Saturday, October 31, 2015

Poetry: Internal Conspiracy

by M. J. Joachim

Grandiose visions
Have not I
Of fame or fortune
Pie in the sky

Nor did I err
At once deceive
Myself with glory
I didn’t crave

Only passion
Desire and need
Created truth from
This internal seed

A journey unraveled
Folklore must be told
Scavengers wanting
Before they get old

Dust mites do settle
Alone they will breed
Feeding on flakes
Until they are freed

Captured in silence
Away to the tombs
Creatures unhallowed
Forbearing their wombs

We in the dark
Or light that is dim
Fighting such reason
Our life but to skim

Oh, but to salvage
What little there is
Captured in sequence
There might be a quiz

Safe in our harbors
Despite our affairs
Wreaking such havoc
On those unawares

Beware of the darkness
Don’t go to the light
Mediocrity settles
To be so contrite

Captured in silence
Alone in the dark
Waves of great nausea
Daring to remark

Oh that I listen
To all those who doubt
Working in silence
I have but to flout

Tis I said the vision
Of domestic pang
Release of your yin
For I am your yang

As always, it is with extraordinary appreciation that I thank you for visiting today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: CCO Public Domain

Friday, October 30, 2015

Literary Studies: Roughing It Part 1 by Mark Twain

by M. J. Joachim

Mark Twain, one of the world’s most beloved authors, describes in detail, almost like a diary of sorts, several years of his life, traveling out west, meeting curious people and delighting in the times of his society, be it civilize, uncivilized or customarily cultured or lacking culture just the same. It doesn’t get any better than this, as Mr. Twain teaches writers everywhere how to journal, authenticate history and become engrossingly involved in the process of substantiating one’s existence through composition.

The journey starts with Twain’s brother being appointed Secretary of Nevada, which ultimately takes all of us on an adventurous expedition from east to west, beginning on a stage coach, ending on a train - the Transcontinental Railroad (completed in 1867) was in the process of being built during this discourse. The antics proposed to embark on this journey were nothing short of spectacular, particularly for writers desiring to imbue their audience with a sense of reality healthily dosed by a comedy of errors. One can’t help but laugh out loud at some of the tomfoolery taking place in this narrative.

Cowboys and Indians, stagecoach mishaps and robberies, bad guys overshadowed by some truly difficult times in American history are all present and completely detailed by this magnanimous account of a couple of city boys roaming across the country for their livelihoods. Perhaps the history is the most important of all, as Roughing It specifically takes into account so many things readers might otherwise forget, and almost certainly never read in their history books. 

Mark Twain brings the wild, wild west to life in a way far beyond imagination. They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and if Roughing It is any indication, there isn’t any doubt to be had about it. “Published in 1872, MT’s second major work is about going west to dig for wealth in the rocks of Nevada and ultimately finding it instead as a writer and entertainer. It was written between 1870 and the end of 1871, and based on experiences MT had had (mostly as Samuel Clemens, of course) between 1861 and 1866,” states the Twain Library of Virginia (edu).

Roughing It was sold door to door, and is the supposed sequel to Innocents Abroad. Twain had a difficult time determining his calling as a writer in the beginning, and from certain accounts only wanted to invest his time if it might come to be a successful venture. He also had a family to care for, and as families go, and in all probability because of the current times, things were not always easy on that front. There were deaths, illnesses and a variety of other hardships that made it arduous to consider becoming a writer, as the male head of the household in those times. 

Twain was already an accomplished author due to his success with Innocents Abroad when Roughing It was published. Many of his fans were anticipating his new book with eager disposition. For whatever reason, Twain appeared a bit anxious about publishing this work, as is indicated in various correspondence with his peers, and present company of the time. Reviews proved his apprehension unfounded. 

Mark Twain is undoubtedly, at present, the most popular of American humorists.” Utica Morning Herald and Gazette - Unsigned (February 23, 1872)

It is not necessarily to say one word about this work, as it is already widely known. It is equal to Mark's Innocents, profusely illustrated and of course no one would think of being without it.” St. Louis Missouri Democrat - Unsigned (March 4, 1872)

The country reasonably and rightfully expects to be amused when Mr. Samuel Clemens gives it a new volume. His fun is contagious.” The Hartford Courant - Charles Dudley Warner (March 18, 1872)

Roughing It is, in some respects, superior to The Innocents at Home. It is more consecutive and less fragmentary, but both are almost equally racy and entertaining.” London Examiner - Unsigned (April 6, 1872)

In this work Mr. Clemens has produced one of his more readable volumes.” New York Independent - Unsigned (April 11, 1872)

Roughing It is the title of Mark Twain's last book. The volume is full of humor and atrocious woodcuts, even more grotesque than the text…No writer ever made so much out of so little, and that much of such excellent quality.” San Francisco Call - B. B. Toby (April 28, 1872)

Indeed, Twain’s “grotesque” style of writing was noteworthy during his day. A few reviews expressed as much, and not all in a positive light. I personally found it charming, definitely less grotesque than much of what we read, view and express in various ways today. You can read the entire manuscript all at once, or opt to read smaller works of it like I did, per your preference. It can be purchased or collected as a public domain work, and is well worth your discovery and time. 

Thank you so much for visiting my writing blog today. The pleasure is always mine when you stop by. 

M. J. 

©2015 All Rights Reserved 

App Review: Languinis

by M. J. Joachim

You’ve got to try this game! I don’t know if anyone is playing on Facebook, because I’m currently only playing by myself, but I’m already on level 10 and having a ball!

It’s a combination of Bejeweled, word games, freeing little guys called languinis and a whole lot more. There are worlds, just like in Mario games. The sound effects are awesome, but you can play just as well with them off. The graphics are way too fun, and the tutorial, so you can learn how to play, is excellent!

Once you master the basics, you receive target goals that get harder as you progress in the game. Some of the gems have special powers, plus there are significant helps you can use to reach your goals along the way. It’s way beyond engaging and entertaining!

I love this app because it incorporates so many of the games I like to play, all in one creatively fun activity. It even has puzzle logic, so maybe it will help me get better at some of those other apps that are currently driving me crazy. Check it out, because I’m sure you’ll have a blast, and what’s life without a bit of commotion and merriment, right?

TGIF and all that good stuff! Wishing you all the best of the weekend!

