Book Spotlight: A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard

Today we are spotlighting Scott Southard's novel A Jane Austen Daydream.  As huge Jane Austen fans, this book is a perfect fit for I'd So Rather Be Reading!  Keep reading for more information about A Jane Austen Daydream.

All her heroines find love in the end—but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone's guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years—did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us—to a greater or lesser degree—are head over heels for Jane.

Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Madison Street Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Women’s Fiction

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About the Author

Scott D. Southard, the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, swears he is not obsessed with Jane Austen. He is also the author of the novels: My Problem with Doors, Megan, Permanent Spring Showers, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, and 3 Days in Rome.
With his eclectic writing he has found his way into radio, being the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production.
Scott received his Master’s in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard” ( where he writes on far-ranging topics like writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site.
Currently, Scott resides in Michigan with his very understanding wife, his two patient children, and a very opinionated dog named Bronte.
You can find Scott on Facebook and Twitter.

Praise for A Jane Austen Daydream

“For those of you who are exhausted by the innumerable retellings of Austen’s novels, this is a style entirely new…. be rewarded by a quick paced novel unlike any you can ever have read, which injects new ideas and possibilities into the world of Jane Austen.” -Laura Boyle, The Jane Austen Centre

“Mix one part biography and one part historical re-imagining…add witty characters and some surprises and you have A Jane Austen Daydream. This was a delightful read.” -Amelia Rodriguez, Jane Austen Society of North America

“…Lovely, thought-provoking novel. Fans of Austen will adore this book.” -Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List.

“Southard has taken the facts about the great author and woven them into a credible, touching, and also entertaining portrait of a life.” -Historical Novel Society

“The good news is Scott Southard’s Jane is a delightful creature. She is clever and witty and determined to do the best she can for herself, even when things take a turn for the worst….her thoughts and comments had me smiling (and even laughing) on more than one occasion.”

“This book takes the opportunity to dream her up the romance we are not sure she ever had… Watch out also for the many references to her novels, which are like a puzzle, challenging you to recognize where they are taken from.” -Dan Wiggs, publisher of The Jane Austen Travel Guide

“An excellent concept and a great achievement, a must read for Austen fans open for a playful read and those who wish Austen had written more. This is like a little welcome encore for us fans.” -Christoph Fischer, author

From Pride and Prejudice“A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM by Scott Southard, a fictionalized account of Jane’s life, is a book that should be placed on the shelf of every book-loving fan of Jane Austen because she’s absolutely “alive” on the pages of this book.” -Julie Valerie’s Book Blog

Book Review: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies

Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

Release Date: September 2, 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Madi B

