Thoughts on OPEN FOR MURDER

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of November, which means it’s book review time! It also means that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so have a safe and happy holiday. Dad and I are staying home and he’s going to cook a few favorites. It’s okay to be jealous. But back to bookish things. This month, I decided to go with a new cozy mystery series. Open for Murder is the first in Mary Angela’s A Happy Camper Mystery series. It was released yesterday (the 24th) from Kensington Books. As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get on with it!

Cute cover.

Open for Murder follows Zo Jones, a former journalist turned gift shop owner, as she gets reacquainted with her old friend Beth, who has just moved back to Spirit Canyon in order to open the lodge her late aunt left her. Unfortunately, there’s a murder during Beth’s grand opening on Memorial day weekend. Zo must find the real murderer before all the suspects return to their normal lives, so her childhood bestie doesn’t go down for a crime she didn’t commit. Or did she?

The plot is fairly standard on this one. There’s a sexy forest ranger in place of a lead detective for the budding romance aspect, but he does his fair share of the police work. The supportive bestie happens to be the main suspect, which is fun. And there’s some ghostly weirdness with the late aunt popping up in Beth’s mom’s dreams. But otherwise, if you’ve read a few cozies, it’s not hard to see where everything is going pretty early on, even if you’re not quite sure why until later.

Pretty much.

I admit the characters are enjoyable. The background on Zo makes her a likeable and fleshed out person. She’s a free spirit and open to all sorts of things without being naive. While she indulges in stuff like dream reading and ghost stories, she takes those things with a grain of salt. She’s a realist, but doesn’t let that squash out all the fun in her life. Beth is definitely a planner, but she rolls with the punches. A storm interrupts the outdoor festivities? She has a backup plan. She doesn’t let anything get her down. Max likes rules and structure, but he’s the first to point out when something isn’t fair even if it goes against those rules. They make the story worth reading.

Me to most of the characters.

The writing itself is fine, but the pacing is slow. Things happen in every chapter to push things along, but the story just drags for me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I guessed so much early on. It wasn’t bad, though. I was simply a little bored towards the end.

Ultimately, I was kind of meh about Open for Murder. I liked the characters enough that I’ll give it a second chance if another one comes out, but if things don’t pick up, I won’t go looking for more.

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Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t a bad story and I loved the characters, but it didn’t strike my fancy the way I was hoping it would. If you’re looking for a cozy mystery with interesting people, check it out. If you’re in it for the plot, there are better stories out there.

If I Had A Million Dollars

Howdy, howdy! I struggled to find something to ramble about today. Writing has been hard, so I’ve been procrastinating by taking on some extra reading (then writing a couple of short blurbs/reviews for Pseudopod). But otherwise, I’ve been blah again. I had a good month of regularly writing, then it went downhill. I’ll get back on track soon. But it leaves me with nothing to blog about either. Luckily, I’ve been listening to Barenaked Ladies the last couple of days and apparently Amazon likes their song “If I had a Million Dollars,” so I thought I’d make a short list of things I’d do with a million dollars. Be aware that these are all separate scenarios because it’s only a million dollars.

1. Save most of it. Let’s be honest… a million dollars won’t get you very far these days. Especially people like me because if I randomly came into any money, I’d lose my benefits (including Medicaid and probably Medicare). That would mean a bunch of things would go wrong and that million dollars would disappear pretty fast just to cover living and medical stuff. But this is a fantasy, so in my pretend world, I’d get save most of it and let it slowly collect interest and all of that because I like seeing money in my accounts. Or I would like it if I had any money.

2. Pay stuff off. Jeez, my fantasy worlds are so boring. But yeah, I’d pay off the vehicles that we still owe money on. I’d also pay for all the stuff Dad needs in order to finish his projects around the house. And then I’d save whatever was left because that’s just how I am.

I’m usually the friend in this scenario.

3. Buy a fancy cripple friendly RV. Aside from the fact that having our own portable hotel room would make traveling easier, they look pretty. And of course if we had an RV, we’d have to take a road trip out west. There’s always more of Canada to explore too. As well as the rest of Texas. Then we could always go back east. Not sure when the money would run out, but I’d still put some away before we started our trip(s).

