Browse Tag by Reading

On a Wing and a Prayer

Me Blame it on severe depression. I spent three weeks in bed and a week after that getting out of bed but not wanting to do anything at all. This is my up and down world. While I was trying to sleep away the world, I was still reading some great stuff. I picked up some books that I didn’t think I would read and I’m liking them a lot.

Unintentionally, I read a good deal of books that were about angels and demons. Some were great, others good and some started out great and then later in the series they made me bug-eyed, grunting by how convoluted the story had become and how much I wanted to kill the protagonist. Sometimes it is painful reading about their weaksauce bullshit any further. A few recommendations I want to make are the Mad World Series by Christine Zolendz, The Premonition Series by Amy A. Bartol, The first book and then alternate POVs for the Sweet Trilogy and The Providence Series by Jamie McGuire.

Fall From Grace
Fall From Grace

I have to say the Mad World books, Fall From Grace and Saving Grace are pretty great. The premise is about an angel and a human woman who fell in love when the Grigori Angels (watchers) were sent to Earth from Heaven way back when them angels were just kids. If you know your Bible stories, in specific the Book of Enoch, you know that when these watcher angels mated with the human women, Nephilim were created. These children who were giant sized and compelled to destroy the world as we know it, they are redressed up with some writer’s license quite often. The hero and heroine never sinned but had shared a kiss, when the other sons of god were sent to sheol to repent, Shamsiel is sent with them. Then he and the woman he loves are cursed through time to travel from one soul to the next looking for one another again.

The things I truly love about this book is the complete humanization of these immortal souls. There is no feeling of divinity because they have lived thousands of lifetimes without any hope for relief. Not only were there fruitless searches for one other but the constant and draining effects of losing those they care for over and over again. You can literally feel the anguish, fear and attempts to recapture a fading faith.

I ask myself why it is that authors so often make heroines overburdened with pride. A great deal of both of Zolendz’s books weigh heavily on this struggle with assumptions. Even when one of them is telling the truth no trust is there to help them through. It’s disappointing when writers can’t do anything more than make their characters reckless and stubborn to further along a story.

Despite all reservations and grumblings I had with the books I would have to say that it is one of the better angel books that I have read in a long time.

Sweet Evil
Sweet Evil

Speaking of Angel/Demon books that are better than others I would have to say that Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins was phenomenal! She turned the entire genre of angel books on it’s head and made truly amazing characters that you can’t help but be intrigued and fascinated by. The book is about a sixteen year old girl named Anna who has always known that she was very different than everyone else. One night she goes out with her best friend and meets Kaiden, someone who is a lot like her. Along the way she finds that she is trapped in a world where she is pulled back and forth by her inner nature. Kaidan is incredible. My favorite kind of bad boy.

I must confess Kaidan Rowe would have to be right up there with Jace Wayland/Lightwood or Will Herondale on my the hotness scale of  bad boy book boyfriends. One of the sexiest guys to be drawn up in a YA novel to date. His confusion and compulsions are just wonderful to read and how his philosophy and job meet with those things make him pop of the paper.

I can’t wait to read the next book, Sweet Peril, which is due out 30 April 2013. I would say that these books are some of the best novels since the Shadowhunter books. I could see me grabbing paperback versions of these books for my bookshelves.

Jamie McGuire is the author of the ridiculously good and indecently delicious book, Beautiful Disaster. She created the ultimate alpha male character in that book, Travis Maddox. I’m awaiting the alternate POV book of that story called Walking Disaster which is due out 2 April 2013. However before those books became so popular she had penned The Providence Trilogy, a tale about a girl who finds out about what her life actually is after the death of her father.

Nina meets Jared at a bus stop the night of her father’s death and soon he always seems to be around. She becomes more obsessed with him, right around the time I might have started thinking that I needed a restraining order, and then they are baring their souls in a I-can’t-live-without-you-moment. No longer able to deny his feelings he tells her all the things she is forbidden to know. The knowledge alone cracks open her world.

I liked seeing that Jamie McGuire could be so diverse. By far, I love Beautiful Disaster it is just one of those books that blew me away. However I kept the Providence books on my Kindle afterward  in case I wanted to give them another read. Jared Ryel would lose in a battle with Travis Maddox.

