Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Noelle by Emily Mims

Noelle by Emily Mims

It’s that time of year! Christmas movies are playing nonstop on a number of TV channels, Christmas music is on just as many radio stations, and, best of all, new Christmas books come out! I adore Christmas – usually I’m too busy to read my Christmas books until after Christmas but I’m making a couple of exceptions this year and Noelle is one of them.

This isn’t your normal Christmas book – it’s less about Christmas and more set at Christmas with a few of the trappings but not overly so. There’s a nice balance between some of the more uncomfortable topics and the sweet finding family story that it is. At its heart, Noelle is a romance – new love blooming from old roots against the odds.

There are topics and themes in this book that aren’t generally found in happy Christmas stories and it handles them with grace and dignity. The book touches on rape and the worst kind of bigotry without glossing it over or in any way apologizing for calling it out and pointing it out as what it is – blind hatred, no matter the foundation.

The ending was earned the hard way and the journey to get there was enjoyable. I was swept up and lost myself in its pages very quickly. I think I might have to go find some of the other books in the series.

All in all – 5 of 5 stars.

The writing is solid, even when delving into some pretty heavy dialect. The plot is quick paced and involved. It touches on big, deep topics without getting slogged down or preachy. There’s music involved and that’s almost always a plus as music is one of my favorite things – I didn’t know any of these songs as I don’t care for country music, but the emotion was understood.

Buy from Boroughs, Amazon,


From the cover:



Five years after his wife fled with their baby daughter, Ike finally finds them and truths he never thought he’d have to face before finding real love.


When Ike Jeffries married Cassandra Siler he believed in their future, and he couldn’t wait to meet their daughter, born on Christmas Eve. What should have been a blessed event turned into a nightmare when Cassie disappeared with their baby girl. With a hardened heart, Ike finds them five long years later and learns that everything he thought he knew about his wife and child was a lie.


Cassie Jeffries loved her husband with all her heart. But after the birth of their daughter she discovered a horrible truth about the child that forced her to run for their lives. Crisscrossing the country until she found a new home, Cassie knew she’d done the right thing until Ike found them and demanded answers she wasn’t prepared to share. But life has a way of giving you what you need, and Cassie and her daughter needed the family they had left behind, even if it meant fighting for what was right, and for what she’d forsaken all those years ago.


I hope you enjoy the book too!


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Big Week Ahead

I’ve got a big week coming up – Christmas in Bear Ridge is coming out (I’m SO excited about this book), I’m almost done with my making things for this year – all but the food, most of which has to be done closer to last minute anyhow, and this week marks my first plus one. It’s a little weird, it’s a little morbid, and I know this but I can’t actually help the counting of it. I’ve been counting down for more than 20 years. On the 13th, I’ll be one day older than my mom ever got to be. I’ve got nearly 30 years to go before I get my second plus one – dad was 68.

I think the approaching marked day may have factored into the upcoming book too – there’s a lot about grief in Bear Ridge. Don’t worry – it’s still very much a Christmas story but for me, Christmas has always come with more than a heavy dose of nostalgia. Most of my favorite parts of Christmas come from my own childhood and my mom – chocolate oranges, Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, butter rum coffee, and making things for the people who matter most. Hopefully, I’ve managed to pass on at least a few of those to my kids. I couldn’t have written a holiday story without touches of my parents – they’re there in the little things: the music, the food, the reluctance to believe in magic even when irrefutable evidence is right in your face, the ability to believe in magic despite all logic and reason.

I can’t get through this time of year without thinking about all the things my mom never got to do, never got to see, or how proud my dad would be, watching my oldest kid playing the villain in the school play and getting his first college acceptances or seeing my youngest get that hard fought for A in English this year or trying a freaking taquito (which sounds like a little thing but in our house it is HUGE – new food, new textures, and new flavors). Certain songs will come on and I’ll think of them, certain movies do the same. It’s never the same songs or movies – they were very rarely together in my life – but all the memories bring on the warm and fuzzies. Other times of the year, it feels more sad and sorrowful but this time of year, thinking about them makes me feel something else. I might cry a little and I probably look sad but it isn’t sad, it’s a warmer feeling than that, a less bleak or alone feeling. I might get a little taste of gray when the neverwills pop up and remind me that they are both gone now, but mostly, it’s just like wearing his jacket or her perfume: a little hug from the past that brings a smile rather than a sob.

This book may have done more for me in the writing of it than I knew when I was writing it. The thing about grief that no one tells you is that sometimes, even years later, you’ll find yourself going through most, if not all, of the stages again like it’s a new pain and not an old, scarred over book of memories.

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Writing Wednesday: Writing as Therapy

With NaNoWriMo put aside for this year – and just in time too as my edits came in and I would have had to stop anyway – it’s back to regularly scheduled Writing Wednesday! I know a lot of people who write more to process their emotions, their experiences than to publish or share them. I find myself often in the middle which might be why it stings so badly when these pieces of my heart get rejected and rejected and rejected (because all of the acceptances are rarely as impactful for some weird reason). Writing is a thing I would do even if I weren’t driven to share because it helps me get through the worst parts of things. Even when there is no one left in my life who wants to hear what I’m saying, my paper will always take my ink. Paper is never too busy or too uninterested in whatever my current whine is.

A few weeks ago, I had a friend wondering about writer’s block (and methods of getting around it) and I don’t really get block so much as I get too full of whines to create something anyone is going to want to read so I write essays no one will ever see. A few hundred words of my truth that isn’t normally meant to be shared. Every once in a blue moon, one will strike my fancy and I’ll pitch it somewhere. That’s how Beacon came about – my Chicken Soup entry in Grieving and Recovery essay. I have two right now that I’m sending out into the world but it won’t bother me so much if they never see the light of day, the writing of them was for me, the sharing of them is in case there are other people like me.

Sometimes there are stories you don’t even see yourself in until well after you’ve written them. That’s where I’m finding myself with Christmas in Bear Ridge. There is a lot of my own grief in those pages, grief I didn’t even know I was still holding on to. It’s been more than 20 years since my mom died and steadily approaching 2 years for my dad but they are very much a part of this book. It’s been very cathartic for me and I hope it is for someone who reads it also.

I think in some ways, I wasn’t really ready to write this book, to really examine my own proclivity to obsess over the dreams of my parents – the life my mother wanted me to live that is pretty much the opposite of my life or the things my dad wanted for my kids. I’ve done my best to let that go but I haven’t gotten all the way there yet. Maybe this book was my way of starting that process a little bit.


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Inspiration from Life

The Scout (with bonus Joe McBride)

Every now and again, I’ll put something in a story that comes from things in my own life. I made an Instagram post about it yesterday but I had more to say than a little dinky paragraph. In my upcoming book, Christmas in Bear Ridge, Toni Bell drives an International Harvester, mostly because her favorite childhood memories all surround that truck with its camper top. My parents didn’t have an International Harvester but they did have an International Scout that they loved. I have zero recollection of that car but I heard a lot about it over the years and my dad always said if they’d had the Harvester (especially with the camper), it would still be in the family.

Sometimes we have things we can’t let go of because of the people we associate with those things. It’s especially hard when we lose those people. I have a lot of those things, especially things that belonged to my parents.

Sometimes, we have to go tripping down memory lane into the past before we can confidently move forward into the future. Christmas in Bear Ridge touches a little on it with Toni but it is sort of that for me too. Not in the story of it of course, but the book itself. This book is the first book in a long time that my dad didn’t take a look at first or even talk through it. For me, the process of writing the book was my memory lane but now I know I can still write a book without him pestering me for the next chapter or making sure I’ve plugged up any little holes in my plots. This book will always hold a special place in my heart because of it. There are a lot of tiny things in the background of the story that are nods to my parents that no one but me will ever notice but I know they’re there and that’s all that matters.

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Christmas in Bear Ridge!

Christmas in Bear Ridge by Sarah Wagner from Boroughs Publishing Group


Bear Ridge is the cutest little town that no one can remember. It gathers magic like faerie dust to a wand, especially at Christmas. Toni Bell hasn’t believed in magic since her parents died. She’s been on her own for more than a decade, driving from town to town, job to job, gig to gig, living out of her truck turned tiny home, making a point to never get attached. She’s on her way to the West Coast for New Year’s Eve, and plans to be on the road for Christmas, hoping to avoid the heartache being reminded of how alone she is brings. But a wrong turn, a loose dog, and a bollard pole change her world.


Stuck in Bear Ridge until her truck can be fixed, Toni decides to make the best of it only to discover everything she’s ever wanted, and never dared to wish for, were all within her grasp. Nicodemus Panait makes her want to believe in magic, miracles, and Christmas, but she’s afraid that all he offers will prove too good to be true. Nico knows what his forever looks like, but he has only until Christmas to make Toni see it too. Fortunately, he has fate and love on his side.


Christmas in Bear Ridge is coming very soon – just in time for an early Christmas present! I’m going to be doing a couple of giveaways and such soon too so, stay tuned!

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Thoughts on Lovecraft

I have tried over the years to read HP Lovecraft. I’ve made it through several short stories but never At the Mountains of Madness.  I attempted that over the last few days. I say attempted because I just couldn’t do it. I have a to-be-read pile that’s taller than my husband and both my children put together (they’re all quite tall) and I would rather read books I want to read.

I actually really love Lovecraft. His world building and his mythology are, quite frankly, masterful. His stories are interesting and all the things they should be. But his writing. Oh the actual words. Textbooks are not frightening. Or interesting really. The ideas are great and amazing and the sort of things I hope to be half as good at but slogging through the story is draining and tiresome and it shouldn’t be.

I love the animated movie series (and I hope there are more of them) and the various books and movies and games that have come from his incredible breadth of creation but at least this particular one of his stories is terribly difficult to actually read. I’m going to read my new book, write another couple of stories, and then try a different volume of the set. Maybe it’ll be like some of the stories – antiquated writing, dry writing, but not dragging writing.

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A Bit of Good News

This month has been quite the roller coaster. The downs were really low but the ups are pretty darn high!

Christmas In Bear Ridge will be coming this holiday season from Boroughs Publishing Group! I really like this story but it is something a bit different for me. All the myth and magic and romance and, somehow, nobody gets themselves murdered. There are a lot of parts that I really love and I can’t wait for people to get a chance to read it! You should meet Death’s favorite psychopomp too.

Seriously, this book has everything (and it takes everything in me NOT to hear that in Stefan’s voice), so, watch this space for release dates and such!

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Feeling Like Myself

For the first time in like a year really. I’ve had a pretty good week this week. I’ve gotten a LOT of words written, I sent out a set of poems, I made a dent in Mt. Laundry, read two multi-chapter volumes of a manga series (Blue Exorcist), a how-to manual, and I even made some art and put some new things into the Etsy shop. I think my one foot is just always going to be sort of sore now but I went up the stairs like I used to, before all this started! I had bloodwork done and didn’t bruise like it sometimes does, my meds didn’t make me the least bit ill, and I found out that I’ve been using one of my camera lenses wrong from the first moment I got it in 1993.

I’m mostly trying to stay busy because when I’m busy, I don’t obsess over the submissions I have out and I also don’t feel the need to munch and snack all the time. When I’m not snacking, I’m much better at losing weight. It’ll be different when I can really move better but I think that’s going to take time before I’m at that place.

I have a lot on the list of things I want to do and I’m working on it, slowly but surely. Ultimately, the goal has always been the same – I want to write a book that really matters to someone. I’ve had a lot of books that mattered to me and I want to give that to someone else. I want to make art that moves people and things that people want to have in their homes on display. If I can do that while feeling almost human? Even better!

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Review: Mystic by Gabi Stevens

Review: Mystic by Gabi Stevens
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

I am an avid and voracious reader, and this is my favorite of the books I’ve read so far this year. There’s a little romance, a little action, a little intrigue, a little magic and a lot of heart. Ms. Stevens weaves an amazing story that sweeps you up and runs with you and you don’t want to put it down.

Allys is on the run, having escaped a horrible situation and unwittingly drags New York’s Sexiest Writer into the thick of it, running from a strange and powerful man hellbent on getting Allys back. Trask is exactly the kind of man you want to meet when you’re in a terrible pinch and Allys is a wonderful foil.

I do hope there will be a second book as I want to know more about Mystic.

For me, I would love to have Ms. Stevens’ Mal meet my Molly Mae in some pocket universe where two almost cats can solve riddles and be snarky to each other. Really, this book was a lot of fun and if you like my sorts of stories, you’ll like this one too.

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Happenings and almost news

I have an exciting thing that will hopefully, all things going well, come out just in time for Christmas this year. The idea is pretty fleshed out in my head – the town was already there, some of the players too, it was just waiting for the right call, the right nudge. So, everything cooperating, I’ll have a witchy magic town Christmas romance available this year. I’m having a horrible time with a title though and that’s unusual for me. With most projects, the title comes really easy and maybe it will by the time I finish the zero draft up. Hunter’s Hell is now my backburner project for a few weeks while that zero draft is hammering out. Gods of the Fallen is being put on hold for a bit. The funny thing is I had just been playing around with ideas for Eldercynne Knight before this hit. Too many projects, not enough time, not enough spoons.

For the time being, the tag will be for Bear Ridge but that won’t be the title. Right now, all the titles I have mulled are already out there, come straight from songs, or have nothing to do with the story. I can’t really title it witchy-ish magic town Christmas romance, can I?

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