What Have I Been Reading?

Over the past couple weeks I’ve gotten a lot of reading done. But considering everything going on in the world right now social distancing lends itself to quiet time. So I thought I would do another post on what I’ve read with my thoughts on each book.

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab: This is book two in the series and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well was I surprised by the amount of violence in this book. The story is again about our two main protagonists (?) Victor and Eli. In the first book Eli was captured and Victor was killed and now Eli is imprisoned by an organization called EON and Victor has been resurrected by Sydney (no spoiler it happens in the first couple pages) but there is something wrong with him and he is looking for another EO (extraOrdinary) who can fix him. Sydney is feeling extremely guilty and is having nightmares. 

Sydney started dying, but only in her dreams.

The nightmares began when they left Merit. Night after night, she’d close her eyes and find herself back on the frozen lake, the one that had cracked and broken and swallowed her and her sister up three years before.”

I actually started this book and then put it down because I wasn’t in the right place for a dark story. I also considered taking it back to the library and not finishing it but after a few days I felt better and really wanted to know what was going to happen. So if I have one complaint about the book it is just how dark and graphic it really is so buckle up for a heck of a ride. 

What I loved about the book was the story the author puts together. The characters are rich and come alive on the page. Marcella and June are two of my favorites. No spoilers I promise! I am very quickly becoming an avid fan of V.E. Schwab. I give this book 5 out of 5.

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: This is a young adult sci-fi book which I typically don’t like. I love sci-fi movies and tv shows but just don’t care for it in books. But I heard some really good things about it and so thought I would give it a try. I downloaded the audio book from the library and I will say the narrator did a fantastic job. 

This is the story of a young girl whose father is branded a coward which is considered a crime in their culture. She is therefore also condemned for her father’s sin and is ostracized within the community. She wants to be a pilot like her father and prove to people that she can be more than their low expectations of her.

What I didn’t like about the book is the fact that I’m not a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson and so went into the book with a chip on my shoulder. I will admit it here that I may not like the author but I do like this book. Brandon Sanderson builds a very detailed and vibrant world in which to torture Sensa (protagonist). The character development is fantastic and as she grew so did my love for her. She’s strong, independent and a fighter. That’s what I loved about this book. The author also didn’t overdo the angst and completely eliminated any love interest which, considering the circumstances, was refreshing. I will be reading the next book in the series for sure. I give this book 5 out of 5.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian is a young adult fantasy novel that takes place in a world where the main character, Theodosia, is being held prisoner by the conquering Kalovaxians who killed her mother, the queen, in front of her. Theodosia can’t even use her real name and is whipped repeatedly by the Kaiser. This is a fantastic book and I can highly recommend the audio book. The narrator brought so much emotion to a very tense story. 

I had a really hard time with the more violent aspects of the story especially one scene (no spoilers) in which Theodosia is held accountable for something and is punished. 

Even thought I do NOT like to read about violence against children I muscled my way through those scenes because the vast majority of the book is excellent. The world is fleshed out and draws you in deeply. The characters struggle and fail and get back up again. The ending of this book is what I wanted from the book Red Queen. I absolutely loved this book and already have the other two books on hold. I give this a big 10 out of 5. Honestly. Read this book.

Veiled by Benedict Jacka: This is an adult urban fantasy and is another in the Alex Verus series. In this book Verus is caught up in the politics of the magical world and it leads to some pretty intense situations. There is some violence but it is tempered somewhat so compared to Vengeful it’s pretty tame.

What I didn’t like about the book was the politics and how confusing it was at times. There are a lot of moving parts and characters that come up from previous books. Thankfully the author does a pretty good job of jogging your memory so the confusion didn’t last very long.

I love this series and especially the audio books. The narrator, Gildart Jackson, does a fantastic job bringing the characters to life and Mr. Jacka has created a world in London that is someplace I want to visit. Less the mages attacking me from all directions please. There is also a lot of very smart and interesting dialog between the characters and the author doesn’t do an info dump. The information comes to you via conversations that take place as part of the situation. I am already listening to the next book in the series. I give this book a 5 out of 5

TBR: I’m currently listening to Burned by Benedict Jacka and it’s started out with a bang. Not literally! I am also reading The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. This has been on my shelf since Christmas and I finally just put everything else aside so I could start this series. I’m also hoping to start Ice Like Fire which is the second book in the Snow Like Ashes series. I have a lot of books on hold on the Libby app and I’m hoping those come through soon although I do have two audio books from Audible to listen to. They’re just really long and so far a little boring. I’ll write more about those at another time.

