Book Review: The Guilt Trip

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press & Minotaur Books for my advance copy of The Guilt Trip in exchange for my honest review!

This book started a little rough for me. I find it confusing when a lot of characters are introduced at once. For this one we met 3 couples right away; 1 is getting married and the other 2 couples are great friends. I couldn’t keep who was with who straight until halfway through the book, but I know that’s a me thing!

The couples fly to Portugal for a wedding. No one seems to be a fan of the future wife (the brother of the soon to husband is here and sets off a cheating rumor). Is she crazy? Is she hiding something?

There is a lot of speculation of cheating in this one. Something just seems off in general. Sandie Jones does a FANTASTIC job of creating doubt in the reader’s mind. Just when you think, ah this is what is happening you think, ehhh maybe not?

This becomes unputdownable halfway through. You need answers! Is the wedding going on?! Is the future wife cheating on her soon-to-be husband?! Is a child’s paternity going to be questioned within the circle of friends?! Whaaaaaaat?!?

The ending was fast paced and in your face. That epilogue. That short, little epilogue and your mind is blown. Wow. It tied everything together and then I kicked myself, haha.

4 stars.  SOLID read, great thriller. I didn’t anticipate the ending, but it was great and I’m left satisfied with how everything turned out!! You won’t regret reading this one!

Title: The Guilt Trip

Author: Sandie Jones

Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 21, 2021

Find it here on Goodreads


Book Review: Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook @stassi @GalleryBooks #MomsWhoRead #PumpRules #ReadMe #Book

I have reached a turning point! This is my last back logged review from a book I read in 2019!!! I waited for this one FOREVER at my local library! Was it worth my painstaking wait? Let’s see…

I want to start this review and say, I have a bias. I LOVE the show Vanderpump Rules. I’ve gone back and forth on my feelings for Stassi, but as of lately I am loving her. I loved this book. If you’ve watched the show you will know that this book is written completely in her voice.

We get a little backstory on Stassi and her upbringing. What I loved most about this book is that she isn’t afraid to say what she is feeling. She lets her opinion be known and if you don’t like it, tough. The moral I got from reading this was to be yourself, who cares what others think. It ended up being an empowering read!

I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit from her antics. It was a light, enjoyable read. It was good AF. Yes, she uses that a LOT in the book. If you have ever watched the show, it wouldn’t surprise you.

4 stars.  I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who isn’t in to Bravo reality shows. I have a lot more respect for Stassi after reading this. This certainly would be an enjoyable book to a #PumpRules fan. For others, meeeeeeeh maybe pass it up. I enjoyed it…and guess what, I don’t care if you don’t!


Title: Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook

Author: Stassi Schroeder

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Autobiography, Chick Lit

Publisher: Gallery Books

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads

Book Review: Ask Again, Yes @Mary_Beth_Keane @ScribnerBooks #MomsWhoRead #5Stars #Beautiful #Reading #ReadMe #AskAgainYes #BookBlog

I picked this one up at the local library (yes, back in 2019…I have been sloooooooow on catching up on my reviews, almost there!!) after being on the waiting list for awhile. I heard great things about Ask Again, Yes and it did not disappoint!

I would simply describe this tale as a modern day Romeo & Juliet. The story starts with two rookie cops in NYPD living next door to each other. The Gleeson’s have daughters and the Stanhope’s have one son. Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope become fast friends as they are only 6 months apart and are pretty much inseparable…until there is some family drama.

Kate and Peter end up falling in love, much to their families protests. Eventually Peter moves away due to the instability of his mother and they lose contact. Over time they reconnect and we get to see their story play out. Keep in mind, their families NEVER approve of their relationship, will it work out?

Not only do we get the story of Kate and Peter, but we also see the marriage of the Gleeson’s and Stanhope’s. The story takes us over the course of 40 years and really tells the tale of true relationships and what goes on behind closed doors.

