While I don’t often read so-called self-help books, I was gifted this one for Christmas this past year by someone who is really a big fan of Jordan Lee Dooley’s podcasts and blog, so I decided to read it and was definitely impressed.
The author takes a positive, optimistic view of life-as we make it for ourselves-and who doesn’t need a little extra help being positive in today’s current world crisis? She uses simple language to layout her views, and shares her own experiences in a straightforward manner that draws the reader in and allows us to relate to her as if we were having an intimate, one-on-one discussion at her kitchen table.
Dooley shares with the reader that our attitude and perspective can make all the difference in how we view our lives, our goals, and our current situation and living conditions. She uses the reasoning that we can actually turn our circumstances around being simply changing our point of view-we simply need to view failures as learning opportunities, setbacks as a chance to try a new direction, and uncertainties as a time to evaluate and refocus on our goals.
The overall theme of the book is its okay to be who we really are, and not just the idealized labels that we want others to perceive as us. We are human beings, and worthy of love without having to earn it through our achievements, work ethic, or whatever demands we place on ourselves.
I feel the author raises a lot of good points, and while the book is more geared to the female mindset-she addresses the reader as “Sister” frequently-I feel that many of the “truths” she shares are applicable universally.
This is definitely worth reading for any who needs a little boost in spirit or a little help in finding their purpose in life (and who doesn’t need that from time to time?) I give this book five stars.
I hope you are all well and as safe as possible in this time of anxiety and rampant illlness. I do not need to tell you about the pandemic we are all experiencing in some way; I am sure you have been bombarded by news reports and seen evidence of the long lines in grocery stores and the numerous closed or limited-operating status of businesses in your area.
Here in Ohio the governor has ordered all unessential businesses to close temporarily. This includes hair salons, movie theatres, and shopping malls. Fortunately, my husband’s job is one he can do from home, and my daughter’s job is in security, so she is still working. My son is in construction so he may soon face a layoff until things settle down.
As for myself, my day job is in a large warehouse type store that includes both a grocery store and pharmacy, so we are still open for normal hours, though there have been numerous changes made to policy to protect both workers and customers.
I get to see and experience so many people using various degrees of caution as they brave leaving their homes for necessities. It is both frightening and heartening to see the response to the new rules. Most are actually grateful for our precautions.
I know the constant worry over the threat of the pandemic hangs over all of us like the constant gray skies we seem to be experiencing in this first week of spring, but I urge you to not lose hope. There are responsible officials and medical personnel making good decisions and searching for treatments. Hopefully, in a few weeks or by summer we will be seeing fewer new cases of the virus and perhaps things will begin returning to normal.
The best thing we can do right now is take advantage of the enforced time together with our families. Re-discover (if you haven’t already) the joys of cooking a meal together. Play board games and watch old favorite and new shows on the endless availability of streaming services. Catch up on sleep, and take care of your health by eating healthy, finding time to exercise, and reading books. In my area, the library offers a huge selection of e-books available for digital checkout, no trip to the library required.
Above all, I hope you follow the safety recommendations to protect yourselves and your families during this time of crisis. You will all be in my prayers.
Twink drank deeply from his mug of green beer, and then wiped his mouth on his sleeve with a sigh. “These American college kids really know how to celebrate the old holiday,” he said to his companion, Curly, who like him had a mug in his hand as they sat on a brick wall at the edge of campus, watching the sun go down on the merrymaking students.
“They certainly do get into the spirit of things,” Curly agreed. “Ready for the next round?”
Twink nodded as Curly snapped his fingers and a pitcher floated from a nearby table, unnoticed by the loud group of revelers who sat there.
Twink and Curly were part of what were known colloquially as “The Little Folk.” They, along with a number of their kin, had immigrated to the States to get away from political unrest in their native country. Their group had chosen to settle down in the forest area surrounding a medium-sized university. While a few knew of their presence, most remained ignorant since they only showed themselves to those of Irish descent or those who proved trustworthy.
The pair refilled their mugs from the pilfered pitcher and were just about to partake, when a low, keening cry reached their pointed ears.
Turning as one, the diminutive duo quickly turned sharp eyes toward a line of trees that edged the campus, obscuring a bike and walking trail that ran along its parameter.
