Tag Archive: relationships



Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One day, in the last couple of months, my daughter kidnapped me so I could spend a week back in Reno. It was one of those serendipitous things that made me very happy. I got to spend time with her and with other family and friends.

My daughter loves to listen to podcasts on long trips. When she learned that I had read and watched Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, she pulled up the Dear Sugar podcasts and we enjoyed a long listen.

Once back at home I found the Dear Sugar websites and other books by Cheryl Strayed. I looked at the eBook/Overdrive local library copies. I found this copy but it was just an eBook with no text-to-speech and no audio version. I tried very hard to enjoy the book. There was wonderful advice given here.

I wanted to keep reading past the mid-point that I thought I got to, but with no way to listen it was hard to read. I will try to keep an eye out for the Audible or Kindle with TTS to read later. Besides, most of it was written for younger people. I played the kind of game I used to play with the Dear Abby advice column, see if I can give the same advice the writer does. I was pleasantly surprised that Ms. Strayed gave more personal answers and helped in deeper ways than Abby or her sister Ann Landers ever did.

I think this is a wonderful book for young people to have. I think Dear Sugar is a good podcast for those under forty. I hope to find this book again in an easier form for me to read.

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All Good StoriesAll Good Stories by Linda G. Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an author of a busy, fun blog who is a single mom facing some special needs tests, trials, and triumphs, Linda G. Hill won my admiration long ago. I love reading her blog. I enjoy participating in her challenges. So it is understandable that I had to read her book.

Remember the challenge question in When Harry Met Sally? No. Not the restaurant scene. Wouldn’t we all want what she ordered? No. The question was: Can best friends that are male and female remain friends or is it inevitable that romance would play a part? Sally believed in the friendship as I recall whereas Harry said that friendship can’t stay in that realm. That sex was the most likely outcome.

All Good Stories attempts that question once again. This time it is through a series of smaller stories (started as A-Z challenge on Linda’s blog) that tell of the ebb and flow of friendship of Jupiter and Xavier. I won’t tell you how the story goes. I will merely say that there are topless pirates and bookstores involved. And there are laugh aloud situations. This is worth an evening with popcorn, at least. I enjoyed it and I think you will, too.

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Painted Doll (Only In Tokyo Mystery, #4)Painted Doll by Jonelle Patrick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this author’s work. Though I am not a fan of mysteries, I do find that I love how she presents her stories. I always feel like I have been to Japan and visiting with old friends when I read this series. There is just enough education of the culture and a few words to make you feel like you are there. Yet it isn’t over done.

When I finished this book, I didn’t want it to be over so I just left my text-to-speech going as it read all the glossary of Japanese terms and English definitions and then the first chapter of Jonelle’s first book of the series. That made it worse because I already read that and knew how it would turn out. Yet I got to stay with my friends in Japan just a little longer.

Please, if you get the chance, try this series. There is a lot to learn about Japan and about writing from Ms. Patrick.

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Dreams Before the Start of TimeDreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book free of charge from NetGalley.

This story called to me. It is labeled as sci-fi. But mostly it seems a good excuse to do character development stories. It was for that that I kept reading and actually finished the book. In fact, as I was listening and suddenly it was the Acknowledgements. I don’t know what the ending was.

The other thing about the book was it was presenting the idea that shows results of natural pregnancy versus choosing a child gestated out of the womb. Then the story follows the parents and children and grandchildren of these differing beginnings.

But I never got to know anyone enough to care. After just having read something similar and not finishing it, I found myself trying not to give in and toss the book. But I got through it and I am left feeling I wasted time. I know I won’t remember this book. I am only giving 3 stars because I finished. So I guess the stars are for me. Not the book. I am so sorry to feel this way about it. I hope others love the book and maybe I will go back someday and find it wonderful.

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A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over a decade ago, I met an online friend that would change or at least, modify my life. I met Judith on LiveJournal, you remember that old site, better than MySpace but not quite as social as FaceBook. Judith was chatting in her journal about Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo scene (Which resulted in my first novel being written between the Ides of March and the Ides of April. I didn’t finish the novel then as we had to move to a new city and I just couldn’t stay with it. But I added more than enough wordage to that novel in November 2002 to “win”. (First of 10 or 11 novels since.)

The other thing Judith introduced me to was BookCrossing.com. The concept that grabbed me with BC was how my read book could be recycled to others and then the new reader and the old could discuss this story. The book could travel even when I couldn’t, so it felt like a message in a bottle thrown out to sea. It is fun to see where your book could end up and the friendships that develop over said book. I still belong but since my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I am happy for the invention of Kindle and other e-readers. So I release far fewer books nowadays.

Besides Judith, what do the above paragraphs have in common, and what do they have to do with ‘A Tale for the Time Being’? The art of writing and the art of reading. Both concepts play strong in this story. Rather than a message in a bottle, this message floats ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox in layers of freezer bags. The writer was in Tokyo, the reader/finder in Canada. Years separate the two. Yet a bond is formed. Oh, yeah, Judith read and reviewed this and hooked me in. I think she didn’t like the Zen parts of the book. I found that part delightful. I have to admit that most of the book is believable whereas the Zen bits are a little more ‘magical’. But the title twinkles with that magic. If you read it right.

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I actually read it one and a third times. I borrowed the Kindle version from the library. Between reading it on my Kindle app on my Tablet and listening on my old Kindle text-to-speech, I managed to get to about 36% in. Then I found that my library also had the OverDrive version. So I restarted reading the book with the author’s voice. That pumped up my ratings for this wonderful tale. Each layer of depth into the story has its own built-in amazements. Level one, tree book, and the Kindle version, there are many footnotes and definitions to help with a deeper understanding of that time in history or that country, language. But the narration includes minor helps. Hearing a voice say the Japanese names or words adds to the believability of the whole story. Ms. Ruth Ozeki has an impeccable voice and narration, her variations of voices for each character supreme! I enjoyed rereading the first third with her help. I felt I gained deeper understanding just by hearing her. Please, if you get the chance to pair both versions, go for it!

By the way, I want to thank Jonelle Patrick and her Mysteries and website: http://jonellepatrick.me/ for introducing me to many contemporary Japanese subjects presented in A Tale for the Time Being. At least I was forewarned.

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Taxi - Tactics (Book 7)Taxi – Tactics by Sophia DeLuna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ulrike, you did WHAT!! Well, what did you have in mind, Carmen? Yeah, that’s what I thought!

There. I’ve summed it up. Would I have done what Ulrike did? Nope. Wouldn’t have had the nerve or the idea. I’m stuck with whatever Carmen would have come up with. Stuttering my way through to absolutely nothing.

What’s this all about? Gosh, I can’t tell you. You have to read it for yourself. I am curious as to how others would handle this situation. What tactics would you use? Remember jobs and reputations are on the line. But it is a situation that comes up on a daily basis. Like I’ve said before, Sophia DeLuna uses realistic problems and handles them through the characters of Ulrike and Carmen. I have to say I was quite surprised with what was done and I have to admit to what I wouldn’t have known what to do. Real life like this scares me. As advanced as we think we all are on LGBTQ issues, this situation still exists.

As I have said before, I love these episodes by Ms. DeLuna. They challenge my mind. They warm my heart. It is a little like watching a soap opera. And at this point I can’t wait until Sophia finishes the next Taxi event! By the way, thank you, Ms. DeLuna for letting me read these last few for free. When I can, I will buy these stories for friends, thereby passing on the kindness.

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Taxi - Tuxedo (Book 6)Taxi – Tuxedo by Sophia DeLuna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love visiting with my friends, Carmen and Ulrike. In this episode, Carmen has tickets to the opera and as the title suggests a tuxedo is involved. Some of us just can’t do dresses!

Do you want to know why I love these little book events? The writing is so flawless. The dialogue and situations are quite realistic. The troubles this couple encounter are also lifelike. And the way the author handles these situations are sometimes mature and responsible, sometimes not so much, but, real. What couple handle things beautifully every time? Most of us just muddle through our problems. We learn to talk it out, but some of us are better at that communication thing than others.

Most often I relate to Carmen in her ways of dealing with things. But in this chapter I related more to Ulrike. For me that is a grand feeling as I wish I was more like Ulrike and the ways she deals with the world.

Anyway, I highly recommend this series to those who want to read of lesbian relationships. The erotica is minimal, so if that offends, don’t worry. Some of us would like more, but that kind of book is a dime a dozen. These gems are about how this couple navigate being in a relationship. I was fortunate to have received the last few from the author but, when I get a few dollars ahead, I will buy them for others. After all, you can tell the work Sophia DeLuna puts into each and every story. By the way, you can find them on Smashwords. Most are $.99 or less. Check ’em out!

