Monday, August 13, 2018

Ponderings



It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a pondering post.  I’ve pondered a lot – I always do as my mind never really lets me sleep.  So here goes

I REALLY, REALLY hate not having wifi at home.  I can only do posts or review while at work and my inner worker bee is really bothered that I do.  Mind you I only do it when I’ve nothing else to do, like now, but still since I’m a magnet for guilt, I’m feeling it.  That’s one of the main reasons I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to.

I went to RWA in Denver a few weeks ago.  I plan to do a long post but in the meantime have things ever changed since when I first started going.  The biggest change is the number of books I bring back with me.  When I first started going I would ship 4 or boxes home with me not to mention the books I could fit into my luggage.  This year I brought home 11 and that seemed like a lot.  I never thought this would happen, I thought I’d be one of the last to do this, but I read almost exclusively on my IPad now.

Getting to Denver was a treat and half!!!!!  NOT.  Before I start this rather long explanation, I’ve taken procrastination to a whole new level.  So keeping that in mind, the Sunday before I planned to leave the city (the following Monday) I thought I better double check to make sure my passport was still current.

Much to my horror it expired April 2017 which left me a week to get a new one.  No problem I thought, they don’t take as long to get as they used to.

Monday: I went to CAA to get my picture taken.  It’s in the same mall as the passport place.  When I showed them my CAA card so I could get the pictures for free, my CAA card had expired June 2017.  So in order to get free pictures which probably cost $5 or so, I paid $120 to renew my CAA + membership.  Pictures taken I headed over to the passport place.

Passport guy told me since it had been expired over a year I would have to start all over again with forms and everything.  He gave them to me and then I headed to work (which is also very close thank heavens)

I filled out the forms including having someone as a guarantor and headed home at the end of my shift (8:00 pm so passport office closed)

Tuesday: Headed to passport place with everything I needed – or so I thought.  After waiting about 2 hours I finally went to desk to see how much longer it would be and was told they called my number a long time ago but I didn’t show up at window. Somehow I got numbers wrong.  I finally went to teller to get everything going but was told that my guarantor didn’t sign picture, a requirement.  I quickly headed to work (which is also very close thank heavens).  By this time it’s around 3 and passport place locks up at 4.  My guarantor left at 2 that day.  My job share partner printed off new forms and I went up and down 3 rows at work trying to get someone to be my guarantor but no one had the passport with them and they needed it for passport number.  Finally my job share partner – who we shall call Krista – said she’d do it in the evening and bring everything in the next morning.  As the passport place was closed by this time that worked.

Wednesday: got up nice and early and headed to work to pick up all my paperwork (which is close to passport place thank heavens) and then headed to passport place.  Everything was good – or so I thought.  When I got to teller window, they wanted to see my health card as additional ID. I have an old version which doesn’t have photo on it so they asked for my drivers license.  When I showed it to them, it turns out it had – you guessed it – expired in 2017 so they couldn’t use it.  I asked what I should do and they said to get it renewed at drivers license place (not at all near passport place).  As one can imagine, I’m becoming more and more frantic.  I’m leaving Monday and it’s now Wednesday before.  After a lengthy drive I got to drivers license place and when I said I needed my license renewed she asked if it have been over a year.  Not 100% with it by now I said yes at which time she replied I’d have to start all over again including road test.  Breakdown begins.
Then there is the good news/bad news.  Good news, my license hadn’t expired that long ago so I didn’t have to start from scratch.  Bad news, my license was suspended.  Turns out I had an outstanding ticket for driving with expired license plates.  I remember when it happened and I drove right away to the drivers license place to pay it off but they said I couldn’t as it wasn’t overdue and nowhere on the ticket could I find where to send a check to pay for it.  I tried, I really did.  But I couldn’t find out and just kind of forgot about it.  So I paid the suspended license and for a new license.  And if things weren’t already bad enough, it was the year I had to have my picture takes.  I don’t even want to think about what I look like once I get my license in the mail. Shudder.  I was stressed, almost in tears and probably looking like shit, no makeup and bad hair day.

But still I got it done and headed back to the passport place (not at all near the license place)  But finally I had all my ducks in order and everything I needed.  Of course I had to pay extra to get my passport expedideted and fast tracked.  They told me it would be ready by noon on Friday. 
Thursday: A day of waiting
Friday: I went over on my lunch (which is very close to work thank goodness and thankfully it was there.  I was all set to leave on Monday.  Or so I thought……

That turned out to be a long more than a pondering didn’t’ it?  It’s more like a short story and not only that but it’s too be continued as there were still some bumps in the road.
 
'til later

 

Monday, June 11, 2018

I. AM. CANADIAN




Yes!  I am Canadian and damn proud to be one.  And I’m even more proud today. 

You see, we don’t’ have an evil thing as head of our country.  We don’t have evil sycophants who work for a malignant narcissist thing that leads OUR country.  I can’t call it a human being as I don’t believe that real human beings do the kind of thing that it does. 

We don’t have toadies for said evil, malignant narcissist go on national TV and announce there is a special place in hell for the leader of another country, supposedly a good friend of theirs. 

We don’t have bootlickers who claim our leader stabbed their leader in the back because our leader had the colossal nerve, the NERVE to say that he found it rather insulting that the evil, malignant narcissist thing claim we are a security risk for his country and the proceed to put on tariffs because of said risk

We don’t’ have a leader who makes enemies out of friends at the same time as cozying up to an evil dictator who has no qualms in starving his own people or murdering relatives or sending a young man just beginning his life, one who was visiting this country with said evil dictator coming home as a vegetable just in time to die. 

