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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

happy halloween!

I needed an excuse to dress up today, since I’m stuck at home on med leave. Heh.

Born at Midnight

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls, #1)
by c.c. hunter

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs… (goodreads.com)

If I had to write a blog post about this book in just one word, it would be: Hmmmmm.

Never mind that “Hmmmm” isn’t really a word so much as a sound, it’s really the only thing that pops into my head when I think about what I want to say about this book.

There were so many things wrong with the story, yet at the same time, there were many things I liked.

The good: Fast paced. Witty humour. Kylie is pretty fun as a main character even if I had a few issues with her. A bunch of supernaturals in a camp? Hellz yeah! Even if it is just a plot device to get people together and you don’t really focus much on the camp itself. It’s just fun.

The mediocre: Everything you’d want in a paranormal YA book is there. Everything. It’s like the author read a list of “what makes a book paranormal” and decided to throw everything from that list into the story rather than select one or two elements. I was having enough fun reading the story to be able to overlook this with an eye roll or two. It didn’t bother me much overall, it was just cheesy. I don’t mind cheesy books when they aren’t trying to take themselves too seriously. The sort of general mystery of “what was going on at camp that might get it closed down” was lacklustre. I sort of had the solution guessed from the start, but, eh, it wasn’t a big deal.

The *headdesk*: Kylie is special. She gets sent to a camp for “troubled teens” which turns out to be a camp full of supes. They can all tell each other apart from humans because they can read each other’s brain patterns – an ability which entails much eyebrow twitching apparently. Thing is, good ol’ Kylie’s brain can’t be read! OMG! She spends much of the book hoping she’s just got a brain tumor which is why she sees ONE ghost and people mistake her for a supernatural. Nah, she’s just a human with a brain tumor. That’s better, right? *headdesk* Also, Kylie seems to attract the attention OF EVERY BOY ON THE PLANET. *headdesk* Her ex is desperate to have her back. The scary werewolf boy from her childhood keeps staring at her & following her around. The newly discovered faerie boy is so attracted to her and she likes him, too, because he reminds her of her ex. *headdesk* All three of these boys get some mega kissing action with her over the span of a couple of weeks. Kylie isn’t considered plain or anything, she even says at one point “I don’t think of myself as unattractive”, but really. I HATE stories where the main character gets ALL OF THE BOYS just by showing up in a room. Really. That to me just screams Mary Sue fanfiction. Ugh.

Still on *headdesk*: I was so “arrggghhh!!” when I read that Kylie was some sort of unclassified supernatural. She can’t be read, so they don’t know her powers. So far, she can see ONE ghost, she gets night terrors that are probably other ghosts trying to talk to her and she can feel when faerie boy, Derek, tries to take away her fear by touching her (*snicker* not THAT kind of touching). Apparently the ability to be able to feel mood/emotion altering is “special”. Whatevs. Also the decision towards the end to turn the camp into a full-year boarding school was just… so… just… argh!  It’s a way to set up the rest of the series because you can’t just have kids at camp for 2 months and have EVERYTHING happen to them, right? I don’t mind that so much because I love me some boarding school books, but it just felt so….I can’t even think of the word. Heavy handed? Set up? There’s a word for this! Gah!

There were many moments that I couldn’t ignore the eye rolls. They were the kind of moments that made me sigh out loud “Of COURSE this is happening, because why wouldn’t it. It happens like this in EVERY paranormal book.”

Turns out Kylie’s family history is a mystery. Surprise!

The oh, so, bad: So Kylie’s ex dumped her because she wouldn’t put out. He chose a girl who would. Kylie manages to call this new girl slut, slutty, bang toy, screw toy…a whole bunch of times in the first chapter. The girl is slutty, NOT because she is sleeping with Kylie’s ex, but because she wears short skirts and heels. She clings to ex boyfriend. Yet, somehow, Kylie doesn’t consider her BFF Sara all that slutty, even after she’s decided to sleep with a whole bunch o’ boys and then has a pregnancy scare, gets over and hooks up with an older guy. I guess Sara doesn’t wear short skirts and tank tops. So, Kylie spends all this time trash talking some new girl with her ex and yet can’t even say the word “Hell”? She said “Hades”. HADES ISN’T A PLACE! Not to mention, I think saying things like “screw toy” and “bang toy” are much, much worse than saying “Hell”. Is it just me? I mean, I’m a prude and a half, but come on now. This new girl might be sleeping with her ex, but hey, Kylie! Pot, kettle, black much? I mean, you’re making out, seriously making out with self-proclaimed tingles all over and in places with THREE GUYS IN A WEEK, and yet, that’s ok, because you’re not sleeping with them? Even when you constantly talk about how your BREASTS feel? Ugh.