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Smithsonian

by M. J. Joachim

Short snippets of every topic of video one can imagine make the Smithsonian app positively delightful, informative, educational and inventive. Documenting history, current events and random commodities, detailing cultures, environments and relics in such a way that one cannot help but be engrossed, spending quality moments watching compact videos, intensely filled with dynamic graphics, scenery and perfectly developed narratives.

Not that I expected anything less from Smithsonian, but seriously, if you haven’t downloaded this app, you are definitely missing out! There is so much to choose from, and navigation is clear, easy and extremely user-friendly. One of the best parts about it is that it doesn’t impose on one’s time. Most videos are less than five minutes long, many of them as short as 1 - 2 minutes, so the app is ideal for anyone interested in the smallest particle of detail, providing valuable insight and information about almost any given topic.

I find the Smithsonian app truly magnificent and know you will enjoy watching its videos as much as I do. This app is expansive and perfect for individuals, parents, teachers and students and anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of various topics, gathering knowledge and enjoying the wonderful information it has to offer.

Ever enhancing our learning, this is M. J. feeling just a little bit smarter right now.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Dice Planet

by M. J. Joachim

I swear if I didn’t think I had dyslexia before, I do now that I’ve started playing this app. I keep throwing away the dice I’m supposed to keep, and then kicking myself for losing all those points! Who knew there were so many variations of Yahtzee, plus a few new dice games I’ve never even heard of before?

This app is very user-friendly and easy to understand and play. The scoreboard is right there, and whenever you have points, they are highlighted on the screen so you can take them. The dice are easy to roll and choose, and the games can be figured out without even reading the rules for the most part.

You can play alone or with up to four opponents, by sharing your device. This isn’t an online community game or anything, but you can challenge yourself by playing more than one hand if you want. When it comes to this app I say, “Take a chance. Roll the dice. It’s all good and you might have a few minutes of fun when you do.”

I mean, who doesn’t love dice games, right?

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Farkle

by M. J. Joachim

Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out how to play this game on this particular app. There’s an instruction page, but ultimately all it does is tell you how to get points. The rest you pretty much have to figure out for yourself - which isn’t that difficult if you’re not already feeling massacred by puzzle apps - see my Unblock and Move It! reviews.

Once I figured out banking points and rolling more than once in a turn, I was pretty much satisfied and hooked. I’ve played similar games to this on my computer for years, and it’s along the same premise, so once I learned how to use the app properly, it was all good. Thankfully, that didn’t take too long, because at first I was like, “This app sucks! I have better things to do than sit here and try to figure out how to get more than a few stupid turns out of it.”

Well, it doesn’t suck, and I was quite possibly being a little impatient and a whole lot of, “I just want to play a game already. It shouldn’t be that hard.” Thus, moving on until I felt like taking the time to figure it out was the best option going. Their tutorial should definitely have a few more explanations about how to use the app and play, but other than that, it’s a very fun game.

Rolling the dice and taking a chance,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Move It!

by M. J. Joachim

Another puzzler, this app requires you to move tetris style pieces up, down and sideways, in an effort to get the big red square up, out and off of the screen. There’s a catch, because as you advance, pieces that look alike move as one, even though they’re in different spaces on the board.

Talk about driving me crazy! Okay, not at much as the Unblock apps, but still, I was doing really good until multiple pieces were moving simultaneously. As much as I like to believe I think outside the box, this box puzzle app has me testing myself in ways I frankly wasn’t prepared for. None-the-less, I opt to play in novice or casual mode, and perhaps one day I’ll get the hang of this thing. Until then, I’m happy to let it drive me crazy, assessing thinking and reasoning skills, and clearly scrutinizing my logical abilities.

It’s a good app, different enough from other apps that might be comparable to it, and if you check it out, I think you’ll either have a whole lot of fun, or drive yourself crazy trying to prove you can figure it out.

Just call me puzzled by puzzles,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: The Job Offer by Eleanor Webb

by M. J. Joachim

Aside from a few minor typos, this book captured my attention from cover to cover. I literally couldn’t put it down and read it in only a few hours. It was downtime around here, and The Job Offer was a perfect escape into another world, without going anywhere or doing anything other than enjoying a few hours of doing absolutely nothing.

I didn’t even have to think. This is your typical girlie girl romance novel, where all you have to do is bask in the indecency of watching other people’s lives unfold, interacting in all those curious ways, as childhood romance turns into adult chance meetings, resulting in a ravenous love affair, where neither party is certain what the other is thinking, thus holding back on their true feelings and driving each other crazy.

Reading this romance novel was pure fun and indulgence, because I rarely spend an afternoon giggling at silly characters being giddy in love and not knowing it. Romance might be the wrong word. This was more of a sappy love story, the kind where you sheepishly giggle, become slightly embarrassed when reading a few of the naughtier scenes and totally see the outcome, but absorb every word just the same, because you want to read it for yourself.

Yea, the typos I can probably count on one hand, and it’s easy to overlook them, when the afternoon is so relaxing, because you’re reading this book. No wonder I haven’t gotten on the computer today until now.

Wishing you real sappy romances and beautiful love stories,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Dice with Buddies

by M. J. Joachim

Yahtzee has a firm grip on me. It’s the game my mom always used to play with us when she’d visit, so there are some rather intense and precious memories associated with it for me. She especially loved playing with the kids, and they enjoyed playing it with her too. Now whenever we play and someone gets a Yahtzee, we all yell, “Thanks, Grandma!”

Dice with Buddies is Yahtzee, only you play with people in your social networks, or randomly against others playing or against the computer. You get prizes and bonuses along the way for competing in specific challenges. There’s nothing too complicated about it, and the app is easy to use and learn. It’s also colorful and interactive, so there’s a bit more to it than simply rolling dice and trying to outscore your opponent.

I personally have a lot of fun with this app. As a huge Yahtzee fan, I suppose that’s to be expected. If you like Yahtzee and want to check it out, I think you will enjoy it too.

May the dice be in your favor,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Word Smith by Devarai

by M. J. Joachim

A grid full of letters and your finger are all you need to start playing this easy to use app, where you find words by sliding your finger on the screen. Be careful, because this app is very touchy. Quite a few times I’ve attempted to make longer words, only to have two letters fall from the grid, accepting the word I didn’t intend to play.

