Worrisome Worries

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this week? It’s a little toasty here in Texas. That’s about it. Got our second Covid boosters yesterday (today as I’m writing this), so if the past is any indication, I’ll probably be feeling a little blah today (tomorrow?). Hope not. Anyway, if you remember last week’s post, you’ll know that I’m doing a ‘get to know me’ thing. You can look at the questions here or you can randomly pick a number between 1 and 50. Last week was 47. This week is 13. And numbers 43, 33, 11, and 27 will get us through August. This week’s pick is courtesy of Jen and it’s an annoying one (which she will be super pleased about). The prompt is “thing(s) you’re worried about”. Ugh.

Everything? Is that an appropriate answer? I’m worried the world is collapsing. The U.S. certainly is. You can’t leave the house without worrying about a deadly virus and all its little mutations (well, I can’t. Other people don’t give a flip and just go around mouth-breathing on whoever they want. Asshats). Can’t even leave the house without worrying about being shot, whether it’s road rage or mass shootings or whatever. It’s insane. And during all of this shit, women are being denied safe access to healthcare. Don’t bother coming at me with your baby killer arguments. I’m not even talking about women who choose to abort pregnancies. I’m talking about women being forced to carry dying/dead fetuses because they aren’t allowed to have an abortion. I’m talking about women getting sick and potentially dying because their body doesn’t evacuate everything and they need the help of an abortion to clean things out. Abortions aren’t just about killing babies. The procedure is a treatment for many things. But the pro-lifers don’t think about anything like that. And it’s absolutely terrifying that politicians are making these decisions instead of doctors and their patients. That’s a slippery slope. The government already tries to tell me what kind of medical equipment I don’t need. Everything is a fight. Pretty soon, they’ll just start saying no to everyone who’s not rich enough to line their coffers.

And that’s just a tiny helping of the rational things I’m worried about. I have a tendency to take every scenario to a worst-case one. Even just sitting around the house, I worry about stupid things like sink holes and drunk drivers (even though it would be super hard for any vehicle to come crashing into our house) and planes falling from the sky and fire (I especially worry about that one at night) and power outages (again, more a night time fear). The list goes on forever. It’s disturbing how much I worry about things, usually stupid things. But I can’t stop.

None of that even touches on my personal worries. Like, what do I do when Dad drops dead? What does he do when I drop dead? Yes, we have plans in place, but I still worry. What if I’m alone forever? What if I actually find someone (which is even more scary than being alone)? What if I never succeed at anything ever again? School didn’t adequately prepare me for failure in my career choice. Why am I so horrible at being a person? I suck at maintaining relationships. I’m not good at speaking. I cry when I’m angry. Why am I such a mess? In other words, I worry about everything.

I think I should probably stop rambling and shove all of this back down into the deepest recesses of my soul where it belongs. Deep breaths. Force the smile until it becomes natural. There we go. Next week is book review time! These posts will start up again the week after. As always, feel free to leave a comment or question here or on my social media pages! And pick a number if you want. Jen picked two, so I guess I won’t count multiple choices as cheating.

Grossest Food

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this bright and beautiful day? It’s been 100+ degrees here for a while now, so it’s been a little toasty. Nothing much to report. I’m looking at some smaller/independent publishers to submit DS1 to since I haven’t heard back from the ones I’ve submitted to thus far. And I’ve been reading a lot. I’m boring, I know. Anyway, I came across this ‘get to know me’ thing that I posted on Facebook for fun about a year ago. I decided to recycle it and asked people to blindly pick a number between 1 and 50. My friend Kyle chose 47 and Jen picked 13 (which will be next week’s post). The first picture is the post with the questions. Feel free to choose a number and I’ll use the prompt for the next available post.

So, 47 is the grossest food you ever had. This is a tough one. I don’t generally have a strong dislike toward food. I either like it or it’s just meh. That being said, the most horrible thing I’ve ever had in my mouth was a rotten oyster. Don’t get me wrong, I love oysters on the half shell. But one of the last times Dad and I went to Red Lobster, there was something seriously wrong with them. Dad gave me one, which I immediately spit out, then ate one himself (he didn’t spit because he’s a lady like that, I guess). There was a definite sewage taste to them. Blargh. Inedible. Then, the manager dude was a patronizing dipwad, so that made the whole experience worse. I can’t remember if that was the last time we went to Red Lobster or if we just avoided the oysters after that. But neither of us got sick, so yay?