I really enjoyed watching the progression of relationships. Sometimes I felt heartbreak and was yelling at the characters, but in the era they were in, all was accepted and the norm. I had tears and I had smiles. What I loved most was the integrity of the characters and the ability to forgive.

5 stars.  This was such a beautifully penned book, I loved every page of it. It had the right balance of heartache and love. It makes you wonder what life is like for your neighbor across the street that you think lives in this perfect bubble, things aren’t always what they seem on the outside and Ask Again, Yes is the perfect example of that. This is a must read!


Title: Ask Again, Yes

Author: Mary Beth Keane

Genre(s): Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Adult

Publisher: Scribner

Release Date: May 28, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads

Book Review: Foul Is Fair @Netgalley #YoungAdult #MomsWhoRead #Review #BookBlog #Reading

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for my copy of Foul Is Fair in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Guess what…I didn’t like studying Macbeth in high school and I didn’t care for this novel. I won’t sugar coat it, I just found it a little extreme and unbelievable for me.

If you like violent, bloody, and dark, revengeful reads…oh, you’ll LOVE this book. I felt it was a little far fetched for kids in high school. The premise is Elle goes to a party and gets raped. She takes revenge on the group of kids that raped her with the help of her coven. She tells her parents in a roundabout way that she’s going to kill the boys and they tell her she needs to do what she needs to do…what?

Elle transfers to their school and manipulates the group of friends to turn on each other and murder one another. It is a crazy, wild ride…just not for me. It was not a badly written book…it has a different writing style…I just did not care for the content.

Elle’s coven is a loyal group of friends who when she says jump, they say how high. This book certainly was unique and I have not read anything like it…again, there is a lot of blood, murder, and violence in this one. It is crazy how person can infiltrate a group of GOOD friends and turn their world upside down.

3 stars.  I know there are many of you out there that would LOVE this book. I am not in the book’s target demographic. If the description of the book appeals to you, pick it up…if you’re like me and maybe on the fence or thinking it isn’t for it…pass it up. You can tell as soon as you start reading this one if the plot and style of writing is for you!


Title: Foul Is Fair

Author: Hannah Campin

Genre(s): Fiction, Young Adult, Retelling

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Find it here on Goodreads

Book Review: The Lost Letters of William Woolf @wordsofhelen @HarlequinBooks @netgalley

Yup, catching up on those Netgalley reads! Thank you to Graydon House/Harlequin publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest (& late) review!

This was such a unique book. It’s a great, refreshing read that will have you rooting for people you’ve never met as they “find” themselves in this one.

Reader’s digest summary: William met his wife in college at a book club that failed and only she showed up to. Their marriage is rocky. He works at the lost letters depot and tries to get mislabeled packages/letters to their rightful owners. He stumbles across letters he feels are meant for him. Can his marriage survive?

What I loved about this book…both the husband AND wife have faults. They aren’t perfect and feel like they both may have made a mistake with marrying each other. They both go on a personal discovery through their own means and ultimately…well, read the book.

I will admit I thought (based off the title) that there would be more to this book with lost letters, but I wasn’t disappointed with how it was written. We have some happy stories of him delivering mail to people who least expected it. The focus was just on the personal journey of the husband and wife, which again, was a great story.

4 stars.  I found myself rooting for the marriage throughout this book. It truly is a tale of a marriage in that dreaded 7 year itch, will they or will they not make it. The author just penned a tale of a troubled marriage and the solution so absolutely well. You won’t regret picking this one up!


Title: The Lost Letters of William Woolf

Author: Helen Cullen

Genre(s): Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Publisher: Graydon House

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads

Book Review: Anything For You #SaulBlack @Netgalley @StMartinsPress #MomsWhoRead #Thriller #Mystery #Novel #ReadMe

Slowly getting through my Netgalley reads…I don’t even want to let you know how many I’m behind on.  I have been holding true to my promise and I have not requested any more yet.  See, I’m being a good girl!  After I finish this review it’s off to read some more!  My Kindle will be burning the midnight oil!



