Tuesday, October 10, 2017

[Book Review] The Legend of Decimus Croome: A Halloween Carol by Kevin Purdy

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition
Genre: Fiction

Disclaimer: I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Decimus Croome is a dastardly curmudgeon who hates all holidays but especially despises Halloween. He is content to live in his gloomy old house and avoid all human contact whenever possible. He even shuns his own daughter and grandson. But Croome's life changes one memorable Halloween when four ghastly spirits visit him to reveal the misery he has inflicted upon his friends, neighbors and family members.

Based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Legend of Decimus Croome is bound to become a Halloween classic for readers of all ages. Follow old man Croome as he is visited by the lovely but disturbing spirit of his dearly departed wife. She warns him of three spirits yet to follow. And oh what spirits they are. Each one is more frightening than the last as they deliver a chilling message for Croome and his fellow Halloween humbugs.

The Ghost of Halloween Past is a truly horrifying yet disturbingly hilarious spirit who delivers Croome to his distant and not-so-distant past. Along the journey, Croome is warmed with nostalgia then terrified by painful memories from Halloweens gone by.

The second spirit is a shape-shifting witch who breaks every stereotype about witches while nearly driving Croome insane with her wild antics and slapstick delivery. As the Ghost of Halloween Present, she takes Croome on a crazy magic carpet ride that reveals his negative influence on those closest to him. The witch also introduces Croome to the magic of Halloween on enchanted visits further afield.

The third phantasm delivers the final glimpse of Croome's diabolically repulsive life and the future that is in store for him if he doesn't change his wicked ways. Croome is forced to confront the impending consequences of his cruel and heartless lifestyle. He is spirited away to a bleak future including a terrifying visit to a desolate cemetery.

Throughout this delightful and spooky Halloween novel, you will be haunted by ghosts, inspired by a brave young leukemia patient and entertained by a precocious feline named Black Magic.

Join Tommy Bobbich, Decimus Croome and a whole cast of ghosts, witches and ghouls in this modern day holiday story that is sure to provide you with chills, laughs, and even a few touching moments as you read The Legend of Decimus Croome: A Halloween Carol. You will never look at Halloween the same again.

Part 2: Recommendation

I love Halloween (even though I tend to be lazy when it comes to dressing up, decorating and giving out candies because all I want to do on Halloween is to eat pizza and popcorn while watching a movie marathon of all of my favorite Halloween movies) and I love Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. At first I wasn't sure if I want to read and review this book (because I don't want A Christmas Carol to be ruined by another retelling) but upon further research, majority of this book's Amazon and GoodReads reviews were 5-stars. So I figured, why not give it a try and I am quite curious to know how the author Kevin Purdy translates the major plot points of A Christmas Carol into Halloween.

Well, I have to say kudos to Kevin Purdy for his work in The Legend of Decimus Croome: A Halloween Carol. It's very well written and true to the "Spirit of Halloween" ala Dickens style. It makes me wonder if the author is planning on coming out with another holiday carol book.

Decimus Croome definitely has Mr. Scrooge's cranky and downright nasty personality towards anyone and anything related to Halloween. Sam Bobbich and Tommy Bobbich represented Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim respectively. Patricia Croome, the late wife of Decimus Croome took the place of Jacob Marley while his son-in-law, Darren Tate, took the place of Fred, Mr. Scrooge's nephew, who always invites Mr. Croome to their annual Halloween party. Fezziwig was aptly represented by Stan Croome, Decimus' late father, who left the Croome Hardware store to Decimus. 

The book opens with a scene establishing Decimus Croome as the Halloween humbug when he encountered Tommy and his older sister Kate by the Halloween decor aisle and what he later did to the two teen boys running around the Home Emporium, the competing hardware store, while buying an axe. Decimus Croome does have a wicked sense of humor and it showed when he exited the Home Emporium with a smirk on his face and mumbling, "Pest clean-up in aisle three … Who needs a stake through the heart when you've got lawn tractors?" or when he asked Darren, "A Halloween party? … and what exactly does one celebrate at a Halloween party? Is it a werewolf's birthday, a mummy's bar mitzvah or perhaps a witch's wedding anniversary?" 

