Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Final Justice Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

34. Final Justice by W. E. B. Griffin
      Theme/Topic: book that takes place in your hometown

Newly promoted to sergeant, Philadelphia detective Matt Payne finds himself in the middle of three assignments at once: trying to nail down a cop killer, a serial rapist, and a murderer who fled to France 20 years ago. It's enough to burn out any cop. But Payne's not just any cop. And he's about to show the bad guys that there's no place they can hide from him-or from justice.

My Review:
This is book eight in a series. I did not realize it was part of a series until after I started to read it. Regardless, the story pretty much tells you what happened before. Those parts did get a little long, though, which prevented the actual story from moving forward. I would have preferred the background story in those instances to be more condensed.

Matt is good at what he does and is driven in pursuing the criminals he's after no matter what it takes. And then there's the seniority ones who are worried that Matt is only getting promotions because of his dad, who happened to be a cop as well. They are rightful to think that Matt doesn't have as much experience as he's younger. Then again, Matt seems very capable and knowledgeable about police procedures and everything like that.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Play Dead Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

33. Play Dead by Leslie O'Kane
      Theme/Topic: book based entirely on its cover

Meet Allie Babcock, an intrepid dog therapist with a knack for sleuthing. After Allie Babcock sets up shop in Boulder, her first client is a despondent collie whose previous owner apparently took her own life. But Allie soon suspects murder--and figures her canine client was a witness to the crime. Allie is quickly on the case when a second murder stops her investigation. Before making another move, she counts her enemies: several suspicious dog owners, a violent boyfriend demanding vengeance, and a mysterious door-to-door salesman with a bizarre story to tell. One thing's for certain: All of them deserve a serious once-over--or Allie's own life may be brought to a heel.

My Review:
A great read and mystery involving dogs. It had an assortment of odd characters but made the story unique. Allie is someone who's genuinely great with dogs. I appreciated that one of the characters was afraid of dogs. That hits close to home as I am actually afraid of dogs myself. Without going into too much detail, something happened when I was a child around 8 I think and I haven't been able to get over the fear. Don't get me wrong, though. I happen to like dogs, I just can't stand to be around them and somehow tolerate them when I have no choice but to.

Q: What's your favorite type/breed of dog?
A: My favorite breed is either a golden retriever or a husky.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Irish Country Doctor Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

32. An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor
      Theme/Topic: book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit (Ireland)

Barry Laverty, M.B., can barely find the Northern Ireland village of Ballybucklebo on a map when he first sets out to seek gainful employment there. But Barry jumps at the chance to secure a position as an assistant in a small rural practice. At least until he meets Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. The older physician has his own way of doing things. At first, Barry can't decide if the pugnacious O'Reilly is the biggest charlatan he has ever met or the best teacher he could ever hope for. Through O'Reilly, Barry soon gets to know all of the village's colourful and endearing residents and a host of other eccentric characters who make every day an education for the inexperienced young doctor. Ballybucklebo is a long way from Belfast, and Barry is quick to discover that he still has a lot to learn about country life. But with pluck and compassion, and only the slightest touch of blarney, he will find out more about life--and love--than he ever imagined back in medical school.

My Review:
This was a great and entertaining as well. I thought Fingal was hardcore and abrasive at first. Although, I have to say that I liked how he had a rough exterior, but passionate on the inside. There's nothing wrong with being that way, especially with doctors in a way, because I'm sure that they've seen it all. I enjoyed the relationship between an experienced older doctor (Fingal) and a fresh young doctor (Barry). Most young doctors can act like hotshots, but Barry didn't come across that way. Barry seemed to be very passionate about his line of work. He offered up a new perspective in Fingal's office (and house visits) and able to pick up on things if it just happened to be overlooked by Fingal. It was interesting getting to know the people of Ballybucklebo.

It's no secret that An Irish Country Doctor takes place in Ireland. I have always liked to travel and see new places. There are a lot of places that I would like to visit, but Ireland is at the top of my list. I am Irish on my mother's side and that's one of my reasons I want to visit Ireland. I've always heard and seen that Ireland's such a lovely country.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Finding Margo Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

31. Finding Margo by Susanne O'Leary
      Theme/Topic: book set in a different county (France)

When Margo misreads a roadmap while travelling by car through France, her husband Alan flies into one of his usual rages. Tired of his constant bad moods, Margo slips away from him at a motorway café. She hitches a lift with a woman truck driver and escapes into the French countryside. What follows is adventure and romance far beyond her wildest dreams. Will Alan find her before she finds herself? 

My Review:
I struggled with this review because even though I didn't particularly enjoy the book, there was something to take away from it.

While at a motorway café (service plaza kind of thing), Margo essentially reaches her breaking point and decides to leave her abusive (emotional/mental as supposed to physical) husband. She leaves everything behind except the clothes on her back and starts a whole new life. That makes this book a coming of age journey in that sense.

Here's the thing. I didn't like the way she left him. If that was me, I would have told him straightforward that I wanted out of the marriage and moved out of the house. And then proceed with a divorce. I tend to think that couples get divorced over the littlest things, instead of trying to work it our first through counseling or some other way. Not to mention that she ends up falling for another guy who is pretty much the same type of person as Alan. To me, the story lacked that special something and lacked interest.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


It's Christmas Time; Sunday Funday

It's Christmas Time

Christmas is a few days away. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year for many reasons. Through the years, I have a lot of fond memories of the holiday season. Growing up, my family always started out Christmas day by going to Church first. After eating breakfast and sometimes waiting for my dad to get there, it was finally time to open up gifts from Santa and of course, my parents. My parents got divorced when I was little and even though my brother and I lived with our mom, we still got to see dad practically every day, even if for a few hours. I think they wanted us to have a normal life as possible, so things were a little bit different in our case. After we opened our gifts, we could play for a little while. In the afternoon (or at night), it was time to go to grandma's. Of course, there were more gifts to open. All the grandchildren would have a stocking overflowing with all kinds of things, including fruit. However, we also got to spend time with our aunts, uncles and cousins and just have a lot of fun.

My one aunt threw a Christmas party every year for the entire family. Usually held between Christmas and New Year's, it was one of the times that everybody came together. Obviously, my aunt had a gift for every great niece and nephew (since I'm talking about my generation). When we were young, our parents would actually get a gift and then act like it came from my aunt. That way, each of us kids got what we wanted. After reaching a certain age, my aunt would give us money each year until we would get married. When it came to opening gifts, we had to go in order from youngest to oldest. Every year, without fail, my aunt would mess my birthday/age with my cousin Brian. We were both born in the same year, but he was born a couple months later than me, making him younger.

