So… That Was A Flop

I’m a little done with attempting new ideas with regards to getting book bloggers and indie authors together for now as there seems to be little to no interest. I will post anything interesting that I find in my own search on the off chance that it helps someone else out, but for now, there will not be a listing of participating bloggers. Sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up in that regard.

Book Review: Shadow’s Bane, Dorina Basarab – Book #4

Author: Karen Chance
Book Name: Shadow’s Bane
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Series: Dorina Basarab
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy/Urban/Romance
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
4 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. As one of the Vampire Senate’s newest members, Dory already has a lot on her plate. But then a relative of one of Dory’s fey friends goes missing. They fear he’s been sold to a slaver who arranges fights—sometimes to the death—between different types of fey.

As Dory investigates, she and her friends learn the slavers are into something much bigger than a fight club. With the Vampire Senate gearing up for war with Faerie, it’ll take everything she has to defeat the slavers—and deal with the entirely too attractive master vampire Louis-Cesare….

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Series Expectations: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

It had been a while since I’d read any books in this series so it took me a bit to get back into it. Once I did, I was kind of kicking myself for taking so long to pick this one up, because I really enjoyed it, even if I’d felt a little lost at times because I’d forgotten so much.

I’ve enjoyed all the other books in both this series and in this world, so I don’t have a clue why I hesitated. I really like all the characters and the world and always have. I think the one thing, and it is the thing that maybe holds me back, is that these do tend to be long and sometimes feel slow even with all the action going on. You also have that constant feeling of Dory being knocked on her butt, barely getting back up and then getting knocked right back down again before she’s even gotten then chance to catch her balance. That can be hugely frustrating because it feels like you don’t get anywhere. It was great getting to see the new direct interaction between Dory and Dorina in this book, though.

I’m really torn on what to think and feel about Mircea. Anyone that is reading both this series and the Cassie Palmer series sees two very different people being presented in each of them. I get that the books are supposed to focus on Dory or Cassie (depending on the series), but Mircea is a huge tie between them and is impossible to push to the side. Especially when you have a book like this that spends a lot of time focusing on one point of his history.

As always with these books, this was a hugely entertaining read, even with the pieces I feel like I’d forgotten. It may mean it is time for a reread marathon of the two different series.

Eagle Trail Hike

Our first hike of the trip was the 2 mile Eagle Trail. I really wanted to do this one in particular because of some of the pictures I’d seen online. They had shown that it had a lot of different interesting features. What I didn’t pay any attention do was the difficulty. Difficulty isn’t something that I’d ever really paid a whole lot of attention to, mostly because there isn’t anything like that around here.

Tree Root Covered Trail Floor
Tree Root Covered Trail Floor

For this trail, the difficulty wasn’t in incline or altitude change so much as how uneven a surface you were walking on. If it wasn’t a woven crisscross of roots, it was haphazard rocks. There were a couple of points near the water’s edge where the trail got incredibly narrow, which was fun when you ran into people hiking in the other direction.

Mossy Rock Lined Trail
Mossy Rock Lined Trail

The first third or so of this trail was heavily wooded with a few smaller rock formations along the way. It was such a rich, dark vivid green, it was almost unreal. I hate that none of my photos even come close to doing it justice.

Wooded Pathway
Wooded Pathway

It sort of reminded me of the kind of scenery you’d see in some fantasy movie with an enchanted forest, but not the dark, creepy kind. It was so pretty there under the trees. I could have spent hours in there just taking pictures and would have if it had just been me and not the entire family.

Moss and Fern Covered Mall Cave
Moss and Fern Covered Mall Cave
Rock Step Pathway
Rock Step Pathway

Once you got closer to the water’s edge, there were a lot more rocks and the landscape and feel of the space really changed, becoming harsher. Even though we were really close to the water, sometimes within a few feet, there weren’t a lot of places to see out onto the water because it was still really heavily treed.

Small Rock Wall Topped In Misshapen Trees
Small Rock Wall Topped In Misshapen Trees

One of the things that was really fascinating along this hike were all of these little cave like areas. Some were way bigger than others, able to hold multiple people and others would have been barely large enough for a small animal den. None of them went very deep into the rock, but were enough to give a sense of space and wonder. These were some of the kids favorite places to explore along the way.

Rocky Caved Area With Lone Tree
Rocky Caved Area With Lone Tree

The middle third of the hike was this really rocky area along the base of the bluff and the water’s edge. This was one of the most difficult areas of the hike because of all the rocks and how many narrow paths you had to take. There were more points where you could see out across the water, but there were still a lot of trees along the shoreline, which is something that kind of surprised me in general about the peninsula.

Eagle Trail Rock Formation Cave
Eagle Trail Rock Formation Cave
Tall Rock Bluff
Tall Rock Bluff

By the time we got past the last of the bluff area, things got back to being similar to how the hike started before thinning out even more. Even though it was only about a 2 mile hike in all, it was still pretty intense. I didn’t get any pictures after the rocks. Mostly because I’d already taken way too many and what I was seeing wasn’t much different, but also because I was about out of gas and getting cranky. I discovered the backpack I was using had a rough spot that rubbed on the skin on my shoulder since I was wearing a tank top and had to have my hand around the strap to protect it. We were all pretty wiped out at that point and were more concerned about just getting done. As exhausting as it was, it was an amazing hike.

Book Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Abbi Waxman

Author: Abbi Waxman
Book Name: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Women’s Fiction

Blurb: The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

Let’s do this one a little differently, shall we? All the normal review pieces to follow.

10 Things I Learned Reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill:
(Please read the below with extreme levels of sarcasm and snark; in a shrill excited tone if you prefer)

1) It is absolutely just awesome to have a “gay guy” as a fun accessory. This isn’t seen as offensive at all because it is just so cute and adorable and trendy! This amazingness is magnified when you find out you are actually related to one of THEM!

2) Being pretentious and judgmental is so THE thing and it makes a person unique and quirky and oh so funny!

3) When meeting previously unknown family members, it is like running into a copy of yourself. You will have this amazing, instant connection and have EVERYTHING in common all because of genetics. Having that blood tie means you are instant besties. Even the nasty ones turn around eventually.

4) Don’t you know? Women are ONLY irritable when their period is impending or they have a brain tumor, silly! The brain tumor is preferable.

5) If you have any feelings at all that aren’t perfectly positive, then you just need to get over it. No need to sit and dwell on those things as they are unimportant and get in the way. Besides! It is just SO easy to do!

6) Of course millennials are drunks! Don’t you know that wine fixes absolutely EVERYTHING!?

7) Who DOESN’T relate to the most instantly recognizable and common smell ever? Hasn’t EVERYONE smelled the inside of dogs’ ears?!

8) If you want to fit into the Pompous American crowd, you must say things like “properly” to describe nearly everything and use phrases like “Fancy a cup of tea?” You aren’t properly Pompous if you don’t.

9) Women expecting men to want to actually get to know them for what is between their ears is so last year! It is absolutely okay to fall in love with a guy who can’t bother to listen to the words coming out of your mouth because they are so lost in their heads dreaming about anything and everything BUT what is coming out of your mouth. It is also okay to let go of any and all standards if they give great sex. *vigorous head nods*

10) Here is just the best!! (Feel free to drop the snark) Apparently it is okay to still write books in this day an age that disparages nearly every single subgroup that could in any way shape or form be considered “different” by dragging out the extreme levels of stereotypes and mocking them for being who they are.

Okay, that last may be a tiny bit of an exaggeration when I say every group, but it is still very applicable here. I’m not sure I’ve read a book that tried so exceptionally hard to be unique and quirky only to land as an extreme cliche’ instead. I also don’t think I’ve read a character that has come across as nearly so pompous and judgemental and disparaging of others, which is quite a feat as she had enough of her own issues, the last thing she should have been doing was pointing fingers at anyone else’s faults.

To summarize, I did not like this book. I didn’t find the humor funny, nor did I find the character the least bit cute or quirky. Even if I could take those things away (which was a huge chunk of the book), I wouldn’t have cared one tiny bit about the romantic aspects because they very nearly didn’t exist. A couple of conversations that contain less than a dozen words each and suddenly you “know” the other person. Uh, nope. Doesn’t work for me and made worse by the truly awful “make-up” ending.

I was only at about the 20% mark when I began really wondering what all the fuss was about and why on Earth so many people love this so much. I was ready to put it down, but I really wanted to figure it out so I finished it. I still haven’t figured it out. I get sometimes needing to just laugh at the world around you, but this really missed the mark for me.

 

Overall SPA: 2 Stars
2 Stars

 

 

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2/5 Stars
Believability: 2/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 2/5 Stars

 

 

Just At The Edge

I’m sticking with words about pictures today because if I were to give you other words, they’d probably be ugly and frustrated as that is very much the mood I’m in today.

As for the words about pictures, I took a ridiculous number of photos of water while I was away. Moving, reflecting, tiny waves breaking, splashes and just whatever I could try to get while I had it in front of me. This is one of many favorites from the trip because of the point in time I managed to capture this one. It is the moment before the little wave falls completely over the edge of the rock. I have so many in this sequence, both before and after, I could probably turn it into a video, but this one stood out for me. I’m certain I’ll have more water pics in the days to come, but this one seemed really fitting for today, that feeling of hanging on the edge.

Dandelion?

There were several of these outside of the place we were staying. I didn’t get many flower photos while I was gone as I felt pressured to “move along” and not take the time to swap out my lenses. I took the time to get this one, though because it was just so similar, yet different.

Yellow Dandelion(?) Flower
Yellow Dandelion(?) Flower

I say it is potentially some form of dandelion only because the flower looks like one. But, these were probably close to 3 foot tall and I’ve never seen a dandelion that is more than a few inches, unless it is the fluffy seed head that grows taller. Even that isn’t much more than maybe a foot or so.

Yellow Dandelion(?) Flower
Yellow Dandelion(?) Flower

There were so many really similar features, but on this they seem exaggerated, longer and ganglier than what I’m used to seeing in a dandelion. Even those fun little curls seemed to be so tall they couldn’t hold themselves up. The loops seem longer and don’t have the same clean, smooth curl a traditional dandelion seems to have (see image below).

Dandelion Curls
Dandelion Curls

I have no idea if this is in fact a dandelion, but it has to be some kind of very close relation.

Hanging My Head In Shame…

…or it could be banging my head on the desk. Right now, the two look very similar. After nearly 14 hours of non-stop data entry and tweaking what I thought I’d had in place before I lost everything with the Windows update, I had managed to get to a point where I thought I had nearly every base entry recovered. I did realize that there was a chance that my previous database wasn’t pulling my DNF numbers out of my overall books read count, so I couldn’t tell for certain what all I was missing. I had lost a lot of the smaller genre tags that I’ve created for my books and any notes I’d made, but I mostly had any new books added, give or take a few. I’d somehow lost some of my reread and DNF numbers, but for the most part I’d felt pretty good at what I’d been able to recreate.

I went to shut down the app and saw that it was somehow STILL tied to that Onedrive folder and I did not want that. I go to hunt down how to break that tie and see the folder has 4 instances of my database. All with different names and versions. Guess which version was in there? Guess what I learned about the search feature in Microsoft? It doesn’t search the Onedrive folder. Guess who was livid to have wasted nearly 14 hours of work? I was nearly in tears for the second time.

Yes, I’m thrilled to death I found my original database. I haven’t lost anything (that I can see so far), so that is a massive positive. I’m still pissed as hell because that version in the Onedrive folder had a different name entirely from the database I was using. The database I was using didn’t actually exist on my hard drive anymore because it had been replaced by that older version. This is something that should never, ever happen. Even if this had been an Office update rather than a Windows update, it should have never happened. Those files never should have been touched in any way, shape or form.

I’ve moved my active database to a different folder, hoping to prevent something like this happening again. It is in the same location I keep my photos as that is on an auto backup for my external drive, so hopefully that will mitigate any future problems.

I’m trying really hard to be grateful that I didn’t actually end up losing anything and going with the “lesson learned” mindset, but it is hard to do after the work I put into trying to fix it all. Yes, I probably (REALLY) should have found that Onedrive folder before I went to all that effort, but I had no clue that it didn’t show in search results when looking for files. I never even considered that would be the case. I do appreciate this process has pointed out a potential error in my numbers and forced me to remember my database needs to be backed up on a regular basis. None of that changes how pissed off I am at the whole damn mess.

I also need to go through all my Goodreads entries again, because I could have sworn my numbers were a little higher in my database before I lost it, so I still think the version I got was at least a few days behind, if not a couple of weeks. That means that even though I’ve recovered my data, I’m still not done having to go through it all and trying to find problems. *sigh* I just want to sit down and read!!

 

Book Review: What You Did, Claire McGowan

Author: Claire McGowan
Book Name: What You Did
Release Date: August 1, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Overall SPA: 3 Stars
3 Stars

 

 

Blurb: A vicious assault. A devastating accusation. Who should she trust, her husband or her best friend?

It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again.

When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted—by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying—but which? And why?

When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2.5/5 Stars
Believability: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 3/5 Stars

This book has left me really torn. How do you like a book, but not like any of the characters? That isn’t to say they weren’t well written, because I think they were amazingly written. I just thought that there wasn’t really a decent human in the entire mix. Every single one was self-absorbed and self-serving to one degree or another, some being exponentially worse than others. This includes the kids. If I had to say that one character was at least partially likeable, it would be Bill, but even he had issues.

I had originally liked Ali, or at least felt a sort of understanding for the position she was put in, but as the story moves forward and she begins to make certain choices, I really soured on her and her self-serving motives.

Even though I didn’t like the characters, the story still worked well. There were directions I saw the story going and it did go there. Then there were a couple of twists I did not see coming at all, which I really enjoyed. I think I probably would have been perfectly content to say that this was a really good book until I hit the final chapter. That felt like it was just a bit too much and pushed me into eye roll territory because it didn’t feel necessary and took away from all the drama that had just occurred.

Please note, anyone that has issues with rape will probably find this a difficult read. Not because it goes into graphic detail or glorifies it, but just with everything that surrounds it and the ever present attitudes towards victims.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Feel Like Crying and Screaming – Technical Difficulties

I have lost a year and a half of book data from my personal database. I went to enter my latest read and something looked off when I opened the app. When I realized my dashboard didn’t have all of my latest changes I was really confused. Then I went to look at the latest entry and it was from early in March 2018.

How could I have somehow reverted to an extremely old version of said database you ask? Why Microsoft, of course! My computer demanded I update my version of Windows the other day or I would no longer be on a supported version. Multiple hours later and me giving up to get sleep instead, I log in and everything seems to have upgraded with no problem. Until I opened MS Access.

Apparently, the idiots missed a glitch that pulled information from their useless Onedrive folder (which I had disconnected from almost immediately after testing it out as it was glitchy as all hell and only useful for my grocery list, so I’m still baffled at the version I got), and OVERWROTE the database stored on my computer. You do NOT code upgrade software that at anytime EVER overwrites personal data files on a computer!!! Dipshits in QA need to have some conversations with my Hubby to learn how that shit is supposed to be tested.

I was absolutely devastated. I have been keeping track of my books for YEARS in this database. Constantly making tweaks and changes to make it better, easier to use and pull the kinds of information I’m looking for. I do also keep track of my books on Goodreads, thank goodness, but I keep so much more information in my database that I can’t keep track of in Goodreads (personal notes and where I reviewed it for example) and is why I kept using it after I found Goodreads. It doesn’t help one tiny bit that I’m a bit of a flake sometimes and forget to enter a book in both locations. Yes, I can probably recreate what I’ve lost, but it is going to take me hours if not days and I’m most likely not going to be able to get it all.

I’d also made some significant changes in the last year. New reports and summaries I was keeping track of. All of it is gone. I could absolutely kick my own ass about the whole thing as well because I JUST got a new external hard drive to back up all my important stuff, like my photos, and somehow I managed to overlook backing up my database, otherwise I would have only lost maybe a week or two of books. Believe me, I have dug and searched all through my computer and my version no longer exists in any form.

