Why Can’t Boys Be Sweet?

I read a Twitter thread today talking about how a 4 year old boy wanted to have a butterfly painted on his face, but his parents flat out refused to allow such and instead forced him to get a skull and crossbones. You know, something manly. It just got me thinking how much easier it is to be a girl.

I’m not saying that women don’t deal with issues of inequality. There are still jobs it’s hard for women to get, pay disparities, and general sexist attitudes that still exist in the world. But sometimes it seems it’s easier for women to break into the man’s world and be hailed a revolutionary than it is for the reverse. While we’re so busy trying to show the world we can be just as strong, capable, and badass as men, we overlook the fact that men aren’t as easily allowed to be sweet, loving, and nurturing as women. For both men and women, acts of masculinity are much more easily accepted than those deemed more feminine. Even at times for a woman, we’re seen as weak for being girly, no wonder all the heroines today are more Black Widow than Cinderella. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Now I’ve served in the Air Force as a mechanic, and what do most people say to hearing that? “Thank you for serving.” I was a girl who did a manly job, no problem. After getting out and getting a degree, I had trouble finding a job, and when folks asked me what I did I just said stay-at-home. Some would ask if I had kids, and upon hearing that I didn’t seemed simply envious I got to be home while my husband brought home the bacon. But while men going into the military doesn’t even get a second thought, a guy staying at home instead of working would simply be seen as lazy, and a man who decides to stay at home to take care of the kids is seen as unmanly, and worse the number of people who are sure men can’t care for children as well as women. Of course, I’ve already talked about that in Can Only Mommies Mommy? In either situation no one seemed bothered by my life choice, but for men it’s a whole other ballgame, and I’ve seen it before plenty of times. And it’s not just men being tough on other men, it’s women with the same expectations of how men should act.

However, when it comes to kids sometimes it’s almost more obvious how we start at the beginning to force this confining issue on boys, and less so on girls. A little girl wants to play with GI Joe, well look at her not excepting those stereotypes placed on her by men. A little boy wants to play with Barbie, we need to stop that or he’s gonna turn out to be one of them gays.

I think back to myself growing up, I was the weird girl who’d wear pocket watches, ties, and suspenders. Not very stylishly I might add, I was dressing to be “cool” like my dad. I remember a guy commenting how nobody said anything about my clothes, but if he wore a kilt it’d be a scandal. People’s response, “well that’s RG, that’s just what she does.” Essentially I can be accepted for weird boyish behavior, but he couldn’t be accepted for anything remotely girly.

When I asked my dad about this he said, “You can’t stop someone from being who they are on the inside. You can only oppress them, and stop them from accepting who they are. You can stop them from being happy with themselves.” Essentially your kid is who they is, you’re either helping them love themselves or making them feel ashamed and resentful.

I think of my sweet little 3 year old nephew, who one minute is hugging an angel figurine claiming it’s a beautiful butterfly and it’s his favorite. The next he’s building a Lego tower claiming it’s a robot prison, which apparently also needed a hug. One act is a bit ‘girly’ and the other more acceptable of boys. And I’m so happy his parents are raising him to be sweet rather than tough, they want him to learn and discover all the wonders of the world, and not try to shut down this intelligent loving little boy. Kids are innocent beings who are just learning about life. Don’t stifle their love and joy with your fear that they’re not going to be “normal”, instead allow them to bloom knowing that you’re there for them no matter what.

Every little boy should be allowed to appreciate the beauty of the world as much as girls do. Boys should be allowed to try new things and learn new skills even if they’re not deemed manly. After all that definition changes one century to the next. There was a time when knitting was considered too complicated for women and was actually a man’s hobby. Just think about that.

