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Book Review: Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Book Review: Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Genre:

Teen/ YA LitRPG

Synopsis:

From James Dashner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes the first book in the bestselling Mortality Doctrine series, an edge-of-your-seat cyber-adventure trilogy that includes The Rule of Thoughts and The Game of Lives

Includes a sneak peek of The Fever Code, the highly anticipated conclusion to the Maze Runner series—the novel that finally reveals how the Maze was built!

The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun it is. Why bother following the rules when it’s so easy to break them? But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results.
The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid, to the back alleys and corners of the system human eyes have never seen—and it’s possible that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Praise for the Mortality Doctrine Series:

“Dashner takes full advantage of the Matrix-esque potential for asking ‘what is real.’” —io9.com

“Set in a world taken over by virtual reality gaming, the series perfectly capture[s] Dashner’s hallmarks for inventiveness, teen dialogue and an ability to add twists and turns like no other author.” —MTV.com

“A brilliant, visceral, gamified mash-up of The Matrix and Inception, guaranteed to thrill even the non-gaming crowd.” —Christian Science Monitor

Heidi’s Hot Take:

I struggled to get into this story as the parallels to Ready Player One were so painfully obvious. From the hanging out in virtual worlds to the trio team of one girl and two boys, the big win goal that will “change” the MCs life , and the secret underlying plot that throws a wrenching the MCs goals. It was almost enough to make me put the book down.

But Dashner tells a tight story and is excellent at driving you forward even when you are pretty confident you’ve already figured the story out. I did enjoy some of the elements of worldbuilding that is why I enjoy a lot of LitRPG, the fantastical game worlds within worlds, the over-the-top quirky characters that you can only get away with in spec fick, But at the end of the day, the creative twist I was counting on did not quite play out the way I’d hoped and was left hanging that it *might* in later books, but probably not. I am honestly so divested from the trio dynamic that I don’t really care to find out.

This kind of content that follows such predictable story beats is a large part of why I generally don’t enjoy reading mainstream and trad published books.  While I think some formula is required to a certain extent, the more formulaic it is the less excitement I feel reading. That is why I was so excited when more and more authors began mixing genres because it gave a wider room for blending formulas and less predictability to the story.

If you like that (and a lot of people do, no judgment from me!) then be sure to check out Eye of Minds on Amazon and see if it’s for you.

But if you like LitRPG which isn’t so formulaic and lets you get lost in the story and the world-building, then I have some great review recommendations for you!

Check these out:

Conquest by RM Mulder

Realms Unreel by Audry Auden

Of for a cool Book about building those types of worlds, don’t miss The Man of Cloud 9 by Adam Dreece.

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

 

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Book Review: Night Rounds by Helene Tursten

Book Review: Night Rounds by Helene Tursten

Genre:

International Mystery and Crime Thriller

Synopsis:

The fourth investigation in the nationaly bestselling Swedish detective series

Irene Huss is a former jujitsu champion, a mother of twin teenage girls, the wife of a successful chef, and a Detective Inspector in the Violent Crimes Unit in Göteborg, Sweden. And now she’s back in the gripping follow-up to Detective Inspector Huss. One nurse lies dead and another vanishes after a local hospital is hit by a blackout. The only witness claims to have seen Nurse Tekla doing her rounds, but Nurse Tekla died sixty years ago. Irene Huss has the challenge of disentangling wandering ghosts and complex human relationships to get to the bottom of this intriguing case.

Heidi’s Hot Take:

I absolutely love international detective thrillers. They have a different flow than most USA based detective thrillers. There is a lot of fun details about the culture that bleed through. That is all the case for Night Rounds as well. I can’t say that I adore Irene Huss. I actually kind of struggled with liking most of the detectives in the book, TBH. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but it was interesting to see that women in Sweden seem to run into similar struggles of how their roles are being shifted in culture and that there is kickback there just as we experience here. I will say that Helene Tursten’s red herrings were really quite good. Right until the end, I wasn’t sure who the killer was and she clearly set it up to mislead the average reader into falling into the same trap that most of the male detectives in the book kept falling into, underestimating what women can and will do and why.

