Book Review: The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

An Urban Fantasy Romance Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (01/29/17)

Summary:

Demons live among us. They shop at the grocery store and work at the local coffee shop. Kendra has been able to see them her whole life. And she’s never told anybody. What good could come of it? She’s used to horns, decaying flesh, and blue skin but when she first meets Nick, she’s caught off guard and she almost can’t keep her secret to herself. His appeal is more than just his good looks, his demon ability makes it hard for her to stay grounded and away from him. She knows she has to stay away from him. But he keeps showing up in her life and she is one debt short of keeping all her secrets safe.

Keywords:

Paranormal, Demons, Devils Romance, Romantic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Demon World, Affect, Abilities, Jealousy, Business Deal, Partnership, Friendship, Emotion

My Review:

I’ve almost read everything Starla and S.A. Huchton have ever published. I will continue to read everything Huchton publishes. She is an amazing storyteller and has a gift with words, plot, characters, and style. She could fictionalize the dictionary and make it intriguing.

The Devil You Know has both paranormal and urban fantasy elements, two key book characteristics I typically don’t like, but I loved this book. The characters may have been demons (not all of them), but they were alive with approachable human characteristics. The world was set in a typical city, but in a world where there were different types of demons with different characteristics. Huchton gives us just a little bit of the fantasy world in which demons live, but firmly grounds it in a contemporary and familiar world.

The two main characters: Nick and Kendra are both complex and misunderstood. Both will come to new realizations after meeting the other. They both learn and grow throughout the novel. I loved how Kendra was able to change her opinion of Nick as he opened up to her the longer they were together. I guess growing up knowing you are the only one who can see 8-foot tall demons with horns and blue skin would make you more open-minded to other things, but I was pleased with how Kendra dealt with and stood her ground with Nick and the other demons.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 01/29/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

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Book Review: Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (02/02/18)

Summary:

“Luna was unapologetically who she was; darkness illuminated in pale light, kindness cloaked in snark, cold at times, but with a warmth bubbling beneath the frosted surface.”

Aura and Luna are bound by dark magic. They are half fae twins. Luna is princess of the night, gaining power by the moon, and has power over air and fire. Aura is princess of the day, and has power over the elements of water and earth. It is a curse that comes with great power.

Luna doesn’t want to hurt others, but Aura seems to go out of her way to kill everyone that gets too close to Luna, including Prince William. Luna will have her revenge and is convinced that she must break their bond and kill her sister. Her plan is to wait until she is awake with power, create a spell to sever the bond, and rid the kingdom of the evil Aura. Luna will do anything for that spell, until William’s younger brother, the Prince Phillip wanders onto her land.

Keywords:

Witches, Fae, Sorcery, Fairy Tale Retelling, Destruction, Roses, Poison, Evil, Sisters, Moon, Guilt, Prince, Hunt, Spells, Broom, Familiar, Cat, Curse, Murder, Power, Love

My Review:

This book was slow to start but well worth reading to the end.

After reading both Savage Beauty and Riches to Rags, I know I will enjoy the other fairy tale retellings by Casey Bond.

Savage Beauty is a unique fairy tale which is very loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. This book was highly creative and imaginative, but also logical due to the background and world building. Unlike the overly imaginative Alice in Wonderland, Savage Beauty is highly creative within the set of rules that Bond has crafted in this world.

I loved having both Aura and Luna’s perspectives. After falling in love with Luna, much like William and Philip, I found it interesting to see Aura’s perspective. It was quite satisfying and confusing. How could a murderer downplay her acts? How could Aura excuse her behavior? And yet, she felt genuine when we were inside her head.

Even Philip felt like more than just the love interest. There was some depth to his character, though not as much as Luna. Luna is the fantasy character I’ve always wanted to read about. She is tormented and stubborn and hell bent on revenge. She is also sweet and caring and regretful of any actions she takes that cause hurt upon others.

Though I almost set this book down from the first chapter, I’m glad I kept reading and absolutely loved the ending.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 02/02/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

2019 February Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Unexpected Surprises!

It’s already March!

I spent February working like mad to sell off/give away/get rid of without trashing a lot of my belongings that no longer serve a purpose for me. I sold furniture that has been sitting around, clothing I never wear and won’t realistically ever wear or want to wear, and some other random stuff that I thought other people might value. I gave away opened items or low-value items I didn’t think were worth my time trying to sell. I still have a small pile of things I am giving away or selling. I have also up-cycled some of the plastic packaging and containers we’ve taken into the house – like the plastic container that we got our Costco cherry tomatoes in I use to hold my cotton up-cycled shirt hankies. The #10 can from one of my prepper foods that we used up is now the receptacle for the used hankies in the bathroom. Our ‘trashcan’ in the bathroom is only used for compostables.