We don’t have authorized thugs who trick and lie and use other despicable tactics on people who only want a chance for a better life, like that which is written on the Statue of Liberty.

We don’t have a vicious little elf man who gets his greatest, almost gleeful joy when he devastates the lives of others.

We don’t have a leader who also refuses to condemn the leader of another country who murders opponents of the head of their country, who sends people to other countries to poison his rivals, a leader who will not admit that this other leader tampered with recent elections in the evil, malignant narcissist thing.

We don’t have an evil, malignant narcissist thing who has determined the best way to keep people from other countries fleeing as their very lives are in danger is to steal very young children away from their parents and then lose track of those children making it impossible for those fleeing death and oppression to reunite with their children, No, the head of Canada instead welcomes those from other countries knowing that in time those from other countries will be valuable contributors to the economy of Canada.

We don’t have a government made up of cowards who refuse to do anything to stop this evil, malignant narcissist thing even though it’s putting the entire world into danger.  Instead former leaders from other parties are standing alongside of our current leader in condemning this evil, malignant narcissist thing as he goes after Canada, Germany, France, Mexico, Australia etc.

We don’t have authorized thugs who trick and lie and use other despicable tactics on people who only want a chance for a better life, like that which is written on the Statue of Liberty.

We don’t have a vicious little elf man who gets his greatest, almost gleeful joy when he devastates the lives of others.

So, am I proud to be Canadian?  Damn straight I am

And if in any way, shape or form you support this evil, malignant narcissist thing, then get the fuck off my blog because to me you are as evil as he is.

I’m fortunate though.  I have a lot of American friends and they are just as appalled as I am at what’s going on their own country.  These are sad times for the world but sadly they are the saddest for those who have to live with all of the above.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Etc Time


Life is a roller coaster ride isn’t it? 
We go from high to low in the blink of a minute.  My high is the house is coming along great in its transformation from hoarder home to happy home.  We did the bedroom this past week and that went so much easier than I feared it would.  For any who haven’t been with me long term, my husband died of cancer over 10 years ago now and I still hadn’t dealt with his person items, clothes, personal items and so on.  They have been haunting me but I couldn’t do what’s been needed to be done for a long time now.  But with the help of my organizer, we did the bedroom.  And it was in bad shape overall let me tell you.  I couldn’t even see the floor, it was so covered in clothes and boxes and stuff.  I can’t remember the last time I made the bed.  It was only 1 layer, not a drastic case like you might watch on Hoarders, but for someone who suffers from frequent falls like I do these days, getting up in the middle of the night in the dark, to use the washroom, was quite an exercise.

But I ended up going through Ron’s things very quickly with only a few very emotional moments but also with some amusing ones.  Because I had the dresser and Ron had the chest of drawers, I never checked the dresser until the other day.  He had 3 drawers full of socks – THREE.  One full of white socks, one full of dark socks and one full of work socks.  I donated most of his clothes and a lot of personal items.  The only things I have of him now are his leather jacket, his ID bracelet and 2 jars FULL of pennies.  We don’t have pennies in Canada anymore.

My floor is now completely clutter free.  I’ve been making the bed the moment I’m out of it – except this morning since I forgot to set the alarm clock and woke up late.  Because the comforter is black and I have two cats who love to sleep on it when I let them in there, I found myself using a clothes brush on it until I wash it.  That might take a while as I have a huge backlog of clothes to wash and my dryer needs some work.

So now I have 3 rooms that don’t look like the others – until we get to the others and as the clutter gets cleaned up, it seems my shoulders are lifting higher and higher.  We’ve had bags and bags of junk lined up outside along the driveway.  We have a 3 bag garbage bag limit and there are a heck of a lot more garbage bags than 3 so yesterday I had 1-800-GOTJUNK  to come and take them away.  There was also a lot of yard trash they took and now the outside is looking real good.  I have lawn maintenance people and so the grass is properly maintained – I had major landscaping done also last fall – so it’s looking good outside and inside – main rooms anyway at the moment.

So. That was the high.  Now for the low.

My work world came crashing down on my head on Friday.  One of the reasons I’m still working and don’t plan on retiring next year – YIKES – next year when I turn 65 – good thing I don’t look it – is for the social aspect of the job.  I live alone with 2 cats – 2 happy cats now they have clean kitchen counters and a bedroom they can hang out in.  So I need the interaction with people I have at work.  It sure helps that I adore the people I work with and I love the job.  It’s in non-profit health care and there are many times a day when I’ve helped someone that I get that inner happiness.  Most of the people I work with are so much fun.  While I mostly work, as long as long as there is work to do, at times the social aspect of the job win out.  Of course there are those who are difficult to work with – NOT team players. You’re going to get that wherever you work and as long as I keep in mind that’s just who they are, I can get along quite cordially with them. 

But on Friday I learned all the people I interact with the best are leaving the department.  There have been a flurry of openings in other departments and they’ve all bid and got positions in another area.  Even my job share partner said she was leaving and knew I wouldn’t want to.  She told those around me that she had emailed me – since the very nature of the job is we don’t work together – but I didn’t get one.  These are the people to the right of me, people to the left of me, people who make it a joy to come in and work.  One has already left and the other ones will be leaving within the next several weeks.  While not letting it show on the outside and wishing them well, on the inside I’m devastated.  The guy I sit beside I’ve worked with for 8 or so years and he’s one of the most funny and fun people I’ve worked with.  And the coworkers who has left, she moved to a different city altogether as it’s a 45 minute drive from where she lives and a 5 minute drive from her new location, is one of the sweetest, kindest person I’ve worked with.

