Friday, August 29, 2014

Local Flavor Swap Reveal

Local Flavor Swap Reveal

Hosts: Chaotic Goddess Swaps

My swap partner was Jennifer from J's and Z: Haas, Party of 3. 

I sent her a package of goodies that represented KY and Ohio, since I live on the border, while Jennifer sent me items she felt represented her home state of Oklahoma.

All of the items I received can be seen in the photo above. The very top item is a red and white scarf (for the OU colors). Definitely good for the fall!

I'm excited about the t-shirt, in particular, because I love wearing them and I have a few from various places I've visited or people I know have been too such as NYC, Arizona, etc.

She included the BBQ sauce because I guess Oklahoma summers are full of them, and this is her favorite sauce.

Thanks to everyone who made this swap possible! I can't wait for the next one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Graphic Review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods- Stories by Emily Carroll

Review by Lauren

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

Official Summary: Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page

Review: When I was randomly sent a copy of Through the Woods to review, I was excited because I love finding new graphic novels - or in this case, graphic short stories - to check out. I hadn't heard of Emily Carroll before, but after diving into her creepy little tales, I am definitely calling myself a fan.

First off, the artwork in this collection is simply beautiful. The people have an animated/cartoon look as opposed to extremely realistic, but it works, as these are definitely fairy tales gone wrong. The color red is prominent throughout the stories and it really highlights the madness within each one.

As for the actual stories themselves, I think it's impossible for me to choose one favorite. All of them have a haunting feel that leaves you slightly scared and wondering about the character's ultimate fate. None of these tales leave you with a concrete ending, which makes sense with the short story format. It also adds more spookiness to everything, though. If we knew what transpired after the story ended, it would ruin the wonder of it all. Though I said I couldn't pick a favorite among these five stories, I do think "A Lady's Hands Are Cold" is definitely up there as among the best. It almost feels inspired by Edgar Allan Poe in a way.

To showcase what you can except from Carroll, I decided to share a page from "A Lady's Hands..." (I do not own the image).

Overall, I am definitely glad that I was given the chance to read Carroll's work and I suggest many of you to give it a shot too. This would be great for Halloween; which is fast approaching! I will certainly check out anything else Emily Carroll publishes in the future!

I read this for the graphic novel book challenge

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Star Match Up- Cat Eyes and Skinny Jeans/The Bookish Manicurist

I figured it was about time that I presented you with another of my new features - Star Match. In case you don't remember, this is where I will match up at least two blogs that I feel would be good matches for each other. I know some of you might already reach each others blogs, so if I match you up with someone you know, I apologize, but hopefully some people will find new places to check out! I also wanted to let everyone know that I will be in Nashville from today to Sunday- so I'll comment back when I'm home again!

1. Cat Eyes and Skinny Jeans (Erika)

Blog -

2. The Bookish Manicurist (Mands)


Star Match- I match these two blogs mostly because of their love of nail polish. Every Monday, Erika has a Manicure Monday post where she shows off at least one new nail polish color. I've learned a lot about what polishes are worth buying from Erika and I love seeing her test the sets so I don't buy something that might not be up to par.

As for Mands, she mixes book reviews with manicures. With certain titles, Mands will include a manicure that she does herself that somehow represents the books' cover. How cool, right?! While Erika might not include many book things on her blog, she is a fan of reading (as I can tell from her many comments on my own blog). Therefore, I think Mands and Erika could really bond over their mutual love of books and polish!

A recent Erika post: mark Nail This Look Nail Lacquer and Bracelet Set Review

A recent Mands post: Trouble by Non Pratt book review and manicure

What do you think? Do you agree that this is a Star Match? Would you want to be matched up with anther blog in the future?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bunbury and Buckle Up: Yum, Yum, Food!

You didn't think I was finished sharing Bunbury and Buckle Up posts, did you? For anyone that's new, these are two music festivals that took place last month in Cincinnati, Ohio. Today's post is going to be all about the FOOD that I found at both these festivals and what you can probably expect if you were to attend next year.

First, we have Island Noodles that was available at both festivals. You can get just the noodles, or you can add chicken. My family always added the chicken, and mm mm is it good! My sister and I shared a carton at Bunbury and my mom and I actually got the noodles a couple time at Buckle Up. It's a nice, more substantial "meal" for the festivals.

