The Bridge to Belle Island Book Review

3 Mar

Synopsis:

Lawyer Benjamin Booker has just been publicly humiliated by a beautiful woman. Vowing never to be taken in by a pretty face again, he is relieved to turn his attention to another case. One involving the murder of the law offices senior partners old friend. Both unsatisfied by the progress by Bow Street, Benjamin agrees to start his own investigation, which takes him from London to Belle Island. While he’s glad to be free of London for a while, he finds that the island – isolated on the Thames and veiled in mystery – is home to the beautiful Isabelle.

Isabelle claims to have never left the island in ten years. She’s created a full and productive life in her small world, one that she’s proud of, even if she is ashamed of her fear keeping her trapped. When the handsome lawyer shows up on her doorstep to tell her of her uncle’s death, she’s shocked. But when evidence points to her, Isabelle isn’t sure what to do. Can she trust her own mind? Can she trust the friends surrounding her, or should she trust the handsome Benjamin?

After having read some reviews that were all over the place on how good this book was, I was unsure if I would enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed her other books that I’ve read. (for links to those that I’ve reviewed here, they’re at the bottom of this post!).

My review on Goodreads right after I finished it :
Klassen did it again. This murder mystery was so engaging and kept me guessing right up til the end. I liked Benjamin Booker – just out to do the right thing and not get misled again by a pretty face. And while I didn’t understand the given reasons by some of the characters (Isabelle included) held back information about the night in question, it did add to the suspense of it. I admit – I found myself wishing I could live on Belle Island.

This made it on to my FAVORITE Reads of 2020 book list! So even though there were bits that I was scratching my head on, I liked the differences of Klassen’s story line for this murder mystery. I would recommend this for pretty much anyone – although I’d suggest pre-reading it before handing it to a younger teen reader.

Here are links to the other books by Klassen that I’ve reviewed here on SGL!

The Painter’s Daughter

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

Book Review – The Silent Governess

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

Thanks for stopping by SGL! If you’d like to see what I’m up to on a -slightly – more regular basis, check out my Instagram page.

~Laura

Health Update January 2020

30 Jan

Hello again friends, thanks for coming back to SGL. It has been several months since I’ve done a health update and I honestly debated about continuing them. But, as I decided the beginning of last year, I need this monthly posts to help me keep an idea of just how I’ve been. It’s so very easy to get lost in the day to day haze of pain and brain fog that I can’t recollect the better days – or the worse ones.

The other thing I wanted to do was to change up the format for them but I couldn’t figure out a way to do that, that would still provide the information that I need (and that I want to share). If you have any suggestions, or a blog to recommend that does regular health updates, I am definitely open to hearing them.

fightinglymemigraines

As a look at Overall Health, it’s harder to peg this one down since it’s been so many months. I have had good stretches alongside ones that I barely dragged through each day. I do feel like I’m in the middle of a better stretch – this would mean that my fatigue isn’t so overwhelming, migraines are calmer/respond to treatment, brain fog tends to be a little less, etc. And let me tell you, I’m so thankful for this pause in extreme pain.

Let’s move on to the rest of the update, shall we?

Here are the notes that I kept on my phone:

Nov 30 – exhausted and headachy all day.  Took 2 short naps.  Cycle due any day. Hungrier than normal past few days. 
Dec 2 -mega fatigue all day.  Took 2 naps.  Migraine kicked up bad , hard to get the pain to ease.  Tylenol, Bayer, ice pack and a nap finally did.
11th – woke up with fatigue and migraine, pretty severe till @2pm. Felt better but still both present all day. A bit moody in evening
12th – woke up pretty good, pain hit @2pm, finally eased @4. Left calf and foot hurting and painful cramps. Poor circulation in legs recently . A bit moody in evening again.
14- woke up exhausted.  Fatigue staying all day so far.  Some head pain as well
Dec 29- very busy day in bend.  drove home in evening.  No major migraine/fatigue/crash whole time we were there. Did really well
Dec 30 – woke up very tired but ok. Took nap early afternoon.  Ran errand. Felt really good early evening.  Aches and migraine kicked up in evening. Soaked feet and took tylenol,  eased it. 
Dec 31 cycle started.  Felt pretty well all day,  tired but not terribly.
JAN 1ST- cycle aches all day.  Lazy day with minimal activity.  Joint pain increased in evening.  Went to bed with ice pack on knees.  It’s been weeks since I needed that

Jan 14 – introduced bananas back into my diet. Felt good in am, very tired by noon. Pretty short attention span all day. About an hr nap after lunch.  Exhausted and achy pain suddenly in evening.  Was able to calm it down decently with ice and tylenol.

