What I Read: Spring Edition

I know I have been promising an update on my latest reads and impressions, but honestly, I have not really been feeling it. That is not to say that everything has been wasted effort…I am half the way through interviews for my dissertation field research (transcribing, edits, and coding are a whole other story). That is, of course, awesome news considering that most of my field research time in the last six months have mainly been spent waiting. But hey, lots of reading can happen when you are waiting.

So what have I read?


Outer Order, Inner Calm in many ways reminded me of reading a blog about organizing. The sections were short and sounded very personal, almost conversational. A lot of what Rubin had to say has been said by many other authors before her, but I found myself energized after reading the book. In fact, when I finished it, I was a little shocked and wanting to know more. My Easter plans consist of doing a little organizing and there will be no discussion on if something brought me joy but rather does this thing still hold value to me. At least that is what I got out of the book and Rubin does mention Kondo and Morgenstern as other resources to consider when it comes to organizing. I like it when an author acknowledges stuff like that.


I will fully admit that I like the arranged marriage trope and all the subsets like mail-order brides…in fiction, not real life. I am not saying that it is a practice that should still be followed, but imagine the courage these women must have had to leave everything they knew to marry a stranger. You definitely need faith in who your future spouse says they are cause it might turn out that they are on the run from the law which is the case with Saving the Mail Order Bride. I really wanted to like this story. It started out great with the outlaw and the bride ending up on the same stagecoach and not realizing at first who the other is…but then it turned out not so great. Really, how many times can you put your protagonist in danger and have him come out alive? I really feel like the author said “Challenge Accepted”. The poor man was tossed from a stagecoach, shot, bit by a snake…


Okay, meet cute stories are my second guilty pleasure. So the title and cover of Meet Cute caught my interest right away. Then the storyline of a celebrity crush meeting not once but twice. I loved the book! Plus there was the whole family angle to put another dynamic on it. There was only one part of the book that I did not like and that was the conference scene. I felt like Kailyn was being a little selfish and insensitive to Dax. It just felt off compared to the rest of the book. Other than that I would highly recommend it.


I feel like this one has been mentioned before, but I couldn’t find a post for it. Full disclosure, I read this one months ago. However, I have put it on the list because I overheard a friend say that she was tired of reading about women falling in love with rich men or the dashing hero, that she wanted to read a story of a woman who fell in love with a bum. Well, this is a story of a woman who fell in love with a bum. My third guilty pleasure read (and probably my favorite), the “let’s pretend we are together” storyline. In Marry Me Tomorrow, Emily has basically created a Bunbury husband in that she told her mother she got married to stop the discussion of when was she ever going to settle down. Her mother lived in the states and she in England, so no problem on keeping the truth hidden…until her mom says she is coming to visit and expects to meet the new spouse. So Emily asks one of the homeless men she sees on her morning commute to pretend to be her spouse. The story has some dark moments and tackles some mental health and societal problems. Sam was just such a nice guy who got dealt a raw deal. You will be rooting for him!


I really wanted to like No Other Duke But You. The Amazon description does not do it justice because that description is only a small part of the story. What the book is really about is two friends, one who says he is not ready for marriage and the other who is too busy matchmaking to focus on her own love life. What made me cringe was how obviously friendzoned the guy was and how he manipulates the girl into realizing that they are perfect together. Normally, I like the stories where the guy and girl realize they are more than best friends, but this was not it. As I write this, I actually had a flashback to one of the prequel Star Wars movies where Anakin is *maybe* unconsciously using the force to get Padme to love him.


Say No to the Duke was the third book in a series, the Wildes of Lindow Castle by the fabulous Eloisa James. Each book gave you a glimpse into the relationship that would be highlighted in the next book and I have to admit that I could not wait to read what would happen after the billiards game in book two. I am honestly not sure how to give my opinion on this one without giving you a spoiler. At the end of book two, there is a billiards game that may result in a compromising situation, no matter who won. If the woman won, then she got a London adventure in men’s apparel. If the man won, then he won a night with the woman with no marriage attached. All I will say is that the person who I wanted to win, did win, but I did not like the outcome of that win. Okay, the theme here is storyline tropes that I like and the next one is when a woman (or even the guy) has to disguises their identity. I really like the genderswap stories a la Shakespeare and as a Shakespeare scholar, I was looking forward to how James handled that plot. And that is all I am going to say about that.

If you click on any of the links I have provided, you will be taken to Amazon where you will see a more detailed description of the books listed here. Hey, these are just my opinions and you might love the books I found issue with. It happens. My husband thought Hunger Games was an awesome book and I thought Katniss was a horrible person. To each their own. Happy Reading!

