Book Review | Written in Starlight

Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez is the follow up to her whimsical, unique debut novel, Woven in Moonlight!

Written in Starlight is a gorgeously written, intense and immersive story! I couldn’t stop turning the pages!!!

Set in a lush, dangerous jungle inspired by the Bolivian Amazon where Isabel’s dad grew up this book truly transported me! There a bits of magic everywhere, and beauty mixed with danger. I was prepared to hate the main character, Catalina, based on what we knew of her at the end of Woven in Moonlight but I ended up loving her! And I fell in love with this book even more than book one! It’s fast paced, while still filled with fantastic world building and wonderfully satisfying character arcs. And it includes my favorite romance trope (but I won’t spoil anything by telling you which trope that is.) 🙂

It gave me tons of The Girl Of Fire And Thorns vibes, which makes me soo happy, because that’s one of my all-time favorite books. I recommend it for fans of ya fantasy with unique magic systems, survival stories, and diverse reads. Thank you Page Street Publishing and NetGalley for the free copy to review!


Recommended for You | Book Review

Recommended for You by Laura Silverman is a fun, festive read…especially fans of enemies-to-lovers romance!

I loved the bookstore setting, and the December time-frame from Hanukkah through Christmas. I always love to read a few holiday books in December and this one would be perfect. That said, I should have paid closer attention to the synopsis, and realized it was going to be hate-to-love…because I’m probably the one person in the world that is usually just super annoyed by all the angst and drama that comes along with that trope.

Which meant that this book was hard for me to get into. It started with the setup that I’ve seen over and over, and it drives me crazy every time…the MC decides a guy is her enemy, from their first interaction, for no good reason, while also having insta-lust thoughts every time she looks at his lips or smells him, which she’s constantly doing. I nearly DNFed. She also continues to antagonize him, because she’s pissed that he didn’t just laugh off the fact that she was super rude to him, and gets mad that he reciprocates the antagonism. It made me struggle to care about anything that was happening.

Also, for a long time, the fact that it was set at Christmas/Hanukkah time was dampened by the fact that it’s from a retail worker “this season sucks” point of view. (The cynicism doesn’t last forver, and there is some fun cheer eventually, though.) Still, for awhile, the only redeeming quality, for me, was the fact that it’s set largely in a bookstore and the MC is a booknerd.

Once the hate finally begins to turn to friendship I was much more into the book. And I did love that the MC and her love interest are both Jewish, which I don’t see represented often. I got caught up in the teens and their plight for awhile, and was really enjoying the holiday vibes, but then it felt like it sort of just…ended. I’d hoped for a greater reward for not giving up when all the “I hate him, but I have a crush on him” drama was driving me crazy. Still, I think this book is probably a phenomenal read for all y’all who, unlike oddball-me, love the trope. It’s probably a 3.5 star read for me, overall.

Thanks so much Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for giving me the free eArc to read.


Book Reviews | Loved and Cherished, and Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls

Hello lovelies, happy fall!!! My ten-year-old had some happy mail recently from Zonderkidz for us to review.

The first item I want to talk about is the NIV, Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Pencil/Sticker Gift Set.


This gorgeous Bible contains hundreds of detailed illustrations of verses to color on thick paper that prevents bleed through or tearing from colored pencils. Which is fortunate since it’s geared towards 8-12 year olds who might now have mastered using a light touch with pencils, so ordinary pages would have a difficult time holding up to their coloring. It also has extra-wide margins with lightly ruled lines for journaling or additional coloring.

The beautiful debossed cover gives it an elegant feel for girls who have grown out of cutesy, little-girl things.

It’s a full-text New International Version Bible with lay flat pages and a ribbon bookmark. And this special gift set set came with a few sticker sheets and a set of four colored pencils.

My ten-year-old loves carefully coloring the verses in this Bible. It’s one of her favorite ways to relax. What better way to meditate on God’s word than to be immersed in a verse while you color, draw and journal?!? I absolutely recommend this as a Christmas gift ! My daughter and I are both very impressed by the quality, and the lovely cover and coloring pages. It’s so lovely and feels like the type of thing that should be a special gift.


The other book that we were sent is the beautiful devotional, Loved and Cherished by Lynn Cowell.

