My Time in Vietnam

Where to begin? I guess I’ll start by saying that I won’t go into detail about what my purpose was in Vietnam, but rather relish in the memories that I had with the people of the country. The reason I was here is a sensitive topic and I’ll leave it at that.

The Vietnamese people are some of the nicest people I have met throughout any of my travels. This is the twentieth country that I have had the privilege to visit. Yes, maybe my views are skewed because I worked along side these people for eight hours a day, seven days a week for about thirty days, but they were always open to talk and try to communicate.

I find this truly amazing due to the history that this country has had. There were locals that I worked with that I am certain were around during the Vietnam War. And, even though they probably have all the right in the world to be terrible to us, they were nothing but kind.

The woman on the left is named Thanh. All throughout my time in Vietnam she taught me different words and joked around with me. It made the monotony of the work more entertaining. I looked forward to working with her everyday.

Here are some of the words and phrases that I can now speak (very badly) in Vietnamese thanks to her:

I can count to pretty much 99 only because I forgot the word for hundred haha.

I can say “See you tomorrow”

I learned worm, grass, dump, throw, rock, green, blue, black, red.

So many things that she taught me and I will never forget it.

This is where we ate with some of the Vietnamese people every day for lunch. They cooked for us everyday. It was always a family style meal with rice, usually some kind of pork, a soup, and fruit. I got super excited on the chicken days. The chicken legs were amazing.

Working in such close proximity with the Vietnamese people was awesome. Everyone would always say hello and mess around. I had some of the women calling me four eyes when I would wear my sunglasses, but it was all in good fun. At the end of each day Thanh would always tell me that she wanted to work with me again the next day and we always would. She was/is an awesome friend. Thank you, Thanh.

James S.A. Corey’s Cibola Burn Review

Cibola Burn is the 4th book in The Expanse series. It takes place on an alien world called New Terra/Ilus. James Holden tries to maintain piece and compromise between the settlers of the alien world and the RCE employees as they both believe they have claim to the land and its resources.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The Good:

  • If I had to pick something from this book that I liked, I would say that it would have to be the first quarter of the book. That’s where the most action happened. I enjoyed the character of Coop and thought that he would have made a way better villain than Murtry.

The Okay:

  • Honestly, most of the book fits in this category for me. I thought I was really going to enjoy Basia’s story line, which I did, but I think that just the slow burn of the book burned me out on the story overall.
  • James Holden’s chapters. This was a shocker for me, but I think it’s because he spent the entirety of the book away from his crew (other than Amos). The crew dynamic is one of my favorite things in the series.

The Bad:

  • Elvie and Havelock. I’m not really a fan of either one of these characters. Elvie would go on and on in science-speak, which I get it…she’s a scientist, but it wasn’t told in a way to get me invested in it. And for Havelock, half the story is him training some dudes with paintball guns. Wasn’t for me.
  • Murtry. Either deal with him in the first quarter of the book or not at all in my opinion. The whole situation could have been expedited.
  • Holden and Miller. Miller tried to get Holden to take him to the dead spot for the longest time. They don’t go until the very last chapters of the book.

The Final Thought:

  • 4/10
  • I know I complained a lot, but this book made me consider moving on to another series. That’s how much I am not a fan of it. It didn’t have anything that I liked from previous books. At least if the crew were all together I would have those chapters to look forward to, but they were all separated. Glad to be moving on to Nemesis Games.

I’ve read that Cibola Burn is the polarizing book of the series and I could definitely see that. I also read that if you didn’t enjoy this book then you will probably love Nemesis Games, so I’m keeping a positive outlook!

Thanks for reading!

James S. A. Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate Review

Abaddon’s Gate is the third book in The Expanse series. It follows the crew of the Rocinante, Anna Volovodov, Bull, and Mulba Koh as they are all forced to face the Ring in the far reaches of the solar system.

Spoiler Alert!!!

The Good:

  • Once again, the chapters told from Holden’s point of view remain the chapters which I look forward to reading the most. Though, the other characters were way more enjoyable to read here compared to Caliban’s War.
  • Where Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War focused on the protomolecule, I was glad to see that Abaddon’s Gate, while not necessarily moving away from the protomolecule, focused on a much larger scale threat.
  • Awesome characters. Melba Koh/Clarissa Mao was a great antagonist. You are able to empathize with why she is doing the things she is doing. Ashford, while a more shallow antagonist, was still a good addition to the story that offered a sort of balance to Clarissa’s character.

The Okay:

  • The first third of the book was a little slow. I was also super busy in my personal life around this time where I would go a day or two without reading which might have seemed to make this part of the book drag more for me.
  • Bull and Anna, while eventually became more interesting characters, were boring at first. Around the half way point, things really start to fire on all cylinders for all characters.

The Bad:

  • Honestly, I don’t really have anything bad to say about this book. Once every character was where they were supposed to be and doing what they needed to do, this book was great.

The Final Thought:

  • 7.5/10
  • Abaddon’s Gate still didn’t reach Leviathan’s Wake for me, but it was damn close. I think LW is so good because it consists of only Holden and his crew and Miller.
  • I’m very interested to see where they take Miller from here and whatever is controlling him. I’m hoping we see some sort of big alien antagonist in the coming books!

Thanks for reading!

The Drip: Coming 2nd Qtr 2020

When immortality is gained at the expense of others, someone is bound to fight back.

A novella about a man searching for his place in this world. When he finds that place, blood will be shed.

The Drip: Coming 2nd Qtr 2020.

James S. A. Corey’s Caliban’s War Review

Caliban’s War is the sequel to Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. It follows James Holden and crew, Bobbie Draper, Praxidike Meng, and Chrisjen Avasarala as they work to figure out where a new threat originated and stop it.

SPOILER ALERT!

The Good:

  • Caliban’s War starts out about as action packed as you can get. I believe it was the first chapter, told through Bobbie’s POV, that I was audibly saying “Damn” throughout.
  • The dynamic between the crew of the Rocinante is still as good as ever with a couple of the new characters thrown in to shake things up.
  • I loved the idea of Meng’s storyline and how he is on a system-wide search for his daughter.

The Okay:

  • Though, I really liked the idea of Prax’s story, I felt that it didn’t hold enough emotional weight. Maybe that’s because he is a new character and I didn’t care about him at first.
  • Chrisjen Avasarala. I am not one that likes to read chapters upon chapters of politics and that’s virtually all this character was. That being said, when she teamed up with Draper and the rest of the crew I wouldn’t say that I started to like her story, but it became more tolerable.
  • I think that Bobbie Draper is a really good character, but it was just the fact that she was stuck with Avasarala for the whole story that made it just okay. Though, I enjoyed her chapters more than Avasarala’s.
  • Dr. Strickland. We spent the whole book looking for him and he dies in like 2 paragraphs. I guess I expected some revelation or something, but apparently the Prax’s assumptions were right all along and they were just trying to infect her with the protomolecule.

The Bad:

  • I’m not going to say that it was necessarily bad, but there was a lull in this book that started to bore me. Mostly, Avasarala and he sitting with admirals talking at conference tables and so on. I’m reading on a Kindle and I would say it was around the 20%-40% portion of the book. Once I hit around the 45% done marker it really started to pick up and I flew through the second half in two days.

The Final Thought:

  • 6.5/10
  • Nowhere near as good as Leviathan Wakes, but it is good. There is a lull around the 2nd quarter of the book, but it picks up after that. There was a lot of politics in this book that I didn’t really care about or understand that much. I liked Prax’s storyline, but I wish we could’ve explored it more. I felt like it got overshadowed by the protomolecule often, but I do understand that is the main overarching plot of the series.

*I’m about to start the novella Gods of Risk and then start Abaddon’s Gate after. My goal is to finish it in a week and have a review up!

Thanks for reading!

James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes Review

I would like to preface this review by saying that I have only seen maybe one or two episodes of The Expanse’s first season. I can’t remember why I quit watching, but I think it was because I thought the plot was confusing with Earth, Mars, and the Belt. Now for the review:

SPOILER ALERT!

The Good:

First of all, let me say that I am a reader that has a hard time with finishing books. I usually get halfway through, but end up putting the book down and never picking it back up again. I think a big part of that is the length of chapters. I know that it will be a huge chunk of time reading a chapter in those books.

  • The great thing, for me, about Leviathan Wakes is that the chapters are short. I can sit down and read a couple of chapters in thirty minutes and feel good that I made progress on the book. And a lot happens in those chapters as well.
  • The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Joe Miller and Jim Holden. This also kept me reading because of the fact of “Well, I read Miller’s chapter so now I have to read Holden’s chapter.” It was only fair.
  • The pacing is AMAZING. I looked forward to reading this book everyday. There are some books that I want to like because the concept is cool or maybe the story is even interesting, but it takes so long for anything to happen. I didn’t have to worry about that in this book. If I did come across a chapter that was slower it didn’t really matter because the chapters are short anyway and then I’m on to another perspective.
  • The setting is interesting to me. In a world full of Star Wars’ and Star Trek’s, I love when a story is contained to a “small” area. A space opera that takes place in the solar system is interesting to me because it’s something that could, at least, start to happen in the next couple of generations. Side note: If you haven’t seen the movie Prospect, it’s really good. I could see a story like that happening in The Expanse’s universe.
  • The characters. The characters are really good. I’ve never smiled while reading a book before reading this book. There were multiple times where the crew of the Rocinante would just be hanging out and talking and it would actually be really funny. I could picture the conversations happening and each character had their own voice.

The Okay:

  • I loved the whole story with Julie Mao, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole “virus turning people into mindless minions” thing. It wasn’t super unique, but it wasn’t bad.
  • This may be ignorance on my part, but I’m not 100% positive on how Eros is propelling itself across the solar system. Is it just because of its spin? I’m not sure. Again, not really a criticism, but I thought I’d add it here.
  • Not a big deal at all, but I looked forward to reading Jim Holden’s chapters way more than Joe Miller’s. I think it’s because there is a lot of cop talk explaining how things work in the world, where Holden’s chapters are a lot more action and character interaction. Just my preference though.

The Bad:

  • I’m just going to put this here to show how good this book is! Nothing that I can say bad about this book.

The Final Thought:

  • 8/10
  • I’m so glad that I read this book. It has helped me realize things about the space saga that I am currently writing and will definitely only help me get better. Never in my life would I have thought that I would start reading a series of books with NINE books, but here I am. And as soon as I finished Leviathan Wakes I went ahead and bought Caliban’s War. My goal this year is to read all nine books. Fingers crossed!

*If you’re an author and would like me to review your book, just let me know! I enjoy sci-fi the most, thriller, crime, etc. Hit me up on Twitter at @fitewrites if you would like a review.

Perseverance

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

-Henry Ford

Last night, I watched the highly anticipated return of Conor McGregor. Here is a guy whose life is under a microscope. And under the microscope his mistakes were magnified, not only to the public, but I’m sure himself as well.

He hadn’t fought since October of 2018. In between then and now, McGregor has been in and out of the news. Whether it be false allegations of being the father to another woman’s child, a video of him punching a man in the face at a bar, or sexual assault allegations. No matter how you feel about Conor, you must know how these struggles would weigh on even the strongest of minds. Even if some of them he brought on himself.

Credit to UFC

Saturday night, McGregor took the octagon for the first time in over 400 days. The biggest star in all of MMA, love him or hate him. He came into this fight week calm, happy, and overall humble. He showed respect to Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and recognized him as a veteran in the cage.

But, I can’t help but to envision those darkest nights that Conor must have gone through. Who knows how dark they could’ve gotten, but he has said that there were dark times. Through all of that, he got his head back in the game, trained hard and dominated his opponent in the octagon.

Credit to UFC

It just goes to show that when you are knocked down, no matter how far, you can rise back to the top again. McGregor had to sift through the depths of his mind, I’m sure, and find out what really mattered to him. And what he found was the love he held for MMA.

Whatever you are going through in life, whatever happened that knocked you so far down that you can’t see the way up: There is a way up. Find out what really matters to you, search those deep depths of your mind and find out what really matters in this life. When I find myself doubting or questioning something that I really want, I ask myself “Will I regret not doing this when I am on my deathbed and thinking back on my life.” If the answer is yes, then there shouldn’t be anything in this world that keeps you from doing that thing. Because, when this life is over what are we, but the things we did while we were alive?

I think I’m kind of rambling now, but I am inspired by deep perseverance, especially in the face of so many people that want to see you fail. Keep going!

The Drip is Finished!

Hey everyone! Sorry it’s been a little while since my last post, but I’ve been writing a bunch!

I finished my dystopian biopunk novella called The Drip and will start editing that this weekend. I’ve already got a couple of beta readers lined up once I run through it first. I also got in contact with an illustrator that is going to be doing some sketches for the cover art. I can’t wait to see how that turns out!

Also, I started on my next novella/novel called Primrose Deluxe. It is a techy/crime thriller that follows Simon, a college student who spends his nights as an internet pirate called ANTIbellum. He floats through his self-centered life with virtually no worries until a mysterious word game called Primrose Deluxe appears on his laptop. Once he plays it, his life may never be the same.

I’m super excited to start getting my stories out there for people to read. I’m expecting The Drip to be available on Amazon in mid-February at the earliest and March at the latest. I’m not sure if my trip to Vietnam will effect this at all so the dates may have to be a little flexible.

