Feb 07

Down the TBR Hole #11

Uncategorized 3

My Down the TBR Hole post is a little late this week! I’ve gotten a bit off schedule over the weekend…some things are happening in my personal life (some good, some sad, but everything happens for a reason). I didn’t do a Something Else Sunday this week because on Sunday (and Monday) I was SO BUSY doing the things…I’ll share about them next week. I also didn’t publish projected posts because I knew this off-schedule thing was going to happen, so I’m just posting as I can! Tomorrow however, another Writing Up Wednesday will be up. 😀

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?


When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have 612. Once again, this week I was strong and only added one! Go me! Haha. Today I’m looking at numbers 57-61 of my original 604.

: The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman

Date Added: April 26, 2014

Thoughts: Oh, I’ve wanted to read this for so long but for some reason it’s never been conveniently at hand! I recall it being greatly abhorred by some religious group my mom was in and so I never read it as a kid.

Judgment: Keep!


Title/Author: Awaken the Highland Warrior, by Anita Clenney

Date Added: April 27, 2014

Thoughts: I think I got this as free ebook…

Judgment: GO.


Title/Author: Dogtripping, by David Rosenfelt

Date Added: May 10, 2014

Thoughts: This seems like a very under appreciate book, and one that might be a real gem. The subject matter is definitely near and dear to my heart.

Judgment: Keep.


Title/Author: Horses Never Lie, by Mark Rashid

Date Added: May 10, 2014

Thoughts: I had hopes this book was soon to be relevant to me when I added it. Sadly, 3 years later, it looks like I’m no closer to returning to riding than I was then.

Judgment: Go.


: Pukka’s Promise: the Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs

Date Added: May 10, 2014

Thoughts:  Having owned, rescued, shown, and said goodbye to beloved dogs, this book will always be relevant to me and one day I will sit down with a copy and read it!

Judgment: Keep.


Not quite as good this week, but still progress! 2/5. Are you doing the Down the TBR Hole challenge too? How many have you managed to cull?


Feb 02

eBook inBox Review

Books/Writing, Reviews 9

ebook inbox review

When I saw an advertisement for this digital book subscription box (curated by the folks at Lit-Cube) when scrolling through one of my social media feeds a few weeks ago, I had to give it a shot! I’m such a sucker for subscription boxes and I hadn’t heard of a digital book version. This is the debut month and I wanted to quickly post about it so that maybe a few other people would have a better idea about the box! So, here’s my eBook inBox review! If you also tried the January box I would love to know what books you received!

First of all, this is a very tailored box, which is awesome! You answer a questionnaire as part of the sign-up process, so hopefully you will only receive books you’re interested in. No fantasy for rom-com readers, etc. The list of categories and how I rated them is below (in case anyone is wondering HOW DID YOU GET THOSE BOOKS MINE ARE SO DIFFERENT?!?). There are 3 settings of interest: high, moderate, and none.


Contemporary Romance

Paranormal/Fantasy Romance

Historical Romance

Inspirational Romance

Spicy Hot Romance

Chick Lit

Cozy Mystery


Science Fiction/Fantasy



I really like this part! While it seems like maybe they are trying to do a little TOO much in catering to EVERYONE, since it’s in digital format it might be possible to pull it off.

My January box included…no books I’d ever heard of. I will admit, when I scrolled through at first glance my heart kind of sank. No books I recognized, no authors I recognized…wah-wah.

Daisy Kirkwood and her best friend Kammie have adjusted to life on an alien planet pretty well, all things considered. And thanks to Daisy’s alien pop star boyfriend, Griffin Valentino, she has plenty of sexy new experiences to keep her busy. But it’s not possible to take a massive music nerd away from her home planet and not expect her to pine for a concert or a record store at least in once in a while.

Engaged to an Alien Pop Star (The Alien Pop Star #2), by Kendra L. Saunders. WHAT. Why on earth are you sending me Book #2 in the first month of a book box? I don’t understand. This kind of just makes me rage. Aliens are SO NOT MY THING. No matter how sexy the blurb says they are.

Remy Novem was murdered…

But she didn’t die.

