March’s graphic novel round-up

A HUGE thank-you to Oni Press for all of these!

The Damned Vol 1: Three Days Dead by Cullen Bunn | March 28, 2017
Prohibition is at its height and two rival crime families are calling a truce. However, before things can be finalized, a bookkeeper – in possession of a ledger that could literally bring destruction to both families – is kidnapped. The solution? Put Eddie on the case. Have him track down the bookkeeper (and ledger) before it’s too late. The only problem is that Eddie’s corpse is lying in a ditch. Not that that’s going to stop Big Al..

Prohibition, gangsters, demons, magic. Sounds like a great time, right? Unfortunately, I don’t believe I’m the target audience for this one. For me, it was simply okay. The art was VERY noir-ish and the story was fun, but apart from the magic and demons, there really wasn’t anything special about The Damned. It was just your run-of-the-mill crime story.

The Altered History of Willow Sparks by Tara O’Connor | March 6, 2018
Willow and her best friend aren’t exactly the most popular girls in school. In fact, they’re the total opposite. When Willow comes across a magical book that allows her to change anything she chooses, well…it’s hard to pass that up. What initially starts out as small details (a new outfit here and there, something trendy and name-brand) quickly snowballs out of control. But is popularity and dating the coolest boy in school worth losing your best friend?

The Altered History of Willow Sparks was a fast read – and fun! Willow has an after school job at the library and it’s in a backroom that she discovers the magical book. With each change she grows bolder and slowly loses control, not realizing the damage she’s causing until it’s too late. While I enjoyed this in a graphic novel form, I’d really like to read a full-length novel! There’s so much depth to this story that would be fun to really dive into and explore!

Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir | March 20, 2018
After her mental health struggles cause her to lose her job, Celeste sinks further into depression. By chance she happens upon a posting for a museum archivist and applies – ultimately getting the job. But Cel quickly discovers there’s more to the museum than she first thought. She’s given an apartment on one of the upper floors and she soon begins having strange dreams…dreams of a girl. A girl practically demanding Cel’s help.

Another quick, easy breezy read. I’m all for stories where an old asylum still has a hold on the present day. Here, the museum one held patients and Cel uncovers some very disturbing secrets. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Cel’s character, the others were great – and wonderfully diverse – and the story was intriguing too!

Kim Reaper Vol 1: Grim Beginnings by Sarah Graley | March 13, 2018
Becka has a super huge crush on goth cutie Kim. Though they’re only in an art history class together, Becka is determined to ask her out on a date and follows Kim after class one day…only to fall through a portal. It turns out that Kim is doing a part-time gig as a Grim Reaper. Becka’s appearance in the Underworld soon sets off a chain of events (including being chased by zombies). Is Kim really worth it? Totally.

Kim Reaper is SO SO SO great. Cute and funny and captivating, seriously, I was hooked the entire time and absolutely inhaled this one. I mean, a suspended Grim Reaper who takes a job at a bakery? How could I pass that up? This was adorable and I’m looking forward to the next volume!


weekly wrap-up 3/4

• A nice, quiet week = a short, quick wrap-up! Thankfully this week flew by…unfortunately so did the weekend!!

• I finished two books this week – and by this week, I mean yesterday. I’m covering a different department at work while someone is on vacation, so my days have been nothing but a flurry of printing reports, entering spreadsheets, replying to emails. By the time I get home, I’m pooped. So, yeah, all the reading I did this week was done yesterday (and I plan on doing it again today haha). I finished Rhys Bowen’s The Tuscan Child, a dual era novel about a wounded WWII pilot whose plane crashes in the mountains in Italy and his daughter in the 70s who discovers a letter he wrote to a woman and decides to go off in search of her or anyone who might remember her. So lovely! I also tore through Alison Hughes’ Kasey & Ivy, a lightning-fast epistolary novel about a 12-year-old girl who has to spend her summer vacation in the hospital. On the geriatric ward.

