My Top Five Favourite Books

I have read many books this year. Some were so amazing I could make a blog post on each one, and some were so awful, I could also do the same.
However, for the sake of sanity, I'll keep it narrowed down to one post.

I had decided to break up the list into indie and non-indie, but changed my mind. To me, I don't care who published the book, as long as it was engaging and kept me flipping the pages. The main character didn't have to be relatable as I've read so many books where the character is nothing like me. So what. If the writing is good, then I will keep reading. As long as the character grows, it's all good. :) One of the criteria for making my list, is whether or not I tell others about it. It could be random, or a face to face conversation where I tell someone they MUST read this book.

Based on my loose requirements, because I read for pure pleasure and escape, these are my top five. Only the number one is my ultimate favourite. The other four round out the top in no particular order.

The Fill-in Boyfriend - by Kasie West 

 This book came with a selection of others for school. Before I could display it for our book fair, I needed to see if it was appropriate for Div 1 and Div 2 kids. I deemed it more appropriate for Div 3 (grade 7 and up) as there's no language, or graphic scenes. That being said, I found it an easy, enjoyable read. It was light hearted and when I finished, I was satisfied. Sometimes, you just need to sink yourself into another time and place. 

Gemini- by Dylan Quinn

I'm not a reader of paranormal romance, but a friend asked if I could beta read her book. Of course I could, and I did it in a timely manner. In fact, I read it all in one sitting, stopping only to refill my coffee mug and check on my children (my hubs was home - they weren't neglected). Obviously, it was engaging and different, but not so off the wall I couldn't follow along. The characters were amazing, and although I couldn't relate to Zoe - as I'm no musician, Chayah (read it to find out what this means), or even in the ball park of beautiful, I enjoyed reading about her. And Cade - yep, swoony! The ending though - while completely satisfying, it made me want me. Good thing too. A sequel was released, and there is another in the works.

Me Before You - by JoJo Moyes
I decided to give this a go after passing by it in Costco so many times. When I heard it was being turned into a movie, I caved. It was a fairly easy read, and I read it in a couple of sittings. Not a fan of the main character Lou, as I found her really lacking a lot of ambition in her life, but I loved the story. The whole idea. It will make you think, and in some conversations with friends, we've disagreed on what we'd do if we were Will. But I hated - absolutely hated - the ending, however that's what made me add the book to my top five. I BAWLED. It brought out the emotions in me, which is a hallmark of a wonderful book. If you can make me cry, you've done well. :) My advice, don't read it without tissues nearby.

 Middle School - my Brother is a Big Fat Liar by James Patterson

This was another school book selection. In fact it was a Young Reader Choice Award nominee for 2016. A great grade 4 and up book. I laughed. A lot. To me it was funny, as I went to the same school as my father, who because some of the same teachers still taught there, remembered the last name and wondered how similiar I am to him. In a way, I could relate to Georgia - sort of - but I hope my father was never as destructive as Rafe. It was a great read. Took me less than two hours. After reading it, I realised there is a whole series on this, so I'm working my way through them. Great series. :)

The Martian by Andy Weir

Saw the movie, not knowing there was a book. Friend strongly encouraged me to read it, even though I'd already watched the movie. I did. Another I couldn't put down. Mind blown on how amazingly well written this book is. It's very science based (which I like) but totally readable. It's not so indepth that one doesn't get it. Andy Weir explained it all very well. There were so many scenes in the book that I really wish had been in the movie, as it would've explained things there better. Oh well. Guess that's just for the readers. It was an incredible story, and even though I knew how it ended, I still kept turning the pages. And something else that made me fall in love with this book, it was first written on WattPad, a chapter at a time. Then Andy self-published it and it took off like a rocket, where he got picked up by a publisher. :) Gives me hope that maybe someday, one of my books will 'take off'. Hey, a girl can dream.

What were some of your favourites this year?

My Week in Review: Dec 11 - 17 - A Surprise Party!

As I sit here and write, it's been a busy weekend. Usually I get my blog ready to go sometime on Saturday so I can easily do a quick read through and publish on Sunday. Yeah, not this weekend. ;) Too busy - too close to Christmas - too many other things to do. Life, right?

But there are a few things I am thankful for.