So now all that remain will be the difficult coworkers, the ones I have had run ins with, the non team players, the ones that make me grit my teeth and let out steam when I’m tired and the ones I don’t really have conversations with.  Yes, the others will be in the same building but it’s a large building with many employees and when they leave it’s never the same again.  I’ve experienced it many a time during the years.  A couple of years ago they moved me from where I was and it took a long time to get over it and the relationships are different now.  It takes me a while to let my guard down in many cases and get involved in conversations so even though we will be having others replace them, it’s like starting over again.

This is the kind of thing that triggers a depression and it’s like I’m on the edge of that cliff, whirling my arms around in order to not fall in.  I know I won’t, I’ll get past it and be OK but in the meantime I was up crying the other night at 2:30 in the morning as I don’t want them to leave me (that’s how it feels though I know it’s not true).

See, roller coaster?

*** update***

The roller coaster hadn’t quite hit bottom yet.  We had a meeting this afternoon whereupon we found out that all our caseloads had changed for better balance numbers.  The case manager I’ve worked with since I started in this department and I are no longer paired.  And of all the many,
many care coordinators I’ve worked with over the years, she is right up there very close to the top.

‘til later


 
PS – but then on the roller coast going up again side
, I found the jar of homemade blueberry jam I’ve been trying to find for months now.  Now since we went from almost winter, straight to summer, I just need to find the little girl fan I bought in the winter. 
I have room on the end table in the bedroom for it now.
 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Series Spotlight - Bad Billionaires Series by Julie Kriss - Part II




Rich Dirty Dangerous

The hero of this book is Cavan, older brother of Devin from the first book.  You don’t have to have read the previous two books to read this one, but they are both most excellent so I’m thinking you should anyway.  Bit of a backstory.  Devin and Cavan had terrible childhoods.  Their father disappeared early in their lives and their mother went from boyfriend to boyfriend until finally she was murdered by the last one.  Eighteen year old Cavan took off leaving behind sixteen year old Devin.  Devin and Cavan inherited a huge amount of money from an unknown grandfather.  Devin got his share in the first book and has been looking for Cavan to make sure Cavan gets his.  Cavan gets a brief chapter at the end of the second book and now this one is his story.

Cavan is associated but not part of a vicious motorcycle gang.  He’s their tattoo guy.  While he has some autonomy, when they want something, he is expected to do it.  So when the gang leader expects Cavan to do a tattoo on his old lady, Cavan really has no choice but to comply.  He really figures he’s screwed and the president is a violently jealous guy and one finger in the wrong place could lead to serious trouble for Cavan.  He’s left briefly alone with Dani and in that short amount of time she pleads with him to help her get away.  Cavan is most reluctant to help, mostly because of the danger to them both, but she brings out the big guns and tells him she knows that people are looking for him and that’s he a new billionaire.  Cavan agrees and thus begins their road trip to escape.

Before we learn the why, it’s been easy to not like Cavan.  He left his younger brother alone at a time when Devin really needed him but we learn the why when Cavan begins telling Dani his story, we get to see why he did what he did and feel for the choices he made and why he made them. 

And we learn some unexpected things about Dani’s past too while the two of them are trying to escape the gang that has a long reach.

As with the first two books, I loved this one.  Cavan is a deliciously good hero and once he commits to helping Dani, he is all in.  While he is very attracted to her, considering who she was involved with, he is patient and when the barriers do come down, very tender with her.

Dani is wickedly good as a heroine.  Though a number of years younger than Caven, about six or so, she is unusually mature for her age.  She knows how incredibly stupid she was in getting involved with this nasty gang of criminals but is determined to get free.  She feels bad for the pressure she put on Cavan but was desperate to get away before she was killed.  She really does appreciate what she has in Cavan.  I’m not a fan of millionaire/billionaire books and tend to pass on them very quickly when one comes up.  But because these guys came late into their money, it’s not like they have any sense of entitlement or are spoiled in any way.  They are rough and that’s the kind of hero I much prefer.

There is one more books left in the series, then I’m done.  I’m going to be sad then as these books are so readable and so enjoyable and I’m quite impresses with the author Julie Kriss.

Grade: A

Outline: The stripper who came to my door got the wrong apartment.
I was planning to tell her. But she kissed me first.


Max

You’d never know I’m a millionaire. I wear jeans and t-shirts. I’m a recluse. Afghanistan left me with scars inside and out. All I want is to be left alone.

I sure as hell didn’t order the stripper who showed up. All I know is that the hottest, sweetest woman I’ve ever seen is naked in my lap.

I don’t even know her name, but I want her. No good can come of this. And suddenly, I don’t care.
Gwen

I strip for money. It’s just a job. Until I meet Mr. Wrong Apartment.

He’s big and dangerous. Grumpy and damaged. Biceps that make me want to cry. One wrong house call, and suddenly I’m breaking my own rules.

Things are spinning out of control. We’re both broken. Maybe we can’t be fixed. Together we’re fire and gasoline. But I might let everything burn if he’ll just touch me one more time…


Grade: A

Back in Black

And alas, with so many good things, we come to the end with this book.  This one is Ben’s story, the lawyer who was introduced to us in the first book.  He’s a bad boy type hero who has woven in and out of all the previous books.  His father was a very distinguished lawyer and Ben feels such guilt that he never measured up.  He’s a lawyer like his father but his clientele is mostly criminals and he’s quite well acquainted with motorcycle gangs as he’s their go to lawyer when they run afoul of the law – as motorcycle gang members tend to do.  But when one of his clients inherits over $1billion, he scales back a lot of his other unsavoury clients to focus on Devon and then Max and following that Kaven.

