Tag Archives: politics

Coffee Time Questions VI


This morning I’m having tea, so I hope it’s still OK if I reply to this edition of Rory’s Coffee Questions. I just deleted my SOCS poem due to completely misreading the prompt words last night. I sort of like the poem regardless, so I may work on it and repost it later. Not that this is an excuse, but yesterday I went to a restaurant with my coworkers ~ had a great time, except the air was slightly smoky. No one else noticed it, but my eyes are super sensitive. They’re still feeling teary today and hopefully I won’t screw anything else up.

1. Do you sometimes ‘just’ LIKE posts from those you follow but don’t often read the content, and if so, why do you do this? Is it a time restraint or something else that motivates this action?

I will confess that I have sometimes been doing this lately. It is a time issue, now that I follow almost 300 blogs. I really like to read poetry, so I prioritize that, and, for example, I will skim very lightly posts like this one from other bloggers even though I enjoy answering the questions myself. Generally, I will skip but not “like” a post without reading it from someone I haven’t been following for a while or from a blogger I disagree with politically because I don’t know what crazy thing they might say, but with people I’m familiar and comfortable with, I sometimes do it when they’re meandering on or posting a bunch of pics.

2.What do you do with gifts you have received but have no use for?

Generally, I get rid of them. I don’t have excess room here to store things I don’t use.

coconut shrimp

3. Have people become lazier concerning cooking do you think, or is it more a case of people not knowing how to cook? Is cooking considered a valuable skill by you?

There’s no such thing as not knowing how when detailed recipes are everywhere. I don’t want to call people lazy, nor do I want to say that I’m lazy, since that implies there is something “bad” about not cooking. Again, it’s time. Cooking is time-intensive and requires planning, shopping, prepping, and cleaning up, all for 20 minutes of nomming. Personally, as a single, it is not worth it to me except for a special occasion when I have company or am taking a dish to a potluck. I’d rather read a book. It’s also cheaper to buy a prepared meal than to purchase all the ingredients separately, especially if you don’t have room to store the 15 extra meals you get from cooking a larger quantity. Finally, my back hurts, and I can’t be standing in the kitchen for hours chopping up stuff, hovering over the stove, and washing up afterward.

Cooking skill isn’t valuable to me personally, but I can see it being valuable to others, particularly if you earn your living at it! I appreciate the cooking skills of the chefs whose restaurants I patronize and also the ones at Stouffers.

4. What news stories, in your opinion, have so far defined the 2020’s and what do you think they have taught us personally as individuals?

So far, this decade’s news here in the US has been dominated by stories about Covid, the presidential election, the former guy and his crimes, his rabidly insane fans, the Supreme Court, our regression on women’s rights, Ukraine, that egomaniac who bought twitter, inflation/the price of gas, crypto ridiculousness, a whole bunch of sports that I pay no attention to, and a kazillion shootings that we, unlike every other civilized country, are apparently unable to do anything about. What could possibly help? Hmm, such a mystery!

What have these stories taught us? Basically, that people are idiots and will keep repeating the same mistakes.

shrug woman

5. What would you never swallow even if you could?

Raw fish/meat, things like snake and alligator (cooked or otherwise), stinky cheese, super spicy food, and anything unfamiliar. I don’t even like trying new fruit or vegetables at this point, though I’m willing to try new desserts. At 61, if I haven’t yet tasted it, there’s probably a good reason.

6. How many hours of sleep do you get a night, and how many hours do you think you need and why?

Lately my sleep has been so much better! I’ve been getting 7 or more hours per night, which is fabulous, even when broken up with a bathroom trip or a quick scan of the news. I can function OK on 5 or 6, but I do much better with 7-8. Why? Because I’m biologically human, lol.

7. How important is it to you to have a clean house or environment to live in and does it have to be pristine?

This is very important to me, and my house doesn’t have to be pristine, but it does need to be free of obvious mess and clutter. I can’t function in disorganized chaos.

