Thoughts on BURIED IN A GOOD BOOK

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? Things here are quiet. SSDD if you know what I mean. But it’s the last Wednesday of May, so you know what that means. Book review time! This month, I decided to stick with something I’m used to, something on the predictable side. So, I went with the first book in a new cozy mystery series. Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry was released yesterday (the 24th) from Poisoned Pen 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!

Cute cover and mostly relevant to the story, except the canoe.

Buried in a Good Book follows Tess, who’s fresh off a divorce, as she drags her teenage daughter Gertie into the woods for a much needed escape. Unfortunately, when they arrive at the cabin Tess inherited from her grandfather, a strange set of circumstances unearths a body. Being a mystery writer, Tess leaps at the chance to help solve a real life murder while avoiding her looming deadline and messy personal life. Plus, small town life seems to be helping her daughter cope with her absentee father a bit. What could go wrong?

Where to start? The plot was fairly standard, but with an annoying writer constantly comparing everything to her books. The hot sheriff is exactly like her detective, at least looks-wise. There’s a new bestie who encourages all of the shenanigans. The sullen teenage daughter who’s too smart for her own good is a rare addition to cozies, but not unheard of. The only problem with the plot is that the cast of characters is so small that you know right away the baddie is either going to be a peripheral character who doesn’t get much page time or the dreaded random character who comes from nowhere. There’s really only one person it could be, so I mostly kept reading for character development.

Speaking of characters, I really liked most of them, which made the book worth reading. Yes, Tess is annoying as fuck with her “Detective Gonzales would do it this way…” crap, but as a mother and human being in general, she’s pretty okay. She’s navigating being newly single and realizing that she has no one in her life besides the ex and her daughter. And making friends as an adult is HARD. It’s all very relatable. Gertie is adorable. Sheriff Boyd is grumpy, but lovable. Nicki is a little flat, but that’s because she’s trying to be something she isn’t. Hopefully her character will have some room to grow in the next book.

I admit, there were some really weird red herrings that made me mutter “wtf?” to myself a few times. The Bigfoot thing, I was down with. It was strange, but whatever. I liked it. A lot of Tess’s theories on things were just plain nuts, though. It kind of slowed down the pacing towards the end. But once things came back around to relatively believable scenarios, things sped up again.

The writing was actually wonderful. It was quirky and sarcastic and pulled me along without becoming too much. There was some over the top stuff, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to quit reading. Roll my eyes, yes. Stop reading? Nah. Mostly, it was a fun and quick read.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Buried in a Good Book. I’ll definitely grab the next book in the series when it comes out. The writing style and characters make it worth a second chance at least.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. If cozy mysteries are your thing, definitely check it out. It’s pretty short and fun, so yeah. I recommend it.

Mardi Moments

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? It was one of those weird days where my entire schedule was off, so I’m writing this super late. Again. I didn’t plan on flaking. It just happened. But, I do have a couple of cute pupper videos as a kind of apology. Not only do these videos feature Mardi, but also Buddy! He was our neighbor’s cat, but the neighbor decided to move and just leave him behind. Dude’s a shitty pet owner, I know. Don’t get me started. So, now Buddy spends a lot of time in our yard where there’s plenty of cat food and water and soft things to lounge on. Now, I’m going to try to get those videos on here. I’ve only ever embedded videos from YouTube on here, not straight from my computer. Hopefully it isn’t too difficult.

Video 1: Our delicate flower Mardi goes bowling with Buddy

Video 2: That’s not how this Works: Cuddles on a Rainy Day

So, since WordPress is greedy and wants more of my money just to upload videos, it was easier just to upload them to YouTube and embed them here. That was annoying but whatever. Yay for videos! The only thing hurt in either of these videos was pride. I’ll be back next week with a book review!

Music Shuffle Game

Howdy, howdy! How’s your May going? Things are okay here. Mostly just waiting to see if I hear back from publishers. Send good vibes for that! That’s about it, really. I avoided writing this post until the last minute again. There was even a point where I was literally a doorstop to keep the pupper from escaping while Dad did stuff in the front yard. He had to run an air hose through the house, so the front door wouldn’t latch. It happens. But I listened to music while I sat there holding the door mostly closed and randomly thought of those stupid MySpace games where you answer a questionnaire by shuffling your music and answering with the first song title that pops up. Remember? No? I’m showing my age? Whatever. Anyway, we’re playing that game today. I apologize in advance for my taste in music.

