Yeast Doughnuts

Yeast Doughnuts

The Cookie:
6 Tbsp Water
4.5 Tbsp Sugar
1 ½ tsp yeast
5 oz buttermilk (at room temperature)
1 egg beaten (at room temperature)
1 tsp salt
3 2/3 Cups Flour

Instructions:
1. Combine water, sugar and yeast and let the yeast foam (? I don’t remember the right term for this, you’ll know it when you see it).
2. Add the buttermilk and egg and mix.
3. Add salt and flour.
4. Need dough for about 10 minutes (I lasted 8).
5. Cover and set aside until at least doubled in size.
6. Once dough is doubled, place on lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Cut the dough in half and cover one half while rolling out the other half.
7. Heat oil in a frying pan.
8. Use a doughnut cutter, round cookie cutter, glass, whatever you have that’s a circle (if that’s the doughnut shape you want). You decide at this point what you want, you want doughnut holes? Do it. You want solid doughnuts? Do it. You want heart shaped, dino shaped, etc.? Do it.
9. Pop those doughnuts into the hot oil, turn when the bottom turns golden brown. I remove them and put them on a paper towel because it makes me feel healthier that the oil is soaking into the paper towel.
10. Roll in whatever topping you want. We did sugar this time and played with the whole doughnuts (see notes).

The “Please sir, may I have s’more” donut

NOTES:
We decided to make the “Please sir, may I have s’more” doughnut. I filled a piping bag with marshmallow fluff, then I melted some old Hershey bars (they’re not THAT old, stop your judging), and crushed up some graham crackers. I stuffed it with fluff, spooned melted chocolate on top and then dipped it in graham cracker. I ate one (without chocolate) and it wasn’t half bad. One thing I will do differently next time, I will poke holes in the sides of the doughnut and fill it from them. As is I did it from the bottom and covered that with the chocolate. Which may be the best way, I’m just chewing the fat talking about my thoughts here. Move along.

It looks like a duck – didn’t do that on purpose, probably couldn’t recreate if I tried. So it’s all the more special (and tasted more delicious than the others)

I made a glaze to put on some of the doughnuts, I just threw a bunch of powdered sugar in a bowl, some vanilla, and a little water. I was going for the consistency so I don’t have specifics there.

40 Before 40: Try Stitch Fix

Bet you thought I’d given up on my bucket list. Oh ye of little faith. I may have been a lazy blogger lately but I am working on things.

Notice the handprint, I think that’s Connor. This is why I can’t have nice things.

Pardon my face, I’m not that great at taking these type of selfies. It’s like, what am I supposed to do with my face? So I tried my first stitch fix. I’m not really one to spend a lot of money on clothes, in fact I noticed this past Sunday that I have skirts from 2006, which if great because if I hold on to them long enough I’m a happening retro chick, right? I mean, if it ain’t broke and all that…

And I also get a lot of hand-me-downs (some from stitch fix I think!). But I came in second in the weight loss competition and I weigh less than when I got pregnant (though I think my body shape has changed a little) so I figured, now’s the time to do it. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it, I liked the clothes and pictured above are the two items I’m keeping. I can’t justify spending $90 on a pair of skinny jeans at this point in my life (or possibly ever–since the best compliment my husband ever said behind my back was that I could pinch a penny so hard, Lincoln cries) when no one sees me except the loss prevention guy at BJs and the self checkout cashier at Kroger and my kids will get snot, mushed up food, peanut butter, drool, or anything else that comes out of their orifices. I will say, since I got the stitch fix in April, I thought I’d get some spring/summer clothes but I got sweaters. Luckily it was really cold for about a week and half after I got it, so I wore those sweaters several times to break them in (and again, because no one really sees me right now). And I do love the sweaters, the stripy one is so soft my children were practically petting me. So will I try it again? Yup, maybe in July (I signed up for the every three months option) I’ll get some short sleeved. I would love to get a skirt or dress from them. 1) because I love dresses and skirts and 2) Church is the only place I get dressed up for.