This is such a great devotional. I’ve been going through each day’s readings and tasks with my ten-year-old, and she and I have been memorizing the scriptures together, as well. It’s full of exactly the sort of encouragement and affirmation that she needs during the sometimes difficult age of growing from a child to a tween, not to mention dealing with all the uncertainty and stress in the world. I think every 8–12 year old…and probably most grown-ups, could benefit from reading this right now. I highly recommend it.



I had the pleasure in participating in a Q&A with Alison Stine, the author of ROAD OUT OF WINTER.

I loved hearing her answers to the questions some other bloggers and I asked, but before I share those, here’s a quick summary of the book:

Surrounded by poverty and paranoia her entire life, Wil has been left behind in her small Appalachian town by her mother and her best friend. Not only is she tending her stepfather’s illegal marijuana farm alone, but she’s left to watch the world fall further into chaos in the face of a climate crisis brought on by another year of unending winter. So opens Alison Stine’s moving and lyrical cli-fi novel, ROAD OUT OF WINTER (MIRA Trade; September 1, 2020; $17.99).

With her now priceless grow lights stashed in her truck and a pouch of precious seeds, Wil upends her life to pursue her mother in California, collecting an eclectic crew of fellow refugees along the way. She’s determined to start over and use her skills to grow badly needed food in impossible farming conditions, but the icy roads and desperate strangers are treacherous to Wil and her gang. Her green thumb becomes the target of a violent cult and their volatile leader, and Wil must use all her cunning and resources to protect her newfound family and the hope they have found within each other.


And here’s the Q&A:

1. If Wil had a favorite song, what would it be?

I feel like she would have grown up listening to country, and to the music her mama liked, as I did, like Linda Ronstadt, Crystal Gale. I think she would really like Kacey Musgraves, and would have snuck a copy her albums to her friend who was raised very strict. But I think Wil’s favorite song would be Burning House by Cam. It was on the radio when I was writing. I used to sing it to my son. The lyrics speak a lot to Wil’s situation: “stay here with you/til this dream is gone.” It would have been on the radio when she was driving home from seeing the person who could never love her the way she wanted, driving through the place that could never love her back.

2. Which character in ROAD OUT OF WINTER do you most relate to?

Wil. We were a few months into the pandemic when I realized I actually am Wil. Writing her made me realize I’m stronger than I know. I can get my family cross-country safely. I can make it work. All of her plant knowledge is my own, which I gained from living in rural Appalachia for so long, and from my friends and neighbors. I cry more than she does, though.

3. What was your favorite scene to write? No spoilers!

Everything involving the skaters, though it scared me too. My son is a skater and my partner is (and I used to be, before getting hurt!). Friends of ours have a homemade skate ramp out in the country. Several of my friends basically have their own compounds which, I’m not gonna lie, is a dream. Anytime I can convey the wildness, strangeness, and the abandon of rural Appalachian Ohio is a good writing day. It can be scary but it can also be really fun, living in the middle of nowhere. You can do what you want, to both good and bad results.

4. Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Jamey. In my real life, in part because of my disability, I’m quiet, especially in new situations. I hold back. Jamey says the things I wish I could. She’s also, as my smart friend and early reader Ellee pointed out, a survivor: she can be sarcastic and harsh sometimes because of what she had to endure. Her defense mechanism is pretending not to care. But she does care, deeply.

5. Why was it important to you to have a queer character in your story?

I didn’t consciously set out to make Wil queer and I don’t know that she would call herself that exactly, if she has that language or community yet. She loves who she loves, but her experience of romantic love in a small town has been things just not working out. Nobody really seeing her. That was also my experience for a long time. I’ve only felt comfortable calling myself bisexual in the past few years, despite having had long-term relationships with both men and women. That was how I grew up, in a small conservative town. Wil wants love, and the woman she loves wants something else, a bigger life, that Wil always hoped she could make somehow right here where she grew up. My experience is that sometimes you have to make that life elsewhere. Sometimes rural spaces are not the friendliest, home is not the easiest. But I am very proud and glad to have a bi woman in a rural space in my book. I guess I wrote the book I needed when I was young and couldn’t find. It’s still hard to find bi characters, especially in adult literary and commercial fiction. It’s even harder to find them celebrated. We seemed to be skipped over quite a lot. Often I feel invisible, like my life and experiences and struggles don’t matter. Being bi is just who she is, it’s not a plot device. Just a fact, as it is in life.

6. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I like to surprise myself so I am mostly just plunging into writing. The best stories come from dreams, in my opinion. Then once you have the dream, you need to wait a little while until characters and the main events take shape. I usually know the three main acts before I start to write a book, but that’s it. I start to know the end by about the middle. With ROAD OUT OF WINTER, I knew nothing, because the book originally did not go where I wanted it to and so I stopped writing. I thought they were going to go clear across the country and so I stopped. When I came back to the manuscript a few months later, I realized, no, they were never supposed to get out of Appalachia. And I finished the book.

7. Where is your favorite place to write?

I can work anywhere, and have had to, being a single mother for most of my child’s life. But a lot of ROAD OUT OF WINTER, and my next book, were written and revised at The Westend Ciderhouse, a cidery and bar in my town. I would go in the afternoon—they opened early on Fridays—and had my favorite table. Nobody bothered me. Several of the bartenders were my friends but they knew I was working. It was very quiet, and kinda dark and cool, and I would just write—and drink one cider, until it was time for my son to come home from school. I write better in bars than in coffeeshops. I guess I’m just that type.

8. What’s the worst writing advice you ever received?

That you need the approval of a teacher or professor or workshop or a degree to write. Writing is being a collector and interpreter of experiences. You don’t have to study writing formally or major in it, and looking back, I kinda wish I had explored more of my other interests in music and theatre and art. All that would have helped my writing too. Don’t let go of the other stuff that makes you happy. Everything you do helps fill your well as a writer—other art, sports, travel, friendships. Books are your best teachers. The best thing you can do to be a better writer is to read, to experience, to write, and to live.

9. What is the best book you’ve read this year?

The best book I read this year so far was Meg Elison’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. I read and loved all the books in the trilogy. They were some of the first books I could get through in the early days of the pandemic, when my mind and heart were all over the place. They helped center me, in part because they made me feel seen. The trilogy focuses on women, queer folks, bi folks, and how we might survive in a world that doesn’t really see or even want us—and that matters to me.

10. What are you working on next?

My second novel TRASHLANDS is coming out from MIRA in the fall of 2021. It’s about a single mom at a strip club at the end of the world. She has to choose between being an artist, being a parent, or being in love, which isn’t much of a choice at all but the kind that women throughout time have been forced to make. And I’m starting to write my next novel, about a reporter who is hard of hearing (like me!) and is called back home to investigate something really bad.



ALISON STINE lives in the rural Appalachian foothills. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, The Guardian, and many others. She is a contributing editor with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

You can find her on…
Twitter: @AlisonStine
Instagram: @AliStineWrites
And Goodreads

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely day!

The Mutant Mushroom Takeover | Book Review

The Mutant Mushroom Takeover by by Summer Rachel Short is such a FUN Middle Grade book.

Here’s a synopsis:

“Ever since Magnolia Stone’s scientist dad left Shady Pines to find a new job, Maggie’s been stuck in her gramma’s mobile home with her grumpy older brother, Ezra. Now she’s on a mission to put her family back together by winning the Vitaccino Junior Naturalist Merit Award.

When Maggie and her best friend, Nate, a wannabe YouTube star and alien conspiracy theorist, scout out a rare bioluminescent fungus, Maggie is certain she’s a shoo-in to win. But after animals around town start sprouting unusual growths and Ezra develops a bluish glow and hacking cough, Maggie wonders what they’ve really stumbled onto.

As things in Shady Pines become stranger and more dangerous, and conversations with her dad get complicated, Maggie must use her scientific smarts and Nate’s impressive knowledge of all things supernatural to put things back in order and prevent these peculiar glowing mushrooms from taking over their home.”

I love that the MC is a tenacious girl with a passion for nature and science! It’s a great read to encourage kids in STEM. It’s also slightly creepy, but not too much, so it would be perfect for kids who want to read an atmospheric fall book with some spooky vibes without it being over-the-top terrifying for them. This fascinating story kept me turning the pages late into the night, and I enjoyed every minute. It’s definitely a 5 star read. I’ve already pre-ordered a finished copy, and I can’t wait for my ten-year-old to read it, too!

Summer is also a friend of mine and she’s such a sweetheart, I’m so excited for her debut novel!!!

Thanks Summer, and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, for the free ARC to review.