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Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 88: Book Review – The Woman in the Window

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 88: Book Review – The Woman in the Window

I found myself with nothing to read last Friday. Among other presents Father Christmas had given me three books, I’d finished them all and so now what … Fortunately, I was downtown and within walking distance to Chapters Indigo, Canada’s largest book retailer.

Since the authors I follow had nothing new on the shelves, I browsed for something else to read and came across ‘The Woman in the Window’. I remembered seeing a poster for this book on the subway, I read the synopsis and I was intrigued.


Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

The reviews weren’t bad either …

Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller!
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

“Good choice,” the cashier of the store smiled when I went to pay. “There’s been a lot of hype over this book.”

I left the store withe the book tucked under my arm, happy in the knowledge that I had made a good choice. Or so I thought …

No sooner did I start reading the book or I thought … what is this … this is rubbish. I kept on going though, if others had such good things to say about the book, then maybe the story would pick up. It didn’t. If anything, it got worse.

On Amazon I read the reviews …

The Woman in the Window is one of those rare books that really is unputdownable. The writing is smooth and often remarkable. The way Finn plays off this totally original story against a background of film noir is both delightful and chilling.” (Stephen King)

“A dark, twisty confection with an irresistible film noir premise. Hitchcock would have snapped up the rights in a heartbeat.” (New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware)

“Finn’s debut lives up to the hype … A riveting and mature first novel that stands out in a crowded genre.” (Library Journal)

After reading such lavish praise, I began to wonder what was wrong with me. If everybody loved this book, what did that say about my taste in literature?

Then again, I know from experience that these so-called critics can’t be trusted. What Stephen King and Ruth Ware had to say, you can’t really believe because they’re not going to criticize a  fellow writer. Good manner dictate that they must be supportive.

As for the so called professional reviewers … I never believe a word of what they say. Whether it’s a book, a movie or a play … they nearly always have nothing but good to say.

So, I had a look on Amazon what real readers had to say …

"I love a good domestic/psychological mystery. Lately I have been disappointed. This book seemed so promising, published with high praise from writers I trust like Gillian Flynn and Louise Penny. There were 5 star reviews by readers. What could go wrong.? As I read it an old song by the Who kept going through my head, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

"So boring. Kept waiting for the story to start.
I am 130 pages in and not sure if I will continue."

"The characters are not very likable or interesting and now I am losing interest. Not sure if I will continue or not, so many good reviews though so maybe it gets better."

There was another very detailed negative review, but that has since been removed so couldn’t copy that one.

In addition, there are indeed some very good 5-star reviews, which left me wondering … did those people read the same book I did? They called the story ‘riveting’, ‘thrilling’ and ‘twisted’. I found it childish and annoying.

The main character, Anna, is not exactly a sympathetic one. She suffers from agoraphobia and is an alcoholic. All she does all day is guzzle wine, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late night ‘snack’.

This alone bothered the hell out of me. Why did every wine she drinks have to be named and described? Did he get a fee from a liquor store to advertise alcohol? When someone smokes critics and people alike are quick to jump down the smokers’ throat, because oeh smoking causes lung cancer. But nobody seems the least bit bothered  by the constant drinking of characters in books and movies. Shouldn’t it be pointed out that alcohol causes high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, not to mention liver cancer?

In addition to her alcoholism, Anna watches black and white movies. A. J. Finn obviously has a love for these old movies because the book is peppered with their titles and plots. Every single chapter has movie titles in it, or a reference to a well known person.

So, eventually I thought … to hell with it. Life's too short to waste it on this rubbish. I took ‘The Woman in the Window’ back to the bookstore and moved on to something else. Safe to say, I’ll never pick up another book from A. J. Finn again.
I find it absolutely baffling that so many manuscripts get rejected, yet this one got published. Does A. J. Finn have connections in the publishing industry?

As for the critics who praised this story … they should be prosecuted for misleading information and lying through their teeth.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Day 87: Suffering from back pain? Go bowling

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 87: Suffering from back pain? Go bowling

As some of you may remember, on November 4th I hurt my back. It started with a tiny pinprick in my lower back, the pain progressed throughout the day and by 10:00 p.m. I was in agony. Everything I did, whether it was sitting down, getting up or moving around, I did slowly and with utter care as the slightest wrong move caused me excruciating pain.

Today, three and a half months later, the pain is much better, but my back has not completely healed. Standing for an extended period of time or walking a distance still causes me discomfort. Not just in my lower back but between and under my shoulder blades.

According to my doctor, I had to go see a physiotherapist. At this point I would do anything to get rid of this pain so off I went.
A short conversation with the clinic’s receptionist told me that a session with the therapist would cost me $90 for 40 minutes and every session afterward would be $65 for 20 minutes. Since I don’t have insurance, this would come out of my own pocket. Fine, if that’s what it took I would pay.

I looked forward to my appointment the next day, but it was all rather disappointing. The therapist asked me a lot of questions, followed by some stretching, pushing and poking. Aware of my discomfort she offered a 3-minute massage and a 10-minute heat treatment.

I must admit, my back felt better after the massage and the heat treatment but later that day everything went south. OMG, I was in so much pain I actually felt worse than before, much worse.

According to the therapist, this was normal. This was why she would have to see me 3 times a week for the next 10 weeks. I did a quick calculation … $65 x 3 x 10 would come to $1,950. That was quite a shock to my finances.

On Saturday morning I went bowling. I was more than a little hesitant given the state of my back, but I felt I had to try. If I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it, but I would at least have given it a shot. Rather than bowling full-out as I usually do, I threw my ball with care, ever conscious of my spine and surrounding muscles. After three games I called it quits though. The games had gone fine, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

Today, some 36 hours later my back pain has all but disappeared. No more pain in my lower back, no more pain between or under my shoulder blades. Price of the games … $6.

Conclusion … before you see a physiotherapist and spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars, GO BOWLING!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Day 86: How to survive Valentine’s Day

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 86: How to survive Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day and whether you just broke up with someone, or you haven’t met that special someone yet, Valentine’s Day can have the same effect on you as a red flag has on a bull.  February 14th is like a flashing beacon on your calendar, mocking you, reminding you that you will spend the most romantic day of the year alone.

In case you’re feeling a little gloomy, it is time for action.  Sitting alone in your apartment, playing ‘Crying’ by Roy Orbison or ‘I Will Remember You’ by Sarah McLachlan, is not going to cheer you up, you need to go out and spoil yourself a bit.

First stop, the florist. Buy yourself the prettiest bunch of flowers you can find, to be arranged later in a nice vase. If cut flowers do not appeal to you, how about a posy? Something with yellow daisies is just the thing to cheer you up.
Next stop, the bookstore. Whether you like romance novels or a good murder mystery, take your time browsing the shelves and get that book you are looking forward to reading.

Final stop, the chocolatier. Forget your diet for a day and pick up some pralines. Select whatever you fancy, chocolates are great to chase to blues away.

Back home take a relaxing bath or shower and put on something comfortable and order take-outs. Whether it is pizza, Chinese or Greek, it is bound to be delicious.

After dinner make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, curl up on the sofa with your new book and keep those chocolates within reach.

In case being alone does not appeal to you, call a friend or two and have a night in.  Nothing is more fun than time with your friends.

If you do not want to stay at home, you can go to your favorite restaurant (alone or with a friend) and afterward go to the cinema, the theatre or even a sporting event.

How to survive Valentine’s Day alone is all up to you.  Don’t sit around waiting for some guy or gal to make you happy with a gift, give yourself a little something.  Today you are celebrating your independence.

Do you need more convincing … just listen to your married friends. They complain about their partner, their children and how they miss their freedom. They envy you. You can do anything, anytime, anywhere. So what are you waiting for? Go for it!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Day 85: The Tevo tarantula

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 85: The Tevo tarantula

Dieter brought a tarantula into the house. Not a tarantula spider (I wouldn’t allow him to set foot in the house with that big hairy monster), no a Tevo tarantula.

Are you familiar with the Tevo tarantula? For the uninitiated, the Tevo tarantula is a 3D printer. If the name didn’t immediately ring a bell, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

Dieter ordered it online, received it at work, and when he boarded the subway with the box quite a few people looked at it with more than a little suspicion. Some even moved a safe distance away.

When he came home with the box, bearing a giant spider on the lid, I looked at it with suspicion too. 
“Don’t worry, it’s not what you’re thinking,” Dieter said. Was I thinking that he had brought home a tarantula? Of course not, he’s just as horrified by spiders as I am. The question was though … what had he brought home?

“It’s a printer,” he said. “A 3D printer.”
“I’m gonna build it.”

What I really thought was ‘oh-oh’. Dieter building an electronic device … I feared the worst. When things go wrong, Dieter tends to resort to … shall we say colorful language.

When he got started, I saw things coming out of that box that I thought ‘what on earth is that?’ While I didn’t have a clue, Dieter seemed to know what to do though and with the help of a manual, the printer slowly but surely took shape.

When it was finished we faced the moment of truth … would it work? The machine was fed a length of PLA (polylactic acid) filament, the power was switched on and … it worked, the machine actually worked. The nozzle kept going back and forth and from side to side, and we were both intently staring at it like parents would gaze at their newborn baby.

No sooner was the machine built or Dieter started talking about upgrades. This could be better and that should be replaced and rather than buying parts, every modification was printed on the Tevo.

Today, about a week later, the soft hum of the Tevo tarantula has become a familiar sound. So far it produced various sizes of testing calibration cubes, a reel support, and brackets.

Once all the modifications are complete, Dieter will start printing other stuff, who knows what. Personally, I don’t care what he prints as long as it isn’t a tarantula.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Day 84: Dealing with fragile egos

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 84: Dealing with fragile egos

Just about everyone knows that when asked “What do you think of my hair?” or “Am I fat?” one has to proceed with extreme caution.

Lately, I became aware of another ‘loaded gun’ … “What do you think of my book?” Invariably, the authors aren’t looking for honest feedback on the cover design or story, they’re looking for validation. They’re not looking for an honest opinion, they want their feathers stroked.

Being an honest individual who says it like it is, I’ve ruffled a few feathers this morning. A writer boasted about her sales and curious as I am, I went to Amazon to take a look. When I found the book in question I clicked on the ‘Look Inside’ feature and I was horrified by what I found.

Something that immediately put my back up was the following …

“Hi , how r u ?” Sarah assked.

While I understand that ‘how r u?’ in phone texting is acceptable, it is most certainly not appropriate for a story. The misplaced comma bothered me too, but what really irked me the most was the spelling mistake. If this had been on page 199, this might have been an oversight, but this misspelled word was on page one.

The author claimed that not only did she proofread her document, she had ‘several eyes’ go over it. This begs the question, didn’t she or any of the others notice that 'asked' is spelled with one ‘s’ not two?

When I pointed out these mistakes I was told that I was being a spiteful bitch. Well excuse me but, if someone can’t handle constructive criticism, why ask for feedback in the first place? Perhaps, when asking for feedback, certain writers should post the following warning:

Please comment on my book, but don’t criticize it. Tell me how beautiful my cover is, how interesting my story is and how well written it is. If you dare to say anything negative, I will lash out at you. I want to be told that I’m wonderful, that there’s no other book out there like mine, and that my work will no doubt reach the top. In short, I have the mentality of a 6-year-old and if you don’t stroke my fragile ego I will throw a tantrum.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Day 83: This makes my blood boil

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 83: This makes my blood boil

In 2010, I started this blog on the recommendation of a friend. I struggled with a number of issues, I needed a place to vent, and according to her a blog was the perfect place to do it.

While the majority of my posts are neutral, or even humorous, every now and then a venting post pops up. Today is one of those days.

I read on Facebook the other day that Kim Kardashian had another baby. Only she didn’t give birth to this one, she used a surrogate. The price of the baby $45.000

This, in my opinion, this is the most despicable thing any human can do and this makes my blood boil on so many levels.

It’s not like Kim can’t have children. She had two, so why a surrogate? Did madam not want to ruin her figure with a third pregnancy? Was she scared of the labor? She claims that her doctor said that another pregnancy would endanger her health, but that’s just bollocks. If a third baby endangers the mother’s health, then just don’t have a third baby, it’s as simple as that. But some people just never have enough. 

Put yourself in the place of the surrogate. This woman must have been so desperate for money that she agreed to have a baby for another woman. Then imagine the agony as that baby was snatched away from her. And for what … a lousy $45,000. She should have asked for $45 million. With a net worth of $175 million, it’s not like madam can’t afford it.

How such a thing can be allowed in our society is beyond me. Call it what you want, this is human trafficking at its dirtiest. Why are the rich allowed to get away with this?

In my opinion, someone like Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be allowed to have children in the first place. Bash me if you like, but she is a slut. Imagine for a moment 'her' kids growing up and going online.  This is what they will find …

And it won’t just be her kids finding these pictures, it will be their friends and peers as well. ‘Her’ kids will be so proud of her. 

Another thing I don’t understand is how anyone can just have a kid or multiple kids with no questions asked. Think about it, a license is needed to drive a motorized vehicle, to carry a firearm, go hunting, go fishing, or flying. A license is also needed if one plans house renovations, to keep a dog, or if a professional such as a doctor, a teacher, an electrician or a plumber wants to practice their trade. One even needs a license to get married. But apparently, they buck stops there. Once married the couple, whether rich or poor can breed to their heart’s content. If they can’t afford the kids, they get welfare from the government with no questions asked or no warning not to have any more kids. No, they can keep on breeding and collect cheques.

With $175 million to her name, Madam K won’t be collecting any welfare cheques but that doesn’t justify having a third kid. Why can’t she accept that she can’t have more kids or be happy with the kids she has? Why use a surrogate.

And she’s not the only one. Other women who used surrogates are Sarah Jessica Parker, Tyra Banks, Jordana Brewster, Nicole Kidman, Lucy Liu … do you see a trend here? All women who had to watch their figure for the sake of their careers. They are despicable monsters!

And it's not like they are going to raise these kids themselves. No, a nanny will do that. So you honestly see Kim Kardashian, Sarah Jessica Parker or Tyra Banks going get their hands dirty on changing diapers? Do you think they will get up at 3:00 a.m. for a feeding? No, that's what nannies are there for. So why have these kids anyway?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Day 82: Halley Copperfield

Day 82: Halley Copperfield

Many of you have ‘met’ Halley, the kitten we adopted from a Toronto Cat Rescue foster home just over two weeks ago. We love her dearly, she’s a sweet little thing, but every now and then she’s testing my patience. Take this morning for instance …

Around seven Dieter left for work and Halley was of the opinion that I should get up too. Having worked until long after midnight, I was in no mood to face the day yet and told Halley to bugger off. In response, she started trampling all over me and eventually came and sat next to my face.

That's when I smelled it … a distinctive earthy smell. As I opened my eyes I noticed that Halley’s white fur bore a hint of brown. I closed my eyes again though, it was too early to worry about that now.

By the time I woke up again the earthy smell had somewhat diminished and Halley’s white fur was almost back to normal. I did wonder though, what caused the smell and the color change.

A little later on, Halley pulled a disappearing act. After breakfast, she usually ‘helps’ me making the beds, but today Halley was nowhere to be found. For the next ten to fifteen minutes I looked all over for her and when I couldn’t find her in the usual places I moved on to some unusual spots: in the kitchen cabinets, in the bathroom cabinets, underneath the beds … the little bugger was nowhere to be found. Calling her name was of little use as she doesn’t respond to her name yet but I gave it a shot anyway which was met with complete silence.

By now, worried out of my mind, I searched the house all over again, calling Halley’s name as I went along. And then I heard it, an ever so faint meow and it seemed to come from the laundry cabinet. Upon inspection, I couldn’t see Halley though. I riffled through the linens but … nothing.

Fortunately, right that moment, Halley gave another faint meow and that’s when I noticed her, she was trapped underneath a laundry basket. “How did you get under there?” I asked her. She looked at me very innocently, like she didn’t have a clue either. My guess is that she was in that empty basket, tried to jump out, hit the rim and the basket flipped over, thus trapping her under it. Anyway, no harm done.

I had barely recovered from this ordeal when Halley pulled a second disappearing act shortly after lunch. With the morning’s experience still fresh in my mind my first port of call was the laundry cabinet, but Halley wasn’t there. I searched and searched but she was nowhere to be found.

Dammit, Halley where the hell are you, I thought. As on cue, I heard her meow and this time it came from the kitchen. I rushed over and looked in the cabinets, behind the fridge, and behind the washing machine. She wasn’t in any of these places. “Halley, where are you? Show yourself!” I called with urgency. And would you believe it, the little troublemaker peeped out from her hiding place. Her hiding place being … (wait for it) a bag of potatoes. 

As I lifted her out her white fur was coated with brown dust and she smelled of the earth. I remembered that smell of when I first woke up this morning. Sleeping in the potato bag was obviously not her first time.

If she keeps up these disappearing acts, we're gonna name her Halley Copperfield.