2017 Reading Challenge Books in Review

2015 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2016 Reading Challenge Blog Post

I may not have met my goal of 150 books, but I did read quite a few and I wrote my 300th Indie book review 🙂

I spent $81.61 on kindle books this year

The books I read this year so far:

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Author Goals and Accomplishments from 2017 and Future Goals for 2018

Goals list of 2014

Goals list of 2015

Goals list of 2016

Goals list of 2017:

  1. Publish Seize the Donut (for the Love of Donuts Book 2) on National Donut Day – June 2nd, 2017
    1. Nailed it! 
  2. Edit my short stories – Celebrity Dreamscapes, Smart Fraud, The Man Who Never Slept
    1. I submitted these stories to Norwescon’s Fairwood Writer’s Workshops and then only actually edited one of them…
  3. Send out my short stories for publication!
    1. Nope. Not at all
  4. Version 2 of At One’s Beast (edit, revise, re-release)
    1. Didn’t even look at this
  5. Find an agent for Flora’s Last Chance for Magic
    1. I sent Flora out to three agents… And all of them said no.
  6. Find a publisher or artist for my children’s picture book
    1. Nope.
  7. Write and art for children’s picture book about pole dance
    1. This was an idea I had?
  8. Write a children’s picture book about dad catch phrases or dad puns
    1. You can see where this is going… Nope.
  9. Revise Aster & Tilde
    1. I want to collaborate with someone on this (hey sister!)
  10. Write Aster & Tilde book 2 and plan out the series
    1. Nope.
  11. Review 1 Indie book a week
    1. Almost! I reviewed 49 books this year 🙂
  12. Go to Emerald City Writer’s Conference again
    1. I decided to save my money for a vacation outside the country instead.
  13. Start editing Dollars to Donuts (for the Love of Donuts book 3)
    1. I decided that I might not even publish this book and focus on my romance series instead
  14. Publish Nichole’s Book of Awesome Things (for the Love of Donuts accompaniment 2) for release with Seize the Donut
    1. Yes! And it was done. Practically Done.
  15. Create a coloring book of donuts (for the Love of Donuts accompaniment 3) for release in the winter
    1. Woohoo I did this too!
  16. Create an audio book of my poetry book
    1. Nope. Didn’t even try.
  17. YouTube video 1x/month
    1. Yeah… I don’t care for video editing – but I am posting on social media more.
  18. Get 500 Instagram followers
    1. Nope.
  19. Reach 250 Facebook likes on author page
    1. I’m at 189 likes
  20. Reach 250 Facebook friends
    1. I did this!
  21. Mile in 10 minutes
    1. Fastest mile time was 9:26
  22. 50 push-ups in one go
    1. Yes!
  23. Inversions other side solid
    1. Done!
  24. Shoulder mount
    1. Oh yeah!
  25. Level up inversions at Divine
    1. I’m now in intermediate inversions and almost ready to pass to advanced inversions
  26. Dance performance
    1. I performed three times!
  27. 200 pole classes lifetime
    1. I’m up to 279 pole classes lifteime
  28. 10 pull ups
    1. I never tested this, but I’m probably only able to do 5-7 on a good day

2018 Goals!!! Writing and Beyond:

Writing:

  • Finish one novel writing project
  • Plan and execute my children’s picture book I’ve put on hold for years
  • Submit to the PNWA contest
  • Send Flora’s Last Chance for Magic to 20 publishers/agents/editors
  • Create Rachel’s guide to donuts in and around Seattle

Physical:

  • Handspring to Ayesha
  • Create a demo reel
  • Learn a breakdance party move
  • Level up inversions at Divine

Book Review: The Universe is a Very Big Place by April Aasheim

The Universe is a Very Big Place by April Aasheim

A Romantic Comedy Novel published by Dark Root Press (07/28/12)

Summary:

Spring is having a mid life crisis and she’s only in her thirties. She’s settled for the life that she thinks is what she wants: normal. She has her boring fiance, her two rambunctious twins, and a job she doesn’t like. Everything is perfect. Except that life has other plans for Spring. First her mother moves in and then she meets a nice stranger who can’t forget her.