So, that’s what I’ve been reading. I’ve been taking advantage of the time at home and I hope all of you are safe and healthy. With this pandemic it’s a scary time but if we come together and make sure those who are most at risk are protected then we’re doing a good thing. Take advantage of social distancing to spend time with your family and to get some reading done. 

Until next time my friends!


Genre Reading Challenge

I was watching a video on YouTube by BookswithEmilyFox and she does a reading challenge each week where she chooses a genre from her bookshelf and then picks books to read in that week. She then does a vlog throughout the week discussing her progress. I thought I would try that on my blog and see how that works out. 

I’m going to put the following genres in a bowl, choose one and then pick a book to read. If I do not have one in that genre then I will look on Goodreads to find one that interests me and then off to the library I go either physically or via the Libby app where I can listen to the book. I will update this blog on my progress each day. So let’s see how this works in a written format. 

Here are the genres:

  1. Adult Fantasy
  2. Distopian
  3. YA Fantasy
  4. Urban Fantasy
  5. Contemporary Romance
  6. Juvenile Fantasy

I chose genres that interest me but also included dystopian and contemporary romance because those are a struggle for me to read.

March 5, 2020

Here we go. I am pulling a genre from a little ceramic dish I made in pottery class when I was in college. It’s really ugly but since it was one of the first things I made it has sentimental value. 

The genre I picked from the dish is Contemporary Romance. Oh dear. I had a feeling this would happen because this is my least favorite type of book. But I’m committed.

March 6, 2020

I searched the Libby app for romance audiobooks that were available. I found “Friction” by Sandra Brown. It’s a story about a Texas Ranger, Crawford, and a judge, Hope, that  come together after she is almost killed by a shooter in her courtroom. This has the trope of hate to love, which seems to work. I’m about 50% in and enjoying the book so far. But I need to get a move on if I’m going to finish this in a week.

March 7, 2020

This book has been a little slow in the middle but I think it’s starting to pick up. It’s not just a romance it’s also a mystery and this is what is being used to push the romance forward. I’m enjoying this book more than I thought I would.

March 8, 2020

Sunday and I am still listening to “Friction”. I wish something would happen. It has been a little slow after the middle and I’m still wondering where this is going.  Also with all that’s going on they continue to make poor decisions based on motivations that are more akin to a someone with very little life experience. 

March 9, 2020

I’m finishing up and in the last three hours the story is finally getting good. I still wonder at their choices such as having sex when Crawford is being sought after by the police. But it is a romance and I guess allowances need to be made. Also when they think of each other it’s always from a sexual perspective and that just seems a little icky to me. But that’s just me and some may find that totally normal. But given their ages it just seems weird.

I’m done and actually enjoyed the ending. It came with a bit of a twist and it was a little bittersweet. It’s a good story, the narrator was a little slow (I listened at 1.25 speed) and there were obvious patches in the audio to correct mistakes and that was jarring. I wonder why the producer allowed for those. All in all I give it a 3.75 our of 5. I would have given is a 4.5 but the audio patches really took me out of the story. If I read it via a physical book that would make a big difference.

I was going to try and listen/read two books in the week but I am currently between contracts and so am looking for another and that is my full time activity so my reading time is limited. I’m going to try this again soon since it was fun getting out of fantasy for a bit. I also think Sandra Brown will become an author I read more of since I really did like this book. 

TBR: I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump due to the need to find a job but I started back up this morning. I’m planning to finish Vengeful by VE Schwab this week and I’m also listening to Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian. I’m at 45% and so far it’s pretty good. I like the main character and care about what happens to her. I think I can get that done this week because I can listen and look for new contracts at the same time.

I hope you enjoyed this challenge. I plan to do this again as I still have a lot of genres in my ceramic bowl. Until next week my friends!


A Book Review: Keepers of the Lost Cities: Everblaze

By Shannon Messenger

This week I would have liked to do a “What I’ve Been Reading” post but honestly I haven’t read that much. I’ve started three audiobooks and have yet to finish them. Also I started reading Vengeful by VE Schwab but I’m having a hard time reading the book. It’s good just a little more violent than the last one. I did, however, read Everblaze book 3 in the Keepers of the Lost Cities series. So, I thought I would review that this week. 

Everblaze is a very good book. I can say that so far each book in the series is better than the last. The stakes are higher and the relationships become deeper. In this book Sophie, the main character, and her friends join forces to take on the mysterious rebels who are fighting to change elven society because they feel they are saving their world from humankind. Their methods are questionable and violent. We learn much more about the rebels and there is a twist that took me by surprise. Ms. Messenger does a wonderful job of leading the reader down one path only to make a switch at just the right moment.