This book twisted and this book turned…I did not see the ending coming, although I feel like it COULD be predictable for those of you thriller aficionados, but not for me!  What I appreciated most about this book was the side story of the detective, Valerie.

This book is about solving a murder…or two…Valerie is on the case and has her own family drama.  This is apparently book number 3 in the Valerie Hart series so I don’t know what her personal life has been like up until now, but she had some drama.  I don’t feel like I missed out on anything and didn’t realize it was number 3 until I pulled up the Goodreads page.  So not only do we have this mystery of who killed who, we also have a side story going on…this book was just filled with great writing!

It was easy to follow, even after I ended up deserting this book for a MONTH (shame I know), but when I picked it back up it was easy to remember everything that happened.  A big fancy prosecutor, Adam, is murdered.  His family is just in pieces over his death and then another murder is discovered…are they connected?  Oh, you’ll have to read to find out.  It was a great thriller with a fun side story, again, I really appreciate that!

4 stars. I am sure you’re tired of me saying this, but I really liked reading for the mystery, as well as for the family drama and what Valerie would do.  I was in her corner and I am so HAPPY with what happens in her personal life in the end.  Aren’t you just curious to know what this is all about?  Go get a copy of this book ASAP!


Title: Anything For You

Author: Saul Black

Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: November 12, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads

Book Review: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets @MollyOKWrites @HarlequinBooks #FamilyDrama #Novel #MustRead #5stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House Publishing for my advanced reader’s copy of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets. This book is set to be released next week and if you pre-order a copy now you’ll have it on release day! Spoiler alert: it was a 5 star read for me.

Family secrets are the main event in this book. We have two sisters who used to be close and now never speak to each other. A mother who keeps walking off to a house and yelling at everyone around her and a young teenage girl who looks a lot more like her aunt than her mother…intrigued?

I love the journey each character went on. Every woman in this book grows and finds herself. The teenage daughter is on a path of trouble. She thinks everyone is against her and no one will treat her like an adult and tell her the truth. When the truth unravels out…well…no true spoilers from me! Lindy, the trouble maker sister, comes back in to town when her old crush from high school (now town police officer) calls her at her mother’s request. The mother has had “brain events” and is not quite herself. Lindy comes to town and helps out. Enter Delia. The sister who stayed in town and took on the family business and cares for their ailing mother all while raising her own family.

Will the two sisters be able to mend their relationship? After being driven apart can the two sisters even stand to be in the same room together? Delia has a lot of years of pent up anger and depression. Lindy has a lot of years of failed relationships and dead end jobs. The mother is realizing that her bouts of confusion are occurring more frequently and that she is taking things out on the wrong people. Delia’s daughter ends up finding out that her mother isn’t so bad after all…but can she turn her attitude around in time before it’s too late?

This is a must read 5 star read, but I already told you that. Each character comes with their own personal conflicts AND resolutions. It was absolutely heart wrenching for me to read about the mother and watch her have her good days and her bad days. The mother ends up taking the fall for not teaching her girls how to cope with things that happen in life, and we find out the secrets they keep. I am shocked I did not cry while reading this, but I wanted to.

The thought that went in to each character is appreciated and well thought out. The book is told from the perspectives of the mother, Lindy, Delia, and the daughter. What I found most appealing is how DIFFERENT each character sounded. The daughter sounded as if a 16 year old mad at the world girl was talking. The mother really sounded like someone who was trying to have her wits about her, but just couldn’t quite do it. The strife in the sisters’ voices was remarkable. It was so easy to picture each character and the flow was great. Pick this book up once it’s on sale on July 16th!


Title: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets

Author: Molly Fader

Genre(s): Family Drama, Fiction, Women’s Lit

Publisher: Graydon House

Release Date: July 16, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The First Mistake @realsandiejones #TheFirstMistake #ARC #BookReview #4.5stars #BookBlog @panmacmillan @StMartinsPress @MinotaurBooks

I love getting book mail. As you may have seen awhile ago I received an advance copy of this book, The First Mistake, in the mail. Thank you St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books for the opportunity to read this before it hits the shelves tomorrow.

