2020 Wrap Up

Tea Corner (Blog)

It’s nearly New Year’s and I almost didn’t meet my Goodreads challenge (again!). Just as I did the last two years, I waited until the last possible minute to finish up my reading goals. There was that one year that I finished my last book with minutes to midnight! 

This year has been an amazing reading year. I’m a very slow reader with 1 book a month being a major achievement.

In 2018, I tried to kick-start my reading hobby by setting up a goal to have my Goodreads challenge match the last number of that year: I was to read 8 books in 2018 and 9 books in 2019. In 2020, I didn’t want to make that jump from 9 to 20 books so I had started off with 10 books. Starting my blog in April seemed to have been the magical cure in motivating me to read just a little more because I eventually changed my goal to 20 after easily surpassing 10.

Ta-Daaa! And that’s 20!

It’s been a fun year! Last year, my books had been strictly fantasy and mystery-thriller with a single sci-fi thrown in. This year, I took a peek and fell in love with several new genres. I gave women’s fiction, contemporary romance, military thriller, legal thriller, nonfiction (autobiography > memoir), and even children’s books a try!

A huge shoutout to the amazing book community. I wouldn’t have made it if I wasn’t swimming in bookish content like I was. Nothing motivates you more than a community whose always talking about reading. Until next year, folks!

Book Reviews By Author

Masterlist

Anthologies/Multiple Authors

Bibliomysteries by Jeffery Deaver, C.J. Box, Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Peter Blauner, Thomas H. Cook, Loren D. Estlemen, William Link, Laura Lippman, Anne Perry, Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins, Andrew Taylor, and David Bell

A

Adrian Tchaikovsky
Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

A.J. Tata
Reaper: Drone Strike by Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata

Alexander Watson
River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America by Alexander Watson

Amanda Prowse
The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse

Arlana Crane
Mordecai’s Ashes by Arlana Crane

B

Brian Andrews
Sons of Valor by Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

C

Carolyn Brown
The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown

D

Daniel James Sheehan
I Am Not A Wolf by Daniel James Sheehan, Illustrated by Sage Coffey

Darren Wearmouth
Awakened by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth

David W. Berner
Walks with Sam by David W. Berner

David Scott Meyers
The Contractor by David Scott Meyers
The Sheriff by David Scott Meyers

Dave Ives
The Adventures of an Air Force Medic by Dave Ives

E

F

Flynn Meaney
Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney

G

Graham Austin-King
The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King

H

I

J

James S. Murray
Awakened by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth

Jamie Killen
Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Jeffrey Wilson
Sons of Valor by Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

John Sandford
Field of Prey by John Sandford
Mad River by John Sandford
Storm Front by John Sandford

K

Krista Cagg
The Milan Job by Krista Cagg

L

Lana Grace Riva
The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

M

N

Nathan Timmel
We Are 100 by Nathan Timmel

Nicholas Irving
Reaper: Drone Strike by Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata

O

O.E. Tearmann
The Hands We’re Given by O.E. Tearmann

P

Q

R

Rob Sinclair
Renegade by Rob Sinclair

S

Suze Krause
Sorry I Missed You by Suze Krause

T

U

V

Vance Pumphrey
Dragma’s Keep by Vance Pumphrey

Victor Methos
An Invisible Client by Victor Methos

W

X

Y

Z

Teaser Tuesday 12-15-20

Tea Corner (Blog)

It’s Teaser Tuesday! A weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker where all you have to do is to grab your current read, pick a random page, and select a non-spoiler sentence or two (from somewhere on that page) to share! If you enjoy the teaser, you might even want to add it to your own TBR!

This Week’s Teaser is…

“He limped up the road to where the little orange beater waited, unlocked the door with unsteady hands, and slid carefully into the driver’s seat, even though he felt more like collapsing. He struggled out of his backpack and placed it on the seat beside him, then took several slow, deep breaths before starting the engine.”

Mordecai’s Ashes by Arlana Crane

If you liked what you just read…

The lines are from Mordecai’s Ashes by Arlana Crane!

GOODREADS SUMMARY

Karl Larsson is an out of work roughneck, home from the oil fields of Alberta and back on the west coast for the first time in years. His wife has left him and his future looks bleak. Becoming a detective is the last thing on his mind, but when Karl learns that he has inherited his estranged grandfather’s agency he decides to take a chance.

He doesn’t expect much action in a city as small as Victoria, BC, but Karl soon finds that Victoria is only the base of operations. His grandfather’s business took him across the length and breadth of Vancouver Island, and the Island is a world unto itself, with a culture all its own.

When a reporter from a national news agency asks him to investigate a drug running operation on the Island, Karl is drawn into a dangerous game. Finding the truth sounds simple in theory, but as Karl delves deeper he begins to realize that more than his life may be at stake.

Goodreads Link >HERE<
Barnes & Nobles Link >HERE<
Amazon Link >HERE<

Red Hail [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

To me, there’s two kinds of good: the “devoured in a single sitting good” and the “I want to savor every page” good and Red Hail was the latter.

Book Name: Red Hail
Series: Standalone Book: N/A
Author: Jamie Killen
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle 
Obtained: Review Request
Pages: 356
Genre: Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Sci-Fi
Rating: 5/5 

A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are mine. 

Bookshop Link >HERE<
Goodreads Link >HERE<
Amazon Link >HERE<
Author’s Site Link >HERE<

Instead of the pale color of fresh ice, though, the hailstones had the raw crimson hue of uncooked meat. As Anza watched, they piled and began to melt while new stones fell onto the slush. It only took a minute for Dove’s front yard to transform into a red mass of gore. It sluiced down her driveway and into the road, forming a river of blood flowing down the slope

Page 6, Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Summary

Taking place in two timelines, 2020 and 1960, Red Hail weaves a story that connects both timelines together with a mysterious illness. Those that lived and survived through that horrid summer, back in 1960, wanted nothing more than to forget about the incident. 

The 1960 Red Hail was described as an incident where pieces of red hail fell from the skies in Galina, Arizona. Residents of Galina had no idea where it came from or what it was, only that it came suddenly and that the mysterious illness quickly followed. Paranoia and mass violence began to rip the town apart, in a witch hunt style, as fingers were pointed and races and religions were blamed to be the root cause of this madness. And then, just as instantly as the red hail and illness arrived to plague Galina, it had disappeared without a trace. In the end, the incident was written off as a summer of mass hysteria, there were no other new patients to follow nor did those already plagued with the symptoms continue to have them.

60 years afterwards, we follow the story of Professor Colin Ayres and his partner Alonzo. Colins had spent years researching the incident and had concluded it to be mass hysteria. However, soon Alonzo begins to exhibit the same symptoms as the Galina residents had several decades ago. As Alonzo’s condition worsens and others begin to show the same exact symptoms, Colin must get to the bottom of what’s happening and quick. 

Review

My take on this book? I loved it. To pieces. I shivered under blankets because of this book. Not particularly scary in any paranormal way, the symptoms that the people suffering from the illness displayed where horrifying to imagine. Coming in stages, the first stage wasn’t particularly terrifying but the second sure was. Hell, even when the illness progressed further, I think it was the second stage that still terrified me the most. Because it wasn’t human. The symptoms shown by those struck with the illness felt unreal, nightmare-like, and were very otherworldly. The chills crept in when you could feel Colin’s cold almost-lonely fear, through the pages, as he watches these symptoms develop in his beloved partner and he can’t do anything about it because nothing makes any medical sense! Even medicine can help alleviate symptoms when you can’t cure the disease, but what medicine do you give for symptoms that have no explanation? Alonzo (and the others suffering) doesn’t recall any of this. He just blacks out, one minute talking and the next wondering why people were staring at him.

I loved the split between the two set of characters and timelines. In the present day timeline, we have Colin, his partner Alonzo, and another person who makes contact with the professor after they also begin to exhibit symptoms. In 1960, we have a similar group of people who are going through the same thing. One tale shows the very beginning of when everything started and one tale uses the clues left behind by those same people to understand what’s happening in present day.

I loved both settings and characters, though the story in 1960 was much more riveting to read as people tried to piece together what the hells happening, but since they couldn’t, they turned to violence. The 1960 tale revolved around a much larger set of characters (besides the main three, there were also many different families, different churches, politicians and such). If I had to briefly sum them both up 2020: time to solve this mystery using clues from the first “plague” and 1960: chaos.

Absolutely a shining gem, the characters felt so real and all their fears tingled my own heart. People were frustrated, no answers were given, and by the end of the first “plague,” back in 1960, the residents didn’t even get any closure, the mysterious illness simply vanished. They just…had to move on with their lives like they aren’t all traumatized bringing us to 2020 where the mystery continues.

There were also several very strong female characters that I loved; a single mother who just wanted to get to the bottom of this thing plaguing both her and her son, and two in 1960 Galina who were there to experience the beginning of the end of the town when the hail first fell. 

The violence and riots that summer in 1960 felt so real. It gave the reader an huge sense of insecurity and it felt like nobody was safe, be it from the illness or the violence. You never know who was up next to fall ill. You don’t know whose is getting blamed next. Religion played a huge part because the first thing many folks think, when the sky rains blood, is that the end of the world is coming or it’s the devil’s work. And in times of uncertainty, many turn to prayers and look towards the church’s guidance and it’s up to the church leaders to act appropriately because desperate people are probably the scariest people out there. They will believe any theory and will do anything to get rid of the illness in a very violent “ends justify the means” way.

Eyes glued to the book, I went in slow, I went through slow, and when I realized the book was beginning to draw to an end, my paced dropped even further, I didn’t want it to end. 

Yet another hidden sci-fi gem, I had an amazing read.
Thank you Jamie for reaching out and for the amazing book!

Favorite Things About Book Formats

Tea Corner (Blog)

Currently Listening to: Welcome Back 20’s – Electro Swing Mix

Every now and then, I come across a question or poll about readers’ favorite reading format (Physicals [HC v. PB] , Digital, or Audio) and while my eyes tell me that hardcovers are the prettiest and are my “favorite”, I often change my mind as soon as I get in bed with one of those awkward cement blocks.

So I figured it’d be fun to make a post about my favorite things about each of the formats, because I love them all.

I hope you enjoy the read with my latest music [genre] obsession: electro-swing music.

HardcoversThe durable, weapon of choice, tomes of joy

They are heavy. Some are so big you could probably kill someone with it.
They make your bookshelf look cool.
They feel nice to hold and they look nice.
Carrying them around makes me feel like a badass mage holding a magic tome.

Hardcovers are one of my favorite book formats. To me, a hardcover just completes the reading mood (especially when sitting down with a nice warm cup of tea or coffee).

They tend to fair a lot better after a reading (or several re-reads). They’re more durable from the cover to their pages and the durability of my books are pretty important to me when I’m considering a format for physical. I’m pretty rough with my things and (until recently) I’ve never heard of protective booksleeves.

During my latest move, upsettingly, some of the paperbacks were damaged, with covers and pages being creased. One book’s spine was so bent it looked like someone had taken the book, slammed the corner against a wall, and the wall won (tragic). It’s nice to know that, despite not being completely accident proof, at least I have less to worry about when it comes to damages.

Paperback When the brick of a hardcover just won’t fit in your purse

I love hardbacks for all of the above reasons, but it’s hard to go about town with a brick in your purse. Occasionally, my current reads is a thinner hardcover, but most of the time, none of my hardcovers would fit in my purse. I don’t head out to errands with a backpack (I’ve been pickpocketed before so I’m wary about wearing bags behind me where I can’t see or feel the zipper opening).

This is where paperbacks come in. Cheaper than hardcovers and far lighter, I love paperbacks for their price and portability. Sometimes, I can’t even find the books I want in hardcover; they are print only as paperbacks! There’s often a range of PBs too from your normal sized PB to its mass market edition. If one doesn’t fit, maybe the other would.

Digital When your 10 physicals won’t fit in your suitcase, but thousands can fit in your pocket.

I can read it in bed while laying on my side; only one hand is needed to turn the page.
I can easily shuffle through dozens of books until I find the one I feel like reading for the day (when mood reading).
The soft glow won’t disturb your roommates or partner.
You can read anywhere; grocery line, laundry mat with no seats left, and even when on vacation overseas while visiting family and not having the wifi to toy with your game apps.
The ability to build vocabulary on the go…without a massive physical dictionary!

When I went on a family vacation to visit my hometown (and family living there) in Hong Kong two-ish summers ago, my family didn’t buy any crazy phone plans and I ended up with one of those phone chips with a very low internet and service cap. Naturally, trying to conserve my phone’s data and reserving it for emergencies only, I had nothing left but my Kindle (I didn’t even bring any gaming consoles) and that’s what I did for the entire month. My Kindle (lovingly named Teddy) saved me when I had absolutely nothing to do while waiting for the rest of the family to finish their looooonnngg shopping trips at the shopping centers.

I ate through several books for the weight of one of them.

AudiobooksBooks on the go!

I don’t read a lot of audiobooks. Sound is something I always put as background noise when I’m working and so I quickly zone out when listening to audiobooks. However, of the few that I have read, I can safely say that audiobooks take the throne when multitasking or when I’m in a situation where I can’t read (packed trains, on a walk/run, etc.)

Sometimes I’m just too busy to fit reading into my schedule, whether it’s before or after work, but I often have time to catch up on books during my hour long lunch breaks. I no longer carry books to work, opting to go on a walk instead, so that I’m not stuck in a working environment for 9 hours straight. It’s pretty hard to read words on the go so audiobooks are quite handy during those afternoon strolls!

Audio books are also perfect when I’m not doing word related tasks like drawing and sketching or outlining my bullet journal for the week.