Welcome to my train of thought. Just a warning, there might be turbulence. I'm a little eccentric, but hopefully you'll find something here that'll make the crazy worth it. Stay tuned for book reviews, ramblings on random things, and all sorts of stuff that tickles my fancy. But keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. My brain is a scary place!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Quick Update

I've gotten some things read over the past week, but mostly rereads of stuff I love or books I haven't read yet in series that are all already out and I'm just catching up.

I don't plan on reviewing EVERYTHING I read, as there will be quite a few rereads and repetition.  I mean, honestly, who wants to read back to back reviews of a 13 book series?  All the reviews would start to sound the same!

But in other news, I had a blast in Vegas.  I've got pictures to post when I get some time, but overall: food, awesome; sights, awesome; company, awesome; travel, exhausting!

Also, the month of May will include quite a few ARCs I need to get through and reviews for those, so keep your eyes peeled for a large number of ARC reviews in May!!!  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry
Published 2015, Minotaur Books
Stars: ★★★★★

Yup, Steve Berry has done it again.  He's taken some tidbit of history or politics or religion or economics, and turned it into a full-blown adventure action thriller!

Here's the scoop:  What would happen to the US of A if it turns out the 16th Amendment, the one that allows for income tax, wasn't ratified properly and was therefore illegal?  It's this premise that throws Harold Earl "Cotton" Malone into danger yet again.  Retired Magellan Billet agent Cotton Malone can't stay out of the action, it seems, as his old boss Stephanie Nelle asks him to do some simple surveillance, as he's already close by to where the watchees need to be watched.  But of course, it doesn't stay simple.  Turns out, there's EVIDENCE that the 16th Amendment wasn't ratified correctly, stolen from the Treasury department's vaults, and it's out there in the world, ripe for the taking.  And an estranged North Korean disowned heir to the "throne" wants that evidence.  It will give him everything he needs to take down the US and China, restore his name to glory, and take the role of supreme leader of North Korea from his younger half-brother who got it after their father stripped the main antagonist of his dignity and reputation.  He wants it back, and he'll do whatever it takes.

Luckily for the world, Cotton Malone is on the job.

I love the way that Berry has of taking something that could be really uninteresting (honestly, income taxes are awful boring, and I'm an accountant!!!) and finds a way to make it into a spy action adventure thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat AND makes you want to travel the world to see all the places the characters get to go.  But mostly, I love the way he posits scenarios that are based in reality and could very well happen.  And honestly, there *are* conspiracy theorists out there who claim the 16th Amendment wasn't ever ratified correctly, and that our nation's income tax could be one of the greatest scams perpetrated in the history of the modern world.

Note: This is book TEN in a series.  I'd recommend reading these in order if you plan on reading them.  They *can* work on their own, but later books mention/spoil things from earlier ones in the series.

Friday, April 17, 2015


So, I'm planning to get a lot of reading done this weekend... probably because I'll be spending a LOT of time in airports and on planes!

My brother invited me to tag along for the weekend part of a work trip he's taking to LAS VEGAS!  I've never been, so it should be a blast!!!

Prepare yourself for pictures! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My puppers!! And kitteh!!!

Daphne Pond on the left in the brown. She's a basenji-corgi mix, 5 years old.

Albus Noble on the right in the black. He's a hound and dachshund mix, around 2 years old, and "special."

Below is my beautiful child, Kalli. I've raised her since she was two days old. She was born on Mother's Day weekend in 2003! So she is 12, and looking fantastic for her age. Her five brothers and sisters didn't make it... Powder Puff "Puffy" survived to adulthood but had to be put down a few years ago... Cancer from bad rabies shots :(. But this sweet girl is deaf, thanks to double ear infections at two weeks old, but she has been healthy as a horse ever since.

Undertow by Michael Buckley

Undertow by Michael Buckley
Published 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Stars: ★★★★☆

Kind thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this for review purposes.  It was much appreciated!

I sink down farther, completely submerging myself. It's down here where I feel the most safe, where the headaches retreat, where the roar of the water drowns out the thrum.

Lyric Walker is different.  She hasn't always known, but she knows now.  Her family lives in the Coney Island "Zone"... a place cut off from the rest of the country because of a big event... yeah, not a war... not a bomb... not a chemical spill... but an INVASION.

I open the first book in the stack on my lap.  It's called Caps for Sale. This was one of my favorites when I was small.  (me too!!!)

You see, there are other races on our planet.  And they came from the sea, covered in scales, in slime, in ooze, in shells, in claws.  Now the ones that are here are sharing the Zone with the humans who lived there already.

Suddenly, I am unleashed. I am energy...  I let loose everything I've been holding back for three long years.  

 But not all of the humans are willing to share.  Lyric, her family, and her friends are caught in the middle.  And a tidal wave of crazy is about to hit the shores and change Lyric's life, and the lives of everyone she cares about, forever.

No more hiding. No more keeping my head down. I am Lyric Walker... I am a wild thing.

