New to my Goodreads (3)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Oh. My. Goodness. I have added SO much to my Goodreads and I honestly didn’t even know where to start with these books. I eventually just went to what was the most recent additions and went from there. I just have so many books I want to read, which is weird when you think of just how little I’ve been blogging. But let’s get to the real reason that you’re here.

Open up Goodreads or get that notebook out. Here are some of the most recent additions to my Goodreads TBR:

43575115._sy475_The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I was a HUGE fan of The Night Circus and have really been dying to know what she will do next. This one sounds just as fantastic and a little trippy. Those that have read it say it’s a love letter to stories and books, and that is definitely something I need. And that cover…THAT COVER IS BEAUTIFUL!

36408450._sy475_I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

A warm, fuzzy type romance about a ballet dancer!? Sign me up. I was told that this gave some Center Stage feels, and if you know me then you know I absolutely adore Center Stage. I just need a book that makes me feel happy, and this sounds like it will do the trick!

42972032The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord

NEW EMERY LORD!? THE SEQUEL TO THE START OF ME AND YOU!? I am 100% sold and I just really need this book. If you haven’t read anything by Emery Lord I highly recommend you do so! One of my favorite YA contemporary authors.

36249638How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

To be totally honest, I am not sure what it is that is drawing me to this book. I have seen a lot of high praise for this author and book. So many people saying they were swept away at the beginning and I am craving that feeling. A story about finding joy even in the darkest places…I could definitely use that. I have recently added this one and Things You Save in a Fire by her because something is just pulling me to her work.

41398025The Farm by Joanne Ramos

So I have seen this book pop up every so often, but then about a month ago I was on a weekend up north (yes, I live in a place where we just go up North for a weekend away) and my sister-in-law was reading this. She seemed pretty into it and handed it to me after finishing it so I could give it a whirl. Women are basically paid to be surrogates, but while they are pregnant they belong to The Farm. Very intrigued by this one.

38355098Dry by Nel Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Ok, so I’m reading this one now and LOVING it. This book focuses on a drought in California and what happens when they no longer receive any relief from anyone for it. The character’s worlds are thrown into utter chaos because there is no more water coming. Super interesting. Makes you super thirsty while you’re reading it and really helps you remember to bring water along with you wherever you go. Also serves a great reminder to conserve water.

40864797._sy475_How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman

Oh look, a book that centers around death and grief and has made Emily’s TBR. Shocker. But for real, this book sounds fantastic. This story follows Callie as she is in the thick of grieving for her sister. Grades are plummeting, she quits swimming, all things that can happen as you are dealing with something as tragic as loss. I am so curious what happens to Callie as she is at her aunt’s. From what I gather this not only becomes a book on grief, but it also becomes a bit of a mystery (as well as a romance). Very interested in this one.

36478784._sy475_The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I feel like so many people have been ranting and raving about this one and I WANT IN! This book follows two people who share a flat, but one works the days and the other works nights so they never see each other and have never met. They share a flat, A BED, and they have never met! I can’t even imagine not having ever met the person you live with. This sounds like a romantic comedy that I need in my life!

29236380._sy475_Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

So I recently read How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow and I loved her realness. I loved that she wasn’t shy of the dirty details that no one ever wants to talk about. I had heard people talk about this book, but I wasn’t really sure if I was interested because it sounded intense and I wasn’t sure how someone would tell that story. Well, now I am really intrigued. I know that she will not hide from the facts of self-harm and what is going on in the main character’s life, and I honestly just feel like this could be a very important read.

38580144The Last Word by Samanta Hastings

I randomly stumbled upon this one because of a quiz that was going around on Twitter and I am sold. Set in the 1860’s, this story follows a young woman who is on a quest to find out just how her favorite serialized novel will end as the author was killed before it was finished. She enlists the help of her father’s young business partner and they set off trying to find out just how this story ended. I had NEVER heard of this one until today and now I am kind of excited to get my hands on it and give it a go.

If you want to see what else I’ve been adding, head on over to my Goodreads page and check it out! And then you can laugh at how much reading I gotta get done in order to even kind of catch up on that TBR.

What books have you recently added to your lists? 

emily

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Let’s talk How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Before starting this post off I just want to let you know that this could get a bit heavy. If you struggle with grief in any sort of way and don’t think you can handle this post then please stop reading. We all grieve differently and I don’t want to hurt anyone as they are working through things.

I am the type of person that yearns for books on grief. I am always drawn to them in an instant even though I know they will break my heart. How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow was no different.

40755416Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

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Initial reactions upon finishing:

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This book left me feeling all kinds of things. I felt that gut wrenching pain of loss, I felt the occasional smile, I felt the amount of love that is within the book…it was a bit of a roller coaster. And while I found myself sobbing quite a bit and my husband threatened to take it away because it was making me sad, I am so glad I read it.

