Review: Fishnets and Fire-Eating: A True Story (A Dancer’s Diary in Japan)

WPMicheleold1useMy reading frenzy has calmed, but I did have the pleasure of reading Michele E. Northwood’s most entertaining sequel to Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea.  Like the first [personal account] book, the narrative in Fishnets and Fire-Eating: A True Story (A Dancer’s Diary in Japan) is humorous, exciting, and even edifying.

Fire-Eating is an absorbing story, another can’t-put-down read.  This time, we follow the “antics” of Michele and three other young women—performers—who travel to Hokkaido to entertain Japanese audiences with their dancing, acrobatics and, yes, fire-eating.

The quartet—Michele, Rachael, Anna, and Claire—encounter a plethora of interesting (if not off-putting) people, sex-crazed men, Yakuza henchmen and chiefs, Nutty Nora, and a crowbar-wielding fellow who has undergone shock therapy.

The appealing storyline also provides wonderful descriptions of culture and customs, locales and history.  Japanese words and phrases, interspersed throughout, make us yearn to learn a few more while photos supply we-are-there visuals.

As is human nature when people live together for an extended period, tension and friction (jealousy and envy) rear their unpleasant heads, adding to the women’s various dilemmas.  They do manage to work their way through the assorted conflicts, however, though not always well or easily.

One night, not long after they arrive, the women “consult” a Ouija board; spirits appear and impart ominous premonitions/messages.  Bizarrely, if not frighteningly, they start to come true.

Michele2use1As in Far East, Michele and her colleagues are not paid well; someone appears to be skimming their wages.  Still, despite many challenges, they persevere and life (eating/working) doesn’t seem quite as desperate as it did when Michele was in Korea.

I so enjoyed Fire-Eating, maybe even a little more than Far East; I have to give it 5 out of 5.

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For those not familiar with Michele, she’s quite amazing/accomplished.  Not only was she a dancer, she was a magician and fire-eater who toured the world for 20+ years in theater, musicals and the circus.  She has also been featured in the Guinness Book of Records; during her years in entertainment she was part of the world’s largest Human Mobile while working for the Circus of Horrors as their first “girl inside a bottle”.  Other fascinating jobs included working as a knife thrower’s assistant, assisting a midget in his balancing act, and taking part in a Scorpions’ concert grand finale.

Upon retiring from the exciting world of entertainment, she returned to school and acquired a First-Class Honors degree in Modern Languages (English and Spanish).

Michele currently lives in Spain with her Spanish husband, Randy, two dogs and two cats, and serves as an English teacher.  She loves living in the countryside with views of the sea and enjoys sitting on the terrace at the end of a long day, looking at the stars and contemplating (sounds divine).

Please check her and her books out at: https://www.amazon.com/Michele-E.-Northwood.

Alo-Ha-Waiiiiiii Once Again

Hey, it’s Rey!  So, per my Hawaii post suggestion, Linda took it one step further: the three of us had to feature our favorite Hawaiian author or Hawaiian-themed story.  I’m not a reader, but given The Boss’ love of Nancy Drew, I grabbed The Secret of the Golden Pavilion (I do so like an “easy” read).

This is the 36th book in the series, penned by Carolyne Keene (the pseudonym of many authors) back in 1959.  The mystery finds Nancy and her housekeeper, Hannah, and her pals, George and Bess (and beaus Ned, Dave, and Burt) on our beautiful Islands, formerly known as The Sandwich Islands, by the way (I do pick up facts now and then, he-he).

The case involves an old golden pavilion—no surprise there, he-he.  Someone has been hacking the floor.  Maybe in search of something?  Mr. Sakamaki, Carson Drew’s client, provides the pretty sleuth with two mysterious symbols, possible clues to solving his mystery . . . one of two, actually.  Two claimants, a brother and sister, have suddenly appeared in connection with settling Mr. Sakamaki’s estate, known as Kaluakua, which he inherited from his granddad.  Hmmm.  Are they the real deal?

In addition to learning about the history of the Islands and indulging in a luau and visiting cultural locations/places.  There’s never a dull moment, either . . .

Nancy turned on the television set and tuned it to the proper channel.  The telecast had barely started when the announcer electrified the Drews with a news bulletin which he said had just been received by the station.

“Word has come,” he began, “of a plane in trouble over the Pacific.  It is one which was chartered by a group of students from Emerson College.”

“Oh, Dad!” Nancy cried out fearfully.  “That’s the plane that Ned and Dave and Burt are on!”

Ooooh, will they crash?  You’ll just have to read the book to find out, won’t you?

Aloha everyone!  And Happy Holidays!

