05 July 2016

When Reality Becomes Real - The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

The book starts out with a haunting prologue laying out the fates of some of the production team members that are part of the reality show. A disturbing beginning that is quickly forgotten as you are introduced to the reality show as it plays out for the viewers, which is sharply contrasted by other chapters which lay out the point of view of one contestant in particular who is now off on her own for a solo challenge.

Before I go forward, read this excerpt of the prologue -

The first one on the production team to die will be the editor. He doesn’t yet feel ill, and he’s no longer out in the field. He went out only once, before filming started, to see the woods and to shake the hands of the men whose footage he’d be shaping; asymptomatic transmission. He’s been back for more than a week now and is sitting alone in the editing studio, feeling perfectly well. His T-shirt reads: coffee in, genius out. He taps a key and images flicker across the thirty-two-inch screen dominating his cluttered workstation.

These contestants have been brought together for a survivalist challenge - what's real? what's not? At first it's easy to tell, fake props, fake set ups. But as you get into the weeds of the solo challenge with the main character who you are watching, you do wonder...what IS reality here?

This book has stayed with me long after it's over. I just finished it yesterday afternoon and it still isn't over in my head. I think of what the main character saw and what she lived through. The book has chapters in third person that portray each of the contestants as reality show caricatures (Waitress, Zoo, Tracker, are some of the nicknames assigned to each of them) Each playing their part as reality show producers have created for them (either knowingly or unknowingly). Then there are chapters where have the first person account of a contestant off on her own (unsure who this was at first but after a while you do realize her former caricature; surprisingly, we don't learn her real name until the end) as she figures out clues and where to go next.

This book was a surprisingly excellent and I'm not much of an outdoorsy person. But honestly this is as close as I will ever (and ever want to) get to living outdoors and being a survivalist. Although it does leave me with the feeling that I should brush up on my skills at least a LITTLE bit. There were some gruesome parts I had to flip past...some religious doubt/criticism that I wanted to skip past (and thought was mildly unnecessary, but didn't distract me from the story when I did move beyond it). Again, the story stayed with me long after it was over. It was a disturbing and adventurous story all at once. Honestly the experience and the setting was so vivid for me that when the character became thirsty, I took a sip of water. 

This is a highly recommended book for the summer and if you have any mild enjoyment of reality shows, outdoorsy or survivalist themes, or even mild apocalyptic type of themes, I highly recommend this story. I know it will take you by surprise.

Purchase this on Amazon today.

Best of all, I get to giveaway this book to one of my lucky readers! All I would like you to do is to comment with what sounds interesting to you about this book! Ends 7/25.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I included an affiliate link with this post which I receive small compensation if you purchase through my link.

21 June 2016

My Resolutions for the Second Half of This Year

Happy Belated New Year!

 I feel like June is a great time to dig out the dusty resolutions and re-evaluate them. So for me, there's a few on the list that I've long since forgotten. For one, this story I promised myself I'd get published this year, I'm ready to move onto other things for a while. Well, I got too deep in the editing and revising weeds and lost sight of whether or not the story was any good so I need a healthy step backwards. 

Then I'm in need of some exercise which also means I'm in need of some better walking shoes. I'm thinking about these New Balance shoes or these Naturalizer shoes. 

I kind of accomplished an unintentional resolution! I refamiliarized myself with some of the books in my bookshelf. I haven't read so many in so long that I felt like I fell in love with so many old favorites again. I kept saying to myself, "I forgot that book! Ooh! Ahhh! I forgot THAT one! Oooh! Ahh!" So I re-read a huge amount. That was pretty awesome! Now I have plucked out the ones that I should probably donate or try to sell.  And that is a resolution for part two of 2016.

My blog. Oh how I've neglected the blogging community I once enjoyed so much. I don't really know where to begin to resolve anything there, but maybe starting with one normal post a week. Today I knocked out a couple, that does make me feel better about things. I once read that a writing blog can do more harm than good for a writer. See, once you get to talking about writing than it can feel more fun to talk about writing than to write. Well, I'm not sure I agree with that anymore so I'm going to see if I can pick up the steam on this and talk about the writing I'm not doing enough of with the community I've lost sight of. I hate that I ended with a preposition by the way.

Have you thought about what your resolutions were this year? What were they? Did you accomplish them at all?

This post contains sponsored links for which I received small compensation for including them in my post.

20 June 2016

The Battle With Your Inner Critic

My Muse vs My Anti-Muse

Don't you hate when you are writing a story and the little worm that's the inner critic peers at your story and goes, "You're kidding right?" It'll start to rattle off all the reasons the story won't work. If THAT doesn't stop you, than it starts to remind you of all the things you should be focusing on that isn't THAT story.

So that's when I seek out my muse which is tragically easily intimidated by the site of the inner critic (the anti-muse). But you know there are a few things that I find helps improve the strength of my muse in order to battle the inner critic.
1) Get exercise.

Lately it seems like the best approach to clear my head, which in turn, clears out that inner critic, is going for a walk. I head outside. Luckily this weather is suitable these days to clear my head - it's cool but not too hot - and since I can't afford to find a fitness instructor these days - it's also a good way for me to get exercise. I'm sure the wellness and fitness community in my heart appreciate my efforts to exercise!

2) Just go ahead and obsess on those worries for a while.

Once I listed out all of the things plaguing my mind these days and you know the second I did that, I felt better. I let myself obsess for a while and actually I've kept those list of worries and when the anti-muse hits, I'll look over those worries for a while and drop off that anti-muse onto THAT page and go back to the story I was writing before.

3) Be flippant.

The anti-muse may taunt and say that your first draft isn't any good, but you know what? All of the writing advice that I hear tells you that it's okay for your first draft to be crummy. As I write, I tell this to the anti-muse and it humphs and pouts and storms off.

So these days those are my three tactics for battling against my inner critic. What are yours?

This post contains sponsored links for which I received small compensation for including in my post.

03 May 2016

"All Things Cease to Appear" by Elizabeth Brundage [A Book Review]

I was lucky enough to receive a complimentary three month subscription to the Book of the Month club.  I'm by no means obligated to write this review, but I decided to for this particular book.

When you first start reading Elizabeth Brundage, you are having dinner with the neighbors living nearest to the couple who moved to town recently - the Clares. Then there's a knock at the door - the husband, the unlikeable George Clare, is holding his child and the the little girl says to the couple who have opened their door to them, "Mommy's hurt."

Thus the mystery begins. Wife and mother, Catherine Clare has been killed. But by who? But wait, there's another story to tell first.

That's when we meet the original family who owned the farmhouse that the Clares now live in. The Hale family. And they suffered their family tragedy - one resulting in a death.

My first impression

There are no quotations in this book. You get used to it fairly quickly, though. It's definitely weird at first.

I noticed a lot of the words associated with this book are "chilling" and "haunted" and "suspense." Those aren't quite the words I would associate with this novel. Close, but not quite.

The mystery surrounding Catherine Clare's murder doesn't get addressed until much, much later in the book. What follows that initial scene is the background of the Hale family and the marriage between Catherine and her husband George. George proves to be a cunning, smarmy, unlikeable con who only seems to fall apart when his image is threatened. Catherine, more likeable, but annoyingly devoted to a man who she soon realizes doesn't like her one bit.

Then the Hale boys. All three are troubled, all are likeable. You meet Cole who becomes more part of the story than the other two, especially with his loving nature towards Catherine's daughter. The three boys are strongly connected to Catherine as she makes a home for her family in the farmhouse they used to grow up in.

The farmhouse itself is haunted, although don't expect the usual jumps and creepiness you'd find in a ghost story. This isn't like that. It's more like the awareness of another presence in the room and the memories of the death that happened in the Hale family that Catherine doesn't quite figure out until later too.

My overall impression

This is a book filled with unhappy people trying to make their life work. It was a book that switched around points of view a LOT and once I felt like I got going with a character, it would switch around. It felt like I was riding in a car with a person who kept pressing the breaks.

But this book did keep me interested and coming back to it. I wanted to see how the lives of these characters played out. And despite how I knew things were ending up for Catherine, I wanted her in some way to get out of the situation.

I would recommend this book, especially if you sort of are interested in a challenging, troubling mystery that keeps you coming back for more. Not my top five picks but certainly worth reading. It stays with you.

Last week I wrote a blog post asking, will justice be done? Will Catherine's killer get away with it or will he (or she) be caught?

Well....I can't tell you without giving too much away. I can tell you it isn't quite the clear cut ending and justice that I was hoping for, but it was worth it. The ending was fair and that's pretty awesome to me.

If you want to read this book, purchase it now through Amazon. I also highly recommend signing up for the Book of the Month Club. They're offering a 30% off a 3-month subscription if you use the coupon code MAY30. Purchase the subscription today!

This post contains affiliate links for which I will receive small compensation if you purchase through my link. Which pays for things like coffee.

28 April 2016

Book Thought of the Day - Will Justice Be Done? #AmReading

I decided to try out a new feature to my blog and see how well this goes. I'm currently reading "All Things Cease to Appear" by Elizabeth Brundage. And I'm nearing the end of the book. The process of reading this book has been entirely revolving around, "Will the person who did this get away with it?"

You get to see first hand what this killer is doing and how he manages to get away with it, even when someone gets close to finding out. He STILL manages to get away. Well, the end of the book has jumped ahead about 20 years and now I'm plagued with that question still, "Will the killer get away with it?"

When I'm reading a book like this, when you have very little sympathy for the killer and what he does, I find that I'm so afraid that somehow this person will get away with it. Reading this book has been quite the ride too because it starts out with you know who died, yet you are following along her story and life for the rest of the book. It has some other complications thrown in of course and it is more than just a murder mystery book. It seems to be about the plight of the unhappy if I was being honest.

I sure hope it doesn't turn out the way I fear it will. But we'll see. I'll make sure to write my review once I'm done with the book.

By the way, I got this book through the Book of the Month club which I am now partnered up with in their affiliate program. Personally if my budget wasn't so tight right now, I would go for this subscription! It's a lot of fun and I find that I enjoy getting the mail each month. You can get 30% off your 3 month subscription by using the code MAY30, so subscribe today. This next month's book will be chosen by "How I Met Your Mother" star Josh Radnor.

Until then, what are you reading? I would love a suggestion! 

This post contains affiliate links for which I will receive small compensation if you purchase through my link.

20 April 2016

10 Scary Movies I Would Hate to be Stuck In

scary movies, horror movies

I have to say that I love a good scary movie. And the horror genre is one of my favorites to take a look at! (Except when it's gory. I hate that.) So there's a few movies out there that I've thought to myself, "I'd be miserable from the get go in that movie." Or some that have just stayed with me long after the movie has been done. So I was thinking about this lately - the movies I would absolutely HATE to be stuck in. Here's my ten -

1) Blair Witch Project

This classic movie that introduced the whole faux found footage to the horror genre. It isn't one of my favorites though and I have to tell if I managed to be stuck in this movie, it would be horrible. And horrible not because of the Blair Witch rumors. For me, I hate the woods and I don't like camping. I'm really sure I would make everything worse.

Check it out on IMDB.
Watch it now on Amazon 

2) Nightmare on Elm Street

Although this is a movie on my "watch list", I'm a little nervous about the whole idea of someone coming into your dreams and killing you in your dream for real. The whole concept would be pretty awful for me especially, because I dream so vividly. So, this one may be a must see but would be horrid for me to be stuck in.

Check it out on IMDB.
Watch now on Amazon.

3) Devil

It's one of the movies I really like, but you know what has recently changed my mind completely about whether or not I'd like to be stuck in the movie? This story about a woman in China who died after being stuck in an elevator for a month. Read about it here.

So considering the idea of not only being stuck in an elevator on a high rise, just think about the company you'll be keeping in THIS movie.

Check this out on IMDB.
Watch now on Amazon.

4) Cloverfield

My favorite monster movie! I am sort of a sucker for found footage horror movies too. And I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie's follow up 10 Cloverfield Lane (although not TECHNICALLY a sequel). But I wouldn't want to be stuck in this movie because aside from the fact that the entire city is under attack by a monster, I would NOT want to face those horrid underground spiders!

Check it out on IMDB.
Watch it on Amazon.

5) The Exorcist

The music for this movie is awesome, but there's a little too much in this movie for me to want to even be stuck in it for a minute. Reading the book is as close as I want to get!

6) It Follows

The concept of this movie is creepy - you sleep with someone and then the curse they've been carrying has passed along to you. The curse? Some creepy looking monster people only you can see start to come after you! Scary. I saw this one last year and it was VERY good. But it gave me a nightmare and so that killed the whole idea of me wanting to be stuck in the movie. The idea of someone unseen coming after me *shudder*. No thank you.

7) The Conjuring

I really like this movie and I love the transition from a pleasant happy start to something very disturbing and all consuming. One scene that gets me every time - that I still think about as I sleep - was when that one girl is in her room and smells something really nasty and then the ghost or SOMETHING near her bed starts tugging at her feet. Watch it here -

So no-go on this movie. I could not be stuck in this one!

Check it out on IMDB.
Watch it now on Amazon.

8) The Strangers

So I live in an apartment complex. So you wouldn't think I'd be this freaked out by this movie. But you know what? Any time I hear a neighbor come home late at night, I always think of this movie and how horrid it would be for some weirdo to knock on the door - AND NOT LEAVE. This would be way too terrifying and I don't think I'd be much help here.

Check it out on IMDB.
Watch now on Amazon.

9) The Mist

I think I'm most afraid of movies that include large mutant insects. This is one of them. I wouldn't want to be in this movie AT ALL. I do like it though, although [SPOILER] the ending was VERY stupid.

Check it out on IMDB.
Watch now on Amazon.

10) The Descent

Not a movie I have seen yet, but I know I wouldn't do well in this movie at all. The whole cave thing and spelunking and then you have these terrible awful things after you. *shudder*

Check it out on IMDB.
Watch now on Amazon.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through my link, I'll receive a small compensation. This pays for things like coffee.

19 April 2016

Book of the Month Club - A Great Subscription for Book Lovers [Coupon Inside!] #AmReading

Use Code Book10 for $10 Off! I am so excited to share with you my experience with the Book of the Month Club. I'm always an enormous fan of monthly subscriptions and so I was so happy to hear that Book of the Month Club does exist and it's very cool. How it works is they have a celebrity judge who selects the book for that month. It creates a personalized experience and I always feel like a person's book choices say something about them. So I'm always so happy to get some insight into the book selections of the judge, especially if it's someone I recognize!

Like this past March, the books section editor of the Oprah Magazine chose the book I'm currently reading, "All Things Cease to Appear." by Elizabeth Brundange . What's cool is that she gives an atmosphere to the book and let's you know why you should read it and why she likes it. She really sold me on this book in particular. Read what she said about the book here.

Best of all, if you want just more than the one book, you can also ADD books to your monthly book delivery for the additional price of $9.99 per book, which is especially cool if another book caught your eye that you had the chance to choose from.

I got to select my next book and I absolutely can't wait to receive it next month. Price-wise, I think this makes an excellent gift for a book lover. If I were buying me a gift, I'd get me this! Hehe. It's about $44.97 for a 3 month subscription and I'd say it's worth it.

Book of the Month April Selections Go Great with Coffee!