On a related note… We lost power for 3 nights and 2 days this month and had to work with our old-fashioned yet reliable fireplace for heat. Thank goodness our stove top is gas powered! I was able to burn a lot of the paper that’s been sitting around the house from junk mail and records that needed shredding. Huzzah! I was also able to cook/pack in coolers and ice/take to a hotel and put in their fridge to conserve all the food from the fridge/freezer that was mine. Thankfully, I don’t stockpile frozen food.

I also tried out the Imperfect Produce with mixed results at first. I did a cost analysis of all the produce I chose in the first box and looked at pricing from our local Safeway store here in WA state and found that the prices were usually 30% less with Imperfect Produce! A win for my budget. I also was able to use a discount code for my first box! I really like how naked the produce from Imperfect is and how customizable each box is. I can buy organic or regular produce at a discount. I also scheduled weekly boxes so I can reduce my trips to the grocery store, thereby reducing impulse buys. I highly recommend you try out Imperfect Produce too! You can use this link to get $10 off your first box!

I have been saving up Amazon gift cards until I had enough to purchase some silk floss, Ethique shampoo bar sampler, reusable pads and loofah sponges. I have mixed feelings about the floss – but I think over time I can get used to it. It came in the cutest cardboard packaging and I re-used their cardboard mailer. I haven’t tried the Ethique shampoo bars or reusable pads yet. The loofah sponges were smaller than I realized but I put one in the shower to use on my face/body and will use another in the kitchen when my old sponge is used up. Those did come in plastic packaging.

I still am looking to source a Zero-Waste toothpaste and facial moisturizer alternative in the near future, but still have at least 30% of each bottle left that will last me a good few months.

Next month’s goals: to test out my zero waste shampoo/conditioner, cutting (and donating) 12″ or so of my hair, trying out my reusable pads, and learning to wash my up-cycled shirt tissues and pads.

My ongoing and future projects:

  1. Make my own laundry detergent or source a better alternative
  2. Line dry my clothes instead of using the dryer (when we have sun again)
  3. Stop my junk mail (or parts of it?)
  4. Get/Make/Source reusable cloth napkins and store in a usable location for both upstairs and downstairs
  5. Source facial lotion
  6. Source a toothpaste tablets/powder I like?
  7. Visit the zero-waste stores in my area

I’ve been reading Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson and think it’s a very useful guide!

Do you have any other ideas I should consider to reduce my waste?


As far as fitness goals go: I’m able to find my balance point in crow and can hold it for several seconds without teeter tottering out of it immediately! I continue to work on strengthening my wrists, lifting weights, and walking every day. Eventually, I may find it valuable to work one-on-one with a knowledgeable hand stand instructor.


My main goal for the year was to save as much money as possible! I’m doing this by earning more money, spending less money, and investing the money that I do have. Here is my monthly budget spreadsheet and a brief breakdown for how February went.

Even with my unexpected car expenses, I was still able to spend under 50% of my earnings! Woot woot!

What are your goals and how are you meeting them this month?

Here is my January goal check in blog post!

Book Review: Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (10/31/17)

Summary:

“You are brave when you should be terrified, kind when you should be bitter, humble when you could be prideful, and your spirit, instead of being crushed beneath circumstance, somehow managed to rise above it all and remain joyful.”

Ella Carina’s favorite pastime is sitting in her window seat and gazing at the people outside as they go about their daily lives. She despairs that she’ll be stuck in the castle until her father forces her to marry an older man from Galder for political reasons. At 14, she expects to wait until after her older sister is married, but her father decides to marry both Carina and Ivy on the same day in a few weeks. With her future set, Carina is about to lose what little freedom she does have. The very next day the next kingdom over attacks the castle and she is swept away, her life as she knows it is over. But perhaps living in hiding as a farmer will give her the simpler life she has always dreamed about.

Keywords:

Fairy Tale, Retelling, Cinderella, Love, Innocent, Envy, Prince, King, Kingdom, Power, Escape, Hiding, Poor, Dreams, Castle, Tyrant, Family, Friendship, Fighting

My Review:

I love a good fairy tale retelling. Riches to Rags was an excellent fairy tale adaptation. I absolutely love Bond’s writing style and the flow of her stories.

