Five Decembers by James Kestrel

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December 1941. America teeters on the brink of war, and in Honolulu, Hawaii, police detective Joe McGrady is assigned to investigate a homicide that will change his life forever. Because the trail of murder he uncovers will lead him across the Pacific, far from home and the woman he loves; and though the U.S. doesn’t know it yet, a Japanese fleet is already steaming toward Pearl Harbor. 
This extraordinary novel is so much more than just a gripping crime story—it’s a story of survival against all odds, of love and loss and the human cost of war. Spanning the entirety of World War II, FIVE DECEMBERS is a beautiful, masterful, powerful novel that will live in your memory forever.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve been sitting on this book for a few months now. I received an advance reader copy from the publisher. I read it through the summer and did a second read through this week in anticipation of the release date. I flipped through the pages so often I somehow managed to misplace the press release, which I’d folded in half and used as a bookmark. While working through my loss, I made some discoveries.

The first discovery is more of an a-ha. There is a difference, I promise.

It appears as though the author, James Kestrel, has actually been to Hawaii. He has framed his story with the beauty of the islands and the sticky, heavy dread hanging in the air of a pre-war Honolulu. The characters (main and supporting) are very well synched with their time and it shows in the writing and the plot that the author has given many aspects of his character’s lives a lot of thought in that regard.

The second discovery is that this is not just a murder mystery. It’s not your typical whodunit. This novel is also a war story, sort of. I can’t imagine putting myself in Joe McGrady’s shoes. Perhaps because World War II was a war that shaped my family in so many ways, I am a little bit enamored with stories set throughout that time, in places relevant to survivors of war because I grew up hearing plenty of firsthand tales.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve given Five Decembers four stars. I only take away a star because I feel like there were a few weaknesses in the story, but they weren’t so glaring that I felt readers couldn’t get past them (if they notice at all because I really had to think about it). I will certainly remember James Kestrel’s name and look for further works by him.

The writing is strong and the story is a gut punch. And, I absolutely mean that in a positive way.

As with all of my reviews, I will not give away too many spoilers. I don’t want to go through a play by play of the entire book because the blurb pretty much already does just that and I want you to read and enjoy the story and characters for yourself. I really do. And then I want you to come here and tell me about your reading experience, too.

Email me with your thoughts at

Three Shows You Should Stream Right Now

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As the cooler weather settles in and people are staying in more often than they might through the summer months, I thought I’d share with you a few shows I can easily recommend for nights spent in with a bowl of popcorn.

The first one was a recommendation I read on Facebook a few weeks ago and I watched every single episode in no time.

Ghosts, from BBC, is fantastic. Two thumbs up, five stars, all that. The characters are funny and charming and the premise is interesting enough. You’ll laugh a lot. You can stream Ghosts on HBOMAX.

Be warned that one of the ghosts died in a suit jacket, shirt, and tie, but no pants. So, his ghost is wearing only that. It makes me laugh every single time he has a scene.

Note, CBS has created an American version of this series and I haven’t watched it yet, so I can’t say whether or not it’s as enjoyable as the original. I don’t understand why we need an American version when we can just watch the original, but who knows. Maybe I will be surprised and enjoy it.

My next recommendation is (I think) two seasons in and can be streamed from Paramount+ (which is available through Prime if you choose). The actors are great and the set designs are really nice too. I love how each season takes place in a different time period and I absolutely loved the costumes. Also, the stories in each season are great. Fantastic writing.

Also, I should mention that the stories within season one and two are not related at all, but the outcomes of neither are predictable at all. Not everything is what it seems.

Why Women Kill

My last recommendation is probably not for everybody and comes from Netflix. Great British Baking Show releases new episodes every week and is a delightful distraction. Also, there is dessert. If you haven’t figured out by the title of the show, it’s a baking contest type show. There are judges (in the photo below) and at the end of the season there is a winner. Past winners often go on to do some great things in the world and one of them (Nadiya Hussain) even ended up with her own show on Netflix, which was delightful.

Season 11

I should also mention that there is a Great American Baking Show, too, but I didn’t enjoy it at all and it never gained the popularity of GBBS. Probably because it was terrible.

Book Shortage! Aaaaahhh!

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So, in case you’ve been living under a rock lately, I’m sure you’ve figured out there are shortages and prices of things from gas to toilet paper are creeping up. I don’t tend to panic about things like this ( this is not my first rodeo, my dears). But, this time it may be a bit different.

