Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

*Words of warning: do not start reading this book unless you have nothing else to do in the time it would take you to finish it- because you’re not going to want to put it down until you do.*

No, really. You owe my kids an apology, Colleen Hoover. They were in their play room playing “princesses attack Shopkins” -those Shopkins should have seen it coming, Cinderella has unresolved abandonment issues and it was bound to come out at some point. Just saying. I digress.

So there they were playing nicely amongst themselves (minimal screaming), and I thought “Oh hey, let me just take these few minutes to start my new book.” Two hours of parental neglect, three episodes of Peppa Pig, and one completed hostile Disney princess take-over later I came out of my book-fog. I forced myself to resume parenting by reminding myself there were only a few more hours until I could put them to sleep for the night and get back to the book. It was HARD. I briefly contemplated how they might fare making themselves dinner, but neither of them are over the age of 5, so the book stayed closed.

In all honesty, I already love Colleen Hoover as an author, so I knew this one was going to be good. But I was absolutely not prepared for the wave of emotions I’d feel reading it. I went from sympathy, to excitement, to sadness, to amusement, to anger, to hopefulness, back to anger, and finished off with relief-laced disappointment co-occurring with a confusing sense of contentment. I literally closed the book and stared at my husband (who was trying to gauge my reaction and failing) before answering his “So, how was it?” with, “I….I’m not….it was good…I think?” I was still mid-process, I didn’t know how to feel. My feels had feels. 

I don’t think this book is good, I know this book is good. It’s great. It’s thought provoking, and it’s important. It tackles the very complex and tragic issue of domestic violence, but it does it in a way that opens up your point of view to not just anger for the abuser, and not just sympathy for the victim, but a raw and honest glimpse into the absolute struggle that can rage inside both parties.

I almost don’t want to even give a breakdown of the plot of this story because the importance of what happens and the twists that unfold are a huge part of what makes this book what it is. Okay no, not ‘almost don’t want to’, I’m not going to. That’s how strongly I feel.

If you’re looking for a light, surface-level romance read, this one might not be for you. Although the romance in it is also fantastic (#teamatlas- you’ll get it when you read it). The relationships that develop are incredibly believable and realistic, which is not always how things go in romance novels…but it is if they’re done right. However, if you’re looking for a story that is compelling, and for characters that you end up feeling so invested in that you want to be friends with them in real life (the main character, Lilly, writes to Ellen DeGeneres in her journals, how awesome of a character detail is that) then give this one a try. Bravo, Colleen. I was a fan before, but I’m your fangirl now. I’m going to write to YOU in my journals.

Click here to find “It Ends with Us” on Amazon

Story Struggles

This may come as a shock, but do you know what a crucial part of novel writing is? Ideas. Boom. Yep- characters, plot lines, story arcs, scenes…you not only have to come up with all of those things, but then also put them together in way that makes sense. You know what you have to do before you can do any of that? Remember the ideas that you have.

I actually consider myself to be a pretty good “idea person”. In fact, in the process of writing my novel I’ve been surprised at how frequently new ideas pop into my mind. However, due to the ever-present stream of Irony in my life, those ideas usually have nothing to do with the story I’m working on. Alternatively, if they DO have something to do with the story I’m working on, then they pop into my mind at the literal most inopportune moments possible. Moments when not even one of the mini notepads or pens from my SAMs club “no one will ever need this many of these” sized packs are within my reach.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “You do have a cell phone, no?” Ah, well, let me tell you the tale of the time I woke out of a dead sleep because of a dream that gave me an idea I had to get written down immediately. Side note- I hate waking up. I hate it at 7am, I hate it at 10am, and I especially hate it at 2:45am. So if something is going to make me disturb my own sleep, obviously I think it’s important.

So here we are, 2:45am. (I bolded that, because 2:45am) I blindly smacked at the nightstand reaching for my phone, entered the wrong pass-code twice, and frantically typed my idea in ‘evernote’ before rolling back over. Ah, the contented slumber of someone who knows she finally succeeded in documenting a big idea.

The next morning I woke remembering the incident, but for the life of me I could not remember the specifics of my idea. No surprise there, I’d had enough self-awareness to know that would be the case, hence my urgency to write it down. I grabbed for my phone and opened the newest entry. I still have it. Here’s what it said:

              Sonebro mothr codnt bc se die. Styed for dad-=scted.

Well, that clearly did not go as planned. I then sat there attempting to decode what those letters in those orders may have meant I was trying to type… I did not succeed. If any of you out there has advanced decoding skills, or really like puzzles and riddles…or regularly uses those brain-trainer apps (that I can’t do because I end up worried I have early-onset dementia when I try), your input would be greatly appreciated.

The moral of the story is: don’t wake me in the middle of the night. The second, equally as important, moral of the story is that I need to find a more efficient and reliable way to compile all my story ideas while simultaneously filing away the good, but unrelated ones. I have a general idea of what I want to happen in my story, the main characters, and even the title. What I struggle with is a clear story arc from start to finish. I have fantastic (well, I think so) scene ideas that I know have to be in the story ‘somewhere’, but when I sit down and try to tease out what the actual POINT of the story is going to be I end up having a staring contest with myself in the computer screen. But I win. I always win.

 

 

 

Review: The Girl in 6E (Deanna Madden #1) by A.R. Torre

Let me start by saying that reading “Erotic Suspense” is not my norm, but I have always loved a good psychological thriller (the occasional mind-F* is great when it’s done of your own free will) so as I was perusing the B&N website for nook book deals this one grabbed my attention with its intriguing cover and description (Take a look here)

“My life is simple, as long as I follow the rules.

1. Don’t leave the apartment.
2. Never let anyone in.
3. Don’t kill anyone.

I’ve obeyed these rules for three years. But rules were made to be broken.”

