BooHoo

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this chilly first of February? I’m okay. I broke my writing streak on the 30th because who wants to write when it’s freezing and gloomy and you could be watching TV instead? I don’t even want to be writing this, but I am. But I proved to myself I could stick to a writing schedule if I wanted, so I’ll probably go back to my usual schedule next week (4 days of 1,000+ words, the blog day, and two days off a week). I haven’t decided about the rest of this week yet. But we’re here to finish off the number thing. This week’s prompt was chosen by Scotty, who sometimes stalks the blog. We’ve covered 13 (you can find the prompt list there), 728310614, and 11. And today, the prompt is “Tell me which book has made you cry more than any other book has.” This is a weirdly hard question.

I don’t remember being super emotional about books (or anything) when I was younger, mostly because I didn’t like explaining why I was crying if I got caught and would usually piss off whoever caught me because I would be like “it’s nothing” and apparently that was the worst possible answer. It was weird. I was weird. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a sympathetic crier, especially if it’s a dude. TV, books, movies, whatever. If a character cries, I get misty. If a character I really like cries, I flat out cry too. I hate it. It was much more preferable when nothing affected me. I’m basically growing up to be a girl and nobody wants that (yes, I know that joke was sexist and I’m all for healthy emotional responses in both men and women, just not myself). Anyway, all this is to say that it was probably a book I read in the last ten years, but I’ll be damned if I can remember which one.

I’ve spent far too much time thinking about this one since it was chosen and I’m still coming up blank. Even with manga. The closest I can come to an answer is a Facebook post from August 13, 2017: “Might’ve spent three hours finishing reading a book today. There were probably tears. Strong, manly tears. Definitely not an ugly cry. Okay, maybe a little ugly.” It was about The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I don’t even remember why it made me ugly cry. But apparently it did. That’s probably why it still ranks among my favorites. So, since it was Facebook worthy, I’m just going to make believe this is the answer.

And this is going to be a short post because I can’t think of any other books to ramble about. Anime, though. Definitely Fullmetal Alchemist. There are two particularly traumatic scenes that get me every time. If you’ve seen it, you know what they are. Anyway, what books made you cry? As always, feel free to leave your comments or questions here or on my social media pages!

Bonus pic of our icy backyard:

Thoughts on AGAINST THE CURRANT

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? Things are normal here. I’m still writing every day. Huzzah! But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here because it’s the last Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It’s book review time. For the beginning of the year, I decided to go for something comfortable. A cozy mystery. Against the Currant is the first in Olivia Matthews’s new Spice Isle Bakery mysteries. It was released yesterday (the 24th) by St. Martin’s Press. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it.

Against the Currant follows Lyndsay Murray as she and her family open a bakery in Little Caribbean (Brooklyn, NY). As if opening a business isn’t stressful enough, throw in a rival bakery owner who threatens to shut them down them gets himself murdered the very next day. Lynds is now the main suspect of a murder! Luckily, she and her meddlesome family are on the case despite her protests that she’s just trying to find more likely suspects, not the actual murderer. There’s a hot detective for a potential love interest as well. What could go wrong?

The plot is standard, but a little on the weak side. One mild argument does not a murderer make, especially when there are a plethora of other suspects with much better motives. The detectives in this book are the stupidest people ever. They only focus on Lyndsay and they don’t listen when far better leads are given to them. I mean, I’m okay with nosy people solving cases (it’s why I read cozies), but I hate it when the cops are this dumb. There were plenty of red herrings they could’ve followed that would’ve been fine, but they stuck with the flimsiest one. That was annoying. And I really hope the detective doesn’t end up being the love interest. He’s a dick. Just don’t. Also, there was a character who showed up twice pretty early on for absolutely no reason. All he did was start stuff, which any established character could have done, then he completely disappeared. What was that about?

