Labor Horror Stories

So one of my best friends was due yesterday to give birth to her first child and it's safe to say that things are not progressing for her... at all. That baby boy of hers appears nice and comfy and her body is showing no signs of going into labor. It got me thinking about labor and delivery and the time leading up to it... it also got me remembering an ugly little truth. Women LOVE to share their horrible and terrifying labor stories with you when you're expecting. The result?

Pregnant women, especially first-timers, are already stressed out and freaked out enough as it is. I promise you that it does not help at ALL when someone tells you about their 36 hours of labor, tearing from "here to there", or scary emergency C-section stories when you're about to do something terrifying that you've never done before. Yes, labor and delivery is a natural and beautiful thing... it's also scary as hell until you've experienced it yourself. Really doesn't help when everyone you seem to come into contact with has horror stories or knows someone who had "just, like, the worst labor EVER. Reconstructive surgery and everything!"

I, personally, had a wonderful labor story that sometime I will share on here because I think there are far too few of them floating around. And I know that I got very, very lucky and that if I have a second child, it could be a completely different story. I really think though that the stress and worry leading up to it was way worse than the experience itself.

I really don't think that the intent of these horror story pushers is to frighten someone though... I honestly think they're trying to share their wisdom and prepare someone for something they probably did not feel prepared for themselves. I think that's the fundamental truth of all labor though, you really have no idea how it's going to go until you're doing it. You can have the most detailed and thought-out birthing plan in the world but things happen and you have to be willing to adapt to whatever comes. The end result is going to be the same no matter how you end up there: you'll be the new mother to an adorable and amazing little creature.

Should women stop sharing their labor stories? Of course not. I would recommend caution though against going all out in the TMI category unless the mom-to-be requests the nitty gritty. And if that mom-to-be doesn't ask, you could just choose not to tell. You have no idea the stories that she's been inundated with so far, perhaps she just doesn't need to hear about another thing that could go wrong. Instead be supportive and let her do the asking if she wants. And sometimes? A little sugar-coating can be just what someone needs.

*REVIEW* Playlist for the Dead

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

I had high expectations about Playlist for the Dead. I work as a school counselor in a high school and am always drawn to books about topics that are relevant to my job. I was expecting to be as moved as I was by Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher but unfortunately, that just did not happen in this case.

Playlist for the Dead introduces us to Sam, a teenage boy who wakes to find his best friend, Hayden, dead. Hayden has committed suicide and leaves a playlist of songs for Sam, a playlist that is supposed to explain why Hayden chose the path that he did. Readers watch Sam try to unravel the events that led to Hayden's death. Sam learns shocking things about Hayden, secrets that were kept and gets glimpses into events that he only knew part of. Will Sam learn the truth and be able to stop blaming himself? Will he learn more about the blame and innocence of others? All is revealed in this sad tale of the loss of a young life by Michelle Falkoff.

Again, I had high expectations for this and really wish I connected more emotionally with the story. There's a lot of potential in this and a definite lesson to be learned, but I think there are better stories out there about teenage suicide.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Authors!

TOP TEN TUESDAY time! *SQUEE* Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Today's theme is all about your FAVORITE authors... and the ladies are being meaaaaan this week because they want bloggers to only name ten! This may not be easy and other than my number one choice, these are in NO particular order.

1. J.K. Rowling
Who else? I will be eternally grateful to Rowling because she created the amazing world of Harry Potter, a world that still captivates me as much today as it did the first time I encountered it. The Harry Potter books caught me in a phase where I had stopped reading for pleasure and this series sparked in me that desire to devour books again and I could not be more thankful. And it's Harry freakin' Potter. Nothing better in my opinion! Potterhead for life!

2. Christopher Paolini
I am so in love with The Inheritance Cycle books, there's no way I couldn't place him on this list. I think I've read Eragon at least seven times or so and it never gets old for me. I love the world he created and I really hope that he one day returns to Alagaesia. The second he does, I am there.

3. Richelle Mead
There's something addictive about Richelle Mead's books. I am a huge Vampire Academy fan and literally inhaled each book the second it came out. Equally impressive was her Bloodlines spin-off series. Mead has stated that she plans to return to the vampire world she created one day and I will be there immediately to jump right back in.

4. Melissa Marr
I was a HUGE fan of The Wicked Lovely series and became intensely involved in the fan forum on her website. I met some truly amazing people through that site and have met Melissa Marr several times in person, once having tea before a signing with a group of "Rathers" as we called ourselves (the website was The Rath). I love her stories and she's just a neat person, very friendly and warm to her fans. I'll definitely consider myself one of those for as long as she's creating stories.

5. Cassandra Clare
Anyone who can dream up a character as dreamy as Jace Wayland deserves a spot on this list! And you can't forget about the amazing Will Herondale either. Clare knows how to write up some seriously steamy dudes and her stories are addictive page-turners that are impossible to put down.

