Sunday, July 31, 2016

No Rest for the Alt

Okay.  So let’s get a little into Madelyn Alt’s No Rest for the Wiccan, book #4 in her A Bewitching Mystery series.  For starters, it took me reading the third book two years ago to finally say, “Hey, I’m interested in this.”  But to be clear, I picked the series up in the fall of 2008.  So I’m a hot mess when it comes to consistency.  But, dammit, for whatever reason I want to read this cozy mystery series.
But enough of that.
No Rest for the Wiccan has the series witchy sleuth, Maggie O’Neill stuck in many situations.  Outside of her back-and-forth love triangle drama, it appears her older sister, Mel, and nieces have found themselves tormented by a ghost inhabiting their home.  And with Mel, the beautiful and overly-spoiled sister, attempts to employee her peculiar sister (who happens to work in a magic shop) to exorcise said ghost.  A reluctant Maggie more or less entertains her “amazing” sister.  It isn’t until an accident crushes the family does Maggie step in with the help of the N.I.G.H.T.S. ghost-hunting team she belongs to.
Now if that wasn’t enough, Maggie also finds herself unraveling a local murder.  During another rubber-necking session with her cop boyfriend, Tom, an interruption call comes in on his raid.  Considering he’s on call, Tom takes the message.  It appears a body is hanging from one of the conveyor systems inside of a local grainier.  Disobedient of Tom’s orders, Maggie takes it upon herself to ask the wrong questions at the wrong time.  Leading her into the throats of marriage, insurance, family, and murder.  Oh, and fire!
But you know what?  FORGET THE MYSTERY AND LET'S JUST GET INTO THE REAL ISSUE!  (Probably best for those who've read the series.)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Barbara Neely Colors Blanche

So let’s talk a bit about Barbara Neely’s second book in her Blanche White series, Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, for just a hot second.  Jumping from her first murder investigation; amateur sleuth and black domestic worker, Blanche White, finds herself in Maine this time.  She's invited to an all-black resort, by a wealthy black couple introduced in her previous adventure.  It's both a work/play situation for Blanche.  Still, the resort is a place where Blanche spends her time tucking her feet in sand, while chatting with a slew of uppity black folk’.  And of the likes she's never seen!  Yet, in response to her reception, Blanche will also find the opportunity to teach her pseudo-adopted niece and nephew about race and inner discrimination.  Otherwise, involving herself in solving a local murder and suicide takes presidence to all her troubles.  
While conscientious–but highly unafraid–of those side-eyeing her in the resort as she snoops, there’s some romance swirling in the mix of Blanche’s vacation.  And it's a romance that may or may not have a tie to the death of an antagonistic resort guest, who found herself dead after a live stereo slipped into her bath.  But who knows?  Right?  With a wealth of secrets abound, Blanche will get to the bottom of everything with whatever trick and connection she has available to pump information from.
Now Let's Talk a Little
While the mystery aspect of the book suffers, I have to reiterate how much I appreciate black female authors writing in this genre.  Rarely will you find an honest, sincere character such as Blanche.  If that alone.  And no other place will you find an author using her character’s voice to not only solve murders, but also give conversation to issues forever stuck in the black community.  In Blanche Among the Talented Tenthsuch conversations involved black colorism and inner prejudices.  Particularly prejudices understood in those who uphold the “one drop” phrase as a source of privilege.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wittig's Witches!

Okay.  So in China’s second investigation, Witches' Bane, rumors of witches and devil worshipers have taken over the small town of Pecan Springs, Texas.  These rumors are exacerbated by the suicide of a local teenager and homeless individual.  So the townsfolk are on edge and, most sincerely, this includes a local religious group led by Reverend Billy Lee Harbuck.  Harbuck has taken it upon himself to put an end to the madness, beginning with rounding up his followers to picket the local metaphysical gift shop propertied by China Bayles’ best friend, Ruby Wilcox.  The hitch is that the gift shop and China’s herb shop are connected.  Thus, of course, infecting both Ruby and China's businesses.  The situation and local stirrings get worse when a wealthy socialite named Sybil Rand is found murdered in her home.  The catch, one of Ruby’s athame blades are stuck in her body.  Further investigation uncovers the Death tarot card and a voodoo doll in Sybil’s possession.  With the walls closing in on Ruby, China, alongside her ex-cop boyfriend Mike McQuaid, set out to prove Ruby’s innocence.  Particularly before the whole town loses its damned mind!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What? Some Fantasy Novels...?