I’ve slept on my grief over the loss and I’m still infuriated and frustrated, but the only thing I can do is whatever I can to rebuild it. I’m trying to see the positive side of this in that I didn’t get a version that was years older than the one I got, but it’s incredibly hard to see any loss as positive. I’ll be getting my review  written and posted, but then I’ll be buried in my Goodreads and Amazon records working to get it all back. I can only hope it doesn’t piss me off any more than I already am or my computer may grow wings and fly out the window. Whether that window will be open first remains to be seen.

 

First Wisconsin Sunset

The very first night we got into Door County, we took enough time to get checked in to where we were staying and drop off our bags before we headed right back out even though we’d been in the car for well over 11 hours. We wanted to scout out a few areas before the next day and we needed to hunt down some place to eat.

The first place I wanted to check out was a place to get a good view of the sunset that I’d found on Google maps. It looked to be the ideal spot.

Late Afternoon Lake Michigan from Door County
Late Afternoon Lake Michigan from Door County

I especially loved the small pool of water with only a small strip of shore between it and the lake. When we checked the spot out, only 1 person was there with their dog. Little did we know that everyone else on the peninsula also thought it was the ideal sunset viewing spot. When we came back after doing a bit more scouting, it was packed with people. Since it wasn’t an official park, there wasn’t any parking and the road just dead ended at the shore, so everyone was parked along this narrow twisty piece with a really steep incline.

Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan

There were very few spots to stand to get pictures as the shore was lined with people in chairs and sitting on the rocks. I was really thankful that the area right in front of the little pool was open. I did have to avoid a couple of heads and dogs trying to photobomb me, but I managed to get several awesome shots.

Sunset Clouds Reflectio
Sunset Clouds Reflectio
Clouded Sunset Sky on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset Sky on Lake Michigan
Dead Tree In Water At Sunset Lake Michigan
Dead Tree In Water At Sunset Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan

We only stayed until the sun dropped below the cloud line before we left. We were exhausted from the drive and wanted a chance to just go chill out for a while without being surrounded by people and gnats. The clouds gave us a stunning sunset, but made it impossible for us to get a good night for star viewing so we didn’t even attempt it that first night.

Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan

Book Review: Loving Henry, Kate Lawson

Author: Kate Lawson
Book Name: Loving Henry
Release Date: June 24, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life/LGBTQIA
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
4 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Henry’s mother gave him up for adoption and although he’s been the most loved boy in the world, he always wondered why his birth mother gave him away.

Elizabeth wanted a son, a little man to dote upon, but she always worried he would leave her one day, like the man she had intended to be his father.

Rachel had to give her son up for adoption, just like her mother gave her up when she was born, but she always wondered, what if…?

A chance encounter changes their lives forever and brings to light emotions all three have been trying to suppress. Can they all move on now their lives are entangled, especially when they’re all holding on to the secrets in their past?

Loving Henry is a novel about the search for identity and purpose, and an examination of the true meaning of family.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

I always have a soft, squishy spot for stories about family, especially ones where the families are built on more than just blood and genetics, so this was a really good fit for me. The characters came across as fallible and human, without dipping into stereotypes, making them relatable. This gives a good look into some of the issues that can come up with both adults and kids that have been adopted as well as seeing it from the perspective of those adopting and those letting go. It was nice to see all those different perspectives. I wasn’t pulled in quite as hard emotionally as I would have expected given the subject matter as this didn’t take me to extremes and is probably my one ding to the overall rating for me. Otherwise, this was a really good story.

Other areas of note (not included in the SPA rating):

Cover: 4/5 Stars: I had to note that I really liked this cover and the simplicity of it. It just feels really calming and soothing.

Northern End Of Door County Peninsula

These were all taken from the boat launch spot we found for our first night of star viewing. It is one of the very few spots we found that didn’t already have at least a half a dozen people hanging out, but it is obvious that others had been there before us.

Balancing Rocks
Balancing Rocks

We really found this spot at a perfect time. The sun was just beginning to set on the other side of the bit of land that juts out to the side. It created some really pretty effects on the water. And yes, I spent a stupid amount of time taking pictures of the water and the splashes and the little bitty waves that were coming on shore.

