Audiobook Review – Daisies for Innocence


Okay, I really liked this one, and I cannot believe this book isn’t more popular! This is one of those books, I didn’t know I was looking for, and now I need more of them. Like immediately.

Daisies for Innocence follows an aromatherapist as she navigates her flourishing (pun intended) business and life in a small town post-divorce. Which all gets more complicated when her employee and ex-husband’s girlfriend ends up dead on her doorstep.

This book has HUGE cozy mystery vibes, with a mystical feel added thanks to Ellie’s heightened powers of scent & emotion. The olfactory sensation of this book made this such a unique read, and Ellie was an easy character to connect with. Add to that a sweet, budding romance, and this one totally hits the spot.

If you’re looking for a fun, sweet, quick read for the holidays, Definitely check this one out. The audiobook was wonderfully narrated as well, and I can’t wait to listen to the sequels!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book works perfectly as a stand-alone, but I’m so glad there are two sequels to dive into (and I totally already have them on hold at the library!)

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – What the Knocker-Upper Woke Up


What the Knocker-Upper Woke Up combines the darkness of both the modern era and times past into an atmospheric paranormal. The story starts in Victorian-era London as it follows a few characters who stumble upon the darkness awaiting in a derelict mental asylum. Fast forward to present day, and the evil of the place continues to cause trouble for the characters of the present.

The writing style here is both rich and evocative in describing the creepiness of the Sideways and its inhabitants. Tess and the other characters are likable and easy to root for, but I did feel like this one was a bit slower to develop. (However, as I usually prefer breakneck pace, I think this is definitely a personal preference. 😂) The ending was unexpected though, and I thought it perfectly wrapped up this spooky paranormal. Recommended for fans of unique, well-written YA paranormal.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½

As a fellow not-morning person, being woken up at an ungodly hour is probably my villain origin story too.
Just sayin.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Dibs


Okay, when I say slowburn, I mean this book is SLOWBURN. Dibs follows Olivia 6 months after a rattling divorce as she goes on a work training trip notorious for hook-ups. Enter Adam, the incredibly attractive guy that her roommate has called dibs on, but who seems much more interested in Olivia.

But after Olivia’s divorce, she’s understandably loathe to trust again, and Adam is reeling from his own personal trials. Both of the characters are likable and definitely have the kind of chemistry that makes you hardcore want to will them together immediately. The slowburn is thick with tension, and ultimately leads to a satisfying ending, but there were times I found Olivia’s self-doubt and their interactions just a little repetitive.

Overall though, a solid romantic read that walks the line of steam, and one I would definitely recommend to fans of slow burn contemporary romances.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Whew. There is nothing that makes me want to shove characters together (in the best way) like slowburn.

Thanks for reading!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Eve Resurrected

Eve Resurrected

November 2022 (First Round)
Genre: Science Fiction
Word: Pare
Action: Hair Falling Out
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 250 words

Sophie awoke to a blast of frigid air, pain, and blinding light. God, was she hungover? It must’ve been a rough night. Groaning, she squinted at the man in a surgical mask and cap leaning over her hospital cot. Oh. Make that very rough.

“What hospital is this?” she croaked, her fingers registering the tubes connecting her body to the room’s white walls. Her parents were probably freaking out. Where was her phone?

The man straightened stiffly. “That is difficult to answer, but I can reassure you that you are safe.” Although his tone was calming, the words came out stilted, like English wasn’t his native language. “May I ask what you remember?”

Sophie ran her fingers through her hair, only for a clump of her blond locks to separate from her scalp. Horror rose up her throat like bile, and she muffled a shriek. “What’s wrong with me?”

“Do not fear. Radiation was a necessary component of the revival process, but you are well now.”

“R-revival?” A deep wrongness niggled in Sophie’s gut. “Who are you? What happened to me?”

“My name is Tom. I am an android created to ease your transition.” Tom stared at her with pale, unblinking eyes. “You, Sophie Jones, are the first human to successfully recover from cryosleep.”

“Android?” This was a joke right? A nightmare? “But where are the people?”

Silence stretched between them. “Until now, humanity was extinct. You are the only one, Sophie.”

Her newly reborn wails echoed long and loud. 

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed 9th, just barely squeaking into the second round, but I’m not going to lie, I may have to write this full-length novel one day.

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY

{2061}  I like the pace at which you allow Sophie to wake up. There’s not much of a panic in her thought process early on, and that really helps the build to the ending.

