On GoodReads? Let’s Gab!

Kindle1This one will be a shorter post today. I wanted to remind anyone who follows me to connect with me on GoodReads, as well. It’s a great little community and an awesome spot to simply start a dialogue with like-minded readers who enjoy similar books. A little birdie told me that you are likely to see me as a GoodReads author out there myself sometime in the not-so-distant future. Will keep you posted on that! For now, click here to stop by for a visit and friend me on GoodReads so we can get down and dirty talking about our favorite books. And let me tell you: I have an eclectic bunch of titles – from plays to novels, existential literature and classic fiction to young adult and my growing obsession with contemporary romance, and most recently, a new addition, some exploring of the erotica genre.

In fact, I’ve just added a few book reviews today of Cameron’s Lincoln‘s last two books in the Holiday Heat Series, TIDES OF LUST and OCEANS OF DESIRE. Cameron is going to be a guest blogger in a few weeks, and if you are a romance reader who has been looking for opportunities to stretch your reading interests in some new directions, one area that seems to be growing in popularity especially with restless romance readers is the more heat-inspired, erotic romance genre. Writers like Lincoln, Paige Thomas and Chase Boehner are starting to garner some serious attention from readers who don’t normally dip in the erotica pool.

Lately, reading in general has been a real challenge for me. I have several books on my Kindle that I pre-ordered and awaited their arrival with great frenzy and yet there they sit now, patiently waiting for me. They include BEAUTIFUL STRANGER by Christina Lauren (the second installment in that popular series) and as of this morning, THIS GIRL, the eagerly anticipated third book from Colleen Hoover (love her!!) to follow two of my absolute favorite books SLAMMED and POINT OF RETREAT.

Finding the time to steal away for a little pleasure reading has been quite a feat. In fact, I started the very eagerly awaited WALKING DISASTER by Jamie McGuire several weeks ago, follow-up to the popular and much-adored (moi included) BEAUTIFUL DISASTER.  Between my work schedule and getting my own book ready to publish, as well as the mixed reaction on my part to the sequel, it’s been slow going. I’m almost done and frankly, can’t wait to be finished. And that reaction surprises me tremendously. Hmm. To be fair, haven’t technically finished yet. You’ll just have to read my GoodReads review when I complete it to find out the ultimate verdict.

So…don’t be a stranger. Let’s shoot the breeze about our favorite authors and titles – old and new – and celebrate the geeky bookish fools that we are. *hoists large banner* Letting the book-reading freak flag fly high…WOOT WOOT!

Happy reading (oh yes, indeedy!)
ck

Advertisements

2012 Year of the Grooviest Dozen Awards

In honor of winding down the year, I’m celebrating some real gifts of 2012. This week’s Kuhnspiration challenge gives us the chance to look back at the year and host our own awards to celebrate the best of the best…through our eyes, anyway.

So without further ado, ahem – this week’s question asked:

Give your list of winners for the 2012 Year-Of-The-Grooviest-Dozen Awards… your take on the best of the best for the following: Film ~ Song ~TV Show ~Book ~Movie Star ~ TV Star ~Author ~ Singer ~Band ~News Story ~ Quote ~ Tweet.

Welcome to the 2012 Kuhnie’s Year of the Grooviest Dozen Awards here in lovely Tampa Bay. Isn’t the view of the Riverwalk and nearby University of Tampa and its trademark minarets spectacular? Aah. Who needs Hollywood and the red carpet? We’ll host this special occasion right here in Cigar City, high above the city, looking down on it from one of the downtown skyscrapers. We won’t need a song and dance fanfare to start it out, just a charismatic, funny and capable master of ceremonies. Hmm. For mine, I’m thinking we call in one of the Tony host phenoms Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. Or ooh, maybe we go another route and pick late-night hosts… Conan O’Brien or Jimmy Fallon…it may be time to give David Letterman a chance to wipe out that Uma-Oprah Oscar memory. He is the best of the best after all. It would only be appropriate.

And without further delay…the awards…

Best Film of 2012
For me, I’ve got to go with my favorite movie I saw at the theaters this year and that was THE AVENGERS. I didn’t even like IRON MAN coming into it, had only been burned my past attempts at the Hulk and had not seen THOR. When it was done, I was a fan of them all. Got my attention early on, won me over and excited me about a sequel. Nice job, superheroes. Nice job.