I am trying to think of something I didn’t like about the book and, honestly, there really isn’t anything. The book is a big longer than the last two and because it is so jam packed the story moves along at a good pace. I did wonder about some of Sophie’s motivations but then I reminded myself she is a 13 year old who is trying to make sense out of a very adult and intense situation.

What I loved about the book is Ms. Messenger doesn’t pull any punches with her characters. She isn’t afraid to have them experience some very real consequences for their actions and go through emotional highs and lows that really bring heart to the story. There has always been some tension between Dex and Sophie due to her friendship with Fitz, who Dex doesn’t like, and in this book that tension comes to a boil and we watch as they both struggle to maintain their friendship. One mystery is solved that leads to one of many climaxes that do not disappoint. Make no mistake, this may be in the juvenile section in the library but it can be read by an adult with a lot of enjoyment.

All in all I can highly recommend this book. If you loved the Harry Potter series you will also love Keepers of the Lost Cities. I promised myself this week that I was’t going to take anymore books out of the library until I finished my TBR pile of books that I actually own but I found myself getting the next book in the series. I want to know what happens next and that is a good indication of the quality of the book.  I give this book a 5 out of 5. Excellent.

TBR: I have started reading Vengeful and I’m also reading the new book in the Keepers of the Lost Cities series. I’m also listening to Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. I’ve also started The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card. As you can see I’m all over the place and can’t seem to focus. I think this is in no small part to the new Animal Crossing New Horizons game that is coming out this month and the more I learn about the game the more I want to play. I’m a little distracted. But I’m going to buckle down and do some serious reading and commit to finishing the audiobooks I’ve started and provide a review for you. 

So until next time my friends, happy reading.


Vicious Book Review

by VE Schwab

First, this is not a YA or NA book. This is an adult urban fantasy book that takes on some pretty intense scenes. I debated whether to review this book because of its adult content but I decided I would do it so you would know what to expect.

The story is about Eli and Victor, two college roommates, who, through some pretty drastic actions, develop super powers. Now saying that may sound like this is a super hero book that anyone can read but these two characters grow to resent and hate each other. Eli and Victor take two very different paths and each is leading to a violent confrontation. 

I think the thing I struggled most with was trying to decide if there really was a “good” guy. Honestly I think it was a matter of deciding who was less evil. Typically these types of characters don’t appeal to me at all but VE Schwab crafted the story so well I had to keep reading to learn what the final outcome was going to be. 

I will say that I loved the supporting cast of characters. Some I grew to love and worry for and others I flat out hated and wanted to see them punished. This level of feeling had me turning the page or even putting the book aside so I could catch my breath. It is a very intense story. It is also a pretty violent story: not an “R” rating but definitely PG-13 for sure. 

Half way through this book I thought there was no way I would read the next book but I found myself at the library borrowing Vengeful. I need to know where we go from here.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I’ve read some reviews that disparage this book but I think it is well written and has a compelling story. There is some violence against children and dogs which I don’t care for so I give it a 4 out of 5. 

Until next week my friends!


What I’ve Been Reading Lately

This was originally going to be a “What I Read Last Week” post but I realized it’s been two weeks so I decided I would just let you know what I’ve been reading since February 3rd. I will say I discovered the Libby app so I’ve been trying some audiobooks. So far I haven’t finished any of them because they just weren’t that good. I’ve been an Audible member for a very long time and I’m pretty picky when it comes to narration. If they don’t get good reviews I won’t listen to the book. Now though I can wait and get the hard cover or the soft cover and read it that way. 

Ok so that was a long opening. Let me move on to the topic at hand!

Here are the books I’ve read and finished since the last time we were together.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab: Excellent end to a fantastic series. I’ll be honest I went into the book with some big questions and high expectations. I always worry the last book will be a let down or something horrible will happen that will depress me. I’m happy to say this book, in my opinion, was the best of the trilogy. About mid-way through I thought perhaps the author was padding the book because it seemed I was reading a lot of stuff that didn’t seem relevant. Wow was I wrong but it took until the very end of the book for all the pieces to come together. What I loved about this book was going out into the world and exploring but not just to see the sights. No. There was a purpose. A quest. But the payment was high and I actually got a little choked up. I also came to understand Holland and, while I still don’t like him, I now know his past and could see how he became what he was. I’m not going to say whether I liked the ending or not because I always consider that to be a spoiler. Did I like the book? No. I LOVED this book. I loved the whole series. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Keepers of the Lost Cities: Exile by Shannon Messenger: This is the second book in the series and I think it was better than the first. In the book we get to know Sophie and her new family much better. There is also a mystery that I thought I had figured out but was delighted to be only a little bit wrong. I will say I didn’t see it coming. What I missed in this book was not being in school as much as I would have liked but considering everything that was going on ultimately I was ok with it. And there is a lot going on in this book. There are some pretty dark themes and some very big emotions being explored so be aware if you’re going to have your middle school child read this book. It’s not horrible but loss and pain are a part of what’s going on. What I loved about this book was the development of a great friendship between Sophie and Keefe. He is wise cracking and doesn’t seem to take anything seriously so it’s a joy to watch him grow into someone Sophie can rely on. I am really loving this series and give this book a 5 out of 5.

Golden in Death by JD Robb (audiobook): I am a HUGE JD Robb fan. My mom got me hooked a long time ago and I’ve read all the books via audiobook. The narrator, Susan Erickson, is awesome. She does some amazing voices and you always know who is speaking. I love Peabody’s voice the most. This is the 50th book in the series (hence the word golden in the title) and I was a little worried it wouldn’t be good given the hype around it. I’m here to say this is another great book and had me guessing up to the end. This is definitely NOT young adult but I include it here because it is a good series for my adult friends if you like police procedurals with a little romance. The character of Eve Dallas is written so well I sometimes forget she’s not a real person. What did I dislike about the book? Absolutely nothing. The book, in my opinion, is fantastic and I listened to it in just a few days. I highly recommend this book and the entire series. If you want a fantastic listening experience I would recommend the audiobooks for sure. 5 out of 5. 

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett: If I had just read the blurb on the jacket I would have never picked this book up but a booktuber talked about this book and it intrigued me. So I went to the library and thankfully it was available. The book started out with a lot of action and it didn’t really settle down from there. There were brief moments with the main character where she was able to catch her breath but those were often short lived and before you knew it you were back in the thick of things. The “magic” system is not really magic. It’s more technology with a fantasy twist. A little steampunkish in my opinion, which I don’t normally like. But this book is absolutely fabulous. I had a hard time putting it down to get stuff done around my condo. That is always the sign of a great book. I’m having a hard time coming up with something I didn’t like about the book but nothing comes to mind. There was just so much to love about this book. The main character is a thief but she is also a victim just trying to survive in a dystopian world. The male lead is self righteous but not in a bad way and as the story goes on you learn what and why and you fall in love with him. Again, I’m not going to talk about whether I liked or disliked the ending because I really want you to read the book and experience it for yourself. I will say that when I finished the book I took a big breath, put the book down and had to take Libby out for a walk just to absorb the story. It was that good. I had a hard time getting into another book after that. Honestly 10 out of 5!

TBR Shelf: Right now I’m reading Vicious by V.E. Schwab and listening to Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I also have Keepers of the Lost Cities: Everblaze to read. So far Vicious is pretty good. Weird and violent but good. I’ll let you know my thoughts once I’m done.

Well that’s what I’ve been reading. I didn’t mention any of the audiobooks that were misses because this post would be really long. Let’s just say I’m using Goodreads a lot more right now. 

So until next time my friends…happy reading!


Red Queen

By Victoria Aveyard

This is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world where there are two distinct castes of people. The Reds who have no special abilities and are slaves to the Silvers who have special powers and whose blood is literally silver. This story follows Mare, a Red, who lives in the slums called The Stilts, and earns money by pickpocketing from her fellow Reds. Reds are expected to have a job or they are sent to the war to fight the enemies of the Silvers. Mostly it’s a death sentence. Mare meets a stranger and afterwards finds herself working in the Silver Palace and learns she has a power of her own. 

This book gets very good reviews and is the first book in the series. I wish I could say I loved the book but sadly I did not. I really wanted to like it but it just didn’t appeal to me at all. This is not to say it’s not a good book and if it’s your favorite book then we simply have different tastes.

The writing is good and the characters are fully fleshed out but I found that I just did’t care for Mare. She just didn’t grow as a person given all the political intrigue and machinations. She makes some very poor decisions which lead to some pretty disastrous consequences. Let’s just say I would NOT want to be an acquaintance of hers at all.

The title of the book is very misleading. I don’t want to give away the ending so I’ll leave it at that.

This book is also very dark and very brooding, which I admit is not my favorite type of book so take that for what it’s worth. I’m not saying it’s a bad book I’m just saying it is not a series I will continue to read. 

What I liked about the book was the world building. It is fully developed and so intense. I could picture this very dark and depressing world and it elicited some very strong feelings. 

