Glass Houses and Stones...


I hate drama. ESPECIALLY family drama which I unfortunately find myself smack dab in the middle of right now. Someone in my family (protecting identity because frankly, I'd be ashamed if I was her) has a problem with me. APPARENTLY, I take advantage of my husband because she sees him doing all of the work for our infant daughter when we're at family get togethers. Work meaning feeding her and changing her diaper. First of all, we don't keep count so I'm not sure who is winning the diaper tally in our household, but I can promise you that we both have changed our fair share. Second of all, seeing us for maybe 2-3 hours once a month or so is HARDLY a clear indicator of what goes on in our family on a day-to-day basis.

I think part of her frustration stems from when my father-in-law was sick, in hospice care and passing away. My husband couldn't be there as much as other family members, he was in a crap job with crappy hours and absolutely no paid time off. We also happened to have a 4 month old at the time and were still learning and growing in our roles of new parents. I never once told my husband that he could NOT go over there. He went over there every other day but really struggled with it. It was very difficult for him to be there and personally, I think he needed some time at home with our baby girl to experience a little bit of joy in such a terrible time. Being with our daughter seemed to be a buffer for him, a little salve for his soul as he watched his father lose his long battle with cancer.

All of this is beside the point... when has it become socially acceptable in our society for people to pass judgment so harshly on others? Just because you're related to someone, through marriage no less, does not entitle that person to be all up in your business, passing judgment on things that they only have partial information on. Who the heck does this person think he/she is? It ASTONISHES me that people feel so entitled to make judgments about other people and the way they live their lives. Just because someone does something differently than you, that doesn't make their way WRONG and your way RIGHT, it just means that you're different. Differences should be celebrated because who knows, maybe you'll find a new and better way of doing things for yourself. But judging someone, making them feel like a total outsider in the family, making them feel inadequate as a parent, wife, and person in general? Shame. You should feel SHAME. You should also turn that intense scrutiny into your own home and look at yourself. I promise, you ain't as perfect as you think you are. I just have too much class to point those things out to you.

It also makes me sad that moms feel the need to rip each other apart, rather than build each other up. It's HARD being a mom, y'all. It's especially hard being a first-time mom and having someone who is supposed to be like family to you tearing you down? That really sucks. I may not always agree with what I see other moms doing, but I'm damn sure going to be a supportive and caring presence in their lives, not a demeaning, negative and judgmental one.

*deep breath*

At the end of the day, dealing with people like this, people who mask hatefulness and cruelty behind false words of "concern" for others just show me the kind of person I NEVER want to be. I will never be a close member of my husband's family, it's just not possible now because it's been made abundantly clear that I'm not a member of the family and that everything about my life- my parenting, my marriage, my relationship with others, is open to critique and judgment from others. Every moment spent in their presence will feel like operating in a fishbowl. There will never be comfort there now and that's okay. Because I learned the truth about where I stand and sometimes that's a really valuable lesson. You also learn about who you can really rely on... to respect you, stand by you, and love and care for you unconditionally and without judgment. I have that in my husband and that's enough. I also happen to have a family who loves me and would NEVER make my husband feel the way his family has made me feel. For that, I'll be eternally grateful.

*REVIEW* A Thousand Pieces of You



Synopsis:
Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.


I'm a huge fan of Claudia Gray and once again, she did not disappoint. A Thousand Pieces of You is a wonderfully written book that is unique, fresh, exciting, intriguing, and stacked with emotional feels. The only thing making me sad right now is how long I'm going to have to wait for the second book!!

A Thousand Pieces of You introduces us to Marguerite, a teenager with truly astonishing parents, parents who have invented a device that allows people to travel to parallel universes. When a graduate student betrays the family, with shocking and devastating results, Marguerite sets out on a wild chase through multiple worlds to catch the one responsible for hurting her family. Along the way, she learns things that make her question everything she thought she knew... she also begins to question the existence of fate as her soul seems to find the same person to love in every world she encounters. Will Marguerite trust her heart or the things she thinks she knows? Will she be able to get back to her world in time to save the ones she loves? All will be revealed in this twisty, fast-paced thriller by the amazing Claudia Gray.

This book is SO good! I loved the characters and I LOVED seeing the different universes and how different they were from our own. Claudia Gray's imagination is off the chart, y'all! This book is so unique and entertaining, I really can't say enough good things about it. I'm really pleased with how things ended up with the characters and I'll admit it, I had tears! Claudia Gray knows how to invoke the feels! I CANNOT wait to get my hands on the next book in this series. Totally going to be a winner, of that I have no doubt.


Kindle Deal Alert: The Name of the Wind

Attention, book lovers! Kindle has an AWESOME deal right now on The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, the first book in the very popular Kingkiller Chronicles:


Synopsis:
Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

My brother-in-law introduced myself and my husband to this series and we both just fell in love with it. It is a wonderfully written, imaginative tale that readers of fantasy will devour. Check it out! You won't be sorry! And HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Hope your day is frightfully amazing.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit



TOP TEN TUESDAY time, WHOOP! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Today's theme is all about places that books have made you want to visit. Pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!

