The Armadillo Files, Episode 11 — Featuring Christine Robinson

Don’t miss the Halloween-themed episode of Teagan Geneviene​’s serial The Armadillo Files. We have a mystery coming up!

Teagan's Books

Saturday, October30, 2021

Happy Halloween PixabayPixabay

You’ve reached The Armadillo Files.  Stand by for spook-tacular silliness.  Yes, I know I’m late.  I think all your good wishes brought back my unreliable Internet. Sort of like clapping for Tinkerbell and chanting “I believe in fairies!”  In this case, pink fairy armadillos.

The past few episodes of The Armadillo Files started as a promotion last time for Teri Polen’s yearly October festival of horror and suspense. Here’s a link to my visit with her at Bad Moon Rising.  However, I decided to have my own three part Halloween celebration.  Today we have part 3.

 Three Random Reader Things

I’m using more sketches and photos from the wonderful Resa McConaghy.  The inspiration driving this chapter comes from Resa’s work as well as a set of “3 things” from another marvelous author, Christine Robinson.  Christine’s random reader things for today are

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#BadMoonRising Dead of Winter series by Teagan Riordain Geneviene #paranormal #supernatural

Teagan Geneviene​ is the guest of Teri Polen’s #BadMoonRising today. Don’t miss her intriguing answers and the snippets she shares of her serial Dad of Winter.

Books and Such

Happy Halloween Weekend! It’s a rainy Friday morning here, but today’s guest is sure to brighten up any day. Whenever I hear the word whimsical, I immediately this of this author’s books. She can put her own spin on anything and “Teaganize” it. Her featured series takes a different path and has received nothing but outstanding reviews. See figures in your peripheral vision? You might want to consider what she says about it. Welcome Teagan Riordain Geneviene!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Dead of Winter 8 Characters promo by Teagan
Dead of Winter Featured Characters, image by Teagan R. Geneviene

Hi Teri. Thanks for letting me bring my monthly series, Dead of Winter, to Bad Moon Rising. I love your questions. Here are the ones I chose, and my answers.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

Oh, yes. Actually, I’ve also done tarot and other card readings for decades. From November 2019 and all through 2020 I…

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Wednesday Writing — Cover Reveal for Journey 11

Winter is Coming and the end is near! Don’t miss Teagan Geneviene’s reveal of the cover for Journey 11 of Dead of Winter, and help her celebrate Halloween by checking her post and also visiting Bad Moon Rising (where she will be interviewed on the 29th)!

Teagan's Books

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Siggy Nowak at PixabaySiggy Nowak at Pixabay

Hello, everyone. As the Journeys of Dead of Winter draw near their end, so does this year.  For my location, the approaching solstice (Halloween, Samhain, and other names) falls halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice.  In most of the countries of Dead of Winter, it also marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next, just as it did for some of our ancestors.  Emlyn’s people called it Galan’gaeaf.  Yes, I made up that name, but I derived it from my research — Nos Galan Gaeaf, a Welsh form of the Scottish Gaelic, relevant to Samhain.

The November issue of Dead of Winter, has a good deal of new material that I’ve added to the original manuscript, written a decade ago. I also got to indulge myself in one of my favorite parts of…

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The Armadillo Files, Episode 10 — Featuring Resa McConaghy

Another fun episode in the Armadillo Files, with gorgeous (scary) sketches and some fascinating historical tidbits. Thanks, Teagan Geneviene​

Teagan's Books

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Dracula portrait sketch Resa McConaghyDracula portrait sketch Resa McConaghy

You’ve reached The Armadillo Files.  Stand by for nuttiness.  This started as a promotion last time for Teri Polen’s yearly October festival of horror and suspense, Bad Moon Rising.  However, along the way I decided to have my own three part Halloween celebration.  This would be part two.

 Three Random Reader Things

I remembered several magnificent sketches and mural photos from delightful Canadian blogger, Resa McConaghy.  She left sent a set of “3 things” that helped me along with this chapter. So today I’m using those.  Additionally, for the next couple of weeks I will feature her images, to continue my Halloween celebration. Resa’s random reader things for today are Jitterbug, Zoot Suit, and Armed Forces Radio Service.

Tidbits of Truth

It’s a zany sounding name for any sort of menswear, but “zoot suits”…

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Wednesday Writing — Ending Characters

Teagan Geneviene asks us what we think about “gray” characters and explains how she feels about those. Go and visit her post for some wonderful reviews of Journey 10 of Dead of Winter as well!

Teagan's Books

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

ItIsn’tBlack andWhite

Welcome to my sanctuary, everyone. Sit back and get comfortable.  I’m feeling a little off kilter, but not bad. Maybe that’s because I was thinking about “black and white” and all the gray areas that surround it. (That’s odd, considering how much a physically need color around me.)  The slide show above includes some of the black and white images I made for the interior of various “Journeys” in Dead of Winter.  Some of the characters in that epic fantasy are gray… certainly not heroes, and yet not all together evil.

