Bookings: August 17, 2018

Happy Friday!

How’s everyone’s summer been? Things here are rocking and rolling – while it hasn’t been a terribly exciting summer, we’ve stayed consistently busy. House updates (we finally more or less finished the bathroom), Beersploring trips, boating, lots of travel agenting, and not a lot of reading. I hit a major reading slump in the spring, hence the quiet blog.

I’m happy to say that slump has passed, and I’m now considering how difficult it would be to read the 4 books a week I’d need to still meet my Goodreads Challenge goal.

I’m also putting a little more energy back into the blog, so while we won’t be getting back to weekly posts for while, it shouldn’t be another two months before you hear from me again! Annnnnd, I finally got the link to travel specials up. I have no idea how that site works, so if you play around with it, please come back and let me know.

As always, thanks for sticking with me.

I’m Currently Reading





I Just Finished Reading


August’s Book Club book. I’m not sure why it’s a bestseller unless people just really like cats, but it was an easy enough read.



sitstaybeg newleashonlife

Puppies. Romance novels. Free. Sit….Stay….Beg is the reason I got over my reading slump. I liked it better than New Leash on Life, but they’re both definitely fun reads. I fully intend to read the rest of the series.




I love this series. Pawprints and Predicaments is number 3, and just as much fun as the first two (Death by Chocolate Lab and Dial Meow for Murder). This one features a Saint Bernard, and more Artie.




2.5 stars for this one, really. I expected lots of action – which I didn’t get. I haven’t yet read Hartman’s Seraphina, but it’s set in the same world. Tess of the Road is too long and plodding in my opinion, but keep in mind I’m coming off a slump so it could just be me.




My most recent listen. I’m torn on An American Marriage. I wanted to love it, but there’s absolutely no character growth. It’s a shame, too, because there are so many opportunities for it within the story.



I’m Traveling To

Snorkeling at Royalton Negril

Back to Negril! We had such a great time in April that we’re going back next month. More details on that soon, as well as a recap of our first trip. Here’s a hint though – we loved the snorkeling.

Bookings: June 22

I know, I know. It’s been over a month without a new blog post. AND, I left you hanging with a teaser about our Negril trip. (Not to mention, I still haven’t posted about our latest Asheville trip.) Plus, if you’re following me on Goodreads, you might have noticed that I’m….oooh, 20-something books behind in my Goodreads Challenge goal.

Yes. You read that right. 20-something. Behind. So behind that I don’t even want to log in and look.

And I’m not even stressed about it.

The last two or three months have been totally foreign to me. Learning all about how to be a travel agent was (and is) much tougher than I expected, in a good way. It’s been a challenge, and it’s been frustrating at times, but I’m beginning to see results that make it all worth it. Plus, it’s So if you’ve been on the fence, click that Plan a Trip button and let’s get you started!

In between starting a business and not reading, I also decided to go in for allergy testing to begin immunotherapy. I’d done it 7 years ago, but 20-something-year-old me didn’t want to commit to the arduous shot schedule. Fast forward to this year’s allergy season, and my Zyrtec just wasn’t cutting it. Or so I thought, until I stopped taking it. Anyway, I’m still allergic to everything, I’m no longer taking Zyrtec (that stuff is the devil), and I’m getting my shots. And yes, it’s a pain to go twice a week, but I’m going to stick with it. I spent most of May trying not to die; I’m happy to report that June is going much better, and I can finally be outside for more than 30 seconds.

Perhaps not so wisely, I also decided to do my very first Whole30 in May. I won’t go into all of it, but I needed to figure out just exactly what foods were making me ill. I’m still figuring that out, but I can tell you that I was 100% wrong for ever scoffing at the idea of Whole30. Was it hard? No. Was it valuable? Yes.

We’re slowly making progress around the house too – getting our bathroom finished up (remember that from…..almost a year ago?), and taking care of other things here and there. It’s a never-ending battle.

The shark is turning into a champion snuggler, Lucy is now on nine-million arthritis supplements (but doing better!), and Luka is still derpy. We haven’t camped once, but we’ve done two beer festivals, and we’re planning a trip back to Negril. I’m also planning a trip to Norway, but Jimmie doesn’t know that yet. Or maybe the UK. Or maybe Thailand. Or maybe all of those…


I hope you’ve all be wonderful, and I’ll do my best to get back in the blogging routine. Thanks for staying here!

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all got wonderful, exciting weekends ahead. I’ll be spending most of the weekend catching up on things around the house and around the blog. Being on vacation really threw me into a tailspin, so it’s time to get back into the swing of things!

Speaking of vacation, it was incredible, and I’ll do my best to get a post or two up soon. But in short, I highly recommend both Negril and the Royalton. If you’d like to go, I’d be more than happy to arrange that for you! Just head on over to Pack Your Bags and shoot me a request.

Some of you may remember that I bought Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King for our last beach trip. I didn’t get to it that trip, so I was determined to read it this go around. After all, what better time is there to read a pirate story than while on a tropical island, drinking lots of rum?

Let me assure you – there’s no better place to read a pirate story than on a tropical island drinking lots of rum vodka.

daughter of the pirate king

Daughter of the Pirate King was SO. MUCH. FUN. For one thing, it’s a refreshing break from all the vampires, magicians, and werewolves that are everywhere in YA fiction these days. It’s also different in that instead of the heroine needing to be rescued, she needs to be caught. I loved the way Levenseller wrote Alosa. She’s fierce, snarky, and totally capable of handling anything the silly pirate boys throw at her.

Actually, I liked all the characters, even the bad guys. None of them are particularly deep or well-developed, but they didn’t really need to be for the story to work. Riden is probably the strongest character, even more than Alosa, but I still felt there was plenty left to learn about him. Since that often happens in a series (or duology in this case), I wasn’t bothered by it.

I’ll go ahead and get the love story part out of the way. It wasn’t instalove, but it was terribly predictable. Also not a bad thing, and thankfully, it didn’t overshadow the rest of the story much.

What I didn’t like, though, was the whole Siren aspect. To me, that felt forced, and kinda sent the story in a weird direction. The second book is supposed to focus more on Alosa’s mother, which will be interesting. I really hope Levenseller balances Alosa’s backstory with the action again, like she did with Pirate King. It’s not that I don’t care about her history…I’d just rather hear about pirating.

Daughter of the Pirate King is rollicking good fun (sorry, that’s the only way I can think of to describe it!), and has great female empowerment themes going on. Definitely worth picking up, and worth reading the next book.

Hardcover: 311 pages    Published: February 2017 by Fiewel and Friends    Source: Purchased

Buy it on Amazon for $6

shesallbooked 3 star review

Daughter of the Pirate King on Goodreads

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Book Club: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

April Theme and Book Selection

We had mystery as our theme for March, and ended up not being able to choose between books, so we extended mystery to April also. March’s book was And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie, and for April we chose Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder. 

Paperback: 320 pages    Audio: 13 hours    Published: September 2016 by Back Bay    Source: Audible

Buy it on Amazon for $10

My Thoughts

I read Room a few years ago (also a book club book) during a “stuck on the couch sick as a dog” week, and to this day, it’s one of the most disturbing, messed up books I’ve ever read. As I was reading The Wonder, part of me was thankful it wasn’t quite as dark, and part of me was anxiously waiting for it to turn. And turn it did, though in my opinion it never truly got as dark as Room. (And let me just point out – there’s also a tooth in this book. What is it with Emma Donoghue and teeth?)

I listened to The Wonder, and part of me wonders (hehe) if I didn’t miss some of the intensity by doing so. I didn’t share as much of the indignation as the other book club girls did, and for me, the “big reveal” was kinda meh. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book – just that this is one where I think listening kept me from being fully immersed in the story.

The story is told from Lib’s point of view, and at times I wanted to smack her. She was pretty skeptical and pretty critical – which, granted, is totally understandable. However, I also thought she bordered on downright mean at times, at least in the beginning.

Surprisingly, Anna never bothered me – and she’s the kind of character who typically would have me clawing my eyes out. Donoghue does a really great job balancing Anna’s piety with the fact that she’s an 11-year old girl.

The only other thing I have to say is that I’m REALLY glad that what I suspected to be the answer to the “miracle” was not the answer. Had it been, I doubt I ever would have picked up another of Donoghue’s books.

Book Club Discussion

The Wonder is an excellent choice for book clubs, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about our discussion without giving you massive spoilers. We talked quite a bit about Lib, and what we thought of her. We talked a lot about superstitions and religious fervor and cultural identity. We talked about the nun, the parents, the doctor, and Anna. We didn’t talk about the journalist, now that I think about it. Anyway. We had a really good discussion, and if you’re looking for a good book club book, I definitely recommend The Wonder. 

May Book Club Selection: Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The girls have been trying to get me to read Austen since the beginning, and finally ganged up on me. (I’m not an Austen fan.)

shesallbooked 3 star review

The Wonder on Goodreads

In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Oh Murderbot. What a fun, adorable little robot you are.

Bear with me, I know how weird that sounded.

I had Martha Wells’ All Systems Red on my list for what felt like ages, but couldn’t bring myself to buy it. It’s a novella, and until recently, even the ebook version was $10. Call me crazy, but $10 for less than 200 pages is hard for me to justify. Maybe if I didn’t read so quickly, or so much. Needless to say, All Systems Red only kept me occupied for about an hour, and while I enjoyed it, would never have paid that much for it.

BUT. Don’t let the price tag stop you, especially since it’s now a much more respectable $4. All Systems Red is a much lighter, much more entertaining, much more interesting read than I’d initially expected, even with the super high Goodreads rating.

The story is told from Murderbot’s point of view, and it’s both charming and heartbreaking. For the first half or so, Murderbot wants nothing to do with the humans it’s assigned to. Unfortunately for Murderbot, the humans insist on treating Murderbot as, if not quite human, at least more sentient than a machine. Hearing Murderbot’s thoughts is pretty comical – after all, can’t all of us relate to just wanting to be left alone sometimes? The more we get to know Murderbot, though, the more we come to understand why the droid has no interest in connecting with humans. And dare I say it – I actually came to care about the grumpy little Murderbot?

All Systems Red is quick, fun, and light. Don’t let the sci-fi aspect put you off…the book is incredibly accessible. No need to understand artificial intelligence to keep up with this one. It’s the first in a series, and I’m definitely planning on reading more.

Paperback: 160 pages    Published: May 2017 by Tor    Source: Purchased

Buy it on Amazon for $4

shesallbooked 3 star review

All Systems Red on Goodreads

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.