Mar 16

Writing Up Wednesday – Pause

Books/Writing 0

writing up wednesday

Hi everyone! Writing Up Wednesdays will be back next week. I’m taking a break this week to write a few posts in advance, and will have a list of upcoming topics updated sometime this weekend. This way we can ALL plan posts in advance…I know I don’t like waiting until the DAY OF to write something, so I don’t want to limit anyone’s participation by doing the same. So until I get the list together…

Next week’s prompt: MOTIVATION. What motivates you to write?



Mar 14

Review of The Graveyard Book

Book Reviews 6 ★★★★

Review of The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
on September 30, 2008
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal
Pages: 312
Goodreads four-stars

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family...
Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Another one for my Newbery Award Reading Challenge! Somehow, I had never read anything by Neil Gaiman. The closest I had come until last week was seeing the movie Stardust. Which was…different. This is what sticks out most in my memory from that movie because for whatever reason it struck me as absolutely freaking hilarious:

Ahem. Yes, I might have the sense of humor of a 12 year old, at times. ANYWAY. This was my first foray into Gaiman’s works, and it definitely won’t be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this middle grade novel, and hope that his adult books are just as entertaining if not more so. So without further ado, I present my review of The Graveyard Book!


There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

Well, if that’s not a hair-raising beginning I don’t know what is! The first chapter was very creepy and just odd enough to make me suspect that something more than just a mass murder was afoot. Thankfully for the target age range, this chapter is by far the most creepy and the rest of the book is mostly adventures and Bod (the MC) growing up.

How you interpret or read this book is going to be greatly effected by how familiar you are with its inspiration, which was Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The resemblance is clear but the characters and setting are SO different and I love the way Gaiman wove in supernatural legends to the basic story of a child raised by ghosts. While all the events of Bod’s growing up years are connected, many of the chapters read like individual short stories, especially when there are jumps in time as Bod grows older.

Silas, Bod’s guardian, is a character that puzzled me right up until the very end. “Not dead but not alive” is the description given of him, along with a few other things that REALLY should have clued me in but for whatever reason I was oblivious. Even though he is Bod’s ultimate authority, Bod is mostly raised by the benevolent ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Owens, along with many other helpful specters. As it is stated in the beginning, when the ghosts decide to allow Bod the protection of their borders, “It will take a graveyard,” to raise the lost boy properly.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bod’s journey. As he moves through very young childhood towards his teen years, he meets many creatures from outside the world of the living. He talks to people centuries old. He learns things. Gradually, he comes to realize that while the graveyard has offered him protection and care in the best way its residents know how, he will have to leave in order to learn about the current world outside. Leaving though, is full of peril, because the evil that killed his parents and older sister, still seeks after him. Bod however, is not a shrinking violet.

“Well,” said Bod. “If I go outside in the world, the question isn’t, ‘who will keep me safe from him?'”


“No. It’s ‘who will keep him safe from me?'”

A confrontation looms closer and closer, and at last Bod has his chance to avenge his family and reclaim his own life. This is the one part of the story that I really felt unsatisfactory. Though in the end, the reason for the murder of Bod’s family and the attempted murder of Bod is somewhat explained, it’s really a very murky, insubstantial reason that left me squinting at the book and thinking, “That’s it?” The ending is rather bittersweet too, as Bod realizes that, with the world safe for him at last…he must go out to seek his own fortune.

Overall, this was an entertaining coming-of-age story, with a unique twist. Bod is a very plucky little guy, and his spirit made me smile all the way through.

Bod said, “I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island. I want to play football with people. I want,” he said, and then he paused and he thought. “I want everything.”

“Good,” said Silas.




Mar 13

Down the TBR Hole #16

Books/Writing 4

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. MUST. READ. FASTER. Today we’re looking at numbers 82-86 of the original list.

: Midnight Riot (Peter Grant/Rivers of London #1), by Been Aaronovitch

Date Added: January 7, 2015

Thoughts: Um, what?

Judgment: Go!





: Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener, by Joseph Tychonievich

Date Added: January 8, 2015

Thoughts: I’m such a nerd. I love genetics, be they for plants, animals, or people. However, this book looks very basic in the descriptions and reviews I’ve read, and I really want something more detailed.

