Monday, November 30, 2015

Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North

Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North

Review by Lauren

source: book from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.  
Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.
Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other.
Review: Blueberry Boys is a quick, enjoyable read! Connor used to live in a small town but he was always desperate to escape. Everyone always knew he was gay and it wasn't something the town could really accept. So when he comes back years later, now a successful photographer, to help sell the farm his uncle used to own, he doesn't expect to find any happiness. Then he meets Jed Jones, who is a tenant farmer on his uncle's land.

I really loved both of these guys, separate and together. Connor had only his brother left in his family, but Scott is eleven years older and never seemed to understand Connor. Jed has a bigger family who he loves, but they don't know he's gay and he has a hard time reconciling his feelings and the fact that he feels like he's lying to everyone. It isn't until Jed meets Connor that he starts to understand that it's okay he kept his sexuality a secret, but that he should come out if he really wants too.

One thing I loved about these guys is that both of them have their insecurities that they help each other with. Connor used to be the chubby kid, so he still feels out of place sometimes in his own body. As for Jed, he's had a stutter his whole life and it gets worse when he's nervous. He's used to people talking for him or interrupting him when he can't finish a sentence. It's sweet how Connor learns to deal with this - waiting for Jed to speak, letting him text or write emails instead of talking over the phone or even in person. They accommodate each other and it's nice to see!

Blueberry Boys does have some mature moments but nothing that overshadows the overall story. I would definitely recommend!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Post (5): Hospital Visits Galore

Sunday Post is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer

I didn't have a Sunday Post last week, so I knew I had to get something posted for today, even though I'm writing this really close to when it will go live. It's been a bit of a hectic week. My dad had surgery this past Monday and due to some complications, he ended up back in the hospital Wednesday afternoon and he's still there waiting on news of whether he needs surgery again or something else to make him better! So yeah, lots of visiting the hospital between Thanksgiving and all that fun/crazy stuff!

I did get to see Victor Frankenstein Wednesday night with my sister and a friend and we all really loved it! It stars Dan Radcliffe as Igor and James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein. Despite McAvoy being the title character, it really focuses on both men! It's a bit long, but well worth seeing when you can!

The week before I saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and it was also amazing. I think they did a really good job with it and I thought all the actors were brilliant. It's sad to know it's over though...

Last Two Weeks on Let's Get Beyond Tolerance (my other blog- LGBT+ themed):

American Girl Magazine Features Two Dads- Causes Upset

A Look at The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

Musical Choice: Chely Wright's "Shut Up and Drive"

LGBT News/Reviews: Recommend to Me!

WOW: My Year Zero by Rachel Gold

Etsy Pride (11): Christmas themed!

Coming Up This Week on ShootingStarsMag (subject to change!):

Two m/m book reviews
A Christmas book review + Make it a Gift
A graphic novel review

Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon Results:

Also hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer (well, she co-hosted!) was the Christmas/Winter themed read-a-thon. Since I didn't do a Sunday Post last week, I didn't update you all on my results. I ended up reading two Christmas themed books. The third I had picked out just didn't appeal to me at the moment. However, I did read a Christmas book right before the read-a-thon began so that's not too bad either! It was fun to read some holiday themed novels. How did you do?

2016 Book Challenge Idea!

And finally, I was thinking of creating my own book challenge for next year but it's no fun if I'm the only one, so would you be interested in taking part?

The idea: Unique Format Challenge (or another cool title if you have any ideas!)

What you do is read books with different formats or cool extras, like a book in verse, or a book with illustrations, or a book with footnotes, or in diary/letter format, or even something like Illuminae with all its crazy ways of telling a story! I know these types of books are hit or miss for some, but I always find unique formatting to be at the very least an interesting experience!

So what do you think? Should I make this an actual 2016 Book Challenge? 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Put Me in the Story's Santa's Bag Sweepstakes


Put Me In The Story, the #1 personalized books site in the U.S., has hundreds of personalized books and gifts for newborns, kids, and even grown-ups! With a diverse selection of personalized story books, activity books, adult coloring books, adorable plush and more, Put Me In The Story is a fantastic spot to find personalized gifts that become beloved keepsakes.

As a huge thank you to their customers, Put Me In The Story is hosting SANTA’S BAG SWEEPSTAKES, just in time for Christmas! Now through December 8, enter each day for a chance to win the grand prize in Santa’s bag of goodies.

Santa’s Bag Grand Prize Includes:

·         One $750 Visa Gift Card for your holiday shopping!
·         ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (NEW personalized book)
·         Our Little Deer
·         Santa is Coming to My House

Enter once a day for a chance to win and receive a 30% off coupon code for entering here:

Open to US & Canada only. Must be 18 or older to enter. Sweepstakes ends 12/8/2015 at 11:59 pm CST. Winner will be contacted on or around 12/9/2015.


