"Never knowingly be serious. Rule 27.” — Doctor Who
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December 07, 2023

Fiction: Being sarcastic with ghosts

drawing-typewriter, coffee mug
This month's Words for Wednesday prompts are provided by Wisewebwoman and is hosted at Elephant's Child's blog over here. This weeks prompts are: oysters, herringbone, puffin, needle, broom and/or hummus, crochet, locket, sprocket, market. I didn't use the second half of the words.

~ Part 1, Part 2 ~

Fiction: Being sarcastic with ghosts (Part 3)

"Charles! Grab her before she hit her head again!" Sawyer's voice was vivid in the sudden silence. Black reached out and wrapped a hand around Seventeen's waist and held on. They rotated along with the turn of the van. A loud crushing sound and the van stopped on its side with the doors swaying opened. He lowered the girl down on the floor. The unconscious woman strapped to the gurney was still breathing. The professor and the kid ghost were wisely outside. Black crawled toward the front of the van. At the wheel, Jackson was unconsciousness but still breathing.
    "He's fine. It's Seventeen you have to worry about. The first hit on her head probably didn't do her any good." Sawyer leaned over the girl.
    Black picked up the walky-talky receiver and relayed a message for an ambulance and the location.
    "Uh-oh! Charles!" Sawyer pointed at the girl who was running out of the opened doors of the van. "Catch her! She's possessed!"

December 03, 2023

Fiction: Living with ghosts

drawing-typewrite, coffee mug

This month's Words for Wednesday prompts are provided by Alex J. Cavanaugh which is hosted at Elephant's Child's blog over here. This weeks prompts are: cobwebs, tiger, japan, black, cobblestones, hurt and/or atlantis, pyromania, guacamole, energetic, slither and slice. I didn't use tiger, japan, atlantis, slither, slice.

First part over here.

Fiction: Living with ghosts
"You again!"
    The ghost pushed up his black-rimmed eyeglasses with a bended finger. "This is an emergency! My wife is dying! Quick! You have to go save her!"
    "No. I don't." Seventeen kept walking. It was after ten at night. If she didn't need to pick up her pills at the hospital, she wouldn't be out at all. A few people were about. If anyone noticed she was talking to the air, they didn't give any indications.
    "My wife is in trouble. Someone is trying to kill her." The pyromaniac danced around her.
    "Then call the police." The freezing wind struck her like slaps on her face but she just sank her head lower into the collar of her black coat and kept walking.
    "Look, I know I was... sort of rude yesterday but this is really an emergency!" The ghost stepped in front of her.
    She paused. "Stop bothering me." She walked around him and ran toward the bus stop.

December 01, 2023

November 2023 - A few brief thoughts

drawing - girl with winged umbrella and flowers in the rain
wings & sunshine (revised 2023)
01 - I read a book! No, I didn't, I'm lying. The last book I read was in September but a two month 'no reading' gap is not a terrible thing, right? I only touched my kindle ereader to charge it because for some odd reason, it turned itself on and ran the battery down (there is no off button or option to shut down but you can supposedly turn off the screen which can sort of conserve battery life). It might have been updating itself which it does if you keep the wifi on and when it does that, it doesn't turn the screen off. I actually think not having an off button is quite stupid but apparently no device maker wants you turn off their devices because there is no off button on any devices.

02 - November was an unforgettable month. How can one forget when a cockroach jumped on your head and freaked you out? I'm a total scaredy cat so when that happened, I was in a horrible mood (also slightly weary and angry) for days. Of course in my fright, I squashed the bastard - what else are you to do in such situation? Do you try to kick it out of your home? Make friends with it? Coincidently I was writing a story with the word cockroach in it when it happened or was it not a coincident but a reminder not to write such things?

03 - I don't know why I bother posting these monthly updates/briefs. When I started them, I had wanted to talk about the books I have read and the little things that happened to me but I live such a mundane life that #2 is really the most interesting thing that happened to me in November - that, and buying bed sheets. It's like the most mundane and yet frustrating thing to do since you have to decide on thread counts, types of material such as cotton or flannel cotton, the sizes such as full, twin, queen, the type of sheets such as fitted or flat, the pricing etc., etc, real exciting stuff to share with my fellow bloggers...

04 - I have created a page with links of all the fiction stories I have posted on this blog. Making this list reminds me of how many stories I have not completed. I don't know why but I keep starting on new stories and forget to finish the previous ones. Is it a bad habit or just how I write? (The link is below the header under 'writings'. Or go here if you're too lazy to click above.)

How was your November? I hope December is being good to you.

November 24, 2023

Fiction: Conversations with ghosts

typewriter and cup of flowers

This month's Words for Wednesday prompts are provided by  Alex J. Cavanaugh which is hosted at Elephant's Child's blog over here. Last week's prompts are: specter, mountains, puppies, nature, cockamamie, burnt and/or carving, zombie, dongle, foliage, candlelight, crapulence. This weeks prompts are: sword, hogwash, cactus, ghost, silver, rivers and/or spirits, potato, nincompoop, indigo, gemstones, learning. I couldn't fit in 'rivers.'

Fiction: Conversations with ghosts

"You're a specter. You're dead. Get over it."
    "What do you mean I'm a specter? What cockamamie are you spewing? Do pigs fly now? Are mountains falling down? Has mother nature brew her tops and the world ended?"
    Seventeen stared at the slightly transparent ghost for a few moments trying to decide if she should answer the dumb questions or just punch him in the nose.
    "Ow!" He rubbed his nose. "Why did you punch me? And why did I feel pain and yet it was almost as if it didn't...happen." He looked up at her.
    It wasn't a nice feeling to touch a ghost but sometimes Seventeen have to make a point. Certainly the cold feeling was not nice. She sat back down and picked up the burnt toast and took a small bite. If only she could go to Tony's for breakfast.
    "Answer me!" The ghost furrowed his eyebrows.

November 07, 2023

Seven Things : Just some thoughts

drawing- girl brushing teeth
bonkers (color version), 2023, digital
01 - Review words/phrases I found quite amusing: (1) Rage-delete. Someone wrote in a book review they had to 'rage-deleted' an ebook because they hated it/got offended by it. I can understand this but seriously, when you're trying to delete a digital file which is you pressing down or poking at the screen several times, it's not as satisfying or as fast as throwing a physical book across the room because your e-reader will pause and ask you if you really want to delete the book. It's a safeguard so you don't accidentally delete a book but really unhelpful when you want to 'rage-delete' a book. I'm sure amazon would love to remove that option so people will have to re-purchase books.  (2) Badbutt - it seems badass is too much like cursing to this reviewer so badbutt it is.

02 - Youtube (which is owned by google) will now not allow you to use ad blockers so if you want to see videos for free, you have to allow ads. If you don't want ads, then, you have to pay 12 dollars a month which is just a bit too much. If they cut that in half, I would actually consider paying. Technically youtube is not free because people have to pay for wi-fi and electricity, it's not really that free but no one thinks about those things, do they?
    So far, the ads are okay but for some odd reason, they keep showing teeth or toothpaste ads which I really, really wish to never see. It's the one reason I started using ad blockers. I just hope they will not remove the 'skip ad' option because some ads are really, really annoying.

03 - Does a book lover always have to be reading? Can you love books and not do much reading? I still haven't been reading much and it's not a terrible thing. I didn't fall out of love for reading books, I'm just at a pause. I believe if you can't enjoy a book, you simply put it down. If you don't want to read, you simply not read. I'm just waiting for a good book to come along and put me back to my reading journey.

04 - I switched google email account for my Blogger blog but now I can't change the background of my comments to the light blue I always had no matter how I tweaked the template. So now my comments has a white background just like readers who leave comments on my blog. I know it's a small matter but I like to be identified as the blog owner responding to comments.

05 - Digital photography is great until you have to sort through 500 photos to pick out 50 or so and then it's just so damm too much work. Sometimes I have to do this for work. Often, I thought of blindly choosing photos by picking the first or the last 50 photos but that's kind of not doing the work so I don't do it but it really takes a lot of patience for this task which is especially annoying if they send you the notice to do this at about 4 pm and you have only an hour to do it even though it takes about 2 or more hours to actually sort the photos. And then, you have to resize the images for web use so, yeah, technology, really fun. At least most of time, it's 300 photos instead of 500.

06 - I now enjoy listening to a lot of music in Mandarin. Before, I kind of disliked listening to Mandarin songs because the sound of the words weren't appealing to me for some odd reason. This could be a side effect of watching one too many Taiwanese dramas because they played music all the time. But it could just be me. I don't actually understand Chinese all that well so most of the time, I don't know what the lyrics mean but I think you can enjoy music even if you don't understand the language. But I did look up some of the songs. Youtube had a lot of videos where Chinese songs are translated to English which I appreciated a lot.
    And album cover arts? They are increasingly getting amazingly ugly and even grotesque. At the iTunes store, I once saw a cover with a guy's head between someone's naked legs covering their private parts - is this what people called good album cover? I think I prefer a bland headshot of the artist instead.

07 - Who likes daylight saving time? There's all kind of explanations for this but no one seems to like the idea. I think I prefer more daylight in the winter, not in the summer. Every time we have to set our clocks forward or backward an hour, it screws up my sleeping pattern and then it takes me a month to adjust. It's too bad I can't just move to a country with no daylight saving time which there seems to be many.

What's on your mind these days?

October 31, 2023

October 2023 - Brief Review

dog ghost halloween costume
ghost dog

I'm posting early so I can show the above drawing. I'm thinking the dog above the other dog is standing on two legs but how to explain the eyes being so wide apart? Maybe he's an alien dog or two dogs or not a dog at all. Happy Halloween!
    All I did this month is draw, listen to music and did some work, nothing remotely exciting to highlight in great detail. I read a few book beginnings but I didn't finish any of them. I don't seem to have any motivation to read much. I hardly did any writing. It had been a mild October. I consider still being around to do these posts as a good thing even if I have nothing exciting to show or to say.
How is your October? I hope November is good to you.

October 13, 2023

Inktober 2023 - Week 1 & 2

monsters and flowers title
October is the month for Inktober in which artists try to draw with ink so that's what I'm going for this month. But I'm not going to use the prompts. So basically, I'm just drawing. But I'm going with a theme - Monsters and Flowers. I have a love for flowers although most of the time, I have no clue of flower names but I love them. I have a calendar for this year with flower art and one day I just saw a monster there and drew it and then I decided to do more. I used the term monster but it's more like awkward-looking creatures. (I'm using Pigma Micron archival ink pens.  The color in #3 is done by a sharpie which I am unlikely to use again since it had a scent I don't like.) If you like to know more about Inktober, go here.

October 05, 2023

September 2023- A brief review

drawing-books, tv, plant
September was okay. I read two books with search and rescue dogs but I kind of wish I didn't. I don't think I like reading much these days. I started a lot of books but couldn't seen to want to read them. I did some writing, watched some shows that are forgettable, did some work and other other things I can't remember but it wasn't a bad month. Here are the two books I read in September.

Without a Trace (Rock Harbor Series Book 1) by Colleen Coble
01 - Without a Trace (Rock Harbor Series Book 1) by Colleen Coble > link
There are way too many head hopping/perspectives and one or maybe two of them really wasn't even necessary as they provided nothing more to the story. The main female character assumed too much without evidence. A good investigator suspects everyone and everything but I don't even know why she is a main character since she's not much good at solving anything. The mystery mostly solved itself. Another main character is a love interest of the female character but even he seemed like a secondary character. I think with all these perspectives, it makes a reader wonder who the main characters are supposed to be. I only know she's the main, main character because of the synopsis. There were other mysteries and search and rescue situations but they were mostly forgettable. A bit too much talks about god/preaching which I should have expected but I didn't know it was a Christian book which really wouldn't have matter if they didn't send the same message too many times. I didn't much care for any of the main characters nor the other secondary main characters. What I like is mostly the dogs Samson and Charley - they are the best part of the book and yet, they are minor characters. I doubt I would read the other books in the series.