Judgment: Uhhhh…this is hard. But, go.




Title/Author: Deep-Rooted Wisdom: Skills and Stories from Generations of Gardeners, by Augustus Jenkins Farmer

Date Added: January 11, 2015

Thoughts: This sounds like a bunch of pretty little anecdotes…cute, but I don’t have time for this right now.

Judgment: Go.




Title/Author: The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose #1), by Jennifer Donnelly

Date Added: February 8, 2015

Thoughts: STILL want to read this, and since adding this one to my list I read another one of her books (Deep Blue) and really enjoyed it.

Judgment: Keep!





Title/Author: A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor

Date Added: February 16, 2015

Thoughts: This sounds like an OK book, but very slow and boring and…nah.

Judgment: Go.





Wow, that was better than I expected this week! 4/5 off the list. Which might have made up for the ones I added last week..maybe. Hehehe.


Mar 12

Something Else Sunday #28

Books/Writing, Life 1

Well, it’s another Sunday and here we are. I actually read books this week! Not entirely in the way I anticipated…I ended up with a DNF because I’d been reading an ARC of the book for a MONTH and then it was released and my ebook expired. Whoops. It was a beautifully written book but it was just so darn SLOW. Like, “Oh look at the pretty…oooo shiny…ooooo…yawn.” Nothing ever seemed to happen. But I liked the writing, I really did! So I haven’t posted a rating yet because I feel like it would be unfair. Anyway. I actually wrote reviews this week, so that’s a big win. 😀

BIG NEWS: We have our tickets for moving back to the States!!!! And our several hotel reservations. And the beginnings of plans with friends. And I sent someone an e-mail that said “See you in a few weeks” and it was REAL. I’m so freaking excited. So many changes. So many things.

With all THAT going on, it’s been a bit of a struggle to concentrate on reading and writing. Especially writing. My poor novel has been SO neglected it’s shameful and I’m really doubting I will make my goal of finishing it by the end of this year. Hoping to sit down and revamp my goals a bit this week. I was really inspired by NovelKnight’s Writer’s Bucket List post this week (which I somehow, inexplicably, cannot find to link)…I think I may need to make my own.

I didn’t much this week other than work and read…and worry about all the crap we have to get done in order to move. But I did write blog posts! Even TWO book reviews. So proud of myself. 😉

Last week:

This week:

That’s all for this week! Hope you’re all getting some warmer weather and getting ready for spring. 🙂


Mar 11

Archer’s Voice Review

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Archer’s Voice ReviewArcher's Voice by Mia Sheridan
on January 25th 2014
Genres: Modern, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 345
Goodreads four-stars

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.
Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.
THIS IS A STAND-ALONE NOVEL. The first three books in the series need not be read to enjoy this book. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Ok, let me make something quite clear: I don’t read romance. Especially modern romance.

However…I saw someone gushing about this book on Twitter and was kind of in a reading slump and thought, “Well, why not…everyone needs a little spicy love story now and then.”

Let me make something else clear: If it wasn’t for that gosh darn stupid cover, I would buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. But I’m a cover snob and I hate “sexy” covers with a passion. Not because I don’t appreciate a well-muscled male back as well as the next person…but I find them highly embarrassing to read in anything but the deepest privacy – which happens next to never, for me. So I bought the ebook (it was a total impulse buy and read).


Oh, hi there. Yes, this book is VERY hung up on how sexy Archer (the male MC) is. Buuuuut…it’s totally ok.

Archer’s Voice is all about feelings. ALL THE FEELS. I did have a few minor quibbles with the plot and the writing style. For instance, somewhere in the middle of the book, the author repeatedly has Bree use the word “tummy” in descriptions of her sensual feelings and OMG JUST STOP. I actually saw another reviewer mention this before I started the book, and thought that surely they were just overreacting…no, they most absolutely were not. Note to self: when writing sex scenes that word is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. The plot is somewhat predictable…ok, a lot predictable. It’s a romance. It’s a New Adult (NA) romance, so it contains a fan-yourself-go-take-a-cold-shower (or…don’t) quantity of steamy sex. What was supposed to be a big plot twist was…not that shocking, and actually didn’t make a lot of sense but okay whatever. View Spoiler »

I went into this book skeptical of its ability to give me feels. Romances usually have me rolling my eyes and tossing them into the corner halfway through. I was intrigued by the premise of the male MC in this book though – no voice? I originally thought he must be deaf, but no.