• Reese Witherspoon & Kerry Washington are teaming up to adapt and star in Little Fires Everywhere and I. Am. Ready.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
I reviewed this one last March and featured it again in part 1 of my Top Reads of 2017. It’s safe to say I loved this one. A LOT. Lindsey and Andrew had a whirlwind romance and a seemingly perfect marriage..one that quickly turned violent and abusive. Lindsey managed to escape with her daughter and Andrew was sent to prison after drunkenly hitting someone with his car. Eleven years later he’s out of jail and suddenly Lindsey notices little things aren’t quite right: her keys aren’t where she left them, emails she knows she never looked at are marked read. Could Andrew be out for revenge? Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Last April I reviewed Jessica’s debut, Almost Missed You and enjoyed it immensely (and became a teensy bit biased after learning she’s originally from Pittsburgh)! Her upcoming release looks great too: it’s a rare kid-free night for a group of neighborhood women and they take full advantage. They gather around a fire pit and keep their wine glasses full. With each drink the conversations become more and more personal and by Monday, one of them is missing. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland
I was sold the second I saw that title. Even better? It’s been compared to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, a novel I ADORED back in 2014 (it was also included in my Top Reads post for that year – 2014 was a fantastic year for books). The Lost for Words Bookshop is about a woman who prefers books to people (same, girl), and has lines from her favorite novels tattooed on her body. But there are some things she’ll never share with anyone and someone has just discovered something about her past. Thank you, Thomas Dunne Books!


weekly wrap-up 2/25

• Spring is here in Pittsburgh & that means rain. LOTS of it. I’m someone who could be 100% happy living somewhere where it storms 24/7, so I’m absolutely loving this weather: warm and grey and rainy. Love it. We’ve had so much rain here these past few weeks that sections of downtown Pittsburgh have been closed due to the flooding!

• Yesterday Matt & I met up with one of the guys he met through his Cars & Coffee meet-ups – some of the cars these guys have cost more than my house (!!) C&C ended for the season, but we REALLY like this one couple and we’ve been grabbing dinner, coffee, just hanging out whenever we can. Local friends, C&C is biweekly at Generoasta in Warrendale.

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? I fell hard for Laura Madeleine’s debut, The Confectioner’s Tale, and have been waiting not-so-patiently for her next book. Where the Wild Cherries Grow took a few chapters to really get started, but once it did I was hooked. Told in two voices, this one tells the story of a young woman in 1919 who lost her family to WWI and the Spanish Flu and runs away to France to start a new life. In 1969 remaining relatives are looking to sell a crumbling manor, but in order to do so, they need confirmation of the owner’s death..and the owner hasn’t been seen in 50 years.

I also shared 6 things I’m loving this month! From tea to a new magazine to breathing life into old clothes, February has been great!

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey
While this is the second book in a series, it seems to be a novel that works as a standalone – Peachtree Bluff follows three sisters and their mother and this book focuses on the middle sister. Sloane has just learned her military husband is missing in action. She falls onto not only her sisters and mother for support, but also her own children. This one seems to be a great read for heading into spring and I’m looking forward to it! Thank you, Gallery Books!

Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson
Not even joking, I shrieked when I opened this package. The blurb on the cover says “Lovers of Civil War fiction will rejoice” and rejoice I did. There are publicists who know me so well and I am ridiculously excited to dive into this one!! A debutante from a Confederate family has been keeping her epilepsy a secret, lest scandal breaks out. Not one for balls and parties, she longs for a way to break free from the confines of her family…and an old schoolmate introduces her to life as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. YESSSS. Thank you, Tyndale!

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Last month I received an e-ARC of this one for a blog tour and I was delighted to see a finished hardback arrive! Dual era novels are my fav: this one bounces between 1950 and 2014. A school for troubled girls, a murder with a conviction that never felt right. I am SO there. Thank you, Berkley!


6 things I’m loving this February!

In last week’s wrap-up I mentioned how I started watching Agatha Raisin after getting caught up on the newest season of my favorite show. …well. I was SO into Aggie and co that I binged a bit too fast..and didn’t realize there was only one season out until I reached the end of episode 8 and couldn’t go any further ughhhh! I’ve had the first book for years (EEK, since 2013, when I highlighted the Mystery Lovers Bookshop!) and now that I’m going through a serious Agatha Raisin withdrawal, I just might have to dive into the novels! Thankfully there are plenty to keep me occupied (28 books, plus a handful of short stories) until the second season airs!

There’s a room connected to our bedroom that I believe was originally intended to be used as a nursery. Since Matt and I don’t have children, I’ve been using the room as my closet…and even though I literally have an entire ROOM full of clothes I still feel like I wear the same five pieces lol. Pittsburgh has been having a nice taste of spring these past few weeks and it’s made me want to start pulling out transitional layers (I’ve been rocking a LOT of dresses lately with tights and cardigans ♥). I’ve been rediscovering old outfits I completely forgot about, pieces that were boxed up when we moved (3 years ago this July!) and never unpacked! I recently dug out an adorable purse I haven’t used in ages (and honestly forgot I even owned) – and the first day I brought it to work I received a compliment!