While I wasn’t super won over by the detectives, I absolutely loved Tursten’s writing. How she mixes the mundane struggles of balancing life with being a detective, how we get as much of a look into Huss’s family life as her policework, and the ever-relatable feeling of struggling to balance personal and self-care around all the responsibilities of being a woman in modern society. I also felt like one of the reasons the red herrings really stood out is that Tursten makes a very solid effort to show how real police work is not getting a suspect early on and then digging into all of it to prove that they were guilty, but looking at the whole of the evidence and following up a lot of potential leads that would never quite resolve enough evidence to completely dismiss them but also ran cold on being able to follow up further. Like life, the police work wasn’t as linear as we often get in US-based detective thrillers and I really enjoyed that aspect to it.

Want to learn more about Night Rounds? Check it out on Amazon.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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January Updates and #IWSGQOTM

#IWSG Angell's 4 Authors Do you have a word of the year?
Hello Lovelies,
December was a crazy busy month between re-releasing Elements of Broken Mind,  The DreamMaker2023Q1 challenge, the 12 Days of Indies 2022,  and expanding my Quick and Dirty Annual Marketing Guide. This month is almost jam-packed, as I am looking for beta reader feedback on  Quick and Dirty. (If you’d like to sign up, please fill out this google form and I will be in touch next week!) am working to wrap up the course materials for Maximize Your E-newsletter Masterclass, re-releasing Quick and Dirty and then working on An Angel’s Dance re-re-release. Also hoping to schedule my PMP exam,  figure out why my dryer is not working (it’s been a whole saga) and figure out what is making my husband sick (an even bigger saga). While also making time for my personal and professional goals.  It’s only a couple of days into 2023 and I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed. But that is not the word I want for 2023.

IWSG Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

January 4 Question – Do you have a word of the year?

Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finish my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year was Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? 
I have really been searching and searching for the right word. I have a large list of goals(15, to be exact) and they are a wide range of goals that are all focused on growth but growth didn’t feel like the right word. I also considered balance as a good key word but that didn’t resonate with me either as I am always seeking balance. After a lot of soul searching for just the right word, I finally settled on the best word and when it came to me my soul did sing.
Transformational- (as defined by the Cambridge  Dictionary)

able to produce a big change or improvement in a situation:
Action to encourage home insulation by the EU represents a potentially transformational event for government-funded installation agencies.
transformational acquisition/deal/merger
a transformational strategy/reform/step The company’s chief executive described the transaction as a “transformational step” in implementing new corporate strategy.
transformative ideas/experiences
This goes beyond just growth, this is exponential growth. Several of my goals this year will lead to major changes in our lives and working together will align us in a whole new way. But transformational change is overwhelming and scary. I hope I am up to the challenge, am really excited to pursue this new path for us, and I am putting all the most powerful energy into making this transformational shift.
The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin! Be sure to check out their posts and the rest of the awesome members of the IWSG blog hop!
Until Next Time,
Keep Reading!
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Top 10 Blogging Tips to Drive Business for Entrepreneurs

Top 10 Blogging Tips to Drive Business for Entrepreneurs

Hello Lovelies,

Today I am sharing my top 10 blogging tips for entrepreneurs and how to use blogging to grow your business. These are the tips I use with my own entrepreneurial adventures and have worked across every industry I’ve worked (B2B/ B2C/ B2B2C, entertainment/ retail, SAAS, health and wellness, writing, legal, dental, and medical.) to increase your online presence, drive traffic to your site, and build your sales funnel.  It is a fantastic tool to build trust, expertise, and respect. It is also something many businesses choose to outsource to agencies but I think that is a huge mistake. While you can hire someone in-house to handle your blogging, it is not a good idea to hire an agency to do your blogging because it will lose a lot of your company voice, it won’t be as easy to tie into your whole sales funnel, and the expertise you are seeking won’t be there because they are not experts on your product, your clients, your business. I used to write for Blog Mutt to provide these types of services and even when I was an expert in the content they were looking for, it still wasn’t a solid fit because I wasn’t an expert in their product and when I looked at their blogs to get a sense of their voice, it was all over the place because the company had no voice as everything was outsourced. So plan to do this work in-house. If you are a solopreneur you can write the articles and then pay someone to edit, format, and post them if writing isn’t your strong suit. But the core of it should come from you and you should use the same editor each time so you build that relationship and they can preserve your voice correctly.

Let’s get started!

