Non-Fiction Indie Review – The Frustrations of Being Deaf by Dave Blackwell

I usually don’t read non-fiction books, but I’m glad I picked this one up. I give it five stars because it was well-written and placed me in the scenes instead of just telling a story.

The Frustrations of Being Deaf is a compilation of short stories about incidents that happened throughout Dave Blackwell’s life. He also writes about his cochlear implant.

I enjoyed the book, spending a lot of time in awe of how stupid some people are. He diffuses many situations using humor, but some people go too far. One lady thought she could “catch his deafness” and others treat him like he’s lacking intelligence because he can’t hear—when their actions prove they’re the ones with a problem.

Comedian Bill Engvall has a “Here’s your sign” skit where he’d like to give a sign to stupid people so nobody else has to waste their time talking to them.

Mr. Blackwell would’ve handed out a lot of signs. Pennywise the Dancing Clown, an ex-coworker of his, should definitely wear a sign.

If you like non-fiction, would like to understand some of the problems hearing-impaired people run into, or just want to read a good book, pick up a copy.

Songs About Getting Off the Grid

I like many types of music, but country is probably the genre I listen to the most. I’ve been updating my playlists, and the following is a small percentage of the songs that made it. I’ve added a line or two from each song that sticks with me. By the way, it’s just country this time.

These new releases point out the truth about the strangeness going on.

Same Beer Different Problem – Darius Rucker

Granny’s eatin’ gummies, mama’s online

All I know for sure is we’ve all lost our minds (ain’t that the truth)

Out Yonder – Elle King

It’s all this he-said, she-said
Always two sides and the truth
There’s so much $hit around these parts
Gonna get some on your boots (also true)

Strange – Miranda Lambert

Country don’t twang, rock and roll ain’t loud
Every elevator only ever goes down
Everybody’s looking for a little cheap fame, yeah
And times like these make me feel strange (that’s cause these times are strange)

Songs about women who are not going to be held back.

Thrive – Cassadee Pope

You were a bullet that I dodged, a sickness that I never caught
A building burning down and I can see that now (she told him)

Raised Right – Reyna Roberts

My daddy taught me how to give
More than I take, but don’t take no $hit
I flip that switch, call me crazy if you wanna
But y’all never met my mama (fair warning)

Songs about love and family.

Put ‘Em On Mine – Riley Green

If you wanna draw hearts on a window
Play a song on the radio
Put your bare feet on a dashboard
Baby, that’s what I’m here for
You can put ’em on mine (awww, he’s just sweet)

Down Home – Jimmie Allen

I still hate that you’re gone
I wish you were here
But I hope I’m making you proud
‘Cause I know you’re up there lookin’ down home (hits home)

Miscellaneous songs about a free spirit, and a preacher with a side job.

Wild as Her – Corey Kent

She never wanted to be white-picket fenced in
Her heart’s like a feather in a Tulsa wind (it’s a really catchy opening)

Holy Water – Michael Ray

Jar tops twist when the sun starts settin’
It burns like hell, get you high like heaven, and Lord
Have mercy if they knew where they were gettin’
That holy water (a lucrative side job…)

With Memorial Day weekend up ahead, many people will be on the road. Here is a list of new and old songs about getting off the grid.

Don’t Come Lookin’ – Jackson Dean

So long, four wheels turning
Got a tank full of gas, down the road I’m burning
Can’t say I would and I can’t say I wouldn’t
If I don’t come back, don’t come lookin’ (that’s how I feel when I’m hitting the road)

Lost – Chris Young

Come on, baby, let’s go
When we get there we’ll know
No bars on the cell phone
Sounds good to me (Me, too)

One of my all-time favorites…

Heads Carolina, Tails California – Jo Dee Messina (by the way, Cole Swindell has a good new song based off this called She Had Me at Heads Carolina)

Heads Carolina, tails California
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean
Where it don’t matter, long as we’re goin’ (It’s so tempting to flip that coin…)

Blacktop Gone – Jason Aldean

Blacktop gone, four lane fast
Topping off the tank with some never look back
Chase that sun, race that wind
With them horses that you can’t fence in (f.r.e.e.d.o.m)

Where the Blacktop Ends – Keith Urban

So come on
Give me some fresh air give me that farm
Give me some time with you in my arms
Far away from the hustle and the pressure and the noise (Off the clock and outside)

If you have any song suggestions or requests for other lists, drop a comment.

