to test things out. Doctors have told me for years to move to a cooler climate, and it seemed as though the Universe were nudging me to finally act on that advice. I had met someone on an iPhone app called Vorail, which is a voice only social network. You can see why the blind flocked to it, ha! His name is David and we quickly formed an intense friendship. He came to Tucson in early July and we clicked.

So, August 15 was to be the start of a test here in Washington, but then it turned out that B and I would not be going month-to-month after the lease was up, so I had nothing to return to.

I packed everything up and put it into storage in Tucson and brought with me to Washington, three suitcases, a backpack, and Jayden.

Crazy right?

I could drone on about the travel day, but really there’s not much to say, other than I bawled my eyes out that morning after the movers came back and took my bed and my friend picked me up to drive me to the airport. Thanks Maritza, miss you! Leaving Tucson, the only city in which I’ve ever lived, for good? I didn’t yet know. Tears rolled down my face as the plane taxied and a man behind me told stories to his son about the things he saw out the window, how the airport had looked decades ago. I cried as I thought about my grandpa having been the accountant for the airport and how, at his retirement party, he was presented with two cakes made up to look like Alka-Seltzer tablets.

The roller coaster of emotion I had been on for months was taking another loop-the-loop. I was so excited to get here to David, to meet his nine year-old son, to see the house I’d heard so much of over vorail and FaceTime, to meet his family, to be near the ocean, but I was leaving my entire life behind. I was so grateful I had Jayden with me.

So that, in a nutshell, is the how and why I have been in Washington state for two months. Now for the lists of things I’ve experienced and learned that I think will be valuable for other disabled people contemplating a move to a different state. *Disclaimer: The following experiences have been my own and may not be the same for every state and/or every person with a disability.

Moving state when you live on disability

• Transferring your benefits is nerve wracking and scary, especially if you have a chronic condition like I do.

You can’t have benefits in two different states, but you’re limited as to how long you can be out of the state where you have current benefits. In other words, if you have an emergency situation, your hospital is covered by Medicare, but any medications are covered by your state, in my case AZ. I had a bout of diverticulitis after being here two weeks, Medicare covered my hospital but my medications weren’t covered. While I was recovering and sick from antibiotics, I was helping the hospital via the phone to get my AZ insurance stuff settled.

Rule of thumb: as far as I can tell Medicare is national and follows you. Medicaid is by state.

• Refill your medications before you go, and try to have more than a month on you.

Luckily, I was able to get three months of my meds before i left Tucson, all but my MS medication Gilenya. That’s been another scary thing, since I knew I’d be between insurance coverage. Luckily, I can get Gilenya straight from the pharma company temporarily until I get my insurance stuff settled, which is still a work in progress but will take a second post to explain. Maybe next Sunday ha!

• Do all this insurance research stuff before you leave your state.

I did not. Everything was happening so fast before I left Tucson, that figuring out benefits wasn’t high on my to do list. I thought, how different can it be? Mistake. Big mistake. Don’t assume anything. Medicare and your Social Security benefits are the only things that stay the same, but the majority of your day-to-day medical care, like doctors appointments, medications, and medical tests are covered by your new state’s Medicaid and those programs are vastly different. Luckily I now have Washington state benefits and the application process was much less of a headache than it was in Arizona, that’s for sure. But, their program is much, much more confusing than AZ.

* Be prepared for stress as you learn your new benefits plan.

Because I was honest about the chunk of my inheritance from Gamma I get every month, and because I can’t pay David rent lest his benefits get affected, I am not considered medically needy, which means I have a deductible of $3,400. Which resets every six months. I need to keep track of all my medical receipts and submit them to Medicaid every six months to prove I’ve met the deductible, or spend down as they call it. This means my Gilenya would need to be paid for out of pocket before the spend down is met. Thank God the Pharma company is helping, because I cannot miss a dose, and I don’t have $1,200 laying around every month.

• You’ll need a credit card.

I should say that all this is just one person’s experience, so don’t take what I write here as fact for everyone in every state with every disability. I could have done all this with no credit card, had I had plenty of time to get everything arranged, but I needed to put my stuff in storage and had no credit card. I don’t know what people do who don’t have a good support system, I really don’t. I’m also pretty scared about what’s going to happen with my medical stuff with no credit card and this spend down thing, but luckily there’s an agency here whose primary purpose is to help the disabled navigate the system. It’s called the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA), and they helped me feel a little better about how I’m going to handle things.

• Take plenty of time to plan a move to a different state.

That’s my advice to anyone on benefits due to their disability. Give yourself plenty of time if possible. Moving is expensive for anyone, and when you have to worry about your benefits, the whole thing gets very overwhelming. Disabled housing takes years to get, so you’ll need to have a place to stay where you’re welcome for an extended period of time. If your temporary address is with another person on benefits, be aware that your presence might very much affect their benefits, which will affect yours since you won’t be considered to have shelter expenses.

Those bullet points are the things I can think of today that other folks on benefits might benefit (haha) from knowing before a big move. The most disheartening thing about all this has been feeling like I’m not supposed to fall in love with a blind guy. I’ve known that benefits are not family friendly, and now I really know it. I feel like, oh you’re disabled? Oh we forgot to tell you that you don’t have the freedom to pick up and move where you like, or to fall in love with who you like. I’ll be applying for disabled housing since combining incomes when you’re on benefits just does not work. How lovely.

and for Heaven’s sake, if you get a little extra from a family inheritance, be prepared for it to hinder more than help. Do I use it to buy the things I need for life in a cold climate that’s good for my health, or to pay my medical bills I’ll wrack up thanks to my health? My dad said, honesty is the best policy, unless it isn’t.

