The Maiden and her Guard

Have you read From Blood and Ash by Jennifer Armentrout? I waited and waited to read it, not sure why. But I loved it so much, I promptly checked out A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire from Libby. Then I loved it so much I wanted to cry that Libby didn’t offer A Crown of Gilded Bone. I purchased it from Amazon the next day because I couldn’t wait to read it. Now, I have to wait until March. next. year. to read the 4th installment. Nail biting would occur if I did that sort of thing. I did in fact, have to read a quick read after, before starting A Vow so Bold and Deadly because I guess I had a book hangover. Jennifer is a genius.

From Blood and Ash

We meet the maiden, Penellaphe, also known as Poppy by her friends. She lives life trapped and hidden behind a veil. She is told that Atlantians are bad. That when she turns 19, she will Ascend. She has been chosen by the Gods. She is not allowed to have friends or talk to others unless approved. She isn’t allowed outside the castle. But she still finds ways to sneak out and live. Her personal guard, father figure, also trains her how to fight. She meets Hawke at a brothel, and receives her first (forbidden) kiss. Later Hawke becomes her guard. They become friends. They kiss again. In the end, he is in charge of taking her to the capitol of her kingdom, to the Queen and King of Solis. The same Queen that nursed her back to health after her parents were killed by the savage, vampire/zombie like creatures, who also attacked her. These creatures are said to have been created by Atlantians. But for some reason, she didn’t die from the attack. She was just left scarred. She also has “gifts”, like being able to read people’s emotions, but she has been told to never use them.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire

Poppy has her eyes opened by Hawke. Aka, The Dark One. Prince Casteel. Atlantian. He teaches her that everything she was told about Atlantia and Solis are wrong. That being Ascended means you are a vampry (vampire). That the vampry prey on the poor mortal people of Solis. That the Ascended are who created the creatures that killed her parents and attacked her. She doesn’t want to believe the stories he has told her because her brother Ian left for the capital 2 years prior to Ascend. She also doesn’t want Hawke to be The Dark One, or the man who has kidnapped her and is taking her away to use her to get his brother back from the Queen of Solis. She is also falling in love with him. And has met very many Wolven (werewolves). She doesn’t know if she can accept that Atlantians are the good guys. Her gifts are getting stronger and she learns she can heal people instead of just easing their pain. And the wolven seem to be drawn to her. Casteel and Poppy decide to unite and marry so that they can save their brothers from Solis.

A Crown of Gilded Bones

Poppy is betrayed once they enter into Atlantia, and her gifts have intensified so that she can kill people by turning their emotions back on them. She is also killed and Casteel saves her by taking all her blood and then giving her his. From the stories both have been told, this should turn her into an Ascended, but does it? Every time she uses a her gift, she starts to glow silver. No one is sure if she is mortal or immortal. Cas and Poppy declare they love each other. A lot happens that I wasn’t sure how it went with the story, but all comes together in the end. Casteel gives himself to the Queen of Solis so that she will not kill Poppy. Poppy learns her true identity. Who her parents really are. And she sends the King of Solis’ head back to the Queen to let her know that she is ready to fight to get Casteel back.


Reading Challenges

I loved when ATY did the prompts for the Wedding theme; something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. That time I went with Pride and Prejudice (old), Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (borrowed), Unmarriageable (blue) and Pride (new).

This year the prompts are 3 books relating to past, present and future. I played around with this for awhile and was trying to figure out a theme with The Guest List as the present book but settled on (another) Jane Austen theme.

Past ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Several people, and a famous actress from the US, from a small English village where Jane Austen lived, whom all love Jane Austen, start the Jane Austen Society. They raise funds, start a museum and help reading programs post World War II. (I wonder if it is roughly based on how Jane Austen’s small cottage really became a museum).

Present ⭐️⭐️⭐️

A London working woman joins the Jane Austen Dating Agency with promises of regency style dates. She evens admits she’ll date a Wickam, until she does. There’s money laundering, and typical rich people business and love.


Each I listened to through Hoopla (listening to the Project still). So I’ll be back with an update on that.

My Year in Books 2020

My Year in Books 2020

My absolute favorite book of 2020

How could you not root for this poor girl

My grandmother came from Irish heritage and reading this always made me think of her

Usually I can copy and paste my Goodreads year in books but it won’t work anymore. I read (or listened) to 191 books which was 66,537 pages. Wow! I didn’t watch much TV since not much aired this year. Thank goodness Outlander made it in.

This year, I read and loved the entire Winston Brother series by Penny Reid. I read the rest of the Flavia de Luc series by Alan Bradley and can’t wait to get my hands on the 10th book. I read, well listened to, my first book of verse and think Elizabeth Acevedo is very talented. I listened to Poet X and With the Fire on High and read Clap When you Land.

2020, thanks to Modern Mrs Darcy, got me into audiobooks and I would rather listen to a book than the radio now. I have listened to books 1-10 of the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny and it is very sad that Ralph Cosham died before being able to narrate all of them. I have listened to books 1-8 of the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones and am in love. (I started a lot of series this year.) And the number one audiobook this year, hands down, was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Even though I have read it more than once, I have never watched the movies. But Jim Dale is a phenomenal narrator and listening to him brought the story to life and gave me goose bumps almost the entire time.

I was expecting a light, sit by the pool read. But the story had depth and captivated me from the beginning.

I picked up this book on a whim at my favorite used bookstore, I think to check out Karen White who was recommended. This was an excellent start. She is a great storyteller.

I have loved almost every WWII historical novel I have read, and this didn’t disappoint. It is heart wrenching reading about what was done to the “feared” during the war.

Reading Challenges

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

One of the challenges I do every year, Around the Year in 52 books, ATY; has already put out their list for next year. One of the prompts is A book related to a codeword from the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. Someone else had an idea to do a side challenge doing the whole NATO alphabet instead of just one. It was fun making interpretations to fit.

Alpha Life on the Leash> dogs are alpha
Bravo Twice in a Blue Moon> MC is an actress
Charlie Eighth Grave After Dark> main character is Charley
Delta This Tender Land> “on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River”
Echo An Echo in the Bone
Golf Act Like It by Lucy Parker> Lucy is a golf term
Hotel All the Ways We Said Goodbye> at The Ritz Hotel
India The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters> the sisters travel to India
Juliet These Violent Delights> a Romeo and Juliet retelling with a character named Juliette
Kilo Blood & Honey> long book> over 500 pages
Lima Simmer Down> about food> like Lima bean
Mike Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder> hopefully the character Mike is also in this one
November Get a Life, Chloe Brown> published in November
Oscar The Seat Filler> Hero is an actor and the MCs meet at an award show
Papa > familial ties with characters
Quebec A Better Man> takes place in Quebec
Romeo Hamnet> tragedy and love and Shakespeare
Sierra Bittersweet> mountains on cover> Sierra Nevada=mountains
Tango You Had Me at Hola> Latin American
Uniform A Bad Day for Sunshine> MC is a Sheriff
Victor Shipped> the winner, “victor” gets the raise
Whisky A Breath of Snow and Ashes> Scottish Jamie makes whiskey
X-ray British Bedmate> MCs are a doctor and a nurse
Yankee That Second Chance> takes place in Maine> New England
Zulu My Sister, the Serial Killer> in Nigeria> Zulu people are a Bantu ethnic group of Southern Africa

The Great American Read

To Kill a Mockingbird cover Outlander (Series) cover Harry Potter (Series) coverPride and Prejudice cover