Christmas Tag Time

1. What is your favorite Christmas movie? There's so many, so I'm just going to name a few: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; Elf; White Christmas; Christmas in Connecticut; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Miracle on 34th Street (the original one); Smoky Mountain Christmas. Also Timmy's Gift, a Precious Moments Christmas movie, and Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,

2. Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning growing up, but now it's in the afternoon when family comes over.

3. Favorite Christmas memory? Mentioned that above before starting this tag.

4. Favorite festive food? It's not really festive, but we make pumpkin bread and cranberry bread for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I would say that.

5. Favorite Christmas gift? It would be a few years ago when I got a kindle. I love to read and wasn't expecting that. I believe it was also the first Christmas without my grandma and getting something big like that made me feel special.

6. Favorite Christmas scent? The smell of the Christmas tree, but I'm also allergic to that so it goes both ways.

7. Do you have any Christmas traditions? Not really, just that it's family time.

8. What tops your tree? angel

9. As a kid, what was the one gift you always asked for, but never received? I don't know, but I've always been happy with what I've gotten.

10. What's the best part about Christmas for you? Just spending time with my family. Christmas is also my cousin's birthday so it's always been special to us.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite Christmas song?
Answer: I have a few, but most definitely O Holy Night; Believe by Josh Groban; My Grown Up Christmas List; and Not Far Apart by Ryan Kelly - it's a song about knowing that our loved ones who have died are always with us and watching us from heaven and they're not far apart from us.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 18, 2015

The Fault in Our Stars Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

30. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
      Theme/Topic: book that made you cry

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

My Review:
I have now read this for the third time, but it fit the particular topic/theme. Geared to teens and young adults, I believe that this is the kind of book that adults can get something out of as well - The Fault in Our Stars has been listed as a young adult book that adults should read (according to Goodreads) or something similar to that. This is an example of a typical teen love story. The only difference is that they have cancer. Anybody, no matter what, deserves  to have fun and fall in love. I believe that this story represents how everyone should have an outlet to help them get through the hard times like a favorite book/author like Hazel or video games like Gus and Isaac.

Since I chose The Fault in Our Stars as the book that made me cry, I'm going to elaborate on the moments that have done exactly that. I'm going to list three examples. For the most part, they are going to be from the first time I read this (so you can get a true reaction/fresh perspective). If you haven't read this yet or seen the movie, consider yourself warned.

Spoiler Alert Warning - Spoiler Alert Warning

  1. When Gus dies. This is one moment that gets me every time. When I read this the first time, I actually never saw that coming.
  2. When Gus asks Hazel and Isaac to write an obituary for him and when they read it at the church to Gus. I can understand that Gus wants to know what they think about how he affected their lives. You don't think that somebody will ask you to write an eulogy before they die. It bothered me more when Hazel read hers.
  3. When Gus told Hazel that his cancer came back. Looking back onto it, I can say I saw it coming. To me, that moment is the turning point of the story. Since this book is based on characters with cancer, I figured that someone would die (in particular Hazel). When Gus said that he "lit up like a Christmas tree", I wasn't expecting that.
I want to mention that I have currently read 38 books so far and am close to finishing two more at the moment.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I'm Back, Announcements

First and foremost, I wanted to apologize for not blogging/posting for a few weeks. In November, I lost two family members within ten days, with the second one being right before Thanksgiving. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had to pack and go out of town for the funeral that Monday. That week was really strange for me as we left on Saturday, had the viewing Sunday, the funeral Monday, left Monday night to come back home and got back home early Tuesday morning. It's a roughly seven hour trip. Anyway, everything left me exhausted the rest of the week.  Both deaths have been affecting me more than I thought they would and have made me examine my life like never before.

With that being said, I will be going back to my normal posting schedule next week. Before then, I may do a couple book reviews. I will not be posting on Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

My new blog will definitely be up in January. More details to come at the beginning of January.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Paranormal Public Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

29. Paranormal Public by Maddy Edwards
      Theme/Topic: book with magic

There is no such thing as a mage. There is certainly no such thing as a vampire, pixie, werewolf, or fallen angel. And they certainly do not all attend a college together called Paranormal Public University. One minute Charlotte Rollins is a normal girl about to go to a normal college. She is at once excited and nervous, getting ready to start this new phase in her life. The next minute she is a freshman not at a normal college, but at Paranormal Public University, a school where paranormals of all kinds must co-exist. Charlotte must learn magic, that is, if she could actually do magic, which unlike every other mage at Public she can’t seem to manage. Her transition to this new and wonderful world is difficult. On top of trying to learn magic, make new friends, and confront forbidden love, the archenemy of the paranormals, the demons, are getting stronger. They are looking for something. It turns out that Charlotte might just hold the key to finding it. Can Charlotte get a handle on her powers in time to save the school she loves? Can she fulfill a destiny the paranormals scarcely dared to hope for? Or will she be too late?

My Review:
I thought it got off to a bit of slow start, but it did get better as it went along. Since this is a book about magic, I only found what happened to Charlotte in the beginning was strange (right before and as she was taken away to the paranormal university).

I did appreciate how the five dorms were explained: Airlee being for mages, dream givers and werewolves; Cruor being for vampires; Aurora being for fallen angels; Volans being for pixies; and Astra being for elementals. What I particularly didn't like was how they weren't really allowed to get along with people from the other dorms/houses (or the whole my house/dorm is better than yours type of vibe) besides their own - it was too cliqueish and high school like for me. I personally don't like cliques, but it definitely shouldn't be any of that in college/university - you would think the people would have matured in that area by then.

This was the kind of book in which you knew what was going on before the characters did. For instance, I knew Charlotte was an elemental long before she did. I had figured it out when she had the strange experience in Astra the first she had to clean it. It did take me a bit longer to realize that the president was behind everything. I felt bad for Lisabelle who took the blame for it all (by way of the president).

Of course, all the houses/dorms had to come together at the end to save the university. Most of the trouble could have been avoided if they all got along from the get-go though.

There were a lot of similarities with Harry Potter. Since I am a Harry Potter fan, this book didn't live up to my expectation that I had going into reading this. It was kind of a letdown for me. Although the story did have its moments, it wasn't good enough for me to want to continue reading the rest of the series.

Note: I will not be posting for a few days after this because I have to go out of town for a funeral. If I feel up to it, I will try to post on Wednesday and if not, it will be Thursday.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oceans Apart Book Review

Writing Tuesday

I have decided to do book reviews occasionally on Writing Tuesdays.

