Week’s Wrap Up

Tea Corner (Blog)

This week in life

Last week, I was a little behind at work, but I finally caught up and oh boy was I excited. My manager even proposed I celebrate!

So naturally, I broke out the good tea leaves ❤

Other than that, this week was somewhat dull. There was no deep cleaning or going anywhere (besides work). I had planned to start and even finish the BBNYA excerpts, but I barely got around to reading my current read, let alone anything else. I did have a lot of fun on Thursday when my cousin, her kids (my niece and nephew) and my other cousin, stopped by our house. I was working [from home] for most of their visit, but their presence really helped break up the monotony of the shift.

Then, on Twitter, Thursday, I had thrown up a little tweet asking if anyone wanted to be featured on Cozy with Books. I’ve left links on tons of writer’s lifts, blog lifts, and comments (lift?) in the past. For such an amazing community, I figured it was high time to give back. If you’re interested, feel free to leave a link as well! Authors, publishers, bookish content creators, whatever! Throw down a link so I can share the love that’s been shown and given to me!

The links post is going up next Saturday.

I also made myself a little Beacons page. I guess, in retrospect, maybe my week wasn’t as boring as I thought, huh? Beacons is so much more colorful than LinkTree and I’m liking it a lot so far! Would you believe me if I told you I spent several hours picking out the right theme? Because I did.

This week in posts (this makes for my 20th day posting streak!)

I started this week off with a book review. Last week, I finished reading Sons of Valor by Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson. I had broken it up across multiple work shifts because, for me, audiobooks are my work buddies. Despite a few small flaws (terms, slang, and acronyms flying over my head), I loved the book so much that I ended up buying the first book of the previous series Tier One.

On Tuesday, I followed the book review up with the usual bookish meme, a Teaser Tuesday post. After finishing up Sons of Valor, I had an empty feeling in my heart. I’m still new to audiobooks so my TBR list for them is sparse and book to book. If I finish one, I’d have to hunt down another one before my next in-office shift (at home, I can just listen to Youtube). I was pretty tired that day and mistook the audio excerpts button for the listen now button. My little happy mistake gave me what I needed to post for Tuesday and I even have an upcoming review for it! It was short and sweet and I’m more glad, of my little oops, than anything else.

Wednesday came the WWW wrap up post for the week. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m so behind on Tomorrow’s End that I’m a little worried about my next WWW, but hey, that’s next week Esther’s problem. As mentioned above, I finished True Loaf and Sons of Valor this week and still reading Tomorrow’s End. My plan for my next read is the next up Virgil Flowers book, Deadline by John Sandford, but I maaay take a break from books just to spend some time with the excerpts. Again, that’s next week me’s problem.

Once again, just as with last Thursday, I was struggling to come up with a Thursday post and, just like last week, my lovely friend, Danni, came in a pinch and I ended up with another tag post. This time, it was the Fantasy Tropes Book Tag and I had a blast with it. I think I’m going to spend a bit of time, today, to go read some other book tags out there and hope to return the favor for the upcoming Thursday 😉

For Friday, I had another bookish meme and it was the First Lines Friday post of this week. It was a nice little way to end the work week, but I barely registered it going up and the tweet going out because I was ever slightly frantically getting as much done as possible at work. It’s actually a book from the living room bookcases and I can’t recall its origins. It’s just a book we’ve always had in our possessions, but where we got it is a mystery. It’s a thriller so maybe I’ll get around to reading it one day.

My Saturday post came out of nowhere. I started a little “blog post ideas” note in my phone and yesterday’s post was actually supposed to be “Favorite places to read” but seeing as I purchased Tier One on Tuesday, ordered Rainbow Six which arrived in the post on Friday, and purchased Weapons Grade on Friday as well, I ended up making a book haul post instead.

Did you have an interesting week? How’s your upcoming week looking?

Book Haul

Tea Corner (Blog)

Whoever handed me a rectangular piece of plastic, with credits in it, needs to take it away from me. I am irresponsible with it (JKJK)
Look, I had an extra rough week (and Friday) and rough weeks merit um … a little bit of retail therapy okay?
There’s never not a good reason to go book shopping right?

( 📣 Go SEROTONIN GO~! 📣)

In the last few days, I ended up purchasing three books, one physical and 2 ebooks/audiobooks. When I started this post, I originally had only two books in mind but forgot that I also purchased another book a little earlier in the week so that’s a total of three books that have now joined my TBR tower.

Rainbow Six (John Clark #2) by Tom Clancy

I came across this book looking for more military fiction because I’ve really enjoyed the last few ones I came across.

I’ve only ever heard of this title (as a video game, no less) so was a little surprised to see it as a book. Imagine if I could find Astral Chain as a book?!? Or Harvest Moon?!?

I know this is nowhere near the beginning of the suggested reading order, but people mentioned that it alright as a standalone, so, If I end up loving it, I might go back and actually make my way through the series.