Finally there is The Premonition Series by Amy A. Bartol. When I started this series I could not put it down. Every new character that was introduced I really loved. I was big on Freddy. Reed Inescapable: Premonition Series Book 1was best during the first half of the book when he was the enigmatic asshole. I loved it. All of it. The summary is that there is this newly scrubbed, fresh-faced, college Freshman, Evie. When she arrives on campus she finds she is embarrassingly effected by this guy who seems to hate her. He goes so far as to demand that she leave the campus completely. When he sees she won’t leave he tries to get to know her as well as he can. There is a few angels, a soul-mate and strong forces who want her dead.

The first book, Inescapable, is really great and the first few chapters of book two, Intuition, are good and then Bartol removes Evie from the little crowd of friends and that is where I start to dislike the book. Evie has left Reed and her friends, stranding her with her soulmate, Russell, at which time she pines almost to the point of needing a good fifth of tequila and a blow up Reed doll. This is when Bartol takes the fateful step that launches her to introduce a character I plain ol’ hate.  About midway through Intuition Brennus and Finn and there Fellas are introduced. They are basically undead faeries and they drink blood and want to make Evie their undead queen. Chapter after chapter it is all about breaking her spirit and then driving her insane so that she will bend to Brennus’s will and take her place with the Gancanagh.

If it had only ended when she is saved in book two that would have been great but all too soon in book three Brennus is reintroduced and my tolerance for him and an Evie, now so ridiculously ruined, I could actually spoon my innards out with a melon spoon. In this those angels/people, better at strategic thinking and more capable of handling situations of general warfare are thwarted time and time again by Evie. Impulsive and irrational she is incapable of listening and the throttling she deserves never comes.Just when I was getting my Reed fix at the start of the book, in comes Brennus and the story is hi-jacked for at least 80% of the book by the Gancanagh.

The thing I think that really rips my panties is that with the direction the first book was going and what happens in the second and third. I really feel like Bartol was headed one way and then vered off in another because she found she loved the bad guy more so much than the hero. Going so far as to make him a main character rather than a secondary in the third book. All the people you loved in the beginning–Buns, Brownie, Zypher and Russell are sort of meh to her and it is a Brennus fest. I truly loathe this character.

There are also a few more books I would like to talk about sometime before I leave next week. I hope someone may be interested in some of these books. Reading does the body good.

And the one thing I won’t review but will always push is the Shadowhunter books by Cassandra Clare. The Mortal Instruments, which is being made into a film starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower and The Infernal Devices. I have loved these books for years. In all actuality when I got rid of my paper books to get digital versions these my Cassandra Clare books, my Gemma Doyle books by Libba Bray, His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman and Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely Series were the only books that I kept. So when I say I want to grab the Sweet Trilogy of Wendy Higgins to add it is a big deal.

Thanks for reading this and I hope that maybe you will all trying to read a little of the above.


Book it!

Still in pajamas!
Still in pajamas!

Good Morning! Today is a glorious Thursday and tomorrow D and I leave to fly out to Manassas, VA for a week with his parents. I’m really excited to be going back to the DC area because there is just so much history there. I love seeing the old houses, battlefields and cemeteries. I look forward to seeing the family too since we rarely get to spend time with them. But I won’t be able to get past my book addiction even while I’m there.

I have a Goodreads account and I am so fastidious about it. I would say that I visit the website at least two or three times a day. I’m always marking the last book I read or adding to my ‘To Read List’. But Goodreads is something that I only discovered in April of this year. I immediately found the 2012 Reading Challenge and put in the number of books I would read before the end of this year. Because I have an OCD about numbers with the ending of 3,6 or 9, I set my goal as 199 books. I know it sounds like a lot but this, reading, is what I do (okay, I write too!) and it makes me pretty happy. So today is the 27 December 2012 and I have read 201 books for this year so far. I’m pretty happy with myself. I plan to set my goal for 2013 at 333. But before I get there I’d like to give myself another challenge, a 30 in 30 goal. For the next 30 days I will read the books from the list I will be building today.

