12 August 2017

News in History "Get Ready for the Solar Eclipse" January 22, 1925.

Anyone have plans to see the solar eclipse coming up next week? I actually am not, although I'm in driving distance to the path of totality. Sadly enough there's news coming out that it may be cloudy that day in some parts of the state of Oregon. However, it may be too soon to tell.

I couldn't resist looking into some old newspapers that talk about the solar eclipse. I caught this headline in the Lewiston Evening Journal of January 22, 1925.

The headline reads, "Get Ready for the Solar Eclipse."


I also can't help but notice that headline. "It all depends on the weather."  I can't help but think of the weather service tweet this morning:



That sure would disappoint a lot of people heading up to Oregon!

Curious how things turned out for the people of Lewiston?

Well, according to a headline on January 24, 1925, "Ideal Conditions for Watching Eclipse in Lewiston and Auburn."

This crowd got a real treat!


Read these articles here and here.

Are you doing anything on the day of the eclipse? 

05 August 2017

What I Regret About Ghostwriting




A couple of years ago, I did ghostwriting for a marketing firm. It was really easy writing and I made some pretty okay money. Then after a moment of realizing how overwhelmed I felt doing it, I stopped.

Today, I was looking over my email in search of something I've written before and I came across post after post that I sent to them to use. I realized how many articles I had written during that time.  My heart tugged with regret as I looked through all of those articles. I googled a few and spotted them online still, none with my name on them. Yet, it wasn't really just about my name getting on articles. There was more to it.

1) I was never writing for myself.

I recall vividly that I was not making it a point to write for myself. I think I maybe was blogging at the time, but I never made it a point to write - seriously write - for myself the way I was for them.

2) I gave up the good stuff.

I accidentally gave them an article to use that I meant to submit elsewhere. I always want to use my best whenever I write, whoever I write for, but now I wish I had taken caution and kept a few of those gems for my own portfolio.

3) I didn't build off of the work I was doing.

At the time, I wasn't thinking long term. I also wasn't seeking new writing opportunities as well. Not really. I was just churning out work to help make ends meet. It helped, sure, but I wasn't expanded and pushing myself outside of those bounds of that gig.

Now, I guess I'm in a bit better point.  I still do some freelance writing and even ghostwriting, but I also learned along the way to not put all my eggs in one gig's basket. I did and devoted way too much of myself and channeled way too much creativity towards one thing. I won't do that again.

I think also if I had tempered my pace a little with them, I wouldn't have felt so overwhelmed. Creativity is a well and you need to feed it as well as draw from it. The way to feed your creative well, in my opinion, is to spend time doing something creative that has no business strings attached. Write and creative for fun. For you. And that is the lesson I needed to learn. That feeds the well. 

20 July 2017

The Chalk Artist: A Book Review [And Giveaway!]




So, over the heatwave that hit Oregon with a blast a couple of weeks ago, I hibernated away into my air conditioned room with my newly arrived book, The Chalk Artist. Worked out great too because I didn't have great WiFi access.

The Chalk Artist is about a teacher who meets a guy, Collin, who works at a bar, who just so happens to be a brilliant chalk artist. And Nina isn't just any high school English teacher, she is also the daughter of a brilliant game designer and wants to introduce Collin to her father. Alongside this story is the character Aidan who is obsessed with this game and becomes addicted to this virtual world. Meanwhile his twin sister Diana is trying to find out who she really is, get into shape, and process all this craziness going on around her.

One incredible feature to the book is how vivid the setting of the game was as as the real world the characters lived in. I was so impressed by it. As Aidan plays, you get to see what he sees. In fact, I wish I could play a game like this - that's how vivid this is. 

Then you also get imagery of Collin's art. You can see it. And you realize how talented he is. So, you really cheer for him as he gets involved with the game Nina's father created. At first you are rooting for him to be successful in this company, but then after a while you think....is this really right for him? 

Oddly this wasn't a book I would have selected on my own, but it turned out to be a nice surprise. I enjoyed each of the characters. Nina, for her struggles as a teacher and wanting to make a difference in the world. I liked Collin for his desire to make good art and find his way in this intense, Google-like atmosphere of a game company. Then I like Aidan's intense, misguided passion for this virtual world. Then I liked Diana for her self-improvements and driven nature to get out of the old life she had and into a new one. Each character is complicated and has issues like regular people and that made them even more endearing. 

Overall I think this is a fantastic summer read. If you are going to the beach, you will not be disappointed. Again I may not have thought to seek this out on my own, so this was a book that was out of my usual selection. At times, I worried it would be a little aimless, but towards the end I was glad I read it.

