Don’t Turn a Blind Eye on Double Blind

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye on Double Blind

Listen, there is nothing better than a fall night in with a page-turning mystery. Double Blind: The Icelandic Manuscript Murders is a crime, whodunit, novel packed with forensic and genetic science. But, that’s not all, it also intertwines the history and geography of Iceland. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind book that cannot be missed. So we decided to chat with Sara Winokur, a Ph.D molecular geneticist, and get the inside story on her fantastic novel.

Here is the captivating book description:

A young boy disappears in the chill of North Iceland. Twenty years later, a mysterious poem lands on the desk of his twin sister Brynja, a forensic geneticist, and rekindles her hopes that her brother might be alive. As Brynja unravels the clues, more poems arrive, each bearing dire consequences for those who receive them: the guard of the medieval manuscript of Icelandic sagas that possibly has the answer to her burning question, the prime minister’s secretary, the local pastor.

Is the poet out to stop Brynja from finding her brother and shut down her access to the DNA database? Or is the verse maker simply a psychopath copycat killer?

Fighting the visual auras that have plagued her since childhood and now threaten everything she holds dear, Brynja must summon the strength to navigate the twisted labyrinth of the poet’s mind and confront the dark secret buried in her family’s past.

“DOUBLE BLIND: The Icelandic Manuscript Murders” is a wild ride through the cultural landscape of Iceland, from rural farmsteads to icy fjords to the high-tech world of DNA forensics. This crime thriller packed with twists and turns will keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end.

Q Tell us about your book in 5 bullet points or less

Mystery-thriller about young female forensic geneticist

Total immersion in all things Iceland (grab your sweater)!

Beware of seemingly harmless plant-based foods. . .

Q Can you tell us 3 fun facts about you?

I’ve explored every continent

I have a photographic memory

I have a morbid fear of elevators (that actually isn’t fun)

Q Can you tell us 3 fun facts about your main character?

  •                She’s a DNA scientist
  •                She has a perceptual disorder called Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
  •                She never gives up

Q Where is your favorite place to write?

               Have laptop, will travel (i.e., anywhere)

Q Which celebrity would most enjoy reading your book?

               Reese Witherspoon (are you listening, Reese?)

Q What is your favorite passage of your book?

               A colony of gulls soared high above, carrying with them the last traces of the Blue Hour, that time of day when the sky meets the sea and becomes not air and water, not wind and waves, not the path of the sun nor the road of the whale, but the light in which the two become one, the light in which the past fades into the future and gives way to the present.

Q What is your dream vacation?

               Hiking in Patagonia and sleeping under the stars

Rapid Fire Questions and Answers:

Q Morning person or night owl?

Morning person

Q Netflix or Hulu?

               Hulu

Q Winter or Summer?

               Winter

Q 4th of July or Halloween?

               Halloween

Q The Library or a coffee shop?

               Coffee shop

Q High heels or sneakers?

               Sneakers

Q The ability to fly or invisibility?

               Fly

Q Margarita’s or Wine?

               Margaritas

Q Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber?

               Timberlake

Q Coffee or tea?

               Coffee

Order your copy on Double Blind on Amazon today!

Life Isn’t Always “Fine”

Life Isn’t Always “Fine”

Coming soon, November 17th, we are so excited for Fine by AmyLea Murphy. A YA Mystery that follows the disappearance of the picture-perfect Anna Williams as her sister, Katie, tries to solve the mystery. The best thing about this book is the authentic visual documents readers see alongside Katie. This is THE HOT novel of 2020, so we had to get the inside scope from the author herself.

Q What makes your book unputdownable?

Fine is a mystery that keeps you guessing. I think what makes it hard to put down is the reader isn’t just guessing about what happened, but why.

Q Tell us something about you that no one else knows

I was in an a cappella group in college. It was kind of like Pitch Perfect, but completely different.

Q What book has made you cry, why?

The first book that made me cry was Where the Red Fern Grows. I bawled like a baby at my desk in the middle of class. Then years later, I sobbed while finishing Anna Karenina on the subway. Apparently, I can cry anywhere.

Q What is your dream vacation?

A wandering tour of beautiful places I’ve never seen – quaint villages, inspiring fjords, lush rainforests – with plenty of time to explore.

Q If you had 3 wishes, what would you wish for?

After wishing for an end to human suffering, I’d wish for…

  1. A beautiful treehouse retreat in the woods,
  2. To become friends with a grizzly bear who likes to hug me, and
  3. Lifetime concert tickets to every band I love

Q Who/What is your biggest inspiration in your writing?

I’m inspired by the unsung heroes in life – the brave souls who show up with their whole heart. I think the most extraordinary people often go unnoticed because their accomplishments, like getting out of bed after a huge loss, don’t shine as brightly. That’s why I like writing about them.

Q If you could give your book to one person in the entire world to read, who would it be and why?

I’d give it to my teenage self because I would’ve loved to have read it back then.

Rapid Fire Questions and Answers

Q Legos or Barbies?

Barbies

Q Coffee or Energy Drink?

Coffee!

Q Cats or Dogs?

Dogs, but I like cats too

Q The Beach or The Woods?

The Beach

Q Swimming or Sunbathing?

Swimming

Q The Mall or Online Shopping?

The Mall

Q Books or Movies?

Both!

Q Night out on the town or cozy night in?

Pre-Covid: Cozy night in. Post-Covid: Night out please!!

Q Selfies or Group Pictures?

Group Pictures

Q Apple or Samsung?

Apple

Pre-order you copy of Fine on Amazon now!

5-Star Hotel Vacations – How to Stay Healthy on Holiday

5-Star Hotel Vacations – How to Stay Healthy on Holiday

Booking a luxury trip away is a call for celebration, but if you like to live a healthy lifestyle, it isn’t an excuse to slack on your exercise and do whatever you like. We all know that holidays come with a lot of temptation, but there are ways to resist bad urges and keep to your healthy habits. While enjoying your trip, remember these tips to ensure you stay on the right track.

Use the Hotel Facilities

You are staying in a luxury hotel with modern facilities, so why not take full advantage of them. It is best to get up early in the morning and get your fitness programme out of the way, so you have the rest of the day to enjoy your vacation.

