Monday, June 26, 2017

Sweet Summertime Reads with Cards by Andrea S.

This week's Sweet Summertime Reads is featuring one of my dearest (and most favorite!) friends, Andi. Some of you may know her as @andiABCs from twitter, or from her blog which may be found here:

She's an avid reader like myself, but she's also taken up crafting and creating cards. Her crafty talents speak for themselves! I thought it would be fun for my readers to check out her stuff and also to enter to win some of those amazing cards she's handmade.

If you're someone who likes to send cheer via snail mail, or always looking for a cute, unique card to include in a gift, Andi is your gal. I love what she makes and these summertime themed cards are PERFECT! Please welcome Andi to the blog...


Wow, my 4th time being invited to do Ginger's fun feature, Sweet Summertime Reads! In my past 3 guest posts my posts were all book related and talked about books I was reading over the summer, books you should read over the summer or connecting books to locations in Boston. Today we are doing something different. Today I am showing you the new side of me, my crafty side.

If you are a reader of my blog or follow me on Twitter/Instagram, you may know I have become a card maker. About a year and a half ago I got into paper crafts and played around with making a lot of different things. It took about 6 months but I figured out what my niche is in the craft world and it is card making. In the last year + my card making style has changed and evolved but my love of it hasn't. In fact I recently opened my own Etsy shop where you can purchase my handmade cards: Cards by Andrea S..

What does this all have to do with my post for Ginger's blog? Well G asked me to show off my card making skills and make some fun summer themed cards. And the best part, all 4 of these cards can be yours by entering the giveaway below. So without further ado, the cards and supplies I used to make them.

Flamingo Card

I am a flamingo fanatic. If you know me, you know this about me. I just love everything that has them on it so making a flamingo card was the first thing I did. To be honest I wanted this card to be in your face flamingo so I went with it. I took a piece of white card stock and cut it to 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 (standard A2 size card base). Then I took my flamingo background stamp and used VersaMark ink (a clear sticky ink) and stamped the flamingo pattern down. When that was done I used white embossing powder to cover the panel and used my heat tool to melt the powder. After it was cooled I grabbed my Worn Lipstick Distress Oxide ink and blended it over the stamped panel. Grabbing my Hero Arts layering Flamingo stamp i created a die cut flamingo using some pink inks from The Ton. Then I die cut a rectangle and stamped the sentiment. I attached all of the components to the card panel which I attached to a piece of black card stock before gluing everything on to a card base and added some sequins for sparkle.

Products Used:

Finished Card:

Popsicle Card

For the popsicle card I went a little outside of the box. Basically I took the same card panel size as above and trimmed it to be 5 1/4 x 4. I then used my popsicle outline and stick outline stamps by Concord & 9th and created a background by stamping randomly in order on the panel. When all the outlines were done I used the backside of the popsicle fill in stamp to make the image bigger than the outline. I used a variety of inks from The Ton, Altenew and Simon Says Stamp for this process. I finished off the card with a sentiment from Sunny Studios and attached the panel to a card base.

Products Used:

Finished Card:

Pineapple Card

When I saw the palm leaf stencil I knew I was going to use it with the pineapple stamp and die set I owned. I took the stencil and taped it over a 5 1/4 x 4 card panel. Using to green inks from The Ton I blending the colors on in a randomish looking pattern. Because the panel was so bold I used a piece of vellum to soften to the look. Similar to the flamingo card, I grabbed my Pineapple layering stamp and die from Hero Arts and stamped out a fine pineapple. I used the large sentiment from the set and attached it like a banner to the pineapple and the attached them both to the panel. When the panel was complete I adhered it to a A2 size card base.