2015 Reading Challenge

28. Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
      Theme/Topic: book you own/have but never read

Airline pilot Connor Evans and his wife, Michele, seem to be the perfect couple living what looks like a perfect life. Then a plane goes down in the Pacific Ocean. One of the casualties is Kiahna Siefert, a flight attendant Connor knew well. Too well. Kiahna’s will is very clear: before her seven-year-old son, Max, can be turned over to the state, he must spend the summer with the father he’s never met, the father who doesn’t know he exists: Connor Evans. Now will the presence of one lonely child and the truth he represents destroy Connor’s family ? Or is it possible that healing and hope might come in the shape of a seven-year-old boy?

My Review:
I had been struggling to write a review without using spoilers. I usually try not to use spoilers or give it all away in my reviews because I feel like that ruins the fun and joy of reading.

Mistakes happen and no one is perfect and that's what happens with Kiahna and Connor. They have basically a one-night stand when they know they shouldn't have. I can respect Kiahna's decision not to tell Connor about Max because she didn't want to destroy Connor and Michele's marriage. At the same time, I don't think it's right to not let someone know they have a child - I mean it wasn't that Connor was a bad father or would have been a bad father, it was just the circumstances that made it harder.

Michele's reaction was typical. I could definitely understand where she was coming from, despite how annoyed and frustrated I was at her throughout the story for different reasons, especially for not even wanting to hear Connor's side of the story. I know Michele would come around in the end, but also knew that they had to go through what they did to make that happen (like sending Max back. The only thing I really disliked was the way Michele tried to dissuade their daughters, Elizabeth and Susan, from getting to know Max. I feel that they should have been able to make their own decision from the beginning.

Throughout the story, I really liked how every situation taking place was explained to Max in a way that he was able to understand. Max was a strong little boy, who was able to deal with it all in his own way, without pressure to talk to anyone about how he was feeling unless he wanted to or was ready to. I feel that it was all handled well.

Oceans Apart is a prime example that everything can work out in the end, but it just takes time to get there.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Being Thankful

Sunday Funday - Thanksgiving Edition

I haven't posted much over the past week and a half due to family issues. On November 14, we found out that my Uncle John died after a long battle with cancer. We only knew a couple days ahead that he wasn't doing that well. That came as a shock as he always took care of himself and was health conscious. But, unfortunately, eating healthy and staying active doesn't prevent someone from getting an illness such as cancer. My uncle was 71 and the eldest brother of my father - my dad is the youngest of five, although sadly only two siblings are remaining. I was closer to my uncle when I was younger and even though I wasn't as close to him in recent years, his death came as a surprise to me and kind of threw me for a curve. You don't necessarily know how you're going to react to something (in this case losing a loved one) and honestly, I didn't really know how to react to this news. Regardless, we are all saddened by the loss of my uncle, but we are hanging in there. There was a memorial service yesterday in his state of residence that I couldn't attend, but in a couple of weeks, there's going to be another one where I and much of the family lives.

Enough of this, though.

Thanksgiving is in a few days in the US and it's a time to be thankful for what you have.

I've always said and believe that family comes first. I wouldn't know where I would be without my family and that's what I'm most thankful for. In light of what we are currently through, I am more thankful and grateful for my family. No family is perfect and mine's no different. There's been sort of a divide going on for quite awhile (extended family) and even though we may not always agree with each other, we're still family and nothing will change that. I'm still hoping that all of us can manage to move on and unite back together as a whole. If there's one thing that I could ask, it would be to really treasure the time you have with your family because you don't know how long you have with them. Yes, things happens and you may not always stay as close as you once were to certain members or there's disagreements over certain things and it breaks you apart from them, but after some time, try to agree to disagree and move on. If that does happen, things may not be the same but staying in contact and touch with all family members is something to be proud of. It seems when a generation starts dying off, the glue that bonded everyone together dissolves and it gets harder and harder to stay connected in a way. If we work at it, it is possible to maintain a solid relationship with your family.

Other than my family, I have lots to be thankful for. Here are just a few examples:

1. God - without Him, nothing is possible
2. Friends
3. Good health
4. That my heart condition is under control
5. Music - without it, I couldn't have made it through some tough times
6. Writing - I believe it's a God given talent to me and wouldn't have it any other way
7. Books - they allow me to escape into my own world and go places I never thought possible

Most of all, I'm thankful that I'm alive. It may not always be easy, but as long as I have what I need, I'm good. It's as simple as that.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that there are always other people less fortunate than you are, so be thankful for what you have.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Carnival of Souls Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

27. Carnival of Souls by Jazan Wild
      Theme/Topic: a graphic novel

A story that takes you back centuries ago to climb aboard the first ever Ferris Wheel. Fasten yourself into the first ever rollercoaster, as you ride through time and help Jexter The Clown, collect the oddest of oddities, the most freakish of freaks, and the grandest performers ever to perform under the big-top! This dark caravan of misfits needs just one thing to complete the show fantastical...you!

My Review:
To get this out of the way, I usually don't read graphic novels. That means that this book just wasn't my cup of tea.

The Carnival of Souls is exactly what it says - stories about the souls of dead people who apparently own a carnival. Saying that, this book was just okay. Some of the characters' stories were okay, some were not. The parts I disliked the most were what I am calling the poetry parts. I'm sure there's a name for them, but I can't think of it. It's basically when a clown/someone is telling a joke or introducing the next act in a poetry kind of way. I found them to be lame.

If you're into graphic novels, comics or anime, you would probably enjoy this book. 

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

More Than Friends Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

26. More Than Friends by Katherine Spencer
      Theme/Topic: a book you can finish in a day

When Grace Stanley’s older brother, Matt, died in a car accident, she wanted to die, too. But she’s slowly finding her way again, with the help of her mysterious new friend, Philomena--who always seems to show up when Grace needs her most. If only Jackson, Matt’s best friend, had a Philomena of his own. He’s fallen into some very bad habits--at the same time that Grace is falling for him.

My Review:
I randomly picked this book up one time when I was at jury duty and I was a little bored. I figured it would be perfect to finally read it for a book to finish in a day.

It's the story of a teenager, Grace,  going through a hard time after her brother unexpectedly dies. With the help of a guardian angel, Philomena, things start to get better and she is able to turn her life around. It was like she was given a second chance. It's an issue that someone could be experiencing firsthand when they're reading it.

This book is geared toward teen (although truth be told, I didn't realize that when I picked it up), but can also be good for tweens as well. Most of us are tweens/teens when we first lose someone we love, whether a family member or maybe even a best friend. If you haven't experienced a death before your twenties, you're probably one of the lucky ones.

