Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writing A Zombie Novel

by Jeanette Raleigh

When I first decided to write The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step, I picked out a couple of Stephen King’s books and studied the way that he builds intensity into a story. It amazes me how many pages King can write while still holding a reader’s attention. For example, he wrote 300 pages of build up while character after character suffered various effects of the plague in The Stand, while the average author would have made it 80 pages long, if that. That is some serious tension!

Horror requires a dark setting. The best scenes paint a dark and yet specific picture of what the characters experience. They use words that describe the events with clarity, whether it’s snapping bones or the gleam of light on a withered hand, the bang of a window shutter or the sickening smell of rot. Vivid descriptions draw the reader close and allow them to experience fear. Word usage can be fun with zombies. Splatters and splats. Oozing. Crunch. And then there's the sloppy body parts.

The best horror stories dangle the safety of characters before the reader, bringing them into ever more dangerous and deadly circumstances until they defeat the evil or die in the attempt. The favorites are put in dire life-or-death circumstances, lose loved ones, or watch a disaster unfold that they are helpless to stop. Just when the reader thinks it’s safe, something worse happens.

Tension can be built in other ways as well. By hinting at danger or leaving clues, the story becomes a slower boil, allowing the reader to become familiar with the characters before sending them into true danger. Psychological horror stories use this kind of build-up.

The slow boil is vital to a good horror story. Suspense, created word by word, draws the reader in for a page-turner, anxious for a happy ending in an ever downward spiral into the terrifying darkness that is waiting at the end.

And on that cheery note, I currently have a horror out. The Zombie Cowboy Two-step

Although if your interest leans more toward paranormal romance, there is also Moon Struck

Don't stop there, folks. Jeanette has several books out on Amazon, many with 5-star reviews.

I had a lot of fun reading The Zombie Cowboy Two-step, so I’m really glad Jeanette stopped by and shared some of her wonderful tips on how to write about zombies with us today. It’s a perfect book to read during this spooky season of Halloween. Thanks again, Jeanette. I really appreciate the time you took to share these fun and interesting writing tips with our audience.

Writing and publishing isn’t easy, but it’s always a little better when you’re working with a few friends. Here’s to all the authors out there! Thanks for stopping by,

M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Zombies Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero, PD-US

Monday, October 27, 2014

10 Reasons to Write Book Reviews for Your Blog

by M. J. Joachim

1. You meet some amazing new authors.

2. Your library will expand for free.

3. You’re going to tell everyone about what you read recently anyway.

4. You get exposed to new genres, many you’ll discover you really like.

5. You have so much material to write about now.

6. Reading is fun!

7. You get more exposure for your blog.

8. Reviews are great conversation starters.

9. You get to new and old authors get more exposure for their books.

10. The new ideas you get every time you read a new book cannot be contained.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Lernender, Nick-zug, GNU Free Documentation License

For His Very First Blog Post, This Isn’t Bad at All!

by Justin Sewall

You published your first book…now what?

When M.J. agreed to review my sci-fi novella, I was thrilled. After publishing my first book last November, I was happy to get it in front of as many reviewers as possible. 

Having someone else critique something that you’ve toiled over for weeks and months can be an intimidating experience, but it’s worth it. The insights, opinions, compliments and criticisms of others are immensely helpful to any author whether it’s your first book or 37th. Now here I am, invited to be a guest blogger on M.J.’s site, another opportunity for which I am immensely thankful. So in the interest of full disclosure I must tell you that this is my first blog ever. Yes, it’s true.

“Great,” you think to yourself. What can this neophyte author possibly tell me that I don’t already know? That’s a fair question. To be sure, there are many, many others with much more literary experience than I. But I hope you’ll stick with me, especially those who are still wrestling with that first unpublished manuscript. Because once you’ve finished that first effort and you finally do get it out into the big, wide world, you’ll sit back at your writing desk and think to yourself, “Now what?”

This is not a blog about a ten-step marketing plan that will bring you fame and fortune. I don’t have the magic elixir or silver bullet for that (although I have worked in advertising and public relations and know a little about how that game is played). What I do want you to think about are those next steps you’ll take once you’ve birthed your first book. Most of us don’t have unlimited resources to begin a multi-media campaign to promote ourselves, and that is when frustration can set in.

