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December 30, 2022

December 2022 Books & Shows

It was a lazy December (yes, there is still one day left) and I think that will continue into next year. I don't know why but I can't make myself finish anything. Would that be called the year-end fatigue? It seems like that more and more. Anyway, here are the books I read and one show I sort of finished.

Books I Read:

My Rock and My Refuge (Once Upon a Western Book 4) by Rachel Kovaciny
01 - My Rock and My Refuge (Once Upon a Western Book 4) by Rachel Kovaciny > link > author's website (Cover illustration by Erika Ohlendorf)
What's it about: family, faith, love, sibling-ship, immigrants, baking
This is a Christian, western, romance that is also a Beauty and the Beast retelling and with what some reviewers called Jane Eyre vibes. I don't get the Jane Eyre vibes aside from similar story structure with a woman (and her brother) going to work for a rich man with side characters of a housekeeper, a child and the mystery of the rich man's past but no crazy wife in the attic but there is a tower room that people are not allowed to go in. This does have roses, a beautiful lady and a kind of a beast-like character but I wouldn't call this a Beauty and the Beast retelling.
    Marta (the main character and narrator) did most of the preaching and her faith is defined. The constant reminder of Charlie O'Shea, Marta's old flame, is annoying. Yes, he's an asshat but did Marta need the reminder to torture herself to be more aware of men who only wants her for her beauty? Was it necessary to mention him 30 times when he was never around nor did he had anything to do with the overall story? The time she spent talking/thinking about Charlie O'Shea, she could have baked more bread instead. I'm not sure if I like Marta but at least I don't hate her but perhaps I hate how she thinks her beauty is a burden. I do like the relationship Marta has with her brother Jakob and with Mrs. Craig.
    The beast character, Arthur Wendell, is somewhat mysterious but when we learned his back story, it somehow deflated his character in a way. I guess I was hoping for something more tragic than what it was. And making his character handsome before he was scarred reminded me that romance is again between two good looking people. Why couldn't he had been average looking instead of handsome? I'm not sure I believe the romance between Wendell and Marta but that's perhaps Marta somehow made me think that way. I would have preferred we get Wendell's point of view here to make it a more complete story because Marta can only tell the readers what she knew and what she knew wasn't always enough.
    There are no love triangles, no amnesia, no misunderstandings, no one scheming or doing any harm aside from speaking ill of other characters and the adults are mature and they actually talks to each other and make good decisions, well, the main characters anyway. There was no point at any time did I want to slap any character, well, except maybe whatshisname, Alex McLeod. I couldn't stand Alex. Nothing he did was likable or even considered nice because I somehow had such a bad opinion of him that when they mentioned how he made his mother happy by coming home, I thought, he didn't come home for his mother, he came back to get rich. He didn't sound like someone with any good intentions but then we only see him through Marta's point of view so that might somehow clouded my judgement of him.
    The bits with the Chinese immigrants was intriguing and I like having them there so that immigrants aren't just Americans or Germans, it's nice to have a mixture of different people but still, we see little of them as Marta didn't seem to have much interactions with them.
    Summary: This is a somehow slow book and kind of subtle in plot, that is, everything moves in a quiet kind of way. I'm not sure how to describe it but nothing moves too fast (expect perhaps the romance) and no excessive actions. The conflict is mostly internal and since we only get Marta's point of view, it's mostly her conflicts. Everyone's basically good here. I kind of like it but at the same time, it's rather too subdued for me. This is a clean, family friendly, love story with bits of religious tones and main adult characters at its most mature. And baking, lots of baking and there are recipes at the end of the book. I would say this is a cozy book that one can enjoy on a weekend but perhaps it might be too tame or too cozy for those looking for more conflicts and actions in their books. I enjoyed this but probably not as much as I would like.

December 29, 2022

Fiction: Not the end of the world

sky with double rainbow
This month's Words for Wednesday's is provided by Elephant's Child over here. This week's prompts are: wonderful, resilient, worse, pain, valid And/or this image:

Fiction: Not the end of the world

Henry woke up to find the world had changed. Pulling the curtains apart, he looked up at the sky through the windows. The double rainbow was something he had only seen once with his wife Patty. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. If Patty were here, she would say how wonderful and then she would make a wish and made him do the same thing. Then he would wish for all his wishes to come true and she would tell him that's selfish. He would just chuckle and say a wish is a wish.
    Rain started beating against the glass. He knew Patty would again have something good to say even if a tornado came around. She was a resilient optimist up until the end. Compared to her, he was the worse kind of pessimist. The kind who found pain a valid truth to life. Or else he would find an excuse to be grumpy.