I was a bit skeptical when I started this book just like I am with all books that tell you the ending on this first page. (Pretty dang bold if you ask me.) Although the start wasn’t grabbing enough to make me wait a day to read Isla and the Happily Ever After, (I had been waiting for A YEAR AND A HALF!) it was good enough to keep me from doing ANYTHING BUT READ today. Alright, IT’S LIST TIME, BABY!
Stuff I liked:
  • I loved how New York was the setting. I don’t realize why people don’t realize how important the setting is. We unconsciously like pretty places better than those set in ugly places. (It’s science! Kind of.) So New York was perfect.
  • I liked Wren’s little friend group. Even though it was tough getting their names straight at first, I loved the sense of camaraderie that existed because of them. (Vati was my fav)
  • I loved how realistic Wren was as a 15 year old. I was reading the comments on Goodreads about this book and there were a lot of negative comments about how immature Wren was. I found that I disagreed. Wren was barely 15 and naturally insecure (As most fifteen-year-olds are) so it makes sense that that would translate into her decisions. This would explain why she fell so fast for Nolan. (More on that later)
  • I really liked the ending. It was unexpected and a bit risky and I can respect that. (No spoilers, I promise. Yeah I know I’m treading dangerous waters here so I’m just going to move on.)
  • I absolutely loved the art theme. I had just read Isla and the Happily Ever After where art is also a theme so I was (Okay am) on an ART THEME HIGH!! And I absolutely LOVE Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh! (hence the title)  So to have a protagonist obsessed with it?!? Awesome. Just awesome. 
Stuff I didn’t like:
  • I didn’t love the writing style. It just seemed a tad bit underdeveloped.
  • I never really trusted Nolan. Maybe it was his long hair or maybe it was his earring, I don’t know beats me BUT HE NEVER HAD MY FULL TRUST. Though he did do some totally swoon worthy stuff, (Awwwwww yeah) he also did some stuff that raised some red flags. (I kept thinking “Warner wouldn’t say that” Tahereh Mafi you have ruined me. #shattermeforever) Not cool.
  • I didn’t like how Wren fell for Nolan super fast. Like super fast. But Wren would constantly compare herself to her friends and her siblings so it makes sense she would fall for the first guy who made her feel special.
  • I know this is really small but it bugged me how there were small details in the summary. Talking about the weather in the synopsis? Not necessary. There were also small grammatical errors throughout the book, (Yeah it was a ARC but still!)
  • At the beginning of the book there was a lot of background info told in flashbacks. It wasn’t chronological; it was a bit confusing, and generally uninteresting. But trust me, the book did get going, just not immediately.
Overall Starry Night was a pretty good book that I don’t regret reading. It had some good characters and an interesting plot.


Month in Review: August 2014

I Reviewed...
The Never Never Sisters by Alison Heller
Inside the Maze Runner: The Guide to the Glade by Radom House Value Publishing
Gameboard of the Gods and The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
The If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Series by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
With All My Soul (Soul Screamers #7) by Rachel Vincent
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny #1) by Jeaniene Frost
Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand
Mini Reviews: The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson and Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

We Hosted, Spotlighted, and Gave Away...
The Fourth Wall by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo
Akin to the Truth by Paige Strickland
Deadly Errors by Allen Wyler
PreSchool Readiness with Scholastic

I Read...
The Selection by Kiera Cass
The Elite by Kiera Cass
The One by Kiera Cass
The Gates of Paradise (Blue Bloods #7) by Melissa de la Cruz
Vampires of Manhattan (Vampires of Manhattan #1) by Melissa de la Cruz
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Finding Cinderella (Hopeless #2.5) by Colleen Hoover
Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand
Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter
Prime Deception by Carys Jones
The 100 (The Hundred #1) by Kass Morgan
Day 21 (The Hundred #2) by Kass Morgan
The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny #1) by Jeaniene Frost
Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista
My Name is Thank-You by Kaizen Love
Freedom (Fearsome #2) by S.A. Wolfe
The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine #1) by James Dashner

I Watched...
Gladiator with Russell Crowe (an old favorite)

Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley (one of my top five favorite movies)

Pitch Perfect --- why did I wait so long to see this funny, light-hearted, feel-good film?  I loved it: immediately after watching the rental copy, I bought it on DVD and also bought the soundtrack.  I'm in love with this music!

Divergent with Shailene Woodley and Theo James.  I liked it but didn't love it.

Book of the Month...
I loved every page of this heartfelt, deeply moving book.  It was inspirational and such an emotional read. 
Check back soon for my review of this unforgettable novel.

How was your August?

Mini Reviews: The Captive Maiden, Five Ways to Fall

I love Melanie Dickerson's books and The Captive Maiden was no exception.  Dickerson writes historical Christian fiction, and even better than that, her books are retellings of classic fairy tales!  Cinderella is my favorite fairy tale, and Dickerson does it justice in The Captive Maiden.  I loved how the story felt fresh, which is so rare in a retelling.  Dickerson makes several modifications that give her own twist on Cinderella, or in this case, Gisela's, story.  Even better, The Captive Maiden has a faith element to it, which was subtle but still a major part of the story.  I found myself quite unable to put this book down, and finished it feeling like my book budget was well-spent in buying this book.  Recommended!  Rating: 4/5 stars

Five Ways to Fall (Ten Tiny Breaths #4) by K.A. Tucker.

