Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Partner, Let Me Update You | 2015 Books & Thank You (VIDEO)

Scratchy Doodles From the 9-5

 Well, I had every intention of doing another drawing project before the end of the year.  Unfortunately, I never gave myself the right time to get my ass in order to actually make it happen.  But I have to share one more set of drawings before the year ends.  And here lies my sketchy doodles.  Since I loathe my 9-5, this is what I do to relax myself in its chaotic and mind-numbing soul-sucking environment.  Here's to more projects in 2016.  And hopefully, a little less doodles. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015's 6 FINAL READS ~ PART 2

All right, friends.  I’m back with the second half of my 2015’s 6 FINAL READS.

I finally, after over a year, sat my ass down to finish reading this volume of the Young Miss Holmes manga series.  And it was fantastic.  I believe I stalled for so long because of the eight-part The Hound of Baskervilles case Christie investigated.  Somewhere in the middle, I lost interest in the case.  Only to find myself enthralled by it during my re-introduction.
But let me back up a little, for those who aren’t familiar with Kaoru Shintani’s Young Miss Holmes.  It’s quite simple: ten-year-old Christie is the protege of her uncle, Sherlock Holmes.  Endowed with his sense of chief intelligence (how theatrical of a description?) as her uncle, Christie spends her time running around England solving murder mysteries.  And a variety of murders she encounters–almost freely.  You see her parents are in India, so she’s aided by a pistol-toting maid named Ann Marie.  Likewise, her servant, Nora, tags along on Christie's adventures.  Though mostly unassuming, Nora stashed a forked tongue whip underneath her petticoats.  
Ann Marie & Nora DON'T PLAY
when it comes to Christie!
Christie’s curious and precocious nature aside, I find these characters bring much of the action and humor.  I perk up whenever Anne Marie or Nora unleashes her respective attacks, in the face of protecting her charge.  It’s equally entertaining watching Christie’s sneaky shenanigans and off-color comments aimed at her "protectorates."  But don't get Christie wrong.  She does bring her guardians trouble, both from her willful behavior and slick mouth.  However, Christie cares deeply for the two.  She's as protective and loyal to them as they are to her.  And this is further shown in the two chapters dedicated to sharing the history of Nora and Ann Marie.
And it’s these two chapters I felt highlighted this volume.  Nora’s chapter follows her life as a gypsy-slave, before finding solace under the care of Christie’s parents.  As for Ann Marie’s story, we get a glimpse into her tragic childhood growing up in America.  Shintani takes us all the way to post-Civil War Georgia, and on into the racial strife during the time.  And you wouldn’t believe what he came up with.  Then again, it may not come as a surprise given the context.
So the list goes for teenage sleuths:
1.  Martha Grimes' pre-teen amateur sleuth, Emma Graham.
2.  Alan Bradley’s sharp-thinking ten-year-old sleuth, Flavia de Luce
3.  And Kaoru Shintani’s ten-year-old Crystal "Christie" Margaret Hope.
It's interesting how each series is historical–in a sense.  Graham takes part in the 60s, whereas de Luce's a full decade ahead.  As for Christie, she's a 19th century girl.  And I can't wait to get into the third and final volume.  I just love this kind of shit.  Smart girls solving mysteries and kicking grown men ass!  Or at least getting them locked up by the law.

