Monday, December 6, 2021

Music Monday (182): Tinashe, Keith Urban, BRELAND, Nile Rodgers, Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton, Soul Central and Billie


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I'm still listening to Tinashe's Comfort & Joy. Another one of my favorite songs is Angels We Have Heard On High.


Adri: My pick this week is In-Ten-City by Soul Central featuring Billie. All I have to say is that I love a good play on words.

Andrea: This week I'm listening to Out The Cage by Keith Urban Featuring Breland & Nile Rodgers. Oh the greatness featured on this song. My Christmas song for this week is You Make It Feel Like Christmas by Gwen Stefani featuring Blake Shelton.

Wishing you and your family the best this holiday season!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, December 3, 2021

The Friday 56 (210) & Book Beginnings: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

Synopsis from Goodreads...
When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave. In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake's vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the "Wood Wide Web," to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision. Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life's processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. By examining fungi on their own terms, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms--and our relationships with them--are changing our understanding of how life works.

Beginning: "I looked up toward the top of the tree. Ferns and orchids sprouted from its trunk, which vanished into a tangle of lianas in the canopy."

56: "Over short distances, substances can be transported through mycelial networks on a network of microtubules--dynamic filaments of protein that behave like a cross between scaffolding and elevators."

Comments: Entangled Life has been on my TBR since 2020. I finally got around to it, and it's one of my favorite nonfiction reads of the year. What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

ARC Review: A Murder Yule Regret by Winnie Archer

Title: A Murder Yule Regret
Series: A Bread Shop Mystery #7
Author: Winnie Archer
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Cozy Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington Publishing; November 30, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Freelance photographer and Yeast of Eden bakery assistant Ivy Culpepper has just scored the job of a lifetime shooting the Dickensian dress-up X-mas party thrown by It Girl film actress Eliza Fox...until an unwanted guest appears. 
A holiday costume party in the sleepy coastal town of Santa Sofia could be just the boost Ivy needs for her fledgling photography business. At the party, Ivy enters a Victorian fantasy come to life, all courtesy of the fabulous Ms. Fox. Ivy gets to play shutterbug while hanging with Scrooge, Marley, the Cratchits, and more classic Dickens characters. But what begins as the best of times turns out to be the very worst for one of the party guests--a tabloid journalist with more enemies than Ebenezer himself. When the man's body is found sprawled across the jagged rocks below the house, the fingers begin pointing at Eliza. Meanwhile, Ivy gets roped into helping prove the starlet's innocence. Her festive photos are now official evidence--and the Ghosts of Christmas Present could mean the party for Eliza is over, once and for all.

I’ve been into cozy mysteries lately, and this year’s selection has been really great. One of my latest forays into it is Winnie Archer’s A Murder Yule Regret. Based on the title, I knew this was going to be a holiday themed whodunit, and I have to say that the story delivered on all fronts.

I really had a lot of fun with this story. While the setting was still small town-ish, it was set in California, so the winter scenery was far more moderate. No snow or anything like that—mostly gorgeous views of the ocean—but the descriptions of the decorations and baked goods (because this story has a strong baking theme with the bread shop), certainly allowed for a festive atmosphere.

The mystery was also another highlight. The way it started was handled really great actually. The story had such an even pace, and it just flowed smoothly from one scene to the next. The mystery surrounding Eliza, her past, and the connection to the victim made for a page turner of a story.

The characters were also very charming. The whole cast was great. But I especially loved Ivy’s baking, sleuthing, and her adorable pug, Agatha. Her day-to-day life was as interesting as the mystery portion of the story, and I enjoyed all the scenes she shared with her boyfriend, friends, and family. Eliza Fox, the actress, was also an endearing character. There was something so earnest about her, and I liked how much she was in the story.

Overall, A Murder Yule Regret is another great cozy mystery, and it’s right on time for the holiday season.

About the author...
Melissa Bourbon Ramirez is the national bestselling author of seventeen mystery books, including the Lola Cruz Mysteries, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series, and the Bread Shop Mysteries, written as Winnie Archer. She is a former middle school English teacher who gave up the classroom in order to live in her imagination full time. Melissa, a California native who has lived in Texas and Colorado, now calls the southeast home. She hikes, practices yoga, cooks, and is slowly but surely discovering all the great restaurants in the Carolinas. Since four of her five amazing kids are living their lives, scattered throughout the country, her dogs, Bean, the pug, Dobby, the chug, and Jasper, a cattle dog/lab keep her company while she writes. Melissa lives in North Carolina with her educator husband, Carlos, and their youngest son. She is beyond fortunate to be living the life of her dreams.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Kensington Books) via NetGalley for this review, thank you!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Short Stories I Read in September-October

It’s November 29th. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in September and October.

