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Books in 2012

I read quite a few five-star worthy books in 2012. It's hard to get a five-star out of me. But these eight books will continue to be on my highly recommended list for a while.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is on this list. It's a reread, but it is my absolute favorite of the seven.

And before we get to my top books of 2012, here is a picture of my statistics from Goodreads.

Now in the order I read my 2012 five-star rated books:


Classics Challenge

Of all the goals I attempted to complete this year, I wanted to read more classic books. I typically pick one up every few modern books. So I decided to join in on a challenge to read seven classics. I got through four of them. This is my wrap up:

My list:
These have all been on the list for a while now:
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

 This one sounds very interesting, which usually classic books don't, lol:
Middlemarch by George Eliot

And one reread because I think I was too young and didn't understand it:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

And my blog posts on the books I managed to read:
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Great Expectations
Gulliver's Travels

I plan to read Pride and Prejudice this January because it is the 200th anniversary of publication (and I just want the pleasure of rereading it). But I will definitely keep these other three on my list for this year.


Call for Guest Bloggers

Hi all. I'm switching my blog over to my website. It's newly built and still a bit wonky, but I'm hoping to be completely switched over with the new year. In order to get the word out that I've moved, I'd like some guest bloggers. If you want to write about our relationship, what you love, writing, reading, books, editing, photography, your expertise...pretty much anything.

Just shoot me an email at amie.mccracken AT gmail DOT com and tell me what you want to write about!

You can see the new website here www.amiemccracken.com

Go ahead and email me with feedback on the site as well. I'd love to improve it.


Writing Retreat in England

I had the express privilege of traveling to Devon England for a writing retreat in November. It was hosted by Charlie at Urban Writers' Retreat. She spent the whole week overfeeding us with cake and vegetables and tea. The cottage was something out of Jane Austen. And the other writers were very interesting and fun to get to know.

I felt a little strange doing this. I'm not one to go somewhere just for myself. It was oh so fulfilling though. The vibe of just being around other writers was like a drug. I wrote a few blog posts, worked on a writing class that I'm taking this month, and finished a first draft of my novel. Overall, I wrote over 10,000 words in four days.

I learned that I can sit down and start writing at 9 am and keep writing until about 4 pm (with maybe a walk or tea break in between). I made some new friends that I can't wait to go back to England and visit again. It was the most relaxing and comfortable trip I've been on. I can't wait to do it again.


Show and Tell in a Nutshell by Jessica Bell - Book Review

Show and Tell in a Nutshell by Jessica Bell is a writing craft book that is practical. Jessica shows the reader how to show in a very practical and dynamic way. She gives examples of telling and then switches them right around to showing. She also provides exercises and blank sheets of paper for the reader to try it all out on their own.

I could not believe the amount of scenes Jessica managed to create with such flair and intensity. The tone of each was so very different. I have never seen such obvious yet beautiful examples of showing. As an editor, I look forward to recommending this book to my authors. It has the ability to broaden a writer's horizon not just in showing but in the tone and temper used.

I received this book from the author for review.


Wright for America by Robin Lamont - Book Review

Wright for America by Robin Lamont is a thriller and a political statement and a personal story all wrapped up in one. The reader follows a radio host who is full of himself, a young actress sticking up for her twin brother, and an FBI agent who has fallen in love with the woman he is tailing. The twists and turns take the reader to unexpected places.

Wright for American by Robin Lamont book cover

The book started out with a topic I was not expecting. The radio host, Pryor Wright, is an extreme republican. And by extreme I mean goading his listeners on to take their anger out on those they disagree with. Then a few chapters in there was a hospital scene between Maren and her twin brother, who was attacked by some of Wright's listeners simply for being gay, and I fell in love with the characters.

At the beginning the twists and surprises all felt trite and obvious. Wright was an easy villain with nothing to love. But at the end, everything culminated in a wonderful catastrophe and each twist went somewhere completely unexpected.