The portrayal of grief was huge for me. The author showed the nitty gritty, the stuff that everyone is scared to talk about. Tiger went through the phases of grief without them needing to be labeled, because honestly the phases of grief don’t move that way. Throughout the book Tiger constantly described the initial stages of it all sinking in as feeling like wet cement, and I don’t think there is a more accurate description. You just feel heavy; heavy, but still moving slowly…one step at a time. I honestly don’t remember a time in my life that I have felt so heavy as I have when I have been hip deep in the darkest moments of grieving. Grief truly is the Big Suck, and it is always with you. This book really was a solid glimpse for those that maybe don’t understand it as well because they don’t have that personal experience. If you are ever wondering what a friend or family member may be feeling after the death of a loved one, this book will give you a good description of what they may be feeling.

While I related so well to the grief, I still found it to be a different journey. I lost a parent, just like Tiger, but I still had my other parent. I still had a place to live and a family to call my own. Once Tiger loses her mother that’s it. She’s alone. She’s put in foster care and into the system that so many people get bounced around in. To see her not only navigate her grief, but to also navigate through foster care and feeling like she had no one…that was tough. I found it incredibly eye opening as well. I know very little about the foster care system, minus what I might see on TV or in books. I really felt like the author took this to heart, knew that so many don’t really know what goes on in those homes, and put us through this journey with Tiger. It was a journey of heartbreak. It was a journey of pain. It was a journey that really had Tiger finding herself, just not always in the best of ways. It really had me thinking about my life and what I can do for others that don’t necessarily have a place to call home or people to call family.

This book, to me, is so important. It shows the darkness of grief, of the foster care system, of what may happen to a vulnerable young woman after everything is taken from her in just one evening. There aren’t enough books that paint the ugly in grief, but this one did. Grief is an ugly thing guys. And I really get tired of people glamorizing it, of characters that seem to just get over it throughout the book…because that’s not how it happens. Tiger’s journey with grief was real to me. So real that I had to take breaks, because occasionally the hurt was too much (which is really sucky when you think of all the people in real life that don’t have the option to take a break from that heavy feeling.).

Now, if you know me pretty well you must be asking yourself why I do this to myself. Why do I read books about grief, books that bring back all those ugly emotions?

Well first, there is nothing like the feeling when an author can get your feelings going just by something they wrote. There is something about that and I just can’t seem to walk away from books that are going to have me ugly crying.

But honestly…the biggest reason is because sometimes I need to remember that I’m not alone. My dad has been dead for 17 years. I’m not over it. I’ll never be over it. Some days it’s just a little easier to put one foot in front of the other, and then there are days that even getting out of bed is tough. Grief is here to stay, and sometimes, as silly as it sounds, I feel like I’m the only one that has dealt with it. I am so wrong, and I know that. But when I was 13, right after my dad passed, I couldn’t find books like this. I couldn’t find a way to relate, a way to make sense, and a way to fully deal with it. These books help me continue to process, even years later. And it helps me to know that there are books for those youths who are just starting their journey with grief.

Grief is the longest journey I never wanted to be on. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But here I am, feeling all those feels, and just working through the days that I feel like I can’t breathe. As the years have gone on it has gotten better. I don’t miss my dad any less, but I’m not constantly being punched in the gut by missing him. The constant hole is there, but it doesn’t hurt in the same way that it used to (most days).

Reading about grief has been a HUGE thing for me. It has helped me process so much and I think it has helped me get to the point I am at today. If you are ever looking for other books, books that I found helped me in some way or another as far as tacking the feelings of grief, then you should definitely check these out:

And if you are grieving, having a hard time, no matter how long it’s been or how fresh the wounds are…do not be afraid to reach out. I know it may seem like you are alone in this journey, but you are not. I may not be able to relate 100% to how you are feeling, but I am on this grief journey too…different stages, but I’m here. And I am an excellent listener.

This post has really gotten away from me, so if you’re still with me AWESOME! If you aren’t, I totally understand.

Basically…if you want a fairly accurate representation of grief, read How to Make Friends with the Dark. Just be sure you have some tissues nearby and take some breaks when it feels too heavy. And if you have read it, let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!

emily

It’s Summer Reading Time!

tumblr_inline_mnn9bpytqm1rlpk9cIt’s JUNE! And because it’s June and the sun is FINALLY shining and the temps are feeling good my brain is drifting…drifting off to those lazy days of summer where all I have to do is sit outside with a book in my hand. It is very difficult some days to work in an office during the summer. So today I’m sitting here thinking about sunshine, cool drinks, and ALL the summer reading.

What is it about reading in the summer? I seriously look forward to summer reading all the time even though I work a year-round job. It’s not THAT different than reading in the spring, but somehow it feels different. Is it because of all the summer reading programs I did as a kid? Is it because when I was in school the summers were the time that I could read all the things? I have no clue…but today, my brain is stuck on summer mode. And of course, that means I am thinking of my summer reading goal.

