Color Photos with Explanations

Okay, as promised, here are the color versions of those same pictures from yesterday’s post, along with an explanation for why I chose them. These pictures each reveal something about me, but taken altogether, they reveal that my photography skills are not fully developed.


I chose a picture of our Christmas tree because I love Christmas. I love seeing family, sipping hot chocolate, decorating, wearing sweaters and scarves–it’s all wonderful. Additionally, my faith is a big part of my life, and I love taking time to remember the babe of Bethlehem.
You’ll also notice the candy canes. We love sweets. We also had to place them a bit higher up, because there are some little hands in our house who will otherwise get them.


This is our family crest. The shield isn’t my design–it’s traditional. One sword has the family motto inscribed on it in Latin and English: “Love Conquers All.” The other is inscribed with “Happily Ever After” and “For Time and Eternity.” The swords are also replicas of Anduril, from The Lord of the Rings, because we’re big Tolkien fans.


My daughter picked these bouquets. The vase on the left was made in Tajikistan, and was gifted to us by family. The vase on the right is a shell from an A-10 Warthog cannon, and it was also a gift. We trade out wildflower bouquets frequently, thanks to our kids.


For a long while I didn’t read fiction. It started off with me reading military history, and then expanded into general history. This is my history bookshelf. I wish I could say I’d read all of those books, but I haven’t. Nearly all of them are about WWII, but a good handful are about the US Civil War. The crossed sabers were souvenirs from a trip to Gettysburg, PA. The Soviet-era beaver fur hat came from Russia, and was a souvenir my parents brought back when I was younger. The helmet beside it is from WWII.
History of all kinds is important to me. I believe that understanding how we got where we are today is crucial in understanding the path to where we want to be tomorrow.


The final picture is of my adventuring hat. Around 2002, my parents adopted my younger brother from Russia. This hat was brought back and given to me, and I’ve worn it on many, many adventures since. I enjoy new experiences and being outdoors, and this hat shows up in a lot of family videos and photographs as a companion through them all.

Seven Day Black & White Photo Challenge – Modified

Yesterday, the wonderful Sophie Li challenged me to do the Seven Day Black & White Photo Challenge, and I accepted… sort of.

Here are the rules, as posted by Sophie (who did not create the challenge, it should be noted. I’m not hunting down where it originated, though):
“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

Here is how I’m doing it:
“One day. Five* black and white representative of your life. No people. Post color renditions and explanations the next day.”
Full disclosure: I was going to do seven as well, but apparently can’t count that high, since I thought I was done after five pictures. Since I’ve already put the camera away, five it is.

So, without further ado, here are my seven black and white photos.




And finally…


So there you go! Nothing to it, folks, if you want to do it yourself. Tomorrow I’ll put up the color editions and explain why I chose these pictures.

Until then, only the best.

Goodreads Challenge complete! (and a short book review…)

Yes, it’s true: I’ve just completed my first ever Goodreads reading challenge. My jubilation is significantly dampened by the paltry number of books it was–a mere 20. Still, this is the first time I’ve made the effort to track my reading, and I’m pleased with myself for bothering.

Looking back on 2017’s books, I think I would choose Ready Player One as my favorite. The main character, Wade Watts, felt very true, and the book was appropriately epic. I’m apprehensively excited for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming adaptation.

So, what was the last book that I read? Here it is:

Title: Stripes of Gehenna
Author: Lara Hues
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Adventure
Print Length: 158 pages

Kathryn knows a few things about human growth hormone and steroids: (1) when used to enhance performance in a sport, they are absolutely, wholly illegal, and (2) her estranged Uncle Richy ruined his life doing just that.
Outside of the occasional awkward Thanksgiving dinner, Kathryn barely knows her uncle. But when Richy unrepentantly invited her to his research lab, Kathryn can’t help herself. After all, Richy’s drug-abuse days are far behind him – replaced by decades of research on how the illegal GH10 compound that destroyed his sports career and marriage, can enhance a pair of Siberian tigers. And the experience would look great on her college applications.
It isn’t until Kathryn is whisked away to Richy’s private island research lab that she discovers the tigers aren’t the only ones receiving GH10…
To survive the trip, Kathryn will have to be more than strong. She’ll have to be cunning, brave, and determined to beat the odds.

Stripes of Gehenna was a fun sci-fi adventure story. There were a few places where the pacing felt a bit rushed, but overall the writing was smooth and pleasant. Kathryn was a good protagonist, and most of the supporting characters felt very fleshed out as well, especially for such a short book.

It was an entertaining read. 4/5
Amazon Page
Author Page
Goodreads Page

A super short review, I know. But, I just had to say something about the book that got me to complete my reading goal for the year! I think I’ll go for 30 books in 2018….

Thanks for dropping by!

NetGalley and Goodreads and the unpopular decision….

So, this is old news by now, but from what I understand NetGalley and Goodreads made some unpopular choices lately, both of which hurt the international book community.

I’ve never used NetGalley. I do the occasional review, but I’m really not much of a book blogger or reviewer. But I’ve heard plenty about NetGalley, and if I were a faster reader, I’d be all in for it. Unfortunately for readers outside the US, I guess they just don’t get stuff from NetGalley like they used to. Which sucks.

Apparently Goodreads is also no longer including its non-US residents in their giveaways anymore, too, which is just double sucks for all the wonderful readers of the wider world, of whom their are plenty.

What the political, practical, and legal reasons are for this, I don’t know, other than that shipping internationally is more expensive–though, I’m sure that there’s more to it than that, especially for Goodreads, since it’s the authors who pay the shipping (unless they’ve changed that policy).

To all my non-US resident reading friends, I’m sorry. It’s really lame. Super-duper lame.

Will this affect me? No, I don’t think so. At least, not beyond hurting people that I care about, so actually yes, I will be feeling some sympathy pain for them.

But I don’t like Goodreads giveaways too much. I don’t hate them either, but I’m not enchanted by them. Now that Goodreads is making authors pay an arm and a leg just to give away a copy of their book, I don’t think I’ll be using that service anyways. Seems ridiculous to me, but I’m not going to rant.

To all book bloggers out there, Goodreads and NetGalley might be giving you the shaft, but I won’t. Anyone who wants a free e-copy of one of my books need only ask. I don’t care if you live in the US or on Mars, I’m just happy to share my work with someone.

But what do you think? Is anyone not surprised by this? Think that it’s justified? Believe that the Trump administration is secretly behind it? Share your thoughts!