Archive for July, 2019


Way late on this. I took a nap earlier and slept through my alarm, so best laid plans there. This was the kind of read that I didn’t know I needed until I was midway through it and kept pausing to bother my poor mother about bits that I was really enjoying. So, with no further ado, this is Lily Craig’s Pretend Girlfriend. Enjoy!Pretend Girlfriend cover

The best revenge, they say, is living well. When Celeste Lamontagne receives an invitation to her cheating ex-girlfriend’s wedding she knows that isn’t true. The best revenge is being seen living well, and to do that Celeste will need a happy relationship to show off during the wedding cruise through the Mediterranean. A happy relationship with a girl outside the social strata she and her ex share so no one can discover the truth, that she hasn’t let anyone close since they broke up. That’s where free spirited stylist Lane comes in, all she has to do is play the part of Celeste’s loving girlfriend for the duration of the cruise and she’ll be set up with a second chance in New York’s fashion scene. They just have to convince a yacht full of people that they’re a couple for two weeks without getting caught. Two weeks without stumbling over each other, spilling the secret, or butting heads too hard might be manageable if they can handle the sparks stirring up between them.

A solid three quarters of the appeal Lily Craig’s Pretend Girlfriend held for me starting out was that it is built on the fake dating trope. That sort of deal where two characters fake a relationship for one reason or another but it’s obvious from the start that one or both of them are totally into the other, and of course they wind up together because it’s a romance trope. It’s meant to have a happy ending. I have no idea why I’m as about this trope as I am, but here we are.

Pretend Girlfriend has more than a fair amount of repetition and not a ton of plot. There’s some places where it feels kind of soap opera-esque, with really big reactions to things the reader hadn’t been in on either. Despite all that, it is a lot of fun. Celeste and Lane are two very different characters from two very different sets of circumstances. They play off each other well for a lot of the book and the places where they don’t do a good job of setting up a situation where their personalities would absolutely clash.

There is a lot of mutual pining and deciding that the other is just in it for the job. That, I admit, got a little old especially since it was intercut with the characters making huge strides in caring for and getting to know each other. It was never so bad that it became unreadable, but it did get to a point where it felt like it was being used to keep Celeste and Lane in a holding pattern longer than necessary. It also made the cruise feel like it had gone on for far more than two weeks by the time the climax hit.

Contrasting that though, I really enjoyed the bits with the two out and about at the cruise’s various stops. Celeste trying to show she cared and finding that she was enjoying herself while with Lane was pretty great. The banter between them was fun. And it actually felt like Celeste was loosening up and having more fun as the book continued.

So, yeah, Pretend Girlfriend was a lot of fun. It doesn’t need much of a plot because the focus is squarely on the protagonists getting closer and falling for each other. It’s fun and light and a little ridiculous, so Pretend Girlfriend gets a four out of five from me. It has a base trope that I really like and fun characters that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.

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House Keeping 7/30/19

As it turns out, I’m still running behind.

Could be worse though, I got a lot done today. With even the thinnest slice of luck I’m going to be a college student again by this time next week. It’s a little scary, but I’m excited!

Things are going to be a little patched around this week again. We didn’t have a game night last Friday, so no “Sunshine’s Journals” post this week. I’m going to use Thursday to post my dice review for the week. It’s a set that I’ve been looking for, so I’m happy to have found it and happier to be talking about it. I should have a book review up tomorrow. Not quite sure when tomorrow though, that’s going to depend on how much of it I can get written tonight.

Hopefully the whole thing, right?

I’m also not going to be traveling much for awhile. That mostly just means that I should be able to even out my schedule again shortly. Also, hopefully, that the Jonesy cat will stop eating my Christmas cactus.

I’ll probably also share pictures of my current crocheting project once it’s finished. Mostly I just want to boast about finally learning hairpin lace. Mostly.

That’s about it!

Standard stuff. If you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. I feed off your attention, it drives me. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. At this point that three dollars would be, like a hundredth of a text book. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

28th of Spring, Year 256

Can not let the others see my hands shaking like this. Poison has mostly run its course, but the tips of my fingers are still numb. It looks bad that I passed out in front of everyone from it. Worse that Chonck expressed concern over it and I waved him off. That makes me seem careless.

At least the elf was elsewhere. No one is certain where she got to, but it was away from our last round of fighting.

We wiped out or chased away all the Goblins who were still in the side passages. I assume most of the ones who escaped were dealt with by the infantry dwarves. The passages are blocked to prevent more Goblins from returning, that should make the area safer.

There was something to that final fight though. The Goblins were better armed and armored by far than the others in the pit or the ones that have been out in the field. It seems we may have found some kind of outpost throne room for their King, possibly some kind of shrine to him given the amount of food and shiny things stacked around the throne. It seems like the armored Goblins would have left us alone if I hadn’t knocked over one of the baskets of offerings while checking for traps.

Further, this could tell us something about the Goblin’s tactics. They struck with poisoned javelins first, presumably to weaken their enemies. Then they attacked in small groups. I would have wanted to see how they reacted to more opponents than just Chonck and I being fully in the room for most of the fight. They were definitely some kind of honor guard.

Hopefully, I can learn more about that from the one we captured before anything happens to him. There’s a hole in his lower torso the size of a whiskey bottle, so there’s no telling how long he can last even with it patched up by Azurei. Chonck has named him “Leaky” and intends to make him do chores for him.

Eclair has already offered Leaky a knife. Twice.

I feel like we have also learned here just how little the elf does. She left shortly after we met the Obcobra and, even with the Obcobra doing nothing to help, the final battle went just as well without the elf as it would have with. Something to bring up with Churt that.

I should stop here though, the numbness isn’t getting any better and I worry that the poison took more out of me than I expected.

Eureka! Dice

Excited to get back into the swing of things here. I’ve been meaning to talk about this set for the past couple of weeks. What can I say, I’m a fan of shiny objects.

Eureka 1

Given how much I liked the Confetti Dice, when I heard about Dice Envy’s Eureka! Dice I really wanted to check them out. Bonus fun there when the page for them contains a blurb about the Gold Rush of ’49 and description of why clear dice with gold flakes and black lettering.

Eureka 2

I really dig the look of these. The clear acrylic is clean and I didn’t see any bubbles. The gold flakes, while tending to gather at one end of the dice, are scattered well throughout and don’t poke through the acrylic. And the paint job on the numbers is well done, there aren’t any notable thin spots or anything similar. The clearness and stark numbering can make these a little hard to read if you aren’t paying attention, but that’s a matter of paying attention rather than a fault in the dice.

The dice also feel nice in the hand. That’s pretty expected with acrylic dice, but still worth noting. Special note here is the second 33mm d20, it’s way bigger than standard and nicely heavy as a result.

Eureka 3

I think I actually like the bigger d20 better than most of the dice I own because it feels nifty. I like the novelty of it and that it was made for this set instead of being a one off dice.

As usual, I find myself really pleased with this set. The quality is good. The set looks good. And the Eureka! Dice feel nice to roll. So, all totaled up, the Eureka! set gets a five out of five.

House Keeping 7/23/19

So, this week is off to a fun start. I’m behind again, but also I’ve gotten to make honey lavender bread with my mom. Totally worth it.

Related to that and having been sick last week, I’m not as close to done with my book for this week as I need to be. My plan to take care of that is to post Monday’s dice review tomorrow, then the “Sunshine’s Journal” post Thursday, and then have the book review up Friday. With any luck, that’ll have me back to a mostly normal schedule going forward.

Really shouldn’t be relying on luck there, but I feel a little weird saying anything more solid. Working on it though. And excited for the book I’m reading now.

That’s about it for this week.

Standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. It’d probably go amazing with the bread.

27th of Spring, Year 256

The confrontation with the Yoyabo Goblin pit has, so far, been a slaughter. Between Azurei and Eclair’s magics and the heavy infantry’s martial skills we’ve wiped out the entirety of the Goblin’s surface forces and fought our way into the pit itself. That has slowed our advance down a bit, due to branching pathways and closer quarters, but we reached what seems to be the central hub of the pit and Chonck as sealed the entries to most of the main branches so that we can deal with stragglers more safely.

Unfortunately, despite the damage we’ve done to the Yoyabo Goblins, it doesn’t seem that they would be willing to surrender. I offered the option to a group we found headed by a Goblin called Clever, he used the opportunity to attempt an ambush on the party. A few of them escaped to further down the tunnels, but for the most part. For the most part it’s just been killing.

We did find a source of information on the Goblin King Eebaku though. A rather strange source of information, but still.

The Goblins had imprisoned one of their own at the bottom of a well as punishment for trying to trap Eebaku as a source of power. This Obcobra claims to have been down there for nearly a  year, sustained by her magics. She’s willing, to a limited vengful extent, to help us fight Eebaku and his Goblins and has what I can only hope is information on where we might get a weapon capable of harming him.

It would seem that there is a creature called the Eater of the Dead and that it may have or may provide materials to make a weapon we could use to harm a demon lord.

It’s a ways off, probably several days travel, so we would need to finish driving the Goblins out of Yoyabo and return to Caskfire to report and restock. There will need to be guards at the pit to prevent Goblins from returning to bother Caskfire while we are away. That would also require a change in scouting patterns. And above all that we will be relying on the Obcobra’s directions, so we should plan for extra days out or some manner of trickery.

I will need to talk to Churt about all of this. She may not want to put a guard detail at the pit or maybe she would want to try caving in the side tunnels instead. It would be for me to advise and her to worry over.

(Several paragraphs have been started and aggressively scribbled out.)

The Obcobra said that Eebaku was looking for someone in the area some time before our builders struck the earth. The time line seems to have coincided with when we were first scouting for a good place to start digging. Who would be important enough to a demon lord to bring him into the Plains of Burning?

Should I warn Churt that there might be cultists in Caskfire? It seems ridiculous to think. No one in the family would worship a demon lord. Would they?

Could the Obcobra be lying to try and secure our trust more securely? She is our only source on this. This and the Eater of the Dead too. If that were to be a trap, it could be a way to wipe out the fortress’s protectors and leave everyone else open to attack.

(A number of pages have been neatly cut from the journal.)

I don’t like any of this.

House Keeping 7/17/19

Hey all, sorry about the non-starter of a week. I’ve been feeling ill the last few days, so nothing’s gotten done. Deeply unfortunate, but a thing that happens from time to time.

Just now, I’m planning on having the “Sunshine’s Journal” post up for tomorrow and then treating the rest of the week as a wash. That means that we’re going to start back on Monday with the usual dice review and roll from there.

Standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

This is one that’s been giving me all kinds of trouble writing a review for. It’s one that I really enjoyed reading, but that is really hard to talk about without risking serious spoilers. Obviously something I want to avoid there. This one’s courtesy of netGalley. Here’s Mira Grant’s In the Shadow of Spindrift House. Enjoy!

In the Shadow of Spindrift House cover

Straight lines don’t exist in nature. There is no place for them among the curves, the twists, the softened edges. The House stands, all ruler straight lines and sharply measured angles, above a dying town that the sea reclaims street by street. The House stands, holding tight to its secrets and waiting. Harlowe Upton-Jones has been searching for answers for as long as she can remember. It’s what found her the teen detective group that would become her family. It’s what she’s good at. But a teen detective group can only stay teens so long and it’s all Harlowe can hope to do is find one last big case. One last big case to keep the band together or give the group a proper send off. One last big case that might find her the answers she’s been looking for since her parents’ murder. The legends surrounding Spindrift House twist in on themselves bending the Answer Squad’s story into something it was always meant to be, something it was never meant to be.

In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant is decidedly Lovecraftian in its horror, which in a lot of ways makes it kind of hard to talk about. The house itself is this inescapable thing for Harlowe, something she’s been keeping back from showing the other members of the Answer Squad for years but that she also knows is the big mystery. The one that could make them hit the big time, the one she hopes will keep her friends together for a little longer. The book is a story of losing battles and inevitabilities, buried family secrets and friends growing up and growing apart.

A lot of the story is driven by Harlowe being desperate to hold on to her present, to avoid facing the future for just a little longer. She doesn’t see any prospects for herself, no colleges that would take her that she could afford to go to, the girl she loves is planning on moving on with her life now that the mysteries are drying up. It’s that desperate fear that takes them to the Spindrift house and let’s Harlowe make excuses to just stay a little longer and a little longer. After all, Addison would be so mad if they left  and missed out on the reward money. Or maybe she just imagined the truly creepy things going on, they should just take a little longer and keep looking. There’s a fair amount of that.

In a lot of ways, the atmosphere of the story builds on mundane fears and frustrations. The Answer Squad are at a point in their lives where they can’t really be teen detectives anymore, and Harlowe feels more than a little trapped by the changes she’s staring down. She’s the one with no plan. She’s the one that weird things are happening to in Spindrift house. In a lot of ways it feels like the mundane is the root of all Harlowe and, by extension, the Answer Squad’s troubles within the story. They’re high school graduates, so the local authorities don’t have as much patience for them solving mysteries the police couldn’t. There aren’t many mysteries headed their way anymore, so they can’t support themselves with it, so Addison is getting ready to go make something of herself and start a career. Harlowe feels adrift and scared that she’s going to lose the people closest to her, so she pulls out the nuclear option of final mysteries.

Then Spindrift house itself has this fantastic oppressive atmosphere. The weight of time and all the fears that have driven Harlowe to lead her friends here. The things that are just off, that are wrong in little ways that add up. Then, there’s a reprieve, a moment with the Answer Squad just being a group of friends. It eases up for a little while to let the reader breath and to restart the cycle of rising tension. The writing in In the Shadow of Spindrift House is tight and satisfying even as a number of things begin to feel more and more inevitable.

This is much further on the horror end of things than a lot of things I read. But a slow creeping sort of horror, an internal horror that’s too big to properly fight, as opposed to something more action oriented. That is absolutely to its credit. Grant did a fantastic job here, especially with regard to the atmosphere. So, of course In the Shadow of Spindrift House gets a five out of five from me. It makes me want more of this setting and this type of horror.

House Keeping 7/9/19

So, this week has been kind of a non-starter. I’ve been a little busy with things around the house and things for the blog have slipped a bit. I have been learning fun crafty things, so very much worth it. I’ve used a sewing machine for the first time since middle school. The dice bag I made turned out well, no extraneous holes and the seams were mostly straight. And I finally relearned hairpin lace crocheting, with luck I’m hoping to have my starter project a good enough chunk of the way done that I can also learn to connect finished rows.

As to things for the blog, I’m planning on having a book review done for tomorrow and I’m going to move the dice review for this week to Friday, so that’s still on the docket just not on its usual day.

Also, cat blob featuring that dice bag I made.

Catblob 2

I should probably try making them in more colors, but they still turn out pretty cute this way.

Catblob 1

That’s about it for this week. “Sunshine’s Journal” post is finally going up again Thursday, but that’s about it.

So, standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. I’m kind of thinking of posting the occasional crafty picture, like the cat blob or once I get the hairpin lace done more. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

House Keeping 7/2/19

Ever find yourself making excuses to put a book down, not because it’s bad, but because there’s something awful coming. There’s something awful coming and you know it, and you know the author has the skill to make it fantastic, but it’s going to hurt.

Yeah.

I’m sitting there on the book I’m reading now. I fully trust that the author is going to do something amazing with the last bit of this book. I’m sure that the ending is going to be satisfying. That it’s going to work really well. But it looks like amazing is also going to be terrible for the characters. Like any victory the protagonists eek out will be so Pyrrhic it hardly counts.

It really excites me, but I’m still wimping out for now.

Speaking of wimping out. I haven’t abandoned the “Sunshine’s Journals” posts, we’ve just had another week of not playing due to people being absent. I should have it up either this Thursday or next Thursday.

I don’t have a ton going on other than that. There’s a couple of things I’m working on getting outlined, things I want to try. The usual there.

Mostly I’ve been stress crocheting cat blobs.

But stress is temporary, and if I can get things worked out. Actually get things in line on life stuff. That’ll be a start.

The cat blobs help too though.

So, standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. Little things, tell me if you want to see the blob cats or if you’re just waiting for the next Journal entry. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!