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.

Tales from Europe: Romania

Hey everyone! I’m back from a much needed holiday break. I went back home to Arkansas to spend time with family and decompress, but I’m back with another entry in the Tales from Europe series. This time I am doing Romania!

This trip was different from any other trip that I went on while I lived in Europe because it was a road trip. Me and two friends flew into Cluj-Napoca airport where we rented a car. From there, we made our way down to Brasov, stopped at Bran Castle, and continuing to our last stop in Bucharest. This is where we flew back to Italy from.

In Cluj, the main thing that we did was visit the Salina Turda salt mine. This is a huge underground mine with a park inside. It is kind of like an amusement park. There was miniature golf and I believe even a restaurant inside. Here is what it looked like:

I would say that if you are visiting Cluj, Romania and you have younger kids that this is a must see. For us, it wasn’t that interesting other than seeing the huge mine. The games at the bottom are mostly for younger kids.

The highlight of the trip for me, was Brasov.

I loved walking around this little town. It is quiet and secluded and Bran castle isn’t too far of a drive from the city.

I highly recommend checking out Bran Castle, aka Dracula’s Castle. Most people call this Dracula’s Castle due to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is believed by some that Vlad the Impaler either lived in or was imprisoned in this castle, though both are likely false. Still, out of all the castles that I have seen throughout Europe, this is one of the coolest looking ones. You can do a self or guided tour of the interior of the castle. It’s a must see if you are visiting Romania!

After Bran Castle, we hopped back in the car to check out another unique castle: Peles Castle.

Peles Castle wasn’t too far from Bran Castle and, to be honest, it was a last minute idea to stop and see it. I wouldn’t say it is a must see, but it is a beautiful castle and I haven’t seen a similar looking one anywhere else in Europe.

Our next stop was Bucharest.

I’m going to be honest and say that Bucharest didn’t impress me that much. I much prefer Brasov over Bucharest. I would say the ideal trip in Romania would center around the Brasov region. I would have rather spent another day driving to go see the Transfagarasan road (I still regret not getting to see that).

But! We did continue driving to the edge of Romania and stopped to see The Black Sea.

All in all, not my favorite trip, but it is one of the most unique trips that I went on in Europe. Also, one of the most ballsy, as we just kind of went for it. Booking flights to and from two different airports and renting a car and we just went for it. I think it is needed in countries like Romania where everything to see is so spread out.

Thanks for tuning in to this entry of Tales from Europe! See you on the next one!

Update on life and The Drip

Yesterday, I passed 15,500 words on my current work in progress: The Drip. For those of you that don’t know, I am writing a dystopian biopunk story. Check out the “Books” link at the top for my poetry collections on Wattpad and the story ideas that I have in the works. Can’t wait to share them all with the world!

I’ve started to wonder which route I should go with publishing. I want to reach as many people as possible, but making money isn’t really that much of a concern since I have a full time job. I’m thinking either self-publish or go with an indie publisher. I am going to continue trying to build a following on twitter so that maybe I will be able to reach more of an audience.

I would say that I am about 60% done with the first draft, which then I’ll edit, send to friends to read over and give feedback, and then I will probably hire a real editor. Everyday I second guess myself and wonder if this is really what I want to do, but I know it is.

Thursday, I am going home to Arkansas for Christmas. It should be nice to get away from work for a little while, but I’ll miss my cat, Lilo. I will probably do one more blog update tomorrow before I leave, and then it might be when I get back that I update again.

Anyways, to whoever is reading this, thanks! I’ll see you on the next one.

Tales from Europe: Zermatt

Seeing the Matterhorn was one of the things that I told myself I HAD to do before I left Europe. It was one of those bucket list items and I visited Zermatt, Switzerland just to see that big rock.

The town of Zermatt is an amazingly quiet ski resort town. I didn’t really know this going in to that, but there admittedly isn’t that much to do other than ski. The town is tucked away deep in the valley of the Swiss Alps and the train ride from Visp to Zermatt had some of the best views I have ever seen. Those Facebook videos of Switzerland don’t do it justice.

Milan train station

My journey started in Pordenone, Italy. I decided to be a little more adventurous than usual and take a train from Italy to Zermatt. From Pordenone, I had stops at Venice, Milan, and Visp.

The Milan train station was HUGE. One of the biggest that I can remember visiting while in Europe. The best part of taking the train all that way were marveling at the views outside the window!

Once you get to Zermatt, it feels like the perfect Christmas town. It has the perfect atmosphere for anyone wanting a quiet getaway in the mountains for the holidays. I wish I was there right now, sipping on a hot cup of coffee while the sun rises over the peaks.

The first night I was there, I walked around the town and went on a short hike where I got some good views of Zermatt from a little bit higher of an elevation. The next day I took the special train up to the top of the mountain where the ski slopes were. There was a shop at the top and amazing views of the Matterhorn from there.

The rest of the time in Zermatt was spent moseying around the shops where I bought some family members Swiss army knives and other souvenirs. There was also an outdoor ice skating rink in the middle of the town where I watched kids play hockey for a little while.

All of the architecture of Zermatt was so beautiful and cozy. It really is the perfect place to step out onto your balcony and drink some coffee as the little town wakes up.

After the weekend in Zermatt, it was time to head back to Visp to catch the train back to Italy.

This was a short blog for a short trip, but it was such a beautiful place to visit that I had to share my experience. Though, I didn’t do much in the town, most of that is my fault as I just winged it for this trip and didn’t really plan anything out.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next blog!

Tales from Europe: Ljubljana & Bled

Ljubljana, Slovenia, to me, is one of the most underrated spots in Europe. It is such a calm and down to Earth city. During my time living in Italy, my friends and I would take regular trips to Ljubljana.

Now, I’m going to cut right to the chase…we took these regular trips to Ljubljana for, mostly, one reason: Pop’s Place. One of the best burgers you will ever have. Hands down.

Pop’s Place Burgers

The burgers are juicy, the Parmesan fries are amazing, and there are a bunch of beer choices too. If I remember right, the owner is from California, but he has some family that lives in Slovenia. So, he moved there are opened up this place.

Every once and a while, we would get the craving to make the hour-hour and a half drive to Ljubljana just so we could eat Pop’s. The awesome city in which the restaurant is located is just a plus, because after you eat you can walk along the river that runs right through the middle of the city. There are all kinds of stores selling various bottled beer, record stores, etc.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I still had three bottles of beer that I bought from a little shop in Ljubljana three years ago. Saving them for a special occasion of course (which wasn’t a special occasion at all).

Reservoir Dogs or tourists in Europe?

As a bonus for this entry in Tales from Europe, I decided I would group Lake Bled into this entry since it too, is in Slovenia. I only went here as a day trip, which I believe was after eating Pop’s. The building in the middle of the lake with the mountains behind is an amazingly beautiful site.

In Bled, we just kind of walked around the lake and ate lunch which was amazing as well. I highly recommend Slovenia as a country to visit in Europe. You never hear people talk about Slovenia, but it is a pretty quiet and laid back country from what I experienced. There is also some good nightlife in Ljubljana as well that I got to experience on a pub crawl bachelor party, but that is a story for another time ;).

I think on the next entry of Tales from Europe I will do either Zermatt, Switzerland or Copenhagen, Denmark. If you got this far and have been enjoying my little memories, comment which one you’d like to read next!

Thanks for reading!

New Game +

Falling upward

Feeling down

I hope there’s a life after this

Because I look to the future

And there’s nothing there to look forward to

High off of chasing my dreams

Scared of the come down

The bigger they are

The harder they hit

How the mighty will fall

When you aim for the moon and miss

Slapped in the face with reality

That the world is harder than it seems

When you dream of only good things

Just a random poem for the day that I wrote. Back tomorrow with Tales from Europe!

Tales from Europe: Tromsø

Tromsø, Norway was one of those places that I never thought that I would go to in my time in Europe. It seemed too out of the ordinary and off the beaten path, but when one of my coworkers went and got to see the Aurora Borealis I knew that I had to go.

Now, I have two different ways that I kind of rank the places that I have been to: the location in general (food, sightseeing, etc.) and the experiences that I had there. Tromsø falls in the latter category. Not because it wasn’t a great place, but as far as sightseeing goes and food goes it isn’t on the top of my list. Althought, the experiences I had there were some of my favorite in Europe.

Tromsø, Norway

The main town is very small. The building to the right in the picture above was kind of like the main shopping center. There were all kind of stores in there and a grocery store as well. To the left were some restaurants, one of which I tried Reindeer! (Sorry, Santa). As you can see, the town is pretty small and there really isn’t much going on. Unless, I’m just oblivious and missed it all which could very well be the case.

I was travelling with my coworker and friend Bobby. Our trip started off somewhat interesting because, as it turns out, the Airbnb that we reserved was actually a room in the downstairs of a families house. We had rented a bunch of Airbnb’s before and the family was super nice for the little time that we saw them, but it just kind of took us off guard.

There were two main reasons why this trip happened: to see the Northern Lights and to go dog sledding. Let’s start with dog sledding. It was one of my favorite things that I did in all of Europe and I guarantee you that I will never forget it.

Somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Norway

It was amazing. The dogs could not wait for me to take my foot off of the brake and start pulling. It’s what they were meant to do. Their purpose on this Earth is to pull that sled. They never even stopped to use the restroom, they just ran and went at the same time!

Every now and then our group would have to stop for some reason or another and the dogs would just roll around in the snow to cool off. It was really an awesome experience.

If you would like to see a video of our dog sledding adventure, it will be located at the end of this blog.

The dog was shy

Once we finished up sledding we came back and ate some food in an awesome tent! I don’t remember what the food was or what the tent was called, but I do remember the amazing hot coffee and how it warmed me up!

The hospitality was amazing and my buddy and I actually ended up having a nice conversation from a college student from China. I think he was from Hong Kong if I remember correctly.

The next night, it was time to go hunting for the Lights!

About 5 of us loaded up into a van and set sail (or wheel?) even farther north than Tromsø. We had some difficulty finding the lights at first, but then we reached the area that is pictured above. I’ll be honest, the visibility wasn’t great and to the naked eye it just looked like some clouds. But it was the experience of it all. We were out there in the freezing cold, with our cameras, hoping to capture a glimpse of that great phenomenon.

While we waited for the lights to show themselves, our tour guide made a fire. We had a traditional cake from the region and sausage as well(I think it was Lamb). It was delicious. We all talked around the fire. It’s amazing the people that you meet from various parts of the world, all gathered there in that one spot for the same purpose.

These are the reasons that Tromsø will remain near the top of my list of places that I visited in Europe. Not necessarily because of the town, but because of the amazing experiences that I had there.

Stay tuned for my next entry into the Tales from Europe series! I think the next country that I will do will be Belgium! Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed!

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