Continental Avenue Bridge Exploration

We have discovered a bridge that also serves as a walking path and playground. From what I can piece together from the internets and word of mouth when the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge was finally completed in 2012 the old bridge that let people cross the Trinity River from downtown Dallas into west Dallas was taken over as part of an attempt to improve the Trinity River Corridor. Now the Continental Avenue Bridge is used by families in the even for walking, playing, and even the occasional Zumba class. The view is amazing as you walk across this bridge staring out at the Dallas skyline as the majestic Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge looms in the foreground. Chris and I like to spend as many evenings walking either on the Continental Avenue Bridge or on the many jogging trails that run under it. [Source and Source] It is hard to capture the magnificence of the area, but I tried one night as the sun was setting.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

bridge 2

bridge 4

View of downtown Dallas from the Continental Avenue Bridge

BIG

eBook Review: Player Choice by Jeff Deck

Recently I was contacted by Jeff Deck co-author of The Great Typo Hunt, which was one of my very early reviews on this website. You can read my review of The Great Typo Hunt here. Jeff sent me a free copy of his newest creation, his eBook Player Choice, in exchange for an honest review.

player choice

Summary from Amazon:

It’s 2040. With neural implants, people can play games in an immersive virtual reality known as the aether space. Game designer Glen Cullather has a plan for the most ambitious aether game ever imagined: a fantasy epic that gives players the freedom to do anything.

But Glen’s own life is fragmenting into alternate realities. He can’t tell whether his aether game idea has succeeded, or failed miserably. And Freya Janoske is either his biggest rival, or his most intimate partner. Glen must figure out what’s real and what’s, well, fantasy—for his own survival.

Player Choice is a fast-paced gaming sci-fi adventure that dares to ask:

What happens when unreality becomes our reality?

The book is divided into two very distinct parts. The first part is about Glen’s very real alternate realities that are akin to reading about some very lucid dreams. The question is which one is real. Like lucid dreams there are some really real and emotional moments that make it hard to decipher what is happening, but like Glen I knew something was up and while I figured out mostly what was going on, I didn’t quite figure out everything. Which, as we all know, I enjoy immensely. I also enjoy reading about, discussing, and researching lucid dreaming, so this was definitely my favorite part of the book.

Part of the message that Glen is trying to tell in his games is about player choice besides violence and human agency. But Glen has almost no agency in his own life. In fact, I really didn’t like his character at all for quite a bit. He’s that guy. The guy that thinks every single romantic female wants to cut away at his manhood. Just because he fantasizes about her, she must be who he thinks she is. He has no idea how to socially interact with anyone except for two people, and even then after years of friendship, he has hidden huge areas of his life from them. Yet, he expects everyone to respect him. This is the guy I’ve avoided all my life. Glen is unable to express anything except through anger or leaving. His interests must be everyone’s interests. How he sees the world is how it is. Introspection is for the weak. Yes, real healthy there Glen. Thankfully, Glen does learn a lesson or two and by the end of the first part I could at least stand him if not completely empathize with him. His choices led to where he is, and he has to deal with those consequences.

The second part of the book delves into Glen’s gaming world, the one that he created. I’ll be honest, not my favorite part of the book. But, I’m not the worlds biggest gamer. So reading about, what I’ll admit is a very cool gaming world, wasn’t as exciting for me as the lucid dreaming like part. I think people who are gamers, will really enjoy this part of the book. Jeff has definitely built a cool game in Glen’s world and the game has nuances that make it interesting on a deeper level than just conquering bosses. It was interesting, but I was looking for human interest pieces in among the gaming. Glen’s relationship with his girlfriend was interesting and Glen’s past was interesting. I wish there had been more of that than of the gaming, but that is just the type of thing I enjoy more personally.

Glen’s past is rather sordid. He has a lot of family issues. Which are usually the points of a book I really enjoy. I did have one minor issue and that was Glen’s relationship with his sister. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it is not a healthy relationship, and may even need a trigger warning that it is of very adult non-healthy relationship issue. I think such things do need to be talked about, and dealt with and definitely fiction is an avenue for that discussion. But I don’t think gaming is therapy. Glen did not deal with his “coming to terms” with their relationship in a way that is conducive to him actually healing from it. He goes from one emotion about it to the next without any real introspective reflection or decision about what is healthy for him. I also believe it takes more than a few days to heal from something like that and while it is definitely a very good start that Glen started talking about his past with his friends, it is just that, a start.

