Tag Archives: Inspiration

*Review* Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Gener: Adult Fantasy
Published: October 8, 2019
My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicides. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

                        My Thoughts

Admittedly, this was my first foray into Bardugo’s works, and – as I’ve since learned – she’s rather celebrated and idolized YA author. With that in mind, I understand some reviewers’ shock and distress over the ‘dark’ and ‘gore’ of Ninth House. Adult literature is a far cry from YA, so if you’re all excited to see Bardugo’s name on this one, maybe proceed with caution. Ninth House starts unapologetically with a scene of chaos and blood and I admire this YA author’s in-your-face approach to warn her devoted young readers of what’s to come and this new direction of hers.

Ninth House takes you somewhere unexpected. Beneath the gothic-revival towers, brownstone clad libraries and manicured lawns of Yale; insidious meetings of black-robed clad elites are held. Bardugo takes the reader down into the shadows and amongst the societies that are manipulating the world; foretelling stock market crashes, creating some of the most creative and influential minds of history, disrupting physics and the natural laws and doing it all in the midst of a bunch of college kids. And like any group of invincible-minded youth, there’s scandal, drugs, lies, unnecessarily on-point frat boy revulsion and, of course, murder. What college experience is complete without, amIright?
We follow the story of Alex Stern, a girl with more than a bit of a past, who is inducted into this world beneath Yale’s prestigious gleam because of a ‘talent’ she has for seeing what others deem isn’t there. Riddled with unlikeable traits and a questionable moral compass, Alex is forced to transition from ignorant rookie to full-fledged gatekeeper against the magic of this dark world and the unsuspecting students that walk above it. The narrative unravels between seasons to connect the present with the ramifications of the past drawing on the development and the re-emergence of old, less subtle habits Alex has as she navigates this new world and a murder case that runs deeper than anyone anticipates.

Warning: Toeing the waters of violence and vulgarity, Ninth House deals with some adult themes, such as PTSD and abuse and may be triggers for some, so this book isn’t for everyone.

I found Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo to be a somber and thrilling read – a slow burn that leaves you feeling the heat long after you’ve closed the pages. It’s a story brimming with ancient mysteries, ghosts, magic, powerful relics and the promise of danger that takes its time weaving a plot that is sure to spin you around on more than one occasion. Although my impressions of our main heroine, Alex Stern were lackluster, to say the least, I did enjoy Bardugo’s ability to paint diverse and formidable characters that are able to threaten a reader’s expectation of what a protagonist is. Everything felt very intentional and the writing perfectly emphasized and complemented the dark, atmospheric vibe of the plot.

All in all, I liked this book but found that I wasn’t invested in the characters. That said, I definitely acknowledge the potential. There was a lot of build-up here. Lots of explanations and world-building, and going in not having it in my mind that I was reading the first of a potential series definitely had me theorizing about where this story could go next. The ending screams “more to come” and I look forward to watching this story progress somewhere more plot-driven now that all that groundwork has been laid. It’s clear that Bardugo still has many layers to this world to unwrap and mysteries she’s carefully bookmarked for later.

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The Fight to Concentrate

We’re a generation all too familiar with instant gratification and of living deep in the delusion of being multitasking phenoms. We’re one of shiny new phones with apps that buzz, ping and glow to announce all manner of distraction. One with a surplus of ‘friends’, ‘followers’ and pressures we create for yourselves out of comparison and self-consciousness.

All the makings of a complex.

We’ve bred ADD and ADHD into ourselves and those to come – an evolutionary adaptation at the whim of technology and modern convenience. Food is a click away, communication quite literally at our fingertips at all hours of the day. Need anything and the internet will answer in access. And if that’s not enough to tempt distraction, we’ve also piled on all our own self deprecating insecurities, the skepticism of older generations and stocked and lit our own fires for aspiring to create something impactful in the world. So it’s no wonder concentration comes and goes so unsparingly. It’s not an easy task to hone in on one thing, to live in a single moment and exercise patience in the times that seem most chaotic.

That said, there are still ways to boost that attention span and give yourself a much-needed break from overwhelming stimuli.

Change It Up

Really as straight forward as it sounds. Move, switch physical locations, relocate. It’s easy to find comfort in the familiar – procrastination in the ‘must-dos’. If you notice you’re efficiently tackling everything but your work, try putting some space between you and all those convenient chores. Concentration comes sometimes by pure force of having nothing else to do.

Try It Out Loud 

Whether reading, writing or buckling under the weight of a work problem, try talking to yourself. Be weird. Embrace the void.

Continue reading The Fight to Concentrate

*Review* 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 *Review* The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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.

* Inspiration!* – Your October Dose of Pep

A Reminder to Just Keep Writing

I’m taking it upon myself to share some bouts of inspiration with you guys! Every month I’ll post a few of my favorite quotes, photos, and pic-art to hopefully spread some of that (sometimes much needed), motivation to write. If all you get out of this is the thrill of procrastinating another minute before you start, then at least there are worse ways to waste time. Happy Writing!

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 
― Ernest Hemingway
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“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath,

 

 

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0849ba1ac889a29cf9a896f78e13738d--quotes-about-writing-writing-advice“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing: A
Memoir of the Craft 

 

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

When All Else Fails, Write.

Write when it makes sense. Write when it makes no sense.

Write when you’re dejected and the dam is thick with suffocated vowels. Write when you’ve succeeded; when the good news pours in and accomplishments are ripe. Write when writing is the least of your wants or concerns. Write when you think you’ve deserved to not write. Write when you think you don’t need to write.

Write as the rain falls, then freezes to hail and until that softens to snow and finally melts beneath a bare sky.

Write when you’re sad. When your tongue is weighted by words too bloody with meaning to speak. Write to give them credit, to spoil a wasted plot of silence and make everything real.

Write at dusk, at dawn, within earshot of waves, under a blazing sun, to the sounds of cities and rushing lives. Write when the world spins too fast. Write when it’s slowed to a stop.

Write to explain. Write to distort.

Write for them. Write for you.

Write passages, words, stories, novels, epics. Write to create. Write to breath life into something that’s other. Write to immortalize both fantasy and life.

Write to remember.

Write because it’s right.

Write to taste life twice.

Write because to become a writer is to make, to be astonished by nothing, to celebrate the weird, to pin, to mark, to build, to watch and to collect all life and its maybes with words.

Write to be a writer.

Lessons In Writing: How It Changed The Way I Read

Prior to this whole publication thing and before my life changed due a visit from the editing fairies, I read books differently. Once upon a time, you could say I read for entertainment – for pleasure, even. But a lot of that changed after that first traumatizing round of editing that my book went through.

Now, I read critically. I dissect narratives and word choices and examine prose like a fiend. I’m a spy now, infiltrating this secret world of successful authors and gathering intel.  Continue reading Lessons In Writing: How It Changed The Way I Read

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