Scent of Fear (Scent Series Book 1) by NJ Litz
02 - Scent of Fear (Scent Series Book 1) by NJ Litz > link
A bland romance, a female lead with the usual tragic past that she can't get over, an annoying male lead who liked to keep his women's heart racing (?), a murder mystery that is so-so and probably there to get the female and male lead together - are these the elements of a good book? I'm going have to say no.
     The writing have plenty of odd-choosing words which was probably chosen to make the writing more interesting or add more character to it? I don't know. I just found the author used words that are the right meaning but somehow seemed to be incorrect or didn't quite sound right to me but it could be me, I don't have a vast vocabulary. There is also an excessive use of metaphors. And everyone doesn't move quickly or run, they 'hustle' which I thought wasn't the right word for the atmosphere but then again, with this writing, it's almost fitting.
      I disliked the male lead so much that I had wished he was the killer - this would actually make sense because his character made me think he would do such a thing since he sounded like a jerk who is a bit too overly confident about women but had no clue when it comes to his daughter. He is frustrated with her and yet, he does nothing but get angry at her and when's not angry at her, he sends her off to be taken care of by others. I think it's odd he should be more patient with criminals but didn't take the time to understand his daughter. For a cop with experience, he didn't think criminals would be smart enough to have a backup escape plans nor going into an operation, he didn't check to see if there are escape routes criminals can get out. And for a cop, I would think he would be more open-minded and hold judgement on a person and not judge them by their relation to another. If we didn't have his perspective, if we only see him through the female lead's eyes, I probably would think he's an okay guy but being in his head, he comes off as a judgmental jerk and a womanizer.
    When the female lead thought the way to the male lead's heart is to capture the serial killer, I thought that's the lamest excuse to catch a killer. She's not doing it to get justice, oh no, not her. I don't believe for a moment these two characters are in love. She might like the guy but he just wanted somebody so he wouldn't be alone.
    The only two things I like about this book is (1) the idea that the female lead can sense emotions through scents. They don't explain her ability too well but I'm sure sensing someone's emotions does not mean she can blindly identify someone. For example, how could she have known the male lead was behind her when all she got is his emotions? If it had been just his scent, then perhaps she could know it was him but we are talking about emotions which she identifies as being all the same even coming from different people but whatever. And (2), the dogs - Jax and the dogs in training. But neither one make me want to read the other book.

How was your September? I hope October is good to you.

September 23, 2023

Some thoughts on Jigsaw Puzzles

jigsaw puzzles
One of my favorite hobby is jigsaw puzzles which I don't do often but I've always enjoyed them. Usually people start a puzzle by putting the edges together and begin from there. I've done that but now I prefer to pick a piece from the middle and build the puzzle around it - it's more challenging that way. But the edge method is definitely a good way to start if you don't know any other way.
    Here are some puzzles I had finished over the years and what I think of them in no particular order. I didn't include the level of difficulty for each puzzle as I think that depends on the person but these definitely aren't for younger children as the pieces are rather too small.

01 - Disney Tangled
> link
Artist: Thomas Kinkade
Brand: Schmidt
Pieces: 1000
Packaging: Cardboard box shrink-wrapped with puzzle pieces in sealed plastic bag
Puzzle Dust: minimum
Thoughts: I think Schmidt's brand have one of the best quality puzzle pieces I've ever encountered though they are pretty expensive. This particular Tangled puzzle is a bit difficult to do as there are so many similar pieces but the artwork is great. I especially like the puzzle pieces are kind of matted so it didn't have shine to them. This is definitely one of my favorite artwork but I love all things Tangled. (If you like this artwork but want to spend less, Ceaco have a version of this same puzzle.)

September 08, 2023

August 2023 - A brief review

August was a slow and yet, quick month. I had been lazy, only that, work made one un-lazy somehow. The weather had been a bit mixed - one day, it was hot, the next, it was cool. Often, my brain can't shut off so on some nights I'm awake thinking about things but mostly worrying for no reason but also, the heat kept me awake. I don't enjoy summer because of the heat but more because of mosquitos/flies/insects tend to bite me for no reason. The strange thing was, I didn't see that many mosquitos/flies/insects around and I'm hardly outside so how could I have been bitten so many times?
    I might have had watched a bit too many Chinese shows last month so that I can learn Mandarin but honestly, it's just an excuse to watch more television because my brain can't seem to learn new things, especially new languages. I think if I had started learning mandarin when I was kid, I might actually have been able to learn it but now it's rather difficult but I did learn a few phrases.
    Reading was not as enjoyable as usual. Somehow I just couldn't get interested in any book to finish it. I read so many samples, they can kind of accumulate into 10 or more books. Every sample I read is terrible or boring or I'm correcting the writing or I just didn't like it. Maybe I'm sick of reading or maybe I haven't found a book worth finishing.
    For most of August, I've been working on three writing projects but even though I did write a lot, it's still not a lot. I write about ten to twenty minutes or so at a time and then somehow I loose the motivation to continue which is a habit that I couldn't fix. Lately, I think too much on a story but write very little. All this equals to not a lot of writing done but I at least, I got some ideas down.

Agatha Christie jigsaw puzzle.
The only thing I've finished in August (besides work projects which I will not talk about here), was a Agatha Christie jigsaw puzzle. I really liked this puzzle but I kind of wish the art wasn't so symmetrical because it's no fun if all the pieces are too similar. For info about this puzzle, go here.

How was your August? I hope September is good to you.

August 23, 2023

Seven Things : Some Ramblings

01 - I have changed my post background color into a very light shade of blue. I've found the white to be too white for my eyes to read the text. If you're like me and have to look at the screen almost every single day, I think a less white background makes it easier. I also make bold text in the darker blue instead of the regular blue. Do people think about these things?

02 - Have you ever got a letter from your bank asking if you're still alive? They didn't word it like that but you get that message. I might have freaked out a bit about losing all my savings to the government as they will turn the money over to them if I didn't confirm my living status. I have no idea that if you leave your savings account untouched for two or more years, they would think you're dead. It's natural to think that way. We are constantly spending. And that's life. It has been months and I should have forgotten this letter but I didn't. It's kind of crazy but it made me think of my mortality and it sort of made me depressed for a week, maybe two.

03 - When a book is bad and everyone said is bad, then why does everybody wants to read it? I guess I can understand enjoying books that are bit trashy or even badly written but where is the enjoyment exactly? And why do bad books become so popular that everyone wants to read it? I enjoy writing reviews about bad books but I don't enjoy them as reading material.