This book really made me think. Robin never forced her ideals on my, she just introduced them and let them simmer in my mind for a bit.

I received this book from the author for review.


Showing vs Telling New Book by Jessica Bell

Click to add me to Goodreads!
Have you been told there's a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

If you purchase the e-book, you will be armed with the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page, where you can toggle backward and forward from different scenes with ease. Use your e-reader's highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes instead.

The author, Jessica Bell, also welcomes questions via email, concerning the content of this book, or about showing vs. telling in general, at showandtellinanutshell@gmail.com

“Jessica Bell addresses one of the most common yet elusive pieces of writing advice—show, don't tell—in a uniquely user-friendly and effective way: by example. By studying the sixteen scenes she converts from “telling” into “showing,” not only will you clearly understand the difference; you will be inspired by her vivid imagery and dialogue to pour through your drafts and do the same.” ~Jenny Baranick, College English Teacher, Author of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares
“A practical, no-nonsense resource that will help new and experienced writers alike deal with that dreaded piece of advice: show, don’t tell. I wish Bell’s book had been around when I started writing!” ~Talli Roland, bestselling author

Purchase the paperback:
$4.40 on Amazon US
£3.99 on Amazon UK

Purchase the e-book:
$1.99 on Amazon US
£1.99 on Amazon UK
$1.99 on Kobo

About the Author:
The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica Bell, please visit: 


The Publishing World - On the Brink of Change

I’m going to start with a bit of an explanation about publishing books. At the top of the ladder are what we call the ‘Big Six.’ These are the mainstream publishers: Hatchette, Macmillan, Penguin, Harper Collins, Random House, Simon & Schuster.

Then we have the smaller publishers. These are companies that have managed to continue to publish books as it is meant to be, paying the authors. There is also self-publishing and indie, which can vary from an author doing everything themselves to an author hiring others to edit and design.

Then we come to vanity publishers, the bottom of the pile. Vanity publishers charge the authors to publish their books. It can be thousands of dollars to get anything from a full editing and designing cycle to just having your book printed as is. That’s not how publishing works. We don’t pay to have our art circulated, we are paid.

This is all changing.

The Big Six are now the Big Five because two of them have merged.

And now we find out that two of them, at least, are turning to what they call ‘self-publishing’ but what is really vanity publishing. They are charging money–under different publishing names so as not to tarnish their beloved mainstream–to offer publishing services.

I always wanted to be published by a Big Six. It would be proof that I was a good writer. But seriously, not now. They are just big business now. They used to mean something, but I think they've lost it all for the money. Besides the fact that they are dying and merging and all kinds of other things to stay afloat.

I’ve been changing my opinion for a while now, as I work with small publishers and I really like what they are doing. I have to be honest, when I started editing in college, it was for a vanity publisher. This was all before I understood what that meant. I have since moved on and will not accept a job unless I have researched a ton and know it’s legit.

I think I’m finally to the point where I won’t even be trying to submit my work to agents and mainstream publishers anymore. The publishing world is changing. It’ll be a while before it settles into a rhythm again, maybe never. But that change is so obviously on the horizon now, and I want to be ready for it.


Robin Hood and the Girl - Original Fairy Tales Challenge

The conclusion of Robin Hood and the Girl for my Original Fairy Tales Challenge. The beginning is here.

Ann-Rentgen at deviantart

One night Robin called her over.
“Lil,” he said and slapped an arm around her neck. “We have a job for you. It will involve some danger, and quite a bit of strength, but it must be done and you need to prove yourself. There is a certain noble who has been giving too much trouble. Think you can pull him off his horse on the highway and steal whatever he has? Including the horse of course.”
She just nodded, her lips tight.
“Ok. We’ve been told he’s riding through later tonight. You better get a move on.”
She went. She found the road. She hid in a tree hoping to jump down and use the power of gravity to stop the noble. But he was riding on the other side of the road so when she jumped she only grazed him. He hauled on his horse and jerked to a halt.
“What is this? Children robbing me now?”
“Give me your things,” she said. Hoping her courage and strong voice would force him to comply.
He lifted his head to the sky and let go a big belly laugh. “I don’t think so little one. How about you come home and work for me in legitimate business?”
While he was laughing and persuading her, she had inched forward until she could jump at him. He caught her, still astride his horse, and they tussled. Her cap came off, her hair flowing down, and with his arm around her upper body he gave a shocking scoff.
“A woman?”
“No,” she squeaked.
“Come child. You are coming home with me.”
She started to fight with all she had, but he overpowered her and tied her hands, dumping her over his horse’s rump behind him. She had a mouthful of hair and dust before long.
He kept her in a dungeon with a barred window. He took her clothes and gave her a nightdress. She sat crumpled in the corner bathed in moonlight, picking at the seam of her dress with her fingers.
A face appeared in the window.
“Yes,” she said. Not realizing it was him, Robin.
“You’re not Lil.”
She stood. “I am,” she blushed.
“You’re a girl!”
“I am.”
He stared at her. Then he seemed to decide because he sent signals back to men behind him. He unscrewed the bars from the window and reached down to help her climb out. He gripped her hand and they ran into the forest.


Robin Hood and the Girl - Original Fairy Tales Challenge

I confess I didn't read all of Robin Hood this month yet. It's a lot of short stories so I've gotten the feel for it and written my own rendition. Here is the first half for the Original Fairy Tales Challenge, the other half will be posted later this week. Let me know what you think!

Robin Hood
krankyk on Etsy

Liliana crept through the forest, keeping her arrow nocked and her feet quiet. A fox ran in front of her and off to the left. Before she caught up with him, and he skittered off, she heard noise. Men. They sang in drunk voices. She thought she could hear drinks sloshing and a fire.
Looking around each tree before she continued forward, she saw them before they saw her. In a clearing was a party of men, all dressed in green and brown. They were indeed drinking and were roasting a boar on a big spit. One of them called out to a younger man in the center of the group, “Robin! To Robin!” Instantly Liliana knew who they were, and she ran.
Out of breath and fairly dirty, she had returned to the house with nothing to eat. So her stepmother took her out back, chose a particularly prickly branch, and beat her. She whimpered a bit but didn’t cry out or shed a tear. She went to bed hungry and sore.
The sun began to rise and woke her the next morning. Her stepmother was still asleep and her father was already in the fields. She took some of his clothes – trousers, a button shirt, and a cap – and tied them around her scant body as best she could. She tucked her hair under the cap, unable to bring herself to cut it off. Then she grabbed her bow and set off for the forest in search of the merry men.
She stomped through the forest intending to be found, and find her they did. Three of them dropped from the trees to surround her.
“What’s your business here,” the largest, she guessed Little John, said.
“To join you,” she said, trying to deepen her girl’s voice.
“I see,” he said. “Bind and gag him boys.”
She tried to fight but it was no use. They took her bow, to which she cried out, and dragged her the rest of the way to the clearing. She was set before Robin on his log. He leaned back and put his arms behind his head, extending his size. He wasn’t much bigger than she, or older.
“Who are you?”
“An orphan.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
“It’s answer enough,” she said. His eyes were a beautiful blue, and she couldn’t stand to look at them or she would blush and give herself away.
“Can you shoot?”
“Of course I can.”
“Let’s see it. Untie him.” They released her and gave her a bow and arrow, but not hers. This one was a much stronger wood with less bend and the bow string was very taut. Her shoulders were stiff from the beating, but she wouldn’t be laughed at. With a tiny grunt, she pulled the string back and let the arrow fly. It hit Little John’s hat and took it from his head to secure it to a tree behind him. His eyes were saucers.
Robin laughed.
“Very well. Get this man some sustenance.”
She managed to keep her secret. Whenever she needed to do something private she walked a few miles away. It turned everything into an ordeal, but it worked.
But every night Robin would pull his closest group together and talk. He tended to send looks her way, looks that were full of meaning. She just ate and drank, trying to stay inconspicuous.