I've been a fan of the Ten Tiny Breaths series since book one, and Five Ways to Fall just reinforced how great this series is.  This book had it all: a smart, sassy heroine, a swoon-worthy love interest, tons of chemistry, and a fast-paced plot.  I love that Tucker's characters are so much more nuanced than they initially appear to be.  There's always more going on with her characters than you'd think, and Reese and Ben were perfect examples of perfectly layered and developed characters.  There was a ton of character growth in this book, not to mention cameos from some of my favorite characters from previous books in this series.  I found this book hard to put down and loved every page of it.  One word that comes to mind when I think back on Five Ways to Fall is relatable---these characters are real and so easy to relate to.  I love the way Tucker wrapped the story up, and how she also managed to insert a lot of humor into this book.  I laughed, smiled, and cried as I read Five Ways to Fall, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.  Rating 4.5/5 stars


Book Review: Imitation (Clone Chronicles #1) by Heather Hildenbrand

Everyone is exactly like me.
There is no one like me.
The rough fabric of my cotton nightgown chafes so I lie very still. They say my discomfort comes from being built like one accustomed to niceties. How is that fair when I myself have never experienced anything but copies of the real thing?
My entire life is an imitation.
I am an Imitation.
I’ve been here five years. Training. Preparing. Waiting.
And now I have a letter.
My assignment has begun.
I am a prisoner.
I am not Raven Rogen.
I am here to die.
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli
I love the premise of Imitation: the idea of clones existing solely as replacements for their wealthy "authentic" counterparts.  It was a terrifyingly plausible concept, and Hildenbrand did a great job setting up the world, characters, and back story in Imitation. 

Ven is an Imitation, her authentic being an heiress named Raven.  Ven is technically five years old---she was created five years ago---but has the body of an 18 year-old.  This issue didn't really bother me until Ven fell in love, then it seemed a little 13 Going on 30 to me...with Ven being really only 5 and her love being 18(ish).  And speaking of the love story, it progressed really quickly, a little too quickly for my taste.  There was very little build-up and before I knew it, Ven was in love. 

This slow, slow, fast was a theme in Imitation: Hildenbrand takes a long time to build the world, slowly setting the stage, and then, BAM, everything happens all at once.  Once the action started, it was non-stop, and I couldn't put this book down.  But, it took a while to get to that point, and the beginning was slow enough that I almost stopped reading. 

However, now that the world-building is complete, I think that the Clone Chronicles will be a great series.  I like the setting, the premise, the characters, and the action.  I am definitely invested in the story and looking forward to where Hildenbrand takes the series.

Book Review: The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny #1) by Jeaniene Frost

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
I have been a long-time fan of Jeaniene Frost.  Her Night Huntress books are one of my all-time favorite series.  When I learned that Frost was writing a New Adult series, I immediately expected a well-developed cast of characters, fast pace, outstanding imagery, and sizzling chemistry.  Frost delivered all that and more with The Beautiful Ashes.

It's no secret here at I'd So Rather Be Reading that angel books are not for me.  I think it started with the fact that I utterly despised the first angel book I ever read.  Based on the summary, I was a little concerned that The Beautiful Ashes would have the angel element and I would be turned off by it.  I'm happy to say that The Beautiful Ashes' paranormal element was perfectly developed and balanced, and that I really enjoyed that part of the book. 

I love it when the reader is in the dark right along with the main character.  When authors keep me guessing as to why a certain character is special, it makes figuring out the main character's powers/abilities/specialness fun for me.  Frost takes it one step further, leaving us in the dark as to Adrian's background as well.  Finding out his history was really neat: I had an "aha" moment right before Ivy did.  

