Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Shelf That Have Been Unread The Longest

Considering I've been blogging for six years now, there are A LOT of books still sitting on my shelves unread.  I decided to go through my goodreads To-Read shelves and feature the books that have been there the longest, not necessarily the ones before I started blogging.  All of these I own, but they haven't been read yet.  Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments if there's a book, or two, or three, I need to take off this list & add to READ sooner, rather than later!

1. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare [add to goodreads]
2. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen [add to goodreads]
3. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys [add to goodreads]

4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan [add to goodreads]
5. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart [add to goodreads]
6. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr [add to goodreads]

7. The List by Siobhan Vivian [add to goodreads]
8. I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan [add to goodreads]
9. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summer [add to goodreads]
10. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn [add to goodreads]

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Friday, August 19, 2016

So Long Summer 2016: Sweet Summertime Reads Wrap Up

It makes me incredibly sad to be writing this blog post.  As most of you know, I am such a summer girl.  I have always, ALWAYS, loved this season the most.  There's nothing quite like the hot, lazy days of summer.. whether I'm on an adventure, driving down the Pacific coast of California, or sitting in the cool a/c on an unbearably hot day getting lost in a book.. it's these days I live for the most.  I thought it would be a good send off to summer to highlight some of my favorite, memorable moments.  I have been very fortunate to spend my summer days doing what I love.  As a teacher, I take advantage of this time off and really relax and regroup before a new school year begins.  I think I've done a pretty good job of achieving those goals this summer.

I hope you've enjoyed my Sweet Summertime Reads feature this season.  Thank you to all the bloggers who participated by recommending their summertime reads.  I hope everyone's TBR lists have grown tremendously because of it!  Also, thank you to those who joined in on the Sweet Summertime Reads Instagram photo challenge.  I loved seeing your pics all summer long!  Just a friendly reminder, this is your last chance to enter my third & final giveaway... if you haven't done so, CLICK HERE! It will be closing at midnight on August 19th (today!).

Happy Summer folks, until next year...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sweet Summertime Reads 2016: Jen's Recommendations

It's the last week of Sweet Summertime Reads for this year & even though I am so, so sad to see the season end... I am delighted to have one of my favorites, Jen from Jenuine Cupcakes, sharing her Sweet Summertime Reads with us!  What a way to send off summer!  Before we get to her recs, be sure to click the following links (psst, giveaway is ending SOON!)...

Like taking pics? Check out #SweetSummertimeReads2016 photo challenge on IG

Hey everyone! I'm Jen--The one with the cupcakes. And pink hair. I always feel the need to clarify because there are a lot of Jens out there, it's easy to get us confused. I blog over at Jenuine Cupcakes, and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram

I'm so excited to be participating in Ginger's Sweet Summertime Reads! I stumbled upon Ginger's blog a few years ago after reading Trish Doller's, Something Like Normal. If I remember correctly, I had gone to Trish's website to read more about her, saw that she had done an interview, clicked the link, and the rest is history!

For me, summer is usually the time when I like to reread some of my favorite books. I'm not only a blogger, I'm a wife, a writer, a baker and a homeschool mom to two boys. Life gets a little crazy with a side of insane around here. Picking up a book I have read and loved is like hanging out with an old friend. I know what to expect and I'm guaranteed to love it.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller - I am a sucker for a wounded soldier story. This one made me laugh, it made me cry, it broke my heart, and it gave me hope. Travis returns homes from a tour of duty in Afghanistan and everyone around him expects life to go back to normal, but Travis doesn't even know what normal feels like anymore. It isn't until he runs into Harper again that life begins to look up. Don't get me wrong, he does some stupid stuff, but Harper allows him to be himself while not letting him make excuses. It's a great redemption story.

Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols - A Captivating, intoxicating and addicting story about love, loss, friendship and discovering that your self-worth isn't about where you come from but who you are inside. Leah is from the wrong side of the tracks, or in this case, the wrong side of the airport runway. She's always loved watching airplanes and taking to the skies herself is going to be her ticket to freedom. And then tragedy strikes, ushering in an uncertain future and double dose of trouble from the past, in the form of the Hall twins. They may look alike, but Alec and Grayson couldn't be any more different. When Grayson and Leah are forced to work together, sparks fly. The lesson they all learn is, life is short. Say I love you. Now. Today.

The Summer Series by Jenny Han - I devoured these books the first time I read them back in 2011, and every time I've reread them since. At the center is a love story, one that spans from childhood into early adulthood, woven together by the love and friendship of two families. At times, it does have a love triangle feel to it, but for me, there was never any question about who Belly was supposed to end up with. It just takes the characters a little longer to figure that out. 

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - Huntley Fitzpatrick writes about life with all it's quirkiness, even covering tough topics like politics and addiction with such honesty and humor that had me laughing so hard I cried. Samantha has secretly watched the Garretts for years, something her mother would have a cow over if she ever found out. Jase, the smart, funny, and, of course, gorgeous boy from the wrong side of the fence decides to climb Samantha's trellis. One simple question will begin a journey of love and adventure that neither of them will ever forget. One the BEST things about this story is George, the 4 year old walking encyclopedia of the Garrett family. There were times when he stole this story right out from under Jase and Samantha's noses and stole my heart in the process.

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally  - Life isn't black and white and a person's faith and beliefs are personal. But there comes a point when you have to decide for yourself what you believe and why. While spending the summer at church camp, Kate comes face to face with people and situations that go against everything she's ever been taught is right. She is challenged in ways she never imagined, and she has to decide for herself what's most important, rules or relationships. Easier said than done when she runs into Matt again. *insert dreamy sigh* Matt Brown is the kind of boy you want your daughter to bring home and your son to be. He's also grounded in his beliefs and he helps Kate see that nobody is perfect. Everyone needs forgiveness. A great story about faith, love and becoming the person you were meant to be.


Oh, Jen, I had no idea that is how you "found" me! What a great story!! And I am so honored that Trish Doller's writing is what brought us together.  She is such a phenomenal writer, and an incredible person. Thank you for these stellar reading recs. And I agree about the Summer series, there never was a question about who Belly should be with.. always & forever Conrad!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Blog Tour + Review: Results May Vary by Bethany Chase

Results May Vary by Bethany Chase
Published: August 9, 2016 by Ballantine Books
Source: ARC from the author (via publisher)
She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him. [goodreads]
Just when you think you've read the best of the best from an author, they follow up with something to completely blow your mind.  Bethany Chase stole my heart with her debut, The One That Got Away. Since then I have been eagerly anticipating anything else she'd write.  There's a richness to her storytelling that has a way of grabbing me, but not in an instant choke hold -- more of a slow reach across the pages, wrapping tightly around my heart, then applying just the right amount pressure when you think you can't breathe another page.  It's gorgeous, tangible, and unputdownable. This novel left me high and satisfied, the best of the best feeling when it comes to reading.

Caroline has been married to her high school sweetheart for ten years now.  They live the picture perfect lifestyle that their friends and family have always been envious of.  Right away, Caroline's confidence was very apparent.  Not only with herself, but also in her strong marriage to Adam.  And I think that's why it became so unbelievably unbearable to understand when she discovers her husband has had an affair.  And the blows don't stop there.  It's a tumbling mess of revelations, one after the other.  Caroline is lost, confused, and utterly crushed.  She doesn't know who she is without Adam as her other half.  It became difficult to witness these really lows moments, sunk beneath her deep sorrow.

The ups and downs felt very realistic, and I appreciated how the author didn't expose the true conflict from the beginning.  As the reader you find yourself living in these moments with Caroline as she is truly conflicted on where to go from here.  How do you trust someone, even when they have shattered the very foundation of what that trust was built on, and yet still be so incredibly in love with them?  It's definitely a journey not for the weak of heart.