Migraine: the severity has decreased most of the time. Sometimes, I get sideswiped by a particularly nasty one however. I’m still taking 4.5 mg of the Low Dose Naltrexone every night and I believe these have helped a lot.

Sleep:  I’m getting about 7 hours each night, with the normal 2 or 3 wakings. I am also putting this to the LDN’s. I do frequently take involuntary naps however.

Memory/Brain Fog:  This has improved some, but when the brain fog hits – it hits hard and doesn’t want to lift. Sometimes I won’t notice how bad it is until I leave the house/try holding a conversation with someone

Vision: I have had several scintillating scotomas, and do occasionally have times where my eyes just don’t want to focus.

TMJ:  My jaw doesn’t pop very often at all anymore and mostly, this pain has diminished. It’s never gone completely, but many days it’s not so severe that I am distracted by it.

Fatigue:  I am able to push myself more than I have in years, probably. But, of course, I do have days where I just am relegated to the couch because I am so fatigued. Or that I just need to space out what I plan, to give my body the rest it needs. – this hasn’t changed much from my last update back in August

Fibromyalgia:  This is a persistent, constant pain. Especially in my knee, elbow, ankle joints. Frequently it rears in my hip as well. I have noticed the random twitches that I get have been increasing over the months.

Weight Loss: Not at all. It’s been more of a weight gain issue. Very frustrating.

Mood: This has been very back and forth lately.

Digestion:   This has been good for me – which means, still not where it should ideally be, but for me, it’s okay.

Screenshot_20200129-133731_Instagram

Dec 14, 2019

Earlier this month, I did some blood tests and am waiting to talk with my doctor about the results. I am, of course, hoping that they will reveal just what is going on inside me and will give us a path on which to base the new protocol that I’m going to start.

Over the month of December, I cut out ALL sugars – even natural – in the hopes that it would ease some of the inflammation in my body. But it didn’t seem to do anything, so I’ve been able to add bananas and honey back in. I’ve been adding them back in very slowly, trying to keep track of how I react. I am looking forward to adding strawberries back into my diet soon!

I hope the pictures (that I grabbed from my Instagram account) give you maybe a better idea of the ups and downs these past months. Due to a lot of negative comments, I’ve really cut back on the ‘pain’ photos that I feel tend to capture the level of pain that I’m in, so it makes it a bit harder to really get the point across. Because of that, I’ve noticed that I don’t share quite as much on IG as I used to. But since it’s still the biggest part of my life – this fighting for my health – I’m going to try and share more of both the dark days and the better days. I’d like to also increase how much I talk about chronic illness here on SGL. If there’s any topic you’d be interested in reading about, please ask!
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, THANKS! I appreciate you giving me some of your precious time,
Blessings,
Laura 

My Library Book Haul

24 Jan

I decided that it might be fun to share with you the stack of books that I picked up from the library earlier this week.

 

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Due to a large stack of TBR’s that I already own, I hadn’t planned on going to the library for quite some time. But, since I’m in the middle of The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini and of course I had to get the next (and last!) book of the series. Which meant going onto the library website. Which meant that I requested several more books than just that one.

I tried, really I did, to just get Inheritance.

Fast forward to when I actually went to the library… and ended up in the little book sale corner and found this book that is the origin story of Diego De La Vega  aka Zorro, by Isabel Allende . *I don’t know anything more about this book other than what it says on the back cover, so if you have read it, I would definitely love to hear what you thought about it!* I couldn’t resist it, or the three Disney VHS tapes that were 25 cents each.

Anyhow, I’ll give you a quick rundown as to what made me pick these particular books – and indeed, I’ve already read a few of them.  Click on the titles to go to Goodreads and read what they’re about.

Jennifer: an O’Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson- I have read the O’Malley Series, for years and I still enjoy them immensely. This book, Jennifer, is a short story with one of the siblings as the main character. If I remember correctly, Henderson wrote it due to her fans begging for it.

