Favorite Reads from 2012

In follow-up to the post I wrote yesterday, I wanted to note some of the titles and authors I enjoyed reading in 2012. Thanks to a blog network plentiful with self-published authors, ownership of a Kindle Fire and Goodreads.com I have truly broadened my literary world.

Two books I wanted to list, first, are from two fellow bloggers, Kate Policani and Maria Tatham. I believe reading these two authors finally gave me the nudge I needed to explore a more varied library of works.

The Lustre – Kate Policani

Queen and the Handyman – Maria Tatham

Of course, I do have my favorite authors. One is William Kent Krueger. His series featuring Cork O’Connor never disappoints. I read Vermillion Drift (#10) and Northwest Angle (#11), which means I have just two more in the series to catch up.

Two trilogies I could not break away from — even to sleep — were Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and Fifty Shades (E.L. James).

A surprising impulse read that went more quickly than expected was The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. The story synopsis intrigued me. So, I figured, why not?

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch’s is the first in a series of four novels set in Germany, 1660. This first story is what the synopsis promises: a fast-paced, historical thriller. I look forward to reading more thrillers involving the hangman and his family.

On a dreary weekend back in late September/early October, I took a break from socializing with friends and read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice by Belinda Roberts. It was a well-spent social respite.

Then, there is the series I cannot give a decisive opinion on, yet. I read A Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice (Book One) by George RR Martin Thanksgiving week. While I liked the story, the level of detail used made the pace feel sluggish. Another observation was the bleak and icy cold of the wall mirrored what I saw looking out my own window during the time I was reading.

Finally, four additional 2012 favorites include…

The Book of Blood and Shadow – Robin Wasserman

The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel – Margot Livesey

The House of Tyneford – Natasha Solomons

Mariana – Susanna Kearsley

Last Days of Summer: Katniss, Beautiful Revisits, Classic Rides, Missing Husbands and Fifty Shades of Fudgery

It’s been a while. My hiatus wasn’t even intended. But, then I looked. My most recent blog post is dated  July 26. I compare this blog community faux pas to those ancient days when I failed miserably as a snail-mail pen pal. While I like writing, I am just not a letter-writer.

So, that’s my first excuse for being such a lousy summer blog pal. The next five are …

1. Katniss Everdeen stole my attention for seven days as I devoured Suzanne CollinsHunger Games Trilogy. As I finished each book, I had to start the next. With the exception of maintaining my job as family chauffeur, chef, and referee all other responsibilities went out the window. That’s what summer break is for, right?

2. Beautiful revisit with my husband and children to my aunt Kate’s lake house in Claire, Michigan. For one weekend, we relaxed, fished, boated, swam, and hunted for snakes.

3. Classic rides lined Woodward Ave. for Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Our time was mostly spent in Birmingham’s Old Woodward district, which gave us plenty of classics to drool over.

4. Missing husbands aren’t all bad. While mine was in Baltimore for several weeks, the kids reveled in the last couple weeks of summer vacation. They visited family friends in Canada, slept in, watched too much television, and ate hot dog dinners. The bonus for me: less mess, no sharing, and uninterrupted time with Mr. Grey and Miss Steele (see no. 5).

5. Fifty Shades of fudgery tied me up for three days. It was one day for each book in the trilogy detailing the kinky, over-the-top, hearts and flowers romance between Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. It is the only story I have ever been interested in rereading; and with the same level of interest as the first read-through. Note to those with lovers: minus some of fudgery, the trilogy is a guide to either re-igniting the fire; or to keeping it lit.

Lovely Sisters

 

Last week

Progress on my reading list is sometimes slow. That’s why I just stepped into the highly addictive Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. I’m sure most will agree that the gripping stories Collins’ weaves — featuring Katniss, Peeta, and Gale — do not allow one to stray for long.

In the Midst of Addiction

With the exception of caring for Issa and Riff, Collins’ saga about the reaping, Hunger Games, and revolt taking place in the 13 districts have held me captive for nearly seven days. In the midst of my addiction, two lovely sisters from the blogging world nominated kateschannel for a couple of awards.

Two Lovely Sisters from he Blogging World

Cathy, from Inspired Design, nominated kateschannel for One Lovely Blog Award. Like me, Cathy resides near Detroit, loves her Italian-Irish heritage, and enjoys looking back at the ’70s and ’80s. I urge my followers to read her posts about Michigan treasures. Also, be sure to take a look at what her eyes and camera lens captures.

Lea, from Lea at Sea, selected me as one of her seven picks for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Lea’s blog shares her favorite books, discusses her passion for writing, and captures some amazing nature photos. Recently, she shared an excerpt from her book, Tree of Roses. I truly consider her a sister in that she inspires me to create.

Both of these awards carry rules for me to follow upon acceptance. The rules are:

1. Thank those who nominated me. Done

2. Tell seven things about myself that you do not already know. Hmmm.

3. Nominate seven blogs for the awards. Look for my nominees, Friday.

7 Daily Craves

It was taking too much time for me to come up with seven things to share about myself. So, since this post talks about addictions, I figured why not list what I must have each day to fend off insanity.

1. Social time with adults. My fix is met through my blogging network, talking with friends or family on the phone, chatting with neighbors at the bus stop or at the store, or dates.

2. Exercise. My preference is walking because it’s not just about moving. Walking also clears my head of negative thoughts.

3. Writing. In earlier posts, I refer to writing as my therapy. It is. When I write about feelings connected to whatever stress I am carrying, those tensions go away.

4. Cheez-Itz. I do not know what Sunshine puts into those little squares of salty, cheesy goodness. But, I could easily polish off a box during my late-afternoon break. Good thing Issa and Riff love them, too.

5. Ice cream. This addiction has genetic links to my mom. She always has a half-gallon on hand to help her survive a day. While she prefers the low-fat, low-calorie versions, I go for the loaded stuff. My preferred brand this summer is Hudsonville. It’s made on Michigan’s west side.

6. Facebook. It’s so easy to connect with family and friends. It saves me minutes. It gives a common place to view photos from events and places.

7. Issa and Riff. Really, I am not making this one up. When they are away for an overnight at my parents’ home; or if I am away I miss hearing their voices.

Finally

My sister created this beach-themed birthday cake for my niece and nephew in June. The palm tree was made from rice krispy treats. Photo Credit: kateschannel

A post about Lovely Sisters wouldn’t be complete without mentioning I have one. She is my one-and-only sibling; and I am glad she graced the world with her loveliness back in 1973. Like me, she loves to create. While she is a skilled writer, her preference is for painting, crafty ventures, and cakes. She and her family will be visiting mine next weekend. Issa and Riff look forward to spending time with their cousins; and I am looking forward to having some quality-time with my very Lovely Sister.

 

Book It Party Room: Kate Policani’s The Lustre

I am pleased to applaud and cheer loudly for the release of The Lustre, from blogger friend and author, Kate Policani. A short fiction piece that mixes it up with elements from Christian, Science Fiction, and Fantasy genres, introduces the Akataromai, an entrancing race of beings hidden within human society. Originating on Earth, they conceal themselves among the human population. They look just like us. But, mature Akataromai can live for centuries and feed upon negative Human emotions.

Policani tells the story of Angelina Quorra, an Akataromai, who is unique among her people. Like all Akataromai, Angelina is a human-looking girl who absorbs emotional pain. She might never die. However, she has a unique talent, called The Lustre, which enables her to also absorb physical pain. Anyone who feeds her achieves overwhelming pleasure. Angelina’s talent brings her great fame and great trouble. Her story is told by the men who adore her.

Review Notes:

The Lustre was a quick, thought-provoking read. I appreciated Policani’s concise, captivating story-telling. Further the characters are well-developed. I kept drooling over Luciano and enjoyed stepping into Angelina’s world for a spell. Also, the opportunity to view the story from multiple viewpoints reminded me of my all-time, favorite authors, Mary Higgins Clark. This writing style enables me to establish a deeper connection with the characters and the conflicts that play out. While not in agreement with his choices, I felt I was inside Jaques Trace’s rage and despair as he ascended to tragic levels of greed and envy. Lessons woven within Policani’s fantastical tale are real, timely, catalysts for reflection and discussion. The Lustre reminded me of how easy it is to covet others’ blessings, to succumb to greed, and to allow envy to cloud judgement. All of these human follies distract us from living, destroy even the strongest of relationships and break many hearts.

