Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind (Book Review)

December 5, 2017
Photo by Jennifer Payne

What I love about art and artists is that they see things in a different, personal and unique way. And they take what they see and transform it, photograph it, draw it, write about it so that somehow we can see what they see a bit like they do. And when I read Evidence of Flossing, by Jennifer Payne I was so surprised how beautiful pieces of floss could be.

Here's a bit about the book -

Book Summary:

Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection? Find the answers to these questions in more in this new book by Connecticut writer Jen Payne. Her poems in EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND investigate the human condition and its folly, the beauty of our natural world, and the possibility of divine connection. 80 original and vintage photographs include a series of discarded dental flossers that inspired the book's title.
ALA Notable Book author Dale Carlson calls the book "a brilliantly incisive commentary on our simultaneous human sense of beauty and waste and loss."
EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING speaks to the common heart that beats in you and in me, in the woods and on the streets, across oceans and around this planet. It asks us all to consider the effects of our actions and how they influence everything else in the Universe.

What I Thought:

As I hinted at earlier, I was so impressed with this book. It conveyed a beauty and yet sadness at the same time. I could sense the spiritual struggle within the poetry and a reflection of the world around (and the masks society often puts forward). This book is definitely a conversation piece and I can't wait to share it with others.

Be sure to check this book out for yourself and follow Jennifer Payne on the following websites -

Website: https://3chairspublishing.com/
Blog: https://randomactsofwriting.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/threechairspub
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThreeChairsPub

This is part of a larger blog tour so make sure to check out all the stops along the way to see some of Jennifer Payne's guest writing and some more reviews of her book! And be sure to purchase this book on Amazon. 

----------Blog Tour Dates

November 27th @ The Muffin
Interview and giveaway.

Tuesday, November 28th @ Words, Crazy Words
Tara Meissner reviews "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" by fellow author Jennifer A. Payne. Don't miss Meissner's insight into this lovely book of poetry and more.

Wednesday, November 29th @ Lauren Scharhag
Today's guest blogger at Lauren Scharhag is Jennifer A. Payne with a post titled: "The Importance of Retreat" learn more about Payne's thoughts on down time and going off the grid as well as her latest poetry book "The Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind".

Monday, December 4th @ Words, Crazy Words
Jennifer A. Payne pens today's guest post at Words, Crazy Words - the blog of fellow author Tara Meissner. You won't want to miss Payne's insight when it comes to "Blogging as a Creative Tool"!

Tuesday, December 5th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles will be posting a review of Jennifer Payne's book, "Evidence of Flossing" over at her blog.

Wednesday, December 6th @ Create Write Now
Mari McCarthy at Create Write Now welcomes fellow author Jennifer A. Payne as today's guest blogger with an insightful post titled: "Everything is Connected". Learn about this as well as Payne's latest poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind".

Thursday, December 7th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley Baird reviews the lovely new poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" by Jennifer A. Payne.

Thursday, December 7th @ Writers Pay it Forward
"The Bravery of Storytelling" is the title of today's guest post at Writers Pay it Forward - you won't want to miss this intriguing topic and opportunity to hear from Jennifer A. Payne about storytelling as well as her latest poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind"

Friday, December 8th @ BookWorm
Anjanette Potter reviews "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" by Jennifer A. Payne and also takes a few moments to interview Payne about her latest poetry book and more!

Monday, December 11th @ CMash Loves to Read
Today's author at CMash Loves to Read is the one and only Jennifer A. Payne and her latest book "The Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind". Don't miss today's opportunity to hear from Jennifer with her guest post titled: "Finding Inspiration"

Tuesday, December 12th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Linda Appleman Shapiro reviews Jennifer Payne's latest poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind". Don't miss this insightful blog stop.

Tuesday, December 12th @ The Constant Story
Fellow author David W. Berner reviews the latest work of Jennifer A. Payne - learn more about Payne's beautiful poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind".

Wednesday, December 13th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
"Exploring Mindfulness" is the title of today's guest post at Madeline Sharples Blog, Choices. Today's guest author is none other than Jennifer A. Payne. Find out more about her topic, her writing, and her latest poetry book "The Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind"!
Exploring Mindfulness

Thursday, December 14th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal Casavant-Otto reviews "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" as part of author Jennifer A. Payne's WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour for her latest poetry book.

Friday, December 15th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews & Interviews
Jennifer Payne is interviewed by Lisa Haselton; find out more about Jennifer's latest poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind".

Monday, December 18th @ Elaine Drennon Little
Fellow author Elaine Drennon Little reviews "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" by Jennifer A. Payne.

Monday, December 18th @ The Writer Site
Luanne Castle reviews "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" by Jennifer Payne. Don't miss Luanne's insight into this beautiful poetry book.

Tuesday, December 19th @ Life is Full of Sweet Spots
Mary O'Connor reviews Jennifer Payne's latest poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind". Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about this lovely book!

Wednesday, December 20th @ Depth of A Woman
Stop by Depth of A Woman to read Joss Burnell's review of Jennifer A. Payne's Poetry Book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind".

Thursday, December 21st @ Spirituality Without Borders
Jennifer Payne and her lovely poetry book "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" is the topic today at Spirituality Without Borders. Read Rita's review of this lovely book and find out more about the lovely author behind it!

Friday, December 22nd @ Writing on the Rim
Stop by Writing on the Rim and hear from Juliana Lightle about her thoughts after reading "Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind" by Jennifer A. Payne. Don't miss this insightful review!

 I received the above book in exchange for my honest review and contains an affiliate link for which I will receive small compensation if you purchase the book through my link.
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Burtrum Lee by Mary Maurice [Review]

November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you are excited for the upcoming holiday. For me, I've been reading a lot of mysteries lately and I was so excited to review Burtrum Lee by Mary Maurice. I love a good mystery. That's one of my favorite go to genres. Add onto that a mysterious past and confusing family history? I'm very much into it!

