Friday, September 27, 2019

#Fi50: Taking Turns

Fiction in 50 is a regular feature in the last week of every month (well, lately I’ve been using it for a Friday Flash near the end of the month as the spirit moves me). I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in! I didn't do a heads-up post this month (again) thanks to our travel and losing track of time, but feel free to jump in at any time.
fiction in 50   image Fiction in 50 NEW BUTTON

What is #Fi50? In the words of founder Bruce Gargoyle, "Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!" Pack a beginning, middle and end of story into 50 words or less (bonus points for hitting exactly 50 words).

The rules for participation are simple:

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less, ideally using the prompt as title or theme or inspiration.
That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Ninja Librarian’s post for everyone to enjoy.  
And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over at or create your own Fi50 meme pic….
and 4. Link back here so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon.

And here's the Linky List so you can add your post!
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You are next... Click here to enter
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Or just add your link in the comments below!  Feel free to Tweet using the #Fi50, though I'll not lie: the Ninja Librarian is a lousy tweeter.

The September prompt is...
Taking Turns

Here’s my story:

Taking Turns

“It’s your turn.”

“Okay, then, go left—no, right.”

“Make up your mind already!”

Evan pulled out a coin and flipped it. “Left.” 

Kate shrugged and turned the car. “Next one’s mine. Left. Where are we going?”

“I guess we’ll know when we get there. Straight on.”

“My turn again.”


©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Cozy Review: Ring-a-Ding Dead

Ring-A-Ding Dead! (The Myriad Mysteries) by Claire Logan


About Ring-A-Ding Dead!

Cozy Mystery, 1st in Series 
Independently Published (May 29, 2019)  
Print Length: 244 pages  
Digital ASIN: B07SG1XXM6

Just married! It's time for a ... murder?
When checking into the posh Myriad Hotel on their honeymoon, Hector and Pamela Jackson discover a dead body! All the couple wants to do, though, is keep out of the commotion and enjoy some well-earned rest.

But another person dies, and they happen to appear at the crime scene. When a third person falls right in front of them, the police begin to wonder why.

Who's responsible for the murders? Why are they happening? Are the couple under suspicion? Where does the little stray dog hanging around the hotel entrance come from? And when are Hector and Pamela finally going to have a proper honeymoon?

My Review: 
Ring-A-Ding Dead! is two mysteries for the price of one. While Mr. and Mrs. Jackson are investigating the murders at the Myriad Hotel, the reader, or at least this reader, is at least as interested in the mystery of the couple's past. It's an interesting way to design a book, with the main characters (the couple form an almost equal team, with just a little more attention paid to Hector) very much an unknown to the reader for much of the book. It kept me reading.

The setting is a great one--1920s Chicago offers a  lot of scope for atmosphere, and the author handles it well. I did catch one or two linguistic slips that didn't feel quite in the era, though I can't be sure (and can't find them again). Overall, the speech, clothing, and manners fit the period well, suggesting the author has done her research.

I greatly enjoyed the story, and found the solution to the murders satisfactory, if not wholly unexpected. I did peg the murderer well short of the end, but the motives were a surprise for me. The mystery of the couple's past was given just enough explanation to keep me from dying of frustration. I hope that further books in the series will flesh out that story and satisfy my curiosity.

Although the ARC I received was an unedited proof, I found the writing to be clean and thoroughly edited, with few to no errors.

My Recommendation:
A good fun read for lovers of historical fiction. The story is clean and, despite multiple deaths, non-violent. 

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of  Ring-A-Ding Dead! from Great Escapes Free Book Tours, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

About Claire Logan

I've loved reading since I can remember! I love puzzles and mysteries and intrigue, and of all the cities I've been to, Chicago is my favorite. My four years of living in Chicago during grad school were wonderful. Plus I love history. And wasn't the 1920's wild? I've always wanted to write a series set in Chicago and now here's my chance.

Author Links:  

Purchase Links 
  Amazon:  (on Kindle Unlimited)

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

On the Road... Again?

