Writing & Publishing

Book Club: Review of Thirteen Reasons Why

I have been without internet for a few days, but we made it to Illinois! I’ll be posting more on our trip later! (Including how I ended up stuck in a cemetery on moving day and how the rabbit was free and under my seat in the truck most of the trip!)

For now, here is a book review: (Be sure to friend me on Goodreads where I post my reviews!)

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher (Goodreads Author)

Tina Russo Kinney‘s review

Apr 30, 2017

 

Have you ever wanted to love a book but just couldn’t? I REALLY wanted to love this book. It had been brought to my attention twice in the past week, so I bought it off Amazon and had it shipped. As soon as it arrived, I started reading. By the time I finished the book, I almost hated it!

The book is about a teenage girl who has killed herself. Before committing suicide, she makes a set of tapes explaining the reasons why she killed herself, and the people leading her to commit suicide.

Let me say the book is well written. The first 2/3 of the book had me captivated. Then I found out the reason why the main character was part of the tapes.

I felt cheated.

The main character did nothing wrong. The reason he was on the tapes was quite cliche. At this point I considered putting the book down, but I was quite vested. I read to the end, but was extremely disappointed. I think I held out to hear the last reason amd hoped it would make it all worth the read. I was even more let down by the last reason why!

As someone who has a mental illness, I understand first hand the feeling of wanting to be dead. I understand the thoughts of suicide. None of the reasons given by Hannah Baker deemed ending her life. The girl really needed some perspective. The character also needed more reason to struggle with suicidal ideologies. I know high school can be rough, but none of the stories warranted the feeling one needs to die to escape their pain.

The back of the book included the first chapter of the next book by Asher. At first I was excited to read the sample chapter. By the time I finished this book, I did not bother to read the start of the next one. I had been too let down.

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Life

The Love of a (Great) Grandmother

I love my grandmother like you wouldn’t believe! She’s a strong, hard working, caring person, and I just love her to death. I apparently was a complete shit-head to her growing up because she thought a box of musical “equipment” as we shall call it, for my children, was necessary.

Let’s back up.

Over Christmas break we stayed at my dad’s house for a few days. He has a player piano, the type you put the music in and it plays itself. My father probably knows three songs he can actually play, but the music coming out of the piano is impressive because it plays off the player music you put in.

Talia thinks this is cool as all hell. My dad likes to put her up on the piano bench with him and pretend to play. At 2 am on Christmas Eve, when Talia could not sleep for whatever reason, she decided to start playing the piano at my dad’s. My mother (who is divorced from my father) and grandmother think this is hysterical. Meanwhile, my father and his girlfriend think giving Talia a drum for Christmas is also cool….

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I’m not really sure what I did to deserve this  but I must have been a miserable teenager and didn’t know it because that drum was filled with other musical instruments as well.

Anyway, last week my grandmother is out with my mother and she sees a keyboard. Apparently she thought Talia needed said keyboard, based on her 2 am escapade at my dad’s house.

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Talia LOVES this thing (apparently Tremor thinks it’s cool, too, as you see in the picture.)

Now look at this picture of my grandmother with Talia and Liam. See how innocent this little, old, Italian grandma looks? Don’t be fooled my friends….

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Not to leave anyone out, my grandmother got something for Liam as well. Here’s where life fell apart last night.

Having to work in the morning (yes, I’ve gone back to work, but that is a whole other post), I was less than happy when Liam decided to wake up in the middle of the night and Bill just would not wake up. I climb over Bill and spend a great deal of time trying to get Liam back to sleep. The toy my grandmother bought him is in the crib with him, so I turn it on. It lights up on the “screen” but it also projects an image onto the ceiling for him to stare at. Liam LOVES this. I set the music mode to jungle sounds, and he drifts off to sleep. Success….or so I think.

