Aptitude by Naralie Corbett Sampson is an intricate machine made up of many complicated moving parts and powered by human emotion. Sampson’s ability to convey complex human emotions, without explicitly describing what is happening, leaves me in awe. In such a black and white world, the characters seem to exist in a place of grey. It’s impossible to determine who was right and who was wrong or who deserves our empathy. I would love to hear Toan’s perspective of this story. If there’s one thing I wish this book had, it’s a sequel.

When the Day of Evil Comes by Melanie Wells

I was riveted to this book page after page. It certainly has the creep factor — I slept with my light on a couple nights after reading this book before bed.

The voice of the piece is anchored in faith and belief in oneself. The message that the voice of this piece left me with is that you can persevere regardless of what you’re faced with. Though the novel has strong overtones of Christian faith, it isn’t an in-your-face-believe-in-God book.

The main character is likeable and relate-able. She was real. Her reactions felt instinctual and raw, never predictable. I could have used more information about a couple of the characters who were mentioned a few times, and are important to the story-line (Joe Zocci for example), just to help ground myself in who I was dealing with, but for the most part, the characters have depth and tangibility.

That being said, the author introduces several elements in the first half of the book which aren’t satisfactorily explained when the book is completed. My problem isn’t that the book doesn’t have a tidy ending — because it does have that — my problem is the tidy ending doesn’t fit. Why did she receive her mother’s ring and how did it come to her — how is her mother related to the events? Why was Gavin in the story — how is his story related? I need more information about the flies — what are their importance? I understand that they have biblical reference, but I need more information about that passage in the bible — where does it come from and what is its significance?

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of paranormal and psychological thrillers, murder mystery, as well as anyone who might need a boost in self-confidence.

Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home by Amy Pennington

Amy Pennington’s “Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home” has some good information for first time gardeners (i.e. me), but not all the information I was looking for. I was interested in learning about how to care for common vegetables/herbs/fruits that I could successfully grow in containers on my balcony. What I found in this book was care information for uncommon vegetables/herbs/flowers/fruits such as chervil and lovage. While I appreciate learning about new foods to try, this information doesn’t help me learn how to care for my celery, onions, or broccoli.

Pennington also includes some recipes and designs for DIY projects and ways to use the things you harvest from your garden wholly and in unique ways. I also appreciate this as I’m an avid DIYer. Foraging is mentioned briefly at the end of the book but not in great detail.

In summary, I appreciate the expanse of topics Pennington has included in her book. Definitely gives the beginner a small taste of a variety of ways to garden in an apartment setting. I would have appreciated a bit more in the “What to Grow For Real” section that touched on more common vegetables that I’d be more likely to grow at home.


Do you ever get in a funk? Do you ever feel like, really, your life isn’t this messy jumble of half-finished, and well-intentioned, projects — that it’s just been momentarily stalled? That’s how I’ve felt since this past January. This happens periodically. Especially after a particularly productive period — which is what happened between September and December of last year.

Last fall and early winter, my husband and I, started making our own household cleaners and hygiene products. We made most of the Christmas gifts we gave out by hand. And I landed a full time position as an administrative assistant. I felt elated and on top of things; organized and clear. Something happened between December and January that brought that feeling of clarity and purpose to a gradual halt.

Now, I feel at a stand still — inert.  I don’t know how to regain that forward momentum. I suppose this process is part of the natural ebb and flow of life. But, somehow I don’t think everyone feels as guilty as I do. There’s no reason to feel guilty at all. I’m not shirking any responsibilities but, I feel like I’m not doing all I could be doing and that this makes me a failure.

I often wish I had a different brain — one that doesn’t try and convince me that I should be doing more and be better. And, that if I don’t achieve more and do better, I’m not enough. I get aggravated with my brain for its failings. I feel it should be better than it is. And then it hits me: that is just another way to convince myself I’m not quite enough.

And so it occurs to me that maybe I should spend more time not striving to achieve and more time appreciating what I do accomplish on a day-to-day basis. I know I’m a hard worker, and I know our household is run well. I also know that having half-finished projects is an indication of my productivity, not an example of my laziness. But, sometimes, it can be difficult to remember these things. For now, I’ll remind myself that who I am right now, and what I’ve accomplished so far, is pretty great. I’ll take some time to appreciate what I have rather than wishing for things I have not yet done.

“Lady Susan”: Jane Austen’s First Work of Significant Length

Jane Austen’s “Lady Susan” is intriguing if only for the format it is written. Austen chose to write the novel as a series of letters between the people involved in the plot. This approach is interesting to me for a couple reasons: first, there is no narrator; second, we become intimately familiar with all the players without ever having a description of them. We get a clear sense of their motivation by reading their correspondence with those closest to them.

What I will say in criticism is that the ending has not been fully fleshed out. Understandably so, as Austen never intended for the novel to be published. Had she herself put it forward for publication I’m sure more attention would have been put on the details of the conclusion. That being said, the ending was rather unsatisfactory. The reader is not given much indication at all of what happens to the characters they have become attached to.