Products Used:

Finished Card:

Ice Cream Card

For this card I was inspired by a card I saw on line. I took my Sunny Studios Ice Cream layering set and used the sugar cone and ice cream scoop stamps. Before I did my stamping though I traced a circle on to my card panel. Using the circle as a guide I stamped out the ice cream cones and then the scoops. I used inks from The Ton, Altenew, and Hero Arts to create the color dimensions on the ice creams. After I had the ice creams done I die cut a circle out of copper card stock and adhered it to my panel over the traced lines. Then I used a sentiment from the stamp set and heat embossed it with copper embossing powder and attached the rectangle to my panel. I attached the panel to a card base and added some sequins for some sparkle.

Products Used:

Finished Card:

And there you have it, a brief description on how I made all 4 of my summer themed cards.

A huge thanks goes out to Ginger for inviting me to show my crafty side to all of you. She knows how much I love making a good card and she allowed me free reign with these.

Make sure you check out the giveaway below and all the other fantastic giveaways.

Thanks again G for having me for the 4th time!


Here's your chance to win all 4 of these fantastic cards made by Andi! This giveaway is open to US residents only. Fill out the form below to be entered -- good luck!!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Sweet Summertime Reads with Sara Biren + GIVEAWAY

Hey, my summertime reading friends! I'm excited to have a special guest on the blog today, sharing a bit more about one of MY favorite books I've read this year. It's the perfect dose of summery YA contemps that I love to devour -- full of emotion, tension, heartache, and that sweet, sweet first kind of romance.

THE LAST THING YOU SAID takes place on the lake in the beautiful state of Minnesota. The setting itself poses as its own character, in my opinion, so rich with emotion and vibrancy. I found myself escaping to this lakeside town every time I visited the pages of this beautiful story.

Please welcome author Sara Biren to the blog as she answers some of my own questions, plus shares some personal photos that inspired this unforgettable story. If you haven't yet heard of her book, I hope today's post puts it on your radar. It's a can't miss to read this summer!

About the book: Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief.

Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

Author Interview with Sara Biren

1. Describe your book in 140 characters, twitter style.
Ben and Lulu deal with their grief and their feelings for each other the summer after the death of Trixie, his sister and her best friend.

2. What was it like to see your first published book in a bookstore?
It was truly a dream come true, especially because this book is so close to my heart. The moment was made even more special because my daughter was with me and she was absolutely beside herself with pride and excitement.

3. What truly sparked the idea to write this story?
I wanted to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in July, 2011. A local teen was battling cancer and I frequently read his mother’s CaringBridge updates. I started to think about his friends, the people who would ultimately be left behind when he lost that battle several months later. And I started to think back on my own experiences with grief. Grief takes its time, and everyone handles their pain in a way unique to them.

4. A writer wears many hats. What else occupies your time other than writing?
I work full-time as a copywriter for a marketing and advertising agency as well as a freelance editor and grant writer on the side. My two kids (14 and 10) keep me very busy. They’re involved in theater, music, dance, tennis, and Scouts. I am very active with my son’s Boy Scout Troop and am my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop Leader. I also volunteer with our church and various other community organizations.

5. It's 10 years from now within the setting of your book, can you share with us what your characters might be up to? (spoiler free, of course!)
I think it’s safe to say that Ben is out on the lake fishing and guiding. Perhaps Lulu went to culinary school and has taken over the pie and bakery responsibilities at the Full Loon CafĂ©. You can tell a lot about a person by the kind of pie they order. Mainly if they’re a**holes or not.

6. Is there something new you are currently working on that you can share with us?
If you loved the idyllic setting of Halcyon Lake, Minnesota in the summer, you’re really going to love it in the dead of winter. I’m currently working on a book about the only female hockey player on her high school’s boys’ hockey team, and what happens when she suddenly finds herself in the spotlight – and falling for her captain.


Every summer when I was a kid, my dad’s extended family spent a week at a resort near Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, to celebrate my Uncle Bud’s birthday. It was always my favorite week of summer vacation – reading on the beach, going out on the boat, fishing, hanging out with my aunts and uncles and cousins. I was completely enamored with the area and with lake life.

Today, June 19, would have been my Uncle Bud’s 85th birthday. He passed away three weeks ago, on Memorial Day, after spending the weekend at the lake.

I’ve often said that everyone should have an Uncle Bud – always ready with a corny one-liner and a hug – and I’m grateful for him, our big family, and those halcyon days up at the lake. If it weren’t for Bud, his love of the lake and for his family, THE LAST THING YOU SAID would have been a very different book.

The famous and iconic Pequot Lakes bobber water tower
Fishing off the dock, 1988
A cabin at Sunset Knoll Resort
Sunset Knoll Resort
The Biren brothers (Bud, Ted, and Chris) sometime in the 80s. Sara's dad is in the middle.
Bertha Lake, Pequot Lakes, MN

Thank you so much, Sara Biren, for sharing your inspirations, your personal connections, & these wonderful memories that all make up this beautiful story. I know it's made me love it even more!

Want to read this book sooner rather than later? Here's your chance to win a signed copy + other Minnesota goodies from Sara Biren. Contest is open to US residents only -- good luck!

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Such A Ginger Read: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Where I read a book and then label it as "Such a Ginger Read" because, well, it is such a Ginger read. To see my first edition post of this new feature, please click here.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Published: May 30, 2017 by BYR
Source: e-ARC from publisher
Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends.

So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study.

Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama. [goodreads]

Oh this book! It had me laughing out loud (literally) from the first chapters. It's the kind of story that will have you giddy, yearning for page after page, completely smitten with its charm and quick wit. This is what entertaining YA is all about, in my opinion. Throw in a delicious romance, an unforgettable heroine, and a completely fun storyline and you have the makings of Such a Ginger Read!

Desi's voice was authentic from the first page. Immediately I felt a familiarity to her and we were bonded. I couldn't not keep reading. She has always excelled at school, at sports, and even at her extra curricular activities. So why has she always failed when it comes to romance? She discovers that if she sets a plan, there's no reason she can't succeed. So a plan is what she creates to get the hot new kid to fall for her. It must work, right?!

Oh the drama and laughs that ensue! Yes, the "plan" was hysterical to witness, but there were these quiet moments in between when Desi's insecurities bled through and you saw a girl who just wants to fall in love. Her relationship with her dad was by far my favorite aspect of the story. He's been a single dad since she was little, stepping in the shoes of both parents. Their dynamic was solid and I felt really catapulted this story along.

In the end this is such a fun, enjoyable read that went much deeper than I ever expected. I'm already wanting to re-read it, just so I can laugh hysterically at some of those Desi moments again. But also so I can swoon and fall in love with this comforting, yet so relatable writing. When it comes to contemporary YA, this has Such a Ginger Read stamped all over it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sweet Summertime Reads with Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren + GIVEAWAY

A double-dose of Sweet Summertime Reads this week?! You betcha! I am super excited about today's feature because it is showcasing one of my favorite Adult Romance writing duos -- Christina Lauren!

I discovered Christina Lauren a few years ago with their Wild Seasons series and have promptly re-read all of their books so many times I literally lost count. They are my go-to reads when I want something comforting, yet addicting. I KNOW I'll have a good time when I open a CLo book.

With their latest release DATING YOU/HATING YOU, I thought it would be an excellent addition to my Sweet Summertime Reads feature. There is nothing better than getting lost in a Christina Lauren novel while at the beach/pool/patio (or whatever floats your boat) this summer. See my thoughts below on their latest novel & then enter to win a paperback copy, courtesy of Gallery Books (open to US residents only).

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren
Published: June 6, 2017 by Gallery Books

About the book: All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest. [goodreads]

This is by far one of, if not my #1, favorite romance trope. There is nothing better than a hate-to-love relationship. Throw in a sexy work environment + some insanely witty banter and you've got yourself the recipe for a deliciously steamy rom-com. I already know what to expect when I pick up a Christina Lauren book and that is ADDICTION. I could easily sit & read one of their novels in a day. It's that irresistible. DATING YOU/HATING YOU is guilty of proving the same effect!

Carter and Evie's first meet-up is by far one of the cutest, sexiest I've read in an adult romance novel. I won't provide details to keep out any spoilers, but just know that their story begins at such a high! Immediately I was pulled in, sitting court side with my pom poms, ready to cheer this couple on! But in true CLo fashion, their story isn't that easy. These two must strap it in and be prepared to take this crazy, wild, fun, HOT roller coaster of a ride.

If you're like me and crave ridiculously addictive sexy adult romances to read during the summer, then you definitely need to add this one to your reading pile! Christina Lauren have done it again, adding yet another novel I know I'll come back to, time and time again.


Want to add DATING YOU/HATING YOU by Christina Lauren to your summer reading list? Here's your chance! Enter the giveaway below -- open to US residents only, courtesy of Gallery Books.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Sweet Summertime Reads with Trish Doller + GIVEAWAY

Oh hi there. How's your summer so far? Just getting started? Well, I have an amazing author on the blog today to chat up her latest release that I think will go PERFECT with your summer to-be-read pile. Please join me in welcoming YA author Trish Doller to the blog!

She's been a friend of mine for quite a few years now and I've had the pleasure of reading her work. She's the type of storyteller that grips you from that first page and refuses to let go... even long after you've finished the book.

Her latest book, IN A PERFECT WORLD, is no exception to that fact. It's set in Egypt, where a young American girl is relocated with her family the summer before her senior year. Immediately I know what you're thinking: Hello culture shock! And yes, there was plenty of that. But there is also a beauty in the unknown through the eyes of a young teen who is not only figuring out her new life's plan, but doing so in such a rich, diverse country filled with culture and new experiences. Add this one to your summer reading list (if you haven't already) & get to know more about Trish & the book below.

About the book: Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

I’m super thrilled to be a part of Ginger’s Sweet Summertime Reads and I'm excited to share a few songs from the playlist that inspired me as I wrote IN A PERFECT WORLD. You'll definitely find the making of a bittersweet summer romance in these tracks.

Be Be Your Love - Rachael Yamagata

“Everybody's talking how I can't be your love

But I want want wanna be your love

Want to be your love, for real”


Sideways - Citizen Cope

“These feelings won’t go away

They’ve been knockin’ me sideways

I keep thinking in a moment that

Time will take them away”


Love Like This (Acoustic) - Kodaline

“We're running around like love is what we found

And nothing else could matter in our life

But wait, but wait, but wait

The sun’ll stop shining soon

And you'll be dark in my life

It's as simple as a change in your heart

A love like this won’t last forever.

I know that a love like this won’t last forever”

But I don’t mind. I don’t mind at all.”

Anyone who’s read my other books knows that I don’t really do happily ever after, so when I reached the end of this book I had to make a choice. Bittersweet? Or hopeful? No spoilers.

Bonus tracks:

Bit So3’ayar - Meshwar

While I was researching fun things to do in Cairo (that are not the pyramids), I stumbled on an Egyptian reggae band called Meshwar and was completely smitten. The band and this song make a cameo appearance in the book. Even if you don’t understand the words (I don’t), the melody is both familiar and infectious. Enjoy!

Boshret Kheir - Hussein Al Jasmi

Google translates the title to “good skin” which makes sense because it’s about all the different people who call Egypt home. I discovered it when I while I was seeking "inspiration" from a plate of falafel at my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant (Kebab Village) where they play videos on their TVs. There’s no direct connection to the book, but this song makes my heart really happy. (Good luck making it all the way through without chair dancing. I can’t.)


Check out these beautiful mood boards that also inspired Trish Doller to write IN A PERFECT WORLD. To see more of her inspirations, click here.

Thank you SO MUCH, Trish, for stopping by to chat up your book, and share some of the tunes & images that inspired this amazing story. For my readers, want to add this one to your summer reading pile sooner rather than later?! Enter to win the book below! Good luck!

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+ Open to US residents only
+ No giveaway accounts allowed
+ Ends 6/19/17

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