First here's a bit about the book:

Coated with a life of lies and deceit, Burtrum Lee Conner is sick to her stomach. Dozens of times throughout her life the feeling of not being who she is has tormented her. But she kept it to herself, believing that maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance of some kind considering she is one of the first artificially-inseminated babies of the nineteen sixties. Now, there’s more though, something much deeper, much more maniacal than she could have ever imagined. She’s not the first test tube baby at all, but the first….
Burtrum Lee Conner, born into a world of scientific mystery, discovers that the life she’s been leading for the past forty years, is the wrong one. Her parent’s Jed and Jane Conner, stealing her as an infant, brought Lee up as their own. Even her devoted grandmother, Clair Conner, kept this secret close to her chest until they were found out. And now, Lee Conner’s biological mother, Katie Lee, wants her back, but not before the diabolical Dr. Stone has his say.
And as for what I thought? I thought this was an excellent thriller. It switches back between the past and the present at times and I thought this aspect was well done. I love how the mystery unfolds and the people that get involved along the way. The characterization is well done too. I think if you are looking for a great read this holiday season, pick up this book. I know you won't be disappointed.

Burtrum Lee is available in ebook and in print on Amazon and Goodreads 

About the Author:

When I was a child growing up in the Detroit area, I thought I wanted to be a painter, and then as a teenager the idea of being a musician intrigued me, then as a young adult, I realized that I’m a writer.

After attending Western Michigan University for two party filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years I’ve traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.

While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.

My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me to the Land of Enchantment where I’ve resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspire my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.

Keep on bookin!

Find Mary Online:

Check out the other stops on the tour -

Monday November 13th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway

Tuesday, November 14th @ Create Write Now
Mary Maurice is today's guest author at Mari McCarthy's Create Write Now Blog - don't miss this intriguing guest post titled "Moving Beyond Writer's Block " and learn more about Maurice's scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee"

Wednesday, November 15th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird reads and reviews Mary Maurice's scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee" and shares her thoughts on this page turning novel!

Thursday, November 16th @ CMash Loves to Read 
Today's guest blogger at CMash Loves to Read is none other than Mary Maurice. Hear from her on the topic of "Finding My Muse." and learn more about her scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee".

Friday, November 17th @ Bring on Lemons
Crystal Otto reviews Mary Maurice's Scientific Mystery "Burtrum Lee"! – don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about Mary Maurice and find out more about this page turning novel "Burtrum Lee".

Monday, November 20th @ Lisa Haselton
Lisa Haselton interviews Mary Maurice about her scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee".

Tuesday, November 21st @ Margo Dill
Mary Maurice visits the blog of fellow author Margo Dill. Hear from Mary on the topic of: "What's So Hard About Being Nice?" and learn more about Mary's scientific mystery "Burtrum Lee".

Thursday, November 23rd @ Writers Pay it Forward 
"Who Left the Skunk on the Side of the Road" is today's topic at Writers Pay it Forward as Mary Maurice pens today's guest post and discusses her book "Burtrum Lee - A Scientific Mystery".

Tuesday, November 28th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Mary Maurice writes an intriguing guest post at Choices today. She talks about "Keeping Readers Engaged". Don’t miss this post and opportunity to learn about "Burtrum Lee - A Scientific Mystery".

Thursday, November 30th @ Women of Wonder
Ginny at Women of Wonder reviews "Burtrum Lee - A Scientific Mystery" by Mary Maurice and shares her thoughts with readers. Don't miss this exciting blog stop!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Monday Morning Inspiration - A Weekly Writing Prompt

October 2, 2017
It's October 1st! That means we are headed into the time of year where leaves turn beautiful colors, the air turns chilly, and pumpkin spice everything is being sold everywhere. This time of year is inspiring to me and so I thought I would take advantage of that and re-start my weekly writing prompt. In case you missed it, check out last week's prompt. Be sure to visit the comment section there, because Angela from WOW! Women on Writing gave such an excellent response! And here's a link to my response to this prompt I just posted yesterday - Let Me Come In.

And now onto this week's prompt! The basic rules are as follows - you get a photo and five words and your story must feature both in some way. I don't have a word limit at all (max or minimum words), so you can respond as short or as long as you see fit.

The Photo (all photos in these prompts have a creative commons license)

photo credit: DaveR1988 Reyjkavik Mysterious door via photopin (license)

The Words:






If you happen to write a response to this on your blog, I'd love to come by and check it out. I've included a link up so make sure to add your link to this (or in the comments if it doesn't show up for you!). And then I'll add a link to your story in next week's prompt!

Happy writing!
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Let Me Come In - A Writing Prompt Story

October 1, 2017
I'm trying to get back into the writing grove and started a weekly writing prompt. This is my response to it! I'll be posting one every Monday and you have one week to respond. Check out last Monday's prompt. Every week you get a photo to refer to and five words to use in your story. This is a story that has been in my head that I haven't been able to put into words yet. So this is a great way for me to flex that story's muscle.

The alleyway was growing colder by the minute. Mick lifted up the collar on his coat to bear against the cold. The chill found it's way down his back and he shivered. He wouldn't wait much longer. Soon he'd have to leave, go home, and get away from this mess.

"Never should've agreed to this," he said to himself.

"Then why did you?"

Mick jumped. When he turned, there she was. Wearing the same red coat as earlier, the woman who just wanted to be called "Miss" sauntered over to him. Her heels echoed against the damp brick walls. Someone sleeping near the dumpster stirred and lifted his head to look at the woman walking past. She shouldn't have been so comfortable and relaxed. Mick took note of this.

"Tell me why we're here, Miss."

"You mean you wouldn't rather be at home in your armchair as the sports game on television washes over you?"