What's really cool is as that you can discuss the book with the book judge! I think that's so awesome! Most importantly, though, be sure you don't read so far down because some of the comments give away the story line.

Of course, with any book recommendations, there is always a chance you won't like the book. I'd recommend this subscription for people who consider themselves an avid reader and can enjoy just about any book, which that's how I think of myself. Not everyone is like that, though! But this is still a very cool gift to give to a bookworm, I think.

I am happy to say that you can also receive 30% off a 3-month subscription if you purchase using the code MAY30! Purchase now.

This post contains affiliate links for which if you purchase through my link I will receive small compensation. I also received a complimentary 3-month subscription in exchange for my honest review. 

06 April 2016

Chat with Author Nathan Rollins & Win Prizes! #AnyMeansNecessary

Ready to join me again for another Twitter Party?

This time I will be chatting with author Nathan Rollins about his exciting new book, "By Any Means Necessary." You will be SO glad you joined in, this sounds really good.

About the Book

Twin sisters. One brutally murdered. The other returning home. The police are doing nothing. And a killer is playing a game. He killed her sister to get her home. He wanted a challenge. He wanted a target who could fight back. Can she find the killer and do what needs to be done? Or will he win his twisted game.

About the Party

The party will be on April 24th at 2pm PST and make sure you use the hashtag #AnyMeansNecessary so I know you are joining in. 

If you haven't joined in a Twitter Party before, particularly ones with authors, I'll be asking Nathan some questions about his book and his writing process and then I'll be asking the participants some questions (meaning YOU) and you will get the chance to win prizes. PLUS you will have the chance to ask Nathan some of your own questions too!

Here's some of the prizes - 

Grand Prize - $15 Amazon Gift Card
5 Winners - $10 Amazon Gift Card

Make sure you RSVP below so I know you're joining in on the fun! Plus, be sure you are following me @BeingTheWriter on Twitter as well as author Nathan Rollins @Nathan_Rollins1. Enter your Twitter user name, link to your Twitter account home page, and your email (see how I've done it below). Also by RSVP'ing I'll be tweeting you a reminder to join in before the party starts, so you won't miss it!

And make sure you click the tweet below so I know you are joining in on the fun!

Chat with @BeingTheWriter & @Nathan_Rollins1 about his book #AnyMeansNecessary at 4/24 at 2pm PST RSVP to win prizes http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/2016/04/chat-with-author-nathan-rollins-win.html

Here are some disclaimers -

Winners to be announced throughout the Twitter Party. I am not responsible for shipping the prizes to the winner. Selections of winners are random and based on whether or not the participant has participated in Twitter party and include hashtag # in their tweets in response to questions asked of participants throughout the party. Prize winners will be announced throughout the Twitter Party and must follow necessary directions to claim prize. Please only RSVP once. Multiple RSVPs will not increase chances to win prizes. I have been compensated to host this Twitter party. I am not eligible for prizes.

23 March 2016

The Marauders by Tom Cooper [Review]

I had the chance to read the book, The Marauders by Tom Cooper. I have to tell you I was VERY surprised about how much I enjoyed this book. It's a heartfelt story that's kind of on the violent side in some moments, but in others, you really begin to care about these characters and understand them (even though quite a few of them are rough).

This book was a combination of things for me - a bit of comedy, a bit of tragedy, and a lot of Louisiana. The characters in the book struggle with two devastating environmental factors - Hurricane Katrina, and the BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill. You are first introduced to two brothers - the Toup brothers - who are looking out for their territory (which hides their very special secret stash of something special, if you know what I mean) and spot Gus Lindquist who is roaming a bit too close to their property. But Gus isn't looking for their stash. He's looking for gold. Since Hurricane Katrina, so much of people's stuff has ended up in the swamp which Gus collects and sells for cash. He has made his share of enemies by using his medal detector to sell off his findings, but things for him get much worse he realizes his prosthetic arm is gone.