It’s been hinted throughout that Ben was married and things blew up and the marriage and subsequent breakup turned ugly.  Thus it seems he’s not a good candidate for any kind of lasting relationship.  But since this is a romance, THIS IS WRONG.  He’s perfect.  And his match to be turns out to be Charlotte.  They meet when her younger brother gets into trouble and is in jail and insists to his big sister that Ben is the only lawyer who can help him.

The previous books have an interesting blend of light and dark, serious and amusing and this is the cutest of them.  Both Ben and Charlotte are such a hoot.  Charlotte is one of those “managing” kind of people.  In order to help pay the lawyer bill, she agrees to be his office manager and boy does his office need managing.  In some ways he’s very precise, but in others completely disorganized.  One of the funniest, cutest scenes is when Ben is in court, Charlotte doesn’t like the location of his office.  It’s in a run down, sleazy strip mall area. It was ok when his clients were mostly criminals, but now that he’s coming up in the world and working with billionaires, she decides and Devin, his main client agrees, that location, location, location is what it’s all about and WHILE HE IS IN COURT she moves his office to a better part of the city.  That just really tickled my funny bone big time.  There were so many scenes in this book that may have passed over my head the moment I was reading them, but then came back only moments later and cracked me up.  There was a scene where Ben’s sister is telling Charlotte how into her Ben was because he told his sister “I have an assistant”.  That amused me to no end.  While not necessarily laugh out loud funny, this book had so many charming scenes.

It wasn’t all light and fun.  There were certainly serious moments.  It does deal with motorcycle gangs after all.  But I know for absolute sure I’m going to be reading at least this book, if not all the rest again.
So, in finishing, I’m sad the series is done.  I loved all the books in this Bad Billionaire series and the best I can say is – Buy Them.  They Are Good.

Grade: A+


Outline: I've never been a hero. I'm the lawyer every third-rate criminal calls when he's been arrested - again. Or I was, until one of my clients became one of the richest men in the country. Now I'm supposed to clean up my act.

It isn't so easy. I dress more like a biker than a lawyer, and I have friends in low places. As for women, ten years ago the divorce from hell left me scarred - I live alone, I sleep alone. Trust me, it's for the good of womankind.

Then Charlotte showed up on my doorstep. Willing to work as my assistant to pay off her brother's legal bill. Beautiful and determined, even against the men trying to hurt her. She tells me I drive her crazy. She drives me crazy right back.

I hired her.
I watched her turn my life upside down.
I saved her.
I knocked her up.
And then I fell for her.

They say a bad boy can't be a good man. But they've never met me. And they don't know how determined I can be.
Final Thoughts:
 This has been a wonderful series.  As I read it over time, not back to back.  I’ve gone on to read other books by this author and I know I’ll be doing this for other series.  She’s in the middle of writing another one and if the third and fourth books are as good as the first two, well it will just solidify even stronger what a great author I find Ms. Kriss to be.


This has been a wonderful series.  As I read it over time, not back to back.  I’ve gone on to read other books by this author and I know I’ll be doing this for other series.  She’s in the middle of writing another one and if the third and fourth books are as good as the first two, well it will just solidify even stronger what a great author I find Ms. Kriss to be.



This has been a wonderful series.  As I read it over time, not back to back.  I’ve gone on to read other books by this author and I know I’ll be doing this for other series.  She’s in the middle of writing another one and if the third and fourth books are as good as the first two, well it will just solidify even stronger what a great author I find Ms. Kriss to be.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Series Spotlight - Bad Billionaires Series by Julie Kriss - Part I

 
In continuing with this series highlight theme, this is another series I have to share.  I’ve been almost obsessed by this author recently.  I’ve been reading all her backlist and rereading many I’ve already read.  I discovered her with this series a while ago and after somehow losing track, I rediscovered her.  But this is where the love started.


Bad Billionaire - Book 1

I tend to avoid any millionaire/billionaire/CEO type book as I'm much fonder of a blue collar hero. Added to that, there’s nothing like a bad boy eh? So at first glance when I read the title, considering how many books I have yet to read, it was a pass. But when I noticed the hero was a car mechanic who had spent time in "the joint", I thought ‘hhhmmm’ and decided to have a go. Good thing. I liked this one. A lot. Devon, a loner with a sad past met and connected with his neighbor Olivia. But Devon is involved in criminal activities. It's not that he wants too, but he's kind of being forced into it to protect a friend. He's caught before he can really establish anything with Olivia and spends the next couple of years in jail.

Just before he's released he finds out from his lawyer that he’s inherited a fortune from a grandfather he'd never met. Once he's out, he wants to really get a relationship going with Olivia but his newly discovered wealth changes the dynamics of things.  She hasn’t forgotten him over the years after his mysterious disappearance.  So once he explained where he’d been and that he hadn’t forgotten about her either, after some hesitation on her part, she’s ready to reestablish their relationship.

As I said, I enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. Both Devon and Olivia were interesting and believable people.  Devon is very far from perfect.  He did what he went to jail for but still he’s very easy to like.  Olivia is a bit on the naive side but other than that she’s a good match for Devon.

I quite appreciated the fact that while Devon is now super rich, he doesn't have that mentality, having lived on the streets and on his own for so long.  Thus he doesn’t act like your typical billionaire, instead he’s quite rough and dirty – but definitely dirty in a good way.  This is a great introduction to a new to me author and I look forward to more books.
Just to make this even more tempting to try, it’s free on Amazon.  I originally gave this book a B but after rereading it, I uppped the grade to a well deserved

Grade: A-


OUTLINE:  I’m no one. A mechanic. A getaway driver. A thief.