  • A back and forth email with my critique partner, where the focus hasn't been all Lucas & Aurora but rather a real in depth of getting to know you. I think if we were to ever meet, we'd have so much to talk about, time would slip away quickly. I'm sure she'd agree. :) 
  • Outdoor recess. Seems like such a trivial thing, but with the temperatures being so ridiculously cold, the kids have been cooped up inside. Bless the teachers, though, as there are only so many times you can play Simon Says, or put on a dance video to get them moving. They may have only gone out once when the temperature rose to -17C, but it was something. Hopefully the upcoming week, where the temps are going to be warm, there will be a lot more outdoor play! 
  • For a surprise party for a dear friend. This had been planned for a while, and I am blessed and humbled that we were chosen to be guests at this party. Having texted back and forth with the host, we had a lot of fun preparing (well, he prepared, I sat on my hands and tried to contain my excitement.) The Guest of Honour was starting to catch on (I swear I hope it wasn't because of me) so I tweeted out some misleading tweets to throw him off.  I LOVED being a part of something so fun! Yeah - this is me... 

  • For the "SPEAK" part of Word. I've only recently discovered this. You highlight a certain amount of text in your doc, and you can hear your computer read it out to you. It's exceptional because it reads EXACTLY what you've written, so you hear anything out of the ordinary. As it ran through the first few chapters of my forthcoming MS, I heard some missing words. Words I swore were there, but they weren't. The eyes gloss over and the brain fills in, but SPEAK catches it all. :) I'm almost done listening to my novel read to me. I have to admit, it makes me giggle to hear it swear. LOL. 
  • Santa's Anonymous - As a family, we got to be a part of the delivery team. We loaded up our sleigh the night before, and took off for the depot early Saturday morning. The outdoor temperature hovered around the -27C point, and the wind pushed it cooler. The kids were decked out head to toe in winter warmth while we braved the nippy conditions. Forms filled, we loaded up the sleigh with donated presents for our city's less fortunate. It's always eye-opening and heart-filling to do this. I hope it has an impact on my kids. Some of the places we visited, their homes weren't much bigger than our master bedroom, and yet, the residents are so warm and welcoming. It makes you step back and look at your life, and realise how good you have it. 
Christmas is fast approaching! I won't likely post anything on Christmas Day or New Years, but I will try on Christmas Eve and the day after New Year's. :)
As always, thanks for reading - and have an amazing week. 

My Week in Review: Dec 4 - 10

I'm having a tough time - there I said it.

I don't know if it's because of the cold weather, or people around me suffering through various illnesses and heartache or what, but I feel - bitter. I'm not depressed, I'm angry. Life is unfair, vastly unfair. It doesn't seem right that good people suffer and the bad people thrive.

And I want to do all the things to make it all better, but I can't. Some things are out of my control and just being there - holding space with them - doesn't seem enough. So what can I do?

Well, I try to be thankful for the good things in my life. There is always something there, sometimes one just needs to look for it.

This week, I've struggled to find it, but I did. My top five things I'm thankful for:

  • Saturday mornings. We all hung out together, all playing on our devices and yet still interacting, laughing and enjoying being in the same space together. We don't always need to be doing the same thing in the same space to enjoy the presence the others bring. 
  • A warm house. As the temperatures plunged this week (to average Edmonton temperatures, but without the adjustment to help us acclimatize) to -23C (-9F), I'm grateful for the warm house to thaw out in. We went out Friday night in -33C temps to watch the International Space Station fly over. We were outside for all of six minutes and we were chilled. I reminded my children that there are many people without homes in our city who are sleeping outside in the brutal cold and how lucky we really are. I don't know if it had a lasting effect as we raced back into the house, but I'm trying to raise them with a bit of empathy. I hope I'm successful. Time will tell. 
  • For a field trip with my youngest to Edmonton's Waste Management Facility. Such an amazing place and truly a world class facility. With the Waste to Bio-Fuels in the final stages, they are able to divert 90% of the garbage into compost, bio-fuels, recyclables and more, keeping it out of the landfill. 90%!!! That's truly astounding. And to see it all in person, wow. They do offer free two-hour tours, and if you are in the Edmonton Area I highly recommend it. 
Part (a very small part) of the Materials Recovery Facility notice the areas for lids/bottles/cans?
How our leftover un-compostable and un-recyclables become bio-fuels, Truly fascinating.  
  • For finally getting a project idea for my special person, and having it work out successfully. I used two different types of materials so an adhesive problem arose that I was unsure of how to overcome. However, I had a bit of luck that the glue worked and my project is ready for the final stages. It's not at all the grand scale of my original design that I ended up trashing, but it will still turn out to be a nice Christmas present. I hope my special person likes it. :) I'd post a pic, but I think my SP follows this blog and I don't want him/her to see it before Christmas Eve. ;) 
  • For a local book club. The hostess is having her first book club meeting in January. She selected Duly Noted as the Book of the Month!! At first I was over the moon thrilled. New readers! I packaged up the required books she needed and dropped them off lickety-split. Then the nerves set in. The accolades (if any) will be easy to take, but what if they are angry and they hate it? Like truly hate it? I have a pretty thick skin, but it still causes me to worry. How will I react? Will I be able to laugh off their anger, surrounded by 20 people? Or will I crawl into a corner, waiting for the first opportunity to escape? How will I be able to argue and defend the characters without revealing who I am? The hostess told the group that I will be attending, but won't reveal who I am until after (when I can sign their copies). Since I write under a pen name, no one will know its me. Unless they do a bit of digging. ;)  As much as I'm thankful, I'm more nervous. EEk. 

Thanks for reading. Share with me something you are thankful for. 

Read all About it - That Summer

A lot of people have asked 'Just what the heck happened between Aurora and Lucas towards the end of Duly Noted?' Now - you'll be able to find out!

Aurora may be named after a fairy tale princess, but she has never believed in happily ever afters—especially since her PTSD won’t let go, and her addiction to prescription pills still taunts her. 

Now with only nine weeks to get her shit together and prove herself to Nate, Aurora must find the will to believe in herself so she can stop her true love from making a career ending decision. In order to defeat her darkest fears, she needs help from the only person she trusts with her life—Nate's younger brother, Lucas.

Through therapy and relapses, Aurora and Lucas become best friends. However, deep and dark emotions bubble to the surface threatening both the friendship and everything she’s worked hard to overcome. 

When darkness descends, threatening to take you away forever, do you succumb or fight back with all you've got?
That Summer is the expanded portion of Duly Noted readers craved. A story of love and courage. A story of a beautiful friendship between two lost souls. 

Here's a link to a 'video' I made. What do you think? Are you curious to read it? 

Now available on Kobo, iTunes, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords and Amazon.

My Week in Review: Nov 27 - Dec 3

Well, I can say I am honestly feeling a lot more in control of my feelings this week. I'm still using my cloak of invisibility, so I think that helps. I hide out and away, although I have been venting some feelings out into the twitter world.

So what am I thankful for?
  • Getting all things Christmas-y done. We put up our tree on Sunday and decorated up our living room. I addressed and started mailing out Christmas cards! First year I've had this done before December 1. Although I did get a twinge of sadness and shed a tear or two (or more) at having to NOT send my grandparents a Christmas card with pictures of the kids. They don't receive cards in Heaven, and Grandma's still in the hospital, barely holding on. 
  • Haircuts for the kids. Such a simple thing, really, but them getting haircuts makes me feel better. Like I'm doing the responsible parenting thing, and making them look respectable instead of kids with rat's nests on their heads. 
  • Helping my son with a Christmas project. Each year, as we have for the past couple dozen years, we draw names within my family and MAKE a present for that person. This is the only gift we open on Christmas Eve. With a family of ten (my parents, brother's fam and my fam), it's always an exciting challenge to create something that hasn't been already done. My youngest wanted to sew his project, so the two of us shopped for the right fabric, made the measurements and cut. Then I guided him as he sewed it together. I must say I'm truly impressed. And so is he - as he announced to everyone he's finished his project. I, on the other hand... 
  • The cover for my soon-to-be released novella - That Summer - is ready. It's sitting in a holding pattern until the final edits are done. But early feedback is very positive, so that's a great sign. I'm excited for it, and the direction it's going and how it will shake things up for the third book. :)
  • An afternoon at Gamer's Lodge. Took the kids there and spent the afternoon playing a couple of new games, drinking some iced tea, munching on popcorn and just hanging out together. Lots of un-plugged laughter.
  • A full tank of gas, windshield washer fluid changed out for the heavy-duty winter stuff good to -45C, and the emergency kit in the truck. The temps have been plummeting all day, and the outlook for the week is COLD. But we're ready. Bring it on - lol - not really. Just let the sun shine already! I foresee lots of hot meals, and snuggles under the warm blankets. 

Thanks for reading - have a great week everyone and stay warm!