There Are No Real Endings

At least not in a book. 

The ending is just the place where the writer decides to stop that particular story. And sometimes in my mind I like to imagine what the characters are doing now. 

Haven’t you always wondered what happens after the girl and the guy get married? Assuming they do, that is, after they decide they really do love each other.

Now there are lots of book series that take the characters from one adventure to another, having them grow together, age or mature together, and maybe even add a few family members along the way. 

Nora Roberts, one of my very favorite authors, has a number of trilogies which skillfully bring favorite characters together in a three book series that you just don’t ever want to stop reading about. They’ve become old friends by the time the series ends, and you really want to know more about them, keep in touch, so to speak. Find out the story after the stories. (Actually her Chesapeake Bay Series featured 4 books, the last one set some 20 years after the first three, and it was a wonderful conclusion to the Quinn family saga.)

Nora also has written a very popular crime series under the pen name J.D. Robb. Set in futuristic New York City, and now into 53 books, her characters are unique and remind you of people you’d love to have as friends, and at the end of each book you can’t wait to hear what the characters are going to be doing next. And yes, I’ve read them all.

Joseph Flynn, another favorite author, has written a remarkable series of political novels which now total 14 books, and I’ve already downloaded the last two so I can catch up on some other people I now consider old friends.

If you’re a reading enthusiast like I am, you can certainly relate to what I’m saying. How many times have you come to the end of a great book and actually felt sad because you were saying goodbye to people you’d gotten to know so well? 

Unlike real life, the characters we come to know so well between the cover of a book, or the digital pages of a kindle, seem to stop their lives, stop what they’ve been doing at the end. Like mannequins in a storefront window or people in a painting they’re frozen in time, the rest of their stories never to be told. And that’s a bit sad when you’ve gotten to know them so well.

But real life is as different from a book as day is from night. 

In books, there’s almost always a happy ending. The characters evolve, have their ups and downs, their highs and lows, but things always seem to work out as they should in the end. And when they don’t work out as you’d like it to, you can always tell yourself it’s not real; it didn’t really happen, and then you feel better.

Real life isn’t like that because it’s REAL life, and life isn’t always fair and doesn’t always have a happy ending. You can try to make things work out they way you want them to, but it doesn’t always work that way.

How well we all know that. 

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could write out exactly how we wanted it to be? And if the story got a bit difficult, or too complicated, all we’d have to do is take our eraser, delete that part, and start the story over.

Then we’d all live happily ever after.

But life is not a book. There are real beginnings and real endings. And we can’t rewrite them if they don’t turn out like we want.

But we can start a new chapter. We do it all the time. And we take what we’ve learned from the last chapter and make it better. Or at least different.

But we learn as we go along that sometimes the endings in our books are a lot easier to live through than the endings in real life.

Grab a Book – “The Guest List” by Melissa Hill

If you’ve ever gotten married, been in a wedding, attended a wedding, planned a wedding, dreamed about your future wedding, or even imagined planning a wedding, you absolutely must read this book!

Because it really delves into all of the emotions and the behind the scenes drama that almost always surfaces in families when weddings are being planned. 

Of course, since it’s a novel there are a lot more instances of drama that unfold which would probably make any real life couple not only lose their minds, but even risk calling off the entire event! Or eloping and not telling anyone until after it’s done.

As a sometimes wedding planner, I always love stories about weddings…the actual planning, the excitement of wedding gown shopping, cake tastings, planning the guest list and seating to make sure people who don’t like each other aren’t next to each other (and what happens when they are!), the ups and downs of things going wrong, family and friends trying to tell the bride and groom what they should and shouldn’t do, etc., etc. 

Then there’s always an unexpected twist…and in this book, there are quite a few! And for someone who can usually figure out how events are going to unfold, and even how a lot of books are going to end…let’s just say I never ever anticipated the ending of this one! Not even close!

The characters are totally believable, in fact some of them reminded me of people I’ve dealt with in my wedding planning semi-career. 

Nothing ever goes smoothly in the planning, either in real life or in this book. But the important thing to remember is that the wedding is just one day. Your marriage is for a lifetime.

So whether you’re only dating, engaged, planning a wedding, married, or just looking for a lighthearted fun book that’ll make you laugh, as well as wonder what comes next, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Download it on your kindle or go out and buy it and enjoy! I know you will!

Nightwork by Nora Roberts

Before I got my Kindle I forced myself to wait for a book I really REALLY wanted to read to come out in paperback. Because of my voracious reading habit I just couldn’t bring myself to buy hardcovers upon their first release. And in doing so I missed out on so many pleasurable reading experiences.

