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Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018: a Resolution, a Revolution, and a Revelation

Hey Readers,

The bulk of this was written a few nights ago when I was exhausted, sad, and letting myself have emotions. The portion after my signature was written just before posting. Starting tomorrow I will be posting what I'm reading, and if something is particularly amazing, I'll review it. I will at least indicate if it meets one of the below mentioned challenges. Happy New Year readers. 

Sorry to have been so absent the last few weeks, I got a bit turned around with how quickly everything's flown by this month. This year really. It felt like just last week I was making a post about a book club and suddenly, it's the end of the month. You know how you get lost in a book? The sort of lost where you feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, heels over head, spinning around, then suddenly blinking and realizing you've lost so much time between the pages of a book that you forgot what day it was; that's how I've felt for much of this year.

This blog started as a project, something to do in my down time, and a fun way to record what I've read over the past year. I was so ambitious and ready to write these epic and amazing posts where I detailed everything I loved and loathed about the book, I'd have all these hyperlinks to everything I'd referenced and I'd make notes about what book fit what challenge and feel so accomplished for checking something off my list. And then my dad died. And I don't think I really read anything for a while, not the same way at least.

To say that I got distracted would be dishonest and an understatement. I went numb. Making sure my mother was okay, maintaining my job, trying to put on this happy face and keep commitments to publishers who really didn't even know who I was. Reading lost the sparkle for a while, and it is barely coming back going into the new year. Everyone always makes these grand resolutions that no one ever really keeps, and I so desperately wanted this blog, this project to save me from what was really going on around me, to save me from what was really going on inside my head.

My mother moved in with me in October, and I got my own office/reading room/library/study that I absolutely love. For a second I thought that I could get back on track, catch up with what I wanted my posts to be, have them become something special again. That's never happened, but I like to think that with the new year, all of it will come back. The spark, the sparkle, the everything. I know it won't, but aren't resolutions really all about pretending?

I know that in 2018 I will read books, and I know that there will be times when I simply can't, or when I'm reading just to save myself even only for a moment; I probably won't stick with a single reading challenge, just like this past year, but I'm putting the effort into making the lists because it feels like a more attainable goal that way. Sort of like a vision board that eventually becomes a dart board.

2018 won't be the year that fixes everything, it won't be a better year than 2017, but it will be a different and new year. I'm going to be a different and new reader. I just hope that we can all stay around for the ride.


P.S. I did still plan for the Pop Sugar challenge, the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, a Litsy challenge for fans of My Favorite Murder (still missing books endorsed by Karen and Georgia!) and the Planner Girl Book Club bingo challenge. Tomorrow I'll set a goal on Goodreads, and start reading again.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wanna Join a Book Club?

Yes Readers,

Today is a day of several posts. And spreadsheets, so many spreadsheets.

I host a book club through Facebook that was born out of the Plagues, Witches and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction - Coursera group, created many moons ago by people who had taken this excellent MOOC. It is hands down one of the best you can take, particularly if you're an avid reader or history buff.

This year, I stopped hosting discussions in March after my father died. I've only recently decided to restart them, but I needed them to change.

Instead of doing one book a month, we're doing one every six weeks. Hopefully this eliminates the issue of not having enough time to read the selections. I've also gone ahead and chosen all nine books for the year, which helps alleviate stress on my end because the previous method of choosing involved polls and voting and a crap load of effort on my end. I'm keeping the discussion questions, though I may not do quite as many, and I am keeping the I Liked and the I Hated threads, because not every reader is going to love every element of every book, and sometimes people like the unexpected aspects of a novel.

Below are the books, discussion dates, and page counts, and I'd love for anyone to join! I can easily add you to the group on FB, but I'll figure out how to make the discussions work in the blogspace or Litsy.


Page Count
Discussion Dates
Tulip Fever
Deborah Moggach
Jan. 8-14, 2018
The Hamiton Affair
Elizabeth Cobbs
Feb. 19-25, 2018
Whispers of the Moon Moth
Lindsay Jayne Ashford
Apr. 2-7, 2018
Before We Were Yours
Lisa Wingate
May 14-19, 2018
Butterfly Island
Corina Bomann
June 25-30, 2018
The Essex Serpent
Sarah Perry
Aug. 6-12, 2018
Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders
Sept. 17-23, 2018
The Witches of
New York
Ami McKay
Oct. 29 - Nov. 4, 2018
The Cottingley Secret
Hazel Gaynor
Dec. 10-15, 2018

And the Winners Are...

Happy Sunday Readers!!

This past week the Pop Sugar 2018 Reading Challenge came out!! Yay! So I've spent the week assembling titles just like last December. 

The winners are...

Book Title
White Oleander
Janet Fitch
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Monica Hesse
Legendary (Caraval #2)
Stephanie Garber
The Palace Job (Rouges of the Republic #1)
Patrick Weekes
The Ice Princess (Fjallbacka #1)
Camilla Lackberg
Whisper of the Moon Moth
Lindsay Jayne Ashford
Butterfly Island
Corina Bomann
4:50 From Paddington
Agatha Christie
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Patrick Suskind
H is for Hawk
Helen Macdonald
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)
Robert Galbraith 
(J.K. Rowling)
Of Fire and Stars
Audrey Coulthurst
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Choderlos De Laclos
The Star Touched Queen
Roshani Chokshi
Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls,
Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and
Other Misfits are Taking Over the World
Leslie Simon
Furiously Happy
Jenny Lawson
Sarah Waters
Welcome to Nightvale
Joseph Fink & 
Jeffrey Cranor
Marianne Zapata
Freud's Mistress
Karen Mack
Bellman & Black
Diane Setterfield
Smilla's Sense of Snow
Peter Hoeg
Alexandra Bracken
The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Girl From Everywhere
Heidi Heilig
All the Birds in the Sky
Charlie Jane Anders
Beyond Our Stars
Marie Langager
Valley of the Dolls
Jacqueline Susann
The Halloween Tree
Ray Bradbury
White Bodies
Jane Robins
People of the Book
Geraldine Brooks
Second Life (Reese Witherspoon)
S.j. Watson
The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster & 
Jules Feiffer
The Case for Jamie (A Charlotte Holmes Novel)
Brittany Cavallaro
Dark Matter
Blake Crouch
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Emily M. Danforth
January 1973: Watergate, Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, and the Month that Changed America Forever
James Robenalt
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
The Library at Mount Char
Scott Hawkins
2015 A Trillogy : Queen of Hearts
Colleen Oakes
The Women
TC Boyle
Ramez Naam
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Stephanie Oakes
Celtic Gods and Heroes
Marie-Louise Sjoestedt
The Peach Keeper
Sarah Addison Allen
Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics
Robert Gilmore
The Witches of New York
Ami McKay
Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters:
From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima
James Mahaffrey
Red Clocks
Leni Zumas
The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos
Dominic Smith

Until Next Time, 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Endurance is not a memoir to be read lightly, though gravity and brevity both take the forefront. Scott's experiences both getting to the ISS and while on it, are a remarkable, pragmatic, and thrilling experiment in the capacity of science and humanity. There is no fluff in his telling, no exaggeration of events, you almost feel like you're having a conversation with him, or rather that he's giving a lecture. The photos and sketches in the book are a great point of reference in a few places; all while giving a truly fantastical experience a homey feel. Scott Kelly did a really and utterly fantastic job, both on his various missions and in the writing of this book. It's hard to explain why I've found it to be so amazing, but it just is. The rollercoaster of emotions that you go through, exhilaration, fear, hope, sadness, all to get to an unknown ending that we get to witness in real life is magical. This is going to be a book that one day sparks some kids interest in a future space program.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Let's Play A Game...

GAMES WE PLAY by Kelly Hashway is coming January 2nd! Have you started this series? If you haven't, you can grab book 1, LIES WE TELL for 99 cents!


Sign up for Kelly's newsletter to stay up to date:

Madison Kramer can’t escape her past no matter how hard she tries. Coming clean about her true identity only spurs fans to lash out at her. But one threatening message stands out as so much more than just an irate fan.
Someone is playing games with Maddie. Someone who knows a lot more about her than what she’s told the public. She can’t run from her past anymore. This killer is murdering everyone close to Maddie in order to get to her.
There’s nowhere left to hide. Nothing short of Maddie’s death will end this game.

About LIES WE TELL (Book 1):
Madison Kramer thought her past was behind her. With a new name and a career as a best-selling author, what could go wrong?
She never expected Trevor Lockhardt to walk into her book signing, offering his services as her publicist, or that she’d end up falling for him. But what she really didn’t expect was a stalker sending her messages, both written and in the form of dead bodies.
Madison can’t escape her parents’ murder any longer. But is it their killer coming to finish what he started fifteen years ago? How long can she keep her past a secret before her lies come back to get her?

Kelly Hashway fully admits to being one of the most accident-prone people on the planet, but that didn’t stop her from jumping out of an airplane at ten thousand feet one Halloween. Maybe it was growing up reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books that instilled a love of all things scary and a desire to live in a world filled with supernatural creatures, but she spends her days writing speculative fiction. Kelly’s also USA Today bestselling romance author Ashelyn Drake. When she’s not writing, Kelly works as an editor, and also as Mom, which she believes is a job title that deserves to be capitalized.

Goodreads: &
Amazon: &
Ashelyn’s BookBub:
Kelly’s BookBub:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

This Poison Won't Kill You...Yet

Hey There Readers! 

On a completely different level, ready to read something that makes you question everything? Then I'd highly recommend Poison by Galt NiederhofferNow we all know that I am one for a well researched psycho-thriller, I mean it may be a medical condition at this point, so when I was given an ARC of this through Net Galley I was more excited than could be considered normal. 


Poison is a literary psychological thriller about Cass and Ryan Connor, their marriage, and a (not so) minor betrayal that leads into a cluster of catastrophic proportions, some manipulation, and more twists than Chubby Checker ever prepared you for. 

"Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass' two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Portland --- a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly. First with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace." 

While it has been marketed as a mystery you get some serious psycho-thriller, did I read that right, vibes. Every page turned brings you both closer to the truth and further from it. Additionally, the attention to detail and accuracy that the author put into the research may make it hard to read for some. Not going to lie there were a few times I tried to skim over the scientific summaries used, that I then had to go back and read because if you don't read them you'll be lost. Actually, if you skip over anything in this novel you'll be lost. This is definitely one you need to read, word for word, and possibly in one sitting.  I felt the characters were thought out, but needed some smoother execution, a few instances are hard to believe if you apply normal logic to them. And based on the ending, I need a second book. 

Happy Reading!


A Book of Extraordinary Reading

Good Morning Readers,

Sorry to be so absent lately, life gets a little to real sometimes. However, I'd like to take some time today and introduce you to Ruth Emmie Lang, a woman I first met on Litsy, and the author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance. This is a debut novel so extraordinary that Book of the Month even made it one of their October picks, and an exclusive one at that since Lang's title was released in November. I got a copy of it through Net Galley, so I've been sitting on this gem for a while, and it is certainly a book to read when life gets a little to real.

Lang's novel is the sort of fairy tale esque novel that brings back those moments of childlike wonder. Reading it is both foreign and familiar, and somewhat spectacular. As a reader I loved how easy it was to consume; characters are well thought out and complete, the story line is tended too and blossoms brightly, and at the end of it you somehow feel as though you're a little more hopeful. By far this is one of the weirdest books I've read, but also one of the most beautiful. One aspect to the story that I found refreshing was that Weylyn isn't a character you meet through his own eyes. You meet him through everyone else, somewhat like the Little Prince, most of those you meet along the way are for brief moments, yet they leave lasting impressions. On a more personal level I found this book to be a beautiful reprieve from my real life. The magical and lyrical nature to the story made it one that stuck with me; and one that I will carry with me for quite some time. Ruth Emmie Lang has truly crafted a work of art, and it begs the question will you allow yourself to believe in both magic and possibilities?

Also, check out this book trailer! Book trailers are one of my favorite ways to get into a novel and see the world it's written in come to life.

About the Author
Ruth Emmie Lang was born in Glasgow, Scotland and has the red hair to prove it. When she was four years old, she immigrated to Ohio where she has lived for the last 27 years. She has since lost her Scottish accent, but still has the hair. Ruth currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and dreams of someday owning a little house in the woods where she can write more books. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is her first novel.

You can learn more about Ruth and her work right here!

I'd also encourage all of you to order Ruth's book through whichever platform you like! It's available on Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Nook, Indiebound, iBooks, and Kobo.

For audiobook lovers you can also get it on Audible!

Happy Reading!!


(Here's an excerpt to really get you interested!)

roa r k e

A betting man can lose a dollar. Its the man he bets on that can lose an eye.” My mother would say this with a confidence that sug­ gested there were no other possible outcomes, that there were thou­ sands of one­eyed boys out there apologizing to their mothers for not taking their advice.
I, remarkably, still had both my eyes despite my impulse to hurl myself off things that were often a generous distance from the ground. Some of my other hobbies included running with sharp objects, lighting fires, and lighting sharp objects on fire and launching them into the sky with my slingshot. So, naturally, when it was my turn in Truth or Dare, my friends never had to ask.
“Dare!” I hollered and head­butted a tree.
The other kids laughed. That was my favorite part.
“I dare you to . . .” Mike looked around the forest for something I hadnt yet climbed, eaten, or peed on. One time, he puked after I made him eat a worm, so I ate ten worms and a beetle just to make him look like a baby in front of pretty Ruby S.
“This’d better be good,” Ruby said as she perched herself on a tree stump like it was box seats at the opera, pointing her candy heart nose at the ceiling as she admired the crown molding.

Mike thought for a moment longer, then flashed me a wily grin. “Did you hear about the thing that ate Gretchens dog?
Again? I scoffed. Mike’s cousin Gretchen was always making up stories. Her most recent string of lies featuring beloved family pets meeting strange and untimely demises. She was pretty weird.
“This one’s real! Mike insisted. “Charlie got off his leash and started sniffing around this old cabin by the creek. She tried to call him back, but he wouldnt come. Then like a minute later, she saw this half­man, half­spider thing looking back at her through the win­ dow, and she bolted.”
Ruby gasped and leaned forward on her stump. She just left Charlie there?
Mike nodded and continued, She showed me the place. It’s creepy. Covered in cobwebs and stuff. I wanted to look inside, but Gretchen started crying ’cause she didn’t want me leaving her there by herself. Shes scared of spiders.”
“I think you’re the one whos afraid of spiders,” I said, wiggling my fingers like they were eight hairy legs.
Mike didnt take the bait. He leveled his gaze on me and said, “I dare you to touch it.”
“What? The cabin?”
Mike nodded, searching my face for signs of fear. What d’ya say?
Truth or Dare.

“That’s it.” Mike pointed to a ramshackle cabin made of splintered, gray wood. The windows were dark and shrouded by cobwebs. It ap­ peared no one was home.
This was going to be easy. “So, I just have to walk up and touch it?” I asked.
Mike hesitated, clearly thrown off by how unfazed I was. Yeah . . . but you have to keep your hand on it for at least twenty seconds.”

I almost laughed. This was weak, even for Mike.
“Guys, look,” Ruby said, pointing to a small flock of sparrows that had settled on the roof of the cabin.
“What is it? I asked, failing to see what was so interesting about a bunch of birds.
Just watch,” she said.
One by one, the birds beat their wings, but none of them lifted off. It was as if something was anchoring them by their tiny wishbone feet. They furiously flapped and chirped for help as their heads jump­cut from one angle to the next, searching the sky for hawks or eagles.
“Poor birds! Ruby cared enough to exclaim, but not enough to do something about it. She turned to me. You have to save them.”
Yeah, Roarke. Save them.” Mike nudged me forward.
For the first time in my life, I hesitated. I didnt hesitate when I drove my uncles truck when he left it running in the driveway, or when I caught that snake and wore it like a necktie. But something about this was different. My heart fluttered; my pulse raced. I was . . .
“What’s wrong? Scared Old Man Spider’s gonna eat you? “No! I sounded more defensive than Id have liked. I could see
the other kids doubting me, Ruby doubting me.
I head­butted the nearest tree, took one last look at Ruby’s candy heart nose, and ran to my almost certain doom.
I slowed to a stop within spitting distance of the cabin—twent three feet, my personal best. I made sure the coast was clear before I pulled myself onto the branch of a sagging elm and shimmied over to the eaves of Old Man Spider’s roof. Then I realized what was keep­ ing the birds from leaving. Most of the cottage’s roof was missing, and in its place was what looked like a tarp made of spider’s silk. I carefully placed my weight on one of the several rotten two­by­fours that remained of the original roof and went to work freeing the birds with my Swiss Army knife, cutting the threads that bound their tiny feet while being careful not to step on the sticky stuff myself.
I could see Ruby from where I was, so I decided to make a show