$29.99 personalized book

It’s the night before Christmas and Father Mouse is stirring in YOUR house to the sound of Santa Claus and eight tiny reindeer! Cozy up as Father Mouse shares his story of what happens next. You’ll get a peek at Santa and a glimpse of your gifts under the tree, too. With illustrations that began as original ink drawings, this new spin on a classic Christmas tale is sure to be a hit for the holidays!

Personalize ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas with a name, picture, and cheerful dedication message to welcome this Christmas season with a new holiday tradition for the entire family. 

$29.99 personalized book

Your little “deer” will always know how dear they are to your heart with this special personalized book!
Families will love snuggling up together to read this adorable, personalized book that shows your little one just how special they are. Cute, holiday illustrations and sweet messages of love will have everyone smiling in good cheer!

Show your little star how bright they shine with Sandra Magsamen’s Our Little Deer—personalized with your child’s name and photo, and a special dedication page with a message from you! Share a whole lot of love with your little “deer” this holiday season and all the way through the years ahead!

$29.99 personalized book

Mom’s Choice Gold Award Winner! Your child will light up with joy when they see their name woven into the story with Santa and his elves! Give the gift of a personalized storybook this year by turning your son or daughter into the star of this exciting new holiday classic that soars through Santa’s journey as he delivers presents.

Personalize the story with your child’s name and create a special dedication page with a photo and message from you.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gift Guide 2015: Stocking Stuffers

I hope everyone that celebrates Thanksgiving had a lovely day yesterday. Today is what is known as Black Friday. So whether you are shopping online, in stores, or not shopping yet...I thought I would share a quick gift guide of some possible stocking stuffers! What I love about stocking stuffer type of gifts is that you don't always have to pay all that much. These are great for actual stockings, but you can also get these smaller items for colleagues, club members, neighbors, babysitters, etc.

Let me know if any of these items catch your eye (and hey! you can always buy something for yourself too. Tis the season and all, right?)

This Philosophy set is exclusive to Nordstrom, where you can buy it now for $20. It's the "Sending Holiday Wishes" Set and includes spiced gingerbread cookie shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath, sweet creamy frosting body lotion, and sugar sprinkles lip shine. This would make a cute little gift for someone. If you want to fit in in the stocking you might need to take everything out of the box. Not sure how big the box actually is - or if you have a giant stocking!

Know someone that is still obsessed with Frozen? How about these Frozen pencils (you get a set of four)? This set is $8 from the etsy shop Design Gem. She has a lot of other pencils too, in case you don't want Frozen quotes.

I just love this idea! It's Sriracha2Go in case you know someone that loves sriracha so much, they must have their own on hand! This is $5.99 and if you are in the U.S. and spend over $20, you get free shipping!

I just love this idea from The Dating Divas. You buy your husband or boyfriend a new wallet and then you print off these fun coupons and choose the ones you want to add to the wallet. "Good for one movie night", "good for one clothing item", etc. Choose what works for you and voila, a lovely gift!

This fun Tic Tac Toe travel game would be perfect for anyone that is traveling during the holidays, or gift it to a family with two kids. They could play with each other. SweetnSouthernCreati sells this on Etsy for $5!!

These Inspiration Dice are sold by Etsy Shop Inspiration Dice (easy to remember, eh?) You can buy a set for $12. Perfect for the writer in your family!

Know someone that deserves a bit of a break? How about gifting them Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup Mix from Etsy shop Nancy's Fancy Creation. This mix is $5.50!

Holiday Lucky Lottery Ticket Scratchers (in your choice of Winter Wonderland or Red and Green- you can also choose to add a magnet or not). These scratchers would go great paired with some fun scratch-off lottery tickets for that hard to buy for person. Who knows? Maybe they'll win some extra cash! These scratchers sell for $3.50 from the Etsy Shop Clay Creations by Nat Marie.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Men & Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud

Men and Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud

Review by Lauren

source: book sent for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: A brilliant collection of photographs that brings together two of the world's favorite things: hot men and cute kittens.

Based on the chic French Tumblr Des Hommes et des Chatons, Men & Cats presents an original collection of 50 pairs of sexy men and adorable cats. Each clever match-up shows a heartthrob posing alongside a cat in a similar pose or with a similar expression. Not sure if you want to look at sexy men or cute cats? With this book, you don't have to choose.

