December Playlist

Hope you all had a happy new year. I had purchased a Huion Kanvas 13 graphic tablet in mid-December to replace my old Wacom Intuos Pro, but after a few days of it working perfectly, it stopped working correctly. I was getting ready to create a “December Playlist” image and the pen cursor and the pen were not aligning. I tried everything under the moon to fix the problem, but nothing worked. I ended up returning the thing and got a Wacom One, which was a lot more expensive than the Huion. It wasn’t all quick and easy to setup either with the Wacom. The tablet required a USB-C to HDMI adapter. For some reason my iMac doesn’t like generic or other brands of adapters. I tried one that was $35 (these adapters range from $15 and up) and because it didn’t work, ended up paying $70 for an Apple one that worked.

I’ve read quite a few reviews on the Wacom One having issues. I just hope mine isn’t one of them. This was what my mind was occupied with in the last few days so my new year felt like an extension of 2020. You know, like one big mess. Anyway, here are my favorite songs of December.

Before You Go – Lewis Capaldi on The Voice (I love the song and his voice, but check out the piano guy. Isn’t he just amazing?)

Only Love Can Hurt Like This – Paloma Faith

Restless – Maddy Hartson

I Hope – Gabby Barrett

Book Review: The Lost Queen

Title: The Lost Queen
Author: Signe Pike
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: 2018

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike is a novel written through the eyes of Languoreth, the daughter of Morken, a high chieftain in the Kingdom of Strathclyde. We follow Languoreth from ten-years-old until her mid-thirties.

The story takes place in 550 AD (6th century) in what is now Scotland. It is basically a different version and angle of the legend of King Arthur (Uther Pendragon). The focus isn’t on the legend that we are familiar with, instead it is about the family who took in the young Uther. In the book Uther is known as Gwenddolau and we only get glimpses of him. The focus is on Languoreth and her struggle between desperately wanting to help her brother, Lailoken (who is a warrior as well as the spiritual advisor to Gwenddalau out in the Borderlands), and her family in Strathclyde.

I found the first half of the story a little slow. It didn’t pick up until halfway, but when it did pick up, it was amazing. I loved it. I’m a die-hard King Arthur/Merlin fan and anything having to do with this legend, I pretty much eat it up. I really enjoyed this angle from a queen who played a huge part in the lives of those warriors.

To me, Languoreth is a little bit of Catelyn Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire and Aelswith from The Last Kingdom. What makes her different is that she’s not so strong mentally when it comes to relationships. She has a hard time letting go. She has this ideal image of what love is and for some reason it creates unnecessary conflict. I can’t relate to her in that sense, but I do love her character.

The book is well written with flowy and beautifully orchestrated words. It’s like a magical piece of artwork. It’s just brilliant.

Music

I’ve been binge watching “Chuck” on Amazon Prime. When the show first came out, I watched an episode or two but didn’t have the time to keep up with it. I’m so happy that it’s on AP. One of the episode played “One More Try” by Timmy T in the background. That just totally solidified my love for the show. That song brought back so many memories.

This song came to me early one morning. I know why but I’ve got a lot of memories attached to it. It was used in a TV series called “Mr. Robot” but I haven’t seen it. I remember the song from “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”

“In Time” by Robbi Rob

Here’s one that I just love. It’s a timeless song.

“Kiss the Rain” by Billie Myers

Book Review: The Alchemyst’s Mirror

Title: The Alchemyst’s Mirror
Author: Liz Delton
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Year Published: October 27, 2020

The Alchemyst’s Mirror by Liz Delton is a fantasy story about two sisters who are on a quest to find their kidnapped brother. At the same time, there is a missing object/item that’s very dangerous and needs to be found before the wrong person gets to it. 

Petra and Maisie own a bakery and are very happy in their lives. The only thing that worries them is their missing brother. They both want to find him, so they set a plan to find him. Maisie gets kidnapped before they began the search leaving Petra to go without her. While Maisie is gone, Petra and an explorer named Evan commence the mission to find the brother. During their search, they find clues to a dangerous secret society, and before they know it, they get tangled in a trap. Maisie, while kidnapped on a ship outsmarts the person who kidnapped her and finds her way back to save her sister and Evan.