1. Hogwarts
I am a HUGE Potterhead so of course the Harry Potter series has me wanting to go to Hogwarts. Each year I've been so disappointed when an owl didn't deliver my acceptance letter! *pout* But seriously, anyone who loves the magic of Harry Potter would give just about anything to roam the halls of Hogwarts, eat in the Great Hall, play on the Quidditch Field, take a midnight terrifying stroll through the Dark Forest, or visit Hagrid's hut. I want to go to there!!!

2. France
Anna and the French Kiss completed enthralled me and after reading the book, I wanted my husband and I to pack up our belongings and move across the pond. That book just did something to me and most definitely stroked my inner-traveler.

3. Planet L'eihr
Alienated and Invaded introduces us to a new planet, L'eihr where hunky Aelyx hails from. L'eihr just sounds so interesting and DIFFERENT from Earth and who wouldn't want that experience in their lifetime? Sign me up for space travel, baby. I'm there!

4. Maine
While I used to travel to Maine once per year or so, it's easily been over 4 years since I've been up there. Reading The Sense Thieves Trilogy took me back to the beauty and awe that the Maine coast can bring. Definitely see a trip to Maine happening in the next couple years.

5. Alagaesia
I LOVED The Inheritance Cycle and would love to travel to Alagaesia to meet Eragon, Arya, Saphira and the rest of the gang. And Du Weldenvarden? Who wouldn't want to go there? Sounds absolutely breathtaking. EEP! Just thinking about it makes me want to re-read the series.

6. Camp Half Blood
I want to be a demigod! How awesome would it be to find out that one of your parents is an actual Greek GOD?! Doesn't get much cooler than that! And to go to Camp Half Blood and be surrounded by other demigods, getting to compete in awesome events, and learn how to hone sweet skills? Bring it!

7. NYC
I've only been to NYC once and absolutely loved my time there but reading series set in the Big Apple ALWAYS makes me want to go back. The Blue Bloods Series is a great example of a series that makes me want to go enjoy the city life for a week or two... then I'll happily head back to the suburbs.

8. Westeros
I love the Game of Thrones books and would love to visit Westeros. If I happened to run into Jon Snow and Ghost on the wall, I wouldn't complain! And Winterfell, I most definitely would want to visit Winterfell.

9. Nantucket
Reading Nantucket Blue made me want to go to Nantucket SO badly. I've never been but it sounds like such a quaint, sunshiny and happy place. Relaxing, warm, and beachy. I need to go there ASAP.

10. London
Ahhhhh, London. Reading The Infernal Devices always makes me want to hop over the pond and start saying things like bloody hell and good day. Strolling along the Thames River wouldn't suck either! 

Waiting on Wednesday (48)



Synopsis:

Stella Cross's heart is poisoned.

After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.

Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable. 

Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?

After all, the heart never lies... does it?


Expected publication date: June 9, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion

Um... yes, please! This one sounds like one of those books that you just know you're going to inhale one day sitting by the pool or on the beach. I love it when great books release around summertime! Alive sounds intriguing and I can't wait to see the repercussions of Stella learning to live, and love, with a new heart that just might be carrying some memories and feelings of its own. Bring it! 

Win a copy of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by the fabulous Maggie Stiefvater!



See that gorgeous doodled-on copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater? That baby could be YOURS! I'm practically bouncing in my seat just thinking about getting my hands on it. Actually, who am I kidding? I'm LITERALLY bouncing, I am that freakin' excited.

Want to get your name in the hat for the prize? All you have to do is link to the Blue Lily, Lily Blue teaser trailer on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kprs0D80kx8) on your blog, twitter, or Facebook account. Once you've done that, visit Maggie here to enter the contest.

My official entry: visit HERE to see the official teaser trailer for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. 

Hope I win... if not me, one of you! Best of luck to us all! *smile*

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Were Hard For Me To Read



Hey, y'all! This is my first ever TOP TEN TUESDAY post and I'm super excited to join in the fun! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Today's theme is all about books that are hard to read for whatever reason... subject matter, obnoxious characters, poor writing, boring, hits too close to home emotionally, whatever the case may be. In no particular order, here are my choices:

1. Gone by Lisa McMann
Gone is the third book in the Dream Catcher Series and in my opinion, it is one of the worst endings to a trilogy I have ever read. Seriously. I wanted to chuck the book at the wall several times throughout it and the ending? Ugh. Just ugh. I will never read that series again now that I know how craptastic the ending was and that's a real shame because the first two books were good! *smh*

2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
I know that these books have become a phenomenon and middle-aged women all over the country are panting in anticipation of the upcoming movie, but I just don't get it. Christian Grey is abusive and damaged but hey, he makes a load of money so let's ignore all of that! I know that by the end of the series, Christian has really grown and changed but I'd have been out the door way before we ever reached that point.