The book I got was a used (Like New) book from Amazon and it came wrapped up in plastic, but there were these weird little orange stains on the top edge and I’m not sure what it is (foxing?), but I’ll be making sure to keep this as far from any more humidity as possible just in case. The inside pages are still perfectly fine, nearly pristine in fact.

The prologue was already really good so I’m extra excited to get started.

Tier One (Tier One #1) by Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

If you’ve read my last review, you know that I really enjoyed Sons of Valor by Andrews & Wilson. I copped the audiobook off of NetGalley and it was a really good read. Sure, at first I had to rewind a good chunk because my brain was refusing to register half the terms and acronyms thrown at me, but I ended up loving it.

Sons of Valor was only the first book of the Tier One-shared World Series, so to fill in the gap, as I wait for the next release, I figured to go back and check the original/previous/main series. The ebook was on sale(?) at $3.99 and adding in audio was $1.99 extra. I had greatly adored my newfound authors and narrator so…cha-ching.

Weapons Grade (Avery #1) by Ross Sidor

As I hit my latest purchase, I realize that my little haul/list here has a bit of a…theme. I guess I’m in a new mood huh? (Don’t worry I haven’t grown bored of the Cyberpunk mood just yet).

I don’t recall how I landed on this book’s Goodreads page (I think it was recommended by GR? It was on a side bar). As I was going through the list of [4] books by the author I was like, “Oh? Why are all four books the same cover? Are they the translated versions? But they have different English titles.”

And then, I realized that each cover had a different gun and I just need new glasses.

The first few pages were pretty good, it was 99¢, the GR page mentioned teams (and I’m in a huge squad/team mood) so clicking the dangerous 1-Click button was pretty easy.

My family is planning a trip next month so this will be my traveling ebook of choice.

How has your week been? Have you landed any new reads?


Tea Corner (Blog)

Happy Friday! This week went by much slower than the last, but I somehow did much less reading!
I’m hoping that I can fit in some more reading into this weekend.

Today’s lines come from a book I have owned for a long long time. I don’t even know where this book comes from, whether it’s from the old owner of a house I moved into or from a library book sale, but I definitely did not buy this because it spans back to before I started to read any thrillers. The first few pages and the synopsis sounded pretty interesting and since it’s a mystery thriller, I’m sure it’s something I’ll eventually pick up. Maybe.

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:

Whitehall Palace
January 28, 1547

Katherine Parr saw that the end was approaching. Only a few more days remained, maybe a mere few hours. She’d stood silent for the past half hour and watched, as the physicians completed their examinations. The time had now come for them to deliver their verdict.

Enjoyed that preview? This week’s book is…

The King’s Deception (Cotton Malone #8) by Steve Berry


Cotton Malone is back! Steve Berry’s new international adventure blends gripping contemporary political intrigue, Tudor treachery, and high-octane thrills into one riveting novel of suspense.
Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.
At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for “humanitarian reasons.” An outraged American government objects, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.
Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.
Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.
Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire, the one thing that every Irish national has sought for generations: a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire forty-five-year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another—and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to prevent the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.

Teaser Tuesday

Tea Corner (Blog)

I kid you not, I sat at my desk, Monday evening, agonizing over my Tuesday post, not knowing what book to pick up next because I was still reading my last week’s Teaser Tuesday book.

Of course, I ended up at NetGalley, poking around both the request and listen now tabs for my next audiobook (to take with me to work today) and somehow, my sleep deprived self managed to mistake the download button for the audio extract button. My clumsy hands literally found my next read for me before my brain could even process what I’d done. Is this a happy accident? Fate??

It’s a pretty short story (~16-17 minutes) but the cover was absolutely gorgeous and it’s probably what drew me in in the first place. I haven’t really read it yet, simply sliding to a random minute, but where I landed sounded like such a fairytale so I’m quite excited.

Teaser Tuesday is 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…

Riley was eager to find her plant and get home to a nice warm bath, but when she looked around the tree, all she saw was more forest. This better not be some type of trick or else I’ll be pissed! Feeling silly, she ran around the tree once, she peeked, still only endless forest.

Enjoyed what you read? This book is…

True Loaf by L. Austen Johnson

Look at this cover. LOOK AT THIS COVER!!


A fun and enchanting modern fairytale.

When a strange man puts in a strange request at the bakery where she works, Riley must go on a mini-adventure to find one unusual ingredient. Along the way, she realizes that things are not always what they seem and that fae might just be real.

DURATION: 16 Minutes, 3 Seconds

Book Review: Sons of Valor by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Description

Title: Sons of Valor
Authors: Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson
Edition: NetGalley > Audiobooks
Narrator: Ray Porter
Length: 12 Hours and 5 Minutes
Genre: Fiction, Military Thriller, Military Fiction
TW/CW: Death, violence, terrorisms, war, mentions of torture, graphic violence and death,

Disclaimer: An audiobook copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. This did not affect my review and all opinions are mine.