You can purchase it now on Amazon both as an ebook and as hardback. Purchase now.

I am also excited to announce I get to giveaway two copies of this book to two lucky readers of this blog! Be sure to enter via Rafflecopter below. US Only please. Ends August 4th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received the above book in exchange for my honest review. 

27 June 2017

Dark Screams: Volume Six [My Book Review]



I am usually a huge fan of short stories. In fact, my favorite short story collections are by Richard Matheson! So I was really excited to read this book, "Dark Screams: Volumn Six" which features stories by Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Prentiss, and others. I have to say, the book as a whole left me a bit disappointed, but there were some gems in the collection I want to point out.

THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT by Lisa Morton:

This story was so odd. It reminded me a bit of the Island of Dr. Moreau mixed with Bridesmaids and maybe a dash of the short story classic "The House on Haunted Hill'. Kind of a wild combo, right? Anyways, this was about a woman falling in love with a very wealthy, and very strange man. It starts out with her waiting for something very frightening about to happen and then you are taken back to when she first meets this rich family. Anyways, I don't want to give anything away but this story takes an aesthetically pleasing to look at setting and turns into it into something potentially grim and dangerous. I loved it.

THE MANICURE by Nell Quinn-Gibney

I thought this was so odd and kind of creepy in a hilarious dark way. And I don't think I was supposed to think it was funny at all. But it starts out with this character who is terrified of these nail clippers but they visit a nail salon anyways. Snip snip right? Well, this was worth reading as each finger takes you back to a weird memory of something going very very wrong.

THE COMFORTING VOICE by Norman Prentiss

I liked this one and I thought it was very disturbing but entertaining. A couple have a baby and the wife invites her father to live with them. The grandfather has reconciled with his daughter and can't wait to dote on his new grandchild. Well the husband doesn't trust any of it. And well...I don't want to give anything away but it's a really captivating and bizarre story.

So, those three were gems and I think those are worth seeking out and reading. But the others...I was disappointed by Stephen King and the short story by Joyce Carol Oates was oddly forgettable. And the last story was very long and I didn't finish it. Just didn't catch me.

Overall, it wasn't a book that caught me completely but it was pretty good overall. I was a bit disappointed, but there were some good stories mixed in there. It's actually available as an ebook on Amazon for $0.99 and you know? That's a fantastic deal so buy it, read those stories I mentioned, and let me know what you think! Purchase now. 

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

19 June 2017

Akeldama by RD Meyer [My Book Review]



I'm always so impressed when a blogger I've followed for several years is publishing a book! It's so exciting! And so I was so happy to hear that RD Meyer is publishing his book and even more excited to review it.

As summer begins, I'm definitely itching for books a bit outside my comfort zone and RD Meyer's book Akeldama was definitely the book for that. First, it's about vampires. But that's putting it lightly. These aren't your average vampires. It's about vampires with these intense super powers and aren't at all the kind you might usually see. Seth, the main character, is a vampire hunter with the Catholic Church when he finds out that these other vampire exists...well, he ends up having to partner with the very vampires he's been fighting against for a bigger cause. 

This book was definitely intense and not what I would say is a "beach read." It's actually been a very long time since I've read a vampire novel and so this was so much new territory for me. Since the vampire hunters are working under the Catholic Church, there was definitely some religious aspects in the novel (made me a little uncomfortable as I've gotten closer to my faith). 

This book also had some vivid violent moments. I sometimes had to skim past some of the more gruesome scenes. However, I thought the character development of the vampires, especially Maxwell, was very strong. I liked the vampire hunter Seth, although he was very focused on his personal mission and I thought that maybe got in the way a bit of getting to know him and his past closely enough. 

If you are into vampire novels OR you want to step outside your comfort zone, read this book. You will be glad you did! You can purchase this book on Amazon for $3.99 

And also be sure to follow RD Meyers blog, it's definitely very much about his personal journey as a write and it's worth reading! 

I received a copy of the above book in exchange for my honest review. 

12 May 2017

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards (A Thriller, If You're Feeling Lucky)



I have been on a thriller kick lately! So this next one was creepy. It's basically revolving around a serial killer in this small village and he's killing off people (while leaving a smile on their face!). The story takes the perspective of a few different characters. You have Ben, father to Ollie, and who somehow finds himself in the heart of this thriller. He's dealing with finalizing his divorce, getting back into good graces with his son who now lives with him, dealing with unruly neighbors, and also trying to make himself a successful freelance writer. It's a lot to handle! Yet oddly, things start to turn around for him.