Here’s another book I wish to dedicate an entire blog post toward.  But I’m sticking to my year-end wrap up here, as much as it pains me to hold back my thoughts.  You see, I want to write more on the book for a variety of reasons.  More so from the conversations generated by Rodriguez.  
He uses a stream of socially-conscious and opinionated essays to piece together his autobiography.  Some of his opinions may appear debatable, but I lean a little toward thought-provoking.  I’ll break down the subjects he addresses later.  But for the sake of holding myself back, I’ll drop a quick summary of the man.
Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory recounts life as a Mexican-American living in Sacramento during the 60s to 80s.  His story unfolds life as a child understanding a total of 50 English words.  This leads him to a Roman Catholic school for his early education, where his teachers have concern for his inability to grasp English.  Their suggestion is for his parents to speak more English around him, and so they do.  
However, this early circumstance stirs the beginning of Rodriguez's life story.  As a child, he begins to differentiate language and cultural differences between himself and his white classmates (as well as neighbors).  Which language and culture was more acceptable?  Which was correct for him?  His questioning leads to trouble, and a doubtful perspective of his Mexican parents.  Determined to control his future he learns to assimilate to American life.  Of course via its academic system.  This, in turn, causes Rodriguez to find himself distant from his Mexican roots.  To further his troubles, he relays the strife he faces by not finding acceptance in the exchange.  Instead of appearing as a successful middle-class American, he’s haunted by the “minority” label.  A label he rejects as the use of affirmative action grants him professional opportunities.  This troubles Rodriguez–and for obvious reasons.  Still, he never manages to escape his label.
There’s plenty to consider from Rodriguez’s commentary, expressions, and opinions on his inner grapples.  Or more so the Mexican heritage he bypassed in the divide between his aspirations.  Furthermore, he takes apart his religion during the "Credo" essay.  And I kind of recognized his salty view in that arena.  
Nonetheless, it wasn’t until the final two essays that I truly woke to his voice.  When he falls into the subject of his complexion and “minority” labels, I started to connect with his anguish.  Though I smirked as well, seeing how he was the one who denied much of his heritage/culture in the chase for a middle-class "seat."  Which he gained successfully, only to find himself alienated in the processes.  The final essay on his profession ties up his story, and the isolating conclusion of his struggles.  Closing the book comes his epilogue, featuring the silence he endures from his now disconnected parents.
Moving and kind of whiny in all the right areas, I have to give credit how Hunger of Memory drew me into the deep complexities of immigrant children struggling with assimilation and ambition.  And I honestly have to say–I get it.  Not one to toss aside my own background, I do understand what its like to ache for better.  Or to long for a life beyond your parents' road.  But like many things of that nature, it comes with a cost.
All right.  All right.  I can’t say too, too much about this book for a very important reason: I skipped toward the end.  Don’t judge.  Don’t laugh.  Just hear me out when I say I started the book in the spring of 2014 and only now decided to finish it up.  Now I managed to get through 100 pages–back then.  And the book is only 240-or-so pages.  So I figured my new, determined and focused attitude would sail me right through this.  Besides, I enjoyed James’ first Dalgliesh book enough to come this far.  With the expectation of moving further into the series.  So I came pumped and ready to go.  Then almost instantaneously, I got that familiar dry and dull buzz from over a year ago.  James is so meticulous of a crime fiction writer that I found myself soaked too deep into her time frames and mathematics.  I say that as opposed to her crime and character.  So.  I skimmed lightly toward the final 40 pages and tread on to the finish line.  And that’s just the way the damn cookie crumbles.  Judge those who may, but after a year, I consider this a FINISHED READ.
With the intentions of getting the third book somewhere in the unforeseen future.  Cross all fingers.
Nonetheless, since I’m finished whining, I’ll “remind” everyone what happens in this books.
Via Goodreads!
"On the surface, the Steen Psychiatric Clinic is one of the most reputable institutions in London. But when the administrative head is found dead with a chisel in her heart, that distinguished facade begins to crumble as the truth emerges. Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate and quickly finds himself caught in a whirlwind of psychiatry, drugs, and deceit. Now he must analyze the deep-seated anxieties and thwarted desires of patients and staff alike to determine which of their unresolved conflicts has resulted in murder and stop a cunning killer before the next blow."
And that's it my friends!  My 6 FINAL READS of 2015.  But remember to please leave your comments on your 6 FINAL READS OF 2015 down below.  I'm currently powering my way through Haruki Murakami's monster, 1Q84.  I'm tackling this one a year later, with the intent of going after my large books this year.  And there are plenty to keep me company.  

In case this is the last post before New Years: HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!  Keep READING, DRAWING, AND LIFE'ING.  
Wait.  I think I have another post in me.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015's 6 FINAL READS ~ PART 1

It’s time to go ahead and tidy 2015 and my fluxing reading ADHD on up.  So what I want to do is a rundown of the final six books I’ve read this year–unless I can squeeze in one more.  (Another Rita Mae Brown Mrs. Murphy mystery is looking mighty good right about now.)  Some of these books I’d like to dedicate an entire post toward.  And they really, really deserve one.  But this will have to do, as there are more books and posts ahead for 2016.  So let’s get started.  Let me share with you the six books I’ve unofficially wrapped the year with.

