2017 Reading Wrap-up: Favorites and Rec’s

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on January 15, 2018 in Books, Fantasy, Young Adult |

If you use Goodreads, they do a nice end-of-year summary of the all the books you read in a given year (see my 2017 summary on Goodreads). They provide some fun  stats on the books and your reading habits, including how many pages (15,327 for me) and books (50 for me, which was my goal–woohoo!) you read. These numbers don’t reflect the many, many, many picture books I read to the boys. I don’t keep track of that; it would be way too onerous. 

That’s close to my 2016 numbers (48 books) and a little lower than my highest reading years. Having kids definitely takes away from my reading time, though nursing the baby have proven to be a bit of an equalizer because it gives me quiet time to read (I have both the Kindle and Nook apps on my phone, which is how I do most of my nursing reading).

If you set a yearly reading goal, Goodreads also let you know throughout the year how well you’re keeping up. It was consistently about 2 books behind schedule. I think that’s because I tend to read several books at one time (a book or two on my phone, perhaps one on another device, and print book). I finished up a couple of reads right at the end of the year to reach my goal.

Now for some notable reads (novels only, but I’m thinking about doing a picture book one as well…stay tuned). Let’s start with YA contemporary. The highly-acclaimed THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas lived up to the hype. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s a brilliant read that is timely and classic at the same time. For me, though, it was the characters that put it over the top. It felt like they were real people. I also loved Karen M. McManus’s ONE OF US IS LYING. Pitched as THE BREAKFAST CLUB meets PRETTY LITTLE LIARS with four unreliable narrators, what else do you need to know to want to read this one? For a super sweet romance, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon hit all the right notes for me.

Of course I read some great fantasy this year as well. SIX OF CROWS and its follow-up CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo were brilliant heist novels set in a dark fantasy world that is super fun to read about but maybe wouldn’t be so fun to live in. JULIA VANISHES by Catherine Egan was another rich fantasy world full of persecuted witches. For an urban, paranormal fantasy, I really enjoyed HEART BLADE by Juliana Spink Mills. This one takes place in a world like ours but with demons and angels, and definitely had crossover appeal to the adult market.

In the historical fiction category, SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys was beautiful and heartbreaking. It follows the tragedy of the refugees fleeing East Prussia at the of WWII and the sinking of the ship Wilhelm Gustloff. 

For what might be considered a surprise pick for my favorite read of the year, I chose a non-fiction book: VINCENT AND THEO: THE VAN GOGH BROTHERS by Deborah Heiligman! Okay, maybe this shouldn’t have been a surprise. It’s about my favorite painter and the relationship he had with his brother…I’m a sucker for stories about siblings.

What were your favorite reads of the year?


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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on December 25, 2017 in Family, Holidays, Pictures |

Happy holidays and a very happy New Year from my family to yours. See you in 2018!

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Fall 2017 in Pictures and Looking Toward 2018

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on December 20, 2017 in Anecdote, Family, Holidays, Pictures |

The hustle and bustle of the season is in full swing here at chateau Carroll. The boys have been making out their Christmas lists for Santa, we’ve been baking, and I’ve been fitting in a few words here and there on Elixir Saved. So that means it’s time for a picture post!

But before we get to that, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll be blogging about next year. I’d like take some time to feature some books and authors I’ve been enjoying, but in a way I haven’t done before on the Observation Desk. I also haven’t officially introduced The Gentleman here on the blog, though he’s now 5 months old (sorry third kiddo!). So I might try and get a feature on his birth story up here, ya know, before his first birthday. 😉 I have some fun news in the works that I’ll be sharing soon. And I think I’d like to talk more about creativity in 2018, particularly as it fits into my life as a writer/mom.

And now to look back on fall:

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December #InkRipples: The Pressure of End of Year Goals

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on December 13, 2017 in Anecdote, Ink Ripples, Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, Writing |

December is a stressful and busy time of year. For me, it’s not a great month for setting up goals. I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions because it feels too contrived and arbitrary. Sure, it’s a new year, but that doesn’t mean I’m in the right place to set up new goals. Maybe I’m still working on my current goals. Maybe I’m swamped and just focusing on the daily task of getting through the days. I certainly don’t need the pressure and stress of forcing myself to declare a goal simply because of the time of year.