Book reviewers can certainly help in this respect, and there are hordes of them out there. Just like authors, some are better known than others and whose opinions carry more weight. Well and good. I sent M.J. a copy of my novella because she was willing to review it, and I appreciated her feedback. By searching online, you can find a vast network of people who might review your book, or not. It’s a bit like sales, knocking on as many doors as possible, getting through the 39 no’s to hear a yes on the 40th try (I sold textbooks door-to-door one summer to help pay for college…I still have nightmares…)

So I’ll come to the crux of the matter as I wrap up my inaugural blog posting. Here’s my question to you: Are you content to write for an audience of one? If you knew that only one other person in the world would ever read your collection of poetry, recipes, short stories, whatever it is you have a passion to write about, are you content enough to keep at it for that one person? I would certainly never wish that limited market on anyone. There is more than enough room in the world for anyone who wants to be an author to be one. Ultimately the question is one of motivation.

Cerulean Rising: Beginnings, is the sci-fi novella I published last November. You can read M.J’s review for it here and see other reviews on Amazon. It’s the back story for a video game that some friends of mine are developing and I’ve done a little promoting for it. Not as much as I would like and certainly not as much as necessary to get it front of a larger audience. But after doing that, I got to work on part two, which should release sometime during the first half of next year. I’ve found that I’m really enjoying writing as my creative outlet and I’m happy to keep doing it, even for an audience of one.

Justin Sewall is a sci-fi and aviation enthusiast. He works at the Boeing Everett Delivery Center and enjoys watching airplanes fly every day. He enjoys distance running, HALO, VW GTI's, military history, his kids and wife, though not necessarily in that order. The works of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Herbert and Tolkien have all made their influence in one way, shape or form on Sewall's writing. Cerulean Rising: Beginnings is his first self-published novella.

Thanks so much for guest posting on my blog today, Justin! It’s been a true pleasure working with you and getting to know you better. Here’s to your next book!

Now to all of my faithful blogger friends out there, please give Justin all the support you can. He’s a true gem in the world of self publishing!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by,

M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved, Justin Sewall Photo credit: Justin Sewall ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Reviewer is Writing Some Too…

by M. J. Joachim

For the past few months, I’ve been working on writing and publishing a couple of book ideas I’ve thought about for a few years. Then yesterday, I woke up at 4 am and started writing another book I happened to be dreaming about. So much of yesterday was devoted to cranking out ideas, before they vanished into thin air. By the afternoon, I felt like I short-changed the other book I’ve been working on, so I put in a couple of hours on it too. This morning has been all about yesterday’s new book though. It seems to want to be written, and as much as I’m enjoying working on the other one, this one won’t leave me alone.

As a reviewer of people’s books, I feel a little more nervous than usual about publishing my new books, hopefully before the end of the year. It’s not that my work isn’t solid or anything. And believe me, I’m being completely anal to make sure it is solid before I put it out there. It’s just that…well, yea, it’s just that…

Along with writing, I’m also reading. More reviews coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by,
M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Baroness Hyde de Neuville, Economical School, PD-US

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: On Mother’s Lap by Ann Herbert Scott

by M. J. Joachim

As I was cleaning and moving book shelves around the other day, I came across a few old stories I used to always read to my kids when they were little. Now that I’m a grandma, I guess I’ll have to read them to my grandchildren too. These are books to be cherished and passed down for generations; one of them is On Mother’s Lap.

Affirming a mother’s open arms and unending love, Scott introduces us to a Native American family doing what all families seem to do. Young ones sleep, while older siblings need to be quietly entertained. But the older siblings are full of energy, and they need affirmation from mother as much as the little ones do.

As an adult reads this story, children will be focused on the detailed and delightful pictures illustrated by Glo Coalson. Beautiful care was taken to make this book a pleasure for everyone. One of the reasons I bought this book so many years ago is because it clearly shows that families are families, and even though we may look a little different, or decorate our homes differently, or eat different foods, we all have a lot in common too.

