Monday, January 19, 2015


I've been friends with Donna Hosie for a long time. First, through our obsession love of all things Harry Potter. We were part of the staff and hung out on a HP fansite discussing, analyzing, obsessing, and speculating what would happen to our favorite characters while waiting for each Harry Potter book. Later, we both began writing our own novels and now Donna's a published author. I'm so proud of her and happy for her success. Her first novel with Holiday House Publishing is the first in a trilogy called THE DEVIL'S INTERN.

Book Summary:

"How did you die?"

It's the most popular question in Hell, and Mitchell Johnson has been answering it ever since he was hit by a bus at age seventeen and inexplicably ended up in the Underworld. Now Mitchell is The Devil's Intern in Hell's accounting office. Lately, he's noticed a disturbing trend: the volume of new arrivals is straining Hell's limited resources. Then Mitchell overhears his boss discussing plans to limit newcomers with a legendary time travel mechanism. With a device like that, Mitchell realizes, he could change history and prevent his own death.

But Mitchell's plot goes awry when his three closest friends--Alfarin, the Viking prince; Elinor, from 17th-century London; and Melissa, from 1960s San Francisco--insert themselves into his plans. It soon becomes clear that the fates of all four are entwined in dangerous and unpredictable ways.

With unforgettable characters and a thrilling premise, this original novel is by turns funny, poignant, and thought-provoking.

I'm going to be honest. I was a little hesitant at first to read Donna's book  because I wasn't quite sure where she was going to go with this story. I had no doubt the writing would be good, having read her YA series, THE RETURN TO CAMELOT, but a question lingered in the back of my mind. Would the focus be on Hell and the Devil? Hmm, not really my cup of tea or the kind of novel that I'd normally choose to read. When Donna landed an amazing agent and eventually a book deal with this novel, I knew that I would read TDI, regardless, and give her my honest opinion because we're friends. However, if it was an unfavorable opinion, I would tell her in a private email rather than review it online.

Well, I'm reviewing it here because I can honestly say that not only did I like it, it is a damn good story. Donna's novel is fun, fast-paced, and suspenseful at times and I fell in love with her characters (more on them below).

The beginning chapters in Hell were a bit slow for me. I wondered why Hell and Up There (the devils' term for Heaven) would argue about souls overcrowding their "places" but decided to suspend belief and just go with the flow hoping my questions would be answered. One of the first characters we meet is Septimus, the Devil's accountant, and he's great. Love how he handles the Devil and his relationship with his intern Mitchell. Without spoiling the story, I really came to like him even more later in the novel. And he has a great sense of style! Once Mitchell and his friends began their time travel adventure, I was hooked.

I'm a character girl which means that for me, characterization is often first and plot a close second. I loved the MC, Mitchell, and his three close friends - all well developed and very different from each other. I liked how they were from different time periods and cultures, but their personalities blended together in a believable and fun way. I'm drawn to novels with strong friendships and this one is a fine example of friends who support and love each other, and who literally go from Hell and back for each other. I loved Hosie's use of a time travel device and was creeped out by the Skin Walkers. I hated when I had to stop reading to go to work, pick up kids, etc. and couldn't wait to get back. That doesn't often happen for me with books, but when it does it's magic and it's instantly added to my mental list of "books to recommend." Can't wait for the second installment of this wonderful trilogy.

THE DEVIL'S INTERN has earned a Kirkus star review and a School Library Journal star review. For more information please visit Donna's blog: Musings of a Penniless Writer.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Goodreads Challenge 2015: Here We Go Again

The Goodreads Challenge has turned into a tradition for me. I like setting goals, especially when they're realistic and fun. So far I've participated in four with varying degrees of success. Last year, I analyzed the past Challenges and how I fared each year. You can read it about them here.

This past year I set a goal of reading 35 books, a reasonable challenge for myself, I thought. Little did I know that my reading would come to a screeching halt come mid-August. I had read 19 books by then. My goal wasn't completely out of reach, but my desire to pick up a book last fall totally disappeared. Correction: the desire was there but the energy and ability to keep my eyes while reading a page disappeared.

And so I ended the year with  a total of 20 books. Not too shabby, but I had definitely hoped to complete more books than that. If you'd like to check out the titles of the those I read, click the Books Read tab at the top of my blog page. I really enjoyed them all and would recommend each one without hesitation.

This year I think I'll lower my expectations. I planned on 35 last year. This year I think I'll shoot for 2 books a months + 1 thrown in for good luck. Twenty-five books doesn't seem like very many, but I know my late spring will be similar to last fall; big family events, work, spring sports, and very little free time.

Goodreads Challenge 2015 = 25 books

Do you participate in the Goodreads Challenge? What is your goal?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It's 2015! How'd That Happen?

I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year. It's been an embarrassingly long time since I posted..

since I've written...

since I've read.

My last blog post was in August and I can honestly say that from that time forward, I've had an intense schedule. Last fall, my hours increased at work and my position/responsibilities changed. My day began at 5:15am and ended between 9:30 and 10:30pm. I kept it up through the end of October with a slight break during the month of November. Fall sports ended for 2 children and we managed to sit down to dinner at 6:30 rather than 7, 7:30, or some nights, 8:00. I also have a high school senior who has been writing essays and applying to colleges, so a lot of reading, visiting schools, interviews and meet ups, offering suggestions, rereading, checking the Common App what seemed like a billion times before she pushed Submit. Whew! It's finally done, and while she's still waiting for 3 schools to respond, she's been accepted to a number of great schools. Well worth the late nights and hard work.

Instead of questioning my commitment to writing and reading at every "failure," because I was too tired, I decided to just drop these two aspects of my life for the time being. That "time being" stretched out for 4 1/2 months. The only extra I allowed myself was running, usually twice a week at the soccer field. This was essential for my mental well being, not to mention the physical benefits. Exactly what I needed during my down time, because it required no thought, just motion. I promised myself that at 10:00pm, I was done for the day, no matter what. No dishes, no laundry, no prep for work, nothing. I promised myself that I would not feel guilty about my time away from writing or reading. I would not view it as a failure because I didn't reach my projected goals. Situations change. People change. Priorities change.

Sure I could have pushed myself harder. Could have sacrificed my weekend time. Could have slept less. But I'm learning a valuable lesson.

Being present for my family is priority.
Taking care of myself is priority, too.

Now that the holidays are over, I declared to my husband that the day after Christmas is perhaps my favorite day of the year. The stress and activities are over and I have a week off to do whatever I want, guilt-free. For me this has meant cleaning, resting, learning to crochet, and re-watching season 4 of Downton Abbey in preparation for the new season (I can't wait!). I've started reading again and have peeked at my WIP. Actually, the winter months are usually productive for me and so I'll recommit myself to reading more and writing again.

As far as resolutions go, I will continue trying to live the lessons I've learned from above:
Take care of my family.
Take care of myself.

Happy 2015 everyone!

Any thoughts as to how you will approach this new year?