On the way to healthy!

7 Jan

So, I finally got back to tracking my food intake on SparkPeople this year.  Have been tracking for a week now, but only started really eating “good” today.  I may actually stay under 1000 calories today for a change.  Now if I can only do that at least 5 days out of the week.  *gulp*

And tonight… tonight I have to go back to the *shudder* gym.  I joined up with Planet Fitness several months back, but haven’t been as faithful to going as I should be and I even took the entire month of December off.  Tonight I’ll probably only do 30 minutes on the CrossTrainer as it’s been so long since I’ve worked out, but I plan on my workouts being at least an hour by February.  Planning on 30 minutes on the CrossTrainer, 15 minutes in the Ab Machine Cycle, and another 15 minutes on the Exercise Bike.  If that doesn’t seem to be working for me, I’ll have to change things up, but for now, that’s the tentative plan.  I’m hoping to get to PF on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  Then on Wednesdays and Fridays I’ll be doing some kind of workout on the Wii.  Not sure which workout games I’m going to start with as I have many, but I’ll probably change that up quite a bit.  I finally have a Zumba game that my boyfriend’s sister bought me for Christmas so I’ll be testing that out soon.  I’m sure it’s going to kick my butt for a while, but hopefully eventually it will remove some of the booty as well.  LOL!

I’m sure many of you out there have health/weight goals for the New Year.  Feel free to leave some tips here and/or encouragement for each other as I know this is a VERY hard goal to stick with.  (Obviously this isn’t my first attempt!)  Anyway, healthy foods and workout tips are welcome.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Scheduling My Life Away

3 Jan

Thought about cleaning tonight but decided that I should add that as one of my other things to start Monday night, along with going back to the gym, strict diet (which I’ve actually been trying to start on this week, but gotta get back in the groove), and digging back into learning Japanese. All of that will be followed with at least 30 minutes of reading time before bed. (assuming I don’t fall asleep reading.)

This is the schedule I’m working towards for Mondays & Thursdays:

5:30-6:30 – Gym
7:00-8:00 – Dinner & a show
8:00-9:00 – Cleaning/De-Cluttering
9:00-10:00 – Japanese Studying
10:00-11:00 – Internet
11:00-11:30 – Reading (of course, if I really get into the book or am still hung up on the internet I’ll end up ’til midnight like usual)

Tuesdays will be slightly different, and then Wednesday & the weekend I’m usually mostly with Craig. I’m sure this agenda will change some as there will be times I have to go to the grocery, visit the family, have a bad migraine, etc… but at least this is a goal to work towards.  I definitely need to find an hour a night any night I’m home to work on the apartment.  I figure if I cut out anything during the evening I’ll be starting with the Japanese stuff, but hopefully I can study that some away from home.

Anyway, I’m sure most of you don’t care about this nor are you still reading this post, but this helps me gets my thoughts down and hopefully make me stick to it a bit better.  And… it also makes me post something else on my blog to help me get in the habit again.  *grin*

If you are still reading this, thank you!

2013 Brings Changes To My Book Reviewing

2 Jan

As most of you know, I’ve been reviewing for Monster Librarian for the past several years.  For the last year or so I’ve really fallen behind on writing up reviews.  It seemed like I could read a ton of review books, but then I’d put off writing the review, even as long as a year later.  At that point I barely remembered what the book was about and practically had to re-read the book to be able to write the review.  I know, I know, I should’ve taken notes and/or wrote the review immediately upon finishing the book, but with the stresses of work and every day problems, I just didn’t always have the energy to do it immediately.  And then, of course, there was the “I’ll do it tomorrow” problem and as everyone knows, tomorrow never comes.  So… after a LOT of thinking and I do mean a LOT… I’ve decided to give up my reviewing gig with ML.  However, I will still be doing some reviewing.  I know several publishers/authors have sent me books directly to review and those reviews will be going up here on my blog (and most likely cross-posted to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and GoodReads), though I’m not sure of the exact time frame.  I have a lot of non-review books I’ve been wanting to catch up on so I will be mixing them into my pile as well.  Some of the non-review books might get a quick mention/blurb on this blog, but I will definitely be writing up reviews of the books that have been requested of me.  This might only be one or two a month and if I really don’t care for a review book, it might never get a mention (however that is a rarity for me as I can usually find something to like in all books).  I already have a few reviews to work on posting up here, but I need to get into my New Year groove with working out, housecleaning, etc… as I’ve made several goals for myself  So, I ask of all publishers/authors to please be patient with me as I do want to read & review your books, I just need to limit the stress behind it a bit.  