4. Go back to school. Not sure if I would just go for some kind of PhD (what useful degrees can you get with a background in English that won’t lead to teaching?) or if I’d start all over with something in physics. It could be fun either way.

5. Stop feeling guilty about buying myself little things. That’s the biggest fantasy of all. Even if I were rich, I still think I would hesitate when buying things just because I want them. It’s weird. I had a hard time ordering a bracelet I wanted recently. Why? Because I’ve done nothing to deserve the splurge and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so it’s not like I’ll have anywhere to wear it. I ordered it anyway, though. Maybe if I had money, I’d stop thinking that way, but I doubt it.

That’s my boring list of things I’d potentially do with a million dollars. As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or lists here or on my social media pages!

Getting to Know Me

Hello, hello! I have nothing worth rambling about, so I thought I would just do one of those random “about me” questionnaires that spontaneously float around social media. Yes, I know all the warnings about people using these things to guess at your passwords and security questions, but I don’t care. None of these answers have anything to do with my passwords/security questions. Don’t waste your time. And if you do waste your time with it, well… I told you so. But seriously, I’m bored and enjoy filling these things out.

Since I probably won’t put any other images in this post, here’s a picture of me with a tail in my face after the doggo’s last grooming a couple of weeks ago.

1. Were you named after anyone?
Sean Connery (RIP) and Nichelle Nichols.

2. When was the last time you cried?
I’m not entirely sure. Probably the last time someone made me want to punch them in the throat. I’m an angry crier. Leave me alone.

3. Do you like your handwriting?
It’s legible. That’s all that matters. If I can easily reach the page and write at a proper angle, my writing is nice enough. If I have to write upside down or sideways, it’s crap but you can still read it.

4. What is your favourite lunch meat?
I don’t really have a favorite. If you mean the super processed stuff, we don’t eat that very often anyway. But I just like meat, so I wouldn’t have a favorite anyway.

5. Do you have kids?
Nope. I’ll just borrow some if I want the experience, that way I can give them back to their parents when I’m tired of them.

6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
Probably not. I’m kind of a dick. >__>

7. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
I don’t use sarcasm. I’m sarcasm incarnate.

8. Do you still have your tonsils?
Yup.

9. Would you bungee jump?
No, not even if I could. Being a human yoyo doesn’t appeal to me.

10. What is your favourite cereal?
I don’t eat cereal, but I used to like Rice Chex. I guess I still do when it’s mixed with stuff and drizzled with chocolate. Oh, and I like rice krispie treats. Does that count?

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Depends on the shoe. My Converse, yes. My boots, no because they also have zippers.

12. Do you think you are strong?
Physically? Nope. Emotionally? I have super strong and unhealthy coping mechanisms, so probably not.

13. What is your favourite ice cream?
Coffee? Cookies and cream? Both? Both. Both is good. Preferably mixed together.

14. What is the first thing you notice about people?
It really depends on whether they’re facing me or not and whether they’re sitting or standing. I should probably say something stupid and mysterious like their aura or vibe, but honestly… usually the ass. I’m at the perfect height for it. If they’re sitting, then probably their hair.

15. Red or pink?
Red. Dark red.

16. What is your least favourite thing about yourself?
Aside from everything? Uh… I guess that I don’t keep up with people even though I know I should. I’ve said it before. I’m a shit friend.

17. Who do you miss the most?
No one I’m willing to talk about.

18. What is your favourite tea?
Does boba count? I like tea, but I don’t drink it enough to have a favorite.

19. What colour shoes are you wearing?
Invisible? I’m not wearing any.

20. What was the last thing you ate?
Nuggets (catfish) and shrimp with a side of fried pickles. Mmm… be jealous. It’s okay.

21. What are you listening to right now?
The whoosh of my ventilator because I didn’t think to turn on the radio when I started working on this post.

22. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
Probably one of the glittery ones. I’m partial to the purples, but anything is fine as long as it’s sparkly.

23. Favourite smells?
Rain. Fresh cut wood. Old books. Roasting garlic.

24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
I don’t talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to, so probably Dad.