The ending does have a surprise I didn’t see coming and the author does a good job of setting things up for the next book. 

Full disclosure: I listened to the audiobook and in all fairness I wonder if I had read the physical copy if I would have gotten more out of the book. But to be honest I have no desire to do that mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to care about the main character. 

So I give the book 3 out of 5 stars. Like I said, not my type of book so take my rating with a grain of salt.

Until next time my friends.


What I Read Last Week

I believe I talked about this before but I have recently discovered I can read paper books without having any blurring of my eyes. I’ve spoken to my eye doctor about this and there is nothing wrong with my eyes he says it’s eye strain and to take frequent breaks. This can be very frustrating when I’m reading on my Kindle and completely immersed in a story and have to stop. Now I can read for as long as I want and it has significantly increased the number of books I’m reading and my enjoyment. 

I thought I would share with you what I read last week and I’m going to include audiobooks as well. It was a pretty productive week and having found a fireplace app on my cable box I can set a very cozy atmosphere that makes reading so much more fun. 

Ok enough of the jibber jabber. Here’s what I read last week.

A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab: I really loved this book. This is the second book in the Darker Shades of Magic series and here we follow Kell, Lila, Rhy and Alucard as they participate in a tournament where magic is used in duels that will determine the champion. This tournament includes competitors from other kingdoms in this world and so we meet other people and learn about their cultures. There is a subplot which is setting up for the third book in which Holland is back as King of White London but he is possessed by a god, Osaron, from Black London. The tournament is held but I won’t give away any of the details because it makes for some great reading. There is also some conflict between the King and Kell that leads to a brilliant ending. I won’t say anymore and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My only complaint is I saw the ending coming but what I loved about the book is the depth of character development. In the first book we met three of the main characters and they were fleshed to the extent that we fell more deeply in love with them even if they were doing some questionable things and making some poor decisions. The author gives us much more time with the characters in this book and we learn about their strengths and, more importantly, their weaknesses. Alucard is introduced in this book and he is a wonderful character. A pirate and a cheerfully dangerous man. He is smart, funny and loyal as well. We also learn he is keeping a secret from his crew which was a total surprise. Over all I give this book a four out of five stars.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger: This is a middle school book that is lovely and engrossing. This is the first book in a series that, at this time, has eight books. We meet Sophie who is a twelve year old girl who is telepathic and is struggling to control her power. This has caused her to be withdrawn and without any friends in school. On a field trip to the natural history museum she meets a boy who tells her she isn’t human and is, in fact, an elf and her power is considered normal. He takes her away from the human world and she finds that for the first time since she was five years old she can’t hear other people’s thoughts. I read this book in about 8 hours, spread out over two days, and I think this it is almost as good as the Harry Potter books. My only complaint is the supporting characters, specifically Sophie’s nemesis in school, aren’t as well developed as they could be and but we still enjoy the drama of being a twelve year old in school, albeit a magic school. Give me a magic school and some cool classes and I’m all in. What I loved about this book is the magic system and the world the author creates. There is a mystery that unfolds in a very interesting way that leads to some intense scenes. The author isn’t afraid to have her character’s experience some pretty bad situations and experience intense emotions. I found myself so wrapped up in these that at one point I looked up and thought “wow this is a book in the juvenile section at the library?” All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book and already have the second book. I give it 4 our of 5 stars.

Hidden by Benedict Jacka (audiobook): This is an adult urban fantasy set in London and is about Alex Verus who is a mage that owns a magic shop. He was once the unwilling apprentice to a dark mage and escaped only to spend most of his youth running away from his master who eventually disappears. Now he is learning how to live life without constantly looking over his shoulder. This is actually the fifth book in the Alex Verus series and I have enjoyed them all immensely. In this book Alex is asked by his apprentice, Luna, to talk with her best friend, Ann, because she decided to leave the light magic’s apprentice program. Doing so means Ann is out in the world without a master and is vulnerable. Dark mages will often abduct apprentices and press them into service, torturing them until they comply. Ann initially rejects Alex’s help but is soon missing and his search for her is the main story. My only complaint about this book is it took a little while for the story to set up. I found myself starting and stopping because I wasn’t engaged. Eventually things get very interesting and intense and I was totally hooked wondering how they were going to get out of a very sticky situation. Oh and there is a bit of a surprise that I didn’t see coming at all. The characters are written so well that they feel like real people struggling not only in their situations but with internal demons and their pasts. The narrator does a brilliant job and I always knew who was speaking and when the situation called for some truly intense emotion moments her didn’t hold back. I also liked the book being set in England because it added a unique flavor and style. I really loved this book just as I’ve loved all the books I’ve read in the series. I give this a five out of five. 