So to show my extreme attentiveness to detail I will admit that my notebook, which I use as a day-to-day bible, contains lists of things to do, noting ideas for writing stories and a list of movies to be seen and books to read which are already on my kindle. From the 787 books to read I am picking this 30. Oh this is so exciting because until I start the list I won’t even know what they are…

Ali’s 30 in 30 list:

    1. Neverending Story – Michael Ende
    2. Dirt – K.F. Ridley
    3. Fissure (The Patrick Chronicles) – Nicole Williams
    4. A Note of Madness – Tabitha Suzuma
    5. Always Been Mine (Moreno Brothers) – Elizabeth Reyes
    6. V is for Virgin – Kelly Oram
    7. Sold in Savannah (Pirates of Savannah) – Tarrin P. Lupo
    8. This Beautiful Thing – Amanda Heath
    9. Eve of Samhain (The Hanaford Park Series) – Lisa Sanchez
    10. Pleasure Untold (The Hanaford Park Series) – Lisa Sanchez
    11. The Underworld (Fallen Star Series) – Jessica Sorensen
    12. Columbine – Dave Cullen
    13. Ask the Passengers – A.S. King
    14. The Kissing Booth – Beth Reekles
    15. Touch of Death – Kelly Hashaway
    16. Darkness Rising (Into the Shadows) – Karly Kirkpatrick
    17. Pulse Papers (Pulse Series) – Kailin Gow
    18. Blood Bond (Pulse Series) – Kailin Gow
    19. The Edge of Never – A.M. Redmerski
    20. Back When You Were Easier to Love – Emily Wing Smith
    21. Tips on Having a Gay (Ex)Boyfriend – Carrie Jones
    22. Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) – Carrie Jones
    23. I Kissed a Zombie, And I Liked It – Adam Selzer
    24. Article 5 – Kristen Simmons
    25. A Trip to the Stars: A Novel – Nicholas Christopher 
    26. The Space Between – Brenna Yavanoff
    27. Everything Forbidden – Jess Michaels
    28. Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion
    29. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkein
    30. Fast Times in Palestine – Pamela J. Olsen

There it is, my list. I plan to do some book reviews of some of these books. A lot of them are Young Adult, which is what I really read a lot of. I know I’ve been badly educated not having read The Hobbit yet. I’ll be fixing that within the next month. I’m going to ride this all out and see how it goes. Maybe you can make your own list, a shorter list, and see how many you can read.



Are you a Scrooge?

These two hearts beat like a death metal song
These two hearts beat like a death metal song

It’s Christmas and all the creatures, meek and mild have gotten kitty treats. The three turtles laying got shrimp and D made me eggnog pancakes. I know, it’s just like a Christmas story! We have opened our first Christmas presents. (We open one an hour all day long. Stretch it all out, so we have a very Merry Christmas.)

So in the spirit of Christmas D and I read the classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I think I have seen three or four different film and animated versions in movies and tv shows… but the book struck me as something very different. I really didn’t expect it to be a story of Christianity’s goodness with visits from the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the redemption of man-kind on the day of birth of Jesus Christ. Now I am not a really religious person, I have my faith but I don’t feel the need to rail against things that are irreverent, nor do I read into things a heavy handed preaching that is not there. So this is a work of literary criticism and nothing more.

Through out many of the ancient societies and in history, the Usury has held the place of the worst avarice and greed. Cato in de re Rustica was quoted as saying, “What do you think of the Usury?–What do you think of murder?” That belief was held also by Dante who placed the money lenders in the lowest ring of the seventh circle of the Inferno… below that of murders. The Usury had never had the endorsement by those of in common society, they were merely a tool to keep desperate people desperate and those who earned their wealth through it’s money changing hands and not by the works of labor were seen as particular devils. So it is no surprise that Dickens places Mr Scrooge as a man of the Usury. He believes only in the value of the coin he trades and the wealth that he has earned through it’s means.

On Christmas Eve he is acting in his typical heartless ways prior to leaving the office, he belittles those looking for help for charity, snubs his nephew and then begrudges his employees need for Christmas day off. All with a hollow clink of the change in his hollow heart and overfull pocket.

Upon arriving home, whispers of his conscience prickle him, he sees his former partner’s face in the knocker of his front

The Cratchit's
The Cratchit’s

door. At first he thinks he’s seeing things. It’s as if arriving home to an empty home drives home an unspoken regret. Not long after becoming comfortable for the night, Jacob Marley’s ghost arrives in full form. Like those in the seventh level of hell, Marley has known no peace in death, admitting that he travels far and without ceasing, while often unseeingly being by Scrooge’s side. He has died a mortal life and there is nothing for him but an eternity of paying for his sins. He warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits and that they will arrive over the next coming three days. Surprising to Scrooge, time passes backward and forward in a supernatural way, leaving Scrooge at a loss for the time that has come or gone. He knows only of the time that he is witnessing with the spirits.