Twix Cookies

Twix Cookies

The Cookie:
1 1/2 cups softened butter
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt


The Caramel:
1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda


The Chocolate:
2 cups dark chocolate (or milk or white)
1 tsp butter


Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add your vanilla, flour and salt. Mix well.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/2 inch thick (or however thick you want).
4. Use a round glass or donut/biscuit cutter.
5. Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes.
6. Let cookies cool.
7. In a saucepan, melt 1 Cup Butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
8. Add 1 Cup of Brown Sugar and stir until thoroughly mixed
9. Stirring continuously, bring the butter and sugar to a boil on medium heat
10. When it begins to boil, allow it to cook for 4 minutes without stirring
11. At the 4 minutes mark, while still boiling, add 2 tsp. of Vanilla and stir to mix.
12. Continue to boil for 1 more minutes. Then add 1/2 tsp. baking soda.
13. Spoon onto cooled cookies. Allow to cool (I put them in the fridge because I’m impatient).
14. In a micorwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter for 1 minute. Stir. Then put back in for another 30 seconds to a minute (just make sure it doesn’t burn).
15. Spread melted chocolate over cooled caramel.

Notes:
1. You know what they say, third time’s the charm. Well it was true in this instance. The first two times I attempted these I’ve almost taken out someone’s tooth. Caramel is a temperamental little bugger. The first time, I bought caramel squares and heated them over the stove. It cooled like lava (in case you don’t know much about lava – that means it was hot and flowy and then it was rock). Next time I bought little caramel baking bits that are meant for the microwave. I followed those instructions to the letter and again, lava. Then I thought, well, I make caramel popcorn and no one takes a pricey visit to the dentist after–So–you can chance the caramel if you like, try to make life a little easier for yourself, and maybe you have what it takes. I do not, this was the easy route for me.

2. White chocolate is so good and the only way I got to taste these cookies. BUT as I learned with the homemade peanut butter cups, it’s harder to work with than lava caramel. So I spread it on, but it was never as pretty as the dark chocolate.

3. My mom said she would prefer the shortbread cookie to be thinner. Make the cookie however thick you like, but I think it’s safe to gauge that people will like their shortbread cookies like they like their men…just kidding, that’s not the real sentence. They like their shortbread cookies like they like their sugar cookies. If a person likes them thick like Tonya Hardy, they’ll like thick shortbread, if they like ’em thin and crispy like my mama does, then they’ll be the same way with shortbread. Know your audience people.

Book Review: The Lending Library

If I could sum up this book with one word it would be: contrived. Sometimes I read a book that just brings out the worst in me, I want to make that book suffer as I have suffered. And I know that if it’s like that I should quit, shut the book and move on with my life. And I’ve done that before (Again, But Better; Oona Out of Order; etc) but there are books I persevere through. Maybe hoping that despite thinking in the first few sentences that it is poorly written, maybe it will turn out to at least be a fun read. Maybe there is something here worth my time. And it’s those books, the ones I hope for some satisfying conclusion that tick me off more than the ones that are so bad I just give up.

I can’t decide if The Lending Library is one I should have just given up on, I mean, obviously if by the end I didn’t find anything redeemable, then I should have. But at the same time, there’s lots to be learned from bad books too. If I weren’t a writer (and I can call myself that even if I’m not published) then this would have been a colossal waste of time, but since I am one, I used it like a novel autopsy. What killed this book? Or more so, since it was never alive from page 1, why was it dead on arrival?