However, kindle has changed that, thankfully, although I still have a collection of actual books, most paperbacks but some very special volumes in hardcover. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them.

Add more actual books to my collection when I already have them in my kindle? I hadn’t considered it. Until now. Because this particular novel by one of my favorite authors deserves a place of honor in my library.

When I first saw all the ads on Amazon about it, I knew I’d want to read it, just because it was written by Nora Roberts. So it went on my Wishlist.

But I didn’t read anything about what “Nightwork” was about. I just assumed it would be good. Then I began reading reviews of it, which were mostly good or very good, but a few mixed comments about how they just couldn’t get into it; it was too long; it wasn’t her typical story; or a few didn’t like the plot line.

I’m sure every author gets some mixed reviews on their books, no matter who they are. But these reviews intrigued me and made me decide to read it a lot sooner than I’d planned.

And now…I should’ve started reading it as soon as it came out. Yes, it’s that good. No, it’s not exactly her typical storyline. It’s better. Stronger. And more enticing. Yes, it’s longer than most of her other works, but it wouldn’t be the great story it is if it were shorter. It takes time to tell a great story, and Nora has done a fantastic job of not only character development with her four main characters, but a story with so many twists and turns you can’t see all of them coming.

Her descriptions of the various places the story is set in are so well written you can totally picture them in your mind, at least I sure can! And the food her main character creates…she needs to include recipes! Even for someone like me who really doesn’t enjoy cooking all that much.

All in all, this is a great read, one that you won’t be disappointed with. Yes, there were a couple of slow pages, but that happens in almost every book.

And the ending…back and forth but totally perfect. Could there be a follow-up? I don’t know; that’s entirely up to the characters; and Nora, of course! But it would sure be another fun read!

You notice I didn’t mention the actual story line. That, my friends, you’ll have to discover for yourselves as you begin this incredible journey with these fascinating characters.

Read it. And let me know what you think!

Author Review – “In Death Series” by J.D. Robb

It’s only fair that I begin my book discussions that I’ve been promising for awhile with one of my favorite authors. I have many favorites, but this one is certainly in the top five!

The “In Death” series began in 1995,  written under the pen name of J.D. Robb, who is actually Nora Roberts, a popular romance novelist.

Why did she decide to write under a different name? I have no idea, but I can only assume she wanted to differentiate this series from her popular romance genre. Makes sense to me.

And she certainly did! Avid reader that I am, I had no idea when I picked up the first book of the series, “Naked in Death,” that it was written by one of the authors I’d just started reading and thoroughly enjoying.

Her series so far has a collection of 54 published books, with #55, “Desperation in Death” due out in September, and #56 due out in the spring of 2023.

And yes, that book will be in my hands on the publication date. Or should I say, in my Kindle, thanks to Amazon and my ability to pre-order it so that it downloads as soon as it’s available.

For those of you who haven’t heard of or read this series, where have you been hiding?! You’re missing a fabulous reading experience that will take you on adventures you could never dream up yourself!

And a note to my husband: No, you don’t want to wait for the movie because I don’t think that’s coming, and even if it were, in my opinion there’s no way the characters could adequately be portrayed. The nuances of reading about them, how they think, what they’re feeling, just can’t be portrayed in a movie.

For those of you who don’t know about this great crime series, let me give you an abbreviated background. 

The series is set in a futuristic New York City, mid-21st century. There are some amazing new inventions and vehicles described for not only police work, but for everyday household use. And there are also the “off planet” travels that are described as if they’re really no big deal. What an imagination Nora has!

The main character, Eve Dallas, is a homicide detective with amazing crime soling skills in her job. Each victim becomes special to her, and as she says, they become hers, and it’s her job to give them justice. Which of course she does, but not always without a few scrapes and bruises along the way.

Even the origin of her name has a story, which I won’t go into here (you’ll have to read it), but I will say that her childhood history is what has shaped her life to become a fiercely devoted woman, not only to her job, but to her colorful coworkers and friends, whose individual stories are just as exciting and well developed as Eve’s, and each book reveals more of the characters’ individual personalities. And for someone [Eve] who never expected to be close to anyone, that says so much!

Of course there’s a love interest, and from a totally unexpected meeting. It’s not every day that a “murder cop”, as she calls herself, is somewhat attracted to the main suspect in an important case.

But then Roarke, a handsome Irish former street thief from Dublin turned mega billionaire New York tycoon, isn’t your usual murder suspect. 

And Eve Dallas isn’t your typical homicide detective.