Matt and I have totally different tastes when it comes to television, so our binges typically fall under two categories: nature docs or The Office. Wellll we just finished The Office (again) and haven’t started anything new (Do you have any recs?? What’s your favorite show on Netflix/Amazon?) and one night I came home to Matt watching stand-up specials. Now, stand-up was never really my thing. Sure, I watched some Comedy Central specials back when I was in high school, but it’s not the kind of thing I’ll search out. Since that night, we’ve been on a major stand-up kick – perfect timing too. LOCAL FRIENDS, the Comtra Theatre is having a comedy night tonight!

A few months ago I made the switch to Chewy and have been absolutely hooked. I procrastinated a teensy bit with my Christmas shopping and didn’t get my pups anything until literally the last minute. Saturday, December 23 I placed an order…it arrived THE NEXT DAY. Not only did it arrive the very next day during the busiest shipping time of the year, but it was also a Sunday. I was SO impressed and have been buying odds and ends ever since. Everything from a new collar (the baby pink floral one for Bay since Matt had been buying blue dogtags and leashes – people kept thinking she was a boy :(!!) to beds and treats! The prices are outstanding, they always have fantastic deals, and they also have a Goody Box!! After eight months of Bark Boxes, I finally said good-bye in November of 2016. Every single month I talked about how much we loved the treats but the toys – even the premium ones I paid extra for – just weren’t great quality. There were a few that didn’t even last throughout the first night after we unboxed everything! In each post I mentioned how I would be thrilled with a treats-only box, but until they add that option, we’re going to stick with Chewy. Unfortunately, their Goody Box isn’t a subscription, it’s just one box, but their treat selection is phenomenal and I have a post planned to highlight some of our favorites!

I forget how I came across this new magazine (which originally began through Kickstarter – they were fully funded in three days), but I’m SO glad I did. Bravery is a quarterly magazine aimed at children 4-9 and each issue features a strong female role model. My oldest niece just turned 9 this month and is 100% my mini me (hahaha we’re SO much alike that when Matt first met her as a 2-year-old, he thought she was my daughter!) and yet I was struggling to think of the PERFECT gift. Well. The second I discovered Bravery, I knew exactly what to get her. The first issue featured Jane Goodall and included all kinds of neat things like DIYs, activities, chimp trivia, even a recipe! There was a little hiccup with issue two (featuring astronaut Mae Jemison) – there was a problem with the printer and the laminate coating on the cover which caused 3000 issues to turn out all wonky. The ladies went live on IG to talk about it and give updates on when the new batch will be available. This magazine is so, so great, guys.

I’m a total newbie when it comes to loose leaf tea. It’s only been in the past few months that I’ve been exploring non-bag options and one day while doing a grocery run, I decided to take a peek down the tea aisle. A neon green bag caught my eye and curiosity got the better of me! Fruity Pebbles, y’all. It’s a green tea with blackberry bits, pineapple, strawberry, and more! Even better? It boosts your metabolism and helps to suppress your appetite! I am ALL about that! The $3 price tag didn’t hurt either. There are a ton of blends on their site that aren’t available at my local grocer, like Momma’s PB&J (apple, almond, hazelnuts), Figgy Pop (elderberries, apple, figs), Naughty or Anise (cinnamon, star anise, almonds), and hahaha Sexy Hot Christmas Tea (pink peppercorns, chili, chocolate)!!!


Where the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

Where the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine
Pub. Date: February 13, 2018
Source: ARC + finished hardback via publisher (Thank you, Thomas Dunne Books!)
Summary: In 1919, the cold sweep of the Norfolk fens only holds for Emeline Vane memories of her family, all killed in the war. Whispers in the village say she’s lost her mind as well as her family – and in a moment’s madness she boards a train to France and runs from it all.

She keeps running until she reaches a tiny fishing village so far from home it might as well be the end of the world. Transfixed by the endless Mediterranean, Emeline is taken in by Maman and her nineteen-year-old son, and there she is offered a glimpse of a life so different to the one she used to know: golden-green olive oil drizzled over roasted tomatoes, mouth-wateringly smoky red spices, and hot, caramel sweetness.

But it’s not just the intense, rich flavours that draw her to the village, and soon a forbidden love affair begins. One that is threatened by the whispers from home that blow in on the winds from the mountains . . .
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWI, Dual Narrative

Back in 2016 I received a copy of Laura’s debut, The Confectioner’s Tale, and was so pleasantly surprised! Between the swoony, secret romance and mouth-watering descriptions on pastries, I was completely enchanted and have been waited ever since then for her next release.