This time, books are also on the list of things that may not make it when they’re supposed to or even at all. And, you might be thinking that print books will be the only books not available when we want them, but the release of a print book has a significant influence over the release of its digital copy, too. That isn’t to say you can’t get a Kindle (which I can NOT recommend enough because I love mine sooooo much) and Kindle Unlimited or download the Kindle app and just read digitally because you absolutely can. Just know that publishers have a lot of hard decisions to make regarding the release of titles and the slow of a title’s print release could also mean the slow of its digital release also.

There are other options for readers, too.

Arguably one of the best alternatives to a new book is a new to you book. Maybe you could get together with friends and neighbors and swap titles from your own shelves once a week or twice a month. That way nobody is bookless.

Uh, and libraries. Which, ya know, have been around forever. Centuries, even. Maybe longer. They could most certainly use your patronage and support.

Got any Anne Rice in here?

In the age of technology, books recorded on tapes are no longer the thing and just about everyone I know (which is a lot of people, to be honest) is using audiobooks in one way or another. I have a friend who prefers her thrillers via Audible because she likes to listen to murders being solved while she takes her morning walks. I can’t say that would be my thing because I prefer my murder mysteries on print because they creep me out less that way. But, she can do her and I will do me, which means that when I finally do<a href=”http://<a target=”_blank” href=”″>Try Audible Plus give Audible a shot, I’ll stick to anthologies and shorter tales. I Think I prefer longer tales in my hands.

Obviously, there is a ton of bloggers online more than happy to provide the world with words to mash on everyday and I, for one, am partial to blogs for early morning reading. I may be biased, but there are a lot of great wordsmiths right here on the big, wide web. But, if you’re waiting on a new title you’ve heard about for months and have been patiently waiting on, you might be waiting a tad longer, and ordering a title for Christmas might take a little bit of research first to be sure the book will arrive in time to be wrapped and presented to its new owner.

I guess if you already have a super duper huge to be read pile sitting around, you might be okay for a while. And, who’s to say this won’t be a problem solved sooner rather than later. I try to stay optimistic about things, but in today’s world, you just can’t be too sure about much of anything.

I already do most reviews through digital copies. The paper copies I do have are coveted, but few and far between. I do wonder about kids in school and how these shortages will affect them. But, until there’s a solution, I’ll try and keep myself and all of you as up to date as possible with the latest on the subject.


The Food From the True Blood, the Exclusive True Blood Cookbook by Rene Reed- Cookbook Review

**DISCLAIMER**As an Amazon Associate I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases, but my reviews and opinions are absolutely mine and accurate.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

My husband and I are True Blood fans and have been for years. While searching out Amazon for True Blood merch, we came across a cookbook and couldn’t turn it down, so we bought it immediately and it arrived within a week.

There are things you should know about this book before you buy it.

First, it’s not the only True Blood cookbook available. There is another one and I want it. I haven’t bough tit yet because I have only just discovered it. It’s called True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps.

I”m definitely not a fan of the black and white pages…


And, this is a big one for me.

The book has rough, coloring book style pages. And, it’s all in black and white.

This may be great for some folks, but I saw a missed opportunity here. This book is supposed to be representative of the foods, smells, and tastes one might associate with vampires and blood. I wanted to see the deep red in the red velvet cake and beetroots. But, nope. None of that.

I was disappointed.

The recipes within the book, however, are pretty nice.

The ingredients involved in the recipes are relatively easy for most people to find in local stores. One recipe does call for venison, so I would imagine some folks might find that one difficult to fulfill, but venison is easily enough swapped out for beef in most recipes. The author failed to mention this, though, and I sort of feel like it should have been included information, but I suppose not all cookbooks are the same and in that vein, not all cookbook authors are, either.

“I”m gonna rip open your heart, and fry it up with some grits and collard greens.” -Tara Thornton

There are other issues, also. In the beginning of the book, there are instances where a recipe’s photo is the right side, full page, and when you turn the page, the ingredients are listed on a left side page. But, the page next to it (a right side page) is the photo for another recipe, so recipes and photos aren’t matching up. I know this was a stylistic choice and maybe the publisher and author didn’t want to waste page space, but this could have been handled and designed better.

I really can’t say I’ll be using this cookbook much. It would be nice for someone who loves beetroot, because there is multiple recipes involving beetroots included. Maybe even nice for someone who doesn’t know a lot of recipes and honestly it’s a nice little piece to keep as a fan of True Blood, but it’s not a book I would recommend someone buy to keep as a regularly used cookbook because it’s just not that at all.