On Mother’s Lap truly is a wonderful book, with a subtle and very valuable message too.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting Writing Tips today. I really appreciate it when you visit here.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: The Mother, Anchise Picchi (1911 - 2007), Public Domain

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Incredible Home Canning Solutions by Martha Millhouse

by M. J. Joachim

Never mind the typos and some formatting issues, let’s get into the heart of what this book claims to do - offer canning solutions to newbie canners. As a newbie canner, one who has thoroughly done my research, I might add, this book was a total disappointment for me. 

Hot water baths preserve both high and low acid foods, but you wouldn’t know that by reading this book. I put this book down thinking, “I’m sure glad I did so much research before I read that one!” Otherwise I might think I need two types of canners, and I’d constantly be trying to figure out the ph value in any foods I wanted to can.” It’s enough to make any newbie, wannabe canner, forget the whole thing! Intimidating readily comes to mind. And no, you don’t need to have a pressure canner to can low ph foods.

You simply need to add the extra acid - a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to the recipe, as required according to the recipe. You also need to know how long to process your jars in the hot water bath, something completely omitted in the recipes provided in the book. However, pressure canning times were provided with those recipes. It helps to know what size jars too, because different sizes of jars are processed for different amounts of time.

Don’t even get me started on how to check to see if jars are sealed correctly. Suffice to say, this chapter wasn’t included in the book. All we were told was to check to see if jars are sealed and if not, reprocess within 24 hours. Considering this is a book written to help newbie canners, don’t you think knowing how to tell if jars are sealed correctly would be valuable information?

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the gist. I won’t be recommending this book for numerous reasons. If you want to learn to can, visit youtube and watch their canning videos. There are also some very thorough blogs out there - tons of recipes included, and the classic Better Homes Cookbook has a wonderful section on canning in it. Plus there are some great university sites with all sorts of information on canning, complete with pdf’s you can print to keep copies of necessary processing times for all sorts of foods.

Canning isn’t rocket science, and truth be told, it’s very easy to do too.

I’m so happy you stopped by today. Thanks, and I’ll see you again soon!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit:  M. J. Joachim ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: What to Eat in Restaurants Gluten Free Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona Edition

by M. J. Joachim

Limited though this book was, I found there were some wonderful new restaurants I’d like to visit for eating gluten free, if I feel like driving across the valley. Author T. K. Kenyon compiled a nice selection of choices, and her organization is easy enough to follow. However, I wish she had included restaurants in the broader Phoenix area, instead of only those in Phoenix, Scottsdale and near ASU. 

It seems she missed the east valley entirely, which has some of the best gluten free pizza I’ve ever eaten. I’m referring to Red, White and Brew, which can make any of their pizzas gluten free. Their salads are also gluten free, complete with dressings of choice. They also have a few gluten free desserts to try.

Barros locations throughout the valley also have gluten free pizza, wings and salad including dressing choices. Yes, you can have wings with ranch and blue cheese dressing here. Their wings are so good too!

I’ve heard Vito’s also has an extensive gluten free menu full of pasta and pizza dishes too, though I haven’t stopped in yet. It’s on my list, because I have to see if their gluten free pizza is better than Red, White and Brew’s. Not to mention, they've won awards for some of their gluten free dishes.

Do you feel like having Mexican food? Try Macayos. They have an extensive gluten free menu and the food is delicious. And don’t forget Chili’s for some southwestern food.

Okay, so I’m getting carried away because it’s not always easy eating out when you’re gluten free, which is why I wish this book was more comprehensive and all inclusive. Would I recommend it for people who need to eat gluten free? Yes, because we need all the resources we can get. Would I recommend it if the market had lots of these types of books and resources readily available? hmmm, I’d have to give that one a bit more thought, depending on what was out there.

I hope this review was helpful to you, especially if you’re gluten free. What to Eat in Restaurants Gluten Free Phoenix/Scottsdale…is a portion of a larger book, What to Eat in Restaurants Gluten Free. I won’t be getting that one, because as much as this one gave me a few new restaurants to try, I’d rather do my research, make my calls and discover new restaurants as I need to. Part of the reason for this is because I don’t want to be limited to only the restaurants listed in the book. As you can see, I’ve discovered a few more on my own, before I ever started reading it.

