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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: February 2018 by Martin’s Press
My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:
Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strongmen and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

My Thoughts

What a satisfying read! This is my second Kristin Hannah read, (the first being The Nightengale), and I’m starting to get a good feel for her style. The Continue reading The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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Travel Writing: The BIG Dream

I’ve had this blog going for a couple years now and hardly brought myself to admit out loud, or I suppose, in type, the reality of my big dream. That one that stays hush-hush thanks to doubt and the perpetual fear of public failure. But that said, I did quit my fulltime job, spent countless hours years training myself to work independently, practicing, editing, scraping and pitching, all while attempting to remain transparent here, so why not just say it?
I want to be a travel writer.

The dream is to fly, road-trip, sail, and hike the different continents, countries, and towns of the world, forever searching for their words. I want to share places, experiences, cultures and (at times) sidestep that ever-bubbly whisper of romanticism. As much as travel can benefit, there’s this underlying prerequisite when writing about it to fluff it up and exaggerate a growth and spirituality that supposedly comes with stepping foot onto new soil. I get it, travel is wonderful. Epic even. Do I need to reinvent myself every flight I take? No.

I think travel and the image of hiking boots toeing the ledge of a cliff and inspirational quotes plastered in calligraphy against a wide blue sky, play against the back of my eyelids.

But that’s not enough for me.

A trend has come to my attention as of late and I hate it: Women don’t have a spot carved out in travel entertainment.

Our sweet spot tends to be the romanticized, spiritual, paths of self-discovery. Those stories are love ballots to ourselves. Which in itself, I won’t deny, has a beauty to it. Emotion is a large component of honest writing and we can play that tune in our sleep.When it comes to writing about travel, can’t we be more than ourselves in turmoil? Don’t we have more to offer than that?

I do. And I’m ready to prove it.

Watch out, Bourdain and Bryson. I’m coming for ya.

*Review* The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Published: September 2017 by Harper
My Rating: 4.5/5

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Photos by me 

 

Goodreads Description:
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her

of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

My Thoughts

Continue reading *Review* The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Seeking Breadcrumbs

A trickle of stale bread to lead the way – to find one’s way home. There’s no more useless a trick than that of marking a path with edible, highly-popular crumbs of gluten-y goodness. Destined to be sabotaged by everything from birds and squirrels to mother nature herself, you’re competing against a raucous group of scavengers and downpours that’ll wipe out your markers as they fall.

Hansel and Gretal, you done fooled up.
Continue reading Seeking Breadcrumbs

My Year Of Writing: A Reality Check

I’m an infant in the world of publications and story-telling. Young in more ways than one, really. Still small in the world of adulthood and smaller still in that of writers. In just over a year now, I’ve uprooted, reevaluated, reset and reorganized everything – unfortunately for me, in that order.

Looking back, I’m sure that those first few months were direct bullet-points from a ‘what-not-to-do’ list – A verbatim screw up impending foreshadowed from every lifestyle post in existence. So for the sake of all those itching to dive without looking as I did, or even just for the sake of my own reminiscing, here’s the reality of my poorly not planned foray into the world of writing and how you can hopefully bypass my blunders.

The Reality of Uprooting
I’d taken a step that many would applaud, balk at and ultimately praise me as being bold to my face while secretly, and realistically set bets as to when this choice would slap me silly.
I’d quit a job that demanded sixty hours of my life per week so I could pursue writing, but that job had also cushioned that same life financially. With only this vague desire to write still damp with the remnants of a recent dip into the waters of vet school, and nothing but a laptop and a story, I had torn from a system that was definite and comfortable. Peeling away from that job was both liberating and terrifying. The step I had missed here was a hefty one, though.   Continue reading My Year Of Writing: A Reality Check

2016: My Top 5 Reads in a Year of Turmoil

So maybe 2016 was a little bit of a crap shoot for the world. I very intentionally avoid talking politics or scandals or cringe worthy news updates on here because there’s enough of that pressing in on all sides of us. There’s fake news filling our Facebook feeds, anger, disappointment, confusion and fear pulsating everywhere. Right here, this blog of mine, has been my own personal reprieve from all of it. I hope that my readers can know that I feel just as much emotion regarding the events of the world around me as any of you and I have difficulty, not in acknowledging it, but in coping in ways that are still responsible and intelligent. One way I honour this criteria is by encouraging and demanding of myself a constant strive for knowledge.

Reading is one of the most powerful resources we have to bettering ourselves and our responses to the curveballs the world throws our way. There’s so much to learn from the words of others and the incredible insights that they can spark in our own minds. So without further adieu, here’s my top five books that’ve gotten me through this year and promise to be lifetime favourites:

#5. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
18803640.jpg “I think of what wild animals are in our imaginations. And how they are disappearing not just from the wild, but from people’s everyday lives, replaced by images of themselves in print and on screen. The rarer they get, the fewer meanings animals can have. Eventually rarity is all they are made of.
Continue reading 2016: My Top 5 Reads in a Year of Turmoil

Thinking Writing – Banishing the Block

There are elements to writing that can be incredibly frustrating and sometimes flat-out annoying. There’s sleeping limbs and the consequent pins and needles, tingling toes. There’s shoulder tension, neck pain, cramped fingers, tired eyes, paper cuts, ink stains. There’s wandering minds and distracted days. But the absolute worst culprit is writer’s block.

It’s that singularly crippling affliction of the brain that sets out to devastate your page output and leave you the victim of your our doubt filled thoughts while your fingers hover over the keyboard, frozen in deadpan. Writer’s block is just horrible. Absolutely horrible.

So I’ve complied a little list of my tried and tested methods to banish this most pesky of writing alignments:


1. Favourite Author Acknowledgement.

Keep a book you love close at hand at all times. Carry it around with you when you go to write somewhere. Preferably Continue reading Thinking Writing – Banishing the Block

Perfecting Chili One Bowl At A Time

It’s chili season!!! Oh cozy comfort food, how I’ve missed you.

So I’m not even going to go on and on about this recipe and just get right to it because I’m sure it’ll speak for itself.

SPOILER ALERT : It’s delicious and involves a slow cooker. Continue reading Perfecting Chili One Bowl At A Time

Writing Routines 101: My Tips to Acing It

People love to ask me how long it takes to write certain pieces or how I find income through this crazy thing called the internet. I’m asked about the self-control it takes to sit in front of a screen for hours on end, typing away obsessively, completely devoid of the mindless entertainment bliss that is Netflix or reddit. Well, the truth is, I don’t.

I don’t sit for hours on end attempting to binge-write. Binging is great with tv shows or reading or donuts, but it’s really not all that workable for writing. Writing is a practice that demands patience and creativity and creative interjection doesn’t get summoned at will. It’s finicky and particular and although you can cultivate space and moods to help it along, it’s really its own drum-beater.

It’s taken many months for me to figure out my own routine and just as long to recognize the things that were sabotaging it. Things like guilt because I felt I was screwing up or wasting time on a pursuit that had negligible gains in its early days, or ‘responsible distraction,’ that wonderful excuse to leave my work for the social demands of friendship or the cuddling needs of my pup. It’s so easy to find something to be preoccupied by when you’re meant to be sitting alone with your mind and a blank word document in front of you. So here are my tips and tricks to creating a completely feasible and comfortable writing routine that doesn’t have you chained to your desk:

1. Designate a writing space.
I spent months writing wherever I plopped myself down. Sometimes that was on the couch, or the floor or my bed or at the kitchen counter as I leaned awkwardly Continue reading Writing Routines 101: My Tips to Acing It

Ink Stains and Paper Cuts

 

Writing is an extremely personal experience. It can be raw and naked and embellished with scars of history and lives’ past that bleed and crack against the bars of lined paper. When I began my experimentation into this practice it was in the pages of forgotten notebooks; pages strewn with formulas and highlighted notes torn free to leave 20 of the 200 paged leaflet to home my hesitant scrawl. There were letters penned to friends and family that would never be read, sentences of words laced together that sounded delicious on my tongue and stories. Many stories. Stories that jumped and back-peddled in formats more closely akin to poorly edited essays with jumbled descriptions and themes than anything remotely passable as a tale. I’d shock myself with a paragraph constructed with what I thought was beauty and depth and not have the confidence to continue, so there were constant beginnings but never ends. Words I liked to write and loved to say blotting page after page in a loop I couldn’t divert from. A circle I wasn’t planning to end or escape because this was all so new and freeing and so, so mine.

Continue reading Ink Stains and Paper Cuts