I wanted to end this post with more entertaining facts about my move, but I’m feeling rather mentally unstable today. Writing fun stuff would probably help, but I’m so tired after writing the frustrating stuff. I suppose this is motivation to write again soon, eh? I realized today that I’ve neglected the blog so much because I wasn’t living life. Now that I’ve moved, I’m living again! I know I was meant to move here, know it with all my being and I won’t let all the red tape kill my happiness. Not totally anyway. I need to have days like today to remind myself of how good I have it.

My next post will include pointers for moving from a hot climate to a cold one, and a story about a drone that nearly drove my dog insane.

***Parting thoughts: If your poop bag malfunctions first thing on Sunday morning, be prepared to have a shitty day.***

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Filed under accomplishment, family, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, humor as coping skill, Jayden, transitioning

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

December’s Audio Books Et Cetera

I’m fighting a migraine and it’s my birthday (12/30) as I write this and I’m waiting for my requested birthday dinner of 5 Guys, Burgers and Fries but my stomach is a little queasy from the migraine so no fair. December has not been kind to me. I’ve got a mystery bug that sent me in a panic to the neurologist after I almost passed out on stage while singing in the Tucson Girls Chorus 30th Anniversary concert. I thought for sure my MS was in one hell of a relapse but my MRI was clean, so the neuro tested me for an evil virus which I was sure I was dying from but that came back negative so the neuro sent me to my primary care doc and turned the mystery over to her. I see her next month. the neuro thinks I’ve got a bug that’s exacerbating normal MS symptoms like fatigue and dizziness. I get super breathless and light headed with the slightest of elevation changes. I’ll have a day of feeling better and then the next day I’m back to square one. Sitting in a normal chair is difficult since I feel like I’m going to topple out of it. I worked on my novel in the first part of the month after taking a week to recover from NaNoWriMo, then this bug hit and I’ve been useless. That’s about all I’m going to say on that right now since I’m fighting a depression that would love to grab hold while I’m weak so let’s move on to books, shall we? Oh, I checked my stat counter today to give me the motivation to care about this post and you’re still reading, so I’ll keep writing. comment sometimes, will ya? I’m fragile. tee hee. A ear end book recap/top ten list is coming at the beginning of next year.

*Seven books this month*

106. “The Twelve: A Novel” (The Passage Trilogy book 2) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick

finished December 31

Ok so I really don’t think I’ll be finished with this on December 31 but it’ll be damn close and it’s a long book, as was the first book in this trilogy, so I’m counting it since I’m over half finished as of today, the 30th. Book two has been so much better than book one, which was good but very draggy. Lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood. Not quite your typical post apocalyptic. The third book is out next year and I’ll definitely read it to see how the trilogy concludes. And, Scott Brick. Need I say more?

Ok now I’m writing this on December 31 and last night the book started having an X-Files feel. Oooooh! Government conspiracy in the apocalypse? yes please!

Ok so it’s December 31 and I’ll be finishing this book tonight. I haven’t been able to put it down all day.

@jccronin

105. “The Passage” (The Passage Trilogy book 1) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick, link Adenrele Ojo and link Abby Craden

Finished December 26

After I tied Ricardo up and made him read my favorite zombie trilogy back-to-back, he told me about this series, narrated by Scott Brick so I decided to read it since it’s Scott Brick and I kinda felt bad for abusively forcing Ricardo into that zombie series even though he did like it.

‘passage’ was good but after the first part, I was very angry and I can’t say why because spoilers but the book redeemed itself and I stopped being angry. Ricardo said he liked the second book better and I have to agree. This book was super laggy with navel gazing, a publishing term I just learned from my friend Lauren which means talking about stuff that doesn’t matter. On and on some passages (hey, passages, the Passage har har) went. Just get on with it, I thought often. It was a good book though. Very reminiscent of Stephen King’s “The Stand” but with a lot more blood. A lot.

The two female narrators read brief segments, the second of which being diary entries. As a warning to the listener, Scott Brick interrupts the second woman with things like, missing pages or illegible, and it made me jump to hear his voice suddenly haha.

good book, but there were times I wanted to skip through or just stop reading all together. Be patient, and I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you like bloody post apocalyptic thrillers.

104. “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” (Daughter of Smoke and Bone book 1) by Laini Taylor – narrated by Khristine Hvam

Finished December 17

I put off reading the Justin Cronin books because my friend Lauren wanted me to read this with her and would you believe it, she kept stopping reading it? I mean, my goodness. She’s reading it again now though which is good since I can’t wait to talk about it.

This book reminded me a lot of Diana Rowland’s kara Gillian series, but for young adults. It has an awesome fantasy element, angels and demons in an urban setting, with portals into other places. Oh and the protagonist has bright blue hair and tattoos. What’s not to love? the writing is absolutely exquisite, with passages that made my breath catch in my chest they were so hauntingly beautiful. then in the next breath, the characters would do something funny. It’s the perfect balance of beauty, humor, magic, world building and character development. I can’t wait for the next two books, which I bought with iTunes gift cards my uncle and aunt gave me for Christmas and my birthday. Weee!

Just wait until you find out what the wishbone is for…oh and the teeth…

This book is the closest to my novel that I’ve read since I began writing it back in November, well except for the achingly beautiful prose which mine doesn’t have yet in this first draft. Muahhaha!