3. The Lovely Bones by Alive Sebold
Talk about depressing... now that I'm a mama, and even before, books about the deaths of children and teens bothered me. Same with animal cruelty, it's just really hard for me to go there. While this book is beautifully written, it's just too sad for me and I know I'll never crack the spine of it again. Ever.

4. I Swear by Lane Davis
As a high school counselor, books about bullying really hit home for me. It saddens me that young people feel that there is no better answer than taking their own lives and it kills me how very cruel, mean, and heartless some kids can be to one another. I knew this book would be hard for me going in and then couple that with a disgusting and hate-worthy character in Macie, the main mean girl, and this book pissed me off, rubbed me the wrong way, and made me really, really sad.

5. Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
Another trigger topic for me is domestic violence and abusive relationships, especially when the victims are teenage girls. It saddens me so much that some young girls, and women, allow themselves to be treated this way. I pity the sense of helplessness and hopelessness that they must feel to continue to remain in such damaging relationships. This book ended strong though with a positive message of hope, I just don't think I would ever want to read it through again.

6. Miracle by Elizabeth Scott
This book has SO MUCH potential but there were two things that killed it for me. The first was a true struggle to connect emotionally with Megan, the main character. I just could not get there with her for some reason. The second was Megan's parents who made me want to climb into the book and smack them around a few hundred times because they were just clueless about how to help her. Drove me (and the counselor inside) absolutely insane.

7. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
I love the Game of Thrones series but this book, the fourth book, was a total snoozefest. It dragged by soooo slowly and when a book is that freakin' large, dragging means you could be reading it for weeks! And that's exactly what happened to me, it took me over 7 weeks to finish that book. You know something is wrong when that's the case.

8. Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return) by L. J. Smith
The Vampire Diaries series was never by any means literary genius at work, but they were entertaining reads that kept me engaged and interested. However, The Return series just went downhill as it went along, and this third book was utter rubbish. Getting through it was painstakingly awful and while I don't agree with the higher ups' choice to continue the series with a ghost writer, I can kind of understand why they decided they didn't need any more installments written by Smith.

9. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Again, the Twilight Series is hardly a literary classic, but I was quite invested in the story and was a proud Team Edward member. (Gosh, remember those days?!) Breaking Dawn, however, was a total disappointment in how it ended and then there's the awful and disgusting birthing scene. Ew. And don't get me started on the creepy imprint.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Yes, it seems insane that this would pop up on a list of books that I mostly didn't like or that hit an emotional cord with me. This book is here for an entirely different reason... this was hard for me to read because I never, ever wanted Harry Potter to end. Finishing the book was bittersweet in that I loved it and loved the ending and loved knowing what all happened to the characters I was so invested in... but then it was over and that was so sad. I'll admit there were tears. Potterhead for life. Always.

Swooning on Saturday

Book boyfriends *sighhhhh*. Every female reader has them and I've decided to start a new thing where I post some truly swoon-worthy material from some of the best book boyfriends around. It won't be a weekly thing, just something I do when the mood strikes me. And boy, has the mood struck me today! I have a certain steamy male from Ignited by Corrine Jackson to thank because when I read this passage, I just KNEW I had to post about it. Get ready to feel faint, ladies! This boy is a keeper:

"This is me giving you fair warning that I'm going to chase you with everything I have, and when you decide to let me catch you, you'll never doubt how much I love you. Even when I become a weak human and you can kick my ass six ways to Sunday." pg. 129

This series has a couple swoon-worthy dudes but this guy wins my heart. You really, really, REALLY should read this series to find out why!

Click here for information!

The Problem with Ugly Covers


People say you shouldn't judge a book by its' cover but let's face it, we do it ALL. THE. TIME. Whether we're standing in an aisle at Barnes & Noble, or perusing our friends' updates on Goodreads, the covers of books heavily determine what piques our interest, or what we choose to completely overlook. This is making me sad today because a series that I'm reading, The Sense Thieves Trilogy by Corrine Jackson, is so amazingly good, but it doesn't seem like that many people are reading it or have even HEARD of it. And the reason I say this is because the second and third book of the trilogy each only have under 800 ratings on Goodreads which we all know is low for that site. The first book though has around 3,400 ratings, a much more respectable number. I'm about to tell you my theory on why...

Here is a picture of the covers of the second book, Pushed, and the third book, Ignited:


Okay... these aren't the WORST covers in the world but let's face it, they're darn sure not the best looking either. Someone on Goodreads described them as "cheap looking" and I think that's a great description. I also just don't think the covers fit the series at all. I get absolutely no feeling from these that this series is going to be something spectacular and had I not read the first book previously, I would totally overlook these and never would have been introduced to the amazing world that Corrine Jackson created. In my opinion, whoever designed these covers needs to get a new job, stat. Seriously, ewwww. 

The first book, Touched, had a better cover but clearly the publishers decided to go in a different direction with the second and third books in terms of design... it's a shame cause the direction they went was not a positive one. Here's a pic of the first book:


Still not my favorite cover of all time, but WAY better than the ones that follow it. I'd have picked this up and checked it out if I saw it. In fact, seeing it on an ARC tour site led me to read the description and subsequently sign up for the tour. So happy I did cause this series is awesomesauce. I just started the third and final book in the trilogy, Ignited, and I'm so excited to see where things go. I'm not typically a "ship-jumper" when it comes to love triangles, but the second book had me totally falling in love with the other guy which REALLY surprised me. I don't know if I'm alone in that feeling or not but I'm really hoping to see the protagonist choose the dude I want to see her with. 

Anywho... please check this series out if you haven't. Ignore the fugly covers and judge these based on the descriptions. Seriously, this series is GREAT. For information on Touched, the first book, click here. And trust me, this series gets better and better, even if I want to go old school and put a paper bag book cover over them *grin*. Happy Reading!

Mama Knows Best!



As a new parent, you will find yourself simply inundated with well-meaning advice and opinions from family members, friends, acquaintances, pediatricians, even complete STRANGERS. At first, you soak up everything that's said to you and find yourself running to Google for constant confirmation. And guess what? You end up hearing SO MUCH conflicting information, you end up wanting to bash your head against the wall. In addition to the confusing nature of a thousand different voices and ideas in your head, it can be annoying when people are constantly trying to tell you what to do, what they did, and what you're doing wrong. My solution?

Learn to trust yourself.

This isn't the easiest lesson to learn but trust me, once you start listening to your inner voice and your own mother's intuition, you're going to be a much happier and confident mama. The first time I strayed from advice that I was getting from SO MANY PEOPLE was when it came to sleep training. Everyone and their grandma insisted that "crying-it-out" (CIO) was the end all and be all when it came to successful sleep training. My mother-in-law, pediatrician, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, online mamas in my Facebook mom's group, everyone was pushing me to let Emma CIO. So I tried it... one horrible, horrible night that I will probably regret for the rest of my life. Letting my sweet baby cry so hard and ignoring it went against every feeling I had inside of me. That experience opened my eyes to the truth: no one, and I mean no one, knows what is better for your baby than you do. Does my daughter still suck at sleeping in her crib and end up in my bed every night? Yep. And the truth is that I couldn't be happier about that because I know that we're doing what is right for our family right now. 

Just this past weekend, my husband's entire family went out to dinner at a nice restaurant for his grandma's birthday. We were not in attendance because we didn't have a sitter since my mom was out of town. I KNOW many people in his family didn't agree with our choice and thought we should have just brought our daughter with us. My response? Nope! My kiddo is wonderful but she gets bored easily and evening is already her most cranky-prone time of the day (as it is for most infants!). Going out to dinner at a restaurant just wouldn't be enjoyable right now, plus she's still not eating table food. No thank you! I'm not paying that much money for a meal out that my husband and I are not going to enjoy. Maybe that makes me sound like a selfish brat, but it is what it is. As a parent, you have to know what you're willing to do, and what you're not.

And do not even get me started on the table food debate... I am so tired of our grandmothers trying to tell us what worked for all their kids. Great for you, that's awesome. But I'm doing things my way and really don't need to hear for the umpteenth time how you never did pureed foods. I'm too nice to tell them to piss off because, respect your elders and all, but trust me on this: that crap goes in one ear and right out the other. My daughter is still choking on puffs. We'll get there when we get there. Raising a kid shouldn't be a race, kids hit developmental milestones when they're ready, not when mama, daddy, or grandma are ready. Not all moms may agree with me on that and that's kind of the point I'm making here... we're all free to parent the way that we see fit. 

So the next time you're in the store and you opt for the flavored yogurt rather than the plain stuff the pediatrician recommended, the daycare provider insists that your baby should go to the doctor because she thinks she or he has an ear infection but you see no sign of it and your baby seems right as rain to you, or you find yourself rocking your 8-month old to sleep even though everyone tells you they're too old for that, know that you are not alone and YOU ARE RIGHT. When it comes to what is best for that baby that you are raising, who you love more than life itself, who you would jump in front of a speeding bus for... you know what is best. Mother's intuition is a very real thing but it doesn't just develop fully overnight. It will grow and adapt with you as you become more comfortable in your parenting role, or at least it did for me. I am a much more comfortable and confident mama than I was when I first brought her home from the hospital. 

Learning to trust myself has made me feel more in control and way happier... and now it's a whole lot easier to grin and bear it through the constant barrage of well-wishing advice givers. Cause really? Most people mean well so I just smile and nod and move on with my life. At the end of the day, the only people that truly matter when it comes to raising your child are you and your partner.

Waiting on Wednesday (47)



Synopsis:

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.


