Jamie Davis Writes

Notes From a Reading Journal: The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware

Notes from a Reading Journal: “The Turn of the Key,” by Ruth Ware.

“There’s something about that house you know. It’s claimed more than one child. The doctor’s little girl wasn’t the first, by all accounts… Back when it was Struan House… The Struans were a very old family and not quite right in the head, by the end. One of them killed his wife and child, drowned them both in the bath, and another came back from the war and shot himself with his own rifle.” — P. 195

This was another BOTM selection for August. I have read comparisons of this book as a modern retelling of “The Turn of the Screw.” Rowan Caine applies for a live-in nanny post for three girls in remote Heatherbrae House, which is a remote historic home in the Scottish countryside. Sandra, the mother, warns Rowan when she applies that they have had four nannies resign in the past fourteen months and that the house has been connected to some local superstitions and tales of hauntings.

The book begins with a series of letters. Rowan is looking for legal counsel because she has been imprisoned for the death of one of the girls while under her care at Heatherbrae House.

The creepiness of the upgraded smart home with all of the cameras is a nice modern touch, and of course no one is who they seem to be at first glance. This tale will keep you guessing between the sources of madness. Is it ghosts; mischievous children; an intruder; a nefarious handyman; or is it really the nanny all along?

Pressing Play: A Look Inside My Play Journal (Casper, Wyoming)

Notes from a Play Journal. Wyoming is so cool. Casper, Wyoming is one of our new favorite surprise random destinations. The trip begins with bicycle rentals from Mountain Sports. You can ride from the shop to the North Casper Sports Complex, where you can access the paved Platte River Trail for ten miles of pure biking pleasure.

The Tate Pumphouse is a great place to stop for a bathroom break.

I love the sign on the side of the Black Hills Bentonite Company. Wyoming really is one of the last great places.

4.5 mile Bridle Trail at Casper Mountain is a must-do and was not crowded on a Sunday morning in July.

Rarely do we dine at the same place twice while traveling, but exceptions were made for dinner at The Hangar in Bar Nunn and for multi-grain pancakes at Eggingtons in downtown Casper. I loved the Hangar as much for its history as the old 1927 Natrona County Airport as I did for its food!

Notes From a Reading Journal: The Whisper Man, by Alex North

Notes from a Reading Journal: “The Whisper Man,” by Alex North.

“Someone was whispering. But the figure at the end of the bed, still swaying ever so slowly from side to side, was entirely silent… When I looked back, the silhouette at the end of my bed had disappeared and the room was empty” — P. 112-113

This was one of my BOTM selections for August, and boy did it ever pack a punch! It reminded me of Silence of the Lambs. North crafted a masterful novel with tension and suspenseful moments building and blending together perfectly. What a ghoul the Collins character is!

Frank Carter aka The Whisper Man child killer has been imprisoned for years. So when a local child goes missing, and then new residents Tom and his son, Jake, are targeted, police have to figure out if they are dealing with an old accomplice of Frank Carter’s; a copycat; or something else entirely.

There are so many twists and turns in this book! The relationships are rich and complex as well. At first you will think that Jake is either talking to an imaginary friend or a ghost, but the answer is so much better.

Pressing Play: A Look Inside My Play Journal (Montana)

Notes from a Play Journal. The trip begins with bicycle rentals from Knickerbocker in Great Falls, MT. You can ride the River’s Edge Trail all the way to Giant Springs State Park. There are restrooms available at the park. In between, there are art sculptures to take in as well as views of the SMOKED barbecue restaurant is next to Knickerbocker and is a fantastic find! Try the spicy cole slaw.

View from River's Edge Trail in Great Falls.JPG
Sculptures along River's Edge Trail.JPG

You will find Windy Mountain in Highwood, Montana. This is just a short drive from Great Falls, and offers a challenging climb for low country folks.

Windy Mtn Highwood MT.JPG

The in-between details involved a cabin rental in Paradise Valley and a second attempt to hike at Passage Falls (unable due to rain); a lunch visit in Gardiner; downtown/historic district walking in Bozeman; and a breathtaking drive from Great Falls to Emigrant that took us past Wolf Lodge; Dearborn; Helena; and Butte. Some things you just can’t do justice by attempting to photograph.

Another star find of this trip was the Big Sky Resort in summer. We loved watching the mountain bikers zoom by as we rode up the side of the mountain. The drive from Bozeman winds past the Gallatin River and you can see the whitewater rafters as you continue on towards Big Sky. It was not over-populated at all for a Sunday in July!

