A farewell to my Duchess

 

 

I found out a few days ago that my grandmother, Winifred (Duchess or Dutch) Akuna passed away.  I have spent the last two days marshalling my thoughts and emotions because I want to post a send-off for her- she would have liked that.  Please forgive  me if I still seem a bit scattered…. it’s hard to put such a big personality into words.

Growing up in a Catholic orphanage with her brothers and sisters, she was Winifred.  I imagine this is where she learned her love of routine and order.  When she and my grandfather started dating he realized she didn’t care for the name the orphanage had given her and gave her the moniker Duchess- his duchess.  Together they raised six children and were part of the lives of a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Growing up, I loved my grandmother…. but I could never gage how she felt about me.  I was too young to see the signs.  She didn’t vocalize her love and pride a lot.  What she did was cook.  Ox-tail stew, juk, little red barbeque ribs….  the O’hana would converge on her home once a month for games and food.  My aunts and uncles would be bent over this overly complex board game and us kids would watch movies- musicals, old movies with Audrey Hepburn or Winnie the Pooh.    Grandma loved Winnie the Pooh, and passed that love on to each of us- I own the DVD collection and would still watch it with grandma.  The house was always spotless, and she was always in the kitchen.  We would sit at the table and talk to her while she worked.  Those meals were works of art- fragrant, delicious love.  That’s how she expressed her care- by watching over us, feeding us, making space for us.  As a kid, though, I never understood why she wasn’t playing too.

About six years ago, Grandma and Grandpa had to come live with my family for health reasons.  Grandpa was sick and Grandma had dementia.  After Grandpa passed Grandma stayed in town with either my parents or my uncle until a few months ago when she went to live with my aunt in Texas.  I hate to say it…. but she was more relaxed, like the dementia freed her.  She was able to sit and be part of the fun, to joke and laugh and enjoy little things.  It used to be that she swore she couldn’t stand animals, but later she would be laughing and playing with all the family dogs.  Sharing snack with P-chan my mother’s pug, praising my sister’s dogs ( a puggle and what she calls a snicker-doodle) and laughing at my cousin’s beautiful great pyrenes.  She’d wear crazy hats, charm my father into taking her to the Butterfly house, and go nuts over jewelry.  We had a dollar jewelry store here and her eyes would go wide when we told her to get whatever she wanted.  She allowed herself to go for pedicures with the girls, go dancing with my aunt just because she loved to watch.  Honestly, the memories of when my grandmother was happiest were all from this timeline.

I will always be grateful for the time I got to spend with her- that I got to see her happy and free.  She didn’t suffer, which she would have hated, and had my aunts and uncle by her side, which she would have loved.  I am glad…. I am so glad it happened this way.  But part of me will always miss my Duchess.

-Amber

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New Release Tuesday!!! 10-30-18

Hey guys!  This week’s going to be quick because I only know of one release for the week.

the proposalThis is an absolutely fabulous contemporary romantic comedy from the writer of The Wedding Date.  I read the first one and I loved it.  It was smart, sassy, funny and sweet.  Needless to say when First to Read had this on their roster I could not wait to get my hands on it.  I will say that you should totally read the first book before this one because then you meet Carlos and get some understanding about who he is and his dynamic with his friend Drew.

This one, though was interesting to me.  Two people that want nothing to do with relationships- I mean complete commitment phobes- find themselves falling for one another.  I loved the way they interacted, the story line, that there was some sadness and drama mixed with the laughter…. just all of it.  What are you waiting for?  Get to the book store!!!!

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The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory

 

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Title: The Proposal

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Pages: 336

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Is this part of a series?  Yes and no.  While it isn’t listed anywhere as the second book in a series you don’t get the full effect of the story unless you have read her first book, The Wedding Date (more on this in my review).  Due to reoccurring characters I would definitely call this a series.