Small Waves on Rocks
Small Waves on Rocks
Small Wave Splash on Rocks
Small Wave Splash on Rocks

The boat launch was in this good sized slightly enclosed bay on the very northern edge of the Door County Peninsula. It was surrounded by private homes and properties, so it was quiet. Granted, nearly the entire northern tip of the peninsula was on the quiet side and one of the the things I liked the most about where we ended up staying.

Rock Edge At Boat Launch
Rock Edge At Boat Launch

This entire section was a rock beach. It kind of blew my mind how the different areas we visited had different types of beaches, all so close together. Someone had found a butterfly in the rocks and built this little memorial around it.

Butterfly Memorial
Butterfly Memorial

We had mainly been looking for a place to look at stars that first night, but we found a really beautiful place and spent a little more time there than I expected. The kids acted like little kids, getting all excited about this rock or that. It became a thing for them to get a small rock or two from every shoreline we visited. This place made it really hard for them to only choose that one or two.

Small Wave Splash on Rocks
Small Wave Splash on Rocks

Book Review: What Doesn’t Kill You, Willa Pennington, P.I.- Book #1

Author: Aimee Hix
Book Name: What Doesn’t Kill You
Release Date: January 8th, 2018
Series: Willa Pennington, P.I.
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Crime Drama/Suspense
Overall SPA: 2 Stars
2 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Favors are for suckers, especially when they lead you straight to a dead body

Willa Pennington thought that becoming a PI would be better than being a cop. She thought she’d never have to make another death notification or don a bulletproof vest again. She thought she’d be safe.

But she couldn’t have been more wrong, because Willa’s real problem is that she’s always sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. And people really don’t like that.

Now, agreeing to do a simple favor has netted her a dead body, a missing person, and an old friend who just may be a very bad guy. If whoever is trying to kill her would lay off she could solve the murder, find the missing girl, and figure out if the person she’s trusted with her life is the one trying to end it.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2.5/5 Stars
Believability: 2/5 Stars
Peeve Factor: 1.5/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 2.5/5 Stars

This one ended up being only an okay book, and just barely at that, for me for a couple of reasons. I really have a difficult time with crime/police drama books that disregard the most commonly known beliefs about police procedure and practices. This book seems to stretch, bend and break a lot of those. No, Willa isn’t a police officer, but she manages to get involved in this case and access to things that a non-police officer should never get. It doesn’t matter if she was a former police officer. She wasn’t even a detective, just a basic officer, which makes those breaches even worse in my opinion.

The other major issue was how utterly all over the map Willa’s character is. Is she a hormone driven idiot? Or is she this composed, put together professional? Does she have a moral core or does she have no compunction at all for breaking rules and laws to get the results she wants? Is she a bumbling amateur without two brain cells to rub together or is she a bit of a badass that knows her shit? All the different parts of her personality tended to contradict themselves, making her character seem flighty and difficult to like. I could never pinpoint how old she was supposed to be because her levels of maturity weren’t consistent. More times than not, she seemed like a willful, bratty teenager and not someone who was old enough to have ever been a police officer.

To add to the pile of peeves, you get this weird, annoying thing where everyone in any authority gives her whatever she wants because she is apparently brilliant. More so than the actual police and federal agents working on the case.  See the above comments about her coming across as a bumbling amateur and you will see why this was an even more annoying occurrence. And why I really wasn’t a fan.

 

Getting School Minded

This is that crazy week that seems to be full of getting the kids ready to go back to school. Yesterday was registration for both MC and BG, but it was the last for MC. That is one of those gut knotting moments when you get an in your face reminder that one of your babies isn’t so much a baby any more. This will be his last year in high school. He will actually be graduating this year. With honors. I know this is only one moment in a long string of moments that will happen this year to hit me like this. I also know that all of them will be over and gone in a blink of an eye.