"That's exactly what I'd rather be doing. So let's get one with this so I can get back to it." He squinted into the shadows, her red coat barely visible under the street lamps and her face shrouded in darkness. "Get out of the shadows."

She chuckled. Far too comfortable, Mick noted again. "I think I'd rather stay right here. You come closer." From her coat, she pulled an envelope out.

Mick hesitated, but refused to show fear. He walked forward and grabbed for the envelope. As he pulled it back, she held tight. "They said you're the best in the business. I never thought I'd trust a wolf."

At this, he grinned, letting his sharp teeth glint under the moonlight. "Than why did you?"

Letting go of the envelope, she started slowly stepping back away from him. "Because I'm determined. Inside the envelope is your first payment. Find my friend."

He waited for the sounds of her heels to be distant for him to leave the alleyway. Even though he was certain she was gone, he couldn't let go of the feeling of being watched. When you're out of the fairytale game like he was, you needed to be careful. In a city like this, where story creatures have left their stories to seek their fortune, it can be a dangerous place. Especially for a detective like him.

Mick walked back to the main street and over to a small coffee shop with a lit up open sign. One of the few that stayed open overnight. He knew the owner and the waitress who let this him use this as his office for nervous clients. It helped Mick tipped well.

The bell jingled as Mick pushed open the door. Tammy waived from the coffee pot where she stood and put her book on the counter. "Coffee, Mick?"

Mick nodded and sat up at the counter. When she poured a cup for him, he waited until she was back reading her book. Then he opened the envelope. Inside was the cash deposit for his initial services and a folder. He knew when he opened this up, he'd be opening up a gateway he could never return. It was like a light switch that could never be turned off.

He flipped open the folder and took a sip of coffee. That's when he saw the photograph. His throat closed up and he couldn't swallow that one sip. He spit the coffee back into the cup. His past stared back at him. One of the three little pigs that wouldn't let him come in. And now his girlfriend was looking for one of them. But this one was the one with the brick house. The smart one. The one who didn't have the same tragic fate as his brothers.

Mick shuddered, feeling watched again. His safe coffee shop no longer felt safe.

Hope you enjoyed my story! You have until the end of tonight to respond to last week's story prompt and then tomorrow I post another. Happy writing!
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Monday Morning Inspiration: A Creative Writing Prompt

September 25, 2017
Alright everyone, let's try something not-so-new. Some time ago I did a writing prompt for my blog! It was a great way to be creative for the week and flex creative muscles even when I wasn't really feeling it. Then I decided to step away from it because I just wasn't feeling like blogging anymore at all. Now I'm back again and trying to get active into the blogging community as well as with my own writing. And this is an excellent way to start.

So, this is my weekly writing prompt. You'll get one photo and five words. The only rule is that you must use all five words in your prompt response and you can use the photo provided in any way you think it applies to your story, poem, etc.

Okay you guys, here is the photo (Creative Commons License)

photo credit: Massimo Accarino via photopin (license)

And here's the five words to use (chosen at random thanks to this site)






I would love to see what you come up with if you decide to respond! I'll do what I did last time and give everyone a week. So by next Monday morning, everyone will get a new photo and new words. If you decide to respond to this prompt, come back here and post a link to your post in the comments or the link up widget (if it's showing). I'll come by and check it out! If you do, I'll share it on my newest writing prompt next Monday!

Happy writing!

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The Books that Haunt Us

September 23, 2017
Image courtesy of Flickr 
I've been an avid reader all my life. I love libraries and bookstores. I'm guilty of folding down the corner of the page to save my place. I'm guilty of losing track of bookmarks. I leave stacks of books in closets and beside my bookshelves and underneath my desk at work that I keep meaning to give away or donate but can't quite bring myself to do it. I love genre fiction, literary fiction, poetry and the occasional non fiction book. I nosy into books people are reading and will shameless lean my head to catch a glimpse of the book title. I just love books.

Here's the thing though - I'm not good at all about remembering book titles. When I think of it, I try save the book onto Goodreads so I can keep track of things. The problem is though that I haven't done that for a good majority of my avid reading life. And lately I've gotten into finding the books I can't remember.

The first major one that haunts me is one I recall reading in my younger years. I remember the day we went to the library and I decided to check it out. It is a book with a lighthouse on the cover I believe and it's set in a stormy, beachy, islandy type of place. It's a series and I thought that the atmosphere was a little on the dark side. A family was the focus of the story I think and potentially this haunted island or haunted house they rented for the summer, the winter, or maybe the fall. I'm not sure. I've posted this book to forums and even wrote to the very library that I checked it out at to see if they could remember it. Not a single recommendation quite hit it. Nothing where I could say, "Ah! That's it!"

But you see? There's more. There's another book by this female writer who wrote novels with these incredible twists in the end. One was where you find out the daughter of this family was the killer and you had no idea. Or this other one where the neighbor was a killer and she was just a kindly woman most of the book.

Another book for you. The cover showed a unicorn with a blue horn in a white room. The book was about this guy with no memory and he wakes up trying to figure out who he is and what he's doing there.

Oh wait, there's more! I also recall a book I read where this main character worked as a tour guide for authors who came by his city for their book tour. He was a blocked writer himself and he detested the idea this college friend of his actually published a successful book. It's all about him getting unblocked and writing again.

These books haunt me and swirl around my head just waiting for me to figure out their titles. Does anyone else go through this? I'd love to say that it will make me more disciplined about writing down books I've read, but I don't always remember. I'm an enormous fan of purchasing books for this reason and if I ever find any of the above titles I plan on buying them.

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WOW! Women on Writing Presents Blog Tour for Evidence of Flossing by Jennifer A. Payne

September 18, 2017
I'm excited to announce that I'm joining the WOW! Women on Writing team. And I wanted to announce to you an incredible book by Jennifer A. Payne that is in need of some blog stops! So mark your calendars blogging and reading peeps, the tour starts on November 27th and ends December 1st.

