Tag Archives: Noelle Ihli

Author Anthony Avina’s “Top 10 Books of 2021”

Hello there everyone! Wow, what a year of books it has been. I am so honored to be sharing my top reads of the year. There have been so many amazing books published this year, and with the pandemic having kept us all indoors far more than ever before, there has been a surplus of books being published from indie authors and publishers alike. Now I want to mention that although the books are numbered here in the last post, this is not an indicator of ranking of any kind. This is more about organizing the books, not ranking. So with that in mind, here are my top choices for the year, each with a snippet from the original review. 


10: Below Torrential Hill by Jonathan Koven

What really stood out to me was the incredible way the author matched the atmosphere and setting to the protagonist’s journey, almost as if the character’s surroundings became a reflection of their own inner turmoil and the ups and downs they went through. I also was really impressed with the fine line the narrative played with magical realism, as it allowed enough room for the reader to kind of draw their own conclusions from this aspect of the story, and kind of put a whole-new modern-day, coming-of-age twist on the classic Christmas Carol narrative. 

This was one of the last books I reviewed this year, and the author’s amazingly poetic writing style and imagery were just so breathtaking to behold. A definite must-read!

9: Traveller Manifesto by Rob Shackleford 

What always strikes me about this series and the author is the vast amount of detail the author puts into the series. From both a historical and a narrative standpoint, the author explores not only the sci-fi side of the series from the use of the Traveller technology, but the historical fiction side of each period of time these missions take on with an attention to detail that creates a sense of imagery and tone that bursts with life and vibrancy. The exploration of history’s impact on our world and the means by which the direction that history takes is often dictated by those who emerge victorious from a situation made this story feel so thought-provoking, and readers won’t be able to help being drawn down the rabbit hole that is this heart-pounding historical fiction thriller.

I am a huge fan of this author and this historical fiction/sci-fi series. The third and final book in the Traveller series, the narrative was just so engaging and thought-provoking that I wasn’t able to put it down.

8: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer 

The characters were the show stealers of this read to be sure. What was so interesting, and something I always enjoy is when a writer crafts a narrative that features such a diverse cast of characters that we could find someone in the narrative to identify with for one reason or another. As someone with several chronic diseases, seeing protagonist Rachel’s struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome and the struggle with how she is perceived by others is a struggle I am all too familiar with, and it was great to see that representation in the book. The chemistry and heated moments, both good and bad, between Rachel and Jacob, were truly memorable and allowed the story to feel very cinematic in its approach.

As far as holiday romances go, this was definitely one of the most unique, creative, and heartwarming to read. It was so original, and I related to the protagonist so much with her struggle with chronic illness. (More holiday reads are coming soon).


7: A Cry in the Moon’s Light by Alan McGill 

I was hooked immediately with this book. The author did such an amazing job of crafting a narrative that was both emotionally investing and chilling at the same time. The story was written in a way that felt like historical fiction meets Brother’s Grimm meets folklore all at once. The nods and homages to classic fairy tale style storytelling elements and themes were felt immediately, but then did such a great job of taking readers immediately into a right turn that held gruesome mayhem and terrifying creatures, and then made a completely new turn into heartbreaking and heartfelt romance and drama. 

I am an absolute fan of gothic horror, and this was pretty amazing. Great atmospheric haunt and an absolute pleasure to dive into. 

6: Blood Mark by J.P. McLean 

This was a refreshing new take on the paranormal thriller genre. The integration of Inca mythology into a modern-day thriller was engaging and thought-provoking, giving readers a wonderful blend of mythology and gritty crime thriller. The author’s own writing was outstanding, delivering a very descriptive and creative balance of imagery and character growth that felt very cinematic as a whole. 

A gritty and captivating new fantasy thriller that I just couldn’t put down!

5: Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera (Illustrated by Steph C.)

What a powerful and engaging new take on the iconic Green Lantern character. This was a fantastic story that really captured the struggle and strength of the Latino community, especially when the debate over immigration has never been higher in recent years. Jessica Cruz is the perfect character to bring this fight for justice and equality to light, as her DC Comics history played into the battle between fear and hope that her character has embodied since her introduction. As a half-Latino man whose late grandfather came to this country as a young child and built a family of his own through dedication and hard work, the cultural element and the familial bonds that Jessica had not only with her parents but her community as a whole really spoke to me, as these core values are something I was taught at an early age.

As a fan of this character and a proud Hispanic man, I was so enthralled with this story. As a fan of DC Comics, I loved this original take on the characters. 

