Let me start by saying, I didn't read as many books as I would have liked this year. My Goodreads goal was 24 and I came in at 20. Pretty close, though. But of those 20, I do have a few favorites that stood out to me so I thought I would share them with you today. So, let's get into it, in no particular order and spoiler free, of course.
5. Origins by Dan Brown
I guess we'll start with the mainstream title. Ever since The DaVinci Code, the Robert Langdon books have been hit or miss with me. I didn't care too much for The Lost Symbol. Inferno was pretty entertaining but I felt as if these books were missing something the first two had. Angels & Demons and The DaVinci code made bold statements about religion and science. I felt that statement was lost on the others. Then enters Origin. I won't spoil anything about the ending but I will say Dan Brown explains religion and science in such a beautiful way which happens to mirror my own thoughts. Nothing might ever be as good as the first two but Origin sure as hell came close!
4. Brimstone Hustle by Robert McKinney
I discovered this book while browsing a self-publishing Sub-Reddit page. I'm glad I did. This book was a lot of fun to read. I won't sit here and tell you it was my favorite book of the year but it was a lot of fun. The plot centers around a woman who is able to "teleport" anywhere in the world she wants by taking shortcuts through Hell. The idea was original enough to catch my attention. Of course, she uses this power to get payback on an individual and I won't say much more than that. It's the first part in a series and I really should get down to reading the rest. My only complaint, which could be squashed with the sequels, is the power could be used for so much more than your regular thriller story. But still a fun read.
3. Glass Girl by Jessyca Thibault
Poetry is not something I normally read, however, I discovered Jessyca on Instagram a while back while she was doing a free promotion for her first book Doll Eyes. I found myself unable to stop reading and finished it in one sitting. Same with her follow up book Glass Girl. If you like poetry, you must give her series a try. I enjoyed them so much because it wasn't just a collection of poems but a window into the soul of another human being. It allowed me to take stock of things in my own life and try a new perspective. And with so many horrible things in this world and all the hate, opening your eyes to another person's experiences is something we need more of. And Jessyca does this well. She's a talented author with a bright future ahead of her!
2. The Ruins by Scott Smith
Although I didn't find this book as scary as many others have, I still enjoyed every second of it. A group of backpackers on a vacation in Mexico find themselves trapped on top of an ancient ruins site where the vines literally come to life and the locals won't let them leave. The book is dirty and visceral at times but for all the right reasons. I never looked at any character as heroic nor villainous. You could feel the desperation in every choice they made and you could almost feel the utter exhaustion they felt as well. A well crafted tale of horror.
1. The Resort by Bryce Gibson
It was a tough choice between this and Gibson's other thriller, The Reading Buddy. Both were excellent reads full of suspense and death. In the end, I had to give it to The Resort. There's not much I can say about this book without giving anything away. But I can tell you the main character Mackenzie Walker works on an island with his parents running a resort. When college students come for spring break and one of them winds up dead, Mackenzie gets pulled into a whirlwind of happenings and learns there's something terrible inhabiting the island. You'll have to read it for yourself to find out what it is. I promise, it's worth it.
Well, there you have it. My top 5 picks of the year. I definitely will be attempting to read more books next year than I did this time around. What were some of your favorite books? Have you read any on my list? Or do you plan to read any of these? Let me know in the comments below.
Horror is one of those genres which, if done well, can really stick with you for a long time. There's a lot of horror books out there. Some are eerie, some are creepy, some are downright disturbing. But what truly makes a horror book amazing, in my opinion, is one you can remember years later and still get that uneasy feeling. And these four books definitely lingered with me for quiet some time. So, here they are. Four of my favorite horror books, in no particular order.
4. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson's book I Am Legend was outstanding. It had everything a horror fan could ask for. Post apocalyptic society, vampires, desperate loneliness, and more. Plus, the vampires were real vampires, unlike the movie of the same name. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the movie sucked but the book was certainly better. There are still scenes that stick with me to this day. For example, there's a scene with Robert Neville trying to return home before the vampires come out for the night. He's behind the wheel of his manual car and his foot slips off the clutch and it stalls. There was so much tension in that scene. There are plenty more examples but I want to keep this spoiler free. If you haven't read I Am Legend, you need to!
