Silence In The . . . Zzzzzzzz

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Hold onto your hats and fasten your seatbelts for another gripping review from your beloved, faithful, and everlastingly snarky Bookie Monster!

Le Blurb:

When Bailey Adams left Logan Point two years ago for Mexico, she thought she was getting away from her problems. Running into her ex-fiancé Danny Maxwell was not part of the plan—neither was being chased through the city by the local drug cartel, the Calatrava. Now despite her best efforts, Danny is her only chance of escaping the people chasing her and getting back to Logan Point safely. Can Bailey find the strength to face what’s coming? And in the midst of the chaos, can she keep herself from falling in love with her rescuer all over again?

Le Review:

I was super interested to see how the author dramatized the subject of drugs and drug cartels. But it ended up feeling like a Hollywood movie. Of COURSE the mysterious, silent, enigmatic character no one knows anything about turns out to be the mastermind. I guessed that the minute said character walked on screen—er, page. (No spoilers – you’ll have to read for yourself to find out who it is.)

The characters felt flat. They all fit in their little boxes with sexist overtones that rubbed me the wrong way.

– Unbelievably gorgeous heroine who thinks she can take care of herself, but at the first sign of trouble completely understands that she just totally NEEDS a man to SAVE HER;

– Hot, formerly rejected hunky lover who remains faithful even while the stoopid wimminz run around like frantic chickens;

– “Angelic waif” trope (sadly, this is a real thing, which your favorite Monster may or may not have been guilty of in past writing projects);

– Parents who enter the scene just on cue to say perfect one-liners.

Joel’s character was the most compelling because he was the most human—neither entirely good nor entirely bad. He had something to lose, stakes in the drama, and things didn’t get wrapped up in a nice Hollywood bow for him like they did for the other characters. His personal journey rang truer than any of the others.

The writing was passive and clunky. Too heavy on the info-dump. The story itself was confusing. I kept having to flip back several pages and go “wait…what just happened and how does it relate to what’s happening now?” It felt like a first draft that needed to be tightened, tweaked, and polished. I’m a writer. The first rule of writing is: first drafts suck. That is why we do not publish first drafts.

Overall, the story’s concept was great. I really wanted to like it, but it didn’t grip me. 😦 I was super excited to read the story, and I thought it had great potential, even though it didn’t deliver in the end. I live just north of Mexico, and seeing the effects of the drug trade is a normal part of life. I enjoy seeing it depicted in stories.

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So This Cowboy Walks Into A Bar…

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With heavy sighs I turn the pages,

Reading this is taking ages;

Romance in a cowboy hat

Has kinda fallen sorta flat.

This dance hall gal gets kidnapped by

A handsome stranger with dark eyes;

Who totes her off with carte blanche,

Right to the steps of his own ranch.

But Creepy Dude is no abductor,

From an awful fate he’s plucked her;

So now they fight like cats and dogs,

While page by page begins to slog.

Now I lay me down to finish,

My sanity has been diminished;

If I should end up going bonkers—

Well, at least this book I conquered!

What do a rabid fox, a dance hall, and a letter from a dead person have in common? Well, nothing really. But they are all part of the plot in Maggie Brendan’s new western romance, A Sweet Misfortune.

Beautiful bombshell Rachel Matthews is a favorite dancer at the local saloon. Forced to support herself by any means while she awaits her brother’s return from the gold fields, she instead finds herself “rescued” by a handsome stranger who carries her off to his ranch. As in, literally carries her, right off the stage, during the middle of the can-can. Turns out her brother wrote to Mr. Hot Stuff and begged him to get her out of there.

Independent is Rachel’s middle name. She and Hot Stuff (aka John, the richest rancher in Montana) argue daily about his rude interruption of her life, try to make themselves fall in love with other people so they won’t fall in love with each other (fat chance), and search for answers as they struggle in faith and life.

Pros

– Western!

– Sort of. A romance in boots, at least.

– It’s cool to have an independent female lead who can actually think for herself. Although I hoped to see more of that rather than the weird control John assumed over Rachel’s life.

Cons

– Odd historical anachronisms. John would not have said “let’s get off the wagon and stretch our legs” to a girl he was courting. In that era, in America, the word “leg” was considered profanity especially in mixed company (don’t ask me why).

The story felt slow-moving.

– The dialogue was not very engaging, and somewhat repetitive. Too much “What was that noise, Bob?” “I don’t know what that noise was, Joe. Harry, did you hear that noise?” “Yep, Bob, it was a noise, all right.”

– The matchmaking was too predictable. I was hoping for a more interesting twist.

– It spent too much time on the heroine’s wheat-colored hair, oval fingernails, alabaster skin, naturally arching eyebrows, and full ruby lips. Plus, of COURSE the heroine is a total bombshell, while all the other female characters are homely and/or spiteful. PLEASE SPARE ME. Couldn’t we have a normal-looking heroine?

– I was hoping for better in the writing department overall. There is too much telling (“he looked sick”, “she was rude”), without showing (“he staggered in the door and collapsed”, “she shoved aside an old lady and stomped out, kicking a baby kitten as she went past”). Plus in places it felt kinda clunky. And the he said/she said speech tags . . . dear Lord, deliver me from speech tags. (Sorry . . . can’t turn off my inner editor.)

I was so excited to read this book, as it sounded like a lot of fun. There were enjoyable parts, but it kinda fell flat.

It Was The Maid, In The Ballroom, With The Lead Pipe!

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Hey again, blogworld! Time for another review from your ever-studious and fiendishly literary Bookie Monster!

Crime thriller Vendetta kicks off Lisa Harris’ new series, the Nikki Boyd Files. While dealing with long-buried pain from failing to find her sister Sarah, abducted ten years prior, Special Agent Nikki Boyd stumbles into an eerily similar case. As she works to rescue young Bridget before it’s too late, she uncovers a trail of clues that suggest a far more insidious criminal has returned to link her past and present.

The plot is snappy and fast-paced. It doesn’t drag, but keeps on lobbing another sharp curve at you scene by scene. It did a good job of introducing a number of characters and making you think “oh, this one’s GOT to be the killer!” but nope, guess again. 🙂

The actual writing was a bit soft for my taste. It might be a genre difference, because I’m used to tightly honed Western prose. Right now I’m hard at work on a manuscript of my own, and I’m stuck in Hyper Editor Mode, but some places in this book read awkwardly to me. Characters shift their gazes, clench chair arms with their fingers, nod, and nudge one another with a shoulder over and over again. The repetition got really… repetitious. (Not that I’ve never been known to repeat myself. One of my first drafts saw the hero pushing his hat back and putting his hands in his pockets in every other paragraph.)

A great many passive voice sentences appear that could so easily have been turned into active voice. “The view from the road WAS stunning, which meant traffic WAS heavy with tourists enjoying an afternoon drive. . . . Along the road WERE overlooks, trailheads, picnic areas, and paved hikes.” Why couldn’t it be “Heavy traffic clogged the road as tourists gawked out at stunning mountain views. Overlooks, trailheads, picnic areas, and paved hiking spots dotted the roadside.” Why settle for a vague, wimpy word like “looked” when you could use “peered, squinted, blinked, gaped”, etc? Luscious verbs lurk just out of sight, as fascinating as the mysterious serial abductor we keep guessing at, but never used.

On a similar technical level, I found the writing too heavy on the telling. Again and again, we get told things we already know or can guess. Things like this got annoying:

“(Character Who Shall Not Be Named Because Spoilers) lay half a dozen feet into the bush, motionless. Nikki felt a wave of nausea sweep over her as she bent down beside him. Blood ran down the side of his head. Eyes stared up at her. She felt for his pulse. Nothing.

He was dead.”

… No kidding, Sherlock.

Another issue I had is that throughout the plot, Nikki is shown struggling with a particular problem from her past that is implied to be linked to her sister’s abductor. But when the “big reveal” comes, it turns out to be linked to a completely and inexplicably random, unrelated problem that was never set up anywhere in the plot. It really yanked me out of the story.

However, Nikki’s main personal journey ended up unresolved at the conclusion, which makes me wonder if her missing sister will still turn up alive in another book. Cool beans.

Overall, it made an okay read for a convenient rainy afternoon, but there were many elements I found aggravating.

Go West, Young Bookie Monster, Go West

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Howdy there, Fellow Bookies! Time to dust off yer six-shooters, shine those boots, and saddle up for a wild and woolly romp through the Old West!

This week’s wanted poster: The Trouble With Patience, by Maggie Brendan

I picked this one up hoping for a clean Christian Western, but it’s more of a romance in cowboy boots. Romances aren’t quite my cup of tea, but I’m so hungry for a good Western-themed read that it worked.

The Pros:

– With only a couple of kissy parts, the book is squeaky clean. Finally! Old West + (a few) cowboys + no trashy content! That alone made it worth reading.

– This is just personal preference, but I liked some of the “salsa words” in the prose. Cerulean, reverberated, etc. Bookie Monster is a WordOPhiliac.

The Cons:

– I found it just a teensy bit preachy in some parts. For instance, Patience’s devotional-writing project, and the way she constantly brings it up to whomever is around. Not that that shouldn’t have been included, because it was a recurring plot point, but a little subtler might have been nice.

– I found the characters and storyline a little predictable. *sad Bookie Monster* Although that is a besetting sin of the Western genre. I found Cody, with his dark past, to be the most interesting character in the book. I must confess I was rooting for Patience to end up marrying him and not marrying Jed. So sue me! Cody’s personal journey was the most compelling one in the story. Without giving anything away, Monty was the other candidate for Most Interesting Character. Bookie Monster wants motives and ACTION ACTION ACTION! Monty + Cody = People Who Do Things! *happy Bookie Monster*

– The writing was not as razor-sharp as I am used to. 

– The ending seemed a little anticlimactic and drawn-out. But then the Bookie Monster is weird about happy endings.

Overall, it was satisfactoryWesterny, not distasteful at all, and a fun lighthearted romp. If your taste is Christian romance, heavy on the historical, then I recommend this book. If it’s more like the Bookie Monster’s – in short, “GIVE ME ACTION OR GIVE ME . . . Um . . . Chocolate?” – it might be good for a rainy afternoon with an afghan and mug of tea. I’ll keep an eye peeled for any more Western-themed titles by Maggie Brendan.

Thumbs Up From The Bookie Monster!

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Here we go again, fellow Bookies! The latest installment from your very favorite Monster gets a happy thumbs up! (And one of these days when winter releases its vice grip on the desert, and the present chaos abounding settles down, your well-known and much-missed Bandit Queen will return with her favorite homesteady topics. Promise.)

Le book:

(I don't own this, of course)

(I don’t own this image, of course)

Le Author: Jill Eileen Smith

Le Review:

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It is a unique treatment of the Biblical account of Rahab the harlot, found in the book of Joshua, chapters 2-6. (NOTE: this is not a discussion of whether or not the correct translations indicate that she actually was a prostitute, or merely an innkeeper.)

Pros:

The author fleshed out Rahab’s story, with the aid of some artistic license, in a very compelling way. Her depiction of “what could have happened” (how Rahab ended up in prostitution, and how she found redemption) is very original while still staying true to the Biblical account (which does leave much to conjecture).

– The plot kept twisting and turning in interesting ways, and kept me reading.

– The ending was . . . maybe a little bit squackish . . . but really pretty cool.

– The personal journey of Rahab’s character as she began to understand faith and love and God was really uplifting.

I liked how the author slipped in the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) as part of the story. Very cool.

Cons:

– It took me a few chapters to really get into the characters. They seemed a little static at first, although they did pick up speed.

There were a few places where I wish the author would have used fewer and more punchy words, rather than the softer ones that she did. But that could have been a certain tone that she was going for.

Altogether, I thought it was a strong story with a good plot. I enjoyed it, would recommend it, and will be up for reading more of Jill Eileen Smith’s books.

In Which The Bookie Monster Goes “Meh”

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Your sociable little Bookie Monster has been let out to run free once again, wreaking havoc in her wake as usual. This week’s victim hapless quarry . . . er, subject: At Home in Last Chance, by Cathleen Armstrong.

