4 star review

Review – Seashells, Spells & Caramels bu Erin Johnson

Seashells Spells and Caramels

Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery.

When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers.

Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom’s big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life.

It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again.
With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.

I received an ARC of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

I’ll admit, while I was intrigued by the blurb, the very shallow reason I took the author up on it was because we share a first name. And I was more than repaid in spades with a very funny and lighthearted story. When you find yourself giggling out loud in the first chapters, then you know you are in for a treat.

Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day ain’t got nothing on poor Imogene’s travails. And the way it all went down really resonated with me…I have those sort of life altering catastrophes myself. Admittedly though, my mayhem is just a little less magical.

I enjoyed the world building quite a bit, and I didn’t figure out the mystery until near the very end. The writing was quick and kept my attention centered on the characters. And the two female protagonists have a very Lucy Rucardo and Ethyl Mertz sort of vibe, which I was digging. There was also quite the nice little spark between the Imogene and the love interest.

The only “negative” is where the romance was at the end of the book….and that isn’t because it ended badly or anything, it just doesn’t neatly fit into my personal preferences. That being said, it looks like the second book should be coming out shortly and so I shouldn’t have to wait too long to see how Johnson pulls this off. I am definitely looking forward to the next entry in this magical world she has created.

Seashells, Spells & Caramels (Spells & Caramels, #1)


#FitReaders #StrutMyStuff – Weekly Check-In August 25, 2017


I did indeed use cashews in my soup, which gave it a nice creamy texture and fatted it up a bit. But the weather hasn’t exactly cooperated in getting a true 5K in. But I got a nice long walk pacing and trying to keep calm watching the news of Hurricane Harvey. We are ok here but it is a trifle damp and we will likely be rather housebound for at least a few more days.

Week August 25August 5K


#FitReaders – Weekly Check-In July 29 though August 18, 2017

07-29 through 08-18

So with the family trip and all it has been a bit since I updated, so I just dumped all the data into one image. I wish this way of pulling up data included active minutes, because otherwise it would be perfect. Besides some car travel time which cut into my steps counts I have been doing pretty well. The first bit with the new bed plus all the excitement did impact my sleep, but that seems to be settling down. And, most exciting to me, despite gorging myself on Wisconsin cheese and all the delights Austin, San Antonio, Galveston, and New Orleans had to offer, a week latter I am back to about goal weight. Though admittedly I did take frozen batches of my soup with me on my trip so it wasn’t a complete nutritional void. So I would say, I have a fair start on settling into a new set point and my new healthy habits. Fingers crossed.

Other health and fitness related news: psyllium fiber in smoothies is palatable, sweet potato in smoothies is pretty danged nice, nuts in smoothies (particularly cashews) is freaking magic, I LOVE smoothies, butterhead lettuce is delicious and expensive, and…I will be considering putting cashews into my next batch of soup.

Now all I need to do is get my 5K in before the start of the semester, and I think I can officially call this summer a success.


#FitReaders – Weekly Check-In July 28, 2017

No Vitamix soup, despite the fact that I literally had all the ingredients. I have just been exhausted trying to finish the master bedroom we have been working on. My husband probably more so since he did the bulk, but I only had evenings and weekends after work. But without further ado, here is my most fantastical and “excessive” dresser bed. I needed storage space, but did not want any dressers with flat surfaces where I could hoard and stack junk up. So I found the Ultimate Bed online a few years ago and bookmarked it for when we finally got to renovating that room.

BedFrameBedframe 2BedFrame3Bedframe Interior DrawersBedFram Dresser Drawer

This is the 18 drawer king in honey oak with 6 end drawers, mission headboard, and dual nightstands. It weighs a bazillion pounds, came in 14 shipping boxes, and took hubby and I 13 hours to put together. But we fight a lot when we build together, and I am spatially challenged so it could probably be done in much less time. And the instructions are really good and clear, and written in proper English with proper diagrams and details sheets. The only thing we really, truly struggled with was the end drawer doors, but a quick look on the website cleared that right up. The drawers did not come with knobs or handles, and they honestly don’t need them, but we ended up adding them for a more finished look since the rest of the room will be so minimalist.

It is a really clever design because it is so modular. So if I get frustrated with the height (I will likely require a step stool for this, I CAN get in without one, but I am assured I look a little insane doing it) we can shorten it. If we wanted to, we could drop this down to two layers, buy or build another platform for the pieces we took off, and instantly have another king bed. Or we could take out some end drawers and shove it together to form a queen or full, or we could split the top level in half and do two twins. Basically, this is 6 twin single level dresser beds all put together, and can be broken down into any number of other configurations with minimal investment for platform(s). They actually have something they call a dorm bed, that they recommend because once they are out on their own it can be transformed into more “adult” beds. Though I don’t know what dorms allow you to bring your own furniture like that. But still, looks like a pretty clever option for an in home growing up bed that the kid could take with them when they move out. Though that twin would obviously be as high as this one.

We added some nice little drawer pulls, to match with our super fancy rubbed bronze wall plates, and bought a cute little storage bench that will also serve as a step stool as needed (since the bed is to tall to sit on and put on socks and shoes).

benchDrawer PullWall Plates

So enough “advertising”, I just really wanted to share because I am so excited about my new thing.

Stats: Week July 22-28, 2017

Week July 28 DistanceWeek July 28 StepsWeek July 28 ActiveWeek July 28 Sleep

There will be traveling at the and of next week, and much of the following week, so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out.


5 star review

Review + Blog Tour – Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

VT-Wildfire-IAndrews_FINALwildfire mm c

From Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, the thrilling conclusion to her Hidden Legacy series, as Nevada and Rogan grapple with a power beyond even their imagination…

Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating — harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss and Tasty Book Tours, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review. And the usual Ilona Andrews disclaimer applies, I bought it anyway. +Giveaway!!!

I will admit, I have become a little obsessive over this series.

Wildfire Readings


I post that to show you that it is barely possible that I might not be entirely reasonable when it comes to this series. Seriously, I just want to squee and squee for days over this delightful confection. It has the best of both urban fantasy (clear and intricate world building and action and crazy sauce) and Paranormal Romance (magic and tightly plotted relationship with happily ever after).

This is however the third book in the series and it is definitely not a series you can read out of order. Think of this as one giant, epic fantasy book that just happens to have been released in three installments, and read accordingly. That being said, while I will attempt to not spoil THIS book, spoilers for previous books are highly likely. You have been warned.

The Hidden Legacy series is in a divergent world where in 1863 we discover a serum that unlocks untapped magic potential. Shenanigans ensue and the world decides this is much too dangerous to be let loose and so put a lock on the serum. Of course, there are all the people who have already had the serum, and these traits are passed down genetically to their offspring; so magic, and thus power, prestige, and money are concentrated into the hands of these families, known as Houses.

That is how it all starts, so seriously pick up this series and read it, I doubt you will be disappointed because there is a little something in it for most fiction readers.

On to the show. Those genetic connections however bring both pitfalls, and opportunities, and Nevada bears the brunt of both. She is riding the crest of a vast and catastrophic conspiracy hoping to untangle it before everything goes to hell. Meanwhile she has two sisters and two cousins, a mother and a grandmother who are also subject to the decisions she may make.

We’ve seen Nevada in hiding from the world of power, and Nevada making her initial hesitant entrance,  now we get to see Nevada stepping up to make her own place in this world, on her own terms. She rocks and is one of my favorite all time heroines. She doesn’t wander through the world as some sort of Mary Sue with the intrinsic knowledge that her basic (but humble) perfection will change the world to suit her, nor does she bust up the world order just because she can. She walks the balance.

Meanwhile in relationship land, Nevada and Rogan struggle to navigate their personal relationship in the midst of all this trauma and drama. Genetics, and boundaries, and competing relationships oh my! That sounds ridiculously cliched and soap-opera-esque, but it really isn’t.

But when you boil everything down, it all circles back to relationships and the people in ones life. Do you want something for someone in your life that current circumstances dictate they can’t have? Do you want something for yourself, and others are trying to stop you? It all really boils down to those desires and impediments and Ilona Andrews navigates through these competing desires in complex individuals to build a compelling tale. And that is what makes this so good and so much more intricate than your average romance novel, the rest of the people aren’t just stage dressing, they are as much real characters as the main protagonists. And they have real consequences and real effects on the story trajectory, whether the initiating event came from Nevada or themselves. It makes it, as I said before, compelling.

And while this arc is categorically concluded, there is a nice wide door to continuing further adventures in this world, which I sincerely hope happens. Leon, Bern, Cornelius, Catalina, Arabella, Victoria Tremaine, and a few others too spoilery to even speak of right now…all I could see could easily support more stories. Hell, I would even read some NA/YA in this world.




#FitReaders – Weekly Check-In July 21, 2017

Another week, another Vitamix soup, because I managed to go shopping and even managed to buy enough for a couple of weeks AND figured out how to freeze spinach. And I really do feel better when I do the soup. Sadly I don’t know that it will appreciably improve my compliance on this measure.


Stats: Week July 15-21, 2017

I am down a bit on my activity measures, but I think overall I have to consider it a win, especially with the bump back up on sleep. Weight is holding steady under my goal weight. Big doings for the next couple of weeks to get the house ready (pictures will be forthcoming on the next post), and THEN…family trip. I can only hope I will have made enough headway that the inevitable backslide isn’t too onerous.

Week July 21 DistanceWeek July 21 StepsWeek July 21 ActiveWeek July 21 Sleep




#FitReaders #StrutYourStuff- Weekly Check-In July 14, 2017

Another week, but not another Vitamix soup, becauseI failed to go shopping. Really hits home how much prepping is needed for diet and nutrition.


So a bit late on my June 5K, but I DID get my June and July 5Ks in, more or less (emphasis on the more). It was about a billion degrees outside so I did them indoors, so no GPS. But, I was doing a L4L competition (Team Grumpy Cats 6-we placed 9th) so I had personal bests to beat. I ended up beating my personal best on Saturday with over 50,000 steps. So I went for the marathon on Sunday. My usual 5Ks are shy of 6000 steps and around an hour, so you could say I did a bunch of 5Ks this weekend. Then the rest of the week was a really big week because my team of 5 (Team Grumpy Cats 3) was basically down 2 entire people and the other reliably high stepper had stuff going on which made it a struggle to even get her minimums in. Since I am competitive this helped me up my steps, and we managed to complete it!

June July 5K

Stats: Week July 8-14, 2017

Had an Overall Great week. Sleep stopped backsliding and maybe even bumped back up a bit….and I will keep plugging along.

Week July 14 AcriveWeek July 14 DistanceWeek July 14 StepsWeek July 14 Sleep