8. Could you give up your Smartphone and break your addiction to it?

No. And I don’t see any reason why I should. It keeps me in daily communication with my girls, contains my GPS (an absolute necessity), holds my contact info for friends, connects me to Spotify (ad-free music), and allows me to quickly look up any fact I need.

9. What have been five of your best TV shows from the dawn of dot to today? Why were they good?

The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Downton Abbey, and Game of Thrones (except for the terrible final season). Why were they good? Because I liked them! It’s all about the characters, not the storylines, and compelling characters, whether heroes or villains, hold my interest. Most shows focus more on gimmicks or violence than character development, which is why they bore me immediately.

10. Why is life not a bed of roses but a bed of thorns? What makes your life good and or bad?

Since everything dies, sadness and grief is a built-in feature of being born, unless you’re a sociopath/psychopath. All happiness is transitory, which makes it even more important to be in the moment and appreciate good times and the people you love. My life is good because of my daughters, grandchildren, and friends. And Gatsby!

baby gatsby

11. Toasted waffles or toasted bread, and why?

I’ve never been a waffle fan, so I’ll take the bread. I don’t understand these “why” questions about personal taste. Because waffles are bland corrugated cardboard and bread is yummy and smooth, perfect for peanut butter spreading? There you go.

12. How do you feel about the ageing process and you?

I wish my back didn’t hurt 24/7, but otherwise I’m fine with it and especially thrilled that I lost my sex drive, which makes my entire life so much easier and more enjoyable. I regret the five years post-divorce I wasted on trying to meet someone and being all stressed out about the dating madness. The last five years have been so much better without that. Of course, I don’t want to die, but on the other hand, my funds will run out at some point and then what? Go back to work at age 100? No thanks!

13. What is the last rebellious thing you did?

I used the handicapped bathroom stall in my office building yesterday because the free one was yucky.

14. What would be your ideal ‘you experience’ of the following …. museum, theatre, spa day, bungee jumping?

Museum: art. Theater: musical. Spa day: meh. Bungee jumping: pass.

15. Could you easily step off the planet and away from society and your friends and being social and also away from the Internet for 12 months?

No. Why would I do that? Sounds like the Unabomber.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Truthful Tuesday Remembers…

fantasy time clock sleep

Today is the sad 59th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in 1963. Di @ Pensitivity101 continues the Truthful Tuesday series by asking:

Can you remember what you were doing or where you were when this happened, or if you were born after 1963, can you remember your whereabouts for other major historical events that have occurred since?

I was 2.5 in November 1963, and I have no memory of the assassination. I have other memories from that time however, such as falling off a swing. I guess that made more of an impression on me.

The first major event I remember directly was Watergate, in 1973. Not that I read the news at age 12, but my parents talked about it constantly (they hated Nixon all along and never voted for him), plus my mom was glued to the TV for the hearings. The rest of my teens was a big news blur, as I was only interested in myself and (sometimes) my friends. I was vaguely aware that “stuff was happening,” like Carter getting elected and Elvis dying.

I remember the 1980 Presidential election because it was the first one I could vote in. Since my opinions at the time reflected my parents’ ideas, I voted for Carter, while everyone else I knew supported Reagan. I remember being at work in an insurance company in Chicago and another girl said she was probably voting for Reagan. I had nothing to say about why I disagreed, so I shrugged and we stayed friends. Wouldn’t it be nice if things were that way now instead of people screaming at each other over differences of opinion?

As I review the timeline of major events in US history from the past 60 years, I realize I was aware of some as they happened, but I don’t usually have a clear recollection of where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. I was in the shower when the 1987 Whittier quake hit and decided to finish conditioning my hair before I got out to see what was going on. I do remember the Northridge quake of 1994. My ex-husband and I were living in Huntington Beach, CA, 50 miles away, and we felt it strongly. It was early morning and we ran to grab the kids and huddle in the hall. We knew it was going to be awful somewhere, and it was.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Coffee Time Questions IV

coffee notebook pen write list

I actually am having coffee right now, so it’s the perfect time to dive into Rory @ Earthly Comforts new set of Coffee Time Questions. Hope everyone’s weekend is starting out well.