What's the book about? Well, since you asked...

Part social commentary, part lament, the 73 poems in Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind are, at their heart, love poems to the something greater within all of us. Their investigation of the human condition and its folly — politics, religion, development, technology, consumerism — is juxtaposed to a series of poems about our natural world and the possibility of divine connection.

Poetry + Trash Ask Readers to Consider “What is our legacy in this vast and wondrous Universe?”
Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection? Explore the answers to these questions and more in Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, a new book by Connecticut author/artist Jen Payne.

A timely publication given the state of our world, Evidence of Flossing is more than a simple poetry chapbook. Its pages are illustrated by a random, absurd, and heartbreaking assortment of original and vintage photographs, including a series of discarded dental flossers that inspired the title of the book. 
A take on traditional street photography, these images examine human nature from a different and thought-provoking perspective. Several of the photographs were featured in a recent Arts Council of Greater New Haven art exhibit entitled “Where the Whole Universe Dwells.” They are part of a collection of more than 100 photographs of used dental flossers found by Payne between 2014 - 2017, and speak to the subtitle of the book: What will we leave behind? 

Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind follows on the heels of Payne’s 2014 well-received book LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, and continues a dialogue about our innate connection with nature. Both books are published by Three Chairs Publishing, www.3chairspublishing.com.

Check out more information on Crystal Otto's blog post. Or go ahead and send me an email at nicole@wow-womenonwriting.com.

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Hey Writers, Would You Join a Blog Share?

September 16, 2017

photo credit: wuestenigel to do list via photopin (license)
For anyone still out there who used to know my blog from ages ago, I used to host a weekly writing prompt. Well, I've been away from blogging just a little bit but I'm ready to get back into it! The thing is? I don't have that same blogging community I used to have on my blog. So to get myself back on track, I was wondering...

Would you be interested in joining a weekly blog share?

I'm thinking it would be a great way for bloggers to come together to share what they've posted that week and just come by and visit each others blogs and comment. I know there are probably a ton of things out there like that, but I'm a DIY kind of lady, so that's why I thought to do this myself.

I guess the idea would be that if you leave your link, go by and check out the other links in the post, assuming it's not a huge list of blogs.

Maybe one day I'll bring back a writing prompt. So let's get started! I've included my own link below and go ahead and add yours. I'll come by and say hi!

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Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haim [Review & Giveaway]

September 10, 2017

I received a free copy of Real American: A Memoir in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Over the last few weeks of summer, I received the opportunity to read and review a book called Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haim. To be honest, I'm not usually one for non-fiction, but considering the times we are in, how racism and violent racist acts are becoming a norm and White Supremacy is a frightening trend, I figured it was important to expand my horizons and read something outside of my comfort zone. The subject of this book was perfect for what I was looking to find.

Author Julie Lythcott-Haim pens a book that describes her life growing up as the child of a black father and white mother. She talks in great, honest detail about the impact this had on her identity and self acceptance. She writes about her experiences in society and trying to became part of the black community surrounding her, despite how small it often was. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, certainly didn't help. Despite the success of her father, who was an accomplished physician and even an Assistant Surgeon General of the United States in 1977, she dealt with racism regularly, even from those she thought of as friends. The struggle for her identity while accepting and loving herself began in her early childhood and remained a challenge throughout her adult years.

I wanted to do this book justice after reading it. I almost was nervous about my review. This book was an important read for me and inspired me with my own writing and personal journey. Despite how reluctant I am about reading non-fiction in general, this book caught me immediately. I feel like this book wasn't just insight into someone's life and journey to self acceptance, but this was a mirror as well. When I read insensitive comments that were judging this woman by the color of her skin or the way her hair looked, I asked myself along the way, "Have I ever done this?" I think that's why this book was important to me. It's one I'll go back to and share with others. The format of the book and how it was written was unique, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. It was in essay format, and each essay was sometimes a paragraph and others a few pages. Yet, it still told a story, each section connecting with the other. I think it would be easy to pick it up right now and just flip it to a random page and still gain something from it.

I've heard time and time again change starts with yourself. If you want to change the world, change you. Learning about how you think of the world around you and understanding the journey of others is a way to start. I recommend you read this book and share it with your family and start a discussion. Find out more information about Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haim by visiting this Publishers Weekly page.

Best of all, I have a giveaway for you to enter! Enter to receive one of 10 copies of the book Real American. Giveaway ends on September 29th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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The Solar Eclipse & New Writing Challenges

August 21, 2017

Did you see the solar eclipse today? I don't have the greatest camera but I thought I would share the half way decent photos that I managed to take a photo or two. You can tell how weird things got in the above photo because the street lights came on. One thing I noticed when you got really close to 10:19am Pacific Time (when the eclipse was actually happening for real) was that it got chilly. It definitely dropped in temperature! Also, I noticed I got a headache for some reason! All very strange. I'm kind of impressed with the people who managed to take brilliant looking photos.

On another note, I'm thinking about various writing projects and it's been hard not to venture down the road of trying to recreate stories I've attempted to write before. Unfinished stories tend to bother me a lot and especially when I start thinking about a character I've written about. One thing plaguing me lately is the setting of a story.

I feel very strongly though I am in need of a fresh start. And maybe even a different approach in stories I write in general. I'm really into looking over old news (hence my last post about the eclipse) so I may seek out those articles as a way of getting inspired. If anyone feels like I do about writing, check out this post I found on The Write Practice about How to Get Back Into Writing or this one written by Nathan Bransford about How to Return to Writing After a Long Break. 

What are you writing about lately? What was your eclipse experience? 

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News in History Get Ready for the Solar Eclipse January 22, 1925.