Alo—Ha—Waiiii Once More

The posting assignment from Boss Lady, also known as my BFF Rey, was pushed to the wayside a wee while back, but she was quick to remind me yesterday that we—she and I—hadn’t yet posted about our favorite Hawaiian author or Hawaiian-themed story.  In case you’re not familiar with us (the P.I.s from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency), I’m Linda.  Unlike Rey, I do read—huh?  Oh, sorry Sunshine.

I decided to go with Matthew Kaopio’s Written in the Sky, penned about a decade ago.  It’s a gritty, intense tale—YA, interestingly enough—that revolves around young Ikauikalani, or ‘Ikau, a fourteen-year-old who resides among the Ala Moana Park homeless.  He does have a “family”, one created over time, but he’s basically on his own.  And life far from safe—he encounters unsavory sorts, like a creepy fellow who offers him drugs and propositions and ghastly gang members who taunt and threaten.

The homeless hold a place in my heart and soul, and this book struck a chord with me.  The story is a solid, if not eye-opening read.  And it’s not for the weak-hearted; living on the streets can be dangerous, and violent.

“How would you like to be branded like cattle?” the leader whispered.  “It only hurts for a short time, then you don’t fell a thing.”  The boy trembled as the bright-orange cherry came close to his eyelashes.  “What, fag, you scared?” With a burst of energy, the boy let out a long, high-pitched scream.  He stepped down hard on someone’s foot and managed to break free.  Swinging his bag again, he smacked the gang leader in the eye, knocking the cigarette out of his hand.  “Assholes!” the boy yelled.  He ran toward the snack bar, loud jeer sounding behind him. “We’re not pau with you, faggot!” the leader called after him.  “We’ll be back, you’ll see!”  The gang hooted and howled as the boy, exhausted, slumped behind a sea-grape tree, wishing with all of his heavy heart for his grandmother to come back and make this nightmare go away.

We learn how this young teen lives—survives—but also [happily] discover there are kind-hearted people to be found.  It’s not hard to envision him people-watching, interacting (with wariness), swimming in the brilliant-blue Pacific, pawing through garbage for food and castoffs, searching for money, and standing his ground, regardless of fear.

What makes him different from countless other ill-starred kids?  ‘Ikau can view the future via clouds.  Upon hearing from his dead grandmother in a dream to locate Mariah Wong (a name he’s not familiar with), ‘Ikau begins a journey to find himself, as well as use his gifts.  As he undertakes this odyssey with an owl spirit guide, he learns about Hawaiian culture and traditions, as well as his family’s history.

For those of you unfamiliar with Matthew Kaopio, he became a mouth-brush artist and writer while undergoing rehabilitation for a severe spinal injury that occurred while swimming; it left him a quadriplegic.  His first book was Hawaiian Family Legends.  I’ve not yet checked it out, but I understand it “combines ancient Hawaiian oral storytelling with modern-day painting”.  Written in the Sky, interestingly enough, incorporates Kaopio’s own experiences in Ala Moana Park during the rehabilitation process and is also based on a 2004 Master’s thesis in Pacific Island Studies.

One last fascinating fact: he was also a skilled chanter.

“Chanting and poetry are ways of harnessing the spiritual and magical power of the spoken word.”

Sadly, this talented man is no longer among us, but his wonderful works carry on.

Declarations from the Darling Trio at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency

Otherwise known as resolutions.  You’ve got all three of us today.  It’s Rey, hey-ho-ho-ho.  Like my title?  I love it, but JJ and Linda pooh-poohed it.

It’s been a trying, tough year, but it’s almost over.  Here’s to 2021 being a better one.  And how do we start a new year?  You got it!  With resolutions (or declarations, pledges, vows, whatever word floats your boat).

Given there are three of us, we’ll each provide three resolutions—and do our <bleeping> best to make sure we stick to them.

Let’s start with my best friend, Linda.

♥ keep learning (take another course or two)    ♥ continue volunteering    ♥ be kind and compassionate.

Good ones, Lindy-Loo.  What about you, Cousin Jilly?

♥ be less judgmental    ♥ learn to become a better [more cautious] private eye    ♥ continue volunteering.

I like those, too, JJ.  Both of yours are certainly achievable.  And, last but never least, mine:

♥ get less carried away at sales (and get a grip on credit card use)    ♥ see that we get more publicity (and cases)    ♥ do more community theater and commercials.

I could have also added “continue volunteering”, ‘cause that’s plain righteous, but we could only list three.

And there you have it—three resolutions from three capable P.I.s.

. . . How about your three?

Making New Year’s Resolutions (Again) and Keeping Them . . . or Trying To (Again)

Another year is nearly over.  Have I accomplished any of my writing/blogging resolutions?  My personal ones?  No to both.  <loud lengthy sigh>

Now, I could list all the things I let slip to the wayside and the reasons why, but what’s the logic in that?  They didn’t happen.  No point in beating myself up about it.  There’s another new year around the bend—and with it—new resolutions.  Ones to make happen!