1. Know your Purpose and Audience

You must know why you’re blogging, but also why your audience is reading. This is a common mistake I see over and over. If you are an author and you are writing to attract readers, then do not write about writing. You can occasionally write about your writing, such as research you are doing for a story, what inspired a character, etc. But so many authors are out there giving writing advice when they are trying to target readers. You should be writing about reading and about your own writing. That is what readers will find interesting.

For entrepreneurs of all stripes, you want to dig into your purpose for blogging so you can shape the content around that.

Here are some common purposes for blogging as an entrepreneur:

  • To build an audience for your products
  • To establish yourself as a trusted resource
  • To build credibility
  • To draw your customers in
  • To educate your customers in how your product can solve their problem
  • To drive sales

You can write with all these purposes or only one of these purposes in mind. Most of what will decide how many purposes you can tackle will be how much time you can devote to the blog posts and how frequently you can post. If you can only manage 1 post a week or a month then hoping to cover all of these areas sufficiently will take years. So start with just one and build that out. The beauty of blogging is that you can always update and expand posts (I do it all the time) as you grow and expand your business. If your primary focus is to build sales then start there with blog posts that tackle your different products and how they can help your target customer. Once you’ve built those posts out and are looking for more content, then you can build out posts about common problems that your customers experience and how your product can solve those problems.

2. Build a Detailed List of Topics

This will not only spare you writer’s block, it will also allow you to create a consistent posting schedule that will bring readers back over and over again. I like to build my list in my handy Editorial Content Calendar that I created in Excel. (I provide this to my clients to help them plan their own content as well.)  This allows me to not only create a dump list of ideas but to organize the content in the best flow pattern with my planned posting schedule and can let readers know what the next topic to be covered will be and when. I can also go back and link content to each other to help drive customers further down the sales funnel.

Are you struggling with deciding what topics to cover? There are some resources to get topic ideas. Look at what your customers are asking about online. I love #writingcommunity on Twitter as it is a veritable resource of topics writers are asking for help on. I also do searches on all social media for keywords I am trying to rank for, look at discussion groups on Linkedin and Facebook, and even do polls with my customer base to get topic ideas. I set up google alerts for certain topics I cover regularly so I can see when news comes out about the topic of concern. Any time I come across this type of stuff, I add it to my pile of ideas. (With newsjack items getting higher priority to take advantage of the focus.) I remember when I was working for a publishing house that offered services to indie authors, as well as publishing authors under our own label, and #Cockygate hit the news. That gave us a slew of content that we were able to scatter over 6 months around our regular content.

Some other hot topics would be to write about industry events (especially ones you are participating in), to look at what competitors are writing about and decide if you can cover it from a different (or better) angle, and community events if you’re a brick-and-mortar store. Any events or charities you partner with and why you partner with them.  You will see that Under Armour does a ton of charity outreach and partnership and writes about it.

3. Craft a Killer Headline

 

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Catch a reader’s eye without being clickbaity. Hit on emotional reasons a reader will care about and drive them to click on that post.

There are some fantastic tools to use to help you do this. One of my favorites is Co-schedule’sHeadline Analyzer. This tool is fantastic and gives you tips on how to improve your headline by using action and feeling words. If you’re not familiar with this copywriting technique, here is a handy guide Jenna Jacobs of Co-schedule wrote to help you out.

My general philosophy is that the more important the content is to driving revenue, the more time I spend on crafting the headline.  For example, on my website, I do a lot of book reviews. I read across a wide range of genres and many of them are not relevant to the genres I write. I don’t spend a lot of time on the headlines for any of the reviews and only spend a little time on other aspects of the optimization process. This is the outer edge of my sales funnel. The closer down my sales funnel the content is the more effort I put into every aspect, especially the headline.

4. Plan your SEO

Use your blog to drive more Search Engine Optimization for your site and business. SEO allows you to get in front of high-value targets. Make sure that you are learning all about SEO, keeping abreast of changes, analyzing your key SEO words and working them into your content plan to drive customers who are looking for your content. I could write a 50-page dissertation on SEO, using long-tail and short-tail keywords, targeting what customers are searching for, etc. But that content has already been written by true SEO experts so rather than take up a ton of space on this already long post, I will advise you to become ABLE (Always be learning everything) and recommend that you carve out some time every week to read up and research (and keep learning as SEO is constantly changing and improving). Some of my favorite SEO resources are:

Yoast

The Hoth

SEMRush

Google Search Central

I get weekly emails and read through them to keep my knowledge growing. If you are pretty new to SEO, each has some great courses you can take to help guide your learning.