I am interested in doing a comparison of the Great American Read list and the 100 books to read in a lifetime list (of which I have less than half left). The Great American Read has series in the list, so it actually has more than 100 books. Here is the list in the order they were voted:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Outlander (series) by Diana Gabaldon
    1. Outlander √
    2. Dragonfly in Amber √
    3. Voyager √
    4. Drums of Autumn √
    5. The Fiery Cross √
    6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
    7. An Echo in Bone
    8. Written in my Own Heart’s Blood
    9. Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone
  3. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling √
    1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone √
    2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets √
    3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban √
    4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire √
    5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix √
    6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince √
    7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows √
    8. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two √
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen √
  5. The Lord of the Rings (series) by J.R.R. Tolkien
    1. The Fellowship of the Ring
    2. The Two Towers
    3. The Return of the King
  6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  7. Charlotte’s Webb by E.B. White √
  8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott √
  9. The Chronicle’s of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis
    1. The Magician’s Nephew
    2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe √
    3. The Horse and His Boy
    4. Prince Caspian
    5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    6. The Silver Chair
    7. The Last Battle
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte √
  11. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery √
  12. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck √
  13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  14. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak √
  15. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  √
  16. The Help by Katherine Stockett
  17. The Adventure’s of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  18. 1984 by George Orwell
  19. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  20. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  21. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  22. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  23. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  24. The Stand by Stephen King
  25. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier √
  26. A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
  27. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  28. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  29. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens √
  30. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger √
  31. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls √
  32. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  33. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  34. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood √
  35. Dune by Frank Herbert
  36. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  37. The Call of the Wild by Jack London √
  38. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
  39. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  40. The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
    1. The Hunger Games √
    2. Catching Fire √
    3. Mockingjay √
  41. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas √
  42. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  43. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  44. The Giver by Lois Lowry √
  45. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden √
  46. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  47. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  48. Game of Thrones (series) by George R.R. Martin
    1. A Game of Thrones
    2. A Clash of Kings
    3. A Storm of Swords
    4. A Feast for Crows
    5. A Dance with Dragons
    6. The Winds of Winter
    7. A Dream of Spring
  49. Foundation (series) by Isaac Asimov
    1. Foundation
    2. Foundation and Empire
    3. Second Foundation
    4. Foundation’s Edge
    5. Foundation and Earth
    6. Prelude to Foundation
    7. Forward the Foundation
  50. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  51. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  52. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  53. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  54. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriela Garcia Marquez
  55. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  56. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks √
  57. The Shack by William P. Young
  58. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  59. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
  60. Beloved by Toni Morison
  61. The Martian by Andy Weir
  62. The Wheel of Time (series) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
    1. The Eye of the World
    2. The Great Hunt
    3. The Dragon Reborn
    4. The Shadow Rising
    5. The Fires of Heaven
    6. Lord of Chaos
    7. A Crown of Swords
    8. The Path of Daggers
    9. Winter’s Heart
    10. Crossroads of Twilight
    11. Knife of Dreams
    12. The Gathering Storm
    13. Towers of Midnight
    14. A Memory of Light
  63. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse √
  64. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  65. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  66. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon √
  67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  68. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  69. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold √
  70. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  71. Hatchet (series) by Gary Paulsen
    1. Hatchet
    2. The River
    3. Brian’s Winter
    4. Brian’s Return
    5. Brian’s Hunt
  72. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  73. The Twilight Saga (series) by Stephanie Meyer
    1. Twilight
    2. New Moon
    3. Eclipse
    4. Breaking Dawn
    5. Midnight Sun
  74. Tales of the City (series) by Armistead Maupin
    1. Tales of the City
    2. More Tales of the City
    3. Further Tales of the City
    4. Babycakes
    5. Significant Others
    6. Sure of You
    7. Michael Tolliver Lives
    8. Mary Ann in Autumn
    9. The Days of Anna Madrigal
  75. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift
  76. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline √
  77. Left Behind (series) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
    1. Left Behind
    2. Tribulation Force
    3. Nicolae
    4. Soul Harvest: The World Takes Sides
    5. Apollyon
    6. Assassins
    7. The Indwelling
    8. The Mark
    9. Desecration
    10. The Remnant
    11. Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages
    12. Glorious Appearing: The End of Days
    13. Kingdom Come: The Final Victory
  78. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn √
  79. Watchers by Dean Koontz
  80. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  81. Alex Cross Mysteries (series) by John Patterson
    1. Along Came a Spider
    2. Kiss the Girls
    3. Jack & Jill
    4. Cat and Mouse
    5. Pop Goes the Weasel
    6. Roses are Red
    7. Violets Are Blue
    8. Four Blind Mice
    9. The Big Bad Wolf
    10. London Bridges
    11. Mary, Mary
    12. Cross
    13. Double Cross
    14. Cross Country
    15. Alex Cross’s Trial
    16. I, Alex Cross
    17. Cross Fire
    18. Kill Alex Cross
    19. Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
    20. Alex Cross, Run
    21. Cross My Heart
    22. Hope to Die
    23. Cross Justice
    24. Cross the Line
    25. The People vs. Alex Cross
    26. Target: Alex Cross
    27. Criss Cross
    28. Deadly Cross
  82. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  83. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  84. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  85. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
  86. Fifty Shades of Grey (series) by E.L. James √
    1. Fifty Shades of Grey √
    2. Fifty Shades Darker √
    3. Fifty Shades Freed √
  87. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
  88. This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti
  89. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie √
  90. Another Country by James Baldwin
  91. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya √
  92. Looking for Alaska by John Green √
  93. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  94. Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon
  95. Mind Invaders by Dave Hunt
  96. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  97. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  98. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
  99. The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
  100. Dona Barbara by Romulo Gallegos

So many of these I have never heard of. So many I would have had higher on the list. Some I will probably never attempt to read. Maybe one year, instead of following the Popsugar and Around the Year reading challenges, I will try this out.

What I Read in 2019

I love how Goodreads breaks down your reading year.

My year in books

This is my journey in books for 2019!


I read 37,737 pages across 102 booksImg bookstack 360

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
72 pages
The Lorax

by Dr. Seuss

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
870 pages
Voyagerby Diana Gabaldon

369 page

7,231,710 people also read
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s …
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury
by Sarah J. Maas
4.66 average

In 2019, I read several retellings.

I read a few series.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.    A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.    A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

I loved this series so much, I can’t wait for the next book, hopefully out in 2020.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han     P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han     Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Even though this was another YA series, I really enjoyed Lara Jean.

I found a few favorite new authors that I want to read all their work,

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos     The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos     Always by Sarah Jio     Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

I had a few surprising great reads:

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim     The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon     Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras    A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

My absolute favorites of 2019 were:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens     The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

    Rules of Civility by Amor Towles     The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini    

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor

I had a few dislikes but only 1 DNF (My Dear Hamilton).  Let’s see what 2020 brings me in the way of great entertainment.

My Favorite Banana Bread

In honor of Banana Bread Day, I thought I would re-share my favorite banana bread (or muffin).

Biscoff Cookie Butter!

banana muffins 3


banana muffins 4

Thank you Maria at Two Peas and Their Pod for this great recipe. I, of course, added nuts though.

Biscoff Banana Nut Muffins

banana muffins


1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Biscoff Spread
1/4 cup oil
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar

For the Biscoff Cookie Streusel:

1/2 cup chopped Biscoff cookies
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line muffin pans and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, set aside.

3. In a stand mixer, mash bananas. Add the Biscoff Spread, oil, egg, vanilla, and sugars.

4. Add the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Batter will be slightly lumpy, don’t over mix.

5. Scoop batter into prepared pans.

Make streussel:

1. In a small bowl, melt butter. Combine chopped Biscoff cookies, chopped pecans, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon to the melted butter. Stir until combined. Add a spoonful of the streusel to the top of the batter in each muffin cup.

2. Bake muffins for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or straight of the tupperware.banana bread

Can also be made in a bread loaf pan.banana bread loaf2

Renovating 407: The Master Bath

The 70s were a good decade. I mean my parents were married. I was born. My brother was born. But that decade is long gone and needed to be long gone out of my house too.

05 29 15_222805 29 15_2229

This bathroom is on the smaller side, it’s not an en suite type of bathroom. It works for me though. So originally, it had this fabric backed wallpaper, a plastic vanity (but with real marble counter/sink), the mirror with the medicine cabinet and original (heavy) doors on the shower. There were handicap handles all over the room as well and that slightly Gothic looking light.





I removed the wallpaper and any handle anywhere. Fixed and patched and painted. Replaced the light, mirror, vanity and toilet. I also decided to take down the heavy doors on the shower and only use a shower curtain, but some tiles were loose and I ended up finding termite damage. About a year or so later, I finally got around to removing all the tile, which ended up pulling the backerboard down with it. Eventually, I removed all the tile and cement from the pan. All of this mess was covered by a shower curtain for almost 2 years.

My original plumber didn’t want to do the work. Couldn’t get the next one to show up for the estimate. The one that finally came and ran the new plumbing, wouldn’t show back up to finish the work or send his tile guy. This summer, I finally found a tile guy that would do the work. So after the plumber had come and ran a new line, and fixed the old line, I cut the ceiling open over the shower and we put up the new backboard (after replacing rotted and damaged wood). Because the ceiling was going to be 2 different textures, I decided to cover the whole thing with beadboard.

(That’s my wonderful brother.) I also added a chair rail for the towel hooks and painted the bathroom again. I love my bathroom now.


The tile guy even did a backsplash on the sinks for me.


Here is a before and after.

05 29 15_2228Photo Nov 22, 10 51 05 AM

I also finally got a barn door made and hung up from the bedroom to the bathroom.Photo Nov 22, 10 52 27 AM

What I Read in 2018

This year I really did cut back on TV and read more. I followed the Popsugar Reading Challenge and the Around the Year in 52 books. I am happy to say, other than the book I am currently reading, I have finished both challenges. I have read 81 books this year. Some I loved, some I hated, some I didn’t see how they fit the challenge prompt, and some were still good enough to recommend.

10964 I drug my feet in wanting to read a book I have been watching, and loving, on TV. I don’t usually like a book I have already watched or vice versa (other than Hunger Games). But I picked up this book for ‘time travel’ and it became one of my favorite books of all time. I have the next two on the list for my challenge next year.

36373417 I picked up this book for a ‘book with a map’. It was on the new book shelf at the library. And it was amazing. It is a book that I would like to see turned into a movie.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen These were also high on my most loved books this year. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson My favorite series this year. I have decided I will not read the ones that are being written by another author. It’s already sad enough that Stieg’s estranged father and brother are making all the money off of the 1st three and nothing is going to his life partner since they were never married.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence  Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani After reading Annie’s book, I added many more books to my TBR. But read Big Stone Gap almost right away. Went ahead and read Big Cherry Holler for the heck of it and added the 3rd one to my challenge for next year.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri Alburquerque by Rudolfo Anaya Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie These taught me some multicultural lessons. 

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