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My goal for reading this summer isn’t like most people’s. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever actually seen anyone pick this as their summer reading goal. But here it is…here is what I plan to do this summer:

This summer I will only read books I own!

Yea, pick your jaws up off of the floor now and listen to me. I love libraries. I do. I get distracted by libraries. I may own 19435887248015 unread but I always get distracted at the library. I was just at the library the other day to pick up a movie and I had to force myself to not even drift close to the books because I knew that I would pick one up.

So…I have all these books. Which ones am I planning to read this summer? Well…here’s what I’m hoping to tackle after I finish the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy which, guys, I am halfway through!!!!:

37703550Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

35604686The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

32926258The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

38355098Dry by Neal Shusterman

35297469Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

23398763Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

40755416How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

32033642The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

41398025The Farm by Joanne Ramos

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I also really want to try to get some more fantasy in, but these books are just so in my face right now (because I want to read them all) that I can’t pick. I am thinking I should finish the Throne of Glass series but I also want to reread the Grisha series. Oof, the fantasy part is tough guys. Not sure where to go with that one.

Will I get to all these books this summer? Probably not. Will I get distracted by other books I own? More than likely. But I definitely want to get these read this summer and to have this be the summer of reading books I own.

Have you read any of these books? What should I prioritize?

Clearly I need to blog more because I have so many more questions but…what are your summer reading plans? Please share them with me because I am always just so curious.

emily

The possible cause for the blogging slump

I think I have found the cause of my blogging slump.

Yes, it’s not a shock I’ve been in a slump for awhile. My posts have become more sporadic, and the ones that I have been posting aren’t always the discussion type that I really enjoy doing. I don’t do a ton of book chats or anything that really shows opinions, which isn’t bad…but it was something I once loved doing so much.

My biggest thing these days…I’m nervous to voice my opinions.

That sounds absolutely ridiculous when I type it out like that, but it’s true.

I feel like I’m a fairly considerate person. I am always trying to be aware of how others may read what I say and I do my best not to be hurtful to them. I don’t ever want to cause anyone anxiety, stress, or any sort of triggering moments. I want to have a safe space, and I want to give people a safe space. The fact that we can voice our opinions is great, but when it doesn’t promote honest discussion it just becomes harmful.

My problem is that while we all view things differently, so many people use those views to bring others down instead of having an actual conversation. I have seen it happen on Twitter so many times. Someone says something, innocently or not, and it becomes a HUGE thing that negatively impacts the person that said it. There are times where people are rude to be rude, ignorant, or just tearing others down for fun. My thoughts would never be used in those ways, but I fear that people will jump on the negative and go after me for it. Taking the time to discuss with me and inform me on where I might be coming up short in my thoughts in a more polite way is so much more beneficial than yelling at me and telling me I am wrong.

I guess my fear is that I will make one silly mistake and become just that person that everyone goes after. I’m not saying that I feel like what I say is on the front page of everything, but it’s the internet…things get out. One silly mistake, one time that I have an opinion that comes out wrong, one time I say something that shows I may not be as informed as I should be…that could be it. I don’t want that. I want to discuss. I want to see where my shortcomings may be and what I can do to improve my thoughts and opinions. I want to see that maybe I’m not alone in my thoughts and opinions.

Basically, to sum it all up…I fear that I am not able to have honest discussions. I want to have open and honest discussions, but there are too many people who tear you down for just ONE mistake, one mistype, one wording issue…I don’t want that.

I want to have honest discussions, and I want to be able to talk openly about things and have people help me see if I’m in the wrong. I just don’t know if I can do that here anymore.

I’m not quitting blogging. There are times that this is the one thing that helps me relax. I am, however, rethinking things and my approach to blogging.

So tell me…do you ever feel like this, and what advice would you give me here?

emily

New to my Goodreads (2)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Get those Goodreads accounts open, and be ready to add a few books to your list. Here are the last 10 books that I have added to my Goodreads (with a little snippet as to why I added them):

41147279Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

This book is described as a book about second chances, bravery, and discovering yourself. Seems like a book that most people should read, right? I think this could make for a really good, cute, fun story that I could relate to in some ways. Also, I really like that cover (bad book nerd, I know). I don’t watch any Booktube but I’m really excited to see someone who is well known in that world get her book out there!

32926258The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

It has been SO long since I have read a book set in the depression era, and the fact that this one follows a traveling circus, with all its highs and lows…I’m intrigued.  I hadn’t even heard of this book until the other day when I received it as a gift, but I have been wanting to read other books by this author. This book sounds like it has a strong female character working through some tough situations in life. I know that the circus is a tough thing for people to read about and I know they are known to be very dark and horrible places. I am so interested to see just how that is portrayed. This book sounds emotional, raw, and somehow like a book that is right up my alley. 

40899464The Thing We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

I love a book that goes between the past and the present. I really love seeing how those in the present learn from the past, and how the past can influence people. This book follows the story of a young woman in 1942 as she comes to terms with just how severe the Nazi occupation will be along the Polish border. I am not totally sure about how it goes from past to present, but I am intrigued by the little bit of Alina’s story they shared in the synopsis and want to see how the author pulls it off.

40753481Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls was one of my favorite books of 2018, so I knew that the second Martha Hall Kelly released a new book I would be ALL for it. This book is almost a prequel and follows Caroline’s mother, Eliza, in WWI. I can’t wait to see meet Eliza and to get back into the world that Kelly has written. Seriously, if you haven’t read Lilac Girls…you need to!

30075662Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

I, like so many others, fell DEEP into the Illuminae series. I read each one in about a day and could not believe the emotional journey that the authors put me through. So naturally, I see that they are doing something new and I immediately have grabby hands. While I could flail about and tell you just how pumped I am for this one, I’ll leave you with this line that’s at the end of the synopsis: They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

42245770The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen has been a favorite author of mine for a very long time. I remember reading and rereading her books in high school and always hoping to find something new. This book hits a few notes for me as it involves a main character who has lost her mother at age 10, which is very close to the age that I lost my dad. I really cling to books about grief and grieving because I think it continues to normalize it for me, and I really think that Dessen will again make me feel all the feels.

43263680Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ok if we are going to be perfectly honest here I definitely added this because I love Leigh Bardugo. I LOVED the Grisha series, LOVED Six of Crows, and I need more of her writing in my life. This book focuses on a high school dropout who is also somehow involved in Yale’s underground occult? I don’t know but I know that I am curious and her writing is so good that I just need it.

35398627Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

One of my goals is to read more diversely. I try my hardest to do so, but a lot of times I just don’t hear about certain books and then I’m missing out. This book sounds like one I need to read, like one we all need to read. My knowledge on leaving everything behind because of danger back home is so small. I moved from one state to another with my husband and a plan, nothing at all like what Jude goes through. I think I need to read this to help myself understand just a little bit more about the journey that so many lives take. Also, it’s written in verse? Heck yes!

warrior of the wild 3-6Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

A Viking inspired book!? YES PLEASE! I will take ALL the Vikings inspired books and need more of them in my life. I know that my co-blogger, Arika, has read this one and after her review I am totally on board with this one. The main character’s trial is sabotaged and she is sent into the woods to fight her way back and kill the god that claims tributes from the village. Definitely sounds like an Emily book! I am hoping for a strong female kicking butt in this one.

39727081The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

As I said before, I am trying to read more about what I do not know, and I don’t know a whole lot about being placed in the foster care system. The synopsis for this book broke my heart a little bit, and after reading it I just want to know that the main character is going to grow from her experiences and be ok (or as ok as she can be). Victoria is placed into foster care at the age of 17 after all her father has done to her, and this book sounds like it follows her as she deals with what happened to her and what might currently be happening to her sister. It sounds incredibly dark and heartbreaking, but it sounds like something important to read.

My fear whenever writing this is that I don’t tell you just why I want to read these books. The main factor is that the synopsis sticks with me. If I read a synopsis for a book that promises adventure or breaks my heart I’m definitely going to want to add it to my ever-growing TBR.

So tell me…what have you recently added to your TBR?

emily

Let’s talk about…The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

This year has been an excellent reading year for me. While I’m only averaging about 2-4 books per month, I am finding that I am loving a majority of what I’m reading and getting more out of it. It’s been hard for me to find the balance, but it’s also been really fun.

Today I’m talking about an upcoming release from an author who has become one of my favorites. I’ve read one of her series and ADORED it and really need to get my hands on more. She has a new book coming out, and guys…it’s a good one. Here’s a little more about The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

40597067For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen. 

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

Add to your Goodreads | About the Author | Buy this Book

I received an eARC of this book in exchange for a review from the author. This does not sway my thoughts or opinions of this book.

Initial reaction upon finishing:

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If there was ever a book that screamed “that’s an Emily book,” then this is it. It has everything that I love in my fantasy books. A vigilante who is actually a royal in disguise, murder mystery, plot twists, an awesome female character that grows on you the more you read, development of the characters…it had everything. I loved running around on the streets of Forcadel with Brynna while also trying to figure out who murdered the royals. I was hooked from the start.