Review: Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow American readers! I figured no matter where you live, most of us can agree that men and cats are some adorable creatures. Now put them together, and we have something amazing! Gatuingt and Chaygneaud are two women from Paris, France who created the Tumblr Des Hommes et des Chatons and that is how this book was created. If you're looking for something intellectual, then this won't be for you - but if you want something fun and cute to look at, then you are in the right place!

Each spread of pages are set up the same, with a picture of a very good looking man on the left and adorable cat on the right, both of them with similar poses! Some of these pictures are really amusing when it comes to showing how similar the cats and men seem to be posing, while others have a little leeway. Regardless, these are some great photographs and it was fun flipping through this book. It's almost like a coffee table book, as it's just the photographs and no text, except it's in a much smaller size. Perfect for packing along to a girl's night or to gift to a friend!

The style of the book is nice because while the cover is in black and white, not all the pictures are! Plus, all the pages have a bit of a silky feel. I never know how to explain this, but it makes the book feel more meaningful and something you want to keep in good condition. Overall, I enjoyed this one! Know anyone getting married soon? This might be a fun gift beforehand!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life by Lea Michele

You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life by Lea Michele

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from BloggingForBooks; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In Brunette Ambition, Lea Michele shared a lot of the secrets and stories behind her success, and how she manages to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle despite her hectic schedule. Now, in her second book, she will teach readers how they, too, can be their best selves. In Lea's opinion, keeping a journal and asking yourself the hard questions about what you want out of life is the best way to achieve your dreams, so she has outlined a series of exercises, prompts, and lists based on her own personal program. Lea's guided journal will address all the topics she wrote about in Brunette Ambition, including fitness, diet, work, school, and relationships, but with all-new material to help readers reach their goals. Peppered between the advice and exercises will be fun personal anecdotes from Lea to motivate and inspire readers to put themselves first and live their best life.

Review: I've been a fan of Lea since I started watching the show Glee. Nowadays I still think she is a fantastic woman and I'm excited for all the new things she does - from her solo album, to her book Brunette Ambition, and now her guided journal. I used to journal all the time when I was younger but now I just don't have the the energy for it. I like the idea of a journal though, so it's nice to see Lea's because it's guided throughout!

I have not used the actual journal in terms of writing, but I did go through and read everything in it. It's almost like a mini book from Lea because she opens up each section as well as shares tips and anecdotes between all of the journal sections. As for the actual journal, there are questions throughout the book that relates to particular topics (ambition, fitness, etc.) and your job is to go through and answer them. Some questions are related to little challenges Lea gives you, especially the ones about fitness and eating healthy. However, there are some questions that you are just meant to think about and keep note of your answers, like the relationship questions (friendship, romantic, and colleagues).

I appreciated that Lea mentions throughout that this journal is not only about you, but also for you. Don't be embarrassed or scared to share your true thoughts and opinions because you do not need to share this with anyone else. Another aspect of the book I really like is the actual style of the book. If you look at the cover photo above, you can see that the title and Lea's photo is not covering the entire page. On the actual book, this slips off so you are left with a pretty purple book that says You First, and that's it! With the size and shape of the book it now looks like a regular, yet really cute, journal! I like that it's a bit more private now without the slip cover and that readers are given the option to take it off so they can tote their journal around wherever they wish!

Thank you so much to BloggingForBooks for allowing me to read and review Lea's guided journal. This would be a fantastic graduation gift. I'd also recommend it for the holidays coming up as the New Year is fast approaching and that's always a nice time to look at your life and see what you want to change, add, or adjust!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Look at Book Art: Nine Products to View

Last week I had a discussion post about whether or not you liked art fashioned from books. This was inspired by the book Found at the Library by Christie Snow. Today, I am going to share some book art I have found online that I think is pretty awesome!

Harry Potter coasters made from the book's pictures - you can buy these for $29.99

Folded Book Paper Tea Cup - you can buy this for $22.00

Book Lamp (Made from Books Red Clay Theme Upcycled from Vintage Books) - you can buy this for $150.00

Sherlock Holmes Book Bag  - you can buy this for $78.41

Paper Flower Wreath (Made from Recycled Book Pages) - you can buy this for $65.00

Alternative Christmas Tree Decoration Made from Books - you can buy this for $25.00

Personalized Name Cut from Vintage Comic Books - you can buy this for $39.60 +

Paper Flower Boutonniere (Made from Vintage Book Pages) - you can buy this for $15.00

Wicked Recycled Book Bracelet (the bracelet is made from the book Wicked; other books available too) - you can buy this for $29.00


Would you purchase any of the above items? Do you own any book art already? Please share your thoughts!