@lainitaylor

103. “Champion” (Legend book 3) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 14

What an excellent trilogy! Bleak dystopia, heart breaking romance, awesome narration and the most epic fighter jet scene I think I’ve ever read in a book. Highly, highly recommend this trilogy if you like YA.

102. “Prodigy” (Legend book 2) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 10

Wait, the epic fighter jet scene, that was in this book, not book three. Why, why do I not write stuff about these books right as I finish them? I seem to remember at least jotting down notes. My brain this month, blame my brain.

I think all I’ve got is so good, go read, so good haha. click the links I provide to Audible and read about the books there, what do you think I am, a publisher’s summary blog? Haha! Ok I think I need dinner. Loopy much? Books? What? Oh right, books. I think the first book in this trilogy is in November’s book post.

101. “Kill Shot” (Icarus book 1) by Aria Michaels – narrated by Rhiannon Angell

finished December 9

This was a daily deal and I wish Kate Rudd had narrated. It screamed for her voice. the narrator was ok but there were two characters she did super high pitched that made my brain throb.

It was an entertaining read, though several times i found myself thinking, was this book self published? There was a glaring error of continuity at one point, where these teenagers are hunkered down in the basement of the high school after this solar flare causes all hell to break loose, and they’re in the basement for days. When the protagonist has to venture out she thinks to herself how different everything looks from when they walked to school that morning. *record scratching sound* Nooooo, back up and read what you wrote. Didn’t realize they’d be in the basement that long or something?

turns out the novel was self published. the reviews on the book are from people who were asked to review the book by the narrator. It all makes sense. I’ve got nothing against self publishing, but I’d like to see this book and the sequel get a traditional publisher and professional editors. Just a good polishing and this book would shine.

Ooooh, I did jot a one word note on this book: anyways. The characters kept saying it and that word is one of my pet peeves. Also, everyone kept saying the protagonist’s name. How are you feeling, name? How’s the weather, name? Name, what should we do now? And not her full name. Her nickname. It got so old! I still enjoyed the book though; I can’t lie.

@AriaMichaelsYA

100. “A Dangerous Fortune” by Ken Follett – narrated by Michael Page

Finished December 5

Ken Follett at his best, wow. This was such a good book. This book takes us into the inner workings of the banking world of the late 1800’s. It shows what happens when families have too much power and will do anything, anything, to keep it. Ricardo recommended this book and I could not put it down. Excellent!

***

Happy New Year and happy wedding day to Evan Longoria!

@Evan3Longoria Anyone who says they weren’t nervous on their wedding day is a liar! It’s a great kind of nervous! Excited to see my bride @jaimeedmondson. from Twitter for iPhone Dec 31, 2015, 12:07:17 PM

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, birthday, Choir, doc, evan longoria, family, gratitude, humor as coping skill, iTunes, new year, rambles, spoons, twitter me this, writing

“White Trash Zombie Apocalypse” by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Hi School Zombie Apocalypse!! Two exclamation points, don’t forget the two exclamation points. I imagine this movie like a Sharknado with zombies. Hmmm, Zombnado?

Wait, is this a post about a movie?

Well it’s a movie in the book, yes. A zombie moving is being filmed in Angel Crawford’s home town and she can’t help but enjoy watching the fake zombies shamble around, that is until they are no longer fake zombies but real zombies after her. Oh yeah, and she has to take the GED test thanks to her probation and the stupid rain just won’t stop.

Turns out a lot of rain in Louisiana is a very bad thing.

There was a scene in this one that had me in tears and when I told Diana Rowland that on Twitter, she was very happy. Pssst, it’s us writer’s goal to make you cry.

There’s only one more WTZ book to review this year. I love these books! Hey, got any pudding?

Rating: So good!

“White Trash Zombie Apocalypse” at Audible

My schedule next week for my steroid treatments isn’t yet confirmed and that’s kind of bothering me. Dr. V’s MA said I’d hear from the hospital but I haven’t yet. I called the MA today and left a message just following up since it’s the end of the week tomorrow and I’m supposed to start treatment on Monday. I don’t know about you, but when I need treatment to calm my brain lesions down, I kinda want to know it’s scheduled good to go, you know?

I had a woman come today and clean my house. That was very very weird. When we moved in here I had to admit to myself that I didn’t have the energy to give it the good deep cleaning it needs. It was clean when we moved in obviously, and while I had hoped to just keep that up on my own, it wasn’t going to happen. It’s a very strange feeling to be chilling in your house while another person works hard to clean it. She’s sort of the family cleaning lady, having done my uncle’s house for years and Gamma’s house for the last few years of her life. Now she’s doing my house. Just need to get my dad on board to give up his cleaning haha!

I soaked in a nice freshly scrubbed bathtub this afternoon and the water melted away all my weird feelings. I need to spoil my body right now.

Now Playing: “Everybody Hurts” from “In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003” (R.E.M.)

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Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, family, Gamma, gratitude, humor as coping skill, misty eyes, NaBloPoMo 2014, spoons, twitter me this

2nd Annual Center of the Roof Top Ten Book List

(Links open in a new window so you won’t lose your place in the list. Links to Audible and Amazon when applicable for each book are found in the title links. Links links links.)

How is it time for the end of year book post? Didn’t I just post last year’s? I honestly don’t know where 2013 went but I’m glad to see it go. I had some good times though, going to Colorado to visit Chupa, going with B to Phoenix to see the Rays, making more amazing friends online and the books, especially the books! Audible introduced a daily deal as well as their usual sales so my reading increased this year. Yay books! There were a total of seventy-one this year, up from fifty-nine last year.

