Thankful List

Tomorrow, the U.S. will celebrate Thanksgiving. Germans have their Thanksgiving at the end of September, but they don’t celebrate like the U.S. Since we moved here, we started our own traditions, which include a Thanksgiving meal to commemorate the U.S. and Germany’s day of thanks. We’ll be enjoying a hearty meal on Friday, and then I will put up my Christmas decorations on Saturday. Being thankful for the things in our lives doesn’t require a national holiday, but since this is the time of season, I thought I’d list the things I’m thankful for in my life.

My Thankful List – I’m thankful…

mom and I1. to have the mother I had, who supported me and passed along her beliefs and traditions. I miss her every day.
2. to have reconnected with my father, so we could begin a new relationship.
3. to have met my husband. He is the best man I’ve ever known, and has made me a better person. 047 - Martin by Montjuic Castle
4. for embracing change and taking chances. If it weren’t for either one, I wouldn’t be living in a foreign country with my soul mate.
5. for my sister, niece and nephew’s safety and health.
6. to have the opportunity to follow my writing dream.
7. for being able to recognize my faults so I can try to change them.
8. for Autumn, because it’s my favorite time of the year.
shakes39. for my four-legged baby, Shakespeare, who is my buddy and a momma’s boy.
10. for German breads and pastries. Even though I should just tape them to my thighs and ass, I still can’t completely cut them from my diet.
11. for my bed, because it is so awesome!
12. for being three years away from 50, and still NO GRAY hairs.
13. for finding jeans in Germany that are neither skinny nor look like a dog had attacked me.
14. for coffee, because I’m a coffee snob and enjoy every drop.
15. to have my health and a strong belief in God.
45 - Irma, Nan & Me16. for receiving emails or phone calls from friends I haven’t spoken to in a while, and hear them say how much they miss me.
17. for having such wonderful memories in my life, and knowing, there are still many more to come.
18. for daily whispers of love from my husband.
19. for all the do-gooders out in the world, who keep restoring my faith in humanity.
20. for laughter, because even for a moment, laughing erases all troubles.
058 - Martin and I-121. for my blog followers and writers I’ve met along my writing journey.
22. for fresh flowers in the house, because they always brighten a room and mood.
23. for God, who has blessed me with answered and unanswered prayers, even if it took me years to figure it out.
24. to be able to travel with my best friend.
25. for finding new passions, such as gardening and cooking.

Are you in charge of the turkey this year? What are you thankful for?

Thankful list and Blessings,

Baer Necessities

Marches to the Beat of a Different Activity

I met India Daram on Goodreads, but I’ve gotten to know her through this interview. From what I read, she’s a strong woman who isn’t afraid of chances and change. In some ways, I can relate to India, who is an expat and loves to travel. “Upside, inside out [India’s] livin la vida loca”, so let’s welcome her with a hearty applause.

Describe yourself in 150 words or less.

I am a people person. I love meeting people and getting to know them. Listening to snatched bits of conversation on the tube, train or coffee shops inspires me. I tend to write at coffee shops and on the train, as I like the hustle and bustle of people and conversations around me. I like to cook for my family but hate the cleaning up and cook on the condition that my husband will do the cleaning up. Coming from Chennai, the beach was close at hand and I’ve had lots of fun playing there with my friends and family. Living in London, I am a bit of a landlubber at the moment as my wave-watching hobby is now a thing of the past. I love to travel. I have travelled across, Europe, US, Middle East, South America and South East Asia. And of course, having lived in India, I have holidayed all over the country.

Do you sing in your car? If not, where can someone catch you singing?

I sing while I cook and at parties. Let me hasten to add that I am an extremely mediocre singer but I don’t let that trivial fact hold me back. 😀

Tell us about your published works.

I have self-published two novels. My first one is called ‘Married in Name’.   It is the story of Married in Name Cover-Kindle-SizeRiyha that enters in to a marriage of convenience but falls in love with her husband and comes up with a ten step seduction plan to keep her husband. My second novel ‘Wedding in Vegas’ is about Thila who takes a brief holiday to Las Vegas just before she needs to Wedding in Vegas 02-Cover-Frontmarry a man in order to save her family business. Having met the hero during her flight to Vegas, she gives in to temptation and marries him in Vegas with the assumption that she can divorce him the next day at Reno. But it doesn’t work out that way. I like to write about strong and feisty heroines that have minds of their own. My heroes tend to be alpha males that have the self-assurance to deal with a strong heroine.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind of music?

I listen to a variety of music from hip hop to pop. Some of my mood lifters are the Spanglish version of ‘The Ketchup Song’ by Las Ketchup, ‘Livin La Vida Loca’ by Ricky Martin, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ by Elvis Presley to name a few.

Which piece of work have you written that’s your favourite?

I have just finished the first novel in the King Connection trilogy. The series is about the exciting experiences and culture shock that three men and women experience while marrying someone from a different culture. ‘What Happened in London?’ is the story of Maya that meets and falls in love with Kristoforo King who is three-fourths-British-and-one-fourth-Italian. The novel is an amusing journey in to the trials and tribulations of a typical Englishman trying to impress his Indian girlfriend’s family.

What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Writing is like a bug you cannot shake off. It still takes lot of discipline to sit down and write, to pour your thoughts into words. It still takes lot of sacrifice, as it could mean you compromise, or at the very least strike a balance, on how you spend your time. But it gives great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment, especially when you see your completed work. What is key is to write daily. It maybe absolute gibberish that you end up striking out the next day, but then by writing that gibberish you have achieved two things – you have the ability to spot things that don’t work – and you now know where you want the story or character to go or do.

What’s your favorite restaurant and why?

My absolute favourite is the Restaurant Terrazza Danieli in Venice. The restaurant overlooks the canal. Day or night it is beautiful to watch the water taxis and gondolas go up and down the canal. My favourite time – dinner time at the restaurant, watching the sky turn pink. Needless to say, the food tastes like ambrosia.

In regards to writing, what are you working on now?

I am writing the second novel in the King Connection. I haven’t named it yet. It is the story of Karlos King that ends up in a shot-gun marriage with Nisha.

When you’re not writing, where can people find you hanging out in the virtual world?

This is such a difficult one. I am generally online browsing, reading about places and people. I tend to read nearly as much as I write and visit Goodreads regularly.

When you’re feeling kinda down, what song do you put on to get you motivated?

Clean Bandit’s ‘Stronger’ is one of my favourites.

Thanks for stopping by to meet India and making her feel welcome.

Music and Writing,
Baer Necessities

Things I just Don’t Get

Aside from the normal things my brain can’t seem to comprehend, I just don’t get some things. I’m going to share my “I don’t get” list with you because maybe you can shed some light on them.

1. Skinny Jeans. One question. Why? Why would you want to paint on a pair of jeans and then peel them off? These are definitely not “get laid” jeans. You and your date would pass out from alcohol before these suckers came off. Then again, it’s probably the most natural birth control I’ve seen to date. Now I know some of you are probably saying, “What? Girl, you gotta get your skinny on?” But a) there’s nothing skinny about me, and b) why would I want to feel all my innards sucked up into my neck? This has been a huge problem for me living in Germany because I’ve been on a search for non-skinny jeans since I moved here. Luckily for me, C&A started selling boyfriend’s jeans. Thank you, Denim Gods!

The last time I wore tight jeans was in junior high. I’d prepare to put on my Vidal Sassoon or Gloria Vanderbilt jeans by placing a wire hanger on the bed. I would slip into each leg, do the jig as each pants leg crept up, and then the finale. I’d fall back on the bed, slip the top of the wire hanger into the zipper hole, suck in with all my might and pull. Once I got the zipper up, I’d roll to the side of the bed to stand, and then find a shirt to hide my muffin top.

That’s the last time I tried a mid-body suffocation. As this video shows, time is of the essence, and you skinny jean people are wasting it.

2. Butt Implants. Hello? I’m trying to lose weight, not add it on. Let’s face it, majority of women would like to change something about their body. Maybe some want bigger boobs, smaller hips, smaller calves, or tiny waists… but a BIG BUTT? I don’t need implants to get the job done. Just put me in front of pastries and homemade bread. You’ll be able to park a semi-truck under the shadow of my ass. If this isn’t convincing enough, just check out the below video of butt implant gone bad. It’s not for the faint of heart.

And for those skinny jeans people, you won’t be able to fit that booty in afterwards. You’d have to give your skinny jeans to the anorexic models, who are using them as leg warmers.

3. Boot Sandals. Which brings me to this insane idea—boot sandals. For the indecisive, I might add. I think a Libra created the boot sandal because they couldn’t figure out which one they wanted to wear.

Aside from the uncertainty of what to wear, they’re also ugly. I mean, come on, is it summer of winter? If it’s summer, do I really want my ankles to remain cocaine white while the rest of me turns red? And I don’t want to wear these in winter. My toesies will get frostbite and I sure as hell am not risking amputation for the sake of fad.

4. #Hashtag. Leave it to some techy to label and group things together. As if our world isn’t in enough chaos, now we need to label and group things and people for order. Pretty soon, we’ll start talking in hashtag. #pottymouthvideo

Then, while we’re talking, we’ll be putting people in groups, like the #coolkids go over here, the #fatties over there, and the #notpartofthecoolkidsgroupbutunique here. This is also a good time for me to point out that the # sign is the pound sign to abbreviate pounds. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a subliminal message.

If you thought I was kidding about labeling, here’s the first link to #coolkids – https://twitter.com/hashtag/coolkids, and then #fatties – https://twitter.com/hashtag/fatties. Honestly, I just picked those hashtags as a joke. I had no idea there were actual twitter group labels of this sort. This is a social injustice! I want #washington to #takeaway the #hashtag and replace with *thestar, so *everyone can feel *important.

What things don’t you get?

Things that make me go Hmmm and Boycott,
Baer Necessities

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

Today is book review day, and I’ll be discussing Follow You Home by Mark Edwards, a psychological thriller.

Book Description (I took Jeri’s advice and wrote my own)

This book is about Daniel and Laura, two Brits traveling through Europe before settling down and planting roots for their future. During their journey, they come across another couple as well as unexpected and horror situations that cut their travels short.

Back home, Daniel and Laura refuse to discuss the ordeal and struggle with it along with their relationship. Soon they find their secrets have caught up to them, and the nightmare begins.

Book Cover: 5/5 Stars

I like the cover. The person walking in a forest with fog hovering around adds to the thriller genre. Covers that have a blueish haze, make me feel as if I should prepare for a haunting read, one that will keep me up at night.

Book Idea: 3.5/5 Stars

The premise of the book is interesting. Two people’s lives disrupted when exploring Europe for the last time before starting a family. They come across sinister people and situations that infect their plans. I like fiction reading about how disturbing circumstances seep into people’s lives, and as the reader, watch the characters unravel.

Plot: 2.5/5 Stars

Much of the plot just didn’t jive with me. It felt as if Edwards wasn’t quite sure where to take his book and guessed along the way. At times, it seemed unnatural and unconvincing. As I got into the book, I started getting bored.

The story was repetitious, and a big problem I had with the plot was the insignificance throughout. There were many places in the book where I scratched my head, wondering the significance of the situation. Below is a small sample that doesn’t add any value to the story. This is early in the story where Daniel is watching a couple, Alina and Ion, who just made it in time to catch the train.

