Review: The Chalk Man

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In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.
That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

 

I loved the whole premise behind this book…mysterious chalk drawing–what could be more intriguing! I was so excited to read this book and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Chalk Man is told from the point of view of Eddie and toggles back and forth from events that started it all in 1986 to 2016 when it all comes together.

The story opens with a morbid discovery in the woods, a body of a young woman found brutally murdered.

I loved how the author dropped little bits and pieces of information on what has happened and what was found. And as each of the characters grow and mature, we learn more about each of them, too. There is definitely more to each characters story, but what surprised me most was what the reader discovers about Eddie, the main character. He seems fairly normal, but certainly has his issues, too.

The book is superbly written, with lots of red herrings, twists and turns in the story that kept me hanging on and wanting to read more.

It’s not until the very end when we discover who killed the girl in the woods, and believe me, you can’t even guess who did it!

I have to say, I LOVED the ending. I never saw it coming. It was strange and sad, and somewhat horrifying.

Have you read the Chalk Man? What did you think of that ending?

Thanks for reading,

Jo-Ann

 

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ROW80: Round 1 Week 8 Sunday

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I’ve been a bit behind not only in my ROW80 posts, but also in my weekly posts as well. That means I haven’t exactly been doing great with my goals, unfortunately.

I had to do a bit of travelling last week. It’s always nice to get away for some girl time! The only drawback is it leaves my absolutely wiped out. Completely exhausted.

No meals were cooked, and it was late in the week before any laundry got done.

I could have scheduled some blog posts, but I didn’t.WriteThatNovel

I could have done some reviews of the books I’d read, but I didn’t.

I didn’t paint.

I didn’t yoga.

But I did get a bit of writing in, so there’s that! I finished up a humorous short story that I was working on for my Writer’s Group anthology.

And I even started writing a new short story. It’s a bit of background to the novel I’ve been working on. If nothing else, it has helped me work out some details.

I picked up some new books at Costco when I was there.

51zyjmrt1ylThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a Bleep

From Amazon:

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

I read this last week. Not my usual read, but I was curious about what Mark Manson had to say about letting go of stuff. He made some really good points on how we view the world and how we view ourselves and then he kinda turned everything upside down. Review to follow!

The Chalk Man is another good one that I can’t wait to start! 35356382

From Goodreads: In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

 

Beyond the Sentinel StarsRight now I’m reading Sherry D Ramsey’s Beyond the Sentinel Stars.

From Amazon: Luta Paixon and the crew of the Tane Ikai have made it back to Nearspace safely, but that safety is short-lived. As if a disastrous diplomatic mission to the crow-like Corvids isn’t enough, Luta’s old enemy Alin Sedmamin is back—and asking Luta to help save his life. In exchange, Sedmamin is offering secrets stretching back more than a century into Nearspace’s past—secrets that could prevent a war.

Meanwhile, Luta’s brother Admiral Lanar Mahane is faced with an awful truth: the Protectorate is spread too thinly across Nearspace to offer adequate protection or defense when the aggressive Chron turn their murderous sights on Nearspace again. They must forge new alliances if Nearspace is to survive, but it’s almost impossible to know who to trust.

As interstellar conflict looms on the horizon and a political plot of tremendous scope and daring threatens to destroy Nearspace from within, Luta and Lanar will test the bonds of family and the strength of hope as they struggle to maintain peace in a world that seems destined for war.

For those who love speculative fiction, it’s an excellent read!

Thanks for reading!

Jo-Ann

 

 

ROW80: Round 1 Week 6 Sunday

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WHAT IS ROW80?
A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life.
Set challenges for yourself, write them up and post updates every Sunday and Wednesday. Add your link to the ROW80 Facebook page or the Linky here.

So here’s the skinny:

  • We have 4 rounds a year, each running 80 days.
  • Your goal can be anything you like as long as it is measurable (e.g. number of words/pages, specified amount of time to spend on writing per day/week, number of pages edited, etc.
  • Once you have settled on a goal, you write it up on your blog and link to it on the Goals Post at the beginning of each Round.
  • If your goal changes before the end of the 80 days, simply write up a new goals post and link to it on the latest check-in day post here on our blog or in our Facebook Group.
  • Check-ins are twice a week on Wednesday and Sundays. Write up a blog post of your progress and link to it on that day’s Post.
  • On Twitter we use a hashtag of #ROW80 if you wanna come hang out; feel free to host sprints, share links. See the next point…
  • If you happen to find us after a round has begun, just write up your goals post and hop on in whenever. We’re a friendly bunch.
  • Be sure to grab the ROW80 badge from the sidebar on the ROW80 Blog (right click, save image location, then chuck it in your blog’s image widget or grab some basic image html and use a text widget).

