IT Chapter Two (2019) ~ Movie Review

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HERE

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★.★★★ (3.75)
Writing/Story: ★★★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★ | CGI: ★★ Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

IMDB STORY LINE:

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

MY 2 CENTS:

I have to say, seeing as Stephen King is my favorite author, this film is probably my most anticipated films of the year. I loved the book, thought the mini-series back in 1990 did an amazing job bringing the book to life, and really enjoyed the 2017 version of IT Chapter One. With the whole cast from the 2017 version coming back for Chapter Two plus the addition of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and so many other awesome actors I can’t deny I was very excited going into the theatre.

There is a lot to love about this film… there are also a few things I didn’t really care for. Now, I’ve heard complaints about the movie’s length, at 2 hours and 49 minutes it is a very long movie, but you have to consider the length of the book… Like most Stephen King novels, it’s not short!

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

As I said before, this movie is based on the novel IT by Stephen King. When IT was originally adapted to live action, it was a mini-series on television. I remember eating it up. I had just finished reading the book and couldn’t wait to see it. With it being a mini-series, they were able to really get a lot of the details from the book into the show… something you can’t really do when it’s a movie on the big screen, you just don’t have the time to fit it all in.

Splitting the movie into two parts, Chapter One and Chapter Two, did allow for more detail, but I felt as an audience member that chopping it up so much really made certain aspects of the films uneven. Plus, when you really look at what the movie is about, an evil clown comes to town every 27 years and kills kids… it’s a little surprising how long the movie is. Both movies pretty much have the same plot – Pennywise is back, killing kids, and the members of the Loser Club have to fight and kill him.

I think one of the reasons I really liked the original mini-series and even why I liked the 2017 movie a little more than this one is because you really get to feel what they are going through from a kids perspective. Think about it, evil creepy clown running around town in the sews killing kids… as a kid, that is some seriously scary stuff. However, with these characters, they approach Pennywise in much the same way they did as children, they have all the same fears they did 27 years before. However, that isn’t really realistic, as we get older, we change, people evolve, what we are afraid of changes and we approach our fears in a different way.

Cinematography ★★★

I think there are some really great shots in in this movie. However, I also think that the way it was filmed gave away a little too much too quickly. Sure, as the audience, we already know who Pennywise is and what he looks like, but I just think with a scary movie there is something to say for keeping the monster hidden that amps up the suspense. It seemed that Pennywise got a lot of screen time in this film, which took the scare level down significantly for me.

Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI):  ★★

Fun fact about the young actors who played the Losers Club members in IT Chapter One: They grew tremendously in the 2 years following filming that they actually had to be digitally ‘de-aged’ in some scenes because they looked significantly older than before. For me, every time I noticed it – which was often throughout the film – it pulled me out of the moment. I get that there really wasn’t another way to do it, since the flashback scenes with the kids had to look like they were from the same time period as the 2017 film, but for me the technique just wasn’t executed that well.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Let’s talk about Character(s) and acting… First off, there isn’t a whole lot of character building in this movie. I understand that we, as the audience, already know the characters from when they were children in the first movie, however this is 27 years later… people tend to change, a lot, in 27 years. The movie gives us only one scene for each of the main characters to show us what they are like now. It just feels really rushed as the movie pushes the characters together, trying to get them back to Derry. Then, once they are there the pace slows down considerably and it almost feels to slow with not enough action.

In terms of acting… WOW! Everyone is really strong. Both the adults playing the Loser Club as well as their child actor counterparts.

I think one of my favorite scenes is when they all first come together, at the restaurant. They haven’t seen each other is 27 years and yet there is an instant connection. You can see and feel the comradery as if they have remained close friends all their lives. They do a really good job of making it seem like these adults are the grown versions of the kids we saw jut two years ago in the 2017 movie. Mannerisms and speech patterns are all very similar and it helps to be able to connect each of the children actors to their adult counterparts.

Best actor award has to go to Bill Skarsgard who plays Pennywise. Pennywise is just a wonderful role for an actor. Tim Curry was amazing as Pennywise in the 1990 mini-series and Bill Skarsgard has done a wonderful job in both the 2017 and 2019 files. He is creepy – Defiantly the thing that nightmares are made of.  

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“See, the thing about being a loser, you don’t have anything to lose. So, be true. Be brave. Stand. Believe. And don’t ever forget, we’re losers, and we always will be.” ~ Losers Club (IT Chapter Two)

“Here’s Johnny” ~ Henry Bowers

  • The reason I like this one so much is because it’s a throwback to another Stephen King book, The Shining when Jack Torrance has gone crazy and is chopping down the bathroom door with an axe to kill his wife.

TO SUM IT UP:

Although I enjoyed this film, maybe not as much as the 2017 movie, I have to say it just doesn’t fully live up to the 1990’s mini-series. However, I do tend to lean toward originals more so then remakes and books rather than movies.