Yes, I am still accepting review books, but I am limiting what all I take in.  If you would like to submit a book for review, please contact me at my email:  sanddanz at gmail dot com.  I’m not promising a review, but I’ll see how the review pile stands at that point.  

I really hope everyone understands the reasons I’m backing off of things and also appreciate the patience those have shown in the past for my delay in writing up reviews.  I truly am not a flake, but I will be the first to admit that I took on a bit more than I could chew. So… with the new year, I’ve just decided to try to make things a bit more manageable.

Thanks again to all publishers & authors for their contributions and be sure to check back as your review(s) might be the next thing published here.

Happy New Year!

Review: Desdaemona by Ben Macallan

30 Jul

Desdaemona follows the story of Jordan, on the run from his parents, who plan to make him immortal when he becomes of age. While on the run, he helps find other runaways–because who better to find a runaway than another runaway that knows all the best hiding spots and tricks? Enter Desdaemona, or Desi for short, who enlists Jordan’s help to find her sister Fay, who has gotten herself mixed up with some very bad immortals. Jordan attempts to turn down her request, but, as he’s a horny teenager, it doesn’t take much for Desi to convince him to help her out. As their search begins, so do a lot of crazy and dangerous escapades that make Jordan second-guess his decision to help out Desi, despite his raging hormones.

Honestly, I had a really hard time getting through this novel. Some sections of the book I really got into, but then others made me wish I was already on the final chapter. I am glad I stuck through to the end, though, as some of the stuff near the end of the book was quite intense, and I really liked one of the characters introduced late in the book. I will most likely read the next book in the series to see how things go now that the characters have been fleshed out. This first book just felt like the author was struggling a bit with getting his voice and writing style sorted out, but I have hope that in future books this won’t be an issue for Macallan, as he does seem to have some really good tales to tell. The fact that he pulls in so many different creatures, going beyond just the typical vampires and werewolves found in urban fantasy, makes him stand out drastically from many of today’s urban fantasy authors. I would definitely recommend giving Desdaemona a try if you can handle a little frustration along the way, as the book does turn out to be well worth it in the end. Recommended.

Contains: Adult language and situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Die, You Bastard! Die! by Jan Kozlowski

30 Jul

Claire left her past life as far behind as possible, and didn’t want to return home when she received the call that her father had been hospitalized.  He had abused her growing up, which was the main reason she had left in the first place, but she decided to be the bigger person and went home to check on him.  Claire didn’t expect to find that she was expected to use her training as a paramedic to act as a home nurse to him until his condition improved. Nor did she expect her best friend’s suggestion that this would be the perfect opportunity for the two of them to get their revenge on the man that had abused them for the biggest part of their life.  

Intense from start to finish, this book keeps you biting your nails the entire time.  Kozlowski keeps the momentum going throughout this book, giving the reader no chance to come up for air.  Ravenous Shadows promised novellas that could “pack as much punch, personality, and plot as books three times their size” and that they did with Die, You Bastard, Die!  If I didn’t have other obligations in life I would’ve read this in one setting easily, as it was THAT good!  This is a revenge story.  This is an extremely gory revenge story.  I don’t say that lightly.  If you are hesitant to read books that have to do with revenge or contain gore, I’d pass this one by.  However, if you don’t mind either of those things, make sure this one goes to the top of your must-read pile.  Trust me, it won’t take up much of your reading time and you won’t regret it.  I know I can’t wait to read more from Ravenous Shadows and especially from Jan Kozlowski.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex, Rape, Violence, Gore

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Unspeakable and Other Stories by Lucy Taylor

