Movie Review

Best Holiday Movies

Christmas is coming! But there’s still time to watch a few holiday movies or read a fun Christmas mystery. Here are my top favorite Christmas movies:

Krampus (2015)

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IMDB Description: A boy who has a bad Christmas accidentally summons a festive demon to his family home.

My thoughts: I love the folklore surrounding Krampus, and while this movie does not stay true to the details of that folklore, it absolutely captivates the spirit of the holiday. This is a fun but slightly dark holiday movie.

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

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IMDB Description: Astonished to find the Beast has a deep-seeded hatred for the Christmas season, Belle endeavors to change his mind on the matter. 

My Thoughts: This sequel to Beauty and the Beast actually takes place in the middle of the first movie’s story. Still, it’s a really fun and festive movie that fills me with nostalgia.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

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IMDB Description: A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.

My Thoughts: This one is obviously a classic for a reason. I definitely think it is the best version of this story!

The Ref (1994)

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IMDB Description: A cat burglar is forced to take a bickering, dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas Eve.

My Thoughts: This movie is absolutely hilarious! Anyone who has ever dreaded holiday family drama will be sure to relate to and enjoy this one.

Home Alone (1990)

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IMDB Description: An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.

My Thoughts: Another classic that takes me back to childhood! This one is fun to watch at any time of year.

What have you been watching this holiday season? Have you been reaching for nostalgia, gravitating towards the Hallmark channel, or avoiding Christmas altogether? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

-Tiffany

Book Review

Best Christmas Mysteries

‘Tis the season for holiday reading! There’s less than two weeks until Christmas, and if you’re in quarantine or avoiding social things due to the pandemic, why not spend the extra time curled up with a cozy Christmas-themed murder mystery? Here are some of my top picks:

Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M.C. Beaton

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Goodreads Description: Agatha Raisin is bored. Her detective agency in the Cotswolds is thriving, but she’ll scream if she has to deal with another missing cat or dog. Only two things seem to offer potential excitement: the upcoming Christmas festivities and her ex, James Lacey. This year she is sure that if she invites James to a really splendid, old-fashioned Christmas dinner, their love will rekindle like a warm Yule log.
When a wealthy widow hires Agatha because she’s convinced a member of her family is trying to kill her, Agatha is intrigued—especially when the widow drops dead after high tea at the manor house. Who in this rather sterile house, complete with fake family portraits, could have hated the old lady enough to poison her?
Agatha sets out to find the murderer, all the while managing a pretty, teenage trainee who makes her feel old and planning for a picture-perfect Christmas, with James, all the trimmings, and perhaps even snow.

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

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Goodreads Description: On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig. So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie, falls out of a tree dead.  On my second day, another so-called accident results in a death – and there’s yet another on my third.  Perhaps a recent prison break could have something to do with it…that, or a long-standing witch’s curse. But after Darcy shows up beneath the mistletoe, anything could be possible in this wicked wonderland.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

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Goodreads Description: It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce – an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving – is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

A Little Yuletide Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

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Goodreads Description: Jessica Fletcher is planning to spend a cozy Christmas in Cabot Cove. But when Rory Brent is found shot to death on his farm, there will be no peace on earth until his killer is found. Snooping into the small town’s past for a motive, Jessica is determined to deliver the killer before Christmas. The trouble is, the next sound she hears this silent night may be a scream—her own…

Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke

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Goodreads Description:

Holiday business is booming at Hannah Swenson’s Cookie Jar pastry shop, but the mysterious murder of “Lunatic Larry” Jaeger puts a serious crimp in the season of good cheer. From the looks of it, Larry had as many enemies as Hannah’s sugar cookies have sprinkles. With the 12 days of Christmas ticking down and cookie orders piling up, tracking down the killer won’t be easy.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! I know it’s been unusual and perhaps a little lonely for many of us, but there’s still a lot of Christmas magic all around. Do you have a great Christmas book you’ve read this year? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

-Tiffany

Personal

Happy Birthday Ephemeral Elegies!

Today marks the one year anniversary of me purchasing the domain for Ephemeral Elegies and hatching an idea that has really blossomed this year! Over the past year, this humble poetry journal has had 136 posts with 21,887 views. It’s been an honor to work with so many talented poets from all over the globe – highlighting diverse voices and experiences.

So what’s coming next in 2021? Hopefully, a lot more poetry! We are currently open for submissions for 2021. Posts go live every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so there are many opportunities to highlight new and emerging poets. Have you spent your quarantine putting your emotions down on paper? I’d love to receive some confessional poetry about how 2020 has impacted your lives and emotions.

Thanks for considering!

XO -Tiffany

Update

New COVID-19 Painting

I don’t know about you, but when I think back a few months to March, I’m pained at the memory of naively thinking everyone would have to just quarantine for 2 weeks and then the world would go back to normal. Now, here we are, 5 months later, and everything is still crazy. Though some businesses and workplaces are slowly opening back up, everyone seems to still be on edge. It seems like almost everyone is scared or angry or a fun combination of both, which honestly makes me want to dig in and keep quarantining until it’s all over.

Yesterday, I thought I’d play around with paint again as a way to help me process what I’m feeling. I expected the result to be a variety of grey shades mixed with blotches of darkness, which is pretty typical for me. But for some reason, I kept grabbing more and more color. I realized that while my emotions are a bit chaotic and are overlapping in strange ways, this is still an exciting new season for me. I’ve been letting go of things and people that no longer fit in my life, and in some ways, the pandemic has been a bit cleansing. It’s allowed me to spend a lot of alone time with myself where I’ve been learning who I am without worrying about the performance version of me that the world has been seeing. I am so ready for the pandemic to be over so that I can start to emerge more authentically, and I wanted to share yesterday’s painting since it reminded me of this future.

 

Personal, Update

Suburban Secrets Publication Day!

Surprise! The publication day of Suburban Secrets has been moved up to today!

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Suburban Secrets is available on Amazon for $2.99 (or FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber!)

Here’s the description from Amazon: “Angela Carmichael feels like an imposter in her idyllic neighborhood. Surrounded by seemingly perfect families, Angela is just doing her best to stay afloat as a single mother and freelance writer. But when a neighborhood boy goes missing, and danger seems to lurk behind every white picket fence, Angela becomes determined to uncover the secrets and lies of her community in order to keep her daughter safe.”

If that sounds like it might be something that would interest you, I hope you’ll consider getting a copy!

Thanks for reading.

Tiffany

Personal, Update

Suburban Secrets – Now Available to Pre-Order!

It’s official – Suburban Secrets, my debut mystery novel, will be available on August 16th! You can pre-order it on Amazon if you’d like a copy!

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I’d love to share a bit about this experience. This project began in grad school and was born out of my love of mystery and my fear of motherhood. I think that being a parent is probably the hardest job in the world, so I really wanted to explore that throughout this mystery. Full disclosure: I am not a parent, so this is very much my way of experiencing something I’ve really only observed.

Here’s the Amazon description of the book: “Angela Carmichael feels like an imposter in her idyllic neighborhood. Surrounded by seemingly perfect families, Angela is just doing her best to stay afloat as a single mother and freelance writer. But when a neighborhood boy goes missing, and danger seems to lurk behind every white picket fence, Angela becomes determined to uncover the secrets and lies of her community in order to keep her daughter safe.”

I hope you’ll consider getting a copy if this sounds intriguing to you!

Thanks for reading.

Tiffany

 

Book Review

Review: “Tomb of Gods” by Brian Moreland

While I haven’t been particularly eager to read horror with all that’s going on in the world, I did receive a copy of Brian Moreland’s new novel Tomb of Gods from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was immediately curious about it because of my deep-rooted love of Egyptian mythology, so I figured it was worth the risk of more nightmares in order to delve into that world for 288 pages.

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Overall, I give this one 5 out of 5 stars! It’s rare that a book sucks me in and refuses to let me go. From the moment I started reading, I absolutely needed to know what was going to happen next. While the first few chapters are a slower introduction to the situation and characters, this one quickly turns into a high-octane race of an adventure. There were major Indiana Jones vibes during a lot of the novel, so I can only hope that someday this will be optioned into a movie!

As far as the characters go, they were very well-drawn. The protagonist Imogene is complicated and interesting, and as the novel progresses, we learn a lot about the things that haunt her and the rest of the characters. While I don’t want to risk giving too much of the plot away, I will say that I liked how each character had their own baggage that had to be addressed in one way or another throughout the course of the story. However, Imogene was the very heart of the story for me, and I felt good about rooting for her during this adventure.

Plot-wise, there are plenty of twists and turns. If you’re a fan of mythology like I am, then you will enjoy the various ways that Ancient Egyptian beliefs and culture play out. What starts out as a classic archaeological excavation story quickly turns into something much more sinister and complex.

I’m not sure what more I can say without risking oversharing plot details! This is one where you don’t want any spoilers for sure. It’s a fun and creepy adventure jam-packed with interesting characters and extremely creative events. If you’re a fan of horror, Ancient Egypt, and/or the Indiana Jones films, you’ll definitely want to check this one out!

Thanks for reading,
Tiffany

Book Review

Cozies in Quarantine

It’s no secret that I love a good cozy mystery! They’re usually fun, fast reads with an idyllic setting and a quirky cast of characters. Even though the main character is typically solving a murder, there’s usually nothing vulgar or gory in the descriptions and the reader always knows there will be a happy ending. In these scary and uncertain times, I’ve been reading cozy mysteries mostly for that guaranteed happy ending as well as the brief escape from reality. So, I wanted to share my top cozy mystery suggestions for this continued quarantine/pandemic time:

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Title: The Quiche of Death

Series: Agatha Raisin

Author: M.C. Beaton

The Agatha Raisin cozies are probably my favorite (especially the audiobooks read by Penelope Keith!) Agatha is a bit unlikable but in a funny and endearing way. I love following her antics just as much as exploring the murder mysteries in this series. Also, the Cotswolds is an amazing setting – each book make me want to move to a cozy village in the English countryside!

 

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Title: Books Can Be Deceiving

Series: Library Lovers Mysteries

Author Jenn McKinlay

This book features library director Lindsey who has to clear the good name of her children’s librarian who is accused of murder. This was the first cozy series I started reading (right after college) and it’s still going strong. The coastal small town setting is super charming, and I love the romantic story elements too. Plus, this one feels extra special to me since I also work in a public library!

 

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Title: Brownies and Broomsticks

Series: Magical Bakery Mysteries

Author: Bailey Cates

In this series, protagonist and baker Katie moves to Savannah to help with her aunt’s bakery and discovers she comes from a magical family. I love the blend of magical elements and baking – plus, this series has a love triangle that actually intrigued me instead of irritating me. The world-building in this series is great, and I have enjoyed learning more about the magic right alongside Katie as she’s exploring her heritage. Of course, Katie is always solving murders too!

 

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Title: Murder, She Knit

Series: Knit & Nibble Mysteries

Author: Peggy Ehrhart

This knitting-themed cozy series is another fun addition. When the newest member of Pamela’s knitting circle is found dead and impaled with a knitting needle, Pamela has to solve the murder. This one has a slower pace, but I have definitely still enjoyed the series – in fact, the slower pace makes it feel extra cozy. I like that Pamela is an older protagonist who still seems very believable. Plus, I enjoy the descriptions of yarn and knitting since it’s a hobby of mine too!

 

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Title: Her Royal Spyness

Series: Her Royal Spyness

Author: Rhys Bowen

Georgie is one of my favorite protagonists! In this historical cozy series, Georgie is related to royalty but is far enough removed from the crown that she struggles to have money. So, she puts her ingenuity to the test and ends up solving a bunch of murders (and making a living while she’s at it). Georgie is both spunky and kind-hearted, and I adore the rest of the cast of characters in this series, especially the mysterious Darcy, Georgie’s genial grandfather, and Georgie’s flamboyant best friend Belinda.

 

I hope you enjoy these cozies if you decide to give them a try! What have you been reading during the pandemic? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Update

New Project – Dreaming in Fiction

I have some more exciting news for 2020! Earlier this year, I launched Ephemeral Elegies to support new and emerging poets, and now I’ll be doing the same for authors of fiction with: Dreaming in Fiction. While the stories won’t be published until this autumn, we are already open to submissions, and you can learn more about our submissions guidelines by clicking here.

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Dreaming in Fiction will be the home for short stories and flash fiction across the genre spectrum. From supernatural stories to compact capers to heartfelt romance and even some terrifying tales, we’ll be exploring every facet of fiction. One new story will be published each Saturday, so your next adventure is never too far away!

I hope you’ll consider submitting to Dreaming in Fiction or exploring it post-launch to support and discover some new authors!

Wishing you all heath and happiness during this pandemic!

Tiffany