04 - I don't like cursing in books, that is, mainly the use of the four letter F word unnecessarily. When a character is angry and they curse and use the F word, it's fine but using it for no other reason is sort of pointless. So yes, using the F word does suggest a strong dislike or strong emotions for something but most of the time, I find, it's totally unnecessary.
    I read or rather I half-read a book where the characters used two curse words, damm and sh*t over and over as if they had never heard of any other curses. Here the absence of the F word is surprising to me especially it's the sort of books that could easily use that word and it would fit in with the characters. So why are some authors so freely use the F word and others don't? I don't understand it. But I'm a prude so...

05 - I've come to think I am no longer good at my job. I keep doubting myself and thinking is this done correctly? I had to go research online to be certain everything is done correctly. (I'm a graphic designer by the way.) There's always a chance for mistakes. I corrected them but it doing so, it made me miserable. I would quit but I don't know. It's tough trying to make a living but I know I have it better than most people but it's hard to erase your own fears and doubts.

06 - Watching romantic comedies depresses me and I guess it's why I prefer watching crime and mysteries (or what I often refer to as crime and miseries). To enjoy a show is to immerse yourself in other people's lives and I guess other people's happy ending, especially of a couple, sort of make my life seem rather dull and meaningless as a single person. But I still somehow enjoy watching these romantic comedies but I don't watch them often.

07 - EBook samples — I used to go to book stores and randomly (well, I do go to the fiction section), and choose a book with a good title or an interesting cover and read a page or two but not the beginning, rather the middle of the book. With ebook samples, you can't do that. Ebook samples only offer the beginning of the book which are usually the copyright notice & such, maybe a dedication or some notes from the author, chapter listing and then a chapter or two and if there is a prologue, that too.
    You can judge to read a book by these beginning samples but I find it's not enough or rather, perhaps something from the middle of the book or quarter way would have been better. But I think they only offer the beginning of the book so that if you like, you can buy the book and continue reading. (I read mostly kindle books.)
    But I suppose a sample of the beginning of the book is better than none. I had encountered one or two books where the sample is mostly just copyright notices, some notes and a list of chapters but nothing of the actual book so you don't even get a sense how it is written. I think chapter listing is kind of useless as a book sample because most books just have chapter 1, chapter 2, etc so it's quite unhelpful.
Anything on your mind? Do share them in the comments.

August 20, 2023

Book beginnings I dislike

an opened book with 'Once upon a time...'
A good beginning is important because if I am not interested in what I'm reading, I wouldn't continue. Of course, it's all about personal preference because what one reader dislike, another will like. And I'm not saying I wouldn't read a book with these beginnings but I don't like them all that much. Here are a few book beginnings that I dislike.

01 - When a character wakes up and shows us how their morning or day routine with a bit of backstory — Unless they get eaten by a dinosaur about a quarter-way through or something, I would find this beginning a bit boring. So yes, a main character's life can be interesting but if that's all there is, I guess I got too short attention span to enjoy such a beginning.

02 - A dream sequence
— Any dream, no matter how exciting, is still a dream and so it wouldn't really be the story even if it show the fears/aspirations of the main character. Also, I find this way of starting a book as some type of fake out by making the reader think one thing and then boom, it's all a dream. Who likes that?

03 - World building right from the start
— Much like #1 but with more focus on the setting and how that world works. As much as I like to know about a world, I wouldn't want to read a whole bunch of info dump right from the start.

04 - Start with an exciting event from a character's point of view whom we will not hear from again — To be clear, we do hear from this character again but not in the same way. This character is more of an ignitor, someone involved in a single event which impacted the story or is the story. For example: We get to witness a character's murder but that character is never heard of again aside from that he had been murdered and his murder is the start of the story or is the story.
    I was often disappointed to have read such a good start but the rest of the book was often dull. And sometimes this beginning makes the reader get attached to the character but the character is not in the story which is disappointing. So maybe not all books with this beginning have a dull story but I haven't read one that wasn't.

05 - Start with a future scene
— This one I had read so many times that I'm beginning to find this annoying. A future scene and then start the story some hours/days/weeks/months/years before that scene. I see this as an editing kind of beginning because this is used a lot in television shows which works fine because it usually takes half an hour or an hour to get back to that scene but in book form, it either takes 200 or more pages or it takes the entire book which if you calculate reading time, it could be 7 or more hours. Who has the patience for that? And besides that, this future scene can be confusing sometimes because it has no end or beginning. But I'm not saying I wouldn't read a book with this beginning, I just wish readers didn't have to read so much to get back to this future scene.

How about you? What book beginnings do you dislike? Or are you a reader who can enjoy all book beginnings?

August 12, 2023

How much bad writing can you tolerate?

opern book, three book stack and cup of tea
I read a sample of a fantasy book which was so badly written (odd and confusing sentence structure, unfinished sentences, repeat of unnecessary words, even an error on the book title, etc.) that I started correcting it as I read. Then I went to check on the reviews and there were 300+ good reviews and only 14+ people said the book needed editing. Is this the norm now? How could there be 300+ good reviews for a book this badly written? It was a 600+ page book which means there would be a lot of grammar errors that cannot be easily ignored. So I like to know: how much bad writing can a reader tolerate or how much bad writing can a reader tolerate before they give up on a book?
    For me, if I am correcting the writing that means I'm not focusing on the story so I would give up on that book after a few chapters or when I had enough. I would tolerate a badly-written book if I can enjoy the story but it is distracting when the writing needs to be re-read a few times to correctly understand what was written. Bad writing is bad writing, you can't hide that.

As a reader, how much bad writing can you tolerate? Or how much bad writing can you tolerate before you give up on a book?