30 Jul

Lucy Taylor’s work has been recommended to me frequently, due to my love for erotic horror.  Earlier this year, I finally got to read a short story by her, and I enjoyed every word of it.  So I was ecstatic when our site was contacted by the author about reviewing her short story collection Unspeakable and Other Stories.  The collection is made up of eight short stories, which I believe have all been published previously in various anthologies/magazines.  There was not a story in this collection that I did not enjoy, but my three favorites would have to be (in no particular order) “Wall of Words”, “The Family Underwater”, and “A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, and a Harley”.  Taylor has a special way of playing with words and twisting them around, making the reader think one thing, and then, when she unravels it all, showing  something entirely different.  Her endings were always a surprise to me, especially in “A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, and a Harley”. Yes, her stories would be classified as erotic horror, but I don’t think many readers would find themselves wanting a warm body to make love to after having read her work.  Taylor’s stories are sensual yet disturbing and are more likely leave you fearing the lover beside you.  Gripping and chilling, I devoured this collection in small doses to make it last longer.  Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Sacrifice by Wrath James White

30 Jul

Odd crime scenes are popping up across town, starting with a man being eaten alive by his own dog,  soon followed by a school teacher being brutally beaten by his elementary school students.  The incidents don’t stop there, unfortunately, and Detective John Malloy and his partner Mohammed Rafik have a crazy case on their hands.  In addition to these reports, they also have been running an investigation on a bunch of missing little girls.  When Molloy and Rafik visit the parents’ houses, they notice that the parents don’t have any pictures up any more of their children, but do have a picture up of themselves with some strange looking woman.  Doing a bit more research around town, they find out that the other woman in the picture is a woman that goes by the name of Delilah, and she is some kind of voodoo priestess who has the power to take away a person’s pain… but at a cost.

I’ve yet to meet a Wrath James White book I haven’t liked and that goes for this one as well.  He always writes a strong story with vivid details and strong characters.  In particular, the character of Delilah that he has created in Sacrifice is one-of-a-kind, and I had a hard time deciding whether I loved her or hated her.  Her reasoning for doing what she does is good-natured, but the results are just so horrific that it’s hard to decide which outweighs the other.  That might not make sense to you now but I guarantee that if you read this novella, you will understand my conflict.  If you are familiar with White’s work, you will expect over-the-top gore, lots of violence, and hardcore sex in this novella.  Well… maybe not so much in this case.  There is still a little of each, but I’d say the gore and sex is majorly tamed down this time, which should allow readers that have avoided White’s work in the past due to those features a chance to give his writing a try.  He is a powerful writer and one that shouldn’t be missed.  

Note:  Sacrifice is a semi-sequel novella to White’s novel The Resurrectionist as it pulls in some of the same characters and reflects back on some of the events that took place in the novel.  In order to avoid spoilers to the novel, be sure to read it before this novella.  

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Gore, Sex, Graphic Violence

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Faint of Heart by Jeff Strand

30 Jul

Gary Harpster is planning on spending a weekend camping with the boys, but is worried about leaving his wife Rebecca home alone–she’s a bit of a scaredy cat.  Rebecca promises him she’s alright, though deep down she knows she’s anything but. After a bit of back and forth, he promises her he’ll call and check in, and heads out on his trip.  Rebecca struggles her way through the weekend, and never receives a phone call from Gary, nor does he answer when she tries to call him.  By Sunday night, she starts to panic.  About that time her doorbell rings, and the person on the other side tells her that they are the police.  Unfortunately for Rebecca, it’s not really the police and she is taken at gunpoint by the stranger at the door.  He tells her that he will take her to find out what happened to Gary, but the only way for her to find out is to play their little game.  And what they have in mind is something she’s not prepared for at all.  They want her to go camping.  Well, not just camping… they want her to re-live everything Gary went through over the weekend and she can’t even begin to imagine what all that might entail.

A good horror/comedy book is hard to find, but all one has to do is find a book with the name Jeff Strand on the title and it’s a winner every time (except for those couple of non-horror/comedy books he wrote).  Faint of Heart is a fast-paced novella with a bit of torture, a slight bit of gore, and a lot of laughs.  At the start of the book the main heroine, Rebecca, seems to be quite the wuss.  (Seriously, who wouldn’t want a weekend home alone to be able to catch up on their reading?)  But as she starts going through all of the stuff that Gary had to go through, she has to learn to toughen up quickly.  If not, she would’ve probably just died trying to eat the hot dog. (You’ll understand once you read this novella.)  That being said, Rebecca becomes a very likeable character by the end and the love she shows throughout for Gary is just phenomenal.  The fact that she would put herself through as much as she does throughout this story proves just how much she cares for him.  It’s quite the touching story, despite it being full of violence, but what else can you expect from the King of Comic Horror?  Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Violence, Gore, Torture

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Dark Shadows Movie Review

13 May

Went yesterday afternoon to a matinee showing of Dark Shadows.  Surprisingly, Craig decided to go with me despite thinking the movie was going to be stupid.  Overall I did enjoy the movie, though not as much as I’d hoped.  I did like it better than Alice In Wonderland (see my review here at my old blog) however, which may be mostly due to the fact that Johnny Depp was playing the role of a vampire.  And since I love both Johnny and vampires, well… it’s a no-brainer.  🙂

Anyway, more regarding the movie…

The beginning starts out nice and dark & gloomy like some of Burton’s other treasured horror films, but soon takes a lighter turn as many old Dark Shadows fans were unhappy about.  The movie did NOT however turn out to be as tongue-in-cheek as the trailer showed.  Honestly, most of the jokes in the movie are IN the trailer which took away a bit from the humor in the movie since all of the jokes had already been heard before.  That being said, the jokes were distributed throughout the movie at a well-balanced pace rather than bam, bam, bam as the trailer showed.  I think they created the trailer as such in order to bring in a younger audience since that’s where a lot of movies get their sales.  While watching the movie I had several moments where I was reminded of another of Burton’s movies, Beetlejuice, and a non-Burton film, Death Becomes Her.  The scenes that reminded me a lot of Death Becomes Her were due to a bit of excess “cheese” in the movie, but still amused me to a point.  A few things seemed a bit overboard for the movie, but since I’m more forgiving than a lot of movie goers & definitely the cult Dark Shadows fans, I laughed them off as just a bit of Burton’s overzealous personality.

There were a few moments in the movie that I also found a bit slow, but not so slow as I was nodding off as I have done in many other movies.  This one held my attention all throughout.  The only thing I had wished I had done different was to have started watching the old Dark Shadows series earlier than I did in order to follow some things a bit better.  Well, maybe not follow so much as to understand some of the various connections.  I watched the old show some as a little girl with my older brother, but don’t remember anything from that time really.  I have recently started the series from the beginning, but haven’t even gotten to where Barnabus comes in so really didn’t know who a couple of the characters were and was thrown off in the beginning with the timeframe of when Vickie Winters came to town, the ages of David & Caroline, and also due to the fact that Vickie’s actual name in the movie was Maggie Evans, though I think the latter was just a homage Burton must’ve added in to another great character from the old show.  Hopefully I will discover more hidden homages and such as I get further into the TV series and then re-watch this movie on DVD once it comes out.

I have read comments from others regarding the movie saying it sucked and someone even mentioned giving up on Johnny Depp after this one.  Everyone has a right to their own decision, but just because I liked a couple of Johnny’s movies less than some of his others doesn’t mean I’ll give up on them.  Honestly, I’m not sure I’m going to like Johnny’s next movie, The Lone Ranger, but I’m still going to watch it.  It probably won’t be one I go to opening weekend, but I plan on going.  And since I am a Johnny fanatic, whether I love it or not, the movie will be added to my DVD collection.  I’m sure other people feel the same way about various actors.  Everyone has a time where their movies aren’t as strong as some of their others.  A lot of actors play one good role in the beginning and are expected to live up to that in future.  There are a LOT of factors that go into whether an actor is okay, good, or wonderful and the reason Johnny stands out to me so much is the fact that he is willing to push his limits and try so many different roles.  Yes, Craig has made comments that Johnny plays different roles with the same accent, but honestly, how much can a person change their voice?  He’s an actor more than a person trained in voice overs.  Yes, several of his Burton movies have his characters looking pale and creepy, but that’s the Burton and actually, Johnny-style, given that Johnny typically creates his own character in the movies he plays in.  But back to my point, he is willing to do just about anything that is thrown at him and he does it well, despite whether the movie itself is good or bad.  I think I got off on a bit of a tangent there for a bit, but I think he did a good job as Barnabus Collins, even if the manuscript was a bit weak or too cheeky for some.  And if Burton & Depp were to have a 2nd Dark Shadows movie released next week, I’d be there again.  That’s ’cause I AM a true Johnny Depp fan and quickly becoming a true Dark Shadows fan.  I know that many Dark Shadows fans and people not familiar with the show think the movie “sucked balls” or whatnot, but I say… “to each their own”… if you don’t enjoy Burton’s style, don’t watch Burton movies.  If you think Johnny’s past his prime and making sucky movies now, don’t watch movies he plays in.  Don’t just go watch a movie because you want to have the pleasure of bitching about it later.  If I were one to want to do that, I would’ve gone to see the rest of the Twilight saga, but I knew to stop after the first one as that was more than enough for me!

End Review & Rant

Oh… and for those curious about the original Dark Shadows series… there is an AWESOME looking new collector’s edition coming out that I would give an arm and a leg to own.  Check it out:

 

Kindle Freebies – 04/10/12

10 Apr

Quick post today with no pretty pictures as I didn’t really have time today to post at all, but… there seemed to be a good selection today so wanted to get these out to my followers.  Lots of horror, mystery, thriller, paranormal, and fairy tale books within.  Some are erotic, so if that’s not your cup of tea, please pass over them.  I was particular excited to find the 5 fairy tale books by Sandy Stoker and OzMania by Richard A. Zagranski.  They are listed below with all the rest.  Enjoy!

Innsmouth Magazine: Collected Issues 1-4

The Vampire’s Warden by S.J. Wright

The Monster Within Idea by R. Thomas Riley

Welcome to Moon Hill by Anthony J. Rapino

The Eyes of the Dead by G.R. Yeates

Meany by Peazy Monellon

Come the Hour by Martin McGregor

The Gods of Dream by Daniel Arenson

The Hall of the Wood by Scott Marlowe

Maggie For Hire by Kate Danley

Demon Hunter and Baby by Anna Elliott

The Witch Queen’s Secret by Anna Elliott

Ozmania Inc. by Richard A. Zagranski

The Division of the Damned by Richard Rhys Jones

Tick Tock Run by H.C. Elliston

Quick Thrills by Jeff Menapace

All Aboard for Murder by R.T. Ray

The Jury Series by Lee Goldberg

Absolute Liability by J.W. Becton

Lick Your Neighbor by Chris Genoa

Mama Said by Lee Allen Howard

Perillegal by J. Pryzmus

Lifeblood by J. Pryzmus

Lostblood by J. Pryzmus

Sorry, Charlie by Shawn Bailey

The Kraken’s Mirror by Maureen O. Betita

My Boyfriend’s Back by Chrissy Olinger

The Tears of Elios by Crista McHugh

Dysfunctional by Tameka Hicks

To Speak for the Dead by Paul Levine

Premature Eradication by James W. Lewis

Occupy Faerie by Marilyn Peake

Vampire for Christmas by Felicity Heaton

Awakening: The Darkfire Chronicles Part 1 by Victoria Knight

Hansel & Gretel: An Erotic Fairytale by Sandy Stroker

Snow White: An Erotic Fairytale by Sandy Stoker

Little Red Riding Hood: An Erotic Fairytale by Sandy Stoker

Rapunzel: An Erotic Fairytale by Sandy Stoker

Rumplestiltskin: An Erotic Fairytale by Sandy Stoker

NOTE:  Below are some additional books free today!

Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday

Dracula’s Harem by Adrianna White

Letting Go by Polly J. Adams

Bound By Blood by Danielle Bourdon & Kimberly Hoyt

Death Has a Name by Jerry Hanel 

The Hours of Creeping Night by Sophie Playle

Snow Angels by Brenton Harper-Murray

Sworn by Emma Knight

Bloody Little Secrets by Karly Kirkpatrick

Bury the Children in the Yard by Andersen Prunty