Reading Round-up & Reviews

Reading Round-up

lasso book reading roundup

How many of you have made reading goals for 2018?

I am continuing my tradition of increasing my book-reading goal–although since I was close to not making it last year (!), I’m only increasing it by one book: 102. Improvement is improvement, amiright?

If you’d like to track what I’m reading and reviewing, check out my profile on Goodreads. Here are some highlights from the beginning of the year.

A History of Bristol & Gloucestershire

I got this book by chance and ended up reading it because my NaNo novel took place partly in the Cotswolds and I wanted to see if the geographical history suggested it would be a good place–since I’d picked it at random in desperation during the drafting process.

Lots of interesting stuff and perfect fodder for vacation dreams!

Scrappy Little Nobody

I scrinched my way through this audiobook, as the material was great but the condition of the CD very scratched. Anna Kendrick is an actress-hero, and I’m glad she decided to write up her experiences of growing up and dating and making it big and feeling poor and drifting in the margins of acting before being successful.

She’s honest, sarcastic, and thoughtful, if very self-deprecatory. Didn’t have to¬†take off my rose-colored hero glasses.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow

Favorite book so far! Los Angeles Times Review said it well, “Like John Le Carre…and Graham Greene before him Peter Hoeg has given a thriller moral and political resonance.”

I appreciated learning about Denmark’s relationship with Greenland, about which I’d previously known absolute-zero-nothing. And I loved Smilla’s internal monologue–she’s sassy and turns tough as the going calls for it…buy it from ART and support my local bookseller!


I have long had the mass market paperback version of this but then I got the deluxe illustrated version and–Well. It was gorgeous. Tongue in cheek and tolerant and self- and genre-mocking and yet looking to greater truths inside us all. I loved this adult faerie tale story.

Do you like my widely-varying reading list?? It’s how I roll! Because, as the Celtic Lunar Astrologer says, I am both a Chariot archetype, and have 2018 as a Chariot growth year, meaning

…it’s all about balance. Light and dark. Quietness and activity. Stay tuned for my research into Ostara, the next pagan festival of the Celtic year, which celebrates the Vernal Equinox, when the light and dark are exactly equal…

…and if you have been reading The Grasping Root, please don’t forget to leave a review for me! ūüôā

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Images via Pinterest

The Beginning of the Launch Rollercoaster

We are starting our ascent, ladies and gents.

I can feel the tick-tick-tick-tick of the chain pulling the car up its first incline.beginning roller coaster

Soft Launch

That incline is heading to the soft launch for The Grasping Root.

This is a new step in my process. I will also be doing a Cover Reveal, Preorders, and a Giveaway!

I haven’t decided on a Treasure Hunt plan yet…but I am thinking about using geocaching, local businesses, and a white elephant exchange to make it EXTRA¬†exciting.

PSSST! More information will come out about participating in these events via the Taste Life Twice newsletter. Sign up here!

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The Book!

The Grasping Root is the sequel to The Keening. We rejoin the¬†MacLean family after they have¬†survived a hard¬†Nova Scotia winter. Their decision to live in an abandoned settlement exerts its own pressures, just as their efforts to join the community set off sparks! Religion, politics, and simmering jealousies have followed them across the sea to Canada, and both Neil and Muirne must make intense personal¬†decisions that will affect the MacLeans’ future.

Secret Desire to Be a Critic? Free book!

In the last newsletter I put out the call for Early Reviewers. These are readers who get a free early digital copy of the book in exchange for leaving an honest review in the first month of the book’s release (September).

You can post on Amazon (easiest), Goodreads, a personal blog, Facebook, wherever. Anything helps get the word out. (Amazon reviews help the book look legit.)

If you send me an email this week,  I will put you on my Nice list! The manuscript will be sent out the second half of August, and reviews should be posted during the month of September.

Launch Party

At the top of the incline, when the chain releases, will be the Launch Party. In line with tradition, it will be held at Another Read Through Bookstore at 3932 N. Mississippi Ave in Portland.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017, 7-830 PM

More details to¬†come soon, but…..

I welcome costumes of many sorts! Just check out my Instagram.

I also make historical sweet treats at my launches. Don’t miss out! ūüôāIMG_8621IMG_7455


Images via LinkedIn, DepositPhotos, &

Oh look, Books!

I published an article on Taste Life Twice and Medium today. It’s political. If you’d like to read it, click here. Otherwise, read the nice roundup of¬†What I’m Reading below.

nanowrimo coat of arms

I’m doing NaNo, yes. But I don’t stop reading while I’m writing. Reading can provide the perfect break from creative work because it lets your mind disengage directly from its current problem while keeping the Inner Critic occupied.

So here are my latest reviews! Also, I had the idea of reading a book¬†by every¬†author¬†named Margaret carried in the bookstore. There are a LOT in mystery! Whaddya think? ūüėČ

Malice Domestic, Mollie Hardwick–my review

4 Stars: Elements of witchcraft, cropping up in our sleepy coastal English town?? *clutches pearls* Young Doran decides to investigate the newcomer. Plenty of dry humor, high literary reference, and entertaining mystery.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead–my review

4 Stars: A very deft touch on this prose, with a few stark tales sketching the setting ably, and character of a few personnages coming out through their actions. Appreciated.

Froelich’s Ladder, Jamie Duclos-Yourdon–my review

4 Stars: Characters with identifiable foibles and fears, set against a fantastical backdrop, with nonetheless historical shapings. I got sucked in by the ‘1870s Oregon’ tag, then stayed for the funny adventures and strange opinions.

Eclipse, Richard North Patterson–my review

2 Stars: I studied a lot of what is the background for this novel, so I found the explanations–necessarily many-layered–tedious. But the emotion is real, the story ripped from the headlines, and the issues grappled with still current.

Bonus *Margaret* When I was at Wordstock (my full report in next newsletter!), I picked up a beautiful book by Catapult Books:

margaret the first book cover¬†It’s about a Margaret who was the¬†first woman to¬†write for publication in England. Anyone want to borrow it when I’m done??

P.S. Someone had this scathing but funny take on NaNoWriters, which you might get a kick out of.

P.P.S. Writing is going well, see you back here next week for the third week of NaNo! Keep it up!

New Finds & Old Favorites

I thought you might enjoy a few of my favorite things. And to keep it interesting, I’ve mixed up Old with New. Tell me if you find yourself nodding, or quirking a brow in utter confusion! ūüėČ

New Find

Author: Gail Carriger

I just read Carriger’s first book, Soulless, on the vociferous recommendation of bookseller Lisa Reid at Lucy’s Books. It is a hoot! And I can’t wait to devour the next in the Parasol Protectorate series. Luckily, she’s got five in that series, plus two more series in slightly different eras with spectacularly different wardrobe difficulties…

Old Favorite

Tea: Lemon Basil Oolong by Capital Teas

I am down to my very last serving of this tea, and may be ordering more soon, as the fragrance is so balancing, cleansing… it blows all the cobwebs out of my brain like a kid with a dandelion head, ya know?

New Find

Equipment for the Field: Exped waterproof backpack

Going to the Hebrides in May, I knew I was in for some rain. And living in Portland, I also had ample need of a backpack that wouldn’t get my papers soaked during daily walks. So I did my research and decided on this one, based a lot on the video detailing its versatility. I’ve used it some to get used to the side clips, and know it’ll definitely stand up to the wet!

Old Favorite

Oldest Item of Clothing I Own: grey sweater, bought new in 1996

photo¬†Yes, it’s old and lost its shape quite a bit, but it’s just as soft and heathery as ever. And it reminds me of that one time, when I was sixteen…

New Find

Splurge Experience: 1st class cabin on the Caledonian Sleeper

I thought about this one for a good while, trying to find a different way of seeing everyone and everything I wanted to on this trip, but in the end, felt good about the decision to splurge on this once-in-a-lifetime (unless I win the lottery) experience. I am particularly looking forward to watching the sunrise, enjoying the Scottish food offered, and having my own little space on a quietly speeding train. (spoiler alert: disappointment! more to come in my travel post)

Old Favorite

Scotland Ahoy! And more coming soon on this theme…

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New Books to Recommend in 2015

How do you find new authors to read?

girl reading sitting on floor with feet up

Often, the best way is by word of mouth (which is why I encourage tweeting and commenting on this blog!)