Sons of valor …

Navy SEAL Keith ”Chunk” Redman has been one of the military’s top doorkickers since the day he pinned on his trident: loyal, single-minded, lethal. Tasked to lead a new, covert team of Tier One SEALs — the most elite special operators in the world — Chunk can no longer simply rely on the status quo. To safeguard America, he needs help to stay a step ahead of its adversaries.

Brilliant at spotting patterns in the data that others miss, ex-CIA analyst Whitney Watts sees evidence of a troubling link between illicit Chinese arms sales and an attack on a US military convoy in Afghanistan. If she’s right, it would portend not only massive casualties, but a devastating threat to global stability.

Sons of war …

From the ashes of a never-ending war, a new generation of terrorists has arisen: sophisticated, tech-savvy, and hiding in plain sight among America’s allies. Battered by the Taliban and by the West, they call themselves al Qadr — Power and Destiny — and they’re determined to wrest back control of their homeland. Armed with a powerful combat drone, they can strike with deadly precision at US forces in the region — but their ambitions reach far, far beyond that.

A new legacy …

The new Tier One’s first mission will require them to not only prove themselves, but to stop an enemy who’s using military tactics against them. Chunk and his team aren’t just the tip of the spear; they’re America’s first, last, and best counterterrorism defense. And they couldn’t have arrived at a more urgent — and perilous — time.


Sons of Valor is a fiction; a military fiction and thriller. It’s also a spin-off from another series that came before, which I have not read yet. This book is an audiobook I picked up from NetGalley and now that I’m done with it, I am already invested enough that I have to go back and read the other books, because hot damn! With the exception of a few retrospective moments and a couple nods to old memories, I wasn’t ever lost, so even if you started here, like I did, you should be fine. By itself, the book stands very well even if you haven’t read the Tier One books. Not having read the other series didn’t make this one hard to read or follow in any way. However, there was a moment, a very suspenseful moment, towards the end where the main character was reminded of a similar incident happening previously and at that point, I knew I just needed to go back so I can read and catch up on the characters.

I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time and I’m now mildly obsessed with digging up more from both these two authors and other books from the same genre. Our two main characters here are Lieutenant Keith Redman (Chunk) and Whitney Watts (Heels), but there are others in this team (Ryker, Saw, Trip, etc). The main characters are real and very complex, with their own very strong personalities, histories, and demons that haunt them and the authors certainly didn’t slack on making sure the others in the team wouldn’t fall flat either.

Chunk, previously a character in the Tier One series, now stars in his own series, this spin-off. He’s an amazing character and a strong leader to his team, all of whom looks up to him and count on him. He’s a man with “arms of a gorilla” but beneath his gruff exterior is a very caring heart. He cares deeply for everyone, especially his team whom he considers family. He also takes care of Whitney because he really threw her into the deep end of the pool (and apologizes later with promises of better preparations next time) in this book. Chunk’s got his past haunting him and he’s determined to never make that mistake again. He’s not perfect and nobody in this book is, but he quickly becomes very likeable.

Whitney is a former CIA analyst, recruited to help out the newly reformed Tier One team. She’s a strong female character and I loved her because through her we, the readers, got to learn more of the action to which she was just as new too. There’s a point in the book where it was her first time shooting someone. She was dubbed “Heels” because she had shown up on her first day with her heels as opposed to something more field ready. She’s smart and thinks outside of the boxes and has better hunch hits than any other person I know, fictional character or real life. She’s got the right fire and resolve to fit into the group and her pace isn’t anything super human, because she has to learn to slowly fit into this group. Throughout the book and even right to the very end (epilogue) there were multiple times she doubted herself and whether she would fit into the team or not. Her previous job, as she had mentioned on several occasions, was to be an analyst! Physically being on the field and in danger is something new to her! However, it is thanks to her and her sharp wits, that the team uncovers so much and makes as great of a leap as they do because she’s so steadfast in her theories. While I thought that the team and Chunk were fantastic characters, I think Whitney would be my favorite out of everyone.

And speaking of teams, I love the team factor here. I’ve been looking for a squad/team book for a while and I finally feel like I hit a pot of gold. I love the slight banters between everyone and their conversations. I loved their teasing and at one point, when Saw mentioned that Chunk was a little green (due to his fear of Sharks and the fact that they were about to go swimming near them), Saw had started to hum while Ryker chimed in with the lyrics from Baby Shark and what a way to start a book.

The pacing was excellent and very fast paced. There were no major break time for anyone as Whitney was always coming up with and discovering new horrifying truths that would catapult the team to act quickly least many lives would be in danger. Most of the story was separated into their own little sections where the beginning consisted of training and introductions, followed by a hunch that was being investigated (leading to a waterfall of other clues and theories) and then finally, the action kicks in hard. It’s a pretty linear storyline and towards a certain point, there was just no going back.