Here are some reasons I definitely think you should read it:

  • MASKED VIGILANTE. Ok, let’s be real…there are a lot of masked vigilante tales in the world right? That do-gooder who has a double life, ruler by day and good guy (or bad guy I guess) by night. Sometimes you wonder if it’s something that the author can pull off with a unique twist. Thank goodness S. Usher Evans did just that! She made this world and this tale come real in front of my eyes, and while I can find some similarities to other stories that are like this one I also found that she made it her own. I love the idea of the Veil being the vigilante, and I really love the origin of why she became The Veil. It just all came together to form an unforgettable and unique story.
  • STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. Ok, I’m going to get real here…I didn’t initially love Brynna. I started to feel like she was a bit entitled and just trying to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious. Her resentment for having to take over kind of turned me off and I wasn’t sure how this was going to change. Brynna grew before my eyes. She didn’t always think things through, but then she learned from the consequences. By the end I found her to be incredibly strong and someone that I wouldn’t mine becoming. She became relatabe by learning through her mistakes and growing from it. She started to develop relationships with others instead of being a loner. She became someone that I really liked and I definitely need to see what she has up her sleeve next.
  • PLOT TWISTS AND TURNS. This comes down to S Usher Evans taking a unique spin to a storyline that could become very basic. She created a believable environment and then kind of drove me crazy by making things not happen the way I wanted them to (I mean…I had really hoped after all we have been through things would go my way..). The characters I thought I could trust did crazy things and I ended the book in shock. There are few authors that cause me to abandon my better judgment on characters, but Evans is one of them. And then I fall for it and shake my fist at her. I fell for the trap again! This book is filled with subtle and not so subtle twists and turns, and when you think you know better you find that you really don’t.

I absolutely loved this book. I think it set up the series really well and gave me those elements of fantasy that I have been craving lately. When looking through other reviews on Goodreads I saw someone call this Throne of Glass meets Robin Hood, which I can totally see! The reasons for Brynna’s vigilante ways are very much in the realm of Robin Hood, but her methods definitely fall more into the way of Caelena in Throne of Glass. My love for both Throne of Glass and Robin Hood are quite large, so the fact that I fell in love with Forcadel and what Brynna is doing is no shock.

I always worry that I don’t do books I love justice. I worry I flail too much and that by the end you are just rolling your eyes at me because I’m just shouting random things in excitement. But note, if you love fantasy…if you like a good vigilante story…then you DEFINITELY need to check this book out.

The City of Veils comes out on April 16th. Please join me in flailing about this book and supporting this author!

emily

Let’s talk about…You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

What’s the last book you’ve read in a day? The last book that made you want to forget all of your to-do lists and just read? I imagine this has happened once in your life, at least. I imagine that you have started a book and struggled to put it down.

The last book that caused this reaction in me? You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn.

36146624Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk. 

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I received an advanced copy of this book in a giveaway. This in no way sways my thoughts or opinions.

If I could describe the book in a few gifs: giphygiphy-1msy

This book had it all…charm, swoons, drama, and a plot that was pretty believable considering the lives that these two characters were leading. It had songs that I would love to have in existence, and references to country artists that I need to learn more about. It was honestly a country music education for myself (which I’m sure Annie would be so proud of). I fell in love with this book more and more with each page turn. I loved each and every character, I loved their journey in life, and I love how real it got. This isn’t something that’s just, for lack of a better word, fluffy. This has those elements of a contemporary romance that we love with the real hardships people go through in life. It brushed on grief, addiction, and just the idea that we all want to find a place that we fit in. I couldn’t get enough of it.

So, my top 3 reasons that you should read this book:

  1. STRONG CHARACTERS. My goodness, even at her weakest Annie was strong. In a way, I could relate to her grief. Well, mostly I can relate that I have worked through some form of grief since the loss of my dad. I cannot imagine living in her situation, and the fact that she still pursued music is so strong. To me, these characters were realistic because they struggled. The way they faced their issues, one way or another, made them strong to me.
  2. MUSIC. I loved that this entire book revolved around music, and not at all in a cheesy way. You saw how life experiences created a song, you felt the emotion in the lyrics. This book, and those lyrics just hit me in a way not all books can. It made the emotions of the book even more real to me as a reader, and it made the book that much more important to me.
  3. PLOT. This sounds super broad I know, but hear me out…this book had a little bit of everything I wanted. There were plot twists, there were budding relationships, there were friendships, there was drama. I laughed, I cried, I cheered for them in their darkest moments, and I yelled at them as they were making stupid decisions. I felt like I was totally and completely in the story from the beginning, and I didn’t want it to end. It was the perfect story for me to fall head over heels in love with, and I am already planning on when I can read it again.

If you are looking for a book that makes you feel all the feels, that has you cheering for the characters to find themselves and succeed, that has you craving some good music, and that gives you all the swoons…then this is the book for you. I loved this book so much, and I just hope that my words can help you understand just how much I love it.

This book comes out on April 2nd. You should DEFINITELY get your hands on it!

emily

If We Were Having Tea (6)

20638302_10210095186557818_268576923072112750_nI have seen this post many times over at Jamie’s page (The Perpetual Page Turner) and have always wanted to give it a shot. I think it’s fun, personable, and a great way to kind of get to know one another. So, I thought why not give it a shot? But there will be a bit of a difference…we won’t be having coffee. Instead, I will be having tea.

