All posts by leesha0304

Reader, writer, babbler If you're looking for my main blog, which includes posts on books (a lot of romance novel reviews), tv shows, movies, my journey as a romance novel writer, and random stuff - check out my prolixme site (www.prolixme.wordpress.com). If you're looking for reviews on children's books - check out Auntie Lee Writes (www.AuntieLeeWrites.wordpress.com), which I started after writing a children's book for my nephew. :)

A quiet place – review

DVOikE9V4AEalKXCan I tell you a secret?  I’m secretly a fan of horror.

It’s true.  Although, I can only take so much of it before I get a little afraid of the dark (and have been known to follow up horror with cartoons to lighten the mood).  When I was young, I loved books by R.L Stein, and thought I should make the jump to reading real horror stories.  This proved to be a mistake (as it gave my vivid imagination a little too much fuel).

But horror movies can be so delicious.  Those little jumps of being startled, the strange humor that often weaves it’s way into the story, the characters, the plots – yes.  I love well done horror.  But I can be a bit of a snob.

“A Quiet Place” is really well done horror.   It’s short, fast paced, and so rich in its story and yes, even sound.  I love the strong and interesting characters, I loved how they communicated with each other – not only sign language, but the things they actually said.  I loved the way the characters seemed to communicate with the audience – the use of eyes (reminded me of the way eyes are used in silent films) was really well done.

And seeing it in the movie theater was a whole experience of itself.  In a theater where loud sounds almost vibrate the walls, I found myself – for the first time – hearing someone cough or crumple a candy wrapper.  It heightened the story and made me wonder what it must have been like when theaters played movies didn’t have sound.  It was truly – at least for me – a new experience.

So, make sure you check it out, especially when it’s still in theaters. Just don’t eat anything too loud. :p

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parallels

There was a time in my life (which, to be honest – sometimes feels like a different lifetime), when I watched a lot of TV.

Really, it was entirely too much TV. But I digress… Anyway, during this time, I watched this one-off episode on NatGeo or the History Channel on parallel universes.

And at the time, the idea was incredibly alluring.  If you could imagine, a universe for nearly every decision you’ve made…the opposite choice was made.

I thought of all of the parallel versions of me.  I had a lot of time on my hands and so I imagined, somewhere in all of those universes – there was perhaps, a version of me that had made all of the right decisions in her life.  Somewhere, a version of me was living my ideal life.  And for some reason, the idea was really comforting – that somewhere, someplace a very different me was happy.

And then, the most incredible thing happened.

Absolutely everything went wrong.

Well, that’s a little dramatic.  Not everything went wrong – just the thing I had built my life plan around – that went terribly wrong.

I stopped thinking about the parallels and focused on rebuilding my life.  I made decisions (some bad, some pretty damn good ones), but I made them for me.  I created a plan based on the things that I wanted.  I crossed handful of things off and added more than a few things to the list.  I met interesting people with amazing stories and I built (and rebuilt) relationships that I could be proud of.  I realized how messed up my life was before and how unhappy I was, and I worked on building something better.

Then a few weeks ago, I was walking my dog.  A gentle breeze stirred by our feet as we walked along the sidewalk that encircles my apartment building and, for no reason at all, I remembered.

I remembered all those thoughts on the parallels.  Those versions of me that made different decisions than I did.  I still haven’t made all the right decisions, but somehow I’ve managed to build a life that makes me happy.  And as for the parallels….well, no where is there someone who has made all the right decisions, living the perfect life.  And even if there were…that person would be seriously boring.

After all, how do you learn if not for all those mistakes?  How do you amass those crazy, funny, and unbelievable life experiences if you do everything perfectly?  And how do you get stronger and smarter if you’ve never been tested?

Just like characters in a novel – the most interesting ones have the best backstories.  And just like stories themselves, life can prove boring without the occasional plot twist or (mis)adventure.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve learned not to pine away for perfection.  Life is imperfect.  But in that imperfection, you can find and make your own version of happiness.

The Hallway pooper

And now, for a snow-time adventure story with Bella, the loyal cat-dog: so named for her sassiness and penchant for “bitch, please” stare-downs.

