Book Review: Please Live for Me (The Brotherhood Series) by M. W. McKinley

Please Live for Me (The Brotherhood Series) by M. W. McKinley

A NA Romance Novel published by M.W. McKinley (03/29/23)


“Even if our songs seem the same show after show, my solos communicate how I feel on this night, at this show, different from all the others.” (Kindle, 25%).
“It makes me hopeful that other disasters in my life can also turn into the same kind of magic.” (Kindle, 46%).

Brotherhood is back in the UK for a summer tour and this is Rob’s opportunity to convince Emily to give them another chance. Emily and Rob have been in love since they were fourteen, but Emily doesn’t want Rob to be held back by her. She was diagnosed with a lifelong medical condition as a teenager that affects her daily life and Rob has commitments to the band. Will they be able to work everything out before summer ends?


Love, Band, Guitarist, Artist, Tour, England, Bandmates, Best Friends, Brothers, Family, M/F, Dual Timeline

My Review:

First Reviewed through Reedsy Discovery.

This is the third standalone story in the Brotherhood Series. The common thread between the books in the series is the band: Brotherhood. I love reading more in the world the author has built and we finally get Rob’s story – told as both present and past narrative. There is also the dueling POV’s between Emily and Rob in both past and present. The dance between the two voices and the two timelines is delicate and handled well. The pacing continues throughout the time and POV switching seamlessly and it’s difficult to put the book down because of the richness in voice and emotion.

The characters, their reactions, and their dialogue feels grounded and truthful. Each scene is carefully crafted using all the senses so much so that I felt fully immersed as I read. The details about music, musicianship, and MS felt so real to me. I empathized and rallied behind both Rob and Emily. As someone who used to play music but hasn’t for years the excitement, fervor, and longing in all the descriptions of playing brings me back and makes me nostalgic.

Both Emily and Rob have compelling stories full of emotional pull with rich and complex backstories that feed into their current dilemmas. There are many rare small glimpses into the personal lives of the characters that one would miss in real life but the author is able to highlight. These subtle insights through setting, dialogue, and actions reel you in as a reader as if you’ve been invited to watch something private and amazing going on between and within Emily and Rob. The way Rob is always there for Emily is immensely satisfying in a romance. The way Emily doesn’t want to let go of her independence is tough but also relatable, creating tension between them. Music is present throughout both of their lives as it pulls them together and pulls their story back to Brotherhood.

Overall, this book features beautiful writing, beautiful storytelling and serious relatable issues. If you’re a fan of wholesome and sweet romances, you will love this book. I can’t wait to read the next book by M.W. McKinley.

This novel was published by M.W. McKinley on 03/29/2023 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

M. W. McKinley’s Website


Book Review: One Night in Foxbrooke by Evie Alexander

One Night in Foxbrooke by Evie Alexander

A Romance Novella published by Emlin Press (04/14/23)


They used to be childhood friends and each secretly had a crush on the other. Now ten years later, they will have one night to see if those feelings are still alive. 


Romance, Contemporary, Standalone, HEA, Star Wars References, Chefs, Childhood Friends, Second Chance Romance

My Review:

I love the author’s writing style but didn’t love this story. I wanted this story to be a full novel. Both the story and the romance felt rushed since the character development and backstory didn’t have enough space to develop in this short novella. There wasn’t enough character development and I didn’t feel a true connection to these characters. They didn’t feel real. Their problems didn’t feel real. Their stakes didn’t feel real.

One part I disliked was the Star Wars references. They felt cheesy and didn’t add to the story for me. It felt like the entire premise of this story was built around these references. They didn’t make the story any more interesting or enjoyable for me and it felt like it was trying too hard.

The most exciting part to me was the catering/restaurant details but there were not enough details to hold my attention as it was side to the romance story.

I received an ARC and this is my honest review.

This novel was published by Emlin Press on 04/14/2023 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Author Bio:

Evie Alexander is the award-winning author of best-selling sexy romantic comedies with a very British sense of humor. She takes a method approach to her work, believing her capacity to repeatedly fail at life and love is what has given her such a rich supply of material for her writing.

Her interests include reading, eating, saving the world, and fantasizing about people who only exist between the pages of her books. She lives in the West country with her family.

Links for more information:

Book Review: Sagistic by Victoria Bastedo

Sagistic by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy novel Independently published  (05/31/2022)


Finch, a professor turned soldier, is ready to aid his country using his smarts and the little training he receives prior to jumping into conflict! He must work as bait, to find and rescue villagers who have gone missing. There are only a few complications in the form of unicorns, gnomes, and a pretty waitress.


Villains, Village, Fighting, Unicorns, Gnomes, Gentlemen, Romance

My Review:

This book has a little bit of mystery, a little bit of intrigue, a little bit of romance, and a little bit of adventure. I enjoyed the blending of multiple genres within this book. If you’re a fan of the book (or even the movie) Princess Bride, you might be a fan of this novel as well.

The fantasy elements were centered around fantastical creatures like unicorns and gnomes and the tone of the book kept its historical feel even through the introduction of these fantastical creatures. The introduction was well-grounded in the environment and characteristics of the past before bringing the fantastical creatures into the plot.

The pacing of this book felt like it was an action/mystery story broken up into parts as if it was a quest story with multiple distinct segments.

Like other Bastedo books, and true to the genre of romance, this story features a happy ending.

This novel was Independently published  (05/31/2022) and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 3.75

Links for more information:



Victoria Bastedo WordPress

Book Review: Broken Perfect Lies by Katie Wismer

Broken Perfect Lies by Katie Wismer

A Contemporary Romantic Suspense Novel published by Ahimsa Press (02/20/23)


Parker lives a double life – her identity as pop sensation Ryker is kept completely separate from her personal life until her secret is leaked to the press. Now that her fans – and her stalkers – know the truth, Parker needs protection but only one person will apply. Heath desperately needs more money. So be it if all he needs to do is babysit a pop star. Out of the loop, Heath doesn’t realize how dangerous the job could be. He doesn’t think he has a choice when it comes to paying the bills. Both their lives will be turned upside down as they start to fall for each other.


Romance, Bodyguard, Pop Sensation, Identity, Secret Identity, Stalker, Fans, Double Life, Fake, Protector, Suspense, Steamy

My Review:

I was riveted from page one. The way that the author slowly revealed what happened to Parker was torturous. It was such juicy gossip and I just had to know what happened to cause Parker such grief. I was hooked on Parker’s story as well as Heath’s story. They both had such compelling backstories that endeared them to me as characters but also humanized them.

I felt Parker’s grief and she carried that burden with her throughout the whole novel in multiple aspects of her life. Parker didn’t just get over what happened and she never forgot it. I really appreciated how well handled the event and its consequences were for her What happened was completely devastating and catastrophic to Parker for her future, her emotional well-being, and her identity.

The story was fast-paced and quite the page-turner. The only part that made me pause was the transition from protector/friend to lover. It felt abrupt and didn’t follow the story’s tone up to that point. I wanted them to get to that point but I didn’t like how it happened. It didn’t feel completely real and seemed to come out of nowhere.

I also appreciated that there were not an overwhelming amount of sex scenes. Heath doesn’t ever talk down to Parker and his nickname for her isn’t something diminutive.

The amount of tension and action borders on ridiculous but also drives home the message that celebrities are denied basic privacy and have a real need for bodyguards even after they move on from their pop star lives.

This novel was published by Ahimsa Press 02/20/23 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Katie Wismer’s Website


Book Review: Demon Whispers (The Survival Chronicles, Book 1) by N.R. Farnell

Demon Whispers (The Survival Chronicles, Book 1) by N.R. Farnell

An Urban Fantasy novel Independently published (05/17/2022)


Devon has been captive for five long years but soon she will escape and find her sister. The knife she stole is hidden on her person and she knows that today is the day. Until a demon shows up and she has to pivot her plans. She knows she has to run, but when he offers her a deal she can’t refuse, it will go against all she’s ever known. She’s a demon hunter and he’s a demon after all.


Paranormal, Fantasy, Violence, Demon, Demon Hunter, Family, Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Fight or Flight, Injuries

My Review:



This novel was Independently published 05/17/2022 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:


Book Review: Flood of the Fire: A YA Epic Fantasy (The Outlawed Myth Book 4) by Evelyn Puerto

Flood of the Fire: A YA Epic Fantasy (The Outlawed Myth Book 4) by Evelyn Puerto

A YA fantasy novel published by Open Water Books (11/15/2022)


“Confronting people with the truth is one thing. Inspiring them to have the courage to face it is another.” (Kindle Location 706).