Archer (male MC) and Bree (female MC) are both severely wounded, scarred people. Somewhat physically, but mostly emotionally. I could identify strongly with that. Bree’s wounds are more recent, and she had a mostly happy, healthy childhood to give her a strong foundation to stand on even despite her recent horrors. Archer on the other hand, has never had a normal life with a functional family and a devastating accident when he was 7 years old robbed him of both his parents and his voice. Raised by an eccentric, paranoid (but caring) uncle, he has been almost a complete recluse his entire life. Until Bree, fleeing her life in Ohio after some very traumatic events, stumbles into his little town and almost literally into him.

Trying to come up with the guy that MUST have been Mia Sheridan’s model for Archer…

Aside from his voice, physically Archer is perfection. His life of hard work (and apparently, good genes) have give him a god-like body. Bree is understandably smitten after just a few meetings. But he is an emotional cripple. Almost completely anthropophobic, but highly intelligent, he has spent his 23 years becoming self-sufficient and as well-educated as reading every book he can get his hands on can make him. I really didn’t think an author would be able to sell a recluse as a romantic interest, but Mia Sheridan does it very well. Maybe too well.

Maybe there was no right or wrong, no black or white, only a thousand shades of gray when it came to pain what we each held ourselves responsible for.

I was…well, I can’t say that I think Bree’s attraction to Archer is wrong. Or even unhealthy. But I think it could very quickly have gone that way, had he not been as willing to fight his fear of people and his limitations as he was. And as in love with him as she was, I’m not sure she would have had the backbone to leave an unhealthy situation. Because Bree is a healer. She is a caregiver. She wants to fix things. She wants to make Archer feel cared for and loved (besides the intense physical attraction). Multiple times though, she mentions that Archer reminds her of a little boy or a small child needing reassurance or love and…feeling like your significant other is a child in need of care is not really a good thing, in my opinion. As someone who was married to an extremely insecure person who eventually became vindictive and bitter in his insecurity, and knowing that I often felt a constant, exhausting need to reassure him of my love/respect/admiration/dedication – that is NOT a good thing. Now in this case, Archer was growing and learning and slowly coming out of his shell, and he was inherently sweet and gentle-hearted (qualities my ex most definitely lacked). He slowly accepts Bree’s love and compassion, but he also gives her his own and takes care of her. He melted my heart.

He looked like a little boy in that moment, and I realized how much he needed me to tell him that I wouldn’t go away like everyone else.

I ached along with Bree to ease some of the pain of all those years of mistreatment and neglect he had suffered. Even while alarm bells rang in my head about his intense emotional neediness…which, thankfully, his willingness to give as well as get and to push himself out of his comfort zone, more for Bree’s sake than his own, eliminated.

Complete honesty was the only thing I would give him. I would never purposefully hurt this beautiful, sensitive, wounded man more than he had already been hurt.

Archer’s biggest appeal is in the disconnect in his physical appearance and his attitude. He is, as Bree notes, a quick study and good at anything he has been taught or taught himself. He is completely unpretentious and unconscious of his physical appeal. If anything, he sees himself as broken, flawed, and undesirable due to his one “defect.”

Bree’s physical appearance is given less attention. She seems to be your typical girl-next-door type of cute, but Archer becomes completely smitten with her and she attracts attention from a few other guys as well – mostly due to her being new to the small town, it would seem. I was slightly worried by what seemed like her apparent willingness to just give up EVERYTHING to be with Archer, but she was already running from her past life and in need of someone to restore her faith in humanity. Archer, for all his issues, turned out to be that person. I loved how closely he paid attention to her likes and dislikes, even down to what chips out of a bag she liked (folded over tortilla chips, hehehe).

“Think of the strength of spirit you have to have to come through what he did and not be as mad as a hatter, to still retain a gentle heart.”

The strength of the human spirit is the real backbone of the story. The plot mostly centers on Bree and Archer overcoming their various personal demons, and for the most part doing it together. View Spoiler » There is a side plot going on with what happened to Bree and the death of her father, as well as the small-town drama around Archer, but they are truly secondary and stay mostly in the background. There is some tension created by Bree’s conversations and relationships with Travis, Archer’s cousin, town police officer and local heartbreaker. They never truly have a relationship but Travis’ ego becomes a sticking point and his childhood tormenting of Archer resumes, creating a good deal of conflict and pain on all sides.

This was a HEA I could believe in. Shocking, yes, for someone as jaded and anti-love-at-first-sight as myself. But Bree and Archer are not perfect, and their relationship is not perfect. They are so human, but so in love and SO RIGHT for each other. I would definitely recommend this book, and that’s not something I can say about many straight-up romance novels. I might even try another of Mia Sheridan’s NA novels.



Mar 09

Writing Up Wednesday #7: Free for All

Books/Writing 1

writing up wednesday

Welcome to the next week of Writing Up Wednesday! I’ve been so excited to see more people participating in this, I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂 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 Wenesday #7: Free for All! 

I wanted to take one week every so often to just open the floor and let you talk about whatever you want! Your story, your process, your characters…you name it. That thing that’s been bothering you and you want to rant or just mull over. This is the time!

Sorry this week was a little late…life is crazy right now! I’m looking forward to your posts. 🙂 Be sure to add your link-up!



Mar 07

Review of Black Beauty

Book Reviews 4 ★★★★

Review of Black BeautyBlack Beauty by Anna Sewell
Published by Canterbury Classics on October 28th 2014
Genres: Classic
Pages: 208
Goodreads four-stars

Anna Sewell’s 1877 classic Black Beauty is considered to be one of the foremost works in animal welfare literature and a leading work in the children’s pony book genre. Narrated by the horse himself, the book follows his trials and tribulations as he passes from one owner to another and experiences the full spectrum of human treatment — from the knowledgeable and kind to the ignorant and cruel.

Well, my Back to the Classics challenge is going horribly so far…this is the first book I’ve read for it! Yikes. Good thing I set the bar fairly low. 😛 This falls under the category “Book With an Animal in the Title.” Anyway, here’s my review of Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell! I read a condensed version of this book as a very young child and I totally credit it with sparking my love for horses.


“Good luck is rather particular who she rides with, and mostly prefers those who have got common sense and a good heart.””

Black Beauty is a book of anthropomorphic animals. Highly intelligent animals. While told in the language of its time (roughly the 1870s-1880s), it still has an appeal to anyone with a love of animals and an even slight interest in history. The details included are absolutely fascinating and paint a exquisite picture of England and London at that time. I love books that give such perfect, clear pictures of their time – without it feeling like an info dump. Of course, we can only hope that the author gave accurate descriptions, but even today the world Black Beauty lives in feels very real.

“Do you know why this world is as bad as it is? Because people won’t trouble to stand up for the oppressed.”

Some words are as true today as over 100 years ago. This book is 20 times better than the last anthropomorphic animal book I tried (Smoky the Cowhorse…which earned a BIG FAT NO). The animals are all different, with their own experiences and personalities – and so are the humans! Of course the reader’s first loyalties lie with Black Beauty and his friends, but he has some genuinely kind, good owners that are good characters in their own right. Ginger, another horse with whom he becomes friends early on, truly stole my heart.

There are some beautiful quotes, even if the prose occasionally descends to a bit of a preachy tone when it comes to how we treat animals and our fellow man. That is my only real complaint about this lovely story, which, despite having a few notes of sadness (as any good story ought, in my opinion), is a completely worthy addition to any reading program or library.

“Don’t you know that [ignorance] is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness?”




Mar 06

Down the TBR Hole #15

Books/Writing 2

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 613. I’m so impressed with myself…I didn’t add any this week! So looking forward today at numbers 77-81 of the original list. All covers link to GoodReads. 🙂


Title/Author: The Triumph of the Moon: a History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, by Ronald Hutton

Date Added: January 4, 2015

Thoughts: I’m still very interested in this topic, even if I’m not sure this is the best book on the subject. A lot of the reviews seem to be based on the reviewer’s opinion of wicca itself (pro or con) as opposed to the book.

Judgment: Keep.



: We Band of Angels, by Elizabeth M. Norman

Date Added: January 4, 2015

Thoughts: While this is still an interesting topic, I haven’t read any strictly historical books in years.

Judgment: Go.




: Sisterhood of Spies, by Elizabeth P. McIntosh

Date Added: January 4, 2015

Thoughts: WWII is always interesting to me, but…this just doesn’t sound good at all anymore, and like I said, I haven’t read a strictly history book in years now.

Judgment: Go.




Title/Author: The Winter Harvest Handbook, by Eliot Coleman

Date Added: January 4, 2015

Thoughts: I’m STILL extremely interested in permaculture, gardening, and self-sustainability. Slightly older book but I would imagine still relevant and interesting to build a knowledge base.

Judgment: Keep.



Title/Author: The New Organic Grower, by Eliot Coleman

Date Added: January 4, 2015

Thoughts: Yes, I am this much of a nerd. I love growing things. I love doing it as naturally as possible. Much older book, but it’s a gardening classic.

Judgment: Keep.


And there you have it! A display of my nerdy, eclectic interests for this week. 😉 Hehe. More to come!


Mar 05

Something Else Sunday #27

Life 0

something else sunday

Hi everyone! This week…well, this week sucked. It seemed like nothing went as planned and I was having a super emotional and homesick week and I didn’t read much of anything. Well, I did read some during the 24-hour surprise shift that got thrown at me, but it wasn’t very good reading time, I couldn’t relax! Regardless, I didn’t get any reviews posted and didn’t finish The Bone Witch…boo.

My orchid died.

From this just a couple of months ago…

To this startling discovery one afternoon…

To this less than 2 days later.

First one leaf fell off and then within 36 hours the entire thing was lifeless. It was horrifying. After all kinds of YouTubing and Googling I believe it was hit with some kind of bacterial brown rot, which apparently this type of orchid is particularly susceptible to. I’m so sad. I get attached to plants too. Yes, I’m weird, so sue me. 😛 This was my only plant here, so I guess this means I just get to have a completely clean slate once we move. Trying to make myself feel better and it’s not working. 😛

I have hopes for this week. High hopes! Work promises to continue being stupid, but what job doesn’t? 😛

Last week on the blog:

This week on the blog:

  • Down the TBR Hole #15
  • Writing Up Wednesday #7: Freebie
  • Black Beauty (classic review)
  • The Bone Witch (YA review)



Mar 04

January 2017 OwlCrate Review

Books/Writing, Reviews 4

Life kind of bit me in the butt this week, so I’m behind on my posts AND my reading…but here is my (late) January 2017 OwlCrate review! As of the writing of this post, there are still a few boxes left for purchase so if you want one you should probably go now. 😉 Sadly my photography was somewhat lacking on this box. My apologies!

The theme for January was Classic Remix, and unlike several recent boxes I had NO clear guess about what the book would be. Then I opened the box and couldn’t believe I hadn’t guessed!

Because it was so obvious. 😛

January Book:

Roseblood, by A.G. Howard – I was planning to buy this at some point anyone, so this was absolutely perfect! I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews so I’ve lowered my expectations slightly but am still hopeful! It’s a Phantom of the Opera retelling, if you have somehow avoided all the hype. 😉


Not as many extras this month because (I’m assuming) a couple of them were BIG!

  • Calendar from ObviousState with illustrations inspired by various children’s books – AWESOME. I still don’t know exactly where to put it because my desk overflow-eth, but awesome.
  • Magnet from SweetSequels inspired by Phantom of the Opera and OMG I NEED EVERYTHING IN THEIR SHOP. Especially this blanket:
  • A lovely “Everything is Beautiful” bookmark from LexyOlivia, on cardstock! She has a ton of beautiful designs and I need them.
  • Book-shaped soap from TeaSoapBooks! Smells heavenly, like a spring garden…very fitting. 😉 This is another one of those things I don’t really know what to do with but it smells amazing.
  • A full bag of loose leaf tea from the First Edition Tea Company! Yet another thing that smells amazing (I really should actually try it). Blend inspired by The Little Prince…awwww.

That’s it, folks! Hope you enjoyed the rundown. 🙂