The Cast: Kaitlyn Reed, model-gorgeous grown-up teen mom with some bunch-quitting issues (for those unlucky few who didn’t grow up around cowboys: a bunch-quitter is a horse or cow that always tries to run away from the main herd); Steven Braden, face-palm handsome and groaningly vain jerky kind of guy who hasn’t decided what to do with his life; Kaitlyn’s “all-right-already-every-character-is-physically-perfect” hunky big brother who has taken care of her daughter after Kaitlyn ran off and left her; and a host of other family members, good and bad. As Kaitlyn tries to earn her daughter’s trust again, and Steven keeps trying to hit on her (Kaitlyn, not the daughter…that would be just weird), they struggle with lots of family issues and constantly deny the fact that (of course) they are a match made in heaven.

The Pros:

– The writing was overall strong and lively. The slightly humorous opening scene drew me in (not humorous in a “teehee” way; more of an “well, we gotta laugh or cry” – I thought the author pulled that off well).

– The descriptiveness is vivid. Bookie Monster likes descriptions.

The Cons:

– In a few places, the prose seemed to, as they say, “remind me that I’m reading”. I found some spots a bit telly. Don’t just tell me “Steven felt great as he got back in his truck after seeing Kaitlyn and Olivia to their front door” (page 105). Show me how he drums his fingers happily on the steering wheel, gives a big wave to a complete stranger passing by (trust me . . . it’s a thing here in Texas), whistles a lively tune, etc. But that’s just the Bookie Monster’s preference.

– Only a few chapters in, I got extremely fed up with this Uncle Joe Jr. character. You can be safely assured that after the eighty-ninth time of Uncle Joe Jr. being referred to as “Uncle Joe Jr.”, I really do understand that Uncle Joe Jr.’s name just might be “Uncle Joe Jr.” Plus, the guy is a complete asshat. As is Kaitlyn’s mom. Bleh.

– Unfortunately, I didn’t find the story very compelling. After the first few chapters, I had to work to keep reading as it didn’t seem to be going anywhere special, besides family squabbles. About 2/3 of the way through, it lost me. The characters were all learning their lessons too fast. The Bookie Monster must confess that she skimmed to the end just to see if maybe Steven’s dog Speed Bump (yes, that really is her name) would get run over, or if the elderly matriarch of the family would die, or if Kaitlyn might struggle with her emotions and run away again. But no such luck.

Maybe the Bookie Monster just isn’t a romance fiend, which means that this book might be perfect for other readers. But she gave it the old college try. There were parts of it she enjoyed, but the rest just didn’t do it for her. She shall pass this one on to a home that will love it, and return to the land of her Westerns. Adios!

In Which The Bandit Queen Is Brought To Her Knees By A Goaty Bundle Of Squeeness

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Rarely, but on widely-spaced occasions, the Bandit Queen has been known to suffer from a brief memory lapse as to the reason she raises goats. (Mostly these lapses occur after the flying monkeys goats break free from their pastures and rampage across Banditland, leaving havoc in their gleeful wake . . .)

But then other times she remembers exactly why.

Like these times.

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Well, hello there, you little rascal (Oh boy, do I own this one)

 

Yup, it’s a new little fuzzybuns! Her Highness Fifi has done it again. This year it’s a little buck! Which, on the one hand, is a good thing, because I won’t be (quiteasmuchCOUGH) tempted to keep him, but . . . on the other hand . . . that person who has been quoted as saying “Well, Fifi won’t have pretty babies like the Nigerians do. We can eat hers if it’s a boy”, um, shall we say, doesn’t exist anymore. >.>

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Not after that face. 😛

No telling who the daddy is, thanks to Miss Fence Jumper, though it’s likely to be Peppernut since he’s the boss buck, rather than Brownie. Ah well. Either way, he’s cute.

Not much of a blog post this time around . . . your local Bandit Queen is far too busy playing wif the BABY!!! But she took time out from her busy schedule to provide you with pictures. ‘Cause she’s awesome like that. 😉

Time to go play with baby again!

Book Reviews From The Bookie Monster!

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Off we go again for another delightful one of your favorite Bandit Queen’s “This is my brain on books” jaunts. Ready? Here we go! Prepare to meet the Bookie Monster, insatiable devourer of all (good) things literary.