December 27, 2022

Book Awards: Best & Worst Books of 2022

girl reading book
This list is completely biased because these are opinions and not facts. I cannot not write in lengthy explanations when I dislike a book but don't worry, you don't have to read what I wrote, just know I didn't like those books. The more I like a book, however, the less I seem to have to say so at least, I can be brief sometimes.

Worst books I read in 2022:

December 22, 2022

Thursday Thirteen: Some favorite quotes

Thursday Thirteen
Here are some of my favorite amusing, serious, dumb, smart, honest and intriguing quotes/passages from books I read, shows and movies I watched and anywhere else I read from. Visit other people's list at Thursday Thirteen here.

01 - "Truth, however bitter, can be accepted, and woven into a design for living."
-  The Hollow by Agatha Christie

02 - "Which comes first yesterday or tomorrow? All we know is that what we think of as past, present and future is nothing more than a story stitched together in our basal ganglia. Our entire concept of time is an artificial construct."
- from the tv show Perception

03 - “I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”
- The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe by Jane Wagner
04 - Two Girls: "How do you call yourself?"
Poirot: "Hercule Poirot."
Two Girls: "That's not a name, that's a noise."

- from the tv show Agatha Christie's Poirot

05 - "I don't obsess. I think, intensely."
- from the tv show Charmed, original version

06 - "I win not because I am a woman, because I am the boss."
- from the tv show The Six Million Dollar Man

07 - "For future reference: When I say I agree with you, it means I'm not listening."
- from the tv show Elementary

08 - “I wasn’t meant for reality, but life came and found me.”
- The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

09 - "When did we became adults? Even though we age, we still get flustered. We are still immature, we don't know much and we make a lot of mistakes. There are no adults in the world. Just children with wrinkles."
- from the Korean tv series, I do, I do

10 - “We had our breakfasts — whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder, it doesn't matter, you must have your breakfast.”
- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

11 - "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know I'm doing it really well."

- from the tv show Parks and Recreation

12 - "When you're young you got time
When you're old, you've built a life
In between you're just along for the ride
Nothing's in a straight line
Like the wrinkles on your eyes
Try to take it one candle at a time
When we turn 96
With a smile on our lips
I'll have nothing left to wish"

- lyrics from Pictures by Matt Nathanson from the album Boston Accent

13 - "Everything ends, and it's always sad. But everything begins again too, and that's... always happy. Be happy."
- from the tv show Doctor Who

December 13, 2022

Book Wish List

top ten tuesday

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is Books on my winter to-read list but I won't be doing that since I don't make to-read lists. Instead, here's a list of things I would like for books, a book wish list in a way. Everything I listed here is a preference because reading is a preference but I may change my mind on some of these. For more Top Ten Tuesday, visit That Artsy Reader Girl here.

01 - More friendship, less romance
— I like to know why romance is necessary because I haven't read a single book without romance in it unless it's a middle grade book and even then, there seems to be hints of it. I prefer a friendship story over a romance story any day but that isn't due to me hating romance or anything, I just prefer friends fighting over who gets the last pie over men/women fighting over each other.

02 - Less opened-ended endings  — Most books now seems to have more open-ended endings as if they are being prepared for a sequel which irks me. Even in a series, there should be closure. I think what annoys me more is when they introduce a new problem to interrupt the ending when it's clear it should have ended.

03 - Less vampires (and zombies) —  This is more of a personal preference but darn it, vampires annoy me. I find every paranormal or fantasy book are full of them, like authors must have vampires in their books or they can't call their book a fantasy. Considering there are books specifically about vampires, why they need to add this creature to books that really don't need them, I don't know.
    And zombies — seriously, I don't like to read them at all. But what I hate is when an author uses it to compare things. For example, "She longed for a donut like a zombie long for youknowhat" - do I need such an image especially since it's not even a horror book?

04 - Less pop culture references —  I'm not much into knowing all the trends and happenings and who's famous and all that so whenever there is a pop culture reference, most of the time, I don't know who or what they are referring. Maybe if a book takes place in a very specific time period I can understand the need to mention pop culture references, otherwise I see no reason to use them.

05 - Less future scenes to start a book — This is like flipping to the back of the book, read a bit, go back to the front of the book and then start reading. So I only read a few books with this kind of beginning but I really just don't like them. The future scene lures me to read the book because that's what I read when reading a sample of the book but it's such a letdown to find out I have to read 300 or more pages to get back to that scene and usually, I get never there because I lose interest and mostly because it seems like it's a whole different book.

