Thursday, June 30, 2016

Beyond Reading with The Broke Book Bank

Welcome back to Beyond Reading!! Today I have Brooke Banks from the blog, The Broke Book Bank.


When I was first asked about guest posts about non-bookish habits, I honestly didn't think of gaming as one. Not only is almost everyone a gamer these days, whether it's console, PC, apps, or browser, but there's no doubt books reign supreme for me. 

My tastes in games come from my love of stories, which all began with books as a child. My favorite games growing up were Sega's Lion King and Jungle Book. On the computer, it was Majesty all day every day. I still have all of Paradox's Majesty related games on Steam. I've lost days to them.

I love books for how I can become absorbed and become part of the story. The games I play have all that in common. 

Skyrim: Needs no introduction. I basically stole my roommates PS3 I played it so much. Good thing he was cool with it. I read all the books. I collected them. Abandoning books because I was overloaded made me feel so wrong. I HATED when my books didn't line up or look right. I loved the main story and all the side quests. I became a hero and at the end of the day went home to a kickass library I can only dream of. Plus, of course, DRAGONS!! And Shadowmere! **wistful sigh** I may need to break this out again...

Torchlight 1 & 2: Another one I lost days to playing. If you want an Action RPG, you can't go wrong with this series. 

Guild Wars 2 Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn: My latest and greatest MMORPG loves. The only reason I stopped playing A Realm Reborn is because of the monthly subscription. I'd go back in a heartbeat if i could but...Guild Wars 2 doesn't have that problem and my friends play it. So torn. MMORPGs are big different because while I still demand a good story, I get way involved with crafting, hobbies, and PVPing. It's so fun to become un-sober and slaughter some fools with friends. :D

Alice: Madness Returns: Gory, creepy, violent fantastic adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. The ending? OMFG. Plus, there's replay value. Not only for badges/trophies, but I loved seeing stuff I missed the first time. That's something I've never been able to do with books (I get bored re-reading.) 

Never Alone is amazing. It does everything right. My only problem is sucking at platformers. Never Alone is an atmospheric puzzle platformer developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people, drawn from a traditional story that has been shared across the generations. You'll explore awe-inspiring environments, perform heroic deeds and meet legendary characters from Iñupiaq stories — all narrated by a master storyteller in the spoken Iñupiaq language.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Awesome app game I first found in a Humble Bundle. I've never had the opportunity to play a tabletop RPG and the barrier for entry is impassable for me now, but Sorcery! brings all the staples with a fantasy story in a single player campaign. I've drained my phone playing this and will tons of replay value. Bonus: no mess or set up, which is huge when you've got a kid and four cats to destroy everything.  

Desktop Dungeons has much of the same going but my lord, is it hard! Or maybe I just suck. But I love building my town and killing monsters...even if I don't always clear the dungeon. 

Gems of War is another app, but this a collectible puzzle battler. I've been playing for over a year, never had to buy gems to get my cards or level them up, and I'm level 230. I can go on slaughtering sprees and am pretty awesome at PVP if I don't say so myself. 

There's also Adventure Time's Puzzle Quest and The 8th Gate as similar app games I play occasionally. 

I'm also a huge fan of the very fun murder mystery puzzle games, Blue Toad Murder Files. I have The Enigma Express hidden objects app and played the episodic game on PS3 and PC. 

Hidden Object Games: I love these. They're ultimately simple with great puzzles and stories. It's not a time sink and an easy way to relax. My favorites are the Drawn series, Grim Legends, Grim Tales, Midnight Mysteries, Dark Tales, get the idea.

In the end, the few exceptions to my storyline rule are 

The few times I've played first person shooters (FPS) it's will friends while drinking and I'm terrible at it. It's hilarious. At least until they're tired of carrying me, then it's time to call it a night. 

Books do take up a lot of time and reviewing more so. When I've played more time intensive games like WOW or Guild Wars 2, that's all I did. Ultimately, I burnt myself out. My depression/manic depression means I roll in waves. There are times I do nothing but one thing. Like for months I'll eat the same food. Then all of a sudden, I don't want it. It'll be months/years later before I pick it up again. 

Before I'd say "except for books" but really, it's stories I'm always after. It's nice to know there's at least one constant. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryReasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn't, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It's also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how live better, love better, read better and feel more.

Review: Matt Haig is a bestselling author and his latest release is a nonfiction book about depression and anxiety. These are two things that I suffer from as well, but not in the same way that Mr. Haig did. Regardless, I could understand a lot of what he was saying. When Haig was 24, he had essentially a breakdown where he wanted to kill himself. Fortunately, he did not and he went on to fight his depression. His girlfriend at the time - and now wife - Andrea, was obviously a huge help for him. She was there when he needed it, but she also willing to be a 'pusher' (my word) because she knew that he could get better and she cheered for him every step of the way.