For all of these reasons, I’m afraid this books has gained two stars and no more.

Available at Amazon. I want it sooo bad…

Fall Canning: Rhubarb Jam

She leaves me notes in things sometimes and I love them.

***Disclaimer- As an Amazon Associate I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases, but my reviews and opinions are absolutely mine and accurate.***

A few days ago, my grandma told me she had a bunch of rhubarb, already cut, washed, and measured into the appropriate amount. She asked if I wanted it and I said I did because I love rhubarb. Typically, I like a strawberry rhubarb pie, but that wasn’t what my grandma had in mind. She sent along a recipe for a jam and told me I should try it, so I did. I don’t regret it, either, because it was delicious.

I won’t share with you the recipe she gave me because I’m not sure she wanted it to be shared. Instead, I’ll leave the link to Martha Stewart’s recipe here and you can try that one because it’s similar enough that it’s probably almost the same. If you choose to can your jam, I would suggest you water bath for about twenty minutes and leave about a quarter to a half inch of headspace in your jars. You can check the USDA’s website for canning safety if you want, though.

Anyway, canning rhubarb made me realize that summer is over and fall is here.

I’m not late to the party or anything, I realize leaves have been turning for quite a while now and the weather has changed, too, but I really hate when the summer begins to fade away. I don’t mind the cooler weather, but I hate shorter days and I hate that my kids are all going to be in school (or work, in one kid’s case) and I’ll be here on my lonesome. But, isn’t that the way of things for parents sometimes? I suppose I’m not the first to feel this way and maybe my fall/winter seasonal depression is setting in a little bit, but I have come to the conclusion that I may as well embrace my inner prepper and stop trying to fight the inevitable.

It’s very satisfying to look at photos of my handy work…

I come from a long line of practical, yet headstrong Appalachian women. Canning and preserving is just encoded in my DNA. The USDA changes safety regulations on a yearly basis, but the gist of it all is the same. Grow, harvest, can. And, dry, dehydrate, bury, jar, freeze, too.

My canner is a smart canner that I bought last year. It was ridiculously expensive, but has multiple functions. It’s a slow cooker, steamer, pressure cooker, pressure canner, and water bath canner, all in one. I love the stupid thing because even though it’s tall and barely fits under the cabinet (I have to scoot it out to open the lid lol), it’s handy! I realized yesterday though that if my great grandma or great great grandma had been given the resource of a smart canner, she would probably laugh at me (or scold me, even) for complaining about the work that goes into canning and preserving. Still, I managed six pints of rhubarb jam yesterday in almost no time at all and today I plan on working at some homemade chicken bone broth.

The face of a satisfied, yet frustrated prepper.

I suppose the reason behind my post is that I have obviously turned into a squirrel and am now putting away all of my acorns for winter because I am frazzled and tired and I just want to make sure it’s done. I don’t know any other way to live and I certainly don’t want to not preserve things and let them go to waste.

And, the entire time I was doing this yesterday, I kept thinking that I should be writing. I should be working on a novel. I should be working on the cookbook I’ve always wanted to write, but never took the time to plan out.

Productivity is a weird concept.

XOXO Kelly Rhiannon

Revisiting Old Favorites

***Disclosure- As an Amazon Associate I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases, but my reviews and opinions are absolutely mine and accurate.***

I have a real soft spot for time travel. A big part of me is constantly searching for an escape from reality and time travel just seeps in to fill the cracks left by that deep longing to be anywhere (and any time) else. I don’t know why I am the way I am. I could fly to a whole new planet where everything is warm, there are no predators to my species, and extraterrestrial cabana boys serve me margaritas all day long and I’d still get the itch to wander elsewhere every now and then. An international pandemic only fanned the flames, to be quite honest.

And, in the spirit of that itch, I have revisited some old time traveling friends thanks to an ad I saw somewhere in a magazine rack at a doctor’s office. I don’t remember the magazine, but I remember it was very dated. I remembered this title because I’d read it probably at about the time the magazine was published (ha!).

It’s funny how an item from a time period can take you back to that spot in your life. Smells can do this also. But, I’m certainly not complaining because the moment I remembered this book, I googled it on my phone and bought a hardback copy (my preference). And, the minute it arrived, I read it all. I only put it down to do the most necessary of tasks. Books like that do tend to be the best to a reader.

I hadn’t read a Jude Deveraux romance in quite a long time and I was instantly taken back to a simpler time in my life (before children) when Sisqo was on the radio singing about thongs and I was trying to convince my mom to let me go to the mall when I’d clearly not done my chores. The story was the same, but it meant more to me because I’ve changed in the last twenty years, as people are apt to do. 