I leave the timer on 20 minutes thinking it just shuts off like a normal child’s toy. Oh no my friends…..the toy goes off, and then 20 minutes later it comes back on! The picture is back on my ceiling, and the thing is now playing baby freaking show-tunes. Bill is between us, so after I’m startled awake, I now have to climb over a sleeping Marine to get to my kid…and the toy.

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I don’t even have to get the image going the right way for you to see how annoying this is for me.

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Here is the image of Liam’s “friends” on the ceiling. You can see how scary they are, right?

There are at least a dozen buttons and switches on this thing and none of them seem to want to shut the whole thing down. Liam is now awake, and we are back to square one….only now Bill is awake and wants to know why the baby is playing Nintendo. I inform him he’s not helping, the baby is not in-fact playing Nintendo, and Bill rolls over so I can be between them. Once I get the thing shut off, Liam doesn’t want to go back to sleep until I get that stupid image of those smug looking cartoons back on the ceiling. ARGH! Dogs are also now awake and wanting to know what is happening, so they all start rotating on and off the bed.

This whole thing carries on for well over an hour. By the time everyone is asleep and happy, my alarm clock goes off. I honestly thought about calling my grandmother at one point, and just giving Liam the phone to scream into. I don’t want her to miss out on all the excitement since she started this whole thing in the first place. (I’m totally kidding, though she has a cell phone now and can’t work it. It would be a wasted call.)

Thankfully there was a counterbalance in the mail today. I was able to sign both kids up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. As if we need another reason to love Dolly, she has a program for children through age 5 to receive an age appropriate book every month, free of charge. When Talia was born, our zip code did not qualify, but just before Liam came, our zip code was included, so I signed them both up! Talia has received a few books, and Liam got his first one today! Talia came running and sat down as soon as I started reading!

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As you can see, he thought this was pretty cool! We’ve read it a few times, and I’m sure we will be reading it a lot more before the next book comes. He also got a lot of great books for Christmas, so he won’t be tired of any one book anytime soon!

I’m off to try and get some sleep to make up for the escapades last night. Right now I have the toy in the crib, with the directions close by! The moral of the story…be nice to your parents and grandparents because payback comes in the form of musical instruments and

Life · Writing & Publishing

Why You’re Not Getting A Christmas Gift From Me!

It was another crazy week at our house, but what else is new? That said, you won’t be hearing much from me this weekend. I have a literary agent asking for the first 50 pages of Literary Crazy. (EEEEK!) I will be spending my weekend working on polishing this and taking care of Diesel….which brings me to “Why you’re not getting a Christmas gift from me….”

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This is Diesel. He is a chocolate Labrador and will be 18 next month. YES! 18 years old! That’s OLD for a dog, especially a large breed like a Lab.

While Diesel will be fine in a few weeks, the cast on his arm came in at the tune of $978.00.

Diesel and Baker, our mutt, have been fighting for Alpha Dog position since Bill and I merged our packs. Ultimately Diesel won (not without a few stitches and one drain to the face for Baker) but as Diesel gets older, we think Baker senses Diesel getting weaker and wants to now finally move up to numero uno.

I don’t know what provoked the fight. I was inside while all the dogs were out in the HUGE yard (they had plenty of room to not bother each other). I heard the fight and ran out side to find Baker had Diesel pinned to the ground. In the dark, I had to step in-between two fighting dogs and pull Baker off Diesel. Of course Bill wasn’t home, but after I called for about the tenth time, he answered and came home to take Diesel to the Emergency Vet. I’m pretty sure we will be paying rent on our file soon enough.

Bill and I aren’t into making Christmas commercial anyway, not to mention we are trying to buy a house…oh, and did I mention Diesel’s vet bill was almost one grand???

So if there was any doubt about getting a gift from me this holiday season, you can rest assured I’m only shopping for the kids this year!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Do you have any plans? While I’ll be working on Literary Crazy all weekend, I am still on track for Monday Book Club. (It’s a short book this week!) Let’s meet back here on Monday!

Writing & Publishing

Book Club: The Girl on the Train

BOOK CLUB IS BACK!

I finally feel as though I have my $hi+ together enough to return to book club. Liam is still sleeping decently and Talia naps well, giving me time to read and write. I’m also a bit more organized since we found everyone a routine. Also, I am finally back to not needing to nap each day either. Thank goodness! That was getting old!

While we were in Illinois last week, I picked up the book “The Girl on the Train.” I had heard great things about the movie, and the book nerd in me wanted to know about the book. I’m happy to report, the book did not disappoint!

Rachel Watson rides the train each day past her old house and the home of the mysterious new neighbors down the street. Distraught over her divorce from Tom, she spends her days drinking away her sorrows on the train and focusing on the couple at house number 23 (she used to live at 15). The couple she watches each morning seem to have it all. Rachel has imaginary names and lives for them, and wishes she had what they had, until the train stops for less than a minute and she sees something that will change her life forever!

I’m not normally a reader of thrillers, but I may start exploring this genre more! I could not put this book down. The characters are well developed and the plot is character driven. I found myself not wanting to put the book aside until I had more answers. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday, I still managed to read the book in 4 days because I HAD to know the truth. The author, Paula Hawkins managed to take a clip of less than a minute in the lifetime of a bystander on the train and turn it into a fabulous read.

There were two things I found frustrating with the book. One is stupidly silly. The author is from England and there were several words in the book I had no idea of the translation. For example, the off-license is a liquor store (packy, package store, ABC store, etc.) Thankfully the context around most words I did not know made it easy to figure out.

The second thing I found a bit irritating was the timeline. The book is told from the point of view of three characters and the timeline jumps around. You MUST pay attention to the date at the start of every chapter. Each person is telling the story from a different place in time, and it sometimes goes back several months from what you just read.

In the end, I highly recommend this book and give it the full 5 out of 5 stars. I was really excited when my niece said she had picked up the book over the weekend and was already drawn into the story.

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Because the book has been such a best seller, I imagine Ms. Hawkins will be writing another thriller. I won’t wait until it’s in mass market paperback, or a movie, to read it! I may see the movie out of curiosity, but the book was so good, I hate to ruin it!

What have you been reading? Share in the comments!

Life · Writing & Publishing

I’m Still Here!

Wow! It’s been a minute since I updated the blog…. So sorry!

It’s been a crazy month….and I’m exhausted. We are finally in the last trimester of pregnancy and I just have no energy. I HAVE to take a nap each day….which is making me look long and hard at my caffeine consumption from before getting pregnant. I really need to not drink so much caffeine when little Liam is out and it’s safe again.

So here’s the update!

 

Talia got to go on the ice for the first time:

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And took off as soon as she could the second go around…

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So when she turned 18 months, Daddy got her gloves and a stick:

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She’s obsessed!

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She loves being at the arena and was so excited to see Daddy play his first game.

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She loves swim class……yes, they finally took care of the kid who made himself sick so he didn’t have to get in the pool…

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She’s also enjoying her friend Wyatt being in town for summer vacation with his dad and step-mom!

When I’m not busy with Talia, I am working on my vegan sugar scrub business. It’s soap and sugar scrubs for the skin, made from sugar and essential oils (and other vegan products). I’m having a lot of fun with it. You can visit the new website here!

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I also was supposed to start school today. Even though I spent all of last Monday at the school making sure everything was in order, only to get to class today and get dropped. I’m furious and have been waiting all day to hear it’s been fixed. It was their error, so they should fix it, but I’m already worried about falling behind in math and now I’m missing class time.

Because I’ve been sick and really exhausted, I haven’t been reading much. I will hopefully get back to that soon. My mom got my novel back to me and the edits are all made. I’m working on sending out my query to agents! Hopefully one requests the full manuscript and then sends an offer of representation! It’s a bit more complicated than that, but I’m hopeful!

Phew, that’s a lot! What’s new with you?

Writing & Publishing

No Stress (Pitch) Wars

It’s finally here! The window is open for Pitch Wars! What is Pitch Wars? It’s the chance to be picked by a mentor to help you polish your novel to submit to an agent. You must have a finished novel. You must have already polished your novel as much as possible before submitting. Each author has 4 entries, so 4 possible mentors they can submit to, and each one of them picks ONE person/novel to mentor.

To enter, you send in a query letter and first chapter. Then you sit and wait until someone asks you for a full manuscript. On the 25th of this month, the mentors will announce their picks.

As I watch the feed on Twitter, I’m surprised by how many people are FREAKING out about this. There are people just sitting on their computer, stalking the feeds!! I had to close out of Twitter because it made me wonder if I missed something! I want to be picked more than you know! I also don’t want to stress about the whole thing. I would be so honored to be picked and I would work harder than anyone to make my book as perfect as possible, but at this point, my hands are tied.

I already sent in my submission. There is literally nothing I can do now. The only hang up is my mom has my novel. She was going through and doing a final proofread, and then my grandmother had to be rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, the emergency surgery she had seems to be working! She had 3 kidney stones on one side and it apparently shut down her entire kidney! My mom keeps getting upset because she wasn’t working on the novel, but the few chapters she did go through, she said she didn’t find a whole lot. If I have to send a full manuscript with some errors, it just has to be that way. I would much rather my mom take care of my grandmother, since Bill and I can’t go home. So with this said, the situation is what is is, and now we wait!

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(Talia with my grandmother.)

In the meantime, I started another project. I had the idea for a children’s book I really want to write, and last night I got it down on paper. I crafted the query letter (the letter I send to agents) and now I will work on the bio and marketing plan.

Hopefully this will keep me busy in addition to continuing to send out the proposal for Literary Crazy. I also have been working on my new blog: Little BookWorm Blog. If you have children, I hope you will check it out!

Lastly, I’m reading a new book for book club and will hopefully have that for you Monday, so be sure to check back……if you hit the “Follow” button on the right, you will be notified when it comes out! You don’t want to miss this book!

Military Spouse Life

Monday Book Club: The Book Thief

Happy Monday!

I know I said I would be reading and reviewing the second book in the Night trilogy by Elie Wiesel, but I decided to take a break. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, or I just need to get away from narrative non-fiction for a bit and read some fiction. Either way, I decided to review The Book Thief, one of my favorite books EVER! It works this week because of the setting (which is the fiction version of the events Wiesel writes about.)

The Book Thief is set in Germany during WWII. A girl after my own heart, Liesel Meminger is a 10 year old girl who is given up to a foster family by her mother after her father disappears and brother passes away. During the course of the book, Liesel (the book thief) steals books from anywhere she can. This includes a bonfire, snow, and a mansion where she is ultimately discovered and encouraged to steal books from.

The book also had plenty of morbidity with the war in the background and is balanced with some wonderful and unsuspecting friendships.

Narrated by Death (who incidentally needs a vacation but cannot take one) The Book Thief is also a story where love is a central theme and represents several meanings. The use of love gives the reader hope.

If you are interested in the author (who has written several books) his name is Markus Zusak, and you can visit his website here. One of my favorite things about Zusak is his ability to draw you a picture of his characters and make them feel real!

I also want to say there is a movie version of The Book Thief and I have not seen it. Why? Because usually the movie ruins the book for me and since I love the book so much, I don’t want to ruin it for myself, I just skipped the movie. The book overall gets 5 out of 5 stars. It is well written, factual, moving, and made me cry, while still giving me hope for young readers!

So tell us, what are you reading? Have you read The Book Thief? Have you seen the movie?

Speaking of books, Grandma (my mom) sent a package to Talia today. There was all types of toys and things…..she ONLY cared about her new book! I love this kid!

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