I absolutely loved this book, though it’s not for the faint hearted. There was definitely a moment where I either held my breath or my pulse quickened. There was a particular scene that was life or death and had my heart in my throat because the writing was so vivid and the narration so realistic that I was terrified for the character. There’s heartbreak, there’s violence, and lots and lots of death. Everyone, protagonist and antagonist, are fighting for their own beliefs and goals. There’s nothing and nobody to hate because even the bad guys are written so well, their backgrounds full of tragedy and pain. Their own personal nightmares haunt them and lead them to their current path and roles in this story.

I had the audiobook version of Sons of Valor and the narrator was Ray Porter. As soon as the book opened up, I was already in awe. He did a fantastic job and, like I previously mentioned, it was also thanks to his narration and his voice – a slight quiver here or the sighs and exhausted conversations there – that brought the book’s scenes and characters right in front of me. It was thanks to his narrations that lead me to be petrified during that one scene and I felt close to tears because, had I been there, I probably would’ve really cried (which wouldn’t have mattered because I’d first have died). Ray did a great job and was always switching between accents and genders very smoothly. During dialogues, you can tell all the characters apart because he personalized a voice for every character present.
Despite my recent increase in audiobooks, I still haven’t read too many of them so Ray is still new to me, but I am already in love, just from this one book. He did a marvelous job at voicing the story and characters.

Military thrillers and fiction aren’t generally my go to, but in the few that I’ve read, they’ve all been enjoyable. The only worry I have towards the genre have always been missing on the jargon. Some books, and not just military fiction, would occasionally drop a small glossary towards the back while others would often string out a little paragraph or two explaining things, but there was just too much going on here to do that. A lot of the acronyms, words, slang and jargon, and weapons flew over my head. At first, my head swam and I was worried that I was going to either be very very lost or not going to enjoy the book because I was missing some of the “visuals” but as time went by, it really didn’t matter. Some terms I started to pick up very quickly and others were completely okay to miss. It didn’t really affect my ability to read or keep up with the book and by the end, it was hardly something I remembered being worried about.

This was a great read and both the authors, Andrews and Wilson, and the narrator did a phenomenal job with it. I’ll definitely be adding them to my favorites and will be reading more of their previous books as I await the next in this series to see how it pans out.

Mid-Year Reading Check In Tag

Tea Corner (Blog)

Oh the grand weekend is here again!

Happy Saturday, everyone!
Today’s post is going to be my response to the Mid-Year Reading Check In Tag. Thank you so much to Danni over at ForBooksSake for tagging me! Make sure you take a look at her lovely blog too!

How much have you read?

I’ve read 11 books and my goal is 25 so I’m slightly behind schedule. With one of my audiobook reads coming to a close, I’m hoping that I can start closing that gap in the near future.

What have you been reading?

I’ve definitely started reading more audiobooks because I realized how great of a work companion they can be. They help make the workday go by at lightning speeds. I’ve also noticed that my latest reads have been mostly indie or self-published books and I’ve been really enjoying them.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2021

I’ve had a few solid reads this year, but I think I would have to hand this one to Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky, though The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King came in at a close second. Both books were from blog tours, too!

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021

I’ve only read one sequel this year and it wasn’t exactly a favorite of mine, though it wasn’t a bad book. Still, I didn’t read enough sequels to pit anything against each other.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Most definitely, I’m most looking forward to digging into Ocean Prey by John Sandford. I’m putting it off until I catch up a little more of the series (almost there), but I’m really REALLY excited for it. It’s sitting in my bookshelf staring at me, everyday.

Most anticipated release for the second part of the year

I’m constantly finding new authors, so my TBR and anticipated reads usually tend to be for books that are already published or sometimes even long released. However, I do know that one of my favorite authors, Michael J. Sullivan, the author of the Riyria books, is coming up with a new series and book one is coming out [expected] August 3rd this year and I am really really excited about it. I’m looking forward to Nolyn, the first book of The Rise and Fall series by Michael J. Sullivan

Biggest disappointment

I haven’t been disappointed yet!
I guess that’s a pretty darn good thing! 😳

Biggest surprise

I really want to say that Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky and River Queens by Alexander Watson are my biggest surprise because they came from genres/subgenres that I rarely read (space opera and nonfiction, respectively), but if current reads count in this tag, seeing as I’m thhiiss close to finishing it, I think my biggest surprise would have to be Sons of Valor by Brian Andrew and Jeffrey Wilson because it’s been one of the two books that’s had my heart up at my throat with adrenaline and fear. Finished reads wise, I’d definitely have to give this one to Shards of Earth again.

New favorite author (debut or new to you).

I’ve discovered some amazing new authors this year! Some of my favorite includes Adrian Tchaikovsky and Rob Sinclair. Right now, I’m really enjoying Brian Andrew and Jeffrey Wilson and I adored Daniel James Sheehan’s writing.

Underrated gems you’ve discovered recently

River Queens! It’s a nonfiction book about boats and I absolutely loved it. It was definitely a gem.

Rereads this year

I haven’t finished it, but whenever I get a chance, I’ve been going back and rereading Dark of the Moon by John Sandford to rediscover the first time I was introduced to and fell in love with Virgil Flowers.