3. Dracula by Bram Stoker
I'm sure you've read Dracula or at least seen one of the many movies inspired by the book. If not, you surely know his name. He's the king of all the undead beasts of our horror fueled nightmares. Dracula is cunning, charming, dangerous, and vile. This book sticks with me for many reasons but mainly because of its style. The book is written as journal entries from our hero Johnathan Harker and others at times. It was such a cool concept and original idea. It seemed to build the suspense over the entire novel. Plus, Dracula was much more than the simple villain movies made have made him out to be. In the book, he's far more dangerous and cunning. He's able to shape-shift into multiple forms, not just a bat. Some of them are utterly terrifying. I really feel for Jonathan and his fiance. There's a particular scene between Dracula and Jonathan's fiance Mina that was particularly unsettling. But I'll let you discover it for yourself.
2. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe
I know what you're thinking. Evan, The Cask of Amontillado is a short story and not a book. To which I say, how are you able to interrupt me while I'm writing this? You must have the shine (from Stephen King's The Shining. Foreshadowing to the number 1?) Seriously, The Cask of Amontillado by Mr. Poe has to be my all time favorite story of his. Of course, there's the classics like A Tell Tale Heart, or The Raven (yes, I know that's a poem. Stop interrupting!), and The Pit and the Pendulum. But I can still remember this story clear as day from when I first read it in middle school. I can't say much about the story, for those who are about a hundred years late in reading it. Let's just say it centers around being buried alive. That is an utterly terrifying notion. In fact, it's been a while since I've read this story. I think I'll go read it now.
1. The Shining by Stephen King
Now that I've reread The Cask of Amontillado, let's talk about The Shining. (Seriously, I did go read it before finishing. Don't believe me? Follow me on Goodreads. You'll see!) Now, I know I said there was no particular order to these but I think I lied about the number one spot. The Shining has to be my all time favorite horror book and might even be my favorite King novel. The book is far more unsettling than the movie and there's plenty of scenes to get your paranoia flowing. One part in particular happens in the bathroom. Let's just say it took me a while to use the bathroom without moving the shower curtain first. Then there's a bit about a firehouse, an elevator, and just everything. Everything in this book is creepy and terrifying. It's amazing!
There you have it. Four of my favorite horror books and my number one favorite of all time. Are any on my list your favorites as well? If not, what are some of yours? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and remember, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Hello and happy Friday! Got any cool weekend plans? I'm installing a fence this weekend, should be fun. Speaking of fenced in areas, I have a question for you. When it comes to the books you like to surround yourself with, what is your favorite genre? I'm just curious what everyone out there reads. Let me know if the comments below if you can't get enough fantasy. Maybe Sci-Fi is your thing. Maybe it's horror. Or, perhaps you love a good old school spy thriller. Or, maybe you read a genre that isn't main stream like erotica. Whatever it is, let me know!
Podcasts are an amazing form of entertainment. If you've never listened to one, you should really think about giving them a try. There are literally thousands, if not millions, of choices out there. Everything from audio dramas to scientific discussions. It's pretty amazing. I listen to a lot of podcasts but I thought I would outline my top ten favorites for you. Note, these are just my personal recommendations and not in any particular order.
1. Welcome to Night vale
This podcast might be a little hard to explain. It's like an audio drama told from the perspective of a radio host for a local station in a small town known as Night Vale. Weird things happen in Night Vale but it's everyday life for the citizens. Cecil Baldwin, the narrator, breaks down the latest news of the town and outlines current events. It's a very fun show and the production quality is spectacular. I actually went to see one of their live shows last year and it was amazing. If audio drama and weirdness is your thing, you have to listen to Welcome to Night Vale.
2. Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories
Once I started listening to this show, I couldn't stop until I was caught up. The cases they discuss are all real murders which, to this day, have never been solved. The show gets its real character from the audio drama elements they borrow. The hosts, Carter and Wendy, outline details of each murder and in between the crucial parts of the stories are acted out by voice actors. Think of it like part documentary, part old time radio program. I've learned a lot about unsolved murders. Even ones I thought I knew so much about already.
If you haven't heard of Lore, you really need to look it up. It became one of my favorite shows after about one episode. The show has expanded too. It's now a show on Amazon Prime and even a book series. All of which are incredible. Basically, the show is narrated by the wonderful Aaron Mahnke and it outlines stories about lore and legends. Everything from ghosts possessing a child's doll to the hysteria of a town fearing vampires. Lore showcases the real stories surrounding the lore. The show is amazingly produced and the music is awesome. (Shout out to Chad Lawson) If you only listen to one podcast from my list, I highly recommend this one. Especially if you're into legends and history.