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What I Read: November & December

I know, I promised you that I would have a post up with my current reading list and thoughts…Well, hey, it is still December, right? So here is a combined post of what I have read over the past two months. If you want to read summaries of what the book is about, then head over to the Amazon link (if you buy the book, I get a small portion of the sale through my affiliate link). These are my thoughts after reading the books. Enjoy!Read More »

What I Read

Woah has it been a busy couple of weeks! I finally heard back from IRB that changes were needed on my dissertation proposal before the university would allow me to start my research. However, there was a deadline attached or I would have to start all over again with the application process which means another two months of waiting. Add to that, my teaching for my STEM in Libraries course was wrapping up which meant a mad dash to get all my grading done by the semester deadline. We took a week off for a mini vacation at my mother in laws…or what I affectionately call “Where Internet Goes to Die”. So nothing was getting done there like I had planned and it was hard for me to unwind knowing what I had waiting for me back home. But that is all behind me now! Everything has been caught up which means I can focus on writing again.

One of my previous posts was about self care and being a librarian I realized I neglected to add something to the list: Reading! In the past three weeks, I have been reading some books due out for publication soon. So I thought I would give a breakdown of what I read and my thoughts. Enjoy!Read More »

Break Out the Pumpkins!


I just finished reading the book Joyful: the surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness which talks about how things bring us joy. In the beginning of the book, it talked a little about how we become cheerful during the holidays because of the decorations and feeling in the air. This reminded me of the term hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) which is a Scandinavian term that roughly means that feeling of comfort and coziness that we get.

In recent years, the term has taken off as a jumpstart to a decorating trend, but it is much more than that. Hygge isn’t just things, it is a feeling. To have that perfect hygge feeling, yes you do need some things like pillows, blankets, candles; but you also need things like good food, conversation, and ambiance. Typically, we experience the hygge around the holidays because all those things are present.

After reading, Joyful I really wanted it to be the holidays so I could decorate. I love that period between Halloween and New Year’s. So I have already decked out my front porch already in some of my Fall and Halloween decorations (unfortunately, a mouse got to my box first). It might not quite be sweater weather yet, but I am ready! Did this bring me joy? Actually, yes it did. No one else might have their decorations up, but I don’t care. Pulling into the driveway today, I found myself smiling to see my scarecrow and spiders there on the porch. I fully plan to stop at Dollar Tree for some more decorations to replenish what the mouse got to.

Do you decorate for the Fall or the Winter holidays? What are some of your favorite signs of this three month span of holidays?

PS…If you are interested in finding out more about how things like color and designs can improve our mood, i encourage you to pick up a copy of the book Joyful: the surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness!

Author Interview & Book Review: Dead Reckoning

About a month ago I received an email from the awesome people at Bloomsbury with a list of YA titles for review. I got very excited when I saw Mercedes Lackey’s name on the list. I have been reading her books for over 20 years. I also loved the Shadow Grail books she co-wrote with Rosemary Edghill (who is an X-Men fan BTW). It got even better when I read the description:

From bestselling authors Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill, comes a new thriller DEAD RECKONING. Jett Gallatin expected trouble in Aslop, Texas—but not zombies. Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why? This gunslinging, hair-raising, romp will leave you on the edge of your seat.


DEAD RECKONING is a historical zombie apocalypse gender bender. It is like the authors rooted through my brain and picked all my favorites to wrap up in one book. Now somewhere I read a blurb for the book comparing it to Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. Personally, I don’t think the two can be compared because they are playing two completely different ball games.

THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is a dystopian series that takes place many years after the fall (i.e. the zombie apocalypse). They are not trying to solve where the zombies came from or even how to stop it; the characters are merely trying to survive. It was also heavy on the romance. DEAD RECKONING, while just as primitive of a landscape though with cool steampunkish tech like Gibbons’ Auto-Tachypod, takes place at the beginning of a small scale  zombie uprising and yes, they want to solve and stop it. In other words, heavy on the mystery. The characters in DEAD RECKONING are complete strangers, not friends since childhood, who band together to stop a threat from harming others. The characters also have completely different personalities that perfectly complement each other.

As if reading such a fantastic book wasn’t enough, I got the chance to submit some questions for the authors. I have talked to authors before, but this is my first legit interview. As I have said before, authors are my rockstars. Does that mean I am a groupie? Hmm…

Rosemary Edghill was kind enough to send out a wonderful reply to my questions. Now before we get started, everyone give Rosemary a virtual cupcake cause today is her birthday! Yay!