August 12, 2017
Anyone have plans to see the solar eclipse coming up next week? I actually am not, although I'm in driving distance to the path of totality. Sadly enough there's news coming out that it may be cloudy that day in some parts of the state of Oregon. However, it may be too soon to tell.

I couldn't resist looking into some old newspapers that talk about the solar eclipse. I caught this headline in the Lewiston Evening Journal of January 22, 1925.

The headline reads, "Get Ready for the Solar Eclipse."

I also can't help but notice that headline. "It all depends on the weather."  I can't help but think of the weather service tweet this morning:

That sure would disappoint a lot of people heading up to Oregon!

Curious how things turned out for the people of Lewiston?

Well, according to a headline on January 24, 1925, "Ideal Conditions for Watching Eclipse in Lewiston and Auburn."

This crowd got a real treat!

Read these articles here and here.

Are you doing anything on the day of the eclipse? 

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What I Regret About Ghostwriting

August 5, 2017

A couple of years ago, I did ghostwriting for a marketing firm. It was really easy writing and I made some pretty okay money. Then after a moment of realizing how overwhelmed I felt doing it, I stopped.

Today, I was looking over my email in search of something I've written before and I came across post after post that I sent to them to use. I realized how many articles I had written during that time.  My heart tugged with regret as I looked through all of those articles. I googled a few and spotted them online still, none with my name on them. Yet, it wasn't really just about my name getting on articles. There was more to it.

1) I was never writing for myself.

I recall vividly that I was not making it a point to write for myself. I think I maybe was blogging at the time, but I never made it a point to write - seriously write - for myself the way I was for them.

2) I gave up the good stuff.

I accidentally gave them an article to use that I meant to submit elsewhere. I always want to use my best whenever I write, whoever I write for, but now I wish I had taken caution and kept a few of those gems for my own portfolio.

3) I didn't build off of the work I was doing.

At the time, I wasn't thinking long term. I also wasn't seeking new writing opportunities as well. Not really. I was just churning out work to help make ends meet. It helped, sure, but I wasn't expanded and pushing myself outside of those bounds of that gig.

Now, I guess I'm in a bit better point.  I still do some freelance writing and even ghostwriting, but I also learned along the way to not put all my eggs in one gig's basket. I did and devoted way too much of myself and channeled way too much creativity towards one thing. I won't do that again.

I think also if I had tempered my pace a little with them, I wouldn't have felt so overwhelmed. Creativity is a well and you need to feed it as well as draw from it. The way to feed your creative well, in my opinion, is to spend time doing something creative that has no business strings attached. Write and creative for fun. For you. And that is the lesson I needed to learn. That feeds the well. 
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The Chalk Artist: A Book Review [And Giveaway!]

July 20, 2017

So, over the heatwave that hit Oregon with a blast a couple of weeks ago, I hibernated away into my air conditioned room with my newly arrived book, The Chalk Artist. Worked out great too because I didn't have great WiFi access.

The Chalk Artist is about a teacher who meets a guy, Collin, who works at a bar, who just so happens to be a brilliant chalk artist. And Nina isn't just any high school English teacher, she is also the daughter of a brilliant game designer and wants to introduce Collin to her father. Alongside this story is the character Aidan who is obsessed with this game and becomes addicted to this virtual world. Meanwhile his twin sister Diana is trying to find out who she really is, get into shape, and process all this craziness going on around her.

One incredible feature to the book is how vivid the setting of the game was as as the real world the characters lived in. I was so impressed by it. As Aidan plays, you get to see what he sees. In fact, I wish I could play a game like this - that's how vivid this is. 

Then you also get imagery of Collin's art. You can see it. And you realize how talented he is. So, you really cheer for him as he gets involved with the game Nina's father created. At first you are rooting for him to be successful in this company, but then after a while you think....is this really right for him? 

Oddly this wasn't a book I would have selected on my own, but it turned out to be a nice surprise. I enjoyed each of the characters. Nina, for her struggles as a teacher and wanting to make a difference in the world. I liked Collin for his desire to make good art and find his way in this intense, Google-like atmosphere of a game company. Then I like Aidan's intense, misguided passion for this virtual world. Then I liked Diana for her self-improvements and driven nature to get out of the old life she had and into a new one. Each character is complicated and has issues like regular people and that made them even more endearing. 

Overall I think this is a fantastic summer read. If you are going to the beach, you will not be disappointed. Again I may not have thought to seek this out on my own, so this was a book that was out of my usual selection. At times, I worried it would be a little aimless, but towards the end I was glad I read it.

You can purchase it now on Amazon both as an ebook and as hardback. Purchase now.

I am also excited to announce I get to giveaway two copies of this book to two lucky readers of this blog! Be sure to enter via Rafflecopter below. US Only please. Ends August 4th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received the above book in exchange for my honest review. 
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Dark Screams: Volume Six [My Book Review]

June 27, 2017

I am usually a huge fan of short stories. In fact, my favorite short story collections are by Richard Matheson! So I was really excited to read this book, "Dark Screams: Volumn Six" which features stories by Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Prentiss, and others. I have to say, the book as a whole left me a bit disappointed, but there were some gems in the collection I want to point out.


This story was so odd. It reminded me a bit of the Island of Dr. Moreau mixed with Bridesmaids and maybe a dash of the short story classic "The House on Haunted Hill'. Kind of a wild combo, right? Anyways, this was about a woman falling in love with a very wealthy, and very strange man. It starts out with her waiting for something very frightening about to happen and then you are taken back to when she first meets this rich family. Anyways, I don't want to give anything away but this story takes an aesthetically pleasing to look at setting and turns into it into something potentially grim and dangerous. I loved it.