I had been through a few deaths in my family by the time I was a teen. Saying that, though, I was fourteen when I first experienced a significant loss with the death of an uncle in 2001. It finally seemed real to me, that no one lives forever. Three grandparents died when I was really little and I don't remember it at all. The first funeral I remember attending was for an uncle when I was only six. I didn't really understand what was going on. As time went on, I started realizing what it all meant. When my uncle died suddenly in 2001, I definitely wasn't prepared for that to happen. What made it worse was that he died right before Christmas, making the funeral and burial take place right after Christmas. It was one of the hardest times I've been through. I was all over the place with my emotions, but it ended up being quite a learning experience for me, as it can be for anybody.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Anna Karenina Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

25. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
      Topic/Theme: a book published more than 100 years ago (1877)

In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together.

My Review:
Anna Karenina is one of the best classics I have read. The relationship between Anna and Vronsky was good, but Kitty and Levin's was more compelling, more realistic in a way.  Kitty and Levin had their problems like couples do in the first year of marriage, but always managed to work them out.

Anna and Vronsky had their issues as well, more on Anna's part, but didn't really solve anything. While they did seem to love each other at times, there were also times when they couldn't tolerate each other. I get that things were more complicated because Anna was still married, but I think it could have been handled better at times by both parties. I don't think much would have changed if they had gotten married. Anna always wanted to be in control and while she did seem to forgive Vronsky after an argument, she ended up hurting him, making him pay. I did really wish that Anna and Vronsky would have been able to have worked it all out in the end and gotten married, but that didn't happen. The one thing that surprised me was Anna committing suicide at the end. I wasn't expecting that at all, didn't see it coming. I'm putting myself out there when I say this, but I really felt that Anna had a mental illness or something. If everyday people can have mental disorders, so can a character in a book. 

Alexei Karenin frustrated me when it came to the whole divorce thing. I was actually surprised that he didn't want to leave Anna when he learned of her affair, but then I realized that things were different back then. Divorce, for whatever reason, was unheard of. It was odd that he agreed that she could keep seeing Vronsky as long as she didn't see him in their home. When Anna moves away with Vronsky, Karenin told her that he would divorce her if that's what she wanted. However, he agrees to divorce Anna only if he gets custody of their son, as a way to hurt her, get her back for the affair, even if he didn't have a good relationship with him. I agree with him in that he stood up for his Christian values, but surely there can be extenuating circumstances. I don't agree with him in that he relied on the so called advice/opinion of another person to make the choice of divorcing Anna for him. In my opinion, they should have gotten divorced, but to have shared custody of their son. Would have getting a divorce made things easier for Anna and Vronsky? I don't necessarily think so.

My only other issue is with Stepan and Dolly. For them, I wish they would have been able to come more to common ground at some points. While they would make up with each other, I think they would have been better off if they just made compromises.

To end this, Anna Karenina was a great book. I was able to get really engrossed in the characters, especially with Kitty and Levin and Anna's situation as a whole. I guess I only wished that there would have been at least one perfect couple, but that's not realistic. Marriages may not always be easy and there's no such thing as a perfect couple. Sometimes a marriage works out and sometimes it doesn't and that's okay too. 

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Quick Announcements

Instead of my usual Writing Tuesday post, I'm doing a couple announcements.

1. My Author Spotlight posts will be done on Fridays. Thursdays just weren't working out.

2. I'm open to ideas for what to write about for writing Tuesdays. Let me know of any suggestions in the comments.

3. My new blog will be up either in December or January. I'm working on a writing series for the first couple posts and since it's personal, it's taking a little bit longer.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Starlight Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

24. Starlight by Debbie Macomber
      Theme/Topic: a popular author's first book

At a magical Christmas fete, Karen McAlister meets a man she cannot ignore—the first man to interest her in a long while. Before she laid eyes on Rand Prescott, Karen would have said her life was complete and content . . . much to the dismay of her widowed father, who would love to see her married and settled. But everything changed that enchanted night: The stars, the moonlight, the music, and the champagne all conspired to throw two people together. But the fates are determined to pull them apart. Long ago, Rand Prescott erected a steel façade around his heart. He never had any intention of maintaining any kind of relationship with a woman. Independent, proud, and nearly blind, Rand felt he had no capacity to return a woman’s love. But that was before he met Karen. In one night, she shattered all of his preconceived ideas about romance and threatened to break through his walls. Rand is convinced that Karen deserves better than the love of a blind man. Can he ever accept this beguiling woman into his life—and into his soul?

My Review:
As Debbie Macomber's one of my all-time favorite authors, this book was good. Like I recently wrote about, a writer gets better with each book (this goes for any craft/career). I find this to be true of any great author or any writer for that matter. What I like about Debbie Macomber (and just like fellow writer Karen Kingsbury) is that she keeps it real. Both authors manage to write about everyday issues in a believable way, if that makes sense.

In Starlight, there's Rand who's guarded and put up a wall so thick that no one can get in. And then there's Karen, who falls in love at first sight, but has some doubts. Disabilities, like Rand being almost completely blind, can hinder relationships in that they may not necessarily believe or think that normal people will accept them for who they are. I can understand Rand keeping his guard up, especially about having children (valid fears in his case). He did come across as being too mean at times, although I did appreciate him coming around in the end. Even though, I'm not married yet, this novel represented what happens in the first year of marriage filled with doubts and getting adjusted to living together - issues of course that get straightened out with time.

I personally enjoyed Matthew's character and role. This was a man who knew his health was declining and wanted both of his daughters to be married and happy. With Karen, Matthew just wanted to have a granddaughter. He played a great supporting role who did whatever it took so Karen (along with her sister) would be able to live and thrive if something happened to him.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Friday, November 6, 2015

Luanne Rice, Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight

Luanne Rice

  1. American author of 31 novels
  2. Five novels have been made into TV movies
  3. Those are: Follow the Stars Home; Silver Bells; Beach Girls; Blue Moon; and Crazy in Love
  4. First published a poem when she was 11
  5. First published a short story at 15
  6. Mostly writes about nature and the sea
  7. Has had work featured at Hartford Stage and Geffen Playhouse
  8. Also featured in some off-Broadway theatre productions
I have read some of her novels. The first one, and also the one I like the most, I read was Follow the Stars Home.

If you have read any of Luanne Rice's novels, which one(s) is your favorite?

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Emma Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

23. Emma by Jane Austen
      Theme/Topic: a classic romance

Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protege Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

My Review:
Emma Woodhouse is independent and knows what she wants (or doesn't want). As a female myself, I respect that in any woman. However, in this case, there's a downside. Time and time again, she doesn't like to admit when she's wrong, especially with Harriet as she attempts to find a match. I respect tht Emma stays true to what she believes in, but there are times when it's necessary to admit when you've made a mistake or even see/understand the other side of things. I found Emma and Mr. knightley's spats to be interesting as each would have valid points. They end up loving each other even though they don't always agree on certain things. As a  whole, Emma was just okay.    