It was a good reading week for me. I found myself getting up early to read because I wanted to spend time with the characters in these books. 

My TBR (to be read) pile for this week includes Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile (book 2) and A Conjuring of Light (the third book in the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy). I’m also listening to Golden in Death by JD Robb a long running series. This is the 50th book which I’ve been looking forward to for many months. I’ll update you next week. 

As always thank you for visiting and make sure to follow me so you’re notified about new blog posts. 

Have a wonderful week my friends.


24 Hour Read-A-Thon

I am hopelessly addicted to YouTube and recently I’ve been watching jessethereader and PeruseProject. They both did a 24 Hour Read-A-Thon which sparked an idea. Basically they chose some books they wanted to read over a 24 hour period to see what they could accomplish. Now they did NOT read for 24 hours straight, that’s not the point. Rather it’s setting a goal, spending time reading and enjoying yourself. They did record their read-a-thon for YouTube, obviously, but I decided to do it via my blog so we’ll see how this goes.

So, here’s the plan. 

I’m going to start my read-a-thon on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 2:00pm EST. The books I plan to read are “The Darker Side of Magic,  “A Gathering of Shadows” and “A Conjuring of Light” all by V.E. Schwab. These are books in a trilogy that I checked out of the library this past Tuesday. I’m already reading “The Darker Side of Magic” so I’ll be starting on page 71. Just being honest. I’m also going to listen to “A Curse So Dark and Lonely” by Brigid Kemmerer via audiobook which I started a couple days ago. I have 9 hours and 44 minutes left. Again, being honest. 

Now, I DO plan on sleeping, eating and walking my dog so the audiobook will come in handy during meals and walks. Sleeping..no I will not be reading. I’m going to shoot for finishing the first two books in the trilogy, the audiobook and see how far I can get in the third. It depends on how much attention Libby, my dog, wants during that 24 hours. Priorities.

Let’s Begin

It’s Saturday 2:00pm I’m all settled into my favorite chair, comfy blanket in place, Libby is sleeping on the couch and I’m going to start reading. I’ll check in throughout the next 24 hours. 

Here we go.

Hi! It’s Saturday at 5:30pm and I’ve been reading “A Darker Shade of Magic” this afternoon. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book. I had read a little yesterday before I decided to do this read-a-thon and thought it was interesting but now I know it is really a great story. So different from what I thought it was going to be. Basically there are multiple Londons and the main male character, Kell, has magic to travel between them. One London has magic, another does not, a third has magic but has warped it so that they are basically evil and the last one the magic has destroyed so it’s dead. He meets Lila who is human and is from the London that doesn’t have any magic. Things get very intense when they meet and that’s where I am right now. So good! I’m on page 177 of 400 so almost half way. I still have a few more hours to read tonight. I will check in before bed. Back to the story! What will happen? Exciting!

Well it’s bedtime. Things got pretty intense in the book. I wondered about Kell’s future. I was actually so engrossed in the story I didn’t hear Libby whining to go outside. Oops. I’m at the halfway point now. I was hoping to finish tonight but that just didn’t happen. I usually listen to audiobooks because when I read on my Kindle my eyes blur but I’ve recently discovered that paper books don’t do that so I can actually read again. It feels so good! I think I’m out of practice and read a little slower but I’m hoping with time I’ll read a little faster. Ok, off to bed I go. I’ll pick things up tomorrow morning. Night!

Good Morning! I’ve been up for a few hours, had coffee, set up my planner (paper) for the day while listening to my audiobook and have been reading for a couple hours. So much has happened. Basically Kell and Lila are now together on the run from someone who is trying to kill them. I don’t want to give away a lot of the book but magic is used, blood is spilled and lines have been crossed. Such a good story and I can’t quite figure out how this will all end. Right now I’m going to have some cereal and then walk Libby while I continue with my audiobook. It’s also getting pretty good. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but from a much darker perspective. I’ve listened to about two hours since I started and am using that as reading time when I’m not physically reading a book. All in all I’m really enjoying myself. I’ll check in at lunch time. 

Good afternoon! I just finished “A Darker Shade of Magic” and it is a great book. Lots of action, magic and wit. The characters of Kell, Lila and Rhy are so interesting and the story was so intense. Lila is a strong female character who accepts herself for who she is and doesn’t make any excuses or apologies. I’m so glad I chose this as my first book to read. I’m also making good progress on the audiobook “A Curse So Dark and Lonely”. I have a little under 3 hours left and things just got interesting.  The beast has just appeared! 

