Are you looking for a quick paranormal read that won’t leave you too afraid to turn the lights off at night? Check out author Autumn Chills’ anthology featuring an assortment of spirits that are as friendly as Casper, as benevolent as angels, and as heart-warming as a hug.
This short story collection includes tales of otherworldly beings such as a mischievous prankster at a movie theater, a beloved grandmother who gives romantic advice from beyond, and an unseen housekeeper who loves to take care of her home’s new inhabitants. Unlike many other books in this genre, these stories are all family-friendly and I would recommend this 5- star collection to paranormal fans of all ages, or simply to anyone seeking a condensed, uplifting read.
When was the last time you truly felt overwhelmed by some crisis or obstacle you had to face, but you did not want to admit, even to yourself, that the problem existed, or that you would be unable to resolve it on your own? I’m not talking about something simple, like lifting a 50-pound bag of dogfood; I have no trouble at all asking my husband or son for help with that. I’m talking about something much more serious, like accidentally forgetting to back up a critical file on a computer, or dealing with injuries caused in a car accident.
The truth is no one is perfect; we all have shortcomings we struggle with on a regular basis. There will always be situations where we need advice, support, and/or assistance from others, even if the last thing we want to do is ask for help.
There is a commonly held myth that accepting ourselves as we are, flaws and all, and asking for help when we need it, becomes easier as we grow more mature. This is not necessarily the case; completely accepting our whole selves as we truly are is something we all struggle with from time to time.
Often pride gets in the way of admitting when we need help, both to ourselves and others. It is natural to want to feel that we are capable, to present an image that is confident and competent. Unfortunately we may sometimes tend to use others’ perceptions of us as a mirror to bolster our self-confidence, without admitting that the image perceived by others doesn’t necessarily match what we feel inside.
Our own insecurities don’t always allow us to ask for the help we truly need. We may worry that our requests will meet with rejection, belittlement, or that others will think we are lacking in some way.
Sometimes we fear that those we would ask for help will think less of us for being weak. Weaknesses can be exploited by individuals or groups that prey on our feelings, that seek to make themselves look better at our expense. To ask for help requires that we open up, and allow others to see our vulnerabilities. To do so, even with people we trust, means facing our fears.
No one who truly cares about us is going to intentionally take advantage of our needs, insecurities, and weaknesses, but the irrational parts of our minds can’t always believe this to be true. Perhaps we have been hurt before, by someone who used us to express their own weakness, their own insecurities, in a bid to make themselves feel better. Perhaps we aren’t sure who we can trust.
When we are truly in crisis, ignoring the problem won’t bring the resolution we need; we must find a solution even if that means asking for help. I know from personal experience it can be a scary thing to do, but if you go to a loved one or a true friend, have faith they will understand. Someone who is worthy of your attention and your help in turn, will not judge, but do their best to assist you.
My advice is this: learn to accept counsel and assistance from others. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, even if it is uncomfortable to do so. Listen to opinions others may offer, but make your own choices. When in turn someone comes to you for help, put yourself in their place, and remember how it felt when you were the one in need. It truly is okay to ask and receive help; after all, we are all only human.
Miranda Brooks had loved spending time with her Uncle Billy, the owner of Prospero Books, and the designer of grand scavenger hunts, until his mysterious disappearance shortly after her twelfth birthday. Sixteen years later, she receives a package in the mail, on the same day she learns that Billy has died. The package contains a book sent by Billy, with a clue hidden in its pages. As she travels to San Francisco for his funeral, Miranda learns that he has left her his beloved bookstore.
The Bookshop of Yesterdays is more literary fiction than genre mystery, not the type of book I read frequently, but I still found myself caught up in the tale of a young woman searching for answers about her past. Author Amy Meyerson, under the guise of Billy’s letters to Miranda, leads readers on a hunt for clues derived from passages of classic literature.