Going up the ski left Big Sky.JPG

Take the lift up and hike down. Watch out for bears! Big Sky has a super cute base town that is all open for summer guests. They offer zip lines as well.

Top of Big Sky Resort.JPG

Pressing Play: A Look Inside My Play Journal (Providence and Newport, Rhode Island)

Providence is a fantastic city for outdoor exercise and for eating pizza at Providence Coal-Fired Pizza! For a scenic walking route downtown, start at Water Place Park and work your way uphill to Prospect Terrace Park in the College Hill neighborhood of Brown University. Fans of architecture and history will love viewing the historic homes along the path of this circa 1869 park.

For bicycling, head over to Dash Bicycle Shop and rent bikes. Ride to India Park and pick up the East Bay Bike Path for a 14.5 mile ride to Bristol, RI. We stopped and had coffee along the trail and ate lunch once we arrived in Bristol. The trail itself is in excellent shape, with no cracks or roots growing over the asphalt. I would give this trail a solid five stars as far as maintenance; scenery; and amenities that are available along the way. There is even a grocery store along the trail. A nice short detour should be made to see Crescent Park and the historic Looff Carousel.

View from the East Bay Bike Trail
View from the East Bay Bike Trail

A visit to Lovecraft Arts & Sciences bookstore in The Arcade is a must stop for H.P. Lovecraft fans. I picked up a copy of “At the Mountains of Madness” and though I have vague remembrances of reading the tale in high school. I waited so long for my second reading that the experience was fresh. I loved the references to the Necronomicon and the Elder Things and/or the Great Old Ones. The story really makes you wonder if Lovecraft knew something we don’t know. What lies beneath?

Newport is Newport, as always. Fun to visit during the week, but stay out of the crowds on summer weekends. The Cliff Walk can get very tight with all of the visitors. A hot tip for flying out: the Fairfield Marriott is connected to PVD via a parking deck. It’s a small walk, but still very convenient because you can drop your rental car off the night before and settle in. There are restaurants within walking distance of the Fairfield.

Cliff Walk.JPG

Notes From a Reading Journal: The Golden Hour, by Beatriz Williams

Notes from a Reading Journal: “The Golden Hour,” by Beatriz Williams.

“Then I touched land and discovered that freedom was not so straightforward, that you could move to a different universe but you couldn’t escape the prison of your own skin.” — P. 53

This was my BOTM selection for June. I think I thought I was getting into a murder mystery set in the Bahamas wherein the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were operating behind the scenes. What I got was more of a historical romance that involved two sets of couples – Elfriede and Wilfred, and their son Benedict Thorpe and new wife Lulu. The murder mystery and the royals were more on the periphery. Whatever I got vs. what I thought I ordered, I was glad to get! The way the book is written is absolutely compelling and beautifully written. The author certainly knows how to keep you turning those pages and engaged in her story.

I will be checking out more titles by Beatriz Williams just to read some more of her language. This time, with no expectations of what the story is about! Forgive the comparison, but much like sitting at the chef’s table, sometimes you need to sit back and let the master work. Next time, I will know to happily ingest whatever Mrs. Williams is serving! This book will easily fall into the category of “best book you’ll read this year.” Enjoy!

Pressing Play: A Look Inside My Play Journal (Weird Pismo Beach, California)

The Play Journal remembers Weird Pismo Beach, California, and other wanderings.

It’s funny what I took pictures of in California. Not the sunset over the Pacific Coast Highway, not any of the classic shots of natural beauty. We saw Carmel; Big Sur (Ragged Point was my favorite stop); Monterey; Pismo Beach; Cayucos; Avila Beach; Paso Robles; and the Port San Luis Pier. I think I knew I would be back, and I think I knew from experience that my camera wouldn’t do the scenes justice. I didn’t even try this time.

Central California is so beautiful with the contrast between the ocean and the hills. And it’s not crowded from Cambria all the way to Pismo Beach (at least in November).

Well, I tried one “nice” shot at Port San Luis.

Port San Luis - CA.jpg

Instead, I snapped things that made me laugh. Human seagulls at Pismo Beach.

Human Seagulls - Pismo Beach.jpg

A dog who has the look of a Dad waiting for his child to get out of class.