*Internet Hoards Singing*

Now, on with the show…

Q: I love supernatural books where the monsters are the evil-they-have-to-be-killed kind of monsters (you know, not the sparkly love interest types), so I have to ask, what inspired you to write a historical western featuring zombies?

R:We started with the characters: Gibbons the rationalist, and Jett the … not-so-rationalist. We wanted a threat that would pit them against each other as well as against it: so clearly it had to be something that looked supernatural. There’s been a lot of stuff done lately to retcon zombies from supernatural creatures to natural ones (plague, alien organism, yadda), so they made the perfect slipstream monster for Dead Reckoning. And in 1865, we’re still near the beginning of the zombie myth. The concept hadn’t really made it out into the popular culture yet — even Gibbons is barely familiar with it — so it also gave us a chance to work with an archetype very familiar to our readers yet fairly-unknown to our protagonists. Which was a lot of fun.

Q: I like gender benders where the girl pretends to be a guy, I was taught Shakespeare did it in his plays because he was worried about the male actor’s psyche of being in a dress and wanted to get the guy back in tights -or whatever- as soon as possible. Why did you decide to have Jett disguised as a boy in the story? Why not keep her gender secret longer than you did?

R:Jett is a Southerner in the post-Civil War period. She’s lost everything: her home, her family, her future. All she has left is her quest to find her twin brother. But in the mid-1800s, a young woman couldn’t just go off and do as she pleased. It would be the equivalent of, say, an eight-year-old child’s position today. People wouldn’t take them seriously. They’d always be calling Child Protective Services and trying to send them home. Of course, there isn’t a Child Protective Services in the Old West, but if Jett were travelling as Philippa Sheridan instead of as Jett Galatin, she would be exposed to a huge amount of danger — and have far less freedom.

As for why we decided to reveal her masquerade so soon…

If we kept it a secret, we’d have to present her to the reader as a boy, and that would mean we wouldn’t be able to tell any of the story from her point of view. It would also shift the focus of the story we were telling to her disguise, and we wanted it to be about her relationship with Gibbons, and the two of them dealing with the zombie apocalypse. Last of all, if we revealed the truth about her disguise at a point much later in the story, the readers would already have gotten used to thinking of her as a boy, and there’d be this whole “Wait, what? What’s going on now?” thing. And that would lose forward momentum at a point where we wanted the pace to pick up and head full-tilt into certain doom…

Q:I love all the background info you have regarding the mythos behind zombie lore and superstition. How much research did you do before you wrote the book?

R: I started out in Regency Romances (and I’m a huge history junkie to boot!), and Misty’s Elemental Mages series is set in the Victorian period. We were both pretty familiar with the time period. (And my heroes have always been cowboys…) The main part of the research we had to do was to figure out what people of that period could know about zombies, based on the information available. The other part was in making sure that the real-life technology we described (such as the telegraph) worked as it would have worked in that time and place.

The one thing I had to do a lot of handwaving on was the food, actually. Canning technology was just starting to become widespread — it had been driven by the need to feed the army (on both sides) during the Civil War — and I knew there were a lot of canned goods available on the frontier (such as peaches, tomatoes, and condensed milk), but try as I might, I couldn’t get a full list of what might be on the shelves of the General Store. So I tried to distract everybody, and concentrated on what I did know…

Q: How did the whole process of collaboration work with writing DEAD RECKONING?

R: This is our tenth book together, so we’ve got it down to a science by now.

We use Google Docs a great deal. We start by breaking the story in chat. At that point it looks like a really long book report full of spoilers. Then I go off and do a scene-by-scene breakdown. For example, the first scene in the book looked like this:

SCN 01: We establish the tiny Western town of Alsop, Texas. It’s spring, but a Texas spring is like anyplace else’s deep winter. It’s the beginning of the droving season, when thousands of head of cattle are driven north along the Chisholm Trail to Kansas railheads. It’s just dusk when a lone figure on a gleaming black stallion rides into town. The figure’s fancy turnout — silver conches and stamping on the black leather saddle, silver-studded reins and bridle, silver-studded saddlebags — proclaim them less of a working cowboy than a “bad man” — a “shootist” — a gunslinger. The rider, too, is wearing black studded with silver, from the silver heels and toe-caps on the boots, to the silver spurs on the boots, to the silver conches on the black leather vest, to the silver-studded hatband on the black Stetson. The only touch of contrast is the ivory handles on the matched pair of Colt Peacemakers he wears strapped to his hips. The fact that they’re tied down proclaims him as someone who lives and dies by the gun. The town of Alsop is a single street, with a livery stable at one end and a church at the other. Between the two are the usual buildings: hotel and dining parlor, general store, telegraph office, newspaper, sheriff’s office. And of course the saloon. The prairie wind blows dust, discarded paper, and the inevitable tumbleweeds across the street as the black rider’s horse ambles slowly up the street and stops in front of the saloon.

As you see, there’s a lot of background information included, mainly so it’s there when we need it.

Next, we divvy up the scenes and start writing. We post them in Google Docs, broken out into chapters, and revise each other’s work as we go. When the book is done, one or the other of us downloads all the chapters, assembles them into a single document, does a last polish, and off it goes…

Q: Both White Fox and Jett left us with questions, is there already a sequel in the works for DEAD RECKONING?

R: Yup! We’re off to Denver! And imagine my glee when I found a detailed map of the city from the very year I need…

Q: What would you say is different about writing for young adults rather than adults?

R: Wow. That’s a hard one. (My work has always been tagged “of interest to teens” from my very first book, which was a space opera titled HELLFLOWER, so I may not be the best person to ask.) I think it’s always a case of knowing what’s important to your audience, and telling that audience a story that won’t bore it. So if my main character is a sixteen-year old, I do my best to look at the world from that perspective. If my main character were fifty, the perspective would change…

Q: I am a fan of the romance genre, what would you say is your favorite genre to work with? (BTW congrats to Rosemary who with the addition of the Western has now written a book in every genre). *high five*

R: *high fives you back* If I were guessing about Misty, I’d say “historical fantasy” would be her answer. My favorite is urban fantasy, because I am totally in love with the idea that something wonderful and strange will suddenly show up in the middle of an ordinary day and an ordinary life and then there will be Adventures.. At least, I like to think it’s wonderful Sometimes it’s monsters, but in that case, a hero/ine is never far behind!

Q: Which books or authors would you say most inspired your writing?

R: ::laughs:: All of them! Mark Twain, Damon Runyon, Robert Heinlein, J.R.R. Tolkien, Andre Norton (who I got to collaborate with OMG!), Georgette Heyer, “Doc” Smith, Leslie Charteris, Raymond Chandler, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, C. L. Moore… Each one of them taught me something — about how to tell a story, about how to make a character “real”, about Sense of Wonder, which I think is the most important gift a writer can give themselves and their readers.

Q: I know many authors that are now using iPads to write on the go, what is your writing preference: paper and pen/pencil, desktop, laptop, or mobile device?

R: I adore my iPad, but I can barely write emails on it — the touchpad is incredibly frustrating. So it’s computer (laptop or desktop) for me. I actually wrote my first couple of books on an IBM Selectric (yeah, I know, the dark ages), and I used to write my shorter stuff longhand. But from the moment I got my hands on my first computer (an Apple ][e ) I’ve never looked back. Revision is so much easier!!!!

Q: Any advice for unpublished writers?

R: Misty’s advice and mine is about the same (I know, as I’ve heard her give hers A LOT): write! There’s nothing to beat Butt In Chair to help you hone your writing discipline and your craft. The basic rules are pretty simple:

1. Write.

2. Finish what you write.

3. Submit what you write.

You’ll face a lot of rejection, frustration, and disappointment along the way. But these three rules are the only ones I know to turn someone from Unpublished Writer to Published Writer.

Q: Between City of Heroes and the Marvelverse, you have both plied your craft in the realm of those a bit superhuman…If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

R: Misty may chime in later, but for me: FLYING!!! I want to soar above the towers of Gotham, or Metropolis, or the Big Apple! No contest!

Q: Thank you very much for sharing your works and words with us, is there anything else you would like to add?

R: I started out in fandom, writing fanfic, and the one thing I miss as a “pro” writer is the amount of feedback I used to get. Like the book? Hate the book? I want to know! You can find me in my usual hangouts: http://rosemary-edghill.dreamwidth.org/ and http://www.facebook.com/rosemary.edghill


Now if that wasn’t just fabulousness in itself…Imagine if you will that Cowboys vs Aliens, Wild Wild West, and Walking Dead were all put into a blender…this book will appeal to readers who love historicals, steampunk, supernatural, and mysteries. Though the authors comment at the beginning of the book that they apologize for some of the rather unenlightened attitudes and language of the book, it is a clean read…well, clean other than disintegrating corpses. The target audience is grades 7-12 and is perfect to give to those middle schoolers looking for a good zombie book. It will even appeal to boys. 

*Update: Check out Bloomsbury Teens Facebook page for great prizes related to the books release! https://www.facebook.com/BloomsburyTeens