Here are mine as a writer/blogger:

♦   write one more book (maybe something outside of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency)    ♦   blog regularly (as I have been, so pat on back to self for managing that)    ♦   re-organize the blog (maybe start a new one), and    ♦   become more social-media savvy.

That’s enough.  Being realistic helps resolutions happen.  If too many are listed, they don’t/won’t happen.

Here are mine as me:

♦   learn to deal with the demands and stress of caregiving    ♦   discover how to balance caregiving with the full-time job, and    ♦   nix the resentment.

That’s enough.  Being realistic helps resolutions happen.  If too many are listed, they don’t/won’t happen.  Hmm.  That sounds awfully familiar.  <LOL>

I’ve got several days to live with these planned undertakings before putting them into action.  Wish me luck!

Day Five . . . Final Day

He-he.  No rhyme in the title today, just fact.  It’s Linda today; Rey’s getting “into character” for another community theater audition—that of a cornstalk.  Don’t ask.

It’s Day Five, the last day, to get Coco’s Nuts for a mere 99 cents.

As still “aspiring” private investigators, we have to prove our client, former-socialite-Vassar-grad-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer, has been framed for two murders.  She had no motive to kill her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo, and she certainly didn’t shoot her best friend, Eb Stretta.  But everything points to her; can you spell s-e-t-u-p?

Nutty Coco Peterson, a Picolo employee, has been missing since the murders went down and seems to be a major player in this challenging conundrum.  No one has seen the unlikable fellow in a short forever, so it might well be that he’s tra-la-la’ing in another realm with his boss and colleague.

As we strive to find the killer amid a sundry of potential culprits, bombs and criminal sorts give us a run for their money—and lives.  It’s a challenging if not complex case, but we give it our all . . . with fairly stellar results, if I do say so myself.

To read about our thrilling case, please go to: https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368.

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Four, Only Two More

Hey, it’s Rey and I have an amazing guest post-er for Day Four of the Coco’s Nuts 99-cent promotion—Buddy Feuer, our pleased-as-punch client.  Take it away, Bud!

Thanks Rey.  I’ve never posted before.  Too busy helping run a Maui-based distribution company these days.  I still drive a truck now and again (like it too much to stop completely).

I hired the three private investigators when the police thought I’d killed my boss, Jimmy Picolo (who had some dubious dealings outside of his many successful businesses).  If that wasn’t enough, my best friend was killed a few days later.  And guess who they wanted to blame for that, too? 

Rey, Linda and JJ went up and beyond, I thought.  They talked to all sorts of dicey, dangerous individuals—a few who’d have liked to take them out, I’m sure.  They asked a lot of questions and wouldn’t give up searching for clues and evidence.

Coco, by the way, was a coworker who disappeared in and around the time Jimmy was shot.  He leaned toward weird and a lot of people didn’t particularly like him, myself included.   

“I’ll get back to Coco, Mr. Lookeeng Goo-ood, in a few.”

“Mr. Lookeeng Goo-ood?” Linda chuckled.

I grinned and rolled my eyes.  “Coco believed he was—is—the reincarnation of Freddie Prinze of Chico and the Man fame.  At thirty-five, given the math, this is highly unlikely, but who knows how this ‘rebirth’ thing works.  Moreover, Coco wasn’t—uh—isn’t even remotely Latin.  He’s a Hawaiian-Irish mix, courtesy of Makani Kalama and Druson Patrick Peterson, with taro-colored hair and freckled skin an odd shade of sand-beach brown.”  I sipped some of Linda’s delicious lavender-lemon iced tea.  “Jimmy Junior is—”

“No you don’t,” Rey cut in, pointing her fork and the chunk of cake it loosely held fell onto her lap, but she didn’t seem to notice.  “You can’t move on to the kid until you finish with this peculiar Coco dude.”

Linda and JJ concurred.  Coco Peterson definitely had their curiosities piqued.

My description of Coco was quite extraordinary, but very real.  Hooded bile-green eyes ogled anyone remotely female.  Apparently, when you looked into those gawking, goggling eyes you could almost feel those unusually short stumpy fingers of his clutching you with libidinous zeal.  And that tongue—he flicked it as if he were a gecko on amphetamines.  It was all the more gross because he had a gap the width of the Suez Canal between two big front teeth.  But Coco truly believed he was cute and sexy when he did that tongue thingy.

I have to laugh as I recall that afternoon when I’d first sat down with the three P.I.s  What a wise decision I’d made in hiring them.

