My Summer TBR Pile – ft. a tower of books which will probably kill me

good morning, cyberspace!

I woke up the other morning to sunshine gleaming through my window, birdsong sparkling through the air, and the sound and smell (yes, smell) of the air conditioner filtering through the house.

In other words, summer is nigh upon us, and I figured it’s time to start plotting out which books I want to read this season!

I don’t know the logistics behind it, but I find that my excitement for reading strengthens tenfold during the summer. It’s like even though my life gets busier, I’m STILL able to find more time to read than I do during the winter/spring. It literally makes no sense, and yet…? I’m oddly okay with this. XD I love reading. I love summer. And sitting out on my front porch with a good book in my lap and a cat clawing at my feet is literally one of the best ways to spend my free time. #selfcare

So! Over the past few days I’ve been scribbling down which books I’d like to read during the summer, and today, I thought I’d share that (rather extensive) list with you all! Obviously it will be a miracle if I even end up reading HALF of the books on this list, but as of right now, I’m confident I can read at least three of them.

I’m a relatively slow reader, okay, don’t judge me. XD

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Believe it or not, I have yet to finish a Percy Jackson novel. …or anything written by Rick Riordan, for that matter. And I KNOW this is basically an atrocity to all reader-kind, of course, but allow me to explain the why’s behind it:

In a similar vein to the way Harry Potter was frowned upon in many Christian communities when it first came forth (unless you, like my family, realized it’s actually super cool and became lowkey obsessed with it), I always kind of looked at Percy Jackson–which is filled with Greek Mythology–and thought, “huh. blasphemous.” And I’m really not sure why I ever thought this, because it’s just mythology. The concept of such things is actually highly intriguing to most individuals. But there was something about it that made me feel funny, and therefore I stuck to Hogwarts and wizardry and stayed far, FAAAAAAR away from Camp Half-Blood. (because reading about witchcraft is so much more normal than reading about a kid who’s the son of Poseidon [or whoever Percy is related to. I think it’s the fish-dude {anyway. moving on.}])

But now that I’m a little bit older and a little bit wiser, I’ve since realized that I seriously missed out when it comes to the Percy Jackson stories. It’s essentially a classic Middle Grade series, and I–being the odd child that I was–completely passed it by. So now that I’m in my 20’s and clearly much more mature than I was all those years ago, I’m gonna read the book with the fish boy and the fawn kid with the funny boots. (I feel like I’m totally butchering this storyline, but HUZZAH. we shall see just how much of this I got right once I start reading. XD)


PETER PAN by JM Barrie

Believe it or not, despite my severe and unquenchable love for Peter Pan, I’ve never actually read Peter Pan. And this is CLEARLY an abomination which must be fixed immediately. I can’t go around touting a love for something I’ve technically never read, now can I?

(I mean, obviously I can because I’ve been doing it for years now but SHUSH. No one needs to think about this that hard. It’s fine. Everything is totally fine.)

Ahem. Moving on.


KING’S WARRIOR by Jenelle Schmidt (audiobook)

Okay, so this is one that I’m SO SO excited about. Jenelle’s fantasy series, Minstrel’s Song, JUST finished releasing in audiobook format, and it is my desire to read ALL of the audiobooks this year. But specifically this summer. XD

I have 20 minute long commutes to work (both ways), so that’s a total of 40 minutes of drive time every single time I’m scheduled to work. Despite the fact that I normally listen to music on my way to and from the coffee shop, it has since come to my attention that my time may be better spent jamming out to some super cool audiobooks–specifically ones about dragons and fantastical lands and SWORDS AND FIGHTING AND–

….to be honest, I’m a little nervous that I’ll get so emotionally invested in the story that I’ll crash, but eh. It’s fine. At least I’ll be slaying a dragon at the same time. XD

Okay okay, but in all seriousness, I really want to try listening to audiobooks during my drives! If I can listen to my ’tis but a bop playlist with my windows down while screaming Crocodile Rock at the top of my lungs, I’m pretty sure I can listen to an audiobook without anything truly awful happening.

…right? Right.

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GEMINA by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman

I read the first book in this series during the very beginnings of the *cough* plague *cough*. And for anyone who has read ILLUMINAE, I’m sure you can understand why reading such a book during a time in which a global pandemic was raging around the universe was scarring to say the least. I am therefore prone to believe that anything which happens in this series will inexplicably come to life and affect my real world whenever I read it. It’s a very terrifying situation I’ve found myself within, my friends.

But alas. We are going to continue along with the series, nevertheless. XD I sincerely apologize to anyone who has read GEMINA and knows the horrors which I’m about to release upon the real world. I simply cannot resist reading this novel any longer, I’m afraid.




Technically these are all rereads, and I SUPPOSE if I wanted to challenge myself less, I could just….delete these from my TBR. But, guys, I’m SO excited to be rereading this series, and I can’t possibly put it down now! My lovely friend, Christine, has been buddy reading these books with me, and it is just such a breath of fresh air for me right now. Getting to re-experience the world of Harry Potter with such a dear friend has been an experience of a lifetime.

I also just finished reading Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, and getting to see Remus and Sirius again made my heart oh so happy! While I love all of the Harry Potter’s dearly, Year 3 is definitely my favorite. There’s something about that book that just fills me with all of the warm fuzzies. XD

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talk to me, peasants!

And there you have it–my summer 2021 TBR pile! I’m absolutely positive I won’t be able to read ALL of these before the sun sets on the last day of summer, but like … a girl can dream, right? XD

So! What kinds of books are YOU planning on reading over the next few months? Pop down into the comments and tell me all about your wildest reading adventures! And until next time, as always…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

King’s Warrior Audiobook Release!

good morning, cyberspace!

If you follow me on any of my social media platforms, you PROBABLY already know what this here post is about. Recently, I was contacted by my lovely friend, Jenelle, to help spread the news about her first ever audiobook release, and today, my dearest of peasants, I’m finally able to do so!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children and the proverbial monsters beneath their beds……


Excitement GIF

Y’all, I am so ridiculously excited for this. I’ve been wanting to dip my toes into the audiobook world for a LOOOOONG time now (hello, multitasking!), but I just … haven’t done it yet? But Jenelle recently released the first book in her Minstrel’s Song series as an audiobook, and GUYS. I AM SO SO EXCITED TO READ IT.

Or … listen to it? Eh, we don’t care about proper terminology ’round here. XD

Larry David No GIF by Curb Your Enthusiasm

Not gonna lie, there’s something about audiobooks that lowkey freaks me out. Not being able to read the story at my own pace, not being able to feel the pages beneath my fingers, not hearing the voices as I would have imagined them in my head … it’s all so strange to me, and I’ve only ever truly completed one audiobook in my life because of it. (it was The Giver and I am still emotionally scarred from that novel, folks.)

However, with that being said, Jenelle has said that she specifically wrote King’s Warrior–and the entire Minstrel’s Song series, I do believe–with the intent for it to be read aloud. And even just listening to the audible sample (link below!), I can honestly say I see what she means. The narration of this book literally whisks you away within seconds of hitting play. I’ve never experienced that with an audiobook before–it always felt more stilted than anything–so I’m extremely excited to continue listening to this book and–once I’m done–write a review for it! And I definitely cannot wait for the rest of the series to become audiobooks, as well. (the rest of the series is currently in the works to become audiobooks, and GUYS. THIS PLEASES ME GREATLY.)

But anyway! I think that’s quite enough rambling from me. Let’s take a peek at the actual story, shall we? XD


photo credit: Jenelle Schmidt <3

The hope of their world rests on the steel at his side….
Threat of invasion looms. Oraeyn dreams of glory on the battlefield.
Instead, he must engage in a battle of wills with a headstrong princess while ushering her to safety (and boredom) in a small village. But they must put aside their differences to save their homeland and complete the second part of their mission: seek out the legendary King’s Warrior to persuade him to take up arms once more.

When their journey leads them to the lost realm of the dragons they get
more adventure than either of them bargained for!




Benjamin Fife has always had a passion for learning. With a mind that
remembers all sorts of numbers and useless trivia, he regularly wins local
radio shows and enjoys confusing people with sci-fi quotes. Fife grew up in
Southeast Idaho. He attended college at Idaho State University, where he
met his future wife in their music theory class. They have been married nearly 20 years and now have six children and a whole menagerie of
When his oldest daughter was three or four years old they started reading
aloud from novels every night at bedtime, and have continued the tradition
ever since. The family loves exploring various worlds and topics through
Fife’s wonderful reading skills, which get better every year. They all have
his Christmas Carol voices memorized (and the older kids are known to
quote along with portions), since he has read it to them every December. 
Benny enjoys all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy – both books and shows, is an
extreme eclectic music lover, and prefers his chocolate to be of the 90%
cocoa variety. Above all, he loves to be with his family. He loves recording
audio books, and is delighted to tell people, “I’ve finally found what I want to be when I grow up!”



Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books
aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding
a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up
fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin —which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia — with
her knight-in-shining armor and their four hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily
adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.


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Well, I do believe that’s all I’ve got for today, but before I officially sign off, I just want to say a HUGE congratulations to Jenelle for the release of her first ever audiobook! I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it a million times more, but you are literally my fairy godmother when it comes to all things publishing, and I am so impossibly blessed to have you and your stories in my life! Thank you for sharing your beautiful imagination with the world. <333

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talk to me, peasants!