When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

Expected publication date: January 27, 2015 by Viking Juvenile

Gayle Forman is a brilliant writer so when I saw this book on Goodreads, I just KNEW I would have to read it. If you haven't read any of Forman's writing, you seriously need to rectify that immediately. I Was Here sounds absolutely heartbreaking, but also intriguing. And if it's anything like Forman's other books, I'll need some kleenex before it's all said and done. Ahhhhhh, I love great writing *smile*

Waiting on Wednesday (46)



Synopsis:

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…


Expected publication date: October 7, 2014 by Entangled Teen

Woohoo! Saw this on Goodreads when a friend posted it and the cover immediately made me want to know more. Don't you LOVE how a good cover can do that?!? I really like the synopsis of the story too... hot boy, forbidden relationship, sassy protagonist. Check, check, CHECK! This one sounds fun and lighthearted, perfect for a jam-packed Fall. Enjoy! *XOXO*

New and Improved Design!

Karens Addictions

SQUEEEEEE! Check out the site, y'all! I've been majorly MIA because I've been waiting for the amazing and talented Lori from Imagination Designs to redesign the blog and look at what an incredible job she did, woohoo! I'm in love with my new site and hope y'all like it too. Karen's Addictions was in desperate need of an overhaul and I could not be more thrilled with the results. In fact, I'm so happy, I'm going to hold a contest! Stay tuned for info on that and more. Hope you all are having a fabulous week! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Magnolia



Synopsis:

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.


Magnolia is like a tall glass of sweet tea... southern, satisfying, sweet and refreshing. I INHALED this one because I found it impossible to put down. The chemistry between Jemma and Ryder leaps off the page and is guaranteed to ensnare and captivate anyone who reads this beauty of a book.

Magnolia introduces us to Jemma, a sweet southern teenager who has lived under the pressure to fall in love with Ryder her whole life. From shared pack n' plays and vacations to weekly forced dinners, Jemma is made to endure the presence of Ryder who she CANNOT stand. Jemma knows that there is no way that her mother's dream wedding will ever be a reality, but when a devastating and destructive hurricane bears down on Magnolia Branch, Jemma finds herself riding the storm out with only Ryder for company. As the weather escalates to truly dangerous conditions, will Jemma and Ryder recognize what's been in front of them all along, or will they realize their true feelings much too late? Readers will fall in love with this fast-paced and addictive story by the brilliant Kristi Cook. 

I seriously loved this book. It was such a quick and satisfying read that was really entertaining. I loved the drama of the storm, and the danger that was thisclose so many times to characters that you end up rooting for. Kristi Cook is a wonderful story teller and I promise that this one will keep you happily flipping the pages. Scoop this book up, throw it in your beach bag, and head to the beach for the day. You'll come home sunkissed and likely come home with a new favorite book. Enjoy! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* The Fine Art of Pretending



Synopsis:

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.


I'm going to be honest... when I started this one, I really thought that it wasn't the book for me. I even considered making it a DNF. Let me tell you, I am SO FLIPPIN' HAPPY that I stuck with it because once this book got rolling, I was HOOKED and I could not put it down! The characters are likable, the story is relatable, and you'll find yourself rooting for true love. This book is awesomesauce, totally made of win.

The Fine Art of Pretending introduces us to Aly, a teenager who is OVER being the "just a friend" girl. She learns from her best friend, Brandon, that the reason she's viewed that way is because the guys have dubbed her as a "commitment", a girl that you don't pursue unless you're ready for a full-fledged relationship. The "casual" girls are the ones the guys want to spend time with because it's all about having fun and not being serious. Aly decides that she's going to become a casual if it's the last thing she does... Operation Sex Appeal is underway!

Aly enlists Brandon's help by pulling the ultimate ruse... they pretend to be a couple, which Aly is hoping will solidify her new status since Brandon is a major hottie and player at school. The problem? The lines of pretend and real begin to get extremely blurry as old feelings are rekindled and confusion plagues them both. Will Aly's mission be a success, or will her plot destroy the real thing that's been under her nose all along? 

I just LOVE this book. It's a quick and easy read that's super engaging and just plain SWEET. Brandon and Aly have something real and extremely special, and watching them come to that realization is so enjoyable as a reader. This book will be the perfect companion as you soak up the last rays of warm sun as fall begins to take hold. Take this one to a park bench and be amazed at how quickly the time flies. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: September 30, 2014 by Spencer Hill Contemporary

Waiting on Wednesday (45)



Synopsis:

Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it—let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.

But then she learns something about David that changes everything, and Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She’s suddenly into witchcraft, and is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend….

Cara has lost her best friend, discovered that her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she’s not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?

Expected publication date: January 6, 2015 by Swoon Reads

This one sounds really intriguing... and it releases on my baby's first birthday so it's got sentimental value already! (haha) But mystery, magic, friendship woes, and yummy boys? Bring it on! 


*REVIEW* Sinner



Synopsis:

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy. 

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

Meh. That about sums up this book for me. I went into Sinner with high expectations, quite liking the Shiver Trilogy and basically anything Maggie Stiefvater writes. I don't know if maybe I should have re-read the trilogy, maybe I was too far removed from it, but I found myself not giving a crap about these two extremely flawed characters. 

Sinner is the story of Cole and Isabel being reunited in sunny California. Cole is on a comeback, starring on his own reality show while putting together a new band and new music, reconnecting with the rockstar he was before his infamous disappearance. Isabel is living a suburban nightmare, watching her parents drift further and further apart, while she attends school and works in a fashionable boutique store. Cole has one goal when it comes to Isabel and he'll stop at nothing to convince her that they belong together. Will these two broken individuals be able to find their way to each other or will they continue their destructive ways, alienating themselves from the one person who may be capable of loving them exactly as they are? Love and sins collide in this new tale by Maggie Stiefvater.

Again... meh. I just couldn't find it in me to connect to either Cole or Isabel, finding them both to be annoying, whiny, ungrateful, and just unrelatable. In fairness, it's been an extremely long time since I read the Shiver Trilogy and maybe I've just forgotten what it is that makes these characters lovable. I really wish I had revisited the series before trying to read Sinner because maybe the book would have hit me differently. As it stands now, I know I'll never read this one again because once was way more than enough. The one bright spot I'll say is the ending... whether or not they deserve it, there's always something satisfying about a happy ending. But really? Isabel is such an unpleasant character, she could have died and I would have been just as pleased. HA! That's an Isabel-like thing to say but seriously, try to find some joy before you suck all of it out of the world around you. 

*REVIEW* Mayday



Synopsis:

Why’d I do it? I suppose it’s the only question that really matters. 

Seventeen-year-old Crow will stop at nothing to protect her younger sister—even if it costs her her own life. But then she’s given a chance to come back and make things right. There are a few catches, though. First, she won’t come back as herself. And before she can set things straight, she’ll have to figure out what’s what—and things aren’t exactly as clear-cut as she remembered.

Powerful and hard-hitting, this is a compelling story about what it means to live your life—for your own sake—from an award-winning author.


I've been putting off writing this review because I just can't seem to figure out what I want to say. I liked this book enough, but something about it left me feeling like there was something missing. That being said, I would still give this 3 of 5 stars because there IS something compelling about this book... I just wish the ending had me feeling more.

Mayday introduces us to Crow, a teenage girl who finds herself living an out-of-body experience as her body decays in a coma that doctors say she will never wake from. Crow is given the chance to go back in time, to relieve important moments, to get things right. Crow believes that she's been given this opportunity to go back in time to save her sister, but soon learns her sister may not be the one who needs saving after all. Unfortunately for Crow, she may figure things out much too late.

This book was very engaging for much of the story but as I said above, at the end I just felt sort of let down. Truthfully, that may be because even though the ending is told to us very early on, I suppose I just did not want to believe it. I was hoping there would be some catch or something that changed the outcome. That being said, watching Crow go back in time and learn things not only about herself but about her loved ones was very entertaining and moving. Mayday is definitely worth a read, but you may not end up elated at the end. That's my two cents! Enjoy!

*REVIEW* Trial By Fire



Synopsis:

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted... which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian... Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Trial by Fire was a surprising hit for me because I really wasn't too sure what to think when this one started out. The beginning was a little lackluster for me but once things picked up, they went full steam ahead, barreling towards an ending that will have readers salivating for the sequel.

Trial by Fire introduces us to Lily, a teenage girl with debilitating allergies, allergies that will soon place her under for-life house arrest. All Lily wants is to attend one high school party like a normal teenage girl, a party she is attending with her best friend turned maybe boyfriend. Unfortunately, the night ends in a total disaster and Lily finds herself wishing to disappear... she had no idea how very real that wish was about to become.

Lily finds herself in an alternate world, a world where her weaknesses are actually strengths and Lily learns that not only is she strong, she's one of the strongest witches in this new world. Lily finds herself in the midst of a war and she must decide which side she will fight on. Will Lily make the right choice? Will she find her way back home, or will she be stuck in this alternate world forever? All will be revealed in this fast-paced book by Josephine Angelini.

This book ended up surprising me quite a bit because at first, I wasn't too sure if it was going to be the book for me. Once I really got into it though, I got HOOKED. This is definitely a unique world that Angelini has created, I love the way that magic and science are intertwined in this story. If you're looking for a unique and fresh story, this could be the one for you! Magic, string theory, science, love, friendship and more collide to create a story that is engaging, entertaining, and definitely outside the box. Check it out for yourself when it releases in September. Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 2, 2014 by Feiwel & Friends

*REVIEW* Famous Last Words



Synopsis:

Willa is freaking out. It seems like she's seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls.  A reflection that is not her own. It's almost as if someone -- or something -- is trying to send her a message.

Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles -- a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa's strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There's Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there's Reed, who's ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There's also Wyatt, who's super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer.

All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind... or her life.

Famous Last Words is an entertaining and fast-paced read that I devoured in just a couple days. While the identity of the 'Hollywood Killer' was slightly predictable (mmkay, a whole lot predictable, I called it way early on), I was still completely invested in the story and wanted to see how things played out. Katie Alender weaved a tale that was a solid 4 stars. If mystery, murder, and ghostly mayhem are some of your things, this book could be for you.

Famous Last Words introduces us to Willa, a teenage girl uprooted and relocated to L.A. when her mom marries a famous Hollywood director. It's hard to feel too sorry for Willa when you read about the new mansion she'll be living in, complete with killer pool, killer views, and a killer--ghost?! Soon after moving in, Willa encounters some strange phenomenon... phenomenon that has her wondering whether or not her house (and her ghost) are somehow related to the Hollywood Killer's murders. Enlisting the help of Wyatt, a strange yet intriguing classmate, Willa begins to try to communicate with the ghost to discover the truth. Will Willa learn what she needs to learn in time, or will she be the next target of the infamous killer? 

I was surprised by how much I liked this one because while it definitely sounded interesting, I figured it would just be all right. Some of these murder mysteries end up being not all that mysterious and while the killer in this one was pretty predictable, the story was still pure entertainment. I really liked the supernatural element as well. The truly surprising thing about this book was the empathy you end up feeling for Willa as you watch her learn to love herself again and to allow other people in. And yes, there's even some love in this book. All good things. Check it out in September. Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 30, 2014 by Point

*REVIEW* The Queen of Zombie Hearts



Synopsis:

I have a plan.

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us.

Either way, only one of us is walking away.

Alice 'Ali' Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers; until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters; and the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing and turning Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.


SQUEEEEEEE! No mistake about it, this is going to be one of those ridiculous fangirling reviews because I am in love with this series and this third and final installment did NOT disappoint. The Queen of Zombie Hearts is the conclusion to the much loved Alice in Zombieland series and it's heartbreaking, uplifting, fast-paced, pure entertainment that wraps up Ali, Cole and the gang's story in a completely satisfying way. Kudos to Gena Showalter! Totally sending her a virtual hug right now.

The Queen of Zombie Hearts picks up with Ali, Cole and crew as they continue their battle against the zombies and Anima, the evil corporation using the zombies to their advantage in the war. Anima plans a devastating attack--an attack that leaves the group wounded and heartbroken as they are forced to continue on without some of their beloved friends and fighters. New alliances are formed and the goal of all is clear: Anima must go down.

Throughout the chaos, Ali is introduced to a strange woman who appears to have a strong, and shocking, connection to Ali and her past. As Ali learns to control new powers, Anima sets their sights on her again and NO ONE is safe. It's a race against time to destroy Anima once and for all--before they destroy all the people Ali loves most. 

Again... SQUEEEEE! I'm always nervous reading the last installment in a series because sometimes, the author just makes a decision that baffles you and ends up ruining the whole series for you (thinking of the Nightshade series right about now!) but Showalter spins the perfect ending to this truly amazing series. That's not to say that there isn't heartbreak and sadness, because there totally is, but the story is magical, entertaining, satisfying, perfection. Can you tell I liked it just a teeny, tiny bit? *smile*

Be sure to scoop this up immediately when it releases in September. And if for some CRAZY reason you haven't tried this series yet, remedy it this very second. You'll thank me! Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 30, 2014 by Harlequin Teen

Crazy Conception

So I've been wanting to post some pregnancy topics and figured, where better to start than conception? For me, my husband and I were ACTIVELY trying to get preggers and I was pretty obsessed with it. Here I'm going to detail the crazy steps I took, some of the reasons behind my obsession, and things NOT to say to a friend who is in a crazy conception phase of her own.

Why the craze?

There are lots of reasons that people may be in a rush to see that positive sign on a pregnancy test. For me, it was insecurity and fear. See, my husband and I experienced a loss when I miscarried our first pregnancy early in the first trimester. Miscarriage seriously messes with your mind... (and yes, I'll be doing a post on miscarriage at some point because it's like this ugly, huge elephant in the corner that no one wants to acknowledge or discuss) and it leaves behind fears that you'll never be able to have a child, there's something fundamentally wrong with you or your body, and the fear that you'll never be able to carry a baby to term. Yes, we all know the statistics about the unfortunate percentage of pregnancies that end in miscarriage and my doctor of course assured me that many women go on to have successful pregnancies after a miscarriage but let me tell you, until you're holding that baby in your arms, you have doubts that you ever will. In addition to miscarriage, some women worry that they're getting too old, they have PCOS or another disorder that makes conceiving difficult, they're just plan excited, and who knows how many other reasons. My point? You never know why someone is in a rush to get knocked up, which brings me to my next point...

What NOT to say to someone in a rush to conceive:

  • What's the rush?
  • It will happen when it's meant to happen
  • I would never plan it like that, I want it to be natural
  • You need to stop stressing it so much
  • What's meant to be will be!

Yes, you may mean nothing but sweet things when you utter some version of the above but as someone who's been on the receiving end of this, just please don't. Again, you don't know always know why someone wants it so badly and you come off a little judgmental and non-supportive when you dismiss their efforts and insist that just letting things "happen naturally" is the best way.