In the end, even after all the twists and turns that I had not been expecting and left me literally gasping out loud, I found peace right alongside Caroline.  It was not an easy conclusion to come to, nor was it finalized in those last few chapters.  But there's a sense of finality that leaves the reader satisfied, uplifted, and even full in the outcome of it all.  Bethany Chase's storytelling shines bright with this one.  I could not put it down, and ended up reading it in just under 24 hours.  Her brilliance at weaving solid, emotional, yet so identifiable characters continues.  I cannot wait to see where she takes us next.

As a fan of both books + music, I am very pleased to have author Bethany Chase sharing her writing playlist for Results May Vary as part of the blog tour. See which songs she chose, then have a listen at the bottom. Enjoy!

Writing Playlist – Results May Vary

This is an interesting thing to write about, because this book has such a different musical personality from my first book, The One That Got Away. When I was writing that, I was listening to a lot of classic soul and 70’s rock (think Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack), and that made its way into the book in many places. Results May Vary’s playlist is a lot more eclectic, both on purpose and by accident.

1- Sugar & the Hi Lows, “Right Time to Tell You”: This song is gorgeous. The melody and harmonies are about as pretty as it gets, and the lyrics are incredibly apropos to Adam’s situation—the narrator has something to confess, has been waiting for the right time to do it, but no time is ever the right time.

2- Fountains of Wayne’s gorgeous “Valley Winter Song”: This is a quintessential New-England- in-winter song for me. It talks about short, dreary winter days and snowstorms and hanging in there till the summer. (True, perfect fact: the Fountains guys are Williams alums just like Caroline and me.)

3- Band of Horses, “No One’s Gonna Love You”: Really sums up Caroline’s feelings toward Adam in the early part of the book.

4- Amos Lee, “Chill in the Air”: Another beautiful breakup song (in this one, it’s the steel guitar that cinches it), and a nod to Caroline’s predilection for mopey singer-songwriters. I think Amos is fantastic, but the man sure can write a good mopey song.

5- The Grateful Dead, “Fire on the Mountain”: This is one of my personal favorite songs that I was delighted to give to a character. I am only an entry-level Deadhead, but the guitar riff on this song is just so mellow and pretty that I could listen to it for hours. Or, you know, 13 minutes, which is the length of the longest live version of it that I own.

6- The Apache Relay, “Katie Queen of Tennessee”: Very pretty little love song from one of Jonathan’s favorite bands.

7- Jo Dee Messina, “Downtime”: Ruby wasn’t kidding that Jo Dee is the queen of upbeat breakup anthems. I’ve always loved this song because it’s about the process of recovering yourself while you get over a breakup, which is really what the book is about. I especially love the line where she says “Your memory’s taking second to a good book and a nice, long bath.”

8- Duke Ellington, “Jeep’s Blues”: this piece gets a very specific call-out in the book because good lord, is it sexy. I’ve always thought blues is the sexiest music there is. (And this stood me in good stead when one of the questions on my online dating survey was “What’s your favorite music to get you in the mood” and I referenced something about one of the Allman Brothers barn-burners, which impressed the musician who is now my husband.)

9- Rogers & Hart, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”: I have an Ella Fitzgerald recording of this song that is one of my favorite all-time pieces of music. Ella’s voice is so beautiful, and the song’s lyrics have this sly, witty charm that—yes, I sound like an old person—you so rarely find anymore. “I’m wild again, beguiled again, a simpering, whimpering child again…” It’s such a great description of being infatuated.

10- First Aid Kit, “Emmylou”: Stunning harmonies in this song, and sweet, upbeat lyrics that remind me of Caroline and Neil. Especially where she says “I’m not asking much of you, just sing, little darling, sing with me” and “Things just don’t grow if you don’t bless them with your patience.”

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sweet Summertime Reads 2016: Brittany's Recommendations

Though I am back to work this week, I know it's still summer for a lot of you and I am holding on to the season with my Sweet Summertime Reads for a few more weeks! Today I am super excited to have Brittany from The Book Addict's Guide sharing her reading recs for summertime. But first, check these out...

