Review: Destroying Angel by Missy Wilkinson

My friend, coworker and fellow blogger, Missy Wilkinson, (I did a Follow Friday on her a while back, and she wrote a guest post for Lazy Lady) wrote a young adult novel called Destroying Angel. I went to her release party a few weeks ago picked up a copy of the book and had her sign it. Unlike when I signed books at the release of Allen the Alligator, in which I just signed a very simple signature, Missy was writing personalized messages to everyone at the party. I told her she was crazy, and she laughed, agreeing that it was hard to think of something for everyone. I told her to just write a poop joke in mind. She wrote "Thank you for being my fellow author, blogger and Gambit homie. Your support and poop are invaluable!"  LOL.

I sat down and read Destroying Angel in two evenings. We start with meeting our protagonist, Gates McFarland, just as her mother passes away. Gates then starts a new school and has to deal with this loss. She struggles to make friends and find herself torn between two popular girls who are mean to her and the outcast named Penny who tries to befriend her but who Gates shuns so as to not be labeled an outcast. She finds and befriends John Ed, who is the protégé of her father, the high school band director.

Thrown into the mix of this high schooler trying to find her place in a new school, Gates is also curious to find out what happens to her mothers organs after she passes. The mystery really begins when Gates discovers that her mother's organs were never donated as her and her father were told by Dr. Asciutto. Well, I take that back. The mystery really begins on the in the very first chapter, when Gates's mothers disembodied voice tells Gates to find her heart. She also goes on to be a bit more cryptic, not that telling your teenage daughter to find your heart isn't cryptic enough.

With all this loss and confusion surrounding her, Gates is shunned by the popular girls she had mistakingly tried to befriend. She decides to give the eccentric Penny a chance, even if she is the weird outcast obsessed with unicorns. At first, I wanted to like Penny, thinking that she was just an innocent, immature and misunderstood her teenage girl whose love of horses stretched on longer than society would deem appropriate; but when Gates goes to her house and they play a video game together, we see a hint of a darker side to Penny. However, it is when Gates agrees to a slumber party at Penny's house that the book takes a real leap.

I had to read this section twice because everything happened so fast that, if you're a primarily "skimmer" reader like I am, you might miss something. In this world, there is a drug called Amanita, and Penny along with her "roommate" I think his name is Steve our growers and providers of this drug. It is a fungus and the spores of which open the human mind to see warm holes to other worlds. Penny takes Gates to her "castle" in this other world filled with bird people, a pegasus named Thunder and, yes, a unicorn, named Moonbeam. Here Gates find herself a true piano prodigy like she had never been before in the "real world". Gates returns home shaken by some things she sees and experiences in this world that I'm not going to go into detail about because I don't want to spoil anything.

I find myself struggling to continue to tell you about this book's story line, because I really don't want to spoil it for anyone. However, let's just say the action really picks up after this point and you won't want to miss it.

When I started reading this book it was hard to get out of my mind that my friend had written it; however, by the time I was reading the last page of the epilogue I had long been completely lost in this world. This book takes you to a rich world created by Missy, much like Amanita takes you away to new worlds.

I have to be honest, I was apprehensive about reviewing a book on my blog that was written by someone I know personally and see almost every single day. But I truly enjoyed this book. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who enjoys young adult, fantasy books. It deals with the organ donation and draws attention to a discussion that no one really talks about, but it is also a wonderfully written and beautifully imagined world. I look forward to reading what Missy brings us next. If you want to keep up with Missy, go check out her blog Now Listen, Missy.

5 Lazy Cleaning Tips /// GUEST POST!

These bad boys don’t come cheap. But they are so worth the expense.

These bad boys don’t come cheap. But they are so worth the expense.

I keep a pretty tidy house. Not because I love cleaning, but because I host guests through Airbnb at least three weeks out of the month.  People who are paying to sleep in my home deserve a modicum of cleanliness. 

In my quest to keep the house hotel-clean (or at least hostel-clean), I’ve found a few key items and tricks that have made my life SO MUCH EASIER. Here they are!

1. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

There’s a reason this guide to organizing has sold more than two million copies worldwide: Kondo’s system works. A decluttered house is SO MUCH EASIER TO CLEAN than a cluttered house. I’ve applied the method to my closet, and next I plan to tackle my bookshelves. Before you do anything, get this book and get rid of useless shit.

2. A Roomba

These bad boys don’t come cheap. But they are so worth the expense. I haven’t vacuumed since I got a Roomba two years ago. I like to let the Roomba do its thing while I tackle the bathrooms. It gives me a sense of solidarity—someone else is cleaning alongside me, even if it is only a robot. Plus, it actually picks up more crap than I could with a broom and dustpan.