Best Song
Someone that I Used to Know (Gotye)  – different, stark, poignant, unusual, catchy-as-hell, unforgettable. And if you aren’t as up on your contemporary music, here is the music video. (Keep in mind this song was chosen because of the track not the video, but the video could be described with many of the same adjectives…)

Best TV Show — I decided on my own to have co-winners – existing show and new show
Existing… “New Girl” – for me this show just gets funnier every season and I probably look forward to seeing this cast on a weekly basis more than any other show on TV. New Show…“Arrow” – finally, someone has whipped up people in a frenzy again about a lesser known DC comic. In breakout star, Stephen Arnell, we’ve got a fella guys admire and women swoon for, leaving everyone in anticipation of Oliver Queen’s very next move. At first, I was ticked off at the producers for not casting Justin Hartley of “Smallville” who previously played Oliver Queen on that show, but I must say, Mr. Arnell, I am a believer. And hopefully this will create some buzz about DC wonder boys and my much-anticipated  MAN OF STEEL next summer with Henry Cavell.

Arrow

Best Book
I read more books this year than ever before, but if I had to single out my favorite that I READ this year (and I highlighted quite a few of them recently in another blog), not that necessarily came out this year…it would be The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I finished the trilogy before seeing the first of the films and was happy to not have any of the images floating through my brain as I read this imaginative, captivating and thrilling ride like nothing I’ve ever read. And if I’m picking a book released this year, my favorite I’ve read released in 2012 so far was Slammed by Colleen Hoover. Someone wrote in a review that this book sneaks up on you and I wholeheartedly agree. I found myself cheering when I thought I wouldn’t and looking for answers to help the lead characters myself, I was so hell-bent on the ending I wanted. I found it funny, endearing, romantic and frustrating – just like the perfect love. It did not disappoint at all…

Best Movie Star
For me, the movie star who captured my attention this year most was Jennifer Lawrence. I am just amazed at all she can do – both from an emotional standpoint as an actor but also physically, she’s been able to transform herself. THE HUNGER GAMES proved that she can also bring in box office moula. I am so looking forward to seeing SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and expect that I’ll be gushing about that in next year’s top film list…

Best TV Star
This is a tough one for me. I gushed earlier about Stephen Arnell and I crush more on Zooey Deschanel every year, someone who I think is absolutely funny, charming and scene-stealing. But if I had to pick someone whose performance has really captured my attention the most on TV this year, I think it would have to be David Morrissey, who plays the infamous Guvna on “Walking Dead” — he has been absolutely riveting in a role that should make us thoroughly disgusted. Yet he has completely captured our attention – we are both mesmerized and shocked that we could possibly have any empathy. His calm and stoic “Gary-Cooper” like quality makes him the most attractive villain we love to hate in a looooong time. But I must also give some honorable mentions to two other unbelievable performances in 2012 — Anson Mount and Common on AMC’s other fabulous show you’re probably not watching, “Hell on Wheels,” but had better next season – yes, it got renewed. Woo hoo. These two actors bring such an intensity and ferocity to their roles and the words they delivery. It’s quite a sight to witness.

Best Author
I have a soft spot for Sylvain Reynard and last fall’s Gabriel’s Inferno (which I was just introduced to this year) and this year’s follow-up Gabriel’s Rapture. I can’t help it. Not only am I completely enamored with the lead character he created as are women everywhere (and I’m sure some men, too) Professor Gabriel Emerson, it has also brought forth from me many longings about returning to see Italy one day, particularly Florence. It has re-ignited my passion for Botticelli, Raphael and other great artists of the area that I loved studying so much in the past but had set aside that passion to do those important things like work and help raise a family. I will be rediscovering that passion again next year as I do a little return to humanities study on the side, as a hobby again. I do love it so much. So thank you, Mr. Reynard, for that completely unexpected bonus from reading your lovely books.

Best Singer
This is really hard because there are a million and one ways I can go with this. I can pick someone whose work I enjoy regularly and still impressed me this year, like Katy Perry. Or I can pick someone like Adele, who really knocked me out with her haunting James Bond single “Skyfall” which totally took me back to the classic Bond tunes I always loved so much… You might expect me to pick someone who was really big this year like Taylor Swift, who I am a big fan of but unfortunately, I really don’t like her biggest song of the year “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” And there’s always Carly Rae Jepsen with only one of the biggest songs of the year “Call Me Maybe.” Nope, none of those. I’m going with Kelly Clarkson. She just amazes me from album to album. She keeps getting better – this year was no exception. She sounds crisper and more powerful than ever, not to mention is practically glowing from her recent engagement announcement. Yep, Kelly. You are the best in 2012 if you ask me. Keep it up, girl, and remind us all that American Idol really has delivered some relevant people along the way, despite what the haters say.

Best Band
I’ve touched on this before in a recent blog, but for me, this was a big year for discovering The Black Keys, and that process of experiencing their music has been such a joyful ride. I have been lost in their soulful lyrics, their driving guitar licks and often infectious rhythm that whips me into a frenzy. I will continue exploring their previous albums for years to come, and can’t wait for an opportunity to see them perform live someday. Sigh.

BlackKeys

Best News Story
It was a very sad year, a year of mass shootings from CO to CT, horrific devastation left behind from natural disasters, and unrest across the world. So how does one pick the best news story? How about a story that may have offered a little hope…because it was a year that didn’t offer too much of that. How about stories that reminded us that we can do almost anything if we put our minds to it… aerialist Nik Wallenda taking on Niagara Falls and crossing it successfully on a high-wire and Felix Baumgartner makes a record-setting skydive jump from space!

Best Quote
“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I am afraid of no one.” – Malala Yousafzai (though the quote is technically from the young girl’s diary from an earlier year, it came to light for all of the world in 2012)

Best Tweet
It’s a tie from the same guy…POTUS.
“This happened because of you. Thank you.” — President Barack Obama, announcing his re-election victory that evening of Nov. 6     —- and —
“Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom” from later that same evening, featuring the most tweeted photo ever. If any picture captured the essence of relief that a hard-fought campaign was over, this image did it, no matter which side you were on.

And that concludes the Kuhnie edition of the 2012 Grooviest of the Year awards…what would you highlight as the best of the best, through your eyes for this past year? Look forward to hearing from you and as always, thanks for reading.

For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas Eve and I guess Happy Boxing Day a little early for my friends just across the border. Be smart, safe and careful on the roads wherever you are.

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life!
~Chris

Fascinating, Schmascinating

I love TV specials, especially ones that involve lists. (Yes, I’m funny that way.) Perhaps it’s the closure fiend in me that appreciates a good definitive ranking or it may just be all of those years growing up with Casey Kasem’s Top 40 — who knows!

Each year, Barbara Walters offers her own take on the 10 most fascinating people for the year – sometimes they make sense; other times, they seem to come out of nowhere. But no matter how many years I watch it, I always feel like the list doesn’t reflect who I would include. Last year, I ranted to my Facebook friends and shared with them my own list but THIS year, you get to suffer, too.

So it only seemed fair that I also INVITE you to join in the merriment when I posed this week’s Kuhnspiration blog question: Who would you feature in your own “10 Most Fascinated People of 2012″ TV special?

Have you thought about your choices for the year? I do hope that you’ll share your picks, too. Remember: this is my list, so I can put whoever the hell I want (as you can, too). So please, no whining about who did or didn’t make the cut. I have my own definition of “fascinating” as I’m sure you do, too. So without further delay…here we go!

10. Kate Middleton. The chick got married last year but she was everywhere in 2012. As the future Queen of England, she found herself quite busy — touring the world, representing the host country with her main squeeze at the Summer Olympics and giving people plenty of opportunities to ponder both her outfits and the status of her biological clock and baby-making desires. Poor thing. Talk about a walking spotlight. She has one built into her perfectly stylish stilettos, I’m sure.

  9. Zombies. They were everywhere — books, TV, movies, music…embedded in our brain voluntarily though no doubt for the pure pleasure of devouring that zombie-obsessed brain later!

zombie

And if the growing popularity and surprisingly good ratings of the AMC hit “Walking Dead” indicate, we won’t be rid of these mind-gnawing mongrels anytime soon. And. That. Is. Okay. By. Me.

  8. Ryan Murphy. Okay, you probably won’t find this talented producer, writer, TV innovator on other people’s lists this year BUT YOU SHOULD.  He just may become this decade’s David Kelley with one big difference – all of HIS shows don’t feel or look like the same show. Armed with the challenge of keeping Fox’s “Glee” interesting despite most of its graduating class members being scattered across the country, Murphy has managed to introduce some new intriguing characters and still highlight old favorites. It hasn’t always worked this season though there have been a few standout episodes including one featuring not one, not two, not three…but FOUR break-ups in one hour-long episode. And though viewers were sad as hell as they watched, Murphy was still able to deliver an entertaining and poignant show. Let’s add to this existing show two new ones earning both critical acclaim and a fan following – “The New Normal,” a half-hour sitcom on NBC, and FX’s sophomore installment and completely haunting and addicting “American Horror Story,” and you’ve got one talented, and fascinating creator.

  7. Whitney Houston. No one ever doubted her talent but she hadn’t really been on anyone’s mind lately. Then, one unbelievable news day and she became all that anyone talked about for months. In much the same way Amy Winehouse left following an all-too-soon, truly sad way to go, the iconic singer seemed to become more popular and revered after her early 2012 death. We knew the talent was still there but were saddened to see it get buried and lost deep under a long-time and ultimately, life-ending addiction. This was a tramautic year for music fans who saw so many of their favorites besides Houston depart – from Dick Clark, Don Cornelius, Davey Jones and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees to Beastie Boy Adam Yauch,  Donna Summer, Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay, Etta James and The Band’s Levon Helm, and unfortunately, so many more. Whitney was just one more heartwrenching final note.

  6. Mitt Romney. There are going to be some people surprised to see this guy on my list, particularly since there is an absence of the other guy… you know, the one that won, the one I actually voted for and have been behind since 2008. Again, this list is about fascinating — and it was fascinating to watch this guy running for the most important office in the land come up against his own party’s leadership and their lack of enthusiasm and backing at times. Sometimes his own mouth got himself in trouble. (We on the other side understand this only too well — we’ve got Vice President Joe Biden in our camp, remember?) Still, it was never a dull moment to watch his campaign unfold from waaaaay back over here and see how campaign progress and platforms changed on what felt like a daily basis sometimes. Which Romney would we see today, some late-night talk show hosts joked but there was some truth to the levity.

MittLyle

Separated at birth? I’ll let you be the judge. You must admit – he looks an awful lot like Lyle Waggoner of “Wonder Woman” fame.

As Election Day neared, I do believe we got closer to seeing the real Romney. I wonder now had he run a little bit closer to home and owned up to representing what he truly believed from the get-go — what appeared to be a more moderate mix of views — and worried less about pleasing more conservative factions in his party, if he would have been able to beat President Obama. Quite possibly. I was originally worried that Romney’s religious affiliation as a Mormon being somewhat unknown or understood by many Americans might hurt him, but I really don’t think it did and for that, I was relieved. I do believe someday there will be an openly atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or Jewish president but it will be a while probably, but I hate to see anyone unfairly treated because of their religious beliefs or lack of them. No, I wasn’t rooting for the guy, but I’d never want to see that happen and besides, for me, there were plenty of good reasons having nothing to do with infringing upon his freedoms that led me to vote against him. But it doesn’t change the fact that he was a fascinating dude to follow this year.

 5. Justin Bieber. Disclaimer: I do not own one CD by Mr. Bieber nor have I downloaded anything from iTunes or viewed his concert film, seen him perform live (and with no intentions of changing this anytime soon)…so I would by all definitions of the word NOT be considered a fan. That being said, the world ate this kid up like he was chocolate-stuffed pizza all year! Whether it was what he was singing, what his hair looked like this week or who he was or wasn’t dating anymore, everyone was oozing Bieber Fever…still! Wait a second. I thought this kid was supposed to fade away by now. So if that’s the case, why is he still so popular? I just saw a headline last week that he was even the most searched celebrity online for 2012, so just running into news stories is apparently not enough. People are actually out there LOOKING for more of them, too! I don’t get it. I just don’t get his allure. He seems like an okay kid, a little awestruck with himself but nice enough, but his singing is nothing special, only a few of his songs the slightest bit memorable and his dancing does nothing for me. Don’t forget I watch all of the superstars over on “So You Think You Can Dance?”  Now that’s dancing. But clearly the world disagrees with me. Hmm. Maybe I’m missing something. Oh well, I’ve got books to read and books to write, so I’ll just have to miss the ferry for that one.

