A Silly and Fun Read

Having a Ball! (Adventures in Ghostsitting, #4)Having a Ball! by Misty Simon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most of us go home at night, eat a little dinner, read, catch something on the television, and then fall asleep so we can do it all over again the next day. Rinse and repeat for most of our lives.

That is what Danner wants more than anything. To live the quiet life indulging in her secret art works and fantasy life which centers around her landlord. Her only bit of intrigue stems from her business working on people’s taxes and her occasional outings where she goes to her regular club. At least, that peace and quiet is what she thinks she wants.

When a grumpy gnome decides that Danner is officially his new master, everything falls apart in the time it takes the pizza guy to deliver the pizza her unwelcome houseguest is perpetually demanding. Matters only get worse when a magic eight-ball loves nothing more than to provide only the most obtuse answers.

“Having a Ball, Adventures in Ghostsitting,” is best described as a silly, sassy, fun book. There is plenty of room in our literary lives to enjoy something that deliberately takes us to a place where we are not thinking about the troubles of the day, but are increasingly obsessed with the havoc driven train wreck of a life Danner has.

Well written, well-paced, and full of characters who are likable, Having a Ball, by Misty Simon, is well worth the trip in my opinion. My highest praise of any book is that it did what it needed to do, entertained me. After all, isn’t that what good literature is supposed to do?

My only issue with the book, and this was indeed minor, is that there was too much lust driven inner dialogue with Danner. I don’t mind some of it, but it was a little thick in some parts. However, at no point did it make me want to put the book down.

Some have pointed out that there is not really a ghost in the book at all. While that is true, I wouldn’t get too wrapped around the axle with that point. It is a fun read even without a ghost.

I can recommend you read “Having a Ball, Adventures in Ghostsitting” if you are looking for a great read that adds some of that missing funny silliness in your life.


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Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The word justice is a slippery thing. We think we understand it. We seldom ever do. So, what is justice?

I just finished reading “Where the Crawdads Sing”, by Delia Owens. I am going to warn you that if you are reading this and thinking about picking it up, you may want to grab a box of tissues as well.
To begin my review let me say that the story itself is gripping and pulls you along nicely. With vivid imagery and a world built so imaginatively you can just as easily visualize pulling up to Jummpin’s to fill up you boat or wandering through the labyrinthine maze of grasses along the banks. I know the areas (marshes and waterways) where this novel is set and can attest to a beauty which is captured in this novel.

Characters are extremely well crafted to the point where you cannot help but love them appropriately and hate them when it is equally appropriate.

In this world you watch Kya navigate a world that she not only isn’t a part of, but also doesn’t seem to want her either. In it you are confronted with a girl left abandoned who survives on her wits to reach a good measure of success despite what she has going against her.

And, as many good books go, that is when it all goes terribly wrong.

Kya is not without her friends. But she constantly keeps them at arm’s length. Something that she ultimately realizes is her way to keep people from hurting her. She learned, early on, that people are not only unreliable, but they will abandon you.

I am not spoiling anything when I tell you that her main troubles ultimately surround a boy she mistakenly falls in love with. Another person in her life who will hurt her.

Delia writes in such a way as to keep you guessing all along the way. I found myself rethinking the situation several times and from several different angles. My heart raced when all seemed lost and worried about a little girl named Kya that I watched grow up.

In the end the story left me contemplating this one question.

So, what is justice?


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Review: Payable on Death

Payable on Death (Jax Rhodes #1)Payable on Death by Rachel Rawlings
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Modern life is hard. It is considerably harder when you are from the bad part of town. Far worse when you have made a deal with the devil. Enter Jax. I have just recently read, “Payable on Death” by Rachel Rawlings.

First it is important to explain that Jax, the main character, starts out the book in a situation which seems, at first glance, about as bad as it can get. And you would be so very wrong.

Jax is kick ass to begin with. Her style has been honed over years of having fight a battle for her very soul. A war which has been waged by demons lurking around every corner. Little does she know that in the game of eternity, she is a pawn. Jax, decides it is time to turn the pawn into a queen and take the fight to the demons. Her fate may be written in stone, but she decides to take the rest of them with her if she can.

Well written and an engaging story, the characters are believable and lave a quality which makes you care for them. Rachel crafts a second world around modern-day Baltimore which is frighteningly not that far from the reality of Baltimore, but I digress.

A good dose of romance mixed in which normally is not my thing, but it is all so well done I enjoyed it.

I will warn potential readers that this is what I call a dense read in that there is a lot going on in the conversations and depictions. Tons of detail for people who are into those kinds of dense reads. And yet, the story still moves along at a good pace.

