How to Be A Necromancer:The Complete Series by D.D. Miers and Graceley Knox

The How to Be A Necromancer series by D.D. Miers and Graceley Knox contains five novels: Grave Promise, Grave Debt, Grave Mistake, Grave Magic and Grave Chance. Vexa Tzarnavaras’s life changes drastically at her great-uncle Ptolemy’s funeral. An enchanted candle activates her long-buried necromancer powers and she accidently raises all the dead bodies in the funeral home, including her great-uncle. An immortal ancestor tracks her down and the quest begins.

Vexa’s efforts to stay alive while defeating the undead take her to the fae world, the dwarven underworld, and the world in between. She’s joined by a self-cursed werewolf, a derelict demon dabbling necromancer vagabond, a resurrected mutt in need of regular taxidermy services, an exiled fairie, and her great-aunt Persephona. 

The steamy romance that blossoms between more than one of the team adds a nice touch to a paranormal adventure series. The only issue I really had was that Vexa is described as having long, curly black hair in the book, but the cover shows a blonde bombshell. 

How to Be A Necromancer:The Complete Series by D.D. Miers and Graceley Knox is a fun read with lively escapades and a likeable bad-ass necromancer heroine. 

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Claude is the youngest of five in a loving family. Claude knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He wants to be a girl. This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel follows this family as they try to support Claude’s life as Poppy. 

While I didn’t personally agree with the decisions the family made (often even the individual members of the family couldn’t agree), I could totally understand the parents’ wish to do whatever it took to make their child(ren) happy. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a fairy tale world. Gender dysphoria is trendy right now, but the reality of transgender is far from life at Disney.

The story is told through the parents’ perspective and at times is rambling and incoherent. The magical trip to Thailand that “resolves” the gender issue isn’t very effective. Yes, there are lady boys in many cultures, but how does that knowledge help a child born in middle-class America cope with the situation on an everyday basis? It doesn’t. 

Despite some blatantly unrealistic aspects of the story, reading about Poppy’s experiences was both poignant and frustrating. As parents, we really want the best for our children. But who’s to say what that really means? For that reason alone, This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel is worth your time.

Saving Cassie by by L.A. Remenicky

April’s 2021 Reading Challenge was a paranormal romance. While I expect those Vampire/Mortal romances would fall into this category, I went with Saving Cassie by by L.A. Remenicky. There are no vampires, shapeshifters, or witches in this small-town romance. On the other hand, there are demons, ghosts, and a seer or two. 

Cassie Holt returns to Fairfield Corners, where everyone, except the new Deputy, knows her. Strange things are happening in the house she grew up in and inherited from her grandmother. Her best friend, the Chief of Police, lives next door with his family, but even he is unable to protect her from supernatural death threats. All of the current problems stem from a cult leader that killed Cassie’s parents when she was just six years old. Even though that man is dead, a demon has been unleashed and is stalking her. A romance blossoms between Cassie and the new Deputy, but will he be strong enough to save the woman that he loves?

I appreciated that this book was a romance, rather than just a paranormal book. It kept the gore to a minimum. Without the supernatural element, the book follows the girl returning to her hometown and falls in love plot. There were a few lurid sex scenes and some tense paranormal interactions. Overall, it was a light and easy read.

I would have liked more descriptions of the town, grandma’s house, and the bookstore. The action moved along quickly, perhaps a little too quickly in parts. Some sections seemed a bit rushed. But, for a small town romance with a twist, you can’t go wrong with Saving Cassie by by L.A. Remenicky.

How to Write a Book That Doesn’t Suck and Will Actually Sell: Your No B.S. Guide to Learning How to Write a Nonfiction Book by Michael Rogan

You have to admit, How to Write a Book That Doesn’t Suck and Will Actually Sell: Your No B.S. Guide to Learning How to Write a Nonfiction Book by Michael Rogan has a catchy title. What author doesn’t want to write a book that doesn’t suck?

The tricks and tips author Michael Rogan presents are simple but effective strategies. Basically, they boil down to picking a topic, doing some research and writing the book. Keep in mind, your niche may be so well, nichey, that only a handful of people will ever read it. BUT… if you present your material well, you’ll be the expert in your niche and might even sell some books.

So if you are ready to actually get a non-fiction book written, then How to Write a Book That Doesn’t Suck and Will Actually Sell: Your No B.S. Guide to Learning How to Write a Nonfiction Book by Michael Rogan will jump start your process. It’s a quick read with useful pointers that you can take advantage of immediately. If non-fiction is your thing, then it couldn’t hurt to pick up a copy of this book.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is a bit of a study in behavior with a bit of a mystery. It’s set in Sweden and there’s a sort of running joke about people from Stockholm throughout the book. I guess maybe it would have been funnier if I were Swedish. 

The story begins with some general commentary on life. Eventually the author gets to the point that everything that follows was the result of one single really bad idea. A desperate parent tries to hold up a cashless bank, ends up taking hostages accidently, and well, everything just goes downhill from there. 

The hostages and police officers trying to negotiate their release each have their own backstory, some of which end up overlapping before all is said and done. The mystery is how this messy situation resolves itself (or doesn’t) and what it all has to do with the man on the bridge ten years previously. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is a quirky, light read that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. 

Plan SEA: A Guide to a Work-Travel Life, Amazing Adventures Around the World, and Preparing for Your Own Sea Change by S.E. Ansley

I’ve been working towards becoming a digital nomad for the last five years or so and have finally created a location-free income network. Of course, things being what they are, the reality of implementing it is quite another matter just now. So when I saw Plan SEA: A Guide to a Work-Travel Life, Amazing Adventures Around the World, and Preparing for Your Own Sea Change by S.E. Ansley, I thought to myself, “Well, if I can’t do it right now, why not read about someone who is a successful digital nomad in the meantime?”

I had mixed feelings about the book. The first 60 percent or so of the book consists of the author’s quest for the next gig, next location, next sexual encounter, next joint, next rave. While all well and good, it didn’t appear to be the “guide” I was looking for. Finally, SEA faced some hard truths about his lifestyle. Being strapped for cash constantly, sleeping in baseball dugouts, sneaking into overpriced tourist attractions, and fleeting relationships were not what he had been aiming for after all. He changed his focus to include more of his passions, found a committed relationship, and even a home base from which to base his travels. Then worldwide travel restrictions in early 2020 put an end to all that. 

It was fascinating to read how SEA and his companion struggled being stranded far from “home” and interesting to see how entitled some ex-pats were, believing locals would continue to provide them with every creature comfort even in a lockdown situation. The book concluded with quite a bit of navel-gazing by the author, though, rather than details on how he transitioned to van living, a goal he had for several years. 

Living in a “developing nation” myself, I can attest to spotty internet frustrations, power outages, police brutality, banking impossibilities, visa restrictions, and even animal cruelty that SEA experienced in his adventures as a digital nomad. It’s not often that ex-pats are willing to take off their rose-colored lenses and admit that paradise isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. For that reason, I think Plan SEA: A Guide to a Work-Travel Life, Amazing Adventures Around the World, and Preparing for Your Own Sea Change by S.E. Ansley is a must-read for all those that romantically dream of living on less in constantly changing locations. However, as an actual guide on making a successful location-free lifestyle, perhaps you’ll need to keep searching for something else.

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.