Another thing I remember strongly disliking was uni (sea urchin). I don’t think it was rotten or anything, but it had a very strong kind of muddy sea taste that was unappealing. Granted, we tried it at sushi place nearby, so it wasn’t the freshest specimen. We’re landlocked, so seafood is not a plentiful thing here and fresh (never been frozen) seafood isn’t really a thing at all. In other words, I would give sea urchin another shot if we were by the sea.

Oh! Tahini. The first thing you have to understand is that I trust my dad way too much when it comes to food. So much so that when he puts a spoonful of something in my face, I taste it without question. Rarely do I regret this reflex. But with tahini, I did. And he knew exactly what he was doing because he had tasted it first (I wasn’t around so I didn’t see his reaction). It was super bitter and awful. I don’t know if it was just the brand we got or what, but no. Just no. If someone who knew about tahini recommended a specific brand or whatever and a recipe called for it, we’d probably try it again (it was just for a sauce for something Dad made once). But just going to Tom Thumb and just grabbing whatever they have on the shelf? No thank you.

The one we had was thicker, but I can’t remember the brand.

I’m sure there are other things I really don’t like, but nothing is coming to mind. I was raised to try everything once. It was pretty much the only food related rule in our house. And it’s also the reason I’m usually willing to try things more than once if I haven’t eaten them in a while. Tastes change. Food is fun. What are some of the grossest things you’ve eaten? Was it something you’d be willing to try again under different circumstances? As always, feel free to share your comments or questions here or on my social media pages! And pick a number from above if you want!

Third Annual Reminder of Disability Pride Month

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this week? It’s July, so I thought I’d remind everyone that Disability Pride Month is a thing. It seems to be one of the less controversial Pride/History months (probably because the media and marketing people haven’t taken it over and shoved it down everyone’s throats yet). So, I’ll keep reminding you that it exists. That cripple folk exist and not just for the sake of inspiration porn. But I don’t feel like being a downer or preachy, so I’m just going to leave you with a list of some of my favorite cripple characters!

A new flag!

1. Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. Sure, he has prosthetic limbs (an arm and a leg), but that’s just part of life. When they work, they’re awesome. And when they need adjustments or Ed breaks them, well… Winry’s rarely too far away to fix them. How Ed loses his limbs is a big part of the story (forbidden alchemy), but then his disability isn’t too huge of a deal (though there are parts when he struggles with it, just like real life). He’s got a temper, hates being called short, and is underestimated at every turn. But he’d do anything for his family and he’s kind of a dramatic little bitch, so I love him.

2. Pick a Marvel or DC character and there’s probably some kind of disability in their story at some point. Deadpool is all kinds of disabled (physical disfigurement and PTSD to name a couple). Ironman has his heart thing. Hawkeye is mostly deaf. The X-Men are made up of people with genetic deviations. Barbara Gordon is paralyzed from the waist down and copes with depression. Daredevil is blind. The list goes on and on.

3. Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. But he’s a dragon! Fine… be boring. Hiccup is cripple too, so if you insist on human characters, there you go. Toothless is adorable and ends up trusting his human so much. It’s cute. Don’t judge me.

I’m going to stop there. Mostly because I’m too tired to find pictures of any of the others. I started this post late and am lazy. Anyway, who are some of your favorite disabled characters? Who are some that you suspect are disabled (differently abled), but it’s never actually confirmed in canon material? Feel free to share them here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on THE ARCHIVIST

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this fine Wednesday? It’s the last one of the month, so you know what that means. Book review time! I decided to try something a little different. It’s kind of dark fantasy meets mystery/thriller. It was a last minute pick from the “read now” selection because I forgot to request something earlier. But it sounded like something I would enjoy. The Archivist by V.S. Nelson was released yesterday (the 28th) from Matador Books. 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!

Nice cover.

The Archivist follows Sun as she tries to free her and her sister Laure from an abusive father figure. To do this, she enlists the help of a young man simply known as the Archivist. He has special abilities that allow him to save the essence of people who are dying among other things he hasn’t discovered yet. Unfortunately, the trio end up in the snare of someone who lures him in by stealing the essences of suicidal teenage girls.

The story started out really strong. The pacing was tight and the plot was interesting, but when the climax showed up and there were only like 15 pages left, my heart sank. There was no way to wrap up all the loose ends for a strong finish in that limited of a space. But I kept reading. Only to be proven right. There’s zero satisfaction at the end, but it doesn’t feel like a cliffhanger where you know a second book is coming. It’s just a let down. I know… not every story gets a happy ending. I’m fine with that. But even the unhappy endings need to feel satisfying, like an appropriate stopping point has been reached. This one just felt like it didn’t really know where it was going, so everything kind of fell apart. I’m hoping for some kind of follow up (maybe a short story or novella) to wrap things up, but I doubt it’ll happen.

Nope.

The characters were great. Sun was strong and caring despite everything she had been through. Laure needed more page time, especially for her big reveal. It wasn’t as woven into the story as it should’ve been, so it feels like it comes from nowhere. Plus, I liked her more than Sun and wanted to get to know her better. But my favorite was the Archivist. Poor dude doesn’t even get a name. And he was never really taught how to be a normal human being. Instead, he’s basically a freak that people avoid because they don’t understand him. And he’s mostly okay with that. The rest of the characters were a little flat. There were too many of them in a relatively short book. And so many weren’t even introduced until later. There was no room to flesh them out.

There was a dual POV in this book. It switched between the Archivist and Sun each chapter. But the narrative voice didn’t actually change much between them. Everything read as detached and matter-of-fact. It was an interesting choice since most thrillers tend to have an excitable, compelling voice that drags the reader forward. Personally, I liked the tone of this book. It was different, but it fit the Archivist’s personality. Sun’s sections could have been a bit more lively and desperate to match her personality though.

Most thrillers are go go go, but not this one.

The writing was good. Everything flowed really well up until the last two chapters, when everything kind of imploded. It was a pretty quick read actually.

Ultimately, I liked The Archivist, but I felt it could’ve used some work, especially around the ending. It just needed some fleshing out. If there’s a follow up, I’ll probably check it out, but I don’t think I’ll actively go looking for other books by Nelson.

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Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. If it sounds like something you would love, pick it up. But otherwise, you’re not missing much.

Dad Appreciation Day

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this week? Things here are quiet. Spent most of last week vegging and watching TV with Dad. He wasn’t feeling too well. We think it was just an inner ear infection. He’s mostly better now, so huzzah! Anyway, Sunday was Fathers’ Day and his birthday is July 18th (a Monday), so I figured I’d write a short post to say “I appreciate you!” As he knows, I’m bad at this. Please excuse the awkwardness.

As most of you know, I am my dad’s daughter. I get my inappropriate sense of humor from him. He’s the one who taught me that pretty much anything can be turned into something dirty. You can also blame him for the puns. So many puns. And he’s the reason I got into horror. He gave me Stephen King books when I was like 12 or 13, including The Stand (uncut). Is it any wonder I turned into a weirdo? But he loves me anyway.

And, of course, I have to mention the food. He’s the bestest cook ever. The pastrami and pulled pork and brisket. Mmm… there’s also the rare lasagna when he makes sauce from scratch and has the rest of the ingredients. Or baked ziti. And there are pots of beans with meat and he puts them on corn chips with a little crema agria and cheese on top. Can’t forget breakfast. Home fries with bacon. Sausage gravy and biscuits. Chorizo nachos. Everything with two eggs on top. Be jealous. It’s okay.

An old picture from Stonecoast because we obviously don’t take many.

He also takes care of me 100% of the time, even when he doesn’t feel well. So… I know I don’t say it enough, but I love you and appreciate you, Dad!

Coming Soon: Girl Flees Circus by C.W. Smith

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? I recently heard from my fiction professor at SMU, C.W. Smith. After a disappointing Intro to Fiction Writing class with one of those elitist dipwads who think genre fiction is beneath them, I almost didn’t take the intermediate course. It was SMU. I figured all of the writing professors would be like that. But all of my classmates liked my weird stories (to be fair, the teacher liked my writing, he just tried to talk me out of my genre leanings) and many of them were going to take the class, so I gave it a shot. That’s when I met C.W. He was awesome and supportive and didn’t try to kill my love of horror and fantasy. I went on to take the advanced level of the course with him as well. Those were two of my favorite classes and he was one of my favorite teachers. Anyway, his new book Girl Flees Circus is due out on September 1st from the University of New Mexico Press! So, I’m shamelessly promoting it. I can’t wait to read it! Here’s the publisher’s promotional flyer:

I’ll remind everyone about this via social media on release day, just so you don’t forget. Congratulations, C.W.!

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Howdy, howdy! It’s time for another short Jenae appreciation post. This time, it’s her actual birthday (June 8th). She’s my little sis, my found family, my forever friend. And she’s the bestest. Hugs and love and all of that sappy stuff to you! She knows I’m really bad at this openly affectionate stuff, so I hope she forgives me for being weird and creepy.

Happy birthday, Sis! Couldn’t find an appropriate picture, so you get your favorite prince!

You’re smart and sassy and gorgeous. I still wish your husband would let me marry you, just so we could wear fancy clothes and eat epic cake. Stop being a buzzkill, Matt! I kid. Maybe. Nah… it’s the distance that’s the buzzkill, not the hubby. Why do you have to be so far away? Ah well. It just means I have to admire you from afar. I would say it was good because this way you don’t have to know how creepy I really am, but you met me at peak cringe when I didn’t hide it at all and still didn’t run away. I think we’re good.

You’re a wonderful mother and friend and nerd. I’m so glad I get to watch you grow every step of the way. I love that you’re turning your kids into little nerds too. I know life gets crazy and difficult, but you always do your best with what you have. You listen to me complain and always know when I’m looking for actual help or just someone to plot revenge with. It’s usually the latter. We’ve planned so much chaos. You’re the best sidekick a villain could have.

Did I mention you’re gorgeous?

I love you, Sis. And I hope your birthday is awesome!

Summer Reading

Hello, hello! It’s June already. How’s everyone doing? Are you ready for this month? I don’t really have much planned. I’m going to try to find a couple of more publishers to submit to before I decide whether to trunk DS1 or do something else with it. Going to try to force myself to write more, but I’ve had no luck there. Mostly, I’m going to read. So, I present you with a list of books that I hope to get to over the next few months. This doesn’t include the books I’ll review, so I probably won’t get through them all, but maybe.

1. Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen. It’s one of the books I’m currently reading and I love it so far (I’m about halfway through). Luckily, book two is due out in September, so I don’t have to wait too long for more.

Book blurb:
A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable–she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

2. In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. I recently read something else by them (So this is Ever After), which was super predictable, but adorable and basically the fluffy stuff of happiness. That’s all I’m really hoping for from this one too.

Book blurb:
Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

3. The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. I’m pretty sure I still remember the important bits from The Gilded Ones, but I might have to Google stuff. We’ll see.

Book blurb:
It’s been six months since Deka freed the goddesses in the ancient kingdom of Otera and discovered who she really is… but war is waging across the kingdom, and the real battle has only just begun. For there is a dark force growing in Otera—a merciless power that Deka and her army must stop.
 
Yet hidden secrets threaten to destroy everything Deka has known. And with her own gifts changing, Deka must discover if she holds the key to saving Otera… or if she might be its greatest threat.
 
The Merciless Ones is the second thrilling installment of the epic fantasy series in which a young heroine fights against a world that would dare tame her.

4. Three Shots to the Wind by Sherry Harris. It’s a beachy cozy mystery, so definitely appropriate for summer. Not one of my absolute favorite series, but cute enough that I keep reading it.

Book blurb:
Saloon owner Chloe Jackson appears to have a secret admirer. She’s pouring drinks at the Sea Glass Saloon in Emerald Cove when an airplane flies by above the beach with a banner reading I LOVE YOU CHLOE JACKSON. She immediately rules out Rip Barnett. They are in the early stages of dating and no one has said the L word. Then a bouquet of lilacs—her favorite flower—is delivered to the bar, followed by an expensive bottle of her favorite sparkling wine. It couldn’t be…
 
Sure enough, her ex-fiancé from Chicago has flown down to Florida for an accountants’ convention. But is he trying to mix business with pleasure and win her back? Unfortunately he’s not in a hotel conference room, he’s floating facedown in the lake next to her house, clutching a photo of Chloe. Who murders an accountant on a business trip—it just doesn’t add up. When Rip becomes the prime suspect, Chloe is determined to find the secret murderer. But if she isn’t careful, it may be closing time and lights out for her…

5. Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez. I haven’t read a graphic novel in a while. Well… technically I guess I have. Do webtoons count? Anyway, I was just looking for something fun and ran across the alternate cover for this by Kevin Wada (posted below) and immediately bought the book (because yum). Don’t judge me.

Book blurb:
Now that college is over, English graduate Ben Cook is on the job hunt looking for something…anything…related to his passion for reading and writing. According to the hiring committees, he doesn’t have enough experience. But when he stumbles upon a “Now Hiring—No Experience Necessary” sign outside a restaurant, Ben jumps at the chance to land his first job. He’s actually not so bad in the kitchen, plus, he can keep looking for a writing job in the meantime. But when he begins developing a crush on Liam, one of the super dreamy chefs at the restaurant, he’ll start to feel torn between wanting to stay and cook and following his original post-college plan to be a writer. Watch things start to really heat up in the kitchen in this queer YA debut graphic novel!

I have other books I want to read, but these plus the review books will be more than I can get through. Probably. What’s on your summer reading list? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

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!