Often ending a character isn’t black and white either.  Maybe I’m just shallow, or maybe it’s because my life’s history, but I don’t like it when characters die in TV shows, movies, or in books.  I rarely “kill off” any character in my stories, good or evil.  However, as I…

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The Armadillo Files, Episode 9 — Featuring Bad Moon Rising

Yes! We have more adventures in Teagan Geneviene​´s The Armadillo Files! And TROLLEY has plenty of surprises!

Teagan's Books

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Teri's Bad Moon Rising banner with Teagan tomfooleryTeri’s Bad Moon Rising banner with a lot of Teagan tomfoolery

You’ve reached The Armadillo Files, even though it might at first look like author Teri Polen’s yearly October festival of horror and suspense, Bad Moon Rising.

Three Bad Moon Things

In support of the aforementioned event, my things for this episode are Bad, Moon, and Rising. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the wherewithal to also make this a horror episode.  Hmmm maybe next time though.

Tidbits of Truth

I always try to bring a bit of reality into this zany atom-punk fantasy.  This time it’s with dancing and food. We left Dilly pretty darned hungry last time.  So you’ll find that I’ve mentioned three dishes that really were popular back in the World War II Era.  For more click this link.

This episode mentions the owl from last time.  I’m…

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Announcing — Dead of Winter: Journey 10, Pergesca

Wow! Journey 10, Pergesca of Teagan Geneviene’s Dead of Winter is here! It’s made my day. I can’t wait to read it!

Teagan's Books

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The October issue of Dead of Winter is here!

Welcome everyone! Thanks for your patience this month.  Today I announce the latest novelette in Dead of Winter.  It seems like only a few weeks ago that I started these Journeys.  Now we are on the tenth month. Wow. 

We are nearing the conclusion of the Journeys. So, I’m letting this post be sort of a refresher.  If you didn’t notice, my blog banner image shows many of the most important characters of the series. Have you figured out which ones are who?

For those who have not yet joined the Journeys, I did an audio reading with the very first one.

Here’s a general post from early in the Journeys.  At this post by Rebecca Budd, there’s also a podcast (audio) of our discussion about the series.  I do another reading during our…

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Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (@LittleBrownUK) Fabulous writing about 1960s Harlem (and much more)

Hi all:

I was having a bit of trouble with my usual blog, so I thought I’d try using my old blog and see. Sorry for any mistakes and confusion.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead


‘Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…’

To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time.

See, cash is tight, especially with all those instalment plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn’t see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn’t ask questions.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa – the ‘Waldorf of Harlem’ – and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord, and numerous other Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle is driven by an ingeniously intricate plot that plays out in a beautifully recreated Harlem of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.

About the author:
Colson Whitehead is the author eight novels and two works on non-fiction, including The Underground Railroad, which received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Heartland Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Hurston-Wright Award, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. The novel is being adapted by Barry Jenkins into a TV series for Amazon. Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys received the Pulitzer Prize, The Kirkus Prize, and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.
A recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.

Here you can read an interview he gave in Goodreads about this novel:

My review:
I thank NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for providing me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.
I read and reviewed Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys (a Pulitzer Prize winner), loved it, and when I heard he had a new book coming out, I had to check it out. Well, it is different, that is true, but I loved it as well.
Most of what any prospective reader might want to know about this novel is well summarised in the last paragraph of the description:
Harlem Shuffle is driven by an ingeniously intricate plot that plays out in a beautifully recreated Harlem of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.