I was born on the streets, and I like it rough — life, sex, everything. My job is dirty. My past is dirty. So is my future.

Until I get out of prison and discover I’ve inherited a billion dollars.

I’m not a good billionaire. I don’t care about penthouses, fancy dinners, or private jets. I don’t care about life and death. Hell, I don’t even care about money. I’m willing to spend every penny of it on one thing.

Find the woman who gave me one unforgettable night before I went down. The woman who is too good for me. The woman I can never have.


Dirty Sweet Wild - Book 2
 

I really enjoyed the first book, in fact reread it all over again, bought this one, didn’t get around to reading it and then forgot about this author and her books.  Bad me, bad, bad me.
So this one is the story of Max who is best friend of Devon from the first book.  They met as young lads and have been friends ever since.
Towards the end of Bad Billionaire, Devon who came into a pile of money, gave five million to Max and Max is not happy, not happy at all with this gift.
Max is my kind of hero.  He’s a broken down war veteran.  He was wounded pretty badly in Afghanistan, lost a leg and suffers from PTSD.  He’s a loner and grouchy as all get out. He doesn’t handle change well and being given $5 million is something he struggles with.  He can use some money sure as he doesn’t have enough to continue his therapy for either the loss of his leg or his PTSD but other than that he wants no part of the money and $5 million is overkill.  He lives in a rather dangerous section of town and is perfectly fine living there.  Other than Devin he bothers no one and no one bothers him.  So he’s a bit surprised one evening when there is a knock at his door, he doesn’t get visitors, and this gorgeous young woman comes in and starts taking her clothes off.
Turns out she does strip-o-graming and she got apartments mixed up and went to the wrong one.  Eventually Max gets around to telling her, but not before she does strip down some.
Gwen, who coincidentally is the sister of Olivia, Devon’s love interest from book #1, is rocked by her attraction to Max and though it’s very much against her style, she may strip for a living but she doesn’t ‘give it up’, she can’t resist Max.  And being the hermit that he is, it’s been a long time and Max is open to work with her.  After a blistering hot encounter, Gwen leaves. 
But I really get a kick out of her because she can’t forget and comes back several days later to tell Max she’s not a slut and she just doesn’t do that kind of thing and Max believes her.  Because the chemistry is so strong, they continue to see each other as Gwen slowly begins breaking down his walls.  She’s a catalyst for Max starting to heal.  And Max is equally good for Gwen.
This book has more humor and less angst than the first book.  I really enjoyed the first book with its intensity and I really enjoyed this book with its wounded characters, especially grouchy bear Max.  While I kind of lost track of Ms. Kriss and this series, I sure am glad I found them again.
Grade: A
OUTLINE:
The stripper who came to my door got the wrong apartment.
I was planning to tell her. But she kissed me first.


Max
You’d never know I’m a millionaire. I wear jeans and t-shirts. I’m a recluse. Afghanistan left me with scars inside and out. All I want is to be left alone.

I sure as hell didn’t order the stripper who showed up. All I know is that the hottest, sweetest woman I’ve ever seen is naked in my lap.

I don’t even know her name, but I want her. No good can come of this. And suddenly, I don’t care.

Find her. Get revenge on the man that hurt her. And make her mine.


Gwen

I strip for money. It’s just a job. Until I meet Mr. Wrong Apartment.

He’s big and dangerous. Grumpy and damaged. Biceps that make me want to cry. One wrong house call, and suddenly I’m breaking my own rules.

Things are spinning out of control. We’re both broken. Maybe we can’t be fixed. Together we’re fire and gasoline. But I might let everything burn if he’ll just touch me one more time…

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Series Spotlight – Preload by Scarlett Cole

Part 2
Since I got rather wordy in my enthusiasm for this series, I thought it best to break it into two parts so as not to overwhelm anyone reading this whom might be interested in reading this wonderful series.
(Be interested, Be Very Interested)
 
Nikan Rebuilt
 

I wanted to start my reading year of 2018 with a bang.  I was reading a different book and while I was enjoying it well enough it didn’t have the wow factor I was looking for.  So when I got notice this book had downloaded, I put the other book aside and picked this one right away.  Based on how much I enjoyed the first two books in this series, I thought Nikan Rebuilt would be a winner.  And boy was it ever.

This is a second chance at love story.  Nikan and Jenny both grew up in the foster care system, both in group homes.  While their lives before they ended up in the system were horrendous, Nikan was fortunate to end up in a very good group home with very caring staff and fellow residents he bonded with to the point where they became more than best friends, they became brothers and formed the band Preload which has gone on to become an extremely famous heavy metal band.  We have already seen 3 of the band members get their story, now it’s Nikan’s turn.  He and Jenny meet in high school when Jenny is being bullied and Nikan saves her.  From that moment, they become a couple and though both very young, they were very much in love and thought they would last forever.

Fast forward a number of years, Nikan and the band are very successful and one night while on tour, Dikan makes a mistake that changes the course of his life and Jenny ends things and disappears.