Where the Wild Cherries Grow is a dual narrative (I’m a fan already!), telling the tale of a young, broken woman in 1919 and an equally young solicitor tasked with a near-impossible hunt in 1969. The war didn’t just leave her two older brothers slain on the battlefield. The homefront saw just as much destruction – and heartache – as the Spanish Flu took its toll. Now Emeline and her younger brother are all that’s left of her family. A hushed-up suicide attempt, a secret reliance on morphine, Emeline can barely pull herself out of bed some days. Eventually her uncle (intent on selling the estate that’s now Emeline’s inheritance) decides his niece would be much better off placed in a hospital and she makes the rash decision to flee to France.

Bill Perch is just getting his feet wet as a solicitor. He finally catches his big break when a family comes in, looking to get rid of a crumbling manor. Unfortunately, its owner has been missing for the past 50 years and her brother firmly believes she’s still alive. Regardless of whether Emeline Vane is still living or not, Bill needs to get an answer and makes the drive to the once-grand Hallerton House. His investigation leads to the discovery of a hidden diary, a diary with Emeline’s name written on the front cover, and he soon becomes completely immersed by her story, becoming even more eager to find out just what happened to her all those years ago.

I’ll be honest, when I first started this one, I wasn’t sure it would live up to The Confectioner’s Tale. What did I care about a 19-year-old man just starting his career? In those early chapters, I was merely reading on to get back to Emeline’s story, her bits of diary entries. It wasn’t until Bill arrived at the estate that I fell hard for Where the Wild Cherries Grow. Soon Emeline’s chapters were more drawn out, detailing her time in France, and I loved every moment spent in Cerbère, a sea-side town. She’s taken in by a woman and her deaf son – be prepared for AMAZING descriptions of food! Clemence is known in town as the cook, the one who can feed armies and she grudingly takes Emeline under her wing to teach her a thing or two. Without giving too much away, Emeline and Aaro begin spending more and more time together…and that’s all I’m saying about that!

I quickly became caught up in the mystery of Emeline’s disappearance, of Bill’s journey to uncover the truth, of the coastal town with a wonderful cast of characters. Any initial hesitation I felt for this book was soon forgotten! I will say though, as the ending approached, I thought for a moment my copy was missing several pages. As it turns out, the ending is extremely abrupt – jarring even. A short epilogue made it even harder to say goodbye, I wanted to spend more, MUCH more time with these characters!

Laura Madeleine has delivered yet another fantastic novel. Just as with her debut, I found myself turning the pages at a rapid-fire pace, needing to know more and wanting to sink deeper into the story. I’ll admit I preferred Emeline’s story in 1919 to Bill’s in 1969, but both stories beautifully blended together and Where the Wild Cherries Grow easily turned into a one-sitting read. I waited two years for this book and it seems I’ll be doing a good bit of waiting for Laura’s next release! The Secrets Between Us will be published in the UK this year. Another tale of France and forbidden love and I can’t wait to have it in my life!


weekly wrap-up 2/18

Jeff Daniels is going to play Atticus Finch? Scout is being played by a 40-year-old? What? Why is this happening? Who asked for this?

• I’m completely caught up with my absolute favorite show and have been trying to fill the void while I not-so-patiently wait for new episodes. I decided to give Agatha Raisin a shot and…I’m hooked. I even grabbed the audio of the short story Agatha’s First Case one day while I was at work. SO fun and I really need to dive into the actual series now!

• I also finished the audio of K.A. Tucker’s Until it Fades and loved it. My print books for the week were a little less enjoyable. Good Old Days, My Ass (665 Funny History Facts & Terrifying Truths about Yesteryear) had a great premise – and I love those list-type trivia books – but it fell short. So many of the ‘facts’ could have easily been grouped together. In my quick review on GR, I mentioned one example: The Locust Plague of 1875. One fact said the swarm wiped out one farmer’s entire crop in a matter of hours. The next fact said that, once the crops were gone, the locust then ate fence posts, etc. Yawn. HOWEVER, that was a MUCH better read than Amy Bloom’s White Houses, a novel I was so looking forward to. This book about Eleanor Roosevelt’s relationship with Lorena Hickok was a DNF. Ugh.

• Earlier this week I walked outside and discovered a sweet little visitor

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Susan Meissner’s As Bright as Heaven is a Top Reads of 2018. Need I say more?