Then you have Detective Imogen Evans who has moved to this small town from London and it's her first serial killer case. It's tough because she's trying to manage her team, prove herself worthy of this position she's in, and trying to figure out exactly how these people are connected who have been killed.

Oddly the book only deals with mostly two different perspectives - Imogen and Ben. You also occasionally have the perspective of Ben's wife's lover Michael (very convoluted, I know) who works as a reporter and he's trying to get the big scoop on Imogen (but oddly finds himself roped into this serial killer story). Oh and you also occasionally get the perspective from the killer himself.

I was a bit thrown off by the varying perspectives. That's always a bit confusing to me at times and this took me a bit to get into. I was captivated in the book when Ollie got involved in the middle of the serial killer case. That peaked my interest and I couldn't wait for the father to question what was going on with his son.

It's not quite the "edge of your seat" thriller as some books, even as it nears towards the end. But it's that feeling of HAVING to know what's going on that kept me going back and reading the book. And there's also an unexpected twist at the end that made this book pretty exciting.

Unlike a lot of thrillers that I've read, the romance is very light in this book. The focus mostly is on the relationship between Ben and the people around him, including his ex-wife, Ollie, and the people involved in the case. Ben is a sympathetic character, but I didn't quite root for him enough in the story, though. I really liked Imogen's character. I really connected with her and her passion for finding the killer and doing the right thing by her team and by the case made her very likeable.

I'd give this three and a half stars. It's worth reading, although a bit of a rocky start for me.

This is available on Amazon for pre-order (the book is not officially available for purchase until June 15, 2017). Purchase now.

It's actually not available to add to your book list on Goodreads but follow the author and check out some of his other books! Follow now.

I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

07 May 2017

Why I Keep a Blog (And How Hard it is to Keep One)

photo credit: Chaitanyabn Wheel via photopin (license)

While I'm waiting for Instacart to finish my grocery order, I decided to peruse the blogs I'm following. I'll be honest, it's been a tremendously long time since I've read other people's blogs. Not so much for selfish reasons, but I've been under a lot of stress these past few years and it's just not on my mind to read blogs. I do keep up my own as much as I can! So that's something.

Yet, when I started looking for new posts to read, I was so surprised to see that the first handful of blogs I checked out either didn't exist anymore or hadn't been updated in over 6 months or more.

And you know, I totally get it. It's hard to maintain a blog. First, you need stuff to say. And if life isn't going your way or if you under a LOT of stress. It's VERY hard to think of new things to say. And that's putting it lightly.

Then if you don't have anyone reading it or commenting, it's even harder to keep a blog up.

But for me, I've kept mine up. Why? I don't know. I can't let it go. It's not grown where I have envisioned it would. And it's not taking me where I thought I would go with it (I don't think they'd make a movie of my blog heh heh). Yet, it's a space.  A potential platform to share my thoughts with the blogiverse, even if it's a few small planets around me.

Today, I dusted off my blog and just wanted to write something a bit outside of my usual book review. Instacart is done shopping and now I'm off to prepare for Monday, as much as I don't want to. And my blog has a renewed feeling again. Now I want to go and see who's blog I can read and comment on.

It's hard to be a blog without a writer behind it. Sort of like an abandoned amusement park or something. So much potential, yet it won't go anywhere when there isn't someone to grow it.

29 April 2017

Don't Wake Up by Liz Lawler [Book Review]

I've never thought I'd be the kind to enjoy a "medical thriller." Funny enough, I hate going to the doctor, so why not read a book about a doctor seriously off their rocker? I was describing a "medical thriller" to a coworker and made her laugh because when she asked me what a medical thriller was, I said, "Well it's basically someone killing people in a doctor-y way." So as the winter came to and transitioning to spring, I read a book called, "Don't Wake Up" by Liz Lawler.

IMG Obtained from NetGalley

First, you meet this woman, Alex, who wakes up on - what she realizes - is an operating table. She has no idea what's going on except she obviously got hurt in some way. Waiting for the doctor to tell her what happened, she takes in her surroundings. The lights, the noises. Then when the doctor doesn't say a word - although she knows he's there - things go off track really fast. She realizes she got knocked over the head and she is in danger here.  When she's later found, and recovered, she tells the story of what happened. The mind boggling thing here is that no one believes her story. Everyone thinks it's because she got knocked in the head by some branch (she was found out in the parking lot amidst some storm wreckage). Not her fiance, not her coworkers, not her family. People just think she hallucinated some crime. The key thing here is that the reason they believe this is that she wasn't physically harmed in any way.

Alex is a doctor who works in the hospital where she has been treated, making this all the harder for her to be doubted and questioned. Yet, while Alex is striving to be believed, more crimes happen. Two women die. And then things really start to fall apart for Alex because now the police are really suspicious.

There is so much going on in this thriller. To sound cliche, it will keep you in the edge of your seat. Alex is a strong, but vulnerable and likable character. I appreciated the fact that she didn't ever doubt herself, but continued fighting for what she knew happened to her. I felt so sorry for her - and outraged - while everyone was doubting her experience. I thought Patrick, her fiance, was kind of a flat character and I really despised him for thinking this was in her head. In fact that was so unbelievably annoying that everyone thought this about the main character.

There are some plot holes, one I thought was kind of big, but it didn't sidetrack me too much (I don't want to give it away as it pertains to a key factor of the plot). Also if medical thrillers like this make you feel squeamish, I don't think you have to worry. I'm not into the blood guts and gore, I only had to skim past a couple of scenes that were a bit too vivid for my taste. Most of this takes place in a hospital, and I know some people really don't like hospitals, so if that's you, you may want to pass.

This isn't available until May 18th but you can pre-order this on Amazon today. And make sure to add this to GoodReads so you don't forget!

I received the above copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

25 April 2017

I Found You by Lisa Jewell [Book Review]

IMG Via Amazon
Oh this book you guys. It starts out with three different perspectives - Alice, Lily and Graham and his family from 1993. Alice meets a guy on the beach who has no idea who he is. He has amnesia. Being the kind to take in strangers, she invites him home to live in her rentable shed as he puts together his forgotten life (he refused to go to the police). Then you have Lily. Lily has a missing husband. He didn't come home from work that night. She's at a loss, because she doesn't know anyone in this new country and she begins to realize she knows very little about her husband. Then you have Graham. Graham is living in 1993 and is on holiday with his parents and little sister in this beach town (the very beach town that Alice will live in). Well, everything is all fine and normal until they meet Mark who takes a liking to Graham's little sister Kristy.

The connections in this story aren't as obvious as you may think. When I first started reading this book I thought, oh of course Alice found Lily's husband, right? Well I will let you figure this out by reading this, but the way this story weaves it's tale story captured me. It did take me a little bit to get used to the idea of three different perspectives (I am never a huge fan of that) but it worked out to be an exciting way to figure out what was going on. The connection between the past and the present and all of these families becomes even stronger as the thriller continues. I like each character for unique reasons - Alice, for her dysfunction; Lily for her desperate need for everything with her husband to turn out okay; and Graham for his youthful, but outright suspicion of this new stranger in his family's life.

I absolutely didn't expect what is to come in this story and I'm glad I didn't. I love when the story is a mystery towards the end. The vivid scene of this beach town is also real for the story and I felt like I could imagine the restaurants, the crowd, and the beach. I don't like giving away an ending and I won't of course but I was VERY satisfied with how things turned out. Endings matter a lot to me and this was a good one. I could easily see this made into a movie and I can't wait to see if that is the case.

If you are looking for a thriller to read during your holiday season, you should check this book out. It's now available on Amazon for purchase. Be sure to add it to your Good Reads list! 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

05 April 2017

The House by Simon Lelic - My Review


IMG Obtained from Net Galley


I just recently finished this really intense, unexpected thriller and I can't wait to tell you guys about it. Here is what the book is about -

Via NetGalley -

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?
Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake. Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door. And now the police are watching them...
My Review

When I started this book, I thought it would be a ghost story. Although you have some haunted characters, this isn't quite a ghost story. It starts out with the couple writing their stories about what has happened since they moved into their new house. Jack starts out focusing on the house and the discoveries he has made since they arrived. Following his initial reaction to the house, Sydney talks about this girl she befriends named Elsie.  This book is a close first person account about this couple's experience and at first it's as if you are privy to a private conversation and that is what makes this so unique.

One really incredible piece about this book is how you piece together what's going on in this couple's life.  I don't want to give anything away, but I will tell you that it's about how the past will catch up to the future. For any horror story or haunted house story fan, this book does remind us all - be wary of an old house with a great deal.

I'm also a fan of good endings and will never give the ending away, but I was highly pleased with house this story ended too. The only troubling part is Sydney goes over some abuse she handled as a kid by her father and that was almost too vivid and cruel for me to read. I actually had to skip through that.

I highly recommend this story and you will not regret reading it!

Right now it's going to be published later this year, so add this to your reading list on GoodReads.

GoodReads

You can also follow the author on Twitter too!

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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