Forced to escape to Somniare, a dream landscape, Remy must somehow survive living nightmares, and endless torment without using her magic. Her only hope for freedom is to hitch a ride with a human back into reality, tricking the poor creature into believing no harm will befall them.

Somniare (Somniare #1), by D.T. Dyllin. Ummm…interesting, if very creepy sounding, premise. This one I might read a few chapters of to see if it’s decent. Still not something I would have picked off the shelf for myself, but I like paranormal now and then if it’s done right.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teenagers, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.

Catalyst (The Deception Game #1), by Kristin Smith. Published by “Clean Teen Publishing.” Based on that alone it gets a big fat no. I hate it when people or groups feel the need to state that they are “clean” – um, so, does that make you better? No.


Eliana Havelock is a female with no past, whose determination to bring down a Karachi arms dealer catches the attention of the British Secret Intelligence Service. MI-6 is currently fractured due to political upheaval with many of its covert programs dissolved or disbanded. When Eliana presents the opportunity to divert an international arms disaster, the head of MI-6 partners her with one of it’s best and brightest, the enigmatic, Connor Blackwell. But in a world of secrets and hidden agendas, who can Eliana trust? And what, or who, is Eliana really after?

Havelock, by Jane D. Everly. This one sounds like it might actually be a fun read, if a little outside my usual! I’m a little confused by the listings on GoodReads because it looks like it was originally published as a serial and I can’t tell if this is just Part 1 or the entire 3-part book…ack. I think it’s the entire thing but I’m not sure.

Besides these 4 ebooks, there was also a digital art print and a digital coloring page. The coloring page was Jane Austen inspired and very pretty!

Overall Rating:

2.5/5 stars. :-/ Color me very unimpressed. I love the idea but these books just seem…meh. I didn’t like any of the blurbs enough to add them to my TBR list, even though I do plan to read the first couple of chapters of Somniare and Havelock to see if they might be worth a go.

That said, this month’s box was a FREE TRIAL, and I’m wondering if that might have affected the availability or caliber of the books in the box this time. So I’ll be giving it another month. If I’m still blue about it next month I won’t renew. I hope this eBook inBox review was helpful! I’m sure some people would love this set of books, it just wasn’t really for me.


Feb 01

Writing Up Wednesday #2: Plotter or Pantser?

Books/Writing 6

Welcome to the second week of Writing Up Wednesday! Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. This week we have:

Writing Up Wednesday #2: Plotter or Pantser?

If you’re not familiar with the terms, check out this article from the folks at NaNoWriMo. Basically, most authors fall into one of these two categories – do you plot and plan everything out, or do you fly by the seat of your pants? As a note of interest, GoodReads put together this little list of famous authors with notes of which camp they claim. Surprised by any of them?

My experience in NaNo 2016 has taught me one very solid lesson: I am most definitely a plotter. I discovered the 8-Point Story Arc right before NaNo and it really jumpstarted my novel. I’m absolutely in love with it – it enabled me to get my ENTIRE story down quickly. Yes, I say entire, because every major turning point of the story is included in those 8 points. The 8-Point Story Arc comes from Stephen May’s book Write a Novel and Get It Published – which I proceeded to immediately buy and not read. Ahem. I fully intend to, of course, I just haven’t got to it yet!

Besides the 8-Point Story Arc, I read several forum and blog posts about free-plotting – basically an info dump of a plot outline that no one but you will ever see. You can plot each scene, each chapter, whatever works for you. I ended up just plotting each movement, as I think of it. Each thing that needed to happen to advance the story along. So far in my writing, I’ve discovered that each chapter usually contains 5 or 6 of these points. Some people break the chapters up as they go. I didn’t. I just vomited words all over my page and it was AMAZING. I finally had ALL THOSE IDEAS out. Of course they need fleshed out and smoothed and sculpted, but the best part is THEY ARE OUT and I have them all written down so I can go back to them! My entire NaNoWriMo 2016 was spent outlining this way, and the outline alone ended up being just over 11,000 words.

These two outlines have made the actual writing of my novel so much easier. I would never have thought I needed an outline so badly, but for me it just works.

Which one are you? Be sure to leave your link-up below!