I wish authors would create some sort of sci fi/ fantasy universal health center that they would periodically send their characters to so that people who read these books could see a way of dealing with emotions that isn’t slashing at them with magical swords or dousing them in potions. Take Harry Potter for example, that is one character that really needs some sort of therapy. I could name a ton billion trillion characters like that. I know this is one of my personal soap boxes, so other people who read this book may not have the same reaction.

What I do think is telling, is that I had a reaction. I like books that strike up an emotional feeling and engage me  in the world that I am reading. Jeff has definitely written such a book. As a side note, Jeff’s grammar past has definitely done him some good. I’ve read a few self-published books recently and his is definitely formatted the best, and didn’t have any typos or grammar mistakes that I caught. It was quite refreshing! If you want to give Player Choice a try, check it out on Amazon where it is free! I assume that is for a limited time, so hurry up and head on over there.

Player Choice leads the reader down dream like paths into alternative realities and worlds that will make them reexamine their own choices and agency.

The Perot Museum and Instagram

If you’all aren’t following me on Instagram you should be. I find posting pictures there super simple and they show up on Facebook, Twitter, and this website. What? So easy. Plus I have downloaded a grid app and love playing with filters. So, I’m probably most active on that right now seeing as I started a new job and life is once again about setting up a new routine.

One place that I took a ton of pictures of was a visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science here in Dallas. It is awesome! The museum is well laid out, we started at the top after taking an escalator up to the fourth floor. The escalator runs along the side of the building and you can stare out over Dallas as you ride it to the top. This was both cool and terrified the part of my brain that is deathly scared of heights. We also went through the Sherlock Holmes exhibit as Rebekah (Chris’ sister not picture here) and I both love Sherlock. We enjoyed the exhibit though it was chalk full of people and picture taking was not so easy. I did get one photo of a phonograph. So, yah, super exciting photo. The exhibit had us learn how to conduct “experiments” so we could view the clues and try to solve the case. It was confusing and people kept getting in the way. I got four out of five areas correct, but came to the correct conclusion anyway. I would love to go back and do that exhibit when a bajillion people aren’t standing in my way.

Here are my top pics of the day.

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Television Review: The Blacklist

I recently got hooked on The Blacklist thanks to Netflix and my love of binge watching shows. I was recommended the show from a friend and watched the first episode, but wasn’t so much impressed. However, I gave it another try and by the third episode I was hooked. This is my usual M.O. Which is why I give most shows three episodes before deciding whether or not I like it. And I love The Blacklist!

the blacklist

Summary from IMDB:

A highly articulate, erudite and intelligent businessman and mastermind, “Red” Reddington, has allegedly been on the “10 Most Wanted List” of various U.S. law enforcement agencies for over 20 years. The legend is that Red is as elusive an Artiste as he is clever; Red built and controls a veritable labyrinth of creative enterprises coupled with uncanny ability to gather and finesse information at the drop of a hat. On the first day at FBI for a new female profiler fresh out of Quantico, Red offers to bandy wits with the FBI. Red promises to deliver various criminals and plots previously unknown to any branch of law enforcement… and all Red requests in return is to choose his muse.

James Spader is amazing. His character Red is outside the normal anti-hero on television, he’s more like a movie anti-hero. He goes around killing people, in cold blood, without emotion, because he must to get to his end game. Which I still haven’t bloody figured out yet. At the close of season 1, some of his endgame became clear and his cleverness expounded upon, but mystery yet remains. And that makes this show awesome.

I once read this article on how heroes in large stories are written rather bland and very very normal on purpose. That way whoever is watching or reading the story can easily imagine themselves in that person’s place. I love Leslie Knopes, but she is a character and I don’t easily imagine myself in her place. Elizabeth Keen (played by Megan Boone) us that every man character that the watcher/reader is supposed to easily place themselves inside of. She does get interesting as the show progressives, but at times she is tiring, and not as bad ass as I would hope. I’ve not given up hope on her becoming a little bit more of a character, because she is being set up to grow in that direct, but the first season she is very normal in her reactions and actions and character.

I have so many theories about this story line, but I’ll keep them to myself so I don’t spoil the best thing about this show, you never know where it is going. However, if you want to discuss theories, I’m opening up the comments for spoilers. So beware! Have questions? Want to discuss? Leave a comment. I’d love to swap theories.

Pinterest and the Supernatural Fandom

I finally broke down and created a Pinterest board Carry On My Wayward Son. It was inevitable. The Supernatural Fandom is one of the best. They are great. The show is really awesome as well. I think that the season five finale is one of the best season finales of any show that I’ve seen. I will admit that season six is a little wonky because the writers didn’t know they were going to get that season until the last minute, but the rest of the show is pure gold and available on Netflix for binge watching. Plus, the show has Misha Collins and Felicia Day on it as well as the two golden boys Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. What more could one want?

Dean LARPing

dean larp

Amazing fan art

salt fan art

Felicia Day as Charlie in bobble head form for the win.

felicia day bobble head

Misha Collins has the best answers ever and always!

misha collins

eBook Review: Taking the Fall by Laney Monday

Taking the Fall by Laney Monday is a free ebook I downloaded after reading about it in my BookBub daily email. If you haven’t been getting BookBub’s emails, you really should sign up for their free service! It is awesome.

taking the fall

Summary via Amazon:

Olympian Brenna Battle once had the fire. Now, she’s just burned out—and burned by love. She’s ready to retire from competitive judo and pursue a new dream in a new town, with her biggest supporter, her recently divorced little sister, Blythe. But on their first day in town, Blythe falls for local sleaze-bag reporter, Ellison Baxter, and their small-town welcome is stained by Baxter’s murder. The weapon—Blythe Battle’s hair brush.

In this fast-paced, fun cozy mystery, Brenna, the proud new owner of the building that formerly housed Bonney Bay’s lone recreational opportunity for kids, Little Swans Ballet, is ready to turn tutu-clad powder-puffs into little warriors by opening a judo school for kids in its place. But now she must clear her sister’s name and save her new dream from ending even more disastrously than her Olympic hopes. Brenna must deal with one crazy member of the local police force, who’s determined to see the sisters pay—and another cop, whose deep brown eyes just might drive Brenna crazy—in a way her battered heart just can’t take.

I’ve read a lot of cozy tea novel mysteries, so I think I have a fair idea of what to expect when I read them. I found this book to be a bit aggravating. For a fairly intelligent woman and written character, Brenna does some crazy stupid things. Once something that did not even make sense with her character. Other than this flaw, the story is lively and interesting with some fun quirky characters. I liked Blythe as a character and I wish her background had been worked into the story a little more. I get that she is a side character, but a pretty big one. If she and Brenna have a great relationship this should be shown with back story, and it was a little lacking in the first book. I get that it is the first book in a series and the author doesn’t want to reveal everything, but a little more background of their relationship would have flushed out the story and filled in some gaps.

Riggens is the romantic interest in the story, and he is surprise! a cop. One of my favorite tea cozy novel series is the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris.  What was so unique about the series was the intelligence and ingenuity of Aurora while throwing away a lot of the cliches of the genre, for example her romantic interest was not a cop/FBI/badboywhoworksforthegoodguys type of person. While the character Riggens was different his insertion and place in the plot line was predictable. I would also have liked a little more background on him as he is another important secondary character. Hopefully that part of the story is also expounded upon in future books. In the mean time, can he at least make a decent move on Brenna? A kiss? A kiss! Not even a date. Bah. One of the reasons people read cozy tea novels is for the romantic interest, and his interest was a little low and a little lame. Get it together Riggens!

A decently written tea cozy novel, Taking the Fall by Laney Monday fits nicely into its category and gives the reader what they expect from the genre. Interesting and fairly strong female characters with a dose of danger and mystery.

You can read another review here.

I Mustache You Some Questions

I was tagged by Picture Us Reading last month to answer some questions. Yes, it takes me a month to get to things some times. Spring break brought several visitors to my doorstep, which was awesome but took away from blogging time. I thought this post would be a good catch up and fun! Thanks for tagging me Alisa!

*It took me three days to write this and then I didn’t feel like editing it. I had company, interviews, and started a job within the last two weeks. Plus, I found out about this game called SimCity Build It and I’m totally addicted and my little city needs my attention. So, yes, that is more important to me than editing right now. Sorry.

mustache-questions-300x300

Four Names People Call Me Other Than My Real Name

1. Jamers

2. J.Z.

3. Pajamas

4. Honey Bumpkins (OK, just my husband calls me this and still lives, but I think it counts)

Honestly, nicknames don’t really last for me (except for Jamers). I had to dig into my memory bank for a few of these.

Four Jobs I’ve Had

1. Like Alisa I worked as a circulation student assistant at my law library and shelving books is tedious. But it can also me very meditative. I also was able to get a lot of homework done at the front desk because I worked nights in a law school library where other overachievers would hole up in their nooks and study all night and not bother the circulation desk.

