summer was made for reading

My hubby and I have been together for more years than I care to count. Somewhere during our early time together we developed a habit that pretty much has stayed with us. That is, we read the same book, more or less, around the same time and then sit for hours thoroughly vetting it. Back when we first got together, he liked stuff like The Hobbit and was responsible for finally getting me to read it. Once I did, I fell in love wbooksith the world Tolkien had created. His famous trilogy, Lord of the Rings, might’ve been the first trilogy I ever read, and yes, each book was a cliffhanger, and I LOVED that about them!! We read the books together, even read them aloud to our son. These days we trade genres. We listen to true crime or mysteries the same way we watch movies on Netflix or Prime and with certain TV shows (most recently Goliath) by discussing the heck out of them. We go over the characters, the pace, what we would’ve done differently, and re-read or re-watch the ones we like best. From one book lover to another, summer is our finest hour. During the land of reruns and the lack of anything good on TV, we can always crack open a book. We relish the search through our Kindle for something we haven’t yet tried. Or we load something new on the iPad and get comfy in bed. While we dissect the plot lines and laugh at the characters, we’re still connecting. After all these years, we still enjoy what began a long time ago…our love for books.

 

 

My big Sansa problem

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As some of you may know, I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. But after Sunday night’s episode, I’m having second thoughts about why. If you haven’t seen the “Battle of the Bastards” yet then be forewarned, there are SPOILERS coming! A lot of them!

My major complaint–and I just can’t get past this–Sansa stands around and does nothing to stop her brother, Jon Snow, from going into battle, where his meager army gets slaughtered. As I watched my TV in horror, the same  question kept whirling around in my head. How did Sansa know Jon would survive what ended up becoming a meat grinder?

The answer is  she didn’t. And I don’t think she cared one bit. Many people seem willing to give her kudos for saving the day. In reality, she did just the opposite. She gave the North to Littlefinger.

And it all started with her holding onto her little secret for no other reason than revenge in mind. It came across as though she didn’t give two hangs about Jon getting killed or anyone else for that matter. She  held onto her secret knowing full well she’d written to Littlefinger for help. Why not share that with her brother? Maybe save hundreds of lives while she’s at it.

But no, Sansa keeps this all to herself. She cleverly gets rid of her faithful, loyal knight, Brienne of Tarth, by sending her off on some stupid errand that seemed like filler to me.. Now I understand why. I can only figure that this was cunningly clever on Sansa’s part because she didn’t want Brienne around to see her true nature kick in. Brienne, after all, believes in honor and would no doubt have had a thing or two to say to Sansa about getting an entire army wiped out and setting up Jon Snow for an abysmal failure. Oh wait, Sansa needed her revenge on Ramsay, after all, at any cost, no matter who she had to watch die to get it. Are we forgetting that Sansa is the one who goaded Jon into battle in the first place and just wouldn’t shut up about attacking Ramsay’s army?

For all those who say Sansa asked Jon to wait, my answer to that is very simple. Give the man a reason! And  Sansa did not. She could’ve told him her plan, failed folly or not, Jon could’ve made a more informed decision. If the writers thought Sansa would come off as some type of heroic feminist–they failed miserably with me. Instead, I see her for what she truly is, a villainous Stark daughter, willing to do anything to avenge herself, even if that means getting her own brother killed. Now that’s a vengeful wench, not the mark of a brave woman, or a true leader, or a future queen. She’s not fit to rule any better than Ramsay was. Rather than lead or try to save lives Sansa sacrificed any and all who were willing to fight. She’s no different than Cersei who always thinks of herself first.

What gets me is that I’ve read other blogs and they all seem to defend Sansa, which for me is ridiculous. This is the same woman whose lie got the little butcher boy killed, who turned on her own father in favor of Joffrey, who lied to save Littlefinger, who repeatedly puts her welfare above her family and that of anyone else she professes to love. If that’s love, no thanks, I’ll pass.

Some say she didn’t tell Jon because she hadn’t yet received a reply from Littlefinger and wasn’t certain he’d show up. I don’t care. It was still a valuable piece of the puzzle.  I don’t care  if she finally got to watch Ramsay die. Jon beat the crap out of him and then turned him over to Sansa. Way to go Jon!

The last point, and maybe the strongest, is that smirk on Sansa’s face as she sits on her horse next to Littlefinger’s overlooking the battlefield, a battlefield full of blood spilled and piles of bodies. To me, she seemed to enjoy the scene a little too much, as if she’d taken her cue directly from Ramsay Bolton himself, smugly relishing in the carnage. Ugh! Smirking out onto the battlefield reminded me of another heartless, cold-hearted psychopath named Ramsay Bolton. But Sansa’s supposed to somehow be different. I don’t think so. She seemed pleased with herself as she watched her bloodied victims die for her own selfish gain.

Others are touting that now Sansa is the brilliant tactician. Yeah. Right. The writers seem destined to make Jon Snow the doofus, the former Night Watch commander who has actually seen battle and won victoriously again and again, has now been relegated to the sidelines when it comes to Sansa and Littlefinger. Maybe we’re supposed to believe Jon’s lost his ability to think since he was brought back to life. Even with half a brain, he’s better than Sansa in so many ways!

So to sum up, these turn of events beg me to ask the question to the writers about the direction of the Stark daughter. Just what kind of monster have you created now? Oh goody, you’ve given us another Cersei, maybe another Joffrey. While one monster bites the dust another rises up. But during all of it, thank you for finally proving to me that Sansa was never fit to rule. She has no heart, no compassion. Name one time Sansa has ever shown compassion to anyone because I must’ve missed the two seconds of that.

On second thought, don’t bother to answer. I’m not sure I’ll stick around to watch episode 10. I’m not sure I really care any more.

When home is hell

There’s something about having the safest place in the world for you in the same room. ~ Julia Roberts

Actress Julia Roberts has stunned fans for decades.  Who out there wasn’t charmed by her portrayal of Maggie Carpenter in Runaway Bride? And can you picture anyone else playing Vivian Ward, the hooker with a heart of gold, any better than Julia Roberts did in Pretty Woman? Probably not. Remember Grace in Something to Talk About? Who didn’t side with her against the cheating Eddie? 5919f96512e32ec14fa6287268e8c959

That’s why it’s great to read how happy she is these days. And according to the interview she gave in the October issue of Allure magazine, she’s singing the praises of her strong, loving relationship with her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder. Since they’ve been together for thirteen years that longevity sounds so unHollywood-like. But what’s notable here is that she says Danny makes her feel safe, secure, more confident in her work, and goes on to describe a natural chemistry of joy between them. Wow! Natural chemistry of joy sounds amazing. Isn’t that what all married couples should strive for? Isn’t that something they had to feel for each other at one time or another in order to take that initial, serious walk down the aisle in the first place? You would think to achieve that goal on the road to happily-ever-after, every couple out there would practice that safe, secure, confident thing with each other, right?

Not so fast.

Maybe if two people are able to toss in a heavy dose of respect for each other along the way, you stand a greater chance of developing a winning formula that lasts. Respect for each other is essential, especially in front of impressionable kids. Without showing each other respect, all you really have is a crash and burn scenario that sets your relationship up for serious failure. Respect is key.RespectEachOther During times of stressed out and hurt feelings, if you’re able to fall back on the respect you have for the person you paired up with, it will get you through a lot. After all, neither party should expect to run a prison camp or a dictatorship and call it a marriage. A successful relationship is NOT either one of those things. When you said “I do,” you were hoping for a soulmate, not a cellmate.

Sad to say, that hellish atmosphere thing at home is the norm for many. Too many. I should know because since I published my first book four years ago, readers reach out and share their personal, painful, real-life experiences. For them, marriage hasn’t been a bed of roses. It’s more like a horror movie that doesn’t stop.

I’m not a relationship expert, nor do I want to be. For that kind of serious help you need a pro. There are plenty of blogs out there written by noted psychologists far more adept at handling questions about these kinds of situations than I ever could attempt to address. And I’ve recommended those sources  to my readers.

Having said that, I DO know one thing. No matter what people tell you, relationships are not supposed to be WORK. If you’re in one where home is hell and your partner piles on a ton of stress, day in and day out, you’re with the wrong person!!!! Plain and simple. All the therapy or couples counseling in the world will NOT change that one fact.

That’s one reason when you hear about a good marriage working out it’s worth the mention. But if your partner is a nightmare, if there’s no mutual respect in your household, if screaming matches (or worse) greet you as soon as you walk in the door after an eight-hour shift at work, if your home life is a living hell, then it’s okay to start considering the alternatives. take-care-of-yourselfIt’s okay to start visualizing a little peace and quiet for yourself. It’s okay to leave. Remember, it’s okay to take care of your health, your well-being. In other words, take care of yourself. If you don’t, who will? Improve your living situation. Don’t put up with a hellish environment where a partner makes you feel lousy about yourself. Nowhere is it written that you should endure such emotional abuse. Life is too short for that. There is hope out there. And you can do it!!!

Just Evil is free

If you ever wanted to start the Evil Secrets Trilogy, now’s the time. Book one, Just Evil, is free for a couple more days.

Just Evil Cover FINAL -- Amazon

Three friends believe they’ve escaped the evil clutches haunting them since childhood until a stranger brings revenge full circle.

Just Evil

A survivor of an abusive childhood, Kit Griffin cherishes her new life of freedom. But when her tyrannical mother is found brutally murdered on Mother’s Day, the horrors of her past threaten to destroy her. When she becomes the prime suspect, when the body count continues to rise, Kit must convince the police there’s a cold-blooded killer on the loose, a killer working his way down a mysterious list of victims all connected to her mother’s evil–a killer who has Kit Griffin in his sights.

Weekend, oh weekend

 Sunny California

You can keep winter and the changing seasons. It just isn’t for me. Palm trees, blue sky, warm temps.

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A little lunch, a little blue sky overhead. Took this outside on the patio while scarfing down a tasty sandwich and salad. Temp 70 degrees.

February has a lot of heart

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There are so many cool things about February it’s difficult to know where to start. Chances are you already know people who’ve made their plans for that romantic day set aside on the 14th. And if we’re lucky in the job department, we plan to get a day off to sleep late thanks to  President’s Day since it falls on a Monday this year. Can you say 3-day weekend? Maybe you’ve contacted your travel agent and plan to spend some time at Mardi Gras. All good stuff. But there’s a lot more to February than partying in The Big Easy.

February is  a cheery winter month that lets you wear red without looking like a Christmas commercial. If you want to pull out that red sweater your aunt gave you as a present five Christmases ago, know this month is the time you can really pull off that outfit and make it rock. Just make sure there isn’t a big green tree with multi-colored lights on the front of it first.

February is known as National Heart Month, which means you can order healthy and all the salads you want over lunch without getting the evil eye from friends.  Simply explain that you’re being true to February’s health awareness goal and watch the respect and awe come into their eyes. Okay, so maybe I’m kidding about that last part.

It’s also Black History Month, so crack open a book and delve into the lives of people like, Carter Woodson and Marian Anderson. Don’t know who they are? Woodson was an author, historian, and a journalist. And take a listen to contralto Marian Anderson singing, My Country Tis of Thee at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. What a voice!

If you’re a film buff, February has it covered. Mark your calendars for Oscar night on the 22nd and watch Bradley Cooper battle it out with the likes of Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne for the prize. So far of those actors nominated, I’ve only caught Redmayne’s performance so I thought I’d post the trailer for Theory of Everything. I plan to see the other movies before the big night though.

On to February’s serious side. Where January was about Stalker Awareness, this month’s focus is just as serious and its about kids. It’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Why? Because 1 in 10 teens have been abused by either a boyfriend or girlfriend while on a date. Be aware that it happens to both boys and girls in equal numbers. So open up a dialogue and talk to your son or daughter about the early signs of domestic abuse cropping up during Friday night date night.

It’s never too early to teach your kids that love is respect. Healthy relationships come from respecting each other.

February might be a short month but it’s crammed full of all kinds of good stuff. So go out and make it a great month!

February

Jotters United: My short story, Going Home to Natty

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Jotters United: My short story, Going Home to Natty I’m honored to have my short story, Going Home to Natty, appear on the e-zine website,  Jotters United. The site publishes cool poems and rockin’ shorts. Check it out!  If you should get lost, … Continue reading