 

Writing:

I got lots of work in on my short story this week. I wrote and rewrote the same story three times!

In the first, I realized it needed more ‘story’. There wasn’t enough background.

In the second, I added more story, but it made the characters kind of unlikeable. Not my intention! This is supposed to be a humorous story!

The third rewrite came out much better. It seems to have more ‘flow’ to it and the characters more likeable. I got some good feedback from my husband and The Geeky Book Lady.

Now, I’m waiting on more feedback from my friends in my Writers Group. We are working on an anthology of humorous short stories, with the proceeds going to support the library where we meet.

I also got some novel edits in, 500 words or so. I changed a few things in the edits I had already made in the same chapter, and I was much happier with how it flowed.

Painting:

I got a couple of hours of painting in on Friday. It’s a start, at least!

Work in Progress
Work in Progress

Here’s the reference photo, as you can see, I still have a fair bit of work to do.

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Yoga

Yoga:

I made it to one yoga class this week. Considering that I’d missed class for two weeks in a row, I am going to pat myself on the back for that!

 

 

 

 

I switched my blog over from being self-hosted to WordPress.com. It wasn’t too challenging, moving my followers over had to be done by the Happiness Experts at WordPress, but other than that it went pretty well.

I have a bit of work to do to get a few more features back up and running, but for the most part it seems to be working well. Phew!

How about you? Did you reach your goals?

Have a wonderful week and thanks so much for stopping by!

Jo-Ann

Review: Aggravated Momentum by Didi Oviatt

Blurb from Amazon: Deadly thriller, twisted plot, shocking, and dark conspiracy hardly scratch the surface to define Aggravated Momentum. Not everything is as it seems in what appears to be an average family. When danger lurks so close to home, skeletons emerge, and the darkest of secrets surface, causing twisted desires to become reality. Aggravated Momentum offers the perspective of some very diverse and unique characters, including fun, witty personalities to fall in love with, along with an intellectual killer to die for. You may be surprised as to whom exactly you can relate. Is it the cold, calculated murderer, who’s name is yet to be revealed? Markie or Kam, the independent sisters, guilty of nothing more than getting tangled with the wrong people at the most inopportune times? Or, the cowardly snake curled in a hidden corner? Who are you, exactly? And, more importantly, who are they? The deeper you dig into the psyche of another, the more breath taking are the secrets you will find.

View on Amazon

View on Goodreads

Put on your seatbelt and hold on tight because this novel is one hell of a roller coaster ride! There are more twists and turns I never saw coming.

As you can tell by the gorgeous cover, it is about murder — a serial murderer at that. It has great pacing and once I started reading it, could not put it down. It was wonderfully unpredictable, I had to know what was going to happen next! Didi did an amazing job building suspense and giving just enough back story that you don’t know who to trust.

The book is well written in Didi’s unique style. The dialogue is realistic. Yes, people do use swear words. It is an adult thriller.

I love that the point of view changed several times during the story and the reader could get into the head of not only Markie, the main character but also her sister Kam, the killer and even the main character’s mother. The reader gets to experience first hand what they are thinking (more surprises!) and discover their own dirty little secrets. And believe me, it seems that every character has them.

Go to Didi’s blog

Thanks for reading!

Jo-Ann

 

Mythical Monday: The Story of Art and Delvcaem

 

I’ve been incorporating some old Celtic stories and legends into the novel I’ve been working on, so I though I would do a little feature on them each Monday. Mythical Mondays has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

This story I’m featuring today is a summary of Becuma of the White Skin. It was written by James Stephens in a book called Irish Fairy Tales, published in 1920.

Art was the son of Irish High King named Conn of the Hundred Battles. He was a warrior like his father.

Conn was in mourning over the loss of his wife, and found himself walking along the shore. There, he met Becuma of the White Skin, who had just arrived in a small boat. Little did he know that she’d been ejected from the faery realm, nor did he realize what trouble she would bring.

Becuma bewitched him, compelling him to want to marry her. She was quite a trickster. She told him the fame of his son Art had made her fall in love with him and before long, she had Conn begging her to marry him instead.

Becuma insisted that Art leave Ireland for a year so she could come to love Conn instead of Art. The year that he was gone was a bad one for Ireland. There was a great famine. The High King was pressured to allow a human sacrifice, (at least until someone pointed out that Becuma was the cause of the famine).