Now it’s current time and eight years later.  Jenny has returned and is temporarily head of the group home that Nikan and the rest grew up in.  Because they all are still very much involved with the home and the boys living there, Nikan runs into Jenny again and his feelings for Jenny are just as deep and all encompassing as they ever were and Jenny is still greatly in love with Nikan but what he did devastated her and she is doubtful she can forgive him.  Nikan knows how badly he screwed up and how much he lost and he just wants a chance to show her who he is now.
That’s the outline of the story and now I have to start the raving and rave I will do.  This book is incredible.  Every woman should have a Nikan.  Yep he screwed up and badly.  But his explanation for what happened was believable and makes the reader much more sympathetic.  As the oldest, he’s always been the mother hen of the group and does what’s best for them rather than himself.  For example, he doesn’t really like doing heavy metal and would like to change it up but he knows another member of the group uses it as an outlet for his rage.  It’s Nikan who arranges for them all to live in the same house as it’s something that Jordan needs because of his issues.
But now Nikan has to look after his own problems and concentrate less on the other members, especially since getting Jenny to forgive him and give him another chance.  He’s at a turning point in his life and the author does such a great job in letting reader ‘feel’ his confusion and frustration and his longing for Jenny and his guilt for what he did that split them up.  He’s one of the best heroes I’ve read in a while – and I’ve read some really good ones.

I would say that Nikan makes the book but Jenny is such a wonderful heroine that she deserves as much credit for this being such a great read as he does.  She’s still very deeply in love but she’s clear with him that she doesn’t trust him, that he needs to earn it back if that’s even possible.  One thing that sets this book higher than many they talk things through.  The both realize that they have to be open and honest if there is any hope for them.  There’s no big misunderstandings, they are both mature and intelligent people.
I say this in each of the Preload reviews but something else that really sets these ones above for me is they take place in Toronto, a city I’ve visited many a time.  One scene takes place at Rogers Centre (though it will always be Skydome to me) and as a family we would go there 4 or 5 times a summer to catch the Jays.  Eaton’s centre is mentioned and as I’ve been there quite often I can close my eyes and see it.  And most of all Ms. Cole mentions Tim Horton’s a lot.  Now not many people outside of Canada know this probably but there is almost a symbiotic relationship between “Timmies” and most Canadians.  It’s the go to place for coffee – though I myself stop at Mickey D’s to pick up my morning coffee on the way to work.  But EVERYONE knows about Timmies.  The author married a Canadian and lived in Canada for a while so she really ‘gets’ things.

Something else that gets mentioned in this book that puts it way up high is her referencing the struggle that Indigenous  People went through for many years and are still struggling with to this day to what was done to them.  The Canadian government, in their unbelievable and unconscionable arrogance stole the children away from their parents and put them in ‘schools’ were they were stripped of their culture, their language, everything that made them an important nation.
A great deal of thanks goes to the late Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip for letting the average Canadian know about this great dark part of Canada’s history.

The inclusion of this storyline makes this a very emotional book.  Nikan father was First Nations and after ignoring his heritage for most of his life, this is something he starts considering.  I felt this really added something special to the book.  It wasn’t done in any kind of preachy tone at all, but more of an added feature to the story.

Grade: 5 out of 5


Lennon Reborn


And now we come, sadly, to the final book of this amazing series about the heavy metal band Preload.  They started with The Purest Hook which was actually part of a different series and then carried on as their own series with Jordan Reclaimed.  I am SO going to miss these guys though I can go back and ‘see’ them again in rereads, but it won’t be quite the same.

Lennon McCartney – yep, he knows, is the youngest band member and the jerk of the group.  Throughout the series, he’s been the one to say stupid and crass things and he hasn’t fully engaged with the other four.  But despite this, the others still consider him their brother and ad the drummer, a very vital part of the group.  But every so often in previous books Ms. Cole would drop just the smallest of hints that that who we were seeing wasn’t the real Lennon so anticipation for his story has been building.  By now he’s the only one who hasn’t found a love interest and it’s not long into the story when we find out why.
Lennon had such a sad and traumatic childhood that he doesn’t understand the concept of love and as a result of being completely ignored by this young teenage mother, he is unable to really connect with anyone which explains why he isn’t as close to his ‘brothers’.  He also constantly expects them to reject him so he self-sabotages himself.  He’s always been more of a loner but with all his band members finding the love of their lives, he’s even more isolated and envy has crept in.

And his mind never gives him a rest.  It’s constantly racing, telling he’s no good, everyone will leave him and he’ll all alone.  It’s heartbreaking reading his inner dialogue thoughts.  The only thing that really gives him any real happiness is his drumming

This is where his head’s at when his whole life is turned upside down.  The band is involved in a bus crash and Lennon is hurt in a life altering way.  Dr. Georgia Starr is a legendary neurosurgeon who happens to see the crash and she jumps into action trying to save the victims.  When it’s Lennon’s turn, he pleads with her to just let him go.  But from the moment she touches him there is an almost electric current between them and Georgia know she will do whatever it takes to heal Lennon from his demons.
Georgia has her own battles to deal with.  She’s the only girl in her misogynistic family and despite her incredible talent as a doctor, her father and brothers are constantly judging and belittling her even though she’s the best neurosurgeon in the family.  Added to that is the fact her father and brother resent her since her beloved grandfather left the apartment building she lives in to her and no one else.  So both of these two people are struggling.

I don’t think I have enough words to say how much I enjoyed this book and indeed, this whole series.  The reader can feel the pain Lennon went through in his childhood and how it’s affected his whole life.  Even the good things are tainted with his self-doubt and low self-esteem.  Although it takes him a while to let Georgia know the particulars, she still sees he is in a great deal of pain tries to help him and reassure Lennon that she is there for him.
Lennon in turn, wants to show Georgia that there is more to life than just work.  While he is really impressed with her talents as a doctor, he wants to see her life more balanced.  They are really the exact person the other needs and both need the other.  They are simply wonderful.

