The Art of Running in Heels by Rachel Gibson

IMG_20180305_130538_629.jpgThis humorous and romantic dramedy is the perfect and easy to read brain candy any woman would be happy to indulge in. Sean Knox is the brown eyed, dark haired muscular hockey player for the Seattle, Washington Chinooks who is waiting in the Sea Hopper (private helicopter service) to fly to his hypochondriac mother. His mother has always been “sick” and is once again “dying” from another “disease” in Sandspit, British Columbia. Already 15 minutes behind schedule, Sean is annoyed and begins wondering why the pilot insists on waiting for the last minute/late passenger. Just then the tall and leggy, triple D breasted, model looking blonde dressed in an over-the-top poofy/tacky white wedding gown is sprinting down the dock in five inch Christian Louboutin stilettos heading straight for the Sea Hopper. Without much care for poise and dignity, Lexie Kowalsky leaps into the Sea Hopper like a robber leaping into a get-away car yelling to the pilot to take off. With hair out of place, fabric and tool covering her every which way and her breasts about to fall out of her dress, Sean can’t help but think she is a total chaotic mess who he is instantly aroused by. Lexie is lying down on the sea next to Sean coming off of an adrenaline rush from just running out on her realty TV wedding, and peers up into the face of the man (Sean) and begins to think of how handsome he is.

Upon landing in Sandspit, the two go their own ways but bump into each other the next morning at a diner. With Lexie seeing her face aired on every news channel as the “runaway bride” from the reality show “Getting Hitched”, she is desperate to lay low and asks to tag along with Sean to his mother’s. When Lexie meets his all day TV watching mother, her identity is known immediately and in order to prevent Sean’s mother from calling the Wendy Williams Show (to win the contest in locating where Lexie is), Sean and Lexie pretend to be an in love boy-friend and girl-friend. With Lexie not even knowing Sean’s last name and Sean knowing Lexie is nothing but trouble (because she is the daughter of his Coach, John Kowalsky,) the attraction/ sexual tension continues to build. After two days of pretending, Sean can’t hold it in anymore and finds himself with Lexie in her hotel room. They share a night of sensual pleasure and release in which Lexie “felt him everywhere, his body covering hers as he moved within her, touching and stroking the exact place where her pleasure was centered, in and out, driving her wild.” (pg. 139) Knowing that is was just great sex and only great sex, the two leave and go their own separate ways back to Seattle, Washington. 

However, once Lexie gets back, she soon finds a picture of her being held against her hotel door with a man kissing her plastered all over the gossip magazines and news. Furious as hell, Lexie believes Sean had a photo taken and leaked it to the press. Hurt and embarrassed, she attempts to keep a low profile and forget about what happened in Sandspit. Fate has a different plan because while Lexie is attending the Chinhook’s home game, (to support her father, John, Coach of the Seattle Chinhooks hockey team), the newly added player is shown on the huge flat screen TVs (prompting his stats and info), she is shocked to discover Sean is the newly added player that her Dad has been despising. Needless to say Sean and Lexie reunite, and once again Lexie needs his help. In hopes of re-directing her social image as she doesn’t want her pet-clothing line company so suffer anymore than it already has since becoming the “runaway bride” she asks Sean to pretend to be her boy-friend again in-order to make the recently circulated photo of them understandable and not scandalous. Reluctantly Sean agrees to help as he doesn’t want John (his coach, Lexie’s father) to hate him anymore that he already does. With secrets to hide, plots to twist, images to repair and a business to save, and two of the sexiest people on Earth working together so intimately what could every go wrong? In the end the attraction, the words said, the touches shared, the feelings felt, and orgasms experienced, is it all lust and pretend or could these two sexy polar opposites be the real deal? Enjoy this gossipy, indulgent, brain candy soft erotica to find out what happens. 5 Stars – Loved it 

LOVE by Matt De La Peña (Illustrated by Loren Long)

IMG_20180207_104304_432.jpgLove by Matt De La Peña is an illustrated children’s book that brings the word “love” into a new perspective. Often, when people think of the word “love”, happy couples, hearts, sunsets, romance and/or marriage comes to mind. What I enjoyed about this picture book is that Matt De La Peña brings to light all the different ways people can experience love throughout their life. Love is not pigeon-held to just couples, romance, marriage etc, but it is the relationship we have with parents, friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, our city and/or food. He mentions how a parent holding a child in their arms as the child is waking up from a nightmare saying “it’s okay, it’s okay”, is an act of giving and receiving love. Matt mentions how seeing the same musician outside of the subway playing “love notes that lift into the sky like tiny beacons of light” provides a sense of comfort and in a sense love. A grandfather and each crease in his face as he is fishing with his grandson is also an act and sense of love. A sister providing a piece of toast for her brother is another act and/or experience of love. It’s a perfect children’s book to help kids understand that love can be all around them and all they have to do is recognize it. What everyone else can learn from this storybook is to appreciate the small gestures in everyday life and how they add up over time resulting in happy memories, stability and most of all…love. A good story to read to your kids around Valentine’s Day. 3 stars – Liked it. 