If they have a swimming pool, mix your programme up and do a few laps instead of your usual 30 minutes on the treadmill. A 5-star hotel in Yangon or anywhere else in the world will have modern exercise equipment and a first-class swimming pool to ensure you stay fit and healthy

Go Easy on the Alcohol

When we go on holiday, we tend to have a lot of extra time on our hands. This results in more alcohol consumption than normal as we enjoy a drink at the pool or later on in the day at a beach party. Holiday makers are more likely to binge drink when on vacation and in hot climates this can carry extra risks.

Exercise with a Partner or Friend

The best way to ensure you stick to your exercise routine and keep fit when on holiday is to work out with a partner or friend. They can motivate you to exercise when you don’t feel like it, and vice versa. If you are travelling alone, ask the hotel about personal training or see if they have any group classes on offer. Training with others is a great way to stay motivated and stick to your daily exercise routine.

Outdoor Activities

Aside from working out in the hotel gym and getting a few laps in at the pool, you can also go on excursions that are physically demanding. Instead of sitting on a bus and viewing the sights, why not opt for a walking tour of the city or a mountain bike trip around the forest? Always try to find trips that involve some form of physical activity.

Stay Hydrated

Whether you are sitting at the pool or walking around the local temples, you must stay hydrated when on holiday, especially in a warm climate. It is important to drink regularly and before you start to feel thirsty. Increase your water intake when exercising in hot weather.

Even on holiday, you should set some time aside to continue with your exercise regime. There is no excuse not to keep active when on holiday, especially if you are booked into a 5-star hotel. They will have modern facilities and fully equipped gyms which enable you to conveniently work out at any time of the day.

Ryan Seacrest — Show’s Return, Celebrity News, and More!

Ryan Seacrest — Show’s Return, Celebrity News, and More!

There aren’t many people in entertainment who’ve achieved the same amount of ubiquity as Ryan Seacrest. The radio and television host is known as one of the hardest working people in show business and its more than apparent from his news segments on his various different shows. This news, which often shares some of the juiciest tidbits from the lives of celebrities, has helped the host become known by many as the prototypical Hollywood insider.

That vaunted status wasn’t always the case, however. Like most, the radio and television host had to work his way up from a much more humble position. In fact, he started his life as a kid with big dreams who was living modestly in the state of Georgia. Those dreams, however, helped showcase that he might be destined for bigger things. His parents have recounted in the past how, even as a young child, he would walk around the house with a toy microphone in his hand performing for anyone who would give him a listen. Those performances soon took on a more structured tone as he would put on full “broadcasts” for his family in his living room for hours at a time.

Given that background, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the young Seacrest eventually landed an internship at a popular Atlanta radio station. At the station, he learned the finer points of broadcast radio behind seasoned on-air veterans and a team of highly-skilled production professionals. When a DJ called in sick one evening, the opportunity to fill in went to the young star in waiting. He took to the broadcast boost with gusto and not only impressed listeners and his coworkers alike, he also earned himself a regular overnight weekend spot to continue to ply his trade.

That work eventually gave him the confidence to move to Los Angeles to seek a higher-profile role in radio and television. After putting in his time bouncing from opportunity to opportunity, he finally caught his big break when he was cast as the host of American Idol. The rest, as they say, is history. He’s since blown up into one of the biggest names in both radio and television and hosts a number of long-running shows.

This success gives him a platform to connect with fans over their favorite names in entertainment and helps him realize his childhood dreams of entertaining millions of people. To better see how he accomplishes that on a daily basis, let’s take a look at some of the information he’s been sharing of late through interviews and news broadcasts.

Read More of Our Ryan Seacrest Articles on TheDishh

New quarantine questions

One of the fixtures of broadcasts by Ryan Seacrest of late has been news about quarantine. Of course, the topic is hard to avoid since the global pandemic has had such a real and sustained impact on the lives of many people. The topic is also always visible through the radio host’s broadcasts since he’s been conducting his work from his home since stay at home recommendations went into effect. As such, it has become a regular part of the host’s ongoing conversations with both his cohosts and guests on the show.

One aspect of these conversations has centered around the immediate future and how society may adapt to these temporary new norms. One topic that recently came up that’s relevant to the host’s industry is that of award shows. With the VMAs having just aired, it has spurred a deeper look into how other shows may cope with the need to avoid large gatherings of people. The VMA approach, to go virtual, seems likely to be the way most other shows will handle the question as award season kicks into gear.

Another interesting aspect of how the VMAs have handled recent developments is the spotlight the award show has placed on quarantine-specific accomplishments. While the show continued with its more traditional awards, such as Artist of the Year, it also added multiple awards that touched on how artists have handled their time in quarantine. These awards included Best Music Video From Home and Best Quarantine Performance.

Effect on the Oscars

These awards have sparked conversations about how other shows might incorporate aspects of quarantine into their own recognitions. The Oscars have been a particular point of focus in this regard. Likely to also follow a virtual broadcast format, the storied award ceremony may be breaking with tradition in at least one other key way. All indications point to the fact that this will be the first year that a film may be able to skip a theatrical release entirely and still be eligible for an award.

The rule change is likely to only be in place for this year and will only apply to films that previously had planned for a theatrical release. Still, the change marks a historic first for the award show and has provoked talk of how it might affect the future of the show. Some industry professionals have begun to wonder if films that have been released only to streaming platforms might well deserve to be considered amongst others who have had a traditional theatrical release. Depending on how the show goes, there may be changes in store for one of the biggest awards in show business.

Hawaii considering new measures

Of course, the effects of the global pandemic have extended far beyond the confines of the entertainment industry. One way this has manifested is through each state’s individual response to handling those who pass through its borders. For most states, these considerations come from people entering not only via air travel but also along highways and other forms of ground transportation. However, Hawaii is in the somewhat unique position of being accessible primarily by air travel and also being a traditional hotspot of travelers coming and going. 

These two facts have put the state in a tough spot when it comes to its pandemic precautions. On one hand, the state has a built-in method of tracking people who come and go through its borders by tracking air travel. This has allowed the state to implement strict procedures for those who enter from outside its borders. 