Coco’s Nuts was a great case, according to Rey—it enabled them to develop private-eye skills, allowed her to adopt an adorable bunny named Bonzo, and got them some steady cases, even if they were wayward-hubby and missing-poodle ones.

You can check out Coco’s Nuts at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Three . . . Still Me!

Hi, it’s pretty little me again—Rey!—and it’s Day Three of the 99-cent Coco’s Nuts promo.

Coco’s Nuts, the third mystery in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, finds us three private eyes entrenched in our second major assignment: proving socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer did not shoot her boss, infamous entrepreneur Jimmy Picolo.  Bizarrely, her best friend, Eb Stretta, is found a few days later in a nearby alley.  And not long after that, Razor, Picolo’s assistant, takes five fatal bullets.  The police are adamant she’s guilty and the evidence does point to her.

Hoping to help, we contend with a slew of suspects.  A ton of people hated Picolo enough to kill him, but locating the one who actually pulled the trigger proves challenging.  Apparently, the killer hates Buddy, as well, because she’s been set up to take the fall.

Our detecting travels lead us into the dark and weird world of gambling and the “limb-breakers” that are part of it.  Picolo’s daughter, Annia, owes thousands of dollars to debt collectors in Vegas and Oahu.  Could this have been a reason to kill her father, so that she could profit from the will?  Or did Picolo’s son, Jimmy Junior, want to take charge of his father’s multiple and highly successful businesses before the old man died of old age?

Nutty Coco Peterson has to play a pivotal part; a driver for Picolo, the odd little guy (pest, some call him) has been missing since the murder of his boss.  As luck would have it, while searching Picolo’s million-dollar Haleiwa retreat, we discover “remnants” of Coco—his tattoo and jewelry.  It appears Coco is another casualty but locating the rest of him is as difficult as proving Buddy innocent.

Previously made friends and acquaintances reappear: Detective Ald Ives, a little less amiable, Faith Suren, a diner waitress, Petey May, a Big Island detective, Gail Murdock, police Administrative Specialist, Coltrane Hodgson Coltrane (Colt), an agent and romantic hopeful (on my part), and the ever-arrogant Cash Layton Jones, an agent and JJ’s short-term/sometimes lover (I don’t know what to call that relationship, I tell ya, it’s a strange one).

There’s more action and goings-on than I can list, but it’s quite an exciting—dangerous—adventure.  Maybe you’d like to check it out?  You can find Coco’s Nuts at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

Back tomorrow (with that guest post-er I mentioned yesterday).

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Five, So Happy to be Alive

Hey, it’s Rey again.  I ended up handing over the posting reigns to Xavier yesterday (a community theater audition that took priority).  Nice guy, huh?  (And super easy on the eyes, too.)

So, it’s Day Five of the Forever Poi 99-cent promo . . . juggling two  promos at the same time can get kinda discombobulating (hope I spelled that right).

I’ll keep it short and sweet.  Cousin Jilly—you may know her as JJ—and my best friend Linda and I are hired by Xavier to learn who burned down two up-and-coming Chinatown art galleries.  Two bodies were found in the ashes and they weren’t a result of the furious flames.

There are a lot of possible perps—one of the art-gallery owners, who has a curious past, his weird half-sister, who’s as dangerous as she is beautiful, her eager-to-please lovers, and a local artist, to name a few.

Why burn the galleries?  For that matter, why kill?  Greed?  Vengeance?  Mania?  Self-preservation?  It seems any one of these reasons is viable as we enter the intriguing worlds of art and insurance.

If you’d like to find out how we solved this complex case (The Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s third official paying one), please check us out at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Forever-Poi-Tyler-Colins/dp/1079716483

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.

Day Two – And How are You?

Hey-ho, it’s Rey, welcoming you to Day Two of the 99-cent Coco’s Nuts promo.

Our second successful (paying) case was as exciting as it was demanding and dangerous.

Our quest: find out who has set up our client, Buddy Feuer, to take the rap for two murders, that of her boss, the infamous Jimmy Picolo, and her best friend, Jeb Stretta.  Nutty Coco, Buddy’s coworker, becomes an important part of the quest when he goes AWOL—he proves to be a major piece of the puzzle.

We get pretty good at dodging danger as we attempt to figure out what’s what and who’s who.  As we do, we meet a few limb-breakers and mob types, and avoid (barely) detonating bombs.  You know, despite the danger, it was kinda fun, except maybe the times we nearly ended up victims ourselves.

Maybe you’d like to check out our crazy adventures for the awesome price of 99 cents?  You can find Coco’s Nuts at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Cocos-Nuts-Tyler-Colins/dp/1078374368

Back tomorrow (hopefully with a guest post-er)!

NOTE: $0.99 promotions are active only in the US and UK stores.