BG is taking yet another step into finding out more of who she is as she has been invited to be a dance assistant at her studio this year. It is sort of a big step for the awkward, slightly introverted girl she is. That means she will be adding another two hours to her time at the studio every week. It also adds at least one more performance to her end of the year recital, which was already getting an additional performance because she is now in the oldest group of dancers, reaching her own not a baby anymore milestone.

My babies aren’t babies anymore and haven’t been in a long time, but it still hits when you see these moments and recognize them for what they are. My kids are growing and becoming little adults and I’m so not ready for it. Are you ever?

A Drunken Road

This road is along the very northern edge of the Door County peninsula of Wisconsin. I’m sure we would have run across it at some time as we tried to explore every inch of this area, but were told about it from the lady at a candy store (Uncle Tom’s if you are really interested in some AMAZING fudge). Hearing about it, we were like “It’s a road. How interesting can it really be?” How about FUN more than interesting?

I think we drove up and down this road half a dozen times before calling it quits because it was so much fun. This stretch isn’t really that long. Maybe half a mile or so, if even, but it was kind of like riding on a kiddie roller coaster. One that isn’t too crazy, but just wiggly enough to entertain really young kids. Apparently we are really young kids at heart because driving this was hilarious and fun. Who on earth decided designing a road like this was the way to go?! Whoever it was, I’m glad, because this was so silly it was awesome making it worthy of its own post. It was also such a notable feature of the area that it is on a lot of the souvenir merchandise as well.

Your blog posts may be harvested illegally

For those that have not seen this issue you yet, you might want to take a deeper look as this concerns anyone that has content they would want to protect in any way.

Writer of Words, etc

I have been made aware by one of my UK followers that tygpress.com, a scraper website, has illegally harvested content from WordPress blogs (like hers, and mine).

She saw her content there, and was upset (understandably). She told me she saw at least one of my posts there as well.

This tygpress site is hosted by Digital Ocean. You can google all of this to your heart’s content – quite a few people have posted on their own blog about this illegal practice, and how it has affected them, and what they are doing to protect themselves (although none of it seems to be foolproof, unfortunately).

I clicked on tygpress myself, worried that they have harvested my other blogs…but they’re down currently. This is the message that comes up:

Worst part, I think they might be generating revenue from this practice…(but I can’t check it out at the moment…

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Book Review: His Secret Family, Ali Mercer

Author: Ali Mercer
Book Name: His Secret Family
Release Date: September 11, 2019 (ARC)
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life/Mystery
Overall SPA: 2.5 Stars
2.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. White roses scent the air and the summer sunlight streams in. A spoon chimes against a champagne flute and the room falls silent. And there he is – my husband – getting to his feet to propose a toast. He’s still handsome. His new wife is next to him, gazing upwards, oblivious.

I’m not supposed to be here. All these years in the same town and I had no idea until I saw his name on the seating plan. He lived with me, once. Loved me. Small-town memories are long, but the people in this room don’t want to remember.

They say the healing is in letting go, but after what he did, he needs to know we haven’t gone away just because he’s shut his eyes.

So I take Daisy by the hand and step forward from the shadows. He notices us and his eyes widen. The champagne glass falls from his hand and smashes. Then he sags forward, making a terrible sound – a sort of strangled scream…

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2.5/5 Stars
Blurb: 2.5/5 Stars

Peeve Factor: 3/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 2/5 Stars

*Potential Spoilers*

Looking at the name of this book. Reading the blurb and the first piece in the book (noted as the foreword in my copy) and you get the impression that you are going to get a pretty intense and potentially emotional book. I was really excited about this when I read the blurb. Getting it and reading that first section, which is sort of an expansion on the blurb, made me feel like I’d made a really good choice.

Once you get into the book, you get chapters that cycle through 4 different character perspectives. Ellie, Ava, Jenny, and Paula. None of which are the one name that was noted in that first piece that drew you in. I can see how this may create a deep sense of mystery for some readers, but for me, it was more frustrating trying to understand what that first bit had to do with anything at all as it seems completely unconnected to what is going on immediately after that.