There are lock blocks and gold letters too. It’s an individual game, that’s about as simple as it gets, though there are different settings to make things a bit more challenging. It’s a great game for kids who need to learn to spell, or for anyone who wants to improve their observation skills. Seeing words within the letters and around the obstacles is all it takes, and if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, it’s actually a whole lot of fun. Admittedly, there are better word games out there, but this one isn’t bad at all.

Thanks so much for checking in today. It’s always good to see you’ve stopped by,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

App Review: Unblock Me

by M. J. Joachim

Puzzling and challenging, this app causes me to think outside the box. Not much of a vertical or horizontal thinker, this app definitely forces me to think like one. The goal is to move the vertical and horizontal blocks, so you can release the red block. It’s not as easy as it sounds, even in relaxed mode.

I sit and stare for long minutes at a time, until I ask my son to help me. It’s a hit with most of my kids, and they’re right, it’s definitely addicting. I can play for hours, if I actually had that much time. Thankfully, I don’t or I might drive myself crazy trying to figure out how to play this silly game, and master all its puzzles.

It’s a fun app and I definitely encourage you to give it a try. There are many versions to choose from, so you can have your pick.

Sincerely hoping you’re not feeling too boxed in these days,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Reading Trainer

by M. J. Joachim

Improve your reading and comprehension skills, by spending only a few minutes every day, doing quality exercises like word search, number, letter and word recognition, speed reading, eye exercises and more. This app tests and helps improve your ability, all while tracking your success, identifying your weaknesses and helping you concentrate to improve your aptitude in a variety of ways.

Whether you’re already a speed reader or not, this app helps you focus and become a stronger, more efficient and effective reader. I make a point to do my practice exercises daily, and have seen quite an improvement since I started playing with the app, which includes training and power reading within its settings.

Each exercise is fully explained and provides statistics, so you can follow your achievements and track how you are doing at any point in time. I’ve actually had a little fun seeing if I’m better or worse at night, how I adjust with a few or multiple distractions and how I perform in a restful environment. It’s amazing to see my stat charts jump around, and it helps me to work on these strengths and weaknesses too.

If you want to become a better reader by spending only a few minutes per day, this app is for you. I strongly believe it will improve your reading ability and I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun playing with it too.

Until next time, I wish you well,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: The Free Dictionary by Farlex

by M. J. Joachim

An excellent way to build your word power, The Free Dictionary not only expands your vocabulary, it also includes interesting articles to read, and games to play for your enjoyment. There’s so much to this app, because if you login with social media, you also earn credits and test your literary skills by playing hangman, spelling, matching and words within words.

There are quotes, words of the day and more. As a login bonus, you get to help feed the hungry, because Farlex has teamed up with World Food Program’s school feeding program, which allows you to earn meals for hungry children, just by learning and playing the games in this app.

I’m personally big on the word games and anything word related, so this app is perfect for me. I also enjoy short and sweet articles that teach me little bits of useless info I might never venture to find out on my own. It’s interesting to note that you can click on provided links to learn more about whatever it is that intrigues you. There’s so much to this app, and positively no way to explore it all or get bored.

I encourage you to download this one, because I know you won’t be disappointed, and you might even feed a hungry child and have a lot of fun when you do.

Until next time, here’s to building vocabulary while having way too much fun,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Free Books

by M. J. Joachim

With so many ways to get free books, this app truly didn’t do it for me. It’s filled with numerous links, and appears to be a marketing tool for the makers of it. Formatting is difficult at best, and the idea of checking everything before you buy, in case it’s not free - well, why don’t you just login to Amazon and search free books instead? Then you know if it’s free and don’t have to click the links within this app to find out.

The other thing I noticed is that it doesn’t appear to be updated consistently. Maybe it’s only the few times I tried to check it, but it seems many of the same books stay on the main screen for quite a while. It could be that the app is difficult to navigate, though that seems unlikely since it’s a fairly simple format being used.

I’m cautious about an app with so many links and what seems to be so little to offer, so I would advise finding other ways to get free books. A simple search on Amazon or Google will likely point you in the right direction, without all the added hoops to jump through or links to click on.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope this review helps you in all your free reading adventures.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: PBS Kids ABC Adventures

by M. J. Joachim

Sing-a-long videos, adorable animation and an abundance of interactive abc activities, this app provides loads of fun for kids of all ages, especially the little ones. Not surprisingly, it’s a Parent Choice Award winner, probably because it is so engaging and fun, but undoubtedly also because kids learn so much while playing and singing to the songs.

Kids can go on safari, under the sea, explore the city and more in this fine app that focuses on learning the upper and lower case letters of the alphabet, as well as each sound the letters make in turn. Letters can be learned separately as upper and lower case, or learned together, as each letter is mixed up, combining upper and lower case simultaneously.

It’s a lot of fun to play, or simply to listen to in the background, while playing with other toys. My granddaughter can attest to that. She loves to touch the screen or move with the music, depending on what she’s interested in doing, and she’s only a wee one, so it’s nice to know this app intrigues her so much. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to load this app for your kids and enjoy the hours of fun and learning it promises to deliver.

Until next time, this is M. J. wishing you well.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Coin Dozer

by M. J. Joachim

An Actually Free app, Coin Dozer is designed like that old arcade game, where you try to push coins and prizes off the conveyer belt. It’s a no brainer type game, and everything in it is free, so you can sit and brainlessly tap the pusher to get a coin to land at the top of the belt, thus pushing more coins and prizes off the other end.

This app is okay. There’s nothing really special about it, except that it gives you amazon free coins for in app purchases. It’s an arcade type game with limited rules and expectations. For simple and easy fun, it’s a fairly acceptable app.

Wishing you well until I see you again,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: Bah, Humbug by Heather Horrocks

by M. J. Joachim

A bit of a stickler when it comes to good writing, I’m not into the idea that authors need to explain themselves in their books. Horrocks writes like I think she might talk, and it comes across as chattering nonsense in many instances throughout her story, Bah, Humbug. There were scores of things that troubled me when reading this novella, not the least of which was the book description right after flipping it open to get to the first chapter. The redundancy was not lost on me, because it was already included in the About This Book section before I started reading.