25. Mountain hideaway or beach house?
Beach. Ocean view, please.

26. Favourite sports to watch?
Sports are not my thing. Baseball is okay if I’m actually at the game. Is skateboarding still a thing? I don’t mind watching that. Dancing is okay too.

27. Hair colour?
Somewhere between blonde and brown, I guess.

28. Eye colour?
Blue.

29. Do you wear contacts?
Nope. I don’t like being touched at the best of times. You really think I want someone jabbing their fingers in my eyes?

30. Favourite food?
Food in general. I just like to eat.

31. Scary movies or happy endings?
I don’t watch enough movies to have a strong preference either way, but I guess happy. I like my horror in book form.

32. Last movie you watched?
No idea. Troop Zero? I don’t remember any movies since then.

33. What colour shirt are you wearing?
Black with a red Oz logo. A Japanese band that’s no longer around.

34. Summer or winter?
Summer. Bring on the heat!

35. Hugs or kisses?
Like the candy? I’m on team Hugs. The actions? Please don’t.

36. Favourite dessert?
Creme brulee!

37. Strength training or cardio?
Cripple privilege allows me to not exercise and no one says anything about it.

38. Computer or television?
Computer. Always.

39. What book are you reading right now?
Open for Murder by Mary Angela for this month’s review post and HP and the Chamber of Secrets for fun.

40. What is on your mouse pad?
I don’t have one.

41. Any tattoos?
Not yet. But I want one.

42. Favourite sound?
I’ve never thought about this. Water sounds, I guess.

43. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Beatles.

44. What is the farthest you’ve been from home?
Out of the places I remember, Wiscasset in Maine is around 1,900 miles from us, but so is Quebec, so one of those two places.

45. Do you have a special talent?
I can turn pretty much anything into something perverted, but otherwise no.

46. Where were you born?
A hospital.

47. Where are you living now?
The same place I have always lived.

48. What colour is your house?
If you had stalked me properly, you would know the answer to this question. Step your game up.

49. What colour is your car?
I don’t have a car.

50. Any pets?
A dog and a bunch of fish.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

How I Avoided the Election

Howdy, howdy! It’s Tuesday November 3rd as I’m writing this and I have no idea how all of the election crap is going. I don’t particularly care either. We’re all screwed for the next four years no matter who gets in, so why waste time worrying? As you’re reading this, it’s the 4th or later, so you probably already know who won. If it was the ancient white dude you were rooting for, congrats! If it was the other ancient white dude, better luck next time. But as with all election years, I’ve spent my day avoiding politics as much as possible. Here’s how I did it this time.

AKA Americans insisting on voting Dem or Rep instead of voting for someone who might actually do things to benefit everyone.

1. I helped Dad uninstall a switch from SmartThings and connect the new switch when he got it in. He’s finally remodeling his room and my job in the process is to figure out the smart home aspects. I’ll post pictures of the room when he’s done, but it’s coming along nicely if I do say so myself.

2. I read some manhwa (Korean graphic novels/webtoons). Okay, so I was actually procrastinating on writing this post, but it also kept me away from election stuff too. No one wants to know what kind of BL (if you know what that is and want to squee over it with me, message me on one of my social media pages) I was reading, but a few of my favorites had updates, so it kept me amused for half an hour.

Shakespeare and Hathaway.

3. I watched BritBox with Dad. During breakfast/lunch (same meal), we watched an episode of Shakespeare and Hathaway. It’s a fun show and you should be watching it. For dinner, we’ll probably watch an episode of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries. It’s an okay show, but there are better mysteries out there. They keep changing his wife (not the character, just the actress), which is distracting. We’ll probably watch some stuff on Hulu too.

4. I scrolled through Facebook. Yes, I saw a bunch of people freaking out about election day stress, but I only stopped scrolling for cute memes and pictures of pretty people. I also made sure to stop before the main media coverage of the day started, so I could avoid all of the madness. I’ll scroll through it after a decision is made.

Terrifying.

5. I read and wrote this post and did some other things I needed to do. In other words, I adulted. This is not something I recommend, but it’s necessary and better than watching election crap.