YA books are usually hit or miss for me, but this one hit the mark... dead center!  It's got a really cool concept -- merpeople of all shapes and sizes, rising out of the sea and having to deal with the humans.  It's got a potty-mouthed, flawed, strong yet vulnerable main character, a great bestie, a fun "guy friend" trope, and a lot of action.  Seriously, it's a fast read - a speed boat read in a genre full of paddle boats and canoes.

My favorite part: The Snark.  I love when authors and their characters have a bad case of The Snark.  I am just a fan in general of snarkiness.  Sure, it can be annoying at times -- when it's directed at you -- but I love it anyways!

Some examples of the snarky writing style:

He's also got on running shorts that have never been used for their intended purpose. If anything, they should be called "sitting around leering at teenage girl" shorts, or "practicing being a sociopath" shorts.

The old woman's face puckers, and she sticks out her tongue to lick her lips. I swear it was green. I bet it's forked. I bet she can smell with it.

It's called a selfie. It's what people who are in love with themselves do to keep themselves busy. You can't really be an American teenager if you aren't willing to take one of these a couple dozen times a day.

I can't help it. A stream of curse words sprays all over him. I unload every frustration and bad thought I have ever had about him, multiply them by a thousand, and top them with colorful metaphors and emasculating insults. To put a period on it, I pull back and smack him right in the face.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book.  My only gripe is the stereotypical teenage love story, which is done better than many -- I mean, there are obstacles that actually make sense in this one.  It just felt a little bit too much like almost-insta-love, and the character of Fathom just isn't fleshed out enough to make him as lovable as Lyric, Bex, or Shadow. Four out of five stars.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Welcome to the New Age

Today is the dawn of a NEW AGE for me.

I'm reinventing my book blog, revamping it, and reinvigorating it.  My goal is to turn this blog into more of a place for the anythings and the everythings or, as my friend RivkaBelle likes to call them... ALL THE THINGS.

I'll write here.  I'll review books and shows and movies here.  I'll ramble about nothing here.  I'll tell you about my trips, my pets, my Lobster, etc.

To start it off, I've imported all my old blog posts off my writing blog Writer's Block (very sparse with two whole parts of a planned story written) and off my book review blog Your Rainy Day Reading List (inconsistent reviewing, lame analysis, terribly executed reviews).  These will be a springboard for the new blog, this mix of seemingly random things that make up my life and my energy and my willpower, and the chance to grow as a writer, as a reviewer, and hopefully as a person as I chronicle all sorts of things that make me run the gamut of emotions.

Bear with me as I slowly fill this blog with life.  The links at the top aren't all done yet... but they will be.  And new reviews and posts will come soon. 

So here's to the New Age.  Cheers!  Welcome aboard my train of thought as it goes barreling down the tracks to god knows where!!!

The Generous, Kind Stranger (Part I)

(Originally published on my blog Writer's Block on 5/21/2011) 

While my wife Tammy counted change from her purse for the tip, I grabbed the small meal ticket. It was torn off of one of those stereotypical little, mass-produced check pads that every waitress in every small town diner uses to take down orders and leave as the bill. I mentally double-checked the amount, wary of the big-haired country waitress' math skills. Finding everything satisfactory, I looked up just in time to stop from running into said big-haired country waitress, appropriately named Betty. She skillfully dodged, lifting her heavy tray of fried food and iced teas out of my way.

"Sugah, you better watch your step... you're liable to get grease all down that fancy coat you got on if you knock this outta my hands!"

"My apologies... guess I'd better start looking where I'm going, eh?" I replied casually. Holding up the check, I asked, "Do I pay you for this?"

"Yep... Lemme pass this food out, so them hungry kids can get eatin', and I'll be right there."

I stood at the counter, watching Betty set plates of food at a table of hungry kids. Four boys, none older than 14, and a girl that looked about 9, all too skinny for their own good, sat at a booth. A skeleton looking couple, their parents, sat at the table behind them. Their clothes were all worn, and their meals were all meager.

Betty skimmed back to the counter, dropped her tray on the kitchen window, and stepped up to the register.

"Your ticket was $14.76," Betty read off the little paper I handed her along with a twenty.

I glanced over my shoulder at the raggedy family, and then turned to find Betty looking me right in the eye.

"There a problem, mistah? Not everyone is made of money," she snipped, assuming I was judging the family, the town, her with my "hoity-toity city" attitude.

"No, ma'am, thanks for the food," I said with an apologetic tone, turning around to meet my wife at the door. Halfway, I stopped. An idea struck. I walked quickly back to Betty's counter and dropped a $100 bill down beside the register. I glanced back to the family over my shoulder, then turned and made sure to meet Betty's eyes. She nodded slightly, recognizing my gesture, and started to say something. I cut her off by raising my hand, turned, and walked to my wife.

We stepped out onto the sidewalk, the twilight and brisk evening air making for a peaceful and enjoyable time to walk back to our car. We weren't quite ready for the long drive back to the city, to our uptown condo, to home, so our pace was slow. Near the diner entrance, a man sat, obviously homeless, with a mangy, scraggly mutt curled up in a wool overcoat on the ground next to him and a cheap, torn hat sitting in front of him. Coins peppered the inside of the hat -- coins I had seen the littlest boy and the little girl drop into the hat... coins that they plainly needed themselves. Tammy smiled at the man and dropped a $5 bill into the hat. I'd have left more, but my wallet was empty, the contents now feeding the large, tired family inside.

As we walked past the diner windows, I noticed the little girl, face against the glass, watching us leave. My wife smiled and waved, which the little girl returned. The rest of the family was facing Betty, who had walked over to them, holding out the $100 bill with tears in her eyes.

We crossed the street and were halfway down the block when we heard the little bells on the diner door jingle. As the little girl ran out into the street towards us, a car shot around the corner a few blocks down, keeping full speed and not slowing as it raced in our direction.

It took my brain a moment to process what was happening in front of me... the car, the girl, the speed, the distance... If I hadn't hesitated, I probably would have had the time to get her and get out of the way. It was too late for that, but that didn't stop me. I knew I had to get that girl out of the path of that car, so I tore into the street. I made it to the girl in time to grab her and set her onto the sidewalk, out of harms way... unfortunately, I wasn't on the sidewalk. I was still in the street.

The impact of the car shattered my body, throwing me over the car, and thrusting my world into black.

The Man in the Nice Coat (Part II)

(Originally published on my blog Writer's Block on 5/30/2011)  

The man wore a nice coat. That's what I remember most. Other than what he did for me, but mostly I remember his coat.

We'd fought all day, Timothy and I. He took my doll and dug a hole in the backyard and put her right down into it and covered her right back up with all that dirt. Momma made him dig it up and give it back, but she was all dirty, and I didn't like that. So I knocked him down and tried to punch and kick and bite him, but dad jumped in and stopped it. We both got sent to our rooms.

I got us out of trouble though. I might not talk much, but I am cleverer than people think. I climbed out my window and picked some wildflowers, then snuck into the kitchen and shoved them in a vase. Then I ran back around the house and climbed back into my room just in time for momma to come in and let us off the hook. She said daddy had picked her some flowers (which he kept saying wasn't him) and that they were taking us into town for dinner to celebrate that daddy had just gotten some pay for working for the Johnsons next door months ago.

Anyways, we don't have much... never have, really, especially not since Jimmy died. He was my oldest brother. Our farm did much better when he was around. Daddy can't do quite as much as Jimmy always could.

We all climbed into the back of daddy's truck and drove into town. He pulled into the little parking lot, a few blocks down from the restaurant, and parked next to a fancier lookin' car than ours. As the rest of my family walked in, I hesitated a minute with my little brother as he reached into his pocket and dropped a penny or two into the homeless man with the scruffy dog's hat. Made me feel bad, me saving up my pennies for some small candy pieces, and him making me look all greedy. So I dropped mine in and dragged him inside.

Ms. Betty, twin sister to Ms. Bonnie, my teacher at school, sat us down at our usual two tables and asked us what we wanted. Daddy ordered all our food, while us kids sat at the table next to them. I tried to listen to what momma and daddy were talking about, but I couldn't hear because my loud brothers all started talking about silly things like bugs and snakes and about how when summer came back around they were gonna put in a rope swing over at the pond. They talk big.

That's when I saw him - the man in the nice coat. The lady with him was pretty, but he had this glow about him, kinda made him hard not to look at, and I just had to watch him walk up to the counter and pay. He said somethin' that seemed to upset Ms. Betty, but then he did something that made her eyes start to water. Takes a lot to make Ms. Betty or Ms. Bonnie upset, hard lives and all that, so I knew it must be somethin'.

I stared him down as he turned and left. I had seen a flash of green as his hand moved past his wallet, and figured that he had given Ms. Betty a big tip. But that wouldn't tell me why Ms. Betty was walking to us with teary eyes and the valuable green bill in her hands. I had to see him, one more time, so I climbed over my brothers and pushed my face against the glass. The pretty lady caught me staring, smiled at me, and waved. I sheepishly did the same, and watched them wander off down the street.

I turned and listened to Ms. Betty. Momma taught us to be thankful, and to always remember to show it. Before they could stop me, I jumped from my chair. I had to tell this man in the nice coat thanks. I didn't even hesitate, which is weird, because I don't talk much, but this was important!

I pushed through the diner door, making those little bells jingle, and tore down the street. I didn't look both ways like I had been told to always do. We lived out of town, where our street barely ever had cars and usually only had tractors. Out of nowhere, I heard the screech of tires and saw a car, zooming straight at me, too fast... I just froze right up, couldn't even move. The man in the nice coat saw what was about to happen, leaped into the road. He grabbed me and pretty much threw me into the sidewalk. I didn't see it happen, but I heard the car slam into the man. As I heard it, I remembered his nice coat, and had this overwhelming feeling of guilt for messing up his coat, like Timothy had messed up my doll's yellow sun dress.