06 - More back covers for ebooks — With an ebook, there is usually no back cover. When you've reached the very last page, a page pops up and asks you to rate the book but once in a while, it also asks you to rate a book even if it's not the last page of the book. If you use the content list and go to the chapter marked 'End', it will go to the end of the story, not the last page of the book.
    Maybe you can ignore the last few pages of a book because it's usually just the author's bio (which I actually like to read), a list of books the author has written, publisher's info/credits, advertisements or a list of content (this is rather strange but some ebooks have their content list at the end of the book). To me, a book does not end until I see the back cover. (I assume all ebooks of the same book would have the same amount of pages and the same no back covers but if I'm wrong, let me know). (Note: I read ebooks on a kindle. And I had only came across two or maybe three books with back covers and that's a couple of years of reading ebooks.)

07 - More books with good guys who are generally nice  — Good guys who are generally nice is probably boring to people and it might be a bit old fashioned as well but I like them. I don't think you have to be an asshole to be a badass and this goes for males and females. I prefer good guys who are actually good, not good guys who are considered good just because he/she does the right moral thing but still teeters on the edge of darkness. I call them assholes because most of the time, they behave like one. There seems to be a lot of series where the main lead is a general asshole but people still like those books and I don't understand it but then again, people also like serial killers as main characters so what do I know?

08 - Make book series shorter — Perhaps book series should be shorter as they seem to be getting way too long. I think a series should be three books or less with some exceptions. I see series that are 40 books long and I'm not going to read 40 books, I don't care how short they are. And the longer a series is, the more the reader have to spend but it's not the money, it's more like, who has time to read a long series? Or why do we need more than three books to tell a complete story?

09 - Make the first book in a series free  — Since most books are series, it makes sense to allow the reader to get the first book free. I always know if I want to read a series by reading the first book. Frankly, I don't go by the 'it gets better in book two' reading method because if I didn't care one bits about the first book, why would I read the second one?

10 - More standalones — Unless I count reading the first book in a series and quitting, I pretty much haven't read that many genuine standalones. I'm not saying there aren't a lot of standalones but in the types of books I read, there just aren't that many. Or maybe I just haven't found them? (I read a lot of fantasy, paranormal murder mysteries, regular murder mysteries, adventures, middle grade and once in a moon blue science fiction books.)

What bookish things do you wish for?

December 10, 2022

Zip Thru Autumn 12 & 13

tree with light snow
For December 7 -December 13, the suggested prompts are Dare and Chance. To me being daring means doing something that you're afraid to do. Well, I'm afraid of a lot of things so it pretty much means everything I do is sort of daring. I've been kindly and sometimes rudely, pushed to do daring things. For a couple of things, I have yet to decide if I would thank them but for most things, I am grateful. Introvert that I am, it's unlikely I would have done many things if not for others. Being daring is sort of hard for me but at least, I came out okay at the end.
    Is chance means luck? People think they have bad luck when bad things happen and maybe that's a way of seeing things and not necessarily true unless we believe them. I believe in luck but at the same time, I believe that I shouldn't believe it. What's that saying about you making your own luck? Well, maybe it's true in some situations because if you do nothing, then there's no good or bad luck. It's a belief, right?

For December 14 -December 20, the suggested prompts are Balance and Achievements in 2022. I don't have balance, certainly trying to put on pants is a challenge because I can never stand on one leg too long. I joke but there's so many saying about how to live a well balanced life but really, do we need to try for such thing? Focusing on what we do instead of how to keep balance is better.
    I can't think of any achievements I had in 2022 but then again, I forget a lot so maybe I did do something worth mentioning but I just can't remember it. But I do remember reading a lot of books (good and bad), made a few art pieces (with many still unfinished), wrote a lot of stories, did a lot of blogging, did a lot of thinking, and working - can those be called achievements? I like to think whatever you do is an achievement because you did it. Do we need to pat ourselves on the back for that? Do we need to highlight the great and not the bad? I think it's better not to think about what you have achieved, rather whether you had enjoyed in doing them.

This is the last of the
Zip Thru Autumn posts. I had enjoyed a few of the topics but mostly, I find, I have nothing much to say about them. This was a good challenge. Thanks to the people at the AtoZ blog for thinking this up and hosting it.

December 03, 2022

Books I Read in November 2022

I didn't do a lot of reading in November because I was again stressed out by work but mostly I just wasn't in the mood for reading or much of anything. Cold weather always make me not want to do things that are too active. Maybe I'm like bears, sleep through winter and then become active again when the weather gets warmer. Anyway, here are the books I read in November.