Dodie – our main character who at times you have to wonder if she has some kind of mental handicap or did drugs or inhaled too many paint fumes. I’m not going to diss her for her inability to pick a lane in the hobby department, except to say that you shouldn’t follow your passion folks. Get a real job, don’t feel betrayed by a boyfriend who also thinks maybe you shouldn’t quit your day job, be grateful that he likes you even though you’re terribly misguided. Passions are for hobbies, Dodie wants her passions to consume her life so much so that they are pushing each other out of the way. I too, have a lot of things I’m interested in, I love reading, baking, writing, photography, etc. But you know what would be a terrible book? If I wrote about all of this like it mattered to anyone else. It doesn’t, and I know that, which is why my memoir, “Still In the Room” will never be published (or written). Dodie is a flat character, we don’t know what it is she wants, even after chapter four or five when it’s stated very clearly that she is baby hungry. I don’t know if I was somehow supposed to pick up on that beforehand but I did not. So – All that she wants is another baby…no those are song lyrics. But apparently that’s her goal, meet and seduce a man, get married and have a baby BEFORE her 35th birthday because her sister says they can’t have children after 35 because mom and grandma couldn’t. Dodie at best is an incredibly emotionally stunted individual. I’ve known quite a few of those but Dodie takes the cake, she is all of them rolled up into one. She is a failed artist, turned art teacher, turned librarian who still dabbles as a NYC foodie (without the NYC though) and overachieving baker (I should know). Dodie is a spoiled, selfish brat who never–ever changes. At the beginning of the book there’s been a terrible breakup and so I’m thinking he cheated on her or something. BUT he didn’t like her artwork (NO ONE DID, just reading about it I wanted to burn it). So, she broke up with him and there’s no way she could ever, ever, take him back. So she quits art, gets an education degree and becomes an art teacher in a small CT town.

Chatsworth (I care so little I’m not even going to make sure I’ve spelled it right) – A small town that sounds awfully diverse without a reason for the diversity. We are given no hint as to the socioeconomic makeup of this town, some people seem really well off but apparently everyone is so poor that the local library being closed for repairs hits them all hard (uh…amazon anyone?) and that there’s a little black boy in town who’s never seen ‘someone like him’ in a book before…this book is based in the 2000’s…if this town is as diverse as we are led to believe with all the unique name dropping, then WHY has he not seen one? Why hasn’t his mother shown him one? I can list tons of kids books with little black kids in it (Corduroy for one – that’s been around since I was a kid).

Race – That leads me to race. As I said before, I feel that the town’s racial makeup is contrived to seem more like an inclusive book. I’m not going to lie, if it clearly stated what race Dodie and family are- I missed it. So there were times that I wasn’t sure she was white. At one point, I actually thought she might be black. For a book so stuck on race, it’s funny it wasn’t more clear and for a book that at least twice mentioned that little black boys may not have seen ‘someone like them before’ it doesn’t really touch on racial issues. So it’s like, “Hey, I’m diverse and I’m going to drop this line here and offer absolutely nothing else. It’s a problem, for sure, but it’s enough just to place the problem in the novel to show…who knows what, but we’re not even going to discuss it.”

Privilege – I read another review of this book where the reviewer (I’ll point out that she’s white because this is a trend I can’t stand) talks about the white privilege, not taking in to account that the wealthiest member of Dodie’s family is her black brother-in-law. When someone pointed this out to her she didn’t change her game, he just got excluded from the privilege part. I’ll grant you, Dodie has some maddening privilege that makes her tone deaf to anyone living in the real world. But it has NOTHING to do with her race (as her BIL proved by being black and better off). I think the better way to describe it is that this book is riddled with CLASS PRIVLEGE. Dodie’s parent’s help buy her the house (why she needs a house when she is just starting a teaching career in a small town without tenure or anything…work hard like the rest of us! I didn’t get help buying my first home, I worked hard and took on roommates immediately to help pay for things but whatever, you do you Dodie). Then she talks about debts and keeps racking them up by going out to eat at expensive restaurants and constantly making fancy sounding foods (which I care nothing for and didn’t even bother trying to figure out what it was she was eating).

The Library – How big is her sunroom? Dodie sets the library up in her sunroom but when she describes the library it sounds much bigger. How does she fit like six bookshelves, at least one cushy chair, a circulation desk, a place for comment cards and a bulletin board (how many solid walls does a sunroom have) and a place to hang her art (her friend’s idea). She hosts story times and book clubs and even an art show at some point (where the terribly uncultured residents overpay like $8,000 to buy her artwork…which I wouldn’t have paid $20 for). I mean, they never said exactly how many pieces of art she had though, maybe she had 8,000 paintings. Anyway, point, there’s no TARDIS magic in this story, none that’s spoken of anyway, but clearly something’s happening (or Dodie is extra spoiled and has a huge starter home).