“Not a good night to be out in the woods alone, even as sparse as they are here,” Twink said. “It weren’t hurt to have a look.”
Curly merely sighed, sat down his mug on the low wall, and settled his pointed hat squarely on his head, then hopped off the wall to follow the sound, which now was louder and had taken on a note of panic.
Silently popping toward the trees, the two made their way unobserved toward the source of the noise. Not far along the trail they spotted a pair of men in dark clothing, covered in tats, who appeared to be in their thirties, much older than the norm for college students. They were holding a young female at knife point between them, as tears streamed down her face and she shook her head defiantly.
“Oh now, what’s got the lass so bothered?” Curly cooed. He had a weakness for tears, especially from a young innocent.
“Looks like those two ruffians are upsetting her!” Twink declared. “Well that just won’t do at all, especially on Our holiday!”
A quickly whispered consult decided the fate of the two men. It wouldn’t do to allow such mischief, especially if they were not the cause, on their chosen turf.
Sparky popped behind one of the men, while Twink took on the other one. At a nod, they each grabbed their chosen prey by the scruff of the neck, blinking them out of sight of the young woman, who suddenly discovered she was standing alone on the dark trail.
The two leprechauns reappeared only a moment later, their victims in tow, just above the manmade lake on the other side of campus. A second later, the nearby partygoers heard a tremendous splash as both the assailants were dropped unceremoniously into the water.
While many of the bystanders only pointed and laughed at the scene, a few were sober and responsible enough to call campus security. The officers who arrived to see the pair struggling out of the lake quickly recognized them as being wanted for assault, robbery and a number of other crimes. They grabbed the two and slapped cuffs on them, leading them to their patrol car.
One of the men protested, “You have to help us. We were minding our own business, when we were grabbed by invisible men and dumped in the middle of the lake!”
Officer O’Malley only chuckled, “Sure lad, tell me another one. You must have done something to call the wrath of the Little Folk down on yeah!”
“The little folk? What are you talking about?”
“The Little Folk don’t take kindly to those who harm others, especially on Their big holiday. You’ll be lucky if their done with yeah.” Officer O’Malley smiled as he looked in his rearview mirror, and a small figure in a pointed hat, perched on the top of the rear seat, winked back at him.
The moral of the story is: if you are up to no good, beware, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. You never know when you may earn the wrath of a group of transplanted Little Folk.
In his avocation as an enigmalogist, Jeremy Logan has investigated the truths regarding hidden pharoahs’ tombs, spectral hauntings, and the catacombs of Romanian castles, but even he is skeptical when his friend Jessup suggests that a series of murders could be connected to the Blakeneys, who are suspected by many to be lycanthropes. Logan’s search for the truth will bring him into several confrontations, including examining his own ethics and moral responsibilities to friends and the world at large.
In this fifth book of the Jeremy Logan series by author Lincoln Child, Logan travels to a retreat in the Adirondacks in an attempt to complete a paper related to his day job, as an historian. Of course, due to a series of mysterious deaths, he is forced to use his “side line” as an enigmalogist to investigate.
An old college friend, now a forest ranger, approaches Logan about several hikers who have been literally torn apart in remote areas of Adirondack State Park. The coroner cannot conclusively identify an animal as the culprit, and the few clues left suggest something more sinister is to blame. The investigation reveals several suspects; including a paroled murderer who has committed gruesome murders in the past, a disgraced scientist who faked his death to continue his research in peace, and a local family that live in nearly complete isolation from the local community and keep entirely to themselves.
I was amazed at the author’s chilling description of the final monster-the sight, sound and smells he describes create a vivid picture of science and nature gone mad, in a way that perfectly paints the scene for the reader. The confrontation itself was well done, and the chase at the end was exciting and poetic in its conclusion.
That being said, despite the numerous twists added by the various supporting characters; from the secluded Blakeneys, to the poet/woodsman Albright, the treacherous and naïve Feverbridges, and the philosopher/ranger Jessup; the overall plot was disappointedly predictable at a few points. I have read and loved the other books of the series, so perhaps I had certain expectations of how the main character operates and reacts, but the author seemed to draw on several devices from other stories, including ones he as co-written.
Still, the story is good, and fans and those new to the series will find this is an entertaining story, with elements of the paranormal, mystery, and action thrown in. I give it 3.5 stars.
I just had to share this post I found about the meaning of International Women’s Day. Thanks to Judy Leigh for her thoughts on the importance of not only women, but all people, and the best way to love and care for others, by starting with yourself.
Today is International Women’s Day and there’s much debate about whether we need a day to celebrate all women. It doesn’t take long to realise that we’re not there yet in terms of gender equality – experience and statistics speak for themselves: in the workplace, in terms of pay, in terms of prospects, even in […]
Take a novel that is one part survival story, one part murder trial story, with a subplot of love, heartache, and retribution thrown in, and you have the plot for author Delia Owen’s first fictional book.
The bestselling author of nonfictional books about wildlife brings her expertise on nature into this story, as the main character, Kya, describes her home of the marshlands off the coast of South Carolina. Kya’s isolation, thanks to being abandoned by multiple family members one-by-one, leads to her total immersion and dependence on her environment, culminating in her becoming an expert on the marshes and their importance to the world.
The author’s descriptions of the world where Kya lived are both beautiful and heartbreaking. The narration flows like the poetry Kya often quotes throughout the story. While the story weaves backward and forward through time, the author slowly moves focus from 1952, when Kya is first abandoned, to 1970, where her fate will be decided in a court of law.
Along the way, Kya faces prejudice, hardships, and loneliness, but ultimately finds peace in her surroundings and love of friends and recovered family. Looked down upon by the local population because of her seclusion and poverty, she is labelled “The Marsh Girl,” a figure of scorn and ugly rumors.
Her perception by the locals as an outsider, even a savage, is in part what leads the local sheriff and the town in general hold her responsible for the death of a local celebrity, and try her for murder based on the most circumstantial evidence. Luckily, Kya has a few true friends and honorable people in her corner, who seek the truth and stay beside her till the end.
I truly enjoyed this story. It covers so much, in terms of plot and time, and includes several unexpected twists. While there are plenty of stories where children survive alone in the wild, few evolve to a point where the characters are able to cast social commentary on the behavior of a small town, or reach the heights of becoming published authors. Kya is truly extraordinary, and the life she leads is exemplary, all the more so because of everything she goes through.
Saying that, I was astounded at the direction the author took in the last chapter, the very last page, that through everything I thought about the book and the characters into an entirely new light- I really didn’t want to believe the ending. This ending is the sole reason I give this book four stars; perhaps that seems unfair, but the last twist seems completely out of sync with everything I’d read up to that point. Still, this is a very good book that I’d recommend to many readers, of mysteries, survival stories, and stories about strong female characters.
Over the weekend, my husband convinced me to watch the movie Dr. Sleep, which is currently available on Redbox. For those not aware, Dr. Sleep is the sequel to The Shining, both of which are based on books written by Stephen King, published in 1977 and 2013, respectively.
The fact alone that Stephen King was the author tells the viewer there will be some elements of horror in the story, though this particular one also has action and paranormal elements.
The movie opens with events immediately following the events in the first book/movie, where a traumatized Danny must deal with the experiences from the Overlook Hotel, as well as the death of his father. The denizens of the Overlook are still haunting him, until he learns to “lock” them in boxes in his mind. Unfortunately, he cannot so easily brush off the trauma, and a few minutes in, we switch to an adult Dan Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor, who is in his mid-forties, and a struggling alcoholic.
It takes a visit from the spirit of Dick Halloran, the character from the first movie who taught Danny about his “shining,” (aka telepathy) for Dan to make any headway in life. Dick’s appearances are far and few between, though, mainly serving as an expression of Dan’s conscience in times of turmoil. It is Dick’s prodding that leads Dan to assisting Abra, another young character who also “shines” when she is appears on the radar of the “True Knot,” a group of immortal beings that feed off the shine of young victims to survive.
Through a well-paced plot, we discover that Dan has largely suppressed his powers, but he cannot ignore the needs of the patients at the hospice where he works as an orderly, a practice that earns him the nickname Dr. Sleep. He also cannot ignore the daily communication with Abra, who contacts him via a blackboard painted on the wall of his apartment. Through his connection to her, he is aware when she first encounters the True Knot, and recognizes their similarity to the beings that haunted Overlook.