So onto the next book in the series, “A Gathering of Shadows” (509 pages) but first I have to take Libby out. She’s been so patient and I think she likes the fireplace app on my cable box. It’s been quiet and cozy. I’ll check in after the read-a-thon is done for a final update. Time to read! 

Well it’s 2pm and the read-a-thon is done. I had to do a load of laundry and also start editing audio for a podcast I work on so I only read 48 pages into the second book and it’s really good so far.  Lila seems to be the main character in this one which is great. I also have about 2 hours left in my audiobook. I think we’re heading to the part in the story where beauty and the beast come together to save the village. I’m not sure because this is a totally different story than the Disney movie. 

The challenge has been a great experience. I read so much and taking the time away from watching tv was definitely a plus. I guess the question I’m left with is, would I do it again. And the answer is a definite yes. Spending 24 hours reading was relaxing, calming and just the escape I needed from my everyday life. Is Libby really happy with me right now? Probably not but all in all she’s been very good. She’s slept though most of it and as long as she got her beef jerky she was satisfied. 

Thanks so much for reading this far. I definitely didn’t read as much as I thought I would but that’s ok. I also didn’t intend for this post to be so long but I want to inspire some of my reader friends to give this a try. I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed the read-a-thon. 

Until next time!

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Book Review

Did you ever have that feeling after you’ve finished a book and, as you’re closing the cover, you feel a little sad? That is exactly how I felt after reading “Snow Like Ashes”.  Let me back up a little bit. 

This is a Young Adult Fantasy novel written by Sara Raasch, which was released in 2014. Yes, I’m late to the party. Oh and I’m definitely not a young adult. I’m not even a new adult. I’ve been around the block a few times. What makes this book so good is it is a fantasy book whose protagonist just happens to be a sixteen year old girl. At no point does the author dumb down the story or pull any punches. She puts her characters through some pretty rough stuff but not so bad that the book tips over into the category of adult fantasy. She walks that line with finesse. 

Let me start with the story. I promise, no spoilers. We open with a mock sword fight between Meira and Mather both refugees from their kingdom that was destroyed and its people taken into slavery. Meira, Mather and a small band of their people are the only refugees that have escaped and they’re trying to free their people and rebuild their kingdom. I’m not going to give you anymore than that because I really want you to meet the characters with the same expectation that I experienced.

Speaking of the characters they are well thought out and three dimensional. They’re heroic and flawed. Meira is young and questions authority, acts rashly and just wants to figure out where she fits in.  All things people both young and old feel at one time or other during their lives. I loved her and I was rooting for her throughout the whole story but, being an adult reader, at no time did she frustrate me with her actions. They made total sense given her circumstances.

The writing is crisp and tight and flows very quickly. At no time is it bogged down by a lot of flowery, unnecessary paragraphs describing the landscape or event. It is straight forward and yet you still get that picture in your head that is rich and real.

I can highly recommend this book for both young adults and older folks too. You will be transported to a world that is exquisitely built and rich in vision. And the good news? This is the first book in a trilogy. I’m deep into the second book and it’s actually better than the first. I’ll review that one once I’m done but I am taking my time because I have that great feeling where you don’t want to finish the book because you don’t want to leave the world or your friends. Read this book. You’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself.

Five Things To Know About Your New Puppy

It’s that time of year. Christmas is my favorite holiday. Family. Friends. Food. It’s also the time of year where puppies come into our lives as Christmas gifts. It’s exciting and new and the kids, if you have them, are over the moon. Sometimes it’s love at first sight. Sometimes it takes a little time for everyone to come together.

Getting a puppy from a breeder, rescue group or shelter will require a lot of patience, love and time. We can’t expect our new furry friend to be perfect right away. So here are five things you can do to make the transition easier for the both of you.


If you have children, it’s time to teach them the proper way to handle animals. When you’re introducing the child and dog to each other it’s important to give your pooch a lot of space and time to meet. It’s exciting and our first instinct is to pick up the puppy and squeeze it tight with all the love in our hearts or if it’s an older puppy to run up to it and give it a big hug. This can cause a significant amount of stress on the dog. With a young puppy have your child or children sit down, put the puppy on the floor and let him or her approach your kids. The puppy will sniff and investigate and that’s important because that is what dogs do when they meet another dog or a human. At this point a puppy will either back off or crawl up into their lap. If the puppy backs off give them their space because they might be shy. After all, there’s a lot going on. Eventually they’ll settle into the situation and approach you or your kids again. Puppies are inquisitive.