This took me a few chapters to get into. Once I got into it, there was no putting this book down! It reminded me of the country song that goes like this…”Still you wonder who’s cheatin’ who and who’s bein’ true and who don’t even care anymore. Makes you wonder who’s doin’ right to someone tonight and who’s car is parked next door…” or something close to that.

The premise is Alice is (re)married to Nathan. Her first husband tragically died in a skiing accident. She has her best friend Beth by her side…although, they have an odd relationship and not one I would say meets the criteria of “best” friends…but, to each their own! Alice owns her own design company and they are getting ready to take on a HUGE new project. Alice starts to suspect that Nathan may be cheating on her and starts to vent to Beth…the irony is Beth always makes sure that when she comes around, Nathan isn’t there…hmmmmmmm. Let me tell you now, this story is NOTHING what you think it will be! You go on a wild ride.

The story is told in 3 parts; present day Alice, past day Beth, and then back to present day with Alice & Beth. How Sandie Jones ties this one all together was brilliant. I never saw it coming. I just held my breath the entire time while reading the book when one revelation was revealed after the other. I must have gasped out loud at least 5 times!

Personally, Sandie Jones outdid herself in her second novel. There. I said it. I would like to kind of go off track and leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book (my other favorite is within the featured image)…

“These people’s lives are fake,” says Alice, picking up the offending item. Sophia looks at it as if it’s a baby that her mother is about to throw into a road. “They’re not lives you can aspire to because they’re not real, and I think it’s putting you kids under an awful lot of pressure to be a certain way and look a certain way.”


This is a 4.5 star read. It grips you and won’t let go until you reach the end. The only reason I did not give it a 5 star read was BECAUSE of the end. I love my endings tied up nicely and this one…well…it ties it up and I can ASSUME what happens because of the careful word choice in the epilogue; however, we are not 100% certain and for that, it’s a 4.5 star read. Let me tell you if I ever meet Sandie the first question I’m asking is…well, I can’t tell you, it will give the book away. Shoo! Go get this book STAT and then come back and LET’S CHAT ABOUT THAT ENDING!!!!!!!!!


Title: The First Mistake

Author: Sandie Jones

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Saving Meghan

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy of Saving Meghan.  I told you guys in my last post I am behind, behind, behind on writing and posting reviews!  I did actually read this BEFORE it’s release date and have spread it around to a few people at work.  The consensus?  Read this book!!

This story is told from 2 perspectives; the mother, Becky, and the daughter, Meghan.  Meghan is sick, but no doctor can figure out what is wrong with her.  Becky is convinced there is some underlying disease and no doctor can find it.  Her husband starts to get fed up and thinks she may be making everything up.

Meghan gets sick, but only for quick periods of time.  Anytime vitals are run on her after an episode (fainting, blacking out, etc) they come out fine.  The doctors start to suspect it may be a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy and given Becky’s history with her mother, it may very well be the case.

Becky’s mother worked the system and faked illness in order to get money.  She taught Becky how to lie and what to do as a child so she could catch a free ride.  Maybe everyone is right and the mother is just making Meghan think she is sick…

A doctor listens to Becky and thinks that Meghan may actually have a serious rare illness.  It happens to be the same serious rare illness his son died of and the hospital feels he over diagnoses.  The testing to verify the illness is also difficult.  Essentially, no one can determine for certain if she has this crippling, life-threatening disease.

The tale keeps weaving and eventually Becky and her husband lose custody of Meghan.  Their relationship is tested as they try to get custody of her back.  The doctor that gave Meghan a diagnosis is fired from the hospital, but decides to help Becky out and win custody back!  He really feels he is right with his diagnosis.

Things get ugly.  You will question everyone involved in this case.  Ok, I am stopping here.  This book gets JUICY and has a twist where your jaw will drop.  Who saw it coming?  I didn’t!  It was a superbly told tale that will leave you not quite sure who to believe.  I doubted myself so much as I read this book, flip flopping between what I thought was happening.  For what it’s worth, I was way, way, WAY off with what was happening.

Originally I gave this a 4 star read, however, upon reflecting on this book, I feel it’s more of a 5 star in my eyes.  I doubted everyone at one point or another in this book and I wasn’t really sure what was going on.  I never liked, or was on one’s side long enough, because the author kept the pace that fast.  Truly this is a wonderful book if you are a fan of thrillers!  Have you read this one?  What do you think??



Title: Saving Meghan

Author:  D.J. Palmer

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon



Blog Tour: The Scent Keeper



What an interesting read.  The first thing I want to say is that if you are part of a book club, this is a MUST READ.  I promise you there is SO much to talk about throughout the book.  My thoughts?  I am very conflicted…

I could not get into this book until Part 2.  The entire first part of this book talks about scented paper and living on a deserted, desolate island where this little girl and her father forage for food.  Mermaids leave surprises in boxes every so often for supplies, but it all centered around a machine that made scents.  They left the paper in bottles and eventually the smells started to fade and it sent the father into a nose dive depression.   I just could not get into this book about scents.  I ended up speed reading most of this book as I really was having a hard time grasping the concept of it.  Toward the end of part 2 and for all of part 3 I did slow the pace of my reading down and really try to understand it.

We get past the scents and eventually the daughter, Emmeline (pronounced like on-the-line…don’t do what myself or her school teacher do and call her Emmelene haha), makes it to civilization and learns a whole new world (complete with a love interest).  Here is where my interest peaked and where she started to learn who she was and sought to seek out where she came from (remember, she was only raised by Dad and had no idea what her last name was or who her mother was).

I also enjoyed how the book ended.  I usually am only a fan of concrete endings, however, I know where Emmeline is going to end up and I really like how she leaves things off…the author did a good job.  For this book, it was the perfect ending.

People may wonder why I even bothered to continue to read this book if I was not enjoying it at first.  Here’s the thing.  Just because I personally do not like something, does not mean that someone else out there won’t.  Despite the fact that I was not into it, the author did a fantastic job at describing the surroundings and I was able to imagine such beautiful scenery.  The writing in this book was top notch, I just didn’t care for the content (at the beginning).  I also feel like this book needed that content at the beginning to create the book that it is.  Bauermeister is very talented, that is very obvious within her writing.

For this reason, I am not rating this book.  What I will do when I most my review to Goodreads and Netgalley, I’m not too sure, but I will figure something out.  This is a stop on The Scent Keeper blog tour and below please find more information about the author and the book.  Included is a sample of the first chapter so you can judge for yourself.  Again, this book turned in to an amazing read and I am happy I read it.  There is SO much to discuss about this book.  If you’ve read it, let’s chat!!

This book is released TOMORROW, May 21, 2019, so look for it at the links below or at your local bookstore!

Scent Keeper - Author Image_credit to Susan Doupé

About the Author:
Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
About the Book:
Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives. 
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them.  As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

Chapter One Excerpt…


Back before there was time, I lived with my father on an island, tucked away in an endless archipelago that reached up out of the cold salt water, hungry for air. Growing up in the midst of the rain and moss and ancient thick-barked trees, it was easy to forget that the vast majority of our island was underwater—descending down two, three, five hundred bone-chilling feet. Forever really, for you could never hold your breath long enough to get to the bottom.

Those islands were a place to run away, although I didn’t understand that at the time. I had nothing to run from and every reason to stay. My father was everything. I’ve heard people say that someone is their “whole world,” their eyes filled with stars. But my father was my world, in a way so literal it can still grab my thoughts, pick them up, and toss them around like driftwood in a storm.

Our cabin was set in a clearing at the center of the island. We were not the first to live there—those islands have a long history of runaways. Almost a century ago there were French fur trappers, with accents that lilted and danced. Loggers with mountainous shoulders, and fishermen who chased silver-backed salmon. Later came the draft dodgers, hiding from war. Hippies, dodging rules. The islands took them all in—the storms and the long, dark winters spat most out again. The beauty there was raw; it could kill as easily as it could astonish.

Our cabin had been built by the truest of runaways. He set up in a place where no one could find him and built his home from trees he felled himself. He spent forty years on the island, clearing space for a garden and planting an orchard. One autumn, however, he simply disappeared. Drowned, it was said. After that the cabin was empty for years until we arrived and found the apple trees, opened the door. Raised the population of the island to two.

I don’t remember arriving on the island myself; I was too young. I only remember living there. I remember the paths that wandered through those watchful trees, the odor of the dirt beneath our feet, as dark and complicated as fairy tales. I remember our one-room cabin, the big chair by the woodstove, and our collection of stories and science books. I remember the smell of wood smoke and pine pitch in my father’s beard as he read to me at night, and the ghostly aroma of the runaway’s pipe tobacco, an olfactory reminder that had sunk into the walls and never quite disappeared. I remember the way the rain seemed to talk to the roof as I fell asleep, and how the fire would snap and tell it to be quiet.

Most of all, I remember the drawers.

My father had begun building them when we moved into the cabin, and when he was done they lined our walls from floor to ceiling. The drawers were small things, their polished wooden fronts no bigger than my child-sized hands. They surrounded us like the forest and islands outside our door.

Each drawer contained a single small bottle, and inside each bottle was a piece of paper, rolled around itself like a secret. The glass stoppers of the bottles were sealed with different colored waxes—red in the top rows, green for those below. My father almost never opened the bottles.

“We need to keep them safe,” he said.

But I could hear the papers whispering inside the drawers.

Come find me.

“Please?” I’d ask, again and again.

Finally, he agreed. He took out a leather book filled with numbers and carefully added one to the list. Then he turned to the wall of drawers, pondering his choice.

“Up there,” I said, pointing up high to where the red-wax bottles lived. Stories always begin at the top of a page.

My father had built a ladder that slid along the wall, and I watched him climb it almost to the ceiling, reaching into a drawer and drawing out its bottle. When he was back on the ground, he carefully broke the seal. I could hear glass scritching against glass as he pulled out the stopper, then the rustle of the paper as he unrolled it into a plain, white square. He leaned in close, inhaling, then wrote another number in the book.

I meant to stay still, but I leaned forward, too. My father looked up and smiled, holding out the paper.

“Here,” he said. “Breathe in, but not too much. Let the smell introduce itself.”

I did as he said. I kept my chest tight and my breath shallow. I could feel the tendrils of a fragrance tickling the inside of my nose, slipping into the curls of my black hair. I could smell campfires made from a wood I didn’t recognize; dirt more parched than any I had ever known; moisture, ready to burst from clouds in a sky I’d never seen. It smelled like waiting.

“Now, breathe in deeply,” my father said.

I inhaled, and fell into the fragrance like Alice down the rabbit hole.


– – –


Later, after the bottle had been stoppered and sealed and put back in its drawer, I turned to my father. I could still smell the last of the fragrance lingering in the air.

“Tell me its story,” I asked him. “Please.”

“All right, little lark,” he said. He sat in the big chair and I nestled in next to him. The fire crackled in the woodstove; the world outside was still.

“Once upon a time, Emmeline . . .” he began, and his voice rolled around the rhyme of it as if the words were made of chocolate.

Once upon a time, Emmeline, there was a beautiful queen who was trapped in a great white castle. None of the big, bold knights could save her. “Bring me a smell that will break the walls,” she asked a brave young boy named Jack . . .

I listened, while the scents found their hiding places in the cracks in the floorboards, and the words of the story, and the rest of my life.