The Witness by Dee Henderson – I’m telling you, I’m feeling another Henderson reading spree coming on. I can’t believe that I’d never read this before. It was another good suspense story with characters that I would absolutely love to see in more books – although I can’t find any evidence that it’s part of a series.

The Bridge to Belle Islandby Julie Klassen – I have recently fallen in love with several of Klassen’s novels and wanted to try another one. The reviews on Goodreads for this weren’t the most positive but I decided it would be worth a try

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill – a friend recently recommended this to me and come on, it’s set in the 1920s in Chicago. How can I not give it a chance?

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girlby Theodora Goss – Now, you might remember my review of European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewomanwhich is book 2 of this series…that makes this one the 3rd book and I’ve never read the first one. I know, I’m terrible. Once again, this was a random pick-up, and I’m kinda curious to see how the story continues.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – as I said above, this is the 4th (and final) in the Inheritance Cycle. This thing is a beast, I tell you, a beast. I’m a couple hundred pages in and it’s just as good as I expected. I’m learning that J.R.R. Tolkien’s words are quite true :

“It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.”

 

And just for fun, I’ll tell you what I’m currently reading:

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams – The Early Years 1903-1940 by Gary Giddins

Tate (Montana Marshalls #2) by Susan May Warren (ebook)

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

 

To Read:

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

The books by Goss, Klassen or Morrill

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this quick post on what I picked up on at the library! It’s a bit different from usual but, that’s what makes it fun! (hopefully anyway!)

Watch for a health update coming up next week!

~Laura

 

The FlyLady Cleaning System- 7 Months Later

18 Jan

Back in June of 2019, I wrote a post all about how I tried the FlyLady Cleaning System for a Month. I wanted to share with you (well, those who are interested anyway!) how I’ve been keeping up with it and if I love it and if I recommend it still.

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Photo by Curology on Unsplash

First off, I’ll share what the Flylady system is, from Wikipedia –

“FlyLady is a support and self-help group that offers advice to help people with housekeeping, founded by “The FlyLady”, Marla Cilley. … FlyLady’s messages cover topics include clutter, the value of routines, weekly and monthly cleaning, increased self-esteem, and letting go of perfectionism.”

The FlyLady has you separate your home into five zones that you work through one each week. It’s a nice system that keeps you getting through your entire home every five weeks which, if you’re like most people, is more a more faithful timeline than otherwise you’d be doing those guest room closets or vacuuming under the furniture. Here’s what my home looks like, put into zones:

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You might notice that the dining room somehow didn’t get put into a zone. I’m not sure how that happened! But I’ve been seeing which zone it fits into the best (i.e. which one I’m more likely to get to it) before absolutely sticking it into one.

Since my original post, I have updated my lists – they are still handwritten although I do want to type them up one of these months.

 

I know, you can’t really read it that well what with it being handwritten and handwritten by me. (I’m telling you, my script hasn’t changed since I was about 10 years old. It’s terrible.) But hopefully, it’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about with zones and such. I have written the lists so that the cleaning goes from top to bottom and I do try to stick with that although sometimes I just clean what I feel like that day. I have also changed/added to some of the lists as I realize that some things aren’t getting done (for example: cleaning the dishwasher and mopping the bedrooms).  The FlyLady is big on encouraging you to make it work for you.

Since I am human as well as having a chronic illness, my dedication to this cleaning system has waned at times but I am always glad when I come back to it. I took some (much needed) weeks off around the holidays and am still feeling like I’m trying to catch up, but that’s okay, I’m not pushing myself.  A little at a time is still progress.

All in all, I would still recommend this to you to try! I was greatly relieved when I was able to get off the FlyLady’s email list as there were several coming in each day, and all I needed was the daily/or weekly, cleaning list. So, once I had those all written down, I unsubscribed. If she pared down (significantly) what she sent out each day, I would still be getting them most likely, as it’s good encouragement and reminders. But, as frustrating as the deluge can be, it’s worth it to deal with them for the month-odd in order to really get a feel for the system.

I will add that I’m doing a very pared down version of her cleaning system. There’s also a focus for each day – paying bills, cleaning out your car, anti-procrastination, etc. that are very helpful! There are also missions for each day that are lickety-split cleaning focuses (like tossing the empty soap bottles in your bathroom) that I’m contemplating adding to my routine. Check out the website for more info.