Author Bio:

Kate Policani is a homemaker and compulsive writer from Seattle. She has a wild imagination and an addiction to reading and writing. Her hobby is exploring and analyzing all kinds of stories. She uses them like a literary chemistry set to examine a variety ideas and concepts and to fuel her own writing. The Science Fiction and Fantasy genres are her favorites because the exciting flights of fancy make a thrilling plot. Every day is filled with the stories of those around us, especially in this information age. It is her passion to find what stories inspire her and others, and why they inspire. There are more than 80 stories waiting on her hard drive, incubating and developing for future reading! What will she come up with next?

Buy your copy of The Lustre at Barnes & Noble or on Kindle or Smashwords. Also, available on CreatespaceRed coverSlate coverBlack and Cream cover.

What I Meant to Write: Yesterday’s Post

I meant to write this post yesterday. But, then I cleaned the house during the morning hours. My five-year-old, son, Riff, was willing to help me make beds, sweep the floor and vacuum. So, how could I not oblige him. I take help when I have it.

Then, morning turned into afternoon. Riff got on the bus for school. I managed to write the title for my post, What I Learned Today. Also, I scanned the Internet looking for some stuff to learn. Did you learn anything, yesterday?  I did.

A woman filed a claim against Starwood Hotels. She was allegedly, sexually assaulted while staying at one of the hotel’s properties in Finland. The commentary following articles about this lawsuit are as interesting as the story itself. I have never been impressed during any of my stays at their hotels.

But, instead of writing, I walked the dog, ate second lunch, read a few pages from John Sallis‘ What You Have Left: The Turner Trilogy on my Kindle, and shared some love with Your Shape on my XBox.

Afternoon turned into evening. Issa and Riff were both home from school now. My duties now involved officiating television time, playing games online, making dinner and getting ready for an evening meeting at church.

For the record, I did not play Angry Bird. The games I played were for educational purposes at this fun and excellent website, http://www.starfall.com. I learned it has reading- and language-skill games to help elementary-age children improve literacy. I was nicely pleased to see Issa spend about 30 minutes playing around here as well.

Then, you know what happened? Afternoon turned into evening; and then evening into night. I came home from my meeting at eight and waited to claim the television from my husband.

While waiting I learned Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire GOP primary, but with only 39.3-percent of the vote. Also, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is getting positive press. Friends from my blogging and neighborhood networks all say its better than expected. My husband and I have a date night scheduled for Saturday, which may include a movie. I’m trying to decide between this one and Sherlock Holmes.

After claiming the television I watched a couple on-demand episodes of Once Upon a Time, ABC’s new show about fairy-tale characters caught in limbo between reality and fantasy. I re-learned about characters such as Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin.

So, what I meant to write yesterday at 9, didn’t happen until now. Stay tuned for today’s post…

Words Are Mighty

Words are mighty. They wield the power to love, hate, free, imprison, heal, poison, mend, hurt, help, hinder, reward, punish, agree, protest, include, exclude, dominate, share, unite, divide, build, break, motivate, defeat, encourage, inhibit, celebrate, silence, bully, defend, protect, attack, empower, debilitate, propel, stop, add, subtract, multiply, delete, mediate, instigate, calm, infuriate, judge, forgive, push, pull, tarnish, shine, triumph, diminish, overpower, undermine, prevail, conquer, inform, conceal, protect, endanger, preserve, change, comfort, scare, create, destroy, promote, inflict, investigate, manipulate, expose, control, educate, deceive, console, terrorize, enrich, connect, polarize, captivate, rescue, dictate, and overthrow,

A boy who has Leukemia and who attends the same school as Issa is asking for words — not money — to help him fight and to help him stay strong.

Cards wanted for boy with leukemia

Another shared love for everybody.

My story

More continue to protest the greed, corruption and manipulation.

OWS

I consider myself fortunate to have a mind open to messages old and new. The blogs I visit (Mama’s Empty Nest), stories I read (The Book Thief), songs I hear (Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train), and films I watch (Tree of Life) all leave their impressions. Some are fleeting. Others linger.