3. Expanding my dishwasher’s horizons.

I think of my dishwasher as a magic box that makes things clean—meaning I don’t limit it to dishes. Things I have washed in my dishwasher: a ceramic owl crock that holds utensils, sponges, the rotating glass plate in the microwave, the bathroom soap dish and toothbrush mug, a teapot, seashells…the list goes on. Basically, anything that’s dirty and won’t melt gets thrown in the dishwasher.

4. White vinegar

I keep a spray bottle full of a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water on the kitchen counter. This mix is sufficient to clean almost anything. I can wipe down counters, faucets, stovetops, bathroom mirrors and they SHINE. The only thing it’s not great for is cutting grease. White vinegar and generic Comet (for bathtubs and sinks) are really the only cleaning products I use. With the spray bottle on the counter within grabbing distance, I’m more likely to wipe up crumbs and drips as they happen. Integrating cleaning into day-to-day activities breaks it up so it’s not a tedious chore, it’s just something you do without thinking too much about it.

5. The boiling water trick for kitchen floors and sinks

After dinner, I put a kettle on the stove to boil while I’m rinsing dishes, loading the dishwasher, putting away food, wiping down counters and sweeping. By the time all these chores are done, the water is usually boiling. I pour some of the boiling water onto the tile floor, and the remainder goes on and around the sink. This leaves the stainless steel sink looking shiny. I wipe down the tile floors with a rag once the water has had a chance to cool. It leaves everything clean and it’s easier than dragging out a mop and bucket.


Missy Wilkinson is an amazing writer, editor, blogger and fashionista. To read more of her work, check out her blog www.missywilkinson.com.

New Orleans Blogger Brunch

Saturday was the Blogger Brunch, a brain child between Missy (from Now Listen, Missy) and I, and it exceeded my personal expectations. 

BloggerBrunch

Missy and I had talked about that even if it was just the two of us, we'd still have fun and enjoy the opportunity to talk about blogging. Luckily, we had a pretty good turn out. It was small and intimate but I found that helpful as we all got to talk to each other as a group.

MISSY, JULIET, MALLORY AND LIANNA

MISSY, JULIET, MALLORY AND LIANNA

We had mimosas and coffee (option whiskey for the coffee), because we live in New Orleans and like to have alcohol for all social engagements. ;) The food, prepared by Missy's boyfriend, was delicious (and there were some other nibbles brought by myself and other bloggers). We all plated up and got the show on the road.

BloggerBrunch-yummy
mallory, megan, juliet, lianna and your's truly.

mallory, megan, juliet, lianna and your's truly.

We talked about sources of revenue and display ads versus affiliate links. We also touched on buying ads and if it is worth the cost. It was a good mix of veteran, middle of the road (like me), and pretty fresh in the game bloggers, which was really nice. Questions that the newer bloggers had were able to be answered by us middle bloggers and my questions were answered by the veterans. Mallory, of Miss Malaprop, was our blogging guru. Any question we had, she had a great answer and was very thorough with her explanations. I was worried, at the end, that we were scaring her off; because in the last hour or so of the brunch, we were all basically sitting around her, listening to her talk and asking her questions. Luckily, she is an amazing person who genuinely wants to help others and loved the experience.

BloggerBrunch-convos

One of the most interesting aspects of the brunch was discovering how diverse we are as bloggers. A couple of bloggers are using their platforms as a way to get their names out and promote their freelancing/non-day job professional pursuits; so their monetizing of their blogs is a very different strategy than say a blogger that wants to just earn extra/side income from it. We also had bloggers who do not monetize at all, but have in the past or are looking to go that way in the future.

me, showing off my blog planner and media kit. juliet knew i was bringing it and asked me to show it.

me, showing off my blog planner and media kit. juliet knew i was bringing it and asked me to show it.

We didn't just talk about revenue, though. We also talked about using social media, driving traffic, and SEO optimization. The amount of knowledge and experience at the brunch was a lot to take in. It really and truly felt like a mini blogger conference!

megan and her son showing off the advance copy of our book.

megan and her son showing off the advance copy of our book.

Megan brought her little man to the brunch, and he seemed excited to be there, too. I was super excited that Megan brought along a preview copy of the book we did together! I can't wait until they are finished printing!

As we were wrapping up, everyone really seemed excited that this little group exists and can't wait to get together again! It seems like Missy and I have stirred up a local community that is more than willing to help each other grow and support each other's endeavors. There were a few bloggers who were invited and couldn't attend, hopefully they will make it to the next brunch! And yes, there will be more of these in the future!


In attendance we had: