Before I Go to Sleep – Book Review

Ever wondered what it would be like to wake up in the morning with no idea where you are, who the man in the bed is beside you, and when you look in the mirror, you're about twenty years older than you last remembered? Then you take the day to be brought up to speed, to find out that you had a horrible accident that causes your brain to reset every night while you sleep, erasing everything from the day before. Kind of like 50 First Dates, but this definitely has a more sinister twist.

This is the story of Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. This is the story of Christine. She wakes up every morning to be introduced to her husband Ben, who proceeds to tell her that she has been married to him over 20 years. She has no memory of meeting him, of their life together, and the last 20+ years. Then off he goes to work, and she is left to try to deal with this and figure it out on her own.

She then happens upon a diary that has been written by her. On the first page, there is a note to herself from herself – “Don't trust Ben.”

So off we go, through this diary, to try to figure out what has happened to Christine since her accident, what the accident actually was, why she has been disconnected from all the people that she cares about, including her best friend Claire, and what the heck is actually going on here.

This was a really good book. I really liked it. I don't read very many thrillers, but this had an aspect to it that hooked me, and kept me throughout. It was a quick read, I think it took me about a day to finish. There was a constant feeling throughout – a feeling that there was something wrong, something not quite right. I really have to say though, it kept me guessing right until the end.

My only slight difficulty with this book was the ending. Without any spoilers, I found that the author tied it up a little too well at the end. Feeling like I was hanging over the edge of a cliff throughout the whole book, I maybe would have liked to have been left hanging a bit at the end of the book.

Overall, I recommend this book to just about anyone, it was a compelling, entertaining read, and worth the day you'll spend reading it as the vacuum sits untouched and the dirty dishes remain unwashed.

4 out of 5 stars on this one.

Enjoy.

 

Friday…Before a long weekend at that!

I love Fridays.  They are my second favourite day of the week, after Saturday of course.  Especially like this one, before a long weekend.  It has a “school’s out” feeling to it, especially this long weekend, because school actually is out for the kids now.

It’s hot and sunny outside, there’s lots to do today at work, but all I can think about before I head in, is about 9 hours from now, when I’ll be sitting on my back deck, cold beer in hand, chatting with my hubby while my son plays with the dog, smelling some kind of meat on the BBQ, without a care in the world. Because I’ll have three whole days ahead of me that are mine to do with as I please.

Enjoy your long weekend Canadians!  Happy Canada Day!

I leave you with a little tidbit to get you started on your weekend.  Sorry, I just had to! 😉

Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy – Book Review

Who hasn’t heard of Fifty Shades of Grey?  I think even those living under rocks have heard of it.  It’s all over the media, and the three books, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James have taken the world by storm, holding the top three spots on the NY Times Bestseller list for several weeks running.

Just as a little background, if you didn’t already know, the book started out as fan fiction for Twilight.  If you’re not familiar with fan fiction, it’s taking characters, etc. from another author’s books, and putting them into your own story, either in the same universe that they were originally written in, or your own, alternate universe.  There are several websites dedicated to fan fiction.  Some of it is actually pretty good.  Some is crap, but whatever.

So Fifty Shades of Grey takes place in Seattle, and the main characters are Anastasia Steele (previously Bella Swan) and Christian Grey (aka Edward Cullen).  There are some similarities between the characters and Stephanie Meyer’s characters, as in if you knew that it was originally fan fiction, you could pick them out.  If you didn’t know, it’s not blatantly obvious. Oh, and there’s no vampires.

These main characters have different life stories as well.  When they meet, Ana is a soon to be college graduate who is sent in as a replacement for her best friend Kate, to interview the absolutely gorgeous and intimidating billionaire, Christian Grey.  There is an automatic spark between the two of them, and after the interview, Christian finds ways to see her again.  It very quickly comes to light that he has a very dark side and quite the past.  He is a dominant, among other things, who has had several submissives in the past, and is very eager for Ana to become one of them.  She of course, has never even had a boyfriend, and is as inexperienced as he is experienced in the world of sexual pleasure.

It’s not really giving anything away to say that the two fall in love, and they have sex, sex, and more sex.  All three of these books are quite explicit sexually, and that, combined with the fact that Christian is depicted as an absolutely drool-worthy, complicated, very vulnerable man who uses BDSM as a means to have control – stemming from his childhood and the horrific nature of it, and I think that’s why these books are so popular with the middle aged mommies.

The books follow these two characters and their story together, with the supporting cast being somewhat similar to those in Twilight, but again, no vampires, and no wolves.  The story weaves in and around the bedroom scenes, and elevator scenes, and boathouse scenes….you get the idea.  We see, as Ana slowly chips away at Christian’s cool, controlled demeanor, why he is the way he is, why he does what he does.  As we go through the story, we see them both struggle with Christian’s constant desire to be in control of everything, and the boss of everybody, including Ana.

In Twilight, the relationship between Edward and Bella is in my mind not healthy at times, with how completely attached they are to each other.  How totally ones existence depends on the other.  Edward is controlling of Bella, mostly because he doesn’t want her to get hurt, but for the most part, though it annoys her, she goes along with it.  Though she does finally grow a bit of a backbone and goes against Edward when it comes to protecting her child.