This was discussed recently by Ryan Seacrest and his cohosts on his radio show. One of his cohosts noted that, up until now, Hawaii has had a policy of requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days in their hotel room before being allowed to move about the state. The cohost recounted that this has meant that some hotels have even gone so far as to make room keys deactivate should a guest leave their room.

Obviously, these restrictions have been tough to maintain and have put a severe dent in the tourism industry that typically plays a large role in the state’s economy. So, state officials are now considering a new method to allow travelers to enter the islands but still maintain a focus on public safety. 

This has spawned the development of a new method for addressing tourism known as a “resort bubble”. Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami spoke on this idea during a recent news briefing. ”At a certain point, we need to learn to co-exist with this virus and the EMQ or ‘resort bubble’ is just one step in the staged approach for a broader opening of travel,” said Kawakami.

The resort bubble concept would allow visitors to pass their 14-day quarantine period in a larger space than just a hotel room. It would instead give guests free rein to roam about the grounds of a resort, allowing them to spend time outside and enjoy the scenery as long as they do not leave the resort’s boundaries. To participate in the program, visitors would have to consent to electronic monitoring of their whereabouts along with tracking of key health data. The idea is still in the conceptual phase, with no word yet on if or when it will be implemented, but it goes to show how seemingly all areas of life have been affected by the emergence of this pandemic.

Restaurant tips

One more piece of quarantine news is worth discussing before moving onto other topics since it recently came up on the radio host’s show and touches on an issue of public safety — eating at restaurants. Ryan Seacrest and his cohosts discussed the topic to give listeners some indication of how safe eating establishments are these days. The answer? According to health officials, still not completely safe.

As recounted by the radio host, it appears that many health officials are noting that, while steps to make outdoor dining safer have come a long way, it’s still a risk to dine at an establishment, even if you’re outside. The host noted how those officials have passed on information that particles of the coronavirus can remain in the air for up to 30 minutes after an infected individual has been in the vicinity.

That means that official recommendations are to still rely on take-out if you’re in a high-risk group — those over 65 or those with a preexisting medical condition. While this can be disappointing news for individuals who are anxious to move past quarantine restrictions, the recommendations are being made with public health in mind.

Live with Kelly and Ryan Returns

While much of life remains strangely at odds with normalcy during these trying times, there are plans for the reemergence of one familiar sight from pre-Covid life. Live with Kelly and Ryan is returning for its 33rd season, and it looks like the season will be filmed live in-studio. Set to premiere on September 7th, the show’s first episode will be a celebratory cookout in recognition of labor day.

The reemergence of Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest in a studio will be a welcome sight for many, as the show’s previous season had been filming from quarantine for months. Ripa had been filming from her quarantine in the Caribbean with her family while Seacrest has been broadcasting from his home in Los Angeles. Now the two will be reunited in person and are excited to be hosting a slew of new guests on their show and taking a small step towards getting us back to our lives as they were before the pandemic.

Perry and Bloom announce baby

Speaking of getting back to a bit of normalcy, there’s arguably no better way to remind us that there’s a world outside our little bubble than to hear about the addition of a new baby into it. Such was the case when Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom recently announced the birth of their first child — Daisy Dove Bloom. The radio host’s website recently shared the news which was made through a social media posting by Unicef.

The choice of social media outlet helps to shine some light on a good cause amidst the joy of the moment. As Goodwill Ambassadors for the charity, the choice was apropos. Along with an artful black and white photo of the newborn holding hands with her parents, the post included some touching words to help bring some social impact along with the occasion.

“Not everyone can have a birthing experience as peaceful as ours was,” read the words of the couple via the post. “Communities around the world are still experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers and every eleven seconds a pregnant woman or newborn dies, mostly from preventable causes. Since COVID-19 many more newborn lives are at risk because of the increased lack of access to water, soap, vaccines, and medicines that prevent diseases. As parents to a newborn, this breaks our hearts, as we empathize with struggling parents now more than ever.”

The couple went on to provide followers with an opportunity to donate to the organization to help address the shortfall in access to adequate healthcare for pregnant women and children.

“As UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, we know UNICEF is there, on the ground, doing whatever it takes to make sure every expecting mother has access to a trained health worker and access to quality healthcare. In celebration of the heart we know our daughter already has, we have set up a donation page to celebrate DDB’s arrival. By supporting them, you are supporting a safe start to life and reimagining a healthier world for every child. We hope your ♥️ can bloom with generosity.”

Here’s a link to the campaign, for those interested in donating.

Zac Efron Down to Earth

In another bit of news focused on entertainment professionals making a difference in the world, Ryan Seacrest recently took to time to discuss Zac Efron’s new documentary series — Down to Earth. The topic came up on the show when his cohost tried to educate the radio host on the star’s newest endeavor.

During the discussion, Seacrest’s cohost relayed how the show follows Efron’s worldwide travels in search of healthy and sustainable ways to live. Over the course of the show, he talks with environmental experts, culinary artists, and a variety of other professionals who are deeply connected to the planet and the future of humanity.

While the radio host was initially skeptical about the High School Musical star taking the new career turn, he was eventually intrigued. That sentiment has been shared by critics across the world who have had much to say about the new show. With the series’ propensity for taking the viewer to new and exotic places, there’s a certain joy to be found in sharing the journey with its host, according to many. That the project is undertaken with a focus on conservation and finding innovative approaches to safeguarding the planet is just one more aspect that makes it an enticing watch.

The show is available to stream on Netflix and is fast becoming a welcome distraction for viewers seeking a way to escape the monotony of life inside.

Cardi B talks about her shyness

One last topic of note helps to showcase the manner in which Ryan Seacrest is able to connect with stars and share their humanity with fans. In this case, the host was talking with musical artist Cardi B about her tendency towards being shy. The conversation came about as she was discussing her experience meeting Megan Three Stallion, the collaborator on her new hit, WAP.

“Our stylists linked us up,” the musical artist recounted. “They were like, ‘You guys got to get together… You girls got to link up.’ And I was like ‘I know. You know I’m shy.’ And he was like, ‘You’ve got to get off that box and people need to get to know you.’ … And that’s exactly what we did. We linked up and we had a good time. … And then we started sending records to each other and she got on it and I was like, ‘Oh, man!’ … From there on we just worked hand-in-hand.”

