Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I was meaning to post this yesterday so that it would be part of April, but I ended up getting all the stuff for my self-publish book out for review! And heads up, you might not hear from me for the month of May, for I'm getting married and going to Japan! But I'll try to post at least once and go back to regular schedule. Anyways, onto the review of Erin Morgenstern's #1 National Bestseller, The Night Circus. SPOILER ALERT!

A Little Bit of Background

Erin Morgenstern is a best-selling author, who is most famous for the book we are currently reviewing. She actually wrote The Night Circus during the span of 3 NaNoWriMos. She never thought of herself as a writer growing up, but did enjoy writing little random things here and there. She does not have any formal writing training, but that doesn't stop her from doing what she is passionate about. 

As for the story, The Night Circus takes place in the late 1800's to early 1900's. It is definitely about a circus, but there's more to it than that. The circus is but a backdrop to the more unknown part of the world. You could call it magic, but not sure that would be the right word. There is an array of colorful characters, but the two you pay most attention to are Celia and Marco. They are children that are destined to have a life-long dual with each other until they decide that they might actually have feelings towards one another. For more on The Night Circus, guess you just have to read the rest. 

What Was Enjoyable

There was just so much to enjoy about this book! First off, I don't think I have ever said this, at least in my book review but I loved the cover. The cover artwork just pulls you right in. I actually remember seeing this book a few years ago and thinking how marvellous the cover was. And when I saw it sitting on the shelf of my local bookstore, I couldn't resist. 

Readers will also appreciate the cast. This book, as stated earlier, has a threshold of characters who are each unique in their own way. Wehn reading, one starts guessing how he or she is going to play in the whole scheme of things and what powers they are able to develop.

The imagery in this book was to die for! Whenever I read, I always paint a picture of the scenes, the characters and so forth. When reading this book, my imagination completely ran wild! There was just so much to picture and think about and I found it very cool that Erin was able to come up with these places and people. It's a true talent!

What Was Least Enjoyable

One can appreciate when time is important to the story. I know that I like to know when things happen at what age the character is, etc. But, I felt like I got lost with the time jumps. At first, it was a problem. But then we started moving back and forth in the middle, and I found myself looking back at the previous chapters to figure out the age of the characters and the circus. It wasn't the most horrible thing, but I felt like there was a little much, but it did not take away from the story.

I'm not going to lie, I was a little confused on how Celia and Marco fell for each other. They knew each other on occasion, but I did not understand how their relationship went from "you are my rival" to "I love you."It kind of felt like a Romeo and Juliet type of situation, a more love at first sight kind of deal, which I'm not the biggest fan of. I wish there was more build up to that relationship, but it was nice seeing how they were growing after they came to profess their love for one another. 

Other than that, it was a really good read.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I highly recommend this book. I'm not someone who is into reading about mythical things, but this one really surprised me. I enjoyed every chapter and it was definitely something hard for me to put down. I'm glad I was able to read it and I hope you will get a chance too! 

Let me know your thoughts on The Night Circus! Did you enjoy it? What was your least and most favorite? And, if you're not already, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube! Until next time, Happy Reading! 





Monday, April 16, 2018

Rainy Thoughts: Staying Healthy Needs Motivation



So, there was a thunderstorm not too long ago, but since then, not a cloud in the sky. Wish the rain would come a little, but at the same time, I would like for it to be sunny so I can tan, but then again, I don't want it to be too hot the wedding. But now I'm just blabbing on. Anyways, speaking of wedding, I have to try my hardest to stay healthy and let me tell you, it's not easy, but it is doable.

Going to the Gym Needs Motivation


I love going to the gym. I feel like I'm getting stronger, I''m healthier and the gym can you feel like you did a great job. The thing about going to the gym is that you have to keep motivated. some days, I'm hyped and ready for the gym. Other days, I just want to stay on the couch watching Judge Judy or continue playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. 

What I do to help me stay motivated for the gym is to remind myself why I'm doing this in the first. Of course, I want to look good on my wedding day, but I also want to look at pictures of myself in the future and not go "ewww."