Anyways, just a quick update this time. I’ll make another book update whenever I get the cover art and start dialing down a release date! Stay tuned!

2010-2019: The Decade That Made Me

I’m usually make a conscious effort to not buy into any of the trending fads on social media such as the most recent one: Top 9 of 2019. I guess it’s just my way of making myself think that I’m just not another cog in the machine. It gives me some sort of reassurance that I’m different, even just a little bit. I know that sounds dumb, but that’s just the way I am.

That being said, I do think it is important to reflect on certain times of your life. To see where you came from and how far you’ve came to get where you are. So, I decided to make a blog post about the momentous decade that the 2010’s were for me.

The 2010’s, I think, will be the decade that defines much of my life. Most of that, I’m sure has to do with the fact that most of my 20’s were spent in this decade. So naturally, I made a lot of important decisions in the last 10 years.

I started out this decade one year removed from high school and very much not sure where I wanted to go from there. I was in a relationship with a girl since 11th grade and we were living together. I had a job at a factory where I was working a mix of daytime and night schedules.

From here, I decided I wanted to enroll in the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Tempe, Arizona. Now, I’m from Arkansas and had never lived outside of the town that I grew up in at that point in my life. So, this was a big decision for me especially at 19 years old. I remember sitting out on the sidewalk with my dad and deciding that that is what I wanted to do. Travel across the country in pursuit of what was my dream job at the time.

So, I went. I drove across the country with my girlfriend. No friends, no jobs, nothing. It was only about a month there that my girlfriend at the time decided that that life was not for her and she left to go back home to Arkansas. That was the end of that chapter with her in my life, but I decided that I needed to keep pursuing this dream. This decision was one of the most important of my life, I think, as it instilled kind of this thought in the back of my head to never compromise your dream for someone. Obviously, this goes both ways and sacrifices will have to be made in life, but I don’t think you should ever give up on a dream because of someone else.

Nevertheless, now that I was alone in Arizona, I was forced to come out of my shell and make friends and it was some of the best memories I have from this decade.

I dove head first into a group of friends that would help me make it through that next year or two. Looking back now it seems like so long ago, but I look back on those times with fondness.

From there, the group split off and went their own ways. The school had an internship program, where you picked the city that you wanted to do your internship. Me and two of my other friends chose Nashville, TN. Here, I would quickly find out that get into the music studio business would not be easy.

I got an internship at Blackbird Studio in Nashville. It didn’t do much to put me in a position to further my career, but I had so many good times and saw so many cool people that I can hardly complain about the experience.

While there I got to meet/see Lionel Richie, The Fray, Evanescence, Kid Rock, The Punch Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, and I’m sure I’m missing some. While here, I was also juggling two jobs before eventually moving back to Arkansas after a year and a half in Nashville with no luck finding a job in the studio business.

In Arkansas, I was back to living with my dad and got a job working with him as an electrician. I was never a fan of doing electrical work (I had done it during the summers while in high school), but it paid good and I needed a job. It lasted about 6 months before I decided to join the Air Force after my brother had joined the Navy. We were renovating the airport in Little Rock where everyday I would see planes taking off from the nearby Air Force Base. I thought that it would be so cool to be a part of that.

This would be the decision that would open up my world more than I ever thought it would. From basic in San Antonio, TX, training in Biloxi, MS, my first duty station in South Korea, second duty station in Italy, and now at my third in Hawaii. I’ve been able to meet so many people and see so many places along the way.

I’ve walked the streets of Seoul, witnessed the beauty of The Great Wall of China, seen Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast. I’ve travelled to Paris, Barcelona, London, Dublin, Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Tromso, Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Bucharest, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Zermatt, Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka, Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne, Honolulu, Prague, and Krakow.

I’ve gotten to see so much of the world and I’m so thankful for that. Since joining the military in 2013, I’ve travelled to 19 different countries and by the end of 2020 it will be 23 or 24.

2010-2019 was the decade where I decided who I was going to be in this life. I decided that when I want to do something, I’m going to do it. I lived that this decade and I want to keep living that in the next decade.

Even in my job now, I feel I’m stagnant at the moment. But, I’m working on my writing, which is my next big goal in life: to publish my stories. I am constantly looking for things to do in life because I don’t want to be on my death bed with a thought of “What if?”. I want to know I lived my life to the fullest potential. So, even though I’m stagnant in my job right now, I have a trip to Vietnam coming up where I can maybe do some good in someone else’s life.

But that’s enough about me. This decade has had it’s ups and downs, but when there are more ups than downs you still end up on top. That’s my position in life right now: on top.

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