All right, folks! Let’s talk all things audiobooks! Do you listen to audiobooks often, or do you prefer to read physical copies of stories? If you’re an avid audiobook listener, what are some of your favorite audiobooks to read? And for all my Nano-ing friends out there, how is NaNoWriMo going for you? I am currently very behind on my goal, but my heart is happy and I’m actually managing to stay sort of on top of the many things Life has decided to throw my way, so I’m not too upset about it. XD

As always, let’s talk about ALL of the things down in the comments below, and until next time…

A Wild Silmaril Award Approaches!

good morning, cyberspace!

Recently I was contacted by the ever lovely, potentially magical Jenelle Schmidt in regards to The Silmaril Awards–a yearly blog event which is, essentially, a giant Oscars for Fantasy Characters. (why, yes, you did read that right. it is an OSCARS for FANTASY CHARACTERS. *initiate intense flailing*)

The Question: Would I help host one of the nomination categories for the Silm Awards this year?


…or something to that affect, anyway.

As far as the Silmaril Awards go, I’ve always seen it floating vaguely across the expanse of the blogosphere each year, but I’ve never really participated. That is, I haven’t participated until this year. Because now, not only am I participating, but I’m also one of the co-hosts, and–this is the best part, folks–I’m in charge of hosting the villains category!!!!

I won’t go into too much detail on all this amazingness today, but I do want to share a few important pieces of information regarding the awards and how to participate!

First of all, nominations for the awards officially open up on AUGUST 31, so if you’re like me and have a tendency to forget important dates such as this until, like, three weeks later, MAKE SURE TO WRITE THIS ONE DOWN. Put it in your planner. Mark it on your calendar. Make a reminder on your phone. I’ve done literally all three of these, and so help me if I forget it, I will physically eat my left foot.

You can find all of the hosting blogs in the graphic below, which was designed by Jenelle and is actually the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. (in case you guys can’t tell, I absolutely adore this girl. she’s the best and her books and posts literally never cease to make me smile and warm my heart, so if you haven’t started following her yet … do it. do it now.)

So on August 31st, make sure to swing by each of these blogs and nominate your favorite fantasy characters for every award! (I think that’s how this works, anyway. can you tell I’m a newb? *pats NEWB badge nicely*)

Second piece of exciting information: there’s actually going to be a BOOKSTAGRAM CHALLENGE (#SilmarilAwards2020) this year! I’m doubly excited for this one, because I’ve … actually never participated in an instagram challenge before? At least, I’ve never completed an instagram challenge. probably because I am actually just a very smol bean sprout growing in a garden and there’s extremely poor internet way out here, so.

But this time I’m going to be both participating AND completing, and I think we can all agree that this is a very big promise for the Queen of Procrastination and Anxiety, but I digress. IT SHALL HAPPEN. *shakes fist at sky*

For dates and prompts, check out the graphic below (also created by Jenelle, who I now believe is not only a smol magical fairy, but a graphic-making genius, as well):

The challenge runs from the 24th of August to the 4th of September, with breaks on the weekends. (which is good, because I’m gonna NEED those. XD) I’m already beginning to collect my notes and try to figure out which characters I want to screm about over on my instagram page (@thesmudgedthoughts), so if you’re not already following me over there, make sure to check my page out! It’s still very smol and cute, but eventually I want to start sharing more about my WIPs and my writing progress over there!

And I think that’s all I’ve got for now? I’ll try to keep you all posted on any new developments as they come, but for now you can find more information about the awards over on the official website!

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talk to me, peasants!

EEP!! I am SO. INCREDIBLY. EXCITED. for this, you guys!!! Words literally cannot describe it. And I sincerely hope y’all will come and help vote in the most Nefarious Villain. It’s going to be AMAZING and I’m so ready for it!

Also a huge thank you to Jenelle for thinking of me when she needed another host?? Just….thank you. My heart is so full right now, and I’ve spent the last week preparing my guest room for all the villains who are undoubtedly going to become my new best friends. (this is going to be an AMAZING time, guys. seriously. I even baked cookies.)

I unfortunately don’t have any questions for today, but feel free to hit me up with all your recent writing/life-ish escapades! My next post is going to be filled with my OWN adventures, so … stay tuned for that, I guess. *sweats nervously*

Until next time. . .

Introducing A 12-Hour Read-a-thon Fundraiser!

Hello, Cyberspace! This is just gonna be a quick little post to help promote a 12-hour read-a-thon/fundraiser hosted by my lovely friends, Ally and Stassia, tomorrow afternoon at 12 pm EST! All donations received during the read-a-thon will go towards building a group home for orphans in North Macedonia, and the book they’re reading–My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry–looks absolutely adorable, and I just. . .!!! I am so excited for this, guys, you have no idea.


If you want to find out more about the read-a-thon, you can do so here. And if you’re interested in the overall project of building a home for orphans in North Macedonia, then you can find information about that and how to help on this page right here!

And for anyone interested in following along with the read-a-thon tomorrow, here’s the link to the youtube channel where the read-a-thon will be held!

(also also also, that amazing graphic up there was made by Stassia, and I just. . .??? IT IS GORGEOUS??? Please teach me your skill, girl, because my graphics are never this amazing. XD)

But anyway, I think that’s everything! If I remember something I forgot to include, I’ll pop it into an edit later. XD Wishing you all the bestest of Wednesdays and the most beautiful of weeks. . .!


An Echo Of The Fae Book Release Tour!: An Interview With The Author

good morning, cyberspace!

Remember a few weeks ago when I helped reveal the cover for Jenelle Schmidt’s newest release, An Echo Of The Fae? Well, today I was given the chance to go even deeper into the creation of this story! I’ve never really been part of a book release tour before, but if there is one book that I seriously want to help boost out there in the great, wide Cyberspace, it is this one.

I was initially supposed to do an author interview/book review post today, but because Life is a cruel mistress and Time hates my guts, I am unable to do the review portion today. I will, however, be posting that in the near-ish future, so please stay tuned for that! (seriously. y’all NEED to read this book.)

But, despite my inability to complete my tasks on time, I still have an absolutely LOVELY author interview to share with you all today! And I am so so excited for you to read it, because–as I’ve mentioned before, and as I shall keep mentioning until it is known world-wide–Jenelle is literally the Fairy Godmother of Indie Publishing. She is an absolutely hUGE inspiration to me in my own writing journey, and I am so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know her better over the course of the past year or so.

(not to mention we actually KNOW PEOPLE IN EACH OTHER’S IRL CIRCLES??? the world is eerily small sometimes, my dudes. XD)

So when the chance came for me to help promote her book and interview her on ALL OF THE WRITERLY things, I couldn’t pass up the chance. I still have a multitude of things I’m going to have to pick her brain on in the future, but for today, allow me to introduce you to our first ever Smudged Thoughts Author Interview!

(I feel so profesh now. look at me, guys, I’ve actually interviewed a real-life author!!! …ahem. moving on.)

LET’S CHAT!: featuring Jenelle Schmidt

Kenzie: Good morning, cyberspace, and welcome back to yet another episode of LET’S CHAT! This is a very special episode, however, for today, our interviewee is actually alive.

*collective gasp from the crowd*

Kenzie: I know. It’s quite shocking even to me. So before our lovely star has a chance to completely rethink this entire decision, let’s dive right into the interview! Ladies and gents, boys and girls, let’s give a giant, warm welcome to the one–the onlyJenelle Schmidt!

Kenzie: First thing’s first, our first question! How do you balance family and overall chaotic crazy Life-ish-ness with your writing life/goals and dreams? (I would absolutely love to hear how you juggle family and life with writing and blogging and just ALL OF THE THINGS, because you are a huge authorly inspiration to me, not gonna lie.)

Jenelle: Aww, well, thanks! 

Balance is always a hard thing to find, and it’s not always easy to keep things properly balanced. I will be the first to admit that there are many things to do, and at any given time in my life, there’s at least one important thing that’s not getting done or being neglected.

Usually it’s house work.

Pretty much always house work, actually. And sometimes it’s cooking. We probably eat take-out more often than we ought to. Which is a bummer, because I actually like cooking and am pretty good at it.

But, that aside, there are a few things I do that I think help me.

  1. God comes first. When I slack off in reading my Bible or spending time in prayer, everything else in my life suffers. Usually, when things begin to tip out of balance, this is the reason. I’m not making time in my day for my Lord and Savior, and that throws all the rest of the things out of whack.
  2. Limit time on social media. This one has been a major problem for me the past few months during the quarantine, and my time on social media definitely got way out of balance, which meant that a lot of other things did not get done in a timely fashion… or at all. So it was a good reminder and wake-up call to set limits on how much time I spend on social media.
  3. Protect your writing time and do whatever you need in order to make sure that time is spent writing. This is a two-fold key, because when those moments come that you’ve set aside for writing, you have  to be proactive to make sure that you actually WRITE during that time. Don’t let other things get in the way. If you know you’ll be distracted by a messy house, make sure you do your cleaning before you get to your writing time, otherwise you’ll spend your writing time cleaning! (And nobody wants to do that!)

I also have a super incredibly amazing supportive husband who loves my stories and loves the fact that I’m an author and helps make sure that I get time to work on my writing.