I also mix up my work out routine. When I do cardio, sometimes it's with the elliptical, sometimes it's the treadmill. When I'm doing squats, sometimes it's with barbells and other times it's with weighted balls. Either way, I try to mix up my gym time so that I'm not bored doing the same routines.

Eating Healthy Needs Motivation


I actually enjoy eating healthy. I can really feel the improvement in my body, inside and out. I'm not
bloated, I have more energy and my waistline has gone down. And the scale has been pretty nice to me lately. What sucks about eating healthy is staying motivated to eat healthy! There's so much temptation everywhere!

For example, at my last job, I would bring in salads and healthy meals every day. Then, there were my co-workers, bringing in Wendy's, Canes and Pizza Hut every day. It was so hard to say "no thank you," when they asked if I wanted anything. But I resisted (most of the time). 

The trick is to not give in to your temptation. Better said than done though right? I resisted temptation by eating on the other side of the office or just simply closing my door. I also added spruce to my salads to make me excited to eat it, instead of complaining how boring it is. Healthy food doesn't have to be boring, and once your body is starts being trained on the foods you will eat, that knawing desire for sugar and everything fried slowly goes down. 


Treating Yourself Sometimes Needs Motivation


Yes, sometimes you need to motivate to treat yourself. Sometimes, when you are out being healthy, going to the gym 4-5 times a week, you forget that sometimes it's okay to treat yourself. It's okay to have a rest day from the gym. In fact, it's good to have a rest day. It's okay to order off the regular menu on Saturday night instead of the 600 calories or under menu. It's okay to treat yourself once in a while. One time is not going to kill you. Going back to old habits might though. 

In conclusion


In conclusion, we all have our reasons for staying healthy. And we all need the motivation to get us through. It's okay to treat ourselves too. Staying healthy is a commitment and one that you will be happy to benefit from. in the present and future. 


Monday, April 2, 2018

Rainy Conversations with Author Janet Evanovich

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday weekend! I was so excited when I got an email back from Janet's assistant about answering my interview questions! I wish we would have had a more personal conversation, but I know she is probably a busy lady. I'm just glad she was able to take the time answer some questions that I had, she is my favourite author after all! Read the full interview below and enjoy.

Photo Courtesy from Jerrilynnledford.com


How did you get into writing?

After I got a college degree in art, I discovered that I was allergic to the pigments in paint, so there went that idea.  I'd been making up stories ever since I was a child.  When my kids were little, I decided to see if I could write a book.  It took me three manuscripts and 10 years before I finally got published.


Who would you say is your favorite character you have ever written, so far?

I would have to say it would be Grandma Mazur, who, by the way, was inspired by my own Aunt Lena.


What inspired you to write the Stephanie plum novels? Did you think that it would go on for this long?

I saw the hilarious bounty hunter movie, Midnight Run with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, and played a little game of "What If?"  What if I wrote a book with a reluctant, not-terribly-skilled female bounty hunter?  That book was One For the Money.  When I wrote it, I thought that it would likely be a stand alone title.


What keeps you inspired to continue writing the Stephanie Plum novels?

I love the characters.


How did you handle your first negative review?

Somebody once said that a writer should never take the best -- or the worst -- review to heart.

 

Which one of your characters do you feel you relate to the most?

When I started the Plum series over 25 years ago, I identified with Stephanie.  Nowadays, I'm afraid that it's Lula.  I need more exercise and fewer donuts.


Where is your perfect spot to write?

My upstairs office.

 

When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Spending time with my family.


Do you prefer e-books or printed books and why?

I like the feel of book in my hands, but E-books are a reality that I've come to embrace.


Do you have any advice for up and coming authors?

Don't procrastinate.  Sit yourself down in that chair and write. 


You can find out more about Janet Evanovich by visiting her website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You can read my previous reviews of her works by following this link. Until next rainy day, Happy Reading!




Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast

Hello everyone! Just trying to settle into my new townhome. But everything is almost up and I feel more zen (I think that's the word). I just feel better writing when everything is in its place. Do you guys ever feel like that? Anyways, I was so excited to read this book! I actually read my first book from Roz Chast last year, when one of my former professors assigned it to our Image/Text class. You can read that review here. I was very happy to pick up this book that Chast recently published last year. I loved visiting New York and I love Roz Chast, so it's the perfect combo! And with that said, onto the review of Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York! SPOILER ALERT!