I loved that The Beautiful Ashes had a historical feel.  It's set in modern times, but is based on historical events, which gave it added depth.  There was one aspect of the historical part of this book that I really appreciated.  I won't go into details, so I don't spoil the surprise, but it was an unexpected and appreciated deviation from the norm in paranormal fiction.  Frost is a risk-taker with her writing, and the way she set the world up in The Beautiful Ashes makes this book different from all the others in the NA paranormal genre.

I mentioned before that The Beautiful Ashes had a great pace.  Boy, did it ever: I read this book in an afternoon, finding it impossible to put down.  I was hooked from the first page, and Frost kept the action, suspense, and drama going for the entire read.  I loved the way she developed the love story.  It was full of chemistry without the characters "going too far," if you know what I mean.  It was perfectly New Adult, and I appreciated that.  The characters were so real, and the emotions practically jumped off the page.  I found myself tearing up a couple of times, from the depth of Ivy's emotions (I think that first person narratives are the best at imparting deep emotions in the reader, don't you?).

I can't say enough good things about The Beautiful Ashes.  I loved every single thing about this book, and can't wait for book two!


Pre-School Readiness with Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic

Today we are happy to partner with Scholastic Books and talk about preschool readiness.  Scholastic has some great resources for parents, including their Parents Website (visit the site HERE), full of helpful articles, lists and resources for children, from preschool on up. 
Image Source:
It’s back-to-school time and the importance of quality preschool readiness is top of mind with parents and teachers--–President Obama included it in his State of the Union address; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to serving expanding pre-K access to 50,000 students this year; and the American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced a new policy prescribing reading aloud to children as early as birth.
Research shows from as early as the first months of life, children’s experiences with oral-language development and literacy begin to build a foundation for later reading success (Duke & Carlisle, 2011; Dickinson & Neuman, 2006).
So what do parents need to know to help their child be preschool ready? (Some resources, press release link:
Scholastic is here to help and provide the best books for preschool children!
Here are some highlights of the latest Scholastic Reading Club offerings and new book titles that will pique the interest of the pre-school audience.
Expanded Reading Club for Pre-Readers
  • Scholastic Reading Club has ramped up the focus on early childhood reading by expanding the successful preschool book clubs: “Honeybee®” (toddlers to 4-years-old); “Firefly®” (pre-K and kindergarten); “Early Childhood”; and “Kindergartners.”
  • Scholastic Reading Club is also launching a new early childhood advisory board consisting of preschool teachers from across the country, and a new Baby Boutique, offering parents our top 100 choices to help start a child’s first home library
Early Childhood Books, Apps and Media
  • New age-appropriate books for infants, toddlers and preschool students, including board books, novelty books, hardcover picture books, paperback titles, and coloring/activity books.
  • New titles available for fall 2014 include Clifford Visits the Zoo, Dinosaurumpus, Peppa Pig: Ballet Lesson, The Night Parade and more.       
Preschool Book Fairs
  • Scholastic offers special Preschool Book Fairs nationwide, featuring a wide selection of carefully selected books for children ages birth to 5 years, including popular series, award-winners, new releases and other titles that will ignite young imaginations and instill a love of reading. 
I've requested a couple of the new titles, so check back soon for my reviews of Clifford Visits the Zoo, and Peppa Pig: Ballet Lesson!

Book Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance—and the enchanting music that inspires one young woman to put her life back together.

Includes a free original soundtrack by musician
Griffin Peterson.
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli
I love Colleen Hoover, and when I learned of her latest release---and the fact that I was several months late in reading it---I bought Maybe Someday and started reading it the same day. 
Hoover writes contemporary fiction stories with likable characters, realistic storylines, sizzling chemistry, and tons of emotion.  I always need at least one tissue while reading her work, and Maybe Someday was no exception.
I loved every aspect of Maybe Someday.  I wouldn't change a thing about it: it was a perfectly written, moving read.  It was much deeper and more emotional than I expected it to be, which I loved.  There's a big surprise about one of the main characters, and it completely changes the tone and arc of the story.  I loved that the characters in Maybe Someday are struggling with some atypical issues.  The issues gave the story more depth, and made the book much more relevant to me personally.  I don't want to say more and spoil the story.
I can't say enough good things about Colleen Hoover and will continue to buy and read everything she writes.  Maybe Someday was quite possibly my favorite book by Colleen Hoover to date.  I highly recommend this moving, inspiring story!