I don’t mind the alternating character perspectives. That is something I normally enjoy, but with the 4 you get in this book it felt a bit too much. Ellie, Ava and Jenny’s timelines all run mostly concurrently with tiny bits of overlap in events here and there. Paula’s is more fluid and doesn’t run in line with the others, creating an additional level of confusion for the reader when attempting to make connections because you don’t know that her timeline isn’t running the same as the other characters. It takes a very long time before you see that and any of the pieces begin to fall in place.

There is this small thread through the story that runs more along the lines of paranormal. I really enjoy paranormal stories, but that isn’t what this story is about and it feels out of place.

Ellie and Paula’s characters were probably the most well rounded and interesting. Their perspectives were the pieces I liked the most throughout the story. I did not like Mark at all as he was a self-absorbed narcissist to the core and I have issues with characters like this (yes, they are realistic and human, but this is a personal thing for me). I didn’t see him as redeemable in any way. Getting his perspective for the final chapter bumped into one of my peeves as I’m not a fan of that kind of perspective inconsistency in a book. When you already have 4, you really, really don’t need one more at the very end. Ava wasn’t too far behind Mark in being the self-absorbed, often bratty teenager. The teenager thing being the only reason I was willing to overlook some of her personality, but she seemed to get worse as the book went along. Jenny was a character that I just couldn’t find much of interest in. While she wasn’t entirely selfish, she did seem to be the type that was easily blinded by materialistic things.

Overall, I didn’t feel like the book really lived up to the dramatic, intense blurb or the title. I love situational drama. I love emotional drama. I do not love manufactured drama and that is where most of the drama is derived from in this book, through those differing timelines and the dragging out of events followed by a 10 year time jump towards the end. The actual events weren’t that dramatic. The big secret isn’t really a secret, either to the reader or to the characters. What little bit you do get at the end feels anticlimactic because, as the reader, you see it all unfold. The character reactions to it compound that feeling as it ends up not being any kind of an issue for them either. The pieces of this story that should have been sort of emotional volcanoes for me, just weren’t. I don’t know if it was because of a lack of connection to the characters or if it was the way those pieces were written, but it sort of felt like even the characters were experiencing the events they were going through from a distance rather than directly.

I do think it should be noted that some readers may find they have problems with how some issues were presented and dealt with in this book. If you have problems with cheating, you may have issues with this book. If you have problems with how people on the Autism spectrum are sometimes viewed and treated, you may have issues with this book. If you have problems with how mental illness is sometimes viewed by some people or some of the ways it was treated historically, you may have issues with this book. These aren’t normally things that stick out for me, but I found I really disliked many of the situations surrounding these issues and how they were presented in this book.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Last Sunset, Lake Michigan From Wisconsin

Next to the goals of seeing the stars and getting some hiking done, I really wanted the opportunity to get some awesome sunset and sunrise pictures. We were going to be in an ideal place to do this, so I wanted to take every chance I could. Turns out, there is way more coastline that is enclosed in trees than there is open access, so viewing spots were limited for the public. We found this spot on our first full day there. It wasn’t a waterline spot, but there was enough room to land a spot to take pictures. Not much, but enough because it was also popular, like all public viewing areas are.

Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan
Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan

I was worried a bit that it wasn’t going to be an “interesting” sunset since there weren’t any clouds, but the sky still put on an amazing show of color and the water threw a lot of that right back in stunning reflections.

Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan
Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan

At one point, I had turned to ask Hubby something as he was standing behind me and I just could not resist this creative shot. It inspired a few others later in the trip, but this is probably my favorite. If you look closely, you can see the number of people that were at the edge of the lookout.

Sunrise Reflection In Sunglasses
Sunrise Reflection In Sunglasses

I kept taking pictures until the sun dropped below the horizon. I have so many I could probably come close to putting together a sunset video with all the frames.

Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan
Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan
Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan
Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan
Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan
Cloudless Sunset, Lake Michigan

After that final speck went below the waterline, the sky reminded me of some of the fill options in early graphics programs I’ve worked with (really early Corel Draw, I think). There was so much color in the sky. It isn’t something I normally get to see at home with all the trees and obstacles in the way, so I was thrilled to be able to get these.

Rainbow Sky After Sunset On Lake Michigan
Rainbow Sky After Sunset On Lake Michigan