Book Review: Not If I Save You First

v7845_notifisaveyo_4cc-683x1024Not If I Save You First
Ally Carter

Publisher Summary

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans.

Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness and into a totally different life. Continue reading

Seasons Changing


A stunning number of my photos are just about the sun

Are you looking forward to the seasons changing? (It is not fall for another 2 weeks)

I’m not. Summer is the only season I like at all. I can vaguely appreciate the joys of the other seasons, but I would be happy with eternal summer for a very, very long time. I revel in sun and heat and long days.

So this Sea Wolf song (Seasons Changing) has me thinking: Continue reading

What are you listening to?

I listen to music a lot. I wouldn’t say I’m especially interested in music–despite many years of piano lessons and a mostly musical family, I’m only tangentially conversant in it. But I listen constantly. While I’m writing, while I read, while I bike, while I run. I use Pandora almost exclusively. I like cultivating stations with specific music for different purposes.

My first (and so far only) OTSP secret sister introduced me to Continue reading

Lyse Links: Labor Day Edition

Happy Labor Day, and welcome to the return of Lyse Links! Have I mentioned that this is my favorite thing to write? I’ve missed it terribly. So here are my best articles for this long weekend. Let them distract, inspire, and refresh you.


Can You Say…Hero? This has been the year of Mister Rogers. Of documentaries and articles and reminisces. I have no Mister Rogers to reminisce. But this article piqued my interest months ago, and then I watched several of his shows, trying to not cry my eyes out on the couch with my tiny spellbound nieces. A snippet of this exquisite article from 1998:  Continue reading

Book Review: Puddin’

PuddinNEW-678x1024I’m scared to review this book.

Honestly. I’m scared I’ll say something wrong. I’m scared I’ll step over the lines of what I can share online, or that I’ll hurt someone’s feelings. But I want to talk about it. So here goes.

I read Ramona Blue & Dumplin’ very late last year, and I was excited to find Puddin’ at the library. It carries on the story of some of the characters from Dumplin’ and honestly that’s about all I knew going in.

After a long Monday, I knew it was time to disconnect from my computer for awhile, and Puddin’ was the perfect book for that. I read it straight through in a single sitting, and it was absolutely the breath of fresh air I needed. Continue reading

Why I Read Romance (+book rec!)

babyI re-read Nobody’s Baby But Mine again last night. I’m not sure how many times that makes, but probably more than 3, at least.

I’m reluctant to re-read romances. I often feel like reading romance is a gross binge that I don’t want to look at too closely on the other side, like the cheap chocolate I might gorge in a funk, only to realize that it’s objectively disgusting when I’m not a complete mess. Continue reading

I’m Back!


a little sunshine therapy

It’s June, and, as promised, I have returned.

I missed you all so much, and I missed writing this blog, but hiatus was a good choice for me. This spring was loaded with work and travel and grieving and decisions to be made. It wreaked havoc on my mental and emotional health. Having one less thing to worry about was important.


exploring gloriously empty trails

But now, I’ve completed my graduate degree. I’ve spent lots of time resting, out of doors, reading, and writing for myself. I’m not 100%, but I’m back. In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking, “I should blog about that,” and now I will.

You can expect the usual book reviews, plus a few deeper dives on subjects I care about. I want to get better at talking about the tough topics, scary as that is to do on a public forum. I’m not certain if Lyse Links will return, but I suspect I won’t be able to stay away. It’s one of my favorites.

I have already scheduled my first (real) post of summer for tomorrow. It’s a doozy, talking about things I’ve never discussed, and I’m a little nervous about releasing it. I can’t wait to see what you think though.

Now it’s over to you! What have you been up to while I was gone? What did I miss?


I wanted to start the new year with a series of posts reflecting on 2017. It was a good year, an eventful year. I moved; traveled; took up running; tried a multitude of new activities; blew past my reading goals; nearly doubled my blog views; grew immeasurably. I wanted to share those accomplishments with you and talk about the future (including my plans to go on hiatus).

2 things got in the way of that:

  1. I’ve been wholly consumed with tackling my 2018 projects and beginning the year as I mean to go on.
  2. I was blindsided by a family tragedy this week.

For my mental health and the success of my degree and career, I’m immediately limiting my online consumption and focusing on “real life.” I’ve included some of my original writing about my already-planned hiatus below.


My reflections on 2017 and goal-setting for 2018 revealed an important theme: I need to focus this year.

I’m in the throes of what I’ve dubbed Project FREEDOM–the final rush of requirements to finish my master’s program and escape academia. I have bills to pay. A career to build. A book to write.

To do those things, something has to go. Exercise can’t go. Reading can’t go. My job can’t go.

So the blog has to be one of the things I drop for now. That was a hard decision to make, especially on the heels of 2 years with the most traffic I’ve seen. I’m terrified that I’ll never grow back to that. Or at least that I’m throwing it away by not capitalizing on it.

But I need to make the hard prioritizing choices. I need to finish this degree. I need to get settled so that I have the freedom to explore my art and passions more. So I’m going on hiatus here and on Twitter until at least June. I should be done with my degree then, and I’ll evaluate whether I can come back.

Until Then

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! I hope you enjoy my old writing and, if so, that you follow to be notified when I come back. In the meantime, I recommend a few blogger friends:

To my wonderful followers: thank you for joining me on this journey. Blogging has been a joy in my life for 6 years now. I can’t wait to come back and give you the attention you deserve.

Authors/Publishers: I will not be taking books for review until I return. I appreciate your thinking of me, and encourage you to contact one of the bloggers I listed above.

Take care.




Lyse Links: Apple to Zumba

Angela Ascendant: Apple’s head of retail is re-imagining the Apple store. For one thing, Apple no longer calls their retail spaces “stores.” Instead, they imagine them as “modern-day town squares.” (I think there are better modern-day examples, like libraries.) Find out how the wildly successful Burberry executive ended up at a tech company, and why the tables in Apple stores are still the same.

Baltimore: A Record-Breaking City: Some sociological problems seem insurmountable. Those of us who want to make a difference, or just be good citizens, should, at the least, be learning about the complex issues facing our cities.

Houston’s Baseball Experiment: Hindsight is a glorious thing. In light of the Astros winning the World Series this year, revisit this 2014 article analyzing the team’s phoenix strategy (burn it down and rise anew). The intro is astonishing:


The Story of a Very Old Wolf: Where do wolves fit in a country dominated by human rules?


The Reckoning: How do we begin to discuss the onslaught of revelations about sexual assault in our society? This essay is a good place to start. [Obviously, includes sensitive topics and strong language.] 

How to Sleep: James Hamblin is my favorite health writer and sleep is one of my favorite topics. This is worth reading. And, dare I say, sleep habits make a good topic to consider for 2018’s resolutions.

Running is a Unique Therapy for Depression and Anxiety: Isn’t that headline enough of an intro? Managing mental illness through activity is a fascinating idea to me.

I’ll Never Be Good at Running: Sometimes it is enough to just like a thing and not try to go faster or further.

Secrets from Tom Brady’s Personal Coach: Charlatan or magic-worker? (Also: a huge draw for his facility is surely because you can, as the author did, spot Gisele Bundchen and other celebrities during a session.)

From Chess Novice to Playing a Grand Master in 30 Days: Can a chess novice learn to beat one of the top masters in 30 days? I love challenges like this!

The Biggest Movie Star You’ve Never Heard Of: His name is unassuming, but his work is not.


The Land Where Vendettas Go Forever: Blood feuds are part of life in Albania. This passage keeps poking me, talking about the deep code–unmoored from religion or government–that Albanians follow:

Before we hung up, Fox gently chastised me for using the word “lawless” to refer to contemporary Albania. “I’d be very careful using that term,” he said. “As long as people are following the Kanun, there is no lawlessness.”

The Brothers Who Bought South Africa: I don’t follow South African politics, so this caught my eye. Is an Indian family shadow-governing South Africa?

For Sale: Presented without comment.

Inside Zumba: I can’t help but feel the writer was just too skeptical to take Zumba seriously. I’ve never tried it, but it doesn’t seem worse than any of the other fitness “cults.” People found something they like, let them enjoy it. (For any of you marketing/business people: great read about brand building.)


That’s it for this week! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate.

Have thoughts about any of the stories I shared? Drop them in the comments! I’d love to talk.