4. Sword & Scale
This is a true crime podcast. If you can't tell, true crime is one of my favorite subjects. Sword & Scale presents these stories in a fascinating way. Real audio is used to tell the story whether it be 911 calls, audio from court hearings, or even interviews with experts and eye witnesses. Basically, this podcast is not just a guy relaying a story into the microphone. Sword and Scale makes the stories come alive and become real. Which might make several of the cases much more disturbing. I will warn, some of the cases mentioned are highly disturbing, so don't listen if you're squeamish.
5. 60 Second Science
Have you wanted to listen to a podcast but don't have a whole lot of time? Then this show is perfect for you! Each episode is only a couple of minutes long and talks about current studies and stories in the scientific community. Think of it like hearing a brief news report about the latest scientific discoveries. Since it's only a few minutes long, don't expect detailed explanations but what they do explain is very informative. If you have a few minutes to spare, check it out.
6. Hostile Worlds
Speaking of science, this quickly became one of my favorites. I was hooked from episode one. It's part audio drama, part science documentary. Trust me, you won't be bored listening to this podcast. The hosts travel through space in a ship named the Tardigrade and visit planets and moons such as Venus and Titan. As they explore these alien worlds, they explain what it's like to explore these places in great detail. You might actually believe they are truly there. It's fun and educational.
7. The No Sleep Podcast
Do you love horror? Do you love audio drama? Then this is perfect for you. Each episode consists of several stories found on the No Sleep forum of Reddit. The voice actors portray the stories in true audio drama fashion. The sound effects are great and really add to the level of horror this show already provides. There are so many talented voice actors on this show it's ridiculous. It's by far my favorite horror podcast. Nothing can top it.
8. Serial Killers
I know, a lot of true crime in my playlist. But they're so good. Especially Serial Killers. It's under the same network as Unsolved Murders. Hosts Greg and Vanessa break down the motives and methods of different serial killers. Everyone from Ted Bundy to Elizabeth Bathory. They give facts about the case and even breakdown the psychological profile of each serial killer. I have learned so much about serial killers I thought I knew and even learned disturbing new ones. And, it has sparked a few book ideas as well. If you love true crime or the topic of serial killers in general, this is perfect for you.
9. American History Tellers
I am a big fan of history, always have been. American History Tellers breaks down American history one era at a time. It started off with Cold War and is currently explaining the days of prohibition. What's interesting about this podcast is it puts you in the shoes of someone living in that period. The listener is presented with stories and information about history which may have eluded them in history classes in school. I love hearing the true history of my nation. It's much better than the watered down versions so many schools introduce. History buffs should definitely sink their teeth in.
10. Thinking Sideways
This podcast is a little different than everything else on my list. The hosts present real life mysteries such as the Somerton Man Mystery or the Wow! signal and talk about the mysteries circumstances surrounding them. Near the end they give their own theories which sometimes involve aliens, jokingly of course. The three hosts, Devin, Joe, and Steve, have great chemistry and really engage the listener in these mysteries. Out of all of the the shows I listen to it's probably the least structured and scripted but that's what makes it so much fun. It's three people, in a room, talking about mysteries. You can't go wrong there.
These are just ten of the many podcasts I subscribe to and I'm always looking for more. If you have a suggestion from one of your favorite shows, drop a comment below. I will most likely subscribe and have a listen. Podcasts are a great form of entertainment and even education. With so many shows out there, it's hard to list only ten. I hope you enjoyed my list and hopefully you discover a new favorite show to listen to. Thanks for reading and, as always, keep wandering, just not alone.
For some, Christmas is a wonderful time of year filled with joy and warmth. For others, it's a time of stress. Finding the right gift for someone you might only see a couple times of year can be challenging. But does it have to be? Should we search for hours at large retail stores for that perfect gift which may end up returned after Christmas? Isn't there a better way?
The country of Iceland seems to have a cool tradition which could easily solve that problem. Today, I learned about something called Jólabókaflóð. Essentially, it's an Icelandic tradition where people give each other books on Christmas Eve. That night, the books are read while drinking hot chocolate or a special Christmas ale. I don't know about you but I think I just found my new favorite holiday tradition.
Jólabókaflóð gets its origins from World War II where books were common gifts to give, as paper was one of the only commodities not being rationed for war time. Every year since 1944, the people of Iceland receive a bulletin featuring many books. They use this bulletin to order books for one another. Amazing, right?
Instead of buying random kitchen appliances or shirts that might not fit for extended family members, I think it would be neat to start buying books. The tradition I would love to start would be each member of the family buys a book, from their favorite local bookstore of course, and gifts it to someone else. From there, it can be handled like a Yankee Swap (Chinese gift exchange, White Elephant, or whatever you want to call it). At the end of the night, everyone has a book they should read at least one chapter of that night. It would be a great way to explore new authors and get into a better habit of reading.
Let's join Iceland in reading more books during this holiday season. Who else is thinking about following the Jólabókaflóð tradition? Are you thinking about making your own? Let me know what your plans are in the comments below! And, as always, thanks for reading!
P.S. You could always gift your family one of my books 😉 What? You thought I would write an article about gifting books and wouldn't try to slip in a promo?
You are able to read this right now because of the free and open internet we enjoy. In fact, the internet allows me to realize my dream and get my work out there for the world to see. You're only able to read it because of the open internet. Imagine if that were gone? How many of your favorite artists would cease to create? Without a platform in which to share their work, how could they? Millions of dreamers across this country would lose that dream. And many of you who support them and enjoy their content would lose out.
This is exactly the thing the current chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is trying to create. Listen, there have been a lot of articles floating around stating the "government has no business regulating the internet." Unfortunately, these articles are taking advantage of people who don't understand what the FCC actually did to protect the internet.
In 2015, the FCC passed a regulation known as Title II. This gave the FCC the power to keep companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast from throttling, blocking, or interfering with web traffic. What does that mean? Well, it means these corporations would not be allowed to slow down internet speeds, forcing you to pay more for higher connections. It also means they would not have the right to block content they did not agree with. The FCC is not "controlling" the internet the way they see fit. They are making sure it's being distributed fairly. In fact, they're stopping private companies from controlling it.
Pai is suggesting we hand control of the internet over to private companies and allow them to decide how to police it. That would be like allowing your neighbors the ability to arrest the people on their block. Would that power get abused? Maybe not. Maybe they would only arrest those who are actually breaking the law. But what happens when someone does something they just don't like? Maybe they don't like their new neighbors. Maybe they don't like the candidate you plan to vote for. Maybe they don't like the kind of car they drive. How long before they abuse that power? And with no consequences, what would it matter?
Right now, there's law to protect the internet and us from being taken advantage of. The only thing keeping us safe from losing the internet as we know it is Net Neutrality. Taking it away could also mean higher prices for the internet you already use. Imagine having to purchase your internet much like you would cable or a car. Would you just like the basic internet? You're able to browse a few selected websites and have access to email, only $29.99! Want to connect with friends and family? Get our social media package. Comes with access to Facebook, Twitter, and basic access to the web. Only $39.99! Want to watch videos and stream content? You need the entertainment package. Access to Youtube, Netflix, and more. Only $59.99! And with this bundle you get up to 55GB of data! What a great deal! *Access to data sold separate*
I think you get the point. We shouldn't have to pay more for the content we want to see online. We should have all access to it. Small businesses generate revenue and traffic from their online presence everyday. Artists create their work and use the web to distribute and advertise their art. Students use it to study. Families use it to connect. News outlets use it to inform. The internet is a much more powerful tool than many realize.
We need to save the internet as it is today. Keep Net Neutrality laws in place. Let's keep Pai and his lobbyists' hands off of the internet that we know and love. This weird, funny, loving, awful, wonderful, and passionate place where we can all thrive and explore. Call your congress representatives, send them an email, sign online petitions, even share this blog. Do anything! The FCC votes on this Dec. 12th. We can't allow Pai to win!
Click HERE to sign the online petition.
Click HERE to email your member of congress.
Click HERE, HERE, and HERE to learn more about Net Neutrality.
Things have been a little busy since this time last week. Hurricane Irma was bearing down on our state. And with the images of Hurricane Harvey fresh in everyone's mind, people were panicked. Lucky for us here in Florida the storm began to die before it made land fall. The damage could have been a lot worse.
I thought I would quickly share with you my experience during hurricane Irma. I live in the Tampa Bay area so it was only a Category 2 when it finally reached us. The Florida Keys and Miami got hit pretty hard but overall the damage was not as bad as expected.
I took my family over to my parents house for shelter. We played games and watched the news while waiting for the storm to pick up. Eventually, it did. We had wind gusts of about 100 mph. It sounded like a jet engine revving up every time the wind kicked in. After a few hours, my family and I watched the storm from under their screened in back porch. The winds were high but there wasn't much for debris in the air so we knew we'd be alright.
