A History Lesson and a Versatile Blog Award

Hello kiddies, today I am going to break out my historical knowledge and educate some people who really need it.  What has precipitated this is a very disturbing image I took notice to today.

I was driving to go get lunch this evening.  Yes, my lunch break is in the evening since I work nights.  Anyway, I digress.  I drove over to McDonald’s to pick something up really quick.  What do I see sitting in the parking lot?  4…yes count them 4 suped up pick up trucks all having 2 confederate flags hanging off the back of the tailgate.  Now, I said to myself I wonder if whomever owns those trucks actually understands the significance of those flags.  What they truly represent other than the bastardization of them as symbols of being a “redneck.”

The Confederate flag is well-known as a symbol of the confederacy during the Civil War.  What most people don’t realize though is that it wasn’t really a symbol at the time.  The Confederacy or the South didn’t have a distinctive flag that was flown.  A few military groups from southern states used it as a rebel flag but that was few and far between at the time.  In time, it did become a symbol of the South and all they were fighting for.  Which despite what most people think was not slavery.  It was for states rights.  They thought that the Federal government didn’t have the right to tell them what to do regarding their property and lands.  Unfortunately, slavery fell under the property line of their grievances and hence the focus of the war became slavery.

But, back to the flag.  The actual popularity of the flag didn’t actually pick up until WWII when many military units with southern nicknames used it as a symbol.  It was even flown in Okinawa after the island was taken by the United States.  However, the military rarely used the flag as a symbol after the war.  Unfortunately, the cultural significance of the flag is what causes the most uproar. But neither the cultural nor the historical has any reference for those young teenagers driving those trucks.  I did finally find out who was driving those trucks.  For those teenagers, the flag represents the South (which is interesting enough for another blog considering they are living in Pennsylvania), rebellion, the possible correlation of the flag and the level of redneckness you have and just plain ignorance.  These kids have no idea what that symbol is or what it truly represents to people.  But, to have two of the large flags flying out of the back of your truck is just plain ridiculous.  If only these kids would open a book and educate themselves instead of taking a symbol and making themselves represent what they think it represents.  Open up your minds kids.  You might be surprised you don’t have to be what you think you ought to be.

Ok…enough of the serious.  Onto the second part of my blog.  The cool little Versatile blogger award.  I wasn’t 100%  about this award.  Honestly, I think it’s a bit of a made up award, but still an award is an award.  But, if everyone gets one isn’t that kinda like the participation awards you used to get in the Science Fair at school.  Anyway, I want to thank lightningpen for nominating me.  I gladly accept the award no matter the hoops you have to jump through to get it.  So, I will follow the rules like a good little award winner/participant and nominate 15 others and tell you 7 very random facts about myself.

So, here are the rules for accepting this award.  You have to tell 7 random things about yourself. You have to nominate 15 talented blogs. And finally thank the person that nominated you and include the Versatile Blog Image in your acceptance blog! You can follow this link to get the button to put on your blog: versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com
Here are 7 random things,
1. I collect porceline dolls (yes the ones you can buy on QVC)

2. I have been in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  Singing and Dancing 🙂

3.  I once went to a work conference and instead of attending the actual conference went sight-seeing.  They never missed me.

4.  I have smacked the back of the head of a theme park mascot.

5.  I once forgot to turn my cell phone off in a movie theater.

6.  I have been a part of the Oprah book club

7.  I believe in Santa Clause 🙂

Now without any more hoopla here are the nominees!
1. http://noseyrosie.wordpress.com
2. http://selena-lost-in-thought.blogspot.com
3. http://caszarekwriter.blogspot.com/
4. http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com
5. http://jodiambroseblog.com
6. http://exlibrisheather.wordpress.com
7. http://emilyguido.com
8. http://prettylittlepinkthings.com
9. http://butimbeautiful.wordpress.com
10. http://chattygirlbookreviews.wordpress.com
11. http://halliechandler.wordpress.com
12. http://mariewetmore.com
13. http://foreveronreading.wordpress.com
14. http://chicklitgoddess.com
15. http://oneanna65.wordpress.com

All of my nominees are accomplished writers and I enjoy their blogs immensely.  I love following them and they are very deserving of this award.

 

Father’s Day Funnies: Memories of a practical joker.

Today is Father’s Day and it’s a day to celebrate those who are father figures in our lives whether its your actual father, a favorite uncle, a beloved grandfather or even a mom who is like a father.  This is my 8th Father’s day without my father.  He passed away from colon cancer December 2003.  So, this Father’s day I wanted to remember all of the crazy things he used to do.  He was well-known for playing jokes and being able to convince anyone that anything was true, even when most of it was false.  Today I am pointing out some of my funniest memories of my dad.  I know he has so many more than this, but these are just my favorites.

  •   Mr. Ed-When I was around 4 my Dad asked me if I knew how they got Mr. Ed to talk.  I, of course, didn’t know.  He told me that they stuck a carrot up his butt and that made him talk.  My mom proceeded to tell him that he shouldn’t say that to me.  He thought I would never remember what he told me.  That was 28 years ago.
  • The Mall-My dad was well-known to avoid us passing any kind of store my brother and I would want to go into while at the Mall.  So, each time we passed the store we wanted to go into he would say, “We will stop when we pass it again.”  We managed to NEVER pass the store again.  We would walk around the outside of the Mall through the parking lots just to avoid the store.
  •   The Lazy River-This is one of my favorites.  When we would go to a water park as kids my dad would go on one ride.  The Lazy River.  This is the ride where you would sit in an inner tube and ride the currents of the pool.  My dad would ride on this for hours.  Yes, hours.  How did he get away with this you may wonder.  Well, he would keep to the outer edge of the river and swim away from the lifeguards.  He did this every single time.  I think after a while the lifeguards would just ignore that he never got off.
  •  Swim shoes-I’m sure everyone has seen these before.  They are meant to be used at the beach or the pool so that your feet are protected.  I hated these shoes.  I still hate these shoes.  Why?  Because my dad wouldn’t just wear these shoes in the water park or beach.  He would wear them anywhere.  I still get embarrassed thinking about it.
  • Phillies Game/Phillie Phanatic– This only happened once.  I think that is because I was becoming wise to the fact that I had to question what my dad said.  In this particular occasion my dad told me to be sure to sit and watch the entire Phillies game because he was going to be sitting in the dugout with the team.  He told me I had to pay really close attention to try to see him.  And I like the gullible kid I was I sat and watched the whole game.  And guess what…I didn’t see him.  My dad kept the ruse up by eventually introducing me to a guy he proclaimed was the Philly Phanatic.  My mom finally told me when I was a bit older that my dad didn’t know the Phillie Phanatic and that he never sat in the dugout with the Phillies.  My dad just laughed.
  • Birthday’s in a restaurant-This one for once didn’t have anything to do with me or my brother, but it happened without fail.  Every time my family went out to dinner with my parents best friends and their family it was always someone’s birthday.  EVERY time my dad would wait until his best friend, Mr.H, left the table. He then proceeded to tell the waiter/waitress that it was Mr.H’s birthday.  So, when Mr. H came  back the whole wait staff would come out and surround him and sing Happy Birthday or whatever other song rendition that restaurant did.  I do think the best thing was that Mr. H never knew it was coming and he never connected that the birthday song was for him until it was too late.  I would say the look on his face was priceless.

Reminiscing about some of my dad’s more ornery moments reminds me of my most favorite memory.  My dad had a way of making all of my birthday’s special.  He would manage to fill my bedroom with balloons.  I still recall waking up to see the colors of all the balloons.  It made me feel special every single time. To this day on my birthday I wake up hoping to see balloons in my room.  Writing these funny moments down makes me feel a bit sad that my son won’t have the opportunity to buy into any of these jokes or be duped by a very convincing Grandfather.  I guess that just means my brother and I have to keep up the legacy.

Happy Father’s day!  I miss you dad.

Girls Rule…Boys Drool…or not?

A theme I have noticed in a lot of the books I have been reading lately is the development of strong alpha female characters.  There aren’t as many stories that focus on the female character being the damsel in distress. There are a lot of female ass-kicking characters now then there ever were.  But, that being said there are quite a few book series that feature very overly Alpha male characters.  You are hard pressed to find many series that balance the two well.  A series in which both are Alphas and work well together.

Female characters such as Anita Blake, Charley Davidson and Mackayla Lane, to name a few, all have very similar character requirements.  They are tough, witty, strong both of character and physically and yet still very feminine.  They are exquisite examples of Girl Power.

Anita Blake, of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series,  is also known as the vampire hunter.  Her series revolves around her but also include a male counterpart, Jean Claude.  The stories illustrate her strengths, weaknesses and her ability to over come them herself not relying souly on Jean Claude to bail her out. The story between her and Jean Claude also does not lead to them automatically jumping into bed.  She sticks to her guns even though there is definite chemistry there.  She is not the shrinking violet or damsel in distress.  In a fight you wouldn’t mind having Anita Blake at your back.

Charley Davidson, of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson Series, is also known as the Grim Reaper.  She is a part-time private detective who can communicate with the dead because she is the light that spirits must go into.  She is one of the funniest characters I’ve read in a long time.  She also has a male counterpart in Reyes.  Now, she and Reyes have had hot, sweaty sex but she still keeps her wits about her and still questions the Son of Satan’s  (Reyes) motives.  Charley is definitely headstrong and no non-sense but very relatable.

Mackayla Lane, from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series, is our most human of the three female characters I chose.  She does have special powers but it’s not really something most people would want to have.  She can see the Fae without their glamour.  Which means all the awful and ugly facades come crashing at her.  The only reason she learns of these powers is because she leaves her very isolated Georgia home town to Dublin where the Fae are very prominent.  It is here she meets one of the best Alpha males that has been written, Jerricho Barrons.  Mackayla isn’t always the strong character she develops into.  It is her situation, determination and Barrons incessant bullying and pestering that drives her be become what she needs to be.

Since we have covered the female characters we must give props to some of the very strong male characters out there. But, I find that many of the male characters are parts of groups. The Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Lords of the Underworld are some of the strongest male characters that are currently placed on the bookshelves.  They know how to be both sensitive and totally take someone out for messing with their mates.  These men are all Alpha males even though there are leaders in both groups.

J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood contains ALL strong characters.  Each one of them must overcome obstacles from Vishous and his need for pain, Rhage and his inner monster, Zsadist and his tormented past and John Matthew and his human past to name only a few.  But, with overcoming these problems whether physical or mental allow for them to grow as characters and still kick ass and show the Lessers who is boss.  These males take care of theirs and no one better ever threaten what is theirs or face the dire consequences.

Gena Showalter’s the Lords of the Underworld are a bit more complicated considering most of them are two entities.  One half is the man and the other half is the demon they house.  These Lords face similar issues like that of the Brotherhood except they are constantly fighting themselves. Most of the Lords must do things like consistently lie, win every challenge or cut themselves or they are in immense pain.  These cursed men fight those who are trying to destroy them while still protecting their mates.  These men, like the BDB, are strong-willed Alpha males.

I have covered both strong female and male characters.  There are only a few series’ that offer partnerships that allow for both to be Alphas or dominant.  Cat and Bones from Jeaniene Frost’s Nighthuntress series and Elena and Raphael from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series are two that stick out to me.  Both of these strong couples support yet protect each other.  Both allow for dominance and strength in each other while accomplishing their goals.  This type of relationship is rarely seen in novels.  I believe it’s probably just very difficult to write.  It is much easier to have one central character be the dominant.

All this being said, I still am at a loss to which I prefer.  Whether I like the strong, witty, fun female protagonist or the domineering, overly protective/sensitive male protagonist, I am unsure.  But, if those two get together I know they most likely will have fireworks and really sexy love scenes.  And, who doesn’t like a good sex scene?

What do you prefer, A Female Alpha or a Male Alpha? 

Lounging by the Kiddie Pool (My Top 10 Summer Re-Reads)

One of the main points of summer is relaxation, vacation and letting the winter blues float away on waves of summer sun and fun.  For me, summer forces a choice between reading new books and/or  re-reading some of my favorite books.  I can never choose between the two so I do both.  I read a new book then to almost do a sort of cleansing I re-read a book that I have read many times already.  The upside to doing this is you get the excitement of the new book/author but also get to be re-acquainted with previous enjoyable stories.

Choosing what to re-read is one of the biggest challenges.  Sometimes for me it’s just a matter of what kind of mood I am in.  But, for the most part there are certain books I tend to gravitate to when I need to read something that feels like new each time but I have the comfort of knowing what is going to happen and know the characters like they are old friends. One of the many upsides of the summer re-read is that you don’t have to go in series order.  If your favorite book is not the first one it is not necessary to re-read all of them to get to your favorite.  It’s the summer go crazy and start in the middle.  This was a hard list to come up with because I have a lot of books that I could put in this category.  But, I figured I would pick some lesser known authors to include in the list to introduce to a wider audience.  Plus, they are really good and should get noticed!

10.  Juliet by Anne Fortier-This is a unique twist on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  I enjoy the jumping from the past to present and connections between the past characters and the present ones.  Plus, who doesn’t like a good Romeo and Juliet type of story.

 

 

9.  The Mating by Nicky Charles-This is one of the best free books I have ever come across.  The author publishes her own books so you have to take some of the editing with a grain of salt and just focus on the writing.  She reinvents the idea of werewolves and make it seem very believable.

 

 

8.  Lover Reborn (Black dagger Brotherhood #10) by J.R Ward-This is the 10th book in the Blackdagger Brotherhood Series.  This book focuses on Tohrment and No’One/Autumn.  I feel the need to re-read this one because I read it so fast the first time through I don’t think I got everything I wanted and needed.  Plus, for those BDB fans out there…I need my Qhuinn and Blay fix.

 

 

7.  Darkfever (Fever Series #1) by Karen Marie Moning-We meet MacKayla Lane from Ga in this first book in the Fever Series.  You quickly fall for her as she discover’s who she is and why she is being hunted.  All the while she is searching for the killer of her sister. But for those familiar with the Fever Series all I really have to say about this is…BARRONS!!!

 

 

6.  Marked (Eternal Guardians #1) by Elisabeth Naughton-Marked is the first in Elisabeth Naughton’s Eternal Guardians series. You are introduced to the Guardians, but this book focuses on their leader Theron.  If you like Greek mythology with a twist you will like this series.  The story is fast paced and an excellent beginning to a wonderful series.

 

 

5.  The Naked Viscount by Sally Mackenzie-This is definitely my favorite in Sally Mackenzie’s Naked Series.  You won’t find two better Characters than Jane and Edmund.  She is headstrong and he just doesn’t know what hits him when she does.  It’s a really fun Regency romance.

 

 

4.  A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare-I really like all of Lydia Dare’s books.  This is the first in her series with the Westfield brothers.  Once you meet them you will be coming back for more.    Simon is brutish and Lily doesn’t put up with his act.  All the while you throw in some paranormal (werewolves) and its a unique Regency Paranormal Romance.  Not many of those out there!

 

 

3.  Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey-If you like Carly Philips’ books you will like Shannon Stacey.  There writing is similar and very cute.  This is a nice fresh read especially between books.  Her characters are funny and very relatable which helps the story move very fast.  I would recommend all of her books, but this one in particular is my favorite.

 

 

2.  Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison-This book has to be my all-time favorite book that I found for free.  It is definitely a different take on Death (Grim Reaper) and the idea that he falls in love and has a child.  This story is about the child and the powers she has.  The characters are well-formed and the story is very well thought out leading us to believe there is a continuing story.  Adam and Talia are unforgettable characters that will leave you wanting more or to just go back and read about them all over again.

 

1.  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness-Not much more I can say about Matthew and Diana that I haven’t already said in my book review.  There story is epic and since there continuation in Shadow of Night is coming out I have to re-acquaint myself with all the nuances of the story so they are fresh for the next one.

 

 

If any of these books interest you I would suggest going over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to see the actual overviews of that book.  Also, if you haven’t read the series I wouldn’t always suggest jumping into the middle.  It could be confusing and possibly turn you off of a good series.

For more information about any of these books, series or authors please go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your local retail book seller.  You may also ask me if you have any specific questions.  Happy Reading!!

Feet in the Sand and a Good Book in Hand (My Top 10 Summer Reads)

Since it is coming up on vacationing season I figured I would lay out my top 10 books I want to read while on vacation or just throughout the summer.   For me it’s probably more likely hanging out by the baby pool, but either way I have some reading to do.

I have chosen a wide variety from Non-fiction to Young Adult.  When I was coming up with my list I actually felt like it was a bit daunting especially when I have plans to do some re-reading. But, that is another post entirely.  I hope you enjoy my choices.  It wasn’t easy to narrow my long list down to just 10 but I think these are a good variety to keep me entertained while trying to avoid getting splashed.

10.  The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff-At thirty-five, Gabriella “Ella” Graham is a successful portrait artist in London. She captures the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalizes it on canvas. But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait. (see more at www.bn.com)

9.  The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins-On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. (see more at www.bn.com)

8.  Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough-Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin’s magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

7. The Irish Princess by Karen Harper-Born into a first family of Ireland, with royal ties on both sides, Elizabeth Fitzgerald-known as Gera-finds her world overturned when Henry VIII imprisons her father, the Earl of Kildare, and brutally destroys her family. Torn from the home she loves, her remaining family scattered, Gera dares not deny the refuge offered her in England’s glittering royal court. There she must navigate ever-shifting alliances even as she nurtures her secret desire for revenge. From County Kildare’s lush green fields to London’s rough-and-tumble streets and the royal court’s luxurious pageantry, The Irish Princess follows the journey of a daring woman whose will cannot be tamed, and who won’t be satisfied until she restores her family to its rightful place in Ireland.

6. Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie-Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor “Nell” Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it’s the duchess’s dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell’s heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower’s gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye…

5.  Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost (June 26, 2012)-After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: a terrifying ability to channel electricity and to see a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire..(see more at www.bn.com)

4.  Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire-Once peaceful and prosperous, the spectacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy. (see more at www.bn.com)

3.  The Watchers by John Steele-Beneath Lausanne Cathedral, in Switzerland, there is a secret buried before time began, something unknown to angels and men, until now…

Marc Rochat watches over the city at night from the belfry of the cathedral. He lives ina world of shadows and “beforetimes” and imaginary beings.
Katherine Taylor, call girl and daydreamer, is about to discover that her real-life fairy tale is too good to be true.
Jay Harper, private detective, wakes up in a crummy hotel room with no memory. When the telephone rings and he’s offered a job, he knows he has no choice but to accept.

Three lives, one purpose: save what’s left of paradise before all hell breaks loose.

2.  The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton-The novels of New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton take readers into the dangerous life of Anita Blake, animator and vampire hunter—a woman as good at raising the dead as she is at slaying the undead. Now, a creature from beyond the grave is tearing a swath of murder through St. Louis. And Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried—and some people better off dead…(see more at www.bn.com)

1.  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (July 10, 2012)-Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. 

***All overviews came from www.bn.com.

For additional information on the above books you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other Book retailer.  For more books on my To Be Read list you can go to my Goodreads list.

You Know Your Popular When Your Being Spoofed

The old adage is that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  I have often noticed this is true when it comes to Movies and Television shows.  Well, I have started to see that videos of parodies of popular books are popping up all over youtube.  This was brought to my attention most recently when a friend forwarded to me the 50 Shades of Blue parody.

50 Shades of Blue is a take on the very popular and widely criticized 50 Shades of Gray.  This is quite a funny imitation of the book.  I was actually laughing out loud with this video.  I was impressed they actually got a notable actress to star in this parody.

When I was doing some research for this blog, which entailed watching funny and not so funny videos of parodies, I also came across The Hunger Pains.  This one of course is a parody of The Hunger Games.  I was quite impressed with this one also.  They really attempted to imitate the actual trailers of The Hunger Games.  Of course they take liberties to make fun of the movie/books, but overall it’s quite accurate while poking fun at the book.

I would definitely say that imitation is a sign of success and popularity.  When a video of your book pops up on youtube and it’s actually quite a good rendition with the twist of humor you have a hit.  I was quite surprised to also find that there are book parodies also, The Game of Groans and The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo to name a few.  I am going to end today’s post with just one really funny SNL skit.  It’s not really a parody of a book but of those who read it.  I hope you enjoy…I know I laughed so hard I was crying.  🙂

What book do you think would make a good parody?  And, if you were the author would you be flattered or insulted? 

Elisabeth Naughton’s Royal Realism

I am going to give a quick shout out to one of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Naughton.  She just posted her first contribution in the Love Rocks column.  Click on the link below to see the article in full.

http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Love-Rocks/Royal-Realism/ba-p/7909

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