I thought Carina grew so much from the beginning of the novel to the end. Bond does an amazing job of showing Carina’s growth and change as a character. Bond also creates so much conflict, terror, and circumstances outside of Carina’s control, that I wondered how she would survive. Carina’s true character, her grit, and her good nature shows true as she lives and works with the farmers. She is grateful to be alive to be placed with such a loving family. Carina is a much more active character than she has reason to be. Bond gives Carina the perseverance to create a good and happy life for herself, despite the circumstances that brutally took her away from her life in the castle as a princess.

As soon as you fall in love with Carina and her new romance with the blacksmith’s son and wonder how she will overcome the animosity from her new sister, a new conflict arises. This book had so much packed into it and I very much enjoyed reading it. I look forward to reading Casey Bond’s other fairy tale adaptations.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 10/31/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

A Dystopian Novel published by Wanderlust Publishing (10/25/2015)

Summary:

In the Republic of Americas everyone is happy. Jackson has been excited to go back to his home in the Republic of Americas for years, but upon arrival, the land of plenty is a depressing landscape of malnourished citizens who appear happier than they should be. Just hours after his ship arrives, Jackson is singled out and taken to a Liberty Box. Only his mental training will keep him from being bewitched like all the other citizens in the Americas.

Keywords:

Dystopian, Mind Control, Medication, Drugs, Economical Collapse, Power, Technological advances, Escape, Fight, Politics, Government, Investigation, Reporter

My Review:

The Liberty Box is a mind control center, the place where the government and those who work for the government capture the brain waves of all newcomers. Once they have the brain waves, they can then send messages and lies to every person in the Republic of the Americas to control how they perceive their world. All citizens can be happy all the time doing anything the political leaders need or want them to do. Does this mind control work all the time? As long as the machines are up and running, they seem to work continuously. I liked that there has only been a short history of the Republic of the Americas since it was simply North America. Not enough time for history to dissolve in everyone’s mind but enough time to indoctrinate *most* of the youth. That is where Kate comes in. As a child she was sent to a camp for those who saw through the brain wave mind control. She was successfully rehabilitated, or so everyone thought.

I thought the author did a great job presenting the dystopian future and filling out the world building from the different perspectives in different chapters of the novel. I would have liked to know more about all the facets of the mind control. What difficulties did they face in the beginning of the Republic of the Americas when they had to create the infrastructure to support the mind control? How far does the manipulation reach? Perhaps these questions will be answered further in the series.

This Dystopian novel was published by Wanderlust Publishing 10/25/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

C.A. Gray’s Website

Book Review: Behind the Mask by Brandon Kennedy

Behind the Mask by Brandon Kennedy

A Superhero Novel published by Amazon Digital Services Inc. (07/13/2018)

Summary:

Heroes exist. Kelly has a power, but she doesn’t want to use it. She doesn’t want to get caught with her power. Expectations are too high and she just wants to be left alone. Not everyone feels this way. Kelly’s best friend wants to be a hero and will jump at the chance when she gains her own powers, pulling Kelly along with her. Kelly will be left with no choice but to use her power. The question is, who will she use it for?

 

Join a heroine hiding from her past, a villain stuck between loyalty and passion, a vigilante masquerading as a hero, and a detective searching for the strings that tie them all together. This dark tale explores the idea that the person behind the mask isn’t always who we expect them to be.

Keywords:

Flying, Superhero, Hero, Villain, Society, Past, Mask, Hidden, Romance, Friends, Secrets

My Review:

I really liked Kelly. She’s the reluctant hero of the story. She has a chip on her shoulder and a bitter attitude about heroes, but is loyal to a fault. When her friends pull her into the world of heroes, she will have to respond. At least to save their butts.

I didn’t buy the romance that was introduced in the second half of this story. It was too sudden – for the characters and in the plot of the story – as if it was thrown in there for variety and to create extra problems for the characters.

The story was excellent and really fun to read. The grammar could use some work. There were quite a number of typos as well and there was an issue with the formatting, especially in the second half. This book, if polished, would be a five-star read. As it is, if you can look past the grammar, typos, and formatting you will enjoy this book immensely (especially if you like a good superhero action book).

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services Inc. 07/13/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: Poison Passion (Gina Wetherby Mysteries) by Linda Jordan

Poison Passion (Gina Wetherby Mysteries) by Linda Jordan

A Mystery Novel published through Metamorphosis Press (11/09/18)

Summary:

Gina Wetherby has been given the task of hand delivering one of her own paintings to her client’s private island before their daughter’s wedding. Gina is thrilled to visit the estate, tour the carefully created garden, and find more flowers to paint for her client. Unfortunately, before the wedding, a murder throws everything into chaos and nobody is allowed to leave the island until the killer is caught.

Keywords:

Cozy Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horticulture, Flowers, Seattle, Wedding, Murder, Gardener, Estate, Art, Artist, Painter, Food, Cats, Private Island

My Review:

I don’t have the pleasure of reading many cozy mysteries so I don’t have much experience with the genre. That being said, I did enjoy this book. I really liked the main character, Gina. She is not your average main character. She is middle aged, single, and smart. She doesn’t fall in love in this story. The mystery (murder rather) is the focal point, which I really liked. I also liked how savvy Gina was with technology and how useful she actually was during the investigation. She might not be an investigator, but she’s logical and can use her knowledge and skills to assist with the investigators.

Some of the writing was a little clunky in parts, but the story flowed well. The ending was a bit of a disappointment for me as I didn’t think it tied into the characters and story as well as it could have.

This novel was published through Metamorphosis Press on 11/09/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Linda Jordan’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Playing Doctor: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 5) by Cathy Yardley

Playing Doctor: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 5) by Cathy Yardley

A Romantic Comedy published by RYW Publishing (01/27/19)

Summary:

Cressida has been agoraphobic for years, but she has her safe place in her house and she’s been taking baby steps venturing outside the house in a friend’s RV. The only problem is that the landlord wants to sell the house and unless Cressida and her sisters can come up with the money fast, they will have to move. Cressida will have to brave leaving the house in order to save it. She thinks she knows where she can find a hidden treasure that one of  her favorite authors left as a treat to his fans. Now all Cressida needs is someone to drive her and the RV across several states to find this treasure.

Noah has been a fan of Cressida and the treasure hunt for years. He spends his free time looking for the treasure. All that money could fund schooling for him to be a doctor and take some of the pressure off his hard-working immigrant mother. Nobody has gotten closer to finding the treasure than Cressida. Noah has always wanted to meet her but never took action until the son of the famous author threatens to report Noah’s mother to ICE. Noah will put everything aside to save his mother and will say anything and do anything to get Cressida to help him find the treasure. They plan to split it 50/50, but with both keeping secrets from the other, their tenuous trust might not last long enough to see the payout.

Keywords:

Treasure Hunt, Journey, Agoraphobia, Friendship, Romance, Sisters, Family, Trust, Road Trip, RV, Books, Clues, Book Shop, Risk, Fear

My Review:

Every time I read a book by Yardley, I seem to finish the book in one sitting and wish that I had more of her books to read. The Fandom Hearts series is especially a series I love to read because it’s set locally, the characters are full of personality, and the stories are larger than life.

I loved Cressida’s story in this book, as well as Noah’s story. They are both diverse characters. Cressida is agoraphobic and Noah is the son of an immigrant. I loved that I got to see the difficulties that mental illness and immigration play in this story. I think Yardley did justice to her characters and their backgrounds.

The treasure hunt aspect gave me Déjà vu. Was I reading about Ready, Player, One’s author Ernest Cline and his treasure hunt for the DeLorean? I laughed when Yardley mentioned this specific treasure hunt in the book.

The story was captivating, the characters were delightfully diverse and developed, and the writing style was flawless. I can’t wait for the next Fandom Hearts book if there is one!

This novel was published by RYW Publishing on 01/27/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

2019 January Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Bragging!

January may be over, but I still have goals on the horizon…

My journey to less waste began in late 2018, but I’ve been looking closer at the trash my purchases make and I resolved to make even more changes this year.

As I use up my personal items, I’ve decided to source a more local, more environmentally friendly, higher quality, zero-waste alternative. The first item I used up is my natural deodorant. I switched to the Crystal Body Deodorant, Rock, 5 Ounce back in December and have used it since then with great results. I really like the rock, but it did come in a plastic sleeve – in a plastic and cardboard packaged container. I kept the plastic sleeve to put it in when I travel but tossed the packaging.

The second item I’ve nearly used up is floss. I’m still sourcing an alternative, but am thinking about getting dental lace. I want to check out what the Bothell Recology store has for floss, if any and take a quick peek at my local PCC for alternatives as well. I have a little bit of time before the last bit of my Costco Oral-B Glide floss runs out. I also don’t want to check out the local stores when I’m near them and not go out of my way to visit them.

A third personal item that I didn’t necessarily use up, but am already making changes for is for my menstrual health. I got the Lunette Reusable Menstrual Cup – Blue – Model 1 for Light Flow – Your Vagina’s New Best Friend in December and tried it out for 2 days. Then I read some comments in some of my Zero-Waste groups on Facebook that the device, since it uses suction, can cause a prolapse. Scary. So I haven’t tried it since. I did receive two very lovely pairs of Thinx period panties on my birthday. Thanks, Sis! I still have quite the supply of pads left and am looking forward to trying out the Thinx on the lighter days.