Another line from the book that I dearly loved was when Decimus asked Patricia's ghost, "…if you didn't choose it, and I didn't choose it, then why … did I have to spend my life without the one I loved most?…" and Patricia's answer was the best, "You cannot choose when or how you die, but you can choose how you live."

When Decimus observed how, "… it took so little to make a child like Tommy happy" the Spirit of Halloween Present said, "… It would appear that you might have underestimated the magic of Halloween." Decimus also realized "… that the joy of Halloween had not department this world. It had only departed his world."

When the Spirit of Halloween Present introduced Apathy and Greed, the scene with the two "little monsters" was quite spooky, "They belong to all of us and none of us. They are children of the world … they have grown particularly repulsive in the present day … When I am long gone, they will remain to haunt you and your brethren … they appear small but have a remarkable impact upon us all … They are not here with me, Decimus Croome. They are here with you."

And that scene with the Spirit of Halloween Future where they were visiting the Bobbich family and Decimus began pleading with Sam just about broke my heart.

And to round it all up, the light-hearted, happy and nice Decimus Croome making an appearance at the annual Tate Halloween party tied everything up like a festive Halloween wreath.

Overall, the plot, dialogue and characters lived up to the original classic and I have no doubt of this book by Kevin Purdy easily becoming a Halloween favorite just like A Christmas Carol. Truly inspiring.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Knitting Mojo Might Be Back?

For the past 4 years, I have not been using my Takumi fixed circular bamboo knitting needles and so finally, last Sunday, 9/10/2017, I donated all of my knitting needles to a nonprofit called Who Gives A Scrap in Old Colorado City. I felt free. I mean, sure while driving to Old Colorado City, my nerves were a jangled mess and I was getting separation anxiety. But then I told myself, "I haven't picked up these needles or any of my beginner needles because I obviously didn't like using them. Besides, I have 10 Knook hooks that I can use to knit with if there's a knitting project I really want to do." That little mantra bolstered my courage to walk through the door and drop my knitting needles at the checkout counter. As soon as I stepped out of the store, I felt lighter and exhilarated for some weird reason. Maybe because the needles have a new home now. I did appreciate them very much but I think it was the cords that always tend to get tangled that drove my knitting mojo away (well that and the fact that I truly fell in love with crochet). Unburdened.

The next day, Monday, 9/11/2017, guess what? I frogged the crocheted beret that I was working on and used the yarn to cast on (yes, knit!) the Collapsible Cloche by Laura Macagno-Shang using a US 10.5 or 6.5mm Knook hook. So far, it's going great. I'm still not hankering for a new set of needles and though the k2tog stitch can be a challenge it's doable. So for now, I'm not in the market for a new set of needles and I already have one in mind and on my Amazon Wish List so I don't forget: the ChiaoGoo Interchangeable Bamboo Spin set because the joins spin instead of being fixed which causes the cord/cable to twist and tangle while you knit and because I prefer bamboo knitting needles instead of the metal ones but for crochet, I prefer metal with tapered hooks. I seem to split the yarn more when using inline hooks.

Many of you might not know this but I am highly introverted and therefore, meeting new people in person is quite the challenge. I need lots of mental preparation to combat the anxiety and so that I won't chicken out at the last minute. Ever since I started knitting back in 2011 and switched to crochet since 2013, books like The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs and the cozy Knitting Mystery series by Maggie Sefton had made me want to do the same thing: sit and stitch with yarny individuals at a local yarn shop. On top of that, I'd also like to have a yarny friend to go yarn crawling with. I do personally know 5 people from previous workplaces who do crochet and knit but I have this feeling that they're not as addicted to yarn as I am because their priorities lay on taking care of their family and children. I could, of course, be wrong. So, I just wanted to enlarge my circle of yarny friends who knit or crochet as much as I do. I crochet as much as I read. Last Monday, 9/18/2017, I received an email saying that a local yarn shop in Downtown Colorado Springs is going to close their doors on Dec. 2. I have been meaning to go there so I made a point to go last Saturday and I told myself that if the shop is relatively quiet, I'm going to sit and stitch for 2 hours. Thankfully, the shop was quiet. There were only 2 women knitting when I walked in and browsed the shelves for any cotton blend yarn and bought 3 skeins of Butterfly 100% Mercerized Cotton yarn, 249 yards/125 grams each in this lovely taupe color. After paying for my purchases, I sat down and crocheted with Pam (the owner) and Julia then at around noon, Erin walked in. I had a lovely time stitching with these 3 ladies and got 3 used books on the way out at 1pm. While browsing the table of used books, I talked to Erin about the ChiaoGoo spin cables and she loves them! So I felt it was really fortuitous that I decided to hang out at Entwine Yarn Store that day because now I know for sure that when the time comes for me to re-invest in knitting needles, I'm going for those ChiaoGoo Bamboo Spin interchangeable set. Then I got invited to join them again and every Saturday. And most likely, I will. 