And, the  minute I put Knight In Shining Armor down, I decided to track down the Edilean series because I hadn’t read any of those particular Deveraux titles. Turns out, while I was busy having babies, Jude Deveraux was still living her life, writing wonderful novels… What nerve! (I kid). 

I guess some people have comfort foods, but I have comfort books. And, I’m making a mental list of other authors I should revisit as soon as I’m through the Edilean series. I’m thinking about Kathleen Woodiwiss first. I may even go back to some older Stephen King titles and give them a reread (Christine, I’m lookin’ at you). 

Of course, I’m always open to suggestions from my own friends and readers out there. Drop a suggestion in the comments if there are any older novels or authors you think I should check out. Book recommendations are always a welcome, refreshing addition to my comments and emails. Just fyi, I’ll never not want them. 


A little bit of nonsense…

I thought I’d take a break from writing about books just to write about things going on in my own life for once. I don’t do that nearly often enough.

Anyhow, today was the first day of school in our county. My daughter started her junior year and my boys started their first days of sixth and eighth grade. Next year this time, I’ll be writing about having a daughter beginning her senior year, which quite honestly terrifies me to no end. So, today was fun.

In other news, our truck is back with the dealer for repairs. Repairs which, by the way, were supposed to have been fixed in April. Long story short, the piece they put on our truck was apparently faulty and now they have to redo the entire thing again, but it’s under warranty, so no big deal. Except now there’s another thing happening (with the steering this time) and I’ll have to pay some big bucks to fix that, right? Right. So, there goes all my pennies.

For those of you who come back here for book related things every now and then, relax. Reviews are coming again. I’ve really been struggling with things lately, but now that school has started, I feel like I should be able to get things under control again. No problem.

I still have writer’s block, though, so send good vibes or whatever you do. I really miss it.

Sealed by Naomi Booth

SealedI didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. I thought since the main character was a mother, I might enjoy it more, but this is unfortunately a book I only made it a few chapters into. So, with that being revealed, I don’t feel like I can give it a full review. I will tell you what I can about it, though.

It’s available for purchase through most retailers, Amazon being one of them. I believe both kindle and paperback are available right now.

I genuinely dislike having been given a book I can’t write  a fair review for, but sometimes it does happen. Not all books are always going to interest me, but in the spirit of fairness, I will read and review a book I’m not interested in if I feel like one of my readers may also enjoy it–that way I can give an objective point of view in my reviews and others will know exactly what they’re getting if they buy the book. I can’t even do that with this particular book and I feel a bit odd about it.

BUT, moving right along, I’ll explain why I couldn’t get into it. First, I could NOT connect with the characters. AT. ALL. Second, I couldn’t connect the story to the characters. I could remove the author’s characters and plop any other woman in there and the story would be the same. I guess you could say the characters had no character.

In the event you all think I’m wrong and that I’m just being mean (I assure you, that is not the case), here is the blurb. If you’ve read and enjoyed anything else by this author, I’d love to hear your feedback and maybe you’ll enjoy this book, too.

In the meantime, hang in there. More romance novels, mystery novels, science fiction novels, and some horror novels are on their way to my little blog and we will dissect them all!

Here is the blurb:
Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Alice is haunted by rumors of a skin-sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. She hopes their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger. With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.

Timely and suspenseful, Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them.

Blog Woes…

If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I enjoy doing it and that sometimes WordPress doesn’t enjoy me doing it lol. What I mean is, there have been times that, for months on end, I haven’t been able to make a post because I can’t log in, no matter what sort of magic I can do via email. Sometimes it’s as simple as a browser issue and other times I never find out why.

The forces are against me, it seems.

For that reason, I feel like I should be heading down the lane toward an actual .com website. I haven’t worked out any details, so I don’t know when that will happen. I’ve never created a website before and, frankly, I’m quite inept with most things technical. But, I’m told even a caveman can do it, so that’s where I am today.

I’ve just recently reconfigured my entire desktop computer and, with those changes, some browser tweaks. As you can see, I am posting today–ha! But, I don’t know how long that sweet streak will last, so you, the readers, can look forward to some posts for the next week. I have a slew of reviews ready and more to come after. And, in the meantime, hang in there. Rhiannon Writes On will soon become The Rhino Review and have a .real .com somewhere after it. Exciting things, I suppose.

Apologies to anyone looking for reviews! I’ll have some sci-fi loving good stuff in here as soon as I can.

Probably this evening, if I’m honest.

Rhiannon M.S.

A Quick Word About GOT S8:E5 “The Bells”

Jon-Snow-Lord-Varys.jpg“Men decide where power resides, whether or not they know it.” – Lord Varys, the Spider, Master of Whispers, caster of large shadows.

Consider me considerably shaken.

The beginning of what is most certainly one of the better episodes of season 8 takes viewers immediately to the writing table of Varys, as he’s scribbling Jon’s secret identity in letter form to someone–I never caught who–when a little girl enters and tells Varys she fears she’s being watched (by Dany’s men). Moments later, viewers are watching as the queen gives a calm “Dracarys” order and Drogon barbecues our poor, bald Varys to death, punishment for his treason. This moment quietly sets the tone for the rest of the episode.

Dracarys, indeed.

If you’ve read my book reviews, you’ll know I don’t like to give out too many spoilers, if any at all. Lord Varys’s death is a pretty big spoiler, so as I’ve broken my own rule already, I feel like I should continue to do so. But, unlike our newly bonkers queen, I’ll try to hold a little bit back.

Long story short, Daenerys does her job as planned in the beginning, starting with Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet, burning them to the ground, probably with a smile on her exhausted face as Greyjoy himself is flung from a burning ship. With Dany in the air and her armies (and nephew, Jon Snow) on the ground, King’s Landing is soon taken and the bells of surrender ring out. Does she choose to fall back, as everyone hoped she would?


burn them all
“Burn them all!” – Aerys Targaryen II 

Queen Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons goes full on Mad Queen, channeling her late father, obviously taking his chants of “Burn them all!” straight to heart. Apparently, the dragon doesn’t fall far from the nest.

Absolute chaos ensues, starting with Grey Worm. Being loyal to his queen, Grey Worm sees her continue burning the city through the surrender and he follows suit, tossing a dagger into one of Cersei’s surrendered (read: unarmed) soldiers.

And, I had hoped Grey Worm would get some kind of a happy life after losing his love in the last episode’s beheading, but now I hope somebody takes him out. Without killing Grey Worm (and likely Drogon) first, I’m afraid taking Little Miss Crazy Pants Stormborn out is going to be next to impossible. And let’s face it, if Westeros is ever to see any kind of peace, she has got to go.

Speaking of going, where is Bran in all of this? Obviously Winterfell. But, couldn’t he have given some kind of freaky bird boy warning before everyone else left? Nothing cryptic as usual, but now that the Night King is kaput, doesn’t he think his siblings and their friends might deserve at least a little bit more direction? We know he could tell them things.

I guess it’s a busy, lonely life being a three eyed raven, knowing everything and being able to stop things from happening, but choosing to just sit back and enjoy the show. Bran’s upper half is becoming just as useless as his lower half these days. I still like his character, though. For now.

  I’m not sharing a photo of The Mountain because he’s a shit. So, here’s The Hound in all his cranky, lonesome glory.

Oh, and did I mention CLEGANEBOWL happened? Cause it did. Sandor Clegane says goodbye to Arya, telling her to leave or die, too, and she listens. She even calls him by his first name. And, then The Hound finds The Mountain and a fight ensues, but only after The Mountain kills Cersei’s hand by tossing him aside like a sack of potatoes. Cersei exits the scene and an epic staircase battle scene begins. With fire below and a dragon flying above, it’s a scene that could not have been more perfect for the end of the Cleganes. I won’t miss Gregor Clegane, but I will most certainly think of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane most fondly. I’m sure Arya will, too.

Oh, and somewhere in here Jamie and Cersei are crushed beneath the weight of the very castle they’ve built their entire lives around. Poetic justice, if you ask me, though there are those who disagree and think viewers were robbed of a more fitting, horrible death for the Lannisters.

The end of the episode was sort of quiet. Arya has a bit of a rough go of things as she tries to exit the city, but ultimately — after Jon directs his men and others to “fall back”– she finds a lone white (or dare I say “pale”) horse and exits.

So, what will this mean for the next and final episode? Probably nothing any of us will be able to accurately guess within 90% accuracy, if the last handful of episodes have any leaning on things. There are good theories out there, but ultimately there is only a few ways this could end. None of them will be pain free. More people will die. And nobody will come out unscathed.

Tyrion Lannister should probably disappear because if Dany gets wind he’s still alive, he won’t be for long. I have a feeling he’s in danger.

You got theories? I’d love to hear them. Drop a comment if you please.