What I loved about Reasons to Stay Alive is that it's a mix of things. Yes, it's an account of Mr. Haig's deep depression and how he got through that, and how he handles his depression and anxiety now. However, it's also a love letter to life. It's a list of things that Mr. Haig loves or loses himself in when he can't face the hardships of life. It's information about depression and how it affects so many people. It's a push to get help and talk about your problems, especially for men, who commit suicide in larger numbers than women.

Reasons to Stay Alive is great for a lot of people - those who suffer from mental illness, to know they aren't alone, to find new coping mechanisms, to understand things a bit better. It's also for those that don't suffer but want to empathize more, especially if they know people in their lives that do have depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness. Being there is enough. Being there is sometimes just what they need. I really appreciated how Mr. Haig notes that many people have a stigma toward mental illness and he gives examples of things that people feel fine telling someone with depression but they would never do it if the person had cancer or some other physically notable disease.

Depression can't be seen, but it's there. Educate yourself.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Without Trace by Simon Booker

First off, Happy Birthday to my sister, Kari!!!

Without Trace by Simon Booker

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFor four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon - convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter.

When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa.

But then Lissa goes missing.

With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame - 'the one that got away'. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust...?

Review: This is one fantastic mystery and only the first in a new series that will focus on Morgan Vine. I'm so excited that we'll get more books featuring Morgan, though Without Trace is a full fledged novel that doesn't leave anything left open at the end.

Morgan was in love with Danny as a child and when he is put in prison years later for murdering his stepdaughter, Morgan doesn't believe it. She makes a website and fights tirelessly to help Danny be released from prison. That day has finally happened and Morgan is quick to tell all the naysayers in her life that yes, she does trust Danny. He's not a killer. This is all before Morgan's own daughter, Lissa, goes missing, and as more and more information and clues come out, Morgan isn't sure if she actually can trust Danny after all.

One of the things that I loved about this book is that it keeps you reading. You finish a chapter and you go "one more...just one more..." until you've finished the book. It's a tightly wound mystery that will leave you wondering and guessing new culprits left and right. Danny is an interesting character, but details are slowly revealed about him and his past that make you wonder. The same is true for a lot of other characters in the book. Who can Morgan trust? That's the big question!

There is more going on in the book than just Lissa being missing and as all the pieces come together in the end, I was truly shocked by the picture is revealed! A must read!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Rekindled Flame by Andrew Grey

Rekindled Flame by Andrew Grey

publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFirefighter Morgan has worked hard to build a home for himself after a nomadic childhood. When Morgan is called to a fire, he finds the family out front, but their tenant still inside. He rescues Richard Smalley, who turns out to be an old friend he hasn’t seen in years and the one person he regretted leaving behind.

Richard has had a hard life. He served in the military, where he lost the use of his legs, and has been struggling to make his way since coming home. Now that he no longer has a place to live, Morgan takes him in, but when someone attempts to set fire to Morgan’s house, they both become suspicious and wonder what’s going on.

Years ago Morgan was gutted when he moved away, leaving Richard behind, so he’s happy to pick things up where they left off. But now that Richard seems to be the target of an arsonist, he may not be the safest person to be around.

Review: I love the friend to lover trope in romance books, and that's exactly what we have here! When Morgan and Richard were younger, they were the best of friends, until Morgan's dad moves them away. Now the two are all grown up and thrown back into each other's lives after Morgan saves Richard from a house fire. Richard had been in the military but he can no longer use his legs, leaving him in a wheelchair. Due to his past military experiences -and obvious PTSD - as well as his injuries, Richard doesn't feel like anyone could or should love him and want to take care of him.

Morgan does though. He might not have been in the military, but he's a firefighter and he has his own sad stories and nightmares. It's obvious to the reader that these two are meant to be together, but Richard definitely needs some persuasion. It doesn't help that the cops and firefighters start to believe that the arson who attacked Richard's house, where he lived with friends, was specifically after him and not just a random victim or the other family. This definitely turned Rekindled Flame into a suspenseful read in a number of reads. I kept reading, desperate for these two to be together, but also t be safe from whoever is out there attacking Richard.

Overall, this was a really good read! I'd definitely check out more by the author.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Beyond Reading with Ali from the bandar (b)log

My first ever Beyond Reading post and today, I am sharing what Ali from The Bandar (B)Log does besides read and share books on her blog!

Ali from the bandar b(log)
My name is Ali, and I am a brand-spanking-new book blogger over at I must admit that talking about my hobbies outside of blogging feels backwards to me – I’m used to talking about my hobbies outside of work. What is work, you say? I’m a veterinarian (also brand-spanking-new! I graduated from vet school one year ago.), so my days revolve around cats and dogs and doing whatever I can to make them and their people feel better. In addition to the standard medicine a veterinarian practices, I also perform acupuncture and rehabilitation (aka physical therapy) on dogs and cats. How fun is that?! I love working with people and their pets. I smile one thousand times a day, and you can’t beat that.