The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt by Ilana Waters - Book Review

The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt: Book I of Hartlandia by Ilana Waters is a middle-grade story about standing up for what you believe in. An evil ruler has taken control of Hartlandia, and Stanley and his friend Sophie set out to stop it. Along the way, Stanley meets noble knights, silly professors, and the king of the elves.

The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt book cover

The story was fun, and I instantly loved everything about it. I couldn't even tell Stanley was only ten years old until very late in the book; it wasn't childish at all. And even though it obviously has a message, it never felt soap-boxy.

The details were wonderful: the elves are cowards and that's why they keep to themselves when conflict arises; the witches spells are complex and deep poetry; and when people are losing their minds to the control of the evil king you feel as if you are as well.

I wasn't quite emotionally invested, but it was engaging nonetheless. Really a fun and adventure-filled book for young readers.

I received this book from the author for review.


The Unseen Wonder by Anne Van - Story Review

The Unseen Wonder by Anne Van book cover

The Unseen Wonder by Anne Van is a sweet little story with a lot packed in. The family and characters are all wonderful and I really want to get to know them better. The ending was a bit anticlimactic. It ended well and good, but could have had more impact like the rest of the story. I was hoping for a bit more, but maybe these characters will show up in later writings and we can have more? The language was smooth and beautiful to read. All in all, a simple but nice, quick read.

I really look forward to seeing more from Anne.

You can also catch this story in Gaslight: A Golden Light Anthology.

I received this book from the author for review.


Su Blackwell Paper Art

Simply beautiful.

She cuts artwork from pages to depict scenes from the books. It's stunning.

Su Blackwell paper art

Su Blackwell paper art

Su Blackwell paper art


Bonded by Michelle Davidson Argyle - Book Review

Bonded by Michelle Davidson Argyle is a book made up of three novellas about magic and fairies and life. The three heroines find love, lose love, and learn a great deal. Cinders is a sequel to Cinderella continuing her life with the prince and how she really managed to snag a prince. Thirds is a retelling of Grimm's One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes which embodies the original story and takes it far beyond what I imagined. Scales is a prequel to Sleeping Beauty, and wow does it dig deep to find reasons for the pretty princess to touch a spindle and fall asleep.

Bonded by Michelle Davidson Argyle book cover

Michelle takes Cinderella, and really all of the heroines, down a very unexpected path. The depth and imagination involved in the stories astounded me. They all three grow and change and become something fierce in their own worlds. Yet all three worlds are connected with smaller characters and the concepts of fairies, elves, sprites, humans, and bonding.

I love the not so happy endings of Cinders and Scales; I love the happy ending of Thirds. These stories go beyond the moral of a fairy tale, and yet they encompass and enforce that moral. Michelle breaths new ideas into the originals and brings so much life into them.

I really can not say enough about how beautiful these novellas are. They have stuck in my mind long after I finished them. I'm pretty stingy with my five-star reviews, but this wasn't even a question. Even if you are not a fantasy addict (clears throat), these stories have so much to show you.

I received this book from the author for review.


Passion - Urban Writers' Retreat Bootcamp Competition

Passion. Is it something we all inherently have or is it something I need to find like a magic flower hidden in a fairy forest among moss and squirrels? I have always been in the pursuit of passion. Witnessing dreams come to fruition for others sends me spiraling into depression faster than anything else.

If I have had anything that resembles passion in my life, it is for writing. There are certainly others: loving my loved ones, giving of myself, reading…

I dread every sunset when a day passes that I feel I haven’t done something, I haven’t made a difference. I want to be remembered, maybe even cherished. Writing is my chance at that. Who knows if I can evoke emotion or make someone laugh, but I will die trying simply because it makes me feel wonderful.

