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!

A Year of Reading

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? I spent far too much time trying to fix something unfixable before I realized it was Amazon’s fault, so it’s late and I’m cranky. In other words, this post is just going to be a lazy one. It’s a recap of what I’ve read this year, plus the last two I plan on finishing. It’s pretty much what you would expect from a reading list from me.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. It’s still my favorite of the series.

2. One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon. You can see my review here.

3. Take Joy by Jane Yolen. It was a nice little craft book, but nothing spectacular.

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. A little more rambling than I remembered, but still in my top three HP books.

5. The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey. You can see my review here.

6. Dark Shadow by Danielle Rose. A good series.

7. Vasilisa by Julie Mathison. You can see my review here.

8. Dark Descent by Danielle Rose. A good series.

9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Probably in the bottom three of my favorite HP books.

10. Down World by Rebecca Phelps. You can see my review here.

11. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Somewhere in the middle of my favorite HP books.

12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. Probably my least favorite HP book.

13. Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur. You can see my review here.

14. Dark Power by Danielle Rose. A good series.

15. Death in Bloom by Jess Dylan. You can see my review here.

16. Fatal Fried Rice by Vivien Chien. I love this cozy mystery series.

17. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. I was super disappointed by this one.

18. Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert. A little description heavy, but a cute cozy series.

19. Walking Through Needles by Heather Levy. You can see my review here.

20. Watch Her by Edwin Hill. The series is on the darker end of the cozy spectrum and worth checking out.

21. Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron. You can see my review here.

22. A Crafter Hooks a Killer by Holly Quinn. A cute series, but nothing special.

23. Murder in the Village by Lisa Cutts. You can see my review here.

24. Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw. A lovely read, if a bit predictable.

25. A Time to Swill by Sherry Harris. Another cute series.

26. Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran. Beautiful illustrations, but the fairy tale retelling was just meh.

27. The Orphan Witch by Paige Crutcher. You can see my review here.

28. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I freaking loved this book and I have no idea why. It’s not my usual genre, but it gave me all the feels and I can’t get over how much I enjoyed it.

29. The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole. You can see my review here.

30. Murder Always Barks Twice by Jennifer Hawkins. Another super cute cozy series and it features a corgi.

31. Storm the Earth by Rebecca Kim Wells. I probably should’ve re-read the first book in this duology, but things eventually came back to me. Definitely recommend it.

32. Flying Angels by Danielle Steel. You can see my review here.

33. Midnight Spells Murder by Mary Angela. It’s not a bad cozy series, but not great.

34. Currently Reading: Shackled Fates by Thilde Kold Holdt. I am in love with this trilogy so far.

35. Currently Reading: A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw. I couldn’t find a book I wanted to review this month, so I decided to buy Ernshaw’s newest book and review it later this month.

Thoughts on FROM BEER TO ETERNITY

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of the month again, so you know what that means. It’s time for the regularly scheduled book review! This month, I decided to go back to cozy mysteries for something fun and quick and with a happy ending. I got an ARC for Sherry Harris’s newest release, From Beer to Eternity. It’s the first in her Sea Glass Saloon series and was released on the 28th (yesterday) from Kensington Books. As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for giving me access to the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

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Cute cover, but doesn’t seem like an accurate depiction of the bar.

From Beer to Eternity follows Chloe Jackson as she takes some time off from her library job in Chicago to fulfill a last promise to her best friend Boone who died. She goes to his hometown in the Florida panhandle and gets a job at his grandmother’s bar. The only problem is that Vivi, his grandmother, doesn’t want or seem to need help. Throw in a murder, a hot mystery guy, and a few attempts on Chloe’s life and Chicago just keeps looking better and better. Unfortunately, Chloe keeps her promises, so she can’t run away. Instead, she dives head first into a murder investigation like anyone would. No? Just her? Okay then.

First, the character development. I love Chloe. She’s the first snoop I’ve seen in one of these books who actually acknowledges that she’s bad at it and tries to come at things from different angles when she screws up. The only complaint I have about her is that she’s overly dumb sometimes even though she’s supposed to be smart. If multiple people start looking at you like you’re nuts when you say someone is a handywoman, you inquire as to why they’re looking at you like that, especially when no one actually told you her profession beyond “she fixes things.” Don’t be dense. Chloe’s new in town, so there’s no bestie to support her, but that means we get to see the budding friendship between her and Joaquin, the gay bartender. There’s also the weird romance thing going on with Rhett, but Chloe’s resistant to it for a couple of reasons (only one of which is acceptable to me). And of course there’s the tension with Vivi. It all makes for some really nice development.

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The setting is lovely. Harris does a wonderful job of depicting life on the Gulf. I love the beach imagery and the storms rolling in and even the bar. Everything is so vivid. All of the senses are utilized to create the whole picture. It’s kind of an immersive experience, which is neat.

The plot and pacing is great for the most part. It kept me guessing until the end, but we didn’t get to see much of the killer, so they basically flew under the radar. However, the last few chapters kind of went from a good and steady pace to a random avalanche. Throwing in that completely random and unfounded suspicion about Boone’s death only made the ending convoluted. His death never seemed to come into question until that point, so it is jarring and distracts from what actually happened.

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The writing is lovely, like I mentioned with the setting. Everything flows well and the imagery is gorgeous. Other than the pacing of the last few chapters, I can’t find anything to complain about with the writing itself.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed From Beer to Eternity. I will definitely by picking up future books in the series and may even check out Harris’s other cozy mystery series.

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Overall, I gave it four out of five stars. If you enjoy a good cozy or want something quick and fun to read, it’s worth picking up.