August 03, 2023

Fiction: Sandwiches, flatware & murder

typewriter and cup of flowers
This month's Words for Wednesday prompts are provided messymimi over here. This week's prompts are: flatware, season, resist, combine, second, breakdown and/or bottom, shame, spine, dinner, offense, front. I don't know what prompted me to write this story. Perhaps from watching too many crime shows or perhaps the prompts? I used all the words.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Fiction: Sandwiches, flatware & murder

She liked her flatware to be useful for any occasion or season. Knives were especially her favorite kind. They were well made and practical. The steak knife, for instance, was considered to be the sharpest of all table knives and perhaps the most useful. Two years ago, a steak changed her life. Since then, she preferred her steak knife to have a 6.5 inch blade with a smooth handle.
    A month before the wedding, she had resisted visiting the house but the stress of making decisions by herself combined with losing her one and only assistant was enough for her to have a breakdown. But then she reminded herself, no one would notice if she moved a sofa six inches closer to the window. But no matter how she reasoned it, she knew if she didn't go and check again the things that worried her, she might go crazy.
    While standing on the front steps and holding the house key in her hand, she had a strange feeling she should not go in and yet, her feet carried her up the few steps and her hand unlocked and opened the door.
    She entered the small entryway, took off her shoes and stepped inside. There was no one there but the furniture. But something caught her eye. At the bottom step of the stairs that led to the second story was a red, silk dress. Something she would never wear.
    She paused and stared at the dress. Was it shame that first entered her mind? No. Nothing like that. She was slightly embarrassed but that was natural. People often thought she was a complete prude and someone lacking a spine. They never thought she would take offense if you did something bad to her or against her. She was too proper, too kind, too weak and too meek but full of goodness. She was known for her perfect but stylish interior designs. And sandwiches. She made the most delicious sandwiches. Everyone wanted her sandwiches for their wedding. Everyone liked her but no one knew her.
    A noise made her looked up at the stairs. An intruder perhaps? She went to the kitchen where everything had been meticulously arranged. First, she studied the cutting knives and then the table knives. Yes, one of those will do. She returned and climbed the stairs.
    They were in their nightclothes in bed with the sheets halfway over them. Their eyes were staring up at the ceiling. At first, she thought they were sleeping but who sleep with their eyes wide opened?
    Hours later, she sat in the livingroom answering questions after questions. The police were quite inquisitive. Yes, she knew the couple, she was their decorator and wedding chef. Naturally they gave her a key. She got the knife from the kitchen because she feared there might be an intruder. No, she didn't know the couple was going to be there nor why they were there. They weren't to come until next month after their wedding. As for the sandwiches, they wanted some samples but she sent them yesterday to the husband-to-be's office. No, she didn't know the couple too well, probably six months but she heard the man had a violent streak. After the police had exhausted her, they let her go home.
    A few weeks afterward, she saw them on the news. They showed the picture of the not-yet-married but dead couple in their wedding photo. There was no foul play and the police concluded it as murder-suicide. The woman stabbed the man with a steak knife and then herself. Rumor was the man was cheating on her.
    Yet, another murder solved. She was beginning to be good at this. She should probably change careers. It did bore her sometimes how predictable the husbands and wives-to-be were. Especially the man. She would always know which ones would go bad after the wedding. Still, she loved decorating houses and  selecting flatware was a delight to her and until she lost that enjoyment, she would continue on. First, she must make dinner to celebrate another failed marriage averted and to perhaps test out a new butter knife.

August 01, 2023

July 2023 - a brief review

drawing-girl reading
home 2, 2023
01 - July was an okay month. The first half I was busy with work and the second half I was just having a lazy summer. It's hot here on my side of the world, very hot with rain and thunder storms every few days. It's like mother nature decided to combine summer with spring. I don't mind it all that much. Sure, it's weird to suddenly rain when it's bright and sunny but what can we do?

02 - I re-read a lot of books. When I re-read a book, I skip the parts that I dislike. I don't think re-reading them would make me like them even if I keep re-reading a few hundred more times. I do find I enjoy re-reading classic books more than the modern releases but maybe because of the archaic language though everything is longer. In such a rush-rush world, I don't mind long books.
    I also re-watch a lot of old tv shows and I may have seen some movies but they were forgettable. Not to say I didn't enjoy them, just that sometimes when you consume familiar things, your mind kind of already absorb everything without too much thinking. I'm sure I did others things but I don't remember. I think I was kind of distracted for no reason..

03 - Have blog, will attempt to blog: that's my motto in July. According to my blog archive, I only posted three posts in July which isn't bad. At least it's more than two. I hadn't a month where I posted below three posts which I kind thought is a good thing. So yes, I'm blogging less and less but I've accepted that's the way it's going to be and that's that.
How was your July? I hope August will be good to you.

July 24, 2023

Fiction: Miss Grace and the Bet

typewriter and cup of flowers
This July's Words for Wednesday is hosted by Charlotte at Uglemor-Mother Owl's Musings over here. The week of July 12 prompts are: Scarf, Flower, Shoes, Pick, A bevy of quail, Leaves, And/or Branches, Unlucky, Wind, Major, Gnome, Fingers. The week of July 19 prompts are: Dates, Plan, A wedge of geese, Door, Shovel, Enemy, And/or Huff and puff, Clock, Treasure, A knot of toads, Invention, Sure. I used the first set of the two week's prompts except for A bevy of quail which somehow I couldn't use so I used quail only. (Note: This is set in the same village as the previous story (link here) but you don't have to read that.)

Fiction: Miss Grace and the Bet

On a late January night, Mrs. Monday woke after an alarming dream - Query St. James's only baker, Mr. Hornsblower, was attacked in his bakery. Mrs. Monday got out of bed, wrote a note and despatched her housekeeper's grandson to take it toward the bakery.
    When Mrs. Monday woke in the morning, she thought of going to the bakery but it was early and Mr. Hornsblower always kept late hours. After Mrs. Monday had her breakfast, her neighbor, Mrs. Quail, came to call. She was known to talk extensively. Mrs. Monday didn't much care for the lady but she was full of information. Whether or not Mr. Hornsblower had read her note, Mrs. Monday would never know for the man had fleet before dawn and was not seen by anyone afterward. The next day, Mrs. Quail came to Mrs. Monday again with the news that the bakery had been sold and already the new owner had plans to re-opened the shop.

July 17, 2023

2nd Blog Anniversary

art-girl reading surrounded by books & things
home, 2023
Today, July 17, 2021, is the 2nd year since I started this blog so I thought I share some thoughts on blogging.

01 - Blog anniversaries — I've been celebrating every blog anniversary and every time I reached 100 or 200 or more posts for every blog that I have actively blogged in but these days, I don't know if it's all that important anymore. But reaching such milestones is kind of an accomplishment for me. I have a (maybe) terrible habit of changing url's. I don't want to say I have settled here (on this blog) but I guess I did sort of arranged the so-called furniture in their proper place and may have tweaked everything about a million times but it's my blog home.