When they come for her, Dan has to help. Bringing his friend/sponsor along for the ride, they stage a plot to trap the True Knot group and prevent them from taking any more victims. Events go south, though, and in a desperate attempt to stop the leader of the True Knot, Rose the Hat, Dan and Abra make the journey back to Overlook, hoping to turn its denizens against Rose, who is now hunting them. The story culminates with Dan being visited by the ghostly remnant of his father, and repeating the sacrifice Jack Torrance made in the book version of The Shining, (the movie version ended differently.)
I don’t often go for horror movies, but this one had more supernatural and paranormal elements to it than true horror. Yes, the audience got to revisit some of the creepier characters from the original The Shining, but the focus of the story was more on Dan’s reactions and fate following those events. Overall, the movie was very good, with just enough of a creep factor and an interesting plot. This movie should appeal to fans of the original, though viewing of the first film is not required for understanding. I give it four out of five stars, and recommend it to anyone interested in the genres of horror, supernatural, and paranormal stories.
Hello, everyone! In the past, I have used the week of Valentine’s to share some original poetry. I have a new piece I would like to share with you, that I wrote for my husband. Steve and I have been married for just over 29 years, so naturally we’ve been through a lot in our relationship, and it’s hard to pin down my feelings for him in just a few words, but I hope you enjoy my attempt.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
To My Valentine
by Amy Caudill
We’ve been together for so long now
That I can hardly tell where you stop and I begin.
Your every word has power over me-
When you tease, or criticize, or praise
I am affected by you as no one else can.
When you show you care; you remember; you think of me;
I feel your love for me
It’s more profound than a thousand proclamations
Written in the sky.
The little things you do and say
Mean more than grand gestures once made
By others who remain only in fogged memory.
Sometimes we are so close, and sometimes we seem so far apart
Even in the same room,
But we always are.
There is no me without you-and I no longer remember who I was
Where do you cross a line between evil deeds and good intentions? The eighth installment in the Dresden Files series has Harry asking just this question as, in carrying out his duties as a Warden of the White Council of Wizards, he must report the daughter of a friend for working forbidden magic.
A practitioner of black magic has summoned a number of beings from the faerie realm that feed on fear, and take the forms of monsters highlighted in a local horror-movie “con.” Only instead of being fictional like the on-screen characters, these “fetches” of faerie land actually kill, and keep killing, until Harry can locate the summoner who brought them into Chicago and stop them.
Young Molly Carpenter, (the oldest child of Harry’s friend and occasional comrade-in-arms, Michael, one of the Knights of the Cross) is involved in the “con,” and with several of the victims, but until he unwittingly turns the monsters against her, Harry is unaware of her true connection to events. By then, she’s already been taken captive to the Nevernever, and the strangest group of questers imaginable must follow.
Harry is joined by SI Detective Karin Murphy; his half-brother, the vampire succubus Thomas; a armor-wearing Charity Carpenter, who has issues of her own with Harry and magic in general; and is aided by the Summer Lady and her Knight as the company ventures into the heart of Winter, the stronghold of Queen Mab. Will they be able to find Molly, and save her from a fate worse than death? Will they even survive the quest?
And should they return successfully, will Harry have to see Molly put to death by the White Council for breaking one of the laws of magic?
Jim Butcher just seems to keep getting better and better in this series. The “universe” he has built keeps expanding; with characters, subplots, and major storylines continually building on each other and spiraling outward with each successive novel. Harry Dresden has come a long way as a protagonist, from a lone wolf wizard to a friend, brother, comrade, and mentor to a whole family of characters.
While each book can be read as a stand-alone, to really understand the background I recommend reading the entirety from beginning to end, as I’m working my way through currently, anticipating the release of the sixteenth book, Peace Talks, in July of this year. I award Proven Guilty five stars and recommend it to readers interested in paranormal and urban fantasy series, as well as readers of paranormal detective stories.
Today it is my pleasure to participate in a cover reveal for the latest addition to author James J. Cudney’s Braxton Campus series, Frozen Stiff Drink. This is the sixth book in a “cozy mystery” series that has enchanted readers since the release of the first book of the series, Academic Curveball, two years ago, and which I actually reviewed last fall. See my review here:
Here is the cover for his soon-to-be-released new book:
About the book:
A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead, and second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?
Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.
Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.
When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!