1.       Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody
Calling from the highest mountain to the deepest sea, this books deserves a full post.  I finished it mid-November where it immediately fell into my favorite reads list of the year.  Published in 1968, it's an autobiography of the author's experience growing up in rural Mississippi.  As well as how her childhood turned her into a prolific Civil Rights activist.  
To elaborate, Anne Moody came from tenant farmers on a Mississippi plantation.  Not one to find comfort in her upbringing, she had unconventional expectations for herself.  Many of which she expressed to the point of becoming problematic to others.  Still, she had enough drive for better for her family and the African-American community.  And she would see the drive realized.  
The first half of the book chronicles Moody's growing ambition for change.  She takes readers on her journey through her humorous and desperate childhood.  Then moves into her high school years and college life, where you get her relatable life events.  I found this half of the book builds the identity of Moody, molding her leader and activist nature.  Though I found her just a touch self-absorbed underneath some subjects of conversation.  Particularly her academic comparisons with other students.  Nonetheless, her childhood and young adult journey provides the foundation for the remaining half of the book.  Because the second half showcases Moody's immense contribution to organizations such as NAACP and CORE.  
Years seeing this picture, I never knew the story of the courageous
woman (and others) behind this sit-in.  My mouth dropped.
And it's interesting because the second half's direction was almost unforeseen to me.  The book switched focus, with nuggets of Moody's personal life sprinkled between her activism.  When I picked up the book, I had no prior knowledge of how prolific the author actually was.  I would even wager to cry "blindsided."  But moved by the intimate story behind her voice.  It’s so easy to recognize Civil Rights leaders such as Malcom X and Martin Luther King.  So how often do we recognize those who took action in smaller (though no less powerful) integral efforts?  Moody withstood protests, sit-ins and death threats.  She rallied for Mississippi residents to vote and start political change.  Even as an entire community appeared petrified of retaliation from empowered white leaders circling their community.  She questioned her resolve a number of times–to the point of collapsing.  Yet, she kept going.  
Just an all-around intense, courageous, and emotional read; powered by historical black leaders and events.  One day I’ll have to go back and fully flesh out my thoughts on the book.  In the meantime, a "thank you" will suffice if this book hasn't hit your radar yet.  (More on ANNE MOODY'S biography)
Book two in Harris’s Midnight, Texas Trilogy.  I started on its May release, but didn’t actually complete it until November.  Why?  Because I was so bored with it.  Or I couldn’t snap into engagement mode all the way.  When I made the decision to dedicate myself to Day Shift, I enjoyed it enough to breeze right through happily.  Now I can’t say it was all that exciting by its end, and I can’t say it was all that uninteresting.  God.  I’m really up and down about this one. 
Anyway, what I will say is I’m still a fan of Harris’s work and do look forward to the final book in the Midnight, Texas Trilogy.  I wish I had more to share.  Yet, I think that five-and-a-half-month break kind of took whatever glory or upset I have.  I just can’t pick the book apart.  I’ll make up for it when the third book comes next May.  In the meantime, maybe its Goodreads page can serve you some interest.  Sorry, guys.  I have nothing.
But take this one thought with you:  An eccentric cast of characters with secrets and murder on the mind.
Okay.  We know I live and breathe for Buffy.  TV show.  Comics.  TV tie-in books.  I’m there for it all.  Eighteen years (where the HELL did time go?) and counting.  Sadly, I wasn’t there for this book.  It’s another book that took me five and a half months to complete.  Sad, sad days.  What made me pick up this book in particular had a lot to do with Buffy facing a vampire who once was a slayer named Celina.  I’ve always, always wanted to ride into that avenue of discussion.  What would the vamp-slayer be like?  How would Buffy take her on? 
Now I like the character of Anya all right.  I really do.  We're alike in more ways than one.  But as it concerns this book–which dropped loads of angst of her pondering death versus immortality–I just couldn't Anya anymore.  Adjacently, I just didn’t care for Buffy's struggles after awhile.  I laugh at the thought, but seriously found myself gurgling along with this one.  I will say Buffy’s final confrontation with Celina made up for much of my disinterest.  During their heated battle, I was living for the barbs and shared introspection.  While trading blows, the two squared with what it took to be a slayer/hero versus the darker colors of a predator.
I’ve recognized this in the past but, having spent time shifting through these tie-ins, I only enjoy the Buffy-centered books.  The books where her slayerness–in some form or fashion–is addressed in a new, challenging way.  Those books that really look into what it means to be a slayer, through Buffy.  This book served, but it was that damn Anya storyline (no hate or shade to her) that irritated the whole experience.
All right my friends!  Stay tuned for the second half where I share the last (unofficial) three books I've tied the year over with.  What were the six or so books you left 2015 with?  Leave all your comments below!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Goodreads Year in Books | List of 10 FAVORITE READS OF 2015