A Little Bit of Background

Roz Chast is a published author who grew up in Brooklyn and went to college at the Rhode Island School of Design. She published this book in 2017. Before this book, she illustrated many other books and has had her cartoons appear in the New Yorker since 1978. She continues to write and illustrate to this day.

 As for the book, this is really an ode to New York. It actually started out as a handbook for her daughter, who was going to live in the big apple. Throughout the book, it really feels like a combination of a survival guide and, as Roz Chast puts it, a love letter to New York.

What Was Enjoyable

I said this in the last review of her other book, and I will say it in this one, I love the images that go with the text. The images really bring us to what Chast is saying and draws out her memory as she remembers things. The illustrations also give us a proper show and tell of New York. 

As stated earlier, one might see this book as both a surival guide and a love letter. One can appreciate that aspect, because when someone writes about their hometown, they also write about the places to go, what to do and what to see. They talk about the details and that's what Chast accomplishes in her writing.  

Lastly, I enjoyed hearing about the changes Roz has witnessed. It's interesting to hear from someone about a place you enjoy and hearing from the perspective of someone who has lived their in childhood. the reader might find it odd and a little comforting on how she embraces those changes, instead of wallows in the past. 

What Was Least Enjoyable

I can't say there was anything I didn't enjoy about this book. The reader might want to know what happened to Chast's daughter and if she survived the big city, but one will go on with life.

Conclusion

In conlusion, anyone who enjoys reading, will definitley enjoy this book. It's different and it's a nice, gentle read for a Saturday morning "me" time. I encourage you to read more of Roz Chast's writing, you just won't find a book quite like hers. You can find out mroe about her and her work on her website.






Monday, March 12, 2018

Rainy Thoughts: Moving Back to My Hometown

Yep. I moved back home! I think my first rainy thoughts was on being homesick, but now I'm back and I can already tell that I am right where I'm supposed to be. So, I wanted to write a few words about being away and moving back home. Let's go!




Being Away From Home

Being away from home means doing everything on your own. Of course, with technology, you can easily skype, text, call or facetime with people, but it's just not the same. If I had a problem with my car, I was the one looking up places to go, reviews, etc. I was the one deciding what I wanted to eat, what I wanted to do every day and how long I wanted to go without washing the dishes (I actually really don't like falling asleep with the dishes in the sink). 

Being away means learning more about who you are. Like with the dishes, I learned that I prefer my chicken baked, that I am good at entertaining myself and that I actually like doing crafts and arranging flowers. Would I have learned that being at home? Maybe, but it's definitely what I learned while away.

Being away means no safety net. Yes, I lived in a big city where I knew absolutely no one other than my fiance. And that can be a little scary. Yes, I called my mom like every week, texted my friends regularly, but again, they aren't there. There was nobody I could really rely on to pick me up if my car stalled, give me a lift to the store when the car was in the shop or, etc. My fiance and I relied on each other. 

Being away from home means culture shock. Oh, how I had culture shock when I moved! I mean, it's not a bad thing at all! I just thought everyone knew what real, homemade tortillas and refried tasted like? 

Being away means being away from family/friend drama. You don't have to be int he middle of it, because you are no there. Therefore, no one can really be mad at you?

Being away means sometimes feeling lonely.

Being away means not seeing your nephews and nieces grow up, or being there when your grandparents get old.

Being away means making your own little world. I say this more with being with my fiance. We lived together in a place none of our friends and family lived in. It was like we were in own little world that only we and some other million people lived.


Being Back Home

Being back home means breakfast tacos, Big Red, and Tejano music everywhere I go.

Being home means comfort food and familiar smells.

Being home means being there with the people you love. Let's face it, texts, call, face time, etc, just doesn't replace human contact.

Being back home means being birthday parties. Tons of parties. Which means I have no excuse not to get a gift (lol).

Being back home means feeling warm and having people you can call up just to grab some lunch.

Being back home means being surrounded by people who have a place in your heart because no matter how many times you fight, disagree or whatever, you still can't imagine life without them for one more day.



Conclusion

In conclusion, I love being back home. There's no other place I'd rather be. Okay, that's a lie! I meant that there's no other place I'd rather live in long-term. (I would really like to live in New York for a summer and France) I moved back to my hometown and I'm not ashamed. Now, listen to this chill song by Jack Johnson and enjoy! Come back for a new book review next week!








Friday, March 2, 2018

Rainy Conversation with Photographer and Author Matthew Christopher

It was raining for a week straight here in Texas and the sun is slowly peeking out this week.  Even though I love the rain, it was definitely not the best time to move to a different city. But I will talk more about that in my next post. This week, I wanted to share my interview with Matthew Christopher, better known as the guy behind Abandoned America.

A little bit about Abandoned America

Abandoned America started as more of a hobby that Matthew enjoyed doing. Throughout the years, it has grown into something more. Matthew believes in preserving the beauty and the history of these abandoned and decayed buildings. As stated on the website, "Abandoned America is committed to partnering with historical preservation organizations, site owners, and communities to ensure that even when it is impossible to retain a historic structure, its unique characteristics, stories, and social impact are not forgotten and can be shared with the world at large."

Matthew has two books on Abandoned America. The first book is called Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences and Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream.

He loves photography, museums, traveling and watching the History channel. He is an interesting person and one that I had the pleasure of getting to know.

Watch the video below to listen to our conversation including some of his wonderful photography!









Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: Flat Line by Dana Barney

So I finally finished a book that was not long at all, it's just been a little hectic. I also have some new, I'm moving back to my hometown! But I'll share more of that on another post. Anyways, when I visit my hometown in November, I went to a local bookstore called: The Twig Book Shop. It's a cute little bookstore, and while I was there, I got to meet Dana Barney. He was promoting his two books, one of them being, Flat Line, which is what I'm about to review right now! (SPOILER ALERT!)



A Little Bit of Background

Dana Barney is an Austin based author. He received his B.A. in writing from Bennington College in Vermont. Flat Line is his first book, which he wrote in 2015. The sequel to this book, Half Life, just came out this past year in 2017. 

Now Flat Line is about an investigative journalist, Peter Richards, whose life starts to go downhill after he gets fired from his job. 


What Was Enjoyable
I liked the whole ride of the book. The book felt like I was going through a movie. He gets fired, a murder happens, and then he wakes up in the hospital with an artificial heart. And that's not even half of it! Barney does a great job making the reader feel like you are watching an action, mystery movie.

The other thing I enjoyed was the twists. There are multiple twists and turns int his book that can really get the reader to read the book in a one night sitting.  

I also like to point out the accurate Texas references. The story takes place in Austin Texas and Peter's character visits real Austin places and real Austin streets. Peter also travels up north in Texas and the author still stays true to the accurate place in Texas. Any reader can appreciate an accurate setting of a real place and Texas readers, like me, will appreciate this to a next level.


What Was Least Enjoyable

This was a really great and well-written book, but I have to get his off my chest. There is an on-going joke throughout the book about one of the side characters knowing who killed Kennedy. They ask this guy "Do you know who killed Kennedy," and the main character tells people that he knows the guy who knows who killed Kennedy. When I first heard this, my first thought was that I know who killed Kennedy, Harry Oswald, it's public knowledge. Then I thought that maybe the author was referring to a conspiracy theory type of ordeal. It's confirmed at the very end when Peters says that he knows Kennedy killed him, but he wanted to know if there were people behind the scenes, then it made more sense. The rest of the time, I thought that this might have been something the author may have overlooked, but it wasn't. I just wished it was established in the beginning, since most of know who killed Kennedy and we also know Oswald's past and stuff it just seemed like a weird joke.

The other thing was that this book felt like a great book, but it would be a better movie. Not that this is a bad or unenjoyable thing, but it would be great as a movie of some sorts.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, this was a great mystery thriller. This does have some more gory parts, especially towards the end, but if you like that stuff, then you should be fine. I really enjoy mystery books and this is one book to pick up and put on your bookshelf. Until next time, Happy Reading!