6. George R.R. Martin
I am an enormous fan of all things Game of Thrones and the book series is SO MUCH BETTER, which is truly saying something. A Song of Ice and Fire is an incredible series that is well-written, creative, and mind blowing at times. I just wish he'd get crackin' on the next book because I don't want the show to spoiler me!

7. Stephanie Perkins
I'm actually surprised to find myself placing her on the list but the truth is, her books are just awesome. They pull me in and captivate me from the first page until the last. And I wanted to move to Paris for weeks after reading Anna and the French Kiss. Books that stay with you? Made of win.

8. Gena Showalter
I've had some of her adult books, mostly The Lords of the Underworld series, on my TBR shelf for a long time because I've heard such amazing things. For me, it was reading her YA series, White Rabbit Chronicles, that sealed the deal for me. Her books are amazing! I find myself buying everything I can now.

9. Julie Kagawa
I adore her books, The Iron Fey series is really addictive and I have yet to be disappointed by anything she writes. I also happened to win a super cool painted rock from her through a contest. It's gray and it's Grimalkin, the cat. He hangs out with me each day on my desk at work.

10. Kelley Armstrong
Everything this lady touches turns to gold! Her books and series are all so, so good and highly addictive. From her adult series to her YA series, I've been impressed with everything she does. I've met her at a reading and she seems down-to-Earth and awesome. Fan for life!

This was really, really hard and I'm sure I'm forgetting about some truly awesome authors. Some that I know are amazing and also deserving of being on this list are my honorable mentions:
Rachel Vincent, Rick Riordan, Lish McBride, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Ilona Andrews, Suzanne Collins, Corrine Jackson, Andrea Cremer, Patrick Rothfuss, Shannon Messenger, and Claudia Gray.

*REVIEW* When by Victoria Laurie

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not thehow, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

SQUEEEEE! Yes, when a book is this good, high-pitched happiness comes spewing out of my mouth. I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. So hard. Victoria Laurie knows how to weave a tale, folks! When will hook you in immediately and you'll find yourself rushing towards a shocking conclusion. Buckle up, this book is one helluva ride! 

When introduces us to Maddie, a teenage girl with an interesting (and spooky!) ability-- she sees everyone's "death date" on their foreheads, a grisly prediction of when everyone she comes into contact with will die. When Maddie tells a client that her son will pass on a certain day, and he ends up going missing on that exact date, law enforcement becomes hot on Maddie's tail, convinced she's connected to what we soon learn are grisly murders. Maddie is in a race against time to prove not only her own innocence, but the innocence of her best friend who has gotten dragged into her hot mess. Will Maddie discover the truth in time or will her death date change to a date much, much sooner than she could have ever predicted? All will be revealed in this fast-paced thriller by Victoria Laurie.

Mmkay... right this SECOND, I want you to add this book to your TBR list. Seriously, right NOW. GO! What are you waiting for?! *taps foot impatiently* Usually books like this are oh-so-predictable, but Laurie will keep you on your toes, guessing and looking a fool until the very end. Great writing, great story, great characters... what more do you need? The only non-gushy thing I have to whine about is why they changed the title! When I read this as an ARC, it was titled Death Date which I loved. When? Not so much. But when a book is THIS good, it really doesn't matter what the heck you call it. Seriously. It's THAT good. Enjoy!

Product Review: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

I am a very lucky member of Influenster and got to try Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel for FREE! That being said, rest assured that my review of this product is completely, 100% my own. Now that all that is out of the way... what do I think about the Hydro Boost Water Gel?


I am extremely pleased with this product. I used it for over a month before writing a review because I wanted to be sure. My skin is super soft, feels smooth, and I have had not one dry spell of skin since using it. And considering that I started using it in February, when it was so cold that we got 6 inches of snow? That's pretty darn impressive.

I love that this product is light and not one bit oily. It glides on so smoothly and is absorbed right into my skin with no nasty residue or gunky feel. It's gentle enough for me to use every day and I've got super sensitive skin so that's saying something! A little of this stuff goes a long way... so much so that even though I've been using this consistently for over a month, I haven't even put a dent in my supply of it.

The only thing I don't completely and totally love is the smell but I really think that's a personal thing since so many reviews I've seen are positive in this regard. It's definitely not the worst smell ever and it would never keep me from using it so really, it's a non-issue.

All in all? I never thought I'd find a product that would make me give up my Hope in a Jar. That's changed now! I am in love with my Hydro Boost Water Gel and am so stoked I got the chance to try it out. You should give it a go too, you won't be sorry! Enjoy!

Check out @Influenster and @Neutrogena on social media for information about this and other amazing products. Also be on the lookout on social media for content through #BehindTheGlow, #Neutrogena and #contest.
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