Goodreads Results 


My goodness.  There’s so much I can say about the year 2015.  A uniquely challenging year?  Absolutely.  I definitely feel like this was a year filled the hurdles to leap over–in both my reading and personal life.  However, personal stuff aside, I read a little less this year than last.  Right out the gate I started the year having taken down six books in both January and February.  My reading slumped heavily in March and April, but picked up in July.  August brought a new burst of readings where I took down either five or six book (too lazy to look up).  The rest of the year was steady.
I love reading.  I love books.  I love reading what I want and falling into a story.  And I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.
Did you reach your reading goals this year?  What were your favorite reads?  Share in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Buffy Volume 3 Gets Personal

Romance.  Romance.  Romance.  Repeated romance.  That is–though nowhere near wholly true–what Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Season 10 Volume 3 contains.  Just glancing at the cover art above, you can guess who all couples this volume's romance.  So, yes.  That’s Buffy and Spike getting back together.  A touch, touch-touch old and echo-ish from their blossoming (and tumultuous) relationship from the TV show.  I would even stretch to tag it as (fan?) service for those die-hard aggressives who ‘ship the two.  The only reason I wouldn’t is because of the characters’ history.  So it only seemed appropriate these two finally just… well… committed!  It’s the current situation, and unfolded in classic Buffy on psychological-trekking psychedelics style.  Obviously that’s the selling point/highlight of this volume. 
Only, that’s not all the bustling romance.
Xander of Dawn’s relationship comes to another tier or resolution.   The ghost of Xander’s former, Anya, continues to make her “psychoanalysis” appearance via Xander’s consciousness.  So that web of character commentary and growth comes together leaking from the show.
The same goes for Willow’s lighter situation with a demi-god.  Andrew continues to come to terms with his sexuality–I think.  Something about him seems back-and-forth.  Didn’t he recognize he was gay before?  Or maybe that’s just us watchers/readers picking up the signals.
Aside–but not-so aside–the romance comes the reemergence of Olivia's character.  A character in which I want more from.  And has since she appeared on the TV show.  As a woman of color, I ask the writers move her into the inner circle pronto!
As it goes for Season 10's story arc, Buffy and the gang are still working out their issues with writing the rules of magic.  Despite the arc's motion taking a slight backseat in this volume, it’s still present and carrying the characters' motives.  To me, I still find season ten's arc contained and undeviating.  Unlike a few aggravating moments in seasons past where the writers threw chum buckets filled with plot threads out to sea (see what I did there?).  No ma'am.  Season 10 still makes sense!  Thank God these guys got a grip on its reins.  

Nonetheless, adjacent to Buffy and friends' quest comes a new super bad seeking the rights to magic.  Along with another demon connected to vampires in a way I refuse to give up as a spoiler. 
Buffy Season 10 still f'ing ROCKS!  Demons.  Gore.  Comedy.  Character.  And romance.  God bless the child.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Regina Brett and God's Hiring

I ran across Regina Brett’s (new to her, but she has many advice books) God is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work back in April.  At the time, I was hunting the bookstore for Toni Morrison’s front-of-store latest, God Help the Child.  I was also trying to distract myself from the troubling thoughts of my wrecked car parked in my driveway.  As well as distract myself from a 9-5 that just wouldn’t let up.  And it’s the 9-5 job situation I speak of which drew me to God is Always Hiring.  No, seriously, I considered it a sign from God when the book's bright yellow color captured my attention.  I circled the new release tower and–POW–there it was.  One to wage my coins on impulse buys; in that instance I grabbed the book (along with Morrison) and headed to the checkout without question.  As far as I was concerned, God really was trying to tell me something.  This time I would listen.
Funny how things work.
But to be extensively honest, I thought God is Always Hiring came with job-related stories I could identify with.  Particularly from the first-hand experiences of individuals who’ve found themselves frustrated by their jobs as well.  And what they did about it.  Think: Chicken Soup for the Soul, motivating struggle, adaptable tools, and eventual triumphs.  Even so, while the book contained tidbits of story essays from various individuals and their 9-5 challenges, it was mainly 50 lessons from the author's experiences.  Valid lessons, no doubt.  Only I have no idea what it’s like to have a resume as broad and bright as hers.  Or one crammed with growth opportunities in a field closer to my own desires themselves.  I would even stretch to say I would trade my current job for some of her previous experience.  Personally, working as a columnist is far more rewarding and field engaging than a gas station attendant.  Trust me.  I know this. 
Still, I suppose the feelings of finding yourself unfilled are relative yet all the same.  (I would probably only go so far as a columnist before my entrepreneurial spirit starts grumbling back up.)  Which is why I want to share a few of my favorite lines/lessons/advice provided in the book.  These are the moments that truly resonated within my personal situation.  The lessons I did identity with and heard God "calling."  In turn, if you haven’t read the book, I hope they resonate with you as well so you can go buy God is Always Hiring.  And get hit with the inspiration to make those changes in your life that you know you must seek out.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