This isn’t meant as a criticism, as much as a wish though.  The other books in the series take place in Toronto, a city I know, while not that well, still well enough to know many of the locations the author mentions.  Lennon Reborn however, takes place mainly in NYC.  This is the city Georgia works in and close to the accident.  Lennon has had to stay behind to recuperate and sent the rest of his ‘brothers’ home to Toronto and their families even though he does need them.  This is just another example of his tendency for self-sabotage.  But Georgia keeps him holding on. But it was real nice to almost have ties to the setting.
I also with there were a few more scenes between the band members, Dred, Jordan, Elliot, Nic and Lennon.  The bond between these five is one of the real gems of this series.  But again there aren’t as many as Lennon is off by himself for the majority of this book.

The third wish is some kind of feedback on their music.  As the members find love, their pain is directed into heavy metal and as they each find happiness, some of them want to change the tenor of their music.  It would have been nice to have an epilogue to the epilogue to see how Preload change of direction fared.  But other than those wishes, this book is simply a wonderful read about overcoming hardship and tragedy.
Jordan Reclaimed is my favourite book of all of them, but this one is a very close second and the whole Preload series gets huge kudos and recommendations from me.  As I said at the beginning, I’m really going to miss these guys.

Grade: 5 out of 5
Final Thoughts: I do believe that of all the series in all genres I’ve read over the years, Preload is the best I’ve ever read book for book.  There have been other series I’ve loved, but the love has varies over the course of them. One or two might have been A books and then a couple of others may have been B or B- books.  But Every. Single. Book in this series is an A or A+ read for me.
Every one is an emotional wringer in a totally wonderful way and I loved seeing each one of them overcome their broken childhoods with the help of the women they love.  I know this is a series I’ll be reading over and over again and it gets the highest recommendation that I can give.
 

 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Series Spotlight - Preload Series by Scarlett Cole

Part 1


I must admit I have some scathingly brilliant ideas for blog posts.  Then I get stymied for any number of reasons.  But this is my latest brilliant idea.  I gave every book in the Preload series a 5 out of 5 or higher.  I’ve read all of them except for the final book at least twice and the only reason I haven’t reread the last one is it just came out a short time ago and I haven’t had a chance yet.  But I will read it again, oh yes I will.  So here are my thoughts on this magnificent series.
 
The Purest Hook - Second Circle Tattoos # 3
 
 
Although part of a different series by Scarlett Cole, this is also the first book of a new series she’s written about a heavy metal band, Peload.  The other band members are only briefly mentioned and it’s not necessary to read this one first if you plan on reading the Preload series, which I highly recommend.  I read this book after reading the first couple of books and my reaction when reading this one was, “oh, OK, so that’s how they met each other.”  And also a point I should mention is that while I did enjoy this one, the rest of the Preload books, I found, were much more enjoyable.

Dred Zanders is the hero and the first member of the group Preload, that we get to know. We first meet him when he and Trent, one of the heroes of the Second Circle Tattoos Series, work together on a tattooing reality show where both are judges. Dred is very successful in his music career but also very down to earth. He comes to visit Trent at Second Circle where he meets Pixie aka Sarah Jane Travers. She works as an office manager and aspiring tattoo artist at Second Circle. Trent and Cujo, another tattoo artist had found her at the lowest time in her life and helped her get back on her feet and make a good life for herself.

Dred is smitten with her and keeps asking her out but she figures he's way over her head and keeps saying no even though she's also become smitten with him. Because of this she eventually agrees and they start a long distance relationship. He lives in Toronto part of the time and LA part of the time so it begins to become a real problem working Miami in but he's finding it harder and harder to be apart from Pixie. That is until he finds out about her past and that changes everything.  Dred over reacts to what he finds out and walks away from Pixie without

Both Dred and Pixie are great although I do want to smack Dredd a good one on his reaction when he finds out about Pixie. It's not like he hasn't sprung something big on her and she wasn't fazed at all. But thankfully he doesn't take too long to see the error of his ways and does the grovel us readers love so much.

 

So this works as the set up book for the series.


Grade: 4 out of 5


Jordon Reclaimed
 
Wowzers, where have you been Scarlett Cole? I was checking out book lists by other readers with similar tastes and came across this one.  The price was right, I hadn’t read any by this author, the storyline sounded good so I took a chance.  I started it as soon as I got home from work and simply couldn’t put it down.  This book blew me out of the water.  I read it until well into the night, knowing I’d be working the next day, but I couldn’t not finish it.  There are SO many things to love about it I’m not even sure where to start so I’ll start with Jordan the hero.


He truly breaks your heart.  He’s the bassist of a very popular heavy metal group named Preload and very successful now.  But his history is horrendous.  He was locked in an attic when he was a very small child and kept there until he was finally found at age 10.  He had no light, no company, nothing.  He was never allowed out of the attic but his ‘father’ had no problem going into the attic and beating poor Jordon.  In fact, he didn’t even have a name until he was rescued and a warm hearted social worker gave him a name.  When he was discovered, he was put into foster care but that didn’t work.  He was small and skinny with no social skills and was bullied mercilessly until he was finally put into a group home where he bonded tightly with four other teenage boys who had also been mistreated.  In fact, they are who have formed the band.

Jordan is left with all kinds of issues.  Fear of abandonment is one of them and because of this, the other four band members and Jordan all live in the same house.  One of them, Dred Zander (who happens to have his own book in a previous series and one I was absolutely delighted to discover I already own) is planning on moving out and Jordan is freaking.  Although he knows it’s irrational, he needs to know where they all are all the time.  One of his coping mechanisms is walking.  He’s walking one evening with his very young honorary niece when he walks past a dance studio and he sees a young woman dancing.  He’s mesmerized by her beauty and her talent and for a brief time he forgets all his issues.  Because he’s also a composer, when he gets home he writes a song for her to dance to.
 