4: The Marionettes Book 1 by Katie Wismer 

I can honestly say this was one of the best New Adult and Dark Fantasy reads I’ve read not only this year but in a long time. The amount of world-building and mythos the author was able to fit into the narrative was not only entertaining but made the world within this book feel seamless and immersive. The freedom with which the author incorporates not only the two main classifications of supernatural beings, (vampires and witches), but other powerful beings as well that don’t always fit into the typical supernatural fantasy read helped elevate this narrative to new heights. 

The dark and edgy fantasy horror read was so captivating and entertaining, and left on a massive cliffhanger that will keep readers on the edge of their seats for the sequel!


3: The Thicket by Noelle Ihli 

What a truly amazing and inviting horror read! Horror fans everywhere will love this intricately detailed and plotted thriller. The author does a great job of painting an image of the narrative in the reader’s mind, delving into our modern world’s obsession and love of all things terrifying and macabre. As a fan of haunts myself and with friends who run a haunted attraction, I could relate to the life and atmosphere of these attractions clearly. 

I am a sucker for classic slasher horror flicks, and so the atmosphere and characters the author crafted in this narrative felt right at home in this genre and did an amazing job of painting an image of the novel’s plot in my mind.

2: Thread of Souls Book 1- Phantom Five by Scott & Ashley Roepel 

The balance of dark fantasy and character growth really elevates the narrative here. The danger and stakes of this fantasy world are made apparent early on in the story, as one of the main characters watches her sister taken right before her eyes by a large flying creature out of a nightmare. Yet it is the bond between the characters that really steal this story, as the blend of humor, charm, and heroism mixes with the personal problems each of these characters faces with their pasts and futures. It speaks of the classic swords and daggers, hero’s journey elements of adult fantasy novels that fans have come to know and love over the years.

I am a sucker for epic fantasy, and I loved the world-building and mythology the authors crafted in this original tale. I was able to devour the first 3 books in this series, and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next chapter in the coming year. 

1. Beyond the Stars and Shadows by Kristen Martin

This was such a compelling and engaging read right from the start. As anyone who knows me can attest, I love a wide variety of books. As such, I was so thrilled when the story I thought I was reading took off in such an exciting new direction. The author’s writing is so inviting and draws the reader into the narrative and the lives of the protagonist with ease. Elara is a truly fantastic character, well-rounded and while many books take their characters through a total evolution in their story, it was refreshing to see the narrative really hinged on the growth of the characters, making her story so much more interesting. 

When I think of books that really moved or inspired me this year, I cannot leave off one of my all-time favorite authors, Kristen Martin. The imagery and emotions this narrative brought out as I read it, along with the real-life interest I hold for metaphysical studies and the paranormal really sold me on this novel, and I was so honored to have been able to read this amazing story.


Well, that does it for me. These were some of my favorite reads of the year, but certainly not the only favorites. What was your favorite book to read this year? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to like and follow my website if you aren’t already. Also, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, and if you are in the market for some custom writing projects, ranging from poetry to short stories and more, then be sure to order something from my Etsy shop, Cosmic Writing Studios. Everyone have an amazing New Year’s Eve, and I look forward to seeing you in the coming New Year! 


Interview with Author Noelle Ihli

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I wrote and edited for other people long before writing under my own name. But after fifteen years in marketing content and editing (all while hurrying home to finish the latest thriller or horror novel on my nightstand) I decided it was time to tell my own stories.  

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I can’t get enough of scary things. And that includes haunted houses. The effects are sometimes so real that I couldn’t help but wonder if these attractions could be a real target for the right sociopath. If I screamed for help, would anyone really notice? After all, everyone around me was screaming. A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to a sprawling outdoor haunted attraction in Albion, Idaho (the inspiration for The Thicket“). The old buildings and history were supremely creepy. And there’s this image burned into my mind of a security officer looking down at his phone while a person with a chainsaw chased a screaming girl around the dark campus. They were actors, of course. But the screams sounded real to me. And of course, nobody did a thing. Because we all trusted it was part of the fun. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Sometimes there’s a very thin line between our fascination with horror and reality. One person’s scary story is another person’s actual nightmare. And in this novel, the two sides of this dynamic intersect: Norah’s horrifying tragedy becomes this mythical, exciting draw for horror-lovers and thrill seekers who want to attend the “real” haunted house.


4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve loved scary stories for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I checked out every single book in the library’s “Scary Stories” section (there weren’t that many; it was an elementary school). And I’ve been reading horror and thrillers ever since. That said, I’m a total wimp and I check my locks three times every night. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

That’s a hard one. I love Norah so much, so I’d have to choose her. But what to ask? I’d really like to know (given the scene at the cemetery) if Norah and Taylor rekindled their friendship. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook is still such a great place to connect with other amazing authors and readers. I’m gathering the courage to venture onto BookTok (so watch out!) but for now, Facebook is where I’m at! 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Just do the next thing. Don’t let the distance between where you’d like to be and where you are keep you from just taking the next step. 