Yup, we're off again to go play! Headed to Colorado for some fun with my backpacking posse, then on to New England to take another look at the fall foliage. Internet access will be spotty, and while I have some pre-scheduled posts, I have no idea when I'll be able to check on them, respond to comments, etc. On the up side: Death By Library has gone to the proof-reader!

See whenever I have the chance!
On the road to find fall!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: Refugee

33118312. sy475  

Title: Refugee
Author: Alan Gratz
Publication Info: Scholastic, 2017. 352 pages, Kindle version
Source: Library digital resources

Publisher's Blurb:
Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

My Review:  
I read this because it was the July (!) selection for our Goodreads "Great Middle Grade Reads" group. While I think it is a valuable and important book (though maybe more important for the grown-ups to read than the kids!), I can't say I liked it a lot, or thought it was the best I've read. Maybe more accurate would be to say that I had some issues with the book, but think it was powerful.

One thing I found was that the structure--short chapters cycling among the three main characters--kept me reading. Almost every chapter ended with a cliff-hanger, and I had to read about the other two characters before I could get back to the first, and so on. That was undeniably effective story-telling. The chapters were short, however, and that made it harder to connect with the characters. Maybe I didn't want to, knowing what they might suffer (and I had a niggling memory about Josef's situation, and was correct).

I also had some reservations about the ways in which the stories connected, which felt a bit contrived. One sadly real thread that connected them was the efforts of too many nations (including, yes, the US) to reject refugees, even at the cost of their lives.

In essence, then, I found the powerful storytelling to be a bit diluted by structural choices, which still leaves this both a pretty good read and an excellent wake-up call.

My Recommendation:
At the risk of getting political, I think that those who are ruling our country right now might benefit from an empathetic reading of this book. More realistically, I would recommend it for anyone over about age 12, maybe older. I think this one teeters on the brink of YA, not juvvy, thanks especially to the descriptions of what happened in the concentrations camps of WWII.

FTC Disclosure: I checked Refugee out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG and Cover Reveal!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means IWSG post! But before I get to that, I have a real treat: not one, but TWO cover reveals! One is mine, one for fellow blogger and IWSG member, Jemima Pett.

The 9th book of Jemima's Princelings of the East series is coming Nov. 14, and as usual, Danielle English has made a gorgeous cover:
The book is currently on schedule for release on November 14th. Pre-order at  iTunes , Kobo, and B&N right now.

The Princelings of the East are now King Fred and Prince Engineer George. Gone are the years of innocence when they travelled for adventure and uncovered time tunnels and pirate plots. Now Fred, assisted by his queen, Kira, has the responsibility for his people, his lands, and for persuading the lords and kings of the Realms to act together for the common good. George just has to work on his inventions, always thinking of a final goal: to fulfil the promises made to Lord Mariusz so long ago.
Neither has an easy task.

Fred decides to write a history of his reign, starting with the joy of his inheritance, and documenting how technological progress is not necessarily the key to communal good.

Chronicles of Marsh is book 9 of the Princelings of the East series, and fills a gap between previous books and the final one, Princelings Revolution. It takes us from Fred’s first days as king, to the loss of the latest and most promising flying machine, a period of 8 years. The pressures of modern life will be familiar to readers, even if the princelings world doesn’t have the internet or mobile communications… yet.

Lovers of the series will enjoy these adventures, but newcomers may find it easier to start with book 1, book 5, even at book 7. It’s a fantasy sociological and technological adventure in a world not quite like ours, suitable for age 10 and upwards.

And the second cover reveal? My own! Death By Library, Book 4 in the Pismawallops PTA series, is scheduled for release Dec. 6. My cover is also by the talented Danielle English, and I couldn't be more excited about how it turned out!
E-books available for pre-order at Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes (Apple Books, and I can't figure out how to find a link), and B&N right now. And now on Amazon, too!