Once Art returned to Ireland, she challenged him to a game of chess. Art won the first game, and her due was to eat no food in Ireland until she found the wand of Curoi, son of Dare. An impossible challenge, or so he thought.

It wasn’t long before she was back with the wand. Of course, she did have some help from her faery friends.

On her return, she challenged Art to another game of chess. This time, she won. His due was to eat no food in Ireland until he found Delvcaem of the Fair Shape, the daughter of Morgan. She was sure he would never return.

Delvcaem was a woman of Faerie who was being held captive by her parents on an island in the Many-Coloured Lands. It was said that her mother would die when Delvcaem was wooed, so she kept her daughter shut away in a tower, and every suitor that dared to come near their fortress was murdered by her and her husband, Morgan.

Art was faced with incredible challenges on his way to find Delvcaem. From turbulent oceans, sea monsters and evil hags that wanted to bury him in molten lead.

When he arrived at Delvcaem’s home, he noticed there were spikes all around the fortress, each one with the head of one of her potential suitors. There was one spike remaining with no head.

Delvcaem’s mother had the lovely name Dog Head. (I can only imagine why!) She came out dressed in full armour and challenged him to a duel. Art won, of course, and put her head on the one remaining spike. Then he defeated her husband Morgan.

Art rescued Delvcaem from her tiny room at the top of a 100 foot high pillar. The two returned to Ireland and since Delvcaem’s magical power was greater than Becuma’s, she forced her to leave Ireland. Becuma left without protest. Word was she left for Sasana and became queen in that country.

I loved the characters in this story, especially Becuma. There is so much more to her that I didn’t get into here. Maybe a future post? I did a little digging and found out that Sasana is Old Irish for England. And if you’re an Outlander fan, you’d be interested to know that it’s derived from Sasenach.

This story of Art and Delvcaem became the background for three of the characters in my novel, The Dragon Prophecy. Here’s a working synopsis of what the novel is about:

The Dragon Prophecy is a fast paced alternate history YA that infuses modern day characters with Celtic myths and legends from the time before the birth of King Arthur.

Two brothers are caught dead centre in a power struggle between two queens, both hell bent on stopping the Age of Pendragon and changing history as we know it.

The lines of reality become blurred. Thrown into an era of faeries, dragons and a sketchy druid, who can they trust? Will they ever be able to make it home?

What do you think so far? Does this genre interest you?

 

 

ROUND OF WORDS 80

Okay, this is my first ROW80 post! And so far, I am on track with my goals for the New Year. Yay! I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Novel: I’ve been working steadily on editing the next chapter in my novel, and I’m on target to finish today. I’ll let you know on Sunday how it goes.

Short Stories: Thursday and Friday will be short story writing days so that update is to follow.

Painting: I didn’t paint on Monday as planned, but it was New Years Day, and I spent the day taking down Christmas decorations. By the time I made a reasonable dent in packing everything back up, I was too tired to do anything else. Wednesday afternoon will be another day to paint. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures for you on Sunday!

Yoga! I joined the Y, and went to my first yoga class on Tuesday evening.  I’m a bit sore, feeling that Warrior II and the Chair pose, but that’s a good thing.

 

New Review: The Council by Kayla Krantz

The Council by Kayla Krantz

The Council follows in a similar vein to the Divergent series. There are separate covens and each coven has a primary ability in which they can do magic.  There is a also a ruling group (the Council) and a rebel group.  The main character, Lillith, is a strong character, just discovering her own unique and unexpected abilities.

LIillith is a witch who is powerful enough to overcome her disability, a childhood injury to her leg that had been caused by magic.  The daughter of Unequipped parents, she is not expected to have any magical abilities  That all changes at the Arcane Ceremony, where she and everyone around her are shocked when five goblets light up, each relating to a different power.

Mysteries about why she has these magical powers when she comes from Unequipped (non-magical) parents, her parents refusal to give her information on her injury, and the strange witch that shows up at the ceremony lead the reader into wanting to know more.

I love the idea of witches living in this dystopian world of separate covens being able to harness separate powers related to their individual element.  I found Kayla Krantz’s writing drew me in and I found it hard to put down.  I was dying to find out what was really going on and what was going to happen next!

I would have like to have seen more development between the characters Clio and Helena. I am excited to read Book 2 when it comes out

I received The Council as an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I’d like to thank Kayla for the opportunity to read this awesome book!

You can receive your own copy of The Council here: The Council at Amazon.com.

Kayla Krantz