This, this here – is a picture of my dog’s nightmare – a winter wonderland bathroom.
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The cold, the ice, the snow, and that weird salt that my apartment people put down that seems to agitate Bella’s paws – yes, all of the combines to my dog’s own personal nope to winter.

The most complicated part of going outside, is negotiating with said dog on going to the bathroom.  Generally, it involves t-words (also known as Treats), patience, and some cajoling.  But when the snow gets really high, the places for doing doggy business decrease (especially for a small dog).

After one very cold morning excursion, after a big snow, I found myself wondering if Bella was finished and I was just wasting both of our times out in the cold waiting for her to…well, poop.

But Bella refused to cooperate.  No amounts of patients or promise of treats moved her from wanting to leave the dreaded cold.  So, we headed back inside my apartment building where it is warmer and carpeted (though not fully enclosed).  We climbed up a few flights of stairs and started walking down said carpeted hallway, when my classy dog started walking in what I can only describe as a pre-poop walk.  But I thought I was mistaken…foolish me.

Two seconds later my dog is in poop-posture and of course, it was right outside of someone’s door.

I squealed and begged her to come back outside.  But did she?  Oh no.  She had found the perfect cold weather place for a small dog to poop…inside a warm hallway after a cold and snowy sojourn, earning her a new moniker – the hallway pooper.  I suppose it could be worse.  The owner of said apartment could have opened the door at that exact moment (maybe I should use it as a “meet cute” in a romance novel, though I’m not sure how one could recover from such a moment).

Anyway, I quickly cleaned up her mess and we ran back to my apartment before anyone saw…at least I think so.

Here’s to hoping your cold and snowy weather adventures are a little less messy.  🙂

Brave

There’s bravery in love.  There’s risk in opening yourself up for someone else… of giving someone the map to all of your private hurts and trusting they’ll never go on that hunt.

There’s bravery in trusting yourself to love someone and to experience it fully – without leaving a hand on the raft of back up plans.

There’s bravery in the moments after a panic, when you don’t pull back, but plunge further on.

And there’s bravery in turning your eyes to the horizon and planning a future…in seeing the light and not just the tunnel.

From the daily post prompt: Brave

Brain drain or missing muses

Have you ever gotten to a point in your life as a writer where you’ve spent so much time and energy on other things that you’ve no time for creative endeavors? Or maybe it’s not an issue of time; maybe you have no energy or creative spark to fuel even a journal entry.

That’s what’s happened to me and it’s landed me in the realm of missing muses. So what’s a writer to do when they can’t find the energy or motivation to write?

I’m really not sure. My answer as of late has been to laze about in my spare time. But that hasn’t helped much. It just makes me antsy about not being true to my love of writing.

So I’ve entered into phase two of my plan – just write. I’m going to write without plan or clear purpose and see what comes out. I’ll write descriptions of days, things, and people. Who knows, maybe some of it will help set the stage for a story. Or maybe it’ll just give me a chance to flex my writing muscles in a much needed workout.

What do you do when you suffer from creative brain drain or when life takes over your writing time?

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 Review

I started reading graphic novels a few years ago, and in that short time I will say that the genre runs much wider than I could imagine.

How do mice live and protect themselves from their many predators?

According to the imaginings of David Petersen in Mouse Guard, they live in hidden cities, far apart from each other, but protected from their enemies.  To travel between the cities, merchants and citizens need the protection of the Mouse Guard to keep them safe. But what happens when there’s a traitor in the midsts?

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Mouse Guard is a great and quick read for graphic novel pros and newbies.  I loved It! I can’t wait to read it to my niece and nephew (when they’re a little older probably).  Five stars for this colorful and adventurous read.

Quotable – in a world where you can be anything…

“In a world where you can be anything.  Be kind.” – unknown

I don’t think this quote for my quotable Thursday series really needs all that much explanation, as I think we learned its basic principle in kindergarten.

You have the power to be anything; you control how you treat people. And with all of those options, choose to be kind…it’ll help make the world a better place.

Read a Romance Month

The steamy month of August also happens to be Read a Romance Month.  Yep, consider this a mid-month reminder or a call to read one for the very first time. 🙂

Was that an eye-roll I sensed from some of you readers? I’m sure it was.  Why?  Because romance is one of the most shat-upon genres.