JJ McGregor and the Pismawallops PTA are back in action! JJ has a new job at the library, which allows her to pay her bills. That ought to make her happy, but with all those books to shelve, the PTA to run, and a 16-year-old son to raise, there’s never enough time to spend with her sweetheart, police chief Ron Karlson. That’s especially true with Thanksgiving on the horizon and her mother coming to visit, not to mention the PTA’s Holiday Bazaar looming ahead.

The PTA has to swing into action in a hurry when a grumpy member of the school board threatens plans to build a badly-needed swimming pool on the island. His objections turn out to be nothing compared to the claims of a stranger who says the land the pool would be built on is actually hers. The board meeting dissolves into chaos, and JJ leaps into action in an effort to get to the bottom of the incipient land war.

Before JJ can find what she needs in the reference section, things turn deadly in the library stacks. Now JJ needs some answers fast, before she loses her job—or her life. She’s determined to find out everything about the victim, and for once the library doesn’t hold all the answers. JJ and Kitty may have to face the ultimate peril: a visit to Mrs. Halsey, the oldest—and crankiest—person on the island, where they may learn more than they bargained for.

Whew! Now for the IWSG post.


The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Posts go up the 1st Wednesday of every month. Check it out here and join if you need support with your writing. Don't forget to stop by and say hello to the co-hosts: Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

This month's question is: ​If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why? Remember, the question is optional!

I've been having a pretty good month as a writer. The final word-smithing on Death By Library  has been going well, and I feel like sometimes I'm even reaching a new level of quality prose :)  A release date has been set, and I've booked a blog tour. I've also kind of come to peace with not blogging as regularly as I've done for the last 5 or 6 years. I just don't have the time, and I'm not as interested in writing reviews, which was starting to feel like both a rut and a chore.

I even got the nicest note from a reader last week (she knows my Mom, but she didn't have to say anything, so I'll take it as sincere), saying that she read Death By Ice Cream in 2 days, putting it down only for the essentials of life! Now, that's praise worth having.

With one book almost done, my mind has turned (without waiting for permission) to the next book, with ideas for the story bubbling up and me scribbling notes as fast as I can. I shouldn't really start the next book in the series so soon--I have too many other projects clamoring to be started/finished. But it's the book that's yelling loudest, so it'll probably happen.

Now for the question: I am rather appreciating being able to sit at my own lovely big desk-top computer and write at home, after doing it in make-shift places all over the world for the last year. Fantastic settings don't make me want to write--they make me want to hike. So I'll say either home, or a nice coffee shop (there's a decent one around the corner from us--that'll do). 

How about you? Write at home, or head to an exotic locale to tickle your brain waves?


Monday, September 2, 2019

Photo Friday Comes on Monday: Taranaki

The latest installment in my reports of our adventures over the last year. This is part of the 4 months we spent in New Zealand (January through most of April) this year. We spent most of the time on the South Island, and I've covered most of our outings there. This is a trip my husband and I did on North Island, after our son went back to the US to finish his final term of college.

Mt. Taranaki is the primary feature of Egmont National Park (est. 1900). Named Taranaki by the Maori, and Egmont by Captain Cook, the mountain is a perfect cone, at least from a little distance, reminiscent of Mt. Fuji.

We arrived on a drizzly morning, driving out of decently fair conditions down below into the cloud that shrouded the mountain from a few hundred feet below the Visitor's Center. We had toyed with the idea of climbing the mountain, but the dubious weather combined with the 5000' climb (and descent) put us off it. Instead, we chose to hike the Pouakai Circuit, a loop along the base of the peak and through a sub-range on the north side.

Our trailhead was a bit below the VC, and we began by hiking steeply up, so we did start the trip in the rain.
Some old-growth trees are left in the area, including this one, home to many epiphytes.
After an hour or two of scrambling up a rough and muddy trail, the weather began to clear.
Still no views of the mountain, but a rainbow raised our hopes.
That change in the weather came as we topped out the primitive track (a re-route as the primary route to Holly Hut was closed due to a major slide). Within minutes we were seeing the mountain as the clouds vanished. Part of what we saw was a coating of fresh snow, making us doubly glad we weren't planning a summit attempt.
The peak is a perfect cone, but the lower slopes are as deeply eroded as most of the terrain in New Zealand.
Despite our post-lunch start, we reached our night's lodging, Holly Hut, in good time. In an indication of how late we were getting in the hiking season (as if the snow weren't a good enough clue), we shared the hut with only 2 other parties: a lone woman and a father with 2 teenaged sons. Since the hut had 3 bunk rooms, we all had private quarters, though we shared the comfort of the main room with the wood stove going full-blast to dry our boots.
A clever kindling-splitter, pretty much idiot-proof.
Holly Hut
We had a very short hike the next day, but we were up early to catch first light on the mountain.
Sunrise hits the fresh snow. Less than the day before, but still a dusting to remind us winter was on its way.
We took advantage of the short hike to our next hut, and started the day with an hour's round trip to Bells Falls, because you can never see too many waterfalls.
Every waterfall is different, and worth a look.
Eventually, we put on our packs and started the walk to the next hut. First we crossed the Ahukawakawa Swamp. Though some clouds flirted around us, we continued to have great views back towards the mountain. A boardwalk through the swamp protected the landscape from hikers, as well as giving us dry feet for a change.
The split in the hill on the far right is where the stream flows out of the swamp--and over Bells Falls.

Once across the swamp, we had to climb up the Pouakai ridge. Again, the track was well-engineered, as much to protect the resource as to make our lives easier. We learned that a few years earlier, a group of volunteers had constructed several kilometers of boardwalks and stairs along the ridge, transforming the track from a muddy trench that in places was shoulder-deep, into a pleasant hike.

After an hour or so of climbing, we topped out on the ridge near the hut. With lots of time, we did some extra exploring along the next day's route, to catch our scenery while we could, weather around the mountain being decidedly unstable.

Twenty minutes from the hut brought us to a small tarn, famed for photos with beautiful reflections. Since the wind was howling pretty enthusiastically while we were there, we settled for shots of the mountain with ruffled water.
The snow by now is nearly gone from the north--sun--side of the mountain.
A final trip to a viewpoint after dinner gave us our last looks at the mountain as the sun set.

Meanwhile, back at the Pouakai Hut, we watched the last light vanish over the Tasman Sea while our dinner cooked.
Oceanic cloud-banks reflected in the bunk-room window.
Next morning, sure enough, the window of great weather had closed. Our route followed the ridge for some distance, doubtless a path of breath-taking views under other circumstances. For us, it was a matter of enjoyed the cool conditions and the small things: the smell of the tussocks when wet, a drop of water on a blade of grass, and the beautiful, beautiful boardwalk that kept us out of the mud!
At a high point on the ridge, a viewing platform offered hints as to what we weren't seeing.

After the trail took us over the summit of Henry Mountain (no doubt for the views, but the route seemed gratuitously up and down in the drizzle), it dropped precipitously back into the forest and continued down.
One of the many places we appreciated the effort that had gone into building the track.
By now we were mostly wanting to get to the car, get dry, and go buy a meal somewhere in town. But there was still time to appreciate the beauty of the bush.
New Zealand has about a million kinds of fern (I'm exaggerating, but not by much). I love the patterns on all of them.
Finally arrived at the final swing bridge, one we'd crossed two days before as we headed out. Another hike nearly in the bag, and I could smell those fries!
I think this was a one-at-a-time bridge, with a maximum load of one, or maybe two people.
Taranaki didn't have quite the level of endless spectacular views many of our tramps had, but despite wet gear and muddy boots we were glad to have done the hike. Although several parties were at the hut on Pouakai ridge, none appeared to be going our way, and we hiked each day without seeing more than one or two other hikers, a rare and much-appreciated circumstance in a New Zealand we felt at times has been utterly overrun by tourists.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!