Sunday, May 12, 2019

Nora Roberts’ “The Liar” Book Review

Nora Roberts "The Liar" Book Cover - Source: Amazon
Nora Roberts “The Liar” Book Cover

I’m a huge fan of Nora Roberts’ writing and have read most of her books (including her “In Death” series under her J.D. Robb nom de plume). I had purchased the audiobook of her 2015 romantic suspense novel “The Liar” as soon as it came out, but somehow it got lost in the shuffle in my Audible library. Coming across it again recently – and finally getting to listen to it with my husband – was a treat!

The things we enjoyed most about this book are that it's:
  • Authentic. One of the things we’ve always loved about Nora Roberts’ writing is her thorough research. This makes her characters and locations very believable, so it’s easy to be transported into the world she creates for each of her stories.
  • Detailed. Roberts’ characters, for the most part, are fully formed. She provides enough detail and history and weaves in enough backstory to make us feel as if we know each character personally. We feel like they have lives beyond just what’s in the story.
  • Well-paced. One of the hallmarks of Roberts’ writing is her excellent pacing. She doesn’t rush through the telling, but she also never lets the story drag. She doesn’t use adjectives for their own sake, like many other authors. Her descriptions are all well thought out and help move the story forward.
  • Dialogue-driven. Roberts is an acknowledged master of dialogue. Like all her books, “The Liar” is told largely through conversations. I’ve always appreciated her very sparing use of speech tags (e.g., “he said,” “she asked,” “they exclaimed”). She gives every character a distinctive, recognizable speech pattern, so readers can easily identify who’s saying what without naming the speakers every time. For example, Viola speaks straightforwardly and with authority, but also with the slightly formal, slightly flowery language of a proper Southern lady when she’s addressing someone outside the family; whereas Forrest, a cop to the core, speaks tersely and uses adjectives sparingly.
There were a couple of things that felt a bit off. Melody’s character seems a bit forced. She’s surprisingly one-dimensional for a Roberts character. She never shows even a hint of remorse and it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her. Also, my husband thinks Griff seems too good to be true. He always has time for Shelby and Callie. He always does the right thing. He doesn’t make even a single misstep. In a true romance, we need to follow the lines of both characters. But although Griff is the romantic foil, this is Shelby’s story, and in some ways he’s a supporting player. We never learn much about his backstory or any of his previous relationships. Fortunately, neither of those issues prevented us from thoroughly enjoying this book.

Although I also own the Kindle version, I much prefer the unabridged audiobook of “The Liar”. Narrator January LaVoy does a fabulous job of giving both the male and female characters distinctive voices. In many audiobooks, it can be hard to tell which character is speaking without speech tags, but that was never a problem with this one. LaVoy also makes the men sound like men and the women like women – a skill narrators often lack. Even more impressive is her totally believable voicing of three-year-old Callie. Her excellent narration brings an added dimension to the storytelling. This audiobook will keep you happily engrossed for 16 hours, 31 minutes.

Main Characters in “The Liar” Include:

Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth – a young wife and mother who grew up in rural Tennessee; former Homecoming Queen

Richard Foxworth – Shelby’s snobby, cold, jet-setting husband

Callie Rose Foxworth – Shelby and Richard’s three-year-old daughter

Viola MacNee Donahue – Shelby’s vivacious, ambitious, straight-shooting and wise grandmother, owner of Viola’s Harmony House Salon and Day Spa

Forrest Jackson Pomeroy – local cop and Shelby’s big brother

Ada Mae Pomeroy – Shelby’s mom

Emma Kate Addison – nurse and Shelby’s best friend

Matt Baker – Emma Kate’s boyfriend and partner in The Fix-It Guys

Griff Lott – Matt’s partner in The Fix-It Guys; originally from Baltimore

Melody Bunker – Shelby’s main nemesis in high school; second runner-up in the Miss Tennessee pageant; manager of the Artful Ridge artisan craft gallery

“The Liar” Synopsis

This novel is broken into three sections: The False, The Roots and The Real.

The False
Pretty redhead Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth learns that her husband, Richard, is missing and presumed dead. Richard Foxworth was everything Shelby wasn’t – urbane, suave, worldly, wealthy, sophisticated and well-traveled. He quickly swept her off her feet and into an unfamiliar world of glamorous jet-setting and an expensive lifestyle. When she met Richard, he had been attentive and flattering, but that didn’t last long. After their daughter Callie was born, he became increasingly insulting to Shelby and had little time and even less affection for their sweet, pretty, vivacious daughter.