I can’t finish this post without doing a shout out for the lady who got me turned onto the FlyLady system and that’s The Secret Slob. She’s so much fun to watch and she really breaks down the system into an easily understandable thing. Check out this video to see her one-year into FlyLady.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with the state of your house, I suggest you give this a try. Even if you don’t end up using the system, it might spur you on to looking at cleaning as less of a beast – and feeling motivated to just do one small area of your house and feeling accomplished for having done it.

~Laura

 

My List of To-Read books for 2020

13 Jan

After scrolling through several articles on ‘must-read-books’ on Pinterest, I decided to put one together for myself for this coming year. I’ve focused on five different areas/genres as well as making sure that I either own them or am able to get them from the library. Yes, I will inevitably buy books throughout the year but it won’t be to read what I’ve put on this list. I’ll also add, that there’s only 25 books here and there is no doubt I’ll read more than double that. But, this is a place to start – a focus, if you will.

As I read them, I intend on coming back here and marking them – how I’m not sure yet? – so that I know just where I’m at with this list by the end of the year.

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Faith and Personal Growth

 

 

Biographies:

 

Writing Related:

Fiction:

 

Potential Re-Reads:

 

I’ve also created a Pinterest board full of reading challenges, go check it out if you’re thinking of starting one, there are several to choose from! There’s even ones that are based by country (so cool). But I’ve just decided on doing this one:

Inky-Bookworm-Reading-Challenge-2018-c

(I got this from The Inky Bookworm)

These are the pages that I gathered some of these book suggestions from, go check them out and see what else you can add to your To-Read list!

Creative Home Keeper

More Radiance

4 Hats & Frugal

 

Have you ever done a Reading Challenge? What books are you planning on reading this year?

*you can find me on Instagram or on Facebook *

~Laura

FAVORITES BOOKS OF 2019

5 Jan

Because I’ve been so lax in book reviews the past while, I’m going to actually review the books I share with you today. The majority of these favorites are new-reads but I will share some re-reads with you as well at the bottom of the post.

I have a post in the works sharing my reading goals and a personalized reading list for 2020, make sure you don’t miss it!

favreads2019

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander – Accepting her cousin’s invitation to join them in Colorado was an easy decision, but McKenna Ashford’s real reason lay in the haughty attitude of her younger brother. She is determined to get them a fresh start and hopefully, tame his ever growing wild streak. But life in Copper Creek isn’t what she thought it would be. The responsibilities of an unexpected inheritance threaten her resolve to be independent while offering an second chance, if only she can keep it.  U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon never expected to be drawn into such a heartbreaking situation – but something about McKenna pulls him back to Copper Creeek and makes him think of leaving behind his years of living on the trail. Can they both trust again though?

~ It is no secret I enjoy this genre, especially when it’s western-based. But Alexander delivered such a refreshing story – filled with obstacles, tender moments, sweet friendships all with a realism that I appreciated. The morals/life lessons within add depth to the story, helping lend weight to the full plot and well-rounded characters. There really can’t be enough good said about this book! I highly recommend this heart-wrenching-and-warming novel. 

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~Hunted by Meagan Spooner – Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones – and in her blood.  Here in the wilderness Yeva is under no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas… or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. Here she feels one with the ebb and flow of life. Here she is home.  But when Yeva’s father goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey : the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. Deaf to her sister’s protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory – a cursed valley, a ruined castle and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. (synopsis from back of the book)

Getting little snippets from the Beast’s side added so much to the tale, and gave us a chance to see the Beast more fully than just a selfish man having to pay a heavy price until someone comes to, basically, rescue him. His story is just as important as Beauty’s and getting to read his feelings about his transformation, about Beauty and…well, all of it, was great.

~The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen – Sophie Dupont has been assisting in her father’s studio for years, a shop that is popular with artists as it is near the north Devon coast. When a handsome artist, Wesley Overtree arrives and compliments her not only on her beauty but on her painting as well, Sophie falls hard for him. When he disappears, leaving her in a difficult position, she’s not sure what she’ll do. But then his brother, Captain Stephen Overtree arrives, looking for Wesley to take him home. Finding instead, a young woman suffering from his brother’s recklessness, Stephen offers to marry her in name only. Sophie must decide if she’ll wait for the uncertain chance that Wesley will return or if she’ll trust her future to his brooding brother.