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Married by Morning

BOOK 1: Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

BOOK 2: Seduce Me at Sunrise

BOOK 3: Tempt Me at Twilight

Married by Morning  description:

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…

BOOK 4: Married by Morning  5 STARS

I love how it’s been building to this since book 2. Leo’s constant need to find Marks, as he calls her, to nettle her, and his drive to find out everything about her has really given this relationship an interesting foundation. It was definitely no love at first sight, as they seemed to drive each other crazy, and so how they went from thinking they hated each other to realizing they loved each other was a sweet and rather humorous journey. However, as funny as this book is, Kleypas does give this story a dark side when it comes to finding out the truth about Cat. It’s a serious subject that the author does not make light of, and it gives the plot a lot of depth and emotion. Just like the rest of the books in this series, it’s fast paced and you’ll be done before you know it. As usual we have all the Hathaway family back, being their usual selves, full of love and understanding and hope that make them so great to read about. Yet, it’s really Dodger who is the best little helper in driving people together. I can’t tell if he’s a guardian angel or a mischievous little devil, but I hope ferrets really are as adorable as he is.

The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper  by  Sarah Addison Allen  description:

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

The Peach Keeper  5 STARS

This is a wonderfully whimsical story, with a hint of magic that makes anything possible, and a mystery to keep you turning pages late into the night. I loved the balance between Willa and Paxton. Willa is haunted by all the things she’s done in the past, while Paxton lives with the regrets of all the things she hasn’t done. And while this does deal with the two falling in love, this book is more about the power of friendship, about why it’s so important to be their for your friends, and how that relationship never has to fade away. It’s definitely not your average sort of novel. The thing I love most about Allen’s writing is that she doesn’t just give you this one story, she gives you a whole world in this town, but it never gets bogged down. She lets you see all these people and all the things that have led them here, and created them, and it really gets you involved in all of their lives. They become people you feel like you knew, and being from a small town I can definitely relate to this sort of world, though I wish we had the strange occurrences that happen there, would’ve been interesting. And while you don’t need to read Garden Spells before this, because it’s not tied into that series, some of the characters do show up. Which is another thing I love authors to do, to have their books all within this same world, which makes each story you read by them just suck you in even further.

Aaron Ozee has been INTERVIEWED!!!

Book Marketing Buzz Blog Interview (Q & A) – Conducted January 4, 2017

  1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?

In my earlier years, crafting picture books portraying obscure narratives about mythical heroes and talking animals was merely a precursor to my future career as an author. Little did I know that my adventures in writing and publishing would lead me to become a bestselling American poet having published ten books and claimed six world records all before entering my sophomore year at the College of DuPage. And even though my talent for the written word developed around children’s literature, it never seemed logical to simplify my poetry for younger readers, but to my surprise after being influenced by those closest to me, My Darling Child Shiloh emerged from the furthest reaches of my creativity. The basis for my first children’s book didn’t just originate from the desire my readers expressed for a more youthful extension of my work, but from the fact that one vital element was missing from my creations – the love for my mother. Everything I’ve achieved since birth is because of her and is a debt that weighs gracefully on my shoulders that I may never be able to repay but certainly deserves the attention of my inherited abilities. Dedicating this book to my mother is more than a gesture of respect for a parent but a heartfelt honor that lies beneath my duty as a devoted son. Ever since My Darling Child Shiloh was officially released through Lulu Press back in August 2016, it has been ranked on six different bestseller lists and continues to receive national acclaim from prominent media outlets capturing the highlights of its growing success.

  1. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?

The underlying story of My Darling Child Shiloh focuses on a particular day a boy named Shiloh and his mother are spending together in the wilderness enjoying the wonders of nature. Experiencing the simplicity of life by observing the pleasantries of their environment, they begin to understand the value that rests within the love shared between them and what it truly means to be joined as a family.

The intended audience of a book like this would primarily be children anywhere from 6-8 years old aiming to connect their developing minds to the purely concocted messages behind the series of events that gradually unfold throughout the story in the most intriguing way.

  1. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?

There are many benefits associated with reading a book, especially when that book pertains to a topic you find interesting and can relate to in one way or another. Books are more than just tools of personal entertainment or education but are gateways to other worlds apart from ours that allow you to express yourself without fearing the impact that everything in your exterior may have on your life. And giving that My Darling Child Shiloh depicts such a spirited, innocent, and lovable tether between mother and son, it grants the reader an opportunity to relive their greatest childhood memories word after word.

When parents read this book to their children, it is my sincerest hope that they sense the commitment my mother had for me growing up and ultimately feel the tenderness of the love we continue to share. The idea of maintaining the balance of family is not typically a priority that our generation cares about but shouldn’t taint the changing perspectives of those who look up to us. If there’s anything that should be taken from my book, it’s to appreciate those closest to you and never forget where you came from.