Dog catches movement. A stream of children pour out of school. But not the Dog’s child. Dog thinks: “C’mon! I’m dying here!“
Dog catches movement. A stream of children pour out of school. But not the Dog’s child. Dog thinks: “C’mon! I’m dying here!“
Dog has resigned himself to his fate. Dog thinks: “He’s never coming out. I’m going to die here waiting in this car. At least I can amuse myself watching those human seagulls.”
Dog has resigned himself to his fate. Dog thinks: “He’s never coming out. I’m going to die here waiting in this car. At least I can amuse myself watching those human seagulls.”

Lazy seals on this dock.

The reason this is so funny is because the sign reads: “Working Pier.” These seals are just useless lie abouts. They will never work.
The reason this is so funny is because the sign reads: “Working Pier.” These seals are just useless lie abouts. They will never work.

A gas station with caution tape – daring me to enter.

Oh, I dare.
Oh, I dare.

Pismo Beach had a classic old California vibe to it. Nothing fancy here, some downright gritty aspects to it, but my overall sense was vintage cool. I think Pismo Beach is to California what Tybee Island is to Georgia. Got to see some surfers. Part of what is so much fun about being somewhere else is you don’t know what you’re going to get. An old man at breakfast chatting me up. Asking where I’m from and then talking to me at some length about Jimmy Carter. Asking me if I’m a student (I’m 38 years old). I loved him so much. Next time, we will be fancier and see Santa Barbara; Malibu; Santa Monica; and Los Angeles.

Entered the old Mission in San Luis Obispo and lit a candle. Tried to say a prayer but it had been so long. I couldn’t even think what to pray for anymore. I vaguely muttered something about keeping me safe in 2019. I guess mostly my prayers had already been answered, and I’ll take that right now. But you have to keep lighting your way.

Pismo Beach - play journal.jpg

Travel. Write. Index. Buy Stealth Journals. Repeat — Jamie Whitmer

Notes From a Reading Journal: The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn

Notes from a Reading Journal: “The Alice Network,” by Kate Quinn.

P. 85: “Lili,” Eve asked impulsively. Are you ever afraid? Lili turned, rain dripping off the edge of her umbrella in a silver curtain between her and Eve. “Yes, just like everybody else. But only after the damage is done – before that, fear is an indulgence.”

P. 298: “They cannot find me, I’m a handful of water, running everywhere.”

P. 423: “I’ll go on working until I can’t anymore. Then I suppose I’ll die. Retirement kills people like us, Eve. It’s how we die if the bullets don’t get there first. Bullets, boredom, or brandy – that’s how people like us go, because God knows we aren’t made for peace.”

An engrossing tale of female friendships, loss and love, and espionage during the Great War. My only complaint is that the book was at times a bit too brutal (but it is about war after all). The story is made even better once you appreciate that the spies of the Alice Network were real.

How Important is Your Work?

In Daily Rituals, How Artists Work, Mason Currey shares his research about how some of history’s most creative people structured their daily routines to maximize their creativity and how they thought about their work product. 

Some of my favorite quotes I collected for my reading journal:

  • “Work is still the best way of escaping from life.” – Gustave Flaubert
  • “I have been working all the time and it’s like a flood going through the landscape of your soul. It’s good because it takes away a lot. It’s cleansing. If I hadn’t been at work all the time, I would have been a lunatic.” – Ingmar Bergman
  • “The great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute” – V.S. Pritchett
  • “You know that all I desire and demand of life is to feel an urge to work!” – Gustav Mahler
  • On creating habits: “The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” – Haruki Murakami

I recently finished reading Daymond John’s Rise and Grind, and I love the chapter about Tyler, The Creator. Tyler is “old school.” He writes stuff down! “Tyler keeps his notes in a book, which he carries with him at all times – and it’s like a lifeline, to hear him tell it.”  

How do you keep track of your scheduled tasks and accomplishments? Let me show you how to achieve more in less time! The Work Journal is designed with prompts that are broken out into three primary topic sections of your daily life that include: Top 3 Work Tasks Today, Top 3 Personal Tasks Today, and Waiting On.

The content is based on the idea that you are most effective at work if you apply a basic productivity principle of focusing first thing on three medium-to-large sized work projects per day. Your priority items for tomorrow are best determined at the end of your current working day. To the high achievers of the world: “Don’t worry!” There is plenty of room left in the notes section if you have extra time to log more projects after you have completed your top three tasks. 

Act now, and get the one personal organizational tool you need to meet both personal and work goals!

Interior View:


The last few pages of the Work Journal have been pre-indexed for you. This is where you can track your biggest accomplishments every month; keep up with goals and challenges; and log your continuing education; networking; and new contacts made for the year.

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