In the end, I very much enjoyed reading, “Payable on Death” by Rachel Rawlings and I am sure, if you like dark paranormal thrillers with a dose of romance thrown in, you will too.

-Bryan the Writer

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Review: The Unforgivable Sin

The Unforgivable Sin: When Heaven is lost, the killing begins. (The Hanna Braver Series Book 2)The Unforgivable Sin: When Heaven is lost, the killing begins. by D.B. Corey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have said it before, and I will continue to say it that you can judge a book by two factors which are inseparable from each other. Do you fall in love with the characters and do you wish that book would never end?

For I would argue that when a good book ends, you should feel a sense of loss like a good friend who is leaving you for the last time. And when something happens to the characters, you need to worry about them, feel for them, be sad for them.

Years ago I wrote a review of the wonderful book The Lesser Sin. It was a few years in coming, but I was ecstatic when the next book in the series, The Unforgivable Sin was released.

The main character of the series, Hanna Braver, is continually facing what some might refer to a s a crisis of conscious. Her family is seemingly targeted because of her actions, which were undertaken as the most noblest of intentions.

While Hanna struggles with real life and trying to deal with the ill fate of her own life, she finds a glimmer or hope in it all. But that hope is short lived as the ones who want her dead are resilient in their resolve.

I am not going to pepper this review with spoilers, but suffice it to say that The Unforgivable Sin, the second in the Hanna Braver series, is a masterfully written, engaging, and fast paced story which I can highly suggest.

The author, D.B. Cory is an amazing writer and I can’t say enough about this amazing series.

-Bryan the Writer

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Thoughts on the Word ‘Disability’

Disability is a word. 10 little letters which make up a word in the English language that carries with it the weight of the entire world. It can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To some it looks like a person in a wheelchair who relies on machines or some sort of mechanical means to get around, or even live. To others it means a mobility issue which prevents them from doing some things, but still allows them to do most of the things they enjoy. To others it’s a scary word since they have no idea what’s going to come next.

To me, the word disability is not a noun, it’s a verb. Instead of simply being something that defines a state, it defines an action. Like a long path which plunges into a forest so thick and dark you can’t see the end of the path at all. You have no idea if danger lurks on either side of the pathway, or if you have navigated past the worst of it.

I’m very fortunate in my situation. My day job is one that allows me to take time off when I need it. Days like today, for example, when the pain of fibromyalgia (if that’s truly what I have) is too much and the struggle to appear to feel well overwhelms. My job allows me to function without having to do things like lift heavy objects, work in the hot sun, or any other physically demanding effort which may be too much for me.

Like I said, I’m very fortunate. There are many out there who suffer and can’t do what I can. There are those which have it far worse than I do, but I’m also relatively early in my journey. That path through the forest is still very long, and the furthest point that I can see is still very dark.

The biggest problem with fibromyalgia is that on the outside, everything looks fine. Unless you are having a very bad day where you need a walker or a cane, from outward appearances everything looks fine. You can imagine my shock the last time I went to a doctor’s office and, having my x-rays taken, when the doctor told me that my joints were fine. I wasn’t expecting that. My joints had been killing me for two months straight.

That was when the word fibromyalgia was spoken. I must admit, there was a part of me that was prepared to hear it. It’s not necessarily that I wanted to be diagnosed as much as I wanted a diagnosis. Being surrounded by pain in the joints and muscles is bad enough, but it’s worse when you don’t know what’s causing it. Truth be told, we still don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, it’s just a thing. That’s the difficulty of it all, at the end of the day it’s only a thing.

A while ago I was at a convention selling books. It just so happened that there was a tarot card reader there. I’m not a big believer in tarot card readers, but we struck up an interesting conversation because I thought that her advertising was great. During our conversation I said, “You know what, why don’t you do a reading for me?” She told me something that I have to admit I wasn’t prepared hear. She said, “Soon a question would be resolved in my life. And that answer would lead to making some hard choices.” She also said that eventually I’d learn to live with those answers. I would find my new sense of normal.

Like I said, I’m not a big believer in tarot card readers. But her words cut deep. To be clear, I hadn’t told her about any of my ongoing health issues. She only said to think upon the reason that she was doing a reading for me. In essence, what situation in my life would I like more answers on. I thought about my health issues.

I bring this up only because shortly after that I was talking with a therapist. I was discussing my health issues with him. And he said that I would need to find a new sense of what is normal. He said that I would have to learn to accept whatever’s going on in my life and make some hard choices about how to accept my situation.