I told myself “what the hell” today and grabbed these two fantasy novels out of the library used bookstore for a $1 apiece.  As mentioned in the past, the fantasy genre isn’t my strong suit; Urban Fantasy I can nail, given the right ingredients.  Nonetheless, high fantasy–as I’ve learned in the past–takes me an unbelievable amount of energy to focus and survey my way through.  Seriously, with high fantasy you’re thrown into a whole different world of concepts, systems, and ecospheres that allows you little to no reference points to consider.  So I find it troublesome when I attempt to unfold the author’s imagination through my own–at the same time.  Or at least that’s how it feels to me when an author is pounding descriptive exposition of a fantasy empire built onto a water way; congregated by humanoids and humans with varied ascetics not remitting my needing a visual clue.  So it always feels like a gamble when I take on these books.  A gamble of cohesion and comprehension of the events and narrative flow through an author's particular style.
Yet, there’s a wall I want to break to get into these alien and fantasy worlds.  And that’s how I browsed my way to Jude Fisher’s Sorcery Rising (Book One of Fool’s Gold) and the infamous Mercedes Lackey’s The Serpent’s Shadow.  Both their selling points: they feature female leads.  Nonetheless, The Serpent's Shadow's lead is a half-Indian woman named, Maya Witherspoon.  Which really caught my attention.  Other than that, both leads partake in an adventure of some sort.  Oh, and magic will be had.
So it’s going to take some patience keeping up with their respective world-building, politics, and rules of etiquette.  As well as the patience I’ll need to roll my tongue/mind in attempts to correctly pronounce names like “Sanctuarii”, “Arahai”, and “Fotheringay.”
Oh, boy.
But here goes!
Should I jump ship for whatever reason, everyone will be the first to know.
Share your thoughts on high fantasy and these authors.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why I'm SUDDENLY in Love with China, Herbs, Wittig Albert...

So listen (err, read) to this: I’m addicted to Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles cozy mystery series.  (Say that three times fast.)  Such revelations shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though.  Those who frequent this blog has seen me profusing this through a few past posts, since picking up the second book in Albert's series for #MarchMysteryMadness.  

Nonetheless, my infatuation happened kind of incidentally.  I just happened to pick up China's first case, Thyme of Death, at a used bookstore.  The purchase was a recourse to another on-going series I was reading.  But I was missing an entry, and it wasn't available in store.  However, seeing Albert’s sleuth is a herbalist/ex-lawyer located in the syrupy Southern town of the fictional Pecan Spring, Texas; I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into as I stood there reading the blurb, after the book caught my attention a stack high from where I stood.  

Approaching middle-aged woman with an interesting name.  "China Bayles" has a kick-ass ring to it.  Ex-lawyer now herbalist.  Hmm, I sniff some interesting parallels.  No children.  Little family to call upon.  Dating.  

Rubbing my chin and deep in thought, I asked myself: Was China going to give me cool lady tease?  Will she serve me candor and dry wit with an "over it all" attitude about life (my spirit was calling for this, by the way)?  Or was she going to be a stuffy planter?  Someone stuck in a straw hat while carrying a basket as she pooh-pooh'ed around keeping her hands marginally clean while solving murders (I need a girl who's willing to break glass to get into an office)?  In either case–given the series' herbalist hook–I kind of suspected finding a body in somebody's kitchen garden would eventually ramp up the fun.  So I took the bait and went to McDonald's for some fries.

Friday Reads ~ #SaveOurCozies

“Harper Connelly heads to Doraville, North Carolina, to find a missing boy–one of several teenage boys who have disappeared over the last five years.  And all of them are calling for Harper.  She finds them–buried in the frozen ground.  All Harper wants is to get out of town before she’s caught in the media storm, until she herself is attacked.  Soon, Harper will learn more than she cared to about the dark mysteries and long-hidden secrets of Doraville–knowledge of the dead that makes her the next in line to end up in an ice cold grave…”
~ An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris
Let’s see.  In 2009 I stopped reading this book on page 61.  Last I remember, dead-body-‘voyant-finding Harper Connelly (per finding herself struck by lightning to gain her abilities) was left in the hospital of the small town of Doraville.  As mentioned in the blurb, she was attacked.  I’ve never figured out what happened on forward, and can’t exactly recall why I stopped on page 61 and never came back.  Until now, I’ve never picked up the book since.  But, going along with the #SaveOurCozies readathon (from midnight today till midnight tomorrow), it appears I’ll finally get the answers I abandoned seven years ago.  That’ll be my Friday Reading.
Any hints as to what's in store?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#SaveOurCozies | Extended Haul

Because I’m so excited about #SaveOurCozies, I had to stock up on a few new titles.  Many listed has always been on my radar, but never quite made it home.  These are books I’ve noticed time and time again in stores, but have yet to slide into.  Until now!  But to be extra, extra clear, I had to be sure they were each the first in their respective reading order.  Never trusting the read order placed inside the first few pages of any given series, I took my time investigating these suckers.  Nothing’ll piss me off more than picking up a new series midway through; a personal aggravation of mine, if you will.  So let me list and share what each series (as well as their individual hooks) is about.  At least for those who are new to them like myself.  And no, the Nora Roberts Public Secrets (1990) book isn’t a cozy.  Though there is a kidnapping and possible murder involved.  I’ve just always wanted to read the damn book and found it for 25 cents!  (For those who have read it, please share your thoughts.  I’m an on/off Roberts reader outside of her J. D. Robb series.)