It seems to have been the year of the series as you’ll notice below. It was much easier to compile this list since I kept better track this year and instituted my rating system. I had nine “marriage material” rated books so I had to choose one from seventeen “so good!” rated books to fit the tenth slot. I thought it would be rather difficult but as I went through, the decision was made simple. So without further adieu, I give you the Roof’s Second Annual Top Ten Book List!

10. “The Company: A Novel of the CIA” by Robert Littell – narrated by Scott Brick

“The Company” is an awesome CIA book recommended to me by my friend Ricardo. It was so good! It follows the lives of four men as they leave college and enter life in The Company. I’ve never been into books about espionage but this one turned me on to stories in that realm.

I got so invested in these characters since we meet them when they’re young and impressionable and follow them into their careers with the CIA. Are they all on the side of the US? I should have written this up much sooner. I finished it at the end of May. I just remember it seemed non-stop, something always happening. There was a lot I found familiar since I read a book about Area 51. I feel like I’m learning more about the past from books than I ever did in school; how sad is that?

You know what else is sad? When I wrote that post, Audible had taken down the unabridged version of the book. I checked just now and they are showing an unabridged version but it’s the same length as the abridged version. Do you smell fish? I do. I wouldn’t bother with a sixteen hour version of this book. The one I read was epic and long and awesome. Shame on Audible for taking it down!

9.“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck – narrated by Dylan Baker

Whoa, I was still using an iPod to listen to books when I reviewed this back in February haha! Just a funny (to me) aside.

This book was incredible. Not only did it capture a dreadful time in American history, it did so with simple but poetic writing and characters you want to root for.

“Grapes of Wrath” got my blood boiling a lot. I suppose a book with the word wrath in the title has achieved its purpose if it makes one’s blood boil, right? The story follows the Joad family as they are kicked off their farm and forced to move west to California. Why were they kicked off their farm you ask? The dust bowl ruined their crops so the bank decided it could turn a better profit if it kicked the farmers off the land and replaced them all with tractors.

This book was hard to listen to and not because of the narrator, who did a fabulous job, rather because of the subject matter. Those people had to travel across the States with everything they owned strapped to their cars, burying their dead along the way. They were honest working folks who’s land was ruined and people on the west coast hated them for it. Ah, sometimes that’s just the American way I guess. ‘Grapes’ was very very good and I recommend anyone read it though I certainly couldn’t read it more than once like I do with a lot of books I like. The post I wrote on the book was very cynical and wrathful indeed.

8. “Jack of Diamonds” by Bryce Courtenay – narrated by Humphrey Bower

How about another Ricardo recommendation? I can’t remember if he specifically recommended this or if I just got it since I loved Courtenay’s Australian Trilogy last year. Rest in Peace, Mr. Courtenay. Your stories will be missed.

I am so so so sad that we will not receive anymore fabulous stories and wonderful characters from the one and only Bryce Courtenay. I suppose I am lucky since this is only the fourth book I’ve read by him so I still have plenty more to indulge in. When “Jack of Diamonds” was over I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters, knowing they wouldn’t appear in future books.

In “Jack of Diamonds”, we follow the life of Jack Spayd from his modest Canadian upbringing during the Depression with an alcoholic father and loving mother all the way to his adventures in South Africa as an adult. One could tell Courtenay meant this to be a few books, but knew he would die before he could write any more so he wrapped up the story in a way that was faithful to all the characters. It was a wonderful book filled with music, laughter, drama and love. And will the bird be ok?

Humphrey Bower narrates this as well as all of Courtenay’s books and he’s brilliant! I think I listened to another narrator to rival his talents though. Stay tuned!

7. “Truth in Advertising” by John Kenny – narrated by Robert Petkoff

I found this book since I’m a fan of William Landay and he and Kenny are friends. Lucky me! This book was fabulous. I didn’t know what to expect going in to it and I’m glad I didn’t. I didn’t say much about it in the original post so as not to spoil the overall feeling of it for anyone else and I’ll stick to that here.

Oh side note, if I hadn’t had some sort of career in medicine back in the day, I was also interested in marketing and advertising, so I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of this book. Man this book was awesome! Definitely making the year end top ten list, no doubt.

I just remember feeling affected at the end of the book and that is always a good sign. The advertising aspects of it were great but it went so much deeper. Such a good book! I hear it has also been optioned for a movie. It will make a good movie methinks. Oh man I hope they do the baby scene!

6. “The Gypsey Morph” (The Genesis of Shannara Book 3) by Terry Brooks – narrated by Phil Gigante

This was the third book in a trilogy but I didn’t write them up in one trilogy post for some reason so this book gets the nod for all three. I loved this trilogy! I used to not be one for fantasy and such but my reading tastes have grown and evolved over the years. I think I have audio books to thank for that.

If you’re a fan of stories of magic and fantasy, I definitely recommend. If you don’t think you’re a fan, why not try it? Man, I’m getting sad all over again thinking about all the characters I’ve left behind. I suppose they’ll stay alive in my Audible library though, just like how the elves were kept alive in the elf stone…

Reading through the posts I’ve written on these books makes me want to go back and revisit the stories. Ah, so good! So magical and evil and wonderful!

5. The Joe Ledger Novels by Jonathan Maberry – narrated by Ray Porter

Ah, Joe Ledger! What up? I’ve missed you, man. I think you’re coming back to us next year? I hope so! This series is another one I have to thank Ricardo for. He finds the best books! If you click the link to the post, you’ll find links inside that one to the six books that are out. There’s actually only five Ledger books out but the sixth is a collection of Ledger short stories that tie up some loose ends. Man, thinking about these books makes me crave more of that characterarc!

