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Book Picks and Pics is your expert source for book reviews, photography tips, travel scenes, and creative inspiration.

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Deruta, Italy

Deruta is a medieval hill town in the Province of Perugia, located in the Umbria region of Italy. Deruta is known for majolica, the specific type of pottery produced there. Majolica, which is thought to have originated in Majorca, Spain, is distinguished by its white opaque tin-glazed surface.

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Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer

Unwinding Anxiety was one of the more insightful resources I’ve come across on the subject of anxiety. I can sometimes get bogged down by listening to scientific explanations, but Brewer’s explanations of how our brains function were clear, easy to follow, and gave me a better understanding of how anxiety works. 

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Music in the Mirrors by Greg Kuznetsov

★★★☆☆ Music in the Mirrors takes place in a  colorful fantasy kingdom of snow globes and mirrors – one that features a blowfish, 5,857 worlds, and intoxicating purple lemonade.
The language is heavily metaphorical. There were times I read and enjoyed the observational, almost lyrical flow of this collection of connecting acts and short stories.

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In Focus

Photo Tips

Shoot More, Show Less

Over the years, I have found a winning formula for quickly getting a stellar shot from every photo shoot, regardless of the conditions or your experience level. My successful photo

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Indie Reviews

Music in the Mirrors by Greg Kuznetsov

★★★☆☆ Music in the Mirrors takes place in a  colorful fantasy kingdom of snow globes and mirrors – one that features a blowfish, 5,857 worlds, and intoxicating purple lemonade.
The language is heavily metaphorical. There were times I read and enjoyed the observational, almost lyrical flow of this collection of connecting acts and short stories.

Read More »

Emma’s Fury by Linda Rainier

★★★☆☆ Based on ancient Greek mythology, this book centers on Emma, who is reincarnated as a Fury after her savage death. Protected by a Gyges, a Fury exists to serve justice and preserve harmony between humans and the supernatural world.

Through a story revolving around mythological beings that shouldn’t experience human feelings, Emma’s Fury presents an interesting perspective on ethics, human nature, and the impact an individual’s actions have on others.

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Embryo Zero by Trevor Wynyard

★★★★☆ The second book in the dystopian fiction Streetlighters Trilogy, Embryo Zero again features brothers Matthew and Kevin Turner, along with a few new characters and familiar faces from the first book.

The brothers are estranged as Matt takes Kevin’s place at university, and finds himself propelled into national hero status. Meanwhile, his younger brother makes a risky move in an attempt to have a different future for himself and his family.

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Dystopian Reviews

Embryo Zero by Trevor Wynyard

★★★★☆ The second book in the dystopian fiction Streetlighters Trilogy, Embryo Zero again features brothers Matthew and Kevin Turner, along with a few new characters and familiar faces from the first book.

The brothers are estranged as Matt takes Kevin’s place at university, and finds himself propelled into national hero status. Meanwhile, his younger brother makes a risky move in an attempt to have a different future for himself and his family.

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Heir of Blood and Secrets by Linda Xia

★★★☆☆
This dystopian YA murder mystery is told from the perspective of Scylla Delevan, a 16-year-old daughter of a magistrate in Devovea. Despite their difficult relationship, when Scylla’s father is accused of murder, she goes on a quest to prove his innocence. Her loyalties are challenged and she uncovers a number of secrets along the way.

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Branches by Adam Peter Johnson

★★★★☆
I was drawn to this book because the description compared it to Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, which is one of my all-time favorite books. There are definitely some similarities between the two multiverse novels, but Branches is different enough that it still felt fresh and interesting.

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Take Flight

Travel Scene

Deruta, Italy

Deruta is a medieval hill town in the Province of Perugia, located in the Umbria region of Italy. Deruta is known for majolica, the specific type of pottery produced there. Majolica,

Read More »

Science Fiction Reviews

Embryo Zero by Trevor Wynyard

★★★★☆ The second book in the dystopian fiction Streetlighters Trilogy, Embryo Zero again features brothers Matthew and Kevin Turner, along with a few new characters and familiar faces from the first book.

The brothers are estranged as Matt takes Kevin’s place at university, and finds himself propelled into national hero status. Meanwhile, his younger brother makes a risky move in an attempt to have a different future for himself and his family.

Read More »

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

★★★★☆

Since I reading and loving Dark Matter, I have been a Blake Crouch fan. I love how his sci-fi stories stretch my mind with their scientific theories while pulling on my emotions with an enduring love story. 

Upgrade has elements of this winning formula, which is present in both Dark Matter and Recursion. However, Upgrade is much more technical, especially at the beginning than I remember either of his two previous hits being.

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The Heathback Break by J.E. Clarkson

★★★★★
This installment in the Nemo & Co. series takes us to a prison, where The Cleaner has been captured. The Cleaner undergoes her most significant transformation to date through the course of this story.

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Mental Health Reviews

Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer

Unwinding Anxiety was one of the more insightful resources I’ve come across on the subject of anxiety. I can sometimes get bogged down by listening to scientific explanations, but Brewer’s explanations of how our brains function were clear, easy to follow, and gave me a better understanding of how anxiety works. 

Read More »