Keywords:

Comedic, Fortune Teller, Family, Disaster, Chaos, Love, Karma, True Love, Responsibility, Twins, Kids with ADHD, Live in Grandparent, Pig, Bad Boss, Art, Control

My Review:

This book was a fun and easy read, but it also contained an interesting and not your run-of-the-mill main character. The dialogue was super fun and sometimes really cheeky. I loved every scene where people talked to each other. Everything they said was realistic and entertaining. I would love to see a play written by this author.

Spring is a loveable mess. Sam is boring on the outside, but has his interesting secret quirks. Sam treats her like a fixer upper and their exchanges are hilarious. Even the ex from Spring’s carnival upbringing had his own distinct personality. Spring’s mother was a hoot and so was the neighbor.

Every character had a full personality. The attention to detail for the characters’ backstories and quirks and little tics was amazing.

This novel was published by Dark Root Press on 07/28/2012 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

April Aasheim’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Catalyst by Kristin Smith

Catalyst by Kristin Smith

A Dystopian YA Novel published through Clean Teen Publishing (11/21/16)

Summary:

Sienna lives in a world where almost everyone around her has been genetically upgraded. She is shorter, plainer, and all around normal. But her normal world gets shattered when her she finds out her father didn’t die of natural causes. It is up to her to support her family – her mother and young sister – as she tries to figure out who was behind her father’s death. Before she can even begin to uncover these secrets, one of her side jobs goes awry and she’s in hot water with the government. Her life goes from barely manageable to disaster when her mother is taken away by the government and the only way to get her back will be to join forces with an extremist group.

Keywords:

Runaway, Dystopian, Values and Virtues, Science Fiction, Futuristic, Female Main Character, Adventure, Romance, Deception, Las Vegas, Technology, DNA, Family, Lies

My Review:

This book was a nonstop adventure ride with a lot of action packed scenes. It was the Chosen One crossed with a Love Triangle mixed with some Dystopian thriller goodness. That being said, I did think it was too easy for Sienna any time she faced adversity. She was always getting out of any situation! Her triumphs, especially against an organized body like the government, seemed a bit too easy.

I loved Sienna’s spunk and positive attitude. She never had negative thoughts regarding her own possible failure and she never dwelled on the what ifs because she was a woman of action! She was always brave and fearless. In her last year without her father she had to learn to be self-reliant and resilient, because her mother was not able to provide and support the family. We don’t see Sienna grow during this time period, but we do see her on the other side as she faces all sorts of problems and difficulties.

I liked that Zane existed, even though he didn’t feel fully formed. I liked that there was a love triangle in this book because it added some more complications to Sienna’s already complicated life.

YA literature needs more red heads like Sienna.

This novel was published through Clean Teen Publishing on 11/21/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Kristin Smith’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Her Thin Blue Lifeline: Indigo Knights Book I by A.J. Downey

Her Thin Blue Lifeline: Indigo Knights Book I by A.J. Downey

A Romance Novel published by Second Circle Press (06/28/17)

Summary:

Chrissy Franco just won a major case, but not everyone is happy about her success. Someone posts her home address online and it only takes one nut job to take everything away from Chrissy. Tony McCormick is the police detective called to the scene and the one to find Chrissy barely alive. Chrissy won’t be able to feel safe again until the culprit is caught and Tony won’t rest until he finds the man terrorizing Chrissy.

Keywords:

MC, Bikers, Lawyer, Courtroom, Victim, Shooter, Apartment, Defense, Clients, Innocence, Romance, Blame, Guilt, Recovery, PT, Cop, Damsel in Distress, Strong Female Character

My Review:

I felt for Chrissy. She is the woman everyone relates to at night walking home alone. Or on a dark street alone. Her story is why some people lock their doors at night. She is the woman with the target on her back for no reason other than because she hit a man’s ego. I felt for her and her feelings of terror and PTSD. I wanted her to recover and to pick up the shattered pieces of her life in a happy ending.

This book is such a true reflection of what people and women go through in this world where we are never truly safe. When something so terrible happens, like it did to Chrissy, the person might never fully recover – physically and mentally. Chrissy is so brave to stay in that city and to work as hard as she did in her physical therapy. She did nothing to deserve what happened to her. The author gave so much life and power to Chrissy. She wasn’t your typical damsel in distress.

I liked seeing a different kind of motorcycle club than the Sacred Hearts series and can’t wait to see where AJ Downey goes next.

This novel was published by Second Circle Press on 06/28/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

A.J. Downey’s Blog

Goodreads

Facebook

All About the Donuts: Local Donut Shop Review – Steve’s Doughnuts

Steve’s Doughnuts

Snoqualmie, WA

7730 Center Blvd SE, Snoqualmie, WA 98065

stevesdoughnuts.com

What I tried:

Sugar twist, classic glazed, Boston Creme, Butter Bar, Cinnamon Roll, Maple Bar

~$8.25. Buy 5 get, the 6th free!

What to expect:

The donuts are hearty. If you want a donut that is thick and delicious, this is the place to get it. The shop owners are friendly. The shop itself is small and homey. You can find their treats at some of the local coffee shops in the area. They have a different special type of donut they make every day.

My favorite:

The freshness of the donuts. They make them in batches and on a Saturday at 8 A.M. I was able to get donuts right from the cooling rack. My favorite donut that I tried was the butter bar. It was like eating an old fashioned and a glazed combined into one flaky pastry.


S.O.S.
Save Our Shop

We are announcing our plan to survive into the next year. This
post is our plan going forward. To read about the ongoing
struggles for business on the Ridge, read 
Here.

To overcome our challenges we need to leverage our existing skills
and boost sales. Snoqualmie is our home and we want to stay, but
we can’t sell enough doughnuts on the Ridge anymore to stay
afloat, so we want to take our show on the road! We want to start
a Food Truck! This will be a two part plan:

Part 1) Kickstarter: We need to generate cash, plain and simple.
As such we are going to launch a Kickstarter campaign soon. The
purpose of this will be to catch up on power bills, ingredients,
rent and the other odds and ends that fall behind when sales drop.
We’ve been able to recruit some local businesses to help provide
some amazing incentives. We’ll publish everything soon, but
examples include S.O.S. T-shirts, Doughnut Club membership
cards, Sponsorship Decals ON THE TRUCK, and even the
opportunity to host the truck at your office where you will be
worshipped by your co-workers!

Part 2) Investors: Opening the business to investors, combined
with debt leverage, will be how we acquire the actual truck. We
will provide a full valuation for the existing business, plus
projections for the truck portion. Once this portion of the
business is online we will be able to generate an exceptional cash
flow. We will use our existing production capability to supply a
mobile retail outlet, making our slow days great days, while being
able to stay in Snoqualmie, safe and sound. If you think you’ll be
interested in investing or loaning, contact Steve!

Link to their GoFundMe

Book Review: The Watch & Wand: The difference between science and magic is a matter of perspective (Project Gene Assist Book 2) by Allie Potts

The Watch & Wand: The difference between science and magic is a matter of perspective (Project Gene Assist Book 2) by Allie Potts

A Science Fiction/Cyberpunk/Dystopian Novel published by Axil Hammer Publishing (12/5/17)

Summary:

A worldwide economic collapse has left society in shambles with only basic technology. Stephen is able to connect to what’s left of the grid to play a video game with a stranger. What’s left of tech is easy for Stephen to manipulate. It’s not enough to sneak off to play games online and Stephen longs for excitement. That’s exactly what he gets when he has to go to town to get parts. He meets a girl on the run from the new government enforcers – the Watch.

Keywords:

Genetic Engineering, Science and Technology, Rivals, Technology,  Future, Dystopian, Survival, Dark Ages, War, New Government, Towers, Grit, Magic, Evolution, Economic Collapse, New Order, Salvation, Friendship, Romance

My Review:

I was immediately immersed in this post-apocalyptic world. First the focus was just in Stephen’s barn as he connects with a stranger through an online video game. Then the world expands as we see Stephen’s home life “off-the-grid” on the farm. We don’t linger there long before Stephen is off to find parts to fix the grid and our world expands a bit more as we see what a typical town looks like. The world continues to expand as Stephen’s adventure continues and his problems increase.