Have you seen IT Chapter Two yet? Did you see IT Chapter One, or better yet did you see the Original IT Mini Series? And, even more importantly, have you read the book? Let me know your answers, in the comments below. Tell me what you thought of the book, the mini-series, or the movies! I’d love to know. As always, I do recommend seeing this film for yourself and forming your own opinion.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Open the video and watch it on YouTube so you can subscribe to my channel and never miss a video!

IT Chapter Two (2019) Trailer:

IT Chapter One (2017) Trailer:

IT mini-series (1990) Trailer:


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Bright Side by Kim Holden ~ Book Review

Would you prefer to watch the video, instead of reading the review? CLICK HERE

RATING OVERVIEW 4.75 STARS

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

Secrets.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

WOW… I ate this book up, binge reading it in just a couple of days. It is a super-fast read with so much amazing detail.

WRITING (★★★★★): Kim Holden draws you right in with her playful dialogue between life long friends Kate and Gus. Immediately we feel their connection and realize that these two friends have just been separated as Kate left for college and Gus is still home in southern California following his dream of being a Rockstar.

The way Kim tells the story, each chapter from one character’s perspective, really pulled me into the book. It makes you, as a reader, feel more involved and it gives the story an overarching personal feeling that telling it from third person just wouldn’t have accomplished.

STORY (★★★★): This story takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get pissed… but, if you’re like me, you’ll love every minute of it.

A little warning though, this one is for mature audiences. Topics covered in Bright Side include loss, disease, eating disorders, homosexuality, sex, drinking, and SO MUCH MORE!!!

CHARACTERS (★★★★★): As an author, Kim Holden understands character development. She has to be one of my top 5 authors for character development. She had me emotionally connected, not only to the main character Kate but also with Gus, Keller, and everyone else. Seriously, even Kate’s college roommate, who is kind of a jerk, is written in a way that makes her misunderstood… I found myself wanting to know more about her. Who knows, maybe Kim will write a book for her at some point too.

Kate, also known as Bright Side, is a beautiful person inside and out. She is optimistic in every sense of the word and sadly, life has just not been kind to her. She has been dealt a terrible hand, but she doesn’t let it get her down. With every line… even when she is saying Dude every other word, we get a sense of who she is. That is the magic of good character development.

APPEARANCE (★★★★★): Simple… Intriguing… and totally Bright Side! The cover made me smile even before I opened the pages to meet Bright Side!  

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Today, my life is awesome. I don’t want to think about tomorrow. Or the day after that. So I repeat to myself: Today, my life is awesome.”

“Don’t judge each other. We all have our own shit. Keep your eyes on yours and your nose out of everyone else’s unless you’re invited in. And when you get the invitation, help, don’t judge.”

“Imagine for a moment that you were free of all the expectations in your life. What would you do? How would you live your life with no one watching? What would your future look like?”

“Do Epic.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kim lives in what she calls the greatest city in the world: Denver, Colorado. Some of her favorite things: reading, writing, her husband and her son, her bicycle, Facebook, iced coffee, and music. She also loves dreaming. Her advice to anyone reading this, or any of her books… follow your dreams. It’s never too late. Get started today … heck get started RIGHT NOW! Make your dreams reality.
She loves to hear from fellow readers. So, if you want to reach out, find her on Goodreads at author/show/7445352.Kim_Holden

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by Kim Holden

GUS (Bright Side Book 2)

This is the story of Gus.
Losing himself.
Finding himself.
And healing along the way.

“ … but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t even know how to function anymore. Bright Side wasn’t only my best friend; she was like my other half … the other half of my brain, the other half of my conscience, the other half of my sense of humor, the other half of my creativity, the other half of my heart. How do you go back to doing what you did before, when half of you is gone forever?”

Note from the author: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is recommended for mature audiences.

FRANCO (Bright Side Book 3)

Franco Genovese is the drummer for world renowned American rock band, Rook. He’s got it all. A killer smile. Tattoos. Talent. Razor sharp wit and humor. And a heart as big, and generous, as they come.
Life is good. Steady. Uncomplicated. Just the way he likes things.
Until one night at an unassuming L.A. bar changes everything.
Enter Gemma Hendricks.
She’s a successful young architect from Northern England with an adorable smile, sarcasm for days, and an unparalleled trusting heart.
The attraction is instant.
So is their friendship.
It’s also temporary because they’ll both be heading home, thousands of miles apart from each other, in a few days.
Or is it?
There’s something Gemma wants more than anything else.
And when Franco propositions her to provide what she’s looking for, everything changes.
Will it transform friendship into love, or will it be their ruin?

