Category Archives: Uncategorized
by Deborah Schaumberg
YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Gangs of New York meets Cassandra Clare in this debut YA fantasy set in 1882 Brooklyn
New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.
Like her mother’s, Avery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power—or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on “patients”…and no one knows why.
Photo Content from Deborah Schaumberg
– 5 Winners will receive a Copy of The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg.
Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.
4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
With a novel with a great number of characters and such a sweeping plot as this book has, it’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to a review. Little Fires Everywhere can be thought of as a thick rope, in which each strand of twisted nylon is intricately woven into the whole, and each strand has something important to offer when it comes to contributing to the overall story.
As its’ basis, it’s a story of how two very different families become intertwined in each other’s lives one year in the late 90’s, in prim and proper Shaker Heights, Ohio. There’s much to be said about the town being a character of its’ own; the setting and all the reader comes to know about it play an integral part of how the plot plays out.
The Richardson family is well off and has been a part of Shaker Heights since its’ founding. The father is an attorney and isn’t actually present that much, and the mother Elena is a journalist working on small pieces for the local newspaper. Elena is proud and thinks herself kind and giving, but I could tell from the beginning that her kindnesses didn’t come without later-to-be-named stipulations. Oldest daughter Lexi is a senior and Ivy League bound. Son Tripp is a sports star, attractive and beloved by all the girls. Younger son Moody is sensitive and speculative, and youngest daughter Izzie is a rebellious spitfire who is always at odds with her mother’s meticulously planned life.
The Richardsons come to know the Warrens when they move into their rental duplex. Mia is young, an artist with a wandering spirit who only holds down menial jobs because they pay for her art supplies. Pearl is her daughter, quiet and bookish but longing for a sense of home. Pearl and Moody become immediate friends, and before long the Warrens and the Richardsons are getting involved in each other’s lives in intimate and irreversible ways.
Now, the first chapter of the book will tell you what the immediate consequences were, and then the story unfolds from the beginning to tell you how the characters got to where they are. There are also several flashbacks to the pasts of a lot of characters, so if you don’t like non-linear storytelling, I would say Little Fires Everywhere is not for you. I happen to like a good deal of background information as long as it is relevant to the plot, and the flashbacks here only enrich the story further.
The conversations and the way events unfolded in the novel felt so natural to me; I could really see and hear each character in my mind. I listened to the audiobook version of this book, and I’m glad I did because I am sometimes a skip ahead reader ( :O ) and getting ahead of myself in this book would have made the whole thing not come together as beautifully as it did, in my opinion.
The Warrens and the Richardsons couldn’t be more different, and that’s why the two families coming together ultimately leads to dissension. There really wasn’t too much interaction between the two mothers in the story until the end, and I was waiting for this because I knew when it happened it would be disastrous. But the story ended quietly, with not as many fireworks as I had hoped for.
I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere a great deal, but the ending did let me down a little bit. I was both sad at the way things worked out, and frustrated that the entire truth did not get revealed to everyone. I feel like reviewing this book doesn’t do more than give you a broad picture of what the plot is about, so I’ll say it’s worth a read just so you can see a masterpiece in story weaving, because that’s what the author has accomplished here.
About the Author
Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.
Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.
Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, was published by Penguin Press in fall 2017.
If you keep up with tech and electronic news or have even picked up a sales ad for major stores in the past year and a half, it’s plain to see that smart home devices are gaining in popularity. For almost every device or machine that is in your home, there is a “smart” way to control it; from washing machines, to your thermostat, to your television and much more, it’s becoming more common to see smart devices in people’s homes. With the plethora of products and brands out there, it can be a little overwhelming to find the right item to purchase to suit your needs. In this post, I’ll share some points to think about when you’re looking to buy smart.
What do you want to control?
Smart devices often have settings that let you put timers on the thing you are controlling, or turn them on and off while you are not even home, or schedule a function from the touch of your phone. Once you think about what you want to do with your appliance or household item, then you know what you can shop for. Want to turn your central air on before you come back home from a long trip? You would benefit from a smart thermostat such as Nest. Devices like Philips Hue let you control your home’s lighting.
How much do you want to be involved?
If you are interested in a device that can get to know you and help you in many ways on an every day basis, you want something like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. These are essentially “smart speakers” that can answer questions, set timers, look up information, add calendar events, and much more. Not only that, these products often can tell the difference between users’ voices and respond in kind. They are highly customizable and can make life easier in a lot of ways.
Are you comfortable with the integration of tech into your personal life?
As specialists such as Andrew Charlton have noted, technological automation has been highly unavoidable as the world relies more and more on machinery and computers. Some people are happy to embrace change and advancement, and others hesitate at the thought of machines knowing so much about them and their lives. Smart home devices WILL learn about your habits and use them to perfect the way they work for you. You must make sure you are comfortable with what is essentially computer chips knowing so much about your day to day life. There are some people who believe that these devices can be hacked into and the information they hold used in some unsavory way; I am not of this mindset. Authors such as Andrew Charlton have written multiple articles about the future of automation in the world. It’s up to you to make the decision as to whether smart home devices are right for your life.