I have one novel finished. But I need another. Just to prove to myself that I really am a writer, that I don’t give up when it’s too hard, that I am capable of being passionate about something.


Shoes by zefrank

Incredible. The world is small...and beautiful.


Date a Girl Who Reads by Rosemarie Urquico

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

by Rosemarie Urquiro


Shifted Perspective by J. Bridger - Book Review

Shifted Perspective by J. Bridger is about a werewolf, but he's really only a were-spaniel. When Caleb suddenly turns into a Cocker Spaniel once a month, he and his father don't know what to do. Until they find out that his mother's side of the family all do it too.

Shifted Perspective by J. Bridger book cover

The characterization in this book was wonderful. From the very beginning I loved everyone. They are all very authentic and complex. The beginning has this great little twist, and as the story progresses it just moves in ways that aren't normal but flowed well. The very ending was particularly good as it wasn't open, all the loose ties were neatly knotted, but a new idea was introduced and draws the reader in, ready for the next installment.

The theme of the book plays out well. Every mention of something dog like made the story that much more: Caleb wraps a present for his girlfriend in Peanuts paper; his cousin Kalista 'wolfed down' so much food; the family dog calls the telephone a talking box. The humor is engaging and fun without being condescending or stupid.

There was a bit too much setup, the real story didn't start until almost three quarters in. But it was never boring and was a great take on the typical werewolf tale.

I received this book from the author for review.


Interview with Author of Wrecked, Jeff Goins

I get the privilege of interviewing Jeff Goins today! His new book Wrecked is out and he's touring blogs. So check out the interview and check out his book.

Wrecked by Jeff Goins book cover

Hi Jeff!

Let's start off with a basic hello and who are you?

Hey there. My name’s Jeff, and I’m a writer. I believe words matter and that we are each put on this earth to help each other. Oh, and I love guacamole.

We'd like to get to know you a bit, but mostly we'd like to understand how you would react in certain situations. Your book Wrecked is about making the most of every situation. Let's take that to its most basic level and see your standard reactions. I can't play a game with you directly, but we can pretend.

So here's your first scenario. If you're playing Monopoly with some friends and one of them gets a hold of both Boardwalk and Park Place and all you have is the lowest value property, Mediterranean, what's your defensive strategy?

Own that property and build on it as much as possible. Try to monopolize it with the hope that my opponent will land on it. Clean them out, or offer to swap properties. Then do the same thing with that.

Now if you are having a poker night with the guys and you know of the five guys at the table, three are bluffing, one is shaking his leg under the table and probably has nothing, and you have a low straight…what do you do? Do you up the bet or hold it steady?

Up the bet. 
Go for it. Go big or go home (insert any other clich├ęs).

And lastly, chess. Chess is a strategic game. But there's a lot involved. What is your basic strategy for a game of chess? Do you play on the offense and plan your steps three in advance, or are you on the defense and try to figure out your opponent's moves and counter them?

Come out strong and try to get a checkmate in the first five moves (it’s possible). Depending on how the opponent reacts, I’ll be able to tell really quickly whether or not they’re a pro (or just lucky).

Hopefully we get to know more about who you are by playing these little games. Anything else about yourself or your new book we should know?

Sure. My new book, Wrecked, is about the life we’re afraid to live. It’s about finding purpose in the least likely of places. We think life is about our comfort; it’s not. It’s about serving others.



The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin - Book Review

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin is about two women who love each other. Yep, I just came out and said it. But it's also about loyalty and friendship and gossip and prejudice. A historical novel based in the old west of Nevada, a small town learns of Oscar Wilde's imprisonment for gross indecency and blazes with fury.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin book cover

First off, I could not put this book down. It's a simple story with a lot of depth and background. The exposition of the history is welcome, I hungered for more with each piece that was revealed. Sometimes, though, the internal feelings of the characters were too much. The integration and telling of the history was perfect.