8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m hard at work on my next thriller/horror novel. Look for it in early 2022! 

About the Author

Noelle’s two great passions are murder and horses (separately, never together).

Noelle is a boy-mom to Luke and Max, and a cat-mom to Michelle. When she’s willing to wear pants (which is less often than she aspires to wear them), she can be found in mom jeans. Her husband Nate is the best person she knows.

The Thicket by Noelle Ihli Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman struggling with the loss of her brother in a heinous crime returns to the place he lost his life, a haunted attraction in their small town, in hopes of discovering what exactly happened to her brother. However she isn’t the only one, as thriller seekers hoping to keep the place open arrive, as does the mystery killer who caused the chaos in the first place, in author Noelle Ihli’s “The Thicket”.


The Synopsis

Would you recognize a real scream on Halloween?

That’s the question haunting Norah Lewis.

She can’t shake the guilt that’s stalked her since the night her brother was murdered. She heard —and ignored—his last screams. Just like everyone else at the Thicket, a haunted attraction in tiny Declo, Idaho.

But as Halloween approaches, Norah’s personal tragedy is overshadowed by a media circus. Parents’ groups and PTAs lobby for a shutdown while thrill seekers far and wide clamor for a chance to visit the notorious haunted attraction.

Many of Norah’s classmates eagerly plan a visit. And, reluctantly, so does Norah, who is driven to retrace her brother’s last steps.

But the man in the grainy security footage whose masked face is plastered across the news hasn’t chosen the Thicket at random.

And, like Norah, he’s planning a return visit. 

The Review

What a truly amazing and inviting horror read! Horror fans everywhere will love this intricately detailed and plotted thriller. The author does a great job of painting an image of the narrative in the reader’s mind, delving into our modern world’s obsession and love of all things terrifying and macabre. As a fan of haunts myself and with friends who run a haunted attraction, I could relate to the life and atmosphere of these attractions clearly. 

It was the atmosphere and characters that really drew me into this narrative. The author managed to capture the unique mindsets of teenagers who have trouble thinking past their own needs or desires, while the chilling mind of the killer and what created his need to kill were both fascinating and haunting. Nora will break your heart, as she evolves over time from a former moody teenager who is faced with regret and pain at her brother’s loss, to a horror heroine facing her brother’s killer head-on. 

The Verdict

A memorable, engaging, and chilling horror/thriller, author Noelle Ihli’s “The Thicket” is a massively entertaining novel of 2021, and a great first novel in the author’s fictional writing career. One of my top choices for the horror novel of 2021, this novel will stay with you long after you have read it, and the author perfectly captures the tone and feeling of tension that both the haunt and the killer bring into this narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Noelle’s two great passions are murder and horses (separately, never together).

Noelle is a boy-mom to Luke and Max, and a cat-mom to Michelle. When she’s willing to wear pants (which is less often than she aspires to wear them), she can be found in mom jeans. Her husband Nate is the best person she knows.

The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy: How to Turn Your Etsy Shop Side Hustle into a Business by Noelle Ihli and Jeanne Allen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Authors Noelle Ihli and Jeanne Allen take readers on a journey to turn their dreams of being an Etsy shop owner and become a full-fledged business in their book, “The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy”.


The Synopsis

Hey, Etsy sellers! SKIP the “secrets” and “tricks.”

“The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy” teaches you proven, easy-to-follow strategies to get more sales on Etsy and turn your side-hustle hobby into a sustainable business.

So many Etsy sellers with incredible products and potential are completely buried by the competition with weak or low-converting keywords, counterproductive titles, the wrong listing structure, etc. That’s the bad news. The good news is that these problems aren’t hard to fix—if you know what you’re doing!

“The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy,” fully updated for 2021, is your one-stop resource for all things Etsy. And no, you won’t get a fire-hydrant of business lingo and milquetoast advice. “The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy” is a down-to-earth, no-BS, complete guide to help real Etsy sellers–written by REAL top-1% Etsy sellers. Learn simple ways to dramatically improve your Etsy shop ranking, your five-star reviews, your conversion rate, your shop views and traffic. And most importantly, learn how to stop getting buried by your competitors—and start making sales and real income.

You won’t find any “secrets” or snake-oil in this book. Just replicable strategies that we KNOW work because we used them ourselves to turn a brand-new shop with a single listing in 2013 into a top-1% ranking shop with 22k+ sales, a five-star rating, and 6-figure income.

In “The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy” we share the EXACT same strategies we used to grow our Etsy shop. So skip the guesswork, the “secrets,” and the snake oil. Whether you’re just starting out on Etsy or have been putting a lot of work into your Etsy shop without much success, don’t give up. Instead, get this book. Because our success on Etsy wasn’t an accident, or “good luck.” It was the result of meticulous testing, research, and doing more of what worked (and less of what didn’t!). It’s replicable. Which means that you can do it in your shop too.

Noelle and Jeanne (that’s us!) are passionate about helping other Etsy sellers succeed through our coaching. We love what we do, and we LOVE sending the elevator back down to help other women (and men) build and grow their small business on Etsy. The coaching arena for Etsy sellers is a wee bit crowded with mediocre advice from shop owners who rely on guesswork and outdated tactics. We’re here to change that. In “The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy” we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to succeed and grow on Etsy. We’ll share our mistakes (we made a number of them in the beginning), our success, and what WORKS. You’ll learn:

– How to properly set up your shop for success (and common pitfalls!)

– Down-to-earth, real advice and strategies for keywords that bring in sales

– Real-talk and strategies about Etsy’s algorithm and how it ranks your shop and listings

– How to price your products (most sellers get this one wrong)

– The best (and most cost-effective) opportunities for paid advertising

– Little-known opportunities for free advertising that actually work

– Etsy-specific customer service guide for earning 50% more 5-star reviews

– In-depth guide for how to market your shop within and beyond Etsy

– Practical guide to studio space, packaging, and shipping strategies that save you time and money.

– Advice for growing, scaling, hiring freelancers and virtual assistants

– Creating GORGEOUS listing photos (without expensive equipment or Photoshop skills!)

– Much, much more. When we say “The Ultimate Guide,” we mean it.

You can do this. And we’ll show you how. Etsy is an incredible platform with a LOT of potential. Now, get out there and ETSY!

The Review

A truly well-written, extensively researched, and memorable read, this book does a fantastic job of breaking down the setup and successes on Etsy. Online shops are growing rapidly, and have taken a life all their own over recent years. Etsy has quickly become one of the internet’s best sites to establish a business and pursue one’s dreams, but not everyone is able to grow their business into something full-time. The experience and knowledge the authors bring to this subject are incredible to read in this book.

The book itself covers a wide variety of topics, and the layout of the sections of this book is great. Starting with the basics of setting up your Etsy shop and determining what kind of shop you want to have, the book delves into everything from crafting a shop name that reflects your shop’s purpose in a succinct manner, to the proper photography tools and settings to get the best photos of your products and even marketing strategies. 

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The Verdict 

A memorable, educational, and thought-provoking read, authors Noelle Ihli and Jeanne Allen’s “The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy” is a must-read for all aspiring entrepreneurs and Etsy shop owners. The perfect blend of how-to and inspirational, this book covers a wide variety of topics and makes for a truly engaging book with readers hoping to improve or even begin their journey onto Etsy. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Etsy is an incredible platform. And if you know what works, you can be successful. We know because we did it. Our Etsy shop started with a single listing in 2013. We’re proud to say that it ranks in the top 1% and brings in 6 figures.

If you’re like us, you’re probably wondering if you have what it takes to be successful on Etsy. If your product is good enough. And even if you’ve seen some success, you may still think of your Etsy shop as your “little hobby.” And we want you to knock that off right now. We’ve found that the people who run Etsy shops are some of the most creative, tenacious people we know. And we have no doubt that you are one of them. You can do this. You DO have what it takes.

And that’s why we wrote this book. Because we’ve figured out what actually works, and we love helping other women (and the occasional awesome dude) take their fledgling Etsy shop, and make it into something that gives back to them what they’re putting into it.

About Us:

Noelle is a boy mom to Luke and Max, and a cat mom to Michelle. When she’s willing to wear pants (which is less often than she aspires to wear them), she can be found in mom jeans. Her husband Nate is the best person she knows. The two things she loves most (in addition to Etsy and the aforementioned children and husband) are murder and horses. (Separately, never together.)

Jeanne is also a mom—to Kaylee, Eileen, and Tober. (Yes, Tober. The short story is that she let Kaylee name her baby brother when she was five. She swears she would have stepped in if Kaylee had added too many Xs or Zs, but luckily, she hadn’t learned those letters yet). Her husband Bryan is, like Noelle’s Nate, pretty dang awesome and supportive. Especially when she decided to veer off a more standard career in technical editing and jumped headfirst into the world of Etsy selling.