As she follows his trail, Miranda uncovers the untold story of Billy’s life, as well as unexpected information about her own. Why did he disappear that day, and who is the woman in the photo she finds at his apartment? What deep, dark secrets did Billy take to his grave, which Miranda’s parents are still hiding from her?
Miranda discovers that everything she thought she knew about her own life was wrong, and she’s not certain how to deal with it all. Now that she knows the truth, will she go back to Philadelphia, to the life she has made there, or will she stay, and keep Billy’s legacy alive?
This novel from debut author Meyerson expertly combines quotes from classical literature, including such diverse writers as Shakespeare and Mary Shelley, with a mystery containing the story of one woman’s life. I recommend this work to anyone with a love of mysteries or a passion for books, and give it four stars.
July always seems to meander along in the Midwest, with swells of heat and lazy days where the afternoon sun sparks a desire to nap in the shade. This is a time when many of us turn our thoughts to vacations from the daily grind, and very often, this means road trips. These motor excursions come in all forms and styles, can be long or short in duration, and can lead to anywhere the highway can reach.
Just gather the family or your best friend, pack a bag and some snacks, fill up the tank (or charge the battery) and head out. And if you need food for thought on your odyssey as interludes to car games, here are some big questions to ponder:
Which type of traveler are you? Are you a plotter or a freewheeler? Do you prefer your route to be charted out to the last rest stop, or would you rather simply jump in your vehicle and see where the road takes you? I think most of us lie somewhere in between these extremes.
While both of the above approaches to travel have their own merits, how you choose to plan, or not plan, your adventure can have an impact on your life. Do you have a 5, 10, or longer year-goal for your life carefully plotted, or are you guided only by impulse? Do you have expectations for your future, or do you prefer to live in the moment, embracing life as it comes your way?
While life is definitely a journey, and the destination is not always the main purpose, there is something to be said for planning ahead. There are benefits to spontaneity, don’t get me wrong, but having at least a few plans made can make a trip go much more smoothly. No one wants to arrive at a motel after a long drive and find there are no vacancies, or even worse, that you forgot to bring a toothbrush or a change of underwear.
In the same vein, while being spontaneous can lead to unexpected opportunities, a few life plans prepares you for the journey that lasts a lifetime, and can lead to the fulfillment of dreams and goals more lofty than visiting every diner mentioned on Food Network in the last year (that one’s from my husband.) It’s really hard to purchase a house, or save for retirement, for example, without making plans.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
One of my all-time favorite poets is Robert Frost, and I am forever fond of his poem we had to memorize for seventh-grade English class, “The Road Not Taken.” How many of us, at the end of the day, wonder if we have chosen the correct path for us? Sometimes we can turn back, and try the other route, but other times we decide we’ve already gone too far to begin the journey again. So while it is easy to plan or not, a vacation, take your time when planning your life’s excursion; after all, it will hopefully last far longer.
As you cruise along the highway this summer, take time to think about the path you’ve chosen. Be it a quick trip to the nearest city, or an epic journey across country, only you can determine if you have picked the road that is right for you.
A chosen few know that there is another world that lives alongside our own. Of course, those chosen don’t necessarily feel privileged with the knowledge, especially Kit Sylvain, the goblin’s liaison-under duress. Kit is the latest member of his family to be subjected to a centuries old curse- if he doesn’t bring gold to the tribe of goblins that occupies the forest near Puget Sound on a monthly basis, they find someone to hurt, or kill, or even worse, become one of their number.
When Kit meets Livy, he can’t permit himself to fall in love, because he doesn’t want to expose anyone else to the goblins’ manipulations. He doesn’t realize that he’s already too late on that front. The goblins have chosen another victim, Livy’s younger sister Skye. Skye is enthralled by a spell that will make her leave her humanity behind, and drag Kit’s cousin Grady along with her.
