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2010 Book 4: For Men Only

For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of  Women For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women by Shaunti Feldhahn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you read my review on Ms. Feldhahn's other book, 'For Women Only,' I think you won't be surprised that the same criticism applies here.

This book states up front that the authors' intent is to grossly generalize their findings, and they do. I was hoping for more than just a flip of what was in 'For Women Only' but there wasn't really any new information here - in fact it seemed to lack the depth of the first book.

The first book highlighted more specifics, like how men enjoyed it when their women 'played with them' - enjoyed the same diversions, like golf or even just watching sports together. I didn't see the opposite in FMO - what is it that women enjoy for their man to do with them?

There seemed (to me) to be an inordinate amount of time spent on a women's appearance (in each of the chapters), which I found shallow. Obviously, as a woman, I understand how important appearance is, but there's so much more to me than that. Men may be visual, but wasn't the point of this book to show them what they CAN'T see?

Both books also imply that any infidelity in a marriage will always involve the man and his lustful, wandering eye. Whether women are visual or not (and I know for a fact many are), they have their own escapes, be it through soap operas, romance novels or some other source. Neither book addresses the feminine side of lust or a man's reaction/interpretation of it.

There are tidbits to be gleaned, both for men and women, but as before, I recommend that couples look at this book together, and consider the lens used to write it.

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2010 Book 3: For Women Only

For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was invited to read this book by a friend, and like so many survey-driven books, am left questioning the survey more than myself.

While this book does reveal some inner workings of men that many women might not have perceived, it also, in my opinion, portrays men as shallow creatures with little self control, especially when it comes to sex and physical appearance.

This is a spiritual (Christian) based book, so the survey and interpretation of the results are taken through that lens. It's not bad, but like anything, it colors the content in a certain way. The authors admittedly make gross generalizations on their findings, which adds another layer the reader has to work through to apply the information to their own situation.

So read with caution, and do your own research, preferably with your significant other.

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The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm already way behind on reading - but have made big strides on my writing.

To that end, you can read my comments on the Lightning Thief at the Open Book Society. I guest blog for them periodically.

The short story? A great book for tween and teen readers - especially boys. The movie? very different, but also good. Enjoy!

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Born of Fire (The League, #2) Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked this book much more than I liked the first in this series. Syn's life is complicated, but his story is told at a compelling pace, little bits revealed all along the way. And the twist at the end...ah, but I won't spoil THAT! 8-D

Shahara is also an interesting character, whose true strength does take a while to show through. I would have liked to have understood what a seax was a little earlier in the book. Understanding the universe Kenyon has created takes a little work - she doesn't spend as much time on description as I might like, but it doesn't take away from the story, really.

This is my favorite League book so far.

A good read to start out the new decade!

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Book 50: Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Born of Night (The League, #1) Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read quite a few of Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, and frankly this sounded a lot like a re-do of Acheron's book. True it's a different world (no vampires) but Nyk sounds and feels like Ash to me. That's not bad, necessarily, just not new. Maybe it's just that many Alpha males sound the same in romance novels?

One of my pet peeves about romance novels is how the endings (once the hero and heroine have 'hooked up') are rushed. Either the story ends like the author has a bus to catch: "The bad guy got what he deserved and all our other problems just went poof" or a ton of extra conflict, character development and plot is crammed into the last chapters..."I forgot to tell you all this about her/him - here it is all in one or two chapters." Born of Night falls into the second category - Nyk is all mystery and angst until the last chapters when everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) about him is detailed.

Now, I hate to be left hanging wondering about a character, or what happens, but I also enjoy learning these things a little at a time, rather than having them dumped out all at once. This is why my rating is only three stars and not higher.

Do I recommend reading this? Yes. Writing a series of books means that some will be better than others - and many times the first is not necessarily the best. Maybe I'm being to harsh, but having read so many of her other books, I guess my expectations were pretty high.

