Tag: BookReview

Mix together one poltergeist, one departmental audit, and an unexpected past. Catnip & Curses: A Review

The FBI division of Occult Crimes is getting an audit, and a new poltergeist case all at the same time.

To keep their division from being shut down, Elena Rivera and Logan Hawthorne have to prove that the things that go bump in the night are real.

Having converted her ‘non-believer’ partner into a believer, one would think that dealing with their ‘shadows’ would be easy.

But, once you mix in a mad poltergeist, two very staunch cynics, vivid dreams, and a past that no one was expecting—and you have the perfect setting for Catnip and Curses.

I’m looking forward to the final book being released next month and finding out how Elena and Logan deal with their respective pasts, and what the future holds for the Occult Crimes division of the FBI.

I give Catnip and Curses five out of five stars, and highly recommend both the book and the series to anyone looking for a lighthearted mystery, with both a touch of the paranormal and romance.

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Review: My Next Play. A friends to lovers tale

‘My Next Play’ is the third book in the ‘On My Own’ series by Carrie Ann Ryan. This book picks up shortly after ‘My Rebound’ and features Miles and Nessa.

What happens when you’re trying to move on from a crush on your roommate’s now boyfriend?

In addition to realizing you may have feelings for one of his roommates? Who has been hiding his feelings for you?

You accept an invitation to go out with someone else…but there aren’t sparks (at least fro you).

Add in various family dramas and secrets…and you get the premise of ‘My Next Play’.

Both Nessa and Miles have family ‘issues’ that pop up, giving insight into both characters. I like how Nessa had ‘ties’ to the Denver Montgomerys even before she met Dillon (who has ties to the Colorado Spring Montgomerys), and weaved a little of that world into the book.

Are Nessa and Miles strong enough to weather the combined storms of their families and the other dangers facing them? The answers lie within the pages of ‘My Next Play’.

I give the latest entry of the ‘On My Own’ series, five out of five stars and can’t wait for the final book that will be featuring Tanner and Natalie.

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Missing children, goblins, & a new partner..what could go wrong.. Introduction to the Faerie Files

What happens when the FBI division of Occult Crimes is finally informed about the disappearance of hundreds of children?

They send in their specialist…With her new partner.

Elena Rivera was recruited by the FBI for her unique abilities and talents—especially those that could deal with the things that go bump in the night.

Logan Hawthorne was just promoted to Senior Special Agent and assigned to the Occult Crime Division.

What happens when you have a play it by the book agent and an agent that trusts her gut and senses, partnered together on a high-stake case?

A team that is sent to the Smoky Mountains to figure out why children have been disappearing, where they are and how to get them home.

Add in the antics of a small mountain town, and you have the perfect ingredients for a paranormal mystery.

I enjoyed the escapades and introduction the Faerie Files Series, and am looking forward to reading the second book (Catnip and Curses) this weekend, and waiting impatiently for the third book (Hexes and Hairballs) to be released in October.

I give Wiretaps and Whiskers five out of five stars, and highly recommend the book to anyone looking for a lighthearted mystery with a touch of the paranormal.

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Combine one ‘cold-case’ disappearance with a missing flash-drive/CIA agent, & you have the latest installment of Savich & Sherlock: ‘Vortex’

The latest installment of Catherine Coulter’s FBI thriller series came out two weeks ago. There are twenty-five books in the series, and while all books feature Dillon Savich, it is from book two onwards that we also see Lacey Sherlock (his wife).

The latest installment in the series is ‘Vortex’, and it starts right off with a murder/mystery before moving to the present time.

Seven years ago, a college student vanished from a party never to be seen again.

While, everyone moved on with his or her lives–a few blurry pictures from that night has one person vowing to figure out what happened to her friend.

Though she’ll have to tread carefully, as there could be political ramifications to solving a seven-year-old mystery.

What happens when the routine ‘extraction’ of an agent goes sideways?

The FBI is called into investigate when there is an attempt on one of the survivors back in DC.

These are just two of the mysteries that Special Agent Dillon Savich and his wife Special Agent Lacey Sherlock try to unravel, in addition to a triple homicide and unearthing a ‘mole’ within one of the agencies.

I love Catherine Coulter’s FBI series, as each book introduces new characters and at the same time revisits some old friends from previous books. Each book in the series is a stand-alone book, though at times it can be beneficial to read them in order. Though I would like to know if Special Agent James Quinlan (and his wife) are going to make any guest appearances in future books.

I give Vortex five out of five stars, and highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys a good mystery.

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Review: Dawn Unearthed. Introducing a world of witches, shifters, and fae

So, Carrie Ann Ryan has come out with a new paranormal romance series: Ravenwood Coven.