Publish Date: October 30th, 2018

Summary:

Nik is done.  Stranded at a Dodger’s game after the most awkwardly bad proposal ever, she doesn’t know what to do and…. oh my God, is that a camera crew coming?
Carlos and his sister Angie saw the whole thing from two rows up.  The Jumbo-tron proposal, the deflection, the blow-up…. and now this?  No.  They have to save this girl.  Jumping in front of the camera crew to whisk a complete stranger away and out of the stadium is totally normal, right?  As they escape to LA he learns more about Nik, the now-ex Fletcher (who didn’t even spell her name right!) and the friends he’s taking her to.  Some talk, a few drinks and he and his sister are gone.

Nik knows she doesn’t want another relationship- not now, maybe not ever.  So why can’t she stop thinking about the guy from the ball game?  Her friends are all over her to have a rebound, have fun.  Could the hot, nice doctor be just right for her?

Carlos does not have the time or energy for a relationship.  He has a career and family members to look after.  But hanging out and having sex with the funny, gorgeous woman from the game?  God yes.  They’ll just keep it casual.  Light.  Who needs drama anyway?

One thing leads to another and fate has other plans.  Can two commitment phobes get their act together before they ruin a good thing?

My thoughts:

        First, if you haven’t read The Wedding Date you may want to hold off on this.  While it can be a stand alone, you first meet Carlos and his friends in Drew and Alexa’s story and I found that I liked having just a little back story on them.  I was thrilled that Carlos got a story- he was a bit of a jerk sometimes in the other book, but was a really great and interesting character.  Seeing more into his life made past actions make more sense.

Also, I liked both their reasons for not wanting something serious.   It was wrong and crazy, like they always are but it was more understandable than the normal go-to’s (“I can’t be tied to one woman forever”, Peter Pan sydrome etc…)

While we dealt with heavy topics there was laughter, humor and warmth.  I loved that.  I loved how the characters all interacted- especially Nik and her girls.  It was also way to easy to fall for Carlos, sweet, hilarious and almost too family centered.  The story was fast paced and interesting, and I loved the premise.  Honestly, I just loved this book.  Five stars all the way!  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, I will say that it was a bit… well… pretty sexually explicit.  It’s a romance.  A lot of them go a bit far there.  I mean, we aren’t talking Fifty Shades here…. but you definitely knew what was going down.  For that and the language I would say this one is a straight-up adult romance.  Let’s give it an eight- my niece will be waiting a long time for this one.  adult content rubber stamp

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First To Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  first to read

Link to book:

Amazon  

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Did every one see The New York Times Book Review this week?

I am cheap.  I will admit it.  What money I have after adulting I want to spend on my obsessions- books, food and makeup.  That said, once a week I run to my beloved local library to catch up on magazines, news papers ( I subscribe digitally to my local paper, but love the USA Today and New York Times).  I was flipping through the New York Times book review today and I found the craziest write-up on a handful of books.  Five Novelists Imagine Trump’s Next Chapter  was an interesting piece where some amazing spy/ crime novelists put their powers toward imagining what the future of Trump’s presidency would look like.  I think these are all shorts…. but I must say that any of them could be fleshed out into amazing books.

-Amber

Academic Curveball, James J. Cudney

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Title: Academic Curveball

Author: James J. Cudney (a fellow blogger!  See his blog here.)

Pages:  311

Genre:  cozy mystery

Is this part of a series:  Yes.  This is book #1 of the Braxton Campus Mysteries.

Published: October 15th, 2018

Summary:

Coming home for his father’s retirement party from Braxton University,  Kellen isn’t planning to stay long.  A few days with the family, an interview with a woman his boss Derrek wants him to talk to for the reality TV show they work on, and back home to his job and daughter.  

           Finding a dead body in the stairwell the night of the party puts an end to that.  Unfortunately Kellen and his family have a connection to the victim.  Soon after this, the college’s athletics department is granted a large donation, there’s a blogger dragging his father’s name through the mud and someone seems to have tampered with a young athlete’s grades.  Kellen has to try to keep his family out from under suspicion, find out what’s going on on campus, and keep his sassy grandmother out of trouble (you can only talk your grandma’s way out of jail once, after all…).  Welcome to Braxton Campus.