Weddings are joyous occasions that everyone looks forward to attending. It is a time to make merry, celebrate the couple, link up with old friends and get to know new people as well. Fashion statements are also made in the wedding from the dress code of the guests, to the bridal party and ultimately the bride’s gown along with the groom’s attire. As the couple, as much as the day is in your honor, it is essential to prioritize the guests who have made the time and effort to be there on your special day. In this post we discuss the best ways to ensure that the guests are pleased and enjoying themselves.
- Try to stick to timelines.
There is nothing as frustrating to guests as when the program is not followed. It makes them feel like their time and presence is taken for granted. Do your best to adhere to the timelines your party planner has set, and this will go a long way to keeping the mood light and festive.
- Choose thoughtful wedding favors.
Wedding favors show your guests that you acknowledge and appreciate their presence. There is no formula as to what should be chosen as a wedding favor. You can gift anything you feel your guests can relate to; personalized wedding favors for your guests are getting popular these days.
Wedding favors are an essential part of the wedding because you will not have the time to acknowledge each person at your wedding personally. A wedding favour is a wonderful way to show them your appreciation. You can also explore these wedding favor ideas.
- Provide refreshments as they wait.
The refreshments come in to play when the guests are waiting for your bridal team to arrive and the ceremony to begin. Your invites can get to mingle while munching away on drinks and snacks and this helps to pass the time and also keep the atmosphere pleasant.
- Issue transportation.
If the venue of the wedding ceremony and the venue of the reception are far apart, you can provide transport to the guests so that they do not feel inconvenienced to get to the reception. The aim is for the guests to enjoy both the ceremony and the reception, not to remember how much of a hustle it was to move around.
- Place thank you notes on the tables.
The notes are an excellent surprise for the guests and give a personal touch to the occasion. They also contribute to the deco of the wedding, making it look classy as well as elegant. The note can contain a short message from you thanking the guests for their presence.
- Give realistic accommodation recommendations.
If the wedding is in a remote area where the guests will be required to stay in hotels, it is vital to provide good suggestions on where to stay. You should plan on where they can be comfortably accommodated and if it is in motels or hotels, make sure that the prices are pocket-friendly and convenient for the guests.
All these tips are guaranteed to enrich the experience of all the people who will attend your wedding!
Getting a new dog is a great experience. You add a member to your home, one who will provide you with happiness, loyalty, and comfort. When you first get your dog, there are some things that you can do to make your home more pet-friendly. If you haven’t had a dog before, these suggestions are especially helpful. Give these few ideas a try, and hopefully you’ll find that your new dog fits right in.
Get Them Everything They Need
First, you’re going to need to pick up some supplies for you dog. You’ll need food, treats, some toys, and maybe a bed for them to lay on. Some owners choose to keep their dog in a crate when they aren’t home, so consider picking up one of these. If you’re unsure of what to get, the place where you got your dog will be able to provide you with some suggestions.
Place Gates To Block Off Certain Areas
There might be some areas of your home that you don’t want the dog to enter. Maybe it’s your bedroom, or a home office that you have set up. Or maybe you just want to keep your dog in one room, and not allow them to roam around unsupervised. To do this, you can place some gates around your home to block off certain areas. These gates are typically used for small children, but they work just as well on pets. Just be sure they are high enough that your dog can’t jump over, and securely fastened so your dog can’t knock them over.
Install A Fence Around Your Yard
While you’re blocking off areas, consider doing the same in your yard. Dogs love to run around outside, but you don’t want them to get loose and roam the neighborhood. A fence is a great option if you have the space, and provided your dog can’t jump over or dig underneath. You can also tie a rope to a tree, and attach the other end to your dog to ensure they don’t get too far. Another option is an electric fence, which goes underground and gives the dog a slight shock if they approach the boundary. It’ll take some training, but is a good option when a full fence is not available.
Use Artificial Grass
When your dog has to do it’s business, you don’t want your lawn to suffer the consequences. In many yards, dogs ruin the grass over time as nature calls. You spend a lot of time making sure your yard looks nice, and you don’t want the dog to ruin your nice landscaping. To prevent this, you could install some artificial grass. Fake grass pads for pets are a great option, as they allow your lawn to continue to look great, and they are tougher than normal grass, allowing dogs to dig into them. If you’re concerned about your lawn with your new dog, artificial grass is a great thing to consider.