The language in the book was all over the place. Sometimes it was too much and then it was too preachy (don’t sleep with boys, you’re a ho! Also you can get PREGNANT! Oh NOS! But making out and letting them feel you up, is totes ok, yo!). Kylie could call people bitches but she couldn’t say Hell. I found her to be hypocritical to the nth degree. As long as she was doing something, it was ok. If someone else was acting the same way, they were slutty. Not to mention how she figured everyone at the camp was some sort of goth because they were all in black, had piercings or coloured hair.

The fact that she doesn’t know what, or who she is and that her family history is now all a mystery. I just KNOW we’re being set up for Kylie to find out she’s the MOST POWERFUL -enter supernatural here- EVER! It will likely be up to her to save the world, yadda yadda yadda. Look, I know this is a plot device that most fantasy/paranormal books are based on, but it’s tiresome.

For some reason all the “bad” happening at the camp was directed at Kylie. (On that note, how do you sneak a LION into a cabin in a camp full of supernatural teens and NOT GET NOTICED?)

The book is this weird mix of unoriginal and original which has me torn between liking it and hating it. What I DO like is that the books all seem to be coming out close together. The sequel is already out in stores with the third book just a couple of months away. Had this been out when I was a teen I’d have been devouring them like I did Fear Street and other series. It’s not a smart YA novel. It’s fluff. Very, predictable fluff. But it’s written in such a way that I actually did enjoy most of what I was reading, even with the very glaring issues. I have to admit, sheepishly, that I am very interested in reading Awake at Dawn because I want to know where the author is going with the story. Is it going to be as predictable as I think it is? Will there be slightly more depth? I don’t know.

I can ALMOST overlook the love triangle/rectangle/rhombus that’s happening. Almost. Mostly it makes my stomach flop because it’s so over the top and stupid. WHY DOES EVERY BOY HAVE TO WANT HER? Gah! I hate that storyline! (Bella, I’m looking at you, plain, clumsy girl that has stupid boys drawn to her.)

The book reminded me of my teen years and how I’d have been thrilled to have stories like this in my library. I shall read on for that 13-year old me who would have loved the books. (Not the romance part, though.) 13-year old me would have wished she was a newly discovered witch who got to go to boarding school with other magical creatures. Just that little dream alone is going to keep me along for at least one more book. Depending on how much I roll my eyes during the sequel will decide if I read on further. (That, and these books are being published in paperback, so they are cheap and affordable for guilty pleasure reads!)

Shadow Falls

  1. Born at Midnight
  2. Awake at Dawn
  3. Taken at Dusk – April 2012

PS – I really like the covers for this series, too. That might be swaying me a little. Shut up.

Beautiful Chaos

Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles, #3)
by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What – or who – will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself – forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending. (goodreads.com)

Firstly – let’s hear it for my 125th book & completed Goodreads challenge! wooty woot! Last year I read 120 books, so I beat that a lot earlier and I still have two more months of reading ahead! I am curious to see how much I will read between now and then. November isn’t generally a big reading month for me, but I’m on medical leave until the 20th, so I don’t know. December is when the reading explosion happens.

Secondly – I thought this series was a trilogy, therefore my mind was BLOWN by the ending of Beautiful Chaos. I thought, now THIS is the way to end a series! Then, when I went to mark it as read on Goodreads, I noticed that there’s a fourth book (still untitled at this point) coming out sometime next year. Hmm.

You see, Internet, I am not sure how I feel about this. On one hand – yay! More Beautifulness. On the other, this book ended so brilliantly that I don’t want to ruin that feeling by changing or adding or finding out what happens next. I honestly feel that the three books were enough.

Of COURSE I will be reading that fourth book, because, well, to be honest, this series is EPIC. Kami & Margaret know how to write a gosh darn fantastic gothic story. I always crave lemonade and porch swings when I read these books. Lemonade I can do, but porch swings in Montreal October just won’t happen. Brrr! And to be honest, I could probably do with a new one. My friend recently found a guide on how to choose a porch swing, so I might give that a look when it warms up. Bring on lemonade and porch swings! Anyway, back to the books…

Everything about this series is just fantastic. Sure, I get a little eye-rolly when Ethan and Lena get lovey-dovey, but their relationship works for me. It works. It’s done well. Other YA authors who want to add romance to their novels should take a clue from the Caster Chronicle books.  Hell, I even love Link and Ridley together (and not together). They have CHEMISTRY. So, so few YA novels give their romantic leads any chemistry these days.

There’s just so much I love about these books. The Sisters, Macon, Boo Radley, Link (I ADORE Link! Linkubus! HAHA!), Ethan, sometimes Amma (she makes me cranky once in a while). The setting, the dialogue, the mystery and magic. I love love it all.

These are hefty, meaty books that are over 500 pages each, and each page is wonderful.

I will admit to being slightly confused by the prophecy this time around and all the hoodoovoodoo that went on towards the middle and end, but it was still well written. I just have a slow and simple brain. 😉

I would like to spend this last paragraph rambling about how much I LOVE these covers. They are simple, yet stunning. The hard covers are so shiny and eye-catching. I LOVE the type face used for the titles and the brightly coloured text over the shiny black backgrounds just make me swoon. Just realized I have to go out and find Beautiful Darkness in hard cover, because I still only have the ARC that I got at BEA in 2010. Oops. I like my series to match, ok? Don’t judge.

So, whilst I spend a year wondering if I really want to know what happens next (of course I do, I’ll just realize it by next fall), I shall leave you with the links to the rest of the books in the series. Have you read this yet? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

Caster Chronicles

  1. Beautiful Creatures
  2. Beautiful Darkness
  3. Beautiful Chaos
  4. TBA – Fall 2012?

Buy the book! AmazonUS | AmazonCA

while his guitar gently weeps

Last night I found out that my neighbour’s wife died at the end of August.

Even though in the (almost) five years I have lived here, I only know my neighbours ever so slightly due to the occasional chat over the back fence, or in the front yard, my stomach dropped to my toes when he told me.

I knew she was sick. For a little while there was a warning in the window nextdoor that oxygen was in use. My neighbour would smoke outside, rather than indoors and at one point over the summer, I heard him telling the neighbours on the other side of his fence (two doors down from me) that his wife had cancer and was in a half-way house sort of deal for the treatments.

I thought she was still there.

It all started when I was sitting outside on the stoop with the dogs waiting for Shawn’s bus to come down the street. My neighbour was outside, smoking, and he said “I have an odd question, is it recycling this week?” I thought about it and replied “No, it’s mortgage this week.” (My mortgage payments are on opposite Fridays to recycling, it makes it easy to figure out.) We both laughed. Then he said “I’ve been a little mixed up with days. I don’t know if you know, but my wife passed away in August.”

Stomach dropped.

“No. My go– no. I didn’t. I’m so sorry.”

He shrugged and said, it’s ok, I’m doing ok.

I said, “I knew she was sick, I heard you telling the people on the other side, this summer. I thought she was still in the hospital.”

He then went on to tell me that on May 31st she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It then spread to her liver, then bones, finally her brain. From the diagnosis at 9am on May 31st until her death at 8am on August 31st, it went fast.

She apparently had it for years and didn’t know. She got a little sick in May and it was a shock to find out what was wrong.

I knew something was up. Not just because of the horrible coughing I could hear in the house over the spring, and not only because of the sign in the window. My neighbour plays his electric guitar for fun and relaxation. He’s pretty good. But he’d been playing it more and more, and it’s louder and louder. I even heard it around 4 in the morning on night. That’s when I knew whatever was going on wasn’t good. I had no idea that his wife had already passed away.

Two weeks ago, my neighbour dismantled the porch swing he had in the backyard. It went in the garbage with some other patio chairs. I remember saying to Shawn that I think that meant bad news. They never take it down in the winter, just cover it with a tarp. His bringing the parts to the front for garbage pick up brought tears to my eyes and I felt my pulse race with worry.

When he told me that he’d lost his wife, less than 2 months ago, I couldn’t hold back the tears as we chatted.

I don’t know them well at all. I know they have two boys, I don’t think either are 30 yet. This is not an old couple. Maybe late 50s? The wife wasn’t that old. For cancer to strike and act so swiftly, it’s just, heartbreaking and terrifying all at once. She was nice. Very shy and nervous about her English, so she wouldn’t say much when her husband would speak with me in English. I’d make sure to speak French with her, because she even let me know she was too shy to try English because it wasn’t good.