My crazy conception steps:

The most important thing? TRACK, TRACK, TRACK SOME MORE!

If you don't know your cycle, you're basically just shooting in the dark *snort*. Seriously, tracking ovulation helped me realize that I ovulate on average a few days later than the standard 14 days. Who knows how many months I would have assumed we had passed the window and missed out on it altogether. How to track? Follow these steps:

  1. Track your BBT (Basal Body Temperature) each morning.
  2. Use ovulation sticks, no need to waste tons of money on them! Amazon sells Wondfos that are super cheap and totally reliable. Find them here.
  3. Make sure to DTD (do the deed) on the right days! (this is the FUN part!)
  4. Take a bromelain supplement (or eat pineapple core) on 1-5 DPO (days post ovulation).
  5. Start taking pregnancy tests (again with the cheapie Wondfos) around 10 DPO. No need to wait until your missed period, I got my first positive WAY early. And it's super fun to see the line get darker each day.
People recommend some even crazier things, but the above steps worked for me! It's a lot to keep track of so I would recommend joining a site. I joined Fertility Friend which keeps a super easy to interpret chart for you. And if you pay to be a VIP member, you have access to even more helpful tools. 

It took me 3 months of tracking to get pregnant with our sweet little Emmaleigh. Even if you do everything right, it sometimes just doesn't happen. Don't give up hope! It can take people months, even a year, to get pregnant. If you want to make it more likely for yourself, follow the above tips. Best of luck! 

*REVIEW* Anatomy of a Misfit



Synopsis:

In this Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower tale, narrator Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl at Pound High School. But inside, she knows she's a freak; she can't stop thinking about former loner Logan McDonough, who showed up on the first day of tenth grade hotter, bolder, and more mysterious than ever. Logan is fascinating, troubled and off-limits. The Pound High queen bee will make Anika's life hell if she's seen with him. So Anika must choose—ignore her feelings and keep her social status? Or follow her heart and risk becoming a pariah. Which will she pick? And what will she think of her choice when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, changing her forever? An absolutely original new voice in YA in a story that will start important conversations—and tear at your heart.

Anatomy of a Misfit was one of those books that you just couldn't put down, even if you weren't sure WHY at some points. There were some things I didn't love about this book, like some of the teen speak and the use of some words, and the ending broke my heart, but all in all, this was a solid debut for Andrea Portes.

Anatomy of a Misfit introduces us to Anika, a popular girl who is terrified of the disapproval of the Queen Bee of the school, Becky, a nasty little piece of work who will not hesitate to steamroll anyone who gets in her way. Anika is fine keeping the status quo until she starts talking to Logan, a fellow classmate who went from not to hot over the summer. There's an undeniable attraction between them but Anika knows that she will be committing social suicide if anyone finds out. Will Anika stand up for what she wants, and what feels right, no matter the cost? Or will she discover too late everything she should have known all along?

Any woman is definitely going to be able to relate to the mean girl vibe in this book, even if you didn't experience it yourself, you likely know someone who did. I work in a high school and sadly, you see this all the time. Why girls are SO mean to each other, I will never understand. This book captures the high school experience all too vividly and you FEEL for Anika as you watch her waste time she should be spending with the people important to her, even if they're not part of the cool kids crowd. Anika learns some important lessons in this book, lessons that Portes delivers in an excruciatingly heartbreaking and honest way.

Expected publication date: September 2, 2014 by Harper Children's

*REVIEW* The Vault of Dreamers



Synopsis:

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

The Vault of Dreamers has a ton of promise, which is clearly obvious if you read the above synopsis. And the first 3/4 of the book delivers and then things get a little... weird. And that's unfortunate because I was really digging the book up until that point. No idea if O'Brien plans on writing a sequel but if she does, I'm definitely interested to see the fates of some of the characters.

In The Vault of Dreamers, we're introduced to Rosie, a student desperate to make the final cut on the Forge Show, an extremely popular reality show about an elite art school. Enter a sexy boy who works in the kitchen on the show, budding friendships with some of the cool kids, and Rosie finds a way in. Once in, she decides to skip her sleeping pill because there's just something she misses about the night... but what she finds frightens her beyond words.

Rosie enters a race against time to uncover the truths about The Forge School before she's found out, and silenced, for good. When she starts to question everyone, including herself, she finds herself unable to decide who to trust, and who to stay away from. A shocking injury sends Rosie reeling and she knows that time is running out for her... and possibly for everyone else as well. The Vault of Dreamers is a thrill ride guaranteed to keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat until the very end.

*sigh* So. Much. Potential. The ending just really didn't do it for me. Like at ALL. I really hate it when that happens! It ends up killing the book for me. But like I said before, I'm still interested in the characters and would like to see what happens because the ending felt very... open. And odd. And unsatisfying. Sensing a theme? If you want to check it out for yourself, feel free in September. Enjoy!

Expected publication date: September 16, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
 
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