Personal

Greetings from Krampus – Now Available!

Since it’s unseasonably cold out right now, it seems appropriate to share the news that my short story “Greetings from Krampus” is now available to read at The Chamber Magazine! If you choose to give it a read, I hope you enjoy it!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Stay tuned for more updates! Later this month, my short story “I Drown Each Time” will debut on Fiction on the Web, and then later this year my short story “A World Without Magic” will be up on CafeLit.

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Personal, Update

Publishing Update: 2 New Stories in April!

I have some exciting news! Two more of my stories have been accepted by publishers and will be available in April!

On April 1st, my short story, “Greetings from Krampus” will be published in the The Chamber Magazine. Yes, it’s technically Christmas-themed horror which I think makes it perfect for an April Fool’s Day launch! Then on April 18th, my magical realism short story, “I Drown Each Time” will debut on Fiction on the Web.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ll post links to the stories once they’re available online, but I was excited and wanted to share!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Book Review

Top Thrillers and Suspense!

I have been reading a lot of stand-alone thrillers and suspense books lately, and I am excited to share some of the best ones with you! While these certainly have mystery elements to them, the main focus of these books is the tension created by the plots, and these are sure to grip you from start to finish!

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First up is The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth. I really loved this one! It’s an intricately plotted domestic thriller about two sisters named Rose and Fern. Both sisters are narrators of this book, and it was fun to figure out which, if either, was the more reliable narrator. As the present plot unfolded, the book also sheds light on the past. And as present-drama and past-secrets collide, I was on the edge of my seat. I am a big fan of Hepworth and can’t wait to read more of her books.

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Next is The Last Flight by Julie Clark. If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be “stressful” (but in a good way!) This was an incredibly gripping book! Again, there are two viewpoints we follow in this book – Claire and Eva. Both women, who only meet briefly, are desperate to escape their circumstances. But when they attempt to swap lives, both of their dark secrets continue to cause problems. There were lots of fun twists and turns in this one!

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Finally, there’s For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing. This book features a true anti-hero: Teddy Crutcher, a teacher at a prestigious school who enacts his own form of justice as he tries to teach those around him a lesson by very dubious means. The characters in this book were absolutely fascinating, and while the plot was more straightforward than mysterious, I really enjoyed the tension and slow build. I would definitely recommend this one to people who like character-driven suspense.

Have you read any of these or do you have a thriller you want to share? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Book Review

Review: Country Store Mysteries by Maddie Day

Winter always makes me want lots of cozy mysteries on my Kindle! There’s something so wonderful about the fun small towns and amateur sleuths. Recently, I’ve been binge reading the Country Store Mysteries by Maddie Day and I highly recommend them!

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The first book in the series is Flipped for Murder. It stars Robbie Jordan who recently moved back to a small town in Indiana to open her own restaurant/country store Pans ‘N Pancakes. Robbie is a great protagonist with an interesting backstory and a lot of great personality. Day does a wonderful job at creating this character as well as many memorable side characters. With each book, I look forward to diving back in to this little town and spending more time with these characters. The mystery plots are pretty standard for the cozy genre, and I appreciate that they move quickly and remain engaging throughout the series. Overall, I highly recommend this one – just prepare yourself to be hungry after reading Day’s descriptions of all the food that Robbie cooks in her restaurant!

Have you read this series or are you loving a different cozy series this weekend? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Book Review

Book Review: Maggie Hope Mysteries

It’s been a while since I reviewed a book or series, but there’s one series in particular that I definitely wanted to share! I have been loving the Maggie Hope Mysteries by Susan Elia MacNeal. These are historical mysteries set during World War II that feature a young woman, Maggie Hope, a British-born American who becomes a codebreaker and spy. The first book in the series is Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

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This is a pretty long-running series. It has 10 books that have already been published and surely more are on the way. I am halfway through the series, and I think they just keep getting better and better. Maggie is a fantastic heroine who really grows and evolves throughout the series (which means, you definitely should read them in order to get the full impact of her character development!) She is smart and engaging and I adore following her on her many WWII adventures.

Also, while this is definitely not a cozy series, I appreciate that there are some lighthearted moments in each of the books, which balances out the serious war subject matter. I don’t know about you but WWII books can really get me depressed but these balance out the facts with some fun fictional scenarios that are probably a touch beyond what is realistic. Still, I love that each book features at least one very important real historical figure.

If you are a fan of mysteries and history, I absolutely recommend this series. They’re truly some of the best I’ve read. They’re fun and adventurous but are firmly grounded in actual historical events. The characters are refreshing and lively, and they also grow in believable and meaningful ways throughout the series.

Have you read this series or do you love a different historical mystery series? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Book Review

30 Years of Reading

Yesterday was my 30th birthday, and to celebrate, I wanted to share my top 5 favorite books of all time with you!

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First up is The Elegence of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I love this part of the description on Goodreads: “A moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.” That definitely sums it up. I loved the explorations of art and philosophy in this book as well as the unlikely friendships and beautiful descriptions.

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Next is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This is absolutely my favorite classic. Jane is my favorite literary heroine. Even though I read this one differently than I did when I was younger (Mr. Rochester no longer feels like a romantic hero to me), I still love Jane and her fearlessness and recklessness as she forges her own path in the world and overcomes the odds stacked against her.

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Third is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, described by some as the adult version of Twilight. When I first read this book, I had some issues with it (Matthew’s possessiveness), but it became clear that I couldn’t stop talking about it. Since then, I’ve probably read it five more times and have fallen in love with this story of witches and vampires. I love the science and history described in the series – it really sets this apart from the rest of the romantic fantasy out there.

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Next is Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. When I first read this one, I couldn’t put it down. I was obsessed with the exploration of motherhood and the way the mystery unfolded. To this day, it’s one of the books I recommend most when I’m working at the library. It’s fast-paced and easy to discuss, which makes it perfect for book clubs. I’ve read all of Moriarty’s books and this is hands down my favorite.

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And lastly, there is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The descriptions of nature in this book are truly unparalleled, but I was also instantly drawn into the story about Kya. I loved the way the story unfolded, and I constantly recommend this one at the library as well. This was the rare book where I felt sad when it was over because I’d never be able to read it for the first time again. Still, I’ve enjoyed many subsequent readings.

What are some books that have stayed with you over the years? I would love to know! Feel free to send me recommendations in the comments section!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Personal, Update

What I’ve Been Up to in 2021

I have not done a great job at blogging in 2021. It’s honestly always been a struggle. I thrive more behind the scenes, writing and creating in private. But I still want to update occasionally so that I can stay accountable and build connections with other writers and artists.

Below is an abstract sunset landscape that I recently painted. Painting is a passion of mine, but even though I’ve sold some work and was featured in a gallery last year, it’s also something I’m deeply insecure about. I know art is subjective, and I know that it’s something I love to do, but it’s also something I long to keep hidden from the world out of fear of rejection. So, posting this and the other paintings on my website cause me anxiety, but it feels important to continue trying to share. I’m also excited about participating in another Inktober on Instagram in October, so I’ve been practicing more ink sketches.

This year has been more about poetry than prose. I’ve felt very inspired by nature and have spent a lot of time hiking and reflecting, and these themes have factored into my painting and poetry a lot. While I’m still working on novel #2, a poetry collection may be debuting sooner rather than later. And speaking of poetry, Ephemeral Elegies is still going strong with over 33,000 views in under 2 years. I’ve loved connecting with other poets and providing a platform for new and emerging voices. We’re always looking for new submissions too!

One of the main reasons I’ve been reflecting a lot this year is because I’m turning 30 at the end of this month! This has been an interesting decade filled with lots of highs and lows. I’ve learned and grown; loved and lost; created and reinvented. It was a time of change, and now I’m entering this next chapter of life ready to see what’s going to happen next. But before I get there, I did set a goal for myself of doing something I never thought I’d be able to do: run a half-marathon. I’ve been doing some charity 10Ks to prepare and I’m so ready for my birthday race to benefit Autism Speaks.

I wish I had more exciting things to share, but even small victories during a global pandemic feel more meaningful right now, so hopefully this post wasn’t too boring. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share what you’ve been up to this year in the comments 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