All Things Books

Book reviews mean a lot to authors—especially indie authors. Therefore, I’ll always write one for any book I read, even if the book already has a jillion reviews. Clicking on a star rating and writing a few lines takes less time than reading the book, so why not? Then what do you do with a book after you read it? A Little Free Library may be the solution for you.

The North Pole AND Zombies?

Little Drummer Boy: Hemlock Connal Preternatural Investigations is book two in the humorous dark comedy series by Joel Spriggs. The book is definitely an absurd detective comedy, and the Hemlock-Connal combination is a lot of fun.

Hemlock Connal and her half-brother and intern Morgan Burns hit the streets again to find the reason behind a murder by a demonic drummer boy and his troupe of zombies. The zombie meal gets pretty graphic, but it’s done well. With Hemlock’s portal-making ability, they follow the odd parade around and learn that the North Pole has lots of snow, and Santa put them on the Naughty List.

The book has likeable characters and interesting twists. Although I like short books, Little Drummer Boy could have used more pages—which is good thing when a reader wants to see more of your book. One picky comment: Hemlock’s raspy voice and Connal’s clunky boots could have used a temporary change-up so it wasn’t repeated so much.

Overall, I recommend buying book 2 after you’ve picked up book 1.

Little Free Library

I’ve noticed Little Free Libraries popping up in neighborhoods and parks. The small structures promote “take a book – share a book” and make book exchange more accessible for many. The website LittleFreeLibrary.org can give you all the information you need about the program, plans to make one if you’re good at woodworking, and maps of where to find them. Some of the libraries are super creative. I’ve posted a few below.

Suggestions

I’m always looking for new indie books to read. If they are under 300 pages, comedy, supernatural, mystery, fantasy, horror, or detective, they are more likely to grab my attention. Wolves, pirates, and zombies are bonus points.

Another Indie Book Winner

Another Dead Intern is a humorous dark comedy by Joel Spriggs. It’s for readers who love “absurd detective comedies, macabre humor, and paranormal investigations,” which I do. It is also relatively short at 216 pages, which I also like. I give it a solid four and a half stars. The book kept me entertained and was hard for me to put down.

The Main Characters

Hemlock Connal, a half-Sidhe (fae)/half human is actually Sidhe royalty. However, she has been banished from the Sidhe for several years as a punishment for a prank and doesn’t have all of her magical abilities. As a PI (Preternatural Investigator) in Boston, she handles the usual investigator cases, such as tracking cheating spouses, only her clientele are supernatural beings. For some reason, all of her interns are getting killed on the job. Enter Morgan Burns, her fourth new intern. He’s a human fresh in town from Indiana and very clueless about supernatural anything. He’s just out of college and looking for something exciting and dangerous. He’s found it. Hemlock and Morgan take on a client that runs the Irish mob, and the case involves a dead drug dealer.

Fun and Gruesome

The main characters are likeable and well-rounded, and their investigation turns up a batch of interesting secondary characters. Alice the pixie is a trip. The description of her eating lunch paints a perfect picture of this grubby little creature. Bob and the rest of the riders also a nice touch. There is a lot to like in this book, but my favorite part has to be the lecture Hemlock gives Morgan. “Let me clue you in to one of the biggest lies ever pushed on women’s fashion. Pockets.” She goes on to state (and it’s spot on) “If there is a pocket, it’s either too small or tight to be useful.” Hemlock’s solution to the “pocket problem” is very creative, as is many of the supernatural elements.

I recommend this book, and I already purchased the sequel.

Listen Up!

Some activities are great in pairs. For instance, listening to music while cooking or taking in a podcast while riding an exercise bike go well together. Pick your activities to pair with these recommendations.

Music for Relaxing

If you love opera with a mix of easy listening, get a copy of Amara Frances’s CD Angel. Among the fourteen songs on the CD, are:

L’ Ultima Notte

Un Giorno Per Noi

Because We Believe

You Raise Me Up

Over the Rainbow

To snag one of these hidden gems, contact amarafrancesw@gmail.com.

Ready for Something Scary?