When the first spirit comes, “It was a strange figure–like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man… It’s hair, which hung about it’s neck and down it’s back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle on it, and the tenderest bloom was on it’s skin.” His description goes on to say that he had the bearing of strength and purity while his countenance was beautiful and by the means of his dress was emblematic of the different seasons of the year. Lastly, “the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of it’s head there sprang a bright clear jest of light, by which [all else was seen].

The unguessable age and beauty, the incapability to pin point the true nature of this many qualities which shifted and passed the countenance of this spirit, and his halo, say to me that this first spirit is that of the immense grace. A supernatural force who can show, as he does with Scrooge, the colors of our hearts throughout the years. Reminding us of the importance of the family we have known, the things which have shaped us and those that turn our hearts bright and dark. During his visit he bades Scrooge, “Rise! And walk with me.” And so Scrooge does.

The last sad chapter of Scrooge’s visit with the Spirit of Christmas Past is the parting of ways with the woman who had loved him in their poverty but questions his faith in his wealth. She says to him, “It matters little… To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me.” Scrooge questions her asking, “What Idol has displaced you?” her answer is, “A golden one.” Scrooge is now worshipping false idols and has lost the companion who loves him to it. A more empty existence he embraces.

The second spirit is a man who arrives with an feast of goods to surround him. And with his will, the horn which he carries, he goes and he spreads the spirit of the holidays. The goodness of Christianity, to be thoughtful, kind and gracious. He takes Scrooge through the streets where in the hearths of those they path the passion of the spirit burns bright and warm. He asks Scrooge, “You have never seen the like of me before? — Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family; meaning my elder brothers born in later years?” But Scrooge can not admit that he knows of the spirit or his family.

The second spirit, that of the word and grace of the Shepard takes Scrooge from the city to the mines and then to the seas. Each visit show Scrooge how those who know this spirit celebrate him with open hearts and share their beliefs with those around them. It’s not a singular phenomenon, the teachings of this spirit is pandemic and those who Scrooge sees are not beaten down by their lack of wealth, matter or circumstance they are joyful for the intangibles and the ability to share their joy with others. The spirit says to Scrooge, “Man, if you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked can’t until you have discovered what the surplus is, and where it is. Will you decide what man shall live and what shall die? It may be in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child.” The child is the sickly Tiny Tim, an innocent and inspiration to his family. Sick in body but sound of mind.

When the spirit later shows the evil’s of man, Ignorance and Want, Scrooge is warned about them. The boy, Ignorance, the spirit vehemently tells Scrooge, “to beware this boy, for on his brow [the spirit] can see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!”  The spirit also tells Scrooge that there are those who commit the seven sins, “…who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passions, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry and selfishness in our name.” But reassures him that they do these things on their own and our not the charge of the spirits.

Upon the visit of the last spirit Scrooge is plagued by the silence of the ghost. He leaves him on edge and his visage remains unseen, a mystery in robes. Scrooge follows him as he has made the claim that he wants to change now but that he understands that it is important that he have all three visitations. In this final view of things Scrooge sees that he will die a mortal death that will touch the lives of few. He won’t be able to take his wealth with him and others will come to steal it before his body has even cooled. Few will speak well of him and he becomes aware that those who do know of him only by means of senseless business. No one mourns him. Life ends but his cold existence will continue into a past life just as Marley’s.

This final spirit is the promise of hope through faith. That to find the spirits of the three ghosts inside of you promises you not only happiness in earthly life, but it leaves a more worthwhile legacy to those who survive you. That by touching hearts it is a more personal wealth than that of gathering coin. Scrooge awakes a new man and finds that the visits have given him the gift of renewal on the day that Christ was born. He buys the Cratchit’s a huge turkey and has it delivered anonymously, the good deed needn’t be announced. When he passes the man who sought funds for charity the day before and received a careless reply then, Scrooge stops him and promises him a great boon. And lastly he goes to his nephew and they enjoy the bond of family and good spirit. The following morning the meek Cratchit’s inherit the fortune which they have been denied and a new life is begun.

These visits inspire Scrooge to a better life. The movies don’t truly portray this and I feel two ways about it. I can appreciate the message that Dickens but I think that people are more moved often by the spectral threat of the paranormal. The thought that bad will be brought forth by what you have done and you will be haunted by it, not necessarily that through the haunting you will find redemption. And in our own modern times I think that it often takes a tragedy to produce a miracle and that changes of heart are more of a commercial model than the ways of man. How would Dickens write his story if it were set in our times? Would Scrooge be a Wall Street man and would Tiny Tim have something like autism? And I guess the real heart of the matter would be could Americans free themselves from Ignorance and Want to see how much we let it rule the world today. But at least we can share the words of Tiny Tim, “And God bless us, everyone,” while we compare Christmas presents on Facebook and battle others for after Christmas sales.


New things are just so… new.

Whiskers on kittens
Whiskers on kittens

This is the first entry in my BRAND NEW BLOG! Isn’t this so exciting? It’s like a grown-up blog. This is a Christmas present from D. I have been paying money every month for my page and since we are trying to save money for a house, this is a lot cheaper and a lot more versatile. I guess I’m breaking up with Typepad. (Sorry baby… I think we should start seeing other people.)

So what will this be? It’s going to be more of the same, but better. I was looking at an old blog I had (Anyone remember Vox… I loved Vox) and I looked through my entries and it really was a great blog… well if you could get past my major hard-on for Twilight. (I was younger and really misguided. Don’t let me get away with it though… can you say OBSESSED?) But back to my point. The blog had a lot of me invested in it. It wasn’t so much of me trying as I may have been doing and a great deal more of recently, just what I was passionate about on any given day. Let’s be fair, people who are passionate have more to talk about and don’t have to work so hard at thinking up new things to talk about. Let me be passionate again! Please?

Tonight is a Sunday night and D and I just watched the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol. I have a thing for old movies. A lot of time I find myself laughing at the innocence and acting abilities of those who are in them, but they are so good. There is something about classics. Watching this made D want to see the 1971 version and left me with a desire to read the Dickens’s book. (It’s free on Amazon and only 112 pages. Do it! You can read that in a few hours and you will feel better for it.) But to think about it for a moment Christmas movies in general are pretty awesome. Just yesterday we watched Scrooged. I have to say… whatever happened to Bobcat Goldthwait? I loved that guy! And to be really honest at the end of the movie when the little boy who doesn’t talk says “And god bless us, everyone!” I cried. Yep, I’m a big crier, of course it’s a little sad when you cry watching a Bill Murray movie.

And remember when you were a kid and you would watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and you wanted to be a dentist when you grew up? Well maybe not. I just loved watching it with my Grandma and Grandpa. And The Year Without Santa? Didn’t you just love that one? It was different to be a kid back then. We had Ataris and Rubik’s Cubes. There was no X-box or LeapFrog Learning Games. I was excited to get Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Michael Jackson cassettes. And Christmas was huge for me back then my aunts and uncles would come. The tree would have tons of gifts and on Christmas morning we would have to wait for my Aunt Jamie and Uncle Mike for hours because they were always late. I never realized back then how incredible it was to get to spend time with all my family like that. And then my friend Holly and I would play in the snow. Yeah those were the days…

So now I’m an adult and I live in San Diego where there is no snow. I see my mom’s Christmas tree by pictures my sister sends via text. I’m pretty socially maltarded and I don’t have that group of friends to go out with and celebrate. My tree doesn’t have that many presents as it did when I was a kid. My grandparents are all gone and sending photos of animals in Christmas clothing on Facebook is my substitute for Christmas cards. Things have changed so much, but I feel really lucky now, because this Christmas I know how much I value all those ones that have come before. I can watch Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story and think back to all the places and people who I have watched them in the past. And this Christmas might be the best because I get to spend my day with D and I know that I have something better than a new sweater or another Furry Bones figurine. This year we have one another and all the books and movies and toys, I get to share with my best friend. I miss being a kid but growing up is pretty great.

So here’s to new blogs, new things and old friends. I wish you the best, warm thoughts and prayers. I hope you have the best of all that is old and what’s new. And I hope you have someone to share it all with, because at the end of it all, it’s the people we have and not the things that we get.