First Line Friday

Tea Corner (Blog)

Happy Friday! Rejoice! The weekend is here!

First Lines Friday is a weekly book meme hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
This week’s lines:

The ancient Humvee rattled as it hit another pothole. On the other side of the vehicle’s window clouds of grit obscured the view, kicked up as they rumbled through the dry soil of the Dust. Tumbleweeds and rabbit-brush crunched like bird bones beneath the tires.

Aidan flipped through his new personnel roster on the holographic screen projected from the tablet in his lap. The nails of his free hand scratched out erratic rhythms against the fabric of his pants.

His eyes skittered over the flickering images for the third time, trying to memorize names and faces. He’d only needed one read-through of the attached disciplinary files. Those he wasn’t going to forget in a hurry.

Like the preview? Well this book iiiss…

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

Goodreads Summary:

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned. Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.
Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.

2021 Resolutions and January TBR

Tea Corner (Blog)
I’m listening to epic drum and percussion mixes while writing and it feels like I’m ready to slay a dragon.

Is it too late to go…”HAPPY NEW YEAR!” ?

New year, new m— (I’m kidding.)
Surprisingly, after years of people saying the same line, this year I have not seen “New year, new me” yet!

Last year, I didn’t really have any particular resolutions in mind other than to get a job nor did I have any particular blog goals [as I started in April]. But! This year! I have just a couple of goals in mind.

Read 25 Books

As someone who didn’t particularly read much after high school, I started my yearly goals off by matching it with the last digit of that year. In 2018, my goal was to read 8 books and then 9 books in 2019. Each of those years I just barely made it, reading 9 and 10 books respectively. It didn’t make sense to read 0 books in 2020 and that jump to 20 books was insane to me (at first), so I started the year out with 10 books. Some magical fairy sprinkled some pixie dust on me and I flew through 10 books before I even knew it. By the time 2020 ended, I just managed to reach my adjusted goal of 20 books. This year, I’m planning to aim for just a little bit higher by read 25 books.

Post More Often

With most of my content being reviews and having read only 20 books last year, it’s no surprise that I was hardly posting. This year, I’m hoping that with a little more books, I will have a reason to post a little more often. Throw in the mix of weekly book memes and maybe a little more variety to my content (maybe I’ll start doing interviews?) I think I could squeeze in a good handful more posts.

Read Books in 5 New Genres/Subgenres

Last year, I started to branch out from my usual mystery thrillers. Previously, I would read fantasy from time to time but I usually just stuck with the same mystery thrillers and the same type of mystery thrillers (police procedural).

Last year, I tried all sorts of different genres such as nonfiction and military thriller [fiction], even trying out steampunk! This year, I’m hoping to read books in even more genres. I might even try out cozy mysteries!

🎵 It’s the 6th day of January and my TBR gave to meee… 🎵

…Three lovely booookss!

One of my sub resolutions (is that a thing? What about ‘mini resolutions’?) is to clear my 2020 review requests. So January is dedicated to getting two of those books read along with a separate third book for myself!

Image from Goodreads

River Queens Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America by Alexander Watson is the first of my two requests. An autobiography (memoir) the book is about two men, their spotted dog, and a restored yacht as they travel from Texas to Ohio. I’m quite interested in reading this because I rarely read nonfictions and this one looks really interesting. I kept meaning to start it, but then things got hectic. So, the time is now! This is my January priority book.

Image from Goodread

The Sheriff by David Scott Meyer is the second book in The Fellowship Series. If you’ve read my review of the first book back in October, you’ll remember me talking about the interesting choice of font. The author had provided me with both the first and the second book of Fellowship series/trilogy.

The first book had been pretty interesting and I was fascinated with the font choice. The entire book was practically in bold and look, when you read a ton of books with relatively the same font, something that sticks out as much as bold font just made it a very special read. Somehow…it also made it easier for me to read.

Anyways, I’m ready to tackle this next book up this month. I want to see where this series goes.