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Just Keep Writing; Writing Tuesday

It's time for another Writing Tuesday.

This is for anyone who wants to be a writer. My advice is to just keep writing (thanks to Debbie Macomber for sharing this). Follow your passion and go after the dream of becoming a writer. No matter what your passion is, the only way to get better is to keep doing it - in this case, writing. Writing is the only field that age doesn't matter and it's never too late to write a book. You can get published at any age - from kids and teens up to the elderly. Don't ever give up in chasing your dreams.

Image Source: Sewanne School of Letters
Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Fun

Sunday Funday

Yesterday was Halloween, so I figured I would do a Halloween tag.

Please note that I'm not a huge fan of horror movies and while I like Halloween, I'm not too crazy about it - I, for one, don't believe it's an official holiday.

1) What’s your favorite horror movie?
~ never seen a horror movie (I've seen Frankenstein, but it wasn't scary so it doesn't count)

2) If you were in a horror movie, how far do you think you would get? (Five minutes, halfway, all the way to the end credits…?)
~ halfway, maybe???

3) Favorite scary video game?
~ don't play scary video games

4) Favorite scary story?
~ don't know

5) What’s one unusual thing that you’re afraid of?
~ dogs - while I actually do like dogs in general, I'm not big on being around them due to an incident that happened when I was about 8 or so

6) What’s your first memory of Halloween?
~ I don't know if this is technically my first memory, but I remember being excited to be in a neighborhood Halloween parade - just a parade/general walk where neighborhood kids could walk around showing off their costumes

7) What’s your favorite Halloween memory?
~ probably what I just said above

8) Best Halloween costume you’ve had?
~ Minnie Mouse

9) Worst Halloween costume you’ve had?
~ probably a bum - I was 10 or 11 and it was the last year that I wanted to go trick or treating, but it wasn't all what I expected to be

10) Werewolves or vampires?
~ werewolves

11) Ghosts or zombies?
~ zombies

12) Creepy dolls or creepy clowns?
~ clowns

13) Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers or Leatherface?
~ probably Krueger (who is Leatherface?)

The following are pictures of a few of my Halloween costumes - Ariel (I think), Minnie Mouse, and Cinderella.

Hope you had a happy and safe Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Bronte Trio

Author Spotlight

I have decided to start back doing this feature by choosing three authors in one: the Bronte sisters.

When we hear the name Bronte, two names come to mind: Charlotte and Emily. There's a tendency to forget or maybe not heard of the third sister, Anne, who was also a writer. The Bronte Sisters were British authors of both poetry and novels. They had a brother Branwell, as well as two older sisters who unfortunately died in childhood.

Facts about Charlotte Bronte:
~ Born on 4/21/1816 and died 3/31/1855
~ Eldest of the Bronte sisters
~ Originally published her works under the pen name, Currer Bell
~ Best known for Jane Eyre
~ Other novels are Shirley, Villette, and The Professor

Facts about Emily Bronte:
~ Born 7/30/1818 and died 12/19/1848
~ Used the pen name Ellis Bell
~ Only novel was Wuthering Heights
~ Wrote mostly poetry

Facts about Anne Bronte:
~ Born 1/17/1820 and died 5/28/1849
~ Youngest of the Bronte sisters and Bronte family
~ Wrote under the pen name Acton Bell
~ Published a volume of poetry with her sisters
~ Wrote two novels: Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Did You Know?
The Bronte sisters first wrote under male pennames but maintained their initials in them (as you can see above).

The Bronte Sisters: Charlotte, Anne and Emily

I personally have read both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I did like Wuthering Heights, but Jane Eyre not so much. Keep in mind that I had to read Jane Eyre for school as part of summer reading, either for freshman or sophomore year in high school.
Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Writing Tuesday: Too Much Said Going On

Writing Tuesday

Too Much Said:
From a writer's standpoint, I think we tend to use the word "said" too often and that also goes to everyone in general. I've probably been guilty of using said more often than not. For some of us, it might be hard to come up with other words for "said" and when I came across this, I thought it would be a good aide.

The Writer's Circle

I linked this to their Facebook page as that is where I saw this. For more information about The Writer's Circle Magazine, check out their website here.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Monday, October 19, 2015

Thirteen Reasons Why Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

22. Thirteen Reasons Why (aka Th1rteen R3asons Why) by Jay Asher
      Theme/Topic: book recommended by a friend

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

My Review:

*Possible spoiler alert*
Since this book was recommended by a friend, I didn't know what to expect. This is what I like about doing this particular reading challenge. As there are fifty different themes/topics to read, not every one is something that I would naturally read. I like that it takes me out of my comfort zone to read books that I necessarily wouldn't or maybe haven't heard of before. I had to come into reading this with an open mind.

Suicide is real. It's something that exists and is one of those things that can really affect each of us in the long run - meaning that each of us may possibly know someone who has taken their life someday. It seems that suicide is becoming more common nowadays, even if it doesn't always make the news. I have heard on more than one occasion where teens have chosen to end their life because they were different (like being gay for instance) or being bullied. Of course there are other reasons why people in general may commit suicide: some due to family problems or even due to mental illness and other reasons. No matter what the reason is, they shouldn't be judged for doing so. It's impossible to know what someone of any age is thinking or even going through right before they decide to end their life.

Despite some of the reasons listed in the above paragraph, sometimes we don't find out why someone did choose to end their life. That's kind of why I thought this book was well executed. It might be scary, or more-than-less freaky, to have been one of those thirteen people to have received the tapes. I can also see it as this: at least some people got to know the answer to their question, why did Hannah end her life? It goes to show how the choices that we make can affect others - even to the point of someone wanting to commit suicide.

Which brings me to this. I like how we got to read it from Clay's perspective, instead of one of the other twelve people. Clay didn't technically do something to make Hannah choose to commit suicide, but rather something he didn't do by just watching from the sidelines. If any of us sees something happen (like someone bullying another person for example) and we don't say anything, it's almost like we're the ones doing it as well. And that can hurt worse, like it did in the case with Clay and Hannah, although different circumstances than my example.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Thirteen Reasons Why. It's a deep read for anyone in general, including teens and young adults. We don't always know what our family and friends are going through. If you or any of your family and friends are considering suicide, find someone to talk to or by calling the suicide help line. If a friend tells you they want to end their life, take it seriously because you just don't know if they're telling the truth.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Coming Soon

Coming Soon....

A new blog.

I am pleased to announce that I am starting a new and separate blog. It will feature my own stories that I write (short stories that is). I am going to be starting out, though, with a writing series, a writing project that I'm very excited about.