There was no stopping me once I started the series. I had no desire to read anything else. I wanted to just keep hanging out with Joe Ledger and Mr. Church and Rudy Sanches and Top and Bunny and oddities oh my!

I flew threw these books, unable to put them down.

Oh, if you don’t like blood and gore, be forewarned. There are some very graphic scenes in every book. The action rarely stops so there’s a lot of blood. But, there’s also a service dog! How’s that for perfect? He’s so cool!

Oh and Ray Porter? Excellent narrator! He nails the badass tones during fights and then almost makes you cry when Ledger is feeling emotional. I’ve looked up Porter’s other books, he’s that good.

I did read one other book narrated by Ray Porter. I’ll sneak the link to that post in.

If you click the link to the Joe Ledger post, you’ll find comments from the author himself! How cool is that?

4. “The Cider House Rules” by John Irving – narrated by Grover Gardner

You know, the best part of writing Top Ten posts is revisiting my favorite books of the year. After I go and read through my post on the book I sit for a minute remembering. Happy making!

This book was narrated by Grover Gardner and I love him. He’s definitely one of my favorite narrators and he was a big reason I got this book. I swear if I ever write a book, I’m going to be incredibly picky about who narrates.

This book follows the life of an orphan named Homer Wells, brought up in an orphanage during the early 1900’s. Expectant mothers would come to the orphanage to have one of two things, an orphan, or an abortion.

Even though the subject matter was so serious, the underlying humor and Gardner’s delivery of it made me laugh out loud several times. Homer is such a lovable character and I still find myself thinking of him when I say, “right” during a conversation.

Right. Bah hahaha! Hahaha! Why have I not read any any more John Irving books? I need to remedy that in 2014, methinks. His humor is just too good. I’ve always been fond of dark comedy.

Oh! At the end of ‘Cider’, there’s some really good author’s notes. Apparently John Irving’s father was a doctor which was partly what inspired this book. I just love author’s notes! I highly recommend this book if you can stomach the subject matter.

3. The North and South Trilogy by John Jakes – narrated by Grover Gardner

Oh I’m having feelings and I haven’t read through the post on this yet. Ok, deep breath. Hey, back-to-back Grover Gardner. I didn’t plan that. That’s kinda cool. Ok Ro, you’re avoiding reading the post. Go.

*Sigh*

I can’t even, there’s just nothing I can write about it today. I’ll leave you with some quotes from the post.

*sigh*

Oh my I mean oh my seriously I can’t even I mean how do I write about this trilogy?

Did you ever see the North and South mini series with Patrick Swayze? I’ve always told people that my knowledge of the Civil War consisted only of what I remember from watching that in high school. See my high school didn’t know how to teach history. They just had us watch North and South and Roots and The Last of the Mohicans. All great, but shouldn’t school be about book learning?

The first book, “North and South” is about the time leading up to the {Civil} war. We meet the Main and Hazard families and begin to follow their lives. The Mains are a southern rice plantation family and the Hazards are northern iron workers. The two families come together when young Orry Main and George Hazard meet on the way to West Point. I immediately feared that at some point during the war, Orry and George would meet on the battlefield.

Each book is very long so I spent a lot of time with these people. Just after I started the first book, I got a bluetooth speaker for my iPhone so I started listening to my books with the Audible app. The speaker made it all very portable so I did a lot of listening while moving about the house. These two families became a part of my life, every single member. Even the bad ones, and oh yes some were bad. This trilogy had two of the best written villains I think I have ever encountered. I found myself questioning my love for humans when I wished some of the things I wished on these people. Good thing they were fictional.

Oh, those villains! *Shakes fist* Deplorable human beings they were.

Oh, this trilogy! And wouldn’t you know, I actually got Ricardo to read them instead of the other way around? We got to discuss the villains. Terrible no good people! Ok I should really move on. I feel like I need some sorbet to cleanse my emotions first haha!

2. The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia – narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Any guesses as to who recommended this? Who else. Thanks Ricardo! First of all,

Honestly, whoever wrote the summaries for these books did them a vast disservice in my opinion. A private detective who uses magic? Um, isn’t there already a hugely popular series of books like that? The book just didn’t sound appealing to me at all. However Ricardo has never recommended a book I didn’t like and it was a daily deal so I took a chance. Oh thank goodness I did!

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a publisher’s summary that was so off the mark for a series of books. I’ve searched on Twitter for readers and fans of the series and they are hard to find which makes me sad. This series was simply fabulous!

“Hard Magic” begins when a farmer is annoyed by yet another car full of “Okies” comes by looking for work. I read “Grapes of Wrath” earlier this year so that immediately placed the time setting of the book for me during the Dust Bowl era. The farmer notices a scrawny teenaged girl in the car with grey eyes and against his better judgement,decides to intervene on the girl’s behalf since he recognizes her as having a special magical power that kills most before they reach adulthood. It’s a good thing he decided to take her under his wing. She quickly became my favorite character. Faye Vierra! I adore you!

I became rather obsessed with Faye haha! She’s one of the most fun characters I’ve ever read.

I soon realized I had been transported to an alternate history, this one full of all sorts of magical powers and interesting characters mixed with real people from that time. If a name sounded familiar, chances are looking it up would lead me to a Wikipedia page about that person and their life. Examples are John Moses Browning, Jay Edgar Hoover himself and Raymond Chandler, to name just a few.