Shelby discovers that everything she thought she knew about Richard was false. The man she had married, the father of her darling Callie, had been not only a liar but also a successful con man. Shelby had never suspected that Richard hadn’t purchased the fancy house in Philadelphia, elegant clothes and all the other trappings of their wealthy lifestyle outright. And he had racked up $3 million in debts that now fell squarely on Shelby’s slender shoulders. 

The Roots
Shelby sells all of Richard’s belongings and most of her own, as well as the huge, fancy house he had purchased (without consulting her) and the expensive custom furnishings she had always hated. Then she takes Callie back to Rendezvous Ridge, Tennessee, Shelby’s beloved hometown, determined to raise her daughter surrounded by three generations of Shelby’s close-knit, loving and supportive family.

Shelby moves back into her parents’ home and starts to build a new life for herself and Callie. She makes up with her best friend, Emma Kate, who has been angry at Shelby ever since she had taken off with Richard and seemingly ignored her family and friends back home. Emma Kate’s boyfriend and his business partner, Griffin Lott, have a fledgling construction and remodeling business. Griff falls hard for Shelby and Callie. He quickly wins Callie’s heart, but Shelby is reluctant to put her own on the line again or risk Callie’s getting hurt. 

As this section progresses, Shelby, Callie and Griff find themselves increasingly in danger. Shelby’s policeman brother Forrest tries to protect them while he figures out and tracks down who is responsible for murder, both attempted and successful. Things comes to a frightening head.

The Real
The last section consists of the final chapter and an epilogue. Telling you anything about them would be a major spoiler, so you’ll just have to read “The Liar” to find out what happens. It’s a worthwhile ride!



“The Liar” book reviewed by:
Margaret Schindel




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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Book Review of Straight – A Horse Racing Mystery

Collage created on Fotojet
by Dick Francis

I have been a fan of the books by Dick Francis since the 1970s. I own them all and now am collecting them for my daughter, who has also become a huge fan. 

The Dick Francis books revolve around horse racing in England.  Most of the books are  stand-alone stories (not continuing), although there are 3 short sets of continuing characters among the Francis collection.  The main character and narrator of each story is somehow associated with horse racing. He may be a jockey, a trainer, a racehorse owner, or someone in another profession somehow linked to racing. 

I love each and every one of the 40+ books Dick Francis wrote and re-read them frequently. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to name a favorite.  

That said, I would like to review for you now one I just finished re-reading that is among those of my top favorites of the Francis collection ~ entitled Straight. As with all of the stories, it deals with crime in the horse racing world. 


Synopsis of Straight


Available on Amazon
Straight, published in 1989, features a steeplechase jockey, Derek Franklin, as the main character and narrator of the story. While recovering from an injury, Derek receives news that his older brother, Greville, has died in an accident. Greville was a successful gemstone importer in London. He did not import diamonds, but recently did so for one specific customer who creates beautiful pieces studded with gems. Therein lies the problem. Derek has no idea where the 100 diamonds are, due to his brother's need for secrecy, and it soon becomes apparent that unscrupulous others are also looking for them. The bank holds a loan of $1.5 million dollars for the diamonds and the gemstone business Derek has inherited and is now trying to run is in jeopardy if the diamonds cannot be found.  Danger suddenly surrounds Derek on all fronts and his only hope of survival is to identify the enemy. 



Derek says: “I inherited my brother's desk, his business, his gadgets, his enemies, his horses and his mistress.  I inherited my brother's life, and it nearly killed me.”


Author Dick Francis


(c) Wednesday Elf
Dick Francis was a pilot with the RAF (Royal Air Force) during World War II and after the war became a highly successful professional jockey. In fact, he was a jockey for The Queen Mother's (Queen Elizabeth) horse, the story of which is outlined in “The Sport of Queens”, an autobiography published in 1957. 

After retiring from racing as a jockey, Francis worked as a racing correspondent for a newspaper, and also began to write his horse racing mystery stories. A nearly unknown fact is that his wife, Mary, was his researcher and a major contributor to his stories. In fact, during the many and varied  subjects she researched, Mary became a pilot (3 novels feature a pilot) and a photographer for a book about a race course photographer. 


Dick Francis with son Felix Francis
Near the end of his writing career, and after Mary's death in 2000, his son, Felix, became his writing partner. 

Dick Francis was born on Halloween in 1910 and died on Valentine's Day in 2010 at age 89. His son, Felix Francis has continued writing the Dick Francis Mysteries ever since. I am delighted that my favorite series of books continues to this day. The subject matter is still about horse racing, mainly in England, and involves a mystery to be solved. Felix's writing style is very similar to that of his dad and just as enjoyable to read. 


