Book Review: Moonlight Beach: Murder and Magic

Title: Moonlight Beach: Murder and Magic
Author: Yuri Kiri
Genre: Murder Mystery; fantasy
Year Published: May 14, 2019

Date Started:January 2, 2023
Date finished: January 6, 2023

This story opens up with a murder and the detective is having a difficult time finding who did it. Alongside this murder story is a story about a few women and men who are into doing special drugs and calling on spiritual beings. The two stories eventually converge with all the pieces coming together cohesively.

What intrigued me most about this story was the fantasy aspect of it. Even though I don’t often read murder mysteries, I’ve often enjoyed them. This one was no doubt a great murder mystery. I also found humor in the writing which I enjoyed as well. Adding the fantasy element to it was like the cherry on top. I personally have never read anything like this, or if I did, it must have been ages go. I love fantasy and this one didn’t disappoint.

Overall, this book was well written with strong characters and a pretty good plot. I think a little more focus/depth on just a couple of characters would also make the story even better. The pacing was on-point for this genre. There were things about this story that I felt was not believable, like the doctor simply accepting the lung donation from the father of the child needing it. I had to really think about that. I have no idea how organ donation is done in real life (the actual process), but I have the feeling it’s probably a little more complex than showing up to the doctor with an organ. But you know, I did enjoy the idea of just being able to do that. The overall theme and conflict were nicely done. This is definitely a fun read and would be well worth your time.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy murder mystery with a bit of dark humor and fantasy, you’ll like this one.

Book Review: Dear Edward (Feb. 2020)

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is about Edward. He is the youngest of a family of four who survived a plane crash. The story touches on a few of the passengers on the plan who died in the crash. At first it may not seem important but at the end, the relatives and friends of these people come forward to share their stories with him with a few asking for his help.

Edward befriends a neighbor girl and they grow together with the girl helping him through tough times.

This was a happy ending story. Napolitano said it’s based on facts from a real-life situation. I’m glad that the story turned out to be a happy one.

Note: I read this book for the Barnes and Noble Book Club in February 2020, just before COVID hit. I don’t know why I didn’t post it here, but wanted to share it because a T.V. show has been made about this story. It will air on February 3rd on Apple TV+. I don’t have Apple TV+ so I won’t be able to watch it, but it does look like it’d be a good show. Here’s the trailer.

Year in Books On Goodreads and Top 5 Favorites

I’m not ready for 2022 to end yet, but it is coming to an end, and it’s time to share my list of books read and favorite books of the year. I didn’t do this last year or the year before but figured I should start doing this just as a way to keep track of what I’ve read as well as to share with you in hopes that you might find something that interests you.

You can read all my reviews on Goodreads by going here.

Here are my top favorites by genre:

Sci-fi:

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Fantasy:

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

General Fiction:

Bartholomew by Mark Lages

Nonfiction:

The Combat Diaries by Mike Guardia

My all-time favorite was Anthem by Ayn Rand. It wasn’t a very long read yet was able to tell a well-rounded dystopian story about power struggle and self-identity. My least favorite read was probably Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica. I’ve reviewed it on Goodreads but didn’t get a chance to post it here. I hope to post all the books I read this year here within the first part of 2023.

Cheers, and have a wonderful New Year!

Cozumel

Our last stop on the cruise was Cozumel. We sat by the beach, was served lunch, and relaxed. It was a nice end to our cruise. The water wasn’t as clear as we had expected, but we were still able to go in and swim.

This is the view of the ship docking. The lamps were still on because it was still pretty early in the morning. I wanted to see the sunrise and watch the docking, so while husband was still sleeping, I got up and made my way to the top floor. I realized I could only either watch the sunrise or the docking because the sunrise was on one side and the docking was on the other. I decided to watch the docking.

Once we got off the ship, we took a short bus ride to the beach resort and found a nice spot right by the water. In the photo, husband and I were in the water taking a photo of where we sat. I believe the third or fourth umbrella in the front there (right to left) was ours.

Here’s the view directly in front of where we sat. That’s an inflatable water slide. I believe you have to get on a jet ski to get over to it. We didn’t bother with that. It was nice relaxing by the water and that’s all we really wanted.

We had a great time on this cruise. The cruise members were super friendly and the food was pretty good. The best part, of course, was just getting away from the every day and relaxing.

One thing I always enjoy about cruising is how beautiful the cruise ships are. When we arrived at the Cozumel port, two Carnival ships also arrived. Husband and I were having breakfast when we saw the two ships.

We ate quickly and went to the top floor because I knew they were going to have to “spin” and I wanted to capture it. The first boat pulled in bow first but the second one spun around.

This was probably the most exciting part of our vacation for me…lol.

We’d love to go on another cruise next year. We don’t have anything set in stone yet but we’d really love to go again.

Costa Maya

Our second day on the cruise, we arrived in Costa Maya. We took the tour to see the Mayan Ruins. It was a one hour bus ride to the location and then about an hour walking around the ruins and listening to our tour guide.

We had a pretty large group of people on our tour but there were other tour groups there as well. The people in the photo were all from our group. Behind me was another tour group waiting for their turn.
Our tour guide said areas like this with overgrown trees on top of rocks were Mayan pyramids that have not been excavated but will be.

It was extremely humid on the tour. We were told that it was rain season and that it had just rained and that it was going to rain again. The roads were dry so it was hard to tell but there were moments when rain misted.

I learned so much about the Mayan people on this tour. Our tour guide was Mayan and it was interesting when he spoke Mayan to us. It sounded like he was speaking Chinese. He said the Mayans migrated from China and that’s why their language was very similar.

Costa Maya was enjoyable, aside from the humidity.

Port of Galveston

The cruise we took in late July was out of Port of Galveston in Galveston, TX. We stayed at the Harbor House Hotel which was walking distance to the cruise check-in building. We were at the hotel for one night and had time to eat at two restaurants, watch an oil tanker come through the waterway, and watch the sunset with the cutest tugboat in the view.

View from our hotel room. We ate lunch at the restaurant in the building behind the bus.

Our room in the hotel.

Front of the hotel.
Walking along the port.
The back of the hotel.
The view during dinner at a restaurant that was walking distance from the hotel.

Watched an oil tanker as it came through and docked.

Sunset. This little tug boat looked much bigger in person.

Embarking the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas.

At our muster station. We were required to simply go to our station before the ship left the dock. Someone was there to scan our card and then we were done. We watched the rest of the drill information on our phones. It was very simple and quick compared to pre-COVID (on a different cruise line).

The main pool area.

Main pool area with the movie screen in view. During cruising out at sea, they played “Dune” and “King Richard.”

Top deck.

Our cabin.

Cabin bathroom.

Leaving port.

Going toward Costa Maya, Mexico. We were out at sea for one full day before arrival. You can see all the oil tankers waiting to come into port. We counted over 20 tankers. Most of them were not in view.

More photos to come…

Photos and Unboxing of the Caramel B6 Folio Cascade

Last time I posted, my youngest daughter hadn’t started school yet. Now, she’s already two and half months in and coming upon her first PSATNMSQT test. Last year she took the PSAT, which was required by the school for the all the students to take. This year she qualified for the PSATNMSQT. Can you believe next year she’ll be taking the SATNMSQT?

I know I promised cruise photos and they’re ready to go and should be up soon. I can’t wait share photos and talk about my experience with this vacation and cruise line.

Chic Sparrow came out with this limited edition leather called Caramel. It’s a nubuk leather. Husband said it’s the same leather they use on Birkenstocks so I decided to get my hand on one. Here is the unboxing:

In the last 35 seconds of the video there is a clip of the drive through the mountains on the Million Dollar Highway. I provide a short description in the comments of the video about the city we visited and this highway, so if you’d like to learn a little bit about history, click on “Watch on Youtube,” and “Show More.”

Here are photos of the Caramel Folio:

This is a very pretty leather. After a few days holding it I’m not too sure I’m digging the suede feel. I like it, but I just don’t know if I love it. I wonder if this is the same leather they use for the Traveler’s Company’s Camel Traveler’s Notebook. I feel like I almost have to buy that one too just to compare.

July’s 2022 Playlist

The last couple of weeks in July, husband and I took a cruise vacation to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. It was a really nice and relaxing vacation. When we returned, we took a road trip to Silverton, CO, which is 6 hours from where we live. I’ll be sharing photos soon. Right now, let’s check out my playlist.

I’ve been editing a novel for Camp NaNoWriMo for July and am happy to say, I completed it! I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hit my word count because of the vacation and all but I did it. During the editing, I listened to the playlist I made for the novel but I also had Pandora.com on and listened to a lot of Enigma and Sarah Brightman. One song in particular came on and brought back memories of a dance I taught a few students at Catechism some fifteen or twenty years ago. This was the song:

The dance was only about 2 minutes long so the song was cropped just enough to fit. For some reason, I don’t now where that cropped version is. I wouldn’t be able to share it but I wanted to listen to it.

Often I’ll listen to epic compilations as background music and the one below (over an hour and a half long) was really nice. I was editing the sci-fi cyborg novel so the music really didn’t fit but for some reason just having the music low as “white noise” really got me going. I was able to edit over 60K words. My goal was 50K.

If you’re a writer, do you like having music in the background or do you write without any music/noise?

Book Review: Kingdom of the Wicked

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Year Published: September 7, 2021

Date finished: July 6, 2022

This book was recommended to me by my daughter. She loved it and thought I should read it because it’s fantasy and there’s romance. The cover was very pretty too.

The story is about a girl named Emilia who is on the hunt for the person who killed her twin sister. Emilia comes from a family of witches and can cast spells, summon demons, and whatnot. She’s got some powerful gifts, but because she’s portrayed as young (even though she’s 18), her personality falls on the very naive side. At times she seems mature, but her decisions always seem non-thought-out, hasty.

Emilia summons a demon to help her find her sister’s killer. However, in her haste, she summons the demon (Wrath) whom she saw at the alter where her sister was slain. She thinks he was the one who killed her sister, but because the spell she used forged the two of them to be stuck together for a time, she holds back. The story continues on the path of Emilia’s quest to find the killer even though she’s aware Wrath could be it. She begins to form an attraction for him, and he to her as well. Later, he gets into an altercation where he is injured pretty badly and leaves earth. Emilia now has fallen hard for him and wants to find him.

I’m not sure what to think exactly about this book. I don’t not like it, but I don’t love it either. I am intrigued enough to read the next book. It’s written very simply so it’s easy to read. The plot is simple as well. It’s sort of murder-mystery with magic, and then there’s the young, innocent romance. The characters don’t feel fully thought out. There is a sense that Emilia wants to go in one direction (to find the murderer of her sister) and yet she’s leaning so far the other direction (her sudden love for Wrath). There is consistency with the storyline. Nothing is too far-fetched into any direction so it makes it safe for the really young readers.

Who should read this book: Those who enjoy young adult fantasy or fantasy with a gothic or dark feel such as Caraval, For the Wolf, and Gideon the Ninth where it feels like it’s always nighttime. However, the writing style is more so for young adults, unlike Gideon the Ninth where the writing is more mature, similar to Dune.