Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge: Volume 3

Continuing with the third and final volume of reviews for my reading challenge this year:

( 21 )

The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron

So, at the end of October, I spontaneously decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, which is the National Novel Writing Month that usually happens in November.  Hence my decision to dive into this idea book that I just happened to already have on my Nook account, downloaded from who knows when, because I knew I'd want to try to get back into writing one day.  I'm planning to refer to this book throughout my writing process, since I have not seriously written in such a long time.

This book definitely has plenty of prompts to spark that writing flame.  I cannot deny that.  However, many of them don't apply to my specific situation, or I just can't remember enough, such as when the prompt suggests to write about something that happened at a specific point in your past.  Especially since the memories of my early 20s always tend to be a bit of a blur to my mind.  But the chapter that has resonated with me the most is Chapter 17: Minding Other People's Business.  It talks about paying attention to the world around you, and letting those simple observations spark ideas for writing, such as a conversation that you've overheard at an airport or in a restaurant.  I already do this, whenever I'm out in public, because of a writing teacher I had that advised us to use the things you hear people say, as a potential beginning to a story.

I  thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and it has so many helpful tips and tricks to overcome the struggles of the writing process.  I felt inspired throughout the journey of reading it, which is exactly what I needed to get out of it.  And now I feel like I'm better prepared to dive right into my writing again.

[...] at some point, we must put away the books and sit down to write. There are lessons to be learned about writing that only can be taught by writing. -pg 336

Read from October 26, 2017 to November 15, 2017

Saturday, November 04, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge: Volume 2

Continuing with the second volume of reviews for my reading challenge this year:

( 11 )

Promises in Death by J.D. Robb

📖 Reading prompt: a book by an author you love

I've always wanted to read a book by the pseudonym of one of my long-time favorite authors, Nora Roberts.  And I figure now's as good a time as any!  I picked this up randomly at Half-Price Books and I've had this book on my shelf for awhile.  Even though this is the 28th book in the In Death series, I can't wait to be introduced into the world of Eve Dallas for the first time.

For some reason, it actually took some time for me to get fully involved in this book.  Maybe it's the fact that it's so far into the series and there are a few blanks that I need to fill in, by reading the first book in the series.  But it's not so far that I can't understand the individual story.  After a quick wikipedia search, I found that the books are set in a futuristic setting of 2058, which explains the advancements in technology and some of the "inventions" that are referenced.  I figured most of them out myself, but it's nice to have confirmation of the items referenced, in any case.

One thing is prevalent in the book that I noticed: a lot of Eve's fellow cops are also female.  I feel like this was done on purpose, in trying to reverse the stereotypical nature of law enforcement officials.  I liked the subtle hints of romance thrown into this crime thriller as well, and I appreciated how it wasn't the main focus of the story.  Though the dynamic of Eve & Roarke's relationship is intriguing and makes me want to go back and read the beginning of the series to find out how exactly how they came to be who they are.  As for the actual story, I felt it was an exploration of the lives left behind and how you can find yourself not truly knowing everything about your partner until you have to examine every part of their life, in an attempt to catch their murderer.  It definitely yanked on my heartstrings a bit, in different ways for various characters.

Read from May 31, 2017 to July 17, 2017

Thursday, November 02, 2017


First off, this quaint little town square instantly reminded me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls!  It looks so similar and I felt like I was walking right along those same city streets, albeit slightly modernized (I think you had to be there in person to feel the full effect).  It is called Copperopolis and is located on State Rte 4.  We stopped here on the way up to Lake Alpine for a bathroom break and drinks, and decided to take some extra time to explore the square.  However, when we were there, the stores were closed, and only one restaurant was open, which is why I was able to capture so many shots without random people in them.

Anyway, getting right to the pictures:

Capturing the flags, proudly representing California, United States & Copperopolis.

The gazebo, located right smack in the middle of the square, with the buildings surrounding it.

One side of the square.

Another view, taken from outside of the gazebo.

