Author Archives: lydias

Second Chances: A Review of The Ghost of Beth’s Mother

The Ghost of Beth's Mother by Twylla Johnson book cover. Image on cover shows ghostly female apparition with a silk sheet blowing against her body. Title: The Ghost of Beth’s Mother

Author: Twylla Johnson

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: February 20, 2021

Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical

Length: 12 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Beth was a homely little misfit girl who lived at the Maudlin Mary Magdeline Orphanage. She claimed her mother, who had passed away a year before, was constantly with her. A wealthy widow named Mrs. Stone decided to adopt her. Does Mrs. Stone get more than she bargained for? Is Beth and her mother a package deal?

Review:

Content warning: car accident, adoption, and references to the death of a parent. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

Every child deserves a loving home.

It’s rare for me to read a ghost story that genuinely makes me shudder, but this one accomplished that. I really enjoyed Ms. Johnson’s take on why spirits decide to haunt the living, what they’re capable of, and what happens if the living don’t take the wishes of the dead seriously. She put such a creative spin on these topics, and I’m saying that as someone who has read this genre regularly for many years.

There was very little character development in this tale. While the main characters were all briefly described to the audience, I didn’t get to know them well and never really saw many indications of them growing and changing as a result of their experiences. That’s obviously not easy to do in only a dozen pages, but I would have happily gone with a higher rating if the author had put as much work into this as she did with the unique plot itself.

The final scene was nicely written. It tied up all of the most important conflicts of the plot, but it also left plenty of space for the reader to imagine what might happen to Beth and the widow who adopted her next. My hope is that the author will someday write a sequel to it. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll also be perfectly content to return to this world through rereads and quietly thinking about these characters’ possible futures.

If you’ve been missing truly scary paranormal fiction, The Ghost of Beth’s Mother may be right up your alley.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Media That Could Be About Me

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

A tree and some dark clouds reflected in a perfectly still body of water. There are also some stones on the beach in the foreground of the shot. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Did anyone else find this week’s prompt a bit challenging?

I live a peaceful life that honestly wouldn’t fit in well with dramatic, high-action stories.

Here are a few films and books about quiet, introverted, bookish people that remind me of myself.

Notting Hill fim poster. It shows a large photo of Julia Roberts with Hugh Grant walking next to it.

William Thacker from the romantic comedy Notting Hill

Why: The main character owns a bookstore and is bashful about publicity. I enjoyed working in a bookstore years ago and also try to avoid the spotlight.

 

Walden by Henry David Thoreau book cover. Image on cover is a black-and-white photo of a stream flowing thorugh a forest.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Why: I love spending time in nature, whether that is by taking a brisk walk/hike, bird watching, or sitting quietly and observing what is around me. Like Thoreau, I also like going back home and enjoying my share of creature comforts at the end of the day.

 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith book cover. Imge on cover is a drawing of a large tree by a wooden house.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Why: Francie and I both grew up in working class families that highly valued formal and informal education. Having extra money does makes it easier to raise children, but you can still give a kid a wonderful life on a tight budget if you focus on what’s important.

 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine film poster. It shows the eight main characters walking on the brooklyn bridge.
Rosa is third from the right in this poster.

 

Detective Rosa Diaz from the sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine 

Why: Rosa and I are both private people who steer clear of office gossip and politics. We’d much rather get the work done as quickly and accurately as we can.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded on a Deserted Island

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Arial shot of waves gently lapping against a large sandy beach. Someone has scratched the world aloha into the sand. I’m taking a fairly practical approach to this week’s topic because we don’t know what kind of deserted island this is!

Are all of the necessities of life somehow provided there?

Will our cellphones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices work if we remember to pack solar recharging units for them? Let’s assume WiFi won’t be a problem either.

Is the temperature moderate enough to keep you fairly comfortable throughout the day and night?

Are there many dangerous animals, plants, or other features of the island?

If we were travelling together, I’d be the sort of person who had some spare sunscreen, shelf-stable food, medication, and first aid supplies to share if anyone needed them.

What can I say?

I enjoy life and vacations more if I’m prepared for the unexpected. Some of these answers are honestly pretty self-explanatory, but I will go into detail about the rest.

1. Outdoor Medical Emergency Handbook: First Aid for Travelers, Backpackers and Adventurers by Spike Briggs, Campbell Mackenzie

 

2. Complete Guide to Fresh and Saltwater Fishing: Conventional Tackle. Fly Fishing. Spinning. Ice Fishing. Lures. Flies. Natural Baits. Knots. Filleting. Cooking. Game Fish Species. Boating by Vin T. Sparano

 

 

3. Edible Plants of the Hawaiian Islands and Tropical Regions by Tyler Harris

This wouldn’t cover every island or biome out there, of course, but at least it would give an idea of what to look for when seeking out edible wild plants in tropical climates which I’m quite unfamiliar with.

 

 

4. How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North

I suspect this would be mostly good for entertainment, but it might have some good advice for building things I needed on the island, too.

 

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

There’s nothing about islands or survival in this story. I chose it because I enjoy rereading it every few years and it’s long enough not to get through too quickly.

 

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir book cover. Image on cover shows an astronaut floating through space while tethered to their ship. There is a large sun or planet in the background.

 

6. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (My review)

I adored this daring adventure and rescue tale. It seems perfect to revisit it while on a deserted island.

 

7. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I DNF this book a few months ago. Maybe this would be the perfect time to try it again? So many people have loved it.

 

8. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

9. The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes

10. Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver

My final three selections are all poets I really loved back when I was more into this genre. Sometimes I’d read their poetry when I didn’t have the attention span to read a full-length novel.

It seemed like a good idea to include short, easy options in this list. This is especially true since all three of these poets excel at writing things that can feel more meaningful when read out loud.

Corporate Space Race: A Review of Loss Leader

Loss Leader by Simon Haynes book cover. Image on cover shows a woman's face superimposed on space rocks orbiting a planet.Title: Loss Leader

Author: Simon Haynes

Publisher: Bowman Press

Publication Date: May 1, 2010

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 45 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 2 Stars

Blurb:

After many delays and last-minute setbacks, the first colony ship leaves planet Earth for a distant star. Join the crew as they discover all is not as it seems…

Review:

Anything can happen during cryostasis.

The descriptions of how cryostasis worked in this universe were well done. That’s one science fiction trope that simultaneously fascinates me and freaks me out a little, so I liked reading about how these machines were designed to keep people alive during their long journey.

I had a hard time keeping track of and getting to know the various characters. There were only about half a dozen of them, yet the narrator spent such scant time exploring their personalities and interests that I’d struggle to explain what any of them were like outside of their willingness to take risks and possibly have an adventure. I definitely don’t expect the same level of character development in a short story as I do in a full-length novel, but I sure would have liked to get to know them better than I did here.

The foreshadowing at the beginning was handled well. It was obvious enough for the audience to quickly begin wondering what was happening behind the cheerful scene of the launch of the Glory. With that being said, it was also subtle enough for me to understand why the characters were able to brush certain danger signs aside and prepare for their mission. They certainly had other explanations for what was going on that wouldn’t have alarmed them in the least.

As excited as I was about the premise of this story, the plot holes were too numerous and serious to ignore. I won’t say what the twist was, only that it was something that required the cooperation of a large number of people in order to have any hope of happening. The storyline was also inconsistent about explaining how the technology in this futuristic world worked, who had access to it, and what they were and weren’t capable of doing with it.  These were all things that were imperative not only for the storyline but for the genre as well. The premise itself was a fantastic one, but the execution of it would have benefitted from a much stronger emphasis on how it would all logically fit together.

The ending left plenty up to the imagination. It was never quite clear to me if the author intended this to be read as a serial or simply wanted his audience to have a chance to imagine what happened next for ourselves. I personally like being left to my own devices after a certain point in the plot, so it was cool to close my eyes and picture what might have happened next.

I’d recommend Loss Leader to die-hard fans of this genre.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: 5 Items I Can’t Live Without

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

I interpreted this week’s prompt to be a slightly tongue-in-cheek question about the unique things that give our lives meaning. That is to say, I won’t be mentioning food, water, oxygen, or other stuff that every human needs to stay alive. I’m also assuming necessities like glasses or medicine aren’t supposed to be included. Here’s hoping you all interpreted it in similar ways!

Internet Access. You all might giggle at this, but I often choose vacation destinations based on whether they have Internet access and how strong their signal might be. While I do spend most of my vacation time offline having adventures, I really like being able to text the people I travel with or google the history of the places I visit.

Stories. They can come in the form of books, TV shows, films, or true anecdotes about my loved ones.  I adore stories of every shape, size, and origin.

closeup of four chocolate bars with assorted nut and fruit add-ins Spending Time in Nature. Yes, most of the time this involves visiting urban parks where I still have that all-important Internet access. LOL! There is something so soothing about being surrounded by trees, grass, flowers, and the occasional babbling brook. It’s even better if I can take a long, brisk walk through it. I sleep like a baby after those excursions.

Non-Competitive Games. That is to say, I love playing board and card games if no one cares about winning and/or if we play a game that encourages everyone to cooperate to reach their goals. I adore banter and the silly things people discuss when they’re playing a game whose only purpose is to encourage everyone to spend time together.

Dairy-Free Chocolate. Any dentists participating in the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge may not approve of this answer, but I relish good chocolate. It’s the best sort of sweet there is in my opinion. I even like 100% chocolate that contains little to no added sugar in it. An adult relative was once surprised by how much little Lydia liked dark chocolate, especially since they’d just finished telling me that it wasn’t something children liked.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read in One Sitting

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl   My grandparents have a homemade air conditioning unit called a swamp cooler that cools things down a bit but still leaves their house feeling warmer and more humid than many other places in the Midwestern United States. There were a few years there when I was growing up… Read More

A Muddy Quest: A Review of The Storm

Title: The Storm Author: Alex Cross Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: January 2, 2021 Genres: Fantasy, Historical Length: 10 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: A storm rages in the night. A dark and perilous journey through the southern forest. Doran races against time. Will he make it… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That Are Questions

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl I asked the Internet to give me stock photos related to the word question, and it delivered someone wearing a cardboard box over their head. They’re tapping the side of the box with one hand while making a quizzical gesture with their other arm. I can’t stop giggling at this… Read More

Sweet Sleuthing: A Review of Junkyard

Title: Junkyard (a Fractured Stars Novella)  Author: Lindsay Buroker  Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: January 5, 2019 Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery Length: 81 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3.5 Stars Blurb: McCall Richter works as a skip tracer, tracking down criminals, con men, and people who stop making payments on… Read More