If We Were Having Tea…

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  • I would tell you that I’m between books. WEIRD RIGHT!? I just haven’t really had the time or motivation to pick up anything. I’ve read less than normal this month, and I think I have finally made peace with that. However, TOTALLY ready to get back into something. What are you reading right now?
  • I would tell you that part of my reading woes is that I’m struggling to pick something to read because I just can’t settle. I just finished The City of Veils by S Usher Evans and LOVED it. I am thinking I need some more fantasy in my life. What are some of your go-to fantasy recommendations?
  • I would tell you that after having some rough months due to winter and my seasonal depression I am finally having good days. I can’t even accurately describe what is happening, but something has clicked in me and I am happy. I am motivated. I am not sitting here drowning in my lack of self-confidence. It’s a beautiful thing and I am doing all that I can to keep it up. How are you doing now that winter is finally nearing the end?
  • I would tell you that husband has gotten me into a lot of new shows. We have gotten back into watching shows together, and have successfully finished Venture Bros, The Passage, and have just started The Runaways. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been getting much reading done… Have you gotten into any good shows lately?
  • I would tell you that I think I have given up running. Ok, not entirely given up on it, but I’m taking a pause. I have found that if I don’t enjoy a workout then I do it less, lose motivation, and end up frustrated. I don’t enjoy running. I enjoy a 5k every now and then, but running just feels like work. I want working out to be fun, and I have found the love for lifting. So it’s time to switch gears and work out how I want to. Do you have any particular workouts that you enjoy doing?
  • I would tell you that I am super excited about my weekend away to Chicago! I leave tomorrow evening and will be spending my birthday weekend with my husband. I have needed a weekend away for SO LONG. I definitely have felt stuck up here, so to even just get out of this area is a blessing. I mean, I would have loved a tropical vacation, but this will have to do. Do you have any fun weekend plans?
  • I would tell you that I turn 30 this weekend! The big 3-0. I know that people freak out about this age. They are either terrified of it or excited for it. Honestly, I feel pretty meh about it. I mean, I’m getting older. It is what it is. I have experienced so many ups and downs throughout my life that make turning 30 to be a bit bittersweet. But it’s my golden birthday and I want to celebrate. I remember as a kid I would complain that I wouldn’t hit my golden birthday until 30 because it just seemed like forever away. I see you 12 year old me. We made it. Did you or do you have any extreme feelings about turning 30?
  • I would tell you that I’ve been experiencing drama, and it has weighed heavily on me. I don’t even know if it’s drama, but it’s definitely some changes in life that I wasn’t totally ready for that kind of hit me in the face. And, despite that, I think I’m actually doing ok. It’s weird. I strongly believe that people are put into our lives for reasons, good or bad. I think that all the relationships that I have had a purpose in my life and have built me to be who I am. People change, people grow, things happen. I think lately I have really come to terms of past relationships that have ended while also dealing with changes in my life currently. Some of it has hurt, but it has all caused me to really evaluate where I am in life and where I want to go. I’m honestly feeling so good, and so happy. I feel confident in so much and maybe that’s why? I’m not too sure. Do you think that all relationships have some sort of purpose in your life, whether they are good or bad?
  • I would tell you that I AM SO EXCITED FOR BASEBALL SEASON! Baseball is huge in my life. I watched it with my dad, I played softball for a long time, and it holds such a special place in my heart. I am so excited for it to start up again. I’ve missed it so much. Are you into any sports?

I hope you are all having a wonderful last week of March. Anything exciting happening in your life? I miss talking to you all and I am so ready to fully dive back into blogging. Expect to see more from me soon.

emily

Emily here, with a confession…

How many of you have heard of the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000?

Ok, so it’s a little more popular than that question implies, but I guess I don’t know how many of you reading my blog know what it is. This game has become a big deal in my life, meaning my husband plays it and I hear talk of it all the time. It involves making models, painting them, creating an army to play other people, yadda yadda yadda.

[Leo (the husband) Edit: Warhammer 40,000 is a table top miniatures game set in the 41st millennium.  Known for being exceptionally “Grim Dark”, it has it’s roots in being a over -the-top satire of the worst characteristics of humanity.  The video below will give some context.]

Basically, it’s really not my thing.

But then I heard there were books…

There are so many books by so many authors. Good books, and not so good books. My husband has gotten really into reading them because the plot to each story is crazy and they help him build some background to the game he is playing. He obviously knows that I enjoy reading, so he has started to recommend certain authors and storylines to follow. At first, I rolled my eyes. I mean, do I really want to get into Warhammer in the slightest? Nope. Keeping my distance sounded pretty nice. But he kept pushing it. He started making deals with me, like “you read this Warhammer book and I’ll read another one of your favorite books.” Finally…I caved. I can only listen to him bother me about it for so long. This was obviously for the benefit of our marriage. Who knows what would happen if I kept ignoring him for so long.

