A BookBub Hit

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Close to a year ago a friend of my recommended a service called BookBub which allowed me to pick out some genres that I enjoy reading and every day it sends me a selection of Kindle books on Amazon that are either on sale or sometimes are free deals. Now as you can imagine there are a LOT of misses with this service as a lot of times they are up and coming writers, self published authors, or published authors who don’t have a lot of clout and sometimes who don’t have a lot of skill. BUT most of the time I am getting the books for free or for 99¢ or at most usually $1.99 and I HAVE found a number of good finds within all three of those price points. It’s a great service because given the cheap factor I’m a lot more willing to go out on a limb and try a book that I normally wouldn’t plop down $6.99 for without some pretty good indication that it was going to be worth the money. Such was the case the other day when I was intrigued by the blurb for a book by Michael Siemsen entitled A Warm Place Place to Call Home

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Now I don’t tend to gravitate towards demon stories, vampires–yes, werewolves–yes, witches and goblins and monsters, oh my–yes, but not so much demons. However it was 99¢ and I was intrigued by the blurb so “why not” ruled the day and I’m am so glad that it did. I’m not going to do a book review per say because I think it would be very difficult to do without ruining the premise of this book. However, let me say that it is difficult in a world that has a sea of books both old and new available to come up with something that is fresh and this author manages to take a fresh spin on something. It reminded me of when I read Warm Bodies and thought, hm, this guy really took a tired genre and breathes some originality into it. He also did a good job of making a character who is not really likeable, be intriguing and sympathetic none-the-less. 

I highly recommend both giving both this book AND the BookBub service a try (being aware that you will wade through a lot of misses to get to the hits, but hey, it’s easy to delete them off your Kindle or make good use of the “send a sample now” feature of Amazon).


BBC’s 100 Favorite Books 68/100

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series, JK Rowling 
5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
11. Little Women, Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
13. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch, George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
34. Emma, Jane Austen
35. Persuasion, Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières
39. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
41. Animal Farm, George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney, John Irving
45. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
50. Atonement, Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
52. Dune, Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
62. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
72. Dracula, Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island, Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses, James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal, Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession, AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web, EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection, Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
94. Watership Down, Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
100. Les Misérebles, Victor Hugo.


Evolution of a Gamer

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me even the slightest that I have always loved gaming. It started with my cousin Johnny playing war out in the woods and Stratego and Risk in the house. When I built (thank you for those skills, dad) my first computer as an adult when the internet was simply bulletin board systems and usenet, you could FTP to MUDs and MUSHs (multi user shared hallucinations) which allowed people to play games and RP through pure text (yes, I remember when the very first “webpage” went up and we all thought it was obnoxious). I still miss those days of walking through the world of Lord of the Rings or Rhostshyl literally in a forest of words. It was an amazing experience to build stories with other people.

My children grew up from toddlers watching me play Zelda, Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Myst, Civilization, Age of Empires, Heroes of Might & Magic, and World of Warcraft when it was only a single player game. As the games got more graphically intense, I learned to cope with what everyone has to cope with, lag, pixel distortion, lag, lag, and lag–all combated through playing the games at the lowest possible graphics settings. I can say on computer based games that, until yesterday, I have never solidly played a game at anything but low graphic settings. Now let me say here, I love my MacBook, it is an amazing computer that lets me do all my jobs: write, edit photography, and do marketing graphic design effortlessly. That said, it sucks for games.

Yesterday after patiently waiting for 17 days, and after sleeping on the couch to insure that I didn’t miss the UPS man who definitely chuckled over my enthusiasm at his delivery, Number 3-The Cylon Computer entered my life. She did not come easily into the world, no, there were mishaps where she could not be turned on, where her hdmi ports were completely hidden and I thought non-existent, where RAM cards and video cards were unseated from the shipping process…but in the end she came to life. But that was only beginning because that started a 7 hour process of downloading the essential games. So while she arrived at approximately 9:30am and downloading commenced at approximately 11am–it wasn’t until about 7:30pm that I loaded up the first game for a “testing” bonanza.

League of Legends: This my Mac played the best of all my games. Still at low settings but it wasn’t terrible looking and my FPS (frames per second) wasn’t too bad as long as I kept the graphics low. So while I didn’t notice a huge over all difference in look, I was able to put it to top graphics and my FPS just held like a beast. I saw particles effects from the champs skills clearer then before and I began to notice what would become a recurrent theme. Since playing on a less then optimal for gaming computer for so long (aka forever), I have developed playing skills and reflexes to account for that,  I believe. So having skills go off instantly and seeing champs and enemies doing things in real time DID throw me off which was pretty hilarious.

World of Tanks: I am not going to lie this one teared me up. This game does not have a Mac version so I have been playing it in a skin that tricks the game into thinking it’s in Windows. So I have not been able to play it full screen and at the lowest possible settings which let me play but let do, amazing amounts of lag, crazy graphics like Rainbow Bright colored tanks and water and crazy lego size pixels sometimes. Disconnecting happened 4 to 5 times a night to where I cringed every time I exited a battle as I was pretty sure I’d be restarting the whole thing. So the difference in this was astounding, it was absolutely gorgeous, I saw things and details I didn’t know existed, I could actually SEE the map, and I didn’t know what to do with the aiming sight actually moving with me not trailing off behind while I sat waiting to be able to shoot and often times dying while I waited. LOVED playing this the way it was meant to be played.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: I played this on bootcamp (a separate partition of my MacBook that had Windows on it) and while I really enjoyed the game it just became unplayable for me. First in bootcamp for whatever reason my battery didn’t want to charge while I was in the game, you can imagine how quickly a game would eat the battery. Same low low settings, lots of lag, lots of random dc’s, and a curious effect where my character would just randomly start either running in circles or head to the nearest corner and just sit there running… this was not conducive to fun playing so I gave up on it. I was blown away on the character screen how amazing my characters looked in full graphics and in world I was able to have them completely full on to ultra and have no lag or disconnects or random running in circles. It was gorgeous and I’m really looking forward to playing this one again.

Elder Scrolls Online: What can I say, this was breathtakingly beautiful. What the developers have done with light is genuinely amazing. The world is gorgeous and fully realized. I played this in the Beta but once everyone else jumped in it was just a bit of a pain with all the lag, once a fight would start I would see a hit or two and then I would freeze and when I unfroze the battle was either over and I was alive or the battle was over and I was dead having no clue what killed me. Even doing the scavenging the game requires was difficult trying to pick out the flowers in the environment. I was literally just blown away by some of the scenes I would just ride by on my horse and see the sun setting over water and be amazed. This game will probably take a back seat to Star Wars for awhile just because after years of World of Warcraft doing something space oriented is just a bit more appealing at the moment but WOW is all I could say multiple times about how gorgeous this game is.

Tomb Raider: Now, I had no intentions of playing this game, I downloaded Steam to look at a program I got free with my video card purchase and I saw there was a big summer sale going and they had the newest Tomb Raider for $5….$5! I played this on the Xbox when it came out but I had to rush through it because I was renting it. I love Tomb Raider, I played most of all the old ones and loved playing them with Katie and Michael hovering over my shoulders yelling watch out for the dinosaur (yes, one of the games has a valley of dinosaurs in it). I love the puzzle aspect of these games and did I say, $5!  So of course I snagged it and one of the old games that was $2.49 for Katie and I to play through. I really expected, though, that the graphics would be a bit of a downgrade from playing it on Xbox on my tv. It wasn’t. I think the graphics actually beat the Xbox and having it up close and personal in my face on a, I don’t know, 36″ television aka monitor was breathtaking and heart pounding. I thought I was going to have a heart attack getting to the first save point just because everything was so gorgeous and so in my face.

So, there you have it, a long time dream come true of a (so my sister calls me) nerd and a gamer. There are so many games now to try that weren’t available to me on MacBook but for now I have MANY lands to explore, battles to wage and puzzles to be solved. It was all a little bittersweet because I know that Michael would have approved of his laptop being swapped out for this (I really did not need two MacBooks). More than that, I know that he was right over my shoulder just like he was as a kid yelling at me to shoot that wolf leaping over the hedge to eat me or get out of the way of that giant ogre about to bash in your face, mum!

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Spring Cleaning & Top Tools

I am in the middle of cleaning up and refreshing my digital spaces. Most of my writing has been focused on dealing with the loss of my son 6 months ago and are on his blog: Imperfect Paradise. But in an attempt to get myself in a more healthy and productive space I am digitally spring cleaning and getting this blog up and running again is top on my list.

I have always been and will always be a tech geek, if I can do it with an app or a program, I will–the only exception to this is my calendar.  I still use a digital calendar synced between my phone and my computer but I love and focus on a pocket calendar and pen and will probably never give that up. Here are some of my most used software and apps.

  1. Evernote: I use Evernote as a way to keep my digital note life organized. I use both the Mac desktop program and the Android app for my phone so that everything is accessible wherever I am. From “to watch” movie lists, work information, project files to writing project possibilities. It’s my digital pile of, but very organized, note lists.
  2. Ziplist: I love to cook and with this website (featuring a recipe clipper) and the Android app that goes with it I have a resource to collect recipes from the web and compile shopping lists. I use this constantly.
  3. Any.do: I could, and possibly should, keep my to do lists in Evernote but I am very much a list maker and so I wanted a clean, intuitive list making app that syncs between a webpage and an Android app on my phone. I keep things organized by work, home, writing, and photography and can view them either by folder or for the day. I particularly like the morning review that walks you through what you want to accomplish that day.
  4. Scrivener: Years ago I went through a hunt for the perfect writing tool and no matter how many times I venture off and try different things I always come back to this. For my short stories and the books I am working on, nothing beats this program for the writer.
  5. MacJournal: I’m an on again off again journal writer, I am happier when I journal consistently but I am also inherently lazy BUT for journaling platforms I love MacJournal. It’s ability to have multiple journals (aka a Journal, a Dream Journal, a Tarot Journal, and etc.), password protection both for the app itself and the individual journals, and its ability to sync to my blogs make it ideal.
  6. Songbook: I used Onsong for awhile and it’s a good program but it didn’t let me use it on my computer or my phone, with Songbook I can have it a full screen chord book for my computer, iPad OR Android phone and it syncs to my Dropbox so other people can share my chord files.
  7. MyFitnessPal: I’ve tried a lot of calorie counting apps but this one is the most intuitive. I never have an issue finding a food, love that I can just scan the UPC label, and it just makes keeping track of calories when I need to reign in my portion control simple and even enjoyable.
  8. Dropbox: This is almost just a necessity in today’s digital world. It functions as a hard drive in the sky and lets me backup a myriad of different applications. I use it for personal files that I want access to from anywhere as well as being an integral part of my workflow since I work from home and my work is based in New York.
  9. Lightroom: While this is more related to my work, I am going to put this in because I think it is amazing for hobbyists as well. I did the whole battle between Aperture and Lightroom years ago and Lightroom won, a decision I have never regretted. This piece of software is amazing both for editing and organizing photos. It also works seamlessly with Gimp, which is a freeware Photoshop dupe that is amazing and did I mention, free?

These are my main powerhouses though by all means not my only ones. Adobe InDesign is my main work program and there are a myriad of games that my computer could never be without but these are ones I can wholeheartedly recommend.


Sunset over the Water

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If you see the sunset, does it have to mean something? If you hear the birds singing does it have to have a message? ~Robert Wilson


Coming back

I always come back to Walking the Wall, I have had it in one form or another for as long as there have been blogs and before that as just a regular website so it’s home. There are all sorts of cool platforms out there but the truth is, this is where I am at home.

This year has been a hard one, I lost my son three months ago and coming to terms with all of that and moving forward into a future that doesn’t involve him is sad and in many ways terrifying. I pulled my camera off and dusted it off, I pulled out my writing programs and did the backstory and history on a novel I am starting, my guitar has kept me sane as usual, and I have read copious amounts during long sleepless nights… so we’ll just see where it all goes.

Most of my writing has been about grief of late and can be found on http://imperfectparadise.wordpress.com


An Uncarved Block

An Uncarved Block

I’m trying something new for a little bit. A little simpler. A little cleaner. A little more focused on straight images and writing.


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