Perhaps that’s the best way to describe the writing in Bah, Humbug. It’s excessive and unnecessary. In other words, had it been edited properly, the story would have likely been much tighter, throwing the waste in the round file, so the story flowed without so many interrupted thoughts that probably should have been worked out as part of the story, instead of an explanation of what was happening in the story. Even then they weren’t needed. This book wasn’t a tech manual and it didn’t require a rocket scientist to comprehend what was happening in it.

The timeline also troubled me quite a bit. I mean, what are the odds two famous people will end up living next door to each other, fall in love and solve years of extended family headtrash, or vice versa, in about a week, all during the busiest time of the year, Christmas? The elements of a real love story were definitely present, but the timing of it all was way off, especially when some family members had been estranged for years? Yet, the main character pulled it off, bringing her neighbor’s family together, both of them falling in love, and completing the scene of one big happy family singing Kumbaya, or rather Silent Night, around the Christmas tree, all while crying their eyes out because of the healing that needed to take place, and did, only to end up with the two main characters deciding to get married on Christmas Day.

Even the snowman threw me for a bit of a loop. Who in their right mind would go out like a wild animal and take on a complete stranger in a new neighborhood, a man who was decapitating a snowman, no less? She came off like an unmitigated raving lunatic, a mad woman gone berserk, a crazy person reaching their last straw. This was the beginning of an extreme love affair that would be cemented in less than a week? Puhleez!!! We can and must do better than that for our audiences! It’s only fair! Especially when in the next moment, this same main character turns into the next Martha Stewart, only sweet and kind and full of the Christmas spirit. Gag me already. She was not anyone full of anything but a lot of hot air!

Okay, I’m done bashing, but you really can and should find better books to read and spend your money on. This one needs a whole lot of work yet.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope your Monday is marvelous!

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Movie Review: Alexander (Theatrical Cut)

by M. J. Joachim

I started reading this less than stellar book prior to turning on this less than stellar movie. What is it about Alexander the Great that writers and producers neglect to tell his story in a fitting and appropriate manner? I ended up watching the movie and finishing the book simultaneously. You know it must be bad when you can spend three hours watching a movie and reading a book at the same time, right?

Okay, so it was a star studded cast. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, stars don’t mean anything if they don’t deliver the goods. Angelina Jolie was almost over the top, and somehow didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the characters. Admittedly, she was a villain, but where she overacted her part, so many others failed to meet their marks at all, leaving an odd quandary of extremes in an historically fictional movie that might have intrigued me and left me completely satisfied otherwise.

Knowing the story of Alexander the Great probably wasn’t a bonus for me in this instance. The perspective was all wrong, and I found myself completely bored early on. Naturally there were battles and war in this film, even a few sex scenes and innuendos, but what is any of it without substance and good acting to make it essential to the movie?

Not to be too overly harsh, it’s an okay movie, but nothing I’d venture to watch again or tell my family and friends about. I wouldn’t say it’s a total flop, but given the chance, I definitely would have found something better to watch, and opted not to watch it at all. I guess that is pretty harsh, but seriously, this film didn’t do Alexander the Great any justice, and it certainly could have been done much more effectively.

I’ll be back soon with that book review. It’s a Christmas one, Bah-humbug - that’s actually a hint at the title. I love Christmas!

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Movie Review: Django Unchained

by M. J. Joachim

Western meets slavery plantations in producer Quentin Tarantino’s, Django Unchained. There were times I had to leave the room, squeamish as I am at the brutality inflicted on black people during the tragic time of slavery in our country. Other times, I just squinted my eyes with my hand over my head, peeking through my fingers, wanting to, but trying not to look. Thankfully, there were only a few times like this, because the movie was so engaging and well done, that I quickly became engrossed from beginning to end.

A star studded cast is nothing without great acting to offset the glamor and glitz. No disappointments to be had here, as characters enthralled us with their portrayal of some very interesting personalities. It’s an undeniable love story, played out through the revelation of an unexpected friendship that takes its audience on a journey of fascinating proportions.

Twists, turns, comedy, tragedy, villains, heroes - it’s all here in Django Unchained. It’s a good movie, one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Wishing you all a peaceful and happy Sunday,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Book Review: Christmas Beyond the Box by Josh Langston

by M. J. Joachim

For those of us eagerly anticipating the holidays already, Christmas Beyond the Box will be a treasure to engage us in the spirit of the season. Seven short stories, each completely different from the other, all captivating and delightful to read.

Langston has a unique story-telling ability, where scenes and characters come to life. I spent a great deal of time reading these stories aloud, while my granddaughter played with her toys. She enjoys hearing the sound of my voice in the background, and it was a perfect opportunity to tend to her, while reading for my next book review.

Reading out loud is a bit different than reading silently. Characters take on accented voices that boom with the hand gestures bringing them to life. Langston’s characters are quite intriguing and so much fun to animate. It’s easy to feel like you are right there in the middle of the scene, complete with Christmas lights on every lamppost and garland hung between.

Plus, we’ve all had some of “those” relatives in our lives. Relating to the stories is easy, even though they’re all completely unique and different. If you have a chance, I think you’ll enjoy reading Christmas Beyond the Box this season, and you just might revisit it time and time again.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Best of Sunday to all of you,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Review: All I Want by Shayne Parkinson

by M. J. Joachim

World War I had ended; soldiers were picking up the pieces after all its devastation. As a period piece, this short story conveyed the essence of the time, while charming us with a nicely written short love story, a story capable of attracting us to two well defined characters, in a time where protocol mattered more than consciousness.

Such is the formality of the narrative of two young lovers destined to spend their lives together. They were old for their time, the maiden in her late twenties, making it doubtful she would ever find a suitor. The master met her by chance, and their destiny to make a life together supervened.

Celebration, tribulation and dreams were all part of the skillful details sketched throughout the story. Characters, nuances and scenery were precisely done.

It’s a good quick read, if you have the time. I enjoyed it, and found it curiously satisfying.

Happy Friday to you,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Review: Dancing on Rocks by Rose Senehi

by M. J. Joachim

Well written, captivating and endearing, Dancing on Rocks seized my emotions and took me on a journey only a good book is capable of doing. From beginning to end, this book had me taken, getting to know the characters and their small town of Chimney Rock, North Carolina. My heart ached, knowing there was so much more to the story, reading page after page, to slowly uncover the real wounds of each person I met, only to understand that some heartaches are nearly impossible to heal.

There’s so much going on in this novel. Characters are fully developed, allowing readers to get to know them individually, and through their interactions with others. Transitions, twists and turns all flowed together like the river running through the town. It takes a lot to get me teary eyed when reading a book, and darned if this one didn’t manage to do it. There were times when I wondered if the author was going to leave me hanging, perhaps for a sequel or something. I’m so glad she didn’t. This story might have haunted me if she did.

Dancing on Rocks is a human story that touches on so much of what happens in society today, subliminal things we don’t even think about. It takes the heart on a journey of brokenness, healing and reconciliation, and to put it mildly is a very genuine, beautifully told story that I highly recommend.

For the small town native in all of us, this is M. J. wishing you a peaceful evening.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Ingenious

by M. J. Joachim

Bejeweled has met its match with the Ingenious app. This puzzle is like a combined Bejeweled meets Chinese Checkers game, and it is a lot of fun to play! You begin by moving your bi-color piece to the board. Then you press your finger around it, to move it so it fits where you want it to go. Once you get it in place, you tap it to secure it. There are six different colors, and your goal is to advance all six faster than your opponent, by placing as many colors linked to each other as possible.

The trick is not to only advance one or two colors. Your goal is to keep all your colors advancing evenly, so you win when there are no more spaces to place tiles on the board. Once you get the hang of the finger movements, you can’t help but compete against yourself for hours, especially if the computer is winning.

There are a few different levels of play: solitaire, single player, two player and tournament, which gives you plenty of opportunity to keep outdoing yourself, while still having way too much fun.

If you like clever, creative games that are addictive, this app’s for you.

Wishing you hours of fun,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Guess the Emoji

by M. J. Joachim

Anagrams and picture puzzles can be a lot of fun to play, which is one reason I was fully prepared to enjoy playing Guess the Emoji. Unfortunately, this is a very clunky app, and while I do have fun solving the puzzles, I’m not too thrilled with how I have to do it.

The pictures are at the top, with a sort of hangman scenario in the middle, and a bunch of random letters at the bottom of the screen. You have to tap those letters in the correct order to get the correct answer. I’d like it so much better if you could slide those letters into place, allowing you to fit them where you know they belong, while trying to figure out the rest of the puzzle. There are times when a puzzle has two words, and I immediately know the second word. I can’t put it up there while working on the first word, so it takes me longer to solve the puzzle.

This app is probably really good for young kids in grammar school. The puzzles aren’t that difficult to solve, and the reading practice will likely do them good. Personally, I wasn’t that thrilled with it, myself.

With warmest :)

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Tap 5 Differences

by M. J. Joachim
An Actually Free app, this app gives players coins to start with, and then lets them earn more or less depending on what they tap. Two pictures are displayed, each with several differences, and it’s up to players to find them in a timely manner. If you guess right, you get more coins, but if you guess wrong, you lose coins.

It’s pretty fun to play this app, especially if you like solving picture puzzles. Keen observation skills are key, which is why I believe this app will help with concentration, prioritizing, focusing and studying in general, making it a solid learning app to help students retain more knowledge. Aside from that, it’s fun to play and earn as many coins as you can. It’s also fun to test your speed, and challenge yourself to find the differences in the pictures faster than ever before.

Pictorially speaking, this app will likely illustrate my point very effectively.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Hooked on Phonics

by M. J. Joachim

Filled with engaging songs and activities that teach letter sounds, encourage learning and test learning strengths and weaknesses, Hooked on Phonics is an exciting educational app that helps kids learn to read, while reinforcing classroom learning. It’s an innovative way to make learning fun, allowing children to spend quality tech time, while enhancing their classroom studies.

Lessons are divided into a few short segments that can be worked on every day. However, I personally would let the kids play with the program at will, and not worry so much about a structured reading environment with this app. The app can be used both alone and with an adult guiding the process, so a combination of both methods might provide the most effective. Lessons are divided into four easy steps: learn, practice, read, succeed. There are 12 Steps, each with the aforementioned categories. Kids can learn at their own pace and really have a ball.

This app is great for exposing even the youngest children to the alphabet, while it teaches letter sounds, pre-reading skills and reading to early readers. Since there are short, easy to read stories throughout the app, it seems probable that children who use this app will develop a love of books and a generous desire to read.

Reading is vitally important today, which is why finding, reviewing and sharing this app can have such an impact. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you always have lots of good reading material on hand.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: I Love to Eat Fruits and Vegetables by Shelley Admont

by M. J. Joachim

Getting kids to eat fruits and veggies often tends to be a bit of a challenge sometimes. They go through phases like the rest of us, preferring certain less healthy foods over the good stuff, or simply being picky for one reason or another. I Love to Eat Fruits and Vegetables certainly tackles this concern, and it is enjoyable enough to read.

Something was lost in transition, however. The story went from a mischievous bunny, to a bunny that shrunk in size, and I’m not sure exactly how or why it happened. I get that the bunny wanted to reach the candy. I get that he got very creative in his efforts to do so, and I get that his creativity landed with a bang. What I don’t get is how that bang managed to shrink him.

I like the premise of this book, and I think kids will get a kick out of Jimmy, the mischievous bunny. They probably won’t even notice that he shrunk for no reason, ultimately causing him to eat his fruits and veggies so he could grow big and strong. As a writer and reviewer, however, I did notice the less than stellar transition, and I was confused and bothered by it.

This is a cute story, and the illustrations are lovely. The story itself is okay, and the premise of getting kids to eat healthier is dynamite. Anything we can do, right?

I hope this post finds you and yours well,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Nursery Rhymes for Kids

by M. J. Joachim

In the interest of not fighting technology, I couldn’t resist downloading a few apps for my one year old granddaughter. Turns out, they’re a lot more entertaining than Grandma, and a whole lot of fun to play together. Such is the way of the world, and Nursery Rhymes for Kids app is a delightful addition to our busy and fun filled days.

The animated illustrations in this app are top notch - very colorful, lively and enjoyable to watch. The songs are typical kids songs, except there’s a bit of a karaoke feel to things, because the words to the song slide across the bottom of the screen and are highlighted as they are sung. There’s also a bit of math involved, because you are required to add two numbers to unlock certain features.

Obviously a one year old can’t add sums, so Grandma did it for her. Little ones are capable of singing along and dancing with the music, however, and my little one was bursting with energy, as she babbled, cooed, giggled and moved to the music and animation on the screen.

This truly is an app worth getting for your wee ones. Much of it is free, but there are some opportunities to buy more songs. It’s really not necessary, because the songs available and the ones you unlock by adding numbers are more than enough to keep little ones happy for quite a little while.

Thanks so much for visiting today. I hope to see you again soon.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Tips for Compiling Writing Anthologies

by M. J. Joachim
Whether it’s short stories, poetry, essays or any other writing compilation, creating a collection of writing takes skill and cooperation from all parties involved. There’s a certain finesse and expertise required, to make each piece of writing stand alone, yet also belong to an eclectic book, designed to capture the audience from beginning to end.

It is necessary to first consider the word anthology, and understand its meaning. Simply put, it is a collection of writing. A more detailed explanation is that is is a collection of themed writing, the purpose of which is to gain exposure for one or more authors, via circulating their name and work; perhaps the purpose of this is because one or more authors are in the midst of a larger piece that isn’t ready for publication yet. Or maybe it is a way to market oneself, especially if he or she is relatively unknown in the publishing industry.

Anthologies are an excellent way to fill voids in niche markets, or promote causes that aren’t very renown. They’re a way to promote several authors simultaneously, or an individual author revealing certain skill sets. They’re also an enjoyable way to work with and get to know other authors.

How to Make an Anthology

There are several things to consider when compiling segments for an anthology. First and foremost is how to get enough people involved in the project. While it seems easy enough to create a mass social networking strategy calling all writers, this might not be the most efficient or best course of action, particularly if one of the goals is to develop and edit the completed project to perfection.

Creating a team is vital to the success of creating a first-rate anthology. Teams have leaders, contributors and volunteers who help ensure goals are clearly outlined, combined effort works effectively for the general good of the project, communication is related intelligibly, deadlines are met and everyone is satisfied with the project in progress and upon its completion. No one wants to participate in an anthology that is only 50% well written, and no one wants to spend time on a project doomed to fail.

Teamwork is as vitally important to making an anthology, as are leaders throughout the various stages of its development. As for individual writing and publishing, anthologies require writers, editors, illustrators, proofreaders and publishers. Team members may willingly take on one or more roles, as their talent and availability suggest. Leadership teams are as important, if not more important, than worker teams. Leadership teams set the standard for the anthology being produced, and it is up to them to make sure that standard is met. If it isn’t, they’re the ones who will be held accountable.

Regular meetings are required to guarantee the project is going as planned. Leaders may meet without workers and discuss necessary adjustments. Editors will likely communicate with each other as a team, and also with writers for various reasons. Sometimes it’s as simple as clarifying the work. Other times it might be more complicate, requiring authors to adjust their work, so it fits more closely within the theme. Illustrators will want their artwork to be cohesive throughout the anthology, so they too will have to work together and report to the leadership team, and possibly the editors too.

All things working for good, a good anthology should never be slapped together on a whim, tossed together without a second thought. Unequivocally, anthologies should be planned as much, if not more so, than any larger piece of solitary writing. The more people involved, the more scrutiny the anthology should require. Each writer’s reputation will be affected by the finished product, after all.

Steps for Writing Anthologies

Step 1: Decide on a theme.
Step 2: Create a leadership team.
Step 3: Determine who should contribute.
Step 4: Invite contributors to participate.
Step 5: Create other necessary teams for success and completion of project.
Step 6: Set deadlines for writing, including first drafts, second drafts, editing, proofreading, publishing.
Step 7: Stick to deadlines as much as possible, communicating necessary adjustments in a timely manner.
Step 8: Combine all works together in a sequential way that makes sense, developing chapters throughout the work as necessary.
Step 9: Follow all necessary legal steps, including copyright and ownership requirements, plus author releases, allowing you to publish their individual in the anthology freely.
Step 10: Submit or publish anthology and market it to reach as many people as possible.

Upon publication, all participants would be wise to seek out reviews and help promote the project. Since so much went into it, the finished anthology should be magnificent. If it is beyond reproach, a plethora of positive reviews will help it reach the top of the charts in no time at all, thus meeting the ultimate goal of selling as many books as possible, while letting all contributors reap the rewards of their labor.

As a reviewer, there’s nothing that saddens me more, than reading an anthology tainted with poor organization and shoddy work in some of the pieces. Anthologies are so much fun to read and it’s easy to give them great reviews, but only if the bar is set high, and all contributors reach their mark.

Thank you so much for visiting my writing blog today. I hope this article benefits you and makes you a more successful writer.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit:  CC0 Public Domain

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Book Review: A Boo-tiful Halloween by Angela Shori

by M. J. Joachim

Just in time for Halloween, Angela Shori delights young children with her newly publish book, A Boo-tiful Halloween. It’s a cute story, perfect to share with the little ones. I know I intend to read it to my granddaughter when she wakes up from nap.

Rhyming and entertaining, this little book easily flows off the tongue, as it describes Halloween and trick-or-treating in an amusing and exciting way. It’s written for very small children, so simplicity is key, while keeping the audience engaged. I’m sure this little book will pass the test, getting little one’s to smile and giggle time and time again.

It’s a nice book for library story hour, classroom circle time and anytime reading at home. Simple concepts like opposites and manners are introduced and emphasized, and the pictures are colorful and happy. It’s a nice little story perfect for this time of year.

Wishing you all a boo-tiful fall,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Color Words

by M. J. Joachim

Great for young children learning their colors, or for people of all ages testing their reflexes, Color Words is a fast paced game that can keep your attention for quite a few minutes at a time. That’s how long it takes to play a single game, and it is pretty fun, albeit very simple.

There are 3 options of play: color match, word match and expert, each testing different skill sets. It’s challenging and fun, partly because it makes you feel a little stupid when you miss. All the more reason to keep playing, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to improve their reflexes, while increasing their brain power simultaneously?

Simple, user-friendly, entertaining and amusing, Color Words receives a thumb’s up from me. While I don’t play it all the time, I do return to it time and time again, and think you might like it too.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I’ll see you again soon,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: World Landmark Game

by M. J. Joachim

Pictures from around the world are the highlight of this educational geography app. Four answers are shown below each picture, and you choose the correct landmark to go with what you see. You have 3 lives, and continue challenging yourself until you use them all. The premise is good, and the pictures pretty, but I have a few problems with this app.

Let me begin by saying World Landmark Game is engaging and fun to play. I would probably make more time to play it, if the words were larger, and the answers spaced more effectively. There’s plenty of room on the screen, so I’m not sure why they used such a small font, and put the choices so close together. I’m not sure what happens after you finish all the levels, because I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I’m curious to find out.

World Landmark Game is a very simple game that is completely self-explanatory. It’s okay, but I definitely won’t be addicted to it anytime soon.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope all your travels are positively delightful.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Brain Math Game

by M. J. Joachim

For those of us who want to challenge our math skills, improve our mental arithmetic abilities or simply play against the odds of our quick thinking memory, Einstein’s Math Game is a perfect choice. I personally think teachers would be wise to include this as part of their curriculum. Remember those one sheet timed math tests we all used to take, well this app is an excellent way to advance our progress on them.

Not a huge numbers fan, I do enjoy my ability to add quickly, and Einstein’s Math Game only makes it that much better. You start out with a few numbers to add together in your head. Then four possible answers appear on the screen below, and you have to choose the correct answer. If you get it right, you get more numbers to add together, until you have so many numbers on the screen, your eyes are literally going buggy. But you keep working it, until you’ve answered three problems incorrectly. I think the highest I’ve gotten is 12 numbers on the screen at once, and at that point I’m guessing the answer, because I’m definitely not that quick!

There are three levels of play: easy, medium and hard, and you can save your progress, post it to social media or choose to forget it. It’s a personal challenge that is enjoyable to play, so I definitely recommend this game.

Counting on you to check it out and let me know what you think, this is M. J. wishing you a day full of success in whatever you do.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Jumble

by M. J. Joachim

Thinking back to one of the best parts of Sunday morning as a kid, when fighting over who got the funnies first was one of our morning rituals before heading off to church, the memories of reading Ann Landers, Garfield, Family Circus and Snoopy flooded my mind. Upon completing these, Jumble became the goal - to solve it without writing in the paper, so no one spoiled the answers for anyone else who might want to play.

Computerized Jumble is just as much fun, only without all the other distractions to check out first. The cartoons haven’t changed much. Okay, so today has distractions of its own, but being able to focus solely on Jumble puzzles isn’t one of them. I actually play it while watching t.v. at times. Nothing like a good Jumble game during the commercials, or when someone else is watching their program, and I just want to sit out there on the comfy couch.

If you like word puzzles and games, I’m sure you will find Jumble fun and entertaining. It’s self-explanatory for the most part, easy to play and very user friendly. It’s one of those ones you’ll enjoy while sitting in the doctor’s office or waiting when you pick up your child from school.

Crazy for puzzles, this is M. J. thanking you for stopping by and wishing you well.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 19, 2015

App Review: Words with Friends

by M. J. Joachim

Thanks to my daughter who helped me install the app, and now my son who is determined to beat me, I’m definitely hooked on Words with Friends. At first I didn’t like all the ads, but once I got hooked, and not to brag, but I am currently in first place on the daily leaderboard this morning, I can understand why they have so many. It’s a good game, and if you can get away with that much advertising, I say, “Go for it!”

As the Scrabble champion in my house, so much so that the rest of the family really has to be in the mood to play with me, Words with Friends offers a unique challenge that doesn’t take hours of time, unless you’re hooked like me and keep checking your phone every time you have a moment to breathe. You only play with two players at a time, so it’s a bit like ping pong in that respect. You play a word, and wait for your opponent to play one back. It’s also a bit like texting, because you send your word and wait until you see it’s your turn to play.

I’m currently playing several games at once, and when I woke up this morning, several people had played overnight. I took my time, had some coffee, hugged my granddaughter and mulled over the opportunities and various words to play on each board. It’s engaging, exciting and loads of fun. Plus, it truly helps build my vocabulary and encourages me to think about and use different words, which I can’t help but think will help me with my writing.

So there you have it, a challenging, engaging, entertaining, educational app that will keep you on your toes and is so much fun to play.

May the best wordsmith win!

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Movie Review: Day of Siege

by M. J. Joachim

September 11 was the first thing to catch my eye when we decided to watch this film the other night. Of course it was set in 1683 and Vienna, but Islam loyalists were still out to convert the rest of the world to their one true religion, and they were willing to fight to the death, particularly against the Catholic Church. Recent years made it all too close to home, history repeating itself and all that.

Grateful that it wasn’t as filled with guts and gore as it could have been, this historical fiction drama focused more on political battles among the powers that be. Alliances, treaties, bargaining chips all came into play, as battles ensued between lands, primarily between the Ottoman Empire and the Turks.

I found the movie engaging and interesting from an historical standpoint. It didn’t have a lot of bells and whistles or special effects, but it was entertaining and thought provoking. If you like historical fiction and want to learn more about this period in history, this is a good film. If you’re totally into war movies, and want to see full blown battles, with particularly intense special effects and loud noises, not so much. There was plenty of fighting on the fields of battle, and it was all realistic enough, but this film by no means had that spectacular Wow! Factor. Even so, I found it enjoyable enough and would recommend it to those who might be interested.

Happy Monday to you all,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review: All Hallows’ Eve by “Hal L. O’ween”

by M. J. Joachim

Poor editing and random cuss words for the sake of filling up space are among my biggest pet peeves as a reader and reviewer. This book of short stories is full of both, to the extent that I literally skimmed some of the stories, because they were so crudely written. A few of the stories were good, but for the most part, this book lost me early on.

It wasn’t only the poor writing exhibited. It was also the lack of substance in some of the stories. Plots and characters were loosely thrown together, while your typical gore and scare remained. I get it. Halloween is about graveyards, monsters, scary things that go bump in the night. Good stories, however, need a whole lot more than that to capture my attention. I want to be drawn in and captivated by the scene. I want to feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up, or at least feel a rock in the pit of my stomach. What’s a little blood and guts, without the necessary fear factor?

At one point, I thought this book might be good for camping and telling scary stories around the campfire with teenagers. Just as I was giving it the benefit of the doubt, stories with extremely foul language came into play, and I knew I didn’t want to encourage teens to swear anymore than they already do. Sadly, there are some really good stories in this book, but they are overshadowed by the poor ones.

My biggest recommendation to all writers compiling short stories together is to set up some ground rules, and make sure all authors adhere to them. Set the bar high and keep it there. Put together an amazing anthology that will be praised by everyone who reads it. Authors who can’t make the cut need to have their work eliminated from the book.

It’s true what they say. One bad apple spoils the bunch. In this case, several bad stories ruined a perfectly good collection of intriguing Halloween stories.

On that note, I wish you a safe and happy Halloween,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 16, 2015

App Review: Laudate

by M. J. Joachim

Consisting of everything one needs to reflect on their Catholic faith, Laudate is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Catholicism. I particularly enjoy Daily Readings/Saint of the Day, but I’ve also spent time studying Liturgy of the Hours, praying the Rosary and reflecting on the Stations of the Cross.

Laudate includes Roman Missal Changes, so visitors can be informed of necessary changes in the faith. There are prayers, Latin Prayers, Catechism, the Holy Bible and EWTN. There are so many interesting chapters to explore while engaging in the faith.

You don’t have to be catholic to download Laudate and learn more about the Catholic faith. It’s full of wonderful information for anyone. As a Catholic, I thoroughly enjoy it, because it enhances my spiritual experience and lets me explore my beliefs more fully. I especially enjoy reading the Bible in this app, which is available in Daily Mass Readings. The New American Bible and Douai-Rheims Bible, as well as Vatican Documents are also available in the contents of the app. It is quite simply one of the best Catholic apps I’ve ever found.

Thanks so much for visiting today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

App Review: Trivia Crack

by M. J. Joachim

Clunky, slow and confusing, this app almost drove me crazy. At first I thought it was my Internet burping, but the more I tried to play it, the more I realized the app had problems of its own.

Considering that I enjoy several trivia apps, each one being just enough different to entertain and challenge me anytime I want, Trivia Crack definitely won’t be listed among my favorites. I’m not even sure of the goal. Is it to get awards or characters? There’s a rule book that explains everything, and it sounds a lot like Trivia Pursuit, only with just enough difference to avoid copyright hassles.

Perhaps that’s the biggest problem of all. You have to read the rule book, before you ever begin to understand what you’re doing, because it’s so confusing. Of course, when I first started playing, I watched the mini tutorial provided on the screen. I still had no idea what I was doing after that. And I didn’t even know there was a rule book. That took some searching and exploration.

When I get an app, I like it to be simple enough to engage me right away. There are lots of them that do, and they challenge me too. This app might be able to challenge me, but it’s too much work to figure out how. I’d rather play and enjoy my few minutes of free time, than constantly worry that I’m doing it wrong, and therefore losing points.

Of course, if you’re a huge fan of Trivia Pursuit, this app might be the perfect choice for you.

Best of the weekend to all,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Blog Action Day - #raiseyourvoice Save the Baby Humans!

by M. J. Joachim

My voice, heart and soul are screaming, because it’s not political or religious. It’s criminal. It’s barbaric and it’s inhuman.


Is there anything more to say? We’ve been fighting about this for so many years, all because some women think it’s their body, and give no thought to the little one they carry when they conceive.

It’s my house, but I guarantee you, the furniture and the fridge stand alone in it. They are no more all inclusive in my house, than an unborn child is in its mother’s womb.

Enough with the words and political/religious debates already! We’re talking about individual human beings who have a right to be born and live. Society is wrong to decide some people are less than others. It is wrong when we enslave people, because of the color of their skin or the creed they profess. It is wrong when we beat and kill them to create a master, superior race. And it’s wrong when we annihilate them because they’re too young or too old. It is not our place to be superior to other human beings. It never was, and it is criminal and leads to pure barbarianism when we do.

Pro-life and proud of it!

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Book Review: Alexander the Great…by Sean Patrick

by M. J. Joachim

Taken a little aback by the overall premise of the book, I was a little bit unengaged in the story. Expecting to read an historical account on Alexander the Great, the interruptions into the mind and thinking of his greatness, and how we could be great like him too, were completely unexpected and bothersome. That said, I enjoyed the history in the story, though it read rather dryly. I’m familiar with the biography already, and it seemed a regurgitation of the same old thing, with the added interruptions I mentioned a moment ago.

None-the-less, I applaud Sean Patrick for creativity. It takes guts to think and act outside the box, and his exploration into the greatness of those who have gone before us, and attempt to teach us lessons about their personality that we might incorporate into our own lives to be more successful, is interesting. An historical self-help book - who would have thought? I guess he did, because he’s written more than one title with this concept in mind. You go, Sean. Wishing you every success on your journey!

If you like history or need a bit of encouragement to keep moving forward, this book might be for you. Personally, I could take it or leave it, but that’s because I’d prefer one or the other in separate books, not both with such an analytical slant. Plus the title really is misleading, since I was expecting nothing more than a biography.

Best of Friday to you,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 15, 2015

App Review: QuizUp

by M. J. Joachim

Whether you want to test your knowledge, learn about something new or simply have some fun, QuizUp is an amazingly interesting app that’s sure to keep you engaged for hours on end. I know. This sounds like a paid advertisement for the app, but I assure you, it’s merely my biggest effort to encourage you to check it out for yourself.

QuizUp is not a solitary activity. When you sign up, you automatically get to choose to play with friends or random people. You also get to choose from hundreds (possibly thousands) of categories, where you will answer seven questions + a bonus question. First person answering correctly gets more points. It’s just you against your opponent, and the fastest answer wins. Of course, you have to be quick for all the questions in the round, because this game can go back and forth like a ping pong ball - one second you're winning, the next, you're behind and in danger of losing. So you really have to stay on your toes to win each match.

As you prove yourself by winning challenges, you earn recognition and titles in the categories. I’m currently best in Plants & Trees in Arizona, and it says so right there under my name. You also gain followers and advance levels according to your success.

QuizUp is an engaging, fun game, but it is also a little bit social media and according to The Verge, “NBC is partnering with QuizUp developer Plain Vanilla games to make QuizUp America, an interactive gameshow that will pit TV contestants against viewers at home who have qualified using the app, making both sides answer head-to-head questions to win "life-changing" amounts of money.”

Sounds like a challenge for Jeopardy, except this app already has a built-in audience all around the world.

I’m game if you are,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved