Friday, May 11, 2012

Lynsay Sands' "Under a Vampire Moon"

I waited for quite some time for this book.  From his first appearance in the series, I loved Christian Notte.  I was so excited to finally read his story.  Sadly, though, I was disappointed.

(Stop here if you don't like hearing about what happens in a book before you read it.)

The basic premise is this:  a friend drags Carolyn Connor to St. Lucia for a vacation while waiting for her divorce to finalize.  She meets Marguerite, who senses that Carolyn is Christian's lifemate and volunteers his band to come play there so he can find her.  This would have been an intriguing set-up, especially since immortals don't do well with sunny locations, except for one other plot device.  Knowing that Carolyn is bothered by how young Christian seems to be, the family tells her that he's gay and gets her to be his pretend girlfriend as a cover.

I suppose even that wouldn't have bothered me too much if it hadn't lasted for about 50-60% of the book. Seriously.  Carolyn stupidly believes he is gay for over half of the story.  He in no way acts gay.  He even kisses her a couple of times, which she somehow manages to dismiss.  The plot device grew old fast.  It is hard to feel a connection between characters when one of them is so seriously misinformed about the other.  It is also hard to create chemistry, and these two seriously lacked it.  I found myself disliking Carolyn because she was just so oblivious.

Now for the real spoilers.

The end of the book was the worst.  In the last quarter of the story, Christian finally tells Carolyn he isn't gay. Her reaction?  To paraphrase, "I can't believe he lied.  Oh wait, he's hot.  Let's just have sex."  Then she finds out he's an immortal and flees back to her vacation villa.  He comes over, tells her he's not a bad vampire, and she just accepts it.  It almost reads like "I can't believe you're a vampire.  Oh wait, you're hot.  Let's just have sex."

THEN we learn that her friend Bethany, the one who brought her, was trying to get her to commit suicide so that Bethany could hook up with Carolyn's almost-ex after he inherited Carolyn's fortune.  Wait, what?  Where did this even come from?  There were vague hints of this kind of thing, but it doesn't come up until maybe the last 2-3 pages.  Carolyn puts Bethany on the phone with another friend, and then she and Christian just leave.  That's it.  The end.  I literally flipped between pages a few times wondering if part of the ending had been lost, but the preview of her next book was there, so I'm guessing not.

From the awkward interactions between characters to the abrupt, unbelievable ending, I was extremely disappointed by this book.  I typically love Lynsay Sands' work, so it makes me doubly sad to give a book of hers a poor review.  Unless you really can't stand not reading every book in a series, I recommend giving this one a pass.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have a Happy Merry Holidays Christmas

It has been a couple of months since I've posted.  The business I'm starting, Eclectic Willow, has begun to have some success, so much of my time has been split between my family and work.  But there is one issue that bothers me so much that I just had to post--the "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" debate.

When I was a kid, people said "Happy Holidays" all the time.  It wasn't a big deal.  No one I knew took it as a foul insult or assault on their religion.  My understanding was always that "Merry Christmas" referred largely to Christmas day while "Happy Holidays" was used more generally to cover the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  It was also used when one was not sure of another person's religion, since it could cover any holiday occurring during that time range.  It was a way to say that you hoped that time of year was wonderful.

Now?  Now you might as well say "Christmas is an invalid religion which you have no right to celebrate.  Become Satanist.  Become Atheist.  Jump off a bridge.  Bah Humbug, and I hope your life sucks."  At least to some people.  I've actually heard of a cashier who got told off for saying "Happy Holidays".  In a similar vein, it annoys me when non-Christians get upset if someone says "Merry Christmas".  They are just being nice.

To me, getting angry at someone for saying "Happy Holidays" OR "Merry Christmas" is basically like telling someone to shove it when they tell you to have a good day.  These are polite, well-meant phrases of goodwill that no one has to say to you.  Why are we making a habit of rejecting goodwill?  Good.  Will.  Who cares if it doesn't follow your personal religion or creed?  Does it really matter if your cashier at the grocery store celebrates the same way you do?  They are wishing you happiness and joy.

Really, isn't there enough conflict in the world without getting all worked up about this?  When you tell someone off for saying "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas", aren't you defeating the entire purpose of this time of year?

Christians: Maybe you think everyone should be Christian and celebrate Christmas.  That's cool.  But what kind of example are you showing when you tell someone off who was just being nice?  Your anger and your conflict turn more people away from Christ than will draw them to Him.  WWJD is a good question here.  I personally think He would say "Happy Holidays", bless them, and move on.

Non-Christians:  Like it or not, Christianity is the major religion in much of the United States.  You don't have to follow it.  Your faith or lack thereof is your own personal matter.  When someone says "Merry Christmas", 99% of the time they are not insulting you or your religious choice.  They have probably just assumed that you are a member of the majority religion.  Say "Merry Christmas" back and go on with your day.  Even if you don't celebrate it, they clearly do, and your response is meant for them anyway.  Acting like an asshat is only going to make Christians more hostile to those rude non-Christians.