Book Review: Every Ugly Word by Aimee Salter

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.
Release Date: July 17, 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli
Every Ugly Word really took me by surprise.  I thought, after reading the summary, that it was going to be a book about bullying with a small dose of magical realism.  And it was, but the magical realism element was really unique.  It had a psychological thriller aspect to it that kept me thinking about the story long after I finished reading it.

I am glad that the authors of YA literature are starting to write about bullying.  It is a very relevant topic, and worthy of inclusion in the YA genre.  I think that nearly everyone experiences bullying at some point in their life, whether they are the victim, the bully, or their friend is affected. 

Ashely is the target of two of her school's most popular kids: Finn and Karen.  For whatever reason---do bullies ever have a good reason for picking on someone?---Finn and Karen set out to make her life miserable.  And they succeed in full.  Ashley is depressed, constantly tortured at school and via social media, and can't even take solace in her mother's care: her mother thinks that the bullying is Ashley's fault.  To add to her desperation, Ashley is hopelessly in love with her best friend, Matt, who sadly does not share her feelings.  Matt's friendship is Ashley's only buffer in the storm of high school, and when Matt and Karen start to date, he becomes less of an advocate for Ashley, right when she needs him the most.

Just this premise alone would have made for a great, emotional read.  But the addition of magical realism: the fact that when Ashley looks in the mirror, she can see herself six years in the future, made this book so unique and intriguing.  I loved Ashley's interactions with Older Me.  They made me remember my high school years, which were not always great, and I remembered that desperate feeling of wanting to know that things would be better for me when high school was over.  Salter captured those feelings perfectly, and the emotions of both present-day Ashley and future Ashley jumped off the pages.  I found myself tearing up several times while reading Every Ugly Word, because of how invested I was in Ashley's emotional well-being.

The ending of the book really took me by surprise.  For most of the book, it was very clear which Ashley was narrating: the present-day Ashley or the older Ashley.  However, at the end, the two stories converged.  Twice, I actually had to flip back a few pages to make it clear which Ashley was the current narrator.  This slight confusion was the only thing I didn't love about this story. 

If you are new to magical realism, don't shy away from Every Ugly Word.  This book is a perfect blend of contemporary fiction with a dash of magical realism, and an emotional journey full of character growth.  I highly recommend Every Ugly Word and look forward to reading more from Aimee Salter.


Book Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway: Compass North by Stephanie Joyce Cole

In Stephanie Joyce Cole’s COMPASS NORTH, a desperately unhappy woman is thrust into a new life and a new identity in a small town in Alaska when she is presumed dead in a freak accident. She discovers that it takes more than a change of venue to reinvent a life.

 “Compass North is a must read book for today's generation of women (and men), defining their role in a complex and fast changing world.” – Grady, Goodreads.

 Find out more about COMPASS NORTH in this exclusive interview with Stephanie Joyce Cole!

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway:

Prize:  Grand prize 18" Sterling Silver Compass Pendant (US entrants only) Retail value $35.00. Runner-up prize $10 GC to Amazon or B&N (open internationally, winners choice).


Author: Stephanie Joyce Cole
Author Location: Seattle, Washington
Genre: Women’s Fiction; Romantic Suspense
Release Date: December1st, 2013 (digital) April 1st, 2014 (print)
Pages: 224 pages
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Format: Digital eBook, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-77155-008-6

Synopsis: Reeling from the shock of a suddenly shattered marriage, Meredith flees as far from her home in Florida as she can get without a passport: to Alaska. After a freak accident leaves her presumed dead, she stumbles into a new identity and a new life in a quirky small town. Her friendship with a fiery and temperamental artist and her growing worry for her elderly, cranky landlady pull at the fabric of her carefully guarded secret. When a romance with a local fisherman unexpectedly blossoms, Meredith struggles to find a way to meld her past and present so that she can move into the future she craves. But someone is looking for her, someone who will threaten Meredith’s dream of a reinvented life.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio

Stephanie Joyce Cole lived for decades in Alaska. She and her husband recently relocated to Seattle, where they reside with a predatory but lovable Manx cat named Bruno. Stephanie has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. When she's not writing, she's hiking, creating ceramics, practicing yoga, traveling, volunteering and discovering new ways to have fun--and oh yes, reading, reading, reading.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Excerpt from Compass North:
            This morning, when Meredith had woken, bleary-eyed and her throat dry, she buried her head in the soft pillow. Going home. She probed the thought gently, thinking about opening the townhouse door, sensing the silent whispers. Was it even home anymore?
            On their way to the Fairbanks airport, someone yelped, “Look, a bear!”
            Even though it was the last day of the tour, the bus still shuddered to a stop when anyone shouted out a sighting. Meredith had rushed with everyone else to the left side of the bus to squint at the distant-moving speck on the rain-drenched green expanse in Denali National Park, all the time thinking, Will he be at the airport? No, of course not. I didn’t even tell him my flight information. But he could ask Ellen. But no, he won’t be there. Unless he wants to talk about the divorce right away...
            “Wow, look at those fall colors!”
            At a scenic viewpoint, they all huddled together against the whistling wind and stared at the rolling tundra outside of Fairbanks, with its late summer greens, scarlets, and browns pocketed by hundreds of tiny lakes shining a deep navy blue in the weak afternoon sunlight. The stiff breeze carried the scent of trampled evergreens, wet earth, and the suggestion of still, boggy water. The bite of the wind made her eyes water and blurred her vision. She murmured some words of admiration, but her thoughts were far away. What will I do next? How could Michael do this to me after fifteen years?
            Meredith had found her fellow travelers to be a contented and congenial group, solicitous and moderately interested in their only single, and rather withdrawn, slightly nervous fellow traveler. They must have found her odd, she realized, her slender frame swaddled in layers of Florida cotton, while they had prepared for this trip for months, fortifying themselves in down parkas and carrying brightly colored backpacks. She was at least two decades younger than most of them. But they had been kind to her, and after the first few days they realized she preferred to be left alone.
            It was one of the last tours of the season, and though the sun often offered a bit of pleasant warmth midday, the nights drew in sharp and bitter. On the road to Fairbanks, they had driven through vistas splashed with streaks of red and gold stretching to a far horizon, and could see a fine new layer of snow had already dusted the lower slopes of distant, craggy peaks. The brief Alaska autumn had arrived, and winter already announced its intentions. But Meredith might as well have been traveling in the vast expanse of some flat, monotonous desert, for all the magnificence of the country registered with her.
            And now, as she exited the airport and stepped onto the curb, her travel bag held tight under her arm, her lungs breathing in the cool, crisp air, the bus looming ahead of her, the sound of a plane deafeningly roaring, coming closer…
            Later, she would wonder if she had seen the plane crash into the waiting bus. She didn’t think so. All she remembered was the noise, the terrible boom, then the fiery mass where the bus should have been.
             Screams erupted then, and voices wailing. Meredith couldn’t absorb it at first, that the bus heading back to Anchorage—the bus she should be on—had just exploded at the far end of the airport parking lot.
            She dropped hard onto the concrete curb in terror, sprawled into a sitting position with her legs awkwardly splayed in front of her. She watched in confusion as people streamed out of the terminal. The crowd pushed a few feet ahead, shouting and pointing and holding their hands to faces that wore masks of shock and horror, but the heat and flames kept them at a distance.
Oh my God, that’s our bus, everyone is on board, everyone is there...
            Jonas and Angela were right behind me. And Carrie and John were across the aisle...
            Oh my God. I should be on that bus. I should be dead.
            But I’m not.