02 - Commenting — I believe blogs are for readers so I would never turn off comments. But I did once thought of turning off comments because it's a bit of work sometimes because I like to reply to all the comments left on my blog as a way to let readers know I have read/noted their comments. Not to say all bloggers have to reply to comments but if there's a question, I think that comment deserves a reply
    I know of one blogger who turned off comments so that if a reader wants to say something referring to one of their posts, they would have to send an email which is not necessary a bad thing. Some bloggers do prefer replying to comments by email (mostly Wordpress users) but you can't really do that with Blogger as some user had set it so that their email cannot be used for email replies.    I prefer to reply to comments in the posts so that conversations can carry on better as I think readers will have forgotten what they had read but mostly, I reply too late for anyone to remember what they had read.

03 - Is blogging on the decline? — I guess in some way blogging is on the decline seeing how people always list their social media places (ie, facebook, instagram, twitter, etc.) rather than a blog link or even a website. New social media keeps coming on and the list of icons keep increasing and yet, no one is quitting any of those social media. I've not seen anyone announcing a new blog or website for a long while but I think as long there are people blogging, there will always be blogs around.

04 - What have I learned in these years of blogging? — I like to say I have learned a lot and then proceed to list those lessons but I have forgotten all of them. I think the important thing is to just do what you like, it's your blog. And don't be an asshat even when people are rude. Okay, maybe a tiny bit if someone's particularly being an asshat themselves.

05 - Still enjoy blogging — I still enjoy blogging but maybe not as much as I used to compare to ten years ago. I suppose my blog (whatever the url) changes along with me or rather with my mood. These days, it wouldn't bother me much to not blog for a long while. I'm not on any social media so the only place you'll find me is here on my blog and probably will be for a long while unless google decides to shut down Blogger. There are other platforms, yes, but, they are not the same.

If you're a blogger, do you still enjoy blogging? Or if you're only a reader, do you still enjoy reading blogs?

July 06, 2023

June 2023 Books & Shows

books, mini tv set and plant
During June, I didn't have much desire to read or do much so my usual fallback habit whenever I'm unmotivated, I watch a lot of tv shows, most of them shows I have already seen. I guess a person's state of mind and taste changes as they grow older because the shows I used to love, I sort didn't love them as much. For this reason, I don't re-read books as much as I used to since I might not like them anymore. Anyway, it was a lazy month if I don't count work. Here are the media's I consumed in June 2023:

Books I read:

The wonderful wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
01 - The wonderful wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum > link
In the introduction, Baum stated, it's a 'modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out' - so did the book live up to this expectation? Probably but having men/animals/creatures getting their limbs and heads chopped off seemed like a nightmare to me although there was no specific details of these chopping but it was told in a blunt way so you clearly could not mistake it for what it was. And didn't Dorothy had heartaches because she constantly longed for home even though that home was grey and dull? But I do think there is wonderment and joy in meeting the four travelers - Dorothy, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow and their friendship was endearing. And Toto was great too. I really like the beginning but then the story sort of have repeated themes so you know exactly what's going to happen next but still, it was a decent read. Although I like the movie more though it isn't like the book all that much.

Writing the cozy mystery by Nancy J. Cohen
02 - Writing the cozy mystery by Nancy J. Cohen > link
It's a short book so most things are summed up which I actually liked as I found long explanations often not as helpful. The useful bits are at the beginning as the last few parts of the book are about publishing and publicity and social media. Since I've been writing for years, this wasn't all that useful but I think it's useful for checking to see if the book you're writing have all the right elements. As I found most how-to books subjective, they are only useful if you find the information useful otherwise it's just another book.

Shows I Watched:

Unnatural - tv show
03 - Unnatural > link
The subject matter of deaths, murders, and dead bodies can be overwhelming but I thought this was a good show but sadly too short with only ten episodes.

Don't call it mystery tv show
04 - Don't call it mystery
> link
This was quite an intelligent show and made you think about so many things about life and death. And the main character is quirky and fun although he might thought of himself as a serious-minded individual, he's just delightful. I enjoyed this although death and murder is not really something to enjoy but this was quite a thoughtful show.

Sell your haunted house tv show
05 - Sell your haunted house
> link
This was good and I liked it but didn't love it. I like that they didn't try to make a romance out of the two leads as I think it didn't need it. It seemed like they might make a second season like all shows with a sort of opened-ended ending but at least they completed the larger plot.

Ms Ma, Nemesis tv show
06 - Ms Ma, Nemesis
> link
This is an adaptation of a few of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple novels with a larger plot about a woman being accused of murdering her daughter. I really liked the smaller mysteries (most of them plots from Miss Marple books) more than the larger plot which sometimes overwhelmed the show and if the viewer suddenly forgot it, it will remind them with a little tibit with a scene from the past.
    Ms Ma is liked Miss Marple with her knack for solving mysteries and she even knits but she's a loose representation as her concern is more with who killed her daughter. At 32 episodes, I thought there would more mysteries for Ms Ma to solve but no, the larger plot kept getting in to remind us that's not what they show is about. There is a twin theme running throughout or at least, I thought so since there are many instants about it. Overall a good show but definitely not a cozy mystery.

How was your June? I hope July is being good to you.

June 22, 2023

Seven Things

strawberry lemon drink -drawing
My favorite summer drink is strawberry lemonade which is why I drew that above.

01 - New header — I think a change even something as small as a blog header is always refreshing and brings new life and energy to a blog or so I believe but it doesn't matter why. Sometimes a change is just a change. 

02 - Writing and not posting — I write a lot of drafts but they don't get posted as I didn't finish them. I don't know why but I can't finish a lot of them. Sometimes what you thought was a good idea and then you check back later and find the idea is just not as good as before. But I don't know what's good these days. I only post what interest me and maybe one or two people. Who knows what one gets interest until they happen to come across them. I'm certainly a bad judge since I pretty much dislike most things.

03 - Reading Jane Austen is a bit boring now — So maybe it's not her books that are boring but maybe one particular a book I'm currently trying to finish. Mansfield Park is the only finished novel of Austen's I haven't read (I'm not interested her early or unfinished works). I've tried reading Mansfield Park three times before this but never got far enough. The more I read, the more boring it seems to me. I'm wondering if I was influenced by the movie I saw (It was the version starring Frances O'Connor). That movie was awful and it made it seemed like Edmund settled for Fanny because she was the last viable choice and that he didn't really love her all that much. And there was a bit about slavery that was a bit unsavory and thankfully I didn't see the version with the very risque sex scene.
    Reading about rich, snobbery people and the mundane things they do is kind of boring. And Fanny, well, she's just there now and then. We get to know her feelings and her thinking but basically, she might as well be a background character that people thought about when necessary. Edmund seems to care for her but honestly even he forgets her existence from time to time when he is with a pretty lady. And there are so much dialogues, some of them are a bit inane. But I only read up to chapter 13 so perhaps I should hold judgement. Right now, I don't seem to want to continue reading it.

