Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Reading Susan Stoker


I’ve been such a good little worker bee for so long I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I went off the rails. Yup, I’ve been binge reading again. And late into the night, dragging myself out of bed with only five hours of sleep just to pick up my Kindle again to polish of a few more chapters before breakfast. Four days, seven books downloaded and read and I don’t want to stop. What bothers me more than binge reading is the type of books I’m reading and I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve gotten caught up in Susan Stoker’s Navy SEAL books. I’ve never been a fan of military themed books and movies and her fiction seems to be a cross between action-adventure and romances but she labels her writing: contemporary romantic suspense. Unfortunately for me, Susan is a prolific writer. Since her first book debuted in 2014 she’s written over 60 and at the rate I’m going I’ll be dead from sleep-deprivation if I keep downloading a new one within minutes of finishing another. (I should examine why I'm avoiding my 'real life' by binge reading...but time for that in another post.)

If you google Susan Stoker you’ll find the following paragraph all over the place: “Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Ace Security, Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Unsung Heroes: Delta Force, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado to Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love.”

I’m a little old lady---well, two out of three of those words are true---I’m old and a lady and a worry-wart who can’t even go across town without leaving a note behind in case I come up missing. I also don’t drive after dark and I have an irrational fear of dying under water in a submerged car. So why am I fascinated by the kick-ass and survival skills navy SEALs have? The only thing I have in common with any of Susan’s male protagonists is the cargo pants they wear. Let me explain. One of Susan's female protagonists called her guy’s cargo pants ‘magic pants’ because of all the life-saving stuff that he could product when needed. I don’t have ‘magic pants’ but I've been known to carry a magic purse. I once went on a day trip sponsored by the senior hall and was aghast that the woman next to me on the bus only brought with her a debit card in her jeans pocket. But guess who could produce a Kleenex, cough drop, safety pin and an aspirin when others near-by needed them. Now I’m lusting after a pair of those cargo pants to go with the cinematographer’s field vest with a million pockets that I’ve lusted after for twenty years. Wouldn’t it be fun to pack all those pockets up with essentials? If I had magic pants one of my fast-draw, bellowed flap pockets would be filled with raspberry chocolate truffles in a water tight box. If I’m going down to the bottom of the river, I’d want chocolate.

I used to read a ton of historical romance books back in the ‘80s and ‘90s and I credit them fondly for me FINALLY finding the joy of reading after struggling with mild dyslexia for the first 40 something years of my life. They also got me interested in woman’s history. I’d read something in a romance and not believe it was based on actual events like the authors claimed. Back then I didn’t google like I do now but I sure made plenty of trips to the library to research historical details until I learned which romance authors could be trusted for her accuracy. I don’t have much frame of reference for Susan Stoker’s accuracy but my instincts tell me her depiction of the military rings true. 

Another thing I find fascinating about Stoker’s book is how differently she handles sex and love scenes from the historical romance genre books I read in decades past. No more Rhett Butters throwing women over their shoulders aka taming the “wildcat" plots so to speak. Stoker’s guys are asking are-you-sure-you-want-this sort of questions and talking birth control. One of her older characters even told a young woman she’d have to make the first move because in this day and age guys had to be careful not to put pressure on a woman lest he be accused of sexual harassment. That's not to say that Stoker's men are not Alpha types. They are and a few of them were not all that likeable in bed. (Did I just type that?) And while Stoker is writing genre fiction, they are not what I'd call hardcore formula. Case in point: after finishing one book, I realized it didn't have a "hot and heavy" sex scene like the one I read before it, and another SEAL book had a few too many crude details for my tastes.

Susan also writes some of the best cliffhangers I've ever read. She might as well not even format chapters in her books because I’ve been blowing right past the intended pauses. And like a lot of books marketed in the historical romance section, her contemporaries seem to have the classic damsel-in-distress element with a modern twist of the damsels saving the guys a few times, but I've been enjoying the action-adventure side of the equation almost more than the romance which led me to wonder whose reads Stoker. I could see some men liking them. I googled and found a Susan Stoker fan page on Facebook and read some of the posts and comments. Didn’t find any guy-fans but there were some military wives. Duh, why didn’t think of that?