THE MANICURE by Nell Quinn-Gibney

I thought this was so odd and kind of creepy in a hilarious dark way. And I don't think I was supposed to think it was funny at all. But it starts out with this character who is terrified of these nail clippers but they visit a nail salon anyways. Snip snip right? Well, this was worth reading as each finger takes you back to a weird memory of something going very very wrong.


I liked this one and I thought it was very disturbing but entertaining. A couple have a baby and the wife invites her father to live with them. The grandfather has reconciled with his daughter and can't wait to dote on his new grandchild. Well the husband doesn't trust any of it. And well...I don't want to give anything away but it's a really captivating and bizarre story.

So, those three were gems and I think those are worth seeking out and reading. But the others...I was disappointed by Stephen King and the short story by Joyce Carol Oates was oddly forgettable. And the last story was very long and I didn't finish it. Just didn't catch me.

Overall, it wasn't a book that caught me completely but it was pretty good overall. I was a bit disappointed, but there were some good stories mixed in there. It's actually available as an ebook on Amazon for $0.99 and you know? That's a fantastic deal so buy it, read those stories I mentioned, and let me know what you think! Purchase now. 

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Akeldama by RD Meyer [My Book Review]

June 19, 2017

I'm always so impressed when a blogger I've followed for several years is publishing a book! It's so exciting! And so I was so happy to hear that RD Meyer is publishing his book and even more excited to review it.

As summer begins, I'm definitely itching for books a bit outside my comfort zone and RD Meyer's book Akeldama was definitely the book for that. First, it's about vampires. But that's putting it lightly. These aren't your average vampires. It's about vampires with these intense super powers and aren't at all the kind you might usually see. Seth, the main character, is a vampire hunter with the Catholic Church when he finds out that these other vampire exists...well, he ends up having to partner with the very vampires he's been fighting against for a bigger cause. 

This book was definitely intense and not what I would say is a "beach read." It's actually been a very long time since I've read a vampire novel and so this was so much new territory for me. Since the vampire hunters are working under the Catholic Church, there was definitely some religious aspects in the novel (made me a little uncomfortable as I've gotten closer to my faith). 

This book also had some vivid violent moments. I sometimes had to skim past some of the more gruesome scenes. However, I thought the character development of the vampires, especially Maxwell, was very strong. I liked the vampire hunter Seth, although he was very focused on his personal mission and I thought that maybe got in the way a bit of getting to know him and his past closely enough. 

If you are into vampire novels OR you want to step outside your comfort zone, read this book. You will be glad you did! You can purchase this book on Amazon for $3.99 

And also be sure to follow RD Meyers blog, it's definitely very much about his personal journey as a write and it's worth reading! 

I received a copy of the above book in exchange for my honest review. 
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The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards (A Thriller, If You're Feeling Lucky)

May 12, 2017

I have been on a thriller kick lately! So this next one was creepy. It's basically revolving around a serial killer in this small village and he's killing off people (while leaving a smile on their face!). The story takes the perspective of a few different characters. You have Ben, father to Ollie, and who somehow finds himself in the heart of this thriller. He's dealing with finalizing his divorce, getting back into good graces with his son who now lives with him, dealing with unruly neighbors, and also trying to make himself a successful freelance writer. It's a lot to handle! Yet oddly, things start to turn around for him.

Then you have Detective Imogen Evans who has moved to this small town from London and it's her first serial killer case. It's tough because she's trying to manage her team, prove herself worthy of this position she's in, and trying to figure out exactly how these people are connected who have been killed.

Oddly the book only deals with mostly two different perspectives - Imogen and Ben. You also occasionally have the perspective of Ben's wife's lover Michael (very convoluted, I know) who works as a reporter and he's trying to get the big scoop on Imogen (but oddly finds himself roped into this serial killer story). Oh and you also occasionally get the perspective from the killer himself.

I was a bit thrown off by the varying perspectives. That's always a bit confusing to me at times and this took me a bit to get into. I was captivated in the book when Ollie got involved in the middle of the serial killer case. That peaked my interest and I couldn't wait for the father to question what was going on with his son.

It's not quite the "edge of your seat" thriller as some books, even as it nears towards the end. But it's that feeling of HAVING to know what's going on that kept me going back and reading the book. And there's also an unexpected twist at the end that made this book pretty exciting.

Unlike a lot of thrillers that I've read, the romance is very light in this book. The focus mostly is on the relationship between Ben and the people around him, including his ex-wife, Ollie, and the people involved in the case. Ben is a sympathetic character, but I didn't quite root for him enough in the story, though. I really liked Imogen's character. I really connected with her and her passion for finding the killer and doing the right thing by her team and by the case made her very likeable.

I'd give this three and a half stars. It's worth reading, although a bit of a rocky start for me.

This is available on Amazon for pre-order (the book is not officially available for purchase until June 15, 2017). Purchase now.

It's actually not available to add to your book list on Goodreads but follow the author and check out some of his other books! Follow now.

I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Why I Keep a Blog (And How Hard it is to Keep One)

May 7, 2017
photo credit: Chaitanyabn Wheel via photopin (license)

While I'm waiting for Instacart to finish my grocery order, I decided to peruse the blogs I'm following. I'll be honest, it's been a tremendously long time since I've read other people's blogs. Not so much for selfish reasons, but I've been under a lot of stress these past few years and it's just not on my mind to read blogs. I do keep up my own as much as I can! So that's something.

Yet, when I started looking for new posts to read, I was so surprised to see that the first handful of blogs I checked out either didn't exist anymore or hadn't been updated in over 6 months or more.

And you know, I totally get it. It's hard to maintain a blog. First, you need stuff to say. And if life isn't going your way or if you under a LOT of stress. It's VERY hard to think of new things to say. And that's putting it lightly.

Then if you don't have anyone reading it or commenting, it's even harder to keep a blog up.