“Although we had befriended a number of couples on our trip around Europe in a transient way, exchanging email addresses and Twitter usernames, I preferred to observe someone first, make sure they weren’t crazy before engaging in conversation.”

I didn’t understand why Edwards felt the need to tell the reader why he was scoping out this couple. Most people observe others before meeting them, so all this did was make me 1) question the relevance, and 2) note that this doesn’t move the story along.

This line is regarding the couple, Alina and Ion. They’re planning how to smuggle drugs using the English couple, Daniel and Laura, and it’s much later in the book.

“I got some keys too, in case Camelia needs them, and the girl’s phone, a nice Samsung. Daniel just has a crappy scratched-up iPhone 5 with a cracked screen so I didn’t bother. Why don’t people take care of their gadgets…”

There’s absolutely no reason for this observation. It does nothing for the story and pulls me away from it. It’s a tangent. I’m pointing these out because the book is riddled with thoughts and dialogue that fracture the story.

Several parts of the book had me waiting for the relevance, yet it was never followed up. As a reader, I want everything in the book to mean something, otherwise, why mention it, especially since it’s a thriller. I’m expecting people or objects the author talks about to have something to do with the end result.

At times, I wondered if Edwards put this information in to fill pages. Or he added things to throw the reader off, and left it at that. Below is a line from the book where Daniel is talking about a man who got on the train and sat by them. Maybe I missed something, but there wasn’t any connection between this man and the plot in ongoing chapters. Plus, Laura complains several times about the man staring at her. With this description, and several references, I was expecting him to be a part of their ordeal. Again, I went back on my Kindle to find a connection, but didn’t.

“He was about forty, stocky, with cropped hair and an acne-scarred face. He had no luggage. Even though most of the seats in the carriage were empty, he sat diagonally opposite Laura and me.”

Another issue I had with the book is that the majority of it is told through Daniel. He’s the narrator, so I’m not sure how reliable he is when “telling” the reader about things. This also diminishes any relationship I could have with the characters.

Characters: 2/5 Rating

Since much of the story was told by Daniel, there was a disconnect between reader and characters. I didn’t feel anything for them—no sorrow or happiness. They were bland, and sometimes, what Daniel stated about a character didn’t always fit when it came to their actions.

Here is an excerpt of Alina helping an older man with his carry-on. Prior to this, Daniel describes Alina as standoffish and somewhat of a Goth girl. The old man is significant to the story. This excerpt is odd because the author points out the old man looked capable of carrying his bag, so it diminished the importance of this suspense trail. It’s as if he tossed us a hint, and then explained it.

“Alina, to my surprise, jumped up and slipped through the door, helping the man onto the train, carrying his case into the carriage. The old man, who looked strong and fit enough to be able to handle the suitcase himself, thanked her in his own language then headed off to a seat at the other end of the carriage.”

Then there is the problem with Daniel telling me instead of the author showing. Below is Daniel talking about how Laura has changed since they returned from their trip.

“She had also developed a new habit in the days following our return, a habit of swiping and rubbing at her eyes, like there was something in them that bothered her. There was, she explained to me… ”

Instead of telling me through Daniel, the author could have shown it by describing Laura’s behavior. It leaves the reader with little understanding of Laura. Sure, Daniel’s telling me about her actions, but if I want to get emotionally invested in the characters, I need to witness it myself.

Writing and Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars

Due to the boring plot and zero connection to the characters, I’d have to give this book two stars. I really wanted to like it. There was nothing spectacular about his writing. I never felt “on the edge of my seat”. On the contrary, I sighed too often but continued with the hopes that I missed something. That I would get pelted with an incredible end… except it didn’t happen.

The cover and description piqued my interest. There were too many moments that took me away from the story. Fighting my way through the story to the end was a bitter experience for me.

This wraps up my review.

To purchase the book, please visit Amazon for a copy.

Have you read this book or any by Mark Edwards? What are your thoughts about the review?

Reviewing and Coffee,
Baer Necessities