It will be up and running soon.

In the meantime, this blog will still be active with both reading and writing aspects. And speaking of that, I will be resuming my normal posting schedule either this upcoming week or next week at the latest.

For a reminder, the schedule is:

Writing Tuesday
Author Spotlight Thursday
Sunday Funday

I also have three book reviews coming up.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Magnificent Ambersons Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

21. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
      Theme/Topic: a Pulitzer Prize winning book (1919)

The Magnificent Ambersons chronicles the changing fortunes of three generations of an American dynasty. The protagonist of Booth Tarkington's great historical drama is George Amberson Minafer, the spoiled and arrogant grandson of the founder of the family's magnificence. Eclipsed by a new breed of developers, financiers, and manufacturers, this pampered scion begins his gradual descent from the midwestern aristocracy to the working class.

My Review:
Even though this is considered to be a classic, I had never heard of it before. I simply googled what book won the Pulitzer Prize and came across The Magnificent Ambersons. When I found it was free in the Kindle store, I decided to choose this one to read.

However, just because I chose it doesn't mean I liked it. I ended up being disappointed in the novel unfortunately. I thought it actually started out with so much promise and potential. As the story went along, it started to slow down dramatically. Not to mention at times that it seemed like some information was unnecessary to the story in my opinion. George is nothing but a spoiled brat in the beginning as a child and he continues to essentially keep getting his way as he grows into adulthood. I didn't like that he sabotaged his mom's relationship with Lucy's dad. Regardless whether George like him or not, his mom does deserve to be happy and move on with her life after her husband dies.

The Magnificent Ambersons is a historical novel of a poignant time in social society of America, particularly in the Midwest. It works to prove how fortune can diminish as society grows, or in this case, how a town slowly turns into a city. And that fortune can't always get what you want (in George's case).

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Funday: Les Miserables Musical Version

Sunday Funday

Les Miserables Musical versus Book

Since I posted my Les Miserables Book Review yesterday, I wanted to expand on that by joining forces with the stage production/musical/film of the novel and showing you my favorite parts from the book in the musical and/or film form. It's going to be done in no particular order.

1. Michael Ball reprising his original role of Marius Pontmercy (London Original Cast) for the 10th Anniversary Concert

2. Confrontation between Jean Valjean and Javert; Original London Broadway Cast

3. Confrontation again, this time Hugh Jackman as Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert. This is from the movie version, but this actual video was while they were promoting it.

4. "Red and Black" - one of my favorite songs from the musical

5. "Bring Him Home" - Alfie Boe who's known for his role as Jean Valjean and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

6. "Finale" featuring the cast of the 2012 movie version

It was good to know where the songs came from after reading the book.

Hope you enjoyed some of my favorite parts of Les Miserables. It's one of my favorite musicals and I hope you check it out if you're interested.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Les Miserables Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

20. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
      Theme/Topic: book originally written in another language

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean - the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. In Les Misérables Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832.
Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope - an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.

My Review:
I've been a fan of the musical for several years. In addition, I took French for all four years in high school. It's only fitting that I chose Les Miserables since it was originally written in French.

I've wanted to read Les Miserables for awhile. When a musical and/or movie gets produced based on a book, I have a tendency to want to read that particular book to see what inspired them to transform that book into a stage production or movie. No matter what avenue is produced and developed, there are always parts that have to be taken out for whatever reason. Saying that, it's nice to read the book to get the full story.

Les Miserables is classified as a historicalfiction novel. It was good getting to know what about a period in France's history, which in this case includes the uprising/rebellion of 1832, an attempt of the republicans to overthrow the monarchy. Victor Hugo used the platform of writing Les Miserables to portray his criticism of the French political and judicial systems. He wrote elaborately, a bit too much at times in my opinion, about a time in French history that not everyone in other countries may know.

In every story written, there's a protagonist and an antagonist. In this story, Jean Valjean and Javert are exactly that. In my opinion, their focus and relentless determination in perceiving their respective roles are one of the best in literary history. You may not know this, but Jean Valjean is actually based on a French ex-convict Eugene Francois Vidocq, who went on to become a better person by becoming head of an undercover police unit and founded France's first private detective agency. Jean Valjean is a person who attempts to become a better person when he assumes the name of Monsieur Madeleine. He gets known for charitable and food deeds and then becomes mayor. Despite this, Jean Valjean can't seem to escape his criminal past and gets pursued relentlessly by Javert, who does everything in his power to capture Jean.

Jean Valjean is a perfect example of being someone with a criminal background trying to make a change once he gets out of prison. In reality, sometimes ex-offenders change for the better once they get done serving their sentence and sometimes they just don't or can't seem to escape that lifestyle. I felt that Jean did want to change and there were two specific moments that solidified that for me. Other than when he was monsieur le maire (mayor), the first time would be when he rescued Cosette from the Thenardiers and became her father figure. The second time would be when he rescued Marius and saved his life in a way because he knew Cosette was in love with him (Marius).

I'm going to end this with something that's not always known to the general public so to say. At the end of the novel, there's a paragraph/letter that Victor Hugo sent to his Italian publisher, in which he laid out his ambitions for Les Miserables (1):
I don't know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone. It addresses England as well as Spain, Italy as well as France, Germany as well as Ireland, the republics that harbour slaves as well as empires that have serfs. Social problems go beyond frontiers. Humankind's wounds, those huge sores that little the world, do not stop at the blue and red lines drawn on maps. Wherever men go in ignorance or despair, wherever women sell themselves for bread, wherever children lack a book to learn from or a warm hearth, Les Miserables knocks at the door and says: "open up, I am here for you".
 Victor Hugo also addresses the purpose of the novel in the preface (3):
So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.
Near the end of the novel, Victor goes on to address the work's overarching structure (2):
 The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details ... a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.
1. Behr, Complete Book, 39-42
2. Alexander Welsh, "Opening and Closing Les Misérables", in Harold Bloom, ed., Victor Hugo: Modern Critical Views (NY: Chelsea House, 1988), 155; Vol. 5, Book 1, Chapter 20
3. Sinclair, Upton (1915). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. Charles Rivers Editors. ISBN 978-1-247-96345-7.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Shining Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

19. The Shining by Stephen King
      Theme/Topic: book that scares you

Synopsis: Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

My Review:
First things first. Why did this book scare me? To be honest, all books by Stephen King has scared me. I've heard that his books are really scary, but most of my perspective of this came from what I've heard about the movie versions of some of his books. I am really not a fan of horror or thriller in general, whether in movies or books. After reading The Shining, I didn't find it to be as scary as I thought it would be and I actually ended up enjoying it for the most part.

