Howdy Folks,


Welcome to the 4th issue of Away We Go. In this issue, I’ll be chatting about our stay in Gulf Shores, Alabama.


After leaving Kerville, TX, we headed east on the lovely highway I-10. Yes, let that sarcasm soak in.

Dear Texas, Why are your roads so horrible?

Every time we hit a pothole, which was about every five minutes, my heart leapt into my throat. Did every drinking glass in the fifth-wheel break? Yes, yes they did. Note to self: glass and moving homes don’t mesh well.


After a thrilling journey down our favorite highway (there’s that sarcasm again) we pulled into Katy Lakes RV Park near Houston, TX. So where are the photos of this lovely establishment? They’re not on this blog, my friends. Why? The place was an eyesore. I think I could have reached out the window and touched our neighbor’s RV. The chain linked fence gave it a cozy penitentiary vibe. Thankfully, we only stayed there for two nights.


Bright side: I got to see my best friend while Justin and Emerson explored the Natural History museum.


After our brief stay at Katy Lakes, we continued down I-10 into Louisiana.

Dear Louisiana, Why are your roads worse than Texas?

I mean, how hard is it to make even lanes? Are massive potholes required? Is it a rite of passage to ride for hours with bated breath, hoping your fifth-wheel doesn’t detach from your truck? Anything is possible in the Pelican State. And yeah, I can be critical because I grew up in Baton Rouge. ;-)



Luckily, Cajun Palms RV Resort in Henderson, Louisiana made up for the disastrous roads. Emerson lived his best life, running after Justin at the water park, playing at the arcade, and braving the haunted dinosaur trail. I couldn’t take part in the fun because of my broken foot. Bummer. At least we got to have a lovely Cajun meal with my grandfather and aunt.







We then headed to my birth state, Mississippi. Biloxi Bay RV Resort & Marina is a newer park, so the landscaping crew was just getting started during our stay. I imagine that in the future, the park will be lovely. The view of the bay made up for the lack of amenities. My beloved husband had a minor incident with his pride while backing our RV into a tight spot. He’s usually a champ with back in sites, but this one presented a challenge thanks to a neighboring vehicle. After 45 minutes of holding our breath, Emerson and I hopped out of the truck and headed to the bay while Justin cooled off.


My father and stepmother visited us during our stay at Biloxi Bay. We had a great time playing games and eating BBQ.



Our next stop was our final destination and home for the next three months: Gulf Breeze RV Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Now, this isn’t an RV park that screams aesthetics or amenities, but its charming residents and staff welcomed us with open arms. We got lucky with a beautiful shaded corner site that gave Gunner plenty of room to chase after Emerson. And did I mention we were only ten minutes from the beach?



Visiting Gulf Shores at the end of the season was fantastic. It’s still warm enough to visit the beach and get a suntan, but we didn’t have to wait hours to eat and the traffic was virtually non-existent.

So what did we do while visiting Gulf Shores? Plenty. Our family loves the beach, so we took advantage of the warm weather and spent our days lounging in the sun, boogie boarding, exploring tourist traps, building sand castles, collecting shells, and biking in the gorgeous Gulf State Park.










As fall blew in, we frequented the local zoo. The animals were quite lively. I’m pretty sure a baboon wanted to fight my mom when she visited.



Alligator Alley was a wonderful sanctuary to see gators thriving in their natural habitat.




The Bellingrath Gardens and Home was gorgeous with its Christmas light display, and the indoor tour of the 10,000 sq ft home blew our minds.

The interior was stunning. It felt like we had traveled back in time.


The Factory catered toward my boys, both big and small, love of rock climbing.


For Halloween, we dressed up as zombies, as per Emerson’s request, and visited OWA.



The unremarkable theme park was overpriced, and Emerson didn’t appreciate the terrifying clown who chased him around the park. Personally, I found it hilarious. Mom of the year right here.


Our visit to the USS Alabama near Mobile was exceptional. I highly recommend the self-guided tours of both the battleship and the submarine. The battleship’s history is remarkable.



One of our favorite parts during our stay in Gulf Shores was our proximity to family. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with my father, stepmother, and stepsisters, enjoyed a quick visit with Justin’s parents, and another visit with my mom and stepfather after the new year. The five of us took a day trip to Pensacola, Florida.












Now let’s chat about restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping. Gulf Shores is a tourist destination. I repeat, Gulf Shores is a tourist destination. If you’re looking for farm-to-table restaurants or exquisite cuisine, then Gulf Shores isn’t the place for you. When I found out we were heading to the beach, I thought, “Awesome. I can’t wait to indulge in fresh seafood.” My mistake for assuming a beach town would serve mouth watering feasts.

The Steamer Baked Oyster Bar was literally the only seafood spot we liked.



Everything else was overpriced and tasted like Red Lobster on a mediocre day. The Safari Club at the zoo, the famous Lamberts, and Woodside were our only saving grace. Let’s just say that we ate at home—a lot.


I really started missing HEB while living in Gulf Shores. Publix is a nice grocer, but the prices are exuberant compared to our beloved Texan grocery store. Walmart was the best option to save a few bucks, but don’t get me started on their poor produce and questionable meat selections. We never made it to Rouses Market. Perhaps we missed the diamond in the rough.


