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text 2019-02-27 18:04
Two FREE month trial of Scribd!

Honestly, Scribd is the best. It has audiobooks, ebooks and more for one low monthly price of $8.99, but of course if you sign up through my link, you can try it for FREE for two months. It would mean a lot if you gave it a try.

 

Scribd has everything, from bestsellers, to old and new books and just a large collection in general. Just at a glance, I can see that they do have some new releases as well. I went to one of my  "want to read" list on Goodreads and found a bunch of those books on Scribd! It's pretty amazing.

 

https://www.scribd.com/gt/4zt6yx 

 

I recently enjoyed: 

Highly creepy novella, disturbing, but also sad and heartbreaking for several reasons. A trigger warning kind of book.

suicide attempt, mentions rape, baby death, talks about abortion...etc.

(spoiler show)

 

I've also enjoyed several R L Stine books through Scribd, some Karin Slaughter, VC Andrews & much more!

 

I am looking forward to listening to:

 

Mr Rogers & LeVar Burton!? (He's the guy from Reading Rainbow...two things from my childhood coming together.)

 

 

**Signing up through my link doesn't give me $, but it does help toward my subscription fee.**

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text 2019-02-10 18:40
Letting Books Go!
As part of uncluttering my mind, I want to unclutter my space, Marie Kondo style. Her method is called the KonMari Method. It is where you look at something and ask if it sparks joy. Joy = you keep it. No feeling/no joy = you thank it and pass it along.
 
Bookish people (mostly on Twitter) are coming at Marie Kondo because of a misquote and a joke someone made with her picture saying "Ideally, keep fewer than 30 books." She actually said, “I now keep my collection of books to about thirty volumes at any one time.” That is what she likes for herself!
 
I did the KonMarie method today with the help of my husband and took a hard look at my growing book collection. I come to a decision to cull over half my collection, if not more. Not because Marie Kondo told me to, but because I know that I am never going to read half these books. I've had them for years without touching them, some I didn't like, some I DNF'd, and some I doubt I will ever reread. My husband did the same with his books.
 
We went through 10ish boxes and ended up culling 7 boxes worth!
 
We made a new rule that the only physical books we are going to buy used are the things we are actively collecting and no more buying random books, with the exception of being 80s & 90s (and earlier) books, though I will be pickier. (Rare books, hard to find and libraries will not have them.)
 
I got rid of a bunch of books that I can easily get at the library if I decide I want to read them later on. We are already picky about the new books we buy because we can't buy full price books often. We still have a lot more books to go through! haha
 
I'm not getting rid of every unread book or everything I've read and may not read again. I'm keeping things that have true sentimental value and nostalgic stuff because I LOVE going back to my younger self and rereading nostalgic books. That sparks joy!
 
Some series I am actively collecting are: (For the curious)
 
 
The Babysitter's Club
Goosebumps
Fear Street
Other R L Stine books
Animorphs
Sweet Valley High
The Alice books (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
Buffy, Angel, Charmed books
Nancy Drew
The Hardy Boys
Boxcar Children
Several cheesy teen horror authors (Christopher Pike, Joan Lowery Nixon...etc)
Cheesy teen horror novels in general from the 80s/90s era
The type of books you would find in Paperbacks From Hell and Paperback Crush (so 70s,80s,90s horror and children/teenage stuff.)
 
There are more but those are the things I think are most recognized. It seems like a lot, but it is a very slow growing collection and I end up getting the books from $1 to $3 at the Half Price Book Store.
 
No matter how old I get, I still read and enjoy the above books. The nostalgic factor might be one of the reasons, but so what! Some would consider some of these books badly written nowadays, but it is like I can turn off a switch and overlook cheesy storylines, plot holes and "bad writing" Most of the books above would probably be considered "guilty pleasure" books for adults to read, but I don't use that word.
 