1. How am I feeling today? We are Golden (by Mika). Not really, but okay.
2. Will I get far in life? Landslide (by Fleetwood Mac). So, no?
3. What Is my best friend’s theme song? Dejavu (by Luna Sea). I have no idea. I guess I should start into translations again.
4. What was high school like? Oye Como Va (by Santana). Sure. Why not?
5. What is the best thing about me? Pixy (by Buck-Tick). It’s Buck-Tick, so I’m happy.
6. How was yesterday? Louie Louie (by the Kingsmen). I guess?
7. What is my love life like? You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover (by Bo Diddley). Mostly because mine is blank.
8. What would my parents say about me? Kanashimi Johnny (by Kiyoharu). Who’s Johnny and why is he so sad?
9. What song will they play at my funeral? Pain (by Jimmy Eat World). Eh… maybe.
10. How does the world see me? Fluorescent Adolescent (by Arctic Monkeys). Awww… you think I’m young.
11. What do my friends really think of me? Guilty (by Barbra Streisand with Barry Gibbs). I’m an innocent angel, thanks very much.
12. What is the world keeping a secret from me? Fire (by Jimi Hendrix). But I just want to watch the world burn…
13. How do I make myself happy? Light On (by David Cook). What does that even mean?
14. What should I do with my life? Spectacular Rival (by George Ezra). Dude… I’m far too lazy for a rivalry.
15. Will I have children? Look After You (by the Fray). Nope. No. Nah.
16. What is some good advice? Only a Human (by George Ezra). “You can run, you can jump, might fuck it up…”
17. What type of people do I like? Obscure (by Dir en Grey). I think I make it pretty clear, actually.
18. What will my dying words be? Break Stuff (by Limp Bizkit). I mean… maybe?
19. What is your motto? Someday (by Nickelback). That works.
20. What makes you laugh? Bleeding Love (by Leona Lewis). What?
21. What makes you cry? The Islander (by Nightwish). So, avoid people from islands?
22. What scares you most? A Beautiful Morning (by the Rascals). Mornings in general are terrible and shouldn’t exist.
23. What hurts right now? Everything (by Lifehouse). Accurate.
24. My innermost desire is: Dance with the Devil (by Breaking Benjamin). Sure. Why not?
25. My theme song: Loser (by Three Doors Down). That is accurate and insulting.

Time for Some Shameless Self-Promotion

Howdy, howdy! It’s that time again. Time for some shameless self-promotion. If you stalk me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you already know, but just in case. My short story, The Water Horse, is out today in Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging Volume Silver. You can purchase it from Improbable Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble to name a few places. Please do check it out and leave reviews if possible! Until next week.

Thoughts on THE FERVOR

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? It’s the last Wednesday of April. Can you believe it? That means it’s book review time! This month, I tried something a little different. I’m not usually into historical stuff, but I wanted a little horror, so I requested an ARC of The Fervor by Alma Katsu. It was released on April 26th from Putnam. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

The cover is okay, but feels a little meh to me.

The Fervor follows a handful of people including Meiko and Aiko, a mother and daughter stuck in one of the internment camps in the U.S. during World War II; Archie, a preacher who lost his wife when a mysterious balloon exploded during a trip to the mountains; and Fran, a reporter following a story despite numerous warnings against doing so. A strange illness spreads in the internment camp before flowing over into the nearby towns. Throw in visions of demons and strange spiders to spice things up. It’s all just strange enough that our protagonists decide they need to figure out what’s going on.

Multiple POVs are used until they all eventually converge into one. It takes a lot for me to get into stories that are structured like this because I usually hate at least one of the characters. This time it was Archie. And Fran didn’t exactly grasp my attention either. So, I found myself wanting to skip their sections. But I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why people use this method. I even understand it in this particular book. But, for me, it breaks up the tension in a way that slows the story down too much. I wasn’t able to get into a flow where I wanted to keep reading beyond what I needed to read in order to finish in time. On the other hand, I also never dreaded picking it back up the next day, so it wasn’t like it was bad. Just slow.

I enjoyed the mixture of Japanese mythology with the horrors of WWII. The blending of historical fiction with a subtle layer of supernatural horror was excellent. I confess that I’m not a big history fan, so I don’t know much about WWII beyond the basics. In other words, this book is my first experience with the Fu-Go (fire balloons) that Japan sent to America. They are weirdly fascinating. And the way the book used them to further the supernatural elements of the story was great. I love it when books teach me odd things.

The real horror of the story is, of course, people. The way hate and fear spreads so quickly with just a tiny push. The illness that causes paranoia and irritation that eventually becomes hostility and outright rage. It serves as a magnification of what was already going on at the time. And how people will use that fear and hate to further their own whims. It’s awful. People are awful. Yet, somehow the story ends on a hopeful note with people willing to do what’s right. I didn’t actually believe the ending, but maybe that’s because I’m a bit cynical. But the hope is still there regardless of how I feel.

The writing itself was strong. Everything flowed and made for a nice read. Like I said, it was just slow. That’s not bad. It helped focus me on what was happening more than if I had flown through it.

Ultimately, I liked The Fervor. I’m pretty sure I have a couple of Katsu’s other books on my TBR list and I’ll keep them there because her writing is worth another look.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It was slow, but enjoyable. If you’re into historical fiction with a twist, I recommend giving it a shot.

Another Impromptu Day Off

Howdy, howdy! I know I’ve written some short posts, but I haven’t actually skipped a blog day since August 2020. So, since I feel blah and can’t think of anything to write about, I’m just going to skip this week. I’ll be back with a book review next Wednesday. Hopefully May will be better for blogging. Here’s something pretty for the hell of it.

By: Yuumei

Poetry Month Again

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what to blog about, but absolutely nothing is coming to me. I doubt you want another post about Mardi so soon. She’s doing good. Things are quiet. Dad’s redoing some stuff in the kitchen (pics when he’s done). It’s gloomy and there are some storms supposedly heading this way. And I’m super tired for no reason. Even my Pepsi isn’t helping. Anyway, I realized it’s April, which means it’s poetry month. Instead of rambling about nothing, I thought I would share one of my favorite Poe poems.

The Sleeper

By: Edgar Allan Poe

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin moulders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps!—and lo! where lies
Irene, with her Destinies!

Oh, lady bright! can it be right—
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop—
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully—so fearfully—
Above the closed and fringéd lid
’Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!
Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold—
Some vault that oft hath flung its black
And wingéd pannels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o’er the crested palls
Of her grand family funerals—

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portals she hath thrown,
In childhood, many an idle stone—
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne’er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groaned within.

Introducing Mardi!

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? Welcome to April! Yesterday, we had a new addition to the family. So, this is just a quick post to introduce her. This little girl came into the Mesquite Animal Shelter last week and a friend of ours reached out to see if we would be interested in adopting her in the event her owners didn’t show up. She’s well groomed and has a nifty little dye job, so we figured the owners would be looking. Apparently not. This is Mardi (because of the Mardi Gras dye job) and she now has her furever home. She’s a little nervous, but super friendly and sweet. I think she’ll settle in comfortably and end up just as spoiled as the rest of our pups were. Thank you again to Mary (our friend who gave us the heads up).

Thoughts on CHEDDAR OFF DEAD

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this week? Allergies are kicking my ass, but otherwise things are okay. I’ve been on a music kick. It’s about the only thing I can focus on with my sinuses throbbing. But enough complaining (maybe). It’s the last Wednesday of the month! That means it’s book review time. I went back to the safety of a cozy mystery this month. Cheddar Off Dead is the first in Korina Moss’s Cheese Shop mystery series. It was released yesterday (the 29th) 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 do the thing!

Cute cover and pretty relevant to the story.

Cheddar Off Dead follows Willa Bauer, cheesemonger and owner of Yarrow Glen’s newest shop, Curds and Whey. A cheese shop. She’s new to town and inexperienced when it comes to putting down roots and making lasting friendships. It doesn’t help that a well-known (and severely disliked) critic is murdered outside her shop with a custom cheese knife she had planned to give out at an event. Not trusting the detective, Willa feels compelled to clear her name before any lasting damage can be done to her reputation. The problem? Her investigation means potentially alienating the handful of people she’s started bonding with, including the attractive mead maker across the street.

Let’s start with the plot. Instead of our heroine returning home after a bad breakup, she decides to start over in a new town. There’s still a bad breakup, but it’s unclear how recent it was. A lot of her past is unclear timeline-wise. Anyway, her newness doesn’t stop Willa from finding the best friend who encourages her shenanigans. There are two potential love interests. Future love triangles? Probably, but I doubt it’ll be the fun kind. Of course there’s an overprotective detective. Plenty of red herrings. I admit I didn’t catch onto the murderer until later, mostly because we don’t learn anything about them until pretty much everyone else is ruled out. I honestly felt a little cheated by that, but this isn’t the first cozy to do it that way. I’m just glad it wasn’t a random person who only got mentioned once. They’re there throughout the book, just not really expanded on until super late. So, standard cozy fare with a couple of little twists.

The pacing was off. The first third was beyond slow. Like, if I had been reading it for fun, I probably would’ve given up after three chapters. It was that slow. But it picked up after a while. I think when the cheese talk finally ran its course, everything smoothed out. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning about cheese, but when it’s not even interesting facts, it gets boring. But less is more. The first third of the novel was like cheese info dumps. Later on, there was still a bunch of cheese talk, but it was spread out in a way that felt natural.

Most of the characters were likeable. Willa occasionally annoyed me, but that’s just because she’s a busybody. That’s why most cozy mystery heroines annoy me. Otherwise, she was fine. I preferred Baz, Archie, and Mrs. Schultz. I would’ve loved to learn more about them. Detective Heath was a little flat, but he has potential. Same with Roman. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this because I love cheese, but there could’ve been a bigger focus on character development and less on cheese.

The writing was fine. Like I said, the pacing was off and the characters were flat. But the actual words were fine. Nothing memorable. I finished it about a week ago and am already forgetting most of it. Ah well.

Ultimately, I was just meh about Cheddar Off Dead. If I come across the next book, I’ll pick it up to see if it’s any better, but I doubt I’ll actively look for it.

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Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Two and a half, really. If you’re super into cheese and enjoy average cozies, pick it up. But you’re not missing anything if you don’t.

Abyss for Sale

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? Things here are quiet and lazy. The past couple of days have been gloomy. Just generally blah. The severe weather stayed away from us, so that’s always good. But I have no idea what to ramble about. I have a tendency to mention wandering off into an abyss on Facebook when I have nothing else to do, so last week, a friend said one of my blog posts should be about my abyss, but written like one of those descriptions on Zillow (a real estate thingie). So, this’ll be a shorter post (Zillow descriptions are only 250 words? Ugh), but challenge accepted.

But first, did I show you my new glasses? Okay, now back to the description.

Here we go:

Luxurious, low maintenance abyss available for anyone seeking a secluded getaway from the hustle and bustle of life. The open floor plan allows for easy access to each feature even in the complete darkness of the void. Includes wide open space to flail around on the hardwood floors while reliving every cringe moment you’ve ever had. The standard box of doom has recently been renovated into a walk in closet of doom, perfect for plotting or simply screaming into the dark. The single bedroom offers room for a king sized bed and small sitting area, so you can decide where to lounge while staring vacantly into nothingness. An en suite offers both a jacuzzi tub and a walk in shower, so you can soak your troubles away while dwelling on that time the waiter said “enjoy your food” and you answered “you too” or stand under the scorching water to contemplate similarly important things in life. No need for a sauna as the abyss’s proximity to Hades means it easily maintains a toasty and oddly humid 106 degrees. The lack of a kitchen isn’t for everyone, but who are you kidding? You’re just going to order something in anyway. No yard means no need to spend time outside doing things like yardwork or talking to the neighbors. All of this could be yours for the low, low price of… if you have to ask, you can’t afford it! Call to schedule a private tour today.

It’s an abyss. What did you expect?

And I came in at 245 words. But seriously. This is my abyss and you can’t have it. Back to our regularly scheduled book review next week!