~ I’ve fallen in love with Klassen’s stories. This one did not disappoint in the least. Because of the subject matter, it was a little more…personal than others of hers. But she wrote it well, touching on the topic without being vulgar. I loved both Sophie’s and Stephen’s struggles. And the other twists and turns throughout meant that I was pleasantly surprised at the end. I highly recommend this novel, although not for a younger audience.

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Dark Canyon by Louis L’amour – Having rather fallen in with the Colburn gang when he was young, Gaylord Riley sets out to forge a new life for himself by settling down and building his own homestead. But his plans are complicated by the richest man in town and Riley must accept the help of his outlaw friends to stay alive.

~I found this gem at a used bookstore and instantly snapped it up. Being a L’amour, I knew I had to give it a try.  This book was rather short but it was perfect for a lazy afternoon read – the characters as per the authors’ usual genius, weren’t left bland and half formed but were vibrant in their own selves, leaping off the page. I liked the story of redemption – which is a common theme in his novels – that threaded through the plot. And retirement for outlaws? Yes, that’s a thing here too. If you enjoy westerns, or are thinking of trying the genre, I recommend this one highly! It’s sweet and full of adventure.  *also check out The Finding of Jasper Holt.

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The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden – Elizabeth Black is not only a headmistress of a girls’ school but is also a well-known author of ‘silver-fork novels’ – the respectable novels that women read. Her secret is that she’s also someone else – under the pseudonym Mr. King, she writes Penny Dreadfuls. But when she’s approached by Fletcher Walker in the hopes to find Mr. King, Elizabeth agrees to help just to keep him from finding out her secret identity.

Eden creates a world in Victorian London that feels real as you follow Elizabeth on her campaign to keep her school respectable and money coming in through her writing. Fletcher Walker is a fun character that has a feel of reality to him with his rough origin, talk of the ‘streets’ and goal to save as many kids as he can from the life that he himself escaped. I do always enjoy when a main character is an author and this one had two! There’s so much more to this story than the bit of synopsis above, click the title link to read my full review!

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The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klaasen – After being disappointed in love, Abigail Foster finds out that their family has lost their London home. An unexpected offer comes for them to live in Pembrooke Park, a manor home that has been abandoned for eighteen years. The handsome curate offers nothing more than a warning to beware of any strangers that might be drawn by the rumors of a secret treasure room inside the mansion. Intrigued and wanting the possible treasure for her own family, Abigail begins to covertly search for the treasure room but isn’t prepared for the startling secrets that she’ll find.

~The intrigue of a lost treasure in the setting of Victorian England was so fun. Abigail wants to help her family but she also longs for her lost love. The new life that she must adjust to at Pembrooke Park is quite different from the one she led in London but she finds herself pleased by the changes and what she’s accomplished. Her family’s opinion isn’t quite so optimistic however. When she does decide to seek the treasure, anonymous notes are left for her, revealing a danger that she hadn’t expected. And that’s when the story gets even more fun! 

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner –  With her betrothed dead, Maid Marian is bereft and unsure exactly what she’ll do next. Guy of Gisborne not only wants to become the new Lord of Locksley but her fiance’ as well.  With no one there to stop him, or his harsh command of the people – carrying out the Prince’s absurd laws – Marian stumbles onto a way to help the people. As well as relase the frustration that’s burning inside her. She dons Robin’s hood and accidentally steps into a new identity for herself: Robin Hood

In this retelling, we get to see not just Marian’s side of the story, but Robin’s as well. Filling in gaps and letting us get to know Marian even better, Spooner once again weaves a tale full of adventure, intrigue and romance (major and minor) between her characters. There is a section that is a bit more sensual than I normally read, which is why this book is only an honorable mention. without that, this would absolutely be up there in the Absolute Favorite list.

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The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King – This is the first full length biography of Rogers, it follows his life through interviews, oral histories and archives. It not only focuses on his work life, but his personal and artistic life as well.