Newest fictional crush

I feel like I mentioned this somewhere or to someone, but I have definitely told at least one person that I have a new fictional book crush and that would be Idris from Shards of Earth 😊

Newest favorite character

*Ahem*…. Idris 🤭

Book that made you cry

While not comparable to some of the books, out there, that’s made me bawl my eyes out, River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America came pretty close because there have been some beautiful moments and then some that were pretty sad and actually made me tear up. Overall though, I had a pretty tearless 2021.

Book that made you happy

I Am Not A Wolf by Dan Sheehan was humorous and satirical but the writing and the narrator put the biggest and goofiest grin on my face the entire way through the book.

Favorite book to film adaption

I don’t watch films or movies and I tend to stay away from book to film/movie adaptions because once I have my own mental image of the world and characters, using a real life cast kind of ruins that for me. I, also, can barely sit still long enough to read, let alone watch a film.

Most beautiful cover you’ve brought (or received) this year

A lot of my favorite and most beautiful covers are from previous years, but I definitely “judged based on the cover” and purchased (on a whim) The Romantic Poets, the Canterbury Classics flexibound version. I chose it because…of the glitter on the cover… I can’t find a picture on the internet that can do it enough justice than to physically hold its heft in your hand, to just feel the silky cover, and to look at the shiny glitter… Not to mention, the stunning endpapers…!

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I think I’ve mentioned this a couple times, but during a house move (and I’ve moved a lot in the past) I lost a really good Goodreads giveaway book but during another move, I unearthed it with some other books I thought were gone forever. I had started it and it was pretty good so I was pretty sad about it. I fully intend to restart and finish this before the end of the year.

Favorite post you have done this year?

I have a lot of favorite posts this year, but the other day, I posted my very first interview so it’s a pretty special post for me.
Author Interview: Nathan Timmel

Some of my other personal favorites:
Dragma’s Keep Review
The Lore of Prometheus Review
Shards of Earth Review
Sci-Fi (Cyberpunk) Want to Reads
Favorite Phone Apps

Favorite book community member

I have a lot of favorite book community members and sadly, I can’t name them all nor can I pick just one, but my favorite “communities” would be a particular group chat of mine that are always giving out free hugs and so much support be it book/blog related or life related. The United Weirdos of The Write Reads group chat is very special to me, but I love a whole lot of people from the book community and I wouldn’t be where I am without the lot of you ❤


Book Review: River Queens: Saucy Boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America by Alexander Watson

2021, Book Reviews, By Year, Uncategorized

Book Description:

Title: River Queens: Saucy Boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America
Author: Alexander Watson
Pages: 287 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Orange Frazer Pres, Wilmington, Ohio (2018)
Genres: Autobiography > Memoir, LGBT

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, by the author, in exchange for a fair and honest review. This did not affect my review and all opinions are mine.

Goodreads Blurb:

Two men and a spotted dog restore a vintage Chris-Craft motor yacht and launch across the American Heartland from Texas to Ohio. The restoration, the people they met along the way, and life in an America which few know exists are the story of River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America.


This book is long overdue to be read and I feel so bad. I had initially started reading (only the first few pages), way back when I first received the book in September or October of 2020. I recently started to clear through all my backlog and finally settled back down with it. I made myself comfy…got some tea…started to read…and then maybe a third of the way through, wondered, Why in the hell did I put this off for so long?!?

In the scarce amount of time I have, to read, these days, I gobbled this down.

Even before picking the book back up, I remembered one vivid thing that stuck with me all these months, the writing. The writing is absolutely amazing and to say that I liked or even loved it would be a sheer understatement. The writing was solid, the dialogue is so real, accents and all, and the storytelling, masterful. The characters are lively and rich, vivid and memorable. The entire book felt so warm, despite the tears that fell.

I don’t generally read non-fiction, memoirs even less and memoirs about boats (to which I know absolutely nothing about) were unicorns in my TBR. I’ve read travel memoirs before and absolutely loved it and this one? I loved all the same for the near same reasons: people. The people that Alexander, Dale, and Doris Faye encountered are just amazing people (though around a certain line that seems to distinguish the Midwest to the relative East) this friendliness seems to slowly ease off, though it’s definitely still there.

Alexander is the writer and would be the main POV of this book, while his partner, Dale, is there with him along with their dog, an envy to all who meets her, Doris Faye. He’s raw with his words and feelings, and emotions will never be perfect in this kind of trip.

They’re dropping money into a boat a sliver of a plank away from sinking and restore it enough to go on a journey up the river where they meet a wealth of people and engage in the cornucopia of cultures of every place they dock. There’s so much friendship and so much warmth. There’s also speckles of grief from loss of family to loss of friends, especially friends they meet on the river. There’s all sorts of love here and this book just exudes it both in friendship and in relationship between Alexander and Dale. After all, setting sail on a boat that was previously a wave kick from going down is hard on anybody, relationships especially. And there’s acceptance. So much acceptance, welcomings and well wishings from everyone they meet.

In the writing, there’s flashbacks and very entertaining dialogue, real dialogue. The accents are right there and occasionally I have to squint and feels like I’m playing a quick game of Mad Gab as I I try to read what’s being said, but it makes it so much more fun when you read it out loud and try to picture each conversation. And there’s a lot of conversation, even ones where there’s mostly one word exchanges for half a page.

In the back, there’s a short glossary and the endpapers of the book consists of the map for their journey. Both are a life saver as I have no idea of any of the boat terms being used. I had to learn some of that, just as Alexander and Dale had to because, in the beginning, they weren’t boat people either. The map was a pretty nice gauge to see where they’re at and how far they are from their destination.

A fantastic book that’s nothing like I’ve read this year or anything I’ve read previously. I am no fan of (physically) traveling myself, especially not by boat and ESPECIALLY not a boat that was a major gamble on not just if it’ll sink, but if it’ll run at all for their trip. Alexander took me on an immense journey that I will not forget anytime soon and through the book and through his eyes, I have met so many lovely people, so many kinds of people that I would love to live amongst here. I’ve seen so many new places and experienced so many new cultures of those places.

Thank you, Alexander, it was a beautiful read from start to the end.

5 Stars

Spotlight: Shadow Stained by: Rachel Hobbs

Featured Books

Happy Monday!

To start this week off, today’s post is going to be a spotlight for Shadow-Stained by Rachel Hobbs. This is the first book of the Stones of Power series with book 2 actually coming out in October! I’ve included Rachel‘s linktree and Bookbubs, as well, so be sure to check her out!

Book Description

Title: Shadow-Stained
Author: Rachel Hobbs
Series: Stones of Power [Book 1]
Pages: 362 (ebook & hardcover), 360 (paperback)
Genre: Fiction > Fantasy, Fantasy > Dark Fantasy,

Blurb [Goodreads]

For her, it’s her late grandma’s legacy. For him, the mother of all black arts spoils, granting one demon the power of a God. Immortality.

When occult-magnet Ruby falls victim to Demon Lord Drayvex’s viperous allure, she loses a sentient dark relic to his light fingers and appetite for power. Like calls to like. But when Drayvex himself loses the relic to a traitor to the throne, Ruby coerces him – the tyrant king with a soft spot for humanity – into helping her save her pokey old world village from becoming a ground zero of mass demonic carnage.

Both invested in reclaiming the relic, the one thing Ruby and Drayvex agree on is that it’s in the wrong hands. Co-existing in a precarious arrangement between predator and prey, to save the planet they both love for different reasons, they must become a formidable double-team in the face of an apocalyptic takeover. Now, the fate of both human and demon alike rests with a killer that walks between worlds, and a woman with a curse in her bloodline.

About the Author

Rachel Hobbs lives in South West Wales, where she hibernates with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes. ​Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her. ​Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night. ​Her next novel SOUL-STRUNG is out later this year.


Week’s Wrap Up

Tea Corner (Blog)

This week in life…

Aaanndd…it’s Sunday!

Sure, my work week goes by at lightning speed but weekends seem to have their own special hellish speed.

This week has been eventful. I made a TikTok account and joined Booktok. I filmed and edited for about an hour for a 20 second clip that I had originally intended to post to IG as a reel (which I did too) but ended up also throwing it up as my first video on TikTok. Speaking of Instagram, I made an oops because I seemed to have skipped the section about reel covers and…now there’s a white wall sitting in my IG grid 😂 and uhhh I learned that you can embed IG/TikTok videos to WordPress posts! *cue excited wiggle dance*

This week In posts…

I started this week off with my usual Tuesday bookish meme post, a Teaser Tuesday of my current read, a book that was long overdue to be my current reads and to be read! I’m nearly done with it and broke it down to roughly 3 chapters a night. I was actually supposed to have finish it yesterday, but I came home, desperately needing a nap, on Friday and then spent all of yesterday replaying SOS: Friends of Mineral Town (in my last file, I married Brandon). If I ever get distracted from reading, it’s probably Astral Chain or SOS/Harvest Moon.

Then came a spotlight for a book that was coming out this week (the Kindle version actually dropped yesterday! You can check it out >HERE< ) I followed up the spotlight with an excerpts post of the book. The author had sent out the first few pages as a sneak peek into the upcoming release and I picked out a couple of my favorite moments to put out as an excerpts post.

The following day, Cozy with Books had its very first author interview. It was a written interview with author Nathan Timmel. You might recall seeing the spotlight or review post, a week or two ago, for his first fiction book, We Are 100, and I really enjoyed it!

And then, on Saturday, I threw up a list post because I hadn’t done one of those in a while (not including any tags). While I’ve had my reading moods, I’ve never been quite so stuck in one for this long. There have been steampunk, fantasy, military fantasy (and general military fiction) moods for a while, but nothing could touch how much I’ve been craving a good cyberpunk book. I fell into another hole while surfing Amazon’s book section and then after adding a bunch of books to my TBR, I ended up just making a list post.

I’m intending to finish the weekend off strong so that I can get into my next book (the cover is amazing). It’s going to be an interesting upcoming week, but I hope I can squeeze in as much reading in it as possible.

QoTD – “What’s your reading routine?”

My reel and first TikTok video was about my reading routine. I tend to read towards the evening because my concentration is at its best (given that I’m not drained from the day). My favorite time to write or draw is after 9pm so naturally, the best time for me to read is around that time too.

There’s always some kind of tea involved. If I read any earlier in the day or if the next day’s a no-alarm day, I drink whatever I want. If the next day’s a work day, I opt for a no caffeine choice instead. There’s never lyrical music, but I do enjoy some ambience in the background. I love the sound of grandfather clocks ticking!

Grab my book, notebook, stickies and pens, and I’m all set for the evening.

What about you? How was your week?
Do you have any reading routines?

Author Interview: Nathan Timmel

Tea Corner (Blog)

Happy Friday! Today is an important day! It’s No-Alarm Day Eve!

Last week, I showcased Nathan Timmel’s We Are 100 as a spotlight and a review. Since then, I had the opportunity to do a written interview with him and get to know him a little better! A comedian who has performed in various places, including overseas for American troops, he has six albums and several previous books, but We Are 100 would be his first fiction book. He’s been a joy to work with and he gave some great answers to my questions!

And so, for the first ever author interview on Cozy with Books, I present: Nathan Timmel!

I know you have a handful of previous books, but they were all nonfiction, what made you give fiction a go? Any inspiration in particular?

I am, at my core, a stand-up comedian; standing on stage and making people laugh is my favorite thing in the world.
(My wife and kids aren’t going to see this, right? Um, maybe standing on stage is my second favorite thing, after my family. Heh.)
That said, like any normal human, I have “unfunny” thoughts and ideas. The work of fiction became my way of getting those not-funny thoughts out of my head and into the world.

When was the first time you wrote a book? How long did it take from idea and first draft to publication? What about for “We Are 100?”

First time would be somewhere around 2010.
This is embarrassing, but true, so I’ll admit to it—I’d been blogging for about six years, and “everyone” was saying, “OMG, you should write a book!”
Well, I let my ego feed off those kind compliments and did just that: wrote a book. I Was a White Knight…Once came out in 2011, which means it took about a year to write and put out into the world.
We Are 100 follows somewhat the same timeline, with one big twist: the pandemic.
In 2019, I began writing and was moving along at a fairly decent clip. When I’m on the road performing, I have all day in a hotel room with nothing to do, so that’s when I got the majority of the work done.
When the world came to a standstill in 2020, so did my writing.
Thankfully, my wife had a job that allowed her to work from home, so I became Daddy Day Care. We have two wee ones, and I had to keep them on track with Zoom school, keep tabs on them when they weren’t in “school,” and run the household. At night, then, I was too exhausted to write.
When the schools opened up again, then, I was able to get back to business and finish everything up.
The moral of the story is that because the book came out in March of 2021, I had plenty of people saying, “Wow, you wrote a book during the pandemic? All I did was watch Netflix and get fat.”
Well, all I did during the pandemic was watch Netflix and get fat(er), too. So don’t beat yourself up.

How did the writing process, between nonfiction and fiction, differ for you?

I don’t want to say, “nonfiction is easier,” because that might cheapen it a little. The truth is, though, nonfiction is easier.
If something really happened, your story is already there. All you have to do is type down the words.
With fiction, oh boy. You have to have an idea, it has to make sense, you have to dream up the characters, the dialogue, the action…
Yeah, fiction is a pain in the tuckus.
So, the writing process was different in that fiction takes much more imagination and effort.

You’ve written many books by now, including the smaller ebooks. Has your writing process differed from your first book to now?

I don’t know that anything has changed. I’m struggling to come up with an interesting answer here, because I think—not that I’ve ever examined the process—I just sort of… write. When it’s done, it’s done, and that determines what it’s going to be (long form book or mini-eBook).

What was/is the hardest and easiest part of writing for you?

The hardest part is the writing; getting that first draft out of my head and into the computer. The easiest part is the editing. Once everything is on the screen in front of me, altering sentences, making new word choices… that’s fun to me. I like the tinkering process much more than the “barfing everything up” part of writing.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I haven’t had to deal with that yet.
*knocks on wood*
I don’t know if there are right and wrong ways to write, but I only write when I “feel” like it. I know some people set aside a certain chunk of time every day to focus on writing, but that’s not how I operate.
I don’t like the idea of forcing myself to do anything. It’s like eating broccoli; I didn’t like it as a kid, but I grew into loving it as an adult. Same thing for writing, only without the kid/adult aspect.
If I sat down and forced myself, “OK, gotta write two pages today,” I’d probably churn out garbage.
So, I sit down to write, and if I write, I write. And if I don’t, oh well. I’d rather create something organic over something that felt pressured.