Move Food To A Safe Location
Back inside, your dogs are going to try and get into everything. Before you let them loose around the home, make sure you move all of your food to a safer location. Keep it off the ground in your pantry, or out of bottom shelves. Dogs are crafty than you think, and if there is a way to get into the food, they’ll find it. Also keep your garbage in a safe place, at least until your dog is trained to stay away from it. You don’t want to come home and find your garbage all over the home.
Pick Up Cleaning Supplies
Finally, no matter how careful you are, eventually your dog is going to have an accident. When the time comes, you’ll want to have the correct supplies at home to take care of it. If left untreated, dog accidents can cause a stain, so it’s important to get them up as soon as you can. Always make sure you are stocked with pet stain remover, some extra paper towels, and maybe some air freshener for safe measures.
Making A Dog Feel At Home Is Easy
Before long, your new dog is going to feel quite at home with you. As long as you take some necessary precautions, you can make the transition and easy one for both you and the dog. There may be some growing pains along the way, or some accidents, but as you figure things out, it will become easier. Hopefully the above tips set you on the right path, and you and your new dog will have many years ahead of peaceful cohabitation.
Are you looking for some innovative ideas for your next get together? There are countless party themes you can choose from that will be a hit with the right decorations and supplies. Spice up your next party with one of these 5 themes that will keep your friends and family entertained for hours.
Do you and your friends love wine? Why not turn your love of vino into a fun theme the next time you get together? Explore some new wines by asking each guest to bring their favorite bottle or two of wine to the party. Remind each person to make sure they have the bottle covered with a brown bag so that no one knows what kind of wine they brought. Place all the covered wines out on a table and number each bag of wine. Hand out wine glasses so all of your guests can participate in the tasting. Pass out pens and paper so that each person can write down the number of their favorite wine. At the end of the night tally up the votes to find out which wine guests preferred. A wine tasting party is a fun way to try new wines and get your guests involved. Don’t forget to serve cheese, chocolate and crackers! Consider serving some healthy appetizers and party food too.
Who doesn’t like pizza? Do a pizza party right by making homemade dough. Encourage your guests to bring their favorite toppings or assign your guests toppings to bring to share. Each guest can build their own pizza pie with a variety of toppings of their choice. A pizza party is a great way to turn the food into the entertainment. Remember not to stress – pizza parties are the perfect time to talk to your guests and enjoy the evening.
A movie night is fun indoors in the winter months but can also be held outside under the stars in the summer. You can get creative with this theme depending on which movie you chose to show. If you play an 80’s movie, encourage everyone that attends wears their favorite 80’s attire such as leg warmers and stone washed jeans. Decorate your home with fun props and movie related décor. Set out blankets, pillows, candy and popcorn for your guests to create the perfect ambience for your movie night party.
Can you read your best friend’s poker face? Hosting a casino night is a great way to bring friends and family together for a fun evening of drinks and games. Depending on your group size, you can have multiple games going at once. Guests can play fan favorites like Poker and Texas Hold’em Poker – make the evening even more fun with real poker chips. A casino night is the perfect chance to bring out your competitive spirit at your next get together.
When you can’t be at the stadium to cheer on your favorite team, bring the game to your place! Decorate your house with the team’s colors, posters, koozies and memorabilia. Serve your guests ballpark favorites like hot dogs, peanuts, and nachos. It will be twice as fun to celebrate with your friends when your team wins.
If you are looking for something different to do with your friends at your next get together, these simple ideas will deliver. Don’t let your next bash be like all of the others – make sure it’s the most happening party in town.
DISCLAIMER: This post contains sponsored links.
Living in a busy urban area can take a toll on your nerves. You may find yourself frazzled, upset, and on edge a majority of time throughout the work week.
When the weekend comes, all you may want to do is get away and indulge in some peace and quiet. You can go online now to plan rural respites, Beavers Bend getaways, camping trips, and other escapes that you can look forward to as your work week comes to a close.
Scoping Out the Accommodations Online
As much as you may look forward to the quiet and solitude, you may not really want to rough it all weekend long. In fact, you may not be able to tolerate an entire day without some conveniences like WiFi and TV.
Before you book your stay, you can make sure all of the amenities that you want and need will be available to you in the cabin. The website is set up so that you can click on the pictures of the cabin interiors to get a close up view of what comforts await you when you arrive. You can make sure it all meets your satisfaction so that your stay is comfortable, fun, and the perfect amount of respite you need before going back to another busy work week in the city.
You may want to know what kind of amenities are available to you outside of your cabin at the resort. When you visit the business’s website, you can find out all of the available conveniences close to you as well as on-site. You may indulge in everything from eating at the local diners, shopping in nearby stores, or venturing out into the woods to do some fishing or swimming.
As much as you need a vacation, you may not want to spend a lot of money going out of town for the weekend. You can take advantage of special pricing and offers found on the website. These deals let you save money on booking a cabin. You get the same amenities and comforts as if you paid full price for your vacation package.
