Book Review: Rhapsody (The Nightmusic Trilogy, #3) by Heather McKenzie

Rhapsody (The Nightmusic Trilogy, #3) by Heather McKenzie

A YA Novel published by Clean Teen Publishing (01/07/19)

Summary:

With Luke captured, Kaya has no choice but to save him. Kaya’s father, the evil Henry, has given her an ultimatum: her life for his. The clock is ticking and Kaya is all for rushing down to her former home, saving her beloved and sacrificing herself. Thomas, Lisa, and Seth are not as keen on Kaya’s plan. Nothing will stand in Kaya’s way. Not Thomas, who loves her as more than just a friend. Not Seth, who is more interested in keeping Kaya alive than in respecting her decision. But there’s more at stake than just her life and the best laid plans don’t always work.

Keywords:

Suspense, Romance, Love Triangle, Hate, Secrets, Mystery, Loyalty, Family, Hiding, Running, Escape, Heiress, Protection, Discovery, Past, Power, Corruption, Fight, Motivation, Money, Safe, Bargaining, Resources, Friendship, Destruction

My Review:

Rhapsody starts off right where Nocturne left off. Luke and Stephan are in custody (Henry’s custody). Kaya, with her group of friends is setting out to save Luke. Thomas and Seth won’t let her passion, anger, and emotion get the better of her. There is more at stake than Kaya’s life. I like how this book really drives home the bigger picture in the world McKenzie builds in this trilogy. Henry is up to no good and if Kaya goes back to him, it will be nothing but trouble for more than just her friends. He is evil on a much larger scale than Kaya ever thought. He is a real and true bad guy. I appreciated the fact that he is still Kaya’s father. Like in a real abusive relationship, especially one among family members, Kaya longs for the attention and love of her father. All she ever wanted was his love. If he had given her that when she was younger, would she consider him as evil as she does? Kaya has flashbacks to times when Henry could have shown his love and this illustrates all the more what a terrible person he is. It also breaks down any sort of connection Kaya might have had with her father.

I didn’t like this third and final book in the trilogy as much as the first and second books. Even though I read this book in a very short period of time and had a hard time putting it down, it felt like the entire book was a climax. There was so much tension and action that I was continually anxious for Kaya and an eventual happy ending.

Like with the first book and the second book, everyone falls in love with Kaya and her do-what-she-believes-in attitude. She wears her heart on her sleeve, will dig in her heels when she needs to, and will do anything to protect those she loves. Kaya is the heroine everyone wants to be and the woman all the men fall in love with. Even the women fall in love with her. I have to wonder how she manages to make enemies, but she does!

McKenzie is a phenomenal storyteller and has a seamless writing style. The story had a flow, as did the structure of the words on the pages. I would read books from a different genre from this author, if she were to leave young adult and write something completely different. I look forwarding to reading McKenzie’s next novel.

This novel will be published by Clean Teen Publishing on 01/07/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Heather McKenzie’s Website

Twitter

Goodreads

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2018: AMC A-List – the movies I saw and the ones I recommend

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2018 in theatres: $297.42… total value for movies watched = $839.45

“*” indicates a movie I particularly enjoyed and would recommend.

March: $10

  • A Wrinkle in Time (10)

April: $42.97

  • A Quiet Place (12.49)
  • I Feel Pretty (12.49)
  • Avengers (17.99)

May: $45.49

  • Black Panther (5)
  • Tully (5)
  • Overboard (23)
  • Deadpool 2 (12.49)

June: $55.76

  • Adrift (14.49)
  • The Incredibles 2 (12.49)
  • *Tag (12.49)
  • Jurassic World (16.49)
  • Uncle Drew (12.29)

July:  $110.32 value… paid $20.95

  • Ant Man and the Wasp (17.99)
  • Sicario (12.49)
  • Skyscraper (12.49)
  • *Sorry to Bother You (12.99)
  • Mamma Mia (12.49)
  • Purge 2 (12.59)
  • Equalizer II (11.29)
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout (17.99)