This month, the pickings have been lean, which = hangry Bookie Monster. (Get it? Hungry + angry  . . . coughnevermind)

Let’s kick it off with “Hidden Agenda”, Southern Crimes series #3, by Lisa Harris. The Bookie Monster hasn’t read many crime thrillers, so she thought she’d give this one a try and expand her genre horizons. The plot revolves around Michael Hunt (undercover agent working to expose a drug cartel), Olivia Hamilton (daughter of the man Michael is hunting down), and numerous supporting characters. Olivia and Michael are thrown together in the crossfire and must fight for their lives to escape the deadly tentacles of danger from all quarters. The $64,000 question being not “will they die horrible deaths at the hands of evil people” but “WILL they end up being an item at the end?” (Answer: no duh 😉 )

The Pros:

– It was fast-paced, and the action kept rocketing along. The suspense and the tension were quite engaging.

– It was clean. The Bookie Monster doesn’t like trashy books, so she was happy to find that the romance was the clean and wholesome kind.

The Cons:

. . . Oh dear, where to start? The book was riddled with errors that yanked me out of the story – errors that should have been cleaned up LONG before it reached the printing press.

– Misspelled words. (“chauffer” instead of “chauffeur” on page 235.)

– Misplaced modifiers. The Bookie Monster also happens to be your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi, so this did not make for a good read. For example, page 159: “After losing her husband in the line of duty, [Michael] was glad to see Avery had finally come to the place where she could remarry.” Umm . . . Michael did not lose the husband. This should have been something like “After she’d lost her husband in the line of duty, Michael was glad to see . . .” Similarly, on page 162: “Michael’s anger spiked, hating the fact that he needed to defend Olivia and Ivan.” Anger doesn’t hate. This should have been “Michael’s anger spiked. He hated the fact . . .” or something along those lines.

– Minor but distracting inconsistencies popped up like unwelcome walnuts in a piece of fudge. Page 87: “She’d read the medical examiner’s report….There might not have been enough left of Michael to identify, but she’d never doubted her brother was dead. [Several sentences later] “The M.E. was able to positively identify his remains.” So…did they identify him or did they not? Perhaps I missed something somewhere.

– Other errors made it distracting as well: (lost the page number) “Olivia shot [her gun] into the concrete, six inches from Tomas’s foot.” Um . . . these must be magic bullets that don’t ricochet.

– Sentence fragments are overused. They work wonderfully for emphasis (and the Bookie Monster sometimes uses them in her writing), but after the fifteenth paragraph ending with three fragments, it loses the impact. Seriously. Every other paragraph ends with fragments. That repeat themselves. For emphasis. Which quickly gets old.

– The author tells a lot when showing would be better. Page 44: “Emily shot Charlie,” [Kendall said]. “Emily?” Michael’s mind spun at the information.” The last three words need to be cleanly excised with a scalpel. We know he just got information. You don’t need to tell us. Here again on page 111: “She threw her napkin into her empty bowl, clearly upset.” The context of the scene is an argument. Show me her upset-ness by the napkin-flinging combined with perhaps a scowl, or crossing her arms defensively, rather than just saying “she’s upset.”

Now, mind, this has been one of Bookie Monster’s besetting sins to overcome in her writing. So be assured, dear reader, the scalpel has been used on her own darlings.

– There is a lot of info-dump in the first chapter. Michael’s backstory could be sprinkled throughout the rest of the book. We don’t need to know it all right at the start.

– The dialogue felt stilted and lackluster. It could be just personal preference; it just didn’t seem to flow very well.

Overall, the Bookie Monster wouldn’t highly recommend this book.

Moving on to:

Romancing Your Better Half: Keeping Intimacy Alive in Your Marriage, by Rick Johnson. Obvious title is obvious. 🙂 This is your basic garden-variety marriage help book. (No, the Bookie Monster’s marriage is doing just fine. But that whole thing about an ounce of prevention . . .)

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being approximately equal to the appeal of a sinkful of food-encrusted dishes . . . let’s just say the Bookie Monster was reaching for her SOS pad and a bottle of Dawn.

The Pros:

– The poor author tries. He tries so hard.

– He actually says flat out that marriage should be a concept of *GASP!* (the evil M-word alert!!) Mutual Servanthood. This is great. But the rest of the book doesn’t follow through.