5. Write for your Audience

Make your content as niche as possible and focus the content on what that audience wants and needs most. A great way to help you with this approach is to write the post for one specific customer knowing that customer’s specific needs. The content will resonate with all other customers struggling with the same problem. A perfect example is this article. I actually took a lot of this content from an email I created for a customer who wanted to get into blogging to grow her audience and had a host of authors who wanted to work with her but none of them really had commercial blogging experience. Each was writing their own blogs on their own websites and had their own formats and styles. They each had a ton of fantastic knowledge and experiences in writing to share with the novice writer audience she was trying to reach, but it was my guidance on how they could create a cohesive blogging platform following basic blogging practices that helped to grow their overall reach. Before we started this cohesion she only had a schedule but let everyone come up with their own ideas on what to write about on their assigned Day.

We put together this plan that included all of these elements and educated the authors on the process. Within 3 months we had taken their impressions from the low 200s to over 1,000 a day. Their engagement went from non-existent to 20-50 comments per post, and their subscriber list was non-existent and grew to over 800 subscribers. In just 3 months. Over the 2 years that I worked with her those numbers continued to grow steadily.

6. Break up your Content

Anything you can do to break up the blocks of content and make it easier for a reader to scan and find the content they’re looking for and make sure you address the solution they need. The longer the content, the more you need to use to break it up. As you will see, in this very long-form content I have employed a lot of techniques: I have headings, lists, images, video, shorter paragraphs, and longer paragraphs.

One of the cool elements of all this content creation included in your post is that it will also make it easier to share your post across different platforms. Create videos and images designed for the different platforms and it makes it easy to use that image to share on that platform and link back to the post. This is especially handy if you are creating evergreen content that you can share multiple times throughout the year, like this piece.

7. Include Reputable Links

This not only will increase your reader’s view of your knowledge, but it will also lead to higher google rankings as a quality source and will decrease your chances of your website being blocked by social media platforms. When doing this, I generally aim for at least 1 link to a reputable piece of similar content on my own site and at least 2 to reputable sources outside of my site. The longer your content, the more links you will want to create. But you don’t want to overwhelm a short piece with too many links or it begins to feel spammy. Sometimes you won’t have content to interlink to on your own site and that is ok, but whenever possible try to interlink your content. And there is always an exterior link to connect to, even if it is just where to buy or another reputable source for additional information. A note about links to help your content feel more reputable, let them know where you’re sending them with the link. I hate the habit that some bigger outlets have developed of not citing the source correctly. While a site like MSNBC can get away with it, if you are a much smaller name you want to cite your source so they know where they are going. Too many smaller sites ruined people’s trust by hiding viruses and such in links so build your credibility and site the source as I’ve done throughout my content. Whenever possible, cite the content and the author (see how I did this with the guide to headlines up above). This shows that you give credit to other people’s ideas, that you know who provided the content and their value (even if your reader doesn’t), and that you know the content and aren’t just pulling top-ranking content from Google. They may not even click the link while reading through your post, but in their mind, it will make you a more trusted source.

8. Create Killer Content

Mix with long and short-form content, video, images, and lists to keep your reader’s interest. While these tools are also great for breaking up your content to make it more scannable and also provide you great shareability on different platforms, it also caters to different learning types which your audience will appreciate. If your goal is to educate, meeting your audience where they are and in the format that best suits them is the way to go. Your goal with every piece of content should be  “how do I meet the reader’s specific needs?” (writing to your audience) and then creating the best content to do that. With short-form content, you will want to be focusing on one very specific issue and address it thoroughly or create a very broad general understanding (giving yourself opportunities to dig deeper into the topic matter with linked content down the road).  When creating images and video content, while you don’t need to make it in a professional studio, you do want to make sure that it is good quality and that the lighting and sound are solid and efficient to keep from distracting from your message. Some companies (especially new start-ups) try to rush through all the content creation focusing on creating a full backlog. It is better to focus on creating quality pieces from the get-go as it will build your reputation better. While you can cycle back and re-purpose content and update it you do not want that to be a key part of your strategy to just get more content out there faster.