Jan 31

Review of Fear the Drowning Deep

Book Reviews 0

Review of Fear the Drowning DeepFear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Published by Sky Pony Press on October 11th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.
Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.
Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

I was first attracted to this book by this piece of art by Evie Seo:

review of fear the drowning deep

And then I was completely drawn in by the description – which I read as historical magical realism. Then I started reading, and about 80 pages in I decided that was TOTALLY wrong. Then I finished it, and decided it actually was the closest to an accurate description of genre I was going to get!


“Nothing from the ocean is meant to survive on land forever.”


Satisfaction. I adored the resolution of this book. It’s not a perfect happily-ever-after (HEA) and that makes ME so very, very happy. I’m a disgruntled, hard-hearted porcupine when it comes to love, and while I like endings with hope, only rarely do I completely get behind a tidy little HEA. FtDD has a very hopeful ending, but one that could go several different ways. I loved that.


It took me awhile to warm up to Bridey, I’ll be honest. She is so defined by her fear of the sea that at first that is the only quality I saw in her. As the story goes on though, I came to genuinely like her. Lugh and Cat, her best friends, I wish we had seen a little more of. I felt sorry for them as she kind of abandoned them to go work with Morag and then in her absorption with Fynn.

Fynn is something of a mystery for most of the book. A lot of reviews I saw complained about the insta-love between him and Bridey, but to me it was believable BECAUSE from the very beginning, it’s obvious Fynn is not just a normal human boy. Because of that, I feel like the insta-love is understandable and realistic – even though I usually DESPISE it.

Morag was my favorite character. An odd choice, I guess – but I loved her. I love that she was old and crotchety and hurt – both physically and emotionally, yet she was such a wise woman and genuinely cared about people. She was like a gingerbread cookie…crunchy on the outside but soft and delicious on the inside (that IS how you make your gingerbread cookies, right?).


FtDD starts off kind of slow, not going to lie. It’s beautiful and haunting, but slow. The pace picks up about a third of the way through, and I was completely drawn into the Isle of Man world Sarah Marsh has created. I already wanted to visit but now I want to go even more!

Because how could you not?

At first I thought I had misjudged the cover blurb and this was a historical fiction YA with some mythology thrown in…but no. It soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems on the idyllic Isle, regardless of what the villagers want to believe. And of course no one wants to listen to the tales of old women or the vision of the young. No one wants to believe that maybe the faery stories are more than stories.


Beautiful. Idyllic. Almost mystical and definitely slightly creepy. I loved it. It felt so real…next time I’m at the ocean I’m going to be on the lookout for creepy ghosts playing violins. I still want to visit the Isle of Man though.


4/5 stars. There were some things I felt were too easily explained away, like some things about Fynn. Some things I felt happened too easily…like once Bridey got over her fear, suddenly she was a grand rescuer…but they were small things, and adrenaline and love do give people almost superhuman strength sometimes.

I’ve started using a new app for timing my reading, called BookOut! I’m having all kinds of fun with it so far. It generates these really cool little infographics for each book you finish. What do you guys think?


review of fear the drowning deep


Jan 30

Down the TBR Hole #10

Books/Writing 1

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?


When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have 615. I was pretty strong this week, I only added one! This week I’m looking at numbers 52-56 of my original list.

Title/Author: Roselynde, by Roberta Gellis

Date Added: April 13, 2014

Thoughts: Where did I even find this book? It sounds like my type but it has very few reviews…

Judgment: Go.



Title/Author: Winter’s Heat, by Denise Domning

Date Added: April 13, 2014

Thoughts: Again…where did I find this? It sounds mildly interesting but too heavy on the romance for me.

Judgment: Go.


Title/Author: A Place Beyond Courage

Date Added: April 14, 2014

Thoughts: I think these last few must have been GoodReads recommendations from where I read a Phillipa Gregory novel. Why did I think this sounded interesting?

Judgment: Go!


Title/Author: The White Queen (Tudors #2), by Philippa Gregory

Date Added: April 13, 2014

Thoughts: Despite GoodReads labeling this as #2, it was the first published in Gregory’s Tudor series. I still mean to get to these at some point! Her writing is beautiful, even if I didn’t care for the content of the one book of hers that I read.

Judgment: Keep.



Title/Author: The Lavender Garden, by Lucinda Riley

Date Added: April 13, 2014

Thoughts: Ehhhh…interest level 2/5 right now.

Judgment: Go.



Well, that was definitely an improvement! 4/5 this week. I’m totally patting myself on the back right now. 😉 Who else is participating in Down the TBR Hole? Leave me a link to your posts!



Jan 30

Something Else Sunday #23

Books/Writing, Crafting, Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life, Pets 0

something else sunday

Happy Lunar New Year to everyone that celebrates! I got Friday off from work for it (even though we don’t celebrate…perks of being in South Korea). It’s time for another Something Else Sunday…

Well. I had a 24-hour shift on Saturday, so I’m still trying to pull my head out of the fog. 9 a.m. Saturday morning to 9 a.m. Sunday = a very, VERY grumpy me. I have tried naps and they only help a little bit. So I’m about to just give up and go to bed for the night.

In my “Something Else” this week, I repotted my poor little orchid…which turned out to be much closer to dead than I thought…look at all those dead roots!

Poor thing. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to save it…the transplant seems to have shocked it and the leaves are now turning yellow. Sigh.

I did work on my newest cross-stitch start, the Madre Terra pattern from Alessandra Adelaide Needleworks. It’s a tree, a beautiful tree, and the colors really make me happy. I’ve started on the turn since this picture was taken.

Last week…there was a slight rearranging/rescheduling of posts, because I completely forgot about a book blitz I had signed up for. Whoops. But that’s ok. I made progress on a few other things, one a surprise I can’t WAIT to tell you guys about but can’t just yet. Hehehe. Anyway.

Last week on the blog:

Down the TBR Hole #9
The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin (review)
Writing Up Wednesday #1 (new meme you should TOTALLY come join!)
Book blitz for Celtic Fire

Coming up this week:

Down the TBR Hole #10
Fear the Drowning Deep (YA review)
Writing Up Wednesday #2
Waterless Mountain (MG review)

Oh, and can’t forget the kitty cuteness…only this week it’s a (very blurry) throwback. This is baby-kitty Alfie…watching the fish was his absolute favorite thing to do! I hope to get a tank again once we’re at home. Pretty sure Tristan will be fascinated as well.

Have a great week, everyone!!


Jan 28

Book Blitz for Celtic Fire

Book Tours 0

I’m excited to be participating in this book blitz for Celtic Fire, facilitated by Xpresso Book Tours! The author is new to me, but this sounds like it could be a real winner.


book blitz for celtic fire

book blitz for celtic fire

Celtic Fire
Liz Gavin
(Highland Celts Series, #1)
Publication date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Paranormal Romance

This is a standalone, historical/paranormal romance. Its mature themes – violence, religious war, and pagan rituals – might not be appropriate for audiences under 18.

When ancient gods ruled and Druids kept Faith alive, the Celts thrived as a democratic, matriarchal society. Then savage Roman soldiers swept across Europe, killing and enslaving. The Celts did not succumb without a fight. Their Old Ways survived centuries of ruthless domain until another menace loomed: a tortured god worshiped in cold stone buildings. The sacred shores of Avalon began to drift away, the mists threatened to hide the island from mortal eyes forever.

Against the bleak backdrop of war, the gorgeous Scottish Highlands stood tall, sheltering its inhabitants from greedy invaders. Yet the reach of the eagle banners was long and the highlanders turned to the Goddess for protection. However, the sacred groves felt silent and grim as Avalon faded away. Once sad, pealing bells began to sound strangely comforting while the high walls of monasteries offered an alluring barrier from violence. Caught in the middle of this centuries-old war, a young High Priestess might be Avalon’s last chance.

Wise beyond her years and powerful like no other Priestess in her lifetime, Rowen had served the Goddess faithfully, forsaking her family and the company of her soulmate. When the Lady of the Lake asks for another sacrifice, it might be one too many for her scarred heart. How could she obey the Goddess without betraying Caddaric? Could she trust Eochaid, who embodied everything she despised and hated? Would she be able to fulfill her duties without losing her soul?

Caddaric had been Rowen’s companion in countless lives; but, now, they existed in different realms. Beautiful Rowen lived in the mortal world while sweet Caddaric remained in the sacred isle of Avalon, watching over her. Could he step aside to allow another man – a flesh and blood man – to become her protector?