My PS1 Collection... (Videos)

Gerritsen Playing with Fire (A Quick Look)

That’s two Tess Gerritsen books in one year!  Can I get an amen?  Well, of course.  Yet, the latest, Playing with Fire, doesn’t involve Gerritsen’s series regulars Rizzoli and Isle.  Nope.  Playing with a Fire is a stand-alone thriller.  To me it waggles between sometimes lukewarm in areas but immensely fascinating in others.  Either way it's a quick, thrilling dash between the past and present.  Done in classic, multi-layered Gerritsen style.
First, a summary of the book.
Playing with Fire is about a violinist named Julia Ansdell.  Julia had the misfortune of acquiring an old, handwritten piece of sheet music called The Incendio Waltz.  While traveling with her orchestra, she came across the piece in an antiques shop in Rome.  So during a routine practice session back home in America, she plays it (or attempts to considering its difficulty) before her three-year-old daughter.  During this practice session Julia blacks out, and wakes to find her daughter next to their just mutilated pet cat.  Horrified, Julia suspects her daughter is responsible for the killing–for whatever reason.  That suspicion leads the two into hospitals and therapy sessions for biological/psychological testing.  
Desperate, the tests seem necessary for both Julia and her daughter.  Yet when another practice sessions leads to another blackout, this time Julia awakens to a stab womb.  And standing over her is her child.  She concludes the common denominator of these violent-resulting blackouts are, somehow, the sheet music.  Julia’s argument is the sheet music has a way of triggering something savage in her daughter’s subconscious.  This, in turn, leads her to trace the composer's Venice origins.  However, she comes across a problem on her journey.  It appears an organization of political heads don't want the secrets of the piece revealed.  And they’ll pull murderous stops in keeping Julia from unveiling its atrocious origins.

Cashier Confessions | WEEK 2

Here we are with WEEK 2 of my "Cashier Confessions" (formerly "On Break... Motivate") series.  This week I talk about sharing your ambitions with co-workers.  Should you share them?  Or should you not.  I lean toward no.  Be discerning if you feel the need to.  Or move in silent.  I also talk about being grateful for you job underneath your own terms and not the fear others slip into your mind frame.  It's perfectly okay to want better and to feel it.  By Thursday I wanted to talk about arguing with co-workers.  So not necessary, but often we find ourselves in those situations.  If you know you deserve better and strive for it outside of your 9-5–let your co-workers have the place.  And Friday I leave the work week encouraging everyone to take pride in having a vision.  Because many people don't.  

Monday (12/7/2015)

Wednesday (12/9/2015)

Thursday (12/10/2015)

Friday (12/11/2015)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Depraved Scarpetta

I almost giggle while writing this.  But I must stress again (and again and again): chances of your liking this book is low if you aren’t faithful to the series.  Or, to be a little clearer, a dedicated fan to its leading character, Kay Scarpetta.  In all her re-found first-person glory, she controls every piece of her latest adventure in Depraved Heart.  And personally, given how much of a dedicated fan I am after surviving Cornwell’s third-person slumps (along with the hot mess of last year’s Flesh and Blood), I love Kay in control.  So despite another elusive and “cut-rate” ending, I was here for Depraved Heart.  In my equally troubled mindset (referring to Cornwell’s character), I found myself surrendering to Scarpetta's narrative once more.
Yet, as stated, this will most certainly not be everyone’s resounding experience with Depraved Heart.  In a matter-of-fact, I would bet money only 20% of those who’ve read the book are feeling the way I feel.  Perplexed.  Distraught.  But... pleasantly... content.  