Dodie’s inaction – Dodie doesn’t do anything. Sure she starts the lending library, but several times at the beginning she was straight up taking credit for other’s ideas. Either we just read someone else came up with the idea and she takes credit, or she’s taking credit and then says that someone else told her to do it. One of her ‘best ideas’, to start a food related book club, apparently came from her friend, we learned this just sentences after she says it was probably one of her best ideas. Really? She talks about sacrificing her relationship with her fiancé (sorry, spoiler but you don’t plan to read this, right?) but he left her. A character comes in to the library with a LIST of books recommended by FRIENDS. She has ONE of those books, gets it for him and then pretty much loses sleep wondering if she made a mistake giving that man the book, would he read in to it too much? What?? She didn’t recommend it, why would he read in to it when she simply had the book for him to borrow? And it doesn’t help that all the characters are just paper cut out people there to boost her ego and say, “you’re right, that was your idea. You’re the best person ever, you aren’t crazy in the least.”

Dodie’s Motivation – All I can say is, what motivation? Contrived again. Telling me to believe it’s important isn’t the same as making me believe it is important. Nothing Dodie did or said had me caring in the least. The stakes weren’t high, they were in her mind but the reader is left unconvinced of this. They were flexible and ever changing and I kept coming up with the solution super easy eons before someone else suggested them to her (see, she didn’t even come up with solutions, everyone just told her what to do…but I guess in her mind, she came up with them!)

Dodie’s Desires – don’t get me wrong, Dodie is a horn dog. Her lust and desires for the flesh of man is not hard to pick up on as she describes things in really gross, awkward ways. There’s not enough interiority for it to chance being anything else. I don’t think Dodie is capable of loving anything or anyone if they don’t constantly make her feel good or, “flambee her underwear”…what? her words, definitely not mine, never in a million years would that thought cross my mind and if it did, I wouldn’t put it in a book and admit to the world that I had thought that.

She should be arrested: Girlfriend is a straight up stalker. AND NO ONE CALLS HER OUT ON IT! I would. Even if I didn’t call the police we’d have a serious talk about why women in their 30’s shouldn’t stalk children, they should see a therapist.

Transitions: There are none! At one point she is asking a character to hold down the fort while she runs upstairs to get the book (also, she talks about how she wonders if he’s thinking of the fact that her book is next to her bed *wink wink* you weirdos). The next line, she’s talking again saying, “here you go”. Poof! She wiggled her nose and got the book in her hand without having to leave the scene physically or mentally! Magic. She falls asleep a few times but we don’t know that until after she wakes up she apologizes for falling asleep. Half the time I was just confused on what just happened.

Lack of tension: I’m reading “Understanding Conflict” she talks about all the different things that a reader could assume is a lack of conflict. So this book has been good in that I’ve read through looking for examples. There are so many here. But lack of tension is one. The writer sets up what could be a nerve wracking experience for the reader but almost as quickly as you can breath in, the conflict resolves. One example, her boyfriend is gone all day when they were supposed to have lunch together. She turns on the news and immediately is hearing that there is an accident on the construction site where boyfriend works. She’s like, “oh no!” gets on cell phone to call but there’s no answer. This is the moment where she should be evaluating the terrible relationship she has and her part in that. This is the type of thing where you are like, “oh no, I really do love them more than a baby” or something, anything, but instead it’s, “he doesn’t pick up.” “Hey honey!” from directly behind her, she didn’t hear him come through the front door and that must be why he didn’t answer the phone…seriously…that’s not how real life works and even if it was, the reader WANTS to feel that tension, wants to feel that the main character could actually lose everything. In fact, the most satisfying parts are the moments when you think she’s going to lose her boyfriend, who she says she loves but as I said above, I don’t think she’s actually capable. She wants to BE loved, without a thought to actually loving someone.

Her Romantic Relationship – This girl doesn’t give an inch! She doesn’t communicate with her sigfig. Doesn’t listen to what he wants (or doesn’t want) and in the end, that doesn’t matter. Without doing anything to better herself or change, the male comes around and declares his love, her perfection, his luckiness to even breath the same air as her (okay maybe no that extreme but pretty close). Dodie wants someone to worship her, and she basically gets it. Instead of saying, “you don’t communicate with me, you don’t care what I want,” we get, “I realized that you were right, what you want is important, etc. etc. etc. blah, blah, blah, vomit.” Oh and what she wants? She doesn’t get it. She’s just magically over it, or maybe she never cared because she is flighty to boot.

I’m sorry, but I got to tell you, if you want a good story about an artist who is a little off her rocker, might I suggest the Unicorn Store on Netflix. Or if you want a good book (3.5 stars IMO) on a single woman looking for love and setting up their own libraries might I suggest The Bookshop on the Corner. I just can’t in good conscious recommend this one to you.

Book Review: Ice Cream in the Cupboard

I got this book for research into a character/story I’ve got floating around in my mind. This is one of, I think three about Alzheimer’s, specifically early on-set that I’ll be reading this year. I thought it was good in that it talked about the changes and things that a couple goes through when one of the spouses develops early on-set Alzheimer’s. Pat Moffett had an amazing memory for detail (which he talks about at one point). This book is written when his wife is already in a long-term care facility (which we find out at the end). I found their story interesting and informational, but I also found it hard to follow the time table because he jumps back and forth at times. I suppose since I was reading this as research my assessment may not be fair for someone looking to read this less in-depth and wouldn’t mind the back and forth between times.

So overall, I think it was a good book, just not quite what I was expecting.

Book Review: Ghosted

So….I fell behind with book reviews *slap on wrist*. I’ve read quite a few and I try to at least put a few notes to myself in a draft post or at least my rating. I got the rating, but no notes. So, this probably won’t be very detailed, but I hope I can give it enough justice.

When I first started reading this book I thought it was going to be about a woman being ghosted by a man she had a fling with for a week and how being ghosted psychologically effects someone (fortunately, I’ve never been ghosted by anyone, probably because I’m just crazy enough to hunt someone down and call them out for dropping off the face of the earth and every guy I’ve dated could probably sense my craziness–I know my husband has a healthy appreciation of it). It was very interesting and side note, I listened to the audio version and it’s a British narrator so—yea! Sometimes I think that I automatically like an audiobook more if I like the narrator and have often wondered if I would like it as much if I got the kindle version from the library instead. Someday maybe I’ll try an experiment….except I can’t read the same book back to back…I’ll figure it out. ANYWAY.

As she continues to think that she’s going crazy, little bits trickle in to place and her past also emerges throughout. The chapters alternate between our MC and letters written to a little sister that died some twenty years ago or so. It’s very well done. Then we get to learn more about why this guy may have ghosted her (i.e. maybe he thought she was still married because on her company website they hadn’t updated her marital status, etc.)

Then there are twists, which I won’t reveal because I want you to read the book (I know, you’re just going to go on Google and find some other book reviewer who will spill the beans for you but still, I can’t bring myself to do that to a four star book. The twists were good, I even wrote down at what point I thought I had it all figured out and guess what? I was wrong. Sneaky sis done good. And the resolution at the end felt organic to me, the characters had to really work through some stuff.

What keeps it from a five star? The F-bombs, which weren’t there (or were very few) for the first 60%-70% of the book and then suddenly I was trying to dodge them left and right. I loathe the F-bomb people. If you’re a writer, cut those out, they don’t add a thing, nothing feels more authentic because you drop them, but it negatively effects it as far as I am concerned (and a good portion of my real life friends and family).

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

Book Review: Ember Queen (Ash Princess #3)

Cres did not disappoint! Theo on the other hand…I mean, she did some cool things, but I got tired of her. One minute she’s like, “I’m gonna bring the roof down on you!” And the next she’s like, “Well, I don’t want to change the rules of the game.” Uh–when someone tries to kill you multiple times, you just, you know, kill them. before they try again.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I was well pleased with the baddie, she was perfect IMO. I, of course mentioned in the review for Lady Smoke that I enjoy a good villain. Her motivation was spot on, her progression believable. I think the series had a good conclusion, it felt complete. But (SPOILER) for any romantic, the queen still doesn’t get married, which means she doesn’t have serious relationships, which means the relationship with Soren will never really be, though I guess he can be one of her men who could or could not be the father of her child (that’s not a spoiler, we do not leave her preggers, it’s just how her mother did things is all).

BUT here are some spoilers:

So as you probably guessed if you’ve been reading the series, Blaise dies. But you see, since in the second book he was knocked out to stop him from self-destructing while using his powers, it doesn’t really fit to HAVE to kill him in book three. Why not knock him out? Because it pulls at the heart strings of course.

And the romance between Artemisia and Maile was easily called as I thought, “what other type of romance could you include to be….inclusive?” Two girls hasn’t been done yet. So yeah, I saw that one coming very early on. But it didn’t feel completely forced, just not completely organic either.

So that’s it. Not a complete dud or anything, but it didn’t really wow me either.

Book Review: Lady Smoke (Ash Princess #2)

This book was good, but I did get a little annoyed at a few things. Phil, in my writing group said that everything we write is political, so I guess the author had something to say about marriage and women’s coresets. Because in the book, the plan is for Theo to marry someone to form an alliance to help win her country back, it was brought up several times that “queens don’t marry” in Astrea, they’re more evolved than that. I guess it’s a trigger for me, because as a sociology major, we talked often about how the family is the building block of society, how the state of the family in a society effects that society. Stable marriages and families are found in strong, moral societies. Marriage is not something we evolve away from, it’s something we devolve away from. And I know it’s a book of fiction and I shouldn’t let it bother me (and that’s why I’m saying it must be a trigger for me). I don’t care if the queen doesn’t marry but rather she sleeps around with several lovers and therefore even her own daughter isn’t quite sure who her father is but she thinks she knows…whatever, I accept that as the way their world works, but to throw in that dig was just…triggering, I guess. She also mentions several times that the women in the room don’t speak up or hardly eat because their coresets are too tight. I’m just tired of reading books where these characters complain about the coresets…it was just annoying to have it brought up so often.

Other than that, I enjoyed the book. The villian was hardly seen (the villian as I called it, because the main baddie is the Kaiser but Cress has my attention, she’s got the real potential for a memorable villain and she started to let that show near the end. I just hope we see more of her and she lives up to my evil expectations. I love a well written baddie.

Book Review: Frogkisser

This book was clever and had funny moments but overall, it was kind of flat. I wanted to like it but I just didn’t care. Maybe I’m going through a slump reading wise and it’s not the books, it’s me. Only you can tell me the answer to that after you read the book and shame me for only giving it three stars because it’s the best darn book you’ve ever read. I picked up the book because someone in my writing group mentioned there was a retelling of the princess and the frog. I thought, why not? I seem to be on a retelling kick this year.

But it wasn’t so much a retelling as loosely inspired by (along with several other fairy tales). It had the elements for a good book, but it didn’t really wow me and sometimes felt like it dragged a little. But I would probably recommend it to someone who likes these sorts of books, or a middle grader (the protagonist is 12) as it might be more entertaining for them.

Book Review: The Hatch

Many, many moons ago, I was given a free copy of this book and asked to write a review on it. It sounded interesting so I agreed. As you have probably surmised by the fact that I started with “many, many moons ago” that this is not a quick read. I think I would have preferred to read this as a BETA reader so that I could offer advice on how to improve it rather than reviewing something after it’s too late. I wanted to like this book, I really did, because it’s the first (and probably only) time I’ve been given a free copy to write a review, how exciting is that?! And yet, I dread writing the review for this one because it’s not going to be a good one.

The prologue is good and I was left thinking, “yeah! This is going to be good!” The main character in the prologue mentions sending a telepathic message to her child and you flip the page to chapter one and we are not in the head of that child, we are in the head of his younger sister. And then…the pace comes to a screeching halt. The first chapter (or prologue if you decide to go that route) is a promise to the reader of the type of book to come. If you start with action and intrigue, you can’t dedicate the next nine chapters to a snail’s pace, first person POV, that apparently covers years (and feels that way). At the end of the prologue we know that the main character (of only the prologue), who is in space, preparing to go through a “hatch” and has foreseen danger, is going to try to send a message psychically to her child about the dangers. Turn the page…and we’re at her funeral (though let’s be honest, I didn’t think she was dead) and the story is told in first person and you think that’s the child who is going to get a message, but no. That would be the MCs older brother, Jem. So Jem receives the message and we hear about it second hand while her younger brother is stuffing his face with the funeral food. I don’t even know that they live underground until several chapters later (and maybe they didn’t at first).

Then we cover a couple of years as Jem goes off, comes home for breaks, brings a friend with him, and it feels like we are watching this is real time. There’s a lot of telling instead of showing. Like the MC, Britta, is apparently unique and for whatever reason she’s allowed to wear green instead of the black uniform all EASA personnel have to wear. I have no clue how old she is at any point during the story except the very beginning, it’s a struggle to follow the timeline. She’s apparently an empath and yet we never know how she’s feeling except some words that feel more like telling than showing again. She’s emotionless and I don’t have any reason to care about her. I couldn’t tell if she was attracted to Jem’s friend that she kept bringing up, I couldn’t tell how she feels about anything. And worst of all, I felt absolutely nothing for any of the characters or the story. Nothing ever truly felt “at stake”.

Another thing, the main character has to be special in some way, you have to be able to understand, WHY HER? She’s psychic and apparently the best of the best because we are told several times through dialogue (PS I did not enjoy the dialogue at all). But that’s about all that’s going for her. I failed to see the character arc, the romance was seriously lacking (again, I felt nothing). There was no build up, no pay off. It was like listening to someone speak dispassionately about the end of the world. Which leads to another thing. The first eight chapters held no conflict, no internal or external, goal or desire that had roadblocks. We don’t know why her mom was on this mission, we don’t know why her brother, Jem, went on a similar one and disappeared, we don’t know why we should even care about the characters or the plot until more than halfway through the book. I don’t know if this was written “pantser” style and even the author didn’t know while writing or if it was all held back to be a “twist” but as a reader, I did not enjoy the “twists” because they didn’t feel like twists. When the bad guy showed up for the daughter, I forgot that he was the same bad guy from the prologue. I wanted to see Britta DO something, anything, instead of constantly having things done to her or for her.

Overall, I think if the story had begun MUCH later and had the past brought out in little pieces along the way it would help with the pacing. And since it’s a first person POV we need interiority. There’s no reason in first person not to have it. If I were critiquing this as a BETA reader, I would say to cut out anything that doesn’t move the story along (chapters 1-8 at least) all of these chapters could be condensed and then sprinkled throughout more active chapters. Make the passage of time more clear, slip her age into conversation every now and then. Stop having her know what everyone is thinking! Life doesn’t work that way and she’s set up as some kind of psychic empath but that doesn’t mean she can read their minds. Have some actual opposition to her and her goal. And have her play an active part in the ending, not just that she knows the answer to a question, but have her save herself in some form or another (an alien being goes off to save her mother and brother and the planet; alien beings shield her from droids looking for her; alien beings shield her and 100 others from having debris thrown at them and then heal them and then shut down the droids and their weapons), she is an unemotional spectator to the story. And I know this, because I’ve written characters like this before, thinking I was getting the conflict because I added this or that but totally missing the point.

If the author reads this review (which I hope she doesn’t because like I said, it’s not a nice one) I would be happy to be a BETA reader, or even to be a sounding board to bounce things off. I think that she probably has some great ideas, just needs more practice and knowledge about the craft.

Anyway–that’s my review–for whatever it’s worth.