This was a really fun read. The two sisters were strong and knew what kind of life they wanted to live. Even though they had lost their parents and their brother was kidnapped, they kept it together. They were very protective of each other and you can feel the love between them. The action was wonderful, and the villain was well done. This story was a little fast-paced and there were lots of telling/describing things (that were unnecessary), but otherwise, it was a great read.

There was one thing I found a little annoying and I hope this changes in the following books, but I found Petra somewhat unlikable in the sense that she was often verbally abusive to Evan, who happened to really like her. She bossed him around and yelled at him when he made mistakes. I’m not sure why he stuck around or why he’d like someone like that. I was confused. I think that’s the only issue I had. I secretly wanted Evan to stand up to her.

I’d say this book would be great for those who enjoy a middle grade level of reading. It reminds me a little of Harry Potter in writing style.

NOTE: This book was given to me to read and review, but the opinion is purely my own.

Book Review: Theseus’ Lostness

Title: Theseus’ Lostness
Author: Stefan Calin
Genre: Fiction, Literary, Erotica
Year Published: August 5, 2020

Theseus’ Lostness by Stefan Calin is the first book in The Journeys We Wander trilogy. The story is about a man named Allan who finds himself between two relationships. He seems to struggle with which woman to get closer to but eventually makes his decision after some soul searching.

Allan works at a newspaper agency as a reporter. The receptionist at the agency, Marry, is one of the women he’s attracted to. The other woman is named Ilsa. Ilsa was accused of murder and was hospitalized due to injuries during the altercation that allegedly led to the murders. The case was so popular that the agency sent Allan to interview Ilsa for her side of the story.

While Allan is with Ilsa at the hospital, he listens to her tell him the story about her relationship with the man who was murdered. As he listens to her and spends more time with her, he begins to fall for her. She was a free-spirit, adventurous, and willing to try different things. These qualities appealed to him and kept him excited each time he visited her. At times, she was abrupt and impatient and that clashed with him making him question why he went to visit her at all. At the same time, he was slowly beginning to have an interest in Marry. He’s worked with her for a while but suddenly was attracted to her. Marry’s character is very straight forward. She comes across a little stiff or cold because of that. Allan tries to spend time with Marry but finds that it’s not as easy as he’d thought.

I enjoyed this story. It’s not very long and took me a couple of days to finish. I had originally started it and then took a few days off to catch up on other things. When I returned to it, I started from the beginning again. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. I found the story of Allan and Ilsa very interesting. My personal opinion of Allan was that he took advantage of Ilsa after she opened his eyes to what he calls “freedom.” I liked how Ilsa went about it. She allowed him deep into her heart to see all the good and the bad about who she was. I think he was attracted to that and the fact that she was easy to get along with and open up to. She had a way with pulling him to her with her words and actions and he totally fell for it. But then on the other end, he knew she had less freedom than he did, and here he was selfishly wanting the one thing she gave someone else. Marry wasn’t so easy to get close to. She was the perfect girl with a stable job and lots of friends. There were hoops to jump through to get close to her so even though she liked Allan and he liked her, she made him work for their relationship. I think Allan kind of spoke for all guys when he didn’t pursue her as hard as he could have. It took too much effort for maybe, just maybe, a chance to date. And even then, the relationship might not last. I can’t say for sure what decision Allan will make in the end. There are two other books in this trilogy so I don’t know who he’ll will end up with.

The sexual tension/erotica was tastefully done and necessary. I really liked the foreshadow surrounding this part of the relationship.

The only thing that I really didn’t care for were the surface, unclear, going nowhere thoughts and wonders Allan had. He does a lot of reflecting about life. At one point he talks to the reader as though the reader is a friend. Sometimes he will talk about thoughts in general, but have it come across as though he is preaching. It’s almost as if he thinks the reader agrees with him or the reader already knows what he just concluded. It didn’t provide any deeper meanings as I think it was meant to do. I also found the title a little confusing. Theseus was a king in Greek mythology, but I don’t know if I may have missed something in the book that was associated to him. There was no reference of any sort, or if there were, I missed it. These things were just minor though. This story was interesting with a well-developed main character and theme.

If you’re looking to read a fast-paced book with slight tension buildup, interesting perspective, and well-written erotica scenes, this would be an excellent choice.

NOTE: This book was given to me to read and review, but the opinion is purely my own.

October Playlist Favorites

October’s playlist was very minimal. I wasn’t really listening to a lot of music. There were things going on in my life that made it difficult to focus on what I’m passionate about. I’ve had moments where I’m just not sure why I’m doing what I’m doing. I think a lot of it has to do with our current situation with the pandemic and how it has impacted everyone’s lives.