Kenzie: Oh my word, I LOVE this answer!!! I definitely need to start limiting my social media time, as well. (specifically youtube…aha.) And THANK YOU for mentioning the part about putting God first. That is such a crucial point and I feel like it really needs to be discussed more…

Kenzie: What does your writing process typically look like on a day-to-day basis? (I’m probably being kind of selfish, here, because I absolutely love insider looks into author lives.)

Jenelle: I’m never quite sure how to answer this question. I just… erm… write. I open my computer, pull up my document, and pick up where I left off. (If I’ve been consistent and disciplined, I don’t even have to re-read much of what I wrote before… though lately so much time has passed between writing sessions because of getting ready for this release that my other projects have suffered a little).

I used to be a revise-while-you-draft writer, where I would spend a couple of hours writing, then the next day I would start out by going over what I had written the day before, editing and tweaking before moving on to write new stuff, but then I discovered the amazingness that is word sprints (thank you, Anne Elisabeth Stengl!) and ever since then, I have implemented those into my writing process with a lot of success. I don’t do much revising or editing when I’m drafting now, though I definitely do a lot more outlining! 

I tend to have a very basic overall outline for the story, and then as I’m writing I’ll create more detailed outlines for the next scene or the next several scenes so that I know my next immediate destination with regards to the overall plot, and then I write as fast as I can to get there.

Kenzie: *INTENSE FLAILING* WORD SPRINTS!!!! YES!!! I absolutely ADORE those, as well! Goodness, next time I’m going to have to ask you about your outlining process. I definitely need help, there. XD

And finally: they say that each new book teaches you something new. Did this particular novel teach you something about writing/your creative process that you hadn’t yet realized?

Jenelle: Yes! An Echo of the Fae taught me a lot of things. But the thing it taught me the most was the beauty of creating something with my Creator. I really feel that God laid this story on my heart, and He was with me every step of the way throughout the entire process. I didn’t write a single scene without talking to Him about it first.

If you haven’t read Allen Arnold’s “The Story of With” I highly recommend you get a copy of the audio book and give it a listen. (Or you could read it, but the audio book is fantastic). It’s a book about what it can look like when you choose to pursue your creative identity with and for God, rather than for yourself or for the acclaim of the world. It’s one of the things that has been extremely inspirational in my own life over the past couple of years. 

Why do I bring this up, a book recommendation sort of randomly in the middle of my answer to this question? Well, I felt like the things I learned while listening to The Story of With sprang to life in my own creative process as I wrote An Echo of the Fae. It was a transforming experience, and one that I am sure I will have to relearn again and again. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the same sort of writing experience I had while writing Echo… but I’m glad I got to experience it once.

Kenzie: …I absolutely love this, and am totally checking out that book now. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Jenelle! All of your answers were so inspiring and helpful, and I cannot WAIT for the world to meet Echo!

Kenzie: As for the rest of you, don’t forget to snag your own copy of this amazing book over on Amazon, and also make sure to check out this post right here over on Jenelle’s blog to find the rest of the blog tour stops! There’s an insta challenge and a TON of fun content coming your way, so head on over to Jenelle’s site so you don’t miss anything!

Kenzie: As always, let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS!! down in the comments below, and until next time. . .

Kenzie: *flings cookies in the air and disappears*

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talk to me, peasants!

GUYS!!!! AN ECHO OF THE FAE IS OFFICIALLY OUT IN THE UNIVERSE!!!! I am so impossibly exited about this, and I can’t wait to get my own copy… Having this book on my shelf is going to be my reward for finishing my own novel, methinks. XD

But anyway!!! Questions!!!

  • how do you balance life and family and the overall chaotic craziness of existing with your writerly dreams?
  • have you ever read The Story of With? (I’m gonna be checking my library for this as soon as I can. It sounds like a book I’m desperately in need of right now…)
  • do YOU like writing with word sprints? (if not, you should really try it. I’m gonna form a word sprint club that meets every Monday night. I’ll bring the cookies and the punch. XD)

And finally, most important of all–


I am ridiculously excited about this book, guys. I don’t think I’ve been as excited for a new release since The Boy Next Story came out last year. XD But anyway. I DIGRESS.

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down below, and until next time. . .

A BOOKISH BEANS REVIEW: The Girl and the Witch’s Garden by Erin Bowman

good morning, cyberspace!

Today I’m coming at you all with a book review, which–in case you’re kinda confused with all the general bookishness that I’m flinging at you this month–has absolutely nothing to do with the book cover that I helped reveal last week. (however, if you’re interested in beautiful covers and want to join me in my mass excitement for Jenelle Schmidt’s new release coming out later this month, GO CHECK THAT SMUDGE OUT, PEASANTS!)

However, sallying forth, let’s talk about The Girl And The Witch’s Garden! (a.k.a. the novel I shall be providing a non-spoilery review for today!)

(special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher–Simon and Schuster–for sending me a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review!!)

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taken from goodreads

Mallory Estate is the last place twelve-year-old Piper Peavey wants to spend her summer vacation. The grounds are always cold, the garden out back is dead, a mysterious group of children call the property home, and there’s a rumor that Melena M. Mallory—the owner of the estate and Piper’s wealthy grandmother—is a witch.

But when Piper’s father falls ill, Mallory Estate is exactly where she finds herself.

The grand house and its garden hold many secrets—some of which may even save her father—and Piper will need to believe in herself, her new friends, and magic if she wants to unlock them before it’s too late.

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Rating: 3 out of 5.

SO. I’m going to be perfectly blunt here and say that this particular novel was . . . not exactly what I expected when I requested the arc for it. I’m sure this is yet another prime example of judging a book by its cover, but looking at the adorable illustration pictured above, I was expecting something soft and whimsical and–dare I say it–childish between the pages. That’s what I love most about Middle Grade, after all. Of course it has deep themes and hard truths of life and all that “fun stuff” about what it’s like living through your Youngin’ Years, but there’s also a simplicity and innocence lurking there, as well–something that Young Adult novels are strikingly without.

However, this book in particular felt more like a read for fans of the Percy Jackson series than fans of The Girl Who Drank The Moon, if that makes any sense. Whereas they’re both Middle Grades with an emphasis on magic and the fantastical, they both have drastically different tones to them.

HOWEVER! That being said, this is definitely not a bad thing and should not be taken as a knock against this book! Despite the fact that it wasn’t the tone I was initially anticipating (something that is entirely my fault), I still thought this book was very well done.

The theme, in particular, stands out as one of this book’s shining qualities. For one thing, it is deep for a children’s book. Not in a “this is gonna fly right over this kid’s head” kind of way, but in a “this is something that kids should really have more access to/conversation about” kind of way. It was nice to see a topic of such importance handled with such grace and tact, and I truly believe that somewhere out there, there’s a child who will benefit greatly from having a book with this particular message in their life. (not to mention that it IS filled with magic and wonder and enchantments, which is clearly what all of us readers are here for anyways, amiright? XD)

While the theme may have been my favorite aspect of this book, the characters were probably my least favorite. (which sounds harsh, but I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds.) Actually, the more I think about it, I’m not entirely sure whether it was the characters or the plot which fell a little flat for me–in some ways I think it might have been a mixture of the two working together–but there was definitely something about this novel that felt . . . “off”.

Our main protagonist, Piper Peavey, started off with quite a bit of promise. And for the most part, she was a likable protagonist. She was smol and young and sassy–a beautiful combination, truly–but as the story progressed, she began to develop a trait which I’m seeing more and more in the fiction world, and one that I just canNOT get behind, no matter how many times it crops up: lying.

My goodness, if there is one thing we can change in the future years of the publishing industry, can it PLEASE be the storylines that revolve around lies? Like??? Please??? I can’t even tell you how many books I have read that have “conflicts” which could easily be resolved in three minutes flat if the characters would just TALK to one another openly and honestly. I’ve actually considered flinging books at the wall because the characters are acting like utter imbeciles.

But I digress. These characters were not quite as bad as that, and the adorable motley crew of children living at Mallory Estate were, as a matter of fact, my favorite characters of the bunch. Especially Teddy and Kenji. (which is probably why it bothered me so much that Piper, who had JUST MET THESE SMOL PRECIOUS BEANS, started lying to them, even if I can understand the reasoning behind her secrecy.)

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for any length of time, you’ll already know that characters MAKE a story for me. Plot is important, of course, but if your characters are flat, chances are I won’t enjoy your story, even if it IS the coolest concept I’ve ever seen. So, with that being said, I truly believe that the smol beans of Mallory Estate brought the story together in a way that wouldn’t have otherwise happened had they not been included in the cast.

Piper’s grandmother, on the other hand . . . well, she’s part of the reason the story felt a bit off, simply because her and her daughter’s character arcs felt slightly unnatural and forced. (Sophia Peavey, especially, was a bit of a disappointment as far as character development goes. I didn’t really understand the reasoning behind her choices, even at the resolution of the story. it felt inorganic, in a way. definitely unnatural for the woman I had initially believed her to be, but maybe that was the point. . .?)

Overall, if I can stop thinking about the plot and characterization from a writer’s perspective and view it as a reader simply looking for a good dose of the fantastical, I can honestly say I found this book to be a rather pleasant read. I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute favorite, but for readers looking for a sweet, enchanting Middle Grade novel with deep themes of love, loyalty, and family, I’d definitely recommend giving The Girl and the Witch’s Garden a try!

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talk to me, peasants!

Have you read any particularly good middle grade novels recently? (I’m currently trying to devour as many of these as I possibly can for some reason?? Middle grade is SPEAKING to me right now, and I think I’d like to try my hand at writing one someday…? *hint hint*) What kinds of themes do you like to see in books? Soft themes? Deep ones? And do you prefer softer, more whimsical MG novels (like The Girl Who Drank The Moon), or more hardcore fantastical ones (like Percy Jackson)?

And most importantly of all. . .


I feel like not reading this book is semi-akin to the sin which is never-having-read Harry Potter. So. Tell me if this is something that needs to change immediately. XD

As usual, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below, and until next time. . .

An Echo of the Fae Cover Reveal!

good morning, cyberspace!

Today, I have a very, very, very, very exciting post for you all! Recently, Jenelle Schmidt–author of The Minstrel’s Song series, ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem, and many other delightful books which you can find right here–sent out a call for bloggers to help spread the word about her newest release–an original fairytale titled An Echo Of The Fae. And I–being the very lucky bean that I am–was able to sign up to help out with the cover reveal!!

(and also the actual book release, but shhh. you’ll hear more about that later. . .!)

Obviously, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I absolutely adore Jenelle. She’s like the fairy godmother of indie publishing, and her Self-Publishing Summer School series is something that I think every aspiring author should read–especially if you, like me, are interested in learning more about the indie side of publishing. So when I discovered that I actually had the chance to help celebrate the release of her newest book baby, I was over the moon excited.

And I’m possibly even MORE excited for you guys to see this cover today!!! I don’t even know the right words to describe it. Whimsical? Enchanting? Absolute perfection in every way? I’m honestly squealing just looking at it in my email. Which DEFINITELY ISN’T WEIRD AT ALL, HOW DARE YOU.

Ahem. So I should probably share it with you all now, right? Right. I’m pretty sure that’s how a cover reveal works. . . *laughs nervously*

All right, folks! Without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to the absolutely stunning cover for An Echo of the Fae!

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Echo enjoys the peace and solitude of the Faeorn forest, regardless of how strange spending time in the “haunted” wood seems to others.

But on the cusp of her thirteenth birthday, the discovery of a family secret reveals why Echo has never been drawn to the sea like her mother. This discovery shakes the foundations of her world and sends Echo on a quest, not merely into the forest, but into the heart of the fae-lands themselves, to rescue the sister she didn’t know existed.

Elves, dragons, and fairy courts will put Echo’s wit and resolve to the test. But with time running out for her sister, will Echo even be able to save herself?

A fairytale adventure perfect for fans of The Secret of Roan Innish and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.


“Enthralled by the terror, charm, riddles, and beauty of a richly depicted fae world, I devoured this marvelous book in two sittings! Readers of all ages will love Echo, a heroine strong in her weakness, clever and resolute amid her doubt and fear. An Echo of the Fae is sure to satisfy lovers of adventure and faery!” — J.M. Stengl, author of The Faraway Castle Series

OH. MY. GOODNESS. First of all, let’s talk about the cover, shall we? Because is this the most beautiful cover in the whole entire universe, or what? The font. The forest. The whole enchantment of it all. . . I am literally in love with this cover, okay? I’ve been squealing ever since I found it in my inbox.

BUT CAN WE ALSO TALK ABOUT THAT BLURB, THOUGH??? I don’t know about you guys, but this sounds like it’s going to become one of my all-time favorite books of ever. It has the makings of everything I absolutely adore in a book–a precious protagonist, mysterious fae, creepy forests, FAIRYTALES. Not only that, but it’s geared towards 12-to-13-year olds, and that’s kind of where I’m finding my reading tastes to be leaning towards lately???

(I’m not entirely sure what this means for my mental state, but it’s fine. I’m sure this is perfectly normal for a twenty-year-old.)

So yeah. Suffice to say, this is a book that I am very excited about. Later this month I’ll be back with my full–hopefully non-spoilery–review of this book, but until then, allow me to leave you with a beautiful snippet from this beautiful book!


My earliest memory returns often in my dreams. My mother’s soft smile caresses me as she bends down to kiss my forehead, my own tiny hand reaching up and trying to capture a lock of her long red-gold hair between clumsy fingers that refuse to obey my wish. A soft, sweet humming fills the memory, a tune that is both dear and yet unfamiliar. Eyes filled with love gaze down at me, and a gentle laugh, a man’s laugh, fills the room. Strong arms encircle us both, my mother and me, and I know I am perfectly safe. Perfectly loved.

Another sound permeates the memory: a rhythmic, rushing, liquid sound I do not recognize, but which fills me with a deep longing that threatens to burst out of my chest and leave me completely hollow. In the dream, it is merely a subtle noise in the background, but when I wake I feel a desperate need to find its source. Sometimes the longing clutches me so tightly that it leaves me gasping, desperately sucking in each breath as if through a narrow reed, my lungs screaming as though they have forgotten how to breathe the very air I need to survive.

It is rare to have a memory from such a tender age, especially one so vivid. And yet, that moment is locked in my thoughts with perfect clarity. During the day it grows distant and faded, but it has haunted my sleep in full, vibrant detail each night for nearly thirteen years.

So why is it that the face in my dreams is wholly unfamiliar to me? Why is the mother from my memory a stranger?

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Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin—which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia—with her knight-in-shining armor and their four adorable hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.

Follow Jenelle around the interwebs to get news about latest releases and her writing adventures:









This beautiful cover was designed by Savannah Jezowski from Dragonpen Press! You can find out more about Savannah at her website down below, as well as join the Dragonpen Press Facebook group!



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talk to me, peasants!

  • is anyone else super excited about the arrival of this book? I have had SO MUCH FUN getting to be a part of this cover reveal, but I’ll be honest–it’s making me super impatient for this book to be released. XD Only 19 more days until it’s out in the universe and I can squeal about it without worrying about spoilers!!! MEEP!
  • what sorts of things compose your favorite kinds of books? For me it’s a mixture of the fantastical, the whimsical, and the strange. Fairytales are a wonderful example of this, which is probably why I love them so much. . .

and most important of all. . .


I’ve seen a lot of covers in my day, but my goodness. This probably has to be one of my personal favorites.

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below! And until next time. . .

THE BOOKISH BEAN REVIEWS: ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

good morning, cyberspace!

It’s pretty common knowledge that your girl doesn’t exactly “DO” reviews. As a rule, they’re pretty stiff and informal and dry, and the mere thought of writing one makes me shudder. Ask me in person whether or not I liked a book–and whether or not you should read it–and I will literally slap you in the face with all of the pros and cons and beautiful, gory details about why a book is absolute PERFECTION. But here, staring at an empty screen. . .? Yeah. The words don’t exactly flow in the fangirl-gibberish that I’m typically used to.

But today, I am willing to shove all of my common misconceptions about review-writing aside for the sake of one specific book–a book which was so good and wonderful and perfect that I physically must get all these emotions off my chest, or it is possible that I may implode.

Today, I want to talk to you all about Illuminae. And, more specifically, why you seriously need to read this book.

Read More »

Seventh City Book Tour Stop: Interview With Emily Hayse!

good morning, cyberspace!

Today is a very, very special day for the blog, my friends! This past January, I had the absolutely remarkable privilege of getting to beta read indie author Emily Hayse’s newest book baby! This turned out to be not only an amazing opportunity to flex my beta reading muscles, but also an opportunity to discover what would quickly become one of my absolute favorite indie published books to date: Seventh City.

Now, eight months later, Seventh City has finally been released out into the great wide world to stand on its own two feet, and its author–the ever-lovely Emily–has contacted me (me!!!) to be a part of the Seventh City Book Tour!

So today we are inviting Emily over to Smudged Thoughts to talk all about her newest book and authorly life! So without further ado, let’s get into the interview!Read More »

100 DAYS OF SUNLIGHT: A Smol and Soft and Summery Read

good morning, cyberspace!

Today I’m gonna tell you all about a book.

It’s a good book. A soft book. A book of sadness and happiness and a million other emotions all jumbled and stuffed between two adorable yellow covers. It’s a book that tugged at my heartstrings, a book that made me laugh, and–coincidentally–a book that was written by none other than the marvelous Abbie Emmons. (who, if you don’t know [though I’m gonna take a wild stab in the dark here and say that you PROOOOOBABLY know who she is by now] is a blogger and YouTuber–AND can apparently write absolutely fantastic novels, as well. Kind of unfair how much talent this girl has, but I digress.)

I think I should probably mention this now–since I don’t want to go to jail for forgetting to mention it or something–but I was able to receive an e-arc of Abbie’s book, 100 Days Of Sunlight, through Netgalley. (a service which I have coincidentally never before used, and therefore will probably never use again because #terrifying) This means that while I might have been able to read the ARC* of this book for free, my thoughts and opinions and feelings towards this book are COMPLETELY my own, and are in no way, shape, or form altered by the fact that A) I love Abbie’s blog and YouTube channel, and B) I got to read the book for free. Yes, there will probably be a lot of gushing and squealing and references to “MY HEART!!!!” but I mean??? How is that different from any other of my posts, am I right?

Right. So now that we’ve got all that weird legally binding stuff out of the way, let’s jump right into the actual review!Read More »