Book Review: Terror on the Deseret Trail

It’s been awhile since I posted a book review. I’ve been reading and reviewing on Amazon, just not on my blog and Goodreads. Those reviews were only requested on Amazon. I am extremely backed up so I won’t be able to take anymore request at this time.

This book I just finished, “Terror on the Deseret Trail,” was a shocking read, but it was written so well that I couldn’t resist sharing the review. Let me know what you think if you get the chance to read it. Be warned though. It’s over-the-top gruesome, gory, and just foul.

Title: Terror on the Deseret Trail
Author: Jack Hazen
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure Thriller
Year Published: March 13, 2021

Wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but what a wild ride! This story is about a bunch of people. The main ones being Reuben Taz and a paleontologist named Hannah Monroe, and her group. At first, you’d think this was your average wild west story, but the further you get into it, the more you realize it’s one really crazy grown-up story with a bunch of strange and unique characters. Everyone has somewhere to go, and out in the west there’s a lot of land and a lot of bad things going on. It’s wise to travel in a group or at least with someone who knows how to shoot a gun or use a knife.

Reuben Taz is the most interesting character in the story. He has an agenda, and it’s to find and kill his father’s killer. However, he’s not anything you’d think him to be. He enjoys eating a good set of dainty toes. Aside from traveling with a whore named Rhonda for some time, a Mark Twain joins them and then a couple of other men later on. The group with the paleontologist consists of assistants, a handicap named Tiny Tim, an Arapaho princess named Sweet Water, and a few others. There were dinosaur bones out there in Utah and Paleontologist Hanna wanted to find them first. Helen James, a Pinkerton detective and a trans, later joins Hannah’s group. The detective was on a case about a kidnapped Mormon daughter and was set to find her. With all the chaos in the Utah and Nevada lands in the late 1800’s it was a very scary time to be traveling, but somehow these people were brave enough to do it.

I loved everything about this story. It was dirty, gruesome, disgusting, there was satire, dark humor, etc., and I enjoyed it all. I wanted so bad to give it five stars but there were so many missing open/closed speech quotes that I struggled somewhat as to when someone was speaking and done speaking. There were also a few misspells but not enough to distract from the story (definitely should get it edited though, it’s such an extraordinary story that I’d love to see it turn into a movie!). Definitely give this book a read if you enjoy settings in the wild west and deep dark themes and conflicts.

Gastaldi Cascade Folio A5

I’ve never been a fan of the color green for notebook covers, but lately it’s been a color I’m drawn too. My first purchase of a green cover was the Glas Folio B6 from the Express line. I thought I was good with that one, but then the Gastaldi from the Artist line captured my heart. There is something about this green that’s just so magnetic. The color is between a fern and forest green. I’d say maybe a sap green. There’s a bit of yellow and brown to it.

This Gastaldi is a Cascade Folio in the A5 size.

Here’s Gastaldi compared to Glas. Glas is a muted lime green.

Currently, I have a Stalogy A5 notebook in the Gastaldi and a Stalogy B6 in the Glas. Both of these notebook covers were purchased from Chic Sparrow. The Stalogy notebooks were purchased from Amazon.

Unboxing Video: Black Beauty Creme and Dark Brown Scout

I ordered quite a few notebooks from Chic Sparrow late December and earlier this month. I’m a little backed up on unboxings but I’m getting there. This unboxing is of the Black Beauty Creme in the B6 size and the Dark Brown Scout in the narrow size. The Creme leather is their thickest leather. It is full-grain (the best leather out there) and soft to the touch. Some Cremes are pebbly, but none of mine are. I have five Cremes and all are very smooth except for the Chocolate, which is slightly pebbly, but still soft to the touch. The Scout is what Chic Sparrow called Maverick previously. I have a Golden Maverick in the Classic style and in the standard size. Classic just means stitching is optional. I went with optional with the Golden Maverick back then because I didn’t want the pockets. Now, I love the pockets! The Scout has pockets made from the Creme leather. I also have a similar style of leather to the Maverick and Scout but by Foxy Fix. The one by Foxy Fix is called Le Voyageur. It’s a dark brown (lighter than the Scout) color in the wide size. Maverick, Scout, and Le Voyageur are all from Asian Buffalo hide. Leather thickness is very similar to Creme.

Emma B6 Traveler’s Notebook

If you haven’t seen my video, I did an unboxing of this leather. It’s an Austen Emma B6 Heritage by Chic Sparrow. I ordered this leather notebook cover during the December 2021 sale. This leather patina’s pretty quickly. I’ve had it for about a month and it’s already darker than when I received it. It will continue to patina so I’ll revisit later this year to see how it’s changed.

