August 28, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 2, 2021
June 23, 2021
June 8, 2021
Killer Triggers: Murder Comes Down to Sex, Drugs, or Money by Joe Kenda
- Genre: True Crime
- Why I read it: I'm a Homicide Hunter fan
- What I thought of it: Though this is basically a rehashing of many of the cases from the Homicide Hunter TV show, I still enjoyed it. Kenda's turn-of-phrase sounds like a hard boiled detective, and it gives an interesting and entertaining look into what real cops have to deal with when investigating violent crime.
- Would I recommend it: Yes, but I think I Will Find You is the better of the two. Also, Audiobooks are a must for these titles, since Kenda himself is the narrator.
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Why I read it: I like Agatha Christie
- What I thought of it: It's not Christie's best, but it's okay.
- Would I recommend it: Maybe, if you want to read the whole Miss Marple series, but it's okay to skip this one if you want.
- Genre: Historical parapsychology
- Why I read it: Research
- What I thought of it: Though it was an interesting account of a poltergeist incident and the subsequent study thereof, it was disappointing overall. This was because of the author's and original (1930s) researcher's conjecture about the cause of the haunting without any definite proof. There was a lot of "perhaps" and "what if", but no ultimate conclusion or smoking gun that ultimately made the story worth telling in the first place.
- Would I recommend it: Nah, give this one a pass.
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
- Genre: Cozy mystery
- Why I read it: Christie is my jam
- What I thought of it: Superb!! This is one of Christie's best, as it has an elaborate set-up (a murder dinner party where someone really gets murdered); a twisty middle; and a slightly mind-blowing denouement (I knew who the murderer was right away, but was shocked when the motive was finally revealed!).
- Would I recommend it: 100% yes!
- Genre: Cozy mystery
- Why I read it: Christie is my cup of tea
- What I thought of it: This one was ok in terms of mystery, but it wasn't the best. I think the most interesting part of it all was the perspective it gave on post-war Britain and how different peope felt about the changes the country had gone through.
- Would I recommend it: Yes; despite it being a bit lack-luster, it was still a good read.
- Genre: Supernatural cat-and-mouse / mystery / fantasy!!!
- Why I read it: It checks all my boxes
- What I thought of it: Holy cow is it good!!! The premise is intriguing, the characters are all likeable (and I wish them all happiness... and I fear that that may not happen), the plot is twisty and intriguing. My favorite part is the slow-burn worldbuilding. Each chapter, you find out a little bit more about what Shadow House is and how it operates.
- Would I recommend it: 1000% yes!!! I'll be doing a Rave about it on my YouTube later on to give more details on how and why it's awesome.
June 1, 2021
May 24, 2021
May 15, 2021
May 2, 2021
April 25, 2021
It is once again National Poetry Month, and I would be remiss if I didn't post at least something vaguely poetry related. Works is still digesting my soul at the moment, but I have managed to jot down a few short poems over the past few months.
a name we know
because of who told us.
What would he be without his dear
hoping that soon
it will scream back into me
April 13, 2021
March 31, 2021
March 29, 2021
Please excuse my lateness in posting. We are severely short-staffed at work, and my soul leaves my body about an hour before close each day, so I'm dead when I get home. To make up for it, expect three posts this week. As for these reviews, some are a little vague because I plan on discussing the mysteries more in future Rant Rave Reviews.
Murder at the Vicarage, The Body in the Library, and A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Why I read it: Mystery research / gathering the flavor for my WIP
- What I thought of it: I really like Miss Marple books! There are lots of subplots and red herrings, and things that seem like subplots but are actually crucial. Christie does characterization especially well.
- Would I recommend it: Yes! They're a real treat!
March 15, 2021
March 7, 2021
As I mentioned in my last Rant Rave Review, as of last Monday, six books by Dr. Seuss are now officially out-of-print, and they are out of print due to supposedly racist, offensive, and/or stereotypical images. The company that owns the rights to these books is no longer publishing them and some websites are no longer selling them. People who do own the books, or who swooped into stores and bought them the day of the announcement, are now selling them for hundreds or thousands of dollars. So, what are we to make of all this?
Is Dr. Seuss Racist?
There are actually three questions here: is the man racist, are his books racist, and are those images racist? The answer to the first is, he kinda was, and then he got over it. During the war, he was openly against the Japanese, and in favor of the internment camps, then went to Japan during the occupation and realized, hey, maybe these are just people. Apparently, he wrote Horton Hears a Who in response to the US occupation and dedicated it to a Japanese friend. People can change, if you let them.
Okay, well, what about his books? This is an obvious "no". Race basically doesn't come up in Dr. Seuss stories, except "The Sneetches", which is actively against racism. Which, in some people's fevered imaginations, makes it racist. Yes, in some Olympic-level mental gymnastics, saying that whatever race you are isn't important, ie being against "racial essentialism", means that you are a racist. Such people think that the story doesn't address "structures of power" and "systemic oppression". This is true. It's instead a story about a sleazy businessman who goes in and preys on existing racial biases in order to make a buck, constantly telling people to think of their identities in terms of their outward appearance. You'd think the racial essentialists would appreciate the representation.
But I digress.
March 3, 2021
February 22, 2021
I have been contemplating writing or filming a piece on “Why I (Book) Blog”, which may at some point be forthcoming, but the long and the short of it is, I find it useful to analyze stories. Note, stories, not books. As you’ll know from my Rant Rave Reviews to my four-part series on different mediums of fiction, I consider books, movies, video games, and so on to all hold value in terms of narrative structure and choice.
Despite their differences, all stories have one thing in common: someone wrote them. Which means that someone, or someones, chose what to put in them and what not to put in them. This might seem obvious, but the import of this fact seems to allude many an amateur writer and book critic. Particularly when talking shop, writers seem so focused on what taboos to avoid or what structures to follow that they forget the most basic question: what should go in the story? And its mirror image, what can be left out.
If this all seems opaque, let me illustrate with some examples.
February 14, 2021
February 7, 2021
Advent Gospel Reflections by Bishop Robert Barron
- Genre: Religious nonfiction
- Why I read it: It was Advent
- What I thought of it: Anyone familiar with Bishop Barron's Catholicism film series knows his theological explanations are solid and accessible. This was no different.
- Would I recommend it: Yes! Just be sure to get the copy for the specific year, since Advent is a different number of days depending on when Christmas falls.
"Witness for the Prosecution" by Agatha Christie
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Why I read it: Kind of genre research for my WIP, I guess?
- What I thought of it: Though the twist was a little predictable by the end, it was still an interesting story with a good concept. I also enjoy Christie's writing style.
- Would I recommend it: Maybe, if you're into cozies, but I think some of her other stories are better.
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow
- Genre: True Crime / Journalism
- Why I read it: Someone on Tumblr posted several excerpts and it looked interesting
- What I thought of it: I feel like this is the kind of book that anyone who cares about journalistic integrity should read. It wasn't that entire news outlets were lying (though some publications did do that in order to smear victims), but rather they didn't report the truth, which can be just as bad. The title, "Catch and Kill" is the phrase used for purchasing a story in order not to publish, so it won't see the light of day.
- Would I recommend it: Yes, but trigger warnings for sexual assault of all kinds.
"Old Man and The Gun", "Chameleon", and "True Crime" by David Grann
- Genre: True crime
- Why I read it: I loved Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon and was looking for more true crime from him
- What I thought of it: I loved all three essays, which are from a book I had read parts of previously, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. These are the kind of weird accounts that seem too fantastic to be real: a septuagenarian bank-robber and escape artist, a man who literally takes on the identity of children, and a murderer who wrote his crime into a novel and the detective who used that writing to pursue him.
- Would I recommend it: 100% yes!!!
Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir by Alberto Alvaro Ríos
- Genre: Memoir
- Why I read it: Book club
- What I thought of it: This book was sweet and funny, and brought back memories of when my family used to go to Nogales every Black Friday. I enjoy boyhood stories, like those of Patrick McManus; this was in the same vein, with various (slightly) hyperbolized recollections of youth.
- Would I recommend it: Yes, especially if you want something charming. This is like the slice-of-life cosy of memoirs.
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Why I read it: I'm on a Christie kick
- What I thought of it: I liked this one best of Christie's stories so far (though I have admittedly only read four an a half). It had a great set-up and pay-off, and the twist was slightly different from what I was expecting. Much like Arthur Conan Doyle, she introduced a set of twins, but their being twins had nothing to do with the crime!
- Would I recommend it: Yes. It was fun.
- Genre: Cozy mystery adjacent
- Why I read it: Still on a Christie kick
- What I thought of it: This one was interesting because it was more of a little adventure than a mystery, and I feel there was a lot of backstory I was missing, as this was the only Tommy and Tuppence story I've read. That being said, the twist was super predictable, telegraphed from almost the moment a certain untrustworthy character entered the room.
- Would I recommend it: Only if you want to study the cozy genre. I will say, this story has inspired me to finally write a post about why every genre needs to learn from cozies, but that will have to wait until later.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
- Genre: Cozy mystery
- Why I read it: See above
- What I thought of it: The entire cast was well written, and I especially liked Cornelia, who I assume was supposed to either have Down Syndrome or autism of some sort (she was referred to as 'simple' a number of times). The different subplots with the side characters / murder suspects were intriguing. Unfortunately, the main murder plot was exceedingly predictable, and I don't think it's just because I've seen a lot of mysteries. Also, I did not approve of Poirot's decision at the end regarding the murderer's fate (Sherlock Holmes would ever have allowed such a thing to happen!).
- Would I recommend it: I guess. It was a well written story, just not the best mystery, if that makes sense?
February 3, 2021
January 24, 2021
...Sometimes I just wanna blog about my lifestyle, you know? I promise it won't become a constant thing, at least not on here.
See, I fell off the Instagram bandwagon sometime around Christmas, what with, well, everything, and was just about to give up on it. I haven't figured out the magic formula for making it into a proper "bookstagram". Or rather, I know full well what the proper formula is—posting constantly, and including full-on book reviews—but I am far too lazy to employ it. For one thing, I don't enjoy typing long-form on my phone. For another, I don't always have that much to say about what I'm currently reading until I'm done currently reading it. Hence reading round-ups and Rant Rave Reviews. And, perhaps most detrimental of all is the fact that most of the books I read are e-audiobooks, which simply do not photograph, well, at all.
January 21, 2021
January 3, 2021
2020 in Hindsight
Anyway, 2020 is moldering in its grave, so it's time once again to briefly look back before gazing forward.
I won't bore you with all the numerical details, but, in brief, I didn't quite make it to my goal of four writerly activities a week, but considering what a wretched year it was all round, I don't feel bad about that in the slightest. All things considered (a pandemic, working in a city that doesn't require masks, clinical homesickness, riots, politics, wildfires, etc), I think I did rather well.