This series is based in Ravenwood, Pennsylvania and focuses on the citizens of the town: the witches, the shifters, and the fae.

Dawn Unearthed introduces us to the world, as Sage (Prince) Reed moves to Ravenwood, Pennsylvania with the palns to open a bakery and start fresh, away from the grief of losing her husband, and the constant memories that surrounded her.

Sage is introduced to her heritage and the secrets of the town, both sooner than expected and in a way that was not foreseen.

The town has been able to keep its secrets for years, even with the everyday citizen that may live in town, and the visitors passing through.

What happens when a witch (still learning to control her powers), meets a semi-grumpy bear shifter, and finds more trouble than she can handle on her own?

She may find her ‘sisters’, her mate, and her future–all within Ravenwood and the coven, if they can survive the darkness that is threatening the town.

What are the ties between the Ravenwood Coven and the dark forces that seek to engulf the town? Those answers will be unveiled throughout the series, and it starts with Dawn Unearthed.

I enjoyed the introduction to Ravenwood and its citizens. I look forward to see what the future holds for Laurel, Rowen, and the others.

I give Dawn Unearthed five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal (or even just shapeshirter) romances.

Dawn Unearthed is available for download at Amazon on August 19, 2021.

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Friends to Lovers via a weekend getaway: Inked Obsession Review

Welcome back to the Montgomery Ink World. This is a ‘large’ world that encompasses a total of seven different series and fifty-nine books (novels and novellas–though some won’t be out until 2022). One thing I love about this world–each book is a ‘stand-alone’ book, and a good entry point into the Montgomery Ink World.

Inked Obsession is the second installment for the Fort Collins branch of the family and focuses on Beckett Montgomery and Eliza Wilder-Strong. It picks up about a year after Inked Persuasion (which introduced the Fort Collins Branch of the Montgomery family).

What happens when various ‘secrets’ come to light and both are urged to take a weekend vacation away?

So, while it isn’t necessary to have read Inked Persuasion–it does give a little background to Eliza’s story and the ‘secret’ bomb her in-laws drop on her.

A year after her world was rocked, Eliza is slowly starting to develop a ‘new’ identity and life, when her in-laws drop some news on her that she didn’t know.

She is urged by her siblings and friends to go away as the anniversary of losing her husband is coming up.

When Beckett Montgomery’s siblings and friends discover his ‘secret’, they also urge him to take soem time to relax and regroup–a weekend away if you will.

They end up ‘neighbors’ on their solo weekend getaway. While things heat up, they decide to take it day-by-day back home (as they’re still processing the prior news), but nothing can keep a Montgomery down for long, or away from the one they choose.

To find out more about these friends to lovers–pick up Inked Obsession, out now.

I absolutely love this world, as there are numerous doors and families to get know and fall in love with, plus old friends to visit with as well. I’m hoping that there will be a spin-off series for Eliza’s brothers coming soon as well–I’d like to get to know the Wilder brothers better.

I give Inked Obsession five out of five stars and highly recommend both the book and the ‘Montgomery Inked World’ to everyone.

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Bouncing Back with Mackenzie and Pacey: Review of My Rebound

So before getting to the book review, I realize that I’m running a little behind on getting my reviews written and published on the various fiction books that I’ve been reading lately. I think I’m either going to have to make a curated list and then re-read (or skim to refresh my memory), write the reviews and then slowly post them over the next few weeks-or start ‘fresh’ with the books that are coming out this month and move forward from there. Knowing how I do things–it may end up being a combination.

Now on to the book review:

My Rebound is the second book in the ‘On My Own’ series by Carrie Ann Ryan. This is a four book series that is following four roommates and their friends through the last two years of college (at least that is my take from reading the first two books). I’ve read teh first book (My One Night), and will be hopefully getting that review up on the blog as well soon.

My Rebound picks up shortly after the end of ‘My One Night’ and features Mackenzie and Pacey. What happens when you walk in on your boyfriend and catch him cheating?

Those long ago made plans start floating out the window, leaving Mackenzie wondering how is she going to ‘create’ new plans with an already overflowing semester?

Spring is here, and Mackenzie is looking for a rebound–here enters Pacey, friend and all around nice guy (with a secret or two of thier own).

What happens when they both become more emotionally involved than they originally planned?

The answers can be found within the pages of My Rebound.

I loved this book, and can’t wait for the next one, which focuses on Miles and Nessa. I like how Carrie Ann has spun such an interconnected world among her contemporary romance novels. While this is a stand-alone series, it is tied into her larger Montgomery Ink world via Dillon (from My One Night), who is the younger brother introduced in the Fractured Connection series, which branched off from the Montgomery Ink: Colorado Spring series.