{2290}  This story has a nice contrast between the clinical and the mammalian. It’s comedic that the first thing Sophie imagines is a self-inflicted hangover. It’s a clever choice too to make the first human to be revived semi-dependent on parents. That helps with making her all the more lost when the truth is revealed.

{22}  The story is unique, and I especially appreciate that in this “hard” science-fiction plot the focus was on the feeling and reaction of Sophie rather than the mechanics of the world. The story attempted to keep the focus on what is interesting and compelling—the story—rather than the science-fiction universe surrounding it. By doing that, the science-fiction aspects feel more fully realized than if they were over-explained. That balance is well-maintained.  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK

{2061}  I wonder if an image or something could pass through Sophie’s mind as she’s trying to make sense of “revival.” Is there anything in her memory that might hint to what’s happened?

{2290}  I think Sophie’s reaction at the end is a bit preemptive. Sophie does not yet know if there are others undergoing the revival process, and indeed if her parents are safely in cryosleep. As reader, I pondered long about why Tom did not answer Sophie’s question about which hospital they were in.

{22}  The set-up is distinctive, which is great and not easy. The focus on Sophie feels like the right decision. However,  it is not clear to me how she is waking from cryosleep and her first reaction is that it was a “rough night.” That feels a little like a cliche when someone wakes and doesn’t know what’s going on. It distracts from what is working and it feels false when authors do that. It feels like a crutch. There has to be a more interesting way into that moment that doesn’t feel familiar and does something to reveal character and story. Why doesn’t she remember? What kind of things does she do in her life (beyond drinking)? Does she actually remember something hazily? There are a lot of things that could be done with that to match how distinctive the rest of the story is.

Audiobook Review – What Lies in the Woods


I was definitely in the mood for a dark thriller, when Netgalley sent me an email with this audiobook ARC. What Lies in the Woods follows Naomi when she returns to her childhood town where she was the victim of an attempted murder that put a serial killer behind bars.

The tension and dark atmosphere is thick right from the beginning and definitely drew me in with the obvious mysteries lurking in Naomi’s story. However, I didn’t really find Naomi to be a compelling character – she’s super self-destructive and honestly just frustrating sometimes – and I had trouble to connecting to her. Mostly I got annoyed when she kept actually saying out loud “I know I should go to the police BUT…” or “I know I should do the logical thing BUT…”

However, I found the mysteries here to be really satisfying, and there were definitely some twists and turns along the way that I didn’t expect (and some I did). I wish the ending had been a touch more uplifting and less open-ended, but overall I enjoyed the read (and the narration was fantastic) and would recommend to those looking for a dark thriller with few gratifying surprises.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC! What Lies in the Woods comes out today!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy birthday, you dark little book! Here, have a review!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – All the Dangerous Things


So Netgalley dropped two thrillers in my inbox on the same happy day, and while I was certainly in the mood for a thriller, this wasn’t my favorite of the two. All the Dangerous Things follows a sleep-deprived mother a year after her son has gone missing as she (understandably) is still obsessing over the very-cold case. The narrative is also interspliced with relevant scenes from Isabelle’s childhood as well as how she and her estranged husband first came together.

First, I found this novel to be rather slow (though disclaimer: I prefer a breakneck pace, so please keep that in mind). With no leads and not a whole lot of urgency, I found the tension hard to feel for most of this book. Not to mention, Isabelle is NOT a good person, so I found her hard to relate to as a character. Even as the story took some interesting twists and turns, I feel like she had a very detached reaction to them. While the books ends on a nice up-note, it still felt like some very messy things were put away a little too cleanly, and I wish we’d gotten some more depth from the supporting characters.

However, if you like psychological thrillers that take their time, this book is well-written and well-narrated with plenty of dark atmosphere and a karmic ending. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC! All the Dangerous Things comes out today!

⭐⭐⭐½

Maybe not for me, but could be for you!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett


The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett follows an octogenarian who has had ENOUGH of life. Largely cut off from the world, and very much unimpressed with it, she’s ready to take matters into her own hands when she gets 10-year-old Rose as a neighbor… and new BFF. Their relationship and banter absolutely made this book, and overall I found their narrative to be a very relaxing, wholesome story about life in your last decades, the choices we make, and redemption.

Interspersed with their story, we also get Eudora’s montage of memories of what her life has been like – from her childhood in the midst of WWII London through the present day. And honestly, that was… kind of a downer. While it makes you totally get why Eudora has cut herself off from the world, there were choices she made that were a bit frustrating, and honestly I wish she had at least some happy memories interspersed in there to balance it out and really make her life more “brilliant” rather than depressing.