So I read his first choice book for me, and then I read another…

Yep, you guessed it…I like reading Warhammer books.  [Leo Edit: It’s almost like I know you…]

Those who know me well are probably rolling their eyes, and those who don’t know me well are probably confused. As a game, Warhammer is interesting, but not something I want to be involved in. I love that it challenges people to be creative and gets people to physically leave their house to game with other people, but I don’t like that it’s an incredibly expensive hobby [Leo Edit: Cost is relative. I could be into fishing, motorcycles, vintage airplane collecting…] that many tend to obsess over. I tend to get a negative taste in my mouth for any hobby turned obsession, but I have seen it happen a lot with Warhammer.

So, why read the books if you aren’t super into the game? I’ll tell you why:

  • SPACE OPERA: Sci-fi is tricky for me. I feel like sci-fi gets too bogged down by details or overly cheesy. Space operas have been the only way for me to get into sci-fi. They are easier for me to follow, and the cheesiness bothers me less. The Warhammer books that I have read fit right in there. Sure, sometimes they get cheesy or bogged down by details, but the few that I have read have been simple for me to navigate through. They have fit into my ideal space opera so far, and I love it.
  • CHARACTERS: There are so many characters from different backgrounds. I love that there is some element of diversity within the universe, and I think the wide range of characters gives the story a level of interest that not a lot of space operas pull off. Also, can we talk about how gender is like a non-issue for the most part? Men and women can both be badass and it doesn’t matter if they are a man or a woman. I absolutely love that.
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Commissar Severina Raine, from the book Honourbound
  • ACTION: The books that I have read have been filled to the brim with action. The action is exciting and keeps me invested in the story. We aren’t talking the random fights that sometimes feel like they come because the author needed more, they are important fights. They are multiple, big, plot enhancing fights throughout the entire story. These fights have kept me actively engaged in the world, and have made it so easy to get totally lost in the story and dying to know what comes next.
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[Leo Edit: This is from the trailer for Death of Hope, a fan film made by ONE GUY.]
  • A STORY YOU CAN PUT DOWN AND COME BACK TO LATER. I love that I can put the series down for a little bit and come back weeks or even months later. It’s not always an overly complicated story, and it’s something that I have felt is not difficult to pick right back up. It helps that with any questions I have I can ask my husband, but the internet is also an excellent source when it comes to these books. The Warhammer community is rather large, which is cool but also kind of scary.

The book series is written by a variety of authors, which is great because then you get a wide range of perspectives. However, this doesn’t mean that each book is the same. Some authors, as my husband has found out, are more difficult to read through than others. Not to say that all the stories are terrible, but we all know sometimes certain works are more difficult for us to read through than others. My husband knows me well and has been good about recommending what to read. Thankfully he was around to add some of his own thoughts to help anyone wanting to get into this world…

Thoughts from Leo

Since I got my wife into it she asked if I would also add my thoughts.  If you’re looking at where to start it may be a little overwhelming…

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Horus Heresy Tree

… but I recommend starting (roughly) at the beginning, 10,000 years before the setting of the game.  Horus Rising by Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Who, and so much more), False Gods by Graham McNeill (one of the best authors for Black Library, if he wrote it it’s good), and Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter (can’t say much of him; this book is good, but I hated the next book he writes) are the introductory trilogy to the Horus Heresy.  Read these and you will know if you will enjoy yourself.  Following the trilogy the series splinters. Flight of the Eisenstein directly continues the story, Fulgrim takes place during the first three books but is from other characters’ perspective, and the following books begin to introduce new characters and settings.  There are a few good recommended reading orders online, and I will add my recommendations, but for the most part don’t stress it.  Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe the books are related, but you don’t necessarily need to read every one to understand what is happening.

So anyway, what do I like?

Descent of Angels introduces the Dark Angels and Lion El’Johnson. Young boys join a knightly order to rid their haunted world of terrible beasts, falling into a web of secrets along the way.

A Thousand Sons begins the tragic tale of Magnus the Red and his legion.  Maybe magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, maybe the pursuit of knowledge and doing what you think is right is all that matters.  Should be followed up with Prospero Burns.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, my favorite Black Library author, writes the prologue book The First Heretic I’ve never read an author that does a better job of writing from the antagonist’s perspective than he does.