The Torrance's seem like any other average family. They have their problems, like Jack's alcoholism (even though he stays sober after the time that he broke Danny's arm, he still struggles with wanting to drink), but manage to stick it out and make it work. The only difference is that Danny can see things in the future. For me personally, I wouldn't want to have that ability. Jack does whatever it takes to sustain his family, even if it means taking a job at a remote hotel in the mountains in winter. 

The hotel just happens to be haunted. When it comes to ghosts, I do believe in them only because I have had a few experiences. I don't, however, believe that ghosts want to cause any harm. I found that the things that went on were more strange than scary. Now obviously, for the sake of it being written as a thriller, Stephen King had to make the ghosts/spirits seem scary. For the movie version, more special effects can be incorporated to make it seem terrifying.

If anyone in general were to be stuck somewhere for a length of time with no one to really talk to, I'm sure their imaginations would run wild. At the end, I feel bad for Danny because he sees things and lives through things that no one should have to experience, let alone a five-year-old kid. I appreciate Jack's desire to do whatever it takes to make ends meet for his family, even though it drives him to madness and it doesn't end up as planned (if you have read the book, or seen the movie, you know what happens).

All in all, The Shining was a pretty decent book. To me, it seemed slow in the beginning, but once the ghosts started messing up things, it became more interesting.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Writing Personalities

Writing Tuesday

For something a little different today, I came across this on The Writer's Circle Facebook page and thought it would be fun to write about.

As a reader, I enjoy mysteries and romance books the best and that would make my personality EDBK.

From a writing standpoint, I'm most interested in writing children's books. As a writer, my writing personality would be closely related to SCBK and EDBP.

What is your writing personality?

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Patriot Games Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

18. Patriot Games by Tom Clancy
      Theme/Topic: book that came out the year you were born

From England to Ireland to America, an explosive wave of violence sweeps a CIA analyst and his family into the deadliest game of our time: international terrorism. An ultra-left-wing faction of the IRA has targeted the CIA man for his act of salvation in an assassination attempt. And now he must pay ... with his life.

My Review:
It took me a little bit of time before I could get into this book. Once I did, though, I was hooked. What I really liked about this was getting a glimpse into the lives of terrorist groups, as well as the CIA - for instance, (for terrorists) how they plan their attacks and ways to avoid getting caught and (for the CIA) how they try to figure out how to stay one step ahead of terrorists and possibly stop the attacks planned or how they plan to fight back if an attack were to occur.

What makes a hero? To me, heroes are anyone who save/help the lives of others or try their hardest to do whatever they can to make that happen. Obviously, I'm talking about firefighters, police officers, members of the armed services and doctors and nurses, etc. There are everyday heroes as well who may not wear an uniform, but perform heroic acts, just like Jack Ryan. He relied on his former training as a Marine to save the lives of members of a royal family.

My favorite characters other than the obvious (Jack of course) were Robby and Sally. Robby was just a great supporting character and Sally, Jack's daughter, may not have been a main character, but she was an integral part for Jack to keep going.

My only complaint would be this. I didn't understand why Jack's character was referred to as Jack and Ryan at the same time. It was confusing at first until I got used to seeing it.

While I was reading this book, a similar type of incident took place in Europe. I believe three American men thwarted a possible terrorist attack on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris by taking the suspect down. With that being said, terrorist attacks have been quite common all over the world, including one of the deadliest on US soil 14 years ago - 9/11. To me, I don't understand why anyone would want to attack and kill innocent people of all walks of life anywhere.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Funday: Back to School

Sunday Funday
It's that time of year again - back to school time. So I thought I would tell you some of my school memories since I'm personally not going back to school.
The first day of school. When I first started school as a kindergartner, I remember being so excited. My mom had been the kindergarten aide for the two years prior to mine (started with my brother's class) and I used to hang out there and I already knew the teacher. I was actually upset on my first day of kindergarten because I didn't start at the same time my brother did. He was in 2nd grade then and he started at 8, but that day, I didn't have to start until 9 or 10.
Subjects. In elementary school, I had liked math for several years, well up until 7th grade. In high school, my favorite classes were: English, French, Accounting and US History.
Teachers. Elementary school - Mrs. Zerumsky, my kindergarten teacher. High school - Ms. Kady, my French teacher and Ms. Boland, my English teacher for my freshman and junior years.
Sports/Activities. I wasn't allowed to play sports because of my heart condition, so that was out of the question. I did stage crew for all four years of high school for theatre shows and yes, I had to be there for every rehearsal. I also was co-copy editor and writer for my school's newspaper for two years, as well as being active all four years with CSC (Community Service Corps).


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Author Spotlight: Tom Clancy

Author Spotlight

Tom Clancy

Getting to know Tom Clancy:
  1. American novelist who died in 2013
  2. Known for espionage and military science storylines set during & after the Cold War
  3. Seventeen bestsellers
  4. More than 100 million copies in print
  5. Four books that were made into movies: The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears.
Fun Fact:
     ~He was a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Writing Tuesday: 40 Rules for Writing Good

Writing Tuesday

40 Rules for Writing Good

  1. Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent.
  2. Between you and I, case is important.
  3. A writer must be sure to avoid using sexist pronouns in his writing.
  4. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  5. Don't be a person whom people realize confuses who and whom.
  6. Never use no double negatives.
  7. Never use a preposition to end a sentence with. That is something up with which your readers will not put.
  8. When writing, participles must not be dangled.
  9. Be careful to never, under any circumstances, split infinitives.
  10. Hopefully, you won't float your adverbs.
  11. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  12. Lay down and die before using a transitive verb without an object.
  13. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
  14. The passive voice should be avoided.
  15. About sentence fragments.
  16. Don't verb nouns.
  17. In letters themes reports and ad use commas to separate items in a series.
  18. Don't use commas, that aren't necessary.
  19. "Don't overuse 'quotation marks.'"
  20. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (if the truth be told) superfluous.
  21. Contractions won't, don't and can't help your writing voice.
  22. Don't write run-on sentences they are hard to read.
  23. Don't forget to use end punctuation
  24. Its important to use apostrophe's in the right places.
  25. Don't abbrev.
  26. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!
  27. Resist Unnecessary Capitalization.
  28. Avoid mispellings.
  29. Check to see if you any words out.
  30. One word sentences? Eliminate.
  31. Avoid annoying, affected, and awkward alliterations, always.
  32. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  33. The bottom line is to bag trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  34. By observing the distinctions between adjectives and adverbs, you will treat your readers real good.
  35. Parallel structure will help you in writing more effective sentences and to express yourself more gracefully.
  36. In my own personal opinion at this point of time, I think that authors, when they are writing, should not get into the habit of making use of too many unnecessary words that they don't really need.
  37. Foreign words and phrases are the reader's bete noire and are not apropos.
  38. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  39. Always go in search for the correct idiom.
  40. Do not cast statements in the negative form.
Keep in mind that a few of these have grammatical errors to prove the point.

