Book Review: If Only by Cherise Sinclair

If Only by Cherise Sinclair

This is the eighth book in the Master of the Shadowlands series, and it was equally as awesome as the others. Synopsis from Amazon:

After the last fiasco, Sally gives up. She’ll never find a Dom of her own. Instead the computer whizz is job hunting in between bending the law–just a bit–to unearth the bastards who’d enslaved her friends. The clueless cops and Feds obviously need her help.  FBI special agents, Galen and Vance, have waited to play with Sally for a long time. When the mischievous submissive returns to the exclusive Shadowlands BDSM club after an ugly relationship, the experienced co-tops are more than pleased. Realizing she’s suppressing deep-seated emotions, the powerful Doms push her–only to find that her sassiness conceals a scarred and vulnerable heart.  Shaken by the unexpected emotional exposure, Sally flees the demanding Masters and the Shadowlands. And that should be the end of that, since both Galen and Vance have reasons not to seek a long-term relationship, especially with a submissive who doesn’t want what they can give. But when a brutal attack by her ex-Dom sends Sally into their home, the two agents are driven to protect her. To help her. To take her under command. Falling in love isn’t in the plans. But the little imp brings light into their lives, and just as they begin to want more, they discover she’s hacked into an organization that delights in burning people alive. Now more than hearts are on the line, and Sally’s submission could save her life.

I really enjoyed this book. Mystery, romance, BDSM – what’s missing? I related to the main character a good deal as well. For years, she’s played in the scene but no one ever realized she never let people see her emotions. These two Doms step up and force her to face her emotions, wants, and needs, and to vocalize them. I am much better than I used to be about that, but I still have a great deal of difficulty vocalizing my emotions or desires. Similar to the main character, I was raised in situations that trained me to never show weakness. If I expressed my pain, fear, etc., I was made to regret it pretty quickly. As such, trusting others to hear the truth and not punish me (even in a passive agressive way) is really difficult. More than that, it’s my nature now to not share, and it isn’t my consciously choosing not to, I just honestly forget to because I don’t feel like people care enough to know.

Realistically, I’ve rarely had a partner notice or seem to care that I wasn’t sharing deeper emotions, so that has kind of validated my insecure thoughts about people not caring. Someday, though, I want to be find someone who wants to be in my head. He’ll force me to vocalize and share with him, because without doing so he can’t understand me enough to know how far to push. He’ll notice if I don’t volunteer emotional responses.

Again, I’m not as bad as the character in this book, and I’m better than I used to be. I do have some people I talk to now, whereas I used to not open up to anyone. I like to think I’m looking out for my own needs enough now to discuss them. It’d be nice, though, for a Dom to call me on my tendency to hide deep thoughts.

Aside from that, I loved this quote – she’s in my head!

Favorite Quote:

“Don’t you hate that? When you give them the right to command, and they don’t?” Sally shook her head. “Would you believe one man put nipple clamps on me… and the second I squawked, he took them right off. No Dom cookies for that wussy.” But her Feds… her majorly dominating Feds would earn an entire box of chocolate chip cookies. “Oh man, I think I did a scene with that wimp. Totally forgettable.” Maxie slouched back on the leather couch. “Last month, Master Sam put clamps on me. When I whimpered, his eyes lit up, and he tightened them until I was up on tiptoes.” She gave a happy sigh. “There’s no one like a Master.”

This is why I hate when Tops ask me if I like it. I want someone to react to my fear and pain by tightening/hurting me more, and I want his eyes to light up from the desire he feels at inflicting such pain on me.

Book Review: How to be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps)

Yes, this is a book. Find How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy on Amazon.

First off, I was bound to like this book at least a little because the author is also the author of Indexed, one of my favorite daily weblog reads. I’m a data nerd, if you couldn’t tell. I literally have a pinterest board dedicated to infographics.

If you ever doubted I’m quirky, the fact that I read a book on being interesting should give me away. A kinky friend had tweeted about it, so I picked up a copy. As other online reviewers note, I wish I’d grabbed a physical copy instead of a digital one, because the graphics would make great coffee table conversation starters.

