rudolph

365 Challenge: Day 260 – Underdog (RYDER RANT)

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Underdog: a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest

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Happy Monday! It’s Ryder, and I am hopefully on the mend. I am still limping a little bit, but I have started getting up again in the morning when the Dads leave the bed. For about a week, I lounged in bed until after 9 each morning. I think I had a cold that is finally on its way out. Don’t worry, even though I’m getting older, I am a fighting underdog in these kinds of situations. At 10, I’m really around 60 in people years; they say it’s 7 human years for each dog year, but it’s not quite that mechanical. I will overcome and conquer it. I also want to thank the wonderful blogger Misifusa who selected today’s 365 Daily Challenge word for me. Click her name to check out her cool post for a different take on the word ‘underdog.’

For me, besides the obvious cartoon, which I am not old enough to have watched, an underdog is often what people call me. For shiba inus, that’s my dog breed in case you didn’t know, a male is usually around 25 to 30 lbs. I’m about 20 lbs. on a good day (don’t bring up that nasty ‘d’ word from last week), but I’m also a bit smaller than most. They called me the runt of the litter, but that didn’t stop Dad from picking me out on Thanksgiving weekend 10 years ago. That’s right, it was our 10-year anniversary together yesterday. He went to visit his parents in Pennsylvania for the holiday and they stopped at a pet store on Saturday just to have something to do. We connected and he came back the next day and adopted me before driving back to NY. He almost adopted my sister, but she was a bit crazy, biting the glass on the cage and growling like a bear. She was also black-and-tan. Did you know we come in different colors? I like being a red sesame, I think it’s the best one. Anyways… happy 10 years, Dad!

Back to underdog… this week, my battle is with a reindeer named Rudolph. I’ve pasted a picture below; he’s about 5 inches tall and wide, and I guess he’d be considered the underdog in this fight. Grandma brought him over to me on Thanksgiving. He plays that song I’m sure you all know. Dads took a video of me fighting with Rudolph, trying to stop the creature from ‘you-know-where’ from singing. Rudolph keeps hiding behind the potted plants on the window ledge, just far back enough I cannot get to him. I try all day long, jumping, swatting my paw at him and occasionally whine-barking. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when an otherwise normal and healthy adult dog acts like a little puppy and whines to get his toy back. At least that’s what Dad says to me: “Stop whine-barking.” I caught Rudolph yesterday and bit him at least a hundred times until I figured out how to turn the music on and off. Now I turn it on just to torture Dad, as he doesn’t want to hear that song all day long.

My little lesson today: when you’re the underdog in one situation, don’t assume you automatically are in all situations. Reversal of fortune is often at play!

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About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Book Review: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher by Maxine Sylvester

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Overview 
With the holiday season coming up, this is a definite read for children who need a touch of hope and humor. Loosely based on the concepts of reindeer who fly through the sky, with a famous one named Rudolph, this beautiful picture book takes off dashing from there… the lead reindeer character, Ronaldo, is named for a famous soccer player — you can imagine the great amount of other antics incorporated in the rest of the book. The background story that Maxine Sylvester has created is pure imagination woven tightly with a reality we all know.

In this second book in the series, the reindeer crew, in school to learn how to properly fly, meet a young wolf who needs help finding her pack. She’s feisty and protective, loyal and adorable. The book makes you feel part of the story, including the wonderful drawings done by the author herself. Add in a contest, a scary forest and a kooky instructor, there are bunches of warm moments and great arcs to tantalize kids with as you read to them. I highly recommend this series.

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About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: We Wish You a Murderous Christmas

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We Wish You a Murderous Christmas
We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4+ stars to Vicki Delany‘s We Wish You a Murderous Christmas, her second novel in the “Year-Round Christmas Mystery” cozy series. Whether it’s Christmastime or not, you need to unwrap this gift and dive into the great fun packaged into this holiday treat.


Story

Rudolph, New York, also known as America’s Christmas Town, is home to the famous Yuletide Inn which has been a staple of this adorable village for years. When one of the owners has a heart attack, his son Gord moves back home to help take care of his father and the Inn until he recuperates. Unfortunately, Gord hasn’t changed since he was a kid growing up in Rudolph and still has a ruthless, money-hungry attitude which leads to one of his enemies stabbing him with a knife from the Yuletide Inn. Gord was secretly looking for ways to cut costs and make the Yuletide appear even more profitable for a potential buyer.

Merry Wilkinson, daughter of Rudolph’s previous mayor, also moved home recently but she came back full of Christmas spirit hoping to help revive the town and grow their tourist industry. When her father (also known as the town’s Santa Claus) is suspected of murdering Gord in support of his long-time friend who had a heart attack, Merry is on the case. She conducts her own “off the books” investigation working closely with her friends and family to try to uncover as much about Gord’s life back in California before he moved home to Rudolph.

With a cast of at least 6 to 8 suspects, including a rival town that hopes to sink Rudolph so they can be the tourist capital of upstate NY, Merry has her hands full trying to figure out who is telling the truth and who lacks all Christmas spirit. Add a few side stories (blossoming romance with 2 suitors, a hunky new chef who’s lusting after her best friend, a Santa Claus being fired from his job due to being the primary suspect and the on-going battles with the current mayor and a rival shop owner) and you’ve got quite a mystery to solve.

In the end, Merry of course solves the case with her friends and family’s help, but it ends in a risky unexpected confrontation where someone pulls a weapon with intent to harm Merry and her family. She survives, helps the local police capture the criminal and also walks right into the next mystery about to unfold in the third book to launch in this enjoyable series.


Strengths

1. The cast of characters is dynamic and complex. Sometimes an author will create too few characters or cast too wide a net such that you can’t keep track of all the options. Even with 6 to 8 potential suspects in this story, each person is well-described, has distinct motives and pops up throughout the stories in all the right places. It’s easy to keep track of everyone which also makes it very easy to figure out who you like and who you don’t like.

2. Who doesn’t love Christmas? Ok, so if you don’t, then why are you reading this book? Nevertheless… it’s the perfect balance of story and backdrop setting: you can enjoy the story without realizing it’s all about Christmas or you can totally immerse yourself in the drama and mystique of the holiday. The settings and descriptions really add to the story and help you believe in a town that thinks about Christmas all year long. You want to run out now to visit it even though it’s Halloween (OK, it is for me when I just read the book)… but you also want to meet the people and see the village store windows.

3. The story is complex. It winds around in all the right places. And it drops tons of red herrings not only in this book, but back in book 1. (If you haven’t read book 1 in this series, you MUST read that one first and then read this one – you’ll enjoy it even more knowing what you missed previously).


Suggestions

1. The character of Jackie… I’m a little uncertain of how I feel about her. In the first book, I liked her even when she occasionally rubbed me the wrong way in how she treated Merry, her boss. I blamed it on her boyfriend’s (Kyle) influence; however, in this book, Jackie supported Kyle too much over the whole replacement Santa storyline. I am not sure if I’m supposed to like her or dislike her – and I’d like to figure that out sooner rather than later. Perhaps she’s being saved for a future book, which would be fine – but I’d like to see a different balance here — either good or bad. There are already a few other women who are part love / part hate (Betty, Sue-Anne, etc.)

2. I want more of Merry’s siblings! We hear about the three of them but never see them. Get them to Rudolph soon please…..


Final Thoughts

As far as cozies go, this one is very good. You can immerse yourself in the entire book and really feel as if you are part of the story and the setting. If I had to pick a cozy series that would help get more readers to the genre, this could be an option. Readers would have to be good with a “Christmas” theme, but as far as characters, plot, setting, romance, fun, et al, this is at the top. If you read book 1 and were on the fence, you must check out book 2. If you haven’t read this series, start with book 1 (Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen) and then read this one. It’ll take a few hours for each book and it’s well worth it.

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Review: Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen

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Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars (rounded up to a 4) to Vicki Delany‘s Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, her debut novel in the “A Year-Round Christmas Mystery” series. Some people love Christmas so much that they need an entire book series dedicated to it; and if you’re one of those people, you’ll enjoy this one even if you’re reading it at Halloween!


Story

Rudolph, New York, a small town on the southern shores of Lake Ontario near the Canadian border, was named for someone who turned out to be not-so-name-worthy in the end. The town mayor, Noel Wilkinson, suggests telling everyone it was named after the famous reindeer and thus, Christmastown is born — except, there are a few of these towns across the country and the neighboring towns aren’t always thrilled when their town is suddenly considered second rate. When a semi-famous writer stops in Rudolph to publish a piece in a widely-read magazine about all the wonders of the Christmas village, he quickly sets the town a buzz… but when he turns up dead after eating at a local restaurant, Rudolph gets a bad reputation. Was it a neighboring town hoping to steal the glory? Was it a current resident with a unknown grudge? Or was it a personal vendetta from some outsider that just happened to occur in Rudolph?

Merry Wilkinson and her family and friends of Christmas-loving lore are on the case so they can protect their income and their town from utter disaster. Along the way, we meet her opera-loving mother, Santa Clause double dad, best friend who is accused of the murder, two eligible bachelors for Merry to choose from, a former frenemy police officer, the newly transported Chicago detective, a quirky mayor, a bitter neighboring store owner, a rival-politician and the fun-loving staff of Merry’s high-end Christmas decor shop. With a few side-stories about each of the main character’s personal lives, a new series all about the wonderful world of Christmas is born. In the end, Merry solves the case and makes friends with the police so she’s ready to solve another one in the future.


Strengths

For a debut novel, it gives a really well-rounded summary of the town and characters. For readers new to the cozy mystery genre, it will be the perfect intro. Characters and setting are clear and vivid. Multiple suspects for the whodunit. Several backstories dropped with different angles to continue on in the future. And if you’re a fan of holidays, this one will make you smile. I was slightly worred that the Christmas theme could be annoying (I love Christmas but an entire book series?); however, Delany offers a good balance of story and setting so you can tune out or in as much of the descriptions as you want.


Suggestions

There are a few holes in the story or pieces of the plot that should have been more tightly addressed. Merry doesn’t quite seem like someone who would give up her life in NYC and come back home just because of a situation with her boyfriend and job. I would have expected her to try to find other jobs in NYC but this whole area is covered a bit too quickly. When she does come back home, it seems like everyone just forgets she left Rudolph and everything picks back up again. I understand small town atmosphere, but I think a little more focus could have been added here.


Final Thoughts

There are a lot of mystery fiction books and authors to choose from, and once you settle into the cozy sub-genre, you still have a lot that could spark your interest. This one has a very clear theme that will either hook the audience or it will not. If you are a fan of holidays or Christmas or anything that comes with it, then you’ve got a good series to get started with. The author has just published the second in the series and I will be reading it later this week. Definitely worth continuining on…

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