Credit: Writing Good

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Friday, August 21, 2015

The Great Gatsby Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge
17. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
      Theme/Topic: a book you had to read in school but didn't (like)
Note: I changed this one by doing didn't like rather than didn't read because I read the books that I had to for school.

Synopsis: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

My Review:
First, I'm going to explain why I didn't really like this book the first time around. It was a summer reading book that I had to read for freshman English, if I remember correctly. And I think that was exactly why I didn't enjoy the story - knowing that I was going to be tested on this when I went back to school that September. 

I can say that I liked it much better than I did back in high school. Classics are good to read in high school, but they're easier to understand when you read them in your 20s and 30s in my opinion. Nick Carroway's character reminds me of being the third wheel in a way=as a supporting character so to say. Obviously, I liked Jay and Daisy's love for one another, which had an unfortunate ending. I really didn't care for Daisy's husband - I found it odd that it was okay for him to have a mistress, but didn't like that Daisy fell for Jay. 

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Paper Towns Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

16. Paper Towns by John Green
       I don't have a certain reading challenge theme/topic for this one because I didn't plan to read this for that reason.

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

My Review:
Yet another love story from John Green. Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska seem to have something in common: the main character (Miles and Q) realizing how much someone meant to them after they're gone and then chasing/searching for them to discover who they are. In Looking for Alaska, Miles goes on a search for answers after losing Alaska in a car accident and in Paper Towns, Q goes on a search for Margo after she runs away. What I really liked about this book was the clues that were left by Margo, making it a bit like a scavenger/treasure hunt. Those kind of things have always interested me, not to mention it's fun to figure out clues and see where they lead. 

I think a good thing to take out of this story is that sometimes you have to take a risk in life to go after something you want to achieve, accomplish, etc. Q took a risk on his mission to find Margo, not really knowing what he was going to find along the way. Without giving the ending away, keep in mind that you may not always get the outcome that you want, but you'll never know if you don't try.

No risk = No reward

Announcement: My regular blog schedule will resume next week.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Writing Tuesday: Commonly Misused Words

Writing Tuesday

Let's be honest. At one point or another, we have all gotten the above words confused or messed up. As writers, we probably know them well enough and know the difference. However, a gentle reminder now and then never hurts.
Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Author Spotlight: Suzanne Collins

Author Spotlight

Suzanne Collins

Getting to Know Suzanne Collins:
  1. American novelist and television writer
  2. Best known for The Hunger Games trilogy
  3. Also known for The Underland Chronicles series
  4. More than 87 million copies sold of her books
  5. The Hunger Games trilogy has been made into best-selling movies
  6. Was named the bestselling Kindle author of all time
I have only read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (the first two books in The Hunger Games trilogy. I haven't had the chance to get Mockingjay (I usually wait for books to come out into paperbacks first), but I will definitely read it in the future.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

♥Meg Herbert♥

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grammar Nazis

Writing Tuesday

The Battle of a Grammar Nazi

We all know people out there who are grammar Nazis - you know what I'm talking about, those who have to correct others on their grammar/misspellings. I admit that I can be a bit of a grammar Nazi myself at times. It doesn't help that I was copy editor on my high school newspaper for two years. I notice mistakes easily and can be the first one to point out if something is spelled incorrectly.

The problem is this. When it comes to social media, I have seen people correct each other a lot recently (mostly on Facebook) when someone has made a grammatical error. It's driving me a little crazy. Having correct grammar is important, but does it really matter when it comes to social media and texts? I don't think so. To be honest, all of us have probably made some grammatical errors in our life. The social media platform is the one place(s) where it shouldn't matter if we make that mistake or not. And here's why: you never know why they made that mistake in the first place. Maybe they were in a hurry to say something or, pardon my language, damn autocorrect got in the way - I think all of us has been a victim of an autocorrect mishap and we can laugh about it later. To me, correcting someone on social media about a grammatical error is rude. It can embarrass the person if they didn't mean to make the mistake in the first place. It's just something that happens and at times, is out of their control. Maybe some people have trouble differentiating different words (like any commonly misspelled words - for example, their, they're and there) and some words are just plain tricky.

Since I mentioned that social media is the one platform that grammatical errors can be looked at as slip-ups, now let's talk about where having correct grammar is important. The following list includes just a few examples:
  1. business letters
  2. school papers (whether elementary, high school or college)
  3. correspondence of any kind (e-mail, business, etc)
  4. books/stories/articles (if you're a writer or want to be a writer)
There's nothing wrong with being a grammar Nazi. However, just like in everything else, there are times when it would be considered appropriate to correct someone on a grammatical error and times when its inappropriate or doesn't have to be made into a big thing when it shouldn't be.  By the way, it can drive me crazy if I see something said wrong, either grammatically or spelling wise, but I let it slide (especially on social media) because mistakes happen.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Looking for Alaska Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

15. Looking for Alaska by John Green
       Theme/Topic: book written by someone under 30

Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Prepatory School (boarding school) in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

My Review:
This is about life before and after a tragic event of losing a friend in a car crash. We tend to take our family and friends for granted and don't always realize how much they mean to us. Oftentimes by the time we do, it's too late. I liked how John Green showed Miles, aka Pudge, and his friends/c!assmates go through the grieving process just like anybody else, but more importantly, that they each went through it differently. 

Losing someone close to us, whether suddenly or not, is heartbreaking. Just like Pudge, I think all of us question life and death after someone dies. I related to what Pudge went through because I felt a lot of the same things when I lost an uncle in 2001 and my grandmom in 2010. One died suddenly and the other died unexpectedly, but I kind of knew it was coming. With both, I found myself asking what if I had done this or that (they're both extremely personal stories), would it have made a difference. And I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way. 

Suicide. Although we never find out if Alaska dies by accident or crashed as a way to commit suicide, suicide is an importañt issue not to be taken lightly. I've known two people who did take their life and although I wasn't that close to either of them, I still found myself questioning why someone would want to do that.  The answer is that you just don't know. There's no way of knowing what that person is thinking right before that moment or even what led up to that moment. If you or someone you know is considering suicide as a way out, please get help. 

This book is good for young adults and adults in their 20s and 30s because it's during those times when we question life and death and discover what we want to become and where we want to be in life. 

I'm going to end this with the most thought defining quote from this book: 

"How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" - Alaska Young

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!