August: $92.93 value… paid $20.95

  • Darkest Minds (12.49)
  • The Meg (free showing)
  • Spy Who Dumped Me (12.49)
  • BlackKKlansmen (12.49)
  • Alpha (12.49)
  • AXL (12.49)
  • Crazy Rich Asians (17.99)
  • Happytime Murders (12.49)

September: $96.93 value… paid $20.95

  • *Searching (12.49)
  • Predator (17.99)
  • A Simple Favor (10.99)
  • White Boy Rick (12.49)
  • House with a Clock in the Walls (17.99)
  • Life Itself (12.49)
  • Fahrenheit 11/9 (12.49)

October: $117.12 value… paid $20.95

  • Smallfoot (10.19)
  • *A Star is Born (12.49)
  • Venom (18.99)
  • First Man (18.99)
  • Bad Times at El Royale (12.49)
  • Halloween (18.99)
  • The Hate U Give (12.49)
  • Goosebumps (12.49)

November: $125.92 value… paid $20.95

  • *Bohemian Rhapsody (18.99)
  • Nutcracker (12.49)
  • The Grinch(18.99)
  • Overlord (12.49)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Crimes of Grindelwald (18.99)
  • *Creed II (12.49)
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet (18.99)
  • Widows (12.49)

December:  $142.01 value… paid $38.45

  • *Spider Man into the Spider-verse (free showing)
  • *Green Book (12.49)
  • Schindler’s List (18.99)
  • Robin Hood (12.49)
  • Once Upon a Deadpool (12.59)
  • Mortal Engines (12.49)
  • They Never Grow Old (17.50)
  • Bumblebee (12.49)
  • Aquaman (17.99)
  • The Mule (12.49)
  • Vice (12.49)

2018 Reading Challenge Books in Review and Recommended Reads

2015 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2016 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2017 Reading Challenge Blog Post

I spent $41.41 on kindle books this year

My favorite books I read this year:

• Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis
• Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
• Memed, My Hawk (İnce Memed, #1) by Yaşar Kemal
• Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher
• Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
• Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
• Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
• The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
• The Power by Naomi Alderman
• The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
• Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
• Artemis by Andy Weir
• Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
• Geekerella by Ahsley Poston
• La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

My favorite Indie books that I read this year:

1. A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Laurie Boris
2. Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves
3. Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves
4. Under Ordshaw by Phil Williams
5. What Happens at by Cathy Yardley
6. Aftan Whispers by Phil Williams
7. Nocturne by Heather McKenzie

The books I read this year:

Goals and Accomplishments from 2018 and Future Goals for 2019

Goals list of 2014
Goals list of 2015
Goals list of 2016
Goals list of 2017

Goals list of 2018:

Writing:

  • Finish one novel writing project – I stopped writing this year and haven’t finished any other writing-related projects.
  • Plan and execute my children’s picture book I’ve put on hold for years – Again, haven’t worked on any writing-related projects
  • Submit to the PNWA contest – I did and I won second place in the short story contest!
  • Send Flora’s Last Chance for Magic to 20 publishers/agents/editors – I didn’t do this, but I did send it to one agent I know
  • Create Rachel’s guide to donuts in and around Seattle – haha not

Physical:

  • Handspring to Ayesha – I can do this with a spot
  • Create a demo reel – never got around to this
  • Learn a breakdance party move – I still want to do this!
  • Level up inversions at Divine – I never went consistently enough for this to happen

2019 Goals!!!

Describe yourself in 3 words: Driven, Efficient, Restless

Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Calm, Accomplished, Considerate

Theme for 2019: Minimize

 

2019 Goals:

  1. Nail the Divine intermediate inversions combo
  2. Learn hand balancing moves (specifically a hand stand)
  3. Take more acro yoga classes
  4. Learn to make fluffy gluten free bread
  5. Finish my scrapbook
  6. Finish my health book through 2018
  7. Management/Kanban training
  8. Learn massage techniques
  9. Dog sit/walk a corgi
  10. Goat/cat yoga
  11. Volunteer at Thrill the World and perform for the 5th year!
  12. Learn Turkish (get through the 12 modules on my Rosetta Stone app)

 

Travel Dreams:

  1. Corgi Con
  2. Pole expo
  3. Blind Café
  4. Herb Farm or a Michelin-starred restaurant

2018 Physical Activity – Dance/Tennis/Acro/Fitness

2017 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2016 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2015 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

How do you work out?

Pole Dancing Highlights for 2018
2. I took 92 classes total
3. I spent $1465.74 total
4. I spent 144.5 hours in class
5. I worked with 12 different instructors

Lifetime money spent (just for pole classes): $6348.55
2014 – $90
2015 – $422.21
2016 – $1777
2017 – $2594
2018 – $1465.74

Lifetime total pole classes: 365
2014 – 6
2015 – 19
2016 – 109
2017 – 139
2018 – 92

Total time spent poling: 592
2014 – 10.5 hours
2015 – 37.5 hours
2016 – 173.5 hours
2017 – 226 hours
2018 – 144.5 hours

Class Breakdown at different studios for 2018
Divine – 21/92 = 23%
Spinderella – 53/92 = 58%
P3 – 18/92 = 19%

Class Type breakdowns for 2018
Intermediate Inversions = 13
Intermediate/Advanced Spins = 6
Level 3-1 = 35
Level 2-2 = 1
“Intermediate” classes = 8
Open level drop ins = 11
Other = (pole power hour, Open choreography session) = 1
Level 3-2 = 12
Ayesha workshops = 4
Boudoir Classes = 1

In other fitness accomplishments (53.75 hours):
1. I did 3 acro yoga classes and one at home yoga class (8 hours total)
2. I went to 2 Thriller refresher classes before the Flashmob dance at Thrill the World (2 hours)
3. I went to only 4 volleyball drop ins (8 hours)
4. I took a golf lesson with my SO (45 minutes)
5. I went to 6 different 24-hour fitness classes with my SO (5 hours)
6. I spent 7 hours in the pool doing aqua classes and laps with my SO (7 hours)
7. I started playing tennis and went to the park to play 18 times with my SO (18 hours)
8. I played basketball – shooting hoops – once with my SO (2 hours)
9. I went on two scenic hikes with my SO (3 hours)

 

My favorite fitness photos:

 

Book Review: Ms. Behave (Fandom Hearts #4.5) by Cathy Yardley

Ms. Behave (Fandom Hearts #4.5) by Cathy Yardley

A Romantic Comedy published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (09/30/18)

Summary:

After years of being away, Simon is back in his hometown of Snoqualmie while working on the hit TV show Mystics. 12 years is a long time, but some things don’t change. Simon’s best friend, Mallory, never left Snoqualmie. They were friends in school and are friends still, but is there something more growing between them?

Keywords:

Actor, Snoqualmie, Issaquah, Bookstore, Fans, Romance, Family, Loyalty, Sex, TV Actor

My Review:

This was a fun quick read. As always, Yardley’s writing style and story pull you in and you can easily finish this short book in a day.

I loved both Simon and Mallory. Simon is quiet and keeps to himself, even though he is an actor on television. Mallory was never understood growing up and even now is sometimes thought of as an outsider. She is accepted for who she is among her small group of geeky bookstore friends, but not everyone can accept that she’s bisexual. Simon always thought she didn’t like him growing up because she was only into women, but after finding out the truth, he won’t know what to do. I wanted to sock him over the head for being so dense when he found out Mallory was bisexual, since he can only think of himself in the moment, but eventually his winning nature shines through.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 09/30/18 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

Rachel’s Favorite Recipes throughout 2018

2016 Favorite Recipes

2017 Favorite Recipes

My health and my work influenced the new recipes I tried this past year. I went from working two part time jobs to working both a full time job and a part time job to finally working a full time job from home. I also had a lot of gut healing going on in 2018 and for half the year was on a strict LEAP diet. According to Emily Fonnesbeck, RD Nutrition Therapist, “The Lifestyle Eating and Performance (LEAP) program is a diet for those suffering from delayed food and food chemical sensitivities. These sensitivities can result in an immune system reaction with the release of mediators which cause pain and inflammation in the body.” I was not eating the following foods strictly for 3 months and then reducing my intake of the yellows and continuing to avoid the reds: Coffee, Salmon,  Sweet Potato, Onion, Cherry, Cocoa (Reds). Chicken, Turkey, Pinto Bean, Soybean, MSG, Cottage Cheese, Cow’s Milk, Whey, Maple, Sesame, Clam, Tuna, Wheat, Amaranth, Honeydew Melon, Banana (Yellows).

These are the recipes I have liked and used more than once:

  1. Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
  2. Gluten Free Bread
  3. Pistachio Macarons
  4. Black Bean Brownies
  5. Banana Muffins
  6. Meringue Cookies

Continue reading

Book Review: Electric Grids (Electric World Book 2) by M. Black

Electric Grids (Electric World Book 2) by M. Black

A Sicence Fiction/Cyberpunk Novel published (04/25/18)

Summary:

After finally escaping the Electric Gardens, Lexi and her friends find a post-apocalyptic world on the outside of the Tins’ compound. They don’t have time to stop and admire the wasteland because they are being pursued by the Tins. With a Tin of their own, they have a destination in mind, to find the other enlightened Tins and band together.

Keywords:

Science Fiction, Robotics, Apocalypse, Technology, Dystopian, Teenagers, Strict, Escape, Rules, Secrets, Control, Power, Powerless, Desperation, Friendship

My Review:

Electric Grids jumps in right where Electric Gardens left off and pulls the reader immediately back into the sci-fi universe Black has created.

The idea behind the story was solid and intriguing. The concept of robots taking over the world is not new, but the details in Electric Grids come from fresh sci-fi eyes.

A lot of details are left out or glossed over and the writing style does a lot of telling versus showing. For instance, the birth of baby Seth happens nearly instantaneously and without sensory details one would expect with the birth of a baby in the middle of nowhere with limited medical supplies and no doctor.

This novel was published on 04/25/2018.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Amazon

Book Review: Tar by Taylor Hohulin

Tar by Taylor Hohulin

A Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (11/27/18)

Summary:

For as long as Brendan has been alive, there has been tar in the world. Tar infiltrated the world as an infection that took over the bodies of people who got too close to it. Tar attacks the body by hollowing out the insides and replacing blood with blight. There is no cure. Brendan has managed to survive as a salvager, trading his finds for a fitful night of rest in one of the converted hotels that offer safe shelter. The only protection from tar is to stay away from it and those infected, but as easy hauls dwindle in Brendan’s town of Newhaven he must venture to new places and take more risks. Brendan has never known a world without tar and he has become very good at avoiding it, until one day when another gang of salvagers bumps into him. That same day, Brendan runs into another stranger who believes that Brendan is the key to ridding the world of every last speck of tar. If Brendan believes this stranger and goes with him on this quest, would he be better off without a world of tar?

Keywords:

Cyberpunk, Evil, Tar, Post-Apocalyptic, Survival, Mistrust, City, Infection, Distance, Monsters, Avoidance, Salvage, Shelter, Ruin, Power

My Review:

Every book I’ve read by Taylor Hohulin is better than the last. The writing style sucks you into the first page. Being thrust into the middle of an action sequence keeps you reading past the first page. The world Hohulin has built keeps you reading through to the end of the first chapter. By then you are hooked and you haven’t even gotten to the good part yet.

The three main characters were fully developed and had such distinct personalities and backstories. They all felt so alive and real. Brendan does everything he can to stay alive down to the careful skepticism of every stranger, acquaintance and even friend. He doesn’t let down his guard. Almost all his actions are propelled by his strong will to survive. He is one of the most selfish people you will read about. Hohulin cleverly builds Brendan’s character throughout the book, showing us just how far he will go to survive and then puts Brendan into a position where he will have to make a difficult choice. Is there an alternative? Can Brendan make this kind of decision? As a reader, I was so hopelessly obsessed with Brendan and the way he approached the apocalyptic world he lives in, that I finished this book in less than two days.

I loved Krystal! She was the empathetic do-gooder who was easily taken advantage of, always looking for the good in people. And yet, years and years after the apocalypse, she still survives. She is the opposite of Brendan in so many ways and yet they are friends. She is smart and tech-savvy but also the voice of reason and humanity for Brendan. Will she be able to influence him enough that he can set aside his own will to survive and help others or will he finally prove to her that the world is a terrible place?

What is tar? It is more than a simple alien substance. It creates the worst monsters out of people. It is a substance that zombifies its host, but also sticks to inanimate objects, waiting for any victim to walk too close.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 11/27/18 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Taylor Hohulin’s Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Book Review: Winds of the Forest (Forestborn Book 1) by Dele Daniel

Winds of the Forest (Forestborn Book 1) by Dele Daniel

A Dystopian Novel published through Amazon Digital Services LLC (12/26/17)

Summary:

Genesis Romunda is from the Arnazuri tribe in the post-apocalyptic West-African kingdom of Navia. She is an elite hunter like others in her community, but her tribe is considered the lowest of the four tribes in Navia. Historically, Arnazuri have always been subservient to the other tribes, providing meat for the others and only getting scraps in return. Some in Genesis’s tribe believe that this is an inequality that should not exist and start a rebellion. Genesis believes that a rebellion will only lead to trouble and death. To Genesis, young at 17, if the Arnazuri have always been a lower caste of society, then that is the way of things. But the rebellion brings about many changes, not just a negative response from the tribes in power but also a progressive response. Genesis is chosen as one of the first females and the only Arnazuri in history to go to an elite school for gifted children. Genesis has mixed feelings about being chosen to go to this elite school and leave her tribe in turmoil behind, but in her new home and new school she will discover that not everything she believed is true.

Keywords:

Surviving, Forest, Tribe, Power Imbalance, Politics, Power, Hunting, Death, Murder, Rebellion, University, Chosen, Gender Inequality, Racial Inequality, Romance, Escape, Prophecy, History, West African Kingdom, Status Quo, Role, Government, Roommates, Rules, Curfew

My Review:

Like many post-apocalyptic novels, the remaining humanity is forced to live in a small portion of what’s habitable of earth. One of the first reasons I took to this novel was due to its setting. It’s not North America, nor is it a common setting for most books I read. This book was set in a modern day West Africa. Already off to a good start, the book showed me a more diverse post-apocalyptic culture than most dystopian fiction.

I was conflicted about Genesis. At times I liked her, and at other times I didn’t. In the beginning of the novel she is very attached to her sense of the world, her opinions, and her beliefs which I absolutely love. She is a protagonist who can influence her immediate environment, even in a tribe that is considered less valuable and less smart than the other tribes. There doesn’t seem to be any gender inequality in her tribe. She can hunt like her male friend Remington and she can fight him on equal footing. When Genesis’s world is put into chaos and she is told that she is going to Promenade, the elite school outside of her own community, I was elated. Now we get to see her among the peers even she considers better than herself. Perhaps we will be shown that her beliefs are wrong, that the world’s beliefs are wrong, and everything will change. But this is not so. Genesis, as an Arnazuri, lives in a third world setting compared to the other tribes and has no realistic hope of being their equals in knowledge and experience. She also doesn’t show a great capacity to learn (is never shown excelling in classes) and is even duped by those around her. She is like a passenger in her own story. Not only that, but there is also an element of gender inequality and discrimination outside of Arnazuri that I didn’t think was necessary and made me frustrated.

This book’s plot was inconsistent and some of the plot points felt incongruous with the rest of the writing. For example, Genesis gets caught out after curfew and this creates a conflict that pulls the plot along. This part never felt genuine and also showed Genesis to be air headed and sloppy. Because the book felt like it lacked an outline and the writing style itself was a bit clunky, it took me weeks to finish. I did want to finish and find out what happened as the author had created enough intrigue with his clever use of Jason’s inner knowledge (I won’t say of what because it would be a spoiler).

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services LLC on 12/26/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Twitter

Goodreads