Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: The Line Between

The Line Between The Line Between by Tosca Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew when I read the description of this book I would like it. I have enjoyed other books that Tosca Lee has written and I could not wait to get this one in my hands. Thankfully, hubby ordered it for me for my birthday (he was so sweet). The only thing I regret is that with work and family commitments, it has taken me until now to complete the book.

Have you ever started reading a book and get completely wrapped up into it and then for whatever reason have to put it down when you are only halfway through it? Ya, that happened.

The surprise?

I was able to pick it up and get transported right back into the story. And WOW! What a story.

Ms. Lee is able to get her readers completely invested in the characters so that you feel like you know them. In this particular book, I felt like I was having coffee with a friend and they were telling me about their background and how they survived some crazy stuff. (Okay, so I might have peculiar friends.)

The main character goes from being a young child introduced to a commune that lives completely different than what she is used to. In her mind she questions things but goes along with it. Her sister and mother are there with her until her mother gets sick. It turns out just her and her sister grow up there. Wynter has difficulty with relationships (really I see this as normal given circumstances). Without going into spoilers, crazy stuff starts happening (think David Koresh cult stuff).

Wynter gets away from the commune and that is only the beginning. Corrupt cult, bio-terrorism, grief, romance, puppy, suspense.

I feel like if I say too much it will spoil the book. Yet, I also feel like I haven't said enough. This is a book that I will look for the sequel to when it comes out. I can also see reading it again on a relaxing day.

The writing is sound. The plot is doomsday good. The character development is thorough and interesting.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: Calming the Storm

Calming the Storm Calming the Storm by Melanie D. Snitker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Left wanting more

The premise was good, the main characters needed more development.

The protagonist has a lot of life troubles thrown at her and is desperate. She needs help but has never been able to rely on anyone other than her sister. And now she doesn't even have her to help. Having grown up in the foster care system this is plausible. There are a lot of young adults that have been shifted from family to family and no real roots. This part of the story is realistic and I wish there were more development to the character.

Just as she (the protagonist) seems to be getting life going, she's in college and her sister and brother-in-law are letting her live with them to help with costs, tragedy strikes. The young college professor is concerned about his student when she abruptly starts missing class and fails a test.

Relationships build and while it is sweet and quaint, the characters are likable but need more developing. It feels like this story was rushed in order to finish writing it. There can be a stretch of the plausibility of this story being believable. I honestly think if the characters were developed more and the story itself fleshed out this would be an amazing read.

That said, check it out. I have this odd desire for fiction stories to be realistic to a degree. Especially romantic stories.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Making Changes, with a plan.

When making changes, regardless of what you want to call them, the important thing is to be consistent. Typically to create a new habit it takes doing the new habit consistently for 21 days. So, if your goal is to drink a gallon of water every day, then you have to do it for 21 days before it is established as a new habit.
Unfortunately, it is easier to break a habit than it is to keep a habit. (unless you are speaking of things that are addictive and that is a completely different topic). An example of this is, we have been attending church for years going every service. Then one Sunday one of the kids was sick. The next Sunday I was sick. The following Sunday was REALLY difficult to get up and go to church.

Looking at professional goals you must be realistic. I am in process of prepping my curriculum for the semester, which starts January 14th. (I might be a procrastinator.) My goals are of course to have an amazing curriculum so that my students learn and add skills to their portfolio. I want them to be able to use what they have learned in their future careers. Being realistic, I must realize that it is my responsibility to present the curriculum and to be available to my students whether they learn new skills are up to them and that does not reflect on who I am as long as I am doing my job.

Let’s take a minute though and think about some SMART goals. SMART goals are deliberate goals that have a plan and thought behind them, not just thrown on the wall in hopes they would get done.