Butterfly Cotton Yarn

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 

  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (from The Jane Austen Digest: Complete Collection)

Currently Writing

  • Chapter 21 of Helena and the Dragon
  • Stretchy Crochet Skirt pattern

Finished Objects:

  • Collapsible Cloche by Laura Macagno-Shang - I'm using Istex Alofoss Lopi Pure New Icelandic Wool yarn in Olive on a US size K or 6.5 mm Knook hook. The k2tog stitches were quite a challenge using the knook but still doable.

    Collapsible Cloche by Laura Macagno-Shang

  • Beanie There, Done [T]Hat by Vickie Howell - I'm using Istex Alofoss Lopi Pure New Icelandic Wool yarn in Space Blue and the rest of the Olive color on a 6.0mm/J crochet hook. I originally started this project with the recommended 4.00mm/G hook and I did get gauge with it but the resulting fabric was a tad too small and too stiff. So I frogged that and used the yarn recommended hook size of 5-1/2 to 6-1/2. Even though I didn't get gauge on the US size J or 6.0mm Clover Soft Touch crochet hook, I like how much more softer and pliable the fabric is and how 6 rounds on the top makes for a better medium hat size.

Beanie There, Done [T]Hat by Vickie Howell

  • Liula Stole by Emma Potter of Potter & Bloom - I'm using Kiku Lace Weight 100% Bombyx Silk in Tropical Bloom on US size C or 2.75 mm Clover Soft Touch crochet hook. I am loving this pattern. As always, I switch hands instead of turning the entire fabric. It's gotten quite long now so I had one end rolled up. Hopefully by switching hands, it'll save me from RSI or carpal tunnel. 

Liula Stole by Emma Potter

Liula Stole by Emma Potter

Currently Knitting/Crocheting

  • I'm currently working on a crochet skirt pattern


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rereading Jane Austen

Ever since the Keira Knightley movie version of Pride and Prejudice came out in 2005, I've been hooked and I became an Austen fan. I watched all of the BBC Jane Austen book adaptations and every year in October, I listen to the P&P audiobook narrated by Emma Messenger (which was really good, by the way). This year, I want to revisit Jane Austen by reading the books and not consuming her works via television or audiobooks. And because reading is a much slower pace than the other two media formats, I started reading that big collection this past August 26. I really hope to finish all 9 books in this massive The Jane Austen Digest: Complete Collection by October 22.

On the yarn side of things, the 2017 Yarn Along The Rockies happened last August 19-27, 2017 and I hope all you dear yarn crafters out there had fun. I myself decided not to participate in this year's yarn crawl because I don't have shelf space for new yarn as you may have seen in my April blog post. On top of that, my goal was to use up all the yarn I currently have before buying any new yarn. It should not be that hard since I only have a handful of yarn in my stash — or so I think. 

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 
  • Emma by Jane Austen (from The Jane Austen Digest: Complete Collection)

Currently Writing

  • Chapter 21 of Helena and the Dragon - Helena and her friends are now making their way back to Munich from Neuschwanstein Castle

Finished Objects

  • Tea, Books & Crochet - I frogged the crochet socks I was making last month because I'm just not feeling it and the fact that I don't have enough yarn and I don't want to buy new yarn for this pair of socks. Pattern used: The Moogly Crochet Alphabet by Tamara Kelly; Yarn used: Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Collection Serenity Sock Weight 75% Superwash Merino Wool & 25% Nylon and used 45 yards of the Surf color and 82.8 yards of the Lavender Topaz color.