Image from Goodreads

The Hands We’re Given by O.E. Tearmann was found during the two weeks I was obsessed with cyberpunk, which was when Cyberpunk 2077 was just released and I was binging Youtube playthroughs of the game. My non-request read of the month; this book’s genres were Dystopia > Cyberpunk, LGBT > Transgender and it had cards on the cover and it sounded cool and it was part of those “Whoops my hands slipped” buying sprees via Amazon’s devilish One-Click button.

Did I mention the summary had one of my favorite troupes; ragtag team?

Welp, that’s it!

If I manage to finish all three books this month, than I can glide through my 2021 challenge by reading 2 books a month. Every year, my last 48 hours of the year reminds me that I am very much capable of finishing an entire book in a single day if I was motivated enough. If I was that motivated, I could read 365 books a year! But let’s not get carried away. Slow and steady now.

Mordecai’s Ashes [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: Mordecai’s Ashes
Series: Larsson Investigations Book: 1
Author: Arlana Crane
Book Type: Physical > Paperback
Pages: 350
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Suspense

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

A big thank you to Arlana for sending me a copy!

Trigger Warnings and Content Warnings: Drugs, mention of drug related death, death, blood and gore, violence, guns

When I received it, I was obsessed over the cover. The combination of the raindrops and color choices made for a beautiful cover! It wraps around to the back of the book too!
The PI field is worlds away from his old job!

His wife has left him and he’s out of a job, luck isn’t on Karl Larsson’s side and it doesn’t look like it’s picking up anytime soon either. He’s distant from his family aside from his sister who, while being a bit naggy, is halfway across the globe and still makes sure to check in on him from time to time. Even if her calls can occasionally be a little bit condescending, Karl still favors her as his favorite sibling, because after all, it’s either Tilly (Matilda) or his two brothers and he much rather a call from her than a call from either Jakob or Liam.

Having his life rolled downhill and currently living in the valley of it all, his future didn’t seem promising…at least until he suddenly inherits his grandfather’s detective agency from his aunt Matilda’s will. He’s shocked, because he doesn’t even know his grandfather! 

But it was either this agency or working in Liam’s trucking business and Karl would rather eat a hornet’s nest than do that! Besides, it seemed interesting enough, even if he has no experience as a PI. With his previous job as an oil worker at the rigs, the detective world is a brand new world to him. His only resources are the file cabinets of records, invoices, procedures and processes, clients and contacts left over from the business’s previous owner. Now, at 27, Karl Larsson is the new owner of Abrams Investigations.

Taking on small cases initially (tracking down ex-partners gone poof with delinquent child-support payments and background checks), he later on hires his cousin, Kelsey, to help with the business. It’s just the two of them taking on small case after small case until he is hired by an old acquaintance and client of his grandfather to take a look at a drug smuggling case. With the matter being quite personal to his new client, Karl is both intrigued and excited, his first big job!

It’s not until shit hits the fan does Karl learn that he’s in way over his head, but at that point, he’s in too deep! With no options in backing out of this, it’s either forward or die!


Engaging with solid characters, I found myself flying through the book. This book takes off right away. There’s no dilly-dalling on how Karl inherits Abrams Investigations. He’s on a call with Tilly to accompany his mother to the lawyer to discuss Matilda’s will and bam, our MC goes from broke, jobless, and living in his sister’s apartment to the owner of a business.

The family in the book consists of Karl’s mother, who comes off as kind of cold to me(?), Karl’s sister Matilda (or Tilly), and his brothers Liam and Jakob. There’s also Aunt Matilda (Tilly’s namesake) who has recently passed and then there’s Mordecai, Karl’s grandfather who he’s never met, the previous owner of Abrams Investigations. With all of Karl’s siblings being pretty successful people (Jakob being a commercial real estate broker, Liam with his trucking business, and Tilly halfway through her 2-year teaching contract (teaching English in Beijing), Karl’s the odd duckling out after losing his job and wife. He’s pretty estranged with his family with the sole exception of Tilly and even she’s barely making it. 

There’s always some form of obligatory love interest in these kind of books and when Karl’s cousin, Kelsey, is introduced as the main supporting female character, let me tell you the joy I felt…! Sure, nothing’s wrong with romance, but sometimes books that don’t need romance just always has that one love interest that always leads to that (minimum) one kiss scene. It’s refreshing. And speaking of Kelsey…

Smart as a whip, she is Karl’s younger cousin. While they haven’t really spoken in the last few years (her introduction scene is a whole “dang you grew!” “Well yeah I not 12 anymore, cuz 😒 ” moment), she is also one of the few that he’s always enjoyed being around besides Tilly. She helps him tend the office and hold down the fort when he’s away on jobs and is Karl’s brain to his drug-ring busting case. Her help was crucial early and Karl wouldn’t have made it as far without her. I really enjoyed her character.

Karl’s character is also written very well and you can see the pasture in him when trying to picture how green he is at this new job. He’s an ex-oiler worker and everyone in the family expects him to sell the business right away so that he can make enough profit to sustain him in his current down-on-luck situation. When he takes interest in Abrams, everyone, including Tilly, doesn’t expect him to make it far. The phrase “playing detective” is thrown around a lot as Karl not only struggles to understand PI work and keep the business going, but now he has to prove to his family that he means it when he said he was taking over. There are moments where I argued out loud with Karl because of something he did that was incredibly risky…but he doesn’t know better. He doesn’t have the mindset or caution of a man with years of detective experience. How could I be mad?

The other minor characters all have quite a bit life to them as well, even if some only get a flash moment in the book. You sort of get to know about Mordecai as Karl goes through past clients and cases (as well as from friends and family). You get to know Karl’s brothers who come off as very “All business, no need for friends” people. You meet Mordecai’s old friends, the downstairs bookshop owner, Percy, and his old client (and also friend) the reporter John Fullerton who is responsible for Karl’s first big case. John’s interest in this case is so passionate and this case is so personal to him, you just want to keep reading to see the reason behind the hatred.. There are plenty of other characters and some are a bit shady; you can easily tell who seems to be the bad guy in this book. Even as sketchy as they are, they’re written in a way that makes you feel almost sorry for them (ALMOST). 

Besides the characters, the writing itself is also done nicely. Engaging, engrossing and captivating, the writing in this book is smooth. The words flow well and it’s easy to read. The plot is great as well. We waste no time in how Karl receives the business and it goes straight to business as he learns to run Abrams. While it does slow down (just a little bit) after he takes over, it’s mostly because he’s taking on mostly only small cases as he learns the rope of the detective role. It’s not long before we get to the big-juicy steak of the story. Even the slow moments are filled with getting to know characters. After all, you have to show the readers that Karl is new and it’s a pretty big leap from small delinquent payors and background checks to a major high-risk drug smuggling case (with, mind you, no supervisor to seek tips and help from…only…only cabinets of old files, his cousin and his wits to guide him).

After Karl takes on the drug case, the plot gets intense. It’s truly a “hold your breath” moment then because Karl is really in it and there’s no turning back from it.

My last few mystery thrillers have all been police procedural and the MCs are generally part of the state or government. It’s been a while since I read a PI book and the dangers of the job really shows (not that being a cop is any more or less dangerous). However, as a PI and with Karl not fully knowing the law, he takes major risks and he goes in alone with only his cousin knowing where he might be. There’s no reporting to an upper supervisor. There’s no “I need back up!” It’s Karl alone out there and Kelsey alone to direct him. Both are untrained and new to the profession and it adds to the thrill and danger factor. 

A great book that is full of thrilling moments, you sit there in fear with Karl as he investigates this case. There are bar scenes and stealth scenes, there are scary moments and then there are head-thrown-back laughing moments. An enjoyable and smooth read, this book has well written characters and an engaging plot full of tension and breath holding moments. There’s a major twist in the end that I absolutely got a kick out of.

A great read, I give this book 5 cozy cups of coffee!