Blogging Tips to Drive Business for Entrepreneurs Pinterest

9. Have a strong CTA

End with a strong call to action so your reader knows exactly what they need to do next. The call to action doesn’t have to be “Buy today” or something of that nature, though that should be your close for content created at the bottom of your sales funnel. It can be “learn more” (one of my favorites for book reviews, linking to their sales page with reviews and sample reads) or what are your thoughts if it is an educational piece. Asking them to share questions in the comments and assuring you will answer them is a good step in giving them additional resources for information, but you need to devote time every day to answering questions if you choose that approach. Invite them to share the post with their network, or try out these tips and let us know if it helped. But be sure to have a solid direction for what they can do next.

10. Share Everywhere

Use your blog post shares on social media to engage with your audience, drive traffic to your site, and to your sales funnels. If your content is evergreen, meaning that it isn’t time-specific, then add it to a content sharing list that you can pull from to re-share throughout the year. I like to share new pieces 3-4 times in the first month and then once every 90 days or so for the first year. Key sales funnel pieces may be shared more frequently, things that aren’t driving my sales funnel or traffic to my site may be shared less frequently. As you go through this re-shareable content, it might be worth updating some of it if new information has come out or adding new elements as it ages. As video content became more popular and easier to produce, I have been systematically creating video and adding it to older blog posts that have not been generating as much traffic.

Bonus Tip- Always be Improving

Constantly be evaluating your content and how you can improve it. Blogging is a long-term strategy, not a quick fix. There are a lot of things you can do after content has been created to keep it growing your business.

Link content together to keep readers on your site longer, to help guide them down your sales funnel, and to increase the chances of a sale.  While this applies to content created specifically for your sales funnel, it may also apply to content that wasn’t originally created to drive the sales funnel but was a simple newsjack item. I review my content regularly to update posts and link them to other posts, and keep building my sales funnels.

If you have older content that you created before developing a specific skillset (like video) then go back through that content and add that element to it to give it new life and drive new traffic.

If you have content that you have re-vamped and re-shared and it isn’t driving traffic, then remove it so it doesn’t weigh down your site. There is no harm in doing this- but be sure that you unlink all posts that are connected to it. While it is hard to let go of content you created (believe me, I know) if it no longer serves your audience then it doesn’t serve you. It is ok to prune it.

Hope these tips help you in your journey to add blogging to your marketing arsenal. If you’d like help with your blogging journey, reach out for a consult.

Until next time,

Keep Growing!

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Book Review: Icefall By Matthew J. Kirby

Book Review: Icefall Matthew J. Kirby

Genre:

Children’s Action and Adventure

Synopsis

Critically acclaimed author Matthew J. Kirby deftly weaves a stunning coming-of-age tale with chilling cleverness and subtle suspense that will leave readers racing breathlessly to the end.

Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig–along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors–anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. Solveig must also embark on a journey to find her own path. Yet, a malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, as a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye? Can Solveig survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he manages to destroy a kingdom?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Heidi’s Hot Take

Based on the cover, I thought there would be magic in the story. Though there isn’t, I still absolutely loved this historical fiction story. I really related to Solveig’s struggle as the middle child who felt out of place and not as important in her family dynamics. I loved watching her grow from just a shadow trying to fit in by helping where she could, to blossoming into a heroine who inspired others to be greater than they thought they could be.

The Nordic setting and the story were also fascinating and well-researched. The teases of mysticism and prophecy as well as the question of whether it was real or whether people’s belief was enough to make it seem like it could be real are pretty heavy concepts for a book aimed at pre-teens and teens. I’ve been on kinda a nordic kick with my entertainment lately and really appreciated the level of research the author did, given this was written 10 years before most of the stuff I’ve been enjoying.

An excellent coming-of-age tale with real depth for the right readers and a lot of interesting action and suspense for the average reader. Highly recommend.

 

Until Next Time, 

Keep Reading!

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Walito Resistance Bands introduction

Hello Lovelies,

I made this video several years ago when I was on my health and wellness kick but couldn’t go to the gym because of Covid.  But I was so mortified when I saw the video that I never posted it. I found it again when cleaning out my files and decided to post it as is, no editing. I knew if I edited the video that I’d end up chickening out and not post it. Seeing myself in this video makes me feel so nauseated. The most frustrating part is that at the time I made the video I was feeling better than I had in a long time. I was on a solid regular workout and diet regimen. I was #fatandfit promoting because I’d accepted that I would never be able to lose weight but at least I could be healthy and happy.

Clearly I wasn’t healthy and happy or I would’ve been fin editing and posting this video. But I was determined to do the best I could with the situation before me. I am so glad that my doctor pushed me to consider weight loss surgery. While I still cringe when I see myself in the mirror (especially all the saggy skin from the weight I’ve lost) I am finally seeing the results I should’ve seen with all that working out I was doing before, and I am doing half the workouts I did before. I know I still have a long way to go to reach my fitness goals but I am so glad I don’t look like that anymore and I’m thrilled that I am still using my Walito bands on busy days when I cannot get to the gym. They are a fantastic investment to help me keep building my muscle strength as my body keeps trying to eat all the muscles in my weight loss journey!

 

Want me to make more videos like this so you can see my progress both on my weight loss and on my fitness journey? Just let me know in the comments.

 

Until next time,

Stay healthy, happy, and inspired! 

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Book Review: Fool Moon Jim Butcher

Book Review: Fool Moon Jim Butcher

Genre

Mystery, thriller suspense

Synopsis

“One of the most enjoyable marriages of the fantasy and mystery genres on the shelves,”(Cinescape) the Dresden Files have become synonymous with action-packed urban fantasy and nonstop fun. Fool Moon continues the adventures of Jim Butcher’s most famous—and infamous—reluctant hero…

You’d think there’d be a little more action for the only professional wizard listed in the Chicago phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work: magical, mundane, or menial.

Just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise. There’s a brutally mutilated corpse, and monstrous animal markings at the scene. Not to mention that the killing took place on the night of a full moon. Harry knows exactly where this case is headed. Take three guesses—and the first two don’t count…

Heidi’s Hot Take

This is the second book in the Dresden files series by Jim Butcher and I absolutely loved it! I am a huge fan of werewolf mythology and I love how  they added a fun bit of extra world-building by pulling from several different mythos and treating them as separate entities. I also loved the continued tension being built between Dresden and Detective Murphy and how his assumptions of what is causing it keep running him afoul. While I love the flawed hero aspect, I did find it beyond frustrating that he had a lot of self-realizations (I know my being closed off and not sharing information is getting people I care about hurt. I’m gonna do better, I swear!) never actually turned into self-actualization. There were several times where he even acknowledged that Murphy would want to know this but then consciously chose to leave her out of it, to both their detriment.

If the author plays this angle right and we see Harry actually attempt to be better (not perfect, he is human after all, but at least BETTER) then I will be so very happy. But if he pulls a Gibbs and sticks to his bad habits, I might just have to drop him on his head.  I have high hopes it will be the former, and not the latter. If so, I will recommend this series to anyone struggling with personal self-development as a template on how to do it. First, we have to know what is broken and process how we can do better. But then we have to do better!

I also want so much more about werewolves. I loved the sneak peek into these three complex werewolf societies, but that was really all we got. It was totally needed to feed the main plot (IE keep the reader and Dresden guessing on who the big baddies are.) but it didn’t give me enough of a look into each type to be satisfied. I hope to see Dresden come up against different werewolf types in the future so we can see more into the different legends and lore.

All in all, a very fun and satisfying read that I highly recommend to anyone interested in urban fantasy mysteries and alternative lore. Looking forward to getting the next books in the series! Want to give it a try? Check it out on Amazon today! Fool Moon Dresden Files

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Storm Front Jim Butcher

Genre

Mystery Thriller/ Suspense

Synopsis

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I’m a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown Chicago. As far as I know, I’m the only openly practicing professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under Wizards. Believe it or not, I’m the only one there.

With rent past due and a decent meal becoming an issue of some importance, Harry needs work, and soon. A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt. Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse. Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters to vampires, while he himself is under suspicion of the crimes.

Heidi’s Hot Take

I absolutely am loving The Dresden Files, but was surprised to see it was not included in paranormal mystery. My guess is because it created a new genre. It’s a genre I am a big fan of and even wrote my own series for the paranormal thriller/ suspense genre with Clear Angel Chronicles! But Harry Dresden is a trope maker, the self-aware curmudgeon, the sinner with a heart of gold. The guy who could have it all if he would just step on others to get it. Reading the first book in the series has been a delight. I have a hard time connecting him to the Harry Dresden of Legends of Tomorrow or even the Dresden Files TV series (both of which I experienced before reading the books.) I definitely love the author’s version so much more. We get a deeper look into this character who often comes of flippant and tortured, but getting to see his inner thought process is fascinating.

And that was far more interesting than the actual plot, with a magical serial killer on the loose. While that moved the story along, figuring out the killer was just not as interesting to me as trying to figure out our protagonist. That, to me, is so different from the TV series where the plot drove the story more for me. It could be the difference in age from the time I watched the series to the time I read, but honestly I suspect it is more to do with the format as I wrote Clear Angel Chronicles about the same time the TV series came out and yet my focus in the stories is much more on understanding the protagonists and solving the crimes is just a back story to guide the interactions of the MCs.

If you’ve not read the Dresden Files and you are a fan of paranormal thriller/ suspense and deep characters you really want to understand then I highly recommend you give this series a go. I am loving it and have already started on the next book in the series. Keep an eye out for that review coming soon!

You can get a sample read of Storm Front sent to your Kindle reader via Amazon.

 

 

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December 2022 Update and IWSGQOTM

#IWSG QOTM Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

Hello Lovelies,

I know it’s been a minute. The surgery took more out of me than I expected and while the results have been absolutely worth it (I’ve already lost 90 lbs!) I am still struggling to recover. I have just gotten to the point where I can manage more than just my health and day job but only a little bit more. I get about an hour a day to work on all the other things. I am striving to prioritize projects because jumping from one thing to the next doesn’t work. But I miss doing the Insecure Writer’s Support Group so here I am! and we have a great question of the month for December.

 

IWSG Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   

December 7 question – It’s holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

Usually, December is a slowdown on my goals as I am typically doing the 12 Days of Indie, a weeklong goals masterclass, and working on my Annual marketing and business plan. However, this year I am just ramping back up after surgery. I am going to do 12 Days of Indie very differently this year as past years have just been so time-consuming. If you are an author who would like to participate in this free marketing event, be sure to join my FB group Authors Anon as I will be sharing info closer to in that group.
If you struggle with setting and achieving your goals, be sure to join my DreamMaker Challenge as I will teach you how to set SMARTER goals and how to plan for both personal and professional goals and keep them on track throughout the year.
The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!
Be sure to check out their posts in the IWSG, as well as all the other awesome authors who participate!
Stay tuned for some great reviews coming over the next few weeks as I catch up on my read and reviews.
Until next time,
Keep Reading!
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Book Review: The Devil’s Sea by Clive Cussler

Book Review: The Devil's Sea by Clive Cussler

Genre

Suspense Action Fiction

Synopsis

Fearless adventurer Dirk Pitt must unravel a historical mystery of epic importance in the latest novel in the beloved New York Times bestselling series created by the “grand master of adventure” Clive Cussler.

In 1959 Tibet, a Buddhist artifact of immense importance was seemingly lost to history in the turmoil of the Communist takeover. But when National Underwater and Marine Agency Director Dirk Pitt discovers a forgotten plane crash in the Philippine Sea over 60 years later, new clues emerge to its hidden existence.

But Pitt and his compatriot Al Giordino have larger worries when they are ordered to recover a failed hypersonic missile from Luzon Strait. Only someone else is after it, too…a rogue Chinese military team that makes their own earthshattering discovery, hijacking a ship capable of stirring the waters of the deep into a veritable Devil’s Sea.

From the cold dark depths of the Pacific Ocean to the dizzying heights of the Himalaya Mountains, only Dirk Pitt and his children, Summer and Dirk Jr., can unravel the mysteries that will preserve a religion, save a nation…and save the world from war.

Heidi’s Hot Take

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge Dirk Pitt Fan, which is why when my husband saw this new Dirk Pitt while he was shopping, he had to pick it up for me. Talk about true love! The Devil’s Sea is a fantastic addition to the Dirk Pitt series. But I am struggling with Dirk Giordino’s seeming lack of aging, lol. I think my age is just catching up to me and making me more self-conscious. Cussler’s books do a fantastic job weaving real-world politics into their tales and this one is very focused on China and the conflict with Tibet and the Dalai Llama as well as how China is very much in a tech war with the US and possibly an arms war as well.

It is a fun light read full of ocean and mountain adventures, which are my favorite adventures, and plenty of action. If you are a Dirk Pitt fan, you will absolutely love this addition to the series!

Take a sneak peek on Amazon by listening to an audio sample or having a  sample sent to your Kindle.

 

Until next time,

Keep Reading!