Overall, easy read, a lot of pointing out the obvious. Important to note – interesting doesn’t mean things will be good or go your way. I felt that in some of the advice, in that following the recommendations likely would take you on an interesting journey, but one with many ups and downs. Not that that is a bad thing, but still.

Things I bookmarked:

  • Reclaim your spare moments.
  • What’s known to you is often a mystery to others.
  • Don’t wait for invitations when you can host.
  • If it is unappetizing: Do not eat, date, or sign up for it. If the mere thought of it is depressing: Do not major in it, sit through it, or devote your life to it. If it is not important to you: Do not do it only because it is important to someone else.
  • Irony gets in the way of experience. Drop the pretense, and you’ll have room to carry the day.
  • You have treasured people, places, and things. They are precious and powerful. Fight for them. Don’t just let them lounge in the back of your mind.
  • You are not wrong to be unique. You are not incorrect because you are different. You should not be sorry for being interesting.
  • If you want to matter, you have to climb all the way into the mess that is before you.
  • If you’re arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people avoid.
  • Your greatest accomplishments, no matter how impressive you think them to be, are someone else’s worst nightmare.
  • Don’t feel terrible for wanting something. Save the guilt for never giving yourself the chance to try.
  • The more you absorb, the more you can exude.
  • Avoid people who make you feel crappy. Don’t return their calls or take their antagonistic bait. The only way to win their game is to quit playing along. Besides, no one is fascinated by your constant irritation.
  • Most people, even the nasty ones, are doing the best they can.

Motivational, right? All are things I regularly try to remind myself of when dating and interacting with folks. Sometimes, when people come to me for advice, I think I shove some of these down their throat inadvertently.

Book Review: 101 Secrets for Your Twenties

101 Secrets for Your Twenties by Paul Angone

Goodreads Synopsis:

Every twenty-something needs a little black book of secrets. Our twenties are filled with confusion, terrible jobs, anticipation, disappointment, cubicles, break-ups, transition, quarter-life crisis, loneliness, post-college what the heck, moderate success sandwiched in-between complete failure, and we need a worn, weathered guide stashed somewhere close by to help shed some light on this defining decade. This is that book.

My thoughts:

This book was great and I recommend it. It’s a very fast read, but entertaining. Moreover, it helps emphasize that the things that make you feel like you’re drowning in your twenties are actually what will ground you in your later years of life.  Moreover, my life involves a lot of fear – fear of not being successful, not finding a job I love, not settling down fast enough, etc. This book helped me realize that fear is feeling and is indicative of growth. Without risk, there is no reward. Fear shows that I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, which is what you should be doing in your twenties. Your twenties are when you have nothing to lose, when you should be throwing yourself all-in. It’s a good point to have reiterated. I may write more on this later, because it’s been a theme this past week.

Quotes (related secret in () ) — WARNING some ‘spoilers’ may follow:

  • “Your only choice of survival is to just let go.” (1)
  • “The possibility for embarrassment and greatness usually exist in the same space.” (2)
  • “The fear of embarrassment lets insecurities call the shots.” (2)
  • “You can’t have a good story without a good struggle.” (4)
  • “If we’re always trying to live like we’re ‘supposed to,’ we’re never going to truly live.” (6)
  • “Don’t allow loneliness to become isolation.” (14)
  • “Don’t make a date into something more than a date. Or you won’t date.” (18)
  • “Dating is simply trial and error. And if you don’t try, that will be the biggest error of all.” (18)
  • “Our plans aren’t the problem. Our timeline is.” (19)
  • “Don’t cram YOUR PLOTLINE into someone else’s story.” (21)
  • “Complaining is passive and powerless. Creating is proactive and powerful.” (38)
  • “In the ‘working world’, very rarely is someone waiting there to teach you how to do your job. They’re expecting you to teach yourself.” (54)
  • “You don’t argue with them about your skill set, you just show them every single day how awesome your skills are.” (56)
  • “Here’s the interesting thing about the Liar–when he starts babbling, you know you’re onto something important. When he starts talking, thank him. He just revealed to you that you’re on to something huge.” (74) [the Liar is self-doubt/fear]
  • “The point of life is NOT to not fail.” (75)
  • “Raise your hand. Say ‘sure I can do that.’ then figure it out from there. You’ll be surprised how quickly the act becomes a reality.” (76)
  • “Stop worrying about finding the right person. Instead, start working on becoming the right person.” (77)
  • “to Not burn out on Adult every-day-ness you need to take some nothing vacations.” (81) [a nothing vacation means no sightseeing, no friends or family, just nothing. Food, sleep, books, repeat.]
  • “You can’t find something when you’ve never actually decided what you’re looking for.” (86)

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Goodreads synopsis: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Some parts were predictable, but others were sweet and took me off guard. The author intertwined a lot of philosophizing about the meaning of life, which I appreciated. The book made me think differently about what it means to be ill and how that affects others’ impression of you, and it also gave me some food for thought about what it means to make a difference. I recommend it if you have a couple of free hours.

Quote to ponder:

“That’s why I like you. You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”

Book Review: Brilliance

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Synopsis from Amazon: In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in—and betray his own kind.

This book was really good, almost surprisingly so. I don’t know what I expected, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for the depth or the intricacy of the plot. The book is set in modern-day DC (and U.S.), but with a twist. It’s sort of Homeland-esque, with terrorist takedowns and political strategy everywhere.

I can’t say more without give away twists, but I highly recommend it. As it seems all the books I’ve read lately are, this is going to be a movie and a trilogy, but I’m pretty excited for both of those things.

Favorite Quote: “Maybe the world would burn. But if truth was all it took to start the fire, maybe it needed to.”

Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I can understand why people give this book good reviews, but I’m conflicted. I appreciate the author’s writing style and, honestly, her brilliance in crafting such a twisted book. There were parts that were insightful about how we take things for granted or how we interact with those close to us over time that allowed for some introspection, which I appreciated.

Overall, though, I really disliked this book. The first half was plain hard to get through – when I put the book down, I dreaded picking it back up. At almost halfway through, it picked up, and for a hot minute I was very interested in how things were going. Too soon, though, it got both predictable and frustrating. The end was understandable, both in how things were closed and with the author leaving room for a sequel, but it was unsatisfying.

At the end of the day, I don’t really want to see into a sociopath’s mind on such a nitpicky level. Three stars for the author’s talent, but only three for my own personal preference and struggles in getting through it. I think this story will definitely make a better movie.

Best quotes (in my opinion):

“Give me a man with a little fight in him, a man who calls me on my bullshit. (But who also kind of likes my bullshit.)”

“Nick always mocked my endless lists. (‘It’s like you make sure you’re never satisfied, that there’s always something else to be perfected, instead of just enjoying the moment.’)”

“It feels nice, after my recent series of nervous, respectful post-feminist men, to be a territory.”

Book Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

This book had all of the parts of Hunger Games, Animal Farm, and 1984 that kept me addicted, but with a definite twist. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a marathon 5 hour sprint.

Quick summary: In the protagonist’s world, society is divided into five sectors that are based on personality. Each section values something different: Honesty, Courage, Selflessness, Peace, or Knowledge. When you turn 16, you take an exam that helps you choose your future – once you choose, you can’t go back, and you can’t associate with your former family if you leave their section. To enter a section fully, you must pass an initiation period.

There’s much more, but I don’t want to spoil anything! This book is first of a series, but I haven’t read the second book yet (the third comes out in October). There were some notable quotes I liked, see below.

If we have little, and want for little, and we are all equal, we envy no one.

Valuing knowledge above all else results in a lust for power.

Those who want power and get it live in terror of losing it. That’s why we have to give power to those who do not want it.

Politeness is deception in pretty packaging.

Those who seek peace above all else will always deceive to keep the water calm.

Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it’s so important that we don’t rely on it.

We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.

Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up.