But these aren't the only hardships we hear about in the tale. Next we have father and son shrimping team Wes and his father. Sadly, they lost Wes' mom in Hurricane Katrina, they both have been battling those memories since the day she was gone. Both are battling the impact of the BP Oil Spill as Wes' father struggles to keep himself afloat as a shrimp fisherman. But when Wes resolves to finish his boat and cuts ties with his father, he begins to face exactly what it means to fight for what you want and not lose yourself amongst the struggles.

In another part of the bayou, coming out of prison, Cosgrove partners up with a fellow parolee, Hanson, an opportunity steal the goods out of an elderly woman's house to re-sell. But then they come across even more trouble when the mess with none other than the Toup brothers.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like these characters, but despite their often unappealing and appalling ways, each of them became endearing to me (except for the Toup brothers who remained a threat for most of the book; but even them I got to know a bit better).

The shrimping community comes alive in this book and the competition to sustain a life among the tragedies following Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill make each person you come across likable and understandable. Each character provides good humor to bounce off of such as Gus' corny knock knock jokes.

In my mind, I thought it was more a guy book (not a lead or supporting female character among them) and there is some mildly uncomfortable violence throughout, I had a heart for these characters and their woes and struggles. As for the ending, I was very satisfied, even though it had a sad twinge to it.

I would highly recommend this book if you want to experience the lives of unique, but dysfunctional characters. Cooper's vivid depiction of the Louisiana area made me feel like I was there and his ability to portray the dialect of the region was perfect.

Purchase the book now by visiting this link to Random House website.

I received the above titled book in exchange for my honest review.

21 March 2016

Chat with Author James Thibeault and Win Prizes [Twitter Party!] #DeaconsFolly

I am so excited to announce we have another Twitter party coming up! I'll be chatting with the author of the book Deacon's Folly by James Thibeault and this book is really good. I can't wait to hear what he says about it!

About the Book Deacon's Folly

When a backwoods town has a barbecue, it's to mock a teenage boy who nailed himself to a tree house. While Devon’s not the brightest bulb and has no recollection of his childhood, he’s a kind soul who seems friendly enough. Still, the whole town despises him. Only the new deacon in town takes sympathy towards the boy and is determined to discover Devon’s forgotten past, and the reason why it is never discussed.

About the Party

The party will be on April 3rd at 2pm PST and we will be using the hashtag #DeaconsFolly.

If you haven't joined in a Twitter party before, you will have the chance to chat with the author about his book as well as win some prizes! Here's what you can win -

Grand Prize - $25 Amazon Gift Card
Second Prize - $10 Starbucks Gift Card
Third Prize - $5 iTunes Gift Card
Fourth Prize - free eBook copy of Deacon's Folly

Make sure you RSVP so I know you'll be coming! Enter your Twitter user name, link to your Twitter account home page, and your email (see how I've done it below). Also by RSVP'ing I'll be tweeting you a reminder to join in before the party starts, so you won't miss it! Make sure you follow me @BeingTheWriter and the author at @DeaconsFolly1.

If you're joining, click the tweet below and let all of your followers know they can join in too!

Chat with @BeingTheWriter about the book #DeaconsFolly with @DeaconsFolly1 at 4/3 at 2pm PST RSVP to win prizes http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/2016/03/chat-with-author-james-thibeault-and.html

Can't wait for the party to check out James Thibeault's book? Click this link to purchase on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Here's some disclaimers -

Winners to be announced throughout the Twitter Party. I am not responsible for shipping the prizes to the winner. Selections of winners are random and based on whether or not the participant has participated in Twitter party and include hashtag # in their tweets in response to questions asked of participants throughout the party. Prize winners will be announced throughout the Twitter Party and must follow necessary directions to claim prize. Please only RSVP once. Multiple RSVPs will not increase chances to win prizes. I have been compensated to host this Twitter party. I am not eligible for prizes.
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