Monthly Archives: August 2018

Book Review – The Troubled Youth by Anthony Miner

When two people are forced to confront their past and their future all at once, how can they possibly handle it?  That’s what you’ll discover in The Troubled Youth by Anthony Miner.

From the Cover:  Jackson and Samantha live modestly in a small apartment in Upstate New York when tragedy strikes Jackson’s family back in his hometown of Lake Joy, Massachusetts. Now the couple, along with their two cats, pack up their lives to take care of the family he left behind years ago.
The Troubled Youth is a novel about the two of the most drastic parts of life; heartache and love. For Jackson, it follows his journey back to a place he long forgot with the added pressure of grieving over the loss of a loved one. And for Samantha, the story shows growth and pain of adjusting to a new life. As a couple, they will struggle and mature. But the more they seem to learn from each other, the more their past mistakes will come back to push them away.
Regular everyday life rarely offers a clear cut good and evil. There is just opinions mixed with choices. Read the story of this fiction and follow a realistic story of a young couple that make plenty of mistakes along their path to understanding the losses of loved ones and finding a life they never expected.

What I Loved:  There is a very real love between the two main characters that’s palpable throughout the book.  Despite all the problems they’re facing, it’s obvious just how much they care about each other and that their love is the central core of their entire being.

The Troubled Youth deals with the very real problems of adulthood.  While Jackson’s family tragedy is (hopefully) much more than most of us would ever have to deal with, it asks the questions:  What would we do if we had to make the toughest decisions in life?  Where do we draw the line when it comes to our loved ones?  Is there a line?

This book has a very distinct feel and tone to it that makes it incredibly real.  While the characters could have been sitting in any old kitchen, I immediately envisioned them as being in the house I grew up in.  That might not have been what the author intended, but it worked very well at keeping this a relatable story.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  While the flashbacks do a great job of revealing the character’s backgrounds, they tend to jump out and take the forefront of the story.  For example:

At the very beginning, when Jackson is getting some horrible news, we take a big side step into the other times the main character has cried in front of his fiancé.  It feels like such an awkward thing to do at that moment, especially when the author begins talking about the montage at the Hall of Presidents at Disney World.  He mentions a speech by President George W. Bush right after 9/11, and I immediately opened a new tab to look it up.  I had completely forgotten about this particular moment, and it was quite moving just as the main character had promised.  I’m not sure, though, that this was the right place to bring it up.  It makes this whole section very jumbled.

Also, this book could have been better edited.  There were quite a few awkward sentences, as well as some incomplete sentences, missing words, or misplaced commas.  Sometimes the wrong tense is used.  Some of this is more acceptable than it might be in a different piece due to the casual tone of the book, but I still found it distracting.

Rating and Recommendation:  While there were some editing issues, I think overall this is a really great story.  I don’t typically go for real-life dramas, but I’m happy that I read it.  There’s something different about it, and it truly made me feel as though I was going back home and having to deal with all the consequences that come along with that.  I give The Troubled Youth 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a cathartic and emotional read.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and giveaways!

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Pen Review: Parker Vector Fountain

I received this pen as part of the May iPenBox from the iPenstore.  While it took me a minute to get around to it, I’m pretty pleased!

The first thing I noticed is that there are very few skips, even on paper not meant for fountain pens.  It writes very smoothly, and I only noticed I was getting more skips when I was about to run out of ink.  Then all of a sudden, the ink was gone!  To add to this, the Vector picked right back up even after having left it for three days, and I didn’t have to scribble or coax it into restarting.  The nib is a nice shape and feels very solid.

The Vector is incredibly lightweight.  That’s not something I usually like in a pen, and the weight made me think I wouldn’t like this pen at all.  But since it writes so well, it kind of works.

I used this pen with the blue ink cartridge that came with it.  The cartridge held quite a bit of ink, but it wasn’t anything particularly special.  It was actually a bit watery.  It didn’t run or drip, but it didn’t make a nice bold mark on the page.  When I get around to trying this pen with a converter (which it doesn’t come with), then I think I’ll really enjoy it.

This pen is very slim.  That can be a great thing if you’re slipping it into a pocket or purse, but the willowy build and the straight grip can be a little tiring after a while.  I actually grabbed my Shaeffer POP ballpoint when I ran out of ink and needed to finish a thought.  I’m not the biggest fan of the POP just because it’s so fat, but it was a relief after an hour with the Vector.

Overall, I recommend the Vector if you want something that writes smoothly and without giving you trouble, but you don’t mind a skinny pen.  It’s an inexpensive pen in the $12-$15 range, and it’s available on the iPenStore.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and giveaways!

 

 

 

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Getting Past Writer’s Block

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to write, only to find that your brain doesn’t want to cooperate.  Your pen is hovering above the paper or your fingers above the keys, poised and ready to create, but nothing seems to be working.

We’re all familiar with writer’s block.  There is a lot of advice out there about how to get past it, but this is what has worked for me:

Writer’s Block

-Change how you put words on paper.  I know this sounds overly simplistic, but I find that it really helps.  I can type pretty darn fast, but that doesn’t do me any good when there’s nothing to write! That’s when I turn to writing by hand.  You could also get a new pen (always inspiring, I think), draw out the story, record your thoughts on a voice recorder, or even switch computers.

-Freewriting.  Oftentimes, we get stopped in our creative writing process by the worry of whether or not the outcome will be good enough.  We pick at ourselves about the arrangement of our words and what sort of emotions they’ll exude in the readers.  But freewriting is just as freeing as it sounds.  Write without the intent of ever showing anyone.  You can burn or erase your work later if you want to.  Just write whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with your story or article.  Sometimes, I even write questions and answers about the story as I go.

-Shower.  We all know the muse lives in the showerhead.  Besides, writers have a rep for being disheveled and a little dirty, so let’s use this tool to find our inspiration and dispel the rumor simultaneously.

-Quit trying.  What?  Just stop writing?  Well, yeah!  Obviously, you can only stop for so long or else you’ll never write again.  But a really bad case of writer’s block is sometimes best served by taking a step back.  Take a walk, go read a book, or wash the dishes.  After a little while, your characters just might start talking to you again!

-Schedule your writing time.  I read this little nugget of advice about five years ago. The idea is that your brain gets used to the time frame you start using the creative parts of it, and having a routine makes things a little easier.  In my own experience, this turned out to be true!  I always get my best work done in the morning.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Book Review: Bloodline Origins by Iuliana Foos

Vampires and aliens.  What more do you need?  How about some great romance, likable characters, and wonderful descriptions?  You get all that in Bloodline Origins by Iuliana Foos.  I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review, and I’m more than happy to give it.

Bloodline Origins by Iuliana Foos

From the Cover:  Determined to turn her fantasy into reality, Ana starts her journey to become a vampire. Along the way, she learns the truth about their secret society, discovers her prestigious bloodline, and falls in love.
Not all vampires are accepting of humans and war looms in the shadows. An ancient tome reveals the vampires’ alien descent and sparks war.
An army bent on eradicating her coven’s existence threatens her new world. Survival or annihilation will be in Ana’s hands.

What I Loved:  The book starts quickly, and we learn right away that Ana wants to be a vampire.  I was a little thrown by this at first because it felt too far-fetched, but the reasoning behind it is explained later on in the story.

Foos is very thorough in how the world works and what the “rules” are, such as how vampires behave, what their society is like, etc.  While some of this is reminiscent of other vampire books (and how could it not be?), it still seems to be its own unique alternate world:  “The human world has changed and not necessarily for good.  We have preserved our traditions, our beliefs, and yes, we do have rules–rules that kept us safe from humans.”

There’s a lot of great description that really makes the setting for this book.  As I read, I never forgot where the characters were at or what they were supposed to be doing.

Ana, the main female character, is a very realistic and relatable character.  The reader easily comes to know her past and her uncertainties, and she changes as the story progresses.

Andree, the main male character is strong and very appealing.  He’s a bit of a bad boy simply because he’s a vampire and he’s royalty, but he’s not a jerk.  He’s a very romantic character.

I love the romance between the two main characters.  It’s swift, but since the story give a “fated mate” vibe, it really works.

There are some really great twists, but I won’t tell you what they are!  It would spoil things too much.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Unfortunately, the book really needs some more editing.  There are a lot of misplaced commas and a few missing words.  The chapter breaks feel random, and even though there are scene breaks for changes of perspective, I think it could have been done better.  For instance, sometimes the story advances by two months, and it would be nice to see that as the start of a new chapter, perhaps even with the time frame noted.

Rating and Recommendation:  Since I pretty much couldn’t put this book down, I have to give it five stars!  What little fixes that are needed don’t detract from the story, and I can’t wait to read the next one.  If you love romance and fantasy, and you don’t mind a little bit of blood, then this is the book for you.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and giveaways!

 

 

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Pen Review: Sheaffer POP Ballpoint

As with many of my other pens, this one came from the iPen subscription box in May 2018.  The theme was purple, and this giant purple pen fit right in!

Sheaffer POP

With a comfortable grip and smooth tip, I thought at first this would be a pen I would truly enjoy.  Unfortunately, the barrel is just too big!  It makes my fingers sore after a while, and I feel like I climbed up a beanstalk and stole this pen from a giant’s desk.  While overall it’s a nice pen, it’s not one that I tend to reach for.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your work featured here?  Contact me.

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August Book Giveaway!

Everyone likes to win free books, right?  I know I do!  Just click here.

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