Neither is her sidekick, the alter-ego opposite of Eve. A “free ager” earth mother type, Delia Peabody is the perfect opposite to Eve, and together they’re an unstoppable team!

And Roarke, well he’s just the (delicious) icing on the cake, and the most perfect sounding man imaginable. Trust me, once you start this series, you’ll see what I mean!

There are so many more colorful characters in the series, and I can almost guarantee you’ll not only regard them as new friends, but people you’d like to go on vacations with as well as have them living in your neighborhood!

If you’re not already hooked on the series, start reading! I can guarantee you won’t be sorry. The books don’t necessarily have to be read in order, but I would suggest reading “Naked in Death” first because that introduction to this cast of characters is really important. And you don’t want to miss a single sentence about Roarke!

And now, I think I’ll go grab that book and re-read it myself!

Books Are Not Firewood

I read a news article recently that upset me to no end. And it got me thinking about where we’ve come in our society. It doesn’t make me proud. Nor should you be either.

We’ve recently been slammed with stories about books being removed from school libraries because they’re “offensive”. We are we doing this again? We are attempting to censor what kids should read?

Now, let me say this before I go any further. Or before you start calling me names that can’t be printed in this blog. I’m not referring to books about explicit sex and graphic homosexuality, which I don’t think should be in our school libraries. If kids want them all they have to do is go to a bookstore or the internet. There are plenty of those books available on line, unfortunately.

I’m referring to books that have been around for a long time. Books my generation has read and enjoyed. Books that were actually on our high school required reading lists, and I really don’t think most of us turned out all that bad. 

But today some of those books are deemed offensive, because they were written in a time that the subject matter was either a way of life or was (and still IS) a part of our history. The authors wrote about what they knew, and weren’t concerned about offending someone. On the contrary, many of those authors wanted to not only tell a good story, but to make people think. And in some cases, expose the hypocrisy of some of the people around them.

Now people are calling for banning certain books which have swear words in them. I’m sure their kids have never heard those words, I say sarcastically; certainly never in their own homes (also said sarcastically). Don’t worry, though; they’ll hear them somewhere!

Or because they deal with a time in our nation’s history that many people want to ignore. But ignoring it doesn’t mean it never happened. It just means we’re afraid of our children learning about it. And history tells us that we repeat mistakes if we don’t know those mistakes that have been tried before with disastrous results.

Whether you like them or not, books are an expression of free speech, which sadly, in some areas of our country, is no longer tolerated without violence. I may not agree with the content of a book, so I choose not to read it, but I support the author’s right to have written it, and the publisher’s right to publish.

But the real story that got me started deals with a book burning that recently happened In Tennessee. A pastor decided that certain “demonic”  books, such as by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series, and the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, were evil. They promoted sorcery and witchcraft, and contained real spells that readers could use. Now one question I have here…how does he know this? Has he tried them? And if so, why? 

So he organized a huge book burning and encouraged his followers to get all the copies of these books, and others like them, that they could find, and meet at the book burning and show the world how bad these written words were, and how it was up to his followers to help him rid the world of such sins and demonic influences. 

And he proved what? That he could get his followers stirred up by hate speech and powerful rhetoric and cause them to do his bidding. And what did it accomplish? Publicity for him, though not the huge outpouring of support he expected.

Were the books that were burned taken out of circulation, or did bookstores order more copies so readers could see for themselves what all the hoopla was about? I say most likely the latter.

There will always be books written that someone will take offense at. That some group of people will say are evil and should be banned. My response to that? Don’t buy them and don’t read them. That’s your choice. It’s someone else’s choice if they want to read them or not. Telling your children they can’t read them when all their friends are…let me know how that works!

Personally, that genre doesn’t appeal to me and I haven’t read them. But I made that choice, not because of their supposed demonic content, but because I prefer different genres. 

I don’t worry that my children and grandchildren might read them. It’s their choice as to their choice of books. I can suggest something I enjoyed, but I can’t tell them what to read or not read. It’s their decision.

Just like it’s your decision on your choice of books in your library. I enjoy the older books from my younger days as much as books by current authors. And I’m sure some people will criticize my taste in certain books as well. Too bad.

I don’t need to be protected from ideas that others think I shouldn’t hear about or read about. I can make my own decisions. And when someone tells us how we shouldn’t ever read this or that because it promotes something bad, what does human nature cause us to do?

We want to investigate for ourselves. To determine what we choose to read and discover why it’s supposed to be so bad. After all, most of the books that are being banned or people are attempting to have banned, so far are all works of fiction.

