Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I've had several books on my Kindle so long they are no longer accessible on the carousel. Recently I decided to open the device storage and take a look at what I've been buying. With me driving so many long hours on the road by myself, getting bored with music in all formats, I finally decided to give the speech feature a try on my Kindle.

The first couple books I started quickly discouraged me. If there are any editing errors in the book (poor grammar, misspelled/missing words, misused words), having it read aloud magnifies the annoyance. And of course, if the "voice" or pace is faulty- well, lets just say it takes me less time to close a book that is being read aloud to me than it does when I'm reading. At first I thought it was just me being too inattentive, letting my mind wander during the story. I've done that before while reading, if the story doesn't hold my interest.

To help with that problem, I took everyone's raving recommendations and downloaded a book with a free trial for audible. Can't remember the name of the book; started with a couple in an antique shop and trying to buy the old shop keepers pocket watch. Unfortunately, I did not like having  someone else determine "the voice" and pacing of the story. When I turned off the voice and just read the text, I was getting into the story, so that let me know I could try again, with a book I already know I like.

Next I played a book I previously read and enjoyed immensely, but it had been a while and some of the story details were fuzzy. This was a short story anthology written by those rascally talented Beer Boys, Bryan and Brandon (or is it Brandon and Bryan?) Anyway. . . after their repeated proclamations (they mentioned it in passing once or twice as the conversation rolled to my dislike of satyr) at how amazed and astounded I'd be with their axe wielding dragon slayer in The Graveyard Shift, I bought the book, read it in a couple days (yeah yeah, I'm slow, even when fully engaged) and had to agree I was thoroughly amazed and astounded. So amazed it took me more than a year to get the review up on Amazon and Good Reads. I wrote:
Fabulously quirky, frequently gritty humor; always chilling and exciting. One of my favorite short story collections. These Authors really know how to craft a thrilling and macabre plot in a variety of settings with believable characters. Turn on the lights, lock up the axe, make only happy memories in your home, never make envious wishes in the mirror . . . .
If you like almost-likeable, psychotic villains, hero's with more guts than common sense, and victims that return from beyond for vengeance; then this is exactly your kind of scary read.
 I liked the book every bit as well having it read to me off the Kindle as I did reading it myself. Yes, the voice was there - the voice the authors intended. I read with a bland voice in my head too, until I get to know the characters, and the Kindle works for that.

So I tried a few other books that have taken up long term residence on that particular e-book shelf. Some I liked, some just filled the long hours and I barely remember the stories, some I disliked so much I barely got to 8%. I can't remember too many, I think I posted reviews (of the ones I finished and could give at least 3 stars). Once I've been on the road a few days, and in need of another book-read, I tend to forget to review.

I'm partial to short stories, always have been, but especially now that I drive, then make frequent stops. COGS IN TIME Vol 2 is a steam-punk anthology of various authors. I don't think I know a single author - though I remember seeing it hosted on a book-blog tour on a blogger I follow. Anyhow, turns out it is a pretty good read. Sometimes I'd be listening to a story that captivated me for a long while, then arrive at a work site and be frustrated that I'd have to pause the story and go work for 2-4 hours; wondering what would happen next in whatever story I was listening to. Of course some were better than others, able to hold my attention as the landscape sped by outside the car. Not all these stories have happy endings - some did not even have satisfactory endings - and many had characters of dubious intentions. I loved the unexpected twists - and occasional predictability.

Stories ranged from macabre and chilling, to nearly too deep and abstract to understand, to endearing and romantic. Story length ranged from maybe 2000 words all the way to possibly 10-12k. In one story, the flying machine was nothing more than a short-hopping-flapping old fashioned bicycle - which made me laugh at the contraption - but that is one of the stories that stood out in excellence; very short but philosophical.

Another one was long, otherworldly, where common citizens are born into debt/slavery. A feel-good, christian romance, not entirely my usual read, but the social conscious message was so well written I was intrigued all the way through. It did not hurt that the Kindle pronounced the child robot - called an automaton - something like AuTomAton. You'd have to hear it get it. I thought it so unique I actually had to read the text to see what the adorable little thing was actually called. I'll never hear it in my mind the way it is actually pronounced again!!

I highly recommend this anthology to readers who like short or long-short stories; enjoys steam-punk in all forms ranging full mechanical to merely implied; and/or is open minded to alternate states of sanity and universes.

On this last trip through Utah and Idaho I resurrected THE GHOSTS OF AQUINNAH by Julie Flanders. I have several of her books on my Kindle; and since I'm getting tired of angsty Were's and Vamps, I decided to give some ghosts a try. I will be giving this a four star rating when I get around
to posting on Amazon and Good Reads. The story concept is awesome; a young adult quits her day job to write about lighthouses, is having boyfriend troubles and thinking the relationship is one sided in favor of the user jerk, and the images on the webcam of an old-fashion dressed young woman become an obsessive distraction. The story is written in dual time zones, multiple third person perspectives that sometimes ebb into omnipotent, light on plot, moderately-heavy on romance, and has well integrated historical facts and info.