I have no idea who’s ahead in the polls as I’m writing this. I’ll find out who wins later. For now, I’m going to go relax and avoid everything. If you avidly kept track of everything, I hope you didn’t stress yourself too much. If you just bided your time until everything was over, feel free to share what you got up to here or on my social media pages! I need new ideas for how to avoid the next election.

Thoughts on NORTHERN WRATH

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of October, which means it’s book review time! I wanted to take a break from cozy mysteries and dig into a nice juicy fantasy book, so when I found a new trilogy revolving around Norse mythology, I had to request the first book. Northern Wrath by Thilde Kold Holdt is the first book in the Hanged God trilogy. It was released on the 27th from Solaris Books. As usual, I must thank NetGalley and the publisher for access to the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. So, let’s get on with it.

Lovely cover.

Northern Wrath follows a number of mortals and giants and monsters alike as they prepare for the final battle. The Runes are fading, signaling the weakening of the bond between humans and the gods. Some want to save the nine worlds, others want to save themselves, and a handful just want to watch the worlds burn. Who will prevail? Only time will tell.

I’m not usually one who likes a story that’s split between more than two or three POVs, but I really appreciate the different glimpses we get in this book. There’s a name at the beginning of each chapter to let us know who we’re with, so it doesn’t get too confusing. And all of the characters are so well rounded that I can’t pick a favorite. I will say that Hilda, the young woman we’re with the most, kind of gets on my nerves. The whole “I don’t need anyone’s help” thing gets annoying, but she’s in the middle of learning her lesson, so I’m hoping I’ll eventually love her like I love Einer and Siv and the rest of them. I even like Finn even though he’s kind of a dipshit.

Me throughout most of this book, but it never does.

The plot is fun and twisty and has a lot of familiar Norse mythology sprinkled throughout as well as some stuff I am not entirely familiar with but that I vaguely recognize. It helps keep things interesting when I can tie into the story with stuff I know, but I don’t think any knowledge of the mythology is actually necessary to enjoy the book. The author does a wonderful job of explaining or showing the important points (like Ragnarok or Loki and Odin’s relationship) without feeling infodumpy. Everything is woven together and works to fully immerse the reader in this violent and lovely world.

Yggdrasil is the best.

I admit the writing is a little dense at times, but it doesn’t get in the way of the story. It’s almost 500 pages, but it manages to keep the reader’s attention with no problem. I have to say, there aren’t many books that keep me thinking about them when I’m not actively reading them, but this one did. Also, it’s a fast-paced story despite its length.

Ultimately, I loved Northern Wrath. I’m a tad bitter that I have to wait for the next two installments. But I did notice Thilde Kold Holdt is also planning a fantasy set in Korea which I will also be checking out when it becomes available.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I knocked off one because things could have been tightened up a bit and because of my own feelings toward Hilda. But it’s totally worth picking up if you’re into Norse mythology or just looking for an interesting new fantasy world.

Thoughts on BENDING THE PAW

Hello, hello! I know it’s not the last Wednesday of the month, but St. Martin’s Press offered me access to Diane Kelly’s latest canine police procedural mystery, Bending the Paw and I couldn’t say no (I actually could say no, but I wanted to read it). It’s the ninth book in her Paw Enforcement series about a Fort Worth police officer and her K-9 partner. Publication isn’t until the 27th, but I was told an early review was fine. I received access to the ARC through NetGalley, so I must thank them as well as Sara Beth Haring at St. Martin’s Press for the chance to read it in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute cover that actually has to do with the plot!

Bending the Paw follows Officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner Brigit as they try to help detective Jackson solve what appears to be a grizzly murder. The problem? There’s no body, only ludicrous amounts of blood. Throw in an engagement and wedding prep, plus a hailstorm and the onslaught of both legitimate and scam artists roofers, and you’ve got everything you need to keep this pair busy.

I’ll say it. I knew what was going to happen from the first couple of pages. The whole main plot was fairly standard. However, the subplots with Megan’s engagement and the whole roofing company thing kept the story interesting even though they were pretty predictable as well. It might just be all of the stuff I read and watch, but it wasn’t hard to see where everything was going. But again, that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to read.

I don’t want to give everything away if you’re going to read it, so feel free to skip ahead to the end of the spoilers, which start now.

My biggest complaint with this book is that despite all of the tests they do on the blood, no blood thinners are detected. Blood coagulates! In order for it to be collected over a period of time, something has to keep it thin, especially in this instance. And I’m sure a seemingly legitimate excuse for the presence of blood thinners could have been devised by the “killers.” They seem smart enough for that.

No more spoilers.

Beyond that, I didn’t really have any major problems with the book. I love Brigit. Megan’s a little annoying with her whole making it known she’s a K-9 officer so she can take Brigit in restaurants and other places when she’s off duty, but other than that she’s an interesting character. Frankie and Seth seem cool, but I’ll have to go back and read the first eight books to get a better grasp of them. That being said, it’s fine starting at book nine. It works well as a standalone.

Just a cute pupper.

The writing was tight and fast-paced. Kelly does a wonderful job at giving you pertinent details from previous books to help make reading this one possible without having to start from book one. It’s a quick and fun read.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Bending the Paw. In fact, I’ve added the first couple of books to my want-to-read list so I can pick them up soon. I might also check out some of Diane Kelly’s other series.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Probably closer to 3.5, but that’s just because I figured it out so early. If you want a quick, fun read, you should check it out.

A Look Inside Reggae Wings and Tings

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing this beautiful day? It’s been a long time since I did a food review. I’m going to blame Covid since we haven’t been able to go out to eat since it started and we constantly have issues with GrubHub and DoorDash, so we don’t order in much, but the truth is that I hadn’t done one long before Covid. But, this weekend, Dad and I gave GrubHub another shot (still showed up late, but that’s really been our only continuous problem with them), in order to try a Jamaican place called Reggae Wings and Tings. They’re on the corner of Motley and Town East here in Mesquite. Their address and contact info is on the website linked above.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

Front of their menu, borrowed from their website.

Accessibility: no first hand experience, but judging from pictures I found on Google, it looks pretty standard for around here. Tables don’t seem to have anything to bump your knees on. There appears to be a couple of unloading zones for wheelchairs. The area in front of the door looks wide enough so you shouldn’t have to make a tight turn to get in. But this is all from pictures, so I can’t be positive yet.

Service: we ordered from GrubHub, so there was no real service interactions. But Dad did call to let them know we enjoyed the food and the woman on the phone seemed friendly and nice.

Oxtails, rice and peas, and fried plantains. Borrowed from Google because I didn’t think to take pictures.

Entrees: absolutely delicious. I had the same as pictured above. The oxtails were soft and just amazing. I don’t usually get rice because it’s difficult for me to eat without help, but I’m glad I did. It was fluffy, but still clung together enough that I didn’t have too much trouble with it. I don’t know what the peas in it were, but they were tasty. Even the fried plantain (which I’m usually iffy about) was delicious. Dad had jerk pork with mac-n-cheese and fried dumplings. He loved it all. The pork was tender and just spicy enough. I wasn’t sure about the dumplings, but I’m not a big fan of sourdough. Dad enjoyed them, though!

Drinks: interesting. Dad got something called Irish Moss. It was like a super cinnamon-y eggnog, so we liked it. I got some kind of ginger beer, which was good. They have other drinks, but don’t really explain what they are on GrubHub, so we’ll just have to randomly choose again next time.

Back of the menu, borrowed from their website.

Dessert: yummy. We got a slice of both the cream cheese pound cake and the Jamaican rum cake. They were both nice and moist. The pound cake was good, but didn’t stand out as much as the rum cake. The rum cake had a lovely blend of spices and an interesting chewy texture.

Price: not bad at all. Without GrubHub’s fees (about $10 altogether), it would’ve been about $50 plus a tip. We were full and happy when we were done, so totally worth it.

My rating:
MMMMM

7 Stories for the Season

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing this lovely October day? It’s that scary time of year where people normally start decorating with spider webs and carved pumpkins in preparation to hand out candy to appease all of the little ghosts and goblins. Unfortunately, Covid is dampening this year’s Halloween spirit, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. You can always watch scary or corny movies. You can still decorate to your heart’s content as well. And now is as good a time as any to read (or reread) some scary stories. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite short stories with you today.

1. “Strawberry Spring” by Stephen King. Of course King would be on my list, so I might as well start there. This particular story is in the collection Night Shift. What’s not to love about a serial killer story? But really, you can’t go wrong with any of King’s short stories.

2. “The Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft. This is one of the few stories that kept me up at night and I have no idea why. It’s just one of those creepy stories that gets inside your head. It can be found in a number of Lovecraft collections or you can read it here. And yes, I acknowledge he was a racist. I don’t have to like a person or agree with them to enjoy their work.

3. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Because who doesn’t love a slow descent into madness? If you’ve taken any college level English courses, you’ve probably read this, but it’s always worth another look. It can be found in a bunch of collections or here on the Project Gutenberg website.

4. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. This is another you’ve probably read if you did your English homework, but I still love it. The story of a creepy recluse is always intriguing. You can find it in loads of collections and if you Google it, the whole text usually pops up in at least one public lesson plan.

5. “Berenice” by Edgar Allan Poe. Pretty much any Poe story fits the season, but the one that creeps me out the most is this one. Why? Because teeth freak me out. Of all the things to be obsessed with, I just don’t understand why anyone would fixate on teeth. But I digress. If you have a collection of Poe, it’s probably in there. If not, you can read it here.

6. “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” by Neil Gaiman. This is a weird and cute story that’s pretty predictable, but still fun. It was published in the anthology Impossible Monsters (edited by Kasey Lansdale), but you can listen to Gaiman read it here if you have 10 minutes to spare.

7. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. It’s not scary like the usual horror story, but it’s terrifying because it’s not a particularly far-fetched idea. This could happen because people suck. It has happened in the past in various ways. It’s basically ritual sacrifice without the whole appeasing a god angle (at least from what I remember). Stuff like this happens and that’s terrifying. You can find this one in a bunch of anthologies and it’s usually around online if you Google it.

I could keep going, but I think I’ll save some for another time. What are some of your favorite scary or creepy short stories? How about corny Halloween short stories? As always, feel free to share your lists or comments or thoughts here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on BURNING ROSES

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of September, so you know what that means. It’s book review time! This month, I opted for something on the fairytale side of things. I didn’t realize it was a novella when I requested it, but I’m glad it was something short and entertaining. I’ve been reading too many longer things lately, so it was a nice change of pace. It’s S.L. Huang’s Burning Roses and it was released yesterday (09/29) from Tor/Forge. As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get on with it.

Love the cover.

Burning Roses follows Rosa and Hou Yi, two middle aged women who are the stuff of legends. The problem with being legends is that you have to gain that reputation somehow and that can be misleading, even if it’s all wonder and prestige. Both women are filled with regret and running away from their pasts when they decide to team up and protect their makeshift home from the sunbirds that have started attacking the surrounding area. They don’t expect to make it out alive, but maybe one last adventure can help to resolve some of the regret that plagues them.

I’m going to be completely honest with you. I read this about four weeks ago and have been putting off writing this review purely out of laziness. But what I’ve discovered from my procrastination is that this book is pretty forgettable. I had to skim the first chapter just to remind myself what it’s about. The details came back to me fairly quickly, but I shouldn’t have needed the nudge. I probably won’t remember it at all a year from now. That’s not to say the story is bad (it’s actually really good). It’s just that among the plethora of fairytale retellings, it doesn’t stick out in my mind.

To be fair, this is me with most fairytale retellings.

The fairytales. This is a mash-up of Little Red Riding Hood (Rosa) and Hou Yi the Archer from Chinese mythology which I’m not familiar with at all. Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Beauty and the Beast are also mixed in for good measure. I also feel like there might have been some others I wasn’t familiar with, like maybe the thing with the dragon. But the way they were all blended together made for a really nice story of family tragedy and toxic friendships and all consuming obsessions and, of course, love. I really enjoy how the story pulls enough from the originals to make them recognizable, but twists and weaves them into something new.

The story itself. This is a nice read. I took a few days to get through it, but at around 80 pages it could easily have been done in one sitting. The way their pasts unfold, mingled in with the present story is lovely. My only complaint is the same one I have with most novellas: the story feels incomplete. There’s a finality to it, but there’s also this gaping hole where we don’t get to see the end of Rosa’s story. It’s weird how it seems to start out as Rosa’s story, then shifts to Hou Yi’s story during which we get her ending, but it never shifts back to give us a satisfying ending for Rosa. Maybe that’s another story, but it doesn’t really feel like something that would require another book.

Basically.

The writing is lovely. It’s not super poetic, but there’s this nice rhythm that carries you through the story. The imagery is deliberate and helps bring the story to life. It’s a smooth read.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Burning Roses while I was reading it. Despite the unsatisfactory ending and the forgettableness of it, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more stories by S.L. Huang.

starstarstarstarstar outline

Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars (3.5 really, but I rounded up). If you enjoy fairytale retellings, it’s worth a look. And it’s short enough that even if it’s not your cup of tea, you’re not wasting too much time.

Last Quarter Intentions

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing today? It’s been a gloomy couple of days, so I’ve just wanted to laze around. You know how it goes. But next week is September’s book review post, then we enter the final quarter of 2020. Can you believe it? Time is racing by, but at the same time it feels like 2020 has been stretching on forever. It’s weird. Anyway, in preparation for the end of the year, I thought I would let you know what my intentions are. I’m not even going to bother calling them goals because that word hasn’t helped me stay on target in a long time. So, here’s a list of the things I hope to accomplish by December 31st.

Basically.

1. Finish the first draft of DS2. I originally wanted to finish this a week or so ago, but the blahs got me and I stopped working on it. I wrote some short stuff in the interim, so I wasn’t completely useless. However, I need to get back to the novel. I’m aiming for 65-75,000 words and already have about 18,000 written, so even if I wait to start on October 1st (I need to reread what I’ve written over the next few days to get back in the voice) I’ll only need to write between 900 and 1,100 on my writing days. I can do it. I plan to do it. We’ll see if it actually happens.

2. Finish the shawl. I’ve been working on this thing on and off since October, so I want to finish it and have Dad weave in the ends and block it, so we can get it sent off. It’s my own fault it’s taking so long. Hopefully since I don’t plan on trying to force out 1,500 words on my writing days, I’ll be able to squeeze in at least half an hour of crocheting on those days as well as more on the days I don’t write. My priority will be the words, but I’m still hoping I can finish both by the end of the year.

Or just buy me yarn. No flattery necessary.

3. Keep querying and submitting. I haven’t missed a week yet, but I’m slowly running out of agents to query until I get rejections from some others (ones in agencies where you’re allowed to query other agents even if you get a no from one of them), I might drop down to two or three a week instead of five. I’m only 25 submissions away from 100, so I’m not worried about cutting back a bit. Then, I can look for publishers if none of the agents bite. I’ll still keep up with my two short story submissions each week too.

4. Read extra books. Once I finish the book I’m currently reading, I’ll have met my 30 books goal for the year, but I’ll still need to read at least two books for November and December’s reviews. I’m also planning to reread HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone and I’m sure I can find a book or two in my Kindle collection of stuff I’ve bought but haven’t read to fill out the rest of the year. Or maybe I’ll just say screw it and read manga instead.

I mean, if I had enough money, I’d be less anxious which would make me happy, but books work too.

I could talk about my intention to try and make new friends, but we all know how bad I am at keeping up with the ones I have, so I probably won’t do anything different. I’m trying. Slowly. But it’s not like it was back in the Yahoo chat days. Back then I’d randomly *glomp* someone and hey presto, new friend! Nowadays, I join a new forum or group and just lurk because I feel like a creeper. So yeah, new friends would be nice but are unlikely because I’m a socially awkward weirdo.

Anyway, that’s what I hope to accomplish by the end of the year. What about you? Anything you want to get done within the next three months? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or whatever here or on my social media pages!