If you’ve rescued an older puppy give them plenty of space. Again, let them approach your kids on their own. Let the dog set the pace. This is a lot for a dog to take in. Hopefully when you talked to the rescue they paired your family with a dog that is good with children but it still takes plenty of time for them to get used to new people. 

In your home make a special space for the puppy. This space is off limits for kids and adults. This is a safe place where the dog can go and de-stress. Put their crate and/or bed there and if your the dog goes into its crate let them stay there until they’re ready to come out and socialize again.

I know this seems hard to do but it really is important for you to give your dog time and space to become part of the family.


You new puppy will probably be a little mouthy. What I mean is they will want to put their teeth on you. This is normal and can be handled gently and humanely. Puppies need to learn bite inhibition and if you don’t have another puppy or dog, that job falls to you. Ideally if you don’t have another dog take your puppy to a good, reputable doggie daycare. They should match up your puppy with other puppies or even an older dog who have similar temperaments not just throw all the dogs in one big room with very little supervision. In a good daycare facility there are playgroups which are closely monitored. Spray bottles are NOT used to diffuse fights. Do your research. Make this a positive experience for your puppy. The reason I recommend daycare is because in as little as a day your puppy’s mouthing will improve significantly. I’ve seen it myself time and time again. 

If daycare is not in your budget then it’s up to you to teach your puppy how much pressure is too much. The best way to do this is to play with your puppy. When they mouth continue to play until the pressure is too much. When it is, playtime is over. This is what other puppies will do as well. Wait a couple minutes and if the puppy still wants to play continue. Everytime the pressure is too much stop playing. Your puppy will learn. Trust me.


House training is necessary as puddles in the house or piles of poop on the carpet is not fun but with patience and vigilance it can be done humanely and quickly. First, buy a crate. Some people think putting a puppy in a crate is cruel. Dogs are den animals and having a place where they feel safe is super important and if your puppy learns the crate is fun they won’t mind going in and spending some time in their safe space. I don’t recommend giving your puppy free reign in your home until they are reliably going outside. Pee pads are nice tools but don’t rely on them unless you plan on having your puppy pee on them for a longer period of time. It’s worth it to spend the time teaching your dog that outside is the only place for pee and poop. 

Puppies will need to pee within 15 minutes after drinking water and poop 30 minutes after they eat. When I was house training my puppy I used a paper schedule that I hung on the refrigerator to track their fluid and food intake times. This helped a lot and we had only a few accidents all of which were my fault because I wasn’t paying attention. 

When you take your puppy out it is not playtime. It’s all business. I recommend, at first, to take your puppy out on a leash and take them to the spot in your yard where you want them to pee and poop. This will make clean up much easier. Then it’s a waiting game. Give them about 5 minutes. There will be a lot of sniffing which is normal. If after 5 minutes they don’t pee or poop take them back into the house and put them in their crate for about 10 minutes. Then try again. Repeat this until the puppy relieves themselves. Also once they do go don’t immediately run back into the house. Hang out for a couple minutes to make sure they’re done.

If you like you can train your dog to pee or poop on command. Just as they are getting ready to go say “good pee or poo”. This sounds silly but if you stick with it when they get older you can say “go pee” and they will know what needs to be done. This can really come in handy in inclement weather.


I should have put this first because it’s so important. Sign yourself and your new puppy up for behavior training. This will not only help your puppy to become a good member of the family but will also form a wonderful bond between the two of you. There is so much to say on this topic. As a certified dog trainer myself I could write a whole separate blog post about this subject. All I’ll say right now is to do your research. I think you’ll find that experts now recommend positive reinforcement training. I personally recommend clicker training. It works and makes training much easier because the clicker acts as a communication tool between the two of you. I’ve been clicker training for over 10 years and I’ve seen the benefits even with dogs who have had a hard start in life. 

Expect to invest your time at home in the training not just in class. The trainer will show you how to train your dog and the practice at home will reinforce the training. It takes time and patience but the benefits are huge. 

That’s all I’ll say on the matter. I’ll write another post on this subject in the future.


Finally enjoy yourself and your new furry family member. Playtime is a great way to form a lasting relationship with her or him. Tug is fun and, contrary to popular belief, does not make your dog aggressive. Fetch is also a great game and is pretty easy to teach. You can also use playtime to train your dog as well. Keep it all positive, fun and kind. Kindness goes a long way.

Patience is key and it can make the time you spend together a positive experience for the both of you. I wish you and your puppy happiness and a long and healthy life together. Happy New Year!