Quarterly Goals: Spring

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Jessica JewettI don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions but I do believe in dividing the year into quarters and setting attainable goals for each period. It helps the year become more productive for me. Usually people who divide the year this way create between ten and twenty goals. They can be anything you hope to accomplish in a three month period from tiny to large. This is especially helpful when you have chronic conditions that affect your short-term memory like I do. Writing things down and keeping lists is rather comforting for me, like an extra support system.

I forgot to post a blog with my winter quarter goals, however, so we’re going to start fresh with spring goals. At the end of the spring quarter, we’ll come back and see how many I succeeded at and which ones need to carry over into the summer quarter.

Quarterly Goals for Spring (April – June)

  1. Finish editing From the Darkness Risen: Book II
  2. Review the Kindle creation process
  3. Set publication date and open book pre-order
  4. Begin first draft of From the Darkness Risen: Book III
  5. Pay down $200 extra on credit card
  6. Create stock for Etsy store
  7. Open Etsy store
  8. Buy fabric to alter Mega Coven cosplay
  9. Get new publicity pictures taken
  10. Begin website redesign plans
  11. Plant moonflower seeds
  12. Cleanse and move altar
  13. Work on family grimoire
  14. Do more readings
  15. Review four more books
  16. Adopt better meal planning skills
  17. Learn and make three new recipes
  18. Get wheelchair repaired
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Book Review: Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

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Sawbones by Melissa LenhardtThis month I was given a chance to read the novel, Sawbones, by Melissa Lenhardt, which will be released on March 29, 2016. I received an advanced reader copy from Redhook, the publisher, so thank you for the opportunity.

Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt appears to be the first book in a series since Amazon is listing it as “A Laura Elliston Novel”. It tells the story of Catherine Bennet, who trained under her father to become a doctor during the American Civil War, and is wrongfully accused of murder years later. She escapes New York City before the authorities can hang her and migrates out West with her maid. Having adopted a false identity, Dr. Laura Elliston, she is appointed by General William T. Sherman as a temporary army doctor. It’s a constant struggle to keep her identity secret and to keep herself from being traded for the bounty on her head.

This is a fantastic first effort by Melissa Lenhardt. I didn’t go into it expecting much simply because historical fiction usually leaves a lot to be desired in research and accuracy. While a few aspects of the novel came out a bit cliche (Indians attacking the wagon train, for example), each plot point was, in fact, necessary to move the story along. That’s a tight plot and moves fast enough to keep readers entertained whether they typically enjoy historical fiction or not.

The main character, Dr. Laura Elliston, is intelligent and – in a welcome surprise – not dependent on men for fulfillment and survival. She refuses to compromise herself as a woman and a doctor just to fulfill the roles of wife and mother that society demands of her. In some ways, Lenhardt seems to have unconsciously drawn influence from the television show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, if the show had been allowed to realistically depict the blood, filth, gore, and attitudes of the West. Parts of the novel were rather graphic but necessary for putting the reader in Dr. Elliston’s shoes, witnessing the West as a violent and uncertain place in the years after the Civil War.

I was pleasantly surprised by Sawbones. Like I said, I expected very little but instead met a character who knows how to survive by grit and determination. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will recognize some real life faces from the past and appreciate how seamlessly they fit into Lenhardt’s fictional world.

I gave Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

You may pre-order this novel on Amazon for your Kindle today. It will be released on March 29, 2016.

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Book Review: The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

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The Rivals of Versailles by Sallie ChristieRecently, I had the opportunity to read The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie thanks to an advanced reader copy from Atria Books. It’s the second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy set to be released on April 5, 2016.

The first book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy followed the Nesle sisters in their affairs and intrigues with Louis XV of France, while this new second book follows the Marquise de Pompadour as she tries to hold onto her longstanding position as Louis XV’s official mistress. Younger girls might come and go from the king’s bed but the Marquise de Pompadour is determined that she should be his immovable rock. Along the way, she learns far more about herself as a woman and begins to question whether the inherently self-centered king and palace schemes are really worth it.

I found The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie to be a skillfully written novel that surpasses its predecessor, The Sister of Versailles. Christie does an excellent job of making the reader feel both the grandeur and the claustrophobia of being a woman living at Versailles. In addition, the intricacies of perception from person to person written through the lenses of their own life experiences are done in ways that I haven’t seen in other novels. Each person in life will view another person in a different way, which is something a lot of authors overlook in their storytelling. Whether a character is extremely naive or extremely clever and sly, Christie makes the reader believe it.

When it comes to novels that take place in royal palaces, writers can sometimes focus too much on the fantasy and the grandeur while forgetting to make the reader feel the fishbowl quality of life. By the time the Marquise de Pompadour begins feeling weary and trapped, I as the reader was feeling weary and trapped along with her. Quite often I found myself irritated and turned off by Louis XV but understanding why women had to bend over backwards to please him – sometimes literally. Women were disposable no matter how intelligent and worthwhile they were in his life. Men used women to push themselves further at Versailles. Christie wrote these truths with the ease of someone well-versed in Versailles history without making it in the least bit dry for the reader.

I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this trilogy to anyone interested in women’s history.

You can preorder The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie now on Amazon or you can buy it on April 5, 2016.

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