Oh and there are airships, did I mention airships? Yeah, remember how I feel about the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld? The Grimnoir Chronicles is the Leviathan series on steroids! By the time the first book was over I was giggling and applauding and I couldn’t wait for the next one.

Remember above when I mentioned a narrator who could give Humphrey Bower a run for his money?

The narration? Bravo! Bronson Pinchot does so many different voices and accents, from the deep slow voice of Jake to the soft accented voice of Faye to the odd and creepy Pale Horse and on and on, he was brilliant! It wasn’t until I was grabbing links for this post a couple days ago that I read he played Balki on Perfect Strangers! You could have knocked me over with a feather! Luckily he narrates the whole series.

This series is full of heart pounding battles with weapons from guns and swords to all sorts of magic you’ve never even dreamed of!

I couldn’t help but think about my dad when we went to see Independence Day all those years ago. He pointed out how frustrating it was that everything they seemed to try failed. Not everything goes perfectly four our heroes in these books either.

One of the best characters introduced in “Warbound” is the thirties version of Hannibal Lecter. Creepy! There was what I think of as an X-Files reference with this black oil stuff that made my stomach turn.

Some of these scenes could be straight out of a screen play they are so well written. You can literally see the action happening. One of my favorite mental images was of a fragile origami duck in the palm of an armored suit.

I simply adored this trilogy! I don’t think I have ever finished a trilogy and then immediately began reading book one again like I did with this one. When it was over I just wanted to peak back at how it began. I honestly didn’t think I would listen to all three books again but that is exactly what I did. There were little details I had missed the first time as well as some things that became clear the second time through since I was in pain, on drugs and grieving the first time through. I think that’s another reason I didn’t want to let the trilogy go. It had been a huge comfort to me through what was probably the most difficult few weeks of this year.

Thank you so much, Mr. Correia! You helped me through some really bad times. Oh, and I’d like a Grimnoir ring, please and thank you.

1. “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green – narrated by Kate Rudd

Just leaned my head back and had a moment of quiet reflection about this book before going to read my post on it. I knew about halfway through the book that it was going to get the number one spot on this list. It was going to take something phenomenal to bump it and nothing did. This book was sheer emotion for me from start to finish. I laughed and giggled and sobbed, oh did I sob. I haven’t read the post on it yet. The movie just finished filming and luckily John Green was rather active in it so I hope it’s wonderful. When the movie poster was released, my friend @MandaGator described it to me and I got choked up all over again. Here’s the poster.

I’m not sure I would have gotten TFIOS if it hadn’t been a daily deal. I abbreviated the title because John Green himself does too. How do I know this? At the end of the book, there was an interview with John Green and he mentioned Twitter so as I lay in bed, tears drying on my cheeks, I looked him up on my phone.

This book centers around teenagers so I suppose it could be classified as a young adult novel but that certainly doesn’t mean adults won’t enjoy it, I mean I am an adult. Sorta. I try and stay young emotionally. Not young emotionally, you know what I mean. anyway, Hazel Grace oh wait she only likes when Augustus uses her middle name, Hazel is a sixteen year old girl who has ben fighting terminal cancer. The book is written from her point of view and I love it right from the get go because she talks about how her story isn’t going to focus on the typical cancer kid book stuff.

I knew I’d end up bawling at the end of this book and I was not wrong. I loved loved loved this book! Right now it’s definitely getting the top spot on this year’s top ten list. It’s rare that a book touches deep emotions and this one surely did. From the awfulness of cancer which I’ve experienced, not in myself *knock on wood* but with my mom and B’s mom, to the having major limitations when you’re young and all you want to do is live, to the love of books and boys and music and America’s Next Top Model…

There is a lump forming in my throat.

I’m all glowing inside remembering it and how it made me feel and how the characters knew exactly what it’s like to be me. John Green, thank you! Audible, thank you! Oh and the movie just wrapped filming. John Green was at the filming so I know this because of his tweets. I want to say I won’t watch the movie since the voices will be all wrong and I’m not sure I want to feel the flood of emotion again but I know I’ll watch it. Oh, I miss you Hazel! I miss you Augustus! You’ll be back in the movie! Yay!

The teens in this book just “got me”, you know? I mean they understand. I understood them. I wasn’t just listening to this book, I was transported into it, like that Aha video from the eighties or something. I was there with Hazel and Augustus at the bones and on the plane and I watched them in the convenient store parking lot. I fell in love with them and when it was over I felt like they all died. But they are all still with me in my heart because a little bit of my life seemed to have been in each one of them. I’m close to sobbing again.

Oh! Wait! Kate Rudd, bravo! Wonderful job narrating this book! Hazel’s friend with the slightly European accent? Haha! Great job! Ok why am I writing that as if I’m writing it to Kate? This book, it just makes me gush!

They just aren’t going to sound right in the movie I know it! Ok, stop it with the contempt prior to investigation, Ro. I can’t wait for the movie so I can be with these people again! This book is the pure definition of my marriage material rating.

We aren’t done yet! From the cutting room floor:

Honorable Mentions

“Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King – narrated by Will Patton

What an excellent book “Doctor Sleep” is! I don’t think I have ever literally applauded when an audio book was done. I certainly did with this one. It was after King’s afterword and the way he ended it, in his own voice, made me squeal with delight, clap my hands and bounce on the couch. So so so so good!

*I’m surprised I couldn’t fit this in to a top ten spot so it gets the first honorable mention. Oh and I’m still a little scared of Joe Maddon now, thanks Mr. King.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling – narrated by Robert Glenister

I really really really hope the character of Cormoran Strike in this book returns in future books. Rowling? Are you hearing me? I want more!