-          Updating the curriculum to enable students to learn and add skills
o   Specific – the course happens to be a web pages course, so I want my students to know how to create a basic website.
o   Measurable – students will have built a website by the end of the course.
o   Achievable – through the curriculum and the tutorials, students that follow along and are interactive should be able to complete the end goal.
o   Realistic – the course is 8 weeks so it will be a lot of work to complete but the motivated student can do it. The assignment is a 3-5 page website. For a basic website, 8 weeks is plenty of time.
o   Timely – being able to create your own website is a skill that can be invaluable. Knowing the basics of web building an individual can customize weblog templates, create their own, or even become a freelance designer. With our digital world, this is a timely skill.

Maybe something a bit generic?

-          Organize my office
o   Specific – make sure everything is where it belongs and has a place of belonging. Go through outdated material and discard. Less is more.
o   Measurable – my office will be less cluttered, and materials will be easily located when needed.
o   Achievable – By setting time aside daily and focusing on the end goal it is completable.
o   Realistic – Need to have a due date set so that the goal does not get brushed off. The goal is realistic as long as it stays a goal.
o   Timely – Having a less cluttered space limits chaos. There is always a place for order.

Not everything has to abide by SMART goals, but I have found having the reason and basic plan to get things done encourages me to complete them. Perhaps this is from my time advocating for my special needs son.

Do you have goals? Resolutions? Intents? For my home office, it is my intentional focus for the month of January. I figure if it is clean and organized then if for some reason somebody else needs to get something I won’t find a mess where there was searching going on. 😊


Friday, January 4, 2019

Review: Prize of War

Prize of War Prize of War by Carole Towriss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A story that enraptured

This story has everything it needs and then some. Well researched and artistically told. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Must read.

I loved how the story of Caleb's daughter Acsah progressed. How the author showed the progression. It was also very nice to see a Christian book that included romance and desire without being trash or heavily suggestive.

The characters held interest as they were developed and the redemption of the antagonist was beautiful.

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

A New Chapter, But Not the Beginning

The New Year is always a time that many of us like to use as a restart or a rebirth. That's great! I am hoping to use the new calendar year to provoke myself into posting on my blog more consistently. I refuse to think of it as a resolution though.

See, the last decade has been crazy for me.

In 2009, I went to college. I blame it on a friend of mine, but I am very appreciative that I was given the encouragement. Sure, there have been times that I thought I was crazy for getting a degree and putting myself through the stress and work of getting it. I learned a few invaluable things though..

  • It's never to late to dream. I always wanted to go to college, things just didn't work out on a traditional schedule.
  • You never know who is watching you. Both of my adult daughters saw me go and get a college education. They saw me struggle and they saw me succeed. I believe they had a great role model in that.
  • Success can come out of left field. As I sit and write, I am currently the Assistant Director of my community library and an Adjunct Professor at a state university. Neither position was planned for, both are enjoyed.
I enjoy what I do. I also enjoy writing.

This past November, until I got bronchitis, I was having a successful go at NaNoWriMo. For the first time in years. I enjoyed it and I am still working on the story I started. My itch to write has returned.

So what is this whole "New Chapter, Not Beginning" thing?

I have actively been "becoming" for several years. I like who I am becoming, so I don't want to start over. However, I do feel that it is time for a new chapter. It is time to do things with intent. Be intentional with my interactions with others. Set my priorities and keep them. 

Starting a new chapter can be intimidating though. You are acknowledging that the past is behind you, regardless if there are mistakes and regrets. The past is done and now you are moving forward. It is best to move forward with a plan. What kind of plan? Hopefully a good one.

For myself, my plan is to focus.
  • As an individual, I will focus on liking myself. I am not perfect and will always have room for growth, but I need to like me. Which will require changes. For me, that means I have to allow myself to be me. I am a creative and I need to be able to create.
  • As an assistant director of a library, I need to be the best that I can. This includes learning the complete ins and outs of the library. My focus will be on programs and hopefully grant writing.
  • As an adjunct professor, my goals are to push my students to be the best that they can be. I know this means I won't be liked by everybody. I know this means I have to engage and answer questions before they are asked. This also means to be in a constant state of learning.
Three simple areas, three monumental tasks. But focus is where intent begins.

Are you starting a new chapter? What do you need to work on? Do you have a plan?