I liked the characters, though there were a lot of them. While I understand the desire to introduce all of the family (and extended family) at once, all of the names were overwhelming and I couldn’t keep them straight. On top of them, there were two detectives, five or six suspects, and three or four extras. It was a lot for one book. But I liked the ones I could remember. Lyndsay, Dev, Reena, the grandma, and parents. All great with a lot of potential. The murderer was pretty easy to pick out, but a couple of the red herring characters were great and would’ve been just as plausible. Mostly, I think the characters are good and have the potential for growth if the series continues.

As far as the writing goes, it’s a bit repetitive, especially early on. Like, I heard you the first three times. Move on. And there were some tics that kept showing up in multiple characters. If it’s one character doing it, I write it off as a character tic, but if multiple characters do it, it’s probably the author’s go-to reaction when they don’t know what else to use (mine is shrugging or nodding). Lots of kissing teeth, which took me far too long to figure out since I didn’t Google it, but I learned a new phrase, so that was cool. Stuff like that. But it was a quick read nonetheless.

Ultimately, I was kind of meh about Against the Currant. If I catch the next book in the series, I’ll check it out to see if anything changes, but if I miss it, no big deal.

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Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. If you’re into cozy mysteries set in bakeries, go ahead and try it. There are some recipes included if you’re into that kind of thing too.

A Book For Bed

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this fine Wednesday? Things are going okay here. I recently crossed the 10,000 words mark on the current novel attempt. I’m still writing at least a little every day. Meeting my goals. Fingers crossed I can keep it up. But anyway! Today, we’re doing another number thing. The lovely Melinda chose number 11. I’ve done 13 (you can find the prompt list there), 7283106, and 14. Only have number 1 left for February first unless someone wants to pick one of the remaining prompts. Feel free. This week’s prompt is “Tell me which book is the best to read while curled up in bed.” Uh, wait…

I was going to say that I don’t read in bed, but that’s not entirely true. There are times when I can’t sleep that I get Alexa to read to me. I’m too cheap to buy audiobooks, mostly because I prefer to actually read things (I just don’t retain things as well when I only hear them). But most Kindle books have an accessibility feature that lets Alexa devices read them aloud. It’s not perfect and she can’t read words different ways based on context (for example, tear is always pronounced like a rip even though it should be an eye raindrop), but it works well enough for the amount I use it.

Like I said, I can’t retain details well by just hearing them. I’m very much a visual learner. Show me something once and I’ve got it. Write the instructions down and I can figure it out. Tell me how to do it without the thing right in front of me and expect me to do it later… nah. I get distracted too easily without something to focus my eyes on. So, the only times I really listen to books in bed is when I’m close to some kind of action and super into it so I know I’ll focus OR when I’m annoyed/bored with a book and don’t want to waste time reading it but also don’t want to give it up. It’s usually the latter.

The latest book I read in bed was Lord of Silver Ashes by Kellen Graves. I bought the first book of the series without realizing it was self-published (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I usually do a quality check before I buy self-published things). The story was fun and I liked the characters, but the editing was absolute shit (and yes, they claimed they had an editor). So many continuity errors and typos and the em dashes… just stop. But I decided to give the second book a shot because I liked the premise. I shouldn’t have. It was even worse with glaring continuity errors that made the big reveals absolutely useless. Like… we knew that in the last book so why are you freaking out now? Anyway, I gave up half through and had Alexa read it to me. It helped make it more enjoyable not having to see all the errors, so I might try book three when it comes out. I’m invested and kind of a masochist, I guess. Blargh.

I also vaguely remember A Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. It wasn’t bad, but there were so many words. It was dense and slow and I was only reading it for one of those stupid Kindle reading challenges, so I gave up a few chapters in and let Alexa read the rest a couple of chapters at a time when I couldn’t sleep. I admit it’s a good way to get sleepy. Listening to boring books.

So, I guess I do read in bed, but it’s usually because I’m not enjoying something about a book. Is that weird? What do you read in bed? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or questions here or on my social media pages!