Her books are great, because while it is a large world it doesn’t matter where you enter, you are introduced to a small set of characters and a large number of books and series to binge read on those days when you don’t want to deal with the real world.

I give My Rebound five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves Carrie Ann Ryan’s books or is looking for a new romance author to try.

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Book Review: 25 Ways to Work From Home. Now onto the brainstorming stage of adulthood

So thanks to the personal/professional development board game, I’m actually starting to make decent progress on the massive non-fiction book list that I started years ago.

The latest book I read is ’25 ways to work from home: smart business models to make money online’ by Jen Ruiz. This is a book for those who are thinking of leaving (or possibly trying to supplement) their 9-to-5 life in a office (or lab) setting.

As someone who has been thinking of a ‘non-traditional’ direction for the second half of my life, this book seemed to be a good compliment for the other one I just finished: ‘The Financial Diet‘ by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage. Especially the chapter(s) on the side hustle (in Financial Diet), though this book doesn’t refer to them as side hustles, but 25 different ways to work from home.

The 25 different ways the book goes into are:

  1. Teach English online
  2. Become a virtual assistant
  3. Self-publish books
  4. Freelance writing
  5. Video editing
  6. Gig economy
  7. Start a podcast
  8. Monthly subscription/membership
  9. Start a you-tube channel
  10. E-commerce
  11. Private coaching
  12. Travel planner or guide
  13. Online courses
  14. Affiliate marketing
  15. Advertising revenue
  16. Summits
  17. Sponsored content
  18. Buy & sell websites
  19. Install & customize wordpress themes
  20. Graphic design
  21. Create an app
  22. Rent your property
  23. Sell your photographs
  24. Selling clothing and accessories
  25. Offer professional services

The authors of both books state that you should figure out how to diversify your earnings (that way if something goes wrong with one ‘job/direction’ you still have money coming in from other jobs/directions. While I’m still contemplating part-time/three-fourths time of a ‘physical in-person’ job–I’d also like to still have some control and variety in my day and week.

Therefore, the ones that either jumped out at me or I’ve been thinking about trying are:

  1. Freelance writing (a high yes/with moderately high anxiety)
  2. Self-publishing books (high maybe)
  3. Start a podcast and/or a you-tube channel (high yes for both/with very high anxiety)
  4. Creating online courses (high yes/with very high anxiety)
  5. Affiliate marketing/advertising revenue/sponsored content (high yes/with moderate anxiety)
  6. Graphic design/video editing (high maybe)
  7. Selling photographs (high yes/with moderate high anxiety)
  8. Creating and selling jewelry (high yes/with moderate high anxiety)

So I’ve listed about 12 total ways I would like to work from home. Three are currently listed as ‘high maybes’ (writing books, graphic design, and video editing), while the other nine are listed as ‘high yeses’ with a decent amount of anxiety going along with each of them. But I’m also going to rank those nine, brainstorm ideas for the top two (or three), and once I have those methods working (with decent income coming in consistently), I will then slowly start adding in other methods (one or two at a time), until I have created my ‘perfect’ blend of activities.

The other thing I liked about this book is that it has links/addresses to quite a bit of supporting material for each potential job type plus little blurbs on people who are earning a decent salary each way. I highly recommend this book to those who are thinking of leaving their nine-to-five, wanting to supplement their nine-to-five, or those of us who have left the nine-to-five and are looking for guidance on starting some totally new.

5 out of 5 stars

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Review: The Financial Diet. Now on to the planning stages of being an adult

So I recently finished my third book via the ‘personal/professional development board game’.

The book was ‘The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money’ by Chelsea Fagan & Lauren Ver Hage.

So while this is a book about finances and money–it doesn’t go serious in-depth on topics (with the one exception of what one should have in the kitchen for cooking at home), but does give good advice.

What I really liked about the book was the advice that you can/could/should try to mold to your personal life. They don’t tell you that you have to be investing in stocks and bonds, or that you should be buying a house. They acknowledge that everyone is at a different point with different circumstances when they pick up the book–but the advice given within can be ‘molded’ to fit your circumstances if you want it to.

I highlighted several phrase throughout the book as some of my key ‘take-away messages’ and they included:

To stay financially sane–you should create a collage of strategies that work for you.

Strive to find multiple streams of fulfillment, challenges, and incomes

We’re CEOs of our own lives, every hour accounted for and compensated according to our personal standards of wealth and happiness

Judge your career and success (financial and otherwise) on you and you alone. If you aren’t happy, change something.

I would have to say that I’m still trying to figure out what my multiple/collage of strategies is going to look like. Currently there is the savings account with the ’emergency fund’ (but that is starting to dwindle–so I really need to start figuring out how to diversify my income); I have a small retirement account (but I’m not currently adding to it), and a checking account (that will dwindle as the month goes on and bills are paid).