Summary



My Dick Francis Book Collection
(c) Wednesday Elf

I highly recommend Straight, or any of the other Dick Francis and Felix Francis horse racing mysteries. You don't even have to like horses or be a fan of racing to enjoy these stories, as the writing is superb, the characters interesting, and the stories fascinating. 















(c) Wednesday Elf - 5/11/2019




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Friday, May 10, 2019

Captain Marvel Movie Review

Avengers:  Back to the Beginning!

Captain Marvel Movie Review
Captain Marvel is finally here!  Stepping back into the past, we are introduced to one of the first superheroes of the Marvel Comics.  

In fact, in the movie, the name Avengers was chosen by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) when he saw Captain Marvel's nickname, Avenger, on the side of her US fighter jet.  

After encountering Captain Marvel, Fury decided earth needed to seek out a team of superheroes for protection in the future since wars would be shifting from earthly wars to galactic wars.  It was obvious to Fury that humans wouldn't stand a chance if not better prepared for the inevitable invasions.  Earth wouldn't even recognize the enemy before it was too late. 

Marvel Comic purists may not appreciate this adaptation of Captain Marvel, but it certainly plays well with theater audiences.  I heard several loud cheers throughout the movie.  At the end, I overheard multiple comments about how awesome the movie is and how much they really enjoyed this movie.  


Captain Marvel Movie Synopsis


As a child, Carol Danvers learned by experience that she was going to have to prove herself through endurance, hard work, and by always getting back up to try again when she fails.  Those life lessons served her well as she transitioned from mere human to superhero.

 Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel (Plus Bonus Content)As a female Air Force jet pilot in the '90s, Carol was not readily accepted by the male pilots.  She found her place of acceptance and opportunity to excel when she started working with Dr. Wendy Lawson (actually Captain Mar-vell, a Kree rogue agent who sided with earth).  Carol was completely unaware of Dr. Lawson's real identity or race, but she held her in highest esteem.  

Dr. Lawson was working with the Tesseract (container of the Space Infinity Stone) to harness it's power for  hyperspace capabilities.  Once it became necessary to make the first hyperspace flight, Carol volunteers to pilot the mission.  Unfortunately, the plane had to be crash landed.  Both Dr. Lawson and Carol survived the landing, but both did not survive the resulting encounter with the Kree, Yon-Rogg.  Carol was infused with the Space Stone's energy when the plane exploded.  She was now a valuable "tool".

Carol was taken into Kree custody, her memory was erased, and she was trained in contact combat by Yon-Rogg.  All seemed well to Vers (Carol's Kree name) until her human life invaded her Kree life, forcing her to find her real identity and place in the universe.



Other Interesting Notes about the Movie, Captain Marvel


It was pretty cool to see a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), working as a SHIELD agent.  We even find out how he lost one eye and how he started working with superheroes.

Also, be sure to keep a close eye on Goose, the cat.  He isn't what he appears to be. 


FOR A LIST OF AVENGER MOVIES AND THE RECOMMENDED WATCH ORDER, CLICK HERE!

 

MORE MARVEL MOVIE REVIEWS

Avengers: Endgame movie has been long awaited, and greatly anticipated by Marvel fans. It does not disappoint. The Avengers: Endgame provides fans with opportunities to laugh, cheer out loud & a few unexpected moments that reduced us to tears. Prepare for more of the unexpected!


Marvel fans love Avengers: Infinity War!  All of our favorite Avengers, plus the Guardians of the Galaxy join the battle to save the world from evil domination and genocide by Thanos. Expect some very shocking and even upsetting deaths in this movie. Real Marvel fans will need Kleenex!


The movie Doctor Strange is based on the Marvel comics character. A fabulous fantasy fiction movie that is quite accurate with the depiction.



Guardians of the Galaxy is a truly fabulous Marvel movie that I would recommend for anyone! The movie is a mix of sci-fi, great animation, engaging stories, & witty dialog.



Ant-Man Movie ReviewAnt-Man Movie Review
Dr. Pym (Ant-Man suit inventor) & his daughter, Hope, train Scott Lang to work with ants and to become Ant-Man in preparation to "defeat" Darren Cross and his Yellowjacket invention.



Ant-Man & The Wasp Movie ReviewAnt-Man & The Wasp Movie Review
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym), and Evangeline Lilly (The Wasp / Dr. Pym's daughter), join together in battle. However, this time it is against a very unexpected mysterious foe, while also having to elude the FBI.



The movie Iron Man sets the foundation for all of the following Avengers movies. Every Marvel fan, old or young, needs to see the movie Iron Man.





House of Sylvestermouse



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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Review of Photographing the St. Louis Arch at Night



I have photographed the St. Louis Arch at sunrise, in the morning and during the day but I had never photographed it at sunset and beyond.  When our photography club decided to take a trip across the Mississippi and photograph the Arch from a park on the east side of the river I was ready to go.  I wasn't sure what I was expecting but when we got there I saw this platform that provided a great overlook to photograph the Arch and the riverfront.

The photos below show the ramp and members of our group lined up at the top of the platform eagerly awaiting the sun to set.





Tips for Nighttime Photography


  • Use a tripod...this will help eliminate camera shake in the low light.  This is particularly important once the sun has set.
  • Don't put the horizon in the middle of the photo.  Try getting it somewhere in the bottom third of the photo.
  • Shoot in aperture priority when the sun is still up and switch to manual once the sun sets.
  • Stay longer ( check next paragraph for reason why).
  • Try changing white balance to shade setting for more stunning colors.
  •  Wait for night clouds.  A partly cloudy sky is the best for sunsets.
  • Watch for birds.  They can add interest to the photo.
Sunset in St. Louis
Search tips for night photography online and you will find a wealth of information.  The tips above are a few that I thought were particularly good.


Staying after Sunset

When I am photographing in the evening, I see many photographers wait till sunset, take their photos, and then pack up and leave.  If they do they will miss the beauty of the special lighting that often happens 20-30 minutes after sunset.  

Right after sunset you will see some really pretty colors in the sky.  
You will note in this photo, taken about 5 minutes after sunset that the sky has some pretty pinks and yellow's to it.  On some evenings this can be even more pronounced, but I still think it was pretty in the photo above.

If you wait till all the colors have gone in the sky, you will then get to the "Blue Hour" where the sky turns a beautiful dark blue.  Many people miss this because they are in too big a hurry to wait.  It is definitely their loss.  I have seen times where there is only a slight darkening of the blue and other times where it is a fantastic deep blue.  It is worth waiting to see what the evening will bring.

In the case of the arch taken from the east, I also wanted to wait till all the lights were on in the buildings around the arch.  The arch is usually lit up but at this time of year those lights were turned off so they didn't interfere with the migration of birds.  Although I would have liked to see the lights on the arch, I will have to save that for another trip and I do believe it made the other lights on the city appear even brighter.  This photo was taken 25  minutes after sunset.

See More on the St. Louis Arch

Here is a Review This post on the Arch showing photography at sunrise and during the daytime.

St. Louis Arch on Zazzle

I have made several of my Arch photos into Zazzle products.  Here are a few and you may find more in my zazzle store at Mbgphoto on Zazzle




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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

What is the Medium Partner Program?

Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?
Image by PixLoger from Pixabay, edited on PicMonkey


I joined the Medium blogging platform in 2016, before the beginning of the Medium Partner Program (MPP.) A blogging friend had said the platform was a good place to have a presence. I discovered it was a good place to keep some of my posts from sites that had died until I could post them elsewhere. So in 2016 old posts I'd republished were all I had on Medium, and only a few of them. I didn't post anything else because at the time there was no way for someone like me to earn money at Medium.

In February 2019, my HubPages friend Glenn Stok told me about the Medium Partner Program that now provides an opportunity for writers like me to earn money. But there's a catch.

It takes money to have that opportunity. One must pay $5.00 a month or $50 a year to join the Medium Partner Program. That link provides all the program details and everything else you need to know in order to join the MPP. Only you, though, can decide whether it's worth the money to get this opportunity.

Should You Join the Medium Partner Program?


I asked Glenn, "Is it worth the money to become a MPP member?" His answer convinced me to give it a try. No one gets any affiliate commission by recruiting members, so he had no reason to exaggerate his results and I don't think he would anyway. He wrote a comprehensive article on Medium and the Partner program so I see no reason to try to rehash it here. He did an excellent job. Here's the link to Glenn's article: How to Make Money Writing Articles Without Ads on Medium. I prefer to tell you my own opinions based on my results and the other opinions I found was I was surfing the web.

My Experience as a Medium Partner Program Member


February 2019


I joined the Medium Partner Program on February 5, 2019. At the time I had nine posts there left over from 2016. I put five of them behind the paywall. The other four did not meet the content guidelines for the program. The pay period ended on February 24, so my work was only behind the paywall for 19 days in February.

Here is a chart of my first payday on February 27, and the money did go into my account on time. Post titles are on left. Earnings for each post are on right. Red letters are for posts removed from dead or non-paying sites. Green letters show posts I removed from HubPages, revised, and reposted on Medium. Blue letters show the name of Medium publication where a post was accepted and now appears. You can see that not all my old posts made money, but some did. Articles published on Friday-Sunday of a week often don't start getting views counted until the next week. Pay weeks go from Monday - Sunday. Where there is no publication, it means I didn't submit to a publication or the publication didn't accept that article.

During this same period, with 44 featured hubs, I earned $5.10 on HubPages.


Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

March, 2019

In March I revised and republished more of my old stories and added some new ones. Here are the results. Again, the blue script shows what publications accepted the articles. The red shows where the revised articles originally appeared if they weren't on the last February image. PP stands for Persona Paper. Bub stands for Bubblews. Some articles from either of those sites may have appeared on both and I can't always remember which only came from Bubblews. Green still represents hubs (HP) revised and moved here.

During this same period, with 44 featured hubs, I earned $9.27 on HubPages.

Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

April 2019


I have not repeated the sources here, but I have included the publications that accepted my posts. I did not  repeat the publications for the articles that earned nothing this month. You can see that although I made more money this month, some of the articles that earned money last month earned nothing this month. Unlike sites like HubPages, an article may have a short earning life.

During this same period, with 44 featured hubs, I earned $12.45 on HubPages. (Note: I have not written anything new on HubPages for a long time and interact there rarely now, but I do publicize my Hubs on social media. )



Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

Conclusions from My Results

Unpublished Posts Moved from Other Sites Can Earn On Medium

I currently have thirty posts on Medium. Twenty-six are behind the paywall. Four are not. Of those behind the paywall, only eleven were written just for Medium. "Starved for Attention," which made the most the first month, made nothing the next two months. It was previously on another site, revised, and moved to Medium. "Jason, I'll Always Love You" was picked up by a popular publication, P.S. I Love You, and earned only .18 in February. In March it was my highest earner. It still did well in April.

Articles Published by Publications Usually Get Seen by More People than Those Published Independently

In the second month, some of the articles were picked up by publications, some of which I didn't even submit. Articles that appear in popular publications with lots of subscribers are distributed more widely than those one self-publishes. However, inclusion in a publication does not guarantee more earnings.

Curated Articles Get Wide Distribution and Usually Earn the Most. 

My three curated articles have performed best for me so far. When you put your article behind the paywall you can also choose to have it sent to the curators for consideration. They pick which articles Medium itself will promote in its newsletters that go out to all Medium subscribers. Curation gives articles the best chance to be seen by lots of eyes. These are my curated articles so far.


Medium Earns More for Me Than HubPages on New Articles

On the other hand, older Hubs retain more earning power than older Medium posts. Working together Medium and HubPages give you the both of best worlds. Would I make more on HubPages if I kept submitting more hubs and interacting as much as I do on Medium? Possibly. The statistics I gave for HubPages above my earning charts are for my original account. My Squidoo transfer account makes almost nothing there, and it's those articles I plan to revise and transfer to Medium or somewhere else. 


Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?
Image by isuru prabath from Pixabay, edited in PicMonkey 


Medium Is a User Friendly Site for Readers and Writers

After a struggle with the quirks of the WordPress and even the Blogger editor, Medium's editor is simplicity itself. One can just concentrate on writing. It's the words and the images that are important. No quizzes, polls, videos, etc. are considered important post ingredients as they are on HubPages. The focus is on what you say. I  like not having to sell anything to make money. I would like to focus on stories and ideas as opposed to products. 

As a reader, I also like reading Medium posts because they're not full of affiliate links and ads. You can read all the way through a Medium article without encountering one pop-up asking you to subscribe to a newsletter. Readers can concentrate on content. I think many people subscribe for that reason. 

There is a wealth of interesting content on Medium. Many Medium members are not writers, but readers. They are not part of the Medium Partner Program, but they are the ones who read our work and help us earn for our writing. 


What I Like Best About the Medium Partner Program


Medium allows me as much freedom as I want. I can write in any genre. I can apply to a publication or not. I can write on any subject, though some subjects won't earn as much as others. As long as I follow the guidelines for the Medium Partner Program, I can put any article I want to behind the paywall. Of course, that doesn't mean it will earn anything. 

Medium treats me like an adult. It lets me take responsibility for my own work. I can publish it independently without submitting it to a publication editor and waiting for approval and publication. That means I am also free to publish inferior work that is less likely to earn than more polished work.

Proofreading is my responsibility alone. Publications want quality, so they do have editors to make sure what they publish is worth reading and is free of errors. But they don't correct it for you. They send it back to you or reject it outright. If a publication rejects your work, you are still free to publish it yourself. 