Judge Dee and the Poisoner of Montmartre by Lavie Tidhar (; September 15, 2021)

I did not get to the latest Judge Dee story in time for Halloween. However, I was more than excited to finally get to it in October. As always, the vampire elements were done very well. This time, the story takes Judge Dee and Jonathan to Paris for their latest case. It was a slight shift in tone, since there were brief indulgences in plays and other parts of night life—which sometimes involved other vampire characters. The setting was also far less remote than some of the other locations in the previous two stories, and I enjoyed all the descriptions of the city. I was thoroughly engaged in the mystery. It was kind of chaotic, but it had a satisfying resolution.

Thread Count by Cynthia Gómez (Strange Horizons; Issue: Fund Drive 2021)

The second short story I read in October was Thread Count by Cynthia Gómez. I like this one a whole lot. It was a mystery with circumstances that leaned toward the possibility of something speculative (fantastical) in nature. At its core though was a timely topic. It was also well-written, and I liked the way the author approached the story. I will definitely keep an eye out for future work by Cynthia Gómez.

Bespoke Nightmares by Carolina Valentine (Strange Horizons; Issue: 18 October 2021)

Some of my favorite types of stories are ones that involve dreams or nightmares in some capacity. Carolina Valentine’s Bespoke Nightmares fit that bill perfectly with a shop that literally makes and sells nightmares. And rarely ever does its keeper make dreams. That wasn’t without reason or consequences, with dreams being difficult to make. The line—be careful what you wish for—duly applies here. All-in-all, Bespoke Nightmares was a great story.

From around the web…
  • Our Opinions Are Correct episode #91: Three Simple Tests That Reveal A.I. Consciousness
  • Understanding Horses: Getting to Know You (Judith Tarr;, September 20, 2021)
  • I Write Fantasy Because of Patricia McKillip’s The Riddlemaster of Hed (Julie E. Czerneda;, September 24, 2021)

Friday, November 26, 2021

ARC Review: A Swift and Savage Tide by Chloe Neill

Title: A Swift and Savage Tide
Series: Captain Kit Brightling #2
Author: Chloe Neill
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; November 30, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Chloe Neill's bold, seafaring heroine Captain Kit Brightling sets sail for high seas and high sorcery in this swashbuckling fantasy series.

Captain Kit Brightling is Aligned to the magic of the sea, which makes her an invaluable asset to the Saxon Isles and its monarch, Queen Charlotte. The Isles and its allies will need every advantage they can get: Gerard Rousseau, the former Gallic emperor and scourge of the Continent, has escaped his island prison to renew his quest for control of the Continent. Gerard has no qualms about using dangerous magic to support his ambitions, so Kit and the crew of her ship, the Diana, are the natural choice to find him—and help stop him. Sparks fly when Kit's path unexpectedly crosses with that of the dashing and handsome Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, who's working undercover on the Continent in his own efforts to stop Gerard. But he's not the only person Kit is surprised to see. An old enemy has arisen, and the power he'll wield on Gerard's behalf is beautiful and terrible. Sparks will fly and sails will flutter as Kit and crew are cast onto the seas of adventure to fight for queen and country.

It’s been just over a year since The Bright and Breaking Sea was released, and since then I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. That book could be best described as having tottered on the brink of something. All the clues were there. Whereas its sequel, A Swift and Savage Tide, was an excellent story that saw the continuation (and result) of those very same clues and outstanding mysteries introduced in the first book. It was more than fitting as a sequel for a series that began with a lot of promise.

It was great to dive back into the world with Kit, her crew, and Grant. One of the main reasons for that was the dynamics between the characters being as great as it was. And I particularly enjoyed the way Neill chose to advance those relationships. Kit and her crew were tightknit, which was a highlight of the story. They were skilled at what they did, and their strong suits ultimately aided them in the difficult circumstances that surrounded the Diana’s latest missions.

And while the story had its fun and lighthearted moments, those were few. A Swift and Savage Tide had a serious tone to it, as the echoes of a greater conflict finally reached a boiling point where there was no way back. It was a fight on the land and the sea, between skill and magic. The stakes were sky high, and it made for an incredibly thrilling story.

The ending did pay off—and it was satisfying in some ways—but there was open-endedness to it. Everything was very-VERY far from over. There are so many possibilities that could be in store, and I will be over here waiting for the next book to (hopefully) be announced sometime soon.

About the author.....
Chloe Neill is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Captain Kit Brightling, Heirs of Chicagoland, Chicagoland Vampires, Devil’s Isle, and Dark Elite novels. She was born and raised in the South, but now makes her home in the Midwest, where she lives with her gamer husband and their bosses/dogs, Baxter and Scout. Chloe is a voracious reader and obsessive Maker of Things; the crafting rotation currently involves baking and quilting. She believes she is exceedingly witty; her husband has been known to disagree.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Berkley) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!

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