Do you have a favorite book amongst your own published ones? What about favorite book/s in general?

A favorite book of mine… hmmm… *scrunches up face thoughtfully*
I suppose if I had to pick, I might say that both books I wrote to my kiddos come close to the top.
When my daughter (firstborn) arrived, my wife came across a letter going viral online. A celebrity had written to their baby; a note for the infant to read when a young adult. My wife liked that idea, and said I should write to our tiny human. I did, and then kept going.
Every week I was on the road performing comedy, I’d sit in my hotel and write to my daughter. I told her where I was, what we did that week, and stories from my life.
I did that for an entire year, and after reading all the letters, my wife said, “You should publish these.”
So I did.
Then our son came along, and not wanting to be in the unenviable position fifteen years down the road of being told, “You never wrote a book for me!” I followed the same pattern for him.
These books are called It’s OK to Talk to Animals (and Other Letters from Dad), and Hey Buddy (Dubious Advice From Dad).
As far as favorite books, I really enjoy both Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis. They’ve written some truly great works.
So has Sebastian Junger.
And Jon Krakauer.
I better stop now, otherwise I’ll just start running down a list of authors I enjoy.

How do you use social media as an author?

Ah, another embarrassing moment of truth…
Like anyone, I try and use social media like a big, flashing neon sign: Hey! Pay attention to me! Buy my book! Please?
Social media plays to our ego, doesn’t it? We use it to try to focus attention on ourselves, and I am a slave to its siren song as much as the next person.

What was the inspiration behind “We Are 100?”

I’m not a fan of injustice, and I get frustrated watching the news.
Sometimes it seems like there are very clear, obvious truths—like the idea drug companies shouldn’t be able to raise the price on medication just to increase profit—that get ignored by the powers that be.
The book is my sick… “fantasy,” I guess, about righting many of the wrongs I see in the world around me.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Least favorite or maybe most disliked? Personally, my favorite character was the main antagonist followed by Kristin, Michael, and then Susan. Hated that cop in the beginning though.

Ah, you make me blush, and here’s why: the main antagonist is based on me.
Most writers like to model themselves after the hero; the guy (or gal) who saves the day and gets the girl (or guy).
Johnny Squarejaw had an athletic build that made women swoon and men jealous. When he was on the case, criminals had to watch out…
That sort of thing.
Not me, heh.
I made myself the bad guy, because that’s who I identified the most with.
I mean, sure, I fictionalized him by making him intelligent and successful, but his beliefs are based on my beliefs.
When you get to the end of the book and understand his motivations, those motivations came from the question, “What would it take to put me in a position where I would act out in disruptive ways?”
Once I had that answer, I had a starting point for the book, and once I started writing I was like Forrest Gump jogging non-stop across the country.
After him…
I think I just sort of have the other main characters on the same plane of existence.
I do know that my least favorite character is the lawyer in Seattle. We don’t really meet him, we just get a description from another character’s point of view, but that guy is based on a real person (many in the book are), and when I read about him it made my skin crawl.
(Sorry about being vague, but I don’t want to give anything away.)

Some of my favorite Youtubers are/were once stand-up comedians and have said that a lot of their content and jokes came from personal experiences. There were occasionally some little inside jokes between Susan and Michael; things like how the flights worked on the job and such. Was that from research or personal experiences (like stories from FBI buddies?)

Google was my very good friend while writing!
I looked up many, many things to make my fictional world realistic.
At one point, I believe I wrote about a train in Oklahoma. I researched a train schedule there, and used Google Maps to look at the roads the tracks cross.
The internet has a lot to offer if you use it correctly.

I love watching movie bloopers and editor cuts of scenes that never made it into the actual movie or even those that did make it, but ended up cut out of the final product. Were there any “editor’s cut” scenes in your book? Given that there were so many different killers and victim scenes/chapters?

I’m trying to think if there’s anything I cut, but am drawing a blank.
I wrote as I went along, and didn’t have a master plan or outline or anything. So I didn’t have the problem of realizing, “Crap, I [sic] do I shoehorn this person into the mix? I just wrote myself into a corner.”

Will there be more fictions to come? 

I don’t know. I really don’t.
One of the dumbest things I’ve probably done is to just put this book out with the thought, “And that’s how it all ended.”
The feedback I’ve gotten from people—the volume of very kind folk saying they want more from Susan and Michael—is overwhelming. And I mean that in a positive way.
I don’t have any ideas in my noggin in the moment, and I absolutely do not want barf something up for the sake of “cashing in.”
So… we’ll see.
Hopefully an idea will hit me, and I’ll start writing again soon. If not with these characters, with new ones.
*crosses fingers*
(See what I mean when I said nonfiction was easier?)

Favorite website, blog, resources, etc. for writing? Or maybe just content in general? (I love me my Pinterest and WordPress readers app).

I really, really like On Writing Well, by Zinsser, and The Elements of Style, by Strunk. Those two books are bibles to me.

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Lol, yes! Get the two books I just mentioned!