Thanks for visiting Writing Tips today. It’s always good to see you here.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Gluten Free Beer, Parcher, Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 (I don’t know if it tastes good or not, but it looks like something for beer drinkers to try.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Book Review: Her Unwelcome Inheritance by J. Alexander Wooton

by M. J. Joachim

In this world of fairies, goblins and pucks, Alice in Wonderland readily came to mind. Perhaps it was all the swirling down holes that opened up in the ground out of nowhere. Maybe it was the talking animals, a mixture of real life and fantasy trying to convince readers and characters in the book that fairies are truly real.

Wooton takes us on a roller coaster ride venturing from fantasy to fiction to reality, all of which are possible at any given moment in the story. Sometimes it was hard to follow, but most of the time, Wooton wove his words carefully, describing in robust detail, all the many scenes, both active and passive, as they appeared.

Research, or rather lots of reading about fairies and the netherworld they live in, was clearly done to task, as proven by the lengthy list of books listed as references at the end of the book. Speaking of which, the last, oh, I’d say ten percent or so of the story, seemed to lack the detailed proofreading and editing that the rest of the book maintained.There were a few missing words, minor grammar glitches and such - nothing too distracting, but enough for any book reviewer worth her salt to notice.

As stories go, Her Unwelcome Inheritance was respectable. It wasn’t earth shattering or anything, but if you like stories about fairies coming to life, being part human and part fairy, fighting to preserve their fairy wonderland and cliff hangers, where you have to wait for the next book to come out to see if Petra, the main character, survives her daunting task, then you’ll probably really enjoy this book.

Thanks for visiting Writing Tips today. It’s always so nice to see you here.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: August Malmstrom (1829 - 1901), Dancing Fairies, PD-US

Reviewing My Review Process

by M. J. Joachim

I have a lot of fun writing reviews. For me, it’s a creative outlet, a blank canvas waiting to be explored. Much like a good food critic - good food critics don’t give you a list of ingredients and tell you how a dish is made. They savor every last morsel, devouring the entire meal placed pleasingly before them.

So it is with my book reviews. Presentation matters. The appetizer (or request) should never overwhelm or fill me up, especially to the point that I don’t want to bother with the main course (or book). Dessert is a simple “Thank you,” letting me know that you’ve actually read your full review.

It’s okay if you don’t agree with everything I said. I try to write fully balanced reviews, sharing pros and cons as much as possible, so others can make fully educated decisions about whether or not they’d like to purchase what I read (or saw, in the case of movie reviews).

I don’t write reviews to help boost or hurt sales. As a writer myself, I understand how difficult and time consuming it is to write and publish anything. Putting oneself and one’s work out there especially in this brilliant age of technology, takes guts in a market as saturated as ours. This is why I truly take time when reading and writing reviews, because as the author, you deserve nothing less from me. We’re a team working together in the vast world of publishing, and together we truly can reach a much wider audience and share our work in turn.

Thanks for visiting Writing Tips today. Your support means a lot to me. From one starving artist to another, here’s to taking one more step forward!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, Mobi book, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bindu, Canning, FlashTyme - Pass the Spaghetti, Please!

by M. J. Joachim

Bindu, oh the things you do
In your artsy, carefree way
Mixing up the mediums
You even find time to crochet

Owning and running an Etsy shop
With so many things at your store
Bindu, you amaze me
But then what are blog friends for?

Just giving a little shout out of thanks to you, Bindu, for commenting on and sharing so many of my blog posts. Happy Friday to you!

I’m still reading my latest book folks. I’ve also taken up canning recently. Just got a little tired of reading labels, and the more I read them, the more I wanted real food without all those chemicals and preservatives, not to mention soy, high fructose corn syrup and sodium.

I also revitalized my FlashTyme blog this week. Along with my flash fiction stories, you’ll be privy to almost anything that flashes through my brain (Warning: Things could get a little bumpy at times). I'm also including some very tasty canning (and other) recipes there, so I hope you’ll stop by and follow, because you never know what I might say or come up with next.

On that note, I made some killer spaghetti sauce last night, canned 6 jars too - recipe to be shared on FlashTyme at a later date; the leftovers are calling my name for breakfast. 

Hopefully I’ll finish my book today and post the review here this weekend. Happy Friday to all and thanks for visiting Writing Tips.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Links appreciated greatly, but please don’t copy any content here. Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, canned goods, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shadow and Luna Get Orlin to Dance

by M. J. Joachim

Shadow & Luna went out to play
One bright, sunny Arizona day
Shadow howled like few dogs can
Luna yapped til he said, “Oh man!”

Pat’s cat Orlin heard the commotion
He took the last train in fine locomotion
“Carol King ain’t got nuttin on me
I can dance like this! Just look and see!”

Shadow and Luna noticed Pat’s cat
Chasing cats is where they are at
With a yippy howl they jumped at the fence
Orlin just smiled, calling them dense

Until he got stuck in that mulberry tree
Poor Orlin was flung until he got free
Pat did his best not to hear Orlin’s call
For Orlin had many lives left in this fall

So Orlin, Shadow and Luna did play
In this rhyming game with Pat today
If ever there was so much fun to be had
Rhyming with Pat is totally rad!

Just a wee bit of thanks for all your comments on my blog, Pat!

I’m in the midst of reading another book and will be back with a review in the not too distant future. Thanks to all for stopping by to read and comment on my blog today and every day.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, Shadow & Luna, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Review: The Halloween Collection from Indie Eclective

by M. J. Joachim

Creepy, morbid, weird and strange, The Halloween Collection from Indie Eclective is a flat out variety filled collection of Halloween stories ranging from ghosts and spirits to werewolves and vampires. Since the book is written by multiple authors, no two stories are exactly alike; all are capable of making skin crawl and hair stand on end.

Admittedly, I enjoyed some stories in this collection more than others. Not wanting to taint your views, I won’t tell which ones. Suffice to say, they all are written with a sense of Halloween flare, the type of stories easily shared on a crisp Halloween eve, before all the festivities where witches, goblins, zombies and black cats hit the streets.

In the spirit of Halloween, I recommend this book, but not for young children, and suggest you pick up a copy before the season ends.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. May your Halloween be filled with fun!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Halloween in New England, jkb, GNU Free Documentation License

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step by Jeanette Raleigh

by M. J. Joachim

There’s something about a good western that almost always piques my interest. Just when you think it can’t get any better, you find yourself swept up in a fantasy world, where zombies come to life, drama unfolding with each passing stage coach on the dusty old road. Battles between good and evil, with guns a blazing, horses racing and saloons gone wild.

Entertaining, exciting and loooong…

I truly enjoyed reading The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step (Wow, that's a mouthful, isn't it?), and really got into the fictional fantasy world and characters. Raleigh writes an amazing story, detailed to perfection, a fictional fantasy. Oh, wait, I said that already, didn’t I? Perhaps because that’s where I wanted and needed the story to end multiple times. It wasn’t real, and I wasn’t prepared to gain a deep seeded, heart wrenching message, attempting me to take stock of my soul. I just wanted to enjoy a good story - about cowboys and zombies, not making my way to heaven or hell, regardless of the subtlety Raleigh used when trying to include the message.

Which is why this story could have ended so much sooner. There were many natural endings in The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step that would have left me perfectly satisfied and content. It’s like looking at a painting that’s completely over-painted. Something isn’t quite right, and you know it’s because there’s just too much there.

Forty-four chapters, easy enough to read through, not really time consuming at all - unless taken as a whole in a book that should have remained about zombies attacking a western town, without delving into the psyche and taking away from the fictional fantasy. Raleigh is a very good story-teller. There’s no disputing that fact in this review. There were simply too many messages detailed and expressed in this particular story that I would have preferred focused on cowboys and zombies, without all the guilt trip about making good decisions and saving my soul.

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to read this review.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Zombie, JNL, Free Art License

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Review: Streamtown by John Reinhard Dizon

by M. J. Joachim

“Dizzy, my head is spinning! Like a whirlpool out of control!” 

Streamtown is positively amazing, if you can keep up with all the symbolic and metaphoric energy, following a fictional storyline that challenges too many things to count or keep track of. This story literally mocks society and just about everything in it, while feebly attempting to bolster its need to exist.