Whaaaat? Well, see what I mean? I had to. The story starts out being told by 21 year old Deanna (but is known by her alias, Jessica) who lives alone in her small apartment and is, of her own free will, locked in. No literally, she set up a deal with a junkie neighbor where she gives him prescriptions of pain killers and he keeps her locked in from the outside with a crazy deadbolt system. Seems legit. So, she buys everything online and has the UPS man (Jeremy-who she sort has feelings for in an “I like you, but I also kind of want to stab you with your box-cutter” kind of way) leave her packages outside her door and forge her signature because she won’t open it for anyone, ever.

But how does she make money to pay for this apartment and online purchases you ask? She’s a sex cam worker. Yep. Skeezy guys pay by credit card to watch her and have “cam sex” with her, on the reg. This works out for her pretty well because she makes bank doing it and it allows her to not have to have any human interaction, which she avoids at all costs because she’s pretty convinced that if she DOES have any human interaction she’ll kill said human. Oh, yes, another tidbit of information about Deanna- she fantasizes and obsesses about killing someone, so she’s orchestrated her entire life around avoiding being able to touch anyone. Again, whaaaat? Intrigued yet?

This was a pretty quick read for me, and that usually only happens when i’m really drawn into a story. I tend to be someone who, if bored by a story, will have to literally force myself to finish it “just in case it gets better”. That or i’ll just put it down in my “books to finish when I literally have nothing else to do in life” pile.

The book then starts to alternate between Deanna’s POV, the third-person POV of an unidentified man, who it’s quickly apparent is a stage 5 creepy,perverted,pedopheliac-sociopath (I’d use more adjectives, but I think you get the idea) and Annie- a six year old girl. It also highlights some of Deanna’s more entertaining cam clients, which is pure “I feel kind of gross for reading this but i’m going to anyway” gold.

The plot twists and turns, alternating between the different points-of-view, resulting in Deanna’s inability to stop herself from becoming involved in-and trying to stop-what she believes is about to be a tragic crime. She struggles with her own murderous compulsions along the way, and deals with the masses of baggage from her own past that are drawn out in the process. *Spoiler Alert*—She leaves her apartment. ruh-roh.

Overall I definitely recommend this book to anyone that’s looking to be entertained and likes sort of dark, kind of creepy stories that keep you compelled to read until you figure out what the actual F*ck is happening. This is some ‘Dexter’meets ‘Rapunzel’ next level shit. And I loved it! Oh, and I recently heard they are going to be making this one into a movie, so you’ll definitely want to read it before that happens. What says “date movie” more than a homicidal sex-cam worker with psychological problems? Me thinks nothing. 

 

 

But,why you blog?

Obviously, from the title of this website, you know I’m a mom. I’m a mom of two little girls, in fact. But long before I was a mom-in a time which I now in hindsight refer to as the “take everything for granted years”- Before my days were filled with all tasks relating to keeping small humans alive (and trying not to psychologically or physical ruin them), I had all the extra time in the world to immerse myself in good books. I escaped into novels- romance, mystery, historical, almost anything- to give myself a break from my monotonous life of working and then being free to do whatever the hell else I wanted whenever I wanted to do it. Go sit at a coffee shop and read in a cozy corner? Yep. Spontaneously make plans to go do something fabulous and fun with my equally responsibility-free friends? Totally. Take weekly hot yoga and kick-boxing classes for ‘stress relief’? Check. Or sometimes just plop down on the couch and watch mindless television, uninterrupted? pssh, everyday. What an ass hole.
Okay, I wasn’t an ass hole, I was just living my pretty great (most of the time) life blissfully unaware of what a much smaller amount of that “me time” I’d have in the not-so-distant future. Like a much smaller amount….like a fraction of a fraction of it.

Don’t get me wrong,I of course love my kids and would never change having had them ever…but this shit is HARD. Some days are great, but some days I just want to have a frustration-fueled meltdown and down some boxed wine. A lot of the days…all the wines. Sometimes the temporary solution to life’s problems is housed in a plastic bag of vino that’s housed in a square cardboard box. Or in glass, I drink  out of bottles too, there’s no discrimination here.
So anyway there I was, going along trying to work and raise my two kids under three and all that comes along with that, realizing that despite my attempts at holding onto the things I was once passionate about in life, they’d all but disappeared. I still read though, I never stopped reading, I just read less efficiently. Then one day I thought, you know what…I want to write a book. No, I NEED to write a book. Yes, I’m going to write a novel! Oh, sweet, idealistic, impulsively motivated me…bless your heart.
I actually did start writing a novel back then. Two and a half years ago. I wrote down (and continue to write down) my almost constant stream of story ideas as they came, and stole a few hours here and there when I could get the time away to write. Fast forward to today. I have pages of different story ideas (unrelated to the story I had started writing) that I think were pretty great. I do not have a novel. Or even a good portion of a novel. Oh, I forgot to mention I also suffer from chronic, borderline crippling procrastination. I’ll talk more about that later…probably. If I remember.

That brings me to why I decided to start this blog. Renewal of motivation, maybe some accountability, and some good old fashioned catharsis. A place to share with other like-minded people, or people with totally different minds than mine who just might get it too.

So, this is my blog. My blog reviewing the awesome books I read that give me the feels. My blog to talk about my attempts to reclaim the “me” that has fallen by the wayside over the years. The “me” who is still damn determined to write my novel, despite the pile-ups of life that get in my way. This is also a blog for the “me” who just needs an outlet for the crazy shit life throws out. If I can’t look at it all in a humorous way every so often, well, I’ll probably end up being one of those “crazy shits” being thrown into the lives of my family members and friends. So help my family and friends, read my blog.