Shopping runs included the local Target, beach and surf shops, and Books-A-Million. Ahh…it was so nice to pick up a physical book. I’ve been reading on a Kindle since we sold our home.


Speaking of books, I held off on book tour stops because, honestly; I was having too much fun living life. I put work on the back burner and soaked up some much needed quality time with my beautiful family. To all of my readers who follow this blog, yes, I am working on GLIMPSE OF TIME, but I’m taking my sweet time. I have zero desire to publish a new series in the current political/social climate. With that being said, my current plan is to release GLIMPSE OF TIME ten years after the release of SEEKER OF TIME. Yep, you heard that right. GLIMPSE OF TIME, the first book in the new series, will release in 2027 followed by book two in 2028, and book three in 2029. I’ve been reading a ton of books, digesting them, and taking notes. I have big plans for the CAPTURING TIME SAGA. Trust me; it’s worth the wait.


I hope you are all doing well, staying healthy, and enjoying life. I’ll reach out again soon with issue number five. Keep your inboxes open!


Much love and God bless,

J.M. Buckler

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Title: The Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Publisher: DAW

Synopsis:

DAY ONE: THE NAME OF THE WIND My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me. So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend. Review: Unpopular opinion coming your way. Um…what did I miss? I went into this read with HIGH expectations, but The Name of the Wind did not deliver.


Plot: Was this the longest book I’ve ever read? No, but it sure felt like it. It took me months to get through the flowery prose and the bizarre magic system. Sympathy lamps, bindings? I tried. I really wanted to get excited any time Kvothe used his magical touch. Unfortunately, the confusion of trying to visualize a sympathy lamp or the arts of the Fishery overshadowed the event.


Author Patrick Rothfuss can tell a story. You want to know what happens to young Kvothe after he leaves his troupe, and you want to find out what happens during his time at the university. And what about the Chandrian? The problem I faced while reading was, what story? I found the plot equally mundane as running errands to my local post office and grocery store. Yes, the author sprinkled external conflict in here and there, but it wasn’t enough to make up for Kvothe going about his day to day activities at the university for hundreds of pages.


Characters: Kvothe drove me a little bonkers. The guy is fifteen years of age for most of the story. When the book switches back to third person and you hear Chronicler, Bast, and adult Kvothe interact, our protagonist’s maturity level appears the same as it did when he attended the university. Why? Will someone please explain the reason for this?


I found Denna even more annoying than Kvothe. Her selfishness and constant disappearances got old…fast. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this girl isn’t someone I'd want to hang out in real life.


Honestly, Bast was the only character that piqued my interest. The ending of the book was the most intriguing part.


Writing: Author Patrick Rothfuss excels at the technical aspects of writing, but his purple prose seeps into every paragraph. Some readers will enjoy his unique style. For me, it missed the mark. Too much prose can take the reader out of the story.


Final Thoughts: I’m disappointed I didn’t enjoy this book. I wanted to be a Rothfuss fan, but alas, I am not. And before you say, “but wait, there’s a second book”. Yes, I'm aware that book two is day two of Kvothe’s verbal story retelling to Chronicler. I hear it gets a little more exciting. But guess what? I don’t feel like slogging through hundreds of pages of more flowery prose, nor do I feel like revisiting the world or the characters. It just wasn’t for me. Sorry Rothfuss fans.


Triggers/Warnings: violence

Plot: 2/5

Pacing: 3/5

Escapism Factor: 3/5

Emotional Connection: 2/5

Character Development: 3/5


Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️


Completed Read: December 2021

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Title: A Deal with the Elf King

Author: Elise Kova

Publisher: Silver Wing Press


Synopsis:

The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.

Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella’s village to be their Human Queen.

To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she’s dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town’s only healer.

That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives... for her.

Everything Luella had thought she’d known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.

The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another... but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted.


Review:

What a fun read. I needed a break after finishing a complex sci-fi novel so I picked up A Deal with the Elf King and breezed through it in two days. Simple, steamy, romantic: three things I love, especially when well written.


Plot: I believe this is a distant re-telling of Beauty and the Beast and I enjoyed every page. Was it predictable? Yes, but I still loved going on the romantic adventure with Luella. The Elf King is the typical striking, snobby male that fans of Maas and Black will love to hate, then hate to love. The enemies to lovers troupe never gets old for me. If this overdone troupe isn’t your thing, then I suggest you pass on A Deal with the Elf King.


Characters: Luella, the Elf King, and Hook are the three characters who impressed me the most. Luella is likeable and stronger than most female protagonist in this genre. She definitely reminded me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. The Elf King fits the mold beautifully for his role as the cold-hearted love interest, and Hook is the animal companion all Disney fans love. The side characters were enjoyable, but not nearly as engaging as the three mentioned above.


Writing: Elise Kova’s writing is easy to follow. Her steamy scenes are delicious and her banter is sassy. I enjoyed this book as a standalone. The ending leaves the reader very satisfied.


Final Thoughts: A Deal with the Elf King was an easy and fun read. As previously noted, it’s a great pause if you need a break between a dense fantasy series or if you prefer lighter reads. This story has been told a hundred times, but Kova gives it a fresh spin.


Triggers/Warnings: sexual content, language


Plot: 4/5

Pacing: 5/5

Escapism Factor: 4/5

Emotional Connection: 4/5

Character Development: 4/5


Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Completed Read: November 2021

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