But that aside, I found this a quick, refreshing read, and really enjoyed Eudora’s proper and unapologetic take on things, especially in contrast to those around her. Recommended for those looking for a thoughtful but fun reflection on life, death, and our connections to those around us.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cheers to the privilege of getting old, my friends. Not to brag, but I think I’m going to make a fabulous unapologetic old woman. 😂

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – We Could Be Villains


I absolutely love when a book delivers on its premise, and this one is right on the money! We Could be Villains follows Rosemary, a huge Vigil & Ante (read: Marvel-esque) fangirl as she stumbles into the high-stakes reality behind her favorite movies. With her difficult home-life, cinematic passion, and quirky tagalong co-worker, Rosemary is definitely a character that you can connect with almost immediately, and it’s so fun to follow both her excitement and fear as she navigates the new and dangerous world of undercover superheroes. It was really interesting to see the Vigil & Ante world unfold before her, along with some twists that definitely caught me by surprise.

Interspliced with her narrative is an interrogation of Ironfall, the smooth villain of Vigil & Ante and Rosemary’s blackmailer. I absolutely loved seeing the contrast between his take on events and Rosemary, and the chemistry between them is intense! Let’s just say I’m a big Ironfall fan. The promise of a enemies-to-lovers romance is THICK and definitely has me checking for the release date of the sequel!

Definitely recommend for any superhero fans looking for a fast-paced romp through a world that you’ll definitely will want to jump into for yourself!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Throwback to that one time I was a superhero! It’s always a good time.🦸‍♀️

Thanks for reading!

2022 Writing Sum-up!



So this is the time of the year where I try to reflect on how the last twelve months of my writing life went. Was it… productive? Fun? Fulfilling? Disappointing? What did I learn? What did I do well? What could I improve for next year?

And, you all… a LOT happened this year, and my small potatoes writing career took some big steps. So let’s take a look!

first, the numbers

  • Words written: 55,000 (The Ninth Circle) + 77,000 (Time’s Orphan) + 22,000 (Night of Ash) + 60,000 (Inky & Heater IRL) = 214,000 words (3 complete, 1 partial)
  • Words revised: 77,000 (TO) + 22,000 (NoA) + 99,000 (ItC) + 75,000 (TBA) = 273,000 words (4 books)
  • Words published: 22,000 words (1 book)
  • Words queried: 99,000 (ItC) + 75,000 (TBA) = 174,000 words (2 books)
  • 2022 Total Words Worked: 758,000 words

Sales Numbers: 650+ self-published books sold. Another 200ish downloaded for free. (Draft to Digital makes it little harder to distinguish between which books were bought and which were downloaded for free)

And the Goodreads numbers.

  • Odriel’s Heirs: 165 ratings / 4.33 stars
  • Burning Shadows: 17 ratings / 4.94 stars
  • Idriel’s Children: 50 ratings / 4.34 stars
  • Night of Ash: 9 ratings / 5 stars
  • Time’s Orphan: 8 ratings / 4.88 stars
  • The Gatekeeper of Pericael: 84 ratings / 4.34 stars
  • Into the Churn: 4 ratings / 5 stars
  • My Goodreads total: 341 ratings / 4.34 stars

For reference, the 2021 total was 214 copies sold, 136,000 written, and 554,000 words worked. So yeah. Obviously, still small potatoes. But numbers wise, this years kicked the pants off of last year in pretty much every single way, and that wasn’t even the best part!

The best parts

  • I got not one, but TWO publishing deals with Whimsical Publishing, and I absolutely ADORE working with them. It has been the best experience. And not only that, but I actually had another 2 publishing offers from small presses this year. 😱 This was new and exciting territory for me, and I was absolutely thrilled to make the leap from self-pub to small press with a publisher that loves me books as much as I do. 💛
  • Then, my YA paranormal, The Ninth Circle, got picked up for a WriteHive mentorship with EJ Dawson! 🎉 What?! Is this even real life? The first call was so awesome, and I can’t wait to whip the manuscript into shape with them!
  • The Gatekeeper of Pericael was a semi-finalist in the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Awards. I love my upper middle grade fantasy, but it can be so hard to market, so this was an exciting moment!
  • Odriel’s Heirs got over 100 Amazon ratings and finally got BookBub US and International marketing deals! 🎉 I was so stoked to get more exposure for my first book child, and I definitely had a positive experience with these. Fingers crossed I can get more books accepted in the future!
  • I got accepted to be a participating author at both OwlCon 2023 and StoryBound Fest 2023! StoryBound Fest will be my first in-person author convention, and I’m pretty nervous! So that’ll be an exciting new challenge for next year.