For an article to earn, other Medium subscribers need to see it, read it, and interact with it. Curated articles are most likely to get a kick start leading to more views on Medium. Articles in publications also get help from a newsletter the publication sends to its members listing new articles. 

Views from promotional links on social media don't usually bring in paid views. Traffic from Twitter automatically gets past the paywall for free. Most writers usually post a friend link when they post to social media so that readers can bypass the paywall if people click through. That means a well-promoted post with lots of traffic may not earn much if the readers aren't Medium members. 

Writers for publications often have their own Facebook groups for promotion. Koinonia is one of my favorite publications for Christian writers and it has an active Facebook Group. I know of three other active Facebook groups that are open to any Medium writers for discussion and threads for sharing posts. All these promotion opportunities and the support from other members is very helpful to new Medium writers. 

Most Medium publications encourage personal articles. They like authors to share what they've learned about  relationships, family life, work, mental health, business, and a number of other topics. Unlike HubPages, they prefer articles written in the first person rather than the third person, unless they deal with science or other very objective subject matter. Articles that speak directly to readers with a personal voice seem to do best.

Medium makes it easy to build your own following. You can even start your own publication on Medium if you don't find another that suits you or you want to keep your work in one place to make it more accessible to your followers.




The Downside of the Medium Partner Program


You are making an investment of five dollars a month or fifty dollars a year. There is no guarantee you will earn it back within those time frames. I'm on my eleventh week. If my earnings hold to their current pattern I will have covered my first year's membership by the end of the twelfth week and the rest will be profit. There is no guarantee that will happen. But I've never yet earned back with ads and affiliate links what it cost me to self-host a WordPress blog, and that was a far larger investment. My membership also allows me unlimited reading behind the paywall, and that's been worth the fee by itself.

You cannot include affiliate links or a call to action in a post that goes behind the paywall. You can, however link to another Medium post you have not put behind the paywall. In that post you may have an affiliate link or a call to action. You just need to make sure it's not interpreted as writing a post behind the paywall that only exists to point to another site.

If your posts aren't curated or promoted by a publication, they may not get much traffic. I have four posts that have received no fans or applause. Three were first published somewhere else between 2014 and 2016 and their original publishing dates followed them. If I publish older posts again, I will not use the importer which retains the original date. I will unpublish from the first site and revise for Medium.

The other unloved post was a rant published just for Medium. A few people read it, but no one liked it enough to applaud. That happens. I'm wondering if I should tweak the title and republish it.

If my current results on Medium hold up until the end of the year and my earnings keep growing, I will join again next year. A full year will help me see whether this is the direction I should go. But even if it's a wonderful year and I earn even more than I expect, there is that final downside. Medium can change the terms of the MPP any time they choose. They could stop paying. They could even close the site, though I think that's unlikely.

I have written the obituaries for many sites. One was What Can We Learn from the Fall of Bubblews? It was first published when Bubblews was still alive -- to answer questions about the living site. Some of the original predictions remain intact, but the post itself has been updated many times as things changed. I updated it once again and changed the title when when Bubblews finally died. Many of us who used to rely on Squidoo for income were crushed when it died.

We can never depend on any site we don't own for future income. It's always better to own your own site if you can make a profit. Meanwhile, as we build an audience, we can introduce ourselves to new readers on sites like Medium and  HubPages.

Possibly the biggest downside to writing for Medium is that you may be tempted to to neglect your own blogs. I have. I've also neglected other sites like HubPages. It's always a good plan to back up one's work on all sites, just in case, and not to put all one's eggs in one basket.





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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My Real Name Is Hanna Book Review

Historical Fiction Aimed At A Young Adult Audience


pysanky eggs
Pysanky Eggs play a roll in My Real Name Is Hanna
(image courtesy of pixabay.com)
Let me share a book review with you today for My Real Name Is Hanna. I have always loved to read historical fiction. There is something intriguing about an author taking a specific time in history and envisioning a story of what it might have been like for characters in that era. 

When I sat down to begin reading this book, I thought that I would read a chapter or two and then set it aside to continue later or even the next day. That is typically how I read books. So, I read the first couple of chapters and thought, "Well, maybe a few more and then I'll quit for the day." I did take a short break to get some household chores completed but the book was nagging at me to come back. Long story short, I ended up reading the entire book by day's end. 

Captivating Story Not easy to put down

The story is about a young girl named Hanna. Her family is Jewish and had fled from Russia after the pogroms and what was referred to as the Hunger War. Her mother and father have settled in an area of Ukraine that was sometimes under Polish rule and sometimes under Russian rule. At the beginning of Hanna's story we learn about a time when the Russians have taken over. Stalin has required that all Polish allegiances be stopped. Flags are changed from the red and white of Poland to the red flag with the crescent moon and star of Russia. School subjects are now taught in the Russian language. News is controlled by Stalin along with the ability to worship or practice local customs. Life is changing and not for the better.