Waiting on the next release?  You damn well BETCHA!
Now that I got all gush ‘n’ hush mess out of the way, let me tell you what the book is about.  After that I want to just bullet point a few of the crazies involved in Depraved Heart.  The good crazies (from a personal standpoint) and the bad crazies (from a technique/stylish standpoint).  Boy, oh boy.  This one may take all night.
So here’s the set up of book 23 in Patricia Cornwell’s popular (though debatable these days) Kay Scarpetta series…
But first!  Those who keep up with Scarpetta won’t look surprised to find her and her niece, Lucy, in trouble.  Again!  And it’s the same old drama.  Same old recipe.  Some damn-near omnipotent political or criminal force lurking in the shadows.  Calculating.  Studying.  Developing methods to psychologically torture and wreck our protagonist and her team.  At least until he or she can finally tap them with murder.  Generally, said foe is almost always singularly after Scarpetta’s wonder kid niece.  This, naturally but not-so, involves Scarpetta.  So that should tell you everything you may need to know.  But we’ll get into the smaller details anyway.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Claws & Effect ~ Another Rita Mae Brown Junction

I spent a quiet weekend taking book number nine in Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series down.  And I enjoyed every minute of the cozy experience.  However, I feel as if I’ll be repeating myself talking about these books and series.  Nonetheless, I’ll try.
So what’s happening in Crozet, Virginia in book number nine?  For starters we’ve moved into the winter season; Brown rotates seasons throughout each book.  Even so, the residents of Crozet are suffering from something like seasonal depression.  To keep entertained, they whisper faux concern for bickering hospital staff members.  Particularly the hospital's plant manager and a doctor who've found themselves in a shove match inside the local post office.  What could be the issue?  And how wonderful it is for gossip during this freezing season?  Well, the townsfolk will chew over the reason among one another–for entertainment.  Until the plant manager turns up dead in the hospital's boiler room.  A boiler room rumored to contain a secret passage to the Underground Railroad from the Civil War.  And one in which operating and manufacturing secrets appear kept out of sight.  
With so many secrets abound, Harry and her canine/feline sleuthing duo investigates.  Of course with unsolicited service.  As more murders pop up, and the killer threatens Harry’s life, the clock races to catch the town's killer.  But now Harry will need to work with the police to remain safe while luring out the culprit.
As always, I just can’t get enough of this fluffy series.  I’ve often wondered what has drawn me most.  Is it the cozy, small-town atmosphere?  Or maybe it's Harry herself?  I love how she's amateurish, rugged and discerning.  She has an observational sense of recognizing the nature of her friends and neighbors.  As well as who has the potential to murder.  Or is it the treat–or hook of the series–of a cat and dog sleuth?
Ah, hell.  It’s a blend of all those elements, and the sometimes referenced humor as well.  And Brown does interject her thoughts and narrations on certain topics, but I’m hardly distracted enough to slip out of her stories.  Hardly!  So what if she wallows on and on about fox hunting during certain segments?  Besides, the horses and foxes expressing their grievances "live" make up for any commentaries.
Lastly, this is out of the blue, but I kind of dislike Mrs. Murphy gets more credit than her canine counterpart, Tee Tucker.  Why is the series named Mrs. Murphy Mysteries when Tee Tucker (and another cat named Pewter) are just as present?
Anyway, on to book ten!  The cozy mystery fun never stops.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Cashier Confessions | WEEK 1

I created this series of videos (certainly more will come) while taking a break on my 9-5 day job.  It can be stressful and discouraging having to work at a job you don’t like or have a vision for.  And it can be even more stressful and discouraging when you know your passion is calling you.  That’s how I ended up here.  On this blog.  On Spreadshirt and Zazzle.  On Youtube.  I needed to open up my own space for opportunities.  And that’s what I’ve been doing the past three years.  And loving it all along the way!  So these videos are here to motivate and encourage those in my shoes.  As well as anyone else searching for a change–a miracles of sorts–in their lives.

Anything can happen, people!  Don't give up!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Lost Quotes #2

I was clearing out my phone when I ran across another set of lost quotes.  Allow me to share them with you, as we move into the final month of the year and on into 2016.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Charming Thyme | Susan Wittig Albert

“Susan Wittig Albert's novels featuring ex-lawyer and herb-shop proprietor China Bayles have won acclaim for their rich characterization and witty, suspenseful stories of crime and passion in small-town Texas. Now, when China's friend Jo dies of an apparent suicide, China looks behind the quaint facade of Pecan Springs. Though she finds a lot of friendly faces, China is sure that one of them hides the heart of a killer.”
~ Thyme of Death | Goodreads
Thyme of Death took a little adjusting to the character of China Bayles.  As well as her small-town Texas environment's structure.  Eventually I got it.  And by the book’s end–I loved it.  As the first book in Albert's series, I found myself dedicated soon after the last page.  