  • Divine Hat - I'm finally using that Icelandic Wool yarn that my coworker gave me 2 years ago last September. I slightly modified this hat's pattern to fit the amount of yarn I have as well as my head size. Pattern used: Divine Hat by Sarah Arnold; Yarn used: Istex Alofoss Lopi, Pure New Icelandic Wool, Bulky weight, 109 yards in the color Light Ash Heather. I have to say though that this yarn sheds a lot!!

Currently Knitting/Crocheting

  • Beret #50617 by Lion Brand Yarns - I'm using the last 2 balls of my Icelandic yarn Istex Alofoss Lopi, Pure New Icelandic Wool, Bulky weight, 109 yards each in the color Space Blue and Olive Green (Dunkeloliv)

Image courtesy of Lion Brand Yarns

Product Reviews


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Friday, August 11, 2017

[Book Review] The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
EPUB Edition
Genre: Women's Fiction

Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Part 2: Recommendation

Amanda Prowse does it again. This is the second book of hers that I've read, thanks to Net Galley and it's powerful… emotional… triumphant even. I want to read more about Nina, Tiggy, Connor and Declan, Gilly and the girls.

The plot is simple but emotionally charged beginning with Finn's death and discovering the financial difficulty they are all in. Nina's reaction to everything was believable and readers can't help but cheer her on as she tries to put the remaining pieces of their lives together in a less posh neighborhood aka the life she's known before Finn. I love that there's more to Connor than the usual teen angst and its lovely to see both boys grow into people with character and integrity and kindness. I feel that the boys from Kings Norton College could definitely learn and grow into. 

In the scene where Kathy Topps was asking Nina if Declan would like to join her son Henry for tennis lessons and saying that, "…they learn so much better when there's an element of competition in it, …" I quite agree with Nina when she thought, "… it's the worst way to teach things. Who needs that added pressure?" 

On p.15 the words "Oh no… That can't happen now. That won't happen again. There it was: the realization like a door slamming in her mind… bang!" resonated so much with me as my family is still grieving over the loss of my mother-in-law, and it does feel like that every time you thought of or do something and make a mental note to share that with your dearly departed loved ones, it does feel like a door slamming once you realize they're not physically there anymore. 

On p.25 when Connor asked Nina "That's nowhere near my school. It's on the other side of town. He was heading out of the city. He wasn't on his way to watch me play rugby, was he?" it adds to Mr. Monroe's supposition when he said, "And I hate to think that I am the one who might be shedding light on Finn's untimely death…"

On p.28 when Declan said to Nina and Tiggy, "…but I hope that people [when they die and go to heaven] get to have a rest, either because they are very old and tired or because they were very busy, like Dad" made me very sad and hopeful at the same time that when our time comes and we die, that we too get to rest and that we don't have any spiritual chores to do.

My heart was filled with both sadness for Nina and rage at Finn when I came across the note Finn left behind, "My Nina, Things are hard for me — I feel like I am living in a world made of glass and with every day comes a new pressure that is pushing down down down and I don't know what will break first, me or my world…" If only Finn was strong enough, brave enough to share this burden with Nina and the kids, maybe together they all will be able to find a way to fix it. But Finn broke first.

And my favorite lines from the book first appeared on p.85 when Nina remembered the words from her own mother upon receiving a glass marble, "This is a little world, Nina. And if ever the real world feels too big or too scary, remember that it is nothing more than a little ball traveling through space and it fits right into the palm of your hand and the more courage you have, the braver you are when facing it, the easier it is to conquer!" which was repeated at the end.

As always, Amanda Prowse, is a gifted storyteller and writer. Emotions leap out at you and grabs hold of you until the very end. A quick read and all the characters feel real. I love seeing Nina grow from a timid mousy character into a brave, confident woman with friends she actually enjoys. I enjoyed seeing Connor and Declan also grow from feeling entitled to learning and showing compassion and kindness to others. I love how Nina's relationship with her sister, Tiggy, grow warm and affectionate as sisters ought to be. It's not easy but you sure have to try, just like with any relationship.

If you like a well-written, emotionally charged book with a good ending and memorable characters, set in Bath and Southampton and marketed as Women's Fiction, you will not regret picking this one up. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

[Book Review] The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Audiobook Edition
Narrated by Steve West, Emma Bering and Cassandra Campbell
Genre: Fiction

Part 1: From The Book Cover

"There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies — I mean books — that were written for one person only… A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that's how I sell books."

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country's rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.

Part 2: Recommendation

I feel like I can't properly review books when I listen to audiobooks. Why? Because I can't take down notes and memorable quotes or lines from the audiobook version because my memory is not that great and I can't write or type fast enough and usually, I'm crocheting or working at my day job when I listen to audiobooks. But I will try my best here.

I finished this book last June 26, 2017 and a month later, I'm still not sure how I feel about this book enough to write a coherent review. By this time, I have listened to a lot of audiobooks and I do enjoy them especially when I'm driving for more than 30 minutes. This book was narrated by Steve West, Emma Bering and Cassandra Campbell and they were excellent. The book was well-written, the plot is a bit on the slow, relaxed and meandering pace and the two main male characters: Jean Perdu and Max Jordan, a young novelist are very realistic to me. Jean Perdu is a little sad character but you can see him change and finally move on while Max Jordan is a very adorable young man, always helpful despite his own issues. As for Perdu's greatest love, Manon, the chapters that are from her point of view, presented as journal entries never failed to startle me mainly because I just want to get back to Perdu's and Max's adventures and who they get to meet next. I honestly did not want to hear about Manon and as each of her journal entries came to light, the more I found her to be selfish, untrustworthy and definitely not worthy of Jean Perdu's undying love and devotion, even after Jean finally read her last letter to him. In my eyes, she was deemed unworthy of the good-hearted, literary apothecary. And here comes Catherine, Perdu's second chance at love and romance and she was portrayed as another broken-hearted woman, crying over how her ex-husband left her and that was the last thing that was mentioned about her before the great adventure and sure, Jean was constantly sending her a postcard from wherever port they ended up anchoring in but it's always been one-sided. We never get to picture Catherine growing and overcoming her heartache and divorce and we never knew what she was thinking and feeling every time she received a postcard from Jean. Even though she was brave in the end to go and be with Jean, in my head, she will always be that vision of a broken woman whose husband left her for another woman. I wish there was more to Catherine in this book other than that sad, crying image seared in my brain.

If you want a sweet, slow, meandering book and to savor it, and take your time with, this would be it.

Monday, July 31, 2017

It's Starting To Be Fun Again

It has been over 20 years since I last rode a bicycle and it has been about 3 years since the husband and I planned to get bicycles. For our 8th year wedding anniversary, instead of getting the traditional present made out of bronze or pottery, I thought the wheels of the bicycle could easily represent the number 8 but we wanted super low maintenance bicycles. We found two bicycle companies: Dynamic Bicycles based in the UK which uses a drive shaft system and Priority Bicycles based in New York City which uses a Gates Carbon Drive belt system and the NuVinci Infinity Shift Gear Hub, which is perfect for the hilly terrain of Colorado Springs. We were leaning towards Dynamic Bicycles but when we sent an email inquiry to both companies, Priority Bicycles responded within 2 hours (at that time, it was after their normal office hours) and when I replied back, they responded within 2 minutes. Let us just say that I was delighted with the customer service. So I looked up reviews and YouTube videos and it looks like it was easy to assemble the bicycle, practically zero maintenance on it and if the belt skips or the brakes need to be adjusted, it was pretty easy to fix/adjust them yourself and doesn't require a lot of time or expertise either and the bicycle ships with all the tools you will need. It took me awhile to decide between the Priority Coast in pink (of course) and the Priority Glide. The Glide won because of the NuVinci Infinity Shift Gear Hub, so I ordered that and I received it on June 12, 2017. I assembled it myself in about 50 minutes. My husband's Priority Continuum Onyx bicycle was on back order (that's how popular it is). 

The next day, I rode it around my neighborhood and fell onto the sidewalk and skinned my knees. My knees were bruised and swollen and it hurt, a lot. Two weeks later, I rode my bike again on June 30 and fell onto the sidewalk again and my knees were skinned, bruised and swollen again. I obviously need to re-learn how to balance, ride properly and brake properly. 