THE OTHER SIDE

There are two sides to every story.
The surface reality that’s presented to the world…
And then there’s the other side.
The real one.
The one that matters.
Seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed asshole, Toby Page, is alone.
No friends.
No family.
He trades maintenance work in exchange for room and board.
Every day he fights demons no one else can see.
Every day he wants to give up.
But he can’t.
Not yet.
When Alice Eliot moves in downstairs, she offers Toby some light in his dark world.
At a crossroads and barely hanging on, it’s hard to have perspective.
It’s difficult to see your own worth when you’re the villain in your story.
Luckily for Toby, Alice brings things out in him that no one else ever has.
As the two sides of Toby’s story are revealed, and the full reality comes into view, truth is gained, unlikely heroes emerge, and improbable alliances prove that kindness is fundamentally human.
The question is, Will it all be enough to save him?

ALL OF IT

Seventeen-year-old VERONICA SMITH has it all: a loving family, a funky car named Jezebel, and a plan to go to college after graduation. On the first day of senior year, she meets DIMITRI GLENN–a mysterious transfer student with gray eyes and a mischievous smile who seems determined to win her heart. But there’s something odd about Dimitri, leading Veronica to wonder if there’s more to him than meets the eye. Before long she finds herself in a whirlwind romance that seems too good to be true–until a series of devastating events leaves her questioning everything. It’s not until she chooses to think with her heart instead of her mind that she can rise from the ashes to learn the truth of their connection.

SO MUCH MORE

This is a glimpse into divorce: the lead-up, the aftermath, and the redemption that follows.
Love is strange. It comes out of nowhere. There’s no logic to it. It’s not methodical. It’s not scientific. It’s pure emotion and passion. And emotion and passion can be dangerous because they fuel love…and hate.
I’m now a reluctant connoisseur of both—an expert through immersion. I know them intimately.

When I fell in love with Miranda, it was swift and blind. She was the person I’d elevated to mythical status in my head, in my dreams.
Here’s the thing about dreams, they’re smoke.
They’re spun as thoughts until they become something we think we want. Something we think we need.

That was Miranda. She was smoke.

I thought I wanted her. I thought I needed her.

Over time reality crept in and slowly dissected and disemboweled my dreams like a predator, leaving behind a rotting carcass.

Reality can be a fierce bitch.
So can Miranda.

And I can be a fool…
who believes in dreams.

And people.


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Week 31 – #WritingWednesday Challenge

Today is the 31st Edition of #WritingWednesday!!!

Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE, weekly writing challenge.

  • Read the writing prompt below,
  • Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,
  • DON’T EDIT what you write! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.

Today I am writing in the voice of Ava one of the characters in a novel I’m currently outlinging.

Today’s writing prompt:

You look outside: It’s snowing! But look closer. Those aren’t snowflakes falling from the sky! What is it?

I could hear the sirens and smell the smoke before I could muster up the strength to open my eyes. I had been knocked out. Again. It was the second time in just under a month and I was sure my handler at Operation Atlas wasn’t going to be happy about it.

When I finally rolled to my back and opened my eyes, there was ash floating from the sky and landing softly on the ground all around me. There had to be two or three thick inches of ash coating every surface within a one-mile radius.

The fire wasn’t supposed to be that big. They had told me just to take out the warehouse, but they didn’t know about the chemicals being stored in the basement. By the time they exploded, it was too late. I was thrown clear across the parking lot and knocked out cold. The fire department came, but even they couldn’t stop the flames from jumping from building to building. By the time they found me, the fire had consumed the entire block.

Luckily, I was able to stop it before it jumped the road and spread deeper into the city.

Starting, and stopping fire… that’s my superpower. Although, lately, it seems like more of a curse.

© 2019 Nina Soden


Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with! 

You look outside: It’s snowing! But look closer. Those aren’t snowflakes falling from the sky! What is it?


What books have made your September reading list? Are any of them on the New York Times Best Seller list? Comment below and let me know, then, CLICK HERE to check out the 10 Ten Best Sellers for September and see which ones you’d like to add to your reading list!


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Unplug and Recharge! #MindfulnessMonday

  #MindfulnessMonday 9/9/19

Would you prefer to watch the video tips rather than reading them? CLICK HERE

#MindfulnessMonday Tip: Anne Lamott said it best when she said, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”  

Why should we unplug?

Our lives have never been more automated than they are right now. We have instant access to information, which fifteen or twenty years ago would have been unheard of. Yet, with all these advances which are designed to make our lives easier and more efficient, we still spend less time resting then we ever did before. Hence the need to unplug and recharge!

Unplugging doesn’t necessarily mean sleep… it means rest. Rest from the constant overload of technology. It means to take a break, both physically and mentally. Step away from the screens, from 24/7 connection, and allow yourself to find calm, peace, and stillness.

The loss of truly recharging sleep, that so many of us experience, is a huge and sadly common factor in daily unhappiness and increased stress.

Our brains and bodies are resilient, but the more we add to our to do list, the more screen time we allow ourselves, the more stress we add to our daily lives the less rest we get when we actually lay down at night. A lack of restful sleep can lead to not only increased stress, depression, and a feeling over overall fatigue throughout the day – it can lead to severe medical conditions.

