Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!

First, I wanted to start by saying Happy New Year! Hope that everyone has a happy and healthy 2019.

I do want to apologize for being missing in action on this blog. My life has been a whirlwind for the past couple of months as I started a new job in November as a police dispatcher trainee. This involved several steps before actually getting hired. I've been classroom training for nine weeks. It's been challenging, but overall I've been enjoying it and discovering a passion for dispatching. I am hopeful that this is the start of a new career path for me, but anything can happen in the training period. We're graduating from the classroom training Friday and getting ready to start live training for a few months. I don't know where this will lead me, but I remain optimistic that it will take me far.

What this all means for this blog? Well, I'll be posting my plans for a blogging schedule for 2019 in a few days, as well as a 2018 review.


Friday, August 24, 2018

When God Calls a Writer (Deanne Welsh) Book Review

2018 Reading Challenge

6. When God Calls a Writer by Deanne Welsh

Is God calling you to write? Do you have a burning desire to write books and use words to inspire people and change the world?
When God Calls A Writer is a book about knowing that your desire to write is both a gift and a calling from God.
In When God Calls A Writer Deanne Welsh weaves the story of Moses with the story of a writer. Do you wonder if God is calling you to write, but you feel unqualified? What are the signs that God is calling you? Do you struggle to hear God's voice and guidance about your writing career? Are you eager for a powerful transformation in your faith and your writing?
Learn simple and strategic ways to allow God to connect with God, hear Him and allow Him to direct your writing journey.
Author Deanne Welsh shares her own story of insecurity and self-doubt and what it took for her to walk, first with doubt and then with confidence, into God's call for her to write. She gives you practical steps for listening to God and hearing His guidance, as well as the most important questions to ask as you begin your ministry-career of ideas, words, and stories.
By the end of this book you will have practical strategies to keep you focused, the specific questions to catapult your writing career forward, and the traits to develop and pay attention to for unstoppable writing success.
Your "yes" changes everything.

My Review:
I was interested in this book because I believe writing is one of my God-given talents.

This is a book aimed at Christian writers who believe that they are called to write. It gives encouragement if you don't believe you're suited for the job. The whole idea is to look to God to get through insecurities and any obstacles that stand in the way. With belief and faith in God, anything is possible. The book offers advice, tips, and exercises to find that faith in God and writing with Him will enable you to accomplish your call to write. It is short, but can be invaluable by writing with God, instead of without Him.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Roll with the Punches (Amy Gettinger) Book Review

2018 Reading Challenge

5. Roll With the Punches by Amy Gettinger

A rollicking, funny chick lit mystery/adventure, full of fun and light romance.
Falling is extra hard on tall people, like Rhonda Hamilton: the bone breakage, the bruises, the ignominy of it all. And Rhonda’s falling, hard. First, how in the heck can the latest novel published by a nationally bestselling author be a close twin to the manuscript Rhonda has just finished writing and has barely started marketing to agents? Plus, why is Dad suddenly acting so odd: storing milk in the garage and throwing away Rhonda’s clothes?
Some goofy roller derby girls add a bludgeon of crazy to Rhonda’s hunt for the book thief, and two drool-worthy guys offer to help with Dad—guys Rhonda would gladly fall for, if her life weren’t careening madly between Dad’s bizarre antics, some treacherous derby bouts, a wild burlesque fundraiser, and the odd mudslide and house demolition. Only one thing is sure: if she wants to nail the wily plagiarist and keep Dad safe, Rhonda had better stay up on her skates to avoid a very big fall.

My Review:
Roll With the Punches is the first book I read this year that I just didn't care for. What drawn me to this book was that Rhonda belonged to a writing critique group. She also gets involved with a roller derby league after she gets noticed roller skating around town. I thought that was different because there's not a lot of books or media out there about the roller derby sport. While I am not a fan of it, I do have a cousin who was on a roller derby league for a couple of years.

The majority of this book revolves around Rhonda trying to figure out who stole her manuscript and made a bestseller out of it. The only people she knows that could have done it was a member of her writing group and she goes on a mission to narrow it down one by one. In the midst of solving that mystery, Rhonda goes through some crazy adventures in not only the search for the person responsible, but also dealing with the antics of roller derby and her dad's odd behaviors. The story is filled with an eclectic bunch of characters, some good, some not so quite.

Roll With the Punches is based heavily on comedy, but it fell short in the overall department. One of the big things that bothered me is the way that Rhonda and her family dealt with her dad's obvious Alzheimer's disease. They acted oblivious and in denial even though it was laid out crystal clear several times, especially when it came to Rhonda. When everything in her life was not going well, Rhonda coped with it the way she normally would any hard situation - with laughter and satire - but it went over the top. There were some good moments, but the concept and plot just didn't work for me.

I'm ending this review with a quote from one of the characters. It's actually said by the doctor who diagnoses the Alzheimer's.

"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, we roast it with orange sauce."

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Dog's Journey (W. Bruce Cameron) Book Review

2018 Reading Challenge

4. A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

Buddy is a good dog.
After searching for his purpose through several eventful lives, Buddy is sure that he has found and fulfilled it. Yet as he watches curious baby Clarity get into dangerous mischief, he is certain that this little girl is very much in need of a dog of her own.
When Buddy is reborn, he realizes that he has a new destiny. He's overjoyed when he is adopted by Clarity, now a vibrant but troubled teenager. When they are suddenly separated, Buddy despairs―who will take care of his girl?
A charming and heartwarming story of hope, love, and unending devotion, A Dog's Journey asks the question: Do we really take care of our pets, or do they take care of us? More than just another endearing dog tale, A Dog's Journey is the moving story of unwavering loyalty and a love that crosses all barriers.