Top 10 Books I Read in 2017

It was a busy year when it came to reading and out of the 32 books I completed (ranging from children’s books, to sci-fi, to murder/mystery, to fiction, historical fiction and audio books), I have narrowed down my favorites to 10 finalists. The winners are

IMG_20171111_172307_6451. THERE WAS AN OLD MUMMY WHO SWALLOWED A SPIDER BY JENNIFER WARD – is an illustrated Halloween children’s book filled with silly rhythmic and funny words perfect for capturing any young child’s attention. In short, a mummy wakes up from his sleep and sees a spider and decides to swallow it. Throughout the story he continues to swallow an eclectic range of items and living organisms making any child squirm and squeal with skepticism and delight. With phrases like “He swallowed the ghost to scare the witch….” and “He swallowed the rate to chase the spider” the reader wonders what on Earth the mummy will swallow next. Will it be another strange item or will it perhaps be you? Definitely worth picking up for any young reader who enjoys Halloween and being silly.  Category: Children’s Picture Book
https://g.co/kgs/SshH9b

IMG_20171024_164700_3832. THE CRUCIBLE BY ARTHUR MILLER – One of my all time favorite plays and classic pieces of literature. Miller’s play captures the essence of the contagious and rapid insanity of “witchcraft” hysteria during the years of 1692 and 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts. Through descriptive character development Arthur Miller takes the readers on a journey back in time to witness the chaos, torture, desperation and despair. Through these accusations and ultimate deaths of many of the characters, Arthur Miller eloquently displays how men at that time used religion as a means of control to achieve a desired outcome. They used the fear of God to persuade people to conform whether they wanted to or not, which is against the true meaning or message of Christianity. The Crucible’s strong undertone proves how corrupt man’s spirit can be despite religious affiliation and how righteous a man’s spirit can be even if he has committed sin. Witchcraft be only the icing on top of this cake. In the event that you haven’t absorbed this play yet, please consider it a must read and place it on your “to be read” list as it is written beautifully and touches upon human characteristic flaws and how if provided a spark everything will ignite. Remember, history does repeat itself.
Category: Historical Fiction, History, Plays, Dramatic Theater
https://g.co/kgs/fUZjRp

IMG_20171025_095500_9983. ROOM ON THE BROOK BY JULIA DONALDSON –  A delightfully illustrated children’s book perfect for Halloween time. It’s a simple, short and entertaining rhythmic story about a witch who shares her broom with a dog, a cat, a frog and a bird. With the simple teachings of being kind to others and they’ll be kind to you, this is a funny and cute story to read to little ones this Halloween season.
Category: Children’s Picture Book, Halloween
https://g.co/kgs/ENLLPG

IMG_20171016_145520_7394. LIES SHE TOLD BY KATE HOLAHAN– Ever tell that lie so much that you’ve come to believe it yourself? Is there a distinct line between fiction and non-fiction? One never really knows except the story teller as the truth normally dies with them. This is a mind-boggling, line blurring, cross over of fiction versus non-fiction suspenseful murder/mystery novel in which the author, Cate Holahan engulfs the reader into the similarly complex lives of Liza and Beth. This makes the reader ponder which is the lie and which is the truth. A must read for anyone who enjoys character manipulation, suspense, murder/mystery, psychological drama and mind games. I highly recommend this novel as a must read for Fall as I haven’t read a story like this before.
Category: Murder/Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Fiction
https://g.co/kgs/dmK7sM

IMG_20170922_131010_3365. DARK MATTER BY BLAKE CROUCH – if you had to look at yourself standing right in front of yourself, would you trust that other version of you? This novel of science-fiction, mystery and quantum mechanics turns into a game of chess, a battle against his own thoughts (Jason, the main character) and a survival of the fitness leading into much suspense and murder. A fast paced, engaging and contemplating novel is an excellent read and leaves the reader in awe. Remember, life is laid out in a matter of minutes and in each minute we have a choice. Depending on what you choose will alter all the other minutes in your life. What choice will you make?
Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy, Romance, Fiction
https://g.co/kgs/Nd446R


IMG_20170901_173117_0496. THE HANDMAID’S TALE BY MARGARET ATWOOD – 
 (Audiobook read by Claire Danes)This novel was originally published in 1985 but touches the reader as though it was written today. This well written novel of a dystopian society scarily coincides with what takes place with women’s rights and politics today. Claire Danes’s voice adds familiarity and emotion to the story that I don’t feel I would have gained if I had just read the book alone. Her reading performance is wonderful and adds a voice to Ofred (the main character). Loved this audiobook and highly recommend for readers on the go and for all men/women. he Handmaid’s Tale is such a predominate piece of literature that it is considered a classic and must-read for men and women, young and old. I highly recommend this novel, for it surely will leave you stunned and breathless.
Category: Fiction, Women’s Interest
https://g.co/kgs/taeHpm

IMG_20170909_213716_986

7. THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE BY WILLIAM JOYCE- a wonderful children’s book! Gorgeous illustrations & a terrific children’s book to inspire/teach the love and appreciation of books to youth. A must have in any children’s library or in any classroom. Category: Children’s Picture Book  https://g.co/kgs/1XrTcr

 

IMG_20170819_212438_3338. FINAL GIRLS BY RILEY SAGER – Thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it is filled with amazing plot twists loaded with suspense and psychological drama. Enjoyed every minute and could not put down. It plays on the human mind and how we block things out we don’t want to remember and how sometimes those closest to us are really the ones we should fear the most. Highly recommend. What really happened at Pine Cottage in the middle of the woods? Find out in this murder-mystery/psychological thriller. Heart racing, fast paced while leaving you on the edge of your seat. 
Category: Thriller, Murder/Mystery, Fiction 
https://g.co/kgs/QNX4oC

IMG_20180206_1235059949. THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID – Excellent book about classic Hollywood during an era in which stars and studios were everything. The story follows one woman Evelyn and how she had her ups and downs and what she did to rise to fame and what she did for the love of her life. The question is who was the love of her life? Was it one of the seven husbands or was it someone else? Were all the marriages for love or publicity? What really happens once the cameras stop rolling and the paparazzi is gone? Excellent historical fiction read filled with a great plot twist, sprinkled with juicy brain candy. A pure delight and I can’t wait to read it again.  Category: Historical Fiction, Romance   
https://g.co/kgs/ZfwC43

IMG_20170910_184606_051

10. FAHRENHEIT 451 BY RAY BRADBURY – a literary classic originally published in 1953 and yet the content of the story is so relevant to today’s time (2017). Having read it once in high school and once this year, I consider it to be a must read for all readers young and old. This novel will stop anyone today in their tracks & make them observe their surroundings. Read this wonderful novel to discover all that is important and why books and knowledge are always the most powerful resource.
Category: Science Fiction, Fiction 
  https://g.co/kgs/dUuXv8

 

IMG_20180206_123532054_HDR***BONUS*** EXIT WEST BY MOHSIN HAMIDAn excellent story that I consider to be a realistic fiction. While the story is fictitious, it could very well be one survivors story. Mohsin writes about Nadia and Saeed who are living their lives in the Middle East and end up falling for each other in one of their colleges classes. Starting out as friends, their relationship grows into something more as their town is soon taken over by the military and is subjected to air raids. The dismantle of their home, loss of loved ones and loss of electricity forces them to seek refuges elsewhere. They end up in Greece, then London and finally California. Though Mohsin Hamid does not specify the exact settings, one understands through context clues that this story is highly based on the Syrian refugees who fled to Greece, then London and then came to America. It is a beautifully and poetically written novel that touches the human soul through human connection, love, the need for survival, violence, anger, confusion, hate, despair, friendship and above all hope. A literary must read. This novel is one of the top 20 Amazon Editors picks for best books of 2017 (https://www.amazon.com/b?node=17276804011a book of the month club pick for March 2017, (bookofthemonth.comand a NY Times Top 10 Best Books of 2017. https://g.co/kgs/e7tEYN

*All website links are dated as of February 6th, 2018*

 

 

 

The Deal Of A Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

IMG_20180101_011647_189The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrick Backman is a fast paced, easy to read novella that combines Fredrick’s blunt styled quirky characters with the humor and mysticism of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Backman never reveals the main character’s name, but the reader knows him as “Dad or Father”. The Father begins by writing a letter to his son, taking us through a short but vivid memory of his life. We (the readers) learn of the Father’s accomplishments as a well-known business man all the way to his short comings as a father. We learn that the Father was not the ideal parent and has regrets as to how he has raised his son. Time is short for Father due to the recent diagnosis of a rare form of cancer, (or so he thinks).