I encourage you to see your doctor for advice if you feel that your lack of restful sleep is getting worse or has been chronically poor over a long period of time.

Today’s Mindfulness Exercise:

24 Hour Unplug and Recharge Exercise

This one might be hard for some of you, but the benefits are worth it… I want you to pick a day, 24 hours minimum, where you are going to completely unplug. I recommend a non-work day. Turn off your phone, unplug your computer, television, gaming system, and any other electronic devise that might tempt you.
Spend time outside, reading, playing cards or board games with your friends and family, cooking, whatever activities that make you happy as long as there is no technology involved.

Mindfulness Journaling:

After you’ve completed your 24 Hour Unplug and Recharge Exercise, spend five to ten minutes journaling how the exercise made you feel. Its completely normal to have experiences a little anxiety about not being socially connected. Its even normal to experience the fear of missing out. Record everything you felt, good and bad, that way when you complete the exercise the next time you can see if and how these emotions have changed. The more often you complete the exercise, the easy you will find it gets.

Mindfulness journaling can be very private. However, I would love to invite you to comment below and share your experiences with the ‘Clean a Room Mindfully’ exercise.


Check out my #MindfulnessMonday YouTube Series and don’t forget to click subscribe so you never miss an episode!

Unplug and Recharge!

The Power of Napping!

10 Mindfulness Tips for Everyday Practice!

Mindfulness in the Workplace

7 Tips for Bringing Mindfulness into Your Life!


Would you like to take the 52-week challenge and experience a more mindful existence? Check out The Invisible You ~ 52 Weeks of Meditations, Activities, and Writing Prompts to Help you Discover You!

Photo by: Mikel Healy

I’m certified in Holistic Stress Management and Mind/Body Fitness. I’ve been practicing Mindfulness for 10+ years and am passionate about helping others in their pursuit of a more mindful existence.


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The Art of Racing in the Rain (Movie Review)

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HERE

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW: ★★★.★ (3.33)
Writing/Story: ★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★ | Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★

IMDB BLURB:

Through his bond with his owner, aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny, golden retriever Enzo learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life.

IMDB STORY LINE:

Dog lovers often believe their canine family members understand language, comprehend events, have opinions, and exude loyalty. In “The Art of Racing in The Rain”, wise old dog Enzo Swift shares thoughts about the life experiences which prepared him to protect his family in times of greatest need.

MY 2 CENTS:

So, 2019 seems to be the year of dog movies. Earlier this year we had A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Journey. Now, The Art of Racing in the Rain. So, have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it? I need your comments down below.

Let’s jump right in and talk about the critical points…

Writing/Story: ★★★

The writing is good… average. I wish I had read the book, so I’d be able to compare it, but I didn’t. So, I will say this, there isn’t a whole lot of meaningful dialogue in this one. There are a lot of cute little one liners but not a lot of substantial dialogue where the characters are getting to know each other or connecting on a meaningful level. It has a strong made for TV feel about it.

The story is cute… who doesn’t like a movie centered around a cute dog. However, when this one takes a turn… leaving the dog story for a bit and focuses more on the human aspect of the film, that’s when we really get to see it for what it is… a Lifetime movie with a pretty common plot.

Sure, there are some emotional moments and some tragic things happen. Things that could happen to anyone… things that will break your heart if they happen in real life. However, it’s the way they go about it in this film that just didn’t hit the right emotional buttons with me.   

With that said, most dog movies are seen as family films, but this one does hit on topics that are a bit too depressing for kids to be entertained by.

Cinematography ★★★

Honestly, there just wasn’t anything sensationally about the cinematography in this film. Nothing to wright home about. There was one scene, when Denny is racing in the rain and

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★

I have to say the Best Actor award in this one has to go to the dog. Or rather, dogs, plural. There were multiple dogs that played Enzo, but seriously these dogs did an amazing job. Kudos to the trainers on set, they did a fantastic job getting the dogs to do exactly what was needed for this film. Plus, with Kevin Costner’s voice giving life to the dog how could the film really go wrong, right? His timing and delivery of Enzo’s lines was perfect.

Our other two main characters were Amanda Seyfried, who played Eve, and Milo Ventimiglia who played Denny Swift.

Amanda was great, she always is. She is a natural on screen and wow… I didn’t see that coming. This movie, as I’m sure the book did, took a major turn with her character. I won’t give it away, but I wasn’t expecting it. She did a beautiful job showing true emotion throughout her performance, I just wish we could have seen a bit more of it from the dog’s perspective.

Milo did a good job too; I’ve enjoyed his acting since his days on The Gilmore Girls. I think he felt a little stiff in this one, but over all not bad. He had some good emotion driven moments, but all in all his character was more one liners than deep, true, conversation. The movie is called The Art of Racing in the Rain, I really wish we could have seen him race a bit more. We saw him drive around the race track… mostly when there weren’t other drivers on the track with him. I felt a little gipped that we didn’t get to see a few good races.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.”