But since I may not talk to you person to person, I’ve compiled a shortened list of some of my favorite reads from 2014, for your consideration as new conquests in 2015. Or maybe you’ve already enjoyed some of these authors? If so, tell me which ones!

I’ve left out big authors I’ve loved for a while, such as Diana Gabaldon and Laurie R. King, but here are the less-famous, but no-less-worthy treasure troves awaiting you!

Nonfiction/ Travel: Robert MacFarlane, The Old Ways

I read other nonfiction, mostly on writing and creativity, but this is the one capturing my attention these days, as I plan out an outdoorsy trip to Scotland. He meanders into philosophy, history, sociology–all to get at the intrinsic connection between ourselves and the landscapes we travel. Check it out on Amazon here.

Mystery: Louise Penny, Anne Perry, Josephine Tey, Simone St. James, Stephanie Barron

As you can see, I did a fair amount of mystery reading last year, mostly in an effort to learn more about the genre that seems to have the most pull on me as a writer. I read mainly as a reader, not as a critical writer, but I’m sure these authors’ works would yield a lot of lessons were I to pick apart the structure, the pacing, the plot wheels. If you’re not looking for that though, some all-in-all great reads!

Louise Penny has the Inspector Gamache series set in and around Quebec. Anne Perry has two series, both long-established, that I am just discovering and loving: Face of A Stranger and Treason at Lisson Grove were both captivating with their twists and turns and daring POV choices. Check out Anne Perry’s long back list on Amazon here, but don’t bother with Tathea.

Josephine Tey had the well-loved Inspector Alan Grant series in the 1940s, and I happened to read her last book first, but intend to go back! Simone St. James was a recommendation of Lucy’s Books, and didn’t disappoint. Inquiry into Love and Death involves a ghost hunter, WWI effects, and a gutsy heroine. Yes, please!

Stephanie Barron writes a series of books where Jane Austen is a solver of mysterious murders, but with delicacy and historical weight, not like the Jane-is-now-a-vampire imitators that aren’t worth the time.

Drama: Nancy Slavin, Moorings

I found this author’s book at my local Stumptown Lit event, and the struggles of her heroine, the dark pits of lost love, the setting as character itself– so good! Support this local Portlander like a good reader. ūüôā

Romance/ Life As It Is: Judi Hendricks, Vivian Swift

Hendricks wrote Bread Alone, just a good story about a woman making her way to what she needs through all the stuff that tries to make her forget that. And it’s in Seatlle! So, a Northwest neighbor. Swift is an interesting hybrid: she illustrates journal-type books that are a joy to browse and reflect upon. I’ve read both, and recommend When Wanderers Cease to Roam as my favorite. She spent a year just slowing down from her jet-setter life, absorbing the pace of life in one place, and using watercolors to mark her course of learning about herself through the process. Great for the winter period, especially.

Supernatural: Susanna Kearsley, Anne Bishop

If you’ve read either of my books, perhaps you can tell that I like intrusions of the supernatural into the everyday. Kearsley does this with intuitive flashes, psychic abilities to see the past, and people with selective ESP. Firebird is still my favorite, as it takes the reader to Russia and a time in history I knew nothing about, so that was magic in itself!

And Bishop, well, she goes for it rather more ‘whole hog.’ Her series of The Others involves a well-crafted world of vampires, werewolves, and other beings whose origins hint at mythological origins, but obey more modern rules of the author’s. Someone described it as almost a sci-fi dystopian novel, which I can see, but the core of it is action, suspense, and shifting loyalties–I literally couldn’t put down the first one in Powell’s when I started browsing!

Speaking of which, if you want to purchase any of these books, you can follow the Amazon links, OR…. use Powell’s for probably the same deal! Click the icon to browse. ūüôā And happy reading in 2015!