I wasn't sure what to think of the subject. I wasn't incensed either way. Probably because it is told from the perspective of the victim. There were prejudice comparisons to black people and Jews as well as gays, but the comparisons weren't that obvious they were just a part of that time. It felt natural. It never felt like the author's statement but the character's circumstances.

The story covered the idea that our past affects who we are. The way we grew up is a large part of what we do as adults.

The climax was a very unexpected twist. But it flowed so well and made the story that much more of a story and not a rant about prejudice that it made me love the book even more. I was worried about blogging about this book - it's not my norm - but I really enjoyed it.

I received this book from the author for review.


Egyptian Princess

I realized after I posted my Ireland pictures that I hadn't posted any of my Egypt trip. We went down there to meet up with my parents and cruise the Nile as well as visit the pyramids. It was heavenly (though completely, uncomfortably hot). And it was very safe, considering we hit this magic hole between when the revolution ended and when the Egyptians became riled up again. We were there just two weeks after the revolution ended. The tour guides kept saying, "Back during the revolution..." and we would all turn to each other and say, "Two weeks ago..."

I was sad that we missed out on Abu Simbel but it was way further south than we went. I love traveling with my parents, they do it in style. We had luxury hotels and a beautiful boat on the Nile. Tourism is dead down there (kind of understandable) but the poverty was a bit of a shock for my husband.

The Temple of Philae. They moved this temple piece by piece when they built the dam on the Nile and the area flooded.
My mama and I at Luxor Temple.
Best photo bomb ever by my parents' friend.
Lol. My mom is awesome.

Minarets and satellites.
All four of us at Luxor Temple.

This was happening on one side of the boat...

...and this was on the other.


Fathom by Merrie Destefano - Book Review

Fathom by Merrie Destefano is about Selkies and monsters and adolescence and confusion and love and courage. Kira lost her mother and sister when she was young. She believes that her mother killed her sister and then committed suicide. But her father and grandmother are keeping secrets. And something starts to change when a new group of kids shows up in town.

Fathom by Merrie Destefano book cover

I have no words. It was beautifully written; it had a compelling cast of characters; it ended so smoothly with just a hint of a cliff hanger. From the very beginning the premise and the poetry of her prose gripped me. Kira had such real and true emotions. Every moment I felt just like a teenager again with the hormones and the confusion, so effortlessly shown through the waves of feeling.

The twists and turns kept coming, but everything was resolved by the end. The end was stunning and bittersweet but left enough room for more of a story without leaving the reader wanting. There were some truly eerie parts where I pulled the covers up higher and glanced around my room looking for monsters.

I was slightly confused by one thing because the story is based on the west coast of the States, but it seems the group of Selkies swam from Ireland (as far as I could tell). How did they do that? Other than that, I will highly recommend this book.

This book was given to me by the author for review.


Looking Back On My Year So Far

I've come a long way this year, from working full time for an engineering company to dropping to part time and then leaving entirely to freelance as an editor (my dream!).

I've read 66 books and written most of a novel along with multiple short stories and blog posts.

I am participating in the classics challenge by November's Autumn and have 3 classics to go. I'm running my own challenge to revamp original fairy tales (speaking of, I start reading Robin Hood next month, who's with me?).

I've moved to Belgium and traveled to Egypt, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, and England. I'll be going to France to snowboard in December and who knows where else.

I consider myself a pretty well-rounded person. I like who I am. But I want to continue growing and learning. I always want to become better. I'm turning 26 in a little over a month. I would love to have a set of goals lined up for the coming year. Should I be cliche and do the 27 Things Before I Turn 27? (Ugh, 27 sounds so old.) Have any ideas for what goals I should reach?



We went to Dublin and surrounding countryside for Labor Day weekend. Let me tell you, the rumors are true, Ireland grass is neon.

It was beautiful. We really enjoyed the Jameson whiskey tour and the Guinness brewery tour (yum!), but we particularly enjoyed the countryside. We visited the Boyne valley and also the peninsula of Howth. Stunning views and green, green, green.