    4. Christian Grey, et al. Nope, Grey’s not a real person but a fictional character from the best-selling Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy but I haven’t seen this much fervor about the casting of a character for the big screen since the selection of the young actors to bring Harry Potter to life many years ago. Unlike that casting, I find myself caught up in this cinematic frenzy myself. This year, people began following movie producers’ every move to get one step closer to finding out who is going to write it, who is going to direct it, and of course, topmost on the minds of a predominantly female reader fan base, who will play the dangerously sexy object of their affection. I could have listed the book’s author E.L. James like Barbara Walters will and Entertainment Weekly already has, and it would certainly make sense, but let’s remember that the title of this list is not the BEST people of 2012, the SMARTEST people of 2012 or the most LIFE-CHANGING people of 2012. The word is “fascinating,” people. And it is this character that has completely captured the attention, hearts and minds of readers across the world, and this year demonstrated just how deep that infatuation lies with book-inspired product sales and social media melee over movie production and casting news (legitimate or otherwise) with no signs of waning anytime soon. Unless they take too damn long to cast the part. Oh, and if you want to know who  this writer thinks should play the part, ahem, it’s this fella right here. One Mr. Henry Cavill…and you’re welcome.

Cavill2

Another fascinating development stemming from this Grey infatuation has been the transition of these readers to other contemporary romance as well as erotica authors as they continue their quest to uncover other intriguing characters and dream lovers among the pages. Female readers especially are starting fan pages and Twitter handles for their favorite characters and leading in-depth story discussions online and in book clubs about everything, including dialogue, character drive and motivation and fantasy casting for these other beloved characters not yet destined for the big screen. These range from the similarly intense and complex Gideon Cross (Bared to You/Reflected in You, Sylvia Day) and Professor Gabriel Emerson (Gabriel’s Inferno/Gabriel’s Rapture, Sylvain Reynard) to the charming bad boy (is he or isn’t he?) Travis Maddox (Beautiful Disaster , Jamie McGuire) and Cash and Nash Davenport (Down to You , M. Leighton) to the nice guy with just a little bit of an edge Will Hooper (Slammed/Point of Retreat, Colleen Hoover) and Lucas (Easy, Tammara Webber). If you are a woman and romance, lust and emotional connections to characters were requirements on your reading checklist this year, you probably have been introduced to every single one of these sexy men on the list and have  read (and in most cases, RE-READ) these books. You will be happy to know (as am I) that nearly all of them will be back in 2013 sequels. Sigh.

3. The American Voter. And that means those of you who voted for that other guy (see #6 above), too. Thanks. That’s right, thanks. For coming out and doing your job. Not everyone expected you to do so, but I had faith that you would. It was mesmerizing all year to watch the various people who came out from the shadows to speak up about their candidates – sometimes people whose support you never expected to see thrown in a particular direction or words emerge out of some mouths that should have perhaps stayed behind their lips. (Yeah, that’s right, Donald Trump and Jack Welch – I’m talking to both of you.) But most fascinating was watching to see people rally behind their candidates and in some cases, major policy changes about everything from gay marriage to legalization of marijuana. All of the political “experts” thought they knew exactly what the American Voter would do on November 6, but many of them were quite surprised at the outcomes for various races and initiatives across the nation.  I was just pleased to see so many people speak for themselves and come out to the polls. Good job making yourself heard, America – again, whatever your message was. It was heard – loud and clear.

  2. Malala Yousafzai. One young girl may have changed the way many people view education and what it really means for other people across the world. The little girl from Pakistan could be voted Time Person of the Year, and it all started with an anonymous blog about wanting to go to school. Once she revealed her identity, her name and face and the reaction to her plea became synonymous with what is wrong in the world that a young girl not only can’t speak her dreams aloud but that they can be taken away with force and brutal violence. She was shot in the head for wanting to learn and telling other people this. No matter how many times I repeat that sentence in my head, it will never make sense that this is the same world that I live in and where I make my dorky, off-the-wall comments about anything and everything (as I am doing right now), and here is this brave, pensive young girl that gets nearly killed for stating what would make her happiest in her life. It’s such an important lesson for us all to be vocal and expressive about what we want because we have the right and the ability to do so. We must. For Malala.

And finally, the most fascinating person in 2012, according to moi…

  1. Lucy Marie Kuhn. No, you haven’t heard of her yet but you will. Someday.

LucyMarieKuhn_UpClose

My little granddaughter was born early one Tuesday morning last month and has already mesmerized those around her. She truly is the most fascinating person of 2012…if you ask me.

I’d love to hear about your list, too. Do tell. 

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, and as always, thanks for reading.

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life.
~Chris