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And that does it for my list of 2009 books! I didn't make it anywhere near the original goal of 100 books, but 50 is pretty respectable, I think. Almost one a week - more than I've ever read in a year!

Book 49: Navy Wife by Debbie Macomber

Navy Wife (Navy #1) Navy Wife by Debbie Macomber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A nice little contemporary romance. Not the deepest characters, but easy to read. I wished the ending had been stretched out a bit - lots of stress on the anticipation, then a whole lot of external conflict at the end without the same attention to the internal resolutions.

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Old vs. New DSotM

This is all fanfiction related, so bear with me.

Okay, after pestering by goldenmeadow (and a promise that she'll get through Dark Side of the Moon this week...) I'm posting the old preface to Dark Side here.

The backstory:  This was the first scene I wrote - B & E's reunion under the clock tower.  I posted it as a teaser, and as the preface to the full story once I started writing the beginning chapters, way back when twilighted was brand new.  When I got further into the story, I pulled it and posted the current preface (the link to the full story is in the sidebar <----).

Anyway, Rie asked to see the original again, and rather than post it with the story, I'm putting it here.  The updated version is located in Chapter 15 of Dark Side of the Moon, and is WAY better than this.  It is interesting to see how my writing has grown in just a year, though.

So, for those readers who date back to the origins of Dark Side, I present the original preface, titled Heaven:



I raised my eyes from my knees and looked across the plaza at the reflection of the clock in one of the windows.  Only a minute or two remained in my time on this planet.  The sun was shining brightly now, beckoning me.  I rose and walked to the entrance of the alley.  A few feet from the end I stopped, looking down at the line before my feet.  How ironic that to end it all I would have to cross this shadow line, stepping from darkness into light.  It was the extinguishing of Bella’s light that drove me here at all.

The hands of the clock clicked another minute off, one more to go.  The plaza was full now, and a small family stopped right in front of me.  No one would be hurt except me – the best end I could hope for.  I silently apologized to Alice again, wishing she didn’t have to see this, and I slowly unbuttoned my shirt.

For just a moment I thought of my family.  They would miss me, I knew that, but they were all complete.  They had each other for comfort, and now they would no longer worry about me – the odd man out.  This was best for them as well.

I only wished I could thank Carlisle for giving me this life.  He’d never stopped questioning himself about me, and though I was at the end, I now knew that he had bestowed on me the greatest gift.  Because of him I’d met Bella and experienced heaven, even if it was only for a moment.  That was worth everything, and I wished he would know that.

My shirt fell to my feet as I heard the hands of the clock shift again and the first chime ring out.  It was only two steps to the sun – to the end – and I closed my eyes and found Bella for these last seconds.

I sorted through the images, choosing which ones would take me down this final path.  The first was one of the most recent; we were watching Romeo and Juliet, and my arms were wrapped around her.  I smiled as I remembered how she reacted when I whispered the words in her ear.  Her tears at the end were priceless and unfortunately prophetic; and now Romeo’s story was mine.  The clock tolled again.

The scene in my mind changed, and Bella stood before me, a beautiful woman, dressed in the most amazing blue dress I’d ever seen.  Even with one leg in a cast, she was incredible, and I remembered how her scent mingled with the flowers that I carefully placed in her hair.  Another deep chime sounded.

The memory of the prom continued: the fear in her eyes at the thought of dancing, then the joy that filled them as she started to really enjoy herself.  She clung to me tightly, pressing her body against mine, her heart flying.  There was nothing that could rival the beauty of that moment.  Again the clock called me.

Knowing that Bella would be the last thing I would see created a calm in me I hadn’t felt in a very long time.  I remembered how she would stroke my hair and my face, her touch lighter than a feather’s.  The memory of the electricity I felt every time we made contact sent a shiver through me.  Even through her fingertips I could feel the warmth she radiated and the life-giving rhythm of her heart.  The way she had accepted me so completely would remain a mystery.  The clock tolled again, and I listened to her voice.