Romance readers have had to deal with a lot of trash talk about their genre – especially those who are open about their reading preferences or proudly display those amusing covers in public.  I’ve heard my share of trash talk in my day, some of my favorites:

  • You read romance? I thought you were smarter than that…
  • Oh…but, I thought you were a feminist?

Or when people find out that I write them:

  • Oh..so are you writing the next 50 Shades of Grey?
  • Can you write about me?

Let me just be clear – you can be smart, feminist, and of any sexual orientation and enjoy romance novels.  As for the questions for authors…well, everyone has their own answers to those.

So, in honor of the steamy month of August, treat yourself or challenge yourself to try something new and pick up a romance novel.  There’s a sub-genre for every interest you might have.  Do you like art? There are tons of romances involving painters, appraisers, sculptors, etc.  Do you like murder mysteries?  There are all kinds of excellent romance murder mysteries (check out some of the darker stuff by Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, or Sandra Brown).  Do you like holidays, cooking, or knitting?  Friend, we’ve got you covered.  Do you like history?  Bitch please, you KNOW there are historical romances.  Just check out your local library, Amazon, or bookstore and discover something new.

And hey, take a picture with you new romance novel find…then post it on Instagram to prove that loving some romance is no crime. 🙂

Here’s one I took with a bunch of free (FREEEEE!) used romance novels that someone gave me.

Clearly, I love romance novels and here are some of my personal favorites, if you’d like some recommendations:

  • It happened one autumn – historical and sassy dialogue
  • The hating game or Wallbanger – because I have a soft spot for heroes/heroines who start off not liking each other…
  • Eligible – an update on Pride & Prejudice
  • Just about anything written by my favorites Nora Roberts, Courtney Milan, Lisa Kleypas, and Julie James

Read one….or read like 5 in one week, because you’re gluttonous like me.  Either way, enjoy!

Game of Thrones Mid-Season(ish) 7

Warning: Spoilers ahead…I mean, it’s Friday, I’ve given you a lot of time to watch the episode from Sunday.  The fact that you’ve been able to stay away from spoilers this long while doing anything online makes you some kind of internet ninja…regardless, consider yourself warned of spoilers.

We’re through 4 of 7 episodes for this (sadly short) Season 7 of Game of Thrones.  So let’s do a quick recap and some fan theories –

1.  First, we learned that not even the Freys enjoy Walder’s dinner parties any more.

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Image credit: HBO

To be fair, Robb, I don’t think Walder is a fan them anymore either.  After all, the North does more than just remember now…

2.  Series symmetry!

Okay, so as a writer/nerd I have to point this out – In the beginning of the series, all of our Starks were at Winterfell before scattering about the land on their own adventures.  Each of the Starks were tested in their own grueling way, until there were only 3 and well, Jon.  Also, the series began with Jon and Tyrion meeting each other and having their own bonding moments.

And now, we find ourselves in series 7, and bursting with symmetry –

  • All of the Starks have returned to Winterfell (still waiting for the Jon-Arya reunion though)
  • Arya with the “that’s not you” comment to Nymeria as a throwback to her “that’s not me” comment to her Dad on being a lady living in a castle
  • Jon and Tyrion meeting again
  • Frey dinner parties – first, symmetry with the red wedding and then, with the stories old Nan used to tell

Series Symmetry! Love it.  It’s like closing the loop.

And there may be another bit of symmetry coming up, and that’s…

3. Jaime is probably going to be captured by his enemies (again)

Ah yes.  Oath-breaker, you attempted to kill another Targaryen when their back was toward you.  Fortunately for Daenerys, her bad-ass dragon was there to stop you.  

(Long side note:  Can I start using ‘dracarys’ in every day speech…I mean, without seeming overly weird?  Also, while we’re on the topic, who else was torn with Bronn and the dragon?  I mean, I was going to officially disown him if he killed Drogon but I wasn’t quite ready for him to become a mass of flames either…)

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ooh Burn! (Image credit: HBO)

Anyway… Jaime, you devilish oath-breaker, you find yourself with Bronn sinking to the bottom of the lake.  But…we all know you’re not dead.  Why?  Well, sir there are a few reasons – 1) you’re a main character and main characters don’t die like that, 2) aforementioned symmetry, 3) I think you’ve got a bit of prophecy to fulfill yet…

4. The valonqar still has to kill Cersei

This hasn’t been covered in the HBO series (yet), but along with the prediction that Cersei’s children would die and another, younger queen would unseat her, Maggy gave one more prediction.  It was that the valonqar (younger brother) would kill her.