~I enjoyed this biography so much as there were so many nuggets of wisdom from Mr. Rogers that I kept reading aloud to my OH, or texting to my mom. His spirit of compassion and caring and giving came through, and for that I thank King for taking the time to make sure that was the case. 

a falcon for a queen

Falcon for a Queen by Catherine Gaskin – Suddenly an orphan, Kirsty Howard leaves her home in China and travels to Scotland to visit her grandfather. His home of Cluian is a strange one, utterly different from what she’s used to. Secrets abound in the old house, kept in place by the arrogance of the lonely old man and the two women who run his house. But being the site of one of the world’s finest whiskey distilleries, gives Kirsty an opportunity to carve her own place in the Highlands.

~ It was intriguing, unexpected and enjoyable. Yes, there was far too much information about distilling whiskey. But in the context of their livelihood, it made sense, you know? It was a rather dry topic though, one that I tended to skip through, to get to the actual story.  I had the ending figured all wrong, but readily admit that it was far better, and more satisfying than I had come up with. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers as it is a darker, aka ‘gothic’ novel. There are only innuendos of a scandalous nature, but Gaskin kept it clean even in that. I fully intend to read it again. If you want a book that will surprise you (and you’re willing to sift through the whiskey aspect), find a copy of this book.

 

Re-Reads:

Shadowfell Series by Juliet Marillier

Maire by Linda Windsor

Letter Perfect  (California Historical #1) by Cathy Marie Hake

Bittersweet (California Historical #2) by Cathy Marie Hake

 

If you’d like to see my Year in Books according to Goodreads, click here! I enjoy getting to see all of them in one go – can you believe that I read 78 books in 2019?! I’ve decided I’m going to aim for 65 books this year.

And remember, there’s going to be a post up soon sharing what my reading intentions are for this year.

What was one of your favorite reads this past year?

~Laura

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden Book Review

24 Dec

I’m back here on SGL for a review of a completely unexpected new favorite book! Not only that, but it was printed this year – 2019- and if you’ve been around here for a while, you probably know that it’s very rare when I read a book in the same year it was printed. And I always, inevitably, end up feeling proud of myself.

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This was one of those on the new-arrivals shelf at the library the other day and its gorgeous cover and intriguing synopsis pulled me in and I decided to try it.

Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Just in case you didn’t catch that by my opening statement…

It’s titled a Proper Romance (if you want to know more about them, click here), and that of course, called to me too. Could it possibly mean that it’s a clean love story?!

It was. You guys. IT WAS.

Sorry, I’m just a little excited about this. This story was as clean as a christian romance novel – actually, cleaner than some – without any preaching obviously.

Here’s the synopsis for you (from goodreads) before I squeal with excitement without you guys knowing anything about the book.

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and a well-respected author of “silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories—the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Mr. King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Mr. King started taking all of his readers–and his profits. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the rights of the less-fortunate.

Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. As a fellow-author, she is well-known among the high-class writers; perhaps she could be persuaded to make some inquiries as to Mr. King’s whereabouts? Elizabeth agrees to help Fletcher, if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered.

For the first time, Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line. “

 

Quotes:

“I suspect I’ve always been bold underneath it all. I’ve simply never allowed myself to let that part of me escape its shackles.”

“If I were you, I’d not disappoint her like that again, guv’nah.”

“As much as she was enjoying playing spy, she had to be careful else these moments of adventure might cost her every bit of security she had fought for.”

“There was no time for hesitation, not even for the woman of his very dreams.”

 

Eden creates a world in Victorian London that feels real as you follow Elizabeth on her campaign to keep her school respectable and money coming in through her writing. Fletcher Walker is a fun character that has a feel of reality to him with his rough origin, talk of the ‘streets’ and goal to save as many kids as he can from the life that he himself escaped.

I do always enjoy when a main character is an author and this one had two!

I plan on keeping my eye out for this book on sale as it is one that I definitely want to add to my personal library. If you’re looking for an intriguing, suspenseful romance that is also clean with a bit of the ‘penny-dreadful’ feel, you must check this one out.

~Laura

The First Weeks of Nanowrimo 2019 (and what else I’ve been up to)

16 Nov

I know, I know, it’s been quite a while since I shared a post on here! I’ve thought about it – many times.  I’ve wished I could just sit down and give you all an update on how I’m doing, what I’ve been reading and share oodles of puppy pictures with you. And I know what you’re going to say –

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.

If “if’s” and “and’s” were pots and pans,

There’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.”

That’s not what you were going to say? Oh.

Well.

This is awkward now.

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And, moving on-  suffice it to say, I’ve been busy, life can knock you down while at the same time bring you a cute rambunctious fluffy puppy to snuggle.

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In case you haven’t met her yet, this is Rory. We picked her up October 2nd and she’s been – mostly- a little doll since. She sleeps through the night -!! – and absolutely adores Abby. She gets sad when Dad leaves for work and has gone from crawling up on to just jumping onto the ‘dog couch’.

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Aside from that, I’ve struggling with some health set backs that have been frustrating. But I’m going to be talking with my doctor soon to start a new protocol.

And now, for the last bit of news – National Novel Writing Month started on the first of November and I have actually been doing really well! There’s only been a few days where I didn’t meet my minimum word count goal of 1,667 (and only one day that I didn’t write at all). I am editing my novel – again – so I decided to just make i easy on myself and chose to aim for 50k words. As you’ll see, my current draft word count is over that mark, as of last night! I’m excited about this as it means I’ve been able to add in the other POV’s that the story needed, as well as some desperately needed changes in the overall plot.

*POV is  point of view*

My goal is to get as much edited as I can before the month is over. And then to just keep at it until it’s ready to send to beta readers!

Total word count so far: 33,580

Current Draft word count: 52,012

 

I will do my best to come back and update you as the month progresses on how I’m doing with Nano and my health but I’m not going to push myself on it. Those are my main two goals this month (as well as taking care of the puppies of course) and I’m trying to not add any more pressure about anything else.

If you’re doing Nano, how is it going for you? 

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Sherwood by Meagan Spooner Book Review

26 Oct

I love a good fairy tale.

I also love a good fairy tale re-telling. And that’s exactly what this one is. Spooner has a way of taking a classic story and weaving something new out of it – while keeping the spirit of the original tale in tact. If you read my review of Hunted, you already know that I was eager to read more of this author. Well, she did NOT disappoint, you guys! She did it again with this rendition of Robin Hood – but from Maid Marian’s point of view.

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Here’s the synopsis right from the book:

Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.

 

 

And here are a few of my favorite quotes:

 

“Who are you to say that being a lady, in itself, is not its own kind of war.”

“The soul knew the target. All Marian had to do was welcome the bow to herself, let it become her heart and the arrow her voice, and then step out of the way.”

It’s easy to be a hero when you never look beyond your next battle.”

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Once again, we get to see not just Marian’s side of the story, but Robin’s as well. Filling in gaps and letting us get to know Marian even better, Spooner once again weaves a tale full of adventure, intrigue and romance (major and minor) between her characters. So much was unexpected in this story of the classic tale that I cannot wait to read it again. Honestly, I’ll probably be starting it again today to read before I have to return it to the library next week.

As someone who has always been intrigued about archery (I’d absolutely love to take lessons one day), it was a fun element of the story for me. The side characters were well done as well – even the changes of Little John were good. Her little band of ‘merry men’ and her maid (love her!) who supported her and sought to do what was right.

Now, there was a few paragraphs that I got concerned just how far Spooner was going to take the scene of kissing, but she kept it ‘kosher’ as we say here in my house. There’s also talk of remembering holding the other/kissing/ etc but nothing overtly sexual. If you have a teen, I’d recommend reading it beforehand, just so you know what’s in it. But, otherwise, it’s mild – which is the only way I’ll read it!

Also, there were a few curse words near the end. I remember wondering at her choice to all of a sudden use them when she hadn’t the other 400 pages…

My overall feeling of this book? It’s made it to my Favorite Reads of this Year, just like Hunted did.  I definitely plan on owning it once the price comes down – this was published this year (2019).  The world building was good – whether in the forest, her home, or in Nottingham. There weren’t too many (or too few) characters to keep track of and each main and important side ones were well thought out, in my opinion. As I said, there were enough plot twists that I really didn’t see coming so the ending was a pleasant surprise.

~side note, it’s rare when I read a newly published book so this was kinda cool for me!~

I created a board on Pinterest for archery costumes (this is what happens when you stay up really late after finishing a really good book) if you’re interested, check it out! 

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

If you’ve got any fairy tale re-tellings to recommend, I’d love to hear them!

~Laura

Health Update August 2019

10 Sep

Hello again friends. Thanks for stopping by SGL for this month’s health update. Fighting Lyme Disease is definitely the hardest thing I’ve done – and that will probably always be true. This journey to health is so up and down that it’s easy to get disheartened. Thankfully, I’ve been coming out of  the crash I was in and have been able to enjoy the last bit of summer. As well as start preparing for a new addition to our little family come the beginning of October.

 

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Overall Health: There’s improvement in the wind, folks. I stopped taking the atovaquile/Malarone and my fatigue diminished greatly.

8-5 tired all day and dealt with keeping migraine down BUT,  was up and about a lot. Had odd energy, pretty clear brain too
8-6 crushing fatigue late am on. Some fibro in feet and calves. 
RELATED to: eating corn? Overdoing it yesterday? 
8-7 better,  about halfway between the 5th and 6th. Still fatigued but up and about.  
8-8 low energy and so fatigued again 
8-17 Started cordyceps 1/day am. Decent energy,  tho tired in am, fatigue hit afternoon but didn’t nap! Fell asleep at 9pm. 
8-20 increased cordyceps 2/day. Fatigue still very strong. 
8-23 drove  to bend.  Seized back had eased enough from Wednesday eve.  Felt pretty well all day,  took short nap late afternoon. 
8-24 – stomach upset off and on all day. Decent energy. Some fibro flaring in my feet.  
Since stopping  the Malarone on the 22nd, fatigue has eased considerably. Rash on face is still present, flares every 4 to 5 days probably.  (Strange)

Migraine:  One near-nuclear migraine with several that were really hard to get the pain level down. But, I really am surprised at how these have minimized. Now, before you get too excited, I do still have pain every day. But there’s been more days that I didn’t take any Clonidine til evening. I am chalking this improvement up to the 4.5 mg of the LDNs that I take every evening. (Low Dose Naltrexone).

Sleep:  I’m getting more like 8 to 9 hours each night, with the normal 2 or 3 wakings. I am also putting this to the LDN’s. I haven’t been needing naps daily either, which is so very nice.

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Memory/Brain Fog:  This has improved a little bit more – I’m noticing I’m able to recall words/names easier. But when the brain fog hits – man, it hits. *same as last month

Vision: The scintillating scotomas have eased since I stopped the Malarone. I did start to lose my vision once this past month.

TMJ:  It’s been hurting a bit more but I still am blaming that on the fact that when I nap, I don’t put in my night guard. It has been quite tense this past week though.

Fatigue:  As I said, this has decreased even more. I am able to push myself more than I have in years, probably. But, of course, I do have days where I just am relegated to the couch because I am so fatigued. Or that I just need to space out what I plan, to give my body the rest it needs.

Fibromyalgia:  Thankfully, this has eased as well! I only get the nerve pain in my feet when I’ve been walking a lot (or have sugar). My calf has calmed down SO much. My back has seized up twice this month but I think that’s because of my weight.

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Weight Loss: Nope. But, I’m trying to get out and walk more and do mini workouts when I feel well enough to.

Mood: I’m very pleased to report that this has mellowed out again and I’m certain it’s because I started back up on Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Remind me to stay on these chinese herbs. It’s worth it.  *I’m leaving this up because I’ve increased this to 2 tsps a day and it’s so worth it.

Digestion:   This has been a little more touchy lately. Out of the blue my stomach will get really upset. I have some ideas of what maybe I’m not digesting well but…

 

Now, if you’re interested in what prompted me to stop taking the Malarone after a month of taking it, I’ll tell you. My doctor really wanted me to stay on it but a few days before heading to visit my parents, I was thinking about it and the 3 hour drive and all, and I realized that I just couldn’t do one. more. day. of taking the pills that were making me feel like I was going to fall asleep at any moment. Or that were causing major brain fog, increased scintillating scotomas and increased fibropain. I debated about it, researched it, but decided that I know my body best, and that I was just at the end of what I could stand. Within just 12 hours of stopping, I could tell a difference. And then, just days after, there was even more of a change. I’m so glad I remembered to be my own advocate.

 

~Laura

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