– One valuable concept gathered from this book: insults reflect the person insulting, not the person being insulted.

The Cons:

– He repeats himself a lot. Like, A LOT. He says the same thing in fifty different ways. The first chapter should be called “How Many Ways To State The Eight-Word Phrase ‘Married People Are Happier Than Not-Married People’”. Did I mention he repeats himself?

– He falls prey to the trap of traditional assumptions about women. According to page 41 and elsewhere, women don’t need or want respect.

Um.

Don’t even know where to start. The book should be titled “For Men: Being A Pretentious Asshat and Pretending To Know Everything About Women”.

– Then we come to the traditional idea that mothers don’t matter, only fathers. How dare single mothers think they can raise healthy well-adjusted children without a big bad man’s help! Heresy! (Single fathers needing a healthy female role model for children goes mysteriously unmentioned.) However, the author’s discussion about why this is always and forever the case actually backfires (page 42). He organized a big camp for single mothers to let their kids play with a bunch of random men, but afterward, everyone told him the part they enjoyed most was being around the MARRIED COUPLES at the camp. GASP! Teehee. In all seriousness, besides being ridiculous, the rampant minimizing of women and mothers is very much not Biblical. BOTH PARENTS are important, PERIOD. Mkay pumpkin? End of discussion.

– In the chapter on sex, the author says, in a nutshell, “Women, don’t stress so much about your appearance! Looks don’t matter! Oh wait, yes they do. Always worry about how you look because otherwise your husband will get bored and leave you.”

[A portion of this review has been censored due to excessive sarcasm]

I think it’s safe to say the Bookie Monster doesn’t recommend this book either. As far as marriage books go, though, “Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage To Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy?” by Gary Thomas, would be a STELLAR choice.

And now, since the Bookie Monster has had her rant for the day, she will go gently back into her good hidey-hole until next time, and leave you with . . . not a Bookie Monster . . .

. . . but . . .

. . . a Cookie Monster In The Snow. ‘Nuff said. We shall all go squee!

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I see you, you little sassbucket ❤ (Yup, I own this one with glee)

Hi, My Name Is RC, And I Am (NOT) A Goat Hoarder

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I still find it ironic. Four years ago, if you’d have told me by this time I’d be married and raising goats, I’d have laughed outright.

Eating my words never tasted so good.

Goats are awesome. Who knew?

Since starting out with a collection of lovely little Nigerians, we’ve tweaked our herd a bit, with the addition of (drum roll please)…

This little beauty!

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Awkward picture, I know, but she’s in a gangly teenage phase, and still learning how to be photogenic. Plus I’m still getting used to the whole ear thing. Or lack thereof.

Yep, there you have it! Our newest addition is a gorgeous little LaMancha doe, courtesy of Happy Bleats Dairy Goats, a farm in central-south-ish Texas. Your longsuffering Bandit King graciously stopped off there on his way home from a business trip and brought back this little bundle of sweetness to his wife.

Juliet (aka Ruby Eyes, aka Little Cupcake Ears, aka Alien Goat) has settled in quite nicely with our Nigerians. Her mother, Summer (of whom Ruby is almost the spitting image), has a milking record of TWO GALLONS A DAY, and her father, Son of Thunder, comes from the Nun-Uddr-Dan line of LaManchas. Quality, quality.

Don’t worry, I’m still loyal to my faithful little Nigerian furbabies. I’ll be milking…let’s see…6 of them next year, plus Fifi and Giselle, the Pygmy girls.

But the fiendish new plan is to mix

THIS

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with

THIS

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and get some dynamite little Mini-Mancha milkers. Something medium-sized, with super-duper milking genetics and (hopefully) Ruby’s incredible personality is just the ticket for us. They’ll be easier to milk, logistically speaking, than the Nigerians, but not too big to rampage through the orchard (fingers and toes crossed).

I used to think LaManchas looked like creepy aliens, but not anymore. I’m sold on them, especially this little princess. She’s the nicest, quietest, most laid-back goat I’ve seen. My Pygmies are loud. The Nigerians can be noisy occasionally (mostly when I am any more than 4.7 seconds late to come out and start milking), but not too bad. But Ruby? She hardly makes a peep!