I shared with him my experience with the tarot card reader. He laughed and said, that’s ironic.

There still a ton of questions out there. I’m going to need to figure out the best way to answer those questions. It occurred to me that I’m trying to answer all the questions all at once. I need to learn answer the questions as they come. Take them on, one at a time. And ultimately do something I am not good at. I have to learn to forgive myself.

What about my writing? Well right now I’m not typing, I’m dictating. It works well for the most part, and it saves my finger joints for the important tasks like opening beer. No matter what comes next, I will continue on my creative journey.

-Yours Truly,

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Taking Care of the Greatest Machine Ever

The curse of the modern age is that life moves at a speed human beings were never meant to sustain over the long haul. And since media of all kinds tells us we must stay ahead of everything simultaneously, we end up hurting ourselves along the way.

A consistent diet of 24 hour news, the latest app, the newest TikTok video, Insagram, Snapp, Facebook or whatever else society has told us is important this very second comes in a never-ending deluge courtesy of our connected world and there is no way to stop it.

Or is there?

Look, there is nothing you are going to do to hide from it all. Buying an old school cell phone has become almost impossible as the salesperson will likely look at you with derision and disdain. You can’t go into the store and buy a small screen television anymore that is incapable of remaining constantly updating you an every conceivable place you can rent the latest blockbuster. Short of digging a bunker in your backyard and lining the walls with lead and concrete, you are pretty much stuck in the modern world.

So, what to do?

Try this. Go into a dark room, sit on the floor or a comfortable chair, and close your eyes. Keep them closed for as long as you can and try to let your mind do nothing. See how long you can do this without the overwhelming urge to check your phone, computer, etc. And do you know what happened while you were indulging in a little moment of peace? Nothing.

Likely nothing changed in the world in that short amount of time that you would have had an instant need to know. Most of what we force ourselves to get all wrapped around axle about is self-important nonsense. No need to know almost 80 percent of the stuff we are assaulted with on a daily basis and the other 20 percent could have likely waited.

Sitting in a dark room being absolutely quiet is a form of self-care. Did you know that for all of our technological advancements in the world, the human being is still the most advanced piece of machinery on the planet? Like every piece of machinery, we need some downtime too. We have to recharge and restock our resources.

About six months ago (maybe longer) I decided to try something I had never tried before. I went to a sensory deprivation chamber to float. Complete darkness, almost complete silence, floating in a pool of therapeutic salts. It is 90 minutes of quiet time and the most amazing thing happens when I do this.

Peace

I go to a place called OmFloat. It is located in Ashburn, VA and it is a 90 minute investment in myself. It is all me at that time and it allows me to clear my mind of all unnecessary nonsense while just focusing on the machine that is me. I listen to my heartbeat, my breathing, and the way my body seems to just disappear into the water as I can no longer tell where I begin, and the water starts.

When I leave, I enjoy a sense of peace for a while as all of the stress was literally washed away.

Maybe floating is not your thing, that’s fine. But I highly recommend it. I don’t think I am breaking any confidences by sharing with you the link below. If you live near Ashburn, VA. check them out. It is time well spent!

http://www.omfloat.com/

Until then, be at peace everyone!

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Review: The Airship Also Rises

The Airship Also Rises (Take to the Skies #3)The Airship Also Rises by Katherine McIntyre

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The hardest part about finishing any series is having to stay good-bye to old friends. There is a feeling of sadness when the characters that you know and love must inevitably dance off into your “read” pile. Today I finished the last in the Take to the Skies series, “The Airship Also Rises”.

For those of you unfamiliar with the rest of the series, this is the third and final installment in a series including “An Airship Named Desire” and “A Tale of Two Airships”.

Katherine McIntyre is an inspired author. She tells a story which calls you in and keeps you glued. Most important to any novel, are characters who you fall in love with. Most importantly, you grieve when something happens to them.

In this installment, we find our intrepid Captain Bea and her crew plowing the skies in search of something they need more than anything, a future. Plenty of battles, witty dialogue, and exciting steampunk to keep anyone thoroughly engrossed, I keep finding myself wondering if there is yet another adventure for the crew of the Desire at some point.

At any rate, “The Airship Also Rises” is well written and fun. I will miss the crew who will live on in my imagination and will likely be pulled from my shelves to be reread sometime in the future.

Three Cheers for Katherine McIntyre!