I would also have to say that I’m working on trying to find that ‘right’ mixture of fulfillment, challenges, and income; there are ideas bouncing around in my head–I just need to get them on paper and then actually ‘start’ working on them.

I’m also trying to figure out what my personal standards of wealth and happiness are as well (I’ve spent too many years just going with the flow and ‘bouncing’ via other people’s ideas on the two topics).

I also found the authors’ four DYFDs (Don’t You F*cking Dares), nine big tips, and their ‘starter kit for happiness’ to be helpful as well in terms of acknowledging where I’m at in terms of my finances or questions that I need to contemplate to figure out various budge issues.

I can safely say that currently I’m guilty of three of the four DYFDs currently (but working on getting better at them); I’m guilty of not following five of their nine tips, and I’m slowly working through/brainstorming/planning via their ‘starter kit for happiness’.

Money is one thing that no one really wants to talk about–but it is one thing that everyone needs to make it in today’s society.

While I may not currently know what my long-term financial plan looks like, I am slowly working on determining those plans, as they are one of the cornerstones for any future plans.

I recommend this book to anyone who is either struggling with his or her finances or just wanting an easy ‘finance’ book to read.

Five out of five stars

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Book Review: Permission to Screw Up.

The second book that I finished this past week as ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed.

While I really liked this book, I realized that I was reading it from the viewpoint of a ‘worker’, even though I’ve been a ‘team leader’ in a sense over the years–I never have had to do an evaluation on someone else, I’ve always been the one being evaluated.

I would like to think that I’ve managed to do some things correctly over the years: earn the trust of the student workers, mentor/train them, and allow for minor mistakes to happen so that the students could learn from them (one doesn’t want a major mistake in a lab).

I also realized what I’ve lacked from those above me, and also realized that the blame goes both ways. Since I have mild/moderate social anxiety and a need to avoid (most) confrontations (thanks to public schools and bullies), I’ve allowed myself to flounder for years (or even possibly decades) after graduation.

These two feelings have led me to try to avoid meetings and any type of confrontation–I always felt like any criticism recieved in the meeting/confrontation was negative (even when mentally I knew some/most was positive), and then I would have to deal with negative self-chatter the rest of the day.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t get feedback on the job–I did (for the most part), but at times it didn’t feel timely, and a lot of the time it didn’t feel constructive. In part, there were the jobs–when you’re in the lab at the bench, you’re expected to figure out problems on your own (and I enjoy doing that)–the feedback was usually in regards to hours worked or other related issues (nothing really to do with the science or the bench). The other positions, the feedback at times was in regards to both bench work and other issues.

I realized (well after the fact) that one of the biggest problems was the comparison trap: when you’re hired to do a job, but another person (who also has held that job) is still there–that is who you get compared to–you’re held not to your own standard of what you can accomplish but to how someone else did the job and their performance, and at times it isn’t a good feeling.

Being told that the job matters, you’re making a difference, and that works counts are all things that everyone needs/wants to hear from time to time on the job. Being in science (especially academia) those aren’t things that you hear all that often–and I realized that those are things that I need to make sure that I either tell myself (if and when I decide to start up a freelance business), or are a major part of the company culture for the company I do decide to work for–I’m not saying that those are things that have to be said constantly (I’d be a little worried if they were said constantly), but it’s nice to be acknowledged and appreciated every so often for the job that one does.

I will also have to remind myself that minor mistakes are always okay (as long as it isn’t a constant stream of little mistakes)–major ones should only happen once (if that), the lesson learned, and then the mistake is never repeated again. This is something that I will have to work on (as most of the positions I’ve held–mistakes weren’t really considered ‘okay’–they were considered more of a ‘lack of focus’ and ‘lack of attention to detail’ and were to be avoided)–avoiding both the ‘pit of perfectionism’ and the ‘pit of analysis/paralysis of not getting anything done for fear of mistakes’.

So I mentioned how the book reminded me that I have an ‘aversion’ to meetings. This ‘aversion’ isn’t going to help me in the long run, so I’m going to ‘develop’ a system to help me get over the aversion. The ‘rough idea’ currently is that I’m going to spend part of the weekend in ‘executive’ mode and sit with my to-do lists and other papers and honestly determine how I did for the week in terms of getting things done. Once I’m comfortable with ‘myself’, I plan on reaching out to friends/colleagues who might also be looking for an accountability partner and go from there. Baby steps….

I would recommend this book to basically everyone, even if you’re not a ‘leader’ in the normal sense of the word–you’re a ‘leader’ in your own life and we can all learn something from both this book and each other. My rating for the book: five out of five stars.

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