I’m using this one to hold my affirmations. I go through these phases where I question doing art, but I keep returning to art because it relaxes and keeps me creative. It helps me stay focus on my goals (writing/publishing) and my family. It’s strange that way how art has that much control. Here’s my first page of my affirmations. I’m going to pull a card once a month to do a layout and some journaling.

Gouache Painting of the Milky Way

This was one of the most difficult paintings I did with gouache. I nearly gave up. I think it turned out fine, but multiple times I almost tore it up. It could just mean I need more practice with gouache. You might ask why I keep using gouache and not watercolor if it’s such a pain. I wonder the same, but I think I’m drawn to gouache because it’s very smooth when laying it down, it dries matte, and it’s more opaque than watercolor so I spend less time layering paint. There are probably other reasons too but these are the main ones.

December 2021 Playlist

My backyard on January 1, 2022

Hope everyone had a great start to the new year. We got snow and that felt great! We’ll see how the year goes, but I’m hoping for a lot less sadness. I don’t say much about that side of life because it’s just depressing, but I’d really love a year free of heartbreak and pain.

Let’s move on. In December, I listened to a lot of Christmas songs, but there were moments when I wanted to just feel epic and fuel my imagination with stories of far away worlds and speculative conflicts that are not anything we are familiar with in our world right now. My husband thinks I spend too much time in my “fiction world,” but I can’t help it. I love imagination. He didn’t say it in a mean way. He said it to reaffirm that he gets me.

Anyway, here were the songs on my playlist in December 2021.

“Frozen Motion” by Bob Bradley

“Embers Glow” by Bob Bradley and Thomas Balmforth

“Enchanted” by David Michael Tardy

I wish you all happiness and good health in 2022!

Northern Lights Paintings Using Gouache

I tried my hands at using gouache and I’m liking it. I like how smooth it goes on and that it dries matte. What I’m not comfortable with (yet?) is that it takes getting used to. There were a couple times I wanted to give up because what I was trying to achieve just wasn’t happening, or so I thought. Somehow, the paintings turned out okay. Gouache tests my patience. I think one of these days I will definitely just destroy an unfinished piece.

These are the paintings I made using gouache. They were for birthday cards for family.

Here are close-ups.

I typically try to practice a smaller version before attempting on larger pieces to get the hang of things. I decided to record my process to share how I do it. Since I’m new to gouache, I wanted to also share a swatching of the gouache I used. It’s the Art Philosophy brand. I chose this brand because I heard a lot of good stuff about their gouache and it wasn’t expensive. I may one day try Holbein, Winsor & Newton, and other higher ends.

Hobonichi Techo Setup for 2022

As a writer, I need to be organized in my daily writing schedule, and because I also review books and craft (as a hobby), I need a calendar system that will not be too overwhelming, but be simple and easy to stay on top of things. I’ve been using the Hobonichi notebooks for a few years now and it’s really helped me stay productive. I basically use this notebook to track my daily to-dos and NaNoWriMo. I have other notebooks for more specific stuff, which I hope to cover more of on this blog…and YouTube.

Here is a video of my 2022 setup:

I still bujo! My bujo notebook has fallen behind, but goals are to keep up with it next year. I just ordered a B5 size and hope to share an unboxing of the A5 size I purchased a month ago. Maybe I’ll combine the two? We’ll see.

Digital Layouts & Songs

Here are my digital layouts for the rest of the 12 Days of December Challenge at Oscraps.

Day 7 was create a border challenge. I used a photo of Teddy I took on the 7th. It’s also a layout I’ll be including in my December Daily.

Credits: Winter Journal Kit by Vicki Robinson Designs

Day 8 was a game called “Kick Out.” We were to share what we weren’t going to miss in 2021.

Day 9 was a word art challenge. I first made this layout:

Credits: Home for the Holidays Oscraps Collab 2021 and Merry & Bright Oscraps 2018 Collab by Oscraps Designers

Then, realized it had to also include a celebration, so I made this one as well.

Credits: Congratulations Kit by NLD Designs

Day 10 was a re-do layout challenge. I decided to redo a layout from 2008 when I was on a creative team. Here’s that layout.

This is the re-do:

Credits: Nostalgic Dream by Emeto

Day 11 was a “This or That” game. From two choices, you choose one, then write down two choices for the next person to choose one from. That person then posts two choices for the next person to choose from.

Day 12 (last day!) was to create a layout with Christmas lyrics. It was a tie between “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Casting Crowns or “Ring Christmas Bells,” by Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers. I ended up doing the layout with the song by Casting Crowns.

Credits: Christmas Stars & Wishes Kit by NLD Designs

I went with “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” because we could all do for a little bit of peace and love in the world.

However, “Ring Christmas Bells,” is beautiful in that haunting epic way, just like how I like my epic/trailer music.

Both songs have amazing choir and music.