All Natural Chill: Shaved Ice Bar was only available at Bunbury, which was upsetting because I really wanted to try it out again at Buckle Up. This shaved ice was so yummy, very refreshing, and full of flavor. It was probably the best shaved ice I've had in awhile. My sister and I shared the cup in the photo above. I believe it was a strawberry/lemonade mix. Best thing about this little food car is that it's from Cincinnati - they even offer their services for parties!

I tried to take photos of as many of the food options as I could, even if I didn't personally buy anything at the festivals from them. For the photos above, you see that we had Chipotle and Moerlein (beer brewed in Cincinnati) available at Bunbury. Chipotle was selling tacos for a fairly good price, I thought. I think it was about  two tacos for $5. Festival food can get expensive, so it was nice to see!

Bistro De Mohr was a food truck that sold farm fresh food. My sister and I got cheeseburgers from them on Saturday night at Bunbury. I don't really eat a lot of burgers, but these were quite good. The truck is based out of Ohio, which is also exciting! Not all the food options are local to the area, after all.

I was never able to try Street Pops, but I saw many people did. It was a tiny stand that sold great sounding popsicles! I wish I could have tried them, as they were at both festivals. This is another Cincinnati food item, and they even have their own shop to visit as well as going out to events to directly meet the people. Hopefully that means I can try them soon!

One of my favorite food finds at Bunbury this year was Cincinnati-area Jenny's Homemade Cookies. I was so excited to see that they were back the next week at Buckle Up too. My sister and I tried one of the cookies at Bunbury (chocolate chip I believe) and my mom and I got a couple the next week at Buckle Up. They have a variety of flavors (white chocolate macadamia that my mom loved and s'mores that I thought was pretty good, etc.) so there is sure to be something you love! If you're not from Cincy, you can visit the website to see how to order online!

I do like Dojo Gelato! I tried them last year at Bunbury and really enjoyed the ice cream type snack. Definitely good to have when it's so hot out! This food truck was also available at Bunbury this year.

Both Bunbury and Buckle Up presented Friendly's Catering where you could go and get a variety of food. I tried to get a picture of some of what they offered on the left above. On the right, we have the bloomin' onion that my sister got at Bunbury. I didn't really like it, but she thought it was fairly good. It was a bit difficult to cut into. A lady at Bunbury saw us holding the bloomin' onion and referred to Friendly's Catering as "carnival food", which is fairly accurate! At Buckle Up, I tried the funnel cake and really liked it. My mom got some kind of sandwich, but I'm afraid I don't remember the name. She did like it though.

Taste of Belgium is from Cincinnati and they offered some of their famous items at both festivals (I believe) and Dippin Dots ice cream could be found at Buckle Up.

Tom and Chee is a grilled cheese place from Newport, KY that offers up all sorts of unique grilled cheese stylings. They were available at Buckle Up, as was Roll With It Cafe that offered sandwiches and fresh cut fries. I didn't try either of these, but again, I wanted to share the variety of food available at the two festivals.


And there you have it, a pretty varied look at the food options that were available at Bunbury and/or Buckle Up music festivals! I hope some of you will think about going to one of these festivals next year; they are lots of fun! I have a couple more posts to go, so keep an eye out.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin

Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Champion of the mystery section at a small-town Minnesota library, Karen Nash is about to embark on a dream trip to London—a literary tour inspired by every murderous intrigue, wily suspect, and ingenious crime found in the pages of the British mysteries that she devours. But she’s clueless why the love of her mid-life, Dave, would dump her hours before takeoff—until she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm! She decides the best revenge (for now) is to get on that plane anyway...and entertain schemes for Dave’s untimely demise while crossing the pond.

After touching ground in the hallowed homeland of Christie, Sayers, and Peters, she checks into a cozy B & B run by charming bibliophile Caldwell Perkins. Soon she’s spilling tears in her pint at the corner pub, sharing her heartbreak saga with a stranger. That night, a B & B guest drops out of circulation—permanently. And when Dave and his cutie turn up in London, Karen realizes they are an assassin’s target. With the meticulous attention to detail that makes her a killer librarian, Karen sleuths her way through her own real-life mystery—in which library science meets the art of murder.

Review: This won't be a very long review, because to be honest, I wasn't really a fan of the novel. I've been wanting to read more cozy mysteries and I thought this one sounded fun since I work at a library and I love all things England. There were aspects of the book that I found interesting, especially since I want to visit England someday. There is also a bit of a romance, which was cute. I'd love an English boy who adores books too!