I love you, Edward,” she whispered in my mind.  So many times she’d said it, sometimes quietly, sometimes laughingly, and yet every time the words filled me with a serenity that was indescribable.  I listened to her laugh, how it too was warm and rich, so full of life.  The sound of her breathing, her heartbeat, filled my mental ears, together giving me little clues into her thoughts when her words didn’t.  The chiming of the clock briefly interfered with the sounds in my memory.

I never did find a way to read her thoughts, but her face told me nearly enough that it didn’t matter.  Bella’s lovely, expressive face mirrored her thoughts constantly, reacting to every word or touch.  Her eyes were such a rich brown, so deep.  When she smiled, they twinkled and sparkled as brown eyes never had before. When she looked at me, her eyes enveloped me with her love, pulled me to her like a magnet.  …and she thought that I dazzled her… The clock continued its tolling – only a few chimes left.

For a brief moment I considered my life before Bella, but there was nothing that could compare to how she’d affected me in those few short months.  Everything else was meaningless, as was a future without her.  Only my time with her mattered to me – only then did I truly live.  I love you, Edward,” she said again in my memory, “I’ll always love you.

As another chime beckoned me toward the end, I remembered Carlisle’s words on that fateful day.  How could there not be more for one such as Edward,” he’d told Bella.  My mind drifted again, and I imagined that he could be right – that some how, some way, Bella would be the one to greet me in whatever came after this… life.  Faintly I heard her again, calling me, “Edward…  Her voice, though quiet, was different; it was as if she was here with me, beckoning me.  I took a step closer to the end as the clock bellowed another chime.

Edward, look at me,” she called, louder this time; and the sound was so real that I couldn’t stifle my smile.  One more step, and I would find out if she really was there, waiting, or if there would just be nothing.  Before I could complete the stride, something soft fell into my arms.

Automatically my arms wrapped around…her?  A fragrance that I never thought I would smell again drifted to me, and I felt her warmth fill my chest.  Could it really be her?  No, my mind must be playing tricks.  I slowly opened my eyes to see who I held as the chimes sounded again. 

It was Bella…

There was a heaven after all, and some how I’d managed to find it.  In an instant I was changed – the chasm in my chest disappeared as her soft hands rested against it – her touch instantly healing all my wounds.  And she was perfect: exactly the same, beautiful Bella I’d fallen so deeply in love with.  My eyes drank in her face as I tried to understand how I could have found this heaven. 

“Amazing, Carlisle was right,” I murmured in shock.  I still couldn’t believe it – she was so real.  It was as if we’d never parted – the pain, the guilt, the loneliness were all gone.  Is it possible?  Would we be together forever, just as she promised?

As I looked at my love her lips moved.  “Edward,” she barely breathed, and the word filled me with euphoria.  The rest of her speech was lost to me; I was so surprised.  Was it truly her?

I reached out to touch her cheek, and was rewarded with the soft warmth and slight blush I’d longed for these past terrible months.  The look on her face was one of concern, and as the clock tolled again I wondered if her time with me would be short.  It didn’t matter – even this one second was enough.

She took a deep breath against me and her face softened.  “I can’t believe how quick it was.  I didn’t feel a thing – they’re very good,” I told her.  She still felt fragile in my grasp, the same as always.  Though the sight of her astounded me, I closed my eyes briefly and kissed her silky hair.  Even after death, both hers and mine, she hadn’t changed and I was reminded of Romeo on that last earthbound day… “Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, that had no power yet upon thy beauty.  The clock gave up its final chime, and no matter where I was it could not be better than this.

“You smell just exactly the same as always,” I said and took another quick breath, feeling the flames scorch my throat with thirst.  The sensation surprised me; I would have expected the thirst to be quenched in heaven.  “So maybe this is hell.  I don’t care.  I’ll take it.”  I looked down at Bella, never wanting to leave her ever again, no matter what the cost to me.  She spoke, but I wasn’t listening.  “…They can’t be far away!”  She squirmed in my arms and looked up at me with panic in her eyes.