The names of the characters are primarily drugs - Amytriptolene, Lyrica, Provera. A few biblical names like Abraham and Moses are tossed in as well. I can only wonder what Dizon must have been drinking or smoking when he came up with this overwhelmingly creative, definitely outside of the box, story, which when taken as a whole appears to be a love story between two young teenagers who end up on a journey to fix the world, consequently facing off with their cultures and societies, which lands Trip (Amytriptolene) in politics - a powerful position of status and subject manipulation to be sure.

But wait! There’s more! I’m sure Dizon was poking fun at Mormons, Amish, Catholics, Muslims and many other organized religions too. God made the world and everything in it, only to create the Big Bang for those who didn’t quite make it to Heaven when all Hell broke loose in the world. Say what?! Yea, that’s what I said too! Which is probably why I couldn’t put it down. I had to see what happened next, not because I wanted to know if Trip and Lyrica ended up together and lived happily ever after, but because so many rights, wrongs and indifferences were being addressed, challenged and ridiculed, regardless of where they appeared in our world society.

Thought provoking and confusing, Streamtown is not to be recommended to everybody. Only a select few will find it as entertaining as I did, while others will be overcome with the rambling rhetoric taking place in a seemingly unorganized story. That’s just it though. Streamtown is not as unorganized as it appears by its writing style. There’s much more to this story than meets the eye, and it will have me shaking my head for many days to come.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. There are many more reviews waiting in the wings, and I simply can’t wait to share them with you!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.
Photo credit:  6201 Princess Elizabeth at Reading 1, Martin Stone, CCA-2.0 Generic License

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: Cerulean Rising: Beginnings by Justin Sewall

by M. J. Joachim

Packed with action and adventure, this space-age, science fiction novel is fast-paced and extremely entertaining. Mixing present day references for stability, Cerulean Rising: Beginnings takes readers to a war among the stars where various alien creatures, both friend and foe alike, battle with and among the humans fighting for survival of the fittest. 

Sewall engages us with highly detailed imagery which bring the story to life. A bit of a teenage love story intrigues us, while true to life circumstances assist with our need to connect with each character. Readers get to know these people (and creatures), taking sides and cheering on their favorites.

There were a couple of minor drawbacks, however. The editing of chapters 8 & 9 were a huge distraction because they were clearly copied and pasted from whatever Word program Sewall was using to make his final touches. The editing itself was fine, and the story overall was very well-written and proofed prior to publication. It was simply the white lines of copied text on my tan background that bugged me.

The other thing that bothered me was the cliff hanger at the end. When I finish reading a book, I don’t want to stay tuned for a sequel to see what happens to its characters. I prefer to be left on a solid note, where all scenes and story lines are finished in their entirety. Then, if I want and choose to pick up the sequel or consecutive books in the series, I’m free to do so, without feeling like it’s mandatory to find out what happened to the characters I’ve come to know and follow. I’m fine with characters picking up where they left off. I just don’t want them to be in the middle of something, like a t.v. series finale, where you have to wait for the next season to start. Books aren’t television series and they lose something when treated as such, in my opinion.

On that note, I probably will pick up the sequel to Cerulean Rising, because the book is highly entertaining and well-written. On that note, I wouldn’t let the cliff ending scare you off at all.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on this book review,

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Kosmos, Ben Pirard, GNU Free Documentation License

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Review: The Scare (A Halloween Story) by Kirsten Lenane

by M. J. Joachim

Author and illustrator Kirsten Lenane shares a cute story about friendship and halloween fun in this engaging children’s picture book. It’s one children will enjoy whether they are sitting on someone’s lap being read to, or flipping through the pages themselves, gazing at the pictures and telling the story to no one specific.

Most kids know what it’s like to be scared. Some like it, some don’t. Friendship plays the biggest role in this story, because tuning into a friend’s likes and dislikes is very important, if the friendship has any chance to last and become strong.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Scare, and think many children will find it quite enjoyable too.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit:  Zucca2, Bissolis, Public Domain

Monday, October 6, 2014

Movie Review: This is Where I Leave You

by M. J. Joachim

Brimming with an all-star cast, famous people like Jane Fonda, Justin Bateman and Rose Byrne among others, This is Where I Leave You is a light-hearted story told from a different, unexpected premise. It’s one of those ones I wish I would have watched on Netflix, because I could go get a drink and snack from the kitchen without hitting pause, as opposed to just sitting in the theater. Also, if I watched it on Netflix, I probably would have crocheted while I watched it, like I do for other shows I watch at home.

However, seeing it in the theater wasn’t bad either. It’s a movie about a grown up family. The t.v. previews led me to believe the story line would be quite different than it actually turned out. None-the-less, it was pretty much what I expected, even with the independent ending that didn’t surprise me all that much, despite the fact that it probably should have.

If you’re looking for a movie to while away some time, or just don’t want to think too much about the scenes and script, This is Where I Leave You fits the bill. It’s okay, nothing too dramatic or exciting, and a nice way to spend a couple of hours watching the screen.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Review: Memoirs of a Bad Dog by Curtis Moser

by M. J. Joachim

It is a story about a “bad” dog, which unbeknownst to me, illustrates how dogs live in a very parallel universe to humans, a paradox to be sure. Moser tried diligently at humor, perhaps he tried too hard sometimes, but once in a while it was fairly easy to smile at some of the scenarios he portrayed. Other times it was all I could do to get through the overly detailed episodes, complete with dogs lifting their legs, leaving poops in obscure places as revenge on the people who wronged them, and journeying for miles and days to atone for their past mistakes, all the while getting into more and more escapades, some easy enough to read through and others that were flat out boring.

It’s the focus that threw me for a loop the most. I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be a cute doggie story, a parable or fable to get humans to think, a comedy told through the eyes of a dog or a person trying resolve past issues and hoping their work helped others in similar situations do the same. It was sort of like reading bits and pieces of every dog story ever told, complete with the line “all dogs go to heaven,” tossing in a multitude of ancient proverbs, words of wisdom and famous (human) quotes, peculiarly well-spaced so the story could be told, in an effort to give hope and healing to readers, who obviously will be human, unless of course that parallel universe I mentioned earlier goes both ways.

So it is no surprise that I had finished reading through about 50% of this book prior to summer, only to pick it up again this week and start reading where I left off. I was needlessly concerned I might need to backtrack or start reading the book all over again.

Instead I discovered that the story was exactly as I left it, refreshing my memory of how dogs sniff butts, make endless clouds of foul smelling aromas and continue living without a second thought. If you’ve ever observed a dog for days on end, they’re lives are actually pretty boring, even if they do chase cats and steal food from time to time.

Memoirs of a Bad Dog would benefit from being much shorter. Twenty-seven chapters, 230 pages, was just way too long for me to read about dogs being dogs and doing what dogs do. I will give kudos to Moser for bringing attention to animal cruelty, however. A lot of the scrapes and shenanigans taking place was centered around some pretty intense topics like illegal dog fights and loose dogs captured and locked up at the pound. Moser was sensitive and thoughtful to highlight animal cruelty in his story this way.

All in all, the book simply didn’t capture my attention the way I’d hoped it would, and I’m a dog person, so that was the biggest disappointment of all.

Have you read any good animal stories lately? Please share their title in the comments. Thanks.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Dogs nose, GNU Free Documentation License

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wow! October 1 Already!

by M. J. Joachim

Summer was long and very busy. I’m so sorry I didn’t get much reading (or reviews) done. 

Reading and blogging took a big back seat to all the home maintenance projects going on, which were very noisy, btw…not the best environment to think or concentrate in and all that. They had to be done. Putting them off was simply not an option anymore.

September was a month filled with pins and needles, right to the very last day. My first grandchild was born September 30, 2014. A beautiful and healthy baby girl!

Tomorrow is my 22nd wedding anniversary, so I’m sure blogging and reading will be happily distracted by that. Next week looks good to get back into the swing of things. Lots of reading to do, and I’m really looking forward to some of the books I have in my stash.

I will admit the noise didn’t keep me from crocheting, though I didn’t post about it on my crochet blog. However, I did finish a few Christmas presents for the upcoming season. Less to do which might keep me from reading and reviewing in the next few months.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Life happens sometimes, and all you can do is roll with it.

For those who knew my dear blogging friend, Tina Downey, I think of her often and truly miss her. These are heart things, things that are quite difficult for me to share on my blog. Tina knows and that’s all that really matters.

Wishing you all a wonderful fall!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Me and my new grandbaby, Teresa DePoy ©2014 All Rights Reserved