But for me, I've kept mine up. Why? I don't know. I can't let it go. It's not grown where I have envisioned it would. And it's not taking me where I thought I would go with it (I don't think they'd make a movie of my blog heh heh). Yet, it's a space.  A potential platform to share my thoughts with the blogiverse, even if it's a few small planets around me.

Today, I dusted off my blog and just wanted to write something a bit outside of my usual book review. Instacart is done shopping and now I'm off to prepare for Monday, as much as I don't want to. And my blog has a renewed feeling again. Now I want to go and see who's blog I can read and comment on.

It's hard to be a blog without a writer behind it. Sort of like an abandoned amusement park or something. So much potential, yet it won't go anywhere when there isn't someone to grow it.
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Don't Wake Up by Liz Lawler [Book Review]

April 29, 2017
I've never thought I'd be the kind to enjoy a "medical thriller." Funny enough, I hate going to the doctor, so why not read a book about a doctor seriously off their rocker? I was describing a "medical thriller" to a coworker and made her laugh because when she asked me what a medical thriller was, I said, "Well it's basically someone killing people in a doctor-y way." So as the winter came to and transitioning to spring, I read a book called, "Don't Wake Up" by Liz Lawler.

IMG Obtained from NetGalley

First, you meet this woman, Alex, who wakes up on - what she realizes - is an operating table. She has no idea what's going on except she obviously got hurt in some way. Waiting for the doctor to tell her what happened, she takes in her surroundings. The lights, the noises. Then when the doctor doesn't say a word - although she knows he's there - things go off track really fast. She realizes she got knocked over the head and she is in danger here.  When she's later found, and recovered, she tells the story of what happened. The mind boggling thing here is that no one believes her story. Everyone thinks it's because she got knocked in the head by some branch (she was found out in the parking lot amidst some storm wreckage). Not her fiance, not her coworkers, not her family. People just think she hallucinated some crime. The key thing here is that the reason they believe this is that she wasn't physically harmed in any way.

Alex is a doctor who works in the hospital where she has been treated, making this all the harder for her to be doubted and questioned. Yet, while Alex is striving to be believed, more crimes happen. Two women die. And then things really start to fall apart for Alex because now the police are really suspicious.

There is so much going on in this thriller. To sound cliche, it will keep you in the edge of your seat. Alex is a strong, but vulnerable and likable character. I appreciated the fact that she didn't ever doubt herself, but continued fighting for what she knew happened to her. I felt so sorry for her - and outraged - while everyone was doubting her experience. I thought Patrick, her fiance, was kind of a flat character and I really despised him for thinking this was in her head. In fact that was so unbelievably annoying that everyone thought this about the main character.

There are some plot holes, one I thought was kind of big, but it didn't sidetrack me too much (I don't want to give it away as it pertains to a key factor of the plot). Also if medical thrillers like this make you feel squeamish, I don't think you have to worry. I'm not into the blood guts and gore, I only had to skim past a couple of scenes that were a bit too vivid for my taste. Most of this takes place in a hospital, and I know some people really don't like hospitals, so if that's you, you may want to pass.

This isn't available until May 18th but you can pre-order this on Amazon today. And make sure to add this to GoodReads so you don't forget!

I received the above copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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I Found You by Lisa Jewell [Book Review]

April 25, 2017
IMG Via Amazon
Oh this book you guys. It starts out with three different perspectives - Alice, Lily and Graham and his family from 1993. Alice meets a guy on the beach who has no idea who he is. He has amnesia. Being the kind to take in strangers, she invites him home to live in her rentable shed as he puts together his forgotten life (he refused to go to the police). Then you have Lily. Lily has a missing husband. He didn't come home from work that night. She's at a loss, because she doesn't know anyone in this new country and she begins to realize she knows very little about her husband. Then you have Graham. Graham is living in 1993 and is on holiday with his parents and little sister in this beach town (the very beach town that Alice will live in). Well, everything is all fine and normal until they meet Mark who takes a liking to Graham's little sister Kristy.

The connections in this story aren't as obvious as you may think. When I first started reading this book I thought, oh of course Alice found Lily's husband, right? Well I will let you figure this out by reading this, but the way this story weaves it's tale story captured me. It did take me a little bit to get used to the idea of three different perspectives (I am never a huge fan of that) but it worked out to be an exciting way to figure out what was going on. The connection between the past and the present and all of these families becomes even stronger as the thriller continues. I like each character for unique reasons - Alice, for her dysfunction; Lily for her desperate need for everything with her husband to turn out okay; and Graham for his youthful, but outright suspicion of this new stranger in his family's life.

I absolutely didn't expect what is to come in this story and I'm glad I didn't. I love when the story is a mystery towards the end. The vivid scene of this beach town is also real for the story and I felt like I could imagine the restaurants, the crowd, and the beach. I don't like giving away an ending and I won't of course but I was VERY satisfied with how things turned out. Endings matter a lot to me and this was a good one. I could easily see this made into a movie and I can't wait to see if that is the case.

If you are looking for a thriller to read during your holiday season, you should check this book out. It's now available on Amazon for purchase. Be sure to add it to your Good Reads list! 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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The House by Simon Lelic - My Review

April 5, 2017

IMG Obtained from Net Galley

I just recently finished this really intense, unexpected thriller and I can't wait to tell you guys about it. Here is what the book is about -

Via NetGalley -

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?
Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake. Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door. And now the police are watching them...
My Review

When I started this book, I thought it would be a ghost story. Although you have some haunted characters, this isn't quite a ghost story. It starts out with the couple writing their stories about what has happened since they moved into their new house. Jack starts out focusing on the house and the discoveries he has made since they arrived. Following his initial reaction to the house, Sydney talks about this girl she befriends named Elsie.  This book is a close first person account about this couple's experience and at first it's as if you are privy to a private conversation and that is what makes this so unique.