We have had them take in our mail for us while we’ve been at Disney World. We talk about the random deaths of my stupid tree in the front yard and I found out that this is a regular occurrence. Even the ice storm didn’t kill it. It’s been dying in the middle of summer for years. We’d talk about all the dandelions in the yard. The swampy backyards. The skunks that live under sheds. We’d curse the amount of snow we’d get, or the lack of snow.

These are people I only know peripherally, because they share a wall with my house. But the thought of her being ill and now knowing she’s passed away, just hit me so hard. These are such wonderful people. The man next door is so friendly and fun to talk with. I hurt for him.

She apparently had no pain. The cancer didn’t kill her, she just faded away. She was ready to go. She’d lost her appetite, even when he’d leave work and pick up her favourite pizza. She wasn’t on much morphine, she was just tired.

When Shawn and I finally came in, he hugged me. I was crying. I said “I don’t like when people die.” Sort of a silly thing to say, because, duh! But it was the only way I could voice my grief over a life that I didn’t really know, but missed.

Over the summer when my neighbour was telling the neighbours who share his other wall what was going on, I heard him say “I promised that I wouldn’t smoke in the house anymore, and even though she’s not home yet, I am keeping that promise.”

He’s still smoking outside to this day.

autumn weather = chili

(Hee! See what I did there?)

I knew by 3pm today that I wanted to do something about dinner. I wanted a quick & easy, healthy option but I had no ideas. I was craving stew, but normally I slowcook that stuff and that wasn’t going to happen tonight. I picked up the special edition Clean Eating magazine from this month (101 Comfort Foods) and looked through the sticky-noted pages to see if there was anything in there that jumped out and wouldn’t take too long. Once I found what I was looking for, I jumped (hobbled) into the car and headed to the store to pick up the fixin’s for this:

Clean Eating, 101 Classic Comfort Foods, October 2011 – p. 31

As always, when I try to make something it turns into an adventure. I was determined to make something delicious though!

This is what goes in it (edited for my own adventure!)


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (I actually put a SMALL one in. It was Spanish.)
  • 1 clove garlic (I used 5. I like garlic!)
  • 2 lbs ground chicken (lean)
  • 2 tsp chili powder (it calls for 1 tsp chipotle chili powder & 1 tsp ancho chili powder. Don’t have that.)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves (did NOT put this in)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 28 oz boxed diced tomatoes with juices (I cut up 1.5 lbs of tomatoes by hand instead)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I used Campbell’s NO sodium)
  • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans OR BPA-free canned, drained & rinsed. (I used one can no sodium ones.)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (isn’t it all unsweetened?)

With everything mostly ready, it was very pretty.

So many chopped things!


Step one!

In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium. Add onion & garlic and cook stirring frequently. 2-3 minutes.

 Step two!

Add chicken, breaking it up with a spoon and add chili powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon (and cloves). Stir frequently, until chicken is well browned, 5-7 minutes.

Step three!

Add both bell peppers and stir constantly for 1 minute. (I goofed and added the broth here, too, since I read “both” as “broth”. Meh, it didn’t harm nothin’!)

Step four!

Add tomatoes, broth (if you didn’t already goof and put it in), beans… stir.

Step five!

Add cocoa powder and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and cook until chicken is tender. About 30 minutes.

Now, I brought it to a light boil and then turned it DOWN to simmer on my stove. I don’t know if that was written properly or not. Either way. I actually simmered it for about 45 minutes. Shawn ended up being really late, so I left it covered, on the stove (which was off) and it was still warm when he got home – an hour after I had mine!

Dinner for one!

It looks a lot darker in the magazine, my chicken didn’t get all dark brown, but, oh well. It was good. A little too watery, I think my tomatoes added extra juice. Maybe I should have put in some tomato paste? I do know I need to add the red pepper flakes next time, this needed a kick.

I buttered (no salt) two pieces of whole wheat bread to add to the meal. I know bread isn’t the best thing, but I wanted something comforting! And it was whole wheat, so it counts for something, right!

Shawn now has something tasty to take to lunch with him tomorrow! Me? I think I’m hitting up Wal-Mart with my sister & nephew.