TO SUM IT UP:

The story as a whole, wasn’t bad. When the focus was on the dog… telling the story from the dog’s perspective, I was really into it. It was when it took a turn and focused more on the human aspects of the story instead of what it was… a story about a dog… that’s when it lost my focus a bit.

Listen, with that said, this movie is still really good. If you loved it, I’m glad. I enjoyed it too. I know I might not have the most popular opinion about this film, but my job here is as a critic… I look at all aspects of the film and tell you what I think. This one just didn’t move me in ways other dog movies have moved me other the years. Sure, I got teary eyed once… I didn’t cry, but I got a bit of blurry vision when the Enzo road in the race car, and sure there are some serious – SERIOUS – topics discussed and things happen… terrible – sad things that I did get emotional about. I knew nothing about the movie before seeing it, other than it was narrated by a dog… I don’t want to give away to much since I’m sure not everyone watching this video has seen the film.

Have you seen The Art of Racing in the Rain yet? Have you read the book? If you have let me know, in the comments below, what you thought of either the book or the movie! I’d love to know. I haven’t read the book, but I plan to and I do recommend seeing this film. Watch it yourself and see what you think.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

View the Official Trailer Below!


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WHOOMP! WHOOMP! WHOOMP! (4 Chapter Short Story)

Whoomp! Whoomp! Whoomp!

The Day the World Stopped Making Sense

by Nina Soden

Dedicated to Wayne and Tanja Miller

©2019 Nina Soden

Based on the character Lynne Loveless and the fictitious facts of the play BAMGILA written by Wayne Miller the leader of Evil Cheez Productions

CHAPTER 1

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the tragedy that befell Southern Alabama on the day Bamgila made his way out of the bay. It was over twenty years ago, August 2019, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

Thousands were killed, more were injured, and hundreds were left homeless as billions were reported in property damage. It was a miracle how the community came together, over the five years following the tragedy, and rebuilt the city from the ashes left in Bamgila’s wake.

In order to explain what happened, I first have to tell you how it was that I came to live in Southern Alabama. I wasn’t born there, nor did I choose to make Mobile, Alabama my home; it was forced upon me. The journey had started ten years before Bamgila’s invasion in the summer of 2009. My husband, David, moved me, and our then 4-year-old daughter, Darby, from our home in Northern Washington to the depths of Alabama.

David’s work was transferring him, whether I liked it or not. He had cheated and I had considered letting him go without us, but for Darby’s sake, I decided to give our marriage one more chance. I had hoped that a new start would do us both some good. Besides, I had learned that my best friend from high school, Susan Miller, now Susan Garrison, had moved down to Mobile, Alabama about fifteen years earlier after marrying her husband. I hadn’t seen her in over twenty years, but we still talked from time to time and of course, we kept in touch through social media. Susan was a very successful real estate agent, with her own firm and a wall full of awards. She helped us find a home, my dream home, with a wrap around porch and a backyard pool.

Susan’s husband, Gill, helped get me a job at WCHZ, a local radio station. I quickly made a name for myself at the station and my co-workers became my family. I worked as an anchor, along side Walsh Chandler, one of the world’s most conservative republicans. He made Rush Limbaugh look liberal. Walsh and I never really saw eye to eye, but I suppose our disagreements made for entertaining radio. Deep down, I always knew Walsh had a soft side. That night, in the basement of the station, Walsh showed his true colors. He proudly exited the closet and came out to all of us while declaring his love for his secret lover, Douglas. If only he hadn’t died that night, I think we would have become fast friends.

Working in media, you’re trained to hold your composure. Don’t show fear or emotion, that’s the number one rule. It’s to easy to evoke mass panic if the audience hears fear in your voice or see’s it in your eyes.

It’s hard… It’s hard trying to encourage others and spread hope when you know people all around you are dying, if not already dead.

That night, the world grieved for the loss of thousands, but in that basement, we grieved for the loss of our co-workers—our family.

Until you’re in a situation like the Bamgila Invasion, which is what the history books are now calling it, you can’t possibly understand the pain and suffering that comes with such a loss. The decisions I made, hoping to keep myself and those I loved alive, and the relationships lost in those endless moments of fear will forever haunt me.

CHAPTER 2

The day started like any other Tuesday, except instead of dropping Darby off at school on my way to work she came with me. She was suspended, three days for skipping class. I suppose I can’t blame her; kids tend to lash out when their feeling stress. Darby’s life had been turned upside down, not once but twice. The most recent being the summer before she started ninth grade when her father decided to leave, moving into a flat in the city with his twenty-three-year-old mistress, Bambi.

Bambi had been Darby’s nanny, up until she turned twelve, and had spent many family vacations and backyard BBQs with us over the eight years she worked for us. It turns out her benefits package was better than my own. She walked with a new condo, money in her pocket, and my husband at her side. I got the house, 75% custody of Darby, and no alimony because David lost his job a month before our divorce became finalized.

When I found out Gill was cheating on Susan, with Crystal one of the stations anchors, I lost it. I gave him an ultimatum, tell Susan before their next anniversary or I would. That gave him five and a half months to decide how to do it, but it didn’t take that long. About two months later, Susan had cornered him in the den, demanding to know the truth. In Gill ultimate wisdom, he confessed thinking he had no other choice. It turns out, Susan had no idea about the affair and only wanted to know how he could possibly spend $2500 on golf clubs without talking to her first. I’m only thankful that Susan didn’t have to live with that pain for too long.

The very next day, Bamgila came walking out of the bay. I won’t go into the gory details of how Susan died, I don’t want to relive those memories. Over twenty years later and her death is still just as painful today as it was then. In fact, I’m tearing up just thinking about her now. If you had known Susan; her passion for life, her extraordinary lust for excitement, and her never ending love of friends and family, you’d understand the gaping hole her death left in all of us.

CHAPTER 3

Darby and I made it into the station about seven o’clock, in the middle of Sunny Storm’s morning weather report. She was a twenty-something, brunet with dreams of one day becoming an actress. The problem she ran into wasn’t a lack of talent, no, it was that no one was looking for fresh talent in L.A. That’s lower Alabama to those of you who haven’t lived in the south, not to be mistaken with Los Angeles, California.

Sunny’s personality was much like her name, sunny. She was eager to learn and although many of the men in the office saw her as a ditz, I knew better. She was a social media wizard. She had over ten thousand followers on Instagram and double that on Twitter. I’m not sure why they were so fascinated by pictures of what she ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner which she posted on a daily basis. However, I will admit I often found myself getting lost in her ramblings whenever she posted videos.

Gill was always the first one in and the last one to leave at the end of the day. He greeted Darby and I moments after we walked in. I could tell something was wrong, but with Gill you never know if it’s a stubbed toe or a plane crash, everything is over the top with him. Either way, I had my own drama going on, trying to deal with Darby and her recent acts of defiance. By the time I got Darby out of the lobby and settled into a quiet place to nap before hitting the books, Gill was half way into his story about how Susan had pulled the truth out of him. I wont lie, I was glad she finally knew. I hated lying to her.

By the time Gill was done ranting, I had barely finished my first cup of coffee. Kenny Kramer, the WCHZ office intern, came bumbling into the lobby in a very Cosmo Kramar way. If you’ve ever seen Seinfeld, the early 1990’s sitcom, then you know what I mean. The irony that his mother named him after Michael Richard’s character Kramer is not lost on anyone who meets him.

Kenny proceeded to bombarded Gill and I in the lobby, going on and on about something he found amazing and world altering. It wasn’t until Gill turned on the television and the image of Bamgila filled the screen that I realized Kenny had no idea how right he really was. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t excited about Bamgila’s existence, not like Kenny was. No, I was terrified, much like the rest of the world.

In a matter of hours, less than twenty-four, Bamgila had appeared as if out of nowhere. He walked out of waters of Mobile Bay defying all laws of physics and whether maliciously or not, wreaked havoc across the state. Fire exploded from his mouth, vehicles and buildings were crushed under the weight of his mass, and lives… so many lives were sacrificed to his will. The whole city fell under his shadow. We were all at his mercy, but Bamgila showed no mercy.

CHAPTER 4

Skip Starke was the sports anchor back then. No one really took him to seriously, though. He presented himself like a has been football player who thought he should have been more. To be truthful, the only reason I even remember his name was because he had professed his feelings for me only thirty minutes before Bamgila took his life. He didn’t go without a fight though.

Charging toward the fire breathing monster, Skip managed to put two bullets right between the monster’s eyes. It didn’t make a difference, they barely penetrated the skin, but that isn’t what mattered. What mattered was that he had done it, bravely and selflessly, in an effort to save us all.

The weather girl, Sunny Storm, or rather Ethel Eugenia Furbish as we learned that night, was never found after the attack. Members of the National guard were sifting through bodies for months, identifying those they could and contacting family members if any were still living. Sunny’s body never turned up. There have been reports, over the years, that she had run out of the building, heading west, and never looked back. Some even say she kept running until she reached the Pacific Ocean. Considering she only owned four-inch heels, I find it hard to believe she could have run that far. I’m sure she called an uber as soon as she was out of the state, but you never know. Secretly, I hope she did make it all the way to California. I hope she changed her name, again, and took up acting out on the golden coast.

Crystal and Gill ended up throwing a huge party a few months after the event. They called it a funeral, to honor Susan’s memory, but it was a party. The only thing Susan would have liked about the party was all the alcohol. Everyone was drinking in her honor and somehow it felt like she was there too. I couldn’t stomach it, I still missed her too much. Life just wasn’t the same without my friend. I ended up leaving thirty minutes in, just after Crystal announced she was pregnant… with twins. Somehow that didn’t stop her from taking shot after shot of Gill’s expensive tequila thought.

Kenny, the WCHZ intern, who Walsh had hired must to my chagrin ended up being my hero. When Darby and I attempted to get away from Bamgila, I lost hold of her hand. She slipped right out of my fingers. I searched through the rubble for what felt like days trying to find her. Then, after hours of interrogation by General Stone of the U.S. Army, Kenny brought her back to me. I will forever be grateful to him.  In the twenty years since the incident, Kenny has continued with WCHZ, moving his way up the ranks until just five years ago, I heard he had been promoted to General Manager in charge of all programing. He has turned into a fine man and has done the station, and all of us old-timers, proud.

The high school my daughter attended, like most of the city, was demolished. She ended up completing the year, and her next three, through a virtual academy out of Texas. She graduated with honors and moved back to Washington to attend university. She came down every few months to visit, but once she got married, I decided it was time to pack up and move back up north too. I let go of my wrap around porch and backyard pool, in exchange for living just down the street from my two beautiful grandchildren; Sydney and Ethan. I wouldn’t give that up for all the world.

Whoomp! Whoomp! Whoomp! ©2019 Nina Soden

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Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco ~ Book Review

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  • Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
  • Author: Kerri Maniscalco

RATING OVERVIEW: 4.25 STARS
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

I’ve always been fascinated with the minds of serial killers. Not in a creepy way, but in a ‘how could anyone possible do that’ sort of way. My mind tries to understand that which cannot be understood… With that said, I’ve read a number of books about Jack the Ripper and I’ve even played his final victim in the play, The Belles of Whitechapel by Wayne Miller. So, when someone asked me to read and review this book, I jumped at the opportunity.

WRITING (★★★★): Maniscalco’s writing style is detailed and fluid. I love how easily I was swept away to the late 1800’s while Jack the Ripper was roaming the streets. Although, at times, the story seemed to drag, bogged down by unnecessary scenes, it didn’t distract me from the over all story. I loved Maniscalco’s style and am eager to read more.

STORY (★★★★): Audrey Rose, our heroine, is a member of high society expected to attend tea, brunch with the ladies, and accept her place in society as an uneducated woman. However, Audrey Rose doesn’t accept that. She has a passion for knowledge and a curiosity for forensic science. Sneaking behind her father’s back, she studies under the tutelage of her uncle, spending many days elbow deep in the viscera of the latest cadaver.

The author leads us down a few paths, making the reader question who the killer, Jack the Ripper, really is. I’ll admit, I made a couple wrong guesses, but I got it right on my third try about half way through the book. If you pay attention, the clues are there.

CHARACTERS (★★★★): The book has a small cast of primary characters, the two main characters being Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell. We’re also introduced to Audrey’s Uncle Jonathan, her brother Nathaniel, her father Lord Edmund Wadsworth, her Aunt Amelia, and her cousin Liza with a few other thrown in throughout the story.

Audrey Rose isn’t your typical 1800’s lady, but I found her to be fun, feisty, and all around relatable. Like many teenagers, she often acts without thinking, she jumps to conclusions, and she puts herself in dangerous positions. She is strong willed and brave. It’s that bravery and courage that I enjoyed the most about her character. The way she didn’t care about blending in… fitting in… she was who she was and she didn’t care what other people thought about her.

Thomas Cresswell, who fancies Audrey Rose from just about the moment he spots her is the devilishly handsome, smooth talking, bad boy. Or at least that’s what he wants you to believe. I loved the way that he and Audrey play off each other. There is chemistry between them from the start, but back in the 1800’s it wasn’t proper to act on emotions so there is also a lot of restraint. That push and pull of emotions is fun to read.

APPEARANCE (★★★★★): The cover is beautiful. We have a clear image of what Audrey Rose looks like, although, I’ll admit she isn’t the girl I was picturing as I read the book. We also get a visual of her world, the dark streets of Victorian-era London. I think the cover artist did a beautiful job.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”

“Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.”

“In my spare time I flay open bodies of the deceased. Two of whom were victims of leather Apron. The scent that hung in the room would drop a man to his knees, and I aided my uncle during the postmortems while standing in gelled blood. Whatever you have to show us won’t be too much for my stomach to handle, I assure you.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by Kerri Maniscalco

Becoming the Dark Prince

In this irresistibly-priced short story, catch a glimpse of the inner struggles and triumphs that drive Stalking Jack the Ripper‘s endearing but troubled hero.
Enigmatic, brooding, and darkly handsome, Thomas Cresswell has always been the one mystery Audrey Rose has never been able to fully solve. As brilliant partners in crime investigation, they understand each other perfectly…

but as young lovers, their passionate natures have led to both euphoria and heartbreak throughout the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.
This novella features a collection of scenes that takes place during and after the pair’s horrifying Atlantic voyage in Escaping From Houdini. Experience new and familiar scenes from Thomas’s unique point of view, including an intensely personal look into his plea for Audrey Rose’s hand in marriage.
With a romance for the ages, Audrey Rose and Thomas reach the conclusion to their epic, irresistible partnership in their final adventure, Capturing the Devil.


Hunting Prince Dracula

In this New York Times bestselling thriller, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life? FEATURES BONUS CONTENT EXCLUSIVE TO THIS PAPERBACK EDITION!

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.


Escaping From Houdini

Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell find themselves aboard a luxurious ocean liner that becomes a floating prison of horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer.

The #1 bestselling series that started with Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula continues its streak in this third bloody installment…. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, Audrey Rose

Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow more and more bizarre. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation before more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


Capturing the Devil

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London.

But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve encountered before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?


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Love Like This by Nina Soden

The other day I heard a song, it wasn’t short but it wasn’t long.

There were no words just a tune, it said to me you’d be here soon.

Though I never met you, and I’ve never seen your eyes so blue.

I knew your heart was filled with love, just like that of a pure white dove.

The sun did shine upon me, and my heart began to see.

My life would not be lived alone, because a love like this I have never known.

Dedicated to my blue-eyed baby girl. Mommy loves you.

(c) copyright 2008 ~ Nina Soden

For more poems, check out by collection on Amazon: Private Words Unspoken

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#Theredheadedauthor Presents the September 2019 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – FICTION

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Fiction selections for September 2019!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.


#1 Where the Crawdads Sing

by Delia Owens

Ina quiet town on the North Carolina coast in 1969, a young woman who survived alone in the marsh becomes a murder suspect.


#2 Old Bones

by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

An expedition into the Sierra Nevada uncovers new twists to the events involving the Donner party.


#3 The Last Widow

by Karin Slaughter

The abduction of a Centers for Disease Control scientist and explosions in an Atlanta neighborhood portend a massacre.


#4 The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Garth Stein

An insightful Lab-terrier mix helps his owner, a struggling race car driver.


#5 One Good Deed

by David Baldacci

A World War II veteran on parole must find the real killer in a small town or face going back to jail.


#6 The Inn

by James Patterson and Candice Fox

A former Boston police detective who is now an innkeeper must shield a seaside town from a crew of criminals.


#7 The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

After his mother is killed in a museum explosion, a young man grapples with the world alone while hiding a prized Dutch painting.


#8 The Turn of the Key

by Ruth Ware

A nanny working in a technology-laden house in Scotland goes to jail when one of the children dies.


#9 The Bitterroots

by C.J. Box

The fourth book in the Cassie Dewell series. The black sheep of an influential family is accused of assault.


#10 The Nickel Boys

by Colson Whitehead

Two boys respond to horrors at a Jim Crow-era reform school in ways that impact them decades later.



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Week 30 – #WritingWednesday Challenge

Today is the 30th Edition of #WritingWednesday!!!

I CHALLENGE YOU – COMMENT BELOW WITH YOUR FIVE MINUTE ANSWER TO TODAY’S WRITING PROMPT QUESTION!

Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE, weekly writing challenge.

  • Read the writing prompt below,
  • Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,
  • DON’T EDIT what you write! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.

Today I am writing in the voice of Phoebe the lead character in my novel Pursuit, book 4 in the Blood Angel Series.

Today’s writing prompt:

What is the best road trip you have ever taken?

Sometimes, you just have to get away. That’s how I felt, every second of every day, after my mom and sister died. Life just wasn’t the same and I knew it never would be. So, I left.

I had been training, learning everything I could about being a tracker. I knew it wasn’t in my blood, not like it was for my sister. She was amazing. Me, I had to work at it, hard. That didn’t mean I wasn’t good, I was… I am.

After just a week on the road, I had managed to get the attention of the High Council. No, that isn’t always a good thing, especially when they send someone like me to find you. In this case, I wanted to get their attention. I wanted them to know who I was and what I was planning.

I made my way from Atlanta, Michigan where I had grown up, all the way out West to California. Along the way, I worked as a High Council tracker. I was taken in on a trial basis, but by the time I landed my fifth capture, they hired me full-time and were giving me the best cases. Having magic on my side didn’t hurt things.

Being out there, on the road, alone was eye opening. I didn’t have a car, so I hitch-hiked and took the bus just about everywhere I went, but it didn’t slow me down. I saw the world with new eyes. My sister and mother had never left Michigan, so I was seeing it for the first time, for all of us. I needed it. Though I was alone, I never felt lonely. I could feel them there with me, in spirit, guiding me… helping me. It was the best time of my life. Why it had to end… that’s another story.

© 2019 Nina Soden


Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with! 

What is the best road trip you have ever taken?


What books have made your September reading list? Comment below and let me know!


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