Cat Among the Pigeons (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1959) by Agatha Christie
01 - Cat Among the Pigeons (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1959) by Agatha Christie > link
This started out a little bland and you can't even begin to think where Poirot would show up or if at all. As these books aren't about the detective, one really shouldn't expect too much appearances from the detective but having the detective showing up at the end like he's a side character of sorts wasn't that great an idea. The mystery was okay but seemed a bit slow somehow.

Peril at End House (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1932) by Agatha Christie
02 - Peril at End House (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1932) by Agatha Christie
I read this same storyline in another Hercule Poirot book (though I can't remmeber which) where Poirot tried to prevent a murder but he didn't succeed and then he solved the murder. I suppose if I haven't been reading Hercule Poirot books I might find this more enjoyable to read.

Dead Man's Folly (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1956) by Agatha Christie
03 - Dead Man's Folly (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1956) by Agatha Christie
This was okay though I find the solution a bit farfetched but there were clues given that said otherwise but it was a bit harder to believe though at first but as with most mysteries, you don't really understand the whole of the story until you got to the solution.

The Big Four (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1927) by Agatha Christie
04 - The Big Four (A Hercule Poirot Mystery, 1927) by Agatha Christie
Poirot seemed more like a cop here. I really like this one it did see rather repetitious. [Spoiler: We get to know Poirot has a scar on his upper lips. For a few moments I did believe Poirot had a twin brother but then then I didn't. Though I really did like the idea. End Spoiler].

Dead Wrong (Agatha's Amish B&B Book 1) by Vannetta Chapman
05 - Dead Wrong (Agatha's Amish B&B Book 1) by Vannetta Chapman > link
The not using electricity and electronics like phones and computers would definitely make me not want to be Amish but here, the Amish character (the main character Agatha) uses just about anything as long as the Bishop approves - it really seems being Amish here is not really a big deal, perhaps a little meaningless at times but nevertheless, this was a decent read but perhaps it needs a little more editing.

Did you read any good books in November? How's your December going?

December 01, 2022

Thursday Thirteen: Meandering Thoughts

woman holding two cups of tea
The Tea Witch, 2022
I find a new meme that seems pretty easy. It's called Thursday Thirteen and all you do is just list 13 things on your choice of topics on Thursdays. Here are some meandering thoughts that I tried to be as brief as possible just to add a challenge. (The art above, The Tea Witch, was going to be used in a new about page but I haven't gotten around to it so I'm using it here.)  Visit other people's list at Thursday Thirteen here.

01 - I'm a comment slacker but I didn't mean to be. I try all the time to leave comments but I just seem unable to think of anything to say.

02 - Now and then google likes to test my patience by marking my comments on my blog as spam even though I'm signed in and it's my damm blog.

03 - This not being signed into Blogger blogs when you are signed into google's Blogger is annoying. I have to sign in every time I want to leave a comment on a blog.

04 - I saw a commercial for a phone that has the ability to erase with the swipe of our fingers whatever you don't want from the photo you take. This makes me wonder maybe soon there will not be an original photo posted on the web, at least, not one that wasn't altered in some way. Is this progress?

05 - Now that there's such things as Canva (a free-to-use online graphic design tool), I find being a graphic designer kind of not that great. They made it sound so easy to design everything with "no design experience required." If everyone just go get themselves a Canva account or something similar, then would people still need graphic designers? Of course those templates they offered were probably designed by graphic designers. (Canva link)

06 - "Grow a pair of ovaries" - is this good pep talk to a grown woman? It was in a certain book I've read this year. Does any female say this to themselves?

07 - These days, I have low expectations for books but still, it would be nice if writers stop writing about characters who does dumb things that makes readers think they are too stupid to live.

08 - Apparently, I've been lying to readers for years for saying I read science fiction books but it seemed I've only read maybe one or two science fiction a year. I do like a good science fiction now and then but somehow I never find any to read.

09 - One shouldn't wish for time to go faster because it solves nothing and yet, when one is so stressed out of their mind, a quicker passing of time might be a welcome thing.

10 - Do you know what makes work more stressful when you're on a deadline? When a giant fly keeps bugging you every time you try to do something.

11 - Blogs have long memory, that is, if you don't delete them.

12 - Don't you hate it when you look up a word in the dictionary, it defines it with the short version of that word?

13 - It just seem kind of suddenly very cold one day and that's when it really hit me that it's winter. I don't recall the transition this brutal last year or perhaps I have forgotten it?

Have you anything you want to share today?