Perhaps ‘a hilarious morality play’ is a bit of an exaggeration (the hilarious part, although it depends on one’s sense of humour: I agree there is plenty of humour in the novel, but most of it is on the twisted and dark side of the spectrum), but the rest, pretty accurate.
I am not known for my brief reviews, but I’ll try to offer an overview of the most important aspects, in my opinion, and then add a few comments.
Whitehead writes beautifully and has a great skill in making readers feel as if they were walking the streets of Harlem in the 1960s, boiling with racial tension, social upheaval, corruption at all levels, but beauty and hope as well. He also brings to life a complex and engaging cast of characters who are interconnected in different ways. Family plays an important part in the story, not only the family tradition (the sins of the fathers, in this case), but also the relationship between Carney and his cousin, Freddie, who has a knack for getting into trouble. The overall novel is divided up into three crime-related episodes or novellas, several years apart, which illustrate the changes in the characters’ lives, in the society of the time, and also in New York and Harlem. In some ways, the two cousins seem to have taken two completely opposite paths: while Carney’s life is on the up, getting more successful with his business (and his ever-so-slightly crooked activities) as we progressed through the novel, Freddie’s lifestyle is deteriorating, and he is falling down a slippery slope. Or at least that’s how things appear to be on the surface, to those who aren’t in the know. The ending is fitting, and although some readers felt disappointed because they expected something different; based on its own merits, this is an excellent book. As one of the reviewers put it, this is perhaps not a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, but one can’t blame the author for wanting to write a different kind of book and succeeding.
I’ve said I wanted to add a few comments, and here they come.
The novel is written in the third person, mostly from Carney’s point of view, but also from some of the other characters, and that works well, as we get access to other perspectives and see Carney from outside, as others see him. There is a fair amount of telling in the story, because a lot of things happen to some of the characters who are not centre stage, and it is not unusual for the story to take detours and provide us with some background information that might appear surplus to the story at the time (but it rarely is). This is not a mystery, though, so it does not follow the standard format of the novels in that genre, and it is much more focused on other issues, like the location, the dynamics of the neighbourhood, the local politics, the social unrest, the race riots, the local politics, the corruption… It brought to my mind a fabulous scene from the movie Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens) —which I fervently recommend to anybody interested in heist movies or good movies in general— where an experienced con-man is teaching his apprentice the lay of the land. They are talking about tricksters, con-men, and crime, and the more experienced con-man tells the other that crime and tricksters are all around; one only needs to know where to look, and the camera picks up an incredible variety of crimes taking place around them. It is mind-boggling. And, indeed, although the action of the novel takes place in Harlem in the early 1960s, the events and the underlying politics could easily be transplanted to many present day locations. (It definitely made me think of fairly recent incidents in the city where I live).
I have mentioned the reviews. Apart from the issue of unmet expectations (and reading some other reviews it is quite evident that the author has been writing for quite a while and loves to try different genres, so this novel seems to fit in his overall oeuvre), some readers did not feel they cared much for the central character. Carney is neither totally sympathetic, nor the opposite. He protests too much at times, and although he has a strong sense of family, tries to protect his cousin (which costs him at times, but it is not all bad either), and loves his wife and children; he is no model citizen either. He does not fight the system as much as adapt to it and always makes sure he is in the best position to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves. He is not a conventional hero, for sure, and there are secondary characters which readers like much more than him (Pepper, a totally uncharacteristic criminal type, is a favourite, and yes, I like him as well), but if we read the novel as a morality play, as suggested, then this is not surprising but totally understandable. Other points many reviewers make are the meandering nature of the stories, how often we get sidetracked, and also the fact that there is a fair amount of telling. That is true, but I didn’t mind at all. I was happy to follow the characters and the stories wherever they took me, but if readers are expecting a standard mystery or crime novel, where every little detail propels the story forwards and the prose is bare and streamlined, this is not their book.
If I had to find fault, or complain, I would say that I would have liked to hear more from and about the female characters in the story. Carney’s wife sounds interesting, and her job at a travel agency catering for African-American travellers made me think of Green Book, but we never see things from her perspective, and the same is true of Freddie’s mother, who brought him up almost single-handedly and also played a big part in Carney’s life, despite holding a job as a nurse at the same time. There are other women in the story, but none take centre stage, or only fleetingly.
Whitehead writes beautifully, and his words flow with ease and flair, no matter if he’s describing a place, immersing us in the internal thoughts of a character, sharing a bit of witty dialogue, or providing us an insight into the historical and social reality of a place and an era. I highlighted much of the book, and I must admit that his first lines are joining my list of favourites, and this book’s opening proves it again.
Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…’

As usual, I recommend people thinking of buying the book to check a sample first, if they aren’t sure it would be a good fit, but I couldn’t resist sharing some bits of it. Please, remember that I read an ARC copy, so there might be some changes to the final version of the novel.

Newspapers talking about ‘looting,’” Buford continued. “Should ask the Indians about looting. This whole country’s founded on taking other people’s shit.”

These days he didn’t know where everybody’d gone. Jail, the graveyard, sure, but besides that. There were no pension plans for retired safecrackers, for heisters and hustlers.

Pepper faced the man, with the resignation of a man discovering his toilet is still busted after the plumber had left.

So, if you are looking for a novel by one of the most interesting novelists around, one who isn’t afraid to challenge and/or disappoint expectations, love unusual takes on recent historical fiction, enjoy books that don’t stick to a genre, want to learn more about Harlem in the 1960s, and love fantastic writing, this is for you. It is neither The Underground Railroad nor The Nickel Boys, but it is well-worth a read.

Thanks to NetGalley, and Little Brown Book UK, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and above all, always keep safe and smile!


The Armadillo Files Character Profiles — Fang

Learn a bit more about Fang in Teagan Geneviene​’s blog today. After all, he is The Armadillo in the Armadillo Files. Or, is he? Read all about it!

Teagan's Books

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Armadillo Files beginning promo by TeaganPromo image by Teagan R. Geneviene

You’ve reached The Armadillo Files… sort of.  Sometimes I can’t do everything. To be blunt, September was extremely rough for me.  Plus I have a “real world” gig that came up with a quick deadline. There is not a new chapter today, but it’s not like I’m giving myself a break. I’m just trying to make a dent in getting my work caught up.  No rest for the wicked. 

I’m determined that I’m going to get myself together. However, while I try to find a mental path toward the illusive state of “focus,” I thought I’d give a character profile.

Character Profile — Fang

Tatu Pinkerton, nicknamed Fang.  Was a critter of a very illusive species of armadillo called pink fairy.  I kid you not, that is really the name of a type of armadillo from Argentina. 

From the…

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