While in the hospital, the Father meets a brave little girl who puts on a happy face for her mother everyday (even though she too is dying from cancer). Low and behold the little girl has captured the Father’s heart and so when the woman in the grey sweater, with the folder and black pencil in hand comes to the little girl’s door, Father is heartbroken. Unfortunately, Father has seen this woman before (when all the people he has loved in his life have died) and he feels the urge to save the little girl. He snatches the folder, runs out the hallway and out of the hospital, into his car and hastily drives away. In despair, Father drives into a truck resulting in a obvious car crash. The woman in the grey sweater appears again to Father and he shouts “I can give you someone else to kill” (pg 51). Father says this in hopes of offering up his life to save the little girl, believing that the woman in the grey sweater is death itself. The woman in the grey sweater quickly explains that she is not death but rather a messenger and that one death cannot replace another death, but rather a life for a life. She explains to father that if he gives up his life for the little girl, not only would he die, but everything he has accomplished, worked for, created etc (including his son) would belong to someone else. It would be as though Father never existed, also meaning that his son would still be alive, but would have a completely different man as a father. 

With wit and humor, the woman in the grey sweater brings Father to see his son (who works at an old bar in town that represents nothing but nostalgia) one last time before he comes to a conclusion of his fate. At the bar, Father sees that his son his content and upon talking to his son, the son actually expresses how he is happy for his Dad. Father ends up experiencing flash backs to when he never showed up for his son and to all the times he “failed” him. The son smiles, kisses his Dad on the cheek and wishes him “Merry Christmas, Dad” (pg 61) and goes into the bar kitchen. The Father’s heart breaks again, and he suddenly knows what the right decision is for him. Walking out of the bar with the woman in the grey sweater, Father proceeds to ask if the little girl will live and the woman in the grey sweater assures him that she will and that she will watch over his son. As Father and the woman in the grey sweater jump into the river between Helsingborg and Denmark, Father writes to his son “You’ll never read this. You’ve never sat waiting on the steps outside your mother’s house. I never wasted your time……You’ll wake up soon. It’s Christmas Eve morning. And I love you.” (pg 64/65). 

Just like the Father, your heart breaks when you realize that he gave up his life and previous existence so not only could a little girl with cancer have a second chance at life, but so his son would never know the pain of a father not being there. He had the woman in grey take his life so his son could live a better life and a little girl can live. The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us once again of how parents always, at some point or another do a great sacrifice for their children and that time, no matter how much we think we have, is always fleeting and can never get it back. Make each day of your life count. A good novella to pull at your hearts and remind you to make good use of the time you have.  (3.5 stars – liked it)

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Tessa Bateman

IMG_20171121_143734_461Upon seeing the cover for A Plump and Perky Turkey by Tessa Bateman, I made the incorrect assumption that it was going to be a children’s story about a plump and perky turkey who has a grand Thanksgiving day feast. I couldn’t be more wrong. Instead the story takes place in the small town of Squawk Valley and the village people don’t have any turkeys for Thanksgiving! All of the turkeys seem to have left the area once the leaves had started to fall. The people of Squawks Valley were devastated that there would be no turkey to eat on Thanksgiving.

However, Mr. Ebenezer Beezer has a plan to get a turkey for the townspeople. He announces that they shall have an arts and crafts fair that is “turkey themed” and that in order for people to create “turkey art”, they will need a model turkey. Therefore Beezer and the townspeople go out and put “turkey model wanted: plump and perky” signs in the nearby woods hoping a turkey will come forward. Along comes Pete, a very plump and perky turkey who is very cocky and feels he would be a great model, and so the townspeople hire him to “model” for their “artwork”. (Little does Pete know they are all looking at him as the perfect Thanksgiving dinner and not as a turkey model).

As Pete poses, the townspeople create turkey sculptures out of oatmeal, wheat, soap and rope. Upon completion of the sculptures, Pete is lead around by Ebenezer Beezer to judge the art work and after he makes a decision as to who the winner is, Pete hides amongst the artwork, blending it perfectly. Next think you know, the townspeople see that Pete fled Squawk Valley with what he feels is his grand prize (the oatmeal turkey sculpture) and the townspeople have been outsmarted and once again are left turkey-less. The story ends with Pete on the beach in Florida devouring his oatmeal turkey with all the other plump and perky turkeys who fled South for the winter. Low and behold the townspeople of Squawk Valley are left with munching on wheat for Thanksgiving. 