I will get back to my real life by Monday. I have to! I have places to go and things to do---one of them very exciting and the other just plain fun assuming I don't get snowed in. If I do I'm going to call in the SEALS. I'll bet they'd have folding snow shovels in their magic pants.   ©

25 comments:

  1. All this reading might be a good rest for your brain after all the mental stress of going through your beloved objects, thinking what to keep, what to sell, where to sell, how to list, etc. It really is a lot of mental work and your brain probably needed to get away from decision making.

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    1. That's really a great theory. It's certainly better than me beating myself up for my perceived wasting time or avoiding the outside world (I haven't even been turning on the TV.) Kindle makes it too darn easy to binge read.

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  2. Loved those Kindles. In case of fire, after my pets, it is my Kindle that is saved. We all need an escape from the things we don't have control over or consume our lives so this sounds like something you were needing. Glad you found an author who can take you there. Read on and just enjoy the break.

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    1. Wow, you've given me an idea for a blog topic.

      I much prefer to read real books that I own that I can skip forward to read the end or back at something and write in the margins if I want. BUT the Kindle is a life saver right now.

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  3. I laughed at the magic pants/magic bag analogy. My own bag's not very magic, but I usually have a few helpful things in it, like a screwdriver or a bag of trail mix. Right now I'm watching one of my squirrels create a little magic stash for itself. I put out some peanuts in the shell for the bluejays, and the danged squirrel's taking every one of them and then burying it in the ground beneath the feeder. I thought winter was over, but maybe he knows something I don't!

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    1. Squirrels are fun to watch. You might as well rename that bluejays peanut feeder your squirrel feeder.

      I kind of thought with your wonderful talent at photgraphy you might actually have a magic vest full of lens and filters. But your magic purse tops mine. I don't have a screwdriver but I do have one in my car. I bought my husband one of those Swiss Army knives with dozens of tools in it. He loved it and I put it somewhere safe in the house and can't find it now. It bums me out that I can't.I wanted to put it in my emergency Go-Bag.

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  4. There is magic in having pockets! I now wear boot cut leggings with four pockets! I had a snazzy vest with lots of pockets so I didn't have to carry a purse in crowds. Now I use a cross body Sash bag. It lies flat holds everything I need ... two front pockets, two zipped back pockets and two interior pockets with slots for credit cards.

    I am still NOT reading! Going on 7 years. I sure do miss it .... am I just too lazy to think?

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    1. I admire women who can go without a purse, but that's not me. I still think it was crazy of the woman on the bus who went on 10 bus trip to do it with nothing more than a debit card.

      You probably use up all your once-tim-the-read taking care of the grandsons, entertaining them and reading to them.

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  5. I’ve never been a romance reader (probably a layover from my Tom boy childhood) but I love when I find an author I can rely on to continue to produce well-written books. I love the idea of magic pants... I’ll probably stick with my cross-body bag, but your suggestion of including raspberry chocolate truffles is an excellent one. One never knows, does one?

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    1. Ah, yes, we must always carry our favorite chocolates in our magic purses, bags or pants. LOL

      I finally ran into one of Stoker's books that will break me out of my binge reading by having one of her characters playing '50 Shades of Gray' crap.

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  6. Susan Stoker, seems to be very popular in my library catalogue...with many on a longish wait list. I too like actual real books, and I don't have a kindle, although from time to time have read e.books on my laptop.

    What I also seem to dish out of my "magic bag" is either wet wipes or travel sized tissues. Last week, I nearly handed over my little lite wwieght wooden fork, then I thought, what will is use...

    I don't carry much (public transport), usually just things for me, but as those first 2 things come in magic packets, they are closeted in my magic bag...

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    1. I had never heard of Susan Stoker until I got her first book free on Amazon. I'm amazed that she is self-published and seems to have a big following.

      I carry wet wipes and travel size tissues, too. Don't have a fork but I usually have plastic forks and spoons in the car in my magic console. LOL

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  7. I think it's good that you are taking a break. Whatever it takes is worth doing.

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    1. I actually do think I needed it. It's been a long winter without much human contact. People in books are real, of course, but it does feel like you're getting to know the characters.

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  8. I love escaping into a good book. Into some detective series at the moment. I used to carry my big-ass purse everywhere and now I am more the debit card in the pocket lady. Who needs her some magic cargo pants!

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    1. As much as you like the big outdoors, I can SO see you wearing cargo pants. Wear else are you going to carry a snake bite kit?