Eochaid had sworn to protect the Old Ways. The rude warrior never quite understood his faith yet his loyal heart belonged to the Goddess. A gorgeous, fiery High Priestess was not in his plans. He would risk his life to protect Rowen; but, would the Goddess safeguard his heart? Could he defend the bewitching maiden from himself?

When stakes were so high that a simple mistake could cost their very world, a priestess, a Druid, and a warrior must learn to trust each other and the mysterious ways of the Goddess. Their success would save Avalon. Their failure would tear the island from the human realm forever, condemning it to oblivion.

Failure was not an option.

Goodreads / Amazon


Although my heart is heavy and my thoughts are gloomy, I take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand. I search for the sacred oak, the oldest tree in the grove. Finding it, I lie on the ground, face down, in front of the revered tree. Earth’s energy radiates from the ground, traveling through my body and limbs, filling me with a potent magnetism, and making my skin tingle as I say my prayer.

“Forgive me, Great Mother. I have failed you yet again. I am your vessel on this realm and as such I should never doubt your ways. Nevertheless, when the time came for Caddaric to go back to Avalon, I despaired and fought against the inevitable, as I always do.

Please, give me strength to control my weak heart, wisdom to understand your signs, and courage to do your bidding.”

The wind picks up around me making the dry leaves and little twigs swirl. Faint whispers come in the breeze. A thousand gentle fingers move over my body caressing, soothing me.

“Oh, Mother, you are too kind and never abandon me. I promise to serve you faithfully and perform my duties accordingly from now on.”

The wind blows stronger, molding my clothes to my body, covering me in dry leaves. I feel faint and when I open my eyes, I’m not in the sacred grove any longer. I’m lying on a sunny field, there’s a gentle breeze blowing from the distant line of apple trees, bringing the sweet smell of their flowers in full bloom. Recognizing my beloved isle of Avalon, I get up and look around. I see the Lady of the Lake standing just a few feet away. I go to her and offer a curtsy. The Lady gently holds me by my shoulders, smiles serenely and holds my gaze. Not for the first time, I wonder if her eyes can read my soul.

“Rise, Rowen, my child. And do not cry. You should rejoice over your successes instead of mourning what you perceive as failures. Your apprentices look up to you and seek your guidance, because your advice is wise and respectful. The villagers worship the Great Mother according to the old traditions, because they follow your firm yet kind leadership. Despite being so young, my beautiful Rowen, you are wise and your people respect you.”

I am touched by her words. I never expected the Lady of the Lake herself would answer my prayer and come talk to me, comfort me.

“You are too kind, my lady. I am honored and, although I think I do not deserve your comfort, I am thankful.”

“I speak only the truth, Rowen, as all true servants of the Goddess shall do. Now, you will not like what I need to tell you. You have always been loyal to your vows and I count on that loyalty to see you through the task I need you to undertake.”

“You frighten me, my lady. What do you need from me? You know I would never deny you, or the Great Mother, anything.”

book blitz for celtic fire book blitz for celtic fire

Author Bio:

International best-selling author Liz Gavin, has accomplished much in her short career. Her books have made to #1 and Top Five best-selling ranks in her home country Brazil and others as diverse as Japan, the UK and the US; both in English and Portuguese, collecting 5 and 4-star reviews. Nominated for a Summer Indie Book Award in 2016, and again in 2017, this RWA member constantly seeks new opportunities to improve her craft.

This thirst for knowledge propelled Liz to leave the comforts of family and friends in Brazil and move to California to pursue a Master’s degree in late 2015. She lives in sunny SoCal, where she’s researching the writing process, for her thesis, in hopes to figure out why she creates in English instead of her native Portuguese.

Liz Gavin writes in contemporary, paranormal, and historical genres. In her sexy stories, one finds smart, independent women, who don’t need rescuing by knights in shining armor, but indulge in steamy action with swoony Alpha males with big hearts. She also writes about women discovering their sexuality and finding happiness in unconventional setups.

Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon / B&N


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Jan 25

Writing Up Wednesday #1

Books/Writing 4

Today I’m introducing a new blog meme* – Writing Up Wednesday! Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. So…drumroll please!

Writing Up Wednesday #1: What are your writing goals for 2017?