37 Things

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone’s Wednesday going? Things are fine here. It’s that time of year again where I’m supposedly getting older. Tomorrow (the 12th) is my birthday. Probably just going to order Greek for dinner and spend the day writing. Unless I use it as an easy day and just goof around. Haven’t decided yet. Anyway, I’m skipping the book number thing this week in favor of a random about me thing. I don’t know why I started doing this. It takes forever. But whatever. I’m 37, so here are 37 random things about me.

Tomorrow, anyway.

1. I’ve written creative words every day this year. A whole 10 days. I’m trying to stick to a schedule where on Sunday, Tuesday (or whatever day I write my blog post that week), and a lazy day of my choice, I write 100 words on the current novel attempt. The other four days, I’m aiming for 1,000 words. At least until I finish a first draft (the goal is approximately 90,000 words for this one). It’s basically my old schedule, but with no zero word days because it’s too easy to talk myself into quitting right now if I don’t write words. So far, so good.

2. I haven’t gone anywhere (where I left the van) aside from yearly doctor appointments and a couple of trips to a hardware store that’s usually empty since Covid started. I’m mostly okay with this.

3. I do miss going to restaurants and the occasional concert, but that’s about it.

4. Telehealth visits are wonderful. It means we don’t have to drive all the way to UT Southwestern just to wait 45 minutes for a five minute chat. I like my doctor there and wouldn’t mind meeting her face-to-face (we haven’t because my old pulmonologist retired after Covid started, so computer visits were already a thing when she took over), but I like not having to leave the house too.

5. I’ve become fond rye and ginger beer.

6. Kraken rum and Pepsi is pretty good too.

7. I’m not a sot. I swear. I have a drink maybe once a week.

8. I still have most of my Kah reposado and Republic anejo tequilas. Mostly because I don’t have anyone to sit around and sip booze with once in a while, but whatever. If I were a tosspot, they would be gone.

9. It’s that time of year where I panic because I have a scratchy throat (Flu! Covid! Dying!) only to remember that it’s Mountain Cedar season, so my options are living with a scratchy throat/excess mucus/sinus headache or live in a Benadryl/Zyrtec haze for the next couple of months if things get unbearable. This is just my life now.

10. I despise ordering groceries from Kroger. There’s almost always some kind of glitch on their website. They never tell you what’s out of stock until it’s too late to modify the order. Canceling orders is ridiculous and there’s a 50/50 chance it’ll still show up. Plus, most of the time, they don’t have a previously ordered section to make life easier.

11. Walmart is better, but the few times we’ve ordered dairy or produce through them, it went bad within a few days despite the best by dates being reasonably far away. It’s weird.

12. Amazon Fresh is pretty good, but they have the worst meat selection. The diversity of the selection is good, but they only sell them in one pound portions most of the time. We can’t survive on that.

13. Tom Thumb is our go to, but only because Dad can call them up and they usually fix things. Usually.

14. I’m already running out of things to say about myself in case the ordering groceries mini rant didn’t make it obvious. Talking about myself is hard.

15. I’m great at bottling everything up, but expressing feelings and shit is hard. I keep my responses to everything (good or bad) moderate and I don’t know how to fix it. How do I show excitement or happiness? The anger and rage can stay in the box in the abyss of my soul, but I would like to become better at expressing the good stuff.

16. I’m not a physically affectionate person. At all. I can’t be. It’s not like I can randomly hug people or whatever. And I have a super hard time asking for things that I actually need to survive and/or be comfortable (the whole burden mentality is a bitch to outgrow), so I just can’t see myself ever asking for cuddles or whatever. I don’t know how to fix this either.

17. And now I’m super uncomfortable with the last two shares, but it’s getting late and I still have too many to go, so I guess I’ll leave them.

18. Despite my aversion to being touched (one reason I’m not affectionate), one of my favorite A-Kon (anime convention) memories is of the dude who rubbed all up on me in the Sheraton bar. He asked if he could love on me and then massaged my arms and knees while whispering sweet nothings at me. He asked if I was okay with what was happening every time he switched hand placement. I’ve never felt more comfortable with a stranger touching me. It was weird and innocent and amusing. And I still randomly think of him and hope he’s doing well.

19. I also randomly think of the dude and his friend who gave me a lap dance at Lazerz when I was like 20. That was strange and not something I would let happen now, but I was young and stupid and didn’t really care about being touched as long as something pretty was dancing for me.

20. I know I shouldn’t objectify people, but I can’t help it. I enjoy eye candy. I’m not a dick about it. It’s not like I catcall people on the street or harass them online. I appreciate from afar and mind my manners.

21. I don’t understand expensive coffee. Dad decided to try some Kona coffee and it’s good, but it tastes like… coffee. Same with chocolate and wine and stuff. I’m just not sophisticated enough, I guess.

22. I am eternally tired. It doesn’t matter how well I sleep (not that I sleep well often). I wake up tired.

23. I get irrationally upset when I find a book with a good story and characters I enjoy, but it’s full of continuity errors, typos, and punctuation errors. It’s so disappointing, but I usually rage read it just to have something to rant to myself about at night. So much potential just absolutely ruined by a horrible editor (or lack of an editor).

24. I’ve been working on this list for three hours. I’m so uninteresting. Sorry. But at least it’ll only take you a few minutes to read.

25. I love peppermint bark. In chocolate form or coffee form or whatever. You can’t go wrong with chocolate and peppermint.

26. I always say I need to catch up on anime or tv shows I don’t watch with Dad, but if I have time, I end up playing mindless games while listening to loud music.

27. Years ago, I stopped playing video games because crippleness (my last big mobility loss affected my arms and hands and I lost the ability to lean forward on my own). That was before adaptive controllers existed. Now, I hesitate about getting back into them because they are/were addictive. I get sucked into my mindless games occasionally. Can you imagine what would happen if it was a game I actually liked?

28. I wouldn’t mind dancing around and being stupid with people. I don’t think I’ve done any dancing with others since Stonecoast. Used to dance at anime conventions and clubs. That’s not happening any time soon. If I had local friends aside from the Minion, I’d say we have a backyard, but everyone is so far away. You guys suck. Not really.

29. My coping mechanisms for life in general could probably be better. A dark sense of humor and self-deprecation have helped me survive this long, though, so I won’t change anything.

30. I started following other cripple people on social media and found out that pee math is a thing cripples have to do. Calculating how much they can drink and knowing where the bathrooms they can use are, etc. I mostly eliminated that a long time ago by training myself to just hold it, but I still have to do it for all day events. I have to know which drinks I can have and when I can have them so I can make it home. Or we have to drag my lift with us and that’s more trouble than just doing the math. But yeah. Pee math is a thing you know about now. You’re welcome!

31. Amazon started doing Kindle Reading Challenges and the only thing I get out of them are little bookmark icons that do nothing and can’t be seen by anyone but me. They don’t even send a congratulations for completing the challenge. But I get so ticked off if I fail to get one of the stupid things. Is that weird?

32. Mardi has me trained to go get her when she nudges my feet and whines while Dad’s out in the garage or running errands. Then she just wants back down two minutes later. Spoiled pupper is spoiled.

33. I’m currently craving flan and I don’t know why. It’ll pass.

34. I’m far too old and boring to be making these kinds of lists. There’s nothing interesting about me that people don’t already know. Ugh.

35. Surprisingly, I’d rather be working on the novel than this post. I never thought that would happen. But I’m sure as soon as I schedule this and open the file to write my 100 words it’ll be like pulling teeth. I’m never satisfied with anything until I’m done.

36. Holy shit. This post is about 1,700 words according to the WordPress word count thingie. No wonder I hate it.

37. Gott Ist Ein Popstar by Oomph is a decent song to end this list to. It’s what’s playing right now.

Sorry for the length. As always, feel free to leave comments or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Couldn’t Stop

Hello, hello! It’s 2023! How’s it going so far? I’ve started a new writing schedule, working on a new novel. So far, so good. It’s only been three days and two of them were “easy”, but I’ve written each day. It’s better than what I was doing (nothing). We’ll see how long it lasts. Anyway, we’re here so I can ramble about another number thing. In case you’ve forgotten, I’ve covered 13 (you can find the prompt list there), 7, 2, 8, 3, 10, and 6. Today is 14, courtesy of the fabulous Cecilia. And I’ve got 11 and 1 left to do before I have to start thinking of my own randomness again. Today’s prompt is “Tell me which book you read without being able to put down.” Uh…

First instinct was to rattle off the usual suspects: anything Rainbow Rowell, The Scorpio Races, etc. But I figured you’re tired of hearing about them, so let’s see what else I can think of. I vaguely remember finishing The Stand by Stephen King in less than a week. Granted, I was young and much faster at reading than I am now, but I took that book to the hospital with me, so I must not have been able to quit it. I binged a lot of Stephen King as a teen, though. Harry Potter and LotR as well.

More recently was the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. Those books were so good and I made it through all three in about a month. I was so happy when I found out I didn’t have to wait for new releases, but then I was sad that I finished them so quickly. Same thing happened with the Folk of the Air books by Holly Black, but at least she’s still releasing stuff related to the books. Just got my copy of The Stolen Heir and am only putting off reading it because I can’t handle more than three books at a time (yes, somehow I ended up reading three books right now). But I’m expecting it to be my next “can’t put down” book.

I’m trying to think of ones that took me by surprise. Ones that I started reading and they were just kind of meh, but at some point and for some reason, I ended up getting sucked in. I suppose Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe counts. It was one of my review books, so I had the reading schedule all planned out, but eventually found myself reading extra chapters until one day I decided to just binge the rest. I was unsatisfied with the ending, which I still randomly think about, but getting there was nice. Another was So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens. I knew going in that it was going to be super predictable and I’d probably only read a little bit at a time, but it turned out to be so adorable that I couldn’t stop. I also did that with In Deeper Waters (same author). I kind of can’t wait to see what books surprise me this year.

What books have you read that you couldn’t put down? I need suggestions of things to read. Help a chick out. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or comments or questions here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on ONLY ONE LIE

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? How are your holidays going? Looking forward to 2023? The shepherd’s pie was absolutely delicious and our neighbors brought over some tamales colorados on Christmas eve, so we’ve been eating well the past couple of days. Mmm. Anyway! It’s the last Wednesday of the month (year!), so it’s book review time. I decided to go with a mystery. It’s not really a cozy, but it kind of is. There are a lot of the same tropes, but it has the feel of a regular old mystery. Only One Lie by Audrey J. Cole was released from Rainier Publishing (they have no website that I could find) on December 27th. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it.

Only One Lie follows various points of view to tell the story of Vera, a newbie pilot whose husband is being shipped off to war, as she starts a job flying for the Ellis’, a super rich family whose youngest member has been kidnapped. Somehow, Vera gets tangled up in the family’s lies and deceit. Her life is in danger and the only way to save herself is to find the missing boy.

The plot is super standard. Kid gets taken. Kidnappers don’t show up to collect the ransom. No one can find the kid until the nosy woman shows up and gets talked into helping despite her better judgment. Various antics ensue to drag the story into a novel. Kid is found and everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow. But the ending was super far fetched. It’s explained vaguely away by the fact that Vera’s dad is a cop, but it made no sense that she didn’t even get investigated for what she did. It killed the plausibility of the whole thing. And I was kind of disappointed that something better wasn’t done with the baddie. It was set up where they had the potential to be something other than a stereotypical rich dick, but nah. It was sad. But it wasn’t a bad story, just kind of meh. I never considered not finishing the book, so it couldn’t have been horrible while I was reading it.

To the baddies.

The characters were nothing special. The good guys (and gals) were pretty perfect people and the bad guys (and gals) were either rich, corrupt, or both. It really reminded me of that one Danielle Steel novel I reviewed. Granted, this book was so much better, but the character development was still lacking. The only one who seemed to grow at all was Priscilla and even she didn’t change much. I liked Vera, but she was still too perfect. It was annoying.

The writing itself was okay. It was really simplistic, like something I expect to find in middle grade books. I admit I was caught off guard by it, but it was an interesting choice. Bare bones and mostly easy vocabulary. It made for a smooth and quick read.

Ultimately, I wasn’t a fan of Only One Lie. After I put it down, I was just meh about it. The more I think about it though, the more I actively dislike it. I definitely won’t look for anything by Cole, but if something drops into my lap, I’d give it a shot since the writing was okay.

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Overall, I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. When I finished it a week or so ago, I thought I would give it 3, but it just gets worse the more I think about it, so I feel like 2 is fair. If you enjoy Danielle Steel, you might like this book. If not, give it a miss.

Swoon

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? How are your holidays going? I’m just sitting here sipping peppermint mocha coffee and procrastinating writing this post. I don’t know why I have no motivation. It’s another number thingie, so it’s not like I have to think of a topic. I’m just lazy. This week’s pick is courtesy of the amazing Olive (a fellow Stonecoaster)! She chose number 6. I’ve done 13 (you can find the prompt list there), 7, 2, 8, 3, and 10. I’m down to 14, 11, and 1, so only a few more weeks (plus a couple of book reviews and a possible birthday post) before I have to think of things again. Ugh. Anyway, this week’s prompt is “Tell me which book had the most swoon-worthy romance.” Le sigh…

I’m going to be completely honest. Romance has never been high up on my lists of must haves for a good book. I don’t mind the whole romantic subplot thing. In fact, it’s usually expected in a lot of the genres I read, but it’s very rarely the point of the stories. I’m actually a bigger fan of the found family trope. Enemies to lovers is fun. Angsty doom and gloom personality vs. sunshine and glitter queen/king is nice too. But how do I pick? And it doesn’t help that I gravitate toward the psychopathic characters. In other words, I’m having a really hard time thinking of actual swoon-worthy romances that won’t get me weird looks. Books. I need to think of books, not manga/manhwa. This is hard.

I’m going to go with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell as an example of a relatively healthy (from what I remember) budding relationship. Sure, there’s the conniving asshat that we all know isn’t the endgame romance interest and a bunch of missteps with the actual endgame dude that could be cleared up with a simple talk, but for a college first love thing, it has all the right warm and fuzzy moments. And when they finally get together… -chef’s kiss-. Plus the book sets up one of my favorite dysfunctional romances: Simon and Baz (from the Simon Snow books). I know I shouldn’t love them, but I do. They make me squee, which is as good as a swoon.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is weirdly one of my favorite romantic subplots. Why? Because it’s barely there. You can feel the growth and changes in the relationship between Puck and Sean, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t important. Life is happening and things are kind of nuts and this subtle shift into love is there, but other stuff is taking priority over it and that’s fine. It’s more realistic to me than those stories where love overpowers everything else.

Don’t get me wrong, I do occasionally go looking for obvious romances, but it’s usually just fluffy gay stuff that gets all the d’awwwwwwwwwwwws. Or really dark stuff, like The Beast Must Die by Lee Hyeon-Sook. Yeah, I had to slip a manhwa in here. Sorry, not sorry. I’m not fond of the trope that brings the two main characters together (woman they both know kills herself because of bad things and they set out to avenge her), but all the murder is fun. Kang Moo is one of my favorite little psychopaths. I swoon over him. But yeah… it gets dark fast. Don’t read if you’re delicate.

So, since I’m not very well read when it comes to romance and romantic subplots, feel free to suggest books. Or manga/manhwa/webtoons. Whatever. Or just tell me what some of your favorite romantic tropes are. As always, feel free to share your comments or questions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Summer Haze

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing today? Are you ready for the holidays? Things here are quiet. I’m lazy and didn’t do Christmas cards again this year (shame on me). Dad’s going to make a shepherd’s pie for Christmas dinner (huzzah!). I still need to decide what I want for my birthday dinner. But I’m getting off track. Today, we’re here to ramble about another number thing, so let’s see what we’ve got. Matt chose 37 (because he likes to be difficult/funny, not because he didn’t know there were only 15). Jokes on him though, because I decided since 3+7=10, I’d make his choice 10 instead. I’ve already covered 13 (you can find the prompt list there), 7, 2, 8, and 3. Numbers 6, 14, 11, and 1 are yet to come. This week’s prompt is “Tell me which book is your favorite to read in the summer.” Hmmm…

That’s a weird question. Or maybe I’m just weird because I don’t have a type of book that I prefer in certain seasons. Is this something people do? Is this what they mean by a beach read? Something written to evoke all the summertime feels? I’m in Texas, in case you forgot. Summertime feels are 100+ degree days and bugs. All the bugs. I don’t care how much a book romanticizes the heat and humidity and bugs, a Texas summer is still not great. You get like three days when you can sit outside in decent temperatures and not get ravaged by mosquitoes. And I like the heat. I don’t think many of my northern peeps would survive down here, though. No matter how many books they had to distract them.

But I digress. Back to my preferred summertime reads. At that point in the year, I’m usually looking at my reading goals and am either woefully behind or a few books ahead. If I’m slacking on my reading, I usually look for a few shorter, easier reads. Cozy mystery series that I’m already into and not going to review beyond a star rating. Poetry collections that I can read in a day or two. Fun, fluffy YA stuff. Things I can get through pretty quickly. But if I’m ahead with my reading goals, summertime is usually when I reward myself with whatever 500+ page fantasy I’ve been putting off. I have three or four on my list right now. So, it really depends on my goals and motivation.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy seasonal themes in books, but they don’t actually have any impact on when I choose to read them. I’ll read Christmas and Halloween themed stuff year round. I’m not picky. I just grab whatever tickles my fancy at any given time. I don’t usually even notice the season unless it plays a big part in the book. And I have zero interest in a specific genre in summer. I think some people get nostalgic for certain things during certain times of the year. Maybe that’s why lean towards different books at different times. I don’t know. I just grab whatever looks good.

What about you? Do you gravitate toward a specific type of book during the summer? Or do you re-read a specific book around then? Or are you a chaotic reader like me? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and questions and comments here or on my social media pages!

What Book Scarred Me: Adult Edition

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this first Wednesday of December? I’ve been procrastinating writing this even though I already know the topic. I just have no motivation. Like usual. Anyway, it’s time to continue with the number thingie! The wonderful Heather Vendetti picked 3 for this week. I’ve answered 13 (you can find the prompt list there), 7, 2, and 8 so far. Numbers 10, 6, 14, 11, and 1 are all coming eventually. This week’s prompt is “Tell me which book had a profound effect on you as an adult.” Eh… let’s see what I can ramble about for this.

Honestly, I feel like I should have some kind of mature answer for this. Like I should pick one of those books that no one actually enjoys, but say they do to impress their pretentious asshat friends. The Great Gatsby, which I’ve read three times and will never understand why people insist it’s good. Anything by James Joyce. I bought a used copy of his short stories for class and have never agreed with a margin note more than the one at the end of “The Dead” where the person drew a rainbow coming out from behind a cloud with the caption “Hallelujah, it’s over!” Shakespeare, though I admit he’s grown on me. He’s a pervert and super over dramatic, so that’s fun. But people get so serious about him and I’m just sitting here giggling at the dick jokes. C’mon. But yeah, I’m not coming up with any serious answers for this question.

I read the Percy Jackson books when I was in my 20s. Does that count? Is it adult enough? At least I don’t think I was 30 yet. Who knows. But they were awesome and entertaining and I kind of want to read them again. They helped shape my interest in mixing mythology with YA coming of age stories. It wasn’t a life changing thing, but those books have influenced some of my writing.

By Velinxi. I love Nico.

The only other books I can think of that have stuck with me fairly recently are The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (that book made me ugly cry in the best way), Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and the Simon Snow books (also by Rowell). I guess you can tell I read a lot of YA for an old lady. It’s not something I’m ashamed of, but none of it seems like things that have any profound effects on me either. I just like reading and writing about angsty teens/young adults making stupid decisions before getting their happily ever afters. Preferably with some kind of monster/demon/supernatural being involved. I like other genres too (cozy mysteries for example), but they don’t seem to stick with me in the same way.

So, a handful of books have stuck with me as an adult, but I don’t have any profound insight as to why. I just like what I like. Ask me again in ten years and maybe I’ll have a better answer (I doubt it). What about you? Have any books scarred you as an adult? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments and questions here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on STEEPED IN SECRETS

Howdy, howdy! How was everyone’s Thanksgiving (or Thursday)? We had a nice, quiet one with yummy food and the company wasn’t too bad. We’ve mostly been lazy since then. Shame on us. But I’m here to review a book, not ramble about watching tv. Yes, that means this is the last Wednesday of November! I decided to request a new cozy mystery for this month because I was too lazy to look for something else. Luckily, Steeped in Secrets, the first Crystals and CuriosiTEAS mystery by Lauren Elliott, was available. It was released from Kensington Books on November 29th. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for allowing me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute cover that’s pretty relevant to the story.

Steeped in Secrets follows Shay Myers as she returns home broke and baffled. After her husband swindles her out of everything she’s built for herself, Shay discovers she’s inherited an old tea shop and more from a woman she barely knew as a child. With no alternative, Shay goes to see what she’s gotten herself into. But a dead body on the greenhouse roof throws even more turmoil into her life. There’s a dog and a hot ex-cop turned pub owner and friends from childhood being far too shifty and family secrets to spice up the plot even more.

Plot wise, it’s not bad, but it could’ve been better. There’s really only one person the baddie could’ve been, which I was fine with. I don’t mind an obvious villain as long as the story is good. But it was one of those things where he randomly shows up and has little to nothing to do until poof! He’s evil! That was disappointing. Plus, his whole background story is convoluted and comes out of nowhere. It’s like the first three quarters of the book were leading somewhere a little more mundane and believable, but someone said that was boring, so instead of rewriting the whole thing to weave everything together, the author just chopped the ending off and added this one. It just didn’t feel natural.

The characters, on the other hand, were fabulous. I enjoyed Shay as a lead and her reactions to everything were mostly relatable or at least believable. Her whole mottle monster thing when she was embarrassed or whatever was adorable. I still find Liam a little creepy. But that’s mostly because I find all super extroverted people creepy. There’s no way I would let a dude I just met come and go from my house as he pleases. I don’t care how helpful and hot he is. Learn to knock, my dude. And Tassi was a cute character with a lot of potential. Everyone else is still pretty flat, but hopefully they’ll grow in future book. Oh, and I adored the dog as usual.

Me to Liam.

I thought the writing itself was nice. It flowed well and made for a quick read. I’m hoping to learn more about tea and crystals in future books, but I also don’t want to be inundated with information. It has the potential to be annoying and infodump-y, but this particular book didn’t overdo it.

Ultimately, I thought Steeped in Secrets could use some work. But I liked the characters enough that I’ll probably check out the next one just to see if the plot’s better.

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Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. The series has potential if the plots get better, but based strictly on this story, I don’t strongly recommend it. If you’re into cozies and hints of supernatural stuff, go for it. If not, save your money.