That work eventually blossomed into a full-scale collaboration between the two artists. WAP debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 earlier this month and has already made a notable impact on the charts. The two artists enter the history books as the first female rap duo to debut at the top spot. It’s a formidable accomplishment made all the more human by the shy first meeting shared by the two artists.

The Perfect Revenge: The Next Hot Saga

The Perfect Revenge: The Next Hot Saga

Releasing October 20th, The Perfect Revenge has us counting down the days until its big reveal. This contemporary women’s fiction is part one of The Dragonfly Rises saga. The reader follows main character, Zoey. We see her grow from a scared child to a serious tough cookie as she takes matters into her own hands. This book is thrilling to read and is jammed packed with romance, street justice, drama and more. So, here’s the inside scoop about The Perfect Revenge.

What makes your book series un-put-down-able?

Pre-Order on Amazon


The main character is highly relatable, and readers will be eager to find out how she’s overcome the tough challenges she’s faced—as well as discover ever-emerging secrets about her past.

What is something interesting/cool/unbelievable you discovered while researching your book?


I patterned most of the characters in this book after real people I’ve met down through the years. The book’s central villain is a textbook narcissist, as well as a complete obsessionist, alcoholic, and (sometimes) what’s known as a “dry drunk.” As I delved deeper into these particular textbooks, I also climbed into the mind, heart, and soul of this neurotic character, which was a frightening place to be.

If you could give your book to one singer/musician, who would it be and why?


I’d choose Pink. She’s powerful and ever-ready to take a stand for what she believes in—like Zoey. The lyrics to one of her newest songs, “Hurts 2B Human,” capture Zoey’s fierce bond with herself and with those she holds dear: “You know I’d have your back…”

If your book was turned into a film/TV show, who would you tap to play the lead(s)? Why?


Zoey:
Anna Kendrick, because she can be shy and hopeless but at the same time demonstrate incredible strength.
Amy Adams, or Karen Gillan, or Rachel McAdams—all have the ability to transform from the girl-next-door who’s completely unaware of her potential, to a badass who can defeat powerful enemies.
Max:
Ray Liotta, because he can act charming while completely slimy and vicious inside.
Bryan Cranston, because can deliver a dominating presence and be extreme in the characters weaknesses.

Tell us something about you that no one else knows.


I was once kicked out of a straight-laced writer’s group for my work being too “racy.”

What three books are on your To Be Read list this summer?


What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by Rachel Denhollander

Devoted by Dean Koontz

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

Recommend a book that is similar to yours. If people like X, then they’ll love your book because…

The late Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo shares heat and color with The Perfect Revenge, bothreplete with intrigue and power and violence and abuse and global finances and eroticism. The Perfect Revenge takes the reader further inside, however, as it’s told from the first-person viewpoint of the female lead. It’s Zoey’s story told by Zoey.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?


Research regarding Zoey’s biggest secret, to be revealed in Book 2.

What was the most rewarding part of writing your book?


The opportunity to inspire women to find empowerment and take control of their lives, and then to use their influence to drive society in a more positive direction.

What book made you cry and why?


The Color Purple—so many women throughout history have suffered in heinous situations against which they were powerless. That list includes my own mother, which is the driving force behind this project.

What is the second line on the 42nd page of your book?


But any time he was gone was precious to that scared eleven-year-old.”

What is the core message you want to deliver to the world through your writing/books/stories?


No matter how bad your situation, or traumatic your past, you can turn your life around and achieve self-fulfillment. I know this firsthand and have witnessed such transformation by women with much worse childhoods than my own.

Rapid Fire Questions

James Bond or Laura Croft?
Laura Croft, of course

Meat or Veggies?
Both

Skinny dipping or mountain climbing?
Skinny dipping

Formal attire or yoga pants and a hoodie?
Neither

Horseback riding or ATV?
Horseback

Kanye West or Taylor Swift?
Taylor Swift

Kittens or puppies?
Baby tigers

Ninja or pirates?
Ninja

Reading or writing?
Writing

Alice in Wonderland or Lord of the Flies?
Lord of the Flies

Coachella or Broadway?
Broadway

Chess or Fortnight?
Chess

Invisibility or mind reading?
Mind reading

London or Istanbul?
London

Miley or Selena?
I take the fifth

E.L. James or J.K. Rowling?
A potent combination

Make sure to pre-order your copy of The Perfect Revenge now!

We are Falling in Love with David Ruggerio

We are Falling in Love with David Ruggerio

Author and professional chef David Ruggerio is a man of many talents. He can cook and tell a love story like none other. What a dreamboat! We had to learn more about his newest novel Say Goodbye and Goodnight.

What makes your book a must-read? 

With COVID, protest, and quarantine, God knows we need a little loving. This book, Say Goodbye and Goodnight, will transport you back to the 1977-disco baby! -and experience a romance that will make your summer. 

If you could give your book to one celebrity, who would it be and why? 

That’s easy, John Travolta. Saturday Night Fever came out the same year, 1977, and he would appreciate the music, the scenes, and the great dialogue! 

If you could give your book to one singer/musician, who would it be and why? 

Another easy one! I have to offer up two singers. First, Frankie Vali. His theme song for Grease came out in 1978, and I can tell you, Brooklyn, partied to that music late into the night! Second would be Barry Gibb. The lone Gibb brother left; his music created instant romance in the air. During those hot nights on the beaches of Coney Island, the Bee Gees music echoed over to the shores of New Jersey. His lyrics told us all how to love a woman; his music is timeless. 

If your book was turned into a film/TV show, who would you tap to play the lead(s)? Why? 

Thomas Barbusca, he’s an Italian-American actor who has the look! He’s born in New Jersey (we’ll forgive him), he fits the part perfectly. 

Tell us something about you that no one else knows. 

As a youth, I had been arrested six times by the time I was ten. My uncle, Eddie Gavin, a great fighter in his own right, grabbed me by the collar. “Do you think you’re a tough guy?” He dragged me down to the gym, and a marriage made in heaven was created. I became a fighter. The gym I depict in the book is taken from my memories of Izzy Zerling’s Youth Center on Church Avenue in Brooklyn. In fact, the inspiration for the trainer in the book was also based on my trainer/manager- Izzy Zerling. Between amateur and pro, I fought 116 fights in the ring. I loved every moment of it! What three books are on your To Be Read list this summer? 

Full Count by David Cone (Huge Yankee fan) 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (love horror!) 

SPQR by Mary Beard (Huge history buff!) 

Recommend a book from another author. Why should people read this book? 

Sea Stories by Admiral William H McRaven. If you think life is tough and it presents obstacles, his memoir will put everything in perspective.   

Recommend a book that is similar to yours. If people like X, then they’ll love your book because…  

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. It is also a romance based in the County of Kings. There is something about growing up in the streets of Brooklyn. Both my book and Tóibín’s has one thing in common. If you’re not from there, you will experience the fun, the excitement, and the tragedies of the kids and their families who lived there during the most tumultuous period of the twentieth century. When you have to fight each and every day, you come to appreciate what life offers, and when romance presents itself, it is epic! 

What advice do you have for other writers? 

Your memories are a treasure trove just waiting to be put onto paper. Write from the heart. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?  

I’m not going to give away the book, but there were tragic occurrences in my life that I base part of the book on,=. Those parts were tough for me to write; it was like reliving the event all over again. 

What is the core message you want to deliver to the world through your writing/books/stories? 

Never give up; no matter what life throws at you, keep moving forward. The presentence will overcome evil. 

Meat or Veggies?

 Meat 

The beach or the mountains?

 Ha! Love them both! 

Horseback riding or ATV? 

Horseback 

Cats or dogs? 

Dogs! 

Ninjas or pirates? 

Pirates 

Zombies or aliens? 

Neither 

Alice in Wonderland or Lord of the Flies? 

Lord of the Flies 

Coachella or Broadway? 

Broadway 

Selfie or group photo? 

Group photo 

Hardcover book or Kindle?

 Hardcover book! 

Chess or Candy Crush? 

Chess 

Paris or New York? 

Wow! Paris! 

Stephen King or Shakespeare? 

Stephen King, sacrilegious? 

Alfredo or Bolognese?

 Bolognese 

Order your copy of Goodbye and Goodnight on Amazon now!

Ryan Seacrest Stays in Public Eye Throughout Quarantine

Ryan Seacrest Stays in Public Eye Throughout Quarantine

Many high-profile Hollywood personalities have had a hard time remaining connected to fans while engaging in the stay at home lifestyle that has become the norm due to Covid-19. As is so often the case, however, Ryan Seacrest has bucked that trend and shown that his star power can shine even while spending his days around the house. From interviews with some of today’s most relevant celebrities, to helpful articles on his website, to the actions of his non-profit foundation, the radio host has presented a great example of how to thrive during this difficult time. Read on for a look at how he’s keeping busy.

Stars share

One of the ways Ryan Seacrest has been staying focused on work is to touch base with other Hollywood personalities to see how their daily life has shifted during the pandemic. This focus has not only helped many of us stay connected to the stars we like to follow, it has also helped share their outlook on weathering this challenging time. Topics covered in these interviews include a look at the family life of celebrities, their ability to keep working, and the adjustments that have been needed to exist within the new norms imposed by the emergence of the global health threat.

One example of this is the radio host’s recent chat with country singer Kelsea Ballerini, who joined his show via video call to discuss a variety of topics. One point of interest was the difficulty she encountered in releasing her new album just as the pandemic was hitting the world. Rather than be discouraged by this unfortunate timing, the singer sought out a creative solution that could help connect her with fans and bring her album into the world — drones. By delivering copies of her album to select fans via the drones, the singer was helping to show just one example of how creative solutions can be a boon while navigating the trials and tribulations of the pandemic.

The singer also discussed another pandemic-specific happening while on the show — her participation in a performance to pay tribute to the first responders who are risking their lives to help fight the pandemic. She spoke to the power of using music in this way while on the air with the radio host. “I feel like there’s no better time for music,” she shared. “I think it’s just like the biggest connector and I know for me as a fan it brings me so much peace to listen to music.” During the show, the singer performed a selection of her hits as well as a Fleetwood Mac cover to help show her appreciation of healthcare workers.

Family life

Another check-in with some well-known names came from an interview the radio host conducted with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. This time the topic centered around family life and the ways the couple was helping to fill their own time in quarantine. One whimsical story came from their recounting of the marriage they recently set up with their daughter Luna for two of her stuffed animals. Teigen live-streamed the event on Instagram to help others share in the fun they were working to create for their daughter. The model “officiated” the wedding as her daughter and a small group of co-quarantiners looked on.

The fun-filled ceremony helped to showcase how the famous couple was dealing with some of the same struggles as much of the rest of the country — how to keep their family life engaging in the face of the pandemic. “[We’re] just trying to find creative ways to entertain the kids,” said Legend when discussing the subject. He added that they’ve also recently purchased camping gear so they could do some backyard camping as another activity. The discussion touches on the need for work/life balance that many people are butting up against as they confront the current circumstances of life with which we are all faced.

Streaming with friends

As many groups of friends have been forced to remain distant from each other during the days of the widespread stay-at-home orders, the need to be creative in maintaining a sense of community has become heightened. Many people have stepped up to that challenge by setting up virtual hangouts with others to talk and participate in group activities. Some popular virtual activities that have emerged during this time have been group game nights, online happy hours, and weekly chats to exchange details of ongoing life in quarantine.

Ryan Seacrest, like many people, has also worked hard to maintain his personal connections as much as possible. The radio personality recently spoke about an opportunity for this when detailing his plans for the July 4th holiday. The host’s plan accompanied the announcement from Disney that it is streaming the musical Hamilton on its Disney+ subscription service. The announcement gave Seacrest an idea for a way to watch the hit musical and spend virtual time with his friends over the long weekend by streaming the musical together.

“I’m already talking to my friends like how are we going to do it?” the host shared. “I have to BBQ. I have to have brats, dogs, burgers, chicken — I have to have all of it.” Initially stumped as to how to enjoy the traditional American celebration while staying safely socially distanced, the streaming service announcement gave him the inspiration for an activity that everyone could enjoy together. Now he’s planning to combine his cookout with the musical in one single day of fun. “You can BBQ and then [stream the musical] in the evening or at night,” said the radio host. “Do your BBQ, digest, and then Hamilton!”

Virtual performances

While examining the topic of virtual streaming activities, we can also take a look at the ways in which Ryan Seacrest has managed to continue to bring music to his listeners even while navigating present world events. Known by many for his role as a radio host, the Hollywood personality is also the host of American Idol, the popular American talent show centered around singing performances. He has helped continue to bring that show to the television public while performing his hosting duties from his own home — replete with the show’s famous title font serving as his backdrop.

In addition to his work to bring singing performances to viewers through his work on American Idol, the host has also worked to continue bringing concerts and other performances to listeners via his radio show. One example of this is his recent discussion with Ben Platt, singer and star of Netflix’s “The Politician.” During the talk, Platt shared details of the show while also diving more deeply into his experience in quarantine. Part of that experience has been to collaborate on a new song about the present moment, called “So Will I.”

“I wrote this song … while I was here in quarantine, in isolation,” said Platt about the song. “I wanted to write a song that spoke to the moment and kind of the overwhelming heaviness that’s going on and hopefully provide some comfort.” The singer went on to perform a heartfelt rendition of the new track, providing listeners with a chance to experience a touching moment along with the artist and to hear a live performance of a song — a difficult thing to find at present.

The singer’s recent performance harkens back to the radio show’s rich history of hosting on-air talent. As the show awaits a time when it will be safe to bring artists back into the studio for live concerts once more, it is taking a look back at past performances to continue to bring music into the lives of listeners. Recent throwback concerts that have been featured by the show include Ed Sheehan and Charlie Puth. Listeners are encouraged to weigh in with their favorite past performances to be considered for future throwback concerts.

Digging into history

As a radio host and someone deeply involved in the music industry, Ryan Seacrest is tied to the Grammys in many ways. That’s one of the reasons it became a topic of hot discussion on his show when the long-standing award show publicly released its rule book for the first time in history. The set of rules, which detail the guidelines for the show, including the set of criteria judges should consider when voting in different categories, has long been held close to the chest. Now that the 66-page document is publicly available, revelations are coming forth that are shining light on some interesting parts of music lore.

One example of this, highlighted recently by the radio host, is the infamous story of 1990’s Best New Artist award. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, that was the year that the award was given to Milli Vanilli. The award, however, was later rescinded when it was discovered that the group didn’t sing any of its own music, and were lip-syncing instead. The controversy following that revelation only deepened when the award show did not present the award to any of the other nominees after the truth came out.

All these years later, the release of the Grammys rule book has helped to shed light on the circumstances surrounding that decision. As recounted by the radio host on his show, the rules state that “The Grammy process does not produce a ranked result with a winner and ordered runners-up. In any situation where a Grammy Award is withdrawn following the presentation, no award is given in that category for that year.” From this phrasing, it becomes clear that, although the original recipients of the 1990 award were disqualified, there is no process in place for a new recipient to be considered. This peek behind the award show’s process helps to provide answers related to a major point of contention in music history.

More on the category

Digging into the rule book further, the radio host also took time better understand other guidelines surrounding the Best New Artist category. This category is of particular interest to many music lovers as it has sometimes been the topic of additional controversy over the years. These controversies most often happen when a particular artist is presented with the award while members of the public feel another artist should have won. While these awards can be subjective, some people have called for further explanation of the process to explain some of these discrepancies.

Now, it seems, we have more of that explanation, stemming again from the release of the rulebook. Over the airwaves, the radio host helped break down the guidelines to help determine how they might have affected past awards. In this realm, the rule book states that “The primary element to consider is the artist’s performance. If the artist wrote most or all of the songs, this may be a secondary consideration. Production elements of the recording should not be considered.” 

The host noted that, while this excerpt doesn’t explain away the controversy surrounding why certain artists with multiple years of experience have won the award in the past, it does provide context for selection criteria. It remains to be seen whether or not the release of this rulebook will help clear up some of these controversies or make the process more transparent to the average viewer. As the award show is still the result of a subjective voting process, it seems plausible that some differences of opinion may exist in the future on certain selections.

Foundation work

Another story that has been emerging from the radio host’s recent online communication is the ongoing efforts of his non-profit organization known as the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. The organization works to provide access to multimedia experiences to children undergoing treatment at pediatric hospitals. This is accomplished through the creation of broadcast media centers, known as Seacrest Studios, that provide children with the opportunity to participate in the broadcast experience.

The broadcast centers help to stimulate the minds and imaginations of patients which can be an empowering experience, especially in the face of difficult treatments. The work of the foundation aims to encourage optimistic thought and cultivate hope during such hard times. The organization often partners with local journalism schools and other similar institutions by providing an opportunity to gain experience in broadcasting, programming, and operating a multimedia center.

Ongoing work

While some aspects of the organization’s mission have been difficult to keep running in their previous form during the pandemic, the foundation has been diligent in working to overcome hurdles in this process. One of the ways this has manifested is through virtual interviews between patients and celebrity guests. A recent example of this is an interview hosted by Dallas patients Caleb and Nneka as they chatted with country music singer Kelsea Ballerini.

The interview provided a great look into the inventiveness and ingenuity of kids and their ability to adjust in the face of change. To keep the interview engaging, the hosts played virtual games and quizzed the singer on some of their favorite topics. Interview questions included an exploration of favorite foods and some imaginatively posed “would you rather” topics. The singer also worked with the kids to help solve the mystery of the identity of a hidden object in a box, based only on a series of limited clues.

Celebrity visits

The foundation also often works to connect children in treatment programs with some of their favorite celebrities in order to help brighten their spirits. Though the global Covid-19 pandemic has complicated this part of the organization’s work, it is still actively engaging in visits via virtual connections. These virtual visits have been shown to have a strong effect on patient spirits and have helped kids stay in touch with the outside world, even while experiencing hardship in their own lives.

The radio host recently shared some stories of these types of visits via his social media presence. This included videos of kids connecting with Idina Menzel, known widely for her role as Elsa in the Disney animated film “Frozen.” Kids got to connect with the star over video chat and pose a variety of questions that she was more than happy to answer. One topic that featured heavily in conversation was a comparison between the first installation in the “Frozen” series, versus its sequel. The interactions, videos of which can be seen on the foundation’s twitter page, again show the resilient nature of children to adapt when it is needed.