After finishing the draft of my fantasy novel during NaNoWriMo last year, my solitary goal for THIS year is to have a finished manuscript by December 31, 2017. I’m aiming for a minimum of 120,000 words. Now, this is a completely achievable and reasonable number, if I could be consistent. In the past two months (I started in December, since NaNo ended on November 30), however, I’ve discovered that writing consistently is not something I appear to be capable of. 😛

My WIP is currently sitting at 12,105 words. By my projected schedule, I should have been at 18,760 by the end of this week. The last couple of weeks though, life happened and I was super distracted and basically never gave my novel much thought. This past weekend I was feeling sad and overwhelmed and like a general failure…and then I started thinking more.

I’ve given myself permission to readjust. To change my goals. Changing goals isn’t failure, it’s flexibility. It’s resiliency. It’s refusing to let a change of pace derail me entirely. After years of NOT writing anything other than letters and the occasional non-fiction piece (due to a lot of issues, some of which I talk about in my story)…I’m going to continue to write. Even getting a little off-goal right now doesn’t mean I can’t still finish my book this year. My fear of failure is not going to stop me.

So that’s my 2017 writing goal! Just to finish my novel. Write 120,000 words. What’s yours? Link your post below! I can’t wait to see what you all come up with for Writing Up Wednesday!

EDIT: Apparently the link up isn’t working…while I try to troubleshoot that, please leave your link in the comments!

*I’ve Googled and searched until my eyes hurt, but I can’t find an active meme that is similar. It’s not my intent to copy anyone or infringe on anyone’s creative space.


Jan 24

Review of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette MartinThe Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper
Published by Algonquin Books on August 2nd 2016
Genres: magical realism, Cozy
Pages: 336
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads four-stars

Sisters Rose and Lily Martin were inseparable when they were kids. As adults, they’ve been estranged for years, until circumstances force them to come together to protect Rose’s daughter. Ten-year-old Antoinette has a severe form of autism that requires constant care and attention. She has never spoken a word, but she has a powerful gift that others would give anything to harness: she can heal things with her touch. She brings wilted flowers back to life, makes a neighbor’s tremors disappear, changes the course of nature on the Kentucky flower farm where she and her mother live.
Antoinette’s gift, though, puts her own life in danger, as each healing comes with an increasingly deadly price. As Rose—the center of her daughter’s life—struggles with her own failing health, and Lily confronts her anguished past, they, and the men who love them, come to realize the sacrifices that must be made to keep this very special child safe.
Written with great heart and a deep understanding of what it feels like to be “different,” The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin is a novel about the lengths to which people will go to protect the ones they love.

This book has been on my shelf for almost 6 months! Shameful. I kept meaning to read it and then I would get distracted. But at long last, I present my review of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin!


The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin is a sweet, homey book that easily transported me back to my childhood and teen years growing up in Ohio. I immediately loved the sisters Rose and Lily and TOTALLY identified with Rose’s stubbornness and heartache in not calling her sister years earlier. Antoinette is clearly a difficult but lovable child and so many times I just wanted to scoop her up and hug her. The slow, off-the-main-plot romance was also sweet…even if I wasn’t particularly fond of how this grown-up version of a love triangle was handled, in the end.


The sisters Rose and Lily along with Rose’s daughter Antoinette, are the key players in this story. The story is told in turns from the POV of Lily, Antoinette, and Rose’s diary. It works really well – I was surprised! Antoinette’s father disappeared before she was born and Rose has devoted herself entirely to her daughter. Lily hasn’t had a serious relationship since the-boy-next-door, Seth, broke up with her years before. Even if her best friend is a guy and they’ve been through a lot together. The other side characters that populate small town Kentucky are so real they almost walk out of the pages. I love them all. I wish I could be the sister’s neighbor.

Antoinette is a dear thing, even if I can imagine how frustrating and difficult it would be to try to be her mother or guardian. Her autism is one that baffles even the doctors, as she both shows signs of severe autism and breaks all the “rules” regarding it.


Rose is dying. As a last resort, she calls her estranged sister and begs her to come home and help care for Antoinette and their family’s flower farm in Kentucky.

The story centers on Antoinette, even though she never says a word. Her sections of the book are VERY well done. Of course we don’t know for sure how a non-verbal child would describe the world around them, Knipper’s depiction is vivid and sharp without being condescending. Her personal experience with special needs children is evident. Antoinette never feels “wrong,” or like someone to be pitied. She just is, and as she is, she has a lot to offer the world if only people would look past their first impression.

Now, here’s where I have a slight issue. When I requested this book, I guessed it would be magical realism. Which was spot on. However, I’m not really okay with Antoinette’s disabilities being written off as a side effect to her magical ability to heal. At times it seemed like it was more “in addition to” her autism, she could heal things – which is fine and creative and all that. But at other times it seemed like she was different because she could heal things. The difference is small but it’s a lot in terms of how you look at people with impairments. The overall tone is one of deepest respect and love for Antoinette (and by extension, anyone with differences), as well as understanding of and for her, but that point bothered me a little.

I really liked that Lily also has signs of a disorder – she’s very high-functioning, so as an adult she copes and hides it well – but it’s there all the same and as a child she was always the odd one. I loved that so much. I love that it gave her a means to connect with Antoinette, I love that she didn’t grow out of it or magically become cured by coming home.

Anyway, as far as the story arch goes…it was a beautiful story. It’s not very fast-paced (very in line with small town Kentucky), but it’s lovely. I felt like I was walking the rows of flowers with the characters, and I was sure I could smell lavender bread at one point. The resolution was NOT what I expected though…and I really wasn’t pleased with it. I understand that the book is centered around the idea of unexplained abilities, but up until the very end it was still very believable. The ending was just too convenient for my taste, but if you like happy endings you will enjoy it immensely.

There is a little bit of romance – even a grown-up, mellow version of a love triangle – but it works. It’s sweet and a fireflies-in-July type of warm and fuzzy. It’s believable and not over the top. I didn’t like the way it was wrapped up, particularly…well, I was happy with who ended up together but not how it ALL ended.


I grew up in Ohio/Virginia. This little town, the farm, and the people, are as familiar to me as my own name. Stephanie Knipper has done an amazing job last bringing this little place to life. I really felt very, very homesick as I read.


I’m giving 4/5 stars. Overall this is a lovely story that I would highly recommend for a rainy afternoon and evening while drinking a cup of tea. There’s nothing drastic in it, nothing scary…it’s a very cozy book, but it still managed to rend my heart. I hope Stephanie Knipper writes more books, I would definitely give anything she wrote a chance. I’m actually very surprised this book doesn’t have more reviews!

Many thanks to the publisher and LibraryThing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


This counts towards my Beat the Backlist challenge!



Jan 23

Down the TBR Hole #9

Books/Writing 6

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. This week I added a ton of books to my list (every blog I visited had some kind of new list up and OMG I am weak), so I’m now back to 614. Le sigh. So many books! I’m just…powerless to resist. This week I’m looking at numbers 47-51 of my original list (they’re now 25-29).


Title/Author: An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7), by Diana Gabaldon

Date Added: April 12, 2014

Thoughts: I added ALL the Outlander books about the time I finished Voyager and decided it was my ride or die series.

Judgment: Keep.



Title/Author: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

Date Added: April 12, 2014

Thoughts: See above.

Judgment: Keep.



: The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett

Date Added: April 13, 2014

Thoughts: This is an older historical fiction series, that has some really high reviews from authors I adore. Not currently that popular, but I’d still reeeeeally like to get into it.

Judgment: Keep.



Title/Author: The Bronze Horseman, by Paullina Simons

Date Added: April 13, 2014

Thoughts: This just sounds like one of those epic, far-reaching historical stories that I love. Also it has amazing reviews, and lots of them.

Judgment: Keep.




Title/Author: The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth Children #1), by Jean M. Auel

Date Added: April 13, 2014

Thoughts: This is another epic-length series that I would really love to love. I have several friends that really enjoyed it, but one that was particularly scathing about it…and about things that typically irritate the snot out of me as well. Still…it’s one of those I feel like you just have to try.

Judgment: Keep.


Errrrrr….well. That didn’t go as plan. 0/5 this week! Must. Read. Faster. How is your TBR looking? Are you doing the Down the TBR Hole challenge?