  1. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?

My advice to any aspiring author is simple: once you get going don’t stop rowing. Meaning that when you make your first move to enter this space you can never go back because once your name is out there it’s out there for good. Trust me, when I published my first poem on PoetryNation.com and shared it with all of my Facebook friends, I was nervous that they might think differently about me as an individual, but when the feedback started to roll in, confidence was the only thing that remained.

You have to understand that anyone can publish a book nowadays and be given the same opportunity as everyone else to make a name for themselves. The art of this equation that most fail to realize is that even though anyone can make the first step, how are you going to figure out what happens next? There’s no one there to stand beside you and walk you through the process from start to finish. It’s just you. For instance, I didn’t have someone advising my every decision as I published my first book when I was only 15 years old. I was still in high school and didn’t have the slightest clue what I was doing. But within the vast networks of the miracle we know today as the Internet, anything was possible and nothing stood in my way from success.

If you really want to become the best writer you can be, you need to utilize the information already available to you. Don’t try to go the traditional route, submit your manuscripts to big publishing houses, eagerly await their approval, and then find out they won’t accept works from unknown authors. Use your time wisely and do exactly what I did five years ago. Become best friends with your computer and go on an adventure you’ll never forget.

  1. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?

I’ve always had a passion for the written word being pressed unto printed paper. There’s just something about it that stimulates the senses differently compared to reading a book digitally. The publishing industry has definitely taken a turn recently and has begun to explore alternative avenues of manuscript distribution through the production of eBooks and audiobooks, which in their entirety, are promising in terms of accessibility and portability but just aren’t the same. Picking up a freshly bound book and caressing the matted paper and ink with your own two hands as you soak in the beauty behind every page is priceless. You can’t do that with a tablet.

The common misconception that consumers and even industry professionals alike have is that print is dying and will not be a medium of choice ten or twenty years from now. But actually, they’re mistaken. We live in a physical world that is focused around an epicenter of touch and without it would be not much of a world at all. You can’t take away an aspect of life from a daily enjoyment such as reading a book. That would be unspeakably cruel. And that is exactly why print media is far from going out of style and will certainly last longer than some might expect.

  1. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?

My Darling Child Shiloh assumed a firm poetic identity when it was drafted and was intended to be the headliner of a new anthology focused on the timeless qualities of life at its finest, but oddly pivoted at the last minute to a more gentle, serene, and visually-dependent piece. Now, my area of expertise depends on my ability to professionally compose and connect the rhythm of words, but hardly on the creation and placement of original illustrations. Partnering with Mallory Clark, the artist commissioned to visually represent the morals carefully inserted throughout My Darling Child Shiloh, was necessary for the completion and survival of the publication. You can’t craft a quality children’s book without unique artwork, and considering each picture was produced by hand over the course of three years, there’s nothing but originality in the book. Even though assembling imagery required the most effort, its debut in the marketplace proved that patience pays and is explicitly vital to the manufacturing of any masterful work of literature.

  1. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?

The merit of a book should be decided not by attractive casing that cloaks the pages or the description stamped on the back previewing what awaits within, but the dimension that lies just beyond the title. In My Darling Child Shiloh, there is more than meets the eye and is a gift that keeps on giving regardless of how many times you read it. You’re always uncovering details that you previously overlooked and seeing the finer realities that have been unnoticeably positioned in every word and illustration that collectively makes the story worth the wait as you follow the trail the characters place before you. If you’ve be searching for the perfect book to ease your thoughts or share with the family, you need look no further.

The Girl On Legare Street

BOOK 1: The House on Tradd Street  by  Karen White

The Girl On Legare Street  description:

Melanie has grown accustomed to renovating old houses, but she never imagined she’d have to renovate her own life to include her estranged mother. Ginnette Prioleau Middleton left Charleston thirty-five years ago. She’s returned wanting to protect the daughter she’s never really known after receiving an ominous premonition.