What I fear more is when those book banners start burning and demanding we ban books of history, nonfiction books talking about the past, describing the lives of those who lived before us, and the contributions they made to society.

Books are written to tell a story; to be enjoyed. In many cases, to be studied in schools and classrooms. To enable learning and expand our minds. It is not the job of one of two people to tell others what they can and cannot read. We are free in this country, at least for now, to make our own decisions about what we read. As I said, if you don’t like a book, don’t read it. But don’t tell me I cannot.

Books are not firewood. And the ideas in them cannot be destroyed by destroying the books.

Confessions of a [Book] Hoarder

I think my love for reading has been going on from the day I held my first grade primer in my hand and learned to read “See Spot run.” I was hooked. I remember coming home that day and showing my mother what I could do. I was so proud of myself! And I haven’t stopped reading since. 

I think this quote from “Sleepless in Central Park” by Sarah Morgan nicely sums it up: “A book can give you most things a relationship can. It can make you laugh, it can make you cry, it can transport you to different worlds and teach you things. You can even take it out to dinner. And if it bores you, you can move on.” Well, it can’t pay for dinner, it can’t drive you around, and it can’t help you around the house, but other than that, the main character does have a point.

And yes, when I used to travel for work, I always took a book to dinner with me! 

I’ve read so many books over the years I can’t even begin to count them, and sometimes I can’t even remember if I’ve read a certain book or not until I start reading the first part of it. That’s because I’d read it so long ago.

And I had this thing about keeping them all after I’d read them. They were like old friends I didn’t want to part with.  Even though they were almost all paperbacks (my reading habit would’ve cost me a fortune in hardbacks!) I still hated to part with any of them, and loaning them to someone else? No. I didn’t want them messed up or lost. Yeah, I was that kind of person. Because other people didn’t take care of them like I did.

But the day finally came when try as I might, I just couldn’t fit another book into the bookshelves. I knew I had to do something. Which was getting boxes and emptying my shelves of so many of my old friends. It was tough. I kept a lot of my favorite authors’ books, and most of my hardcovers, and still ended up with 18 full boxes of books that I donated to Goodwill.

That was hard. But I still continued my reading addiction and eventually I was getting to the same point. And which of my favorites would I end up giving away next?

That’s when I finally decided I had to do something. And quick.

You may or may not know I’m sort of a techie. I love technology. iPhone, laptop, iPad…. But for years I couldn’t bring myself to get the one device my husband kept telling me to try. A Kindle. It made so much sense, but I just didn’t think I’d like it. 

I like turning the pages, seeing how much more is left in the book, and yes sometimes looking at the last few pages to see the ending when I just can’t stand it any longer. And I always read while I’m soaking in my jacuzzi every morning. And in the summer after work I’m always in my pool float with a book in my hand. I couldn’t imagine what would happen with all that water around me. I didn’t want to think about destroying an expensive piece of electronics.

If only there were waterproof e-readers, told myself. But then I started researching and found the Kindle Oasis actually claimed to be waterproof. So did I risk it or what? More decisions.

But eBay had one at a really good price. So I ordered it.

And after I received it and set it up, and used it for a day or so I wondered why in the world I’d waited so long! It’s so easy to use, and I can set the reading style just for me, including font size (for those of us with astigmatism that’s one of the best features), lighting (no book light needed for reading in bed), plus it tells me how many hours/minutes left in the book based on my reading speed. I love that feature! I don’t need a bookmark to keep track of where I was. And I can even highlight passages I want to remember. I’d never do that in a REAL book!

And the book choices….I can download samples before I buy the actual book, which has now resulted in a digital library of gigantic proportions, organized by genre or author, depending on what I need, and I can even mark the books I’ve read and save them in their own folder. No, I still can’t bring myself to get rid of them!

And Amazon knows me now. Really well. So well, in fact, they’re making sure to advertise all these new books on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. Which of course I read, and over half the time I download a sample….

At least I’m saving the books digitally so I’m not going to have to box them up to make room for more. But I might have to upgrade my Kindle.

Do You Like to Read?

If you do, I’m hoping you’re going to like this new blog section. “Grab a Book” is being designed for people like me who have an extensive reading habit that they just can’t seem to satisfy.

The first installment (to be published on February 21) will be a little bit about myself and my love for books, but after that I’m planning to do at least one post per month (or maybe a few more) about a favorite author or book that I want to share with you. You may not like all the same books I like, and I most likely don’t like all the same ones you do, but it’s still going to be fun to see what we’ve all discovered.

If you have an idea for an author you’d like to see here, just let me know.

And now, I have a book to finish reading………………