…I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo for the first time in 4 years! I did it–and “won”–5 years in a row, from 2007-2011. In 2012, I started it, but then my depression kicked in and I stopped writing.

Had the stroke in June 2013, and I’ve been struggling to get my writing groove back ever since.

I’m not going to write a new novel, though. Instead, I’m going to finish the novel I started in 2012, now called Siren Song. I finished the outline months ago. Now I’m going to put it to use.

I’m witchofbreithla over there, if you’re interested.

Yes, it’s probably insane to be working full-time, finishing up my Bachelor’s degree, and training for a 10k..and deciding I need to spend most of November writing.

Insanity is relevant.

What I Read in September


Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova (Read to review.). Loved this!

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert (Read for school, and as one of my classics for the month.)


Cutter Boy, by Cristy Watson (Read to review.). Quick, good read about a difficult topic.


Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs, by Catherine Carvell (Read to review.) I didn’t realize this was a middle-grade book, but it was enjoyable, with a good message.


The Sunlight Pilgrims, by Jenni Fagan (Read to review.) Wow. This novel is extremely well-done! Unique setting, and the characters are fascinating.


Tracing the Bones, by Elise Miller (Read to review.) This book was both intriguing and painful to read.

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles (Read for school). Read it before. It still bores me.

Scary Close, by Donald Miller (My spiritual book for the month.)

What We’ll Do for Blood, by C.L. Mannarino

I do not own this image. Image belongs to C.L. Mannarino.

C.L. Mannarino lives in Massachusetts, and writes about family, friendship, and things that go bump in the night. The first novel in her Almost Human series is What We’ll Do for Blood.

Scott Whitney just wants to survive his final exams and finish up his senior year of high school. He has a great girlfriend, but dreams of getting away from his status-conscious family and going to college. He doesn’t fit into his family’s perfect little lives, although that doesn’t stop Scott from trying.

While celebrating his father’s promotion, Scott meets Maria, his father’s gorgeous co-worker. Soon, Maria is at the house all the time, helping his father, bonding with his mother, and setting Scott’s teeth on edge. Then one night, Scott finds Maria drinking his father’s blood, and he realizes he has no idea what’s going on. Scott is determined to save his father, despite Maria’s efforts to keep him quiet.  Family has always been important to Scott, but now “blood” takes on a whole new meaning.

 s set in 1989, so there’s no cell phones to call for help, and no internet to scour for information. This is a very diverse book, not the typical YA vampire fare, and Scott is an out-of-the-ordinary hero. This book is less Twilight, and more Interview with the Vampire, not bothering to romanticize vampires and instead putting a great character front and center.

(I was contacted by the author to do an impartial review of this novel.)

The Tea Planter’s Wife, by Dinah Jeffries

I do not own this image. Image belongs to Crown Publishing.

Dinah Jeffries was born in Malaysia but moved to England at age nine. Her newest novel is The Tea Planter’s Wife.

Gwen arrives in Ceylon full of anticipation and fear:  newly married after a whirlwind courtship, now she joins her husband, Laurence, on his tea plantation. Ceylon is so much more than Gwen ever imagined:  a lush, other-worldly paradise filled with racial conflict and secrets. Lots of secrets.

Like the hidden grave she finds near the house. And the trunk of old baby clothes. Laurence won’t talk about these secrets, and soon Gwen is wrapped up in her pregnancy and a secret of her own. These secrets put up a wall between Gwen and Laurence, one that leads to more secrets, lies and manipulation, and a tragedy of the worst sort.

Some books leave you speechless and emotionally reeling. This was one of those books. Ceylon is so vivid and brimming with life I could almost smell the flowers and the tea. Gwen and Laurence are flawed and frightened, but love each other so much and so deeply as their relationship grows. Their secrets haunt them both through every page of the book. This book is a phenomenal, emotional rollercoaster!

(Galley provided by Crown Publishing.)

The Beauty of Darkness, by Mary E. Pearson

I do not own this image. Image belongs to Henry Holt & Co.


Mary E. Pearson is former school teacher, a lifelong player at being different people, and an award-winning author. Her newest novel is The Beauty of Darkness, the third book in The Remnant Chronicles.

Lia is First Daughter in Morrighan, but she abandoned her family and what was expected of her years ago in favor of choosing her own destiny. She ended up a captive in Venda, where she learned of the great evil stalking Morrighan and the rest of the world.

With war looming, Lia has no choice but to return to her home to warn them, but she risks imprisonment or worse if she is caught. With Rafe forbidding her to return to Morrighan and one of her betrayers now seeking to aid her, Lia does not know where to turn. She has a choice between an impossible task that might claim her life, or doing what is expected of her.

I enjoyed this book quite a lot, especially considering I have not read the first two books in the series (yet). I don’t normally read only part of a series, so I assume I overlooked the fact that it’s the third—and final—book in one. Even so, I loved the characters and found the world intriguing. Great action and mystery here!

(Galley provided by Henry Holt & Co. via NetGalley.)

Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova

I do not own this image. Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

According to her website, Zoraida Cordova says, “(I) write YA Urban Fantasy about mermaids and other things that go bump in the night. I also write about 20-something-year-old-girls searching for love and the meaning of life. I often wish my life were a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sex and the City. I’m a contributing writer to Latinos in Kid Lit because #WeNeedDiverseBooks.” Her newest novel is Labyrinth Lost.

Alex is a bruja in a family of powerful witches. But Alex doesn’t want her powers. She wants to be normal. She’s hated magic for years, ever since it made her father disappear. Instead of a Quinceañera, Alex prepares for her Death Day:  the most important event in a witch’s life, and her one chance to get rid of her magic.

But the curse she performs during the ceremony goes wrong, and her entire family disappears, leaving her alone and with all of their magic. Nova is the only one she can turn to, a brujo with ambitions of his own. They must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between two places that makes Wonderland look like a cartoon fairy tale.

The characters in Labyrinth Lost are so vivid they almost step off the page. The magic system is unique (with a hint of the feel of voodoo). Alex is conflicted over her heritage, but not her love of her family, and she grows so much in this book. There are a few twists in the book that will catch the reader by surprise.


(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley.)

What I Read in August

Nothing like being almost a month late with this post.

Sorry about that.

I’m actually very OCD about To-Do Lists/my BuJo, but some things just get away from me. Like talking about what I read in August.

Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Queen’s Necklace, by Kathryn Kenny. This was from my TBR pile, and is also a book I loved when I was younger. This series is just so…innocent and happy.

the summer that melted everything
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.)

The Summer that Melted Everything, by Tiffany McDaniel. Read to review. And wow.

getting it right

Getting it Right, by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Read to review. Felt sort of like A Confederacy of Dunces to me.

the reason I run

The Reason I Run, by Chris Spriggs. Such an inspiring book, full of determination and love. Read to review.


The Last Road Home, by Danny Johnson. Read to review. Excellent read. Very emotional and poignant.



Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs, by Catherine Carvell


I do no own this image. Image belongs to Star Bright Books.

Catherine Carvell was born in England but moved to Australia at age 8. She loved nature and stories, so she studied biology and journalism. Now she lives in Singapore with her family and pet turtles. Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs is her first middle-grade book.

Darcy Moon has enough problems, her father’s wacky job and her mom’s hairy armpits are just the tip of the iceberg. When she wanders into the local swamp and an old turtle asks for her help, she is understandably freaked out. The Aroona frogs are disappearing, and Darcy is an Earth Guardian. She has to help, but she’s up against a local millionaire while she tries fix the food-chain and save the swamp. And that doesn’t count the talking frogs.

Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs is a unique, humorous middle-grade book dealing with environmental issues, greed, and quirky families. It’s totally worth reading…and I don’t even have kids!

(Galley provided by Star Bright Books via NetGalley.)

Cutter Boy, by Cristy Watson

I do not own this image. Image used courtesy of James Lorimer & Company.)


Cristy Watson is a teacher who writes poetry and YA. Her newest story is Cutter Boy.

Travis is bullied at school and ignored at home. He has no one to talk to. The only thing that gives him peace is cutting himself with a razor blade. When he meets new girl Chyvonne at school, he wants to get to know her better, but he’s afraid she’ll find out his secret.

As Travis grows closer to Chyvonne, he wonders what causes his mother to hate him so much. Then he finds the art of paper cutting, which seems to be the only other option to make himself feel better. Will Travis ever win his struggle with self-harm?

Cutter Boy is a difficult and dark short novel that delves into an area seldom explored in literature:  self-harm among guys. Travis’ journey is wrenching and emotionally gripping.

(Galley courtesy of James Lorimer & Company.)

The Sunlight Pilgrims, by Jenni Fagan

I do not own this image. Image belongs to Crown Publishing.

Jenni Fagan is a poet, screenwriter, and the author of short stories, essays, articles, plays, and novels. She has won prestigious awards, including Scottish Author of the Year (2016) and one of the Granta Best of Young British Novelists (2013). Her newest novel is The Sunlight Pilgrims.

In November of 2020, the world is freezing over. The consequences of global warming are in full effect. The ice caps are melting. There’s snow in Israel. The Thames is overflowing. People are fleeing London for warmer temperatures to the south. But Dylan is headed north to bury the ashes of his mother and grandmother in the Scottish islands they came from.

Twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, live in a Highlands caravan, getting by scavenging the landfill for things to restore and trade. Stella is not who she one was, and Constance is fiercely protective of who her child is, and of her own choices. When Dylan arrives, he will change both their lives as they wait for the worsening winter to arrive.

This is a beautiful, evocative book filled with compelling characters. The potential return of the ice Age—set only four years from now!—adds a chilling backdrop to the experiences of the characters. Very well-done and worth reading.

(Galley provided by Crown Publishing via NetGalley.)