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Today Borderline Insanity, the second installment of the Dagny Gray FBI thrillers by Jeffrey Miler  drops on Amazon.com.

If you’ve never heard of the Dagny Gray FBI thrillers, The Bubble Gum Thief, or Jeffrey Miller, I am so sorry. Stop what you are doing and buy one of his novels now…I’ll wait. Done? Good, let us continue, shall we?

I have been fortunate enough to have been friends with Jeff through our Writer’s Group for several years. I have read quite a few of his works, from early chapters of his first book, to short stories, poems, and screenplays. He is a superlative writer, and offers thoughtful and thorough critiques. You can bet that anything Jeff writes is thoroughly researched and impeccably written. He immerses himself in the subject so completely, that what comes out on the page feels very real. He doesn’t overwhelm you with detail, but allows his knowledge of the subject to flow naturally through the characters and story. You really feel as if you are in one of his novels while you are reading it.

I am a huge fan of his main character, a female FBI agent, Dagny Gray. She is as flawed as she brilliant. And I just love her. I don’t think FBI thrillers are supposed to leave the reading practically in tears by the end of a book, but I was at the end of his first book. It was exciting, and heartbreaking, and bittersweet all at the same time. It was so satisfying, that I could not wait for the second book to come out. And now, here it is!

I was lucky enough to be included on a Beta read of Borderline Insanity. Regrettably, though, I was not quite organized enough to get back to Jeff with my feedback. Still, he allowed me access to a review version of the book a few weeks ago, which I have now read in time for the actual book to be released.

In this second installment, Dagny Gray is back. In this book, she is up against another killer, a sheriff reminiscent of Joe Arpaio and his tent city in AZ, a disillusioned priest, illegal immigration, and her own eating disorder.

If I had to sum this book up in one word, I would have to say that word is powerlessness.

Father Diego Vega is fighting against is own inability to help his congregation and his lack of faith. The congregation he serves feels powerless over events in their community. And of course Dagny feels powerless over her eating disorder and dealing with her own grief. How each person in the book confronts and overcomes or not their own sense powerlessness is really the crux of this novel. It is what propels the story and causes the most conflict.

Jeff does an excellent job weaving through very difficult issues in this story. I love how he delves into the psyche of each of his characters. His ability to do this allows the reader to connect on an emotional level with this story.

I loved this book as much as I did his first novel. I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether you like thrillers or not!

 

So Many Changes


It’s been a while since I have blogged or written anything of substance. I did write a short story towards the end of last year, but I’ve been dragging my feet on the edits. And boy does it need editing.

I’ve also not written on my weight loss blog for a long time. When I went back to do so, I found that the domain expired. I’ve been trying to work with WordPress to get it back up and running, but it may take a few more days.

I’ve had a pretty rough year and a half. A lot of which centered around a terrible job that I had. I do not usually like to write about my full-time employment online. But that job consumed me. I was working pretty much nonstop in a thankless job with people who had no idea what I did or the work it took to do my job. Plus, my boss was a screamer. I spent much of my time simply trying to avoid confrontation with her. I retreated into myself in order to protect myself, and I was very unhappy. I worked all of the time, pretty much around the clock, for no additional pay.

This took a huge toll on my mental well being and my health overall. I did manage, after searching for about a year and a half, to find a new job. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but there is a lot of potential there. And it is so much better than my other job. I still work a lot, but the atmosphere is a complete 180.

Nonetheless, it has taken me a while to mentally pick up the pieces and try to reassemble my life. It is amazing how one negative situation can affect every area of your life. I knew that I was stressed and unhappy, but I didn’t realize how much I had let it affect me until I let it go.

So, new things with me…

I have a new cat. Her name is Naomi. I’ve been tweeting about her. I bought a new flat screen tv and she is completely enamored with it. She must think it is a new window, or the people are somehow real, but it’s hilarious to watch her swat at the tv.

Obviously, I have a new job. I really do enjoy it quite a bit. The office is 24/7, so my work schedule can be kind of weird, but for now, its OK.

Nothing too new on the relationship front. I ended a relationship back in November/December with a guy I had been seeing for a little over a year. That relationship had run its course and there was no hope it was every going to turn into anything more, so I broke it off. It was a friendly break-up. We still talk, but there’s no chance I’ll restart that relationship.

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And spring has sprung here in DC. It’s almost 80 today and I took a walk in my neighborhood to get a late lunch. I went to a new restaurant, which was just wonderful. It’s called Palette22. They serve what they call “world street food” on small plates. Kind of like tapas, but better. This is kind of perfect for me. I had gastric by-pass surgery 3 years ago, and going to a normal restaurant where everything is so huge is very stressful for me. I often overeat and end up not feeling well after. Or I take home a ton of food that I never end up eating.

I had the vegan ceviche, which was OMG wonderful. And I had some kind of beef tacos. They were also delicious.

 

They also serve these plantain chips. I’m not a big fan of plantains. And I only tolerate bananas a little. But the plantain chips were fantastic and were a nice side with the vegan ceviche.

Tonight is writer’s group. My attendance over the last year has not been anything even close to regular. I’m trying to resolve that. Because my current work schedule is somewhat erratic, I will not be able to go every week, but I’m definitely going to make more of an effort when I can.


Hello Blogosphere!  It sure has been a while since I’ve written on this blog.  A couple of quick updates…

  • I have been doing a ton of writing this year.  Several essays, a couple of short stories, and of course, my middle grade novel.  I may not reach my yearly goal of 12 personal essays, but I’m not too far off.
  • I am finish up my children’s novel for Nanowrimothis year and I am almost done!  I will finish Nano successfully for the first time this year.
  • My weight loss blog is doing very well.  I have lost 127 pounds with only 46 more to go.
  • My overall health is great.

Now, onto what I really wanted to write about today…

catching fire

I saw the new Hunger Games movie last night.  I am a huge fan of the books, which I re-read in preparation to see this movie.  Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows that I am definitely an advocate of reading the book before seeing the movie.

That said, let me start my review.

Any time a book is adapted for the screen, there will be changes in how the story is told.  Film is a completely different medium, after all.  Events that can take pages or chapters to describe in a book can be done more effectively with imagery and music in film.  Conversely, a character’s inner dialogue, which can be so revealing in a book, can often be lost in film. Some film makers often use voice-overs to fill that gap, but done poorly, voice-overs can ruin an otherwise good movie.  Francis Lawrence did not use voice-overs, thankfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I thought it was a good adaptation from book to screen.  There were changes, of course, but I thought they were very true to the source material.  I think anyone who is a fan of the books will love it.  Anyone who hasn’t read the books but liked the first movie, I think will like it as well.  But be prepared, this is not your typical feel-good, holiday movie.  This movie is very emotional and has a very mixed ending.  Some good, some bad, a lot of heart-break, and a cliffhanger. Overall, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

*******SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!**********

Some things that I thought were lost in this retelling:

  • Katniss’s inner dialogue and the way she analyzes each situation or thinks through the problem at hand.  Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job, but it’s hard to translate that inner struggle sometimes.
  • A sense of time.  The film sometimes felt a little rushed.  There was no sense of the time that had passed between events.  In the book there were 6 months between the 74th Hunger Games and the victory tour, A couple more months between the tour and the announcement of 75th HG, the Quarter Quell.   Then a few more months until the actual games themselves.  In total, between the 74th HG and the 75th, there was a full year.
  •  We lost the wedding dress montage.  Thankfully.  In the book, a lot of prep goes into Katniss & Peeta’s engagement and wedding.  The citizens of Panem have the chance to vote on her wedding dress and there is an entire episode where she is filmed trying on dress after dress.  Thankfully, unlike the citizens of Panem, we were spared that spectacle.
  • We lost the preparation Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss did before the games.  We also lost learning more about the other tributes through the research Peeta & Katniss did ahead of time.

That said, I do not think any of this distracted from the quality of the movie, particularly if you have not read the books.

What I loved about the movie:

  • Nothing was sugar-coated. Katniss is clearly suffering from PTSD from the last games throughout the movie.
  • The emotional connection she feels towards her family, Gale, Peeta, the other tributes, Cinna, and other people she cares about is palatable.   This keeps the movie from being just an action film.
  • I love the inclusion of showing events from Snow’s p.o.v. and Heavensbee’s p.o.v.  I think that adds a real depth to the film and ratchets up the tension.
  • Conversations with her sister.  They are few and far between in the movie, but when they do happen, you can see the connection they share.  You also know that her sister is quite clearly becoming her own person and does not need Katniss to protect her any more.
  • The friendships she begins to form with the other tributes during the games.  They work together and save each other over and over.  At one point she turns to Peeta and asks, “How are we ever going to be able to kill these people.”
  • The scene in District 11 when Peeta & Katniss speak about Thresh & Rue.  Very emotional.

I really enjoyed the movie.  That said, I was not jazzed with the ending.  I know that it was pretty true to the book, and it was a hook to get you into the 4th movie, whenever that is released, but I still found it unsettling.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy had cliff hanger endings as well, but they always ended on a somewhat hopeful note.  Francis Lawrence could take a page out of Peter Jackson’s playbook and give us a little more to hold onto.  I’m not saying have a happy ending, but this is the start of the revolution.  Ending the Capitol’s stranglehold on the districts, while complicated emotionally, is a good thing.

Yes, the movie ends with Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee being rescued from the arena, while Peeta & Johanna are captured by the Capitol.  District 12 is in ashes.  Thousands are dead.  Everything is in disarray.  But the revolution has begun and there are hints that the citizens of Panem can really hope they are able turn the tide and take control of their own fates. That, at least, is something to hold onto.

Meet Grady


Meet Grady.

I am reposting my Meet Grady blog as this little bundle of furry joy has shuffled off this mortal coil.  He was old and sick and lived a good, long, happy life.  He was a pretty great kitty.  I know his owner misses him, as do I.  :(

Rest in peace my little furry, four-legged friend!  Much love!


So, the Oscars start in 20 minutes.  I saw all but one of the movies nominated.  I have not seen Beast of the Southern Dawn, which I am disappointed about.  I really wanted to see that.  So, real quick, here are my predictions for the top 6.

Best Movie: Silver Linings Playbook

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role:  Anne Hathaway

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Robert Di Nero

Best Director: Ben Affleck David O Russell

I saw Les Mis today.  Spectacular movie, but way to freaking long.  It’s not their fault entirely.  Victor Hugo’s original work was over 1600 pages.  But Silver Linings Playbook has just stuck with me.

Anyway, enjoy the show!  Hopefully, I can get some tweets in! 🙂


What a horrible blogger I am!  I feel like it has been months since I have written on this blog.  I have spent all of my time writing on my self-absorbed weight loss blog talking about myself and my gastric by-pass surgery.  I have completely neglected this blog and my other writing obligations.  Just a quick note, the surgery went well.  I have lost 71 pounds.  I have been writing quite a bit.

I owe my friend Jeff Miller a review of his book, The Bubble Gum Thief.  I need to post my 2013 writing goals.  I also want to talk about some of the other non-diet-blog writing I have been doing.

In this post, I am going to talk about my 2013 writing goals and about some of my other writing.  You see, my writer’s group asks each of us to create goals for the new year and to be specific.  We cannot just say, “write more,”  we have to set specific goals to show what “writing more” looks like.  The only thing I did not finish last year was to finish my children’s novel.  I am giving myself to Chinese New Year’s though, so I could still make it.  (see what I did there?)

Writing Goals for 2013:

  • Submit writing, short stories, essays, etc to four contests or other publications.
  • Finish children’s novel, which is almost done and hanging in limbo.
  • Write, finish, edit 12 personal essays.
  • Blog on both writing blog and weight loss blog 4 or more times a week.
  • Begin editing children’s novel and submit to my writer’s group for review and revision.
  • Join SCBWI and attend one of their conferences.

Lofty, I know, but I have to set lofty goals to guilt myself into doing something about it.

Current Writing Projects

A couple of the girls in my writer’s group formed a separate group that is dedicated to personal essays and/or creative nonfiction.  I have been attending that group as well.  Because the group is small, about seven of us I think, we are much more demanding about making each other submit their work.  As a result, I have written several personal essays and semi-true short stories.  I also have many more ideas on future personal essays.  I would like to put together a collection of essays.  I am not sure if I will turn it into a book or not, but I first want to get them together and see what I have.

I plan to dedicate my next post to the book review of The Bubble Gum Thief.  I will also post my review on Amazon.

That is pretty much what I have been up to.  I hope to spend more time on this blog and sharing all of my writing ups and downs throughout the year!  Happy writing in 2013!

 


A member of my writer’s group has a book release today.  The Bubble Gum Thief was released today through Thomas and Mercer.

 

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The Arlington Writer’s Group has been waiting a long time for this book to be published.  Several years ago, Jeff shared a couple of chapters with us.  We have waited patiently for this release as Jeff slogged through the arduous task of finding an agent, editing, re-writing, re-writing again and then finding a publisher.  The release of this book is the result of years of hard work.  We are all so excited for his book release and the obvious success that will follow.

I did receive an ARC from Jeff, which I regret to say, I’m not finished reading.  I should have it finished tonight and a full review up in a day or two.

I will say this, however.  I am loving this book.  Jeff is a fantastic writer and storyteller.  The story is complex and exciting.  There are many twists.

It is a police/FBI thriller.  The story begins with a minor crime and the perpetrator leaves a card that says, “This is my first crime.  My next one will be bigger.”  The crimes escalate in violence in severity until it comes to the attention of the FBI where Agent Dagny Gray becomes involved.

I do not want to say much more than that yet.  I want to save that for my full review.  I do recommend The Bubble Gum Thief.  If you like thrillers, books with interesting characters, good stories, you will love this book.  Buy it.  Read it.  Pass the word on to all your friends!

Happy Reading.

 

 

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