1. Have you ever been on an extended vacation/holiday road trip? If so, when and where and for how long?

Not as an adult, but when I was a child my parents took standard (at the time) two-week summer vacations. Once we embarked upon an extra-long trip from the Chicago area down to see the Gateway Arch in Missouri and then drove across Kansas, where my dad somehow got lost on a straight shot across flattened nowheresville, but he never admitted to being lost ~ he said he was exploring. My mom would get all upset whenever we went off her schedule though, and there’d be a lot of yelling, so I’d read a romance novel in the back seat until I became too nauseated to continue. We ended up in Colorado as planned, and it was a nice place full of lots of silver and turquoise jewelry. We had pizza there, but it wasn’t as good as either Chicago pizza or New York pizza. Sorry Colorado, you’re a pretty state, but your pizza sucks! Oh, we went up some mountain and it was cold at the top so we had hot chocolate. Next, we drove to South Dakota to see the presidents carved into rock, which was impressive until later on when I read that the US took Mount Rushmore back from the Lakota tribe after promising it would be theirs forever, which sucks. Typical of us though. Anyway, I think we drove straight back to Illinois after that without seeing anything else of interest. These car trips with my parents and all their arguing gave me a negative vibe about vacations in general, which was only reinforced during my marriage. Now I’m a stay-cation person most of the time except for short local jaunts.

2. When was the last time you visited an actual bookshop, and what, if any, new/old/secondhand titles did you buy?

I went to Barnes & Noble recently, but I didn’t buy anything. They’re so expensive! Even with their membership card they’re ridiculous, so I am not renewing in December. Last week I ordered four Karen Rose romantic suspense novels from a used bookseller on eBay and the price was around $4 each plus a free one if I bought three. B&N can’t compete with that, and I have no need for a “virgin” book. Mostly though, I read e-books on Kindle, except when it’s cheaper to buy a used dead-tree one for a book club selection. Right now, I have TONS of books to be read, both DT and E, so I don’t need any more! (So she says….)

woman books crazy rage

3. How do you feel about the new WP Dashboard 7-day highlights Statistics?

The page looks obnoxious. Why do they have to keep changing everything? That’s not the worst thing they did though. They changed the comment notifications recently so it’s not apparent at first glance if something is pending. I get a lot of pending comments when other bloggers link back and from new readers (one approval automatically gets them on the OK list unless I manually change that), so now I have to spend extra time making sure the approved line is checked. Before this idiotic change, pending comments were highlighted.

4. How do you feel about all the Russian nuclear sabre rattling?

It’s terrifying, as it’s meant to be. Putin is a bad guy, always has been, and I have no patience with folks who try to mitigate his horribleness with whataboutism.

5. If you could go back or travel to an age of your choice and live or relive a previous era for a day, what age would you pick and why?

Hmm, so many possibilities! Since it’s only one day though, there’s no point in saying I would like to see the US in its “natural” state, which I’d need months to appreciate, especially if I was clonking around in a covered wagon, or witness the Big Bang, which probably took longer than a day, not that there were days then, plus it’d be hard to stay at a safe distance, so I’ll just say Mount Sinai, when “God” allegedly gave Moses the 10 Commandments. Maybe there were 15, like in the movie? Maybe he made it all up… who even knows. I could then be the definitive source!

light sea sunset red syw

6. Do you have a favourite coat? [Outdoor/Indoor/Business/Social] What makes it unique to you, OR is a coat just a coat?

Wha? So random, Rory. I do actually: a cute blue parka I bought in Chicago. Since I don’t need a parka too often out here in SoCal, it’s stayed nice over the years (I had the zipper replaced once) and I even wore it last week to the movies. It’s 40 years old!

7. Do you enjoy learning something new every day or week?

Yes, indeed, and multiple times per day.

8. Are you more comfortable in your skin today than you were in the youth of your yesterdays? Why and how so?

I suppose, though physically I don’t feel as well ~ when I was younger my back didn’t hurt 24/7. But I am more “comfortable” with who I am and what I look like, finally accepting that I’m never going to be a bestselling writer or inspire mad passion in some man with my incredible sexiness (since I don’t have it). A huge part of my self-acceptance journey was giving up dating in 2016/17. No matter the strength of your self-esteem, it’s bound to get damaged by all the rejection and nastiness endemic to dating sites and putting yourself out there for “inspection” in general. I no longer have to care what some man, imaginary or real, finds attractive or not in my appearance or how I live my life. Here’s me at a wedding last year in a pretty dress sans makeup and artificial hair color ~ I no longer hide my greys ~ and I’m very happy with how I look.

Paula pink wedding
Photo by Mick Porter

9. Have you ever kept a hardback diary or a journal as opposed to an online digital one? When did you first start to journal your life?

Off and on, as a teenager.

10. How do you feel about Eggplant/Aubergine/Guinea Squash as a vegetable? Is it something you enjoy having in your meals?

I absolutely love it, both in Italian dishes and also that wonderful Thai pumpkin/eggplant curry dish. We’ve even roasted it with a brush of olive oil and some sea salt, and it’s fabulous on its own. So tasty! I did not know it was called guinea squash by some, so I just looked that up and learned something new. Thanks Rory!

11. What film could you watch over and over again and why?

Any of my favorite musicals (The Sound of Music, Chicago, Hair, Mamma Mia (1 & 2), Fiddler on the Roof, etc.) and also Dr. Zhivago, Goodfellas, Risky Business, etc. Why? Music and/or humor, basically, not that Dr. Z was funny.

12. What concert, show, or event would you love tickets for if you could get them?

Eh, idk. Huge, noisy events are not my thing. I enjoy smaller cover band concerts at the OC Fair, and those tix are easy enough to get. I wish I’d seen Neil Diamond though before he retired. He was always at a giant Los Angeles forum however, so I kept putting it off and now it’s too late.

13. Would your teenage self be impressed with who you are today and what you have achieved so far in your/their life?

No. As a teen, I had no interest in motherhood, and being a grandmother wasn’t even on my radar. I dreamed of career success, in a big, splashy way. But I’m super glad now I have a family instead, not that you (theoretically) can’t have both, but that wasn’t in the cards for me.

14. Which online behaviours do you find the most annoying in blogging?

Generally speaking, I enjoy reading all the bloggers I follow, else I wouldn’t be following them. Occasionally, I get a bit annoyed when someone feels the need go on a political rant against a particular group of people, but it’s easy enough to tell immediately what’s happening, so I close the post and move on. If it happens frequently, I may unfollow for a while or forever, which unfortunately I had to do with one of my prior faves when she went on constant tirades against “liberals” and kept mixing that into her regular posts about food and body image too. But now I don’t read her at all, so it worked out nicely. I am a big fan of MOVING THE F*CK ON when I dislike something, rather than attempting to dictate to everyone what they should and shouldn’t say, or calling for bans, with some exceptions for speech inciting violence. Other than that, the most irritating thing about blogging is the WP “happiness engineers” making us UNHAPPY with all their pointless and user-unfriendly tinkering. GRRRR!

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Twitter Quitter [fpq]

Sunset birds

Fandango continues his Provocative Question series today by asking the following:

“Whether or not you have a Twitter account, how do you feel about Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the changes he’s made so far. Do you care one way or the other? If you currently are on Twitter, do you plan to continue actively using it?”

I’m a Twitter Quitter, and I deactivated my account the day Musk’s purchase of the platform was finalized. I forget exactly which day that was, but in 30 days (from then) my account will be gone. That’ll be toward the end of this month, around the 25th or so.

Some of my friends refuse to leave ~ they say they can do more good (or bad) from “inside the house.” I understand that, but it was never my intention to be active in that way on Twitter. As I have mentioned previously, my only goal on Twitter was to get writing inspiration from the poets and poetic prompt accounts I followed. I did get some, but I failed to connect with the poets there in any meaningful way. My offerings received little to no attention (likes/retweets), and I was already frustrated about this pre-Musk. I sometimes read the news and retweeted something funny about politics or cats or writing or whatever, but I never wanted to engage in public political discussions/bickering there or anywhere else. It’s a total waste of time.

Musk’s purchase made the decision easy for me. I knew there would be a huge increase in hate speech and it would get even more onerous to try to block it all while searching for gems of inspiration. And I was correct ~ there has been a surge in hate on Twitter since his takeover, plus a raft of other chaos with layoffs and glitches and stupidity in general. It doesn’t seem like a good place for a poet now, if it ever was. Since I’ve left, I don’t care what Musk does or what happens to Twitter and I have mostly quit reading about it. He’s just an attention-seeking ego-monster, and the less I hear about him the better ~ same as with you-know-who.

This bird has flown.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.


Cat walking away explosion fire

Top of the news:
Powerball nears two billion–
Let’s all fantasize
About what we’d do if we won.
Lower down
Plane crash in Tanzania,
Russians bombing Ukraine,
But would we buy a Tesla,
A Jaguar, or a Ferrari?
Oh, why choose?
We could have all three
And drive as much as we pleased,
In spite of the price of gas.
Should we hire a chauffeur
And a masseuse? Naturally!
The world will be our playground.
Midterms on Tuesday,
Philadelphia mass shooting,
Iran gave drones to Putin,
But that tax burden
On our jackpot–
We’ll need to hire a team of CPAs.
Where should we build our dream home?
Let’s sort out our charities.
Mass layoffs at Twitter,
Fire in Manhattan,
Flu exploding everywhere,
Babies catching RSV;
I think I will include
An infinity pool
And an outdoor movie screen.
Aaron Carter dead at 34, so sad.
How many tickets should I buy?
Just one, right?
Since I’m destined to win
This time.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Written for the Writer’s Digest 2022 PAD Chapbook Challenge (Day 6: news).

Coffee Time Questions II

coffee notebook pen write list

Happy Saturday (or Sunday, as the case may be). I’m late with posts today, mainly because I felt too icky last night to write and schedule stuff in advance, which is my usual way. The good news is I’m feeling much better today, yay! I just posted a poem for PAD 2022 that included a bunch of daily prompts too, and now I’m ready to tackle Rory’s Coffee Time Questions.

1. What is the best advice you have ever been given, and who gave it?

“Sometimes it’s best to do nothing” from my ex-husband (a lawyer). This has turned out to be more true than not and helps to mitigate those knee-jerk impulses to respond to everything that comes along.

2. What word would you choose to use if you were asked to describe yourself with it?


3. Do you like to eat mushrooms and what is your favourite culinary dish?

I love mushrooms and probably my favorite dish with them is mushroom and breadcrumb stuffing. I also enjoy them sautéed alone as a side dish.

Scrambled eggs and mushrooms

4. Do you have an accent? What is it, and where is it from?

I didn’t think so, but I just took the BuzzFeed Quiz and it says New York, which makes sense because I was born there, but I left at age 9 for Jersey, at 13 moved to Illinois, and ended up in SoCal at 22. Babbel’s Quiz says I’m from California though. I took a third one, but it asked so many questions at the end to get my result that I said eff you and left.

5. How many hours a day do you read and do you think that too much reading might be harmful to your health?

It varies depending on the day. Not counting work, sometimes only an hour or two (I am counting blog-reading and news but not Facebook, etc.), but other days I might read for 10 hours. I do not consider there to be a thing as “too much reading.” Why not? Because reading is the key to everything. Also, I don’t like to go out much, so I travel and play outside in my imagination via other people’s stories.

6. Have any books or films influenced you in any way and how you live your life? In what way? Did they inspire you to take action and change your lifestyle habits?

Yes, unfortunately, soaking my adolescent brain in romance novels gave me all the wrong ideas and expectations about love. I never really was able to overcome that, so I just gave up. On love, that is, not the romance novels!

romance novels

7. How aware are you of your surroundings daily? Do you notice things others miss out? Are you detail-oriented?

It depends what we’re talking about. I am extremely aware of where things are and if anything is new or missing or outside its proper space. I am not that aware of other people though and could never, for example, accurately describe a stranger who was in the elevator with me or sitting at the next table in a restaurant. I’m hyper-focused on details in reading material, but most of the time I can’t remember what people were wearing or even what they said (which is why I write down everything at work). I can recall anytime I see a kitty however. Maybe I just don’t care about people? LOL

8. What is your favourite thing about planet earth?

That it has cats.

9. Have you ever accidentally upset someone you wish you hadn’t because of their strange reaction, and what did you do and how did they react?

Yes, many times, mostly in dating type situations. Here’s one example. A guy I had seen a few times called me on a Friday night, and I told him I was upset about a strange withdrawal from my checking account. He got really weird about the whole thing and canceled our date the next day. I thought maybe he was worried I was some scammer who would hit him up for money, which was understandable if that were the case, but it wasn’t even that. He later confessed that because the banking issue was on my mind, I wouldn’t be fully present for HIM. Right, because the most important thing was catering to this man’s whims 24/7 and god forbid I had anything in my thoughts besides his wants and needs. He was also the one who ghosted me on Thanksgiving because I didn’t bake cookies for him. Good riddance, I know. I eventually got over it… a couple years later after going through a serious depression (not just because of him, but because he represented all my relationship failures), and during that time I decided the best course for me was to give up dating completely, which I have and things are much better now for me psychologically.


10. Do you have any regular behaviours or quirks you would like to lose? What are they, and why don’t you want them anymore?

No. I’m perfect, obviously.

11. Are you naturally serious or can see the light-hearted to almost everything?


12. Who do you think is the world’s worst real life boogeyman, and why, or if you wish, who was the worst boogeyman on the movie screen?

I couldn’t decide between Putin, Assad, and all the other monsters, so I googled “the worst person in the world,” and it’s a movie that sounds pretty interesting. Check it out here. Naturally it’s about romance.

13. What’s the strangest phone call you have ever had?

On my former Facebook account, I foolishly allowed “friends” to view my phone number. One night, a stranger from another state called me to berate me for being a “breeder.” He was clearly drunk and out of his mind, ranting and carrying on. I blocked him and hid my number. My new account has had my number hidden from everyone since day one.

14. Which country in your opinion has the worst politics and what makes them different to your own country?

Oh, they all suck! Our system was supposed to prevent complete lunatics from taking over the asylum, but here we are.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Horror Movie Challenge 26-30

scary pumpkins

Boo! I’m participating in Sandman’s Horror Movie Challenge, five films at a time, every six days. Using my extraordinary math skills, I believe this will end on Halloween with 30 movies altogether. I haven’t seen a lot of horror movies, as it’s a genre I avoid, so I will do my best here.

26. Horror movie that best describes my ex. I’ll have to go with Psycho (1960), but I’m not commenting on which ex it describes (could be more than one!).

27. Best non-Halloween holiday horror movie. I enjoyed The Others starring Nicole Kidman.

28. Best Stephen King horror movie. I already mentioned that The Shining and Carrie were enjoyable adaptations of King novels. I saw Thinner a while ago, which was funny but not scary (the book was good but not funny). The Dead Zone and Firestarter were nowhere near as good as the books. So I will go with Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, which I recently watched and liked a lot, though it’s not horror really, more a bit spooky and supernatural.

29. Best horror movie based on true events. The 2017 US presidential inauguration.

30. Best horror movie death. The Skeleton Key, 2005. Love this movie and love Kate Hudson! I saved it for last, yay!

Happy Halloween!

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

TMP80: Politics

TMP monday peeve kitty cat

Welcome to my refreshed Monday Peeve! Unburden yourself of an annoyance and you’ll feel better afterward. Or not. Complain in my comments or crab in your own post. Doesn’t have to be on a Monday. You do you.

I’m so sick of politics everywhere (another great reason to leave Twitter). Stupid memes proliferating on Facebook, political crap saturating the news, candidate signs littering up public spaces, garbage flyers filling my mailbox, vote-for-me texts coming in on my phone… FFS ENOUGH ALREADY! I already voted. I am done. I am not giving money. I don’t want to volunteer. Go away! But wait, there’s more. The minute after the primaries are over we will be subject to nonstop bombardment for the next round. No break at all.


©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Genre Bingo 8 ~ All Done!

Key on stones

Hello. I’ve been reviewing a bingo card full of different genres to expand my reading range. You can find my other reviews here: Genre Bingo 1Genre Bingo 2Genre Bingo 3Genre Bingo 4Genre Bingo 5, Genre Bingo 6, and Genre Bingo 7. Thanks for following along. Here are the latest books I’ve finished to complete my bingo card.

1. The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne (2019). I found this book enjoyable and annoying at the same time, so I gave it 3 stars (liked it, but didn’t love it). This fits the tragedy genre on my card and indeed the two main characters are submerged in grief over the tragic and sudden death of a loved one. They were both interesting, quirky protags, so that part was great, but after a while I was like oh come on does every possible trigger have to completely derail you both into drama and sobbing? That all became a bit tedious. The mystery part was fun and the denouement took me by surprise (though thinking back, it shouldn’t have, but maybe I was distracted thinking about my baking project), and I was also surprised that what I assumed would be a predictable romance turned out not to be at all.

This story also contained supernatural elements, but they weren’t very well thought out. It seemed like the mysterious woman Lucy had the “power,” yet the protags also saw visions/ghosts/whatever. So which is it? Lucy has the special gift or they all do? There are magical crossword puzzles and calendars, which seem to have been tossed into the tale at random just for fun. OK, but if I’m gonna suspend my disbelief in the supernatural, please create a weird new world that makes sense!

2. Escape to Eden by Rachel McClellan (2015). Two stars for this book in the dystopian genre. It was well written, but I just couldn’t get into it. The premise is that humans created a paradise but were unhappy with the monotony so they began tinkering with their DNA to achieve “perfection.” They screwed up of course and now most “Prime” people die by the age of 30 and the elites (who get to live longer) keep a mutant army of creatures with special abilities and vulnerabilities to destroy any challenger and also to find “Originals” to exploit. The teenaged heroine, who is an Original with unaltered DNA, must fight the mutants on her mission to save her little brother. It’s just so ridic. The action/violence/gore is nonstop and the constant menace becomes numbing, though it’s probably par for the genre (which I will avoid in the future). I also have a problem with stories that show kids as being so bright and skilled that they can overcome an army of monsters not to mention outthink any adults. That was one of the problems I had with the TV show Stranger Things too.

Swirling dancing rainbow flames couple

3. The Passion According to Carmela by Marcos Aguinis (2011, translation 2018). This was a fascinating glimpse “behind the scenes” at the Cuban Revolution, from the point of view of a bored, wealthy girl who fell in love with the adventure of joining the rebel army, with little understanding of what kinds of dangers she would face. As time went on, she became convinced of the righteousness of their cause and joined other rebels in denouncing anyone who opposed them. Carmela dismissed rumors of cruelty by Castro and his soldiers as exaggerated, until there came the day she experienced them herself. I’m not sure though how much of the novel is fiction vs fact and would have to do some objective historical research to figure that out, which I am not interested in at the moment. The characters are fictional, of course, but the rest? I don’t know. Regardless, it was interesting to read. I do have a criticism and it’s that the story is told in multiple first-person points of view (Carmela, her brother, her lover), but also at times there’s an omniscient narrator. It’s confusing and jarring. Why not have the whole thing omniscient? I gave it 4 stars because it was really good, except for the POV issue. I read it for the adventure genre on my card.

4. On a Night of a Thousand Stars by Andrea Yaryura Clark (2022). This novel was amazing! I read it for the “free space” and I’m glad I saved it for last because it was SO GOOD and I gave it 5 stars! What’s kinda funny is that it flipped back and forth in time and POV, from first person in 1998 to third person, different POVs, in 1973-1976. Usually, I would say ugh I hate that, but guess what? When a writer is this good and makes it work… it works! We begin with Paloma, 21 years old, in 1998, who lives in New York City and gets curious about her father’s early life in Argentina after he gets appointed ambassador. Santiago doesn’t want to discuss his past, which makes her even more curious. When the family travels to Argentina, Paloma begins digging around and discovers the truth about him, and herself. In the chapters that take place during the 1970s, we learn for ourselves what happened with Santiago and some of his friends when the state engaged in a program of “disappearing” people they labeled “subversive.” I learned a little about Argentinian history regarding the brutal Peron years and the even worse post-Peron military junta era, much of which was supported by the US. This book did not delve into the Argentinian protection of Nazis, but I want to learn more about that too. I am not a fan of reading a big tome of history, so I appreciate fiction that makes me curious to look things up for myself.

AND MY BINGO CARD IS FILLED! I would say that the main benefit I got out of doing this genre challenge is a desire to read more historical fiction and learn more about history generally. You’re never too old to learn new things.

genre bingo challenge

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

It Began in Darkness [fss]

vampire galaxy stars

He hadn’t realized that he’d passed the point of no return until he felt his fangs lengthen and sharpen when the woman in the glimmering blue dress gave him a sultry smile over the edge of her martini glass. Immediately, he left the bar and rushed home before he could do anything rash. After checking that all the doors and windows were secured against the morning light, he flung himself into his lonely bed and contemplated how he might bring an end to his miserable existence.

It began in darkness, when he’d succumbed to a beautiful vampire and her blissful bites, and it would end in darkness, since he’d never be able to walk in the sunshine again. Maybe he should just stay in his room and starve to death! His animal instincts rebelled against that idea, however, and he knew he’d have to feed upon human blood before too long, else he’d weaken, collapse, and crumble into dust. He’d become a fiend, a monster, a soulless wretch who cared nothing for human life except to gulp down its essence into himself.

But the speck of conscience that remained accessible to him forbade him from seeking out innocent victims and perpetuating the wicked cycle. Just because his flesh had been violated, causing this blood lust to dominate his thoughts, did not mean it was acceptable to turn others into the hideous creature he’d become. Who then? Not prisoners, for some were innocent. Not hospice patients because their life force was too weak to sustain a grown man in the prime of death. Annoying celebrities? Maybe, but surely there was a better solution than to seek a fresh vein in the midst of all that silicone and cocaine. Finally, it came to him.

The next day at sundown, he tossed his suitcases into his black Tesla and headed to Washington, D.C., where he received a warm welcome. It was easy to ingratiate himself with the career politicians — after all, he was handsome and charming and exceedingly wealthy — and invitations to fabulous events soon followed. Whenever he felt the need to feed, he now had an unlimited buffet of corrupt egomaniacs he could drain without feeling guilty. He congratulated himself on his success.

But it was a hollow victory.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Written for Emma’s Title Prompt, Chelle’s Last Sentence Challenge, and Fandango’s Story Starter.