Tereka isn’t the Desired One. At least, that’s what she keeps telling everyone and herself. What will it take for Tereka to believe in The Prophecy and in herself? With Damira and the Emporer invading Tlefas, Tereka will have to find out who really is the Desired One and whether this invading army will finally bring peace and freedom. Or perhaps they are just another power-hungry force that wants to rule the land.


Fantasy, Travel, Journey, Risk, Attack, Flee, Hide, Town, Secrets, Power, Rulers, Magic, Amulets, Love, Friendship, Romance, Triumph, Battle, Conclusion

My Review:

After four books, the story of Tereka, the mystery of the amulets, the promise of The Prophecy, and the conclusion of the romance are finally coming to an end. I forgot how much I missed Tereka and her story after the third book. In fact, I forgot a lot about Tereka, her story, her romances and friendships, and the struggles of Tlefas. It was difficult to jump right back into her story and try to remember who the characters were and why I cared about them. But I did care about them. I cared about some of them a lot! As the protagonist once again, Tereka was most important to me, but I also was still very fascinated by Damira. There was a will she/ won’t she have a happy ending teeter-totter. You’ll have to read this final book in the Outlawed Myth Series to find out what happens to Damira and her power struggles with the Scorpion Amulets.

I appreciated and was fascinated with Damira and the way she viewed the world versus how her brother, her loved one, and her enemy viewed her. That was the strongest pull of this story for me. I really, really wanted to know what was going to happen to Damira.

This book was one long conclusion and I appreciated how every thread from the previous three books was wrapped up, from Kaberco to Iskra. However, the ending was not as strong as I wanted it to be, particularly with the wrap-up between Tereka and Naco. I wanted more buildup to their conclusion, even if it was the ending that I didn’t know I wanted. Again, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens between the two. Meanwhile, Kemet butts back into the story and I enjoyed having him back in the story. Bringing back Kemet provided some great tension.

This novel was published by Open Water Books 11/15/2022 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:



Evelyn Puerto’s Website

2023 Net Worth and Monthly Spending Update

Here are some charts I made to compare my monthly spending over 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018. The purpose of these charts is to show changes in spending over time (across different categories).

Here are a few more fun numbers:

  1. I increased my spending 39% from 2021 to 2022, while increasing my income 22% (I increased my spending 12% from 2020 to 2021 while increasing my income 3.5% and I increased my spending 4% from 2019 to 2020 while increasing my income 3%)
  2. The house I bought in 2021 increased in value 37% since last year
  3. My credit score increased and then decreased when I moved so it’s roughly the same number as where it was at the beginning of last year
  4. Notable increases in spending from 2021 to 2022 include:
    1. Household/Clothing – 603% increase due to moving twice and not owning the furniture, electronics, household goods etc. for our own place
    2. Travel – 345% increase due to several once-in-a-lifetime trips including a week at Disney and the Starcruiser hotel and a trip to Turkey
    3. Entertainment – 182% increase due to buying tickets to more expensive events like seeing Kevin Hart perform
    4. Bills housing/utilities – 59% increase due to moving into our own place and not splitting rent costs with another person
    5. Bills phone – 15% increase by moving to a higher plan on T-mobile in order to maximize the purchase of two iPhones this year
    6. Misc – 225% increase
  5. Notable decreases in spending from 2021 to 2022 include:
    1. Health- 56% decrease from not re-upping on some vitamins I had been purchasing in the past and sticking with the one that makes the most difference in my gut health. I only went to a doctor one time and an eye doctor one time so no large medical bills
    2. Fitness – 16% decrease from using gift cards to purchase classes and using my Ambassador funds from working at one of the studios
    3. Gifts – 80% decrease because of how I calculate and what I determine to be a gift.
    4. Groceries – 18% decrease
    5. Transportation – 9% decrease due to lower car maintenance costs in 2022 (my partner and I have one car and share expenses)
  6. I did not meet my LLC goal of earning $5,000, but was able to earn just over $4000 for the year
  7. I still have $10,000 in my emergency fund but since my bills have increased, if I need to use that to live on it won’t go as far

The next  charts show my net worth split categories:

16% increase in my assets from 2021 to 2022
76% increase in my assets from 2020 to 2021
53% increase in my assets from 2019 to 2020

2021 Asset breakdown

Where Was Rachel in 2022 – A Blog Post in Pictures and Captions


Built a custom closet shelving unit with my housemate Lorri

Visited the Space Needle for the first time since the floor was redone

Dined at the Loupe Lounge (revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle) for the first time since I was a toddler.