I also shared some recent etsy finds including a cute dress, gorgeous decor pieces, a #dogmom pin, and more!

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty aaaaand sold. I am ALL about domestic dramas, dark secrets between neighbors, what really goes on behind closed doors, the whole works. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde
Another family drama novel, this one featuring Murray Blaire and his three adult children. The two older siblings immediately begin bickering, there’s a hidden agenda to stage an intervention – Lizzie’s latest boyfriend is MUCH older, possible criminal charges, and a damaged family cookbook. The battered edition of Fannie Farmer is from a time when their family was complete. Their mother was still alive, the siblings were four, not three. From what I’m getting from other early reviews, this one is all about character exploration and the makings of a family. Thank you, G.P. Putnam’s Sons!

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
I have never read one of Andrews’ novels, but they were huge sellers when I was a bookseller! Now, we all know not to judge books by their covers (or audiences), but I couldn’t help but assume Andrews wrote contemporary fiction novels for soccer moms. Imagine my surprise when the publicist emails me and her first sentence mentions B.A. Paris. Um what. A 99-year-old eccentric millionaire heiress summons a young lawyer to her primate island home and begins telling tales of her closest friends (now long dead), betrayal, and an unsolved murder. I am VERY intrigued. I also have a feeling this will be a Susan Wiggs repeat: I held preconceived notions about Wiggs and her books too..and then I read Family Tree back in 2016 and loved it! Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

Speakeasy by Alisa Smith
A historical thriller set during WWII featuring a code-breaker with a secret Bonnie-and-Clyde past. !!!!!! This is a book written for me. Thank you, Thomas Dunne Books!

Death of an Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlen
This is the fourth book in the Lady Montfort series (I have the previous three and reviewed the third last year). I love cozies and this series is a great one! WWI is in full swing and Lady Montfort and her housekeeper find themselves investigating the murder of an officer with amnesia. Thank you, Minotaur Books!


recent etsy finds

I love Etsy. A lot. Back when we were renting, we didn’t do much decorating of our own, the house was already furnished/painted and it never really felt like ours. Two years ago we bought our house and since then I’ve been itching to paint, to decorate, to redo. Thanks to Etsy, creating our own space seems much more doable and today I want to share a few of my recent finds!

Large Macrame wall hanging $377.43 | Teddy and Wool

To be honest, this is probably something I will never buy – all those strings would be WAY too tempting for Nacho ha! Still, this piece is absolutely gorgeous and comes in several colors and sizes. Wall hangings definitely seem to be trendy right now!

Dogmom Pin $10 | QuiltKween


Pendant Keychains $15 | Jill Makes

How cute are these?? You can choose the color and quote, you don’t necessarily have to select the options pictured. I love a good keychain and my current one has a ton of knick knacks dangling from it, including one of Bay‘s old dogtags (the one in this picture actually. Grr, when we first adopted her, Matt had a BLUE tag made…and whenever we’d be out walking, people assumed she was a boy. Now she has a pretty pink tag ♥).

Linen Sundress $83.16 | Linenfox

Linen also seems to be pretty big right now and this dress looks SO easy breezy, throw it on and go. I love dresses, but because I’m so tiny, sometimes I feel swallowed by the amount of material. This one, however, seems perfect. I’m also loving how many colors it comes in! My favorites are blush salmon, dusty lavender, natural (pictured), sea green, and moss green. Only 34 more days until Spring!

Cat Cutting Board $25.20 (on sale!) | depeapa

IN. LOVE. If there’s a cat on it, I want it. Oddly enough, I don’t own cats nor do I want cats. I am NOT a cat person. I am, however, a cat print person and this cutting board is TOO cute.

I think puns are the highest form of humor. Her cards are gorgeous and aren’t all puns (if that’s not you’re thing – and if not, bye). She has blank cards, birthday cards, holiday cards, thinking of you cards, etc.

Ceramic Serving Tray $72 | Fringe and Fettle

I am completely obsessed with this shop and had such a hard time choosing which piece to feature!! Adorable colanders, the cutest honey pots and nesting bowls, I love every single item. These servings trays, however, are simply stunning and come in so many colors: deep gray (pictured), white, seafoam green, a BEAUTIFUL cobalt and cream, and more!

Earl Grey Hot Chocolate $15 | whimsy and spice

Another shop I absolutely adore. Instead of pottery, however, whimsy and spice is all about food. Biscotti, shortbread, marshmallows. This hot chocolate mix totally called my name – and these cardamom marshmallows caught my eye too!