Stephen was a great character. He underwent a significant change throughout the story. He was willing to take a chance on the strange girl and help her, not expecting anything in return. She, Bean, was also a character I immediately took a liking to in this story. She had many secrets and I liked the mystery that surrounded her. Stephen and Bean together made for a great team and the romance that built between them felt very natural and sweet. Their romance was not the focus of the story, which I appreciated. The story remained focused on Stephen and his goal and the overarching plot that kept sweeping Stephen up in its grasp.

The world felt full. The technology and world building were explained adequately. The only parts that was harder to understand and appreciate fully were the magical element, but I thought the author did a good job integrating the fantasy element into the story and the world.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this novel. This is my honest review.

This novel was published by Axil Hammer Publishing on 12/5/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Allie Potts’ Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Event Aftermath – Si View Holiday Bazaar and Juanita Elementary Holiday Bazaar

I had a blast at both events yesterday! I got some really nifty locally crafted Christmas gifts as well 😉 I can’t wait for next year. Thanks everyone who came out and bought our books and supported local businesses!

Book Review: For the Love of Christmas by Starla Huchton

For the Love of Christmas by Starla Huchton

A Sweet Romance Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (10/30/17)

Summary:

Santa has polar flu and needs a replacement, but Mr. Klaus only has a daughter, Meri, and she hasn’t married yet. Meri loves reverse engineering toys. She loves Christmas. She loves her family. It is up to her to find the new Santa, but she only has a few weeks to find the right man to fit the job. Brett Dunning has not celebrated Christmas in 7 years, since his wife died giving birth to his daughter, Holly. If the magic of Christmas points to Brett, will Meri be able to convince him to give the holidays a chance again?

Keywords:

Christmas, Santa, Santa’s Daughter, Tradition, Family Business, Snow, Holidays, Single Parent, Romance, Love, Friendship, Magic, Holiday Spirit, Choir, Baking

My Review:

This story is a bit unbelievable with the whole’ Santa is real aspect,’ but once you get over that, it’s a wonderfully sweet romance. The characters were simple, yet fully developed and full of personality and quirks. This is a family friendly romance – sweet for the holidays.

Meri is the perfect daughter, friend, and wife. Is it the magic of Christmas and her family history that makes her smell so sweet, gives her super sympathy and loads of patience, and all around makes her perfect? Brett is more down to earth and realistic as a person. He loves his daughter, but can’t get over his love of his late wife easily.

Every scene with Holly in it was beautiful. I loved how Meri and Brett both interacted with her and how alive she felt as a young child. The doting love that both Brett and Meri gave to Holly was wonderful and endeared both Meri and Brett even more to me as a reader.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 10/30/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: The Tchaikovsky by E G Sergoyan

The Tchaikovsky by E G Sergoyan

A Mystery/Thriller Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (11/16/16)

Summary:

Diane is not thrilled to be representing Dr. Moon in court again, but at least the case is interesting. Dr. Moon is accused of kidnapping a young girl. The case should be cut and dried, but according to Dr. Moon, he had to take the girl to an audition across state lines so that she could play The Tchaikovsky violin Concerto in D major in order to release her late music teacher from possession of her body. And Dr. Moon is a psychic.

Keywords:

Violin, Possession, Erhu, Tradition, Tchaikovsky, Obsession, Perfection, Music, Lawyers, Accusations, Psychic, Accusations, Frustration, Ghost, Spirit, Con Artist, Trial

My Review:

What a story! It didn’t take long to suck me into this story. The buildup and pacing was phenomenal and the characters were so interesting and compelling. The magical realism/unearthly/ghostly part of the story wasn’t overwhelming or unusual in its treatment.

I loved the back and forth opinions on Dr. Moon. Is he a con artist or is he the real deal? Do people believe in spirits, ghosts, and possession? What is really wrong with Jane? Though I didn’t wish for Jane to be plagued by anything, I was amused that the drugs prescribed by a ‘real’ doctor weren’t working for her and made everything worse.

Diane and Dr. Moon’s relationship was interesting and I loved their first encounter on the street. Both characters, and all the other characters in fact felt full, real and well-developed.

The ending was amazing and I loved how the author handled the subplots of the story. Everything came together so remarkably!

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC 11/16/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

E.G. Sergoyan’s Website