Like taking pics? Check out #SweetSummertimeReads2016 photo challenge on IG

I'm so excited to once again be a part of Ginger's Sweet Summertime Reads feature! I love some good summer reads and one of my favorite books to read when the weather gets warm are light and cute contemporaries! I've always loved the lighter side of romance and I just totally identify with characters who are a little bit awkward, have delightful and swoony encounters, and sometimes go on romantic adventures that kick-start my wanderlust.

For my guest post on Ginger's blog today, I'm sharing some of my personal favorites for light and easy reads. I always end up seeking them out in the summertime and if you're a fan of them as well, these are ones I highly recommend!


ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins | ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is my all-time favorite contemporary romance. I'm sure most people have read it if they're into the genre at all but let me also tell you that I know a few people who have loved this book who don't even like contemporary romance and are big fantasy readers. This is the book to either start you on a contemporary kick or continue your current love!

ON THE FENCE by Kasie West | Kasie West is another auto-buy contemporary author for me. I have simply adored every single book she's written (including her sci-fi/paranormal duology) and her contemporary novels are just top notch if you're looking for something just plain adorable. Her characters are witty, smart, and sensitive and each book is utterly unique. It's hard to pick a favorite but I think ON THE FENCE is my personal favorite so far.

ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell | Rainbow Rowell may be better known for her YA hits like ELEANOR & PARK and FANGIRL but I read ATTACHMENTS even before I had a blog and I just thought it was so cute. I re-read it in 2014 as an audiobook and I fell in love with it even more. The book takes place in the 90s when Internet and email weren't quite as developed as they are now so it holds a little bit of a nostalgic feel to it and memory of a (little bit more of a) simpler time. The book is largely told in emails with IT guy Lincoln as the main character but the book has a strong focus on Jennifer and Beth, the two girls he ends up eavesdropping on via email after he's hired to monitor a company's email usage. I appreciated the book even more as a re-read because I got to relate to all those things in my late 20s that I didn't understand as much in my early 20s -- a person changes a lot in a few years! -- and I was just left with an overall happy feeling when it ended.

NANTUCKET BLUE by Leila Howland | NANTUCKET BLUE is actually not really light and fluffy. There's a lot more depth, drama, and tragedy with a bit more soul-searching than the aforementioned books but it had to be included in my recommendations. Cricket is my soul sister. If there's a book character that I connect to the most, it may be Cricket. The book is the first in a duology and its sequel, NANTUCKET RED, hit me even more. I was thinking of this book long after I was finished and I can't believe that it's still so under the radar! And if you need an excuse to read it during the summer, the book takes place over summer vacation and Nantucket Island!

WHEN JOSS MET MATT by Ellie Cahill | Ellie Cahill (who you may know as Liz Czukas if you're reading her YA works) writes such fun books! I loved her (YA) debut, ASK AGAIN LATER but WHEN JOSS MET MATT is my favorite book of hers overall. If you're worried about new adult romance being all about sex, this one... well, it is BUT in such a totally different way. It isn't a romance novel wrapped in a new adult label. It's the story of two friends who met in college and are still in touch in their 20s. It's the story of complicated relationships. And it's a story about falling in love. It's such a fun book, just plain adorable, and it gave me all the feels! It really bridges the gap between YA and new adult and even new adult into adult. I recommend it for anyone looking for a good romance!

Thanks so much for checking out my summer reading recommendations on my Sweet Summertime Reads post! I hope you find a great new contemporary novel to enjoy in what's left of the sweltering summer heat! Thanks again to Ginger for inviting me to join her feature and stay cool, friends!


Thank you, Brittany, for sharing these reading recs with us. I love that you picked YA, New Adult, and Adult contemporaries for this perfect selection of summertime reads. Each one can interest an array of readers. I have to mention that your recommendation of Attachments has made me want to do a re-read! I love that book so much!

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