Melanie never wanted to see her mother again, but with some prodding from her partner, Jack Trenholm, she agrees-and begins to rebuild their relationship. Together Melanie and Ginnette buy back their old home. With their combined psychic abilities they expect to unearth some ghosts. But what they find is a vengeful dark spirit whose strength has been growing for decades. It will take unearthing long buried secrets to beat this demon and save what’s left of Melanie’s family…

legareBOOK 2: The Girl On Legare Street  3 STARS

While the first book was such a surprising delight, this felt like she basically just repeated everything that happened in the first book to the point of being obnoxious. The plot itself was a good idea for a sequel. Going back to the house Melanie grew up in, and should’ve inherited, helped to learn more about her past, and a good reason to bring in her mom. But while this ghost is supposed to be the scariest ghost her mom ever came in contact with, and supposedly why she might have left, it didn’t manage to inflict much of anything in comparison with the previous evil ghost on Tradd Street. The big reveal was so glaringly obvious through the majority of the book that it was rather sad the characters didn’t figure it out, though White made their search into the truth so convoluted that I wasn’t even sure what it was they were trying to figure out half the time. For instance there was 7 words they had to put in the right order to figure out a sentence, and for anyone who reads it would take 2 seconds to know what it was meant to say, and yet they had to write out every variation of the order they could go in. Why? And Melanie’s childish behavior towards her mom, even after her dad told her the truth, was frustrating enough. But her still acting like Jack is a bad guy just playing her made me want to punch her in the face. It was such a rehashing of the same issues in the last book, it’s like it might as well not even have happen. Altogether, while it wasn’t the worst, it was a let down.

The House on Tradd Street

The House on Tradd Street  by  Karen White  description:

A brilliant, chilling début featuring a Charleston real estate agent who loves the histories inside old manors.

Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. A man she recently met died, leaving his historic Tradd Street home; complete with a dog and family of ghosts anxious to tell their secrets.

Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries, has reason to believe diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden. He turns the charm on with Melanie, to discover he’s the smitten one.

traddBOOK 1: The House on Tradd Street   5 STARS

After finishing this book all I could think was, Why haven’t I read this sooner? It was wonderful from beginning to end. I’m not much for history, and most of this is made up anyway, but dealing with old mysteries, antique furniture, and ghosts makes this book so much fun to read. Figuring out the truth of what happened in the house Melanie had just inherited from a complete stranger was the main point of the story, and while the ghosts do drive her discoveries, the clues are very real world ones that have to be pieced together. Nothing given easily like a ghost saying hey this is what happened, it’s more they drive both the investigation or do their best to stand in it’s way, and that makes it definitely different from your average mystery or even paranormal story. But even the pages devoted just to describing their restoring of the old house are still entertaining to read as we see the characters interacting and changing. Especially Melanie, who wasn’t the only one who could see ghosts, which is another aspect of the book I liked so much. There’s just so much depth and development to the tale that I can’t wait to pick up the next in the series.

Married by Mistake

Married by Mistake  by  Abby Gaines  description:

Do not adjust your set. That really was Casey Greene being jilted by her fiance on live TV And that really was Memphis’s most eligible bachelor who stepped in to marry her instead. Millionaire businessman Adam Carmichael wanted only to help Casey save face. He isn’t prepared for the news that their “fake” wedding is legal and binding.

While they secretly wait for an annulment, media and family scrutiny forces them to put on their best loving-couple act. Except by now, neither one is quite sure who’s acting….

mistakeMarried by Mistake  3 STARS

Other than the thought of how exactly this whole “by mistake” thing would really happen, because it didn’t really make sense to some degree, it was a pretty good story that beyond.  The characters felt like real the people in their struggles, and not like some that feel so over done or stereotypical. Plus, this isn’t like some of these romances that go straight to naughtiness, there’s a real story line and different people in Casey and Adam’s lives that keeps the story going. It’s also not just about the main couple, there’s actually some other angles to the story, and other people falling in love and trying to make their relationships work. However, it is a fairly quick story, but good for some fun light reading.

Garden Spells

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen     description:

The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business — and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life — upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire’s routine existence upside down. With Sydney’s homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire’s own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney’s child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.

gardenBook 1: Garden Spells        4 STARS

For a book filled with so much magic, a cast of great characters, and a really fulfilling plot line, the apple tree is still my favorite part. I mean I think that says plenty about the author, to take something like an apple tree (even a magical one) and give it a real personality, and such a vital part of the story in ways that you slowly discover. But that is just still one small part of the story. This book does deal with magic, but it isn’t a generic story of witches. It’s more like a family filled with unique talents that are inherent to each person. Though, how they do affect the world around them, especially within the Waverly’s property, is definitely a bit witchy. Yet, the story is really that of normal people trying to find their place in the world. Two women who have lived through difficult lives and trying to get to know each other again as real sisters. And the little girl, Bay, was so sweet and adorable with how she knows where everything is meant to be, even people, and the fact that she ultimately has the most insight in the end into people was a really moving part of the story. Beyond the Waverly family you also get to discover a bit about small town living, the good, the bad, and the intriguing family legacies. There was just so much to love about this book, it’s really hard to put it all into one review without ruining the story, so I just say go and pick it up as quick as you can.

Happy 4th of July

I kept wanting to write something for this holiday, but I couldn’t think of anything, and really I was more focused on being happy me and the hubby was going to get to go down and visit family. So here I am today writing this post, but it’s not about today, it’s actually about yesterday. As it turned out with some having to get up to go to work on Tuesday, and us having to make the long drive back home, we decided to do our celebration last night. It was perfect. All my family together sharing laughs and making new memories. My little nephew being adorable, and loving all the attention he was getting from his Aunt RayRay and Uncle Bear (yep my hubby got a nickname too). As it got darker we went out to shoot off fireworks, and it turns out we weren’t the only ones who thought last night was a good time to celebrate. Fireworks shooting off all around us, mingling with our own. Staring in awe at the great explosions, laughing at some of the duds, holding our breaths when some flew too close to the houses and thankful it had rained right beforehand. But while it was amazing to get to spend time with my family, as I was looking around at the whole neighborhood celebrating together it made me think about what this holiday is all about. Togetherness.

We were all there together, family, friends, and strangers. We were all enjoying the night and celebrating our love for our country. We were all united. It didn’t matter that we had different beliefs, that we may think different from each other, that at times we can’t understand why folks do what they do when surely they should be more like us. All that mattered is that we all love our country, and we all love the freedoms accorded by it to be as different from each other as humanly possible. And that’s what this holiday is here to remind us of. We’re all united by the fact we’re Americans, and we love it. So try and remember that while you love the freedoms that allow you to be you, that those freedoms are there to allow us each to be ourselves. We may be different, we may not understand each other at times, but that’s okay. It’s what makes this country great, and it’s the love of such that we need to keep us united.

firewrok 2016

Ice Ice Babies

BOOK 1: Ice Planet Barbarians  by  Ruby Dixon

BOOK 2: Barbarian Alien

BOOK 3: Barbarian Lover

BOOK 4: Barbarian Mine

BOOK 4.5: Ice Planet Holiday

BOOK 5: Barbarian’s Prize

BOOK 6: Barbarian’s Mate

BOOK 6.5: Having the Barbarians Baby

Ice Ice Babies   description:

It’s hard being a new mom on a barren, wintry planet. How about a mom…times two? Nora has to find a way to juggle babies, her mate, and friendships while catching the occasional nap. Can she get her groove back?

This is a short story set in the ICE PLANET BARBARIANS series and does not stand alone. It should be read after BARBARIAN’S MATE and is a little bit of sweetness and family life for those waiting for the next release.

ice iceBOOK 6.6: Ice Ice Babies   4 STARS

This was a fun short story, but honestly it felt like there could’ve been so much more to it. At this point I’m snatching up everything Dixon has for this series, I love these characters! I think what’s making it so great is that it’s not just erotica anymore, it’s an incredible world filled with struggles and humans trying to adjust and fit in with this tribe of Sa-khui. This one really focused on the struggles of raising babies in such a harsh environment, along with how it may be tough for a couple to reconnect once there are babies to take up their time. However, while I loved getting to know Nora and Dagesh more, Asha stole the story. I honestly hope Dixon gives her a book now. Asha so far has been someone to hate, but now I just want her to get a happy ending as well.