When I’m not working (or book blogging), I’m singing in the shower, my kitchen, at my piano, or in my city’s community choir. I joined the community choir after vet school in order to do something un-sciencey (little did I know I could have just started a blog about the books I was reading)! Back when I took voice lessons, my singing instructor used to tell me that every time you sing you become 10% happier. The number may have been total hogwash, but singing definitely makes me happy.

If animals make you smile, think about volunteering at your local shelter to help love on dogs and cats. Any modicum of positive attention an animal receives makes them so much happier in a shelter setting. Perhaps you like singing, but have terrible stage fright like me? Do a quick Google search to see if your town has a local community choir! You get to have all the joys of singing with none of the stress of performing (because you perform with a ton of other people)!

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you love it. As you can tell, I have no special skills or accolades I can offer as to why I should be a book blogger. I just love it, and at the end of the day, that’s what is most important.


Thanks so much, Ali! Please leave your thoughts/questions for Ali in the comments. If you want to take part in Beyond Reading, get in touch!
the bandar (b)log

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Saving Montgomery Sole

Thank you so much to Fierce Reads for allowing me to take part in the blog tour for Saving Montgomery Sole in honor of Pride Month!! You can visit this link to find the full blog schedule!

Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki

Review by Lauren 

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary:

In sight not see
black light not be

This is the curious instruction that comes with the Eye of Know, the possibly powerful crystal amulet that Montgomery Sole buys online for $5.99. It’s also the next topic of discussion at Mystery Club (members: Monty and her two best friends, Thomas and Naoki), dedicated to the exploration of the strange and unexplained.

When Monty wears the Eye of Know, strange things happen, all targeted at people she despises. Maybe it will help Monty take down her newest enemy, a preacher who has come to save her town from so-called sinners—sinners like Monty’s moms. Or will its mysterious powers mean the end of the friendships Monty cherishes most?

Review: This book is suitable for pride month because Monty has two moms and a gay best friend named Thomas. Not only do these characters appear full-fledged in the book, but Monty has to deal with the idea that other people don't think being gay is alright. There is a new Reverend in town who is putting up posters about the true way to be a family and every time Monty sees one, she gets so angry and starts tearing them down. I appreciated Monty's loyalty to those she loves, but she also has to learn a lot herself about not judging others, as well as talking out her problems instead of trying to rely on things like the Eye of Know.

The Eye of Know was interesting! Monty wears it and bad things happen to people that she doesn't like, but is it coincidence or the actual Eye? Regardless, if Monty believes it's real, she shouldn't be wearing it at all unless she truly wants to hurt people. Along with the Eye of Known, Monty and her two best friends have a Mystery Club they created at school where they look into things like hypnotism and other "mysteries." I thought this was cool, and I liked that she had a couple people in her life that were interested in the same things she was!

I think Monty is a good person, but the book is definitely a growth for her. She does things you wouldn't necessarily agree with, but she's coming into her own and learning what is right and wrong. Sure, she understands that being gay doesn't mean something is wrong with you, but she has her own ideas and prejudices about people that she needs to overcome. I appreciated that though!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Torn (Wicked #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout Cover Reveal

Alicia here, with the cover for the second book in Jennifer L. Armentrout's paranormal New Adult series.




The highly anticipated second book in #1 New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout's Wicked Trilogy has a cover! The amazing TORN cover was created by Sarah Hansen from Okay Creations with photography by Kelsey Kukal-Keeton from K Keeton designs. Check it out below! 

TORN is set to release July 19th. 

Be sure to grab the first book in the series, WICKED, which is on sale for $.99 for a limited time!

    TORN - cover

TORN Synopsis:

Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. After being betrayed and then nearly killed by the Prince of the Fae, she’s left bruised and devastated—and with an earth-shattering secret that she must keep at all costs. And if the Order finds out her secret, they’ll kill her.

Then there’s Ren Owens, the sexy, tattooed Elite member of the Order who has been sharing Ivy’s bed and claiming her heart. Their chemistry is smoking hot, but Ivy knows that Ren has always valued his duty to the Order above all else—he could never touch her if he knew the truth. That is, if he let her live at all. Yet how can she live with herself if she lies to him?

But as the Fae Prince begins to close in on Ivy, intent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld, Ivy is running out of options. If she doesn’t figure out who she can trust—and fast—it’s not only her heart that will be torn apart, but civilization itself.


Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans…

Don’t miss the first title in the series, WICKED, now just $.99 for a limited time only!

WICKED - cover

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iBooks ** Kobo

Author Photo--JLA_J. Lynn    About Jennifer L. Armentrout: 

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.  

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