Yep. I’m just a helpless victim, struggling in the throes of goat addiction.

Heh heh heh.

In Which a Lonely Blogsel-in-Distress Is Rescued by a Bandit Queen in Shining… Um… Never Mind

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Well.

This has certainly been an interesting summer, to say the least. Mix one part crazy Bandit Romance, one part crazy-animal-keeper-needs-to-get-a-life, and one part VERY LARGE AND AGGRESSIVE GARDEN THREATENING TO STAGE A PLAN OF WORLD DOMINATION UNLESS IT IS BEATEN BACK RIGHT THIS MINUTE, and you have a preeeeeeetty good idea.

Or maybe one part “Bandit blogger needs to work on her time management skills and not let her blog wither away and die a miserable death”?

I heard that.

‘Tis ironic, though – this whole “I’m gonna write a blog all about our homesteading adventures!! … Wait…I’m too busy keeping the homestead adventures afloat to write about it” thing.

However, I am here to report that the mission has been (mostly) a success.

Garden: world domination plan has been controlled. Now if only I could figure out how to channel all that energy into growing vegetables!

No worries though. It’s only the first year gardening on such a massive scale (for me). I’m not impatient (well, maybe sometimes), and I’m not bothered if everything isn’t perfect on this go-round.

(And the short version might or might not be “we are just really redneck around here”. Ahem.)

Goats: even more success! Caramel has done very well on her second freshening. Not only has she produced more milk (between a pint and three cups per milking!) than the first time, but she has held a steady level of production for a longer period of time before the lactation curve peaks and drops. Apricot and Marshmallow were born at the end of May – that’s coming up on 4 months. I’m well pleased.

Plus she is a DREAM to milk. For a goat the size of a glorified Cocker Spaniel, her teat size is very comfortable to hand milk, with large orifices – in layman’s terms, that means a lot of milk per squeeze! She knows the routine and eagerly hops up on the stand by herself, and sticks her head in the catch gate, waiting for her alfalfa. Food motivated? I’ll never tell.

Chickens: success, not without a few downers, as we lost one little hen a few weeks ago, to unknown causes. The roosters are being…well…roosters, but so far they’ve all mostly minded their manners (i.e., not tried to kill us like a Certain Terrorist Rooster Who Shall Not Be Named). The little chicks have grown into beautiful young hens (eyed greedily by a Bandit hungry for fresh eggs) who collectively have a thing for coming when called, perching on arms, and eating out of hands.

I swore I wouldn’t make them pets.

Fat chance. 🙂

Writing: Oh boy oh boy oh boy! I don’t know if any of my readers out there on the other side of all those screens happen to be writers, but if they are, they are welcome to check out this Awesome Website of Awesomeness! Nice people, good writers, lots of writing tips and challenges – what more can I say? And lest you think I am a pure philanthropist, here is a shameless link to my Faithwriters profile where you can read all the incredible, chart-topping stories written by your very own Bandit Queen!

Ahem. I’m not that shameless. Facetious, thy name is Bandit.

But I do love to write, and if someone out there reads a story of mine and a) enjoys it, b) laughs, or c) is inspired, then hey – it’s all worth it.

Enough with the writing thing, RC.

Cooking: even more success! Yes, we are indeed crazy cooks around here. If cooking had levels of crazy, we’d rank right up there with the Mythbusters.

Although, at the moment, I have simmering on the stove a skillet full of beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, various herbs and spices, and just a leeeeeeeetle too much olive oil. Which turns the lovely Mexican nacho-taco-enchilada-borracho bean wonderfulness into a halfway Italian dish.

I love Italian food. And I love Mexican food. (Shoot, I just love food. Full stop.) But a marriage between the two in this particular recipe = fail. Sort of a “Hagar the Horrible eating eggplant parmigiana while trying to scalp the Lone Ranger” picture. Uh huh.

I’m basically like…

I do not own this; wish I did...

I do not own this; wish I did…

But on second glance at my stove…

Don't own this either

Don’t own this either

…that duck mash looks kinda tasty.

Call the Bandit King in for his assessment…

Don't own this

Don’t own this

Time to eat.