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Taxi - Talk (Book 5)Taxi – Talk by Sophia DeLuna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Remember when I read the first four episodes of Taxi? Well, I got a welcome surprise after the review of the fourth one. Ms. Sophia DeLuna, the author of these great stories, sent me a sweet email that included coupons for the next three books in the series. Yay! Thank you so much. With my tight budget, it is often hard to decide if the next dollar is for food or reading. I hate to admit that I don’t look like I would if I chose books more often. Or maybe it is the fact that one can do both eating and reading comfortably at the same time?

At any rate, I got to the reading as soon as I could. And I think that Taxi 5, Talk, is one of my favorites. It is so real and honest. It touched deep emotional threads for me. This book deepens the relationship of Carmen and Ulrike. You see Carmen, still dealing with her bit of PTSD, or maybe there is a deeper issue going on, like social anxiety, depression, or other mental problems. I found I related to Carmen very much, phone phobia, isolation, etc. And Ulrike is fleshed out in how she and Carmen’s cat bond over yogurt, sharing a spoon. Carmen cringed and so did I. But as different as Carmen and Ulrike are, you see them working hard to communicate and deepen their love for each other.

By the way, I just did a review of New Hire: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…, where my complaint was that the characters weren’t deep at all. In comparison, this Taxi series has what I think give fictional characters real life. In this series, I was surprised at how well I had pictured the two characters. It had to be how the author described them. I went to the author’s website: http://www.sophiadeluna.com/ and under the Taxi category I found the author’s rendition of her characters. I would have known who they were had I met them on the street. That is how good Ms. DeLuna is creating her characters. She’s quite the artist, as well! I can’t wait to read #6!

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My Melancholic DiaryMy Melancholic Diary by Iva Kenaz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to thank my GoodReads friend, A.S. Johnson for recommending this treasure to me. She was right, I did love it!

Once I got the recommendation I found that I could get it through Kindle Unlimited so I set about getting it right away. I already had tons of books ahead of it on my ‘currently reading shelf’, but I got around to it finally. So glad I did!

Where was this book when I was growing up? Oh, yeah, the author probably wasn’t born yet. What a great way to learn how fanciful a diary could be! When I was a young teen I had one of those diaries that had a little lock on it. Why I needed a lock always made me laugh. I rarely wrote anything in it beyond “I breathed in and out today.”

That a person in grade school chose to stay the last year of grade school with her eccentric father in the countryside near Prague in the Czech Republic so that she and he could iron out their differences, shows the maturity of the main character, Lisa, who is 14 nearly 15. But the book is full of mature themes but not in a preachy way. I think there is so much depth in this book that anyone of any age would find something to glean from it.

Lisa, the diary writer, the main character, of course, has a romantic heart and the adolescent inadequate self-esteem. Not too different from most people her age, but when you are that age, you don’t realize that. In fact, I wonder how many people outgrow that?

So seeing Lisa’s musings of her life and loves didn’t feel far from most people I know. Except for the fictional character that becomes alive for her. At first, that is shocking in such a mature girl, but as you watch the rest of her life you see that this ghost from another book guides her as much as she guides him. It is the one relationship that is working for her. What a grand idea! We should all have our own fictional hero/heroine who can speak to us while we write out the character’s destiny. Oh, yeah, we who write do just that! That is if we are writing daily. Gulp. We should be writing daily. Note to self…

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think even males will like it.

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Taxi - Timing (Book 4)Taxi – Timing by Sophia DeLuna

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The trauma that started in book/section three continues. It is so bad that it could be the end of the relationship between Carmen and her lover and even plays a part in her relationships with family and friends. But is time on her side? Is there a point where your trauma can isolate you to a point of starvation. Can she find her inner strength before everyone gives up on her?

This may be the most personal of all. If you haven’t lived with trauma that is that debilitating you might not understand what Carmen is going through. But I felt the author, Sophia Deluna, did a marvelous job getting inside the heads of characters of this section. And something I haven’t written about in my reviews of the previous Taxi installments is her writing. I love it! Her descriptions and ability to tell a story, reeling in this reader, hook, line and sinker. All the relationships seem real. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this story.

As with the other few bits of this story, I am most upset by the price per bit. I am now at the end of my budget for the month so I won’t be able to read part five for a month. It is this that is causing the less than five stars for me. At least with Kindle Unlimited I can still read a book when the money runs out. Oh well. I still have a few of Ms. DeLuna’s other stories downloaded to peruse over the next few weeks.

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