I found Julie's characters well rounded, deep, conflicted, heroic and vulnerable. The story was well conceived, the research seamlessly integrated into the setting. Its written in a Wuthering Heights tragic-romance style, which is more appealing to my cynicism than the Harlequin whirlwinds. I did wish Hannah's secondary story and relationship coincided with more with the tale of Stella and Christopher, and I was disappointed that the expected connection between Stella and Hannah was not really cemented. The story itself was overwritten (especially the epilogue), both leading and repeating phrases and concepts that the author needed the reader to keep in mind; so this took away a lot of the mystery, that essential (to me) sense of discovery as all the story threads knit themselves together. But I am a character and setting driven reader, and both were strongly written. I decided I would likely read another story by this author.

Luckily I had several hours to kill on the final drive home, and decided why not read another story by Julie - since I just stated I'd snack on another. I did not know THE TURNAGAIN ARM was a novella (or long-short story), but it suited well for the return trip. Vasyl and Aleksei (again the Kindle reader completely mispronounced Aleksei's name, making him even more endearing) are strongly written characters, the setting in Alaska territory well balanced and researched for the era, and the romance is tragic and nearly overpowers the chilling plot. It is nicely paced, not too repeatative, and the ending left me baring my fangs in anticipation of the next installment in the series. Luckily, that is also off the carousel, but easily retrieved on my next long drive to nowhere.

Of course, PARALELLS: FELIX WAS HERE is up next on the carousel . . . . tough decisions to be made on what to have read to me next.

What do you think; have I convinced you letting the Kindle's voice feature read to you is worth the free price on the device? Or are you still in need of a professional orator to assist the author in conveying a captivating voice?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Are you a picky eater? Or find one thing you like at a restaurant and stick to it so you don't end up paying good money for something you dislike?


I'm usually that way when eating out - prefer what I know I'll like. I'm no skinny Minny, but I have a small stomach (not to be confused with the outer size of my ample belly) and rarely eat even half my meal. I take it home, and usually my kid or husband get to it before I do. With all the traveling I'm doing, sometimes I just want to try something different, even if it means a waste of food since its hard to store for a second night, and the male appetites are not around to scarf it down.

The picture above is from a meal at Applebee's in Idaho Falls; grilled salmon in a maple-mustard glaze over a bed of steamed spinach, sides of broccoli and baked potato. I didn't eat my usual salad and rolls, no appetizer - unless you count the specialty cosmo I had. Can't remember what that cosm was specifically, but it was fruity, pink, and so delicious I wanted three more. But I was a good girl and had the Reisling when dinner came. I love sweet (adult) drinks that count as appetizer, desert, and of course, alcohol. So, yeah, I was starving (I don't eat much while working/driving) and this was just the right portion.

Was it expensive? Hell yeah! About three days of my self-allotted meal expense. So glad I enjoyed it so much I ate it all. (still burping as I write this)

Are your book reading habits this way too? You find an author in a genre you enjoy, read the book cover to cover, and move along to the  next book in the series (or newest single) because you don't want to throw away good money on a new author you may not like? Yeah, me too. Hmm, I wonder if you can discern a person's book reading habits by studying their dinner preferences? Good marketing tool perhaps if so . . .

I digress (or digest). Even in today's markets where books are often free, or so close you don't count the pennies, its hard to just click that download button. Or if you (I) do download on that impulse whim, how long does it take to actually open the book and read it? I have books on my Kindle that have been queued on the carousel for three years or more - books I know are in my customary reading genre but are just - - new, untried.

Do you read a book cover to cover? Back-of-the-book Blurb; dedication; author note, chapter titles and summaries; index and next book preview? Does your extended reading vary from book to book, author to author?

Food for thought. Perhaps this chewy post will inspire you to write an article for the Insecure Writers Support Group Newsletter?

This hastily put together post is brought to you by the INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP, host Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, and this months co-hosts: Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner. If you are new to IWSG click here for the group norms and sign up list.

Speaking of THE LIST; it appears my name was dropped off during my two month blog hiatus. My first instinct was to instantly rectify that, but then I paused. I've been blogging less and less over the last year, and do not always have the time to visit all/most/many of the participating blogs (there are hundreds). In the beginning of this monthly meeting-fest I attempted most of the list (frequently getting to all), then it grew very large and I visited most of the bloggers I know/follow with a few strangers thrown in. Over the last year I've noted that I consult my blog roll, take several days to click on everyone who has posted on the first Wednesday of the month - regardless of whether it is an IWSG post - and am rarely adventurous enough to explore a new name. Yes its me, not YOU.

Is it allowable, do you think, to post for this (or any) group as time allows without actually committing to a sign up list? Do You ONLY visit blogs on the List on IWSG day? Or do you visit only known bloggers that  you follow? Or some combination? Do you visit ONLY bloggers that comment on your post first, reciprocating if someone takes the chance on your blog first?

To answer my own last question (Ghads, where did all these questions come from?); I visit everyone I can think of - starting with my blog roll - regardless of whether you have recently (or ever) left a comment on one of my blog posts. I am - as time allows - that kind of friendly, lol.

If I don't see you until this weekend its because I'm on the road right now and not always able to get a good wifi connection at a hotel. I'll be spending two nights in Salt Lake City, and wouldn't ya know, one of those days falls on Wednesday June 1, which I will be spending with fellow blogger Michael Offutt. Be sure to stop by his blog and ask him how much fun I am to pal around with.

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (biblehub)