Rumors begin to circulate around the small town where Hanna lives. People begin to disappear. Quiet conversations are heard about a man named Hitler sending his armies to fight with the Russians for control of Poland. Some think this German might be better than Stalin, others aren't so sure. Neighbors begin to turn against neighbors, especially when the German soldiers come. 

A Story of Survival: My Real Name is Hanna

The author, Tara Lynn Masih, gives us a story of one family's survival during this horrible time in world history. Her fictional account is based on a real family who found the courage and strength to keep clear of the worst of the Holocaust. Hanna and her family were able to escape being taken to the ghettos and the work camps. They were able to keep from falling into a trench after being shot. What they endured to stay alive is a remarkable story! You need to read the book to find out how and for how long their lives were hanging in an unstable imbalance.

One of the things that I loved about this book is that it is written with the teen and young adult reader in mind. Although, some atrocities are mentioned the very worst are only hinted at. A young person can get the feeling of the awful inhumanity that can be inflicted in a way that is less repulsive than what really occurred in Europe. It might help them to understand history a little better and make them curious to delve into it more. 

I want to stress how this is not a depressing book. Certainly, you can't help but feel disgusted and appalled at what happened in WWII. It is a story of hope. A story of love and family; it is a story of people helping people even when it means their own lives are at risk. Read the book to find out what role the Pysanky eggs play in Hanna's life. I thought it was a fascinating addition to the overall story and I learned more about those lovely decorated eggs.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book to you. I sincerely believe you will be glad you read it.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, May 6, 2019

Lava Stone Bracelet Review

Reviewing my beautiful Basalt bracelets.
I recently purchased a pair of lava stone bracelets and am very happy with them. They are available on Amazon. As another reviewer says, "don't be fooled by the price".  At this price, I half expected to receive cheap synthetic trinkets. But I was surprised to receive beautiful stone bracelets. These bracelets are a great gift to give and an awesome treat for yourself.


Lava Stone Bracelets 


I was shopping for Lava Stone specifically. So I was thrilled that there were many options to choose from: lava stone, tigers eye (brown or blue), malachite, wooden beads, and howlite. 

These bracelets are fully adjustable due to the sliding knot. Pull each end of the cord to tighten. Pull each side of the bracelet to loosen. I have a small wrist - just under 7".  These bracelets snug up to fit me perfectly.  Open to it's widest, my bracelet measures approximately 13". 



There are many places to purchase a Lava Stone bracelet but I purchased mine on Amazon by M MOOHAM. My pair of bracelets arrived quickly. They were packaged in a soft drawstring bag and inside a cardboard box.





Reasons to Buy a Lave Stone Bracelet


Yoga Bracelets:  People seem to use the term "yoga bracelet" to mean either as a Mala for meditation, as stones that are thought to have healing or calming properties, or as some combination of those two things. Malas are used in meditation by counting along the string of beads during a chant. Malas and other jewelry are often made from stone beads. Those stones are thought to have properties that benefit us.  
For example:
"Lava Stone is a grounding stone that strengthens one's connection to Mother Earth. It gives us strength and courage, allowing us stability through times of change. It provides guidance and understanding in situations where we may need to "bounce back". A calming stone, it is very useful in dissipating anger"            -- from CharmsofLight.com

Wearable Essential Oil Diffuser:  Many people like essential oils either for the fragrance or for the calming properties. Lava stones can be used as a wearable oil diffuser. Simply rub a drop or two of your favorite oil onto a lava stone.  Allow the oil several minutes to dry before wearing.

Fashion Accessory:  Wear these lava stone bracelets just because they look good. 

My interest in lava stone (also called Basalt) is increasing because of my recent purchase of a Basalt stone bird bath. I fell in love with the stone and decided to purchase a basalt bracelet to wear.

Related Link:

Our Louanne shared a review about her essential oil diffuser necklace. She includes "how to" photos in her article about this functional and beautiful piece of jewelry. If you prefer necklaces to bracelets, her necklace may be just what you are looking for. 


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Home for Unwanted Girls Book Review

Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls is a fictionalized account of a true story. Set in 1950s French Canada, it tells the tale of a young woman who is forced by her family to give up her daughter for adoption and in lesser part, the tale of the daughter in the Canadian system. It also shares the history of the times in Quebec including the divide between the French and the English.