Dad got a jackfruit to try! I loved it.


Moved into a new apartment in Bellevue – our first place with just the two of us

I Ate vegan for a week 

Walked a neighbor’s Corgi – a dream come true!

Painted and gave away some more rocks


Volunteered as a pole pixy at Pole Sport Org’s competition

Completed a few puzzles

Started playing Wordles and nailed this guess-in-one for Spanish

Celebrated our 4th meet-anniversary at Din Tai Fung


Jon won company tickets to the Pokemon box to see Monster Trucks

Leveled up in Pokemon Go

My credit score bumped over 800

Jon took me out during one of his flight lessons

Jon’s work company rented the Woodland Park Zoo for their Spring Festival


We won May the Fourth Trivia and some pretty neat prizes!

We visited family and my house in FL

We booked The Chandrila Line Starcruiser Hotel at Disney

I made my own lightsaber

We spent the week going to all the Disney World parks and the Starcruiser Hotel.


I volunteered at the inaugural Seattle Donut Fest

I volunteered for the 10th time at Maple Valley Days

Divine Movement had a party for Ambassadors and Instructors at the skating rink


We watched fireworks from Jon’s office building in downtown Bellevue

I set up my pole in the park several times and invited friends to join

Joined the Pokemon Go Fest in downtown Seattle – guess which team we’re on

Had to walk my bike .25 with a flat up and off the bridge after using a fork to get the tube out of the gear mechanism (now I have a tool bag)


Watched and sat for a lot of local cats

Made my own Apprentice

Surprised Jon with a day at the races

Sought out new cuisines (Pani Puri) after watching Laal Singh Chaddha

Grew one cucumber from a pot on our porch with no sun

Went to the yearly Pokemon Party


Met up at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens with a college friend who moved locally

Tried out straps for the first time at Emerald City Trapeze

Worked on Duo Lyra with my friend Caitlin at Ascendance

Did some cat yoga at Meowtropolitan

House sat in Seattle for a cute little puppers

Performed on Lyra for the first time (as a cat)


Went to Turkey for the first time

Went to a traditional Hamam for the first time

Swam at a rooftop bar

Rode in a hot air balloon for the first time

Leveled up again in Pokemon Go

Went paragliding for the first time

Went to a soccer game in Istanbul

Didn’t win anything at the Kirkland car bingo

Took alatte art class for the second year in a row


Tried out flying trapeze for the first time (and managed a hand-to-hand catch)

Moved to Austin, TX

Ate BBQ for Thanksgiving


Spent a weekend getaway in Seattle for dim sum and to see Kevin Hart

Went to Jon’s Holiday party at Apple

Found several new studios near Austin for dance classes

Went to a Star Wars party at a local pub with our Grogus and won the costume contest

Wore my Oura ring all year

Tried out some new aerial classes – like sling, bungee, wall harness, and trampoline

Continued to score some impressive discounts on food with an app called Too Good to Go

House sat for a cuddly cat over Christmas

Happy New Year!

2022 Reading Challenge Books in Review and Recommended Reads

I spent $5.48 on kindle books this year; $13.20 at Barnes and Noble; $35.91 for books from Bookshop; $103.90 at the Neverending Bookshop; $98.95 at Brick & Mortar for a total of $257.44 on books!