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  9. Nothing wrong with a reading binge, from my point of view. We all have our guilty pleasure reads. The ones that don't sound chic or "smart" or deep. Most of mine is that, probably. Not Navy seals but a lot of mysteries fall into the same overall concept. I think you should enjoy it big time. You've been working very hard and it's time for a break, especially in winter. Oh, and the purse/bag thing. I need to have something to haul my book and wallet in. I'm fine just running to the store with the ATM and my license in my pocket, but if I think there will be a wait anywhere, nope! I need to make use of the time!

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    1. Being without reading material is the worst, isn't it, and offices we wait in theses days don't have a lot of magazines like they used to. I've never given mysteries a serious try. I should binge them sometime if for no other reason except they are so popular.

      The woman on the bus didn't even have an ID with her. She figured the name tag they make you wear on those trips was enough.

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  10. Magic Pants... LMAO and my Mind went directly in the Gutter for a whole lot of reasons not involving Pockets to put Survivalist Gear into! *Bwahahahaha!* Mostly because that Cover Graphic I suppose... which could certainly be a Hook for her Novels! *Winks* Gotta Love a Man with Abs like that! I'm not an avid Reader but I am quite Visual when it comes to Books so I'd probably not get past the Sexy Cover! *Smiles* This is Why most of my Books are Decor Books I suppose... when your binge reading is satiated, I would explore and examine why you're avoiding Real Life... should make for a fascinating Post I could probably relate to??? *Ha ha ha*

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    1. I wouldn't care if I was binge reading if I didn't have so many things to do to get ready for my move. As a fellow collector you know more than others what it takes to market collectibles plus getting a house ready to sell. I feel guilty when I'm not working my plan.

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    2. Oy Vey, the GUILT... yeah, I suffer from that too when I'm not spending every waking moment tending to The Plan!

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  11. What fun! Why shouldn’t you read all the hours in the day if you have the time? I do. Every day I read a couple of hours at least, sometimes more. Yes, I am slightly embarrassed to admit to the sort of rubbish (fairly decent writing though) I read, the odd Regency romance (well, quite a few of them), cosy thrillers of the old fashioned sort, and only a ‘proper’ book interspersed with every 2 or three easy reads. It’s winter, it’s cold outside, and wet, and why wouldn’t I treat myself? Mind you, the rubbishy books go on my Kindle and only ‘proper’ books on my bookshelves. I bought a Joanne Harris thriller this morning already, she is a good writer but still an easy-ish read.
    Don’t think I’d go for SEAL books though - whatever they are - but that’s just a matter of preference.

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    1. I do the same thing---rubbish books go on Kindle, and "proper" books on my bookshelves or night stand. I love how in the blog community we get to find out these little details about others to know we're not so different in our quirks.

      I have a ton of research I'm involved in right now and stuff to sell or donate so I feel guilty when I take time away from doing what I should be doing.

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  12. Those books sound like you should hold your Kindle with hot pads. Ha! I think it is great to find a way to escape all the horrid news. I had a couple of weeks of tarot readings and totals watching to divert my mind away from trump and GOP hating. It is no longer a passion, but it was a great escape while it lasted.
    I don't think you should fee guilty for taking a break from your plan. It is all about balance and your brain will be better for having a little vacation.
    I am a lot like you in the I'd rather have it and not need it planning department. I have multiple kits and bags for the zombie apocalypse and my truck is loaded with possible escape gear. I have been this way for over twenty years and i catch a lot of ribbing about it. I really don't care because it is my ass I will be saving. There are all kinds of reasons one might have to evacuate at a moment's notice and i may not be able to shoot and kill a moose but I can munch on some Cliff Bars under my dry shelter and live another day. I have always taken care of myself and i think the lady armed with her debit card has always been taken care of. I hope you find that knife but in the meantime get a good Leatherman for your purse. I use mine all the time..it is handy to have.
    For a good no nonsense, no drama rundown on the Coronavirus check out Dr John Campbell on you tube. He has been updating daily. He is non monetized, very down to earth and makes complicated news easy to understand. Don't wait to order your magic pants and vest.

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    1. You are so right about being ready to evacuate at a moment's notice, especially where you live. My theory is it emergency supplies only need to be used once in a life time to make them pay for off the nuisance of keeping it around. I really miss my pick up truck sometimes. I had so much more confidence driving it. My husband kept a lot of tools and spare parts in it, especially when we traveled out west.

      I really do want magic pants and a vest. In my next life when I'm skinny and kick-ass fit I'll buy them.

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