2. I’ve worked as a bookseller at two different book stores. This is not as glamorous as it sounds. It is also a lot of book shelving and in one store dealing with screaming idiots every single day. Unfortunately not everyone who comes into a bookstore knows how to read, especially not signage.

3. Barista/Server/Grill Cook. I’ve worked in the food service industry for almost ten years. Never again. Never again.

4. I worked as an attorney for the City of Chicago. This also was not all that glamorous. While I have my “fun to tell at parties” stories, it was mostly just a lot of paper work, filing, and making phone calls. No Perry Mason moments and no one dressed half as nice as in The Good Wife.

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once

Goodness. I rewatch movies alllll the time. In no certain order or importance:

1. 50 First Dates

2. Serenity

3. Fargo

4. Boondock Saints

Four Books I’d Recommend

1. Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane (and the entire Chess Putnam series)

2. Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson (and the entire Queen Betsy series)

3. Storm Front by Jim Butcher (and the entire Dresden Files Series)

4. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning (and the entire Fever series and don’t be misled by the covers this is not just some steamy romance series, though it is also that. It has one of the best character arcs that I have ever read.)

Four Places I Have Lived

1. Copenhagen, NY (a place that got 21 feet of snow this year)

2. Goshen, IN (where I spent most of my childhood)

3. Chicago, IL (where I went to live near my mom and ended up going to law school)

4. Mt. Crawford, VA (where I lived during my tweens and teenage years also where one of my favorite authors currently lives)

Four Places I Have Been

I haven’t been out of the country much. I did visit 1) Israel and I have been to 2) Canada. I’ve traveled the US a bit. I’ve been coast to coast. I’ve visited 3) San Francisco, CA and I got married in 4) Virginia Beach, VA.

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now

1. Hogwarts

2. Rivendell

3. Aboard the Farscape or Serenity

4. Narnia

I am really happy with where I am right now. I would like to travel in the future, but if I could be transported somewhere right this second, I would go to one of my top fantasy/magical worlds. You can check out the Top 10 Fantasy Worlds here.

Four Things I Don’t Eat

1. Spicy foods. I don’t have a sense of smell so I can’t taste except for the five areas on my tongue. This means spicy foods just set my mouth on fire and don’t add flavor to foods.

2. Dairy foods. I am lactose intolerant. If I take dairy aid pills I can handle small doses, but that’s about it.

3. Curry. I’m allergic to some curries and therefore avoid all of them.

4. Avocado. Again, it doesn’t taste like anything and it is really really slimy. Gugh. I don’t even eat guacamole. Blech.

Four of My Favorite Foods

1. Snicker Ice Cream Bars

2. Toasterstrudels

3. Chocolate (FOR THE WIN!)

4. Skittles

TV Shows That I Watch

1. The Vampire Diaries

2. Supernatural

3. The Office (my husband and I watch this at night. It is hilarious.)

4. The Blacklist (SOOOOOO good!!!)

Four Things I Am Looking Forward To This Year

1. I started a new job! I’m looking forward to a new place of employment and greater career opportunities. I’m working at an insurance group, which doesn’t sound glamorous, But I do think it is the right fit for me.

2. Trips to King Spa and Sauna a wonderful place for a staycation.

3. A possible real vacation to Virginia Beach for our anniversary.

4. Celebrating our first date anniversary by going to the Medieval Castle here in Dallas. This time we will go prepared with an Uber driver and extra money for booze.

Four Things I’m Always Saying

1. I know, right?

2. Insinuendo (insinuate and innuendos)

3. Flay-g instead of Flah-g. One place where my northern upbringing shines through is when i say, bag, wagon, flag, or dragon.

4. Holy Cats (I picked this up from my father, so you can blame him!)

Four People I Tag

*Please don’t feel you have to, but I’m tagging you in case you want to.*

Meet TrendyTracy who is traveling the world now with her husband. She has a fashion blog and is someone I know IRL. She is just as sweet and amazing in person as she is in her photos. Check out her website.

The ladies at The Book Wars. If you aren’t following them you should. They do some amazing collaborative posts that are just awesome reads. Luckily there are four of them and each could answer the question once. I mean I had to come up with four nicknames going back to when I was in high school!

I’ve just recently started following The Book Stop. She also does book reviews so you guys should check her out as well!

And I’m not sure she even does these sort of tagging blog pieces, but you guys should really head on over to Deidra Alexander’s Blog. She writes these amazing pieces of art that are at times laugh out loud funny, but sometimes more reflective and they always feel true and honest.