Other changes I have made are as follows:

  1. Composting in a bin in the backyard
  2. Keeping veggie scraps and making them into stock for soup
  3. Refusing whenever I can (envelopes at the bank, straws at restaurants, bags at the grocery store)
  4. Using my produce bags and reusable bags at the grocery store
  5. Using handmade hankies for blowing my nose instead of toilet paper or tissues
  6. I stopped using q-tips
  7. Taking the trash can out of the bathroom and leaving a ‘compost’ bin instead
  8. Using my Buy Nothing and other friendly online groups to recycle items I don’t want and don’t use
  9. Re-using any packaging materials I receive for work/personal
  10. I didn’t buy anything new that wasn’t consumable in January!
  11. Making my own rags for cleaning out of old clothes that were too worn out to donate
  12. Resolving to plan meals at home every day of the month and only eating out when cooking doesn’t work out or when I’m traveling
  13. Planning my meals around what food needs to be eaten (I’m looking at you leftovers!)

My future projects:

  1. Consider a family cloth and figure out the logistics
  2. Make my own Poo-Pourri
  3. Make my own laundry detergent or source a better alternative
  4. Line dry my clothes instead of using the dryer
  5. Stop my junk mail
  6. Source an alternative to my current shampoo/conditioner bottles
  7. Get/Make/Source reusable cloth napkins and store in a usable location for both upstairs and downstairs
  8. Source packaging free fruits and vegetables that aren’t inconvenient to purchase
  9. Source facial lotion

Do you have any other ideas I should consider to reduce my waste?


I completed a fitness goal in January as well – I successfully completed the Blogilates 100 abs challenge. Though many days I did the easier version of the ab-challenge move and some days I didn’t complete the challenge in one day, I did all 100 ab moves in the 30 days. Blogilates is one of my favorite fitness guides on Youtube. I feel stronger and more able to complete ab-related workouts now. I also feel that I do have more ab muscles.

Early in January, my partner and I both got a BodySpec scan and it was fascinating to see the measurements. According to the scan I’m very healthy. It’s always reassuring to have the numbers. It was also quite reassuring to have the 15-minute phone consultation after the scan and for them to tell me that having such a high fat content in the gynoid region (35%) isn’t bad and doesn’t indicate a higher risk for something like diabetes. The gynoid region is where you want to store your fat! Huzzah! My partner and I have both been going to the gym for strength training this month, which I have never really done before. I actually enjoy it (almost anything is more exciting and easier than cardio).

I have dog walking midday all month and have enjoyed the extra movement. Moving forward I want to continue to work on strength training, ab-exercises, and movement during the day. I also want to continue to take my pole classes and the acro-yoga classes I’ve been going to weekly/biweekly. Eventually when my wrist (specifically my left wrist) feels like it has a greater range of motion, I want to work more diligently on handstand training.


My main goal for the year was to save as much money as possible! I’m doing this by earning more money, spending less money, and investing the money that I do have. I put the maximum allotment for 2018 into my IRA account and I am trying out some short-term CD investments. I am also looking for creative ways to earn money. So far I have tried filling out surveys (it’s hard to get chosen for the ones that pay real money), Rover (I love getting paid to exercise and I get to watch cats sometimes), selling unwanted items on Facebook selling unwanted items on Ebay, and selling the remaining book inventory (which means seeking out events where I can sell my books). By the way, if you’re local – come meet me! Cough cough buy my books cough cough.

I am also closely watching all my money. I created a yearly budget and broke it down by month and track every single expense categorically. My monthly goal is to save half of all my incoming money. Here is my monthly budget spreadsheet and a brief breakdown for how January went.

I did spend 55% of my income for January. Mostly because I prepaid my car insurance, legal fees, and 6-month maintenance this month.

Upcoming Local Event: Neverending Bookshop Author Signing in Edmonds, WA 2/3/19

 

The Neverending Bookshop is pleased to welcome back local author Rachel Barnard with her book “Donuts In An Empty Field”! She’ll do a reading, talk about her books, answer questions, and sign copies of her work. Stop by and join us!

To celebrate Rachel breaking even on her first ever book project, she is offering her first For the Love of Donuts book (Donuts in an Empty Field) at a discounted price at this event.

RSVP to the event on Facebook HERE

 

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30052109-donuts-in-an-empty-field

 

Bring your used books and get store credit to the book store.