My Review:
A Dog's Journey is the sequel to A Dog's Purpose. You can read my review of A Dog's Purpose here. Both books are considered to be stand alone novels, but my advice is to read them in order. You'll be able to understand the characters better and how most of them are related.

In A Dog's Purpose, the dog portrayed was known most as Bailey, even though the dog goes through name changes throughout both books. With this review, it's so hard to write without referring to the dog as Bailey. As Bailey and the dog's lives continue, so does the lives of the characters. Some of them featured in here are older versions of themselves.

The rest of the dog's lives are lived out in A Dog's Journey. It's surreal on how much the dog can remember from all his previous lives, from times when he was trained to detect cancer, where he lived, and his owners/families he lived with, especially Ethan and Clarity. He's not always treated with proper care and survives through some hard and tragic circumstances, all the while helping and protecting those who have loved him. He has a heart of gold and will always put them before himself.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I enjoyed A Dog's Journey better than A Dog's Purpose. I felt like all the hype and build up of A Dog's Purpose made it less underwhelming. In A Dog's Journey, the stories were more heart-wrenching, heart-breaking, and emotional in the way that it was delivered. Tears were shed more than once (especially at the ending) and I guarantee that anyone who reads this book will shed tears as well.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Dog's Purpose (W. Bruce Cameron) Book Review

2018 Reading Challenge

3. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
   Prompt: book you meant to read in 2017

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog's search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here?
Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey's search for his new life's meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey's journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose?
Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

My Review:
Almost everyone is familiar with the saying that a cat has nine lives. The same sort of thing goes on in this story and its sequel. The story is told from the perspective of a dog living out its lives (different dog, but same soul each time it is reborn). Some of his lives are shorter than others, as well as some owners are better than others. In this story, he portrays four lives, but the majority of the time, he's known as Bailey.

A Dog's Purpose is a heart-felt tale about man's best friend. It dwells on the love, loyalty, and affection a dog has for his owner(s). He searches for his purpose in life, as humans do, and discovers that  I really do believe that people are put in our lives for a reason and maybe dogs are too. I loved how the author really dug into the mind of a dog to somewhat discover what dogs feel and how they respond to the world around them.

This book is perfect for anybody, young or old, whether you have a dog or not. It goes through the ups and downs of life, for people and dogs alike. It can be emotional at times, but shows how love persists through anything. I like how the author intertwined the owner's lives, as they age, etc. This is more evident in the sequel, A Dog's Journey, which just happens to be the next book review I'm doing.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Writing Update

Writing Plans for July: Camp NaNoWriMo

I recently signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo for July. If anyone is unfamiliar, it is a mini version of NaNoWriMo, held in November.

With NaNoWriMo, you are required to write 50,000 words. It doesn't mean that you'll necessarily reach that, like when I failed short to do so this past November.

In Camp NaNoWriMo, you can set your own writing goal, whether that be reaching a certain number of words or writing for a certain amount of time every day in July. I believe the Camp version is done a couple of times throughout the year in preparation for NaNoWriMo in November.

As of right now, my goal is to reach 25,000 words during the month of July. I am planning on working on a fiction novel, loosely titled The Widow in the Bookstore. I usually don't like to name something I write until I'm done. You know, I have never finished writing an actual novel before. I'm my worst critic and I usually scrap them because I never think it's good enough. I plan on changing that in July as that is my other goal: to finish writing a novel without stopping to edit it before it's done being written.

I will give daily updates here so you can follow along.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Tempting Taste of Danger (CeeCee James) Book Review

2018 Reading Challenge

2. The Tempting Taste of Danger by CeeCee James
    Prompt: book that takes place in a bookstore or library

The only thing worse than a noisy bookstore is patrons literally dying to get out.
Elise Pepper has landed her dream job at the Capture The Magic book store. Peace and quiet and thousands of books to herself – including a $2m first edition of Alice in Wonderland. What more could she ask for?
It can’t last of course. Her blissful solitude is rudely interrupted when someone turns the second floor of the building into a Down the Rabbit Hole-themed escape room.
But the noise is the least of her worries – what’s worse is the dead bank executive upstairs and the missing first edition. Now Elise is suspected of both theft and murder, even as the killer taunts her with Alice in Wonderland clues. Can she find out who did it before she takes the fall for the crime?

My Review:
A bookstore and an escape room. It sounds like the perfect place for a murder, right? Haha. I love to read, so naturally I fell in in love with a book that takes place somewhat in a book store. And while I have never been to an escape room, I've always liked the idea of them and really want to experience it. I like to solve mysteries and figure out puzzles, so it was another reason I was interested in this book.

Elise gets a job at a bookstore. It's the perfect job for her. Well, at least it is until an escape room is built on the floor upstairs. She isn't a fan of the whole idea. When someone winds up dead in the escape room on the first day it opens and a first edition book goes missing from the book store, Elise knows there's more to the story. It's up to her to prove her innocence as she's the only person who's at the store the most.  This part reminds me of the murder mystery movie series, Murder, She Baked, on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel starring Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison. Alison's character works at a cookie shop and is the one who becomes the murder suspect, as she finds the murder victims. The Tempting Taste of Danger will leave you guessing until the end. Some of the supporting characters were just okay, but there were also some good ones. Overall, I was impressed with how the story turned out.

The theme of The Tempting Taste of Danger is Alice in Wonderland. The book store possesses a first edition copy of Alice in Wonderland, the escape room is based on the book, and the murderer leaves clues with references to the book as well. It was a good concept and it was nice to relive the children's classic with some twists and turns along the way. Even if you aren't a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, you will still enjoy reading this.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!