They meet and it’s like each other has found their other half.  Aleksandra Artemov is a ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.  Her father was a ballet dancer who defected from Russia until he injured himself to the extent he couldn’t dance any longer.  So instead he devotes himself to Lexi’s career to the point of abusiveness.

There is such a connection between Jordan and Lexi but Jordan doesn’t think he’s worthy of her because of all his issues.  But other than letting her father walk all over her, she is very strong and nothing that Jordan does or says frightens her away.

So! Why do I love this book so much?  First reason is Jordan.  He is so damaged that you just want to hug him and hold him and not let him go.  Even though he’s this famous rock star it hasn’t gone to his head at all.  In fact he’s even uncomfortable spending money despite the millions he has.  He’s never had any kind of relationship with a woman before so he has no idea how it works.  Though he’s had sex with random women, considering he’s this big musician, he’s not a dog about it.  He is quite your atypical rock star.
 
Lexi is the next reason.  I just want to hug her too.  She is so there for Jordan.  Nothing he does or says fazes her.  The only thing she wants is for him to ‘talk’ to her when one of his trigger raises its ugly head as he has a tendency to just run off.  She has ‘daddy issues’ but they are completely understandable and she doesn’t escape her own struggles.  It’s so heartwarming when Jordan stands up for her.

The world of ballet.  I love ballet.  In fact I could so relate near the beginning of the book when she dances the Nutcracker near Christmas.  I DID THAT!  Not the dancing of course, but a number of years ago I went to see the National Ballet of Canada perform in Toronto and it was around Christmas.  While I don’t know all the dances mentioned I was familiar enough.  I’m a big fan of or rather I was of So You Think You Can Dance so I could really understand Alex’s desire to break out and dance some contemporary dances.  The fact that Jordan understood that about her was special.

The book is set in Toronto, Ontario and many of the places she mentions I know of since it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from where I live so it was cool that I knew the streets.

This review is longer than I normally do but I’m just so excited about this book and all the future books in this series I got carried away writing this review.  The book is selling for $1.99 on Amazon and I really can’t recommend it high enough

Grade: 5+ out of 5
 

Elliot Redeemed
 
I so enjoyed – in fact more than enjoyed if that’s possible – the first book in this series, Jordan Reclaimed, that I was very keen on reading this one.  The series is about a successful heavy metal band, Preload, whose home base is Toronto, ON Canada.  They all grew up in the system and became best of friends and even brothers in a group home.  Music was their escape.
Right from that alone I’m excited as I live close to Toronto and it’s obvious the author is familiar with the city too.  I recognize streets and areas and even stores so it makes the book seem even that more real.  Elliott Dawson is the hero of this book.  It opens not long after Jordan Reclaimed ends.  There are only two of the group living in their home now and Elliott is planning on buying them all out.  But in the meantime he and fellow bandmate Nikan are living together.  Nikan asks if Elliott would be willing to make a hospital visit with him to visit a young fan of the group.  While he has his issues with hospitals, Elliott is a real good guy and agrees.  While he’s there he notices another young patient, 14 year old Daniel, a burn victim.  Daniel has suffered pretty bad burns when he set his home on fire.  They say like recognizes like and Elliott can tell  right away that he an Daniel both suffer from the same issue, an unnatural love of fire.
Elliott has worked years to overcome attraction to fire and his need to set them.  Elliott became a pyromaniac when he was young in a way to deal with the trauma of his childhood and he could sense in Daniel the same thing and he wants to help him through it.  It also doesn’t hurt that Elliott is strongly attracted to Daniel’s mother Kendalee Walker. 
Kendalee is attracted to Elliott too.  I mean he’s very good looking and he is good to her son who is a big fan of Preload.  But there are SO many reasons she can’t get involved with him.  She’s older than him by a few years.  She was shattered when her husband left her for a younger woman and cleaned out their joint bank account.  She has her son and his ongoing issues to deal with.  She is homeless since Daniel burned down their home.  She spends all her time at either the hospital or her part time cashier’s job at No Frills – of note here, I was a part time cashier at a grocery store for 9 years and I often shop at No Frills myself.  Her ex meets Elliott and is turned off right away.  Elliott is a long haired rocker whom Daniel worships and refuses to have anything to do with his father.  So
So any kind of relationship is almost impossible.  But now that Elliott has taken an interest in Daniel, he runs into Kendalee more often and the more often he runs into her, the more he wants to help her and just plain wants her.  But the closer he gets to both her and Daniel, the more his own issues begin taking over as he identifies with Daniel.  As Daniel begins to confess to Elliott the abuse he has suffered, the harder it is for Elliott but he knows is leading to healing for Daniel so he’s undone in whatever he does.
This is another excellent book in this series.  While I preferred Jordan Reclaimed just a tad more, as I found Jordan extraordinary and special.  It doesn’t take away for this book at all.  Elliott is such a wonderful hero, so tortured, so loyal, so honorable, so everything that makes for great hero material.
Kendalee is also very well written.  She has had so much thrown at her in such a short amount of time and she deals with it so well and remains strong and such a good mother.  I love it when I adore both hero and heroine.
The secondary characters are also amazing.  Daniel so damaged and I love seeing the other members of the band.  It’s clear by the end who is going to be matched up in the next book and I can hardly wait for that one either. I’ve already pre-ordered it.   I highly recommend this book.  I think it could be a stand-alone but it is worth it to read the first book to if only to get insight into the tight bond these friends and brothers have.

 Grade: 5 out of 5