Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sugar Withdrawal & Mini-Reviews

Remember when Wendy used to blog regularly?  Ah, yes.  The Good Old Days.  To condense this down to a few words without (too much) whining: work = busy, current US political climate = dumpster fire, some of my social media = #willfulignorance + #readabookalready.  Add to this that at the start of 2017 I made a pact with myself to take better care of my health.  This has led to a slew of doctor appointments - the first of which was a physical where my blood work showed I have "borderline" high cholesterol and a Vitamin D deficiency.

So, cholesterol.  Not really surprising since I have the sophisticated palate of a 13-year-old boy.  This means I am seriously watching what I eat.  No fast food (none), exercising a lot more, and trying to curb my refined sugar intake in the hopes of dropping some weight.  This last one has been...hard.  I can't remember the last piece of chocolate I had which should tell you what sort of mood I've been in.  The a-lot-less-sugar thing coupled with current events?  The good news is I haven't seriously hurt anyone.  Yet, anyway.

And how the heck do you live in one of the sunniest areas in the world and have a Vitamin D deficiency?!?!  Oh yeah, go to work in the dark.  Come home in the dark.  The whole see-through Irish complexion and I hear skin cancer sucks thing.  Sigh.  Follow-up appointment with the doc this week.  I'm on Week 2 with zero refined sugar junk food.  He'll be lucky if I don't stab him with a pencil.


My reading has been almost non-existent but I have finished two books in recent memory.  I finally listened to The Angel's Share by J.R. Ward, the second book in her trashy soap opera Bourbon Kings series.  The (supposed) trilogy follows the trial and tribulations of the Bradford clan, a family dynasty that built their fortune in Kentucky bourbon.  Once I let-go of the fact that the first book didn't work as a romance, the recovering soap opera addict in me loved every naughty minute of it.  
This installment felt very much like a "placeholder" or "set-up" book.  For reader's expecting a lot of Edward in this book (and I was one of them) - don't hold your breath.  He's in here - but it's basically a continuation of Lane, Lizzie, Gin's self-destruction with some of Edward's various secrets tossed in for flavor.  We finally meet the Bradford matriarch in this book, Gin's "secret baby" (OK, teenager) Amelia shows up, and wild child brother Maxwell returns.  The characterizations are still board as heck with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and I could have done without all the Lane/Lizzie kissie-face nonsense (yes, they're a couple now - they're so in lurve - we get it already!)

I've heard this is only supposed to be a trilogy, but there's a lot left to tie up here.  Lane's still got to extricate himself from Wife #1, there's Daddy Bradford's murder, Edward's messed up love life, their drug-addicted mother, the cluster that is Gin's personal life, and Maxwell's mysterious return. There's a lot still hanging up in the air.  I'm enjoying this series, but I'll be honest, if Ward pulls a Karen Marie Moning or Sylvia Day and stretches out this series past the "original plan" of a trilogy? I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about that.

Final Grade = B


It took me the better part of a month to get through Dark Fissures by Matt Coyle, not because it was bad - but more likely it was my mood.  I thought I was in the mood for "dark," but perhaps not?  Anyway, this is the third book in a series about Rick Cahill, a former cop suspected by nearly everyone of murdering his wife.  Now a private investigator, Rick is barely eking out a living (the bank is thisclose to foreclosing on his house) when Brianne Colton hires him.  The cops say that her estranged husband, a former Navy SEAL turned cop, committed suicide.  Brianne doesn't buy it.  Rick's not sure he does either, but the fact that the dead man worked for the La Jolla Police Department, whose chief is, at best, corrupt and, at worst, gunning for Rick, complicates matters.

This series very much fits the mold of California crime noir.  The archetype of a lone hero (almost anti-hero) fighting a corrupt system has been around forever for a reason.  For the first half of this story I was ready to declare it stood alone from the "series baggage" well - but that ultimately changes.  Events in the preceding book definitely come into play, so starting the series here will put newcomers at a disadvantage.  I liked the suspense angle, but had a harder time with the pacing.  By the time I got to around 80% on my Kindle I was thinking, "Wow, he's going to need to wrap this up quick or else it's Cliffhanger Ahoy!"  I'm happy to report there's no cliffhanger, but the result is a rushed, almost mad-cap ending, and the world's most jarring epilogue.  I felt a bit hungover after it all.  The author wraps up some dangling threads (namely the police chief bent on bringing down Rick) but it's dashed off in a few sentences.  It felt really fast, especially after the deliberate pace set forth during the first 80% of the book.  I enjoyed it, as I do most lone wolf noir novels, but the ending really brought it down a notch.  I've enjoyed this series to date, but this one was weaker than the first two books.

Final Grade = B-


azteclady said...

Self care is so hard--I'm a blood donor, and I need to work hard to keep my cholesterol down, my blood pressure down, and my iron up under the best of circumstances. I donated last week, and I was almost turned back--my blood pressure has been high since November 8th, but this week's been ridiculous.

azteclady said...

(sorry, nothing to say about reading right now, as I haven't really)

Gina @ Hott Books said...

Vit D - *sigh*!
Me too! Always. And I spend half of the year outside watching my son play soccer. Really.
It's not easy and after months of shots to get me stable, the doc started me on liquid vit d that I add to smoothies. It helps. A lot. Plus, I've found that it's easy to find out when I'm low - I get terrible migraines.
Good luck & if you need someone to talk to let me know!

Phyl said...

I'm glad to hear you're taking care of yourself. It sure is hard and I think I fail as often as I succeed, but I keep working on it.
As for the horror of the last 10 days... well I attended my first political rally on Saturday, so there's that. And lots of re-reading.
Good luck with everything!

Lori said...

Glad you're taking care of yourself! I've been trying to do the same. Exercise, self care, eating better, etc. For me, it was getting turned away from donating blood due to high blood pressure (oh, and turning 50). I was able to donate for the first time in 6 months last week. Hang in there!

Nikki said...

Self care (new-to-me catch phrase) is so tough! If it makes you feel any better, 75% of Americans have a Vitamin D deficiency, including me. I used to take a supplement once a week but now just take an OTC vitamin daily. And I've had multiple skin cancers removed in a variety of manners, including a skin graft. Doesn't make sense really. I'm sorry you're dealing with it and the cholesterol business.
I hope you get back into your reading groove soon. I'm looking forward to the new In Death book and I've got several others requested at the library, too. Have a great week!

Jill said...

I hope life starts sailing better for you soon. And, current events have me very 😠😒too. I'm escaping into historical romance which is a bit paradoxical since there was so little personal freedom then, but I like how the authors of today generally write about characters who are fighting against that lack of freedom. And if that's not historically accurate, I don't care πŸ˜‰

PK the Bookeemonster said...

Welcome back!

I applaud your effort toward health. Since July, I've gone paleo -- no sugar (except honey), no grains, no legumes, no dairy. I don't have super powers but I feel good. If I can do this, anyone can choose self care rather than the opposite.

I'm really disappointed my reading isn't as fast as it used to be. And more distractions with instant video and series on demand.:)

Oh and real life. Yeah. That happens, too.

Wendy said...

AL: Total cholesterol is truly borderline, but the "bad cholesterol" is much too high., exercise, me missing junk food.

Gina: It's amazing how many women I've talked to who have Vitamin D deficiencies! My doc put me on a high dose and I go back in 2 months for evaluation. It certainly explains a lot. My body was practically collapsing at the start of exercise - now I'm only collapsing AFTER I'm finished.

Phyl: I know so many people who are either rereading or not reading at all right now. Once I'm past some "required reading" I plan to gorge on category romance.

Lori: I turned 40 - which means finally taking care of things I've been putting off a physical, a mammogram, getting to the eye doctor...sigh.

Nikki: I burn really easily, so spending any time in the sun without high octane sunscreen is a no-go for me. A lot of it is my crazy work schedule. Go to work in the dark, come home in the dark...

Jill: I'm wondering if we're in for a resurgence for historical romance. Like paranormal, it's a sub genre where it's easy to "lose yourself" in a completely different world.

PK: I was never a fast reader, but I'm positively sloth-like these days. Listening to audio helps and I need to devote less time to television and playing Candy Crush! LOL

LibraryMaven said...

Here in the midwest we're getting a stretch of unusual weather--sunny and about 20 degrees warmer than usual! I normally avoid the sunshine whenever possible but find myself sitting in a patch of sun through the window and enjoying it. Because I KNOW it will turn soon and we'll get the blizzard from the cold part of hell. Heartbreaking--like that great boyfriend who brings you spontaneous gifts and seems to listen suddenly telling you he's going to marry some skanky other girl!

I think instead of all the don't-you-want-to-join-an-exercise/diet-club-so-you-can-look-like-Sports-Illus.-models ads we should be seeing ads to get your mammography, annual physical, colonoscopy,etc. SELF CARE FOR ALL (especially Democrats).

Wendy said...

Library Maven: One of the things I don't miss about the Midwest - those late March/early April blizzards. Ugh! Just shoot me already.

I'm past the bulk of my medical appointments, but need to follow-up with the doctor on my cholesterol and Vitamin D levels and convince him I'm moving in the right direction with my new diet/exercise I enjoy a piece of Valentine's Day chocolate. Oh well. It's for Valentine's Day! A girl needs to live a little!