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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.


Twelve Months by Steven Manchester - Book Review

Twelve Months by Steven Manchester is a novel about living. Don is diagnosed with stage four cancer and is given a year to live. So he lives. The book follows his journey through a bucket list and back to his family's side.

Twelve Months by Steven Manchester book cover

I definitely teared up at the end. But I'm having trouble voicing my opinion on this one. It was a lot of telling, but in a way that is different from the norm. I didn't feel like I was being chastised or lectured. I felt like I was getting to witness someone else's experience, but it felt so perfect that I couldn't really believe it. I wasn't emotionally involved except that the writing pulled emotions from me.

The writing was great. It was poetic at times and portrayed daily life in a beautiful manner. I didn't necessarily love any of the characters, but I certainly loved the prose. Perhaps it's better that way because you are allowed to be a bit numb while reading about someone dying. It wasn't gruesome, and it seemed that Don (though it was first person) hid a lot of his pain and feelings from his family and the reader.

I liked it, but as with any controversial book, I'm torn. It's hard to get a message like this one across smoothly. It has some great messages, some real gems, but they were too obvious for me. I will recommend this one for the writing alone, as that hooked me.

I received this book from the author for review.


Yoga for Life

I started a yoga class a few weeks ago. I've wanted to do it for probably years, I just never had the guts to go (I'm an extreme introvert and completely shy if you didn't know). I finally bucked up and went and wish I hadn't been such a chicken. But I'm realizing that I've been doing yoga my whole life.

When my mom has back problems, I've given her massages and given her advice that I think will help. One of those bits has been to stand on knees and hands and bend her back up and down while breathing deeply...cow and cat in yoga anyone?
Yoga screenprint by WildVeda on Etsy
WildVeda on Etsy
When I was in elementary school I found a trumpet in my friend's closet and started messing around with it. I had so much fun that I started lessons and then joined the school band a year earlier than normal and subsequently bought a shiny horn for myself. I played jazz up until high school when I decided to quit and sold my beautiful silver trumpet. Whenever I practiced trumpet, don't ask me why it was just comfortable, I stood with one leg propped up on the other like a flamingo...tree pose?

And probably the most obvious: as a child I slept with my butt in the air. My mom thought it was the most adorable thing, but honestly it's just wonderful to sit like that. Child's pose is my favorite in yoga. The back stretch is wonderful, and I still think I could sleep like that.
Yoga painting by LindsaySatchell on Etsy
LindsaySatchell on Etsy


Author Interview Jess Lourey The Toadhouse Trilogy

Hi Jess!
Just a few questions for Jess Lourey who wrote The ToadhouseTrilogy: Book One. I reviewed it last week and wanted to get into the mind of the author. Here we go:

The Toadhouse Trilogy Book One by Jess Lourey book coverSo I think the question on all our minds, since your book is about books, is what is your favorite book and why?

Oh man, you started out with the killer question! That’s like asking me which of my kids I like the best. I’m not going to weasel out, though. If I had to pick the best, all-time book, the one I read at a very influential point in my life and that has resonated with me ever since, I’d pick Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. That book just spoke to me in my early 20s, took me away somewhere raw and beautiful, and changed my sense of myself. My favorite piece of classic literature is probably Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, but the more I research for The Toadhouse Trilogy, the more I realize how many amazing classics there are just waiting for me to read them and fall in love.

How did you get from writing murder mysteries to young adult?

December Dread comes out next month, and it’s the eighth book in my Murder-by-Month series, which means I’ve been writing mystery novels for over seven years nw. When I set out to write the first in The Toadhouse Trilogy over a year ago, though, it didn’t feel like a deliberate choice to switch genres so much as giving voice to a story idea that I had that I became obsessed with. I hope my mystery roots serve me well in the pacing of The Toadhouse Trilogy. As my ten-year-old son likes to tell me, the best YA is YA with a secret.

Who is your favorite character in The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One?

I want to say Aine because she is the main character, but to be honest, she and I butted heads so much that I’m still a little sore. She’s so strong-willed that she didn’t stand for much author manipulation. I found myself losing sleep over Spenser, her brother, though, and feeling sad for days when bad things happened to him. And I also have a deep crush on Gilgamesh. Hmm. You know, some days, when I’m at my weakest, I just wish someone else would hurry up and write these books so I could read them, but then I wouldn’t get the honor of wrestling with these characters, all of whom I’ve come to love.

Any particular reason you chose to write about fairies?

You know how when you learn a new word, suddenly you hear it everywhere? Once this story idea came into my head, I started seeing parts of it everywhere, and I only had to weave them into the fabric of the larger story. I knew there had to be a magical element, the “writers” in the world I was creating, and the more I started digging in classic literature, the more I realized how often fairies appear in some of the greatest works of fiction ever written. So, the fairies knocked, so to speak, and I answered the door.

I’m not sure if you’ll answer this one, but can you give us a hint as to where Aine and Spenser will go next?

I can do you one better. At least I hope you think it’s one better. J Here’s the description for Monsters: The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book Two:

Aine, Spenser, and Gilgamesh have retrieved the first object, but their time is running out. Biblos the Book Worm has returned, and he is devouring the greatest novels ever written in his hunt for the threesome. Their desperate search for the remaining two objects is further complicated when Madame Bovary discovers the secret of the toadhouse and escapes her novel to wreak havoc across worlds. Aine leads the desperate race through Babbit, Frankenstein, Beowulf, and The Jungle, confused by the developing romance between her and Gilgamesh, worried for her brother Spenser who is growing ever inward, and amazed as her and Spenser's magical powers develop by the day. Will they retrieve the second object, or will Biblos destroy them first?

Thanks for doing this Jess. Can’t wait to see more of your young adult books.

It’s been my absolute pleasure! Thank you for having me.

Jess LoureyJess Lourey is the author of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One, the first in a young adult series that celebrates the danger and excitement of reading. She also writes the critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month Mysteries for adults with a sense of humor. She's been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. When not gardening, writing, or hanging out with her wonderful kids and dorky dog, you can find her reading, watching SyFy-channel original movies, and dreaming big. You can visit her website at http://www.jesslourey.com/toadhouse/index.html, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jess.lourey, or email her at jesslourey@yahoo.com.


The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One by Jess Lourey - Book Review

The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One by Jess Lourey is an adventure for readers. If you've ever wanted to hop into stories like they were real worlds, pick this one up. Aine and her brother Spenser don't realize it, but they are living in a book. And they have an adventure awaiting them that takes them to places like The Time Machine and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The Toadhouse Trilogy Book One by Jess Lourey book cover

This book was so refreshing. It completely swept me away and didn't let up until the very end. It was never too easy for the characters (which I find happening a lot in adventure/fantasy fiction). As the characters travel through the books, Jess comments and analyzes the stories but without making it feel like an essay. She simply points out things that one would not typically notice, like how Mr. Hyde looks like each person's worst nightmare and that is what makes him ugly.

I had disappointments. We never find out which book they begin in (though a hint is mentioned in the back of the book). The narrator jumps from character to character when it is not truly an omniscient narrator. The ending seemed a tad bit deflated, only because the object they were searching for was not something that was planted early on in the story or was a well-known object from a well-known story so that the reader could employ a bit of detective work.

All in all, I loved this one. I can't wait to see the next two.

I received this book from the author for review.