In conclusion I am a bit disappointed at the lack of concrete story development, as I feel the plot was good but the resolution was lacking depth and abrupt. Why did the townspeople have to resolve only to wheat? Why not fish or ham or beef? Why give up after all that effort? I also feel deceived with the plot because as stated in the beginning of this review I made the assumption that the story was something different. All in all, it is a short and simple children’s book with delightful illustrations, but not my top pick for a Thanksgiving children’s book. (2/5 stars – it was okay)

There Was An Old Mummy Who Swallowed A Spider By Jennifer Ward

IMG_20171111_172307_645There Was An Old Mummy Who Swallowed a Spider by Jennifer Ward is an illustrated Halloween children’s book filled with silly rhythmic and funny words perfect for capturing any young child’s attention. In short, a mummy wakes up from his sleep and sees a spider and decides to swallow it. Throughout the story he continues to swallow an eclectic range of items and living organisms making any child squirm and squeal with skepticism and delight. With phrases like “He swallowed the ghost to scare the witch….” and “He swallowed the rate to chase the spider” the reader wonders what on Earth the mummy will swallow next. Will it be another strange item or will it perhaps be you? Definitely worth picking up for any young reader who enjoys Halloween and being silly.  (4/5 stars – really liked it). 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

IMG_20171002_123824_951Before diving into The Woman in Cabin 10, I heard Ruth Ware was an excellent author whose writing resembles that of Agatha Christie and that her novel “In a Dark, Dark Wood” was excellent. Even Reese Witherspoon has raved about her on instagram, so I was extremely enticed to read Ruth’s Woman in Cabin 10 (published June, 2016), but upon commencement I was disappointed. This murder/mystery, “who done it?” novel is filled with plenty of interesting characters responsible for the unique plot twists and turns that keeps the reader intrigued.  However, it is in my opinion that the creative writing is masked by the insistent whining and nausea of the over-dramatic, anxiety driven, booze gulping main character Lo (short for Laura Blacklock). Granted in the beginning of the story, Ruth has Lo endure a home invasion in which the burglar does nothing to Lo but slam the door in her face, trash the place and take her purse. Lo was not attacked in a way that would justify the consistent use for booze and worry. 

Progressing forward into the chain of events, Lo who happens to work for a travel magazine is provided the career breaking opportunity to experience the madden voyage for the Auruoa Luxury Norwegian Ship. Feeling that this is an opportunity she can’t pass up, and that it may be the relaxation she needs, she goes without hesitation. While reading the passage in which Lo boards the luxury liner I imagined a grand, luxurious ship somewhat like a Carnival Cruise Liner. The descriptive language that Ware used to depict the grand stair case and Swarovski crystal chandelier gives the reader the sense  and epitome of luxury. Apparently that was not the case, because as I continued to dive further into the novel Lo constantly complains about how she feels each movement of the ship and each wave that thrashes upon the bowel resulting in vertigo and nausea. This leads me to believe the ship is not a ship but more of a yacht. This discrepancy in the writing bothers me, because how could all the crew, the crew cabins, ten luxury passenger cabins, a spa, a hot tub, a dining hall and more fit on a yacht? I really wish there would have been more of a concrete setting. 

Moving forward, during the first night out at sea, Lo is getting read for the evening event, and realizes she hasn’t brought mascara with her. Rather than asking if the stewardess can bring her some, Lo decides to knock on the door of Cabin 10. A beautiful, strong featured, black-haired beauty donning a Pink Floyd t-shirt answers the door in an abrupt and sharp manner. practically thrusting the well known Maybelline pink and green mascara in Lo’s hand saying “keep it” the woman in cabin 10 slams the door closed sending Lo back to her cabin. Later in the evening after the luxury dinner and evening events, Lo returns to her cabin overwhelmed with exhaustion, dizziness, nausea and drunkenness resulting in her passing out on the bed. Suddenly, early in the morning Lo is awakened by a loud, terrifying scream and the sound of a great big splash. Thinking it was just a dream, but feeling that it was real, she goes to her balcony, pears out to sea, sees nothing, and pears over the glass to the next balcony of cabin 10, all to find blood smeared on the glass doors. With shock and horror, she leaps back into her cabin afraid that whatever happened to the woman in cabin 10 will happen to her. 

From here, the story progresses into a “I know what I saw, but no one believes me” situation in which Lo is left fearing for her safety all while unable to let go of what she saw. She heads out on a mass detective spree with another character Ben (who is also her ex-boyfriend and who happens to also be enjoying the madden voyage), ultimately trying to discover “who done it?”.  Moderate paced, descriptive vocabulary, entertaining yet annoying characters, and surprising twists and turns sprinkled with yet again unnecessary anxiety, nausea and booze, this novel is a good read, but not what I consider a must read. Worthy of three stars (3 Stars). Happy Reading.