#SaveOurCozies | Video TBR & Campaign Links

Channels/Supporters Mentioned
Elizabeth (Youtube Channel)
Angie (Blog)
 Charlaine Harris Books Mentioned (Amazon Affiliate Links)
An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly #3)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Surprising Spreadshirt Design Sale

Funny surprises around every corner.  I just wanted to share this Spreadshirt related post to remind those who partake in its use to never give up.  And to also remind one another that anything can happen, so don’t underestimate your designs and products.
It’s really interesting; I recently sold this particular design on Spreadshirt’s marketplace–times two.  I say “interesting” because I dislike the design out of all available.  And, literally, pulled it up from scratch just to find another means to fit the theme of my Kdrama/K-Pop store.  I weighted and weighted whether to keep the design, and just left it alone.
And here it is the one sold first off the marketplace–twice.

You just never know.  Which is why I always suggest those starting a Spreadshirt store to try different things out.  Even the most ludicrous (but tasteful) ideas deserve a go.  You just never, never know.  I'm beyond grateful for the surprises.
Any surprising Spreadshirt stores you want to inspire others with?  Please share the details below.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Final Leg of the Nevada Barr Anna Pigeon Summer Tour | Library Haul

I’m four books away from the ending of my Nevada Barr Anna Pigeon Park Ranger Mystery tour.  Whew.  That’s a whole sentence and a half.  Anyway, this has been a fun spring/summer finding my joy of National Parks, strong female leads, and murder underneath the rugged atmospheric prose of Nevada Barr’s series.

YouTube Storytime: I Started a Field Fire

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

2 Netflix Mysteries Featuring Woman Sleuths

While I’m a little miffed Netflix is going up another $2 this month, I can’t deny it's still one of the best things smoking.  At least not to answer the call to scale back and just stick with its competitors for a while.  Truth is, I’m too engrossed in two (though the third doesn’t pertain to this post’s theme, there is one) British serial mysteries currently streaming.  One, in all actuality, I finished in over a week.  The other, I’m comfortably working my way through night after night; lights low and a bag of chips at the ready.  Naturally, the two shows have a running element that has always captivated my attention: women solving murder mysteries.  And while one has a cozy texture to its storytelling, the other not so much.  Or, at least, it’s a hell of a lot darker to even brush a cozy.
So for those who love reading mysteries and its various sub-genres, I present to you these interesting TV shows you may find yourself binging on.
The Bletchley Circle 2012-2014

Rosemary & Thyme (2003-2006)

If you've watched any of these shows or have recommendations of the same theme, please share them in the comments below.

Until then, ENJOY!

Friday, July 1, 2016

5 National Parks Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon Books Got Me Scared Of

My summer of reading Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon park ranger mystery series continues.  I’m currently halfway through book #14, Winter Study.  If the title doesn’t give away any hints, the story takes place in Isle Royale during the winter season.  Between October and May the park shuts down to tourist.  This allows fifty-plus years of research to continue, regarding the study of the moose/wolf activity surrounding the island.  And that’s a dollop of information best left to experts and the internet to explain to you.  I could break the research down–coming from what's given to me via the book.  However, it would appear as weak as pre-generic Dollar Store coffee.  So with one operational gear of Winter Study aside, my issue is that the book takes place in fiercely below freezing terrain.  Terrain chillingly described within Barr's juggle of metaphors (lots of movie references in this one) and icy prose.  So far as my reading, Barr's Anna Pigeon has slept in this literary blizzard outside in a tent!  A tent which found her and her team under attack by an unidentified creature.  (Similar to what happened in Blood Lure, if you're familiar with the series.)  However, as of where I stand, the team believes it’s a mutated wolf of some sort.  So I must keep reading to see.  
Anna has also skidded across a froze Siskiwit Lake while setting up wolf traps, apropos the research.  And, as such elementally-heavy mystery books go, she immediately found herself thrown over into the icy waters to nearly drown.  What else crazy happened?  Oh, the team has to collect snow for water; an interesting nugget of information mentioned that quickly boiled snow is actually bad for you.  I never would've known.  Also, Anna and the team spend a day dissecting a wolf and examining moose body parts.  Cool but grizzly by way of Barr's description of rotting flesh and bloody innards.  

There's just a slew of craziness taking place in Winter Study.  But because a murder hasn’t happened yet (except for a couple of moose and a fallen wolf), I got a feeling the story is about to get crazier.  Like, Jason Voorhees level crazy!  Especially as ice and cabin fever sits in.
Yet, this is precisely why I enjoy this series; Anna’s always in some crazy-ass situations.  And it's in these situations where she has to think her way out, before she gets the ax.
So before I run off to fix a cup of coffee and throw myself into Winter Study, I want to share a few of the national parks Anna Pigeon has got my ass scared to go to!  In order from least scary to MOST!  But, being the nature lover that I tend to be, this listed is for fun.  So of course I’m not serious, because all I've wanted to do since reading these books is start a GoFundMe to see if I can tour all Anna's spots.
So the list goes...

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