My favorite books I read this year:

  • The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
  • A Cat Cafe Christmas by Codi Gary
  • Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
  • Hook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters, #2) by Tessa Bailey
  • It Happened One Summer (Bellinger Sisters, #1) by Tessa Bailey
  • Written in the Stars (Written in the Stars, #1) by Alexandria Bellefleur
  • Excuse Me While I Disappear: Tales of Midlife Mayhem by Laurie Notaro
  • Schooled by Ted Fox
  • Time of My Life (Time After Time #1) by Mary Frame
  • For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa
  • Wildseed Witch (Wildseed Witch, #1) by Marti Dumas
  • Well Met (Well Met, #1) by Jen DeLuca
  • A Little Too Familiar (An Uncanny Romance, #1) by Lish McBride
  • Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
  • The Love Con by Seressia Glass
  • The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
  • Pumpkin (Dumplin’, #3) by Julie Murphy
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
  • Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2) by Lois Lowry

My favorite Indie books that I read this year:

  1. Musical Games (Kinloch, #4) by Evie Alexander
  2. Ex Appeal (Ponto Beach Reunion, #3) by Cathy Yardley
  3. Strange Gods by Alison Kimble
  4. Kissing Games (Kinloch, #3) by Evie Alexander
  5. Delta (The Apex Cycle, #2) by M.T. Zimny
  6. Beta (The Apex Cycle, #1) by M.T. Zimny
  7. Always the New Girl by Kelly Vincent
  8. Boneyard by D.M. Darroch
  9. Gouda Friends (Ponto Beach Reunion, #2) by Cathy Yardley
  10. Hollywood Games (Kinloch, #2) by Evie Alexander
  11. Sting of the Scorpion (Outlawed Myth, #3) by Evelyn Puerto

Out of the 68 books that I read:

18 Indie Books
5 Nonfiction Books

Other reading stats:

I read 16 books for book clubs
I reviewed 20 books this year for a total of 423 reviews written lifetime

The books I read this year:

2021 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2020 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2019 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2018 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2017 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2016 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2015 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2022 Physical Activity – Dance, Health, and Fitness

Aerial Dancing Highlights for 2022
2. I took 111 aerial classes total
3. I spent $1,439.83 total (I have some credit as an ambassador that I used towards some classes)
4. I spent 141.4 hours in class
5. I worked with 46 different instructors

Lifetime money spent (just for aerial classes): $9,432.24
2014 – $90
2015 – $422.21
2016 – $1777
2017 – $2594
2018 – $1465.74
2019 – $566
2020 – $225
2021 – $852.46
2022 – $1,439.83

Lifetime total aerial classes: 619
2014 – 6
2015 – 19
2016 – 109
2017 – 139
2018 – 92
2019 – 37
2020 – 35
2021 – 63
2022 – 111

Total time spent dancing +: 933.9 hours (38.9 days)
2014 – 10.5 hours
2015 – 37.5 hours
2016 – 173.5 hours
2017 – 226 hours
2018 – 144.5 hours
2019 – 55.5 hours
2020 – 55.75 hours
2021 – 89.25 hours
2022 – 141.4 hours

Class Breakdown at different studios for 2022
Ascendance – 39/111= 35%
Revolt – 15/111 = 14%
Divine – 25/111 = 23%
Bat City Circus – 6/111 = 5%
Emerald City Trapeze – 5/111 = 5%
Raven – 4/111 = 4%
Selenite Studios – 4/111 = 4%
Pole Fitness Seattle & Bellevue – 3/111= 1%
Sky Candy – 3/111 = 3%
Lache – 2/111 = 2%
Mora Pole – 2/111 = 2%
Versatile Arts – 2/111 = 2%
Jungle Movement – 1/111 = 1%

Class Type Breakdown for 2022
Lyra – 49
Pole – 30
Silks/Sling – 8
Straps – 5
Floorwork – 5
Trapeze – 3
Conditioning – 2
Flexibility – 2
Other – including Boudoir Striptease, Bungee Basics, Intro Harness, and Trampoline – 7

In other fitness accomplishments:

  • I biked 267.5 (bringing the total miles biked on my e-bike to 917.5)
  • I worked on partner/duo Lyra with a new friend
  • I tried out many new studios in the Austin area
  • I was able to do 10 chin-ups in a row
  • I was able to get my one-arm pull-up and incorporated it into a dance performance
  • I took several privates and worked on my fish flop, handspring, and choreo for my performance
  • I volunteered with PSO in Seattle again as well as with Misfits in Motion as a pole pixy

My favorite fitness photos from the year!


2021 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown
2020 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown
2019 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown
2018 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown
2017 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown
2016 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown
2015 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown