And Then Life Happened

Goodbye, 2016

2016, you were a dumpster fire in so many ways. But there were parts of you that weren’t that bad.

February: This breakfast pizza my bestie and I encountered was not that bad.
March: This coffee mug I bought was not that bad. (This selfie subsequently went on my Tinder profile to root out the weak.)
June: This view of Niagara Falls was not that bad.
September: Starting library school was not that bad.
November: Eating free samples of chocolate was not that bad.
December: Borrowing my parents’ dog when his favorite (my dad) was unavailable was not that bad.

Here’s hoping we can make it through the rest of 2016 in one piece.

Book Reviews


Author: Robert Beatty
Series: Serafina, #1
Publication Information: Disney*Hyperion, 2015
Pages: 293
Genre: Middle Grade – Historical Fantasy, Mystery
Warnings: Some scary images, mild violence
Rating: 3.5 stars
Recommended For: Readers who love atmospheric settings and don’t mind being scared a little.

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity . . . before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

(Summary from Goodreads)

SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK was a nice fusion of historical fantasy and mystery elements, all revolving around the mysterious forest surrounding the Biltmore estate and twelve-year-old Serafina, who ventures into the forest to save the children kidnapped from the estate by an evil man wearing a black cloak.

My favorite part of this book was the setting. It’s set in North Carolina in the late 1800s, and the Biltmore estate – and the surrounding forest – really came to life in an atmospheric way that was deliciously creepy.

Another thing that kept me reading were the dual mysteries at the heart of the plot. The main mystery is the identity of the man in the black cloak – Serafina is sure it’s someone from the estate, but she has to figure out who it is. There’s also the mystery of who her mother is; Serafina was raised in the basement of the main house by her father, and she’s always wondered about her mother. I think both mysteries were woven together really well and the pacing was just right.

I also loved how much of this book was a story about friendship. In the course of unraveling the mystery of the man in the black cloak, Serafina befriends Braeden, the nephew of the estate’s owner. Neither of them has had a real friend before and it was lovely to watch them figure out what it means to be a true friend in a way that wasn’t overly sappy.

TL;DR: An atmospheric + deliciously creepy story about saving kidnapped children and what it means to be a friend.

And Then Life Happened



Grad school. It is SO MUCH WORK (which I expected and still signed up for), but I love being around people who are so passionate about things like children’s books and wanting to make the world a better place. This quarter, I especially loved my children’s lit class. I don’t know as much about picture books and middle grade and everything in between, so it was really fun to read all sorts of new books, not to mention apply all of the things I’ve been learning to the elementary school kids I work with all the time.

My other class last quarter was a research methods class, which was a little more challenging for me because it was all based on social science research methods, and as a humanities person, most of it was completely new to me.

Anyway, that’s where I disappeared to. Grad school and also working two jobs and trying to, like, sleep. I’m hoping to get more writing done now that I have a better handle on things and I’m actually in the process of launching a Patreon where I’ll post the random things I write (like short stories and poems) and some behind the scenes things.


Right now I’m reading The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I love that, while Kvothe is clever, it’s more a source of trouble than it is anything else. He’s an extremely clever university student and gifted musician, but he’s also a teenage boy.


I just finished The Crown on Nextflix, which was like Downton Abbey in the 1950s. I wanted Queen Elizabeth’s entire wardrobe.

I also saw Rogue One on Wednesday and loved it. I’m so glad little girls have Rey and Jyn to look up to. I had Padme. Who was awesome until she got with Anakin, but at least she had a fabulous wardrobe, I guess?

Listening To

I’ve been intermittently listening to Welcome to Night Vale but since I usually listen to it before bed, I mostly end up falling asleep and having to re-listen to episodes.

Thinking About

All of the bad things in the world and how powerless I feel as more and more things pile up. I mean, I know it’s not physically possible to do EVERYTHING and to focus on the things I can do, but it’s still disheartening.


2017. While 2016 was a good year for me personally…well, AT WHAT COST? I would like to think things will be at least marginally better for the world in 2017. But who knows? Maybe we’re in for a crappy sequel.


I had a Time Turner because I always have so much I want to do and so little time to do it in.

Making Me Happy

img_3654I went to the Northwest Chocolate Festival last month and it was so much fun! The panels and tastings were a little lackluster because they were held in a giant, echoey room with no walls so it was hard to hear. But the exhibits were nice. It was like Costco with chocolate, at least as far as free samples went.

Also, we’ve been getting snow these past couple weeks. We don’t generally get that much – once or twice a year, and then it melts by afternoon – so having it stick around was a treat…at first. It’s getting a little old now, but I guess it’s nice to look at.