Now..this is tricky, since Cersei has two younger brothers (even if Jaime is only younger by a minute or two).   I think it’s reasonable to assume that she thinks the man in this prophecy is Tyrion.  After all, she’s always been mean to him and has actively sought out his death.  But has this whole relationship with Jaime been a bit of a hedge as well?  I mean…what better way to ensure your safety than to align yourself with the stronger of the two and seek to control him through….eww gross incest.

But why would Jaime kill Cersei?  It’s clear throughout the WHOLE series that he loves her and has only ever been with her.  Cersei on the other hand, well, I’m pretty sure power is her only love.  Mayhap after Cersei refuses to step down after Tyrion attempts to use Jaime as a bargaining chip, Jaime would be motivated to kill her.  Maybe if she joins her forces with the Greyjoys through matrimony, it would be enough.  Or maybe, Jaime finally realizes that Cersei is not a good person and certainly not a peaceful ruler (a lot of people have been telling him that, after all).

Or maybe…hmmm.  You know, I am partial to Arya.  I really am.  And Cersei is on her list.  Maybe Jaime will die and Arya will use his face to fulfill the prophecy… ooooh wouldn’t that be awesome?

Either way, Cersei isn’t getting a happy ending.  Though I doubt that will happen this season.

5. What about the white walkers?

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I mean, these cold fools have been pretty quiet this season.  We know they’re making progress from north of the wall.  And we know – based on previews, that Beric Dondarrion is supposed to have a flaming sword…which I’d assume he could use against the white walkers. So, an easy prediction here – sometime before this season is out, we’ll see what the Night King has been up to. 🙂

But…rumor has it that they would cross the wall by the castle that Tormund Giantsbane is currently defending.  Does this mean that the man could perish??  Leaving us without his delightful fawning over Brienne?  Let’s hope not.  I really like that guy…

6. Grey Worm and Missandei

It finally happened.  You know what.  They never used to show that on TV or in movies, and even implying it would grant you a NC-17 rating.  So, when it did, I was literally squealing in my apartment.  Literal. Squeal.

But seriously – I’m really glad that these two characters were finally honest with each other about their feelings.  And the scene was done so very well.  You could see the longing and fear of rejection on Grey Worm’s face (it almost broke my heart), and then the sweetness and open honesty of their feelings.  Tots adorbs.  Thanks, HBO for granting us some sweet romance for two great characters – it was really lovely.

Speaking of which….

7. Jon and Daenerys

I feel like this is going to happen, folks.  I just have to wrap my head around that they’re related and it’s going to happen anyway.  Ugh.  The Targaryen’s are into that sort of thing though…  Maybe Bran will tell Jon beforehand, which should allow Jon to engage in what he does best – serious brooding.

Hope you’re looking forward to Sunday’s episode…I know I am. 🙂

write

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” -Ernest Hemingway

I don’t know if I could call myself a writer and not have that quote stir something within me.

Writing is no simple task.  Sometimes – as many authors know – it can serve as a kind of exorcism, as we surrender our fears and hopes to the page.

Sometimes the words, the motivations, the muse are all there at the same time – and the prose flows from fingers to the page.  More often, it can be like hacking through a nasty underbrush of words that just won’t come together and pages littered with the dreaded -ly’s.

Regardless, you walk away when it’s done having left a bit of yourself there – on the page.  

I’ve gone months, sometimes years without writing. But always, somewhere inside of me, there’s a yearning to fill an empty page with a story that has been rolling around inside of me.

Is it a need to share?  Or is it a desire to fill up a blank space with meaning – like a nervous babble to fill awkward silences?

I’ve grown restless these last few months without writing.  My fingers itch to weave thoughts into words, into stories.

Do you know the feeling?  …of a story somewhere taking shape?  Something slippery in the wet darkness that eludes capture….its tail tickling your legs as it speeds past to the hiding places just outside of reach.

Maybe I’m out looking for my story.  I’ve only to catch her, you see…

and to sit down at the typewriter and just, well…begin.

 

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