I did have two epic inspirational songs I listened to on repeat for a short time that I think are worthy of mentioning. They are:

“We Will Prevail” by Fran Soto

“Break Free” by Synapse Trailer Music

Digital Layout: Evergreen

Last week daughter was on fall break from school and husband took some time off work so we decided to take a little car ride up to Evergreen to walk around the lake. We’ve been to the lake a few times (our family Christmas photo was taken there last year) but never walked around it. This was our first time. It was really nice. I had no idea it was a man-made lake with a dam. Always thought it was natural.

Book Review: Fake Like Me

Title: Fake Like Me
Author: Barbara Bourland
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Year Published: 2019

Fake Like Me is a thriller by Barbara Bourland. The story is written in first person point-of-view through a no-name narrator who starts out as an art student and moves her way upward.

While in art school, the narrator becomes obsessed with a particular art student named Carey Logan. After graduating, Carey and her artist friends soon create attention grabbing visual art. They work as a team becoming very famous and banking. The narrator puts Carey on a pedestal and hopes to one day have talent and fame like Carey.

Things are not as they seem and suddenly Carey decides she doesn’t want to do art anymore. Instead, she wants to be an actor. The narrator found that odd and wondered what made Carey change her mind. Then, Carey drowns in a lake and the narrator is even more curious as to the cause.

The narrator loses her apartment in a fire and decides to move into a cabin in a village exclusive to exceptionally talented artists, and where Carey lived. Carey’s friends were all still there and narrator hoped to learn the cause of Carey’s death through them, but everyone is hush-hush, including the narrator’s girlfriend, Max, who lives in the neighborhood but in a gorgeous home.

While getting around the village, the narrator gets to know Tyler (Carey’s boyfriend) and falls in love with him. She also hoped that he’d be the one to tell her about Carey’s death, but he refused to talk about anything having to do with Carey. In fact, no one wanted to talk about Carey, not even Max.

With the narrator’s pushing, everything is eventually revealed and with this revelation, the narrator becomes a stronger person.

This story was one crazy ride and I loved every bit of it. I found it strange that the narrator didn’t have a first or last name. The story was written so well that I didn’t even know she didn’t have a name until I finished the story and went back to find where I had missed her name, only to find that it was never mentioned. Good trickery there.

I enjoyed the buildup, the tension, the confusion, the curiosity, the way the characters tried to hide the truth (they were good at it), and the determination the narrator had at finding the truth. It was one great story that had me reading until 5am in the morning. That’s right, it was one those books where I kept saying, “Just one more chapter then I’ll go to bed.” This book is definitely up there with the thrillers, mysteries, and suspense.

This was a free Amazon book I chose to read and review for Vine.

Book Review: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Title: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Author: Philip K. Dick
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy
Year Published: 2013

Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick is a collection of short stories in sci-fi and fantasy by Philip K. Dick. I would say it’s some of his best works. There are 21 stories and they were all enjoyable, but my favorites were:

“Beyond Lies the Wub”

“Second Variety”

“The King of the Elves”

“Adjustment Team”

“Autofac”

“The Minority Report”

“The Days of Perky Pat”

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”

“Faith of Our Fathers”

“The Exit Door Leads in”

“I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”

PKD has had quite a few of his short stories and novels made into movies and TV series/episodes. Since this post is about his short stories from Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, I’ll only be mentioning the movie adaptations from these stories. I should also mention that if you have time, read the stories first. However, if you don’t have time because you have a long list of TBRs like I do, then watch the movies.

Adaptations (those marked in red are what I’ve seen):

“Second Variety” – Screamers (1995); Screamers: The Hunting (2009)

“Paycheck” – Paycheck (2003)

“Adjustment Team” – The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

“Autofac” – Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams episode (2017)

“The Minority Report” – Minority Report (2002); Minority Report TV sequel adaptation (2015)

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” – Total Recall (1990); Total Recall (2012); Total Recall 2070 TV series (1999)

Looks like I have a lot of watching to do. If you’ve seen any of these shows, let me know what you thought and if they are worth watching. I didn’t realize PKD had so many of his stories adapted. I think it’s crazy awesome because now I don’t have any excuse not watch TV when I have nothing else to do (non-existent, really) or need a break.