My thoughts:

I am a huge fan of cozy mysteries.  There are always good characters, great dialogue and an intriguing story… but also enough warmth and humor to keep from ever getting too dark.  Academic Curveball gave me exactly that.  Jay (James J Cudney) has created a small, insulated town with a deep love of the campus that keeps it going.  The characters are quirky and interesting, and I loved the play between Nana D and Kellen.   The premise is completely over the top, but written in such a way that you find yourself nodding along and turning page after page to see what happens next.  I feel like this one left us in a good spot and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment (I think I saw that it was available in December of this year).  For me, this is a four star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there’s some language and adult conversations, let’s call them…. but nothing major.  I would give this one to an older teen no problem.  I give it a three.  General.svg

The book is out!  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Gmorning, Gnight!: Litle Pep Talks For Me & You, Lin-Manuel Miranda

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Title: Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks For Me & You

Author: Lin-Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun

Pages: 201

Genre: Non-fiction, inspiration, uplifting

Is this part of a series?  No…. but I would buy more of these…. just saying.  

Published: October 16th, 2018

Summary:

       (From Goodreads) Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

My thoughts:

    How did I not know this was a thing!?!  I was walking around Walmart today and there it was like a gift from the Universe.  I could not put it down!  I told myself I just wanted to read one page a day- 100 days of sweet thoughts to wake up and go to bed with.  Nope.  I devoured the beautiful thoughts, well wishes, and encouragement.  In a world where there’s so much negativity- on TV, in the News, around town… we need Lin-Manuel Miranda in our lives.  I bought the book immediately.  I have a list of people I want to buy the book for, and, yes, I also got the audio-book so that the genius himself can give me pep talks!  

  Seriously, though, it’s well written, sweet, and precise with adorable art work.  Christmas is coming.  Birthdays, graduation, you name it.  This is the perfect gift for literally anyone that needs a moment of sweetness.  Obviously, this is a five star book for me.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

I tried to take some pics of ones I liked, but they didn’t turn out great.  Let’s place a few more here, just typed.

‘Gmorning, Love,

Your best impulse, that selfless impulse, let 

it take the wheel.

Let it drove you toward the person you

dreamed you’d be.’

‘Good morning.

I believe in you.

Not always in our leaders, 

not always in the subway schedules,

but always in you.

You, unwavering.’

‘Good morning.

You got a good head on your shoulders.

As for your shoulders?

F***ing magnificent.

GO get ’em today.’

‘Good night.

Rest your weary head

and those incredible shoulders.

You did good today.’

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What If It’s Us, Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

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Title: What If It’s Us

Authors: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Pages: 448

Genre: Romance, LGBT, YA

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published:  October 9th, 2018

Summary:

(From Goodreads) Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

My thoughts:

      I have a love/ hate relationship with Albertalli.  I really liked Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited with their adorable characters and charming/ hilarious/ sometimes heartbreaking plots.  I soared through these books and would recommend them to anyone- especially John Green fans.  Then there was Leah On the Off Beat, which mostly angered me.  I didn’t like her, or the way she acted toward her friends, how the love interest played itself out…. the book just pissed me off most of the time, with just barely enough good to keep me moving forward.  

          What If It’s Us Brings out the best of this author- maybe due to the collab?  The characters are purely magical even as they are each incredibly messy and neurotic in their own ways.  I think it’s their imperfections that made them so fabulous.  The premise was fantastic, the play between characters was perfect, and you saw a lot of character growth which is always a plus for me.  My favorite character was definitely Dylan, the over the top best friend.  I felt like he was the perfect foil for Ben.   For me, this was the best book of the author’s to date.  I loved it!  My only objection, and it’s purely personal, I felt like the ending was too open.  I want closure!  And I want it to be EPIC.  Still, five stars all the way.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

 On the adult content scale, there’s some language, drinking, sexual innuendo and light sexual content.  It’s not too crazy, and I would still give this one to a youngish teen.  I give it a three.   General.svg

The book is out now!  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon  

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