They are comfort reads.
(spoiler show)
 
 
Do you unhaul books easily or is it like pulling teeth? That is how it is for me, even if I didn't like the book that much. I know it is boarding on hoarding tendencies because it shouldn't be so hard to donate a book you hated, or a book you know you'll never read.
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text 2018-10-21 22:48
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 336 pages.
Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie

This is a reread, but I couldn't resist. I sold books back to Powell's today - a disappointing total, tbh, only $84.00 in credit, but I snagged a Berkley paperback from 1991 for $4.50 while I was there. I'm holding onto the credit for my daughter's Christmas trip home and we will go have a delightful spree!

 

Anyway, this is a comfortable old Agatha, featuring Ariadne Oliver, my favorite recurring character.

 

"I don't think she was a very nice girl," said Mrs. Oliver, "not one you'd want to talk to much. She was the sort of girl who shows off and boasts. It's a rather tiresome age, I think. It sounds unkind what I am saying, but--"

 

"It is not unkind in a murder to say what the victim was like," said Poirot. " It is very, very necessary. The personality of the victim is the cause of many a murder..."

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review 2016-01-31 04:00
The Promise of Happiness ~ "One sees clearly only with the heart..."
The Promise of Happiness - Betty Neels

One of the things I love to search for when reading Betty Neels romances is where and how exactly the title comes into play. And it almost always is hidden in a bit of dialogue or in some internal musings by the heroine. In The Promise of Happiness, it comes late in the book and well after the "Rich Dutch Doctor", Baron Tiele Raukema van den Eck, falls in love with a plain, skinny little mouse of a girl, Becky Saunders:

 

They were all surprises for me,’ he told her, which explained nothing, and put his coffee cup down. ‘You’re growing into quite a pretty girl, Becky.’

 

She shook her head sadly. ‘No, I’m not, thank you all the same.’ She added quite fiercely: ‘I wish I were beautiful, so that everyone stared at me…’

 

She looked away, ashamed of her outburst so that she didn’t see his smile.

 

‘There are so many kinds of beauty—have you ever looked in a small hidden pool in a wood, Becky? It’s full of beauty, but it’s not in the least spectacular, only restful and quiet and neverendingly fascinating.’ He got up and wandered to the door. ‘Someone said— and I’ve forgotten who - ‘‘Beauty is nothing other than the promise of happiness.’’ That’s very true, you know.’

 

He put out an arm and pulled her close and kissed her gently. ‘Good night, my pretty little mouse.’

 

A remark which gave Becky a sleepless night. (188)

 

Though Baron van den Eck cannot remember who said it, the quote - "Beauty is only the promise of happiness" - is from Stendhal's On Love, a series of essays in which Stendhal examines love generally (all while mixing in culture, history, politics and literature) and specifically by trying to exorcise his obsession with an Italian countess who was allegedly not amused by his attentions. The story behind his "crystallization" concept as it applies to love and falling in love is both poetic and weird with an implication of love having an illusory quality, an idealization as well as an unhealthy sense of "perfection" is bestowed on the beloved. Stendhal latched on to the idea while visiting the salt-mines at Salzburg. Miners toss a leafless branch into the works during winter, the salt water works its magic, and in summer, a plain, brown twig is transformed into something which appears to be "scintillating", "dazzling", a "diamond-studded bough" covered in salt crystals. What was once plain is now beautiful. I'm more in the camp of "one sees clearly only with the heart." Physical beauty is just one element and is subjective, but seeing with the heart allows us to look beneath the surface to see honor, strength, humor, honesty, confidence, generosity and a million other reasons why we love. It's the entirety of the relationship that makes lovers see the other as unique and beautiful.

 

Becky is one of my all-time favorite Neels' heroines. Why? Well, because when we first meet Becky, she's sopping wet, schlepping along the lonely and drizzling moors before dawn with a battle-scarred cat named Pooch in a plastic bag, an old black Labrador retriever named Bertie trudging slowly beside her, and "a pitifully small sum in her purse." She's running away from home, of course, after overhearing her wicked stepbrother, Basil, tell his mother that he intends to murder Becky's pets (drowning for Pooch, shooting for Bertie). Becky, a trained nurse, has for the last year or so been the unpaid housekeeper and general dogsbody to wicked stepmother and evil stepbrother. The only reason she stayed was to ensure Pooch and Bertie were unharmed, but overhearing their fate compels her to take them and run with £30 6p she has saved. She could be depressed. Downtrodden. Morose. Miserable. Overwhelmed. Did I say depressed? But she's none of those things. Instead, she and her faithful friends are finally free. She is optimistic without being a Pollyanna, and happy despite her problems. She has a plan. She is resourceful and refuses to go down without a fight. I love her. She has gumption. How heroic is that?

 

Of course, it's not a case of love at first sight for dear Tiele. He sees Becky for the first time when she is at her lowest, least attractive point:

 

She offered a wet hand and he shook it, still with an air of amusement. She really was a nondescript little thing, no make-up and far too thin—her pansy brown eyes looked huge and there were hollows in her cheeks, and her hair was so wet he could hardly tell its colour. (8)

 

To continue Stendhal's analogy, Becky is just a brown twig at this point without those glittering diamonds of salt crystals to dazzle and mesmerize. Though there's not one bit of sparkle on Becky for Tiele at this point, he has been kindness itself - offering her a lift in his honking Rolls, paying for her meal, treating her pets with amused and gentle tolerance, and offering her a job as a personal nurse to his mother who's recuperating from a broken leg. Over the next weeks, Becky, with regular meals, begins to gain the weight she lost and the Baroness's compassion helps her build up some much needed confidence. Of course, Tiele's sister does a pretty fine job of knocking her down, but Becky holds her own.

 

The girl’s smile deepened. ‘You said she was plain,’ she observed to her brother. ‘A half starved mouse.’

 

He gave Becky another look. ‘And so she was—it must be the food and the fresh air.’ He gave Becky a bland smile. ‘You filled out very nicely, Becky.’

 

He was impossible! Becky hated him, although she didn’t hate him in the same way as she hated Basil. There was a difference, like hating a thunderstorm and something nasty under an upturned stone…

 

‘If you have finished discussing me,’ she said haughtily, ‘I’ll tell the Baroness that you’re here.’ At the door she paused to say: ‘Such manners!’ (63)

 

You just have to love her. And if that's not bad enough, Tiele expounds on his thin mouse statement in a later overheard conversation with his mother:

 

The Baroness looked at him thoughtfully. ‘No,’ she said at length, ‘the child has pitifully few things to put into a bag, she has bought almost no clothes since we have been here.’

 

‘Very sensible of her. She’s presumably saving for her future comfort.’

 

‘Don’t you like her?’

 

He laughed gently. ‘It depends what you mean by that, Mama. I like Becky, she’s a good nurse, and she’s gone through a nasty patch, but she’s hardly a beauty, is she? and her conversation hardly sparkles. Shall we say that she’s not quite my type—I’m not attracted to thin mice."

 

It was a pity that Becky heard him as she came back into the room. The self-confidence she had so painfully built up since she had been with the Baroness oozed out of her sensible shoes and her face went rigid in an effort to compose it to a suitably unaware expression. (68)

 

Yes, I know eavesdroppers never hear good things. Blah, blah, blah. But how utterly heartbreakingly painful is that? You can say "sticks and stones, etc" till the cows come home, but words really can hurt and harm. So very sad. Still no sparkle. Still not dazzling. Still just a plain old brown twig. But wait! This is Becky the Valkyrie-in-training. She's not about to take that lying down. Besides, Tiele will be hearing those words parroted back to him until he is sick unto death of them and wishing he'd never allowed the thought to cross his mind, much less say those hurtful things, before any snogging begins and wedding bells chime.

 

Somewhere after a side trip to Molde is when Becky begins to topple the Baron from his lofty turret of arrogance down into the murky moat to mingle with mere mortals. Could it have began when she called dear Baron on his unfortunate remarks about her thin, mousy person? Or possibly when he realizes that this rather nondescript little female was not going to allow him to use her as a doormat? An object to be taken for granted? Or maybe it was learning that there was more to Becky than her outward appearance? Or maybe it really was her creamy skin and large dark eyes? All of the above? Hard to say for sure, but Becky certainly captured his attention.

 

"You don't like thin mice," Becky reminded him coldly.

 

His eyes twinkled and his smile very nearly made her change her mind about him. "I'm not sure about that any more." He eyes her without haste. "And you aren't so thin, you know." (75)

 

In Stendhal's On Love, he offers an example of which lover a man falls in love with when given the choice between a woman of great beauty and a woman who is thin and scarred from small pox. It surprises him that his friend falls in love with the thin, scarred woman. Love has its reasons, after all. Baron-Not-So-Charming, too, has a choice: the coldly glamorous and tousled blonde Nina van Doorn (I always read that as 'Doom' for some reason.) and plain, mousy, thin Becky. Now Becky isn't a hag or anything, but she is a bit malnourished and just not. . .flashy. Of course, Becky found a place in the Baron's heart instead of Nina van Doorn, who is ideally beautiful but lacking in the character and compassion departments.

 

Becky is independent, honest to a fault, and dauntless. She should have been the true fish out of water but settles into a city comfortably where everything is twice as hard for her - the language, the customs, a job which is challenging even without the extra stress of being contingent upon her fitting in. She does it all, and without complaint. It doesn't take Tiele too long to begin making the comparisons between Nina and Becky with Becky coming out on top. In fact it is Tiele who is the fish out of water, reeling with emotions Becky lets loose in him. What follows - midnight snacks in the kitchen with buttered rolls and coffee, a quick stolen kiss as Becky passes him in the doorway, an impulsive and impromptu visit at her flat along with an improvised picnic including a sweet Moselle to drink (which he detests but Becky loves), and one toe-curling kiss culminates with Becky's dawning realization that she's in love with the Baron and the Baron fleeing her flat like the hounds of hell were on his tail.

 

One of my favorite scenes shows exactly how far Tiele has come from his "I am not attracted to thin mice" comment, and is shortly after THE KISS. Things are tense between Becky and the Baron after she blurts out in an alcoholic haze (it was the Baron's best Napoleon brandy that did it!) that Nina is not the wife for him. That bit of honesty only earns her a blast of icy anger and frozen hauteur that freezes her on the spot. She begins to avoid him, but contrarily he won't allow it. When Tiele insists he and Nina give Becky a ride back to her flat and then on to the hospital, the only one satisfied with this situation is Tiele. Clearly neither lady is happy about being pushed into each other's company.

 

She couldn’t walk away because he had taken her by the arm. Now he turned and said something to Nina which made that young lady sizzle with temper. ‘I’ve told Nina that she can wait if she likes to. Let’s go up.’

 

But before he did he took the ignition key out of the car and put it into a pocket, blandly ignoring both girls’ astonished faces.

 

Inside the flat he sat down, watching Becky putting food out and opening the door on to the balcony. ‘And let me assure you, Becky, that I don’t find Nina’s behaviour towards you in the least funny. I’m not sure what I find it.’ He bent to lift an impatient Pooch on to his knee. ‘That’s not quite true, but there is no time to discuss it now. Are you ready?’

 

Nina had gone by the time they reached the car. ‘Get in front,’ begged the Baron. ‘We can talk shop until we get to the hospital.’

 

Which they did in a comfortable casual fashion, brought to an end when they were crossing the vast entrance hall together.

 

‘I should prefer it if you were to call me Tiele,’ said the Baron apropos nothing.

 

Becky would have stopped if he had given her the chance, but as he didn’t she contented herself with a long look at him. ‘Quite impossible—you’re a Baron and a doctor, and I worked for you…’

 

‘I wish you wouldn’t keep throwing Baron at me in that inflexible fashion; I was Tiele first, you know. Besides, you told me that you liked me…’

 

She marched on, not looking at him, her cheeks glowing. ‘I like you, too, Becky.’ His voice was beguiling.

 

She said stonily: ‘Yes, I know. I heard you telling your mother that in Trondheim—you liked me, but I wasn’t your cup of tea.’

 

‘And I was quite right—but I do believe that you’re my glass of champagne, Becky.’ (173-174)

 

*sigh* Isn't that just lovely? From thin mouse to a glass of champagne. I think that means he loves the girl. Despite Stendhal's crystallization craziness, that little quote about beauty and the promise of happiness is quite lyrical and somewhat analogous to the long and winding road Baron Doctor (or is it Doctor Baron?) van den Eck travels to get to the point of really seeing, appreciating and, yes, loving his plain little mouse, Becky Saunders. Tiele comes to know Becky, with knowing her comes loving her and in loving her a fulfillment of the promise of happiness.

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review 2016-01-26 14:28
ARC review: Rustic Melody by Nic Starr
Rustic Melody - Nic Starr,Book Cover by Design

Very sweet and sexy comfort read! 

 

 

Adam Chambers is a young man on a journey without destination. After a big falling-out with his father about business and their private life, Adam leaves his home, family and job in order to find his own way in life. The problem is, he still has no idea what to do with himself.

 

Joey is 21 and owns his own bar/hotel/bistro. Not that this ever was his dream choice, but after his father's death and his mother falling ill, he was slightly out of options. Now all he wants is for the pub to pay for itself on the market, set up his mom comfortably with his aunt, and finally start his own life for real.

 

These two lost boys meet each other at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and immediately feel the Zing! But after Joey's vacation is cut short abruptly, these two have a lot of decisions to make - alone and together. Good thing they can help each other figuring things out. 

 

This book is a sweet, low-angst comfort read for rainy days or dark moments. Adam and Joey are cute together, but Joey especially stole my heart. He's not perfect, he's not a gym rat, his hair is red, his skin too pale, he has practically no business skills other than interacting with his patrons, but his pride is still alive and kicking. I loved him! And I enjoyed the journey of these two boys very much, especially because there were no fabricated misunderstandings, no artificial shouting matches or silly games. These men talk and listen. Granted, they might be a little slow on the uptake here and there, but they're adorable and sweet doing it, so who cares, really? 

 

In the beginning I was a little afraid this would be an insta-love kind of story with a very predictable main plot. I'm happy to say that while there is some insta-lust going on here, the development, the sexy and sweet moments and the personal journey of both MCs was well thouhgt out - nothing insta about it. The pace was good, and the writing drew me in right until the end. Was it flawless? By all means, no. There were some "Well, duh?!"-moments, some situations where I wanted to shake both MCs and make their teeth rattle. But it never reduced my enjoyment of the story at any point in time. 

 

The only niggle I had was the showing vs. the telling. When it came to the side characters, some of them remained a little rough around the edges and pale in comparison to the MCs. Same goes for the main conflict between Adam and his father. It's not that I didn't get the drift, or that there weren't interactions between the two that made it clear how big the rift between the two really is. But I really wished for more on-page action showing it to me. Joey's struggle keeping the bar afloat was handled similarly, although we got more glimpses of how hard he really works in order to survive. In both cases though, while we did get some hints and clues, a lot of it was only told and explained. I just wished for a little more showing here and there. 

 

But overall, this was a very enjoyable book, perfect for curling up under a warm blanket with some hot coffee and cookies. It certainly got me out of my little reading funk, after some of my other books started to weigh me down with the angst. Definitely recommended! 

 

 

*copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Nic Starr! 

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