of it. I leaped from board to board, bird to bird, cutting them loose and throwing my arms in the air as if I had performed some kind of magic trick. Ruby’s lips were moving, probably saying something like, “Oh! Did you see that? Roarke is so brave.” When all the birds were free, I took a bow and wondered if Id get a kiss later. Then came time for my final trick: the Disappearing Act. Like a trapdoor, the board beneath my feet gave way, and I fell.
I braced myself for the landing I had nailed a hundred times be­ fore from the tops of trees, roofs, and bridges, but it never came. I found myself cradled in a hammock of spider silk not three feet from the ground. I had fallen into Old Man Spider’s trap.
I struggled to break free but only succeeded in making myself more tangled. Where was my knife? Not in my pocket. I eventually spotted it suspended several feet above me from a single thread of silk. I could see the webbing had caught the blade, not the handle, so all I could do was wait as gravity cut through the thread and hope it didnt land on any part of me that contained a vital organ.
As my eyes adjusted to the dark, my surroundings revealed themselves. The room itself was spartan—the only pieces of furniture were a kitchen table and a sofa bed with springs sticking out of the mattress. It was what was above eye level that was cluttered. Spoons, toothbrushes, socks, tweezers, tennis rackets, and other household miscellany hung suspended in long, sticky tendrils that dangled from large sheets of cobweb on the ceiling. It was as if all those items had gotten stuck at some point and whoever lived here just hadnt both­ ered to cut them down.
I heard a shuffling noise behind me. My heart raced as I ima ined a giant half­man, half­spider pinning me down with its hairy arms as it prepared to devour me headfirst. Luckily, the thing that found me was no mutant human­spider hybrid, but entirely man: two legs, two arms, two eyes, hair mostly concentrated on his scalp. He also had two pant legs and two sleeves—both of which were soiled and frayed—and a long, salt­and­pepper beard that he most likely used as a napkin from the amount of food particles that were nestled

in it. I guess he wasnt so much old as he was dirty, although I could see how it might be hard to tell from a distance.
“What’s this?” His look of surprise suggested he had never seen a child before.
“Get away from me! I shouted and struggled against the web­ bing that bound me.
You’ll pardon my asking, but this is my house. Why do you ask that I remove myself from it when you are the one dropping in unannounced?”
“Im not scared of you!
The man once again looked surprised. And why should you be? “Because! You . . . youre a villain!
“A villain?
You trap animals in your web and eat them!” I said bluntly.
“I think you have me confused with someone else. Have you tried Myra Oswald on South Street? Shes an odd one.”
“What about . . . kids?
“Of course not! Eating children is a ghastly business.”
My muscles relaxed a little. “Then why do you live in this creepy place?
Because I needed a place to stay and it was available. The roof needed some patchinup, so my eight­legged friends offered to fix it for me. Would you like something to eat? Cheese? Watermelon?
I liked both cheese and watermelon, and Old Man Spider didn’t seem so bad, but I wanted out of that web. “No, thanks. Could you help cut me out? My knife got stuck.”
He gazed up at the hole in his ceiling. “What were you doing up there, anyway?”
I told him about the birds, the bet, and Mike.
“I tell them not to land on the roof, but they keep doing it. You could say they’re a little flighty.” He paused like actors do in sitcoms after they’ve told a joke, only I had no idea what the joke was. “Never mind,” he added flatly.
“Can you get me outta here or not?

“Of course, of course!” Old Man Spider went to work untangling my mess. “This might take a while. As you can see, when things get caught, I usually just leave them where they are.”
I glanced at a cheese grater hanging not ten inches from my face and wondered if he just stood in the middle of the living room to grate his cheese.
“What is your name, young man? “Roarke.”
“Roarke, Roarke . . .” The man ran off and rummaged through a kitchen drawer. He pulled out a leather­bound book and flipped through it. “Rachel, Randy, Reginald, Ronald. No Roarke. Youre the first! He excitedly scribbled something in the book. “I try not to repeat names. You dont know how many Johns I’ve told to skedad­ dle! My goal is to know one person of every name. I havent met another Weylyn, yet. That’s my name—Weylyn Grey,” he said, shaking my hand. His name suited him. He had gray eyes that shone like fish scales in the light.
The web was starting to make my skin itch. “I really gotta go home.”
“Of course. My apologies.” Weylyn got back to work.
I hoped my mom had bought more chocolate  milk.  Maybe shed let me have some after she made me try on that eye patch again and asked me how Id like to have one of my own.
So, what’s a smart boy like you doing climbing on people’s roofs? You could’ve hurt yourself.”
“I’ve done much crazier stuff than that.”
I told him some of my best stories: the one about the sewer and the train tracks and the neighbor’s dogs. Weylyn seemed un­ impressed.

“What? You got something better? Weylyn smiled. “I was young once, too.”