So I’m afraid I can’t offer up any great insights into my goals for 2018. I certainly have goals for next year, but most of them on ongoing ones, not ones I’m just starting to think about now. But I’d love to hear about your goals…drop me a comment!

Here’s where I usually do my spiel on how #InkRipples is a monthly meme and December all about goals. However, it looks like fellow #InkRipples founders Kai Strand and Mary Waibel are moving on from the meme. I’ve loved doing #InkRipples for the past three years with Mary, Kai, and all the other bloggers who dropped a ripple in the inkwell, but maybe it’s time for me to move on as well. I do have a new idea for a monthly meme I’ve been thinking about for 2018. I haven’t made any set decisions yet. What would you all like to see on the blog next year?

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Brewing up the Research from LA Dragoni Author of AGAIN, FOR LOVE

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on November 27, 2017 in Books, Guest, Kai Strand, Writing |

LA Dragoni is here to celebrate the release of her time travel romance AGAIN, FOR LOVE. Speaking of love, I love the Matrixy look of this cover. Let’s give LA a big welcome!

Even a fiction author has to do her research. And for my newest book, Again, For Love, a time travel romance, I’ve been doing years of research. And no, I haven’t been time travelling.

I originally got this idea for a book about twenty years ago! I thought it would be cool for a guy who has a crush on a co-worker to save her by time traveling to avoid her death. I started to write it, but I just didn’t get that far. It was stale and boring and I wasn’t an experienced author who could figure out what was missing.

Fast forward to 2016. I read The Troublemaker Next Door by Marie Harte and suddenly I knew what was missing. Her characters are full of sass and snark and chemistry. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about Again, For Love in years, but as soon as I finished reading her book I knew I needed to pull that manuscript out of the cobwebs.

I had originally put the co-workers in an office environment. Yawn. Clearly, to obtain sass and snark, I had to take them out of the office and put them…where? That’s when my years of research came in handy.

I live in a craft beer mecca. Bend, Oregon holds a lot of “best of” titles and many of them have to do with the sheer number of breweries we have, and their success. I’ve been visiting these breweries and enjoying their beers and developing a discerning palette for years. Yet I’ve never actually worked in a brewery. But I’ve toured them. I learned about the beer making process. Different ingredients, methods of aging, bottling…all sorts of things. Then I toured them again. This time I ignored the knowledgeable tour guide and stalked the workers. Watching them move about, interact with each other, heft, direct, etc. When I developed what I hoped was a passible knowledge of what it’s like to work in a brewery I had to do a little (read a lot) more research on the beer itself.

Luckily, here in Bend, Oregon, we have the largest ale trail in the west. My husband and I frequently host friends and family who come to Bend simply to experience the ale trail. I’ve tasted so much beer, I have a trophy! My favorite beer is a winter ale on nitro. I know I don’t like pilsners, I’m always willing to try a new red ale or a stout. It was so much fun being able to weave this knowledge into my story. I hope I’ve represented the craft brewing world well.

Book Blurb:

A life must be lost. Who will make the ultimate sacrifice?

Lawson lives a simple life: a job at a brewery, and his basketball and hockey leagues. Even his eccentric lifelong friend and roommate—who is intent on discovering time travel—doesn’t complicate things. Then Jory appears. Lawson feels an immediate attraction to her, yet their attempts at dating end with him thinking it just isn’t meant to be. But Jory refuses to give up.

When one date ends tragically, Lawson turns to his best friend and the experimental time travel program he’s invented. But, no matter what he does, each time the reset ends with a loss.

It’s clear…a life must be lost, and Lawson is prepared to give his for Jory. But he isn’t the only one playing with time.

Will he spare Jory by forfeiting his own life? Or will someone else make the ultimate sacrifice?

Buy now:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes| add on Goodreads

About the Author:

LA Dragoni isn’t too particular about who fallsin love or where they fall in love. She simply considers it her job to capture the story about their love. Whether it’s paranormal, mythical, or time travel, LA will be there to divine their story for you. She lives in Central Oregon with her husband and children, but haunts ghost towns and cemeteries up and down the west, in search of the next adventure to sift through her storytelling brain. Learn more about LA and her work at www.ladragoni.com



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