“What was that?”

“We’re not dead, not yet! But we have to get out of here before the Volturi–” as the last word left her lips I heard other whispers… Is he in the light? Can we take him?  …Wait – you have your orders…  Realization suddenly struck me and the danger to my Bella, my living Bella, became crystal clear.

As my heart rejoiced, I spun her around, placing her against the wall so that none of the guard stalking me could get near her.  But she was alive, with me… for the time being…


Some good fanfic

I was asked for a top ten fanfic list - and I really suck at those. I read some fanfic, but have been trying to read published fiction this year. But there's a few I really like, so here goes:  *Note, these are of various ratings, some M, so tread carefully.

Tie Me Down to This World, by StruckUponAStar.
  This is my favorite right now.  A Jasper/Alice AH, it's an amazing blend of originality and canon, wrapped up in professional level writing.  Heart wrenching, but amazing!  On Twilighted and fanfiction.net

Sibling Rivalry by NoMoreThanUsual.  Canon, but hilarious!  Bella pranks Emmett.  Fantastic.  On Twilighted

Dead Confederates by goldenmeadow. Irreverant southern-boy Edward caught my attention during the Indies.  Again, so different, but still hints of the over-educated all-knowing vampire we love.  The church billboards are the best! On fanfiction.net

The Dorothy Factor by Kayla Ariev. A fun sort-of-crossover with the Wizard of Oz.  Bella's thrown into an alternate reality after a freak tornado hits Forks.  Complete.  On Twilighted and the Twilight Archives (sorry, no link)

Well, This Sucks: Life According to Seth by Krum Cake.
  Another irreverent story, but Seth's teenage view of life post-BD is a great read.  On fanfiction.net

The Puppet Master by Glitch in the System.
  One of the first (I think) "I'm stuck in Twilight" stories.  In canon (yes, really), but with some great behind-the-scenes twists.  On fanfiction.net

This is My Beloved Son in Whom I'm Well Pleased by Minisinoo.  A classic - written by a professional.  in canon, pre-twilight, the quintessential Carlisle.  On Twilighted and fanfiction.net

Consequencias by Gustariana.
  Sex is a major character in this AH - not for the PG-13 crowd.  But oh, so intense!  On Twilighted and fanfiction.net

Atlas Shrugged by JessieChreessie.
  Bella heals a broken Edward in this AU.  On Twilighted

The Wild and Wacky Adventures of Edward in PE by LindaRoo.  Another classic.  In canon, hilariously funny.  Senior year Edward had almost all his classes with Bella - including PE.  You can guess what happens...or can you?  On Twilighted and fanfiction.net

So there it is, my weird list of fics.  Hope you enjoy!
Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, #4) Destined for an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This latest installment in the Bones-Kat relationship is in some ways the most frustrating. I know that conflict is the core of good writing, but so many assumptions on the part of both Kat and Bones were less than believable.

And then there were the questions that they didn't ask - most specifically Bones of Kat...but I can't go into that without spoiling the story, and I don't want to do that!

It's a good read, don't get me wrong. I just hope that there's new conflict in the next book, not just more miscommunication. Bones and Kat need to progress to the next level of their relationship.
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Book 47: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues, #1) The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My kids pestered me for weeks to read this book (and they're still bugging me about the rest of the series). They loved it - and I finally succumbed. And I admit it, they were right.

Kind of 'National Treasure' meets 'Deathly Hallows', The Maze of Bones is an orphan-discovers-they're-special book. The similarities to JK Rowling's world continue, with the introduction of four family lines, all vying for a cryptic inheritance. But that familiarity only adds to the attraction, I think.

This book revolves around Benjamin Franklin (the 'National Treasure' part). The historical facts included are great, though I wonder about where the line between fantasy and accuracy lies. In any case, it's a great place to start a conversation about history.

The cards and online games are an added bonus (and marketing opportunity), but not what drives my kids' interest. Good for tweens, I think.

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