For The Goblins of Bellwater, author Molly Ringle created a background of an entire population of “fae” characters, those native to the Washington state area, and the encroaching goblin “weeds.” I was intrigued by Ringle’s take on the origin of the goblins, as they were once human and “turned” into beings of nature, mischief, and violence. While her goblins by far take center stage for the otherworldly cast, the imaginative and ultimately benevolent intervention of the native fae creatures help prevent a disaster of horror-story proportions. The human characters are well-developed as well, with intricate backstories of their own and seemingly natural incidents that draw them to each other.
The plot somewhat reminded me of a movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010,) which featured a group of ancient beings that lured people into a basement to join their ranks. However, this is a paranormal romance and not a horror story, so there was an escape clause, which Livy, the environmental scientist, was able to undertake thanks to the favor of the “other” fae in the woods. Ultimately it takes the love, friendship, and willingness to sacrifice between the four young people to save them all, and stop the curse for all time.
This beautiful story should delight fans of the paranormal, romance, and urban fantasy books. I thought it seemed a little slow in the beginning, but within the first hundred pages the action picked up and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I ultimately decided this novel deserved 4.5 stars, and I would definitely check out more of the author’s work in the future.
As I rush about making preparations for another Independence Day barbeque, I find myself considering all the various meanings that so many people attach to this most American of holidays. July 4th is not just a red letter day on the calendar, a day many of us are granted a paid holiday, or an excuse to display our national flag on the front of homes, offices, and lampposts in public areas. This is officially the day we celebrate our declaration of independence from our colonial roots. As with most holidays, though, the ways and reasons we “party” has grown and taken on new life as the day holds a variety of meanings as divergent as the individuals that make up this country.
Food, Fun and Family.
For many, the Fourth of July is all about spending time with loved ones-outdoors in someone’s backyard or at a nearby park, or even in a pool as the sun reaches its zenith; and of course, the food. Anything and everything that can be cooked on a grill, accompanied by salads, watermelon, and desserts served ala mode to beat the heat. While the food settles in over-full stomachs, the kids may run around with sparklers (have parental supervision, please!) and grownups rouse to challenge each other to games like corn hole and baseball. The perfect ending to a perfect Fourth is fireworks, either set off in backyards or a nearby professional show.
Many citizens will take advantage of their community celebrations today. A mass of parades, fireworks shows and concerts, many free, are available throughout this week, easy to locate from local listings online or in newspapers. Participants should be prepared for sitting in traffic, and expect to share grassy areas with plenty of others seeking the best spots for viewing.
Concerts in the park are a welcome venue, often accompanied by local food vendors who compete for space to have patrons sample their wares. For those who do not wish to venture out, there are always televised events that showcase the beauty of the lights without the need to weather sweltering temperatures and the loud “boom” of the displays.
Celebration and Remembrance.
This is a day to honor and remember servicemen and women who have, and continue to, fight and work to ensure our safety and freedoms. Today we honor the values our nation was built on, and the belief that despite our differences and issues, we still have a strong future ahead. Today, above all days, we stand up and demonstrate our national pride and the certainty that, no matter our politics, religion, or ethnicity, we are all citizens of a free country.
For readers who are not familiar with Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files series, this collection of short stories offers a sampling of glimpses into a vast urban fantasy world. In Dresden’s universe, faeries and wizards walk among the ordinary, unsuspecting populace, supernatural beings can be either good or evil, and some, such as Bigfoot, simply seek to live their lives in peace.
For fans of the series, these shorts “fill-in” some of the gaps the author feels exist in his chronology complete with commentary as to where they fit in continuity and why they are necessary. Butcher includes stories involving both major and minor characters in his universe, with rarely seen points of view from sundry inhabitants of both the mortal world and the “Nevernever.”
I found myself drawn into this collection very quickly; though they are short stories they are filled with well-developed characters, vivid scenes, deep plotlines, and plenty of action to satisfy most any audience. I award this book 4.5 stars and plan to check out more of the series for myself in the near future.
My husband and I managed to see this over the weekend, no kids in tow! It’s amazing to think it’s been fourteen years since the original was released. What’s even more amazing is how an animated feature film that’s family-friendly can be so relevant to today’s world. Thanks to Matt Watson for sharing this post.
Pixar are about the only studio that can get me to the cinema to see a super hero franchise. When the sequel was first announced, I thought that they were leaving it a little too late in the superhero zeitgeist, but it turns out that the fad never ends. With the core Avengers series not wrapping up until next year, and several franchises in various phases of reboots and reimagines, it appears as though Pixar were right on the money.
Their were children in the theatre, which was weird. I assumed that this franchise was for people who watched the original fourteen years ago, and had spent the time in between not doing much of anything. Except waiting.
It’s only just occurred to me that some of us could’ve had kids of our own in that time. I’m glad I’m not one of them. 80% of the…
Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara is just your typical small-town girl-she works hard to make ends meet, hangs out with friends at the neighborhood watering hole, fights with her devoutly religious father, and occasionally runs afoul of local law enforcement. That is, she’s typical until you take into account the “small town” is actually a colony on the moon, and she augments her work as a courier with running a smuggling operation that is mostly ignored and tolerated by the Artemis government.
As far as smugglers go, Jazz has integrity and a conscience-no weapons, no drugs, nothing overly dangerous for the fragile bubble-domes that support life on the unforgiving surface of the moon. So when she’s approached by wealthy businessman Landvik Trond to sabotage an entire industry whose by-product is life-giving oxygen, she has to think twice. When said businessman is murdered in his own home and Jazz finds the body, she knows she’s in trouble.
Jazz learns from the Artemis governor, Ngugi, that the man sent to kill Trond and herself works for a powerful Earth-side mafia organization with designs on taking over the colony. She then enlists her friends and allies to find a way to stop the takeover bid. However, a glitch in the life support systems leaves Jazz the only person awake and capable of stopping everyone on the moon from being killed. The smuggler with a conscience chooses to risk her life to save the inhabitants of the domes she calls home.
In Artemis author Andy Weir skillfully weaves sci-fi with action, thrills, and gangsters in a book that transcends genre. Parts of the story reminded me of Total Recall, particularly the oxygen drought and the journeys on the surface in EVA suits, but the story of Jazz, told in first person, is unique and special in so many ways.
The complex central character is both an anti-hero and a heroine in her own right. She is self-involved and openly runs an illegal operation, but despite that she is a good, moral person who will go to any lengths to protect her family and friends.
This book was a choice for my local book club and I had not seen so much as a summary of the action before I began reading. I will say the novel was completely different than my expectations, but I was hooked from the very beginning. I rate this book a full five stars and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of empowered female characters, sci-fi or thriller stories.
Dorothy said it best when she repeated the mantra, “There’s no place like home.” I could ask one hundred people and probably get one hundred different definitions of the word “home.”
For some the term invokes images of a physical building, for others it’s a person or group of people, and for still others the word implies a concept. Most of us equate “home” with feelings of warmth, safety, and belonging. We all desire a safe place, where we will not be judged for being ourselves, where we can find acceptance and love.
Sometimes home is not so much a location that we go or occupy, but an ideal, a dream of what can be, or what we aspire to. What we call “home” in our heads or hearts could be a memory from childhood, even if the physical site no longer exists. (If your home fits into this category, then you can say you carry it with you wherever you go.)
Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time working on projects around my personal nest. I’ve decluttered, painted, planted, and visited every home improvement store within a fifty mile radius. I’ve helped my husband assemble a video doorbell system, and watched technicians install new appliances. Why all the fuss? For the sole purpose of breathing fresh life into the space my family and I have called ours for fourteen years.
I work from my home, so it’s even more important to me that the place I live is comfortable, attractive, and neat. Separating my work and other activities is not always possible, but at least I can create a space where I don’t mind spending my time.
At the end of a long day, I am more than ready for some quiet time to unwind, to read a book or watch TV with my husband, and just enjoy being home. Does this make me a homebody? I don’t really mind the label. As nice as it can be sometimes to get out, or go away, I always look forward to returning to the place we call home.