After you find the amenities and pricing you want, you can then select the cabin that best suits your needs. They come in a variety of sizes and layouts. They can fit a minimum of two people and up to four or five people in some cases. You can find a cabin with enough beds to accommodate you and any guests you plan to bring with you.
Choosing the Dates
The Oklahoma woods attract thousands of visitors each year. During the busy travel season, you may need to book a cabin well in advance to ensure that you have accommodations for the weekends you want to travel.
You can use the scheduling feature on the website to check availability and open dates. Based on when the cabins you want are open, you can plan to take time off from work to venture into the woods to relax and have fun.
Busy city life can wear you out and make you long for peace and quiet. You can find it as well as comforts and conveniences in the woods of Oklahoma when you explore and book a cabin stay package online today. Who knows? You might just decide to sell your car and move to the cabin in the woods for good!
I suppose one could say that Australia, like many other countries, has been linked to certain stereotypes within books, movies, and other media. That’s no surprise–people like to have their thoughts about a place and usually stick with them. Today, I’d like to explore some of these preconceived notions about Australia. Some may have the truth behind them, but others are probably far from true! If any of my readers are from Australia or have ever been there, please feel free to comment with your thoughts.
AUSTRALIA HAS DEADLY ANIMALS EVERYWHERE YOU TURN!
When you mention Australia to most Americans, one of the first things they will often comment on is how there are so many types of animals there that can kill you, and in fact, they are waiting at every turn–even in your home! To be fair, for such a small land mass, Australia does have a rather concentrated amount of venomous and otherwise dangerous creatures. Between snakes, spiders, sharks, and crocodiles, there’s plenty to be frightened of Down Under. But using good observation skills and being vigilant in nature will go a long way. Don’t be surprised to find huge spiders in your house though :O
AUSTRALIA IS HOME TO ANTIQUATED AND SHELTERED ABORIGINAL PEOPLES
Aborigines are the indigenous people of Australia, who were occupying the continent tens of thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. While there are certain thoughts Americans would have about the Aborigines, mostly from films, most of them are not true. Though there are surely those groups who are still hasty to adapt to the modern world, for the most part Aboriginal people of Australia are technologically involved. Playing the didgeridoo still sounds really cool after all this time though.
AUSTRALIA IS A DESOLATE, DESERT LAND
I can easily see how this would be the first thought for many American citizens–nearly every movie about Australia takes place in the stark looking Outback. This is also definitely a partial truth, because the continent is home to TEN separate desert areas. They are full of diverse species of plants and animals. But, there are also other sides to the country, such as lush beaches, and city and cultural centers such as Sydney. These cities and metropolitan areas are often the hubs of Australia’s economy. Everyone can picture the famous Sydney Opera House, right?
AUSTRALIA HAS WILD KANGAROOS GALORE!
I can admit, I really just want this one to be true, and judging by the fact that there are actual “Kangaroo Crossing” signs in Australia, I have faith that it is–and I will just leave it at that.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
Life is a miracle filled with God’s blessings, love, and cherished memories. Life also comes with struggles, temptations, and loss. At some point in our lives, we will grieve the loss of a loved one. Our grief is one of the hardest things to overcome – and it manifests differently for everyone. We as God’s creatures love deeply and thus we feel loss strongly.
For many, it takes time, faith, prayer, and support to heal from the loss of a loved one. But for some, the journey may be too difficult and their burden too heavy. We’ve all heard that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But what if someone struggles to heal? What happens if they get stuck in one of the stages of grief – anger- for example can lead to a great deal of self-destruction. How far might a person go “to make the pain go away.”
There’s an upcoming film “Annabelle: Creation” that deals with this very premise. I’m not usually a fan of horror movies but there’s something in the storyline of this upcoming film that’s worth talking about. The movie begins with two parents – the Mullins – who suffer through the unimaginable and sudden death of their daughter. Their grief is unbearable, and it is when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable that temptation and evil comes with whispers of consolation, and a way of “seeing” their little girl again. I don’t want to give away any more plot spoilers, but needless to say the Mullins give into temptation, and a supernatural battle against evil takes place in their home. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you may really enjoy this film which releases in theaters this Friday, August 11.
Though the Mullins are fictional characters, the idea that we’ll do anything to hold on to a loved one who has passed and/or that evil wants to take advantage of us during a time when we are vulnerable can be very real.
Grief, especially when it comes unexpectedly, can crush the spirit of even the strongest among us. As Christians, it is my hope that whenever we come across someone who is grieving, we reach out to comfort and support them with their immediate needs (ex. cooking dinner for the family, babysitting the children, etc.).
It is also my hope that we minister and share God love with them and remind them that they are not alone. As Christians it is our duty to take care, comfort, and pray for one another. Healing may take weeks, months, or years, but it is a comfort when they know they can turn to God and to their neighbors to help them through.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:3
“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”