The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

Since living in Asheville for about 11 years, I’ve come to fall in love with local author Stephanie Perkins. She’s well known for her excellent young adult romance, but did you know she can write horror too?

Thank you Penguin Teen for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest. Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.

I give all the props to Stephanie – to be able to write such opposite genres (horror and romance) takes true talent! While this wasn’t my favorite book by her, I thought it was an enjoyable read. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but I really liked the young adult aspect to it. I think if this was an adult horror novel, I would’ve thought less of it. I really liked introducing a character with an Indian background and thought she did a really good job with it. On the other hand, I think the book was filled with a bit more drama than needed to be. I want a horror novel to sneak up on you. This had a lot happening all at once. Not a bad read, but not something I would read again.

I did have a wonderful time with Stephanie and Malaprops Bookstore celebrating her book being published this week!

3.5/5 Stars

Why I Chose THIS Planner

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I’m a high school science teacher, mom to a one year old, and a chronic illness warrior. I have a lot of stuff going on in my life that needs some organization. I ‘spent days looking at planners for this upcoming school year and finally have decided on one. I wanted to share with you the planner I chose and why I got it in hopes it would help someone else out, like myself.

I wanted a planner that did not have rings. I take the planner with me everywhere I go and the rings on the planners got bent so quickly and the planner become less functional. That narrowed down my options quite quickly. I then wanted a weekly horizontal planner. I am so used to writing in a horizontal planner since I have been doing that my whole life. I also wanted a planner that had a place to track my habits as well as budgeting. It was getting harder and harder to chose a planner like that. I was torn between two:

The Plum Paper Planner

Inkwell Press Planner

Plum Paper had so many add-on options and beautiful colors, but it had rings where as Inkwell Press had a hardbound book, included the add-ons, AND was cheaper! Problem solved!

It has a monthly habit tracker for me to record my exercise, water intake, prayer and quiet time, reading schedule, and more! It has a wonderful geometric design for goal tracking each month in all areas of life (work, health, social, etc.). It has a yearly budget sheet at the end to keep track of bill paying!

I’m really happy with my selection and can’t wait to start setting it up for the school year. Click here to get $10 off your order. It’s currently free shipping with a $40 purchase. I used this link and got a free set of stickers with my journal.

The journal I selected was the 2018-2019 Coil Free Weekly Planner. Check it out!

*This post is all my own opinions and not affiliated with the company itself.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

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I’m starting to get pretty excited about Robert’s new book – Willa of the Wood. I read this book awhile back on a road trip and completely fell in love. I live in the same town that this story takes place, so it has a special meaning to me.

Serafina lives with her dad in the Biltmore Estate, the largest home in America found in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Her dad is a maintenance man for the estate and Serafina has lived in secret in the servants corridors. She goes exploring one day, only to find a mysterious figure in a black cloak roaming the halls. She hears that children are disappearing in the night and she’s determined to figure out who this man is. She teams up with the Vanderbilts’ (the owners of the estate) nephew to go on a harrowing adventure to uncover the truth. Not only does she work to figure out who the man is, but she begins to find out who she truly is and where she comes from.

This book is so magical and whimsical. It’s such a fun, quick read that will engulf you into the story right away and keep you waiting for more. I love the time frame of the story and how accurately detailed it is. The ending is unexpected which makes it all the more fun to read. This book is truly perfect for all ages and I highly recommend it!

5/5 Stars

Order it here for a great price!Serafina and the Black Cloak

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

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I currently reside in Asheville, North Carolina, home to the famous Biltmore House (the largest house in America belonging to the Vanderbilt family). When I saw that this was coming out in the fall, I just had to read it.

Thank you Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for allowing me to read and review this book. I couldn’t be more thankful!

The story starts off talking about Alva Smith and her family background. We learn about her parents and siblings before we are taken into Alva’s world with the famous Vanderbilt family. She is married to William K Vanderbilt in the winter/early spring season and quickly learns what it’s like to be the wife of a millionaire. She wants her voice heard. Despite having children soon into their marriage, she makes sure to help with major architectural projects around New York City, host extravagant balls, and marry her first daughter off to a Duke. She is well-known for helping start the Woman’s Suffrage movement, but takes hard hits from the men in her life before getting there. This is a story about not only her marriage (you learn what happens to it towards the end), and her adventure in becoming a woman with a voice in a world where that was quite unheard of.

First of all, the cover is stunning! I just had to share that. Secondly, I rarely read historical fiction, so I feel that I may be more biased than most when reviewing this. I enjoyed reading Z by Fowler, and thoroughly enjoyed the Amazon Prime special created from the book. This has a similar feel to me. Because the book follows Alva’s life to almost it’s entirety, there were some details that were missed just because the book would go on forever. Unfortunately, I feel as though some of the more important details were missed that I would’ve rather spent more time reading about. For example, I am sure her feelings towards William Vanderbilt at first were mixed, and Fowler does state that, but I wanted to know more! I wanted to hear her true thoughts about him before they got married. I felt as though it was rushed. Same with experiencing life as a new mom. I wanted to know way more about how she felt at that time, and again, it was rushed. All in all, I was constantly looking up pictures online to go with the story because it added so much more character to it for me. I loved the “fight for women’s rights” feel to it and it helped enhance my experience reading this. I would read more like it, only if they focused on a specific point in her life, not as a whole.

3.75/5 Stars