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Review: A Tale of Two Airships

A Tale of Two Airships (Take to the Skies, #2)A Tale of Two Airships by Katherine McIntyre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I not sure where to begin a review. It is kind of like I want to start with the excellent writing, although maybe I will start with the excellent characters, maybe the excellent settings and scenes. Maybe I will just start this one by saying, A Tale of Two Airships by Katherine McIntyre; making armored corsets sexy again!

I loved A Tale of Two Airships. Naturally I read the first book in the series and found I needed more! The tale is an engaging one, a steampunk setting with characters who you can see in your mind’s eye.

I often say the mark of truly great writing is when you worry about the characters as you are reading. What I mean is when one of them dies, you are sad for that character; when one of them is in peril, you don’t stop reading until you know they are safe. This is what the Take to the Skies series offers in spades. Even an inanimate object, the good ship Desire, is written in such a way that you are concerned for its well-being.

While I think it is possible to read this book without reading the first in the series, you are going to want to read the first one. Heck, buy them all at the same time. There are things in the first book which lend themselves to why people are taking certain actions and making certain decisions.
Not a heavy read, by any means, Katherine enjoys telling a good story and doesn’t weight it down with tons of extraneous stuff. Like a good roller coaster, it leaves you with that awesome feeling in your tummy by the time you are done with the ride!

I hate female fictional characters who are strictly one-dimensional cliches. Captain Beatrice is not some flower who wilts in the sun. As a man, I like a good female character who is still feminine, but will run into battle with me, screaming her head off and slicing through the enemy. And then she’ll buy the first round at the bar for her crew. In short, Beatrice is a character who is equally likable for men and women alike.

She also has enough of a backstory to ensure we know exactly how she has these skills in battle. She comes by her battle gravitas honestly. As she does the honor of serving as captain. In this book, there is now shortage of likable characters.

I could go on, but you shouldn’t spend your time reading my review. Start reading A Tale of Two Airships!

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Where Do I Want to Go With This Writing Thing?

Funny thing about being an author. People make some assumptions right away. They will reach one of these three conclusions about you with little evidence to support any of these arguments.

  • You are a millionaire recluse who hangs out with other luminaries in a secret cave beneath your mansion (or maybe that’s Batman)
  • You sit in your mother’s basement, screaming at her to bring you a PB&J while criticizing the fact that she didn’t cut the crust off of the bread and it stifled your creativity. Now you are forced to regain said creativity by playing Call of Duty for thirty-six consecutive hours.
  • You say you’re an author, but it is really just a cute hobby and you will never really amount to anything.
    • BTW, this last one, you can tell these people because they will often say things to you like, “So, how’s the book coming?” They say this because they assume it is something you have been working on for years and will never finish. These are also the people who generally don’t take time to hear anything you say.

The reality is that all authors have goals for their writing career and they vary from one author to the next.

Fun Fact: Every time I sit down to dine with other authors, I have a massive impostor complex. I start fidgeting and sweating a little as I realize I am surrounded by greatness and I can’t help but feel like I don’t belong.

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One of my first book shows!

I was at a convention recently and there was a guy who came up to me and told me he was excited to meet me and said he was impressed by my work. I had to look around me to make sure someone wasn’t standing behind me.

That interaction got me to thinking that while we all want to be the headliners at a book show, there really is ever only one headliner and the rest of the tables have to get filled by someone. No matter where you are in your writing career, or what table you occupy, you may be someone else’s headliner whether you know it or not.

I hate looking at the world that way. I want to hide in my corner and stare in awe at the likes of other writers who have a good following and show up to shows and literally run out of ink in their pen they use for signing books because they have that many autographs to sign.

I remember what it was like being the new writer who stared in awe at the authors sitting at their tables, selling their books and talking to customers about their work. Today, I am the one sitting at the table and I hope to never forget there is a writer in the corner of the room, staring at me, longing to be where I am at. Most of all, I am constantly reminding myself to always contribute to the community of writers.

This brings me to my goals. What are my writing goals? I have a friend who is an amazing writer. When he gets shipments from his publisher, the publisher’s name is one we all know. I am honored to call him a friend. We all want to be there, but I am just not ready yet. I’ll get there by writing word after word, but I am not there yet. And that is just fine with me.

Right now I am comfortable with going to shows, meeting customers, and talking about my work. No, I am not burning up the Amazon charts, but I am okay with that. For today, I am content with working every day toward my goal of becoming a full-time writer. It might be that it is a retirement job for me. And if it is, then fine. I am okay with that too.

What are your goals? No matter what they are, I’d like to hear them as a source of inspiration! Send them to me at bryanthewriter@bryannowak.com or post them below!

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