At some point, a large tree in the backyard gave way and toppled over, taking part of the fence with it. It was an impressive cracking sound as the roots snapped out of the ground. That was mostly it for the excitement around the house that night. Eventually, the power cut out and we all went to bed.
The next day we assessed the damage and started on clean up. I took a quick journey home to make sure everything was still in tact. It was, but the power was out there as well. While on the roads, there were several downed power lines, trees on top of house, and a couple flooded roads. But otherwise, not too bad.
Many of the traffic signals were out which made driving a bit dangerous. When that happens, the intersections should be treated like a 4 way stop. Unfortunately, not everyone knows this and we were almost hit several times.
All in all, Florida got lucky and things should be back to normal for everyone a lot sooner than expected. I hope everyone stayed safe during the storm!
Everyone loves music, right? Well, I know I do. In fact, I like to listen to music while I write. Plenty of authors do this. Hell, people doing their jobs or even school work do this. For most, it helps them concentrate. Other times, it helps while doing a mundane and boring task. Today, I thought I would share with you all what I like to listen to while I write.
Recently, I discovered the wonder that is Amazon Music Unlimited. It's an amazing service with tens of millions of songs in a digital library. Naturally, I signed up and went about creating a writing playlist. First, let me tell you I have over 1,500 songs in this playlist. That's over 82 hours of music! That's about two average work weeks! I probably won't hear the same song twice very often.
But what type of music is in this library? I'm glad you asked. When I was younger I would listen to rock music while I wrote and would occasionally listen to orchestral music. A little over a year ago, I was only listening to 50's rock and roll. Don't judge me. That's good music! Now, I like to listen to orchestral music almost exclusively. But not just any orchestral music. Movie soundtracks, television scores, and even OST from video games. I have many different things from scores from James Bond movies to the entire score of Assassins Creed games. Can you even imagine 82 hours of that? It's pretty ridiculous.
What about you? What do you listen to while you write or work or whatever you do? Let me know in the comments below! As always, thanks for reading!
I just finished my first edit through my horror novella and I'm excited about the direction it's headed. When it's finally available, I know you will love it too. Like I've said before, it will be available this October but I guess it's time to give you and exact date. I can think of no better day in October than Friday, the 13th! Maybe we can have a horror themed launch party as well. More on that to come!
If you want a copy of Getaway, my horror novella, you will be able to preorder it soon. Everyone who is currently signed up for my monthly newsletter will be getting a copy for free! If you didn't sign up for the newsletter in time, there's other ways of getting the book. If you become a Patron at any level on my Patreon page, you will get every single novella that I release yearly. It only takes a $1 a month to help me out. It really does make a huge difference.
There's also a little more news regarding my blog novel. I've got a main character and plot picked out. However, I don't have a release date for the first installment just yet. There will be more information on that in the future. I can tell you the name of the project, though. I will be calling it The Truth You Seek.
Also, Sins of the Mother is available as an eBook now. Paperback and hardcover will be coming soon. Head over to your favorite e-retailer to pick up your copy. I hope you enjoy reading Ethan's second adventure as much as I loved writing it.
Last, but not least, I've been thinking about starting an advanced reader program. Essentially, I would be wanting people to proof read my final copy before the book is published to help catch any spelling or grammatical mistakes. As well as give feedback. If you're interested in this, please let me know in the comments below. I would only ask that you leave an honest review for the book on Amazon after it has been published. In return for your services, I would personally thank you in the book's acknowledgment section. Please let me know if you're interested!
Well, those are the updates I had for you today. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to give this a read. Hopefully you're as excited about everything as I am. As always, thanks for reading everyone!
Wow, I am blown away by some of the reviews I've received on my book Death Can Wait. They have been amazing. I can't say thank you enough to the people who have left such glowing recommendations for my book. It means so much to me and helps me out more than you really know. Seeing these reviews renews my vigor and gets me back to the computer and writing. Thank you so very much for the kind words!
If you have read my books, please consider leaving me a review on Amazon or Goodreads or your favorite retailer. It really helps out a lot and even makes my day! Thanks for reading everyone!
I am a self-published horror/thriller author. I love reading, writing, and taking long walks through scary parts of the forest. I'm learning new tricks everyday to become a better author and occasionally will share those tips with you. Otherwise, you can read book reviews, info about my writing, and personal stories about my adventures in nature.