On July 3, my husband and his aunt helped me overcome my increasing nervousness around cycling and his aunt coached me on what I need to practice and work on. His aunt's husband gave us a really good suggestion to have me practice riding my bike at a baseball field that has a dirt in-field so it would be softer to land on then gradually move on to the asphalt vacant parking lot. That next weekend, my husband took me to his elementary school to practice. My husband also lowered the seat and handlebar to fit my size/reach better. The seat is a tad lower than normal but I haven't fallen off my bike since then so now it's starting to be fun again. I can't wait to get more strength in my legs so my husband and I can run errands riding our bicycles instead of driving our cars especially if the store is around our neighborhood like the grocery store. 

On July 24, my husband's Priority Continuum Onyx bicycle finally arrived after UPS botched the delivery (this is the 3rd time UPS botched various deliveries to our house) and we assembled it in about an hour and 10 minutes because of the extra front light and cable, front fender and rear light and it fits him just fine. We were worried about the inseam measurements for the bike as the bike's measurements was higher by 0.25 inches and we were worried it might be too tall for my husband but it turned out fine. I have to say, the Onyx looks gorgeous! But I love the fact that my Glide came with the water bottle cage. Wished the Onyx came with the water bottle cage too.

My Priority Glide Bicycle
image copyright by Priority Bicycles

My Husband's Priority Continuum Onyx Bicycle
image copyright by Priority Bicycles

On the writing side of things, I've finally finished chapter 5 of Helena and the Dragon, the third book in the Helena Meets Magic series at 20k+ words. I do need to kick it up a notch and write faster if I want to finish this book by October 2017. 

In the world of crochet, I unfortunately ran out of yarn for my Patons Kroy Socks Toe Up Socks and I think its a little too tight when I tried it on so I'm going to reach out to the resident sock expert at the Sock It To Me Ravelry forum to see if the tightness is normal or do I need to frog it. Wish me luck!

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 
  • Destroyer of Worlds (ARKANE, #8) by J.F. Penn

Currently Writing

  • Chapter 6 of Helena and the Dragon - my computer screen aversion for writing drafts seems to have dissipated (for now). But I still have that notepad and pencil on hand in the event that I feel the urge to write with pencil and paper rather than type on a keyboard. I'm going to free write and brain dump using pencil and paper then switch to my MacBook Air to continue writing the first draft and see how that technique goes as I do want to be as efficient as possible when it comes to completing the first draft. 

Currently Crocheting

  • Patons Kroy Socks Toe Up Socks - Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn for the heel part. I finally tried it on but it doesn't seem to fit. It's too tight and only half of my foot could fit into the sock. I did manage to fit my foot all the way in but found that I need to frog it and work additional rows because the heel opening was quite off. Lesson learned, no matter what the pattern says, always try it on for size. I will get this eventually.

Product Reviews


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Thursday, July 27, 2017

[Book Review] Growth And Change Are Highly Overrated by Tom Starita

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Paperback Edition, 279 pages
Genre: Fiction, Humor & Satire

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated is a classic coming-of-age story that takes a unique and comic look at what we all fear—having to grow up and abandon our dreams.

For a charismatic man like Lucas James, life is a breeze because everyone else provides the wind. This man-child front man for a mediocre cover band has been mooching off of his fiancee Jackie for years until she finally decides she's had enough. Faced with the reality of having no income to support his carefree lifestyle, Lucas James abandons his principles and gets a job working in the stockroom at, "That Store." How does he cope with this new found sense of responsibility?

He casually steals…

In a life spent bucking authority how will Lucas James deal with his manager, 'Victor the Dictator'? How long can he survive Ralph, a starry-eyed coworker who desires nothing more than to be best friends? Will Lori, a twenty-something cashier, be like everyone else and fall for his charms? Will he ever find a place to live? And is "growing up" just another way of saying "selling out?"

Part 2: Recommendation

The narrative is written in a 1st person POV from Lucas James' perspective who is very self-centered, narcissistic, a liar and a jerk. I honestly don't like him but I agreed to read and review this book when the author Tom Starita submitted a book review request because the description did say, it's a coming-of-age story and other reviews said it's hilarious.

Sad to say, for me at least, the only hilarious scene throughout this entire book was the scene where a 75-lb rolling island unit was being hauled up to the 3rd floor by Lucas James on p.11. That was it. The only scene I found hilarious and real life laughed out loud.

The line, "First you write the hit song, then you die. Never reversed" on p. 13 reminded me of Chester Bennington, Linkin Park's lead singer committing suicide on 7/20/2017.

The line, "There is nothing more maddening than losing potentially great lines to the ethers of your mind" on p. 15 does ring a bell and has some truth to it. 

Lucas James is big on procrastination when he said, "Any task, any goal, any dream you wish to accomplish but failed to do so today, has the opportunity for redemption the next time the sun rises. My faith in tomorrow was ultimately not shared by Jackie" on p. 16 made me cringe because what if there is no tomorrow for you? Then you would've wasted today doing nothing when you could've easily done something towards accomplishing your task/goal/dream, etc. I agree with Jackie on this one.

Just no to the scene where Lucas takes his 5-year-old nephew to a strip club for lunch and no to the scene where he pretended to have gotten hit by a teacher. No matter how "immature" or "irresponsible" or "rebellious" a person is, these two scenes should never have happened. 

And the line, “Never propose at a dive bar” on p. 153 really?! It's more like never use a ring you stole to propose to your girlfriend. Ever.

The line where he admits to being a dick, “If you are a dick you have jerk tendencies, plain and simple. You are selfish and don't take the feelings of others into consideration when you do whatever it is you want to do. At the same time, people still like you. You're most likely funny and/or attractive, which dulls a person’s animosity towards you. People enjoy being around you because they think you're interesting or quirky. They also try to live vicariously through you, because you are the person who says what they are thinking. When a dick walks into the room you can feel the energy shift. People feel better, smiles appear on faces, and all is right with the world. When the dick leaves the room, the collective mood deflates, and depression is normally the end result” on p. 176 is the exact opposite for me. I don't get fooled by the charm. I feel super relieved when said dick leaves the room.

I hate this line on p.179 “Punch in, do as little work as possible, punch out.” I've worked with people with this kind of work ethic and it's stressful. So I'm really not liking Lucas James at all, nor do I find his antics funny. I also did not appreciate the lack of any legal consequences to Lucas James' stealing. An innocent person gets the hit for it, which is not fair and definitely sends out the wrong message. I believe that books should teach the readers important life lessons and this book failed miserably on this point.

Finally, something I can agree with: “So live the life you want to live. Take chances and accept the likelihood of failure. Because whether you succeed or fail… your name and all you did or did not do will disappear into the sands of time.”

Overall, the paper quality is good and the formatting and writing style is very good. I know that this book was independently published and each page costs something to print but how I wished that this book did not start abruptly on Chapter 1. What I mean was, the lack of a copyright page and maybe a list of other books the author wrote in the front matter section and an author bio in the back matter section after the acknowledgments. It would be nice to have those two things as I do read those sections as well. 

As for the plot and pacing of the story… it reads like a memoir and relatively paced. There's nothing exciting (for me at least) to entice the reader to keep reading. I had to put the book down several times and debate whether to file it under my DNF (Did-Not-Finish) shelf or continue reading. Every time I put the book down because I was getting annoyed at Lucas James, I had to take deep breaths and remind myself that the sooner I finish reading this book the sooner I can get back to my other, more favorable books in my Currently-Reading shelf. I also had to remind myself that this is a coming-of-age story so that means, Lucas James learns something, changes or grows up from his experience by the end of the book. I have to say that I was mad when I reached the end because Lucas James did not learn anything at all. He did not grow as a person/character. He did not become a better person. He was the same old piece of shit that he started with. Not cool to claim this book as a coming-of-age story without the character developing into a better person. 

A better coming-of-age story would be Jackie's story. At least she learned something and she got out of a financially and emotionally abusive relationship and now, she's with a better person who appreciates her and will always put her first. Now, who do I recommend this book for? If you are a very responsible person who gets emotional, skip this book because Lucas James will incite every negative emotion you have. If you like reading books that makes you feel negative emotions, or has unlikeable characters or you get a kick by reading about lazy, self-centered, narcissistic characters, then by all means, pick up a copy.