04 - No more (unintentional) TBR pile — I've removed all the books I haven't finished reading off my kindle. Those books have been there for years so it was time to give them up. I don't make to-be-read lists but I seem to have unintentionally made a TBR list by accumulating these ebooks. I did  want to read them at the time I brought them though most of them were free or 99 cents so I don't feel bad giving them up. But if I have brought them as paper books (which would be more expensive), I don't know if I would have given them up as easily.

05 - Library books — I'm actually not reading a lot of library books even with a kindle and their large selections. And now I'm having issues renewing my virtual card. I'm not sure I want to renew it as I have to do it every year because you can't get a permanent library card without going to an actual brick and mortar library which I did try but I'm too annoyed by the people to try again. But I'm barely reading these days.

06 - Lazy blogging?
— I haven't been doing a lot of commenting on blogs or posting because of work but that's an excuse. I can set aside a time to blog but somehow whenever I have to schedule anything, it feels like work so it's why I don't schedule anything unless I have to. I think there's joy in not doing things on schedule but I suppose that's another way of saying I'm lazy. After blogging so many years, I find I'm less active in blogging although I still would like to blog more but I lack the motivation. It's one of those vicious cycle of my life - I lack motivation when I want to do things. I can't do anything about it but try to conquer it somehow but I'll probably continue on with my lazy blogging.

07 - Lazy summer — It always seems to me summer is a more relax season, a time to do less and be lazy. It's just too bad we don't all go on vacation during the summer. Even as I worry about being unproductive, I think just being lazy sometimes can be good for you so say the lazy person (me). True or not, let's all have a relax summer (or winter if you're on the other side of the world).

Got anything you want to share today? Leave them in the comments.

June 13, 2023

Highly Specific Reasons For Not Continuing A Book Series

opern book, three book stack and cup of tea

I'm not saying these are good reasons but as a reader, I have a right to quit a series for whatever reason however good or bad or just plain unreasonable. Here are some of my reasons for not continuing a book series:

01 - Knowing the villain is going to be resurrected — I was surprised by the first resurrection, than was annoyed by the second resurrection so a third resurrection just makes me so damm annoyed so I decided I can't read the series anymore. What was the point of killing off a villain if you're just going to bring them back each and every time?

02 - Main character (and story structure) remains exactly the same — For most mysteries where we get almost nothing about the main character (usually the amateur sleuth or the detective), I wouldn't expect any type of change to them but we get told in great details about the main character's life and their aspirations so it's reasonable to expect some change, right? But seven books in and there's no change. So book series are getting longer but I honestly don't want to read 20 books for a change.

03 - Main character is extremely condescending to the other main character — So maybe this is a bit odd but I don't know. I just think if two people are equal partners and friends, then one of them shouldn't be so condescending to the other even if the other chose to accept being treated badly. I wouldn't call it bullying but these are children characters which I thought made it worst. If the second character is a sidekick, maybe it might be easier to accept but then again, I don't believe friends should treat each other like crap even if one of them is superior than the other.

04 - Disturbing themes/violence against women
— I'm too much of a prude so often I find dark themes far too disturbing than most people. What I didn't like for one particular series was there was rather a lot of disturbing ideas and most of them are against women. Somehow, it's more disturbing to me probably because I'm a female but generally, I'm sure a lot of people would be disturbed too.
05 - Not what was expected — The author made a note about making a story 'as close to reality as possible' and I guess I have a different expectation from that. Based on the first two books, the 'as close to reality as possible' meant the equipments being used, daily life stuff, location details, etc. are all realistic but apparently, not for the main character. For a character who is a normal human with no special powers, no special healing abilities, no special mental strength (this one, I might accept as some people are mentally stronger than others), just survived almost being killed several times and ended up with some body aches and a headache and returned to work the next day - is that reality? So yes, this is fiction but promising to make a story as close to reality as possible should also mean the characters and not just the settings and background details, right?
    I guess I was more annoyed by this note since it's at the beginning of the books. If they had left it out, it would be perfectly fine but by making this note, the author is making a promise. If they had said 'as close to reality as possible but not for the characters', then maybe I would accept this without any annoyance. This could possibly be a dumb reason not to continue a series but I don't care.

06 - Added romance
— So this might also be a dumb reason not to continue a series but when I read a series and there was no suggestion of a romance, I just kind of like it to stay that way. But I was more annoyed by who was chosen for the main character to have the romance with. It's kind of terrible how book blurbs give so much away that sometimes reading them makes me not want to read a book.

07 - Couldn't stand the main character
— If I'm reading a book and I keep wishing for the main character's demise, then it's a sign I shouldn't bother continuing the series. Other people can read a book and didn't have to care about the main character but for me, I have to care somehow or else it's meaningless to read it.

08 - Break up a couple just so the main character can start anew in a different location — I don't get this but maybe because I like the couple. The excuse was so the main character can grow on their own which makes sense but at the same time, I can't help but think, they dump the romantic partner for a pretty lame reason because who says a person can't grow while in a relationship? (As evident by the 5 books.) It would have been better to kill the romantic partner which would probably be a good idea for that particular series and then they can find the killer together and then end that relationship but no, they want the boring, lame breakup which I'll never accept.

09 - Fake out — What I meant is when the book blurb (and even the story itself) suggested it will give answers but then it turned out it was a fake out! Maybe they shouldn't have bother going with this particular storyline and made the readers thought they would get answers and instead got the door slammed in our faces. It's the third book so I think it's reasonable to expect answers but the heck with it. I won't even care I didn't get the answers, I'm just annoyed by the way the book misled me.

10 - Didn't like the first book — To me, the first book sets the standard for the other books in the series so I most likely will not like the other books if I didn't like the first one. When people say it gets better in the second or even the third book, I have to wonder, why didn't it get better in the first book? Usually, the first book is the best one and the second or third is the lousy one so how could that got reversed? I think finishing the first book is giving the series a chance. Any more than that, means a longer commitment and who has the patience to read two or three crappy books to get to the good one?

What stops you from continuing a book series?

June 11, 2023

Some thoughts on reading Agatha Christie

home library with a body -artwork
The body in the library (2023)
One new author that I read a lot of (mostly last year) and enjoyed was Agatha Christie so I thought I make a list about that. This list is mostly based on reading 12 Miss Marple novels, 1 Miss Marple short story collection, 33 Hercule Poirot novels, 1 Hercule Poirot short story collection, 4 Superintendent Battle novels, 5 Tommy & Tuppence Mystery and 5 standalones. (I also read a novelization of one of Christe's plays by Charles Osborne which I wish to forget.) I maybe mostly refer to Poirot and Miss Marple books since I read them the most. Here are some of my thoughts on Christie's books:

June 01, 2023

May 2023 Books & Movies

May was a crazy-busy month work-wise and I really don't have the energy for blogging. I hope to find some patience and motivation to blog this month but June is looking much the same. Anyway, I didn't read much in May. I watched a couple of movies and rewatched a lot of old shows. Here are the medias I consumed in May.

Books I read

Valentina Salazar is not a Monster Hunter by Zoraida Córdova

01 - Valentina Salazar is not a Monster Hunter by Zoraida Córdova > link
There should have been a better villain or perhaps better monsters. I guess I don't like that the villain gets defeated so easily but there are a lot of fun elements in this book and I enjoyed most of it.

Flight of the Bluebird (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters #3) by Kara LaReau with illustrated by Jen Hill
02 - Flight of the Bluebird (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters #3) by Kara LaReau with illustrated by Jen Hill > link
I don't think this third book is as good as the first two but at least there's a good conclusion.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Movies I have seen

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
03 - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings > link
This was a superhero/monster/family drama meshed together and it was pretty good. The humor was kind of lacking but maybe it's just me. As for Shang-Chi, he was a bit bland to me but I suppose he's more of a subtle/understated character but mostly because he was upstaged by his friend/sidekick Katy, by his sister, and by his father. And does everyone think singing karaoke as a rebellious act as amusing? I found that mildly amusing.
    There was a bit more flashback than I like. I suppose no movie will ever just run in linear timeline but without the flashbacks, it would be hard to understand the characters. I was a bit annoyed by the bi-lingual talking - everyone except for Katy and a few speaks mandarin/english. In every instance when a person is talking, they just easily switch from mandarin to english or from english to mandarin and everyone understood even though I'm sure some of them don't but I guess in this world, everyone's bi-lingual. If I understood mandarin, maybe I would be less bothered by the language switching. I enjoyed this movie especially the bus scene in the beginning but it's not a favorite.

04 - Taken 2 > link
This was an okay sequel and it's quite similar to Taken 1. Although I do find it slightly amusing that the bad guys allowed him (Liam Neelson's character which I can't even remember his name) time to make a phone call in the middle of a ceasefire.

Turning Red
05 - Turning Red
> link
I really enjoyed this movie and I learned a new word - gyrating - some sort of dancing. It's just a fun movie though it's a bit sappy.

How was your May? I hope June is good to you.

May 13, 2023

Seven Things

01 - Motivation is nowhere — I'm very unmotivated these days. I don't know why but I can't focus on anything. I can't blame it on work even if it's crazy-busy this month but I kind of do. When your energy is spent, it's hard to want to do things even if you love those things.

02 - Not much reading — I'm not doing much reading although I did finish one book this month so far. Every book I started reading is kind of boring. But I did try re-reading my favorites because that's how I usually beat the reading blues. But maybe I don't need to do anything. Maybe I just need to find the right books to read or simply not read for a while.

03 - Watching a lot of old tv shows — I've been watching a lot of old tv crime shows. (Old means ten or more years before this year.) What I find strange is whenever there are female leads, there is always romance or that she gets a boyfriend eventually while if there is a male lead, there is less chance of a romance or even if there is a romance, it doesn't work out. Why are females always coupled up while the male remained single? This can be said as sexist but it's more like we all still think females are meant to be mothers and wives while males keep his freedom. Of course if the female lead is older than forty or fifty, she reminds single. I suppose it's hard to change since it's been that way for hundreds of years but I honestly thought modern television should be more progressive. But then again, this may just be nonsense since I didn't watch every crime show there is but certainly, it's true for the shows I've seen.

04 - Summer is coming very, very near — I'm not ready for summer. It's not just the waking up with a stuffy nose or itchy/watery eyes, I just can't get use to the change in temperature/season no matter how many times I have experienced it. Why do some of us take habitual changes badly? It's not like there is really any difference from the year before. I don't know, I find seasonal changes never easy.

05 - Google is replacing Universal Analytics with Analytics 4 which means absolutely nothing to me — Not that they explain it well but you can read about it here. Of course, it says nothing about Blogger users or really, any type of users. Either you know what the heck they are talking about or you don't. If they want to, they can just do the switch for us and announced it afterward but I guess they want users to figure it out themselves or give up in frustration. I don't know what the hell this Analytics do aside from something to do with statistics. I don't care about stats so I'm not going to bother with this. I only know about this because I got an email about it.

06 - Bye, Bye Book Depository — It's old news but Book Depository has closed and if you go to their website, it will show the announcement. It's not unexpected. Whenever a big company (in this case amazon) buys out a smaller company, either they merge the smaller company into their bigger one or they just close it up.
    I didn't use Book Depository much aside from when I'm giving away books for international readers but I don't do giveaways anymore and I also don't buy as much paper books as I used to. People outside the U.S. will probably be affected more because it's harder for them to get books. But I'm always sad when a bookstore, whether online or in stores, closes up because it means some people somewhere are not getting books.

07 - Slow blogging — I only took a week off blogging but somehow, it feels longer. I'm not going to say I'll post more or post less. I've gotten into the habit of blogging whenever I feel like and I think that's fine. If I get a post up once a week, it's fine, and if not, that's that. I don't want to fret about blogging anymore. Seventeen years of trying to post regularly is enough and it's time to have a more relax schedule or none-schedule although I've been doing this none-schedule thing for a few years now so...
Any thoughts to share today? Feel free to leave a comment.