While many high-level personalities have spent much of their quarantine hunkered down out of the limelight, Ryan Seacrest has found a myriad of ways to stay connected with fans all over the world. From brightening the experience of children undergoing medical treatments, to highlighting musical talent, to sharing the quarantine experiences of others in Hollywood, he has certainly kept busy. For those who are familiar with the radio host’s work, this probably comes as no surprise. As we all look forward to a return to normalcy in the future, the work by the host serves as a nice way to continue to connect to the world of entertainment and the arts.

Interactive and Social Apps to Get You Through the Isolation of Quarantine

Interactive and Social Apps to Get You Through the Isolation of Quarantine

Do you find yourself nostalgically daydreaming of the camaraderie of your favorite Spin class? Have you started talking to your houseplants as though they were newly created connections made naturally on 80’s night at your local bar? Do you long to fill your afternoons learning a new craft, exacerbated by the desire to share your fledgling successes with like-minded individuals? With boredom, loneliness, isolation, and lack of interpersonal communication plaguing countless individuals throughout quarantine and social distancing measures, you are not alone! To offset these growing feelings of isolation and distance, consider downloading these interactive and social apps to get you moving, sharing, and connecting.

Fitplan

Fitplan: Home Workouts and Gym Training - Apps on Google Play

Though there are multiple apps available on the market for fitness junkies looking to take their workout game digital, or novices looking to embark on a fitness journey during quarantine, Fitplan is highly interactive, social, and communicative. If you’re looking for fitness inspiration, teamwork and camaraderie, and a social community of health conscious members, Fitplan is the app to kickstart your virtual fitness journey in a manner most consistent with in-person group fitness clubs. You can choose from hundreds of bespoke fitness plans, with new home workout plans released each week. Additionally, for personalized care and attention, you can receive one on one instruction from top personal trainers. With tools and markers designed to track progress, you can reach milestones and achieve personal goals easily, sharing your success with a community of over 3 million Fitplan members.

With ample gym workouts available, Fitplan will transition with your evolving needs and preferences as social distancing guidelines change, rendering this app a long-term wellness must-have. If you’re starting out with your first workout plan, and don’t know where to begin, the app features a simple series of questions that help to create a bespoke workout plan to meet your needs, eliminating any guess work that may leave you feeling left out, or otherwise unmotivated. As a bonus, the app integrates with Apple’s Health app to track comprehensive data, making it easier than ever to keep track of your health, progress, and goals.

LinkedIn Learning

File:LinkedIn logo initials.png - Wikimedia Commons

If the Coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent job insecurity, has left you scrambling to secure occupational stability in the future, look to LinkedIn Learning to develop crucial skills that will help you become proficient in in-demand fields. With lessons taught by industry experts, the app provides courses in leadership, marketing, IT, web design, and after growing industries. You can explore a multitude of courses, work at your own pace, and even share course completion certificates with your network. Whether you’re considering a complete career overhaul, or want to leverage newly perfected skills to become a more competitive candidate for promotion, LinkedIn Learning can provide the infrastructure needed to reach these goals.

As LinkedIn is inherently social in nature, and relies on the concept of digital networking for occupational success, the Learning app features robust communication tools to champion a community spirit, bolster success, and share tips with other learners. Through the app’s “Q & A” section, featured on every course, you can ask pertinent questions to the community, and the course’s instructor. This function champions interactive communication, often resulting in successful social learning experiences.

Zynn

Zynn (@ZynnApp) | Twitter

This exciting new short-video sharing app is the ultimate community-building tool, encouraging artistic creators to make entertaining video snippets across a variety of categories, and serving up diverse content for all users. If you’re yearning for creative expression and community integration, but are sick of platforms that only champion influencers, and creators with a certain number of followers, Zynn is the innovative app for you. Zynn’s groundbreaking suggestion algorithm creates an equal opportunity for all videos to be seen, regardless of a creator’s follower count, profile characteristics, or popularity. This leads to more inclusive and diverse content being readily visible on Zynn, perfect for users who want to discover interesting content, and be seen as their authentic selves.

With purposeful design that allows for swift sharing of content, viewing of creator profiles, and interaction, the social nature of Zynn is expertly manifested in the app’s design. If you’ve always wanted to create professional quality videos, Zynn has easy-to-use customization tools to transform everyday videos into works of art. With extensive editing capabilities, a soundtrack creator, and the ability to add stickers and magic effects to videos, you can express your personality freely with Zynn. With a constantly growing community of loyal users, Zynn’s commitment to expression, equality, and diversity makes this app truly innovative, forward-thinking, and social.

DIY.org Creative Challenges

DIY.org (@DIY) | Twitter

With more time at your disposal, you may be considering learning a new craft, perfecting a creative skill, or embarking on a quest to ultimately become a skilled photographer. From activities created to keep little minds busy, to learning creative occupational skills, DIY.org is home to thousands of creative challenges to spark creation, innovation, and artistic release. From how-to videos to step-by-step tutorials in art, chemistry, camping, singing, sewing, and a myriad of other topics, DIY.org encourages you to try something new.

Interactive and social, the child-safe community allows you to post your creations, comment on users’ ventures, and discuss the outcomes of projects in a community setting. Tracking your growing skill sets and endeavors, the app allows you to create a bespoke profile, which showcases your creative accomplishments to date. Viewing the accomplishments of community members can be inspirational, and motivate you to get creative, while celebrating the growing skills of like-minded individuals.

As you navigate these unprecedented times, participating in digitally based social endeavors can successfully alleviate feelings of isolation, negativity, boredom, and loneliness. While traditional in-person networking and interactions may be limited for the time being, there are various digitally based alternatives for anyone looking to remain connected, socially engaged, entertained, and motivated. From apps dedicated to personal wellness and physical fitness, to social media platforms dedicated to showcasing diverse content, leading interactive and social apps can get you through quarantine without losing a sense of community, authenticity, and self-expression.

What Are the Best Vinyl Records of All Time?

What Are the Best Vinyl Records of All Time?

