Wednesday, August 1, 2018

School has begun!

In my house, we live with something called dup 7q11.2.  Google it and you'll find nothing.  It's all trial and error and figuring it out as we go.  Due to several unforeseen circumstances, we began homeschooling last year.  It was one of the best moves we've ever made and we both love it!

This year we started off with a pretty easy schedule, mostly to get him back into the swing of things.  He has classes at 9, 10:30, noon, 1:30, 3, and 5.  So far, he's doing great with it.  We had a pretty huge meltdown on our first class the first day, but other than that there's only been one serious issue.  The greatest deficit my child has is comprehension and cognitive abilities.  We attempted to read a first grade level story and then answer questions about it.  It ended with tears and screaming.  After calming down, he was able to explain to me that it was just too hard for him and he didn't know what I wanted from him.  That, in itself, is a huge leap from where he was a year ago.  The fact that he can instruct me on his levels and what he needs is wonderful!  So we backed down to a couple of sentences with a couple of questions and he's doing much better. 

I think what I love most about homeschooling is the flexibility.  This year we have some great stuff planned!  We're building a volcano!  Yesterday we made tornadoes!  We have an entire awesome kit full of great health activities to do!  Every day, we serve lunch as a class.  He gets to help make it and do the clean up, but while eating we also have whiteboard activities.  He's learning food groups and balanced nutrition and calories.  Our next step over the year will be different foods and how they interact with your body.  We get to go swimming!  We get to watch television!  He learned some really neat science information from one of his favorite shows and then we went to the pool so he could conduct experiments.  So neat!!

Homeschooling isn't for everyone, but it's been amazing for us.  Since he learns differently than most kids, we have to teach differently.  Also, he seems to be retaining a lot more information than most kids his age.  I'm looking forward to a fun-filled year!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Earthling Publications

Last year I pre-ordered a fabulous book that I was looking forward to.  I went all shades of crazy and ordered an autographed, numbered edition.  It came in and I was more than pleased! 

A few weeks ago, due to a tragic incident, my book was incinerated.  I have all of my books insured, but some things just aren't replaceable. 

I contacted Earthling Publications and explained the situation and asked if there was any chance they knew where I could get my hands on a copy.  It didn't need to be a special edition.  Any copy of the book would be amazing. 

Paul from Earthling contacted me in less than 24 hours with a wonderful solution for replacing my book.  It's all been fixed and taken care of and it took me less than a few minutes.

I was a big fan of Earthling Pub before.  I think I even wrote a post about them a year or two ago.  They offer beautiful, quality books that you just can't get anywhere else.  Being a book collector isn't just about the quantity, but about the quality.  Earthling offers extraordinary books.  Now I see that not only is their product better, but so is their customer service. 

If you get a chance to do any business with Earthling, DO IT!  Whether you're an author, marketer, reviewer, or reader, you won't regret it.  These people ROCK!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Lucky Book 500!!

I've been working on cataloging the library as time and energy allows.  Let's be blunt...there's no such thing as enough shelving or enough space.  I have most of my shelves 2 or 3 rows full of books.  It's really difficult to remember off the top of my head what I have and what I don't.  I have a separate bookcase to keep 'incoming' books so that they don't get lost in the library, but if someone wants to borrow something to read...well, it's not easy!  My hope is that by cataloging them, people can tell me ahead of time what they're looking for and then I'll have time to run through and find it.  Of course, this is a temporary solution until I'm able to magically create more space to shelve books in my dream way. 

This has been a really interesting experience for me.  I've found quite a few books that I didn't know I had.  I rediscovered books that I love and had forgotten about.  I've discovered several books that don't actually 'exist' anymore.  I have the book, but according to the internet, it's no longer valid.  Since I've only been cataloging hard copies, physical books, I've gotten to hold each book lovingly in my hands and then re-shelve it. 

I'm only halfway through my second bookcase, but I'm super excited to realize that I'm about to catalog my 500th book!  That doesn't sound like a lot...but it's a milestone!  So I'm sharing it with you!  I have 499 books cataloged.  All I have to do is grab another stack and then see what the book on the top is and we'll know who the winning book is!  Ready?!  Me too!  I'm so excited!

Damaged by Marquitz and Long!  I loved this book!  I pre-ordered it so that I'd have it as soon as it was available.  It was a bloody good time!  Musicians sell they're souls to the devil in exchange for fame...but what happens when they want out???  If you enjoy horror, you should really check this one out.  I'm really glad that it happened to be my 500th book.  Thanks, Tims!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Controlled Descent by K.M. Herkes

In my home, there's a door.  It's made of gorgeous, aged wood.  It's a warm, safe, comforting and sturdy.  One side is left with a clear varnish so that you can see the beauty and history in the wood.  The other side is slathered with several coats of white paint.  It's sterile and clean.

That's how I felt reading this book.  The first nine chapters are covered in white paint.  It feels like it's been restructured so many times that it's lost Herkes' natural storytelling beauty.  Once I hit chapter ten, I flipped back over to the beautiful natural grain side.

I put the book down several times and nearly didn't pick it back up.  I'm glad that I did!  If I hadn't read Rough Passages before beginning The Restoration series, I probably wouldn't have.  I knew going into this that Herkes has natural talent. 

Once you get past chapter ten, you begin to fall in love with the characters.  They start to get to you and when they hurt, you hurt.  When they bleed, you don't bleed because that would be silly, but it still hurts your feelings.  Every triumph they make, you share with them. 

The world that she's created is still a little hazy to me, but that's my own fault.  In the beginning, there's just entirely too much description and I skipped over most of it.  You really don't need to understand the world to enjoy the story.  I've just been picking things up as I go along and I've done just fine that way. 

If you pick up this book from the blurb on the back and the front cover, you go into it expecting dystopian romance.  There's a bit of both in there, but it really isn't the focal point.  It's a story of humanity, survival, insanity, and overcoming your own self for the greater good.  It's a story of desperation and hope. 

There's a little bit here for nearly every reader.  Don't let the first nine chapters get you down!  You'll be glad you got past them!  It took me nearly two weeks to force myself through them, but it's more than worth it. 

If this is a series you're interested in, it has a bit of a different order.  Start with Controlled Descent, then read the first story in Weaving in the Ends (hopefully somebody knows where I hid my copy), then move on to Flight Plan, and finish up with the second story in Weaving in the Ends.  I'm told there's a prequel that's only available in e-format, but I won't be touching that until it's in print.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Watch Me by Jody Gehrman

As I'm reading this book, I had the same thought over and over.  Gehrman and I must have some of the same friends on social media.  You know the ones.  They're constantly seeking a guy that will give them what they deserve, to be worshipped.  "I want his every breath to be about me.  I want him to fall so helplessly in love with me that he can't function."  Every single one of those people should read this book.  The distance between 'I live for you' and 'tied up in phone cord and handcuffed to someone committing suicide' is sometimes a simple nudge. 

Because this book is told from the perspective of our two main characters, Sam and Kate, it gives us an in-depth look into their minds.  The real value here is that we get to watch Sam grapple with his motivations.  Not merely grapple, but make distinctions as well.  The problem wasn't that they had sex.  The problem was that he wasn't any good at it.  Those distinctions make a difference in defining the character.  For me, this study of humanity was absolutely fascinating.

The main characters are both aspiring writers, so it was really fun to see Gehrman throw in parts of the real writing/publishing world.  There's a scene where Kate is teaching about using different points of view and the purpose of each.  At the same time, you really connect with the reason Gehrman uses the point of view she does in the book.  There are lots of interesting correlations like that in the book.

As a thriller, it was pretty solid.  There isn't a lot of gore, but there's plenty of drama.  The psychological aspect is really the key ingredient here.  If you're a fan of suspense, you'll enjoy this one.  However, if you've been traumatized by a stalker in your life, you may want to pass this one up for PTSD reasons.

A Widow's Curse by Phillip DePoy

I have no idea where this book came from.  I was perusing the library for something to read and it jumped out at me.  Figuratively.  Being the Keeper of the Library, I'm familiar with every book in it...or so I thought.  I don't remember ever seeing this one before.  It was published ten years ago. Judging from the creases in the spine and cover, as well as rumpled and yellowed pages, this book has been loved well by someone.  I was intrigued enough to give it a shot, and boy am I glad I did!

The mystery here is alright.  The characters are alright.  The setting is alright.  All of these things are definitely acceptable and when compared to 'good' literature, there's nothing here really of note.  It keeps in line with what it should.  I have zero complaints.

Where it really excels is in DePoy's storytelling.  Oh my goodness!  I have not been so captured by individual sentences since Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.  I'm reading along, and a sentence will just strike me with it's true brilliance.  Most of the dialogue in the book is filled with wit and intelligence, but even in descriptive and off-hand sentences, it's truly mesmerizing. 

While I was doing some research on the book, I noticed you can buy it on Amazon for a penny.  One single cent.  I strongly urge readers and writers alike to pick this one up.  Now, the reviews I've seen for it were mediocre.  Not everyone will see what I see in it.  However, if you're seeking to broaden your horizons a bit, this is exactly what you need.  Every sentence is intricately placed and worded.  I'm simply fascinated by DePoy now and cannot wait to get my paws on the rest of his books.  After that, I'm anxious to check out his plays!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Bulwark by Brit Lunden

The town of Bulwark is being plagued by something paranormal and it's up to Sheriff Finnes to figure it out before everyone dies. 

At first glance, this is a middle reader book.  It's page count is at 104 and most of the wording is set for 'newer' readers.  However, adult themes such as sex and violence are prevalent.  This book is perfect for an adult who has difficulty reading or is newer to the world of reading.  In my world, everyone is a voracious reader.  That isn't true for everyone.  This book definitely satisfies the need for paranormal-thriller fiction that isn't too intimidating.  And let's be honest, sometimes you really want a quick, adventurous read.

Lunden is also published under Carole P. Roman and I found her adult writing to be every bit as satisfying as her childrens and nonfiction books.  It's fast-paced, full of action and adventure.  The characters are easy to figure out and identify with.  The book isn't cluttered, so it's a quick and smooth read. 

Fans of paranormal and folklore will get a kick out of this book.  Admittedly, I read the entire thing in 30 minutes, but it was 30 minutes where I didn't want to be interrupted and pulled out of my world.  Despite the length, I felt content upon finishing. 

Rough Passages by K.M. Herkes

The trouble with short stories is that you have only a few pages to establish your world, characters, and force the reader to care.  Because of this, I normally shy away from anthologies and collected works.  This is one of the few exceptions to the rule.  Herkes does an amazing job of filling in her world and making you fall in love with her characters with only a few words.  I actually became teary-eyed.

Herkes' storytelling abilities are surprisingly great.  It's a fast-paced read, but you tend to soak up everything as you read it.  It's captivating and exciting.  The characters are easy to relate to, while being interesting.  The world is similar to ours, but with a few serious changes.  Herkes eases us into these changes without overpowering us with a ton of information that we can't process all at once.

What I enjoyed best about this book is that most of the stories are intertwined.  We meet several of the same characters in different stories. 

Though I sincerely wish that Herkes would take this world and create a full-blown novel out of it, I thoroughly enjoyed the short stories.  I'm looking forward to jumping into her Stories of the Restoration series.  Though these are also short stories, if they're as well done as Rough Passages, I'm sure to love it.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Wraith Knight by C.T. Phipps

It's Saturday night.  It's gaming night!  We're hanging out with our friends, getting ready to begin a grand new adventure.  Jason's aunt made everybody cupcakes.  Jim brought ten bags of Cheetos.  Shawn (that's me!)  remembered to bring 4 cases of Mountain Dew in various flavors (two of Voltage). After the original jabbing and catching up, we breathlessly begin.  First, we gear up for battle and begin right away.  In our new world, we have political crap going on everywhere.  Somebody's king is a jerk so we're gonna help take him out.  In the meantime, we learn all about this world we're entering.  Afterwards, we sit around and recuperate.  Everyone takes turns talking about their character and back story.  Then, once again, we're plunged into grand adventure.

For me, this (see previous paragraph) was reading this book.  It was a safe, comforting and exciting place.  Then there was a whole lot going on that I didn't understand, but I had fun with it anyway.  Then I tried not to space out while everyone else was talking.  Then I sped through the rest and wondered why I didn't have more.  Don't worry, the sequel is currently in production.  If you're anything like me, you'll have it on pre-order.

Now, on to the real picking apart of the book.

The world and characters have been intricately carved so that there's no doubt that the author sees and knows them clearly during the writing.  It's a fun plot.  There's plenty of action and adventure.  There's also plenty of politics and religion if those are your things. 

The trouble with most fantasy books is that the first book has so much information to give out and there really isn't a good way to do that.  Just getting to know the characters and what's really going on takes close to the first half of the book.  Still, by the end of the book, I didn't really feel connected.  Once I start the second book, I know it will be different.  Everything has been laid in place so there's a lot more room for building the reader/character/world connection. 

Phipps keeps plenty of humor running throughout the book.  His dialogue holds plenty of wit and banter.  It does a brilliant job of breaking up all of the adventure, revenge, hatred, and fear that are the main components of the book. 

If you've read Phipps previous works, expect this to be different.  The writing style, voice, character and world creation, are vastly different than his other books.  Not less, different.  Those who enjoy fantasy are sure to love this book.  They'll love it even more once it officially becomes a series.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rags in the Closet by Gloria Guyton Bradley

This book spans nearly a dozen years in the lives of two sisters.  We watch them learn to cope and survive in an abusive and neglectful household. 

On the negative side, the storytelling is much different than I'm used to.  It caused me quite a few issues in the beginning until I caught on.  The switching of tense is a big distraction for me.  I had to imagine that my Aunt Bess (who is fictional)  was telling me the story.  'You remember Uncle Henry?  He went to the rodeo the other day!  Oh!  Here he is now!  You know, some day, he's going to be a rock star!' Once you get in the correct mindset for the storytelling, it no longer becomes an issue.  There are also a few parts where it feels like I 'called her out' on her own story.  'The girls climbed out of the window.  Daddy nailed it shut and they couldn't open it.  The girls climbed out of the window.'  Um....'Oh yeah...Daddy had to open the window back up.  That's how the girls climbed out of the window again.'  As long as you start the book with this storytelling set in mind, you shouldn't have any issues.

On the plus side, this book had quite a lot going for it.  The characters are brilliantly built and we get in-depth perspective into their minds.  There are a couple of areas that are shocking and unexpected.  While reading, you constantly want to know what's going to happen next.  There's no guessing.  I had a difficult time putting it down.  Once I got a handle on the correct way to read the story, it went really quickly.  It also left on just the right note.  I am anxious to read the next in the series when it's released, but I'm also left feeling satisfied. 

Though this is technically a fictional book, readers of True Crime will enjoy it. There are some great horrific scenes for you horror lovers out there. 

Personal note:  If the words 'perfectly browned to perfection' annoy you, skip this one and move on to the next in your stack.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Let's get personal...

It's been a really long time since I've posted.  Thankfully, I keep a binder with my passwords, or I wouldn't be posting now.  I've missed it :)

I have autoimmune disease.  I've known this since I was six.  However, with aging comes complications.  My immune system has decided that it needs to attack my major organs.  After more than a year, I think we're finally on the right track of treatment.  My doctors and hospitals and pharmacists have been amazingly patient and compassionate throughout.  My family and friends have all pitched in to take care of the things I haven't been able to, as well as continuing to be patient with me.  I haven't been available to anyone.  Not only has my brain not been functioning at full capacity, but I have a special needs child.  He has trisomy 7q11.2.  If you don't know anything about it, that makes you even with the rest of the world.  It's a constant learning experience.  Because of my illness, we've had to switch over to a home schooling situation.  He's actually thriving!  But!  This means that what little energy I've had each day has been devoted to him.  I've missed funerals, births, birthdays, some holidays.  I've missed friend time and family time and even just catching up time.  I'm looking forward to fixing all of this in the future.  I still have a long road ahead of me, but within two months I should be back to my old, cheerful, bookish self.

What does this mean for Litter?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I've missed the book world crazy much.  There have been long stints where I haven't been able to read.  There have been times when I was able to read, but not able to remember what I read.  I haven't written a review in ages.  Oh...I write them in my mind, but they never make it to paper or electronic device.  It's so ingrained in me that I can't help it.  I digress!  I've learned a lot the past year, about myself and the world, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. 

One of the most important things I've learned is that I can't do everything I want to do.  One of my dearest books in the library is a copy of Robert Frost poems that was given to me by my dear friend, spoken word artist and poet J.K. Blaylock.  I'm sure you all know about the two roads that were diverged in a yellow wood.  My way of thinking has always differed from that.  Why are there only two roads?  How come I can only go down one?  Do I get to climb trees?  Can't I run back and forth from path to path?  Can't I hook someone up with a mini-cam and send them down the other path so I can experience them both at the same time?  Now I know there are only two roads because we have such limited time.  There simply isn't enough daylight to travel down both roads or climb the trees or rush from path to path or even forge your own path but keep sight of another path.  It's so very short.  What's my point?  I can't possibly cover everything in the book world that I want to.  I am human and frail.  Don't get me wrong...I'm still a rock star super hero...but I'm human.  Some days I'll be able to plow through books and reviews and share lots of great information.  Other days I won't even be able to turn on my computer. 

Where this leaves us is that I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  I know there will be no more deadlines for me.  Deadlines will kill you.  Quickly.  There will be no more scheduled items.  If you have a scheduled event, do me a huge favor and message me the day before.  If I'm available and up to it, I'll happily help with marketing.  If I'm not, I won't.  I cannot let the stress of deadlines and dates on a calendar take over my life again.  If you want a review, great!  I can't wait to get back to it!  Please, message me and let's discuss it.  If you have a clear deadline for it, I probably won't be able to do it.  Life is just too chaotic at the moment. 

As usual, this turned out to be quite a rambly post.  I just started my new dose of medicine and the urge to get on here and post was absolutely overwhelming.  That means I feel a bit more like me!  I'm not sure when I'll be back again.  We'll see how it goes.  In the meantime, I'm still here.  I'm still alive.  I'm still fighting.  I still love all you wonderful book people and I appreciate the hell out of everyone that has stood by me and been patient with me throughout all of this.

Giveaway Notice

All winners of giveaways will be notified as soon as their name has been drawn. Each winner will have two weeks to respond in order to receive their prize. Prizes cannot be delivered without an email/physical address. Any prizes that are not claimed within a two week period will be forfeited.


All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.