Most of us are aware of the situation a girl of the age of 15 would have been in in 1950s society if she found herself pregnant. I believe, however, that most of us are unaware of what happened to the large number of the children who were given up for adoption in Quebec at that time but who were never actually adopted.

Those 'unwanted' children were placed in orphanages where they were misused as servants and abused by nuns and staff. Later, when those orphanages became psychiatric hospitals, the children were simply reclassified as mentally ill and assimilated into that population where they continued to be used as servants and abused but were also treated as mentally ill.

As someone who did not know of this story before she picked up the book, I found it simply unbelievable that this was allowed. They were children and while naive to the ways of normal living because of living in orphanages, they were not mentally ill.

How could a switch from orphanage to mental asylum even be allowed? Well, it turns out that it happened because patients in mental asylums received more funding than children in orphanages. The province of Quebec received $1.25 per orphan or $2.75 per psychiatric patient so orphanages became hospitals. Of course, it was only later that the physical, psychological and sexual abuse was discovered. The author, in her interview with the Toronto Star, says that restitution has been offered by the government to the victims but no formal apology has been made by the church.

The author also shares that this book was drawn from her own mother's life in the 1950s. That is, of a French-Canadian woman married to an English seed merchant. However, the author struggled with how to present the story until she read a French memoir written by a survivor that shared one woman's thoughts as she actually lived through the situation.

This book reveals a very sad time in Quebec history. It delves into the issues of language, class and religion. It is also a story of family and of romantic love. Yes, there is a lot of heartache but the book is well written and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy historical fiction and want an eye opening look at a little known piece of Canadian history. Be warned that the subject matter it is disturbing and it did happen. However, I raced through The Home for Unwanted Girls needing to know what happened next. What the outcome would be was never far from my mind.

You can buy your copy from Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read this book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think.

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of The Home for Unwanted Girls on Amazon.
Secret Child Book Review: 1950s Ireland.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Series Review: 1950s New York City.
The Remains of the Day Book Review: 1950s England.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Have You Heard of 3D Floor Decals?

3D floor decals
Purchase from Amazon
Today I wanted to review what I think is an awesome home decor idea that I wish I'd found some time ago.  3D floor decals look - AMAZING!  I have only just seen them and they have given me so many ideas especially for children's bedrooms which is why I wish I'd seen them years ago.

Of course these decals aren't specifically for children's bedrooms, they can be used anywhere.  I do think that they could really be fun and help spark their imagination.  Imagine if your child loves adventures and so has to hop across the room avoiding falling into a fiery pit - he or she would feel like a real life adventurer.

If your child loves everything about space, imagine one of the decals below on their bedroom floor, they could wake up and imagine that they were actually in a spaceship.   These decals are self adhesive and removable which makes them a great way to add some fun to a room that can be changed as your child's likes changes from dinosaurs to the wonderful world of the ocean and more.

3D floor decals are a great idea for children's bedrooms
Purchase these decals from Amazon
Of course, just because they are floor decals doesn't mean you can't also put these decals on the wall.  I have seen some ocean inspired decals with sharks seeming to leap out of the ocean put on the wall above a bed   Now I'll be honest I wouldn't sleep that well with a couple of sharks above me, but apparently there are ones with dolphins as well which I would love!

These 3D floor decals aren't just for kids there's some really lovely designs for nearly every room in the house depending on what type of things you like.   I have seen some nice ones that feature suspension bridges over forest tops (or a fiery crevice like above), along with fish pond inspired ones that would be very peaceful in a relaxation room or your home office.

Have you seen these 3D floor decals before and where would you use them?


More Ways to Incorporate 3D Elements in Your Home Decor

I'm not the first person on ReviewThis to talk about 3D elements in your home decor, one of our home decor experts, Barbara has written a few articles showing you how to incorporate 3D tablecloths along with some wall decals.   Let's have a look at a few of her articles ...


Wild and Funky 3D Tablecloths for Special OccasionsWild and Funky 3D Tablecloths for Special Occasions
3D Tablecloths are another fun way of adding a fun element to your room decor that you can change out depending on the occasion or the mood you want to project.

How to Visually Increase the Size of Windowless RoomHow to Visually Increase the Size of Windowless Room
In this article Barbara talks about using 3D decal on the walls to make your room seem bigger while also adding quite a bit of personality to a room - is there nothing these decals can't do?

Three Affordable Ways to Visually Increase the Size of a RoomThree Affordable Ways to Visually Increase the Size of a Room
Two of the three ways Barbara explores here use 3D decor from wall decals (again, they are THAT good!) to 3D drapes. It seems that 3D is the way to go with your home decor!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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