Bite-Sized Book Reviews: “The Hazel Wood”

A few posts ago, I wrote about my foray to Washington, D.C.’s East City Bookshop, and my happy surprise when I found that the book I’d purchased was a signed copy.

But that wasn’t the end of the surprises associated with Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood.

I didn’t know much about Albert’s novel prior to picking it up. But it came highly recommended by my friend/book guru Courtney. And I knew the story centered around a mysterious book (à  la The Shadow of the Wind, one of my all-time favorite novels for its book-within-a-book theme). Those twin enticements were good enough to compel me to grab The Hazel Wood.

And I’m 99% glad I took that step of faith. (I’ll circle back to that missing 1% shortly.)

The Hazel Wood follows Alice, granddaughter to Althea Proserpine, the reclusive author of a deeply dark collection of fairytales called Tales from the Hinterland. Alice and her mother Ella have spent years running from the bad luck ceaselessly snapping at their heels. But when Ella is snatched by figures claiming to be from the Hinterland, Alice’s luck goes from bad to bleak. Her search for her mother unleashes things that do far worse than go bump in the night.

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Grand Opening: Etsy Shop!

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. To that end, this writer’s finally putting her paintings where her mouth is.

After months of talking about launching an Etsy shop, LMPeltierDesigns has gone live at last!

So if there’s a spot on your wall looking for its perfect match painting, I may have just the one sitting in my shop. Think of me as the Yente of wall art.

Watercolor is my medium of choice, because as a surfer/swimmer/life-long-aquaphile, it just seemed right. As for my subject-matter, it skews toward snapshots of the wild world. I aim for detailed, dynamic portraits of creatures great and small–a way to bring a little of the fierce, exotic loveliness of nature indoors.

Current series include:

Alaska series:

Alaska 1: Sushi for Dinner

My undersea collection:

Etsy, Shop, LMPeltierDesigns, Shark, Tuna, Wahoo, Wave, Surf, Ocean, Watercolor, Painting
Devil Down Below
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Writer Care Kit

Living far from friends and family can mean that things get done at odd times. The most recent example? My best friend Amber and I just had our Christmas gift exchange. In February. Two months late.

But the wait proved well-worth it when I stripped off green and red wrapping to find a chic little box whose contents had me laughing aloud.

To kick off your morning, an encouraging coffee cup:

“You got this.”

–Coffee

And to cap off your evening, a reassuring wine glass:

“You gave it your best shot.”

–Wine

While I’m sure writers aren’t the only professionals who experience these twin emotions across their workdays, I can’t help thinking this gift makes a particularly excellent support kit for authors. How many mornings have I woken up energized and motivated, full of confident, creative energy? Today’s the day, I’ll say. Today, I finally figure out how to…

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Waves & Whimsy

One of my favorite things in the whole, wide world is surfing. My skills are nowhere near that of my dad (who’s literally been surfing for decades) or my brother Hunter. But very few things make my heart as thoroughly, joyfully content as getting out in the waves. It’s therapeutic for my soul, in a way not even writing can touch.

And the fact that surfing’s a family affair is the very sweet cherry atop my wave-catching sundae.

During this trip home to Texas, the weather on the Gulf Coast was consistently misty, adding a cool, eerie cast to my dad and my cold-water surf sessions.

The low visibility certainly didn’t keep us from saddling up and riding out to catch some waves with the last slivers of “daylight.”

Now that’s what I call a good family portrait: me, my dad, our boards, and even my dad’s indestructible-beach-and-hunting-lease-tacklin’-carry-it-all van. The only thing missing was Hunter, who’s busy kickin’ butt at college.

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For My Husband on Valentine’s Day

Unfortunately, the husband and I had to spend Valentine’s Day apart this year. Nevertheless, he still managed to spoil me from afar with chocolates and TWO bouquets. And knowing his Texas girl is a fanatic for her home state, he even managed to track down a Lone-Star Living bouquet:

True to disorganized form, I wasn’t as good at getting a timely gift into his hands. But for my husband, I offer this Sara Groves song (one of my favorites):

Baby can you help me get undone
The party is over and their hearts were won
There’s a zipper in the back
But I can’t reach it on my own
And I am dying to get out of this so

Baby will you help me get undone

I don’t even remember how I got this on
I started out pretending
Now I don’t recognize myself
And I could use a little help

You have no pretenses
All your walls are fences I can see right through
You have no two faces
You know where our place is and that’s why I need you
Oh baby

Baby will you help me get undone
I don’t even remember how I got this on
I started out pretending
Now I don’t recognize myself
And I could use a little help

Cause I started out pretending
Now I don’t recognize myself
And I could use a little help
Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby
Will you help me get undone

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Mist & Menace

Loving the eerie, misty look washing in along the Texas Gulf Coast as my dad and I stroll our home beaches.

Feeling slightly less in love with the invasion of the beautiful-but-ever-so-painful Portuguese Man o’ War jellyfish.

I think I’m glad I’ll be wearing a full-body wetsuit when I go surfing. 😬

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Best.Mail.Week.Ever

This has been an exciting week in terms of mail deliveries. First, I received my favorite of all types of packages–a copy of my newly-published book.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough fun for one week, I had these little babies land in my box next:

As some of you know, I’m in the final stages of launching an Etsy shop to purvey my wildlife paintings. These handy-dandy business cards represent one of the last pieces in the shop-opening puzzle.

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