My portion is getting long, but there are a couple more things I want to add.  While I’ve recommended starting with the three books that begin the Horus Heresy, there’s no reason to limit yourself to that period.  In the 40k setting you can read about the dying race known as Aeldari in the Path of the Eldar, get your Firefly fix with the Rogue Trader Omnibus, or find out what these badasses are all about in Sisters of Battle Omnibus-d6pa2y1-3e475b58-4db3-4b90-9f17-27c675e1c8d6

Two more things and I am done, I swear.  Despite what my wife says the hobby itself is amazing.  Building and painting has been a great stress relief for me, and though 40k may be a little “much” for you (or maybe not, if you’re an awesome person like me!) if you enjoy table top stuff Games Workshop does have games like Necromunda, Kill Team, or Blackstone Fortress.  Lastly (I hate that I feel like have to, but people can be assholes) a disclaimer.  Warhammer 40k is the pinnacle of nerdom, and because of that socially malformed neck beards do come with the territory.  If you come across rude content or behavior online understand it is not representative of the community.  Overall we are very inclusive (and admittedly at times socially awkward) group of people.

A few more words from Emily:

This has been kind of fun to get into. It has given me a way to get interested in his hobby without having to be fully into the gaming aspect. I am not one to sit and paint models, plan out how I want things to go, etc. I like that we have this connection. I also like that I am able to enjoy these books. I will say, I highly recommend getting the audiobooks if you are able. The narration is great and has helped me get even more invested in the story.

JUST A HEADS UP: This series does get a graphic and dark. There is some violence against others, there are incredibly dark and evil acts, and there is gore. If you are at all sensitive to any of that I would recommend you not read the series.

So, I gotta ask…who else has read these books or gotten into the Warhammer 40,000 world somehow?

emily [and Leo, the husband]

Emily’s February 2019 recap

Leave it to February to prove to me that January is not the longest winter month ever.

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February was the snowiest on record. I spent at least 2 days a week shoveling, once it took me nearly 4-5 hours because it was so heavy and I had to take breaks. And if it’s not snow, then it’s ice. The days have been cold, miserable, and I am so happy to see the end of the February.

While I spent much of my time shoveling snow, I did happen to get some reading in. It was honestly another good month of reading, an I really hope that I can continue my streak.

What did I read in February?:

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn36146624

I’m not going to say a ton about this book since I will have an actual review coming up closer to release date, but I will say that I loved this book. I read it in 24 hours, which is not a normal thing for me. I fell in love with Annie, Clay, and the world that they were navigating through. I laughed, I cried, and I was moved by this book and the way that it tackles some heavy stuff. It comes out on April 2nd, so you best get that pre-order in! You do not want to miss this (full review to come later this month).

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory 33815781

I have heard so many good things about this book. I heard that it was a fun, swoon worthy romance that cannot be missed. I, unfortunately, am not super into the romance genre. I have tried many books and tried to be sure that they were highly rated and loved, and they typically just fall short. This was yet another one of those for me. I can see what it is that people love about this book. I think the writing was great, and the characters were awesome, but it was not something that fully clicked with me. Definitely just a me issue.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah34912895

I don’t know if there are words that can accurately describe my feelings for this book. This book ripped my heart out. It took me deep into the Alaskan bush and just slayed me. I was thrown into this family’s world. I was deep in their happiest moments as well as their darkest moments. I hit all of the emotions in this one, and it had be ugly crying (which is a sign to me that it’s an incredible book). This is the 2nd book by Kristin Hannah that I have read, and I am definitely going to be reading more from her.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton36301023

I absolutely ADORED My Lady Jane, so I was pretty excited to read the next Jane book from the Janies. I love their writing style, love how their writing compliments one another, and love the humor they add into their books. While I enjoyed this book and found it to be a fun take on Jane Eyre, I think I preferred My Lady Jane over this one. I totally see what it is about this book that people love, but it just didn’t hit those notes with me. I struggled with Jane Eyre though, so that could be part of my issue. Oh well. I still enjoyed it, just wasn’t my favorite book of the month.

In February I didn’t really binge watch anything. My husband and I are still watching a few of the shows from last month (Venture Bros, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Passage) and I’ve really just taken to re watching shows because I have wanted that comfort in these darker moments of winter.

Music has been pretty big for me though. Some of my most popular February songs:

If you want to see the 2019 list I have going, check it out here

Besides those few things, my February was pretty low key. Mentally, it’s been a tough month. February is hard to begin with so adding the additional record breaking elements of winter, it make it difficult for sure. But I powered through and now I’m facing March.

In March I have a few things planned. It’s birthday month (whooo!). I don’t normally get too hyped about my birthday, but it’s my 30th (and golden) so I am trying to do some fun things this month. I have two races coming up (yea, how can those be fun right?), one of which involves ending at a beer festival. I have a weekend to Chicago planned, and I have plans to keep killing it at the gym and working through some books. My goal is to finish the Throne of Glass books before I turn 30. I have one giant book left, so I hope that I can do it. March looks like it will be filled with all kinds of things, and I am sure I will slay it.

How was your February? Any big March plans?

emily