Nevertheless, the book features China’s first-person voice and perspective.  And having her strum through her range as ex-lawyer to herb shop owner was unique and effective for her situation.  So I loved her blend of pragmatic sense (lawyer voice) with her knowledge of herbs and their effects.  Those two elements worked well for my investment in her character–and of course the plot.  Equally, I appreciated her character and backstory on her extreme change in occupations.  There was something there and present to her character.  Something I found authentic and magnetic.  And there was just enough personality and open-end developmental avenues available to her.  Especially concerning her rocky love life.  On top of that, she was witty and straightforward.  Just the way I love my female sleuths.
As for the actual mystery I’m going to say this: cozy, charming, and ridiculous.
The tone of the book fit smoothly into the cozy mystery genre.  It read like a dribbling, syrupy small-town mystery.  There were lots of “sit down” talks with drinks.  Lazy strolls through neighborhoods.  Conversations with eccentric locals with eccentric hobbies.  And even the dusty detective viewing murder with his cigarette ashes sweeping over the scene.  (You could consider such a character in a cozy mystery a cliche.)  So much of each was present for the book's tone, a tone in which I would analogize to sipping tea in low country.  However, despite the book’s languid resonance, I have to admit the determination and assiduous China and friends stole my attention.  So I was never bothered or bored with the actual mystery's unfolding.  In fact, I found myself absorbed and guessing the solution comfortably along the way.
All went out the window at the end of the book, though.  It seemed like Albert spent time serving languid small-town murder that she felt the end needed to switch into overdrive.  I won’t give away the details; but I’ll let it be clear how I felt the ending seemed rushed, ridiculous and out of place.  Oh, and unbelievably coincidental.
Yet.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.  
On top of my love of China Bayles’ voice, and the book's wiggling abrupt shift in tone; I really enjoyed several of the themes Albert toyed with.  Secret lovers and new age concerns are only a few.  And the last piece of highlight: China–herself–pays reference to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone.
A win.
"I rolled my sherry glass between my hands.  With any luck, tonight would get me the proof Meredith was asking for.  But if I told her what I was up to, she'd want in on it.  As wired as she was, she'd blow the whole thing.  She'd get herself or Ruby hurt.  She'd get me hurt."
"I didn't doubt that show business was no business in which to find true love and happiness.  It was probably a lot like the legal business–full of arrogant, greedy people glad to take their bite ad then some.  And it wasn't any fun to keep looking over your shoulder, wondering who was going to slip it to you next.  If that was why Roz had turned down the contract, I could certainly sympathize.  I might even applaud.  But I didn't particularly want to listen to her chorus of complaints.  So I just gave a non-committal 'hmmm.'  Luckily, we were almost at Meredith's, and there wasn't time for any more confidences."
"I dropped my arms with a sigh.  I knew the signals.  I could forget about sex for the moment."
"The door opened and I followed the cat into the semi-darkened living room, which smelled of furniture polish, dusty drapes, and stale cooking odors.  Violett stood clutching a navy cardigan around her.  I could see why Constance had sent her home.  She had the look of someone teetering on the edge.  Her hair was in strings, her eyes deeply shadowed; lines etched her mouth.  There was a tic at the corner of her right eye." 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Down the Robb Holes

Now, yes yes.  Down the Rabbit Hole is an anthology featuring authors other than J. D. Robb.  There’s R. C. Ryan, Mary Kay McComas, Elaine Fox, and Mary Blayney.  True.  Being the hyper sonic-speaking Robb fan I am–I’m pushing this post toward the featured In Death short, Wonderment in Death.
Like many In Death shorts in previous anthologies, it works with a theme (just as the other featured shorts).  The theme of Wonderment in Death plays with–if you haven’t guessed–Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland.
This time around Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her tribe are solving the murder/suicide of a psychiatric patient.  The patient left her doctor’s office with a swing towards her brother’s penthouse.  Having killed him, she turned around and leaped out of the building.  It appears the case is open/closed, with a sprinkle of M.O. details revolving around the relationship the patient and her brother had with their parents.  However, it’s the hallucinogenic drugs found in her system that sends a red flag to Eve and her team.  And they’ll follow that clue as it leads them to a “mad hatter’s” gas chamber.
Thrilling, face-pace, and entertainingly silly (but always charming) at times.  But as always Eve and her tribe are present in this fun, short case.  One that I walked away from cracking up.  Robb always has a little extra fun in her shorts.  This one is no different.