And still another view!

Trying to keep up with the creative shots...

Looking back towards the Town Hall building, with the gazebo there on the left (out of the frame).

Jacques & I from inside the gazebo, in front of Town Hall.
And that's it!  Short but sweet, huh? ;)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

On Lake {Alpine} Time

So, last year, for my birthday, we took a belated celebratory trip up to Lake Alpine to explore the beautiful scenery.  It is near Bear Valley, which is a popular 'escape' town, up in the Central Sierra Mountains.  I say belated, because we had planned to do this closer to the weekend of my actual birthday, but since we ended up getting rear-ended on the day before, we ran into this unexpected delay.  Anyway, here are the photos from that excursion!

These first few photos were from the Hell's Kitchen Vista Point, where you can walk around and get some amazing views.  This area is really pretty when it's covered in snow also!!

Just trying to get a unique perspective among the scenery...

Obligatory couple "selfie"! =D

Such pretty views!  I actually have a similar shot of this area, but covered in snow, taken back in February 2010.

Practicing my macro skills with this interesting branch formation...

Panorama shot, with Jacques being silly.

Seriously, I could not get enough of this area!

Here's the start of the pictures at Lake Alpine, walking around the area.  This was very serene and peaceful!

Another peaceful shot of the lake in between the trees.

Catching some canoe-ers rowing down the lake!

I liked this view of that log lodged in with the water...

Can you find the pup in this shot?! :)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alcatraz, 53 years later...

The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was a maximum high-security federal prison on Alcatraz Island, 1.25 miles off the coast of San Francisco, California, which operated from August 11, 1934 until March 21, 1963.

The main prison building was built in 1910-1912 during its time as a United States Army military prison; Alcatraz had been the site of a citadel since the 1860s.  The United States Disciplinary Barracks, Pacific Branch on Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 12, 1933, and the island became a prison of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in August 1934 after the buildings were modernized to meet the requirements of a top-notch security prison.  Given this high security and the location of Alcatraz in the cold waters and strong currents of San Francisco Bay, the prison operators believed Alcatraz to be escape-proof and America's strongest prison.

Alcatraz was designed to hold prisoners who continuously caused trouble at other federal prisons.  One of the world's most notorious and best known prisons over the years, Alcatraz housed some 1,576 of America's most ruthless criminals, including Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the "Birdman of Alcatraz"), George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Bumpy Johnson, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Mickey Cohen, Arthur R. "Doc" Barker, and Alvin "Creepy" Karpis (who served more time at Alcatraz than any other inmate).

Above information courtesy of Wikipedia

So now that you know exactly what Alcatraz was, I'll share my photos from my two experiences visiting this incredibly interesting site.  Our first visit was with my dad back in February 2015 and most of the photos from this post are from that.  I didn't get nearly as many photos during our second visit, because of course, I'd already seen everything.

First off, I wanted to capture this old sign from the ferry, as we were approaching the island.

Still on the approach; that building in the back is the main prison and held all of the inmates.

One of the guard towers; these were manned 24 hours a day, with no exceptions.

Just a pretty view of a smaller dock located around the island.

Inside the old army barracks building, which eventually was converted into apartments for the families of the staff.

A view of some of the remaining area from the civilian part of the island, away from the prison.

A view of the trees, taken from the perspective of a small circular window inside the main prison building
In a prison of strict regimentation, the yard offered rare freedom of movement, association and choice.  Some inmates chose to play baseball or run laps.  Others simply walked to the top of the bleachers and looked out at what they were missing.
Recreation yard for the inmates.  That grassy area at the back was a makeshift baseball field.

Looking back at the main prison from the recreation yard.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge: Volume 1

So at the beginning of this year, I committed myself to a reading challenge on Goodreads, promising to read at least 30 books over the course of the year.  So, inspired by that, I'm going to post a compilation of these books and my personal reviews on them here.

{ I will be posting them in 3 separate 'volumes' with 10 books per post.  Any bonus books that I get through will have their own post as well. }

( 1 )

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I'd bought this book months before actually deciding to sit down and read it, from seeing the movie first.  I know books can provide so many more details and insights into the characters, so that's why I wanted to read it.  So here's what I thought:

First off, this is not a book for the faint-hearted reader.  It definitely has some truly disturbing and intense imagery and scenarios.  Having said that, the book is written in a way that leaves you itching to know what really happened on that fateful January night.  I saw the movie before reading the book, but it had been so long that I was still surprised by the ending, and of course, there are always many more details introduced from the book.  I also loved Ms. Flynn's way of describing emotions felt by Libby as an adult.

Read from December 5, 2016 to January 5, 2017


Monday, May 22, 2017

'Sac-of-Tomatoes' in Spring

Back in April 2016, my mom traveled out here to California for one of her semi-annual visits.  She had never been to the State Capitol building before, so we decided to use one of the days that she was here to take a drive up to Sacramento.

I love capturing the beauty of the surrounding area, so I didn't mind taking her up to the 'City of Trees' for a day trip, although I have to say that the drive up there is really boring!  I only wish we could have had time to visit the Old Sacramento Historic District.  Anyway, here are some of the shots that I took:

Full view of the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento.

Capturing the phrasing.  I forget which building this is, officially, but it was located to the side of the main Capitol building.

Again, the phrasing.  This was on the other side from the previous photo's building.

Just walking around and capturing the view!

Of course, I couldn't leave out the flora!

More of the scenery, just outside the Capitol Building.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Finding Fascination in Small Spaces

Back to the last day of February 2016, we randomly decided to visit this small community park in Clayton, California.  It was a nice little place to relax, have a family picnic, or enjoy a baseball/soccer game with your kids.  And the views of the hills were so pretty!  I tried to capture a small part of it in the following photos.

Starting out with this different perspective from the fence next to the road leading into the park.

Focusing on these little berries in the bushes...

I liked how this tree was all alone with the hills in the background.

There's just something about broken fencing that attracts my eye lately...

Remember those views of the hills that I was talking about earlier?! ;)

Catching the sun shining, with silhouetted hilltops and a tree!

And of course, I couldn't forget the flora! ♥

The view of the road leading down, back to civilization.

Me on the little mini-trail through the park, courtesy of Jacques.
That's all I've got for this park.  Short and sweet and to the point!  It was really a nice little community park.  If I'd grown up out here, I could see myself having played lots of soccer games or attended family reunions there.

Coming up next:

Another visit to the State Capitol building in Sacramento, and ALCATRAZ after that!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

♥ When Two Become One ♥

So... again, I'm going to have to briefly break the cycle of posting in order, because of a rather life-changing event that happened exactly a week ago.  I'm sure you can guess from the title of this post where I'm going with this... Jacques and I finally tied the knot, after nearly 8 years together!  And I couldn't resist not sharing the photos right now.  So here goes!

First off, I was not expecting to get much in the way of pictures, because Jacques hates getting his photo taken, and I was a bit self-conscious about me in a dress (I am so NOT a dress person!) but I have to say that I'm beyond happy with how they turned out.  My sister-in-law took over the photography and she did such an amazing job, and got more pictures than I could ever have imagined!

This might turn into a rather long post, so bear with me!  It's so difficult to narrow it down sometimes.  Starting off, here are the "pre-ceremony" shots:

In the midst of getting my hair done at the salon, courtesy of my sister-in-law who paid for the visit as a wedding gift!

Final result!  This is the best shot of the back of my hair.

Dad & I, when I was stuck in my room before going downstairs.  We kinda went picture-crazy...

Dad & I again, I love this capture!

My parents & I!

Mom & I <3 (still in my room)

My sister-in-law, Jennifer & I

Two of the amazing women who helped me through the planning process!! 

I was so in love with my bouquet and how it turned out! <3  SO. IN. LOVE.
(this capture was actually taken by me, still bored in my room upstairs before the ceremony started)

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