One really incredible piece about this book is how you piece together what's going on in this couple's life.  I don't want to give anything away, but I will tell you that it's about how the past will catch up to the future. For any horror story or haunted house story fan, this book does remind us all - be wary of an old house with a great deal.

I'm also a fan of good endings and will never give the ending away, but I was highly pleased with house this story ended too. The only troubling part is Sydney goes over some abuse she handled as a kid by her father and that was almost too vivid and cruel for me to read. I actually had to skip through that.

I highly recommend this story and you will not regret reading it!

Right now it's going to be published later this year, so add this to your reading list on GoodReads.


You can also follow the author on Twitter too!

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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An Excellent Subscription for Bookworms

April 1, 2017
*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

April is here! And you know, if you are a bookworm or if you know a bookworm, you should sign up for the "Book of the Month" subscription service. Here's why it's a stand out service:

1) You can choose which book you want to read for the month before they mail it out.

2) It's inexpensive! For example right now they have an April promotion for a 1-month subscription, for only $5! You can purchase a 3 month subscription for $9.99 per month AND you get a free tote. 

3) Really cool people select the books for the month! For example, Tyler Coates (culture editor at GQ) and Glory Edim (Owner of popular blog Well Read Black Girl) as judges this April.

So I think you should sign up. I've used it before and every time I'm always surprised by the book selection and also you can some fun little trinkets too like a bookmark or something extra special like that. 

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More of Me by Kathryn Evans [Book Review]

March 29, 2017

About the Book (Courtesy of NetGalley)

"Teva goes to school, studies for her exams, and spends time with her friends. To the rest of the world, she’s a normal teenager. But when she goes home, she’s anything but normal. Due to a genetic abnormality, Teva unwillingly clones herself every year. And lately, home has become a battleground. When boys are at stake, friends are lost, and lives are snatched away, Teva has a fight on her hands—a fight with herself. As her birthday rolls around, Teva is all too aware that time is running out. She knows that the next clone will soon seize everything she holds dear. Desperate to hang on to her life, Teva decides to find out more about her past . . . and uncovers lies that could either destroy her or set her free."

My Opinion 

Oh this book was WEIRD you guys. But you know? Not in a bad way. So you have a girl with a bunch of sisters, all ages. But they aren't really sisters. They're versions of her. So this girl, Teva, who is about to turn 16 (and face another transformation) is battling like crazy to keep her life. Because she knows the second she gets near her next birthday, she'll split apart again and a new version of her will come out.

While she's balancing out THIS horrific thought, she's also battling her younger self. The one who is 15, who wants her life back. It's a complicated roller coaster although it's also filled with typical things that happen to us as teenagers - from trying to figure out what we want to do with our life, to finding a boyfriend and keeping a boyfriend, maintaining friendships, and learning how to explain around the weirdness of our personal life. Really if you have a teen who struggles feeling like they're weird, or their life is weird, or your inner teen STILL struggles with feeling weird, you need to read this book. Any one of us who ever looked back on our younger selves and wondered what on earth we were thinking needs to read this book. It does have some slow parts that I thought dragged, but overall, it's a really cool and very DIFFERENT kind of read. It's not overly science fiction, not too young adult either, it's a great balance and you're sure to enjoy it.

Purchase now on Amazon. Or add it to your must read list on Good Reads.

I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen [Review]

March 17, 2017

Imagine coming home and someone you expected to be home isn't there. But not only are they gone. They're stuff is gone too. Every photograph of them, clothing, furniture item, sheets, and even down to the last coffee bean is gone. And you go into email and social media and every trace of them is gone there too. Even emails you exchanged with each other. It's like they never existed.

That's the case for Hannah who came home to find her boyfriend, Matt gone. She can't figure out why he left but despite the urging of her best friend she can't let it go either. He couldn't have just left her. She's sure of it. And thus begins and obsessive journey to find her boyfriend. She even risks her job to find him.

This was an enticing thriller although a tad unbelievable at times. With how driven she is at work, I couldn't wrap my head around her willingness to potentially give that up to search for boyfriend. But still that didn't stop me from being really into finding this guy and also guessing along the way for why he was likely missing. I even went the sci-fi route at times! And when the ending came around I was bit thrown, but it did make me think. I also wish there were more instances of foreshadowing of the potential reason why Matt went missing. Overall though this was an excellent thriller and despite some flaws I would say it is worthy of three and a half stars. If you liked Girl on the Train, you will enjoy this. It reminded me a lot of that book.

This book will be available to purchase on Amazon very soon so make sure you remember to buy it! 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Nightmares, Edited by Ellen Datlow [A Review] #AmReading

January 8, 2017

I'm a huge fan of short story collections these days. I've gotten more into writing my own short fiction lately so I always love reading stories that I can reflect on for inspiration. I am especially a huge fan of the creepy ones.

With the short story collection, Nightmares edited by Ellen Datlow, you have a strong collection of short stories that will disturb you long after they are over. It contains twenty four stories and each one unique and disturbing in it's own way. One in particular called, "The Clay Party," I read during my commute home that left me with a queasy stomach that reminded me a bit of the "Donner Party" with an extremely morbid and weird twist.

Another story, "Dead Sea Fruit" stayed with me. It's a story about a man who turned young men and women's tongues into something that left a horrible ash taste that rendered them unable to eat. The relationship between him and new dentist becomes curious when he refuses to kiss her.

As with all short story collections, some I couldn't connect with and others I found much too gruesome for me to really enjoy. But this is a fantastic collection of short stories that I think is worthy of your reading throughout this dreary cold January. Isn't it a fantastic way to get through this endless winter?

So, Friday the 13th is just next week so if you want to creep yourself out next weekend, I highly recommend purchasing this collection of short stories. It'll definitely stay with you long after it's over (and those are my favorite kind of books!).

Purchase now on Amazon. Visit the publisher's website for more details.

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

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