When You Choose Anxiety

Not in the realistic sense, obviously. More so in the “I know this will make my anxiety go up a few notches but I’m going to do it anyway” way. This is just within the last few weeks. Things I’ve done that I should (read: did) know better than to do.

And yet:

1) I brought a new puppy home. Riff is less than pleased. He’s more along the lines of “you traitorous beehive, how could you do this to me, I’m dying and nothing will ever be okay again”. It’s been extremely stressful and so tense in the house but I mean. Look at our new Margot Doggie’s face! How could we NOT bring her home?

2) I decided to rent a car on my recent trip to Ireland. (Of which I am currently waiting in the airport to return home from.) You know, where they drive on the left side of the road? I’ve had multiple panic attacks and did more driving than I ever do at home, but I did it! At the expense of 90% of my nerves being fried and scaring the s%#t out of my parents for a week, I DID IT. I’m worried for Colorado drivers when I get back.

3) I started wearing makeup again after 10+ years of maybe occasionally wearing only mascara 1-3x/year. So now I play a fun game called “Is this makeup acne, period acne, mask acne, or just my skin being my skin acne?” I have gotten the answer right 0% of the time and continue to be mystified and stressed daily about it. Do I stop and ruin the progress of getting my skin used to makeup to where I can eventually wear it with no acne? Do I stop and my skin clears up immediately? Do I continue and I just don’t have skin that will ever just be cool? Will my skin ever be clear again or have I ruined the algorithm of my face?

4) I’ve spent time scrolling social media and news sites after the the SCOTUS “leak” about overturning Roe v Wade. Everything is infuriating and I am furious and these posts fire me right back up every time I’ve calmed down to what is just the high simmer that is my baseline now. Just writing this one is making my insides shake with rage.

5) I requested way too many books on NetGalley thinking I’d only get approved for like 25% of them and instead got approved for ~70% and now I’m on a time crunch to get books read and reviews submitted. I KNEW not to do that. But what did I do? I did it.

And finally, 6) I started this post 30 minutes before boarding my plane and I know it’s super readable and engaging and it seems like I can do all of this really quickly, and I can, but it takes a lot of work and nerves to get it edited and ready to go before they shout “airplane mode” over the intercom and I need to sign off. I know I seem super with it but that is actually, and very much so, not the case.

Happy anxiety! I mean, Saturday!

The Windshine Chronicles by Todd Sullivan

The Windshine Chronicles Series photo – view full post on Instagram

Todd Sullivan reached out to me here on my site (check out the contact page to do the same) for a review of his series, The Windshine Chronicles. This is South Korean fantasy trilogy and ohmygosh it’s so good!

This brings in some culture to the made up realms of fantasy so you get a nice mix of real and fiction. It also brings in religion and magic in a really unique way. Often I will find myself shying away from reading about religion because it comes off as preachy but that’s not the case here at all. Todd almost makes it it’s own magic category to fit it into the story which works really well.

We are following Ha Jun as he makes his attempt at becoming a hero. He is placed into a group of men, each with their own unique talents, to find their assigned quest and attempt to win. The group is paired with Windshine, a centuries old elf like figure, who is there to chronicle their journeys. Most are afraid or at least wary of Windshine – she is not like them. But Ha Jun forges an unlikely friendship with her.

Each book is a new quest, and with each new quest comes new comrades for the journey, new problems, and of course new enemies, as no one can properly become a hero without a villain to vanquish. But sometimes, the biggest villains are in your own home.

I loved reading about Ha Jun and Windshine and their adventures. This series reminds me a lot of The Lord of the Rings meets in South Korea. And MAGIC, obviously! This was another direction the author took that I really loved: it wasn’t just spells or abracadabra, it was really unique magic. Ha Jun has a sword that historically can only be lifted by Windshine and her people. He learns to use it and the magical elements woven into it. Religion is it’s own magic and you see it brought to literal terms: you can raise the dead – or knock them down. Music is elemental control. Archery is taken to Hawkeye Avenger levels.

This was a fun series to read and I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, especially if you’re looking for something a little different.

Thanks so much to Todd for reaching out to share this with me – this is not a series I will soon forget.

Anxious Thoughts About Things That Don’t Concern Me

Sometimes I get really buzzy anxiety that makes my heart race and my legs restless and suddenly I need to walk/sprint 5 miles but also I’m paralyzed by indecision and I can’t??? It’s really stupid and obviously *I KNOW* it’s stupid and I shouldn’t be concerned but my body is on a different playing field. So while my brain is like, “Calm down, this 1) doesn’t make sense and 2) isn’t something that’s ever happened, my body is like, “You fool. It doesn’t matter if it’s never happened – think about this: WHAT IF IT DID?” And then my brain is like, “You’re absolutely right! I will now freak out with you.”
So here’s another list. This time of things that cause me a higher amount of anxiety than they should, especially considering they aren’t really based in reality.

  1. The medical field and cavemen.
    Sometimes when I get a headache (or similar) and medicine is temporarily unavailable I think to myself, “This is probably good practice. They didn’t have it in cavemen times and they were fine.” And then from there I think the spiral is obvious. We’re not cavepeople now, sure, but if another meteor strikes? Or even if just one of those many apocalypse scenarios happens? Suddenly most of mankind is dead and do you really think it’s going to be all doctors that survive? No. You’re gonna have to fight to get a doctor on your squad. What if another squad can offer your doctor more food than you and they switch? Then you have to find a new squad and that’s only if they let you leave alive! You never know. Humans are stupid and we could end up without meds again.
  2. Killer Hide’n’Seek.
    When I go into new buildings/houses I like (read: need) to figure out where I could hide in the inevitable case a killer/the government/a purge crew shows up to either take me or kill me. It can’t be an obvious one though, like sure I could fit in the cabinet under the sink but so could many people. I need to find the half sized cabinet for storing lids only, or under a bed that has a cardboard cutout that looks like the wall but is really hiding a lot of stuff shoved under the bed to get behind. Somewhere they wouldn’t automatically think to look. Maybe I can fit through a ceiling tile? Behind an awkward shelf? Not finding a spot is not where the anxiety kicks in though, it’s how much time I spend on this imaginary scenario. Then I start going through enemies in my head and ranking who’s most likely to show up. I start imagining what I must have done to make them come after me. I think about if there are any other people in the house: will I need to forego the hiding and defend my pride, or are they people I’d be okay with leaving as a little buffer between me and whatever entity is coming for me? This is all nonsense, I KNOW THAT. But this is a since-childhood thing and old habits, ya know?
  3. Imagination school.
    Every so often I will think something in the opposite direction of my current career trajectory sounds cool. So I’ll lightly check into what it entails. What certifications, deadlines, salary, PTO policy etc. I could expect. And then I will get overwhelmed and I’ll close all my browser tabs and give up. And from there, all my research meets me in bed – and not in the sexy way. It’s there like, “Hey you know you have a deadline coming up to apply to go back to school, right?” Or, “Girl, you know you’re not going to pass that certification exam if you’re not studying, right?” Studying what?! I don’t have to make any actual step in the direction of changing something in my life, I just have to kind of think about it and my body hits me up, “LOL you absolute idiot. You really thought you could imagine a different life with no consequences?”
  4. Singers and actors.
    You ever hear a song on the radio that just hits you? Or watch a movie and the actress just moves you? It gets a little tiny hook in your heart and just shifts your worldview to the point where you start thinking about what if you made that song/movie? You’d be so famous right now and you’d be the one who made someone feel like you’re feeling? Basically, if you’d been born as said singer/actress your world would be vastly different? Yeah, me neither.
  5. Alternate timelines and infinite potential outcomes.
    And, finally. Once in a while, I will start thinking about past, abandoned projects. And I’ll think about how amazing they would have been if I’d finished. Writing a book, art projects, training for a 5K, learning a new language, getting the guts to try out for some sort of acting gig. My anxiety ramps up thinking about all the things I could have done if I lived in the reality where I completed them and not in this current reality where I didn’t (yes, like in Men in Black). This causes a little panic-sesh of starting new projects (like this blog…we’ll see how long it lasts) and then I quit those too.

I’ll stop here because I’m, I mean this is, getting to be a bit much, right? I will now go have anxiety about both not making this longer and making it at all.

The Hive Queen by Robin Kirk

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome, welcome to my TLC Book Tour review for the second book in The Bond Trilogy, The Hive Queen! Dystopian future meets fantasy in this futuristic look at a time when humans are engineered rather than made in…traditional ways. I’m talking Handmaids meet Avatars.

Of course if you’ve read here before you know I love dystopians but this was an extra interesting take. Following The Bond where Dinitra and 12 ultimately help Fir and his brothers escape a captivity where they only serve their mothers, this is Fir’s story. Headed toward The Master (leader of men) he must travel through The Hive Queen’s domain (leader of drafts) where she’s in interested in more than a friendship with Fir. But Fir has places to be – specifically those free of women as he has always been held captive due to being a man.

Wild battle scenes ensue with drafts (animal, human, plant concoctions) and men as Fir must continually rescue others from death. And in true dystopian style Robin Kirk has no problem killing characters off and some bloody gore. I don’t mean to say kill all the characters, but it definitely keeps you on your toes and adds an element of suspense.

If you like dystopians or SciFi or Fantasy then this is a series you’ll want to grab! It was a fun and very entertaining read in a completely new world – one where women rule (duh) and men are hunted due to their violence toward women and the planet. But as you continue you start to wonder, at what point is it justice and when does it cross the line back into violence for violence’s sake?

In the second book in the INDIE-award-winning Bond Trilogy, warrior Fir leads his brothers on a quest for salvation that will threaten everything he holds dear.

After the battle that toppled the Weave, warrior Fir leads his brothers east to escape servitude, or worse—death at the hands of rival warriors. They search for the fabled Master of Men who promises freedom for men in the Weave. But their quest leads them to a foe more dangerous than they could have imagined.

When the beautiful Hive Queen, Odide, bespells Fir, he’s compelled to betray his brothers—and risks dooming them all to an unspeakable fate. To survive, Fir must choose between his loyalty to his brothers, his allegiance to the Queen, and his love for Dinitra.

But salvation is not what it seems. When theworlds of the Hive and the Master collide, it triggers a devastating betrayal that leaves Fir with an impossible choice: can he sacrifice his brothers for the love he thought he could never have?

Purchase: Bookshop.org l Amazon l Barnes & Noble

Connect with Robin: Facebook l Twitter l Instagram l Website

Thanks again to TLC Book Tours and Robin Kirk for my copy to read and share!

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters by Emily Carpenter

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters entangled in my homegrown pumpkin vine.

A sequel and a stand-alone, Emily Carpenter brings us Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters. The story of Ruth “Dove” Jarrod, one half of the heal-through-prayer sisters that traveled southern Alabama in the 1930s.

The story alternates between Ruth, who was born in an insane asylum to a mother who would later kill herself leaving Ruth to plan her escape, and her granddaughter Eve who has spent her life keeping secrets for Ruth. Ruth’s story is from her escape through her death and the events that made her who she was: an evangelist healer traveling the world to cure people’s ailments. Eve’s story is of a cover. She’s spent the last 8 years keeping Dove’s BIG secrets, that were otherwise buried with her, to protect her mother and brother. It turns out someone might know and expose her anyway. This she is sent racing through Dove’s last trying to uncover the secrets that are being threatened to be exposed in order to save the foundation Eve and her family run in Dove’s name.

This was my first trek through southern gothic fiction and it was such a great read and entertaining story. I definitely recommend if you liked The Lost Girls of Devon or Where the Crawdads Sing. I was so sucked into this story I couldn’t put it down until I started falling asleep…I got up immediately the next morning to finish.

Rarely does an author go from start to finish in a non-thriller and not lose me at some point along the way. You’re basically a passenger of Eve’s throughout the story with glimpses into the famous and infamous Dove’s past. Truly great read.

Dove Jarrod was a renowned evangelist and faith healer. Only her granddaughter, Eve Candler, knows that Dove was a con artist. In the eight years since Dove’s death, Eve has maintained Dove’s charitable foundation – and her lies. But just as a documentary team wraps up a shoot about the miracle worker, Eve is assaulted by a vengeful stranger intent on exposing what could be Dove’s darkest secret: murder…

Tuscaloosa,1934: a wily young orphan escapes the psychiatric hospital where she was born. When she joins the itinerant inspirational duo, the Hawthorn Sisters, the road ahead is one of stirring new possibilities. And, with an obsessive predator on her trail, one of untold dangers. For a young girl to survive, desperate choices must be made.

Now, in order to protect her family, Eve will join forces with the investigative filmmaker and one of Dove’s friends, risking everything to unravel the truth behind the accusations against her grandmother. But will the truth set her free, or set her world on fire?

Connect with Emily: Website l Instagram

Pre-order from your local store for October 20, 2020 release! Colorado local? Try Barbed Wire Books or The Used Book Emporium! Otherwise check Barnes & Noble, Target or even Amazon to get your hands on your next great Southern fiction read!

Thanks so much to Lake Union Publishing for my copy to read and share!

Questions of Perspective by Daniel Maunz

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

My TLC Book Tour stop this time is for possibly one of the most intriguing books I’ve read – thanks to TLC and Daniel Maunz for my copy to read and share!

Dave Randall’s life changed forever on April 19, 2011. Of course, he didn’t know it at that time or he might have made some different choices. Instead, when Dave’s friend and coworker John goes missing, Dave throws himself into his boring life as an insurance attorney.

Just as Dave’s life is getting to a new normal- work hard, go home, play with Peaches (the cat he adopted when John disappeared), go back to work and do it again- Dave is shown a new understanding to what happened to John. This leads Dave to search and try to uncover what it really means to live. In this search, he also looks to find what out happened to John and how and why.

This was told in such a way that I was reading about non-serial killer attorneys and their day to day and enjoying it. I wasn’t reading a fast paced thriller and yet I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened and then toward the end it’s like the book leveled up and all of a sudden I was with Dave on his race against time.

To wrap up: wow. Very interesting read with some laughable moments, the coolest cat, and some interesting questions. I’m still wondering what I would do in these characters’ shoes which is always a sign to me that more people should read a book!

No one knew it at the time, but April 19, 2011, was the most important day in the history of the world.

After his only friend and colleague, John Manta, disappears without a word, Dave Randall further entrenches himself in the humdrum life of an unenthusiastic lawyer. But once he begins to understand what happened, he embarks on a journey to uncover the deeper meanings and implications of John’s fate.

Accompanied by Peaches the cat, Dave uproots his life and reinvents himself in the midst of his search. Along the way, he is haunted by his piecemeal understanding of John’s fate and what it means for his existence. Little does Dave know, his journey of self-discovery will have ramifications that extend far beyond the borders of his own little life.

Purchase at: Amazon l Books-a-Million l Barnes & Noble

Connect with Daniel: Website l Facebook l Twitter l Instagram

The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating by Margot Starbuck

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating and a big thank you to Margot Starbuck and TLC Booktours for allowing me to read and share!

*Four years after an unexpected divorce, best selling writer and funny lady Margot Starbuck found herself venturing into the unknown waters of online dating. What she discovered surprised her – and changed her.* Read to find her tips and tricks for online dating as well some funny dating fails and even interviews Margot gives.

First, I actually finished this. I don’t usually finish self-help type books. The humor was a big help (and what got my attention to begin with) because even if I’m not looking for a man, this was very insightful. Also I love to laugh and Margot has the own-biggest-fan and self-depreciating humor down perfectly. (I laughed out loud more than once.)

My favorite part was probably the emphasis on female friendships. You realize how important those are every year you get older which makes it sad to think back on older articles in magazines and online and even parts of books I’ve read that say not to tell your girlfriends (or anyone really) anything about your relationship because you will ruin it. This book is not that: red flags are real and should be discussed. Trust your girls, trust your family and trust yourself. I love that.

This is a Christian dating advice book but even if you’re not religious I think this could be helpful in your online search for a man. Or a woman. If I had a criticism it would be that this is very hetero-oriented and I do wish it hadn’t been so “woman gets husband” specific because the tips definitely apply to everyone. Not that this blatantly excludes any gender by any means, it just is definitely for any and everyone!

Also, and again not that I have any dating profiles, but I think you should absolutely put your biggest passions on your profile even if it’s just a picture of you at a protest or being your activist self or volunteering. Personally, I don’t want to meet anyone who has the exact opposite passions as me (because I’m always right, right?) but I also have very little patience for people in general so I would think it’d make it easier to be up front in that arena.

This was a fun read overall. Margot goes through the ups and downs of online dating and the fun parts and even the ugly ones. She also is very clear that self care is important in this journey which is awesome. It was a really refreshing take on something like online dating in general, but also for grown ass adults who may or may not have been left by their husband for another man. Did you have a disappointing or rough end to your last relationship? Margot has tips on healing as well.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, are you in the dating scene? Then this book is probably perfect for you. Write your bio with Margot’s insight and hook the fish you’ve been angling for!

P.S. Margot, want to grab coffee and tell me jokes some time? I have a feeling you will make me laugh even more in person and that’s my favorite thing.

Does the thought of joining a dating site invoke feelings of fear and anxiety—or, worse, insecurity or unworthiness? If so, then The Grown Woman’s Guide to Online Dating is the book for you. With practical advice about how these sites work, what to expect, and when to join and quit, along with proven tips for making the most of them, The Grown Woman’s Guide equips readers with all they need to take the plunge.

Purchase: Amazon l Thomas Nelson l Barnes & Noble

Follow Margot Starbuck on: Facebook l Twitter l Instagram l Website

One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and A Journey into the Hearts of Shelters and Rescues by Cara Sue Achterberg

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

When Cara Sue Achterberg reached out to ask me to read and share One Hundred Dogs and Counting, I almost missed out on the opportunity. Due to the Covid19 pandemic, she could only offer an eBook, but I didn’t have an eReader. Over the next week I realized it wasn’t going to be quick for anything to arrive, so I decided to order an eReader. Once it arrived (because who knows if 2 days was going to be true (it wasn’t)), I reached out and confirmed with Cara. And I am SO GLAD I DID. 


I figured it would be a heart wrenching story about fostering dogs and that I would soon be crying. While it will tug at your heart strings, it is with information that you need to know. And while it will hurt the hearts of animal lovers a little bit, the information gained is worth the tiny bit of pain. In fact, I would recommend every animal lover IMMEDIATELY reads this. You will get insight into fostering dogs, but more than that you get to go on Cara’s journey visiting animal shelters in the south to see why there seems to be a never-ending flow of dogs going into and out of (and sometimes not) shelters. 


Additionally, Cara mentions how it would be possible to save all the dogs instead of just some if everyone were to have this knowledge and then pitch in however they can. Volunteer,donate to shelters (money, food, medicine), foster, spread the word on social media, and most of all just TALK about what is going on. Of course it’s a sad subject but it is so worth your time to help save innocent pups and even some kitties too. 


Go with Cara on this journey to see her difficulties and successes with fostering. See what the animal shelters look like that need the most help and no help. See what Cara sees when there are no shelters or no space or no resources and a lone citizen is willing to take on the job. Invest yourself how Cara invests herself: wholeheartedly. See what YOU can do to help and if fostering might be for you. 


My personal tips: 

1) Don’t adopt unless you plan on keeping that fur baby. Check with your apartments/cities to make sure it’s allowed to that you aren’t having to rehome.
2) Training is available and you should use it if you need to, especially if you’re considering rehoming due to behavior issues. Google it, call shelters, ask friends and family, get a trainer, utilize fund raising sites.
3) Keep your pet healthier and vet costs down by not letting your pet drink from other animals’ water bowls. Make sure open areas are safe for them (there is an algae in Colorado that comes yearly and can kill pets so I have to be careful where and when I hike).
4) Adopt don’t shop-there are so many good animals in need of homes in shelters. The fees usually cover the adoption and spay/neutering and aren’t profiting people that breed animals and then send them to a shelter once they can’t have anymore litters.

To purchase: http://www.carawrites.com/100-dogs–counting.html

*Thanks to the author for my copy to read and review!*

5 Binge-worthy Reads Unofficially Inspired by Real Killers

If you’re a true crime addict, and you’re looking for a new way to explore your favorite obsession, then check out one of these five books unofficially inspired by real-life serial killers.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Fourteen years after her disappearance, high school popular girl Angela Wong’s remains are discovered. No one suspected that her best friend Georgina “Geo” Shaw had anything to do with it, but the remains were discovered near her own childhood home. Detectives have determined that Angela was a victim of serial killer Calvin James, but who is Calvin to Geo? Geo and Calvin are both sent to prison where Geo tries to make a name for herself, so she has money when she leaves to start over. But Calvin quickly escapes and evades recapture. Which means when Geo’s time is up, she won’t be safe anymore.

The Vibe: Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

The read the rest of the list, click here!

Thanks to Tittle-Tattle for having me!

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

I was so excited to receive a copy of The Happy Ever After Playlist from the publisher to read and review. At first, I was a little concerned that I would so willingly take on this challenge after getting my heart ripped out by the first installment, The Friend Zone. But then I remembered that while Abby takes you on a whiplashed tour of all the emotions that you experience in love (including love), she also heals your heart and puts you back together by the end.


In HEAP, Sloane Monroe ends up the pup-sitter for a dog whose owner, Jason, is currently across the world on tour. She cares for the dog and tentatively plans to meet up with Jason when he returns to
 maybe give his dog back. Then it turns out that Jason is actually Jaxon Waters, the musician whose music got her through her fiancé’s death. 


Sloane doesn’t plan on falling for Jason, but fortunately for us Abby oversees her fate. So instead of Sloan playing it safe, we get to play the HEAP on Spotify while we read the book and follow Sloane through her very interesting and entertaining life after loss. And of course, Kristen and Josh are back from the first book as well as cute little Stuntman Mike. This one pulled at my heart strings but thankfully Abby is an expert romance
 and comedy writer so that readers can laugh just as hard as they cry.


This was wonderfully written – I LOVE books that read how I imagine the author talks. That’s how I write and so it really appeals to me. I also love how she weaves together such different elements from drama, to baking, to dog care, to outdoor life, to music, to love, to loss. It makes for a really captivating read. I cannot wait for the third installment, assuming there is one. If there isn’t then I imagine we fans need to immediately start a petition to remedy that.