If you want to delve into the unusual side of human behavior, check out the iScary Podcast on Spotify, hosted by Ann Kimbrough. The podcasts are less than a half hour and briefly cover two news stories taken from the legitimate newspapers. A discussion with a guest host follows each story. The content can be anywhere from a “bit odd” to gruesome, but the hosts bring up good points that make you scratch your head and eventually wind up laughing. Some of the podcast titles include:

Bad Neighbors

Strange Things

Ghost Stories

Scan the QR code or follow the link to get iScary.

Listen and Watch

Finally, if you just have a couple of minutes to kill, and usually find yourself scrolling through TikTok to pass the time, take a look and listen to the Reno Red: Reckless book trailer at the bottom of the blog. It’s guaranteed to give you a laugh—or at least, make you shake your head. By the way, everybody’s favorite vegan vampire is back in book 2 Reno Red: Coming Up Roses.

Get busy with your multitasking! Feel free to leave a comment.

More Book Reviews…

The indie book Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire was so much fun, I read book 2. I’m happy to report that the fun continues with Duckett & Dyer: The One-Hundred Percent Solution by G.M. Nair. It is just as fast-paced and humorous as the first book but with even more action.

The ridiculous duo of inexperienced detectives Michael Duckett and Stephanie Dyer kept me laughing while they navigated one problem after another. It all starts with Michael losing his job at the Future Group. What is the Future Group? Everyone finally finds out.

After a visit from a strange, secretive woman who wants to hire Duckett & Dyer Dicks for Hire, Michael and Stephanie’s detective agency finally has business. The Garbagemobile rolls again, and old favorites are back, including Detective Rex Calhoun. This time, Rex enlists the services of Michael and Stephanie to crack his case, but he’s not happy about it.

The duo bumble through just about everything, but Earth’s future depends on them to finally do one thing right.

The book Do Your Laundry Or You’ll Die Alone by Becky Blades was given to my daughter years ago, and it’s been sitting in a box ever since until a cleaning spree last weekend. It was in her “giveaway” pile, but the title caught my attention and curiosity. It’s a very quick read, and I enjoyed it. It reminded me of the poster “All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” which was also a book, but I never read it.

Young adults could benefit from the advice, and it’s full of good reminders about things the not-so-young adults tend to forget—but shouldn’t.

My personal favorites are “cut people some slack” and “don’t think you know how it feels.”

She did leave out “always write a book review”—the time it takes you to read a book and write a quick review is probably one-hundredth the amount of time an author has put into that book.

Book Review – Cozy Mystery

I don’t usually read books on Kindle, but Adventures of a Vegan Vamp by Cate Lawley was a free download and it sounded interesting. The book turned out to be a fun read and kept me entertained from beginning to end. I posted a 5-star rating on Amazon, although it was closer to 4.5 stars. The beginning is a little repetitive, but the rest of the story flows well. 

It tells the story of Mallory, a mid-thirties workaholic who doesn’t seem very happy with life, although she has a job, home, and car she likes. She doesn’t feel that her co-workers like her, but she doesn’t seem to make a huge effort to like them either. Despite the lack of friendliness at work, they occasionally go out to a bar for drinks–it seems Mallory is invited because she picks up the tab.

Following a vampire attack, she’s thrown into a world she didn’t know existed and is forced to change her lifestyle. She doesn’t do it very gracefully, but hangry and undead wouldn’t sit well with most people. Mallory meets other supernatural beings who help her adjust to her new life. They not only encourage her to find the rogue vampire but provide assistance. Lawley makes the secondary characters come to life. Alex (possibly a wizard) is especially interesting. He is very secretive about his background throughout the story, which made me want to know more about him.

Without giving away too much, Mallory ends the story happier than she started, except for the fact she can’t eat meat or dairy. I didn’t find it to be a cliffhanger, despite what some other reviewers posted. The mystery was completely wrapped up, and a new story was hinted at in the end. There are eight books in the Vegan Vamp series, but Cate Lawley has several other series that also seem like fun reads.

Book Review – Support an Indie

Duckett & Dyer – Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair is a fast-paced, action adventure, humorous novel. I literally laughed out loud at the antics of Michael Duckett and Stephanie Dyer. The lifelong friends are likeable average joes. The anxiety-ridden Michael works at a “soul-crushing” job and has forever been dragged into the schemes of the carefree and careless Stephanie who can’t hold a job and makes a permanent indention on their sofa.

From the Garbagemobile that he drives to the makeshift air vent of his dilapidated apartment, Michael is ready for a life changing event, and he gets more than he bargained for in this book. Stephanie is a lazy, flighty dingbat—or so you would believe. She is full of surprises as Michael finds out after twenty years. The scene with her breadstick guy at the Italian restaurant was hilarious.

Without spilling too much, the pair get roped into becoming private investigators not only to get money that they desperately need but to find a missing person—or two. Although Michael believes it’s a bad idea because “you know what happens to PIs, you don’t see them around anymore.” Stephanie convinces him otherwise. “Even better. So there’s literally no competition.”

Matteo Carrera and Detective Rex Calhoun are more interesting characters whose paths weave around Michael and Stephanie’s in this universe and several other creative and hysterical universes. The end of the book will give you some “ah-ha” moments. It reminds me of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Hermione could time travel. You get the full picture at the end.

Loved the book and will get book 2!

Recent Reads

In a previous post “What Am I Reading,” I mentioned several book series that I’d started. Here is an update on some books I’ve read since that post.

Fit Girls Cozy Mysteries by Ann Audree

So far, there are four books in the series with more to come: Exercise is Murder, Weddings are Murder, Pet Shows are Murder, Train Trips are Murder. The cozy mysteries are short reads around 100 pages, which I enjoy, and well-written. Each book is full of twists and kept me guessing who dunnit.

The books center around fitness trainer Paisley Summerhill and her friend Ellie Cruz, whose brother is Paisley’s ex-fiancé. The pair stumble onto a murder in each book and take up sleuthing to solve the crimes.

This is the link to visit Ann Audree’s Amazon page.

The Cainsville Series by Kelley Armstrong

I finished reading all five books in the adult modern gothic series and enjoyed them immensely. The series centers around Olivia Taylor Jones, a young socialite in Chicago who seems to have a “perfect” life. Her world is turned upside-down when she finds out she is adopted and that her real parents are in jail, sentenced as serial killers. The skeletons in the closet keep tumbling out, and Olivia searches for the truth and true happiness.

This is the link to Kelley Armstrong’s author page.

I read the first book in Armstrong’s Otherworld series titled Bitten. Although it is a good book, it didn’t draw me into reading more as the Cainsville series.

Still Life by Louise Penny

This book is one of Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries. Several of my friends have read all the books in the series. I enjoyed Still Life, although I stumbled through the first couple of chapters. A bonus was that I could not figure out who the murderer was. The plot had many twists and a slew of suspects. That being said, I didn’t continue with the series.

This is the link to Louise Penny’s author page.

The Secret Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams

I was on a cozy mystery kick and decided to read a couple of Ellery Adams’s books on a friend’s recommendation.

The Secret Book & Scone Society was a nice surprise. The main characters are four women, all with secrets in their past. When a murder happens in their quaint town to an acquaintance, the book and scone group gets involved to solve the case.

Murder in the Mystery Suite is the first book in another of Adam’s series, the Book Retreat mysteries. I enjoyed the book, although not as much as The Secret Book & Scone Society. This is the link to Ellery Adams author page.

I’m searching for a new series to try. If you have any recommendations, please leave a comment.

Still Searching…

A few months back, I posted a “Sock Balls and Other Stuff” post, showcasing some pet peeves. One of the gems that made my list is the printing, or rather bad printing, of expiration dates on food packaging. It baffles me even more when the dates are unreadable on medicine containers.

Example one is a perfect expiration date. Contrasting colors in a large print.

Example two is also clear—white text on a brown lid. However, the same white text is used on the light blue lid. That doesn’t work.

When companies clearly state to “use by the expiration date,” they should make sure their consumers can actually find and read that date. Don’t you think?

I’ve covered the stamp-on dates before. They suck. Companies spend a lot on marketing, have your marketing team work on date placement, please and thank you.

Once again, if I can’t find or read the date on a product, I will replace it on the shelf and get another product. Expiration dates should be an important part of packaging instead of a last-minute add-on.

Okay, I won’t mention bad packaging again in this blog, but I’d love (maybe) your comments.