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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Looking for Summer Reads? Try some Urban Fantasy

I recently finished the Hollows Series by Kim Harrison. Below is my review of the final book in the series.  The first book is Dead Witch Walking. If you are tempted to take a taste of this series, the Kindle version is only .99 cents. That's how they get you sucked in! 😊 All the books were available at my local library, so you can read for free or order from for audio ( or get the audio or e version from your library as well). Or support your local independent book seller!

The Witch With No Name (The Hollows, #13)The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading this book when it first came out and then I put it down for a few years, Why? It's the last book in Kim Harrison's Hollows Series and I wasn't ready to be done forever with Rachel, Ivy, Jenks and Al.

I thoroughly enjoyed the series. Back around book 7, I met Kim Harrison at a book signing. She is a lovely person. It's always nice when the writer whose work you look forward to reading is also pleasant and happy to answer questions about her stories.

I'm not 100% clear on the vampire resolution, like what will happen when Ivy dies her first death. Will there be some sort of vampire daisy chain? I'm not going to over think this, because I have to say I don't care as much about the vampires as I do the demons. The demon situation was resolved very satisfactorily.

I was disappointed on the fast forward that occurs in final chapters, I was really hoping to see Rachel and Trent marry and raising the kiddos (with Quen) shortly after the climax of the book. Ending with Rachel finally feeling like a full member of society would have been icing on the cake. Rachel says she is OK without a marriage, but I think we know better. Also Rachel's mom would love for her daughter to get married.  😊 Maybe Kim will do a short story follow up with a wedding, or maybe she has done one already and I don't know!

Having so many great books sitting in my TBR pile, and on my Audible wish list, I rarely re-read anything. However, The Witch With No Name did have me feeling surprisingly nostalgic and I want to go back to the beginning and read Dead Witch Walking  now that I know how the story ends.

View all my reviews

On the writing front, tomorrow starts the #1000wordsofsummer challenge.  You can click to join the challenge if you like to write!  I'm excited because yesterday I figured out what to do with the date I accidentally sent my protagonist on with one of her co-workers. It's going to be awkward!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Let's have a refresher on the Rules of the Road Shall We? And also a recipe for pie.

Summertime means that I run on the mean streets of the Chicagoland area almost everyday.  In the course of that running, I am annoyed and occasionally in fear for my life.  Why? Disrespectful Drivers!  In the words of Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy "I'm walking (or in my case running) here!"

All because some drivers insist on turning in front or behind me when I'm in the crosswalk with the right of way!  You, driver, are not supposed to be turning right or left while I'm in the roadway.

Me trying to live. You, driver, not paying attention or looking both ways before making a right turn.  Look both ways ! Lucky for me, I didn't get hit by a car recently; because I assume if I don't make eye contact with the driver turning right, then it's not safe for me to cross.

Also while I am ranting into the wind here, if you have a dog, put it on a leash.  Dogs like to chase me. I run slow and that makes me very catchable.

And now a recipe for pie...

Pie actually seems fairly complicated to make in my opinion, so I googled easiest pie to make and this post was at the top of the list. If you are game, here are some super easy pies you can make!

Easy Pie Recipes

you can also find easy pie recipes at

On the writing front: Not much to report, still working on Chapter 14 and I'm not sure yet how this date should end.  A promise of a future date or nah.  I need to write more and see what happens. Next week I'm participating in an online challenge to write 1000 words a day for the remainder of June, so that *hopefully* gets me writing more! 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Have you heard this podcast already?

Happy Sunday!!  In case you missed it, you need to know that I love podcasts.  And I love to share my favorites with anyone who will listen or read me so check these out and subscribe! 

You may not realize there are a few companies that produce a wide variety of podcasts, there are Slate, Panopoly and Gimlet

Today I thought I'd share a couple from Gimlet Media since they recently sent me an email promoting their two-day podcast festival.  I would totally be there except it's in Brooklyn and alas, I am not.

My two favorite podcasts from Gimlet are Sandra and Uncivil.

Sandra is fictional and one of the voices is Kristen Wiig.  It's a comedy, revolving around an imaginary system like Alexa but called Sandra and the main character works in a call center as a Sandra, when you say Hey Sandra and ask a question about birds, then your answer comes from this call center employee.  An interesting and fun story unfolds as the voice behind Sandra tries to make a life for herself away from Ex. 

 Uncivil is entirely different than Sandra.  It is an incredibly enlightening podcast showcasing the stories from the Civil War and Reconstruction that you've never heard before-- and you should.  It's history that informs who America is today.  Does that sound dry?  Trust me this podcast is nothing like you remember of U.S. History in school.  Everyone should listen to this insightful series. You can also follow the creators on Facebook and Twitter where they share books highlighted in the series. 

Uncivil won a Peabody Award in 2017,  you *know* this is really good stuff for your ear holes.
On the writing front: A friend is reading the first chapter of my book.  She is an English major; I hope I have not made it too chockful of grammerical and capitalization errors. Currently, I have crossed the bridge into chapter 14!! and I accidently introduced a new character and my protagonist is now going on her first date in for-eveh! I don't see them together long term, he was really just supposed to impart some information to the protagonist , but now who knows what is going to happen next.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#WednesdayWisdom Are we still talking about Life Hacks? And it's #WineWednesday

Apropos of nothing, I was wondering the other day if BuzzFeed is still doing 'life hack' lists or if we have all moved on to a post life hack life.  My own personal life hack is to put on my socks before my pants because then my pants slide on faster.  You're welcome. 😏

I could use a life hack to get through riding shotgun for Bmo's 50 hours of required drive time to get his license.  Does stress burn calories?  We only have 46 more hours to go. Lucky for me, I'm hosting a wine tasting tomorrow night so I can stock up on post driving wine. My friend is a representative for The Wine Shop at Home and we will be trying their Renegade wine sampler.

(The Wine Shop at Home doesn't mess around, look at those medals!)

Since it is summer, we will be trying more whites than red and these will be chilled for the most part.  I like a nice chilled glass of wine after a day in the backyard or with a dinner salad.  I will report back about what we try and how the tasting goes tomorrow.   I hope the RosΓ© is tasty!

If the weather is nice we will sip outside, and in that case, what wine pairs well with OFF?  Seriously, are there any natural mosquito deterrents that work? They eat me alive.

Wait, what if there was a wine that repelled mosquitoes?  Now that would be a life hack! If  we can put a man on the moon, we can do this people! 

Happy #WineWednesday!


PS On the writing front, I was at the hospital with my oldest yesterday and then took middle driving.  I was completely mentally drained and ate nutritionally empty food and didn't write.  Today's goal 500 words.

Monday, June 4, 2018

How many activities can I squeeze this Summer? Chicago offers and embarrasment of riches.

Summer is here! Kids are out, the sun is high, and the humidity is rising. June is my favorite month. We get lots of sun, I'm on a summer schedule, and the days are still getting longer.  June is like the Friday of summer. Everyone, for the most part, is in a good mood knowing we still have Saturday (July) and Sunday (August) ahead of us.

I aim to enjoy this summer to the fullest; and that is easy to do with the multitude of  outdoor concerts, festivals, and community events  taking place in Chicago. To kick things off, me and the family, are going to go to the Printers Row Lit Fest and Blues Fest this weekend. I'm looking forward to picking up some new books, meeting authors, and then enjoy fabulous music against the gorgeous background of Chicago's skyline.

Writing wise, here's what I'm up to this week.  First of all, I skipped writing for a couple days but I am definitely increasing how often I am writing and it helps to keep that momentum going. I continue to struggle with when is the best time for me to write, and I am still very easily distracted.  I think that as I continue to build up my writing stamina this will get better? I hope.  My philosophy is writing is like running, don't think about it just do it. I mean, Nike said it best, right?

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

What's in my ear holes this week? #HitParade and #Keepit!

If you haven't taken advantage of the amazing world of podcasts, you need to start listening now! There literally hundreds of amazing podcasts on any subject you can possibly imagine.  Have a hobby?  Have an interest?  Want to catch up on World History or listen to a fictional tale?  All is yours in the land of podcast.  But wait there's more! Almost all are offered free to you the listener, so put a podcast your ear holes today!

One of my new favorite podcasts is Hit Parade from Slate. You don't have to be well versed in popular  music to find it fascinating.  One recent episode discusses how the Billboard Top 100 changed a few years ago to include You Tube music video plays vs. just purchases of music. Most interesting was learning that if someone makes a parody or fan video and uses the original song audio; that fan video or parody counts toward the original song's number of plays.  So when a song goes viral with a dance, like the Harlem Shake, and thousands of people film themselves dancing--the original song gets the credit.

You can listen to the latest episode HERE (or at iTunes, Stitcher, etc.)

Do you like pop culture?  Ira, Kara and Louis give a weekly review of the biggest happenings in pop culture and call people on the absurdity of it all. They shade those who deserve it and point out whats good.  And they laugh, a lot.  It's infectious.  I look forward to Keep It hitting my feed each week.

You can find the latest Keep It HERE (or at iTunes, Stitcher, etc.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Gardening at Night

Not really but it is the song title of a good REM song that was released 26 years ago.

Me and the Man have been gardening by day.  Last weekend it was cloudy and the temps didn't get above 55,  and this weekend we are in the 90s!  Look, one thing Chicago weather  can be counted on for is its unpredictability.  This however is beyond the typical fluctuations.

 I hope my plants aren't too upset about being planted in this heat.  Some people think you can communicate with plants, I don't see any harm in talking to them so if you seem me mumbling in the garden , I'm just trying to raise happy plants. I haven't had a backyard garden in eight years, so I want generous plants that provide us with tasty yields of cherry tomatoes, squash, and orange heirloom peppers.

On writing, I am closing in on a scene that will take place in a local library.  I need to go visit the library so I can refresh myself with the layout and general vibe. However, I don't see myself making it over there until next Friday at the soonest.  What I have decided is the best course of action for me is to keep writing daily and not wait until I actually go  the library. I can add in details and switch things around as necessary after my visit. Otherwise, I'll use my upcoming library field trip as an excuse to skip writing for the next week. I'm quickly learning writing is much easier if I write something, anything daily, versus saving up until that magic moment when I have "extra time".  I know myself well enough to understand that I am incredibly good at finding other things I *must* do instead of writing!

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Writer in progress

Since I last wrote, after 4 years of renting, we bought a townhome. It's so wonderful to have a place of our own, that I'm happy to see that mortgage payment leave our account each month! We *finally* timed a real estate purchase properly! Plus, our townhome is the very rare kind that has our own small fenced backyard and there is no association! No fees and we can landscape as we want!

Tomorrow the Man and I are headed out to purchase our garden seedlings and get my raised bed started!  I'm planning on Fresh tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, parsley, basil, and thyme.  It's the little things.  I'm so grateful to be able to raise fresh produce in our backyard.

On the reading front, I, not too long, ago reviewed a lovely book for Project Fandom and you can see the review here.  If you are looking for a captivating story to read this summer, this is an excellent choice!

The school year is wrapping up and our oldest GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL. We are very lucky to live in-district for our local community college so Mr. P is able to continue his education, close to home and get those required classed completed at the lowest cost possible.  At work, I see tuition bills for schools from coast to coast and the average cost of a year at a 4-year college/university is more than I make in a year.  Now it is true I don't make a ton of money but should college cost  $30, 40 grand a year? It makes it unaffordable for most people to attend, or they suck it up and take out loans they are still paying back in their 50s.

Alright, I'm off my soapbox.  Now back to me.  I've been working on my book. It has no title, but I have the series name already picked out.  I call it "Creating Cakes: Book 1."  My plan moving forward is to post with some consistency on this blog and share how the writing is going. Also, I plan to do a bit of crowdsourcing for some of my editorial decisions. 

I hope you will stay tuned and provide your two cents as I write.  Here is my first bit of crowdsourcing, my first chapter is in decent shape.  If I had it here to read, would you be interested in reading it if there was a $1.00 fee for the chapter and that fee offered future VIP perks?  Comment below and let me know!
The Grad enjoying the best present ever, Hamilton Tickets!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Snow Day

An unexpected snow day arrived today. Unexpected in that we didn't know a large snow fall was going to be occurring at this time last week. Expected if you watched any local Chicagoland News the past 72 hours.

If you ask me, all large snowfalls should occur on Fridays. This gives everyone who can work from home or skip work the opportunity of sorts for a bit of a 3 day weekend. It also allows two days for roads to be cleared for the Monday commute.

I'm grateful that if we must have a bunch of snow in February,  it has occurred this Friday and not next Friday.  Both Anna and Patrick are heading to Disney (and Universal) for their respective music department trips and these trips have been months (Patrick) and years (Anna) in the making.

Additionally I'm grateful that when it comes February snows,  I'm able to look at it this way; snow in February is just one last hurdle before we welcome Spring. Yes, I'm well aware it often snows in March, but IDC, IDC.  March is virtually Spring.

If you are snowed in, and are looking for something to binge, let me recommend Altered Carbon on Netflix Great futuristic show, 10 episodes so perfect for a snowy weekend.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Committing to writing weekly and a new adventure

I have goals for this year. One of which is to blog twice a week.  I have not managed to achieve this goal as of yet, but the time is now!  I'm naming it and claiming it and all that jazz.  Here is the first of many 2018 post from me to you.

So to begin, how have you been?  Well I hope.  Over at my house we have been continuing to duck and weave against that flu going around. May we continue to avoid it and may it be gone and Spring arrive ASAP.

In the big news to start the year category, I retired from Tastefully Simple  after 15 years.  I am very excited to enjoy only having one job (in addition to the raising of the teens and so on and so forth). One of the ways, I am enjoying my free time is to work on writing more.  Clearly not here on my blog thus far, as I've been quite lax in posting.  Anyway I'm proud to say I am now a contributor for Project Fandom !  It's a great website and podcast devoted to all things entertainment.  My first assignment was a book review for the book The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley. You can read my review here

Next month I start my first TV series review for the website, and yes I'm nervous about that, a reoccurring six episode assignment. This is as close to my childhood dream of being a newspaper reporter coming true.  I'm reporting weekly on a TV show, you see a parallel right?  Close enough to call it a dream come true?  I say yes!  Make sure to follow, like and share Project Fandom on your social media,. As I  said it's a great place to keep up on all your favorite movies, comics, TV shows and book--and find new favorites as well.

That's what is new with me. Next week I will have more new with me news.  So stay tuned! In the meantime, Williams-Sonoma  sent me an email recipe, as they do daily, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I have everything on hand to make it for dinner. It's a sheet pan recipe and it looks delicious.  You can see it here: Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Chipotle Sweet Potatoes.  Looks good, right?  If you are a Pinterest user, you can find it on my "Sheet Pan Recipes" board and my name is Victoria7401 if you want to follow me.

Thanks for reading!  Have a great day!