*Rowling works magic with a detective story!

“Stay Close” by Harlan Coben – narrated by Scott Brick

The “supporting cast” was excellent as well. Ok, Ken and Barbie, can you say creepy? What is up with those two? I mean seriously, what is up with them? *Shiver*

*Trust me, that book is not about dolls.

“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn – narrated by Ann Marie Lee

Gillian Flynn, I don’t know whether to hug you or slap you. Where do the things in your head come from? Cancel that. I don’t want to know.

*Teeth. *Whimper*

“A Game of Thrones” (A Song of Ice and Fire book 1) by George R. R. Martin – narrated by Roy Dotrice

I can’t even begin to try and describe the plot because it’s so detailed and intricately woven together. Basically there’s a king and that family and a lord and that family and they marry this family and those families hate each other and then there’s this other family that is pretty much all dead way over there and it’s only hinted at what that family’s relation is to these other families and then you have this wall, this gigantic wall and there are bad things on the other side so the men of the black have to guard it and winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming.

*Whadda huh? Yeah pretty much. I’m on the third book in the series and still loving it.

“Harvest” by Tess Gerritsen – narrated by George Guidall

This book had so many twists I almost felt sea sick. You naturally root for Abby and one thing after another happens to her so you find yourself groaning as yet another force holds her down.

*The title is not referring to a pretty moon or fall festival.

“Deadly Straits” by R. E. McDermott – narrated by Todd Haberkorn

His character is quite funny and sarcastic and a bit of a jerk, but he’d be the first one to admit that. I fell for him instantly.

*McDermott is a self published author who actually went to the trouble of making his books available in audio format. Yay!

***Special Mention****

“The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon – narrated by Alana Kerr

I made that comparison to Harry Potter since it seems Shannon’s series and even her writing are being compared to J. K. Rowling and her magical world and I honestly cannot fathom the comparison. Saying “The Bone Season” is like Harry Potter is like saying baseball and basketball are similar because both balls are round.

*This is Samantha Shannon’s debut novel, written when she was only twenty-one. I think her next books are going to be pretty incredible!

They never made it within a mile of the cutting room:

Dishonorable Mentions

“Relic” (Pendergast, Book 1) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – narrated by David Colacci

This book is getting my equivalent of 1 out of 5 stars. I think the narration and production are a big reason why. Good narraters tend to make you forget about plot holes and idiot characters.

*Totally wanted that woman to get eaten in the exhibit.

“Jaws” by Peter Benchley – narrated by Erik Steele

For me the only likable character was the shark.

*Can the shark eat the girl from “Relic”?

“The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy – narrated by J. Charles

Clancy should probably take some of the blame since he laid down a huge chunk of the plot way too soon. You know immediately what the Russian captain of the submarine, The Red October, is up to. The whole first half of the book gives background on characters and lays out exactly how the captain plans to accomplish his goal. This all might have been interesting but the horrible narration just kept distracting me.

*And it would have been fine if it hadn’t been for that horrible meddling narrator. It was so bad I had to include an audio file of me in the post.

“Strangers” by Dean Koontz – Narrated by Dick Hill

By the time I reached the end and had all the mysteries explained I just didn’t care.

*Whoa, I had forgotten that Ricardo recommended this. He has more than made up for it!

And that does it for 2013, phew! That was a lot of fun to write. I hope it was fun to read. Last year several people told me about books they bought based on the list so I hope I’ve given you some good recommendations.

Here’s hoping 2014 brings us all health and happiness and great books!

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The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia – narrated by Bronson Pinchot

I simply adored this trilogy! I don’t think I have ever finished a trilogy and then immediately began reading book one again like I did with this one. When it was over I just wanted to peak back at how it began. I honestly didn’t think I would listen to all three books again but that is exactly what I did. There were little details I had missed the first time as well as some things that became clear the second time through since I was in pain, on drugs and grieving the first time through. I think that’s another reason I didn’t want to let the trilogy go. It had been a huge comfort to me through what was probably the most difficult few weeks of this year.

My friend Ricardo told me about “Hard Magic” when he was reading it and he was very enthusiastic about it. I can’t remember if I checked it out then, but later when it was an Audible daily deal and Ricardo noticed and told me, I read the publisher’s summary. Honestly, whoever wrote the summaries for these books did them a vast disservice in my opinion. A private detective who uses magic? Um, isn’t there already a hugely popular series of books like that? The book just didn’t sound appealing to me at all. However Ricardo has never recommended a book I didn’t like and it was a daily deal so I took a chance. Oh thank goodness I did!

“Hard Magic” begins when a farmer is annoyed by yet another car full of “Okies” comes by looking for work. I read “Grapes of Wrath” earlier this year so that immediately placed the time setting of the book for me during the Dust Bowl era. The farmer notices a scrawny teenaged girl in the car with grey eyes and against his better judgement,decides to intervene on the girl’s behalf since he recognizes her as having a special magical power that kills most before they reach adulthood. It’s a good thing he decided to take her under his wing. She quickly became my favorite character. Faye Vierra! I adore you!

Next we meet Jake Sullivan, the aforementioned private detective. Pretty much after this the publisher’s summary does the book no justice. It took me a bit to get into it, simply because it was so bizarre I couldn’t yet wrap my head around the things that were happening. I soon realized I had been transported to an alternate history, this one full of all sorts of magical powers and interesting characters mixed with real people from that time. If a name sounded familiar, chances are looking it up would lead me to a Wikipedia page about that person and their life. Examples are John Moses Browning, Jay Edgar Hoover himself and Raymond Chandler, to name just a few.

Faye and Jake meet others like them and what follows is an almost X-Men like gathering of people with special talents coming together to fight evil and protect magical and non-magical folks alike.

Oh and there are airships, did I mention airships? Yeah, remember how I feel about the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld? The Grimnoir Chronicles is the Leviathan series on steroids! By the time the first book was over I was giggling and applauding and I couldn’t wait for the next one.

The narration? Bravo! Bronson Pinchot does so many different voices and accents, from the deep slow voice of Jake to the soft accented voice of Faye to the odd and creepy Pale Horse and on and on, he was brilliant! It wasn’t until I was grabbing links for this post a couple days ago that I read he played Balki on Perfect Strangers! You could have knocked me over with a feather! Luckily he narrates the whole series.

I failed to mention that our heroes are called the Knights of the Grimnoir. They have really awesome rings. I want a Grimnoir ring haha! I am getting obsessed. In “Hard Magic” they are tasked with saving the east coast of America from a peace (death?) ray invented by Nikola Tesla in the hands of The Chairman, a seemingly immortal wizard and ruler of the Imperial Council. Will they succeed?

She scrabbled behind a marble statue of a fat man holding a blimp…

This series is full of heart pounding battles with weapons from guns and swords to all sorts of magic you’ve never even dreamed of!
“Hard Magic” at Audible ~ “Hard Magic” at Amazon

In “Spellbound” we learn of a magical curse that has attached itself to one of the Grimnoir. Soon the Elders of the Grimnoir Society must decide what to do about this spellbound in order to prevent what could possibly happen in the future if this person is allowed to live. But first the Knights have a foe to battle once again in the mysterious Crow and his government agency which is hellbent on controlling those with magic.

Oh there’s also that little issue of a dead man calling Sullivan on a spirit phone in order to warn him of the coming enemy who has hunted the power nonstop. The power will flee to keep from getting caught and it’s up to the Knights to stop the enemy before it can succeed. Can the Grimnoir manage to do their jobs while their hands are tied with politics? Not much different from our heroes today, if you think about it.

There were slight changes to the narration which was quite noticeable listening back-to-back so it was a bit of a bummer getting used to two of the returning characters having different accents but aside from that the narration was just as fabulous as in the first book. This one really ties the first and third books together nicely and is just as action packed. I couldn’t help but think about my dad when we went to see Independence Day all those years ago. He pointed out how frustrating it was that everything they seemed to try failed. Not everything goes perfectly four our heroes in these books either.

I think it might have been this one, or the end of the first one, with a funny Batman reference haha. I just remembered that.

“Spellbound” at Audible ~ “Spellbound” at Amazon

“Warbound” is the conclusion to the series unfortunately. When I finished it the second time I was sad because I knew I was really done with them now. Even though I knew how it ended I kept expecting things to change. In this book, Sullivan has to team up with Toru, a fearsome foe from book two. The relationship between them is incredibly entertaining and Toru has some fabulous dry lines that made me giggle. I love Toru!

Sullivan has to put together a rag tag group of crazy volunteers to try and stop the enemy from destroying everything and finding the power. One of the best characters introduced in “Warbound” is the thirties version of Hannibal Lecter. Creepy! There was what I think of as an X-Files reference with this black oil stuff that made my stomach turn. There was an extremely powerful conversation with a zombie. What didn’t this book have? There were armored suits, fierce battles, even fiercer than the first two books, death and destruction, magic flinging heroes and foes uniting, terrifying creatures with no skin, harrowing escapes and even a budding love story.

Some of these scenes could be straight out of a screen play they are so well written. You can literally see the action happening. One of my favorite mental images was of a fragile origami duck in the palm of an armored suit.

Ah, I’m so sad it’s over. Correia leaves it open for more books in the Grimnoir universe but this particular arc is closed. I think it was all done brilliantly!

When you didn’t know what kind of trouble to expect it was best to bring guns and friends with guns.

Series Rating: Marriage Material

“Warbound” at Audible ~ “Warbound” at Amazon

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

You know, normally I am Mrs. Bah Humbug on Christmas day. I seemed to live in the past or something and not just accept what Christmas is for me today and that is a very simple day of relaxing with b. Why did I have so much envy for the people posting their family stories on social networks? Why couldn’t I be happy for the people with children to spoil with gifts? Why couldn’t I be thrilled for adults with big Christmas trees and plenty of wrapped presents to open from loved ones?

Something changed in me this year and I’m just so incredibly happy! There were no presents to open, no new toys and gadgets to play with, just me and B and Jayden and the cats and the dinner I’ve been planning since Thanksgiving when we once again ate from a food establishment.

There is peace in the thought that Gamma isn’t suffering through another lonely Christmas missing her husband. I miss her. I miss talking to her on the phone today. But I’m cooking Mom’s roast in Gamma’s pot and while I was preparing it I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how both of them are represented for me today.

So what if my Christmas isn’t “typical”? So what if there aren’t decorations and bows and wrapping paper? Ice T put it perfectly in a tweet of his this morning. He wrote something like, if you have a warm place to sleep, you are having a Merry Christmas.

I will embrace my inner peace today and not question why I am happy. I just am! And that is a lovely place to be.

PS – I’m starting to smell the roast cooking!

PPS – B was in charge of picking out a pie since I was too ill to bake one like I wanted. Why did I even bother to ask what he got? peanut butter, of course!

PPPS – I’m going to post this completely as is to capture how I feel in this moment. 🙂

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