Who was the greatest band of all time, what is the best song ever, and what are the best vinyl records of all time? These are all interesting questions that often spark some fun and sometimes contentious debates. While the best vinyl record of all time is, to some degree, subjective, there are a few, at least, that remains at the top of just about everyone’s list who knows and loves music. Here are some of the best vinyl records of all time.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

It should come as no surprise that an album by The Beatles sits at the top of a “greatest” list. And not just this one, Rolling Stone Magazine also named St. Pepper’s the greatest album of all time. 

There are many, many reasons why The Beatles were not only the most popular band of their time but why they also continue to be popular today. The first, and most obvious reason, is that they created great music that was more than just a pop band. How many pop or boy bands have faded into nothingness or, worse, into becoming punchlines. Think even as recently as the 90s when countless pop bands used to top the charts. If you go back today and listen to some of that music, it’s enough to make you retch. Even if it gives you a small, pleasurable sensation of nostalgia, few will argue that, for example, The Backstreet Boys are talented musicians. The Beatles, however, are different. While yes, they started with simple teeny-bopper songs like I want to hold your hand the group was constantly growing and went on to write and perform elegant songs like Eleonore Rigby, Come Together, Helter Skelter, and, on the Sgt. Pepper’s album, A Day in the Life, and almost countless others. In terms of longevity, creativity, originality, and simply being prolific, The Beatles not only probably created the greatest album of all time, but they are also arguably the greatest band of all time.

What’s Going On

Hot off the popularity of hits like Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye made some big changes for his “What’s Going On” vinyl album. This was during the time when the Vietnam War was escalating, and Gaye was under the influence of letters from his brother, who was actually overseas fighting the war. Gaye is quoted as saying all of these factors combined to make him think about his music in a totally new way. Gaye wanted to use his music to say something. Not just to sound good, but to actually say something meaningful. The result is one of the greatest vinyl albums of all time, featuring songs like: 

  • Mercy, Mercy Me
  • Inner City Blues
  • And, of course, What’s Going On

Nevermind

Regardless of what you think of the band Nirvana, the fact of the matter is that this band was groundbreaking. Sparking what became known as the “grunge” movement, the album Nevermind has some staples of American malcontent that was as relevant for the youth of Kurt Cobain’s era as it is today, including the smash his Smells Like Teen Spirit

There you have it, three of the best vinyl records of all time. From The Beatles to Marvin Gaye and Nirvana, there have been so many great vinyl records created throughout the years that one thing has become clear: We should all strive for an eclectic taste in music. Sure, you can have a favorite type of music. But can there be any doubt that even if you like Rap, you can still like some Country? Or that Pop people can like Folk? There are no reasons why everyone can’t enjoy at least musicians from every genre. 

How to Stream Xbox One Games on Windows PC and Use Gift Cards From InterOnlineGifts

How to Stream Xbox One Games on Windows PC and Use Gift Cards From InterOnlineGifts

With the Xbox One, you can stream your games to your Windows PC. This allows you to use Xbox gift cards from InterOnlineGifts. You can play with your friends as long as you want and make the experience even more fun and exciting.

Streaming Xbox One games using your Xbox gift cards from sites like InterOnlineGifts to your Windows PC is easy. It’s a two-way process that needs access to both the computer and the console. The Windows PC and the Xbox One should be on the same network, with a fast and strong network connection to efficiently handle streaming. Streaming an Xbox One to a Windows PC is more hassle-free via Wi-Fi connections.

Before you bring your Xbox One and Windows PC together, you need to make sure that both your Windows PC and Xbox One have installed the latest system updates. 

Xbox One Game Streaming

Live streaming gameplay and streaming from the console to a computer are two different ways to play your games, both giving you the advantage of using your gift cards from shops like InterOnlineGifts.

First, you need to stream Xbox One to a Windows PC, so that it can become a Windows 10 PC with a remote display for the console while being connected to the same network. 

By doing so, you can watch movies, play games or use any Xbox One app using InterOnlineGifts’ Xbox gift card on any Windows 10 laptop, computer desktop, or tablet without moving the console. You just have to make sure that everything is connected to the same network.

Streaming Xbox One games to Windows 10

To set up game streaming from your Xbox One you need to follow these steps :

  1. Go to Settings. Into the preferences, you need to click Allow games streaming to other devices.
  2. After starting the Xbox app on your Windows PC, all you need to do is to click Connect on the left panel.
  3. Choose your console and then click Connect.
  4. To enable streaming, you need to use a USB cable and attach your Xbox One controller to your Windows PC.

During your stream, you will see a toolbar at the top of the screen with two or more options: You can tap the Xbox logo to go home, click off or on for the microphone or click stop streaming.

Streaming Xbox One Games Using Xbox Console Companion App

If your computer is already a version of Windows 10, then you have already installed Xbox Console Companion App. If not, you can obtain it in the Windows Store. You can open the app and log in to your account in Microsoft.

Once you’ve registered to the app, click the menu button located on the left-hand side of the application. Now click Connections, then choose to add a device. It might take some time to find the console since the app will try to find a console in your network.

If the console isn’t found automatically, you can enter your IP address. This is the reason why both your Xbox and PC must be on the same network connection to work.

If you’re already connected, you can see the “now playing” section that will appear on the console. The PC monitor will display the real-time gameplay from your Xbox One.

How to Launch Games From the Xbox App

You can launch apps and games from the Xbox One dashboard while streaming. To launch a game directly from your PC, you need to start the Xbox app, navigate to the game you want to play in the game hub, then select Play from the console.

Controlling an Xbox One Game From Your Windows PC

Controlling an Xbox One game from your Windows PC means streaming while playing a game. This is not necessary if you’re just streaming a movie or a video but when you have to pause the controller, it can be useful.

To do so, you’ll need a micro USB cable to plug your Xbox One controller to your Windows PC, and Windows 10 will recognize the controller automatically.

Can Lagging Be Fixed?

Yes, lagging can always be fixed. Just tap the button at the lower side of the screen so that you can see the details. You can also change the stream quality if you want to, from low to high, or restart your PC to fix the lag.

When you successfully follow these steps on how to set up your Xbox One Games on Windows PC, streaming will be much easier later on.

Streaming your Xbox One Games on Windows PC is really easy, plus you can enjoy your InterOnlineGifts’ Xbox gift card. It will take some time customizing it but it’s worth you’re while.