Currently-Reading Hustle (Video)

B O O K S M E N T I O N (All links are Amazon affiliate)

1. Buffy, The Vampire Slayer Tempted Champions by Yvonne Navarro ~
2. Young Miss Holmes by Kaoru Shintani ~
3. A Free Life by Ha Jin ~
4. A Mind to Murder by P. D. James ~
5. Perfect Peace by Daniel Black ~
6. God is Always Hiring by Regina Brett ~
7. Day Shift by Charlaine Harris ~



Monday, November 23, 2015

Goodreads Challenge, Challenge | Final Thoughts on Anna Pigeon 1&2

This may be a rambling post, but I just feel like talking on the blog today.  Well, I’ll try to fit something about books into it.
So I feel behind.  In an attempt to resuscitate my slacking Goodreads challenge this past summer, I’ve started reading books faster than pumping out my final thoughts on them.  Or maybe it’s the other way around?  You know I tend to confuse myself when there’s static–a stalling in the air.  Nonetheless, I caught up with my challenge, but didn’t exactly write my thoughts on each book fast enough.  That could very well be because I’ve shifted my focus toward making more videos
Now I know many people look at such “frustration” as something that isn’t serious.  Something which doesn’t really require pressure.  And that’s true.  And I’m aware of that within myself.  However, the thing is I love what I do here!  I love reading.  So when I feel a lack in my reading I want to correct it.  I love writing about what I’ve read.  So when I haven’t written anything I’m slightly troubled by the lack of productivity.  Then again, I may be straight-up racking myself with ADD about the situation.  Only God knows.  And let's be real, I’m too tired to ask him for anymore direction in my life.
But no.  After a period of time, I think I don’t have much to say about a particular book I’ve read.  Forcing myself to siphon up my thoughts months later kind of gets in the way of me managing to post anything.  And that’s what happened with my two October readings of Nevada Barr’s A Superior Death and Ill Wind.  With hands up high like Sophie Petrillo, I’ve got nothing.  Except some cool pictures of the books that you can check out here.

A SUPERIOR DEATH (Anna Pigeon #2)
If you frequent this blog, you know that I read the first book in Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series this summer.  Get all your information in the LABELS [See Nevada Barr] below.  It took a minute or two, but I decided to move forward with the series with its second book, A Superior Death.  This time, park ranger Anna Pigeon stations out of Lake Superior.  She’s in Isle Royale National Park.  And finds herself solving the murder of a colleague found floating in a sunken freighter called the Kamloops.  The freighter sunk into Lake Superior back in December of 1927.  So imagine the sight of this fresh corpse drifting in the engine room of this rotted, sunken monstrosity.  Oh, a rotted sunken monstrosity containing the bodies of decades decayed crew members.  So the underline question is how did Anna’s colleague get down there and for what reason was he murdered?
I gave the book three stars.  One, it was a slower read than the previous book.  Normally I don’t complain, but it seemed to take a touch too long to warm up with the murder and overall sleuthing.  I felt the beginning was slow and thick with Barr introducing the secondary characters.  It also grew thick with exposition tours of Anna’s role and procedures.  Much got muddled to me, having to keep up with quirky characters and their individual idiosyncrasies.  Along with the general stack of which indiscernible station, boat, port, cabin, or tent belonged to whom.  Eventually, I got the hang of who was who, and had no choice as Anna bounced from island to station cycling conversations with them all.  Oh, and constantly consuming alcohol out on a deck where evidently anyone can sneak up on her in the dark. (Another area I grew tired of.)
The remaining good news is I still find Anna to be strong, resourceful, and smart.  And Barr put her through some thrilling circumstances.  Such as diving into the Kamloops wreckage–twice.  So if anything, that venture delivered in accordance with the book’s premise.  And I did find myself wide-eyed at the process.
ILL WIND (Anna Pigeon #3)
Ill Wind has Anna trading Lake Superior for Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.  This time the mystery surrounds a series of deaths attributed to a disease of some sort.  A disease local to the park for whatever reason.  Anyway, it's killing tourist.  And when one of Anna’s colleges (forever the case) ends up found murdered, it’s up to her to find out the connection.
Unfortunately, I found the closure behind this to be somewhat of a stretch on the believability factor.  Anna still played her usual over-drinking, pessimistic, and noisy role.  So she’s still anything but stale or a sour protagonist.  Frankly, her attitude and the construction of the actual murders always draw me in.  It's the idea behind the murders that had me rolling my eyes.  
And that, unfortunately, is all I have for now.  Sad, but true.  Had I got to catching up on my writing about these immediately after I'd finished, I most definitely would've had more to share.  But let me pass on this one.  Please!

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