It seems like politeness is hard to come by these days.  As I mentioned above, no one has to wish you a good day, a good month, or a happy holiday season.  They do this out of kindness.  Other times of the year, we are lucky to get any kind of good wishes.  So stop getting worked up about the form this kindness takes.  This is a beautiful time of year, a time that should not be marred by endless arguments over which phrase of goodwill is more appropriate.  Accept the blessing you are given.  Go home, have some hot chocolate, and enjoy this merry season.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Truth in Advertising

When it comes to advertising, words do not always mean what you think they do.  Forgive me if I've ranted about this before, but linguistic manipulation is a pet peeve of mine.  What got me upset this time?  Here's the front of a coupon attached to a Babies'R'Us circular:
Note the words here-- ANY (capitalized and bold) one regular-priced baby item.  This sounds great.  Then you look at the back:

Just look at that long list of exclusions.  Foremost?  Excludes ALL (caplitalized and bold) toys.  Did the people who made this coupon misunderstand the meaning of 'all'?  You know, "the whole of (used in referring to quantity, extent, or duration): all the cake; all the way; all year."  

Their first use of 'all' is clearly not correct.  They don't mean everything, after all, only some of the things.  Can I apply that to the same 'all' they put on the back?  Can I pick what I want to exclude from their exclusion policy?

This happens a lot with 'free', too.  Buy X and get Y free.  Except Y isn't free--didn't I have to buy X to get it?  Free:  "costing nothing; provided without charge: free entertainment."  If I pay you money, it isn't free.  It may be a bonus or an extra but not free.

Maybe I should send advertisers a free* dictionary including ALL** of the English language.

*Requires purchase of one item from my Etsy shop.
**Some words may be excluded at my discretion.  You won't know if they're the ones you need until you are searching through said dictionary.  Sorry.

Help for Teething Babies

Just a quick post to tell my parent friends out there about a great giveaway.  If you have a teething baby, check out this Teething Bling pendant giveaway.  In case you aren't familiar with the company, Teething Bling makes a variety of necklaces designed for babies to chew on.  They are free of chemicals and toxins that might harm your child.  You can find them here on Facebook.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Little Pieces

There are some tasks that are just too big to be contemplated at once.  Well, at least for me.

I'm the type of person who gets easily overwhelmed.  I still remember when we moved into our current house.  Instead of taking them to the proper room, the movers stacked most of our boxes in a big box mountain in a single room.  We called it Mt. Boxmore.  I hated that pile.  Take one box off, and it still seemed like it hadn't been touched.  It took a long time and a lot of help to get that pile unpacked.  I still hadn't learned how to focus on the little pieces.

Oddly enough, though, I had unconsciously started my writing process in just that way.  I don't know how most writers work, but I start a new file for each chapter.  Only when I am finished do I combine that chapter into one file with all the rest.  I didn't think about why I did this, but it makes so much sense to me now.  If I tried to write everything in one big file, I would get too overwhelmed.  I know I can finish a chapter.  It is a small goal, an accomplishment I can feel good about during the greater process.  It keeps my book from feeling like Mt. Boxmore.

I'm finally started to actively apply that to my life in other ways.  I organized my pantry one shelf at a time.  I set small goals that I know I can complete.  It sounds SO very simple, but it isn't.  When you are a perfectionist, it is a struggle to turn off the part of your brain that says you should be able to do everything at once (and do it well).  But finally, I'm learning to celebrate the small steps.

Thank goodness for little pieces!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Babies, and Travel, and Fevers, Oh My!

What a week!  It started off well.  Monday, I had a babysitter for writing time and got to go take pictures with my friend Sarah.  Tuesday, I left for my mom's house.  My husband had a conference to go to, so the plan was to visit with my family, then meet him at the hotel on Thursday.

Well, Wednesday my daughter developed a high fever.  104.8!  No walk-in clinic would see her, so I had to take her to the ER.  An out of town visit to the ER with a 1 year old?  No fun for anyone.  I think Kira called the nurses "meanymeanymeany" quite a few times, as a matter of fact.  Poor nurses.  And after all the tests, the doctor could only say that she has a virus.  Probably.

Yesterday, she did great.  As long as she had her Motrin, she was playing and happy.  The same this morning.  So, I set out to meet my husband a couple of hours away.  By the time I got to the hotel room, she had a fever again despite the Motrin.  I gave her some Tylenol, and now she is resting in her playpen while I try not to panic.

As far as I can tell, traveling with a baby is a bit like playing roulette.  There's just no telling what will happen.  And we have a road trip coming up in a couple of weeks.