In Fifty Shades though, Ana is slightly stronger than Bella I think.  She at least is willing to stand up for herself a little more and learns very quickly to set limits with Christian, whose controlling nature does get pretty old pretty fast.  Though she does put up with a lot more than many women would, which I think might annoy any feminists that may read these.

As far as my impression of the books, when I heard all the hype surrounding them, and what they were about, I could hardly not read them!  I purchased them all as e-books, and devoured them all pretty quickly.

These books are not literary masterpieces.  The writing is not fantastic, they are not polished.  The sex scenes are good, and though they are varied, the language used to describe them is quite repetitive.  The thing that kept me hooked I think was the way the author wrote the character of Christian.  He is absolutely beautiful, but very tortured.  The intensity with which he loves Ana is something that we all crave at one point or another.  The feeling that a gorgeous, powerful man can be brought to his knees simply because he loves a woman so much, is quite enticing.

Do I recommend these books?  Well, it definitely depends on who is asking!  If you like romance novels, if you liked Twilight I guess (but are old enough for these books), than I say go for it!  Heck, you should just read them because then you’ll be able to join in the conversation about them.  If you’re a woman, and you’re married or attached, I think that they will get you revved up enough for your significant other to thank you for it!

I would love to hear comments from those who have read these books.  I don’t know a single man who has read them and would love to hear an opinion from a male perspective, though I can kind of guess what that might be.

Enjoy!

Angel Lush Cupcakes

Beautiful, and delicious.

I found this recipe on the Kraft Canada website.  I made them for Easter and they were a hit.  They are light, airy, beautiful, and perfect for spring/summer.  To top it off, they’re super easy.

Ingredients

1 pkg Angel food cake mix

1 pkg Vanilla Instant pudding powder

2 cans crushed pineapple

1 cup cool whip topping

2 cups assorted berries.  I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare cake mix according to package directions.  Pour into pre-lined muffin tins, filling each cup to about 3/4 full.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  They will puff up and the top will turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan.  Remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to let them cool completely.  Meanwhile, make the topping.

In a medium bowl, combine powdered pudding mix and pineapple, including juice.  Mix well – you will see the juice from the pineapple combine with the powder to make a pudding like texture.  Add cool whip and mix in gently.

Top cooled cupcakes with pineapple mixture, and arrange your favourite berries on top.  Store in the refrigerator.  These can be made the day before and will still be wonderful.

Enjoy! 🙂

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Book Review

I’m walking through Chapters one day with a very dear friend of mine, who just happens to not only share my love of books and reading, but also shares my love of young adult fiction, fantasy, Harry Potter, Hunger Games and the like.  Great girl, she is.  We’re browsing through the stacks and she points out this book to me: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I’m very open minded when it comes to books, but when I saw this one, I had to admit, I was taken aback.  Especially since next to it on the shelf were several copies of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I felt a bit like I had entered the Twilight Zone.  She assured me though, that it was awesome, so trusting her as always, I purchased it.

It sat on my shelf for a while.  I wanted to read it.  It held appeal, for three reasons mostly – the sheer oddness of the title, the fact that it had vampires in it, and that Karen had recommended it to me.  But I never picked it up.

Then we went to see the Hunger Games.  And there was a trailer for the movie that was being released for this book in June.  Karen got quite excited about it, and from looking at the trailer, I thought to myself: I want to see this movie. Well, as I always read the book before seeing the movie, I knew I’d better get cracking, especially if I wanted to see it with her.

This book is kind of a story within a story.  It is told by a narrator, whose story you get a brief explanation of at the beginning.  Without giving away too much, he happens  upon several diaries that were written by none other than Abraham Lincoln.  He is commissioned to write the story of Lincoln’s life, as told through these diaries, not the ones in the history books.  The two are similar, and the main events are true, and obviously Lincoln’s public and political life were documented, but the true motivation behind all of Lincoln’s actions, policies, and drive to abolish slavery were not what you may think.  Actually, it was all about the vampires.

Starting from when he was a young boy, when a vampire took the life of his beloved mother, Abe vowed that he would do whatever he could to rid the earth of as many of these creatures as possible.  This quest shaped his whole life.

To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Abraham Lincoln, aside from the basics.  This book gave me a good insight, and I often found myself turning to Wikipedia and Google to verify facts and try to figure out what was real and what was fiction.  Whenever I thought of Lincoln before, all I could see in my head was the Abe from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  A far cry from the man presented in the pages of this book – a towering, limber, fast, strong individual who could cut the head off a vampire with relative ease.

I liked this book, but for once, I think I might like the movie better.  I can see how this book will lend itself to a movie in such a way that it may be portrayed better on screen.  If you’re into that type of thing (if there is that type of thing) I recommend it.  It will make you look at this historical figure in a different light, and perhaps learn a few things about him as I did, by reading past the fiction and about the actual events of his life.

 

Summer

Summer means bare feet for sure.