What I learned

  • This year, I really nailed down my outlining process with the Save the Cat formula, which really helped me churn out those first drafts. Thanks to Story Genius and an obsession with K-drama, I also had a crucial epiphany on how to develop likable, relatable characters.
  • I love dual-POV and the depth it brings to a story. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.
  • I grew a lot more comfortable as a critique partner and have collected a few more writing friends who I can reliably swap feedback with.
  • I also was able to consistently read and review books on my book blog here! 62 and counting this year! This has been great way to give back to the writing community, bring more traffic to my little site here, and also sharpen my critiquing skills.
  • I learned how to create decent covers in Canva Pro! This was a super fun tool for my creative process and marketing purposes, but if I ever self-pub in the future, I’m glad I can use this as a viable option to cut costs. (However, if anyone has any recommendations on graphic design online resources, they would be so appreciated! I definitely still have room for improvement. 😅
  • Making playlists for my books and WIPs on Spotify is ridiculously transportive, and I can’t believe I didn’t discover this earlier. I now have a playlist for every single one, and it is an amazing way to get in the writing mindset and pivot quickly between WIPs.
  • Finally, I learned that small presses can be amazing, and honestly I wish I had investigated/considered them a more with first two books I queried.

What I still need to work on

  • Oh boy. So much. I’ve been making some strides in the last few months, but the balance of writing and social media engagement still eludes me, although I feel like I’ve grown more comfortable being my ridiculous, goofy self in reels and selfies. And I actually have a TikTok now – who would’ve thought that?!
  • Advertisements. I tried again this year, buutttt still failing big on this one. If anyone wants to point me toward some learning resources, I would LOVE that.
  • Querying agents. I had several full requests this year, but per percentage of queries I send out, my numbers are nothing to write home about. As I’ll probably end up querying two WIPs next year, I definitely want to focus on sharpening my query materials to boost my request stats next year.
  • Minimizing publishing expenses. Although writing is definitely more of a passion project for me than a business (thank goodness for the day job!), I definitely want to start streamlining my expenses so I can write long-term without permanently denting my wallet. Moving to small press helped immensely this year, and while I hope to publish more with small presses in the future, if I ever selfpub again, I’ll be streamlining my process to cut costs.
  • A brand? Right now I’ve been kind of all over the place: YA Epic Fantasy, MG Fantasy, YA Sci-fi, YA Paranormal, YA fairytale retelling, YA romance… I know one day, if I decide to really get serious, I’ll probably need to pick a lane of some nature, but right now I’m just having fun, so I’ll save that conundrum for future me.

Goals

So what can I go after? As always, I try to keep my goals measurable and attainable.

  • Get Time’s Orphan out into the world on February 8th, and officially complete my first series. 🎉
  • Launch Into the Churn on April 4th… and cross my fingers that it does well enough to write the sequel. 🤞 (p.s. If you read it and want more, don’t forget to rate, review, & spread the word on social media!)
  • Revise my YA Paranormal with my mentor and toss it into the query trenches
  • Revise my YA Romance and storm the query trenches with that one too!
  • Attend Storybound Fest and live to tell about it. (Did I mention I was nervous?!) 😅
  • And of course, write the next book. I have three outlines waiting for me, but I’m not sure which will win out here, so it’ll be exciting to see what I’m working on next.

So yeah, it’s been an incredibly fantastic writing year for me, and I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the people that have supported and encouraged me along the way. 💛 Here’s to more growth and adventures in 2023. As always, thanks so much for reading!

So thrilled with how much I’ve grown this year as a writer and so proud of these two books. I can’t wait to see them out into the world!

Audiobook Review – Kingdom of the Wicked


This book had so many elements that I enjoyed. The Italian vibes, the creepy darkness of the prose, and a plot of murder, princes of hell, and witches. I was totally on board. But, the MC, Emilia, kind of ruined it for me. Oh boy. Seriously, I could not Even with her. Though the audiobook was beautifully narrated, there were a couple times I had to pause it because Emilia was killing me. Again. The mental gymnastics she goes through to repeatedly end up at the wrong conclusion was exhausting, and her treatment of Wrath (who saved her life way too many times to count) was not cool. Seriously, run, Wrath. I’m sure there have to be other witch fish in the sea. So, great premise, great writing, but a nonsensical MC I really couldn’t find redeemable. But! That’s just my opinion, so if you’re into dark fantasy with strong Italian flavor, maybe give it a look!

⭐⭐⭐

Emilia, girl, seriously, I just can’t with you.

Thanks for reading!