However, the actual mystery kind of ruined it for me. I know cozy mysteries aren't as intense as other mysteries/thrillers, but I still like the guess-work and I just felt that this book didn't really deliver. Karen finds herself mixed up in the possible murder of a B and B guest, but she wasn't much of a detective. Plus, once the big reveals came about, everything seemed a little lukewarm. It wasn't nearly as exciting or shocking as I would have wished.

I'm still excited to check out more cozy mysteries though. This just wasn't the best fit for me, in the end!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Maybe This Time by A.M. Arthur

Maybe This Time by A.M. Arthur

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: As a regular at gay hotspot Pot O Gold, Ezra Kelley avoids his tangled emotions with the simplicity of one-night stands and attachment-free hookups. Until the night bartender Donner Davis picks him up off the floor after a misunderstanding and too much tequila. Ezra can't remember the last time someone was…nice. It's more than he deserves.

Witnessing his lover's death two years ago has Donner trapped in a holding pattern—living in his sister's basement, working at the Pot and flirting with the customers. He's not above spending a night with the gorgeous Ezra, but love is not in the cards. That's more than he's ready for.

A passionate night leads to a connection neither man expects, and they take the first steps to something that looks like a real relationship. But Ezra's been running from himself so long he doesn't know how to live any other way. And Donner can't risk his heart just to lose everything again. They'll both need the strength to let go of the past if they want to get it right this time.

Review: I read and reviewed No Such Thing by A. M. Arthur, so when I noticed the companion novel on Netgalley, I was curious to check it out. For those that have read No Such Thing, the main guys in that book (Jamie and Alessandro) do appear in this one, which was nice to see. I'm finding that I enjoy companion novels more than straight up sequels these days.

As for Maybe This Time, I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this one as much as No Such Thing. Both Ezra and Donner have their respective problems to deal with and I liked seeing them open up to each other and begin to trust someone else in their lives. They definitely needed that. I could say that the romance between them went fast though. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but based on what they had been through, it seemed a bit odd that they would so quickly trust in each other. Regardless, I still enjoyed their relationship and I liked that the secondary characters had their own little stories as well. It made their world seem more real and understandable.

For those that are wary about adult romances, there are more sexual situations in this one than No Such Thing. Overall, it fit the characters, so I didn't really mind. There were some moments where I felt it was too much though, and I would have rather read about other aspects of their relationship.

In all, I liked Maybe This Time, but I didn't love it. I thought the characters were well done and I truly felt bad for some of the things they had to deal with, such as Ezra's parents not truly accepting that he is gay. I think people should start with No Such Thing, though, because the story comes first and I did enjoy it much more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lola and the Boy Next Door + Make it a Gift

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from the library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Review:  I finally picked up Lola, after reading and loving Anna and the French Kiss last summer. Now I can finally say I'm all set for the release of Isla this month. In case you aren't aware of this "series", all the books are companion novels. I would read them in order, but they aren't direct sequels. However, I was really excited to see Anna in Lola's story, as the two of them work at the same movie theater. I knew Anna appeared, but I didn't realize she had as much of a role as she did, so that was definitely exciting, since I loved her actual book.

For Lola's story, I did feel for her and her feelings towards Cricket. She thinks she's found a boyfriend she truly loves and being around Cricket doesn't make anything easier. Regardless, though, it's easy to see who the better guy is and you almost want to yell at Lola to grow up and open her eyes. In Anna and the French Kiss, the focus on her eventual romance with St. Clair seemed to be stronger than Lola's and Cricket's. Granted, Cricket is an important character, but I just wish I had seen more of their interactions, without so many of the obstacles in their way.

Regardless, Lola was a really fun book and I'm definitely excited to read more by Stephanie Perkins. I love that she makes the family and friends in Lola's life just as important as the romance. Lola has two dads, which is totally not a problem, but her biological mom does play a big role in her life because she's constantly doing drugs and getting into trouble. This aspect of the book just gives you another layer to Lola's life, which was exciting! Lola and the Boy Next Door is a romance, but it's also about growing up and believing in yourself.

Make it a Gift

If you wish to gift Lola and the Boy Next Door, I recommend adding the Lolita Lempicka perfume. It matches the cover well, plus Lolita makes me think of Lola, especially because her boyfriend calls her that sometimes (granted, it's because she's younger than him and he's referencing the novel Lolita). I think this would be a cute gift, and you can get it from Overstock right now for $34.99.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Talk Dirty to Me by Dakota Cassidy + Song Picks

Talk Dirty to Me by Dakota Cassidy

Review by Lauren

Source: bought a copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Former mean girl Dixie Davis is back in town and it's payback time. Literally. Dixie is flat broke and her best—make that only—friend, Landon, is throwing her a lifeline from the Great Beyond. Dixie stands to inherit his business…if she meets a few conditions:

She's got to live in Landon's mansion.

With her gorgeous ex-fiancé, Caine Donovan.

Who could also inherit the business.

Review:  I've read a couple books by Cassidy, but never a contemporary novel. This one just further proves that I need to read more by her though because she definitely knows how to write a fun, sexy, and humorous novel. Talk Dirty to Me is the first (plus a prequel) in a three-part series, except each book is a contemporary novel. I'd still recommend reading them in order of course. Reading reviews of this one convinced me to buy a copy, and then I ended up buying the other two books before ever starting Talk Dirty to Me. I think I made a good choice though, as I'm excited to start the next book soon.

As for Talk Dirty to Me, Dixie Davis is a mean girl who wants to right her wrongs, except going back to her small hometown and facing the mean looks and comments is still going to be difficult. This is especially true since her best friend ever, Landon, has recently passed. However, Landon is very much a character in this novel because he orchestrates a competition to see who will win his very successful sex-phone company (yes, you read that right!). Of course, the competitors are Dixie and her ex-fiance, Caine Donovan, who is none too pleased to have Dixie back in his life.

The antics that ensue are quite funny, but there are still plenty of steamy moments for those that are interested. I don't think it overtakes the novel in any way though. You still get a full story complete with a variety of wonderful characters, both good and bad. One of my favorites is Emmeline Amos, who was always treated badly by Dixie in high school. Nevertheless, Emmeline grew to care for Landon and she agrees to try and help Dixie out during her stay. This doesn't mean she refuses to stay silent on the past...Emmeline is good at making sure Dixie remembers the wrongs she caused in the past, without being completely unfair about Dixie's desire to be a new and improved person.

Talk Dirty to Me was a quick and well-written romance, with plenty of side characters and humor to keep you stuck to the pages!

Song Picks:

And now, a couple songs (both by Kelly Clarkson) that I felt fit Dixie and Caine. Both videos have the complete lyrics!

"Honestly" by Kelly Clarkson

I felt this was a good choice for Dixie. It makes me think of her new attitude and how she understands that people might not like her, but she wants the chance to apologize anyway. It also seems to fit the idea that Dixie thinks Caine is too good for her.

"Would you face me?
Make me listen to the truth even if it breaks me?
You can judge me, love me
If you’re hating me, do it honestly"

 "I Forgive You" by Kelly Clarkson

This song fits both Dixie and Caine. They were young when they first fell in love and now they have to learn to forgive themselves and each other for everything that went wrong. This song was actually in mind for most of the book while I was reading. Both Dixie and Caine could be singing this one to each other.

"I forgive you
We were just a couple of kids
Trying to figure out how to live doing it our way
No shame, no blame
'Cause the damage is done
And, and I forgive you"

Friday, August 8, 2014

Deadly Errors by Allen Wyler Giveaway (Open to All)

Deadly Odds is the next novel to be released by Allen Wyler. According to Amazon, it comes out on October 15, 2014.

To prepare you for that release, however, the publishers want to give away a copy of Deadly Errors!

Summary: A comatose man is given a fatal dose of insulin in the emergency room, even though he isn't diabetic. An ulcer patient dies of shock after receiving a transfusion of the wrong blood type. A recovering heart patient receives a double dose of medication and suffers a fatal heart attack.

Brain surgeon Dr. Tyler Matthews suspects that something is seriously wrong with the hospital’s new “Med-InDx” computerized medical record system. But he doesn’t suspect that there’s something murderously wrong with it.

As Matthews begins to peel back the layers of deception that cover the deadly errors, he crosses powerful corporate interests who aren’t about to let their multi-billion dollar medical record profits evaporate. 

Now a target, Matthews finds himself trapped in a maze of deadly conspiracy, with his career, his marriage, and his very life on the line.


If you want to win your own copy of Deadly Errors by Allen Wyler, just leave a comment below with the reason why!

Open to everyone - U.S. and Canada can get a print copy; international entrants can only receive an e-book.

Giveaway will end Thursday, August 28th at 11:59 p.m. I will email the winner, so please leave your email in the comment or have it easy to find on your profile/blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

Review by Lauren

Source: netgalley, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: The Isobel Journal is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'.

Review: The Isobel Journal was something I read online, but I would have rather seen in person. Each section focuses on different aspects of Isobel's life. These are full of mainly little stories about her life, or personal thoughts she has about certain subjects. I found the illustrations to be cute and a bit whimsical, and I definitely related to certain things that Isobel wrote about.

This is definitely not a suitable book for everyone, because it doesn't really read like a narrative story. There isn't a cohesive story that runs from beginning to end. Instead, it really does feel like opening up someone's journal/sketchbook and taking a peek. This is my main reason for wanting the book in print, because I think it would be more enjoyable that way. As an e-book, it tends to go a bit too fast and it's harder to truly capture the images.

As far as I can tell, the book is based on the author's life. I assume this mainly because the name's are the same, and since it reads so much like an actual journal, it would make sense.

I did want to share a couple images from the book that I found online, though, because they are ones that I found I could relate too in various ways:

I really like 90's groups in general. I grew up on that music!
Some days, I tell you...haha
In all, this was a cute book and I could see younger teens enjoying it, especially if they journal or sketch themselves.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith 

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days-as he has done before-and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives-meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

Review: Private detective Cormoran Strike is back in Robert Galbraith's second novel (again, for those that are unaware, Galbraith is J.K. Rowling) and the series just keeps getting better. The focus of this novel is on Owen Quine, an author who hasn't received very much success. However, his latest work puts the people in his life under an unfavorable light, including his editor and own wife. This book would cause a lot of drama and unleash various secrets if it were ever published, which Quine obviously wants. However, he goes missing (and is later found murdered) before this can ever happen.

What I loved about The Cuckoo's Calling (the first Strike novel) and now The Silkworm is the variety of characters, and suspects, throughout the book. For Quine, many people disliked him and would have reason to wish him out of the way. But who would really murder this man in such a brutal fashion? (and there are some gory details throughout the book!) Obviously someone that hates him a great deal. The suspects in the novel are varied and interesting. I honestly couldn't figure out who did it until the moment was revealed. I loved that Galbraith included various clues and things to think about throughout the novel. Not all of these will be noticeable until the culprit is revealed, but knowing them makes you want to go back and read the book with a new awareness.

Apart from the suspects, there are many characters that felt fairly well-rounded. They might not get a lot of page time, but what you see and learn of them makes them seem real. I love good characterization in almost any novel and it's particularly great to see in a mystery novel. Galbraith does not push the characters aside in order to focus on the suspense and thrills. Instead, the two are seamlessly mixed together.

Of course, I could go on and on about the book but I honestly feel you should experience most of this for yourself. The Cuckoo's Calling is the first novel, but nothing is ruined if you read The Silkworm first. However, I would recommend going in order to really get to know Strike and Robin, the young woman who comes to work as a secretary and finds herself fascinated by his work. I can't say I blame her, after all, since I found myself just as mesmerized reading about the case!

I hope we don't have to wait long for a third novel in this series!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Shooting Thoughts: Expanding Your Blog

I figured it was about time for another discussion post! Today's topic is all about expanding your blog. I've been blogging for about seven years now, I'd say, and I've gone from doing just music to focusing on all sorts of topics. My main focus is entertainment, but I also like to mix things up and include products and other types of posts. It keeps things fresh for myself, and hopefully for those of you that read my blog on a regular basis.

So my question for you all this weekend: How do you keep your blog fresh and/or if you could expand your blog, what would you want to include?

A lot of the people I follow are strictly book blogs, but I know people have other interests. It's fun to see the blogs that try and mix those in, such as using music (Novel Sounds, etc) or food (Caffeinated Book Reviewer, etc.) I love books, but I also like music, movies, plays, crafts, and more, so I do what I can to keep things different and hopefully exciting.

I'm sure many bloggers have a main topic for their blog and I'm sure they are worried about changing things up, because they don't want to alienate readers. However, I think you have to remember that blogging should first and foremost be for you. If you aren't happy, or feel stuck in a rut, then you should try and mix things up. I'm not saying change your book blog to a beauty blog or vice versa, but how about mixing the two? You're sure to keep old readers with similar posts and hopefully interest them in your new posts well as garner more interest from others! It might not work for every reader, but overall, it's a win-win situation I think.