Father’s Day has passed.  To me that means that summer has officially begun.  The official first day of summer is always just after Father’s Day anyway, but it’s not just that.  Late June means a ton of things.  It pretty much means that we definitely are going to have more hot sunny days than cold ones.  It’s the end of school for the kiddies, and the start of summer vacation.

I love all the seasons, usually preferring the transitional seasons, spring and fall, for their moderate temperatures.  But summer has many things about it that I hold dear.  I love to swim, and spend time in the water.  My son definitely gets this from me.  He would literally live at the splash pad or the beach all summer long if we’d let him.  I love it when the weather is gorgeous and not too hot, with a nice breeze, coming home after a long day at work and cracking open a beer and relaxing with my family outside on the back deck before supper.  Cooking supper on the grill, and enjoying it all under the canopy outside.  Keeps the mess out of the house, minimal dishes to do, and just the joy of being outside in the fresh air.  It all feels so good.

I look forward to summer, because I usually take a week off work, and I look forward to spending that time with my family.  My husband’s job doesn’t usually lend itself to several days off in a row during the summer, so we usually plan a day trip or two, to places that aren’t too far away.  I love taking this time to expose my son to new things, visiting new places, meeting new people, storing up lots of awesome memories for him to look back on when he is older.

This summer though, means more than all those things for me.  This is the last summer before my son starts school.  We’ve heard it all before, but it really does just seem like yesterday that he was born.  Now he’s four, and headed off to school in September.

I have a lot of concerns with him starting school.  He is an incredibly shy child.  Upon meeting any new people, he clings to the adult he is with.  We’ve enrolled him in soccer this year, and it has been interesting indeed.  For the first two weeks, he wouldn’t even go out on the field without me.  He wasn’t the only child like this, but the thought of putting him on that bus scares the hell out of me.  He’s an only child, which I do not regret by the way, so you can hold back on the sermon about that.  And his shyness seems to be limited to adults, he is fine meeting new kids.

I just think about this huge change that is about to take place in his life.  He says he’s ready for school, ready for the bus, but he really has no idea what he’s talking about.  We’ve told him that Mommy and Daddy have to go to work and he has to go to school, and he seems to understand, but there’s a big difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.

I know he’ll be fine.  I know that he is ready.  School will be so good for him.  He is such a smart little boy and I know that he will learn and catch onto things quickly.  Part of it I know is my own selfishness, not wanting him to be away from me, not wanting him to grow up.  He’s only four, but in the blink of an eye, he’ll be fourteen, then twenty four….

In the meantime, I’m going to try not to think about it too much.  Summer is here, and I’m going to take it for all it’s worth.  I’m going to enjoy this summer with him, and do my best to help him (and me) prepare for the changes ahead.

Wish me luck.

 

Writer’s Block

I have been a very bad girl.  A very bad blogger.  I have gone a very long time without writing anything about anything.  If it makes any difference, I have thought about it often.  Daily actually. But honestly, I’m feeling kind of un-inspired lately.

So what is this blog of mine about?  Books.  I’ve been reading, some wonderful books actually.  I’ve read some amazing books since the last time I wrote about books.

Food.  I’ve cooked some good food, tried some new recipes, eaten in some great restaurants, all since the last time I wrote about food.

Life.  Well, it goes on, doesn’t it?  My life is not boring, I’ve got lots of stuff going on, in my family, in my life, the changes my son is going through this year.  I’ve experienced all kinds of new things and had a trillion or more thoughts since the last time I wrote about life in general.

So what’s my problem?  It’s writer’s block.  I am a writer by nature.  I write everything down.  I’ve kept a journal off and on since I was a little girl.  I’ve written poetry, short stories, I now journal on my iPad.  Except lately.  Every time I sit down to do a journal entry, or think about writing on this blog, my mind clears.  Literally clears.  Not like clarity, but clears as in completely clears out!  I can think of nothing meaningful to say.  I have had times in the past where I thought I had writer’s block, but nothing like this.  You see movies with authors sitting at their typewriters or computers, pulling their hair out, developing a facial tic, strung out on coffee and the stress of this condition.  Never did I think that it would be me, scratching the top of my head, watching the cursor on the screen blink at me.  Blink…blink….blink….every blink is like a bomb going off in my head.  Like an accusation.  Like ha…ha…ha…ha…you can’t think of a f***ing thing to say!!

So what do I decide to do?  Well, after leaving it for months, I’ve decided to write about my writer’s block.  Typical, I’d say.  I thought it would be a starting point.  I’m hoping that this will be like taking the lid off a bottle of pop that has been shaken to the point where it’s ready to explode.  Everything comes spraying out all over the place, spilling out because it can’t be contained.

So hopefully this is the start of something good.  Maybe I’m back on track.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll knock out a brilliant post that will go viral or something.  In the meantime, to those poor souls that have read this blubbering mess of a blog entry, I apologize.  I’m sorry for using you and your valuable time to hopefully kick start my brain and get the old creative juices flowing again.

Laters Baby.

Yes, the 50 Shades trilogy were among the books I’ve read lately.  If that’s not a blog entry in the making, I don’t know what is. 😉