Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Pre-Order Campaign for Wildly Into the Dark: Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind

Author Tyler Knott Gregson is doing a fun pre-order campaign for his upcoming book Wildly Into the Dark: Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind. The first 1,000 people to pre-order the book and submit their information here will get a free, signed print from the author! Unfortunately, the pre-order perk is only available to U.S. residents due to shipping costs.

However, another great part of this pre-order campaign is that for every pre-ordered book sold, $1 will go to the charity To Write Love On Her Arms. This charity is a great support for those dealing with addiction, depression, self-harm, etc. I highly recommend thinking about pre-ordering this book, regardless of where you are located, because it benefits a really amazing charity that does great work.

Wildly Into the Dark comes out on March 28, 2017 so you have a month to pre-order!

For more information, and links on where to order, please visit Tyler's website.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Top 5 Favorites on Friday: New Link Up + Giveaway

I missed last Friday's link ups, so these are my Top 5 Favorites from the previous two weeks. First off, I have to say that I loved having Monday off for President's Day. I work at a college, so we get days like that off, and it's always nice to recharge a bit. I got a lot of reviews and posts written/scheduled so that's always a good thing! Sometimes I feel like I'm always behind.

Number 1: Santa Clarita Diet

I'm usually pretty bad when it comes to new Netflix shows, which means even if I want to watch it, I don't really make the time. However, I ended up watching the entire first season of Santa Clarita Diet in about a week. My sister and a friend came over one Saturday and we watched half of the season, so the next Saturday (this past weekend), we all got together again and finished it.

Each episode is about 28 minutes, so it's a quick watch! At any rate, I LOVED it. I thought it was hilarious, but definitely be aware of all the gore. There is a lot of ripped apart bodies and blood, so if that's too much for you, you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, have at it! I really hope there will be a second season. I'm sure there will be though because it seems to be doing really well.

Number 2: Holiday Washi Tape

I love Washi Tape. I've used it for various cards and scrapbooks before, but this is the first year I've gotten a planner that I could really decorate and have fun with. Therefore, I've been using a lot of washi tape to brighten up my pages. I used some from a friend at work and then on a recent trip to Michael's, I found this whole box of holiday themed washi tape for just 10 DOLLARS! Can you believe it? I had to get it! I'll be sharing with my sister, and I even let another friend from work use some of it too. I mean, I'm certainly not going to use it all, so why not share the love?

Number 3: February BookCase.Club Subscription Box

I was sent a February box from BookCase.Club for free - though all opinions are always my own -and I wanted to show off the two titles that I got. I love this subscription box because you get to choose the genre or age level of the books you want. I went with the Thrill Seeker Case, which means I get two mystery/thriller books that were hand chosen by those at BookCase.Club. My suggestion for this box is to go with a genre you haven't read much of, or don't own many books in, because these aren't necessarily new reads. I love mystery books but that doesn't mean I've read all the popular ones out there and so far, I've always gotten books that I've never read before. There are plenty of boxes you can choose from here - some include sci-fi/fantasy, young adult, romance, cookbooks, and more!

As you can see from the photo, I was sent The Confabulist by Steven Galloway and From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins. Each title is linked to Goodreads - let me know which book you think I should read and review first! I'll try and do so by the end of March!

ETA: Want to subscribe? Use code Star15 to get 15% off your first month's subscription!!

Number 4: Glossies Made Me Do It Link Up!

Glossies Made Me Do It is a blog feature that I've done for the past two months with the lovely Erika and Ashley. The idea is that you take a magazine you subscribe to - or just read every month - and find something you want to actually do from it. See a movie they mention? Read a book they review? Try a makeup product or look? Do a recipe? Whatever you want! We do a mix of things and share them on the First Friday of Every Month. That means that the March feature will be next Friday, March 3.

What we've decided is to add a link up! That means we want other bloggers to do this feature with us and link up every month. The link up will be open for a couple weeks or so, that way everyone has time to get a magazine and work on something - especially if you don't currently subscribe and get the magazines early like the three of us do! I hope you'll join us! Add it to your calendar!

Number 5: Oprah Magazine Subscription Giveaway! 

In honor of Glossies Made Me Do It and the new link up, I've decided to give TWO U.S. winners a subscription to O Magazine. This is a magazine that I subscribe to and love reading every single month. It always has a mix of information and articles -beauty to books to food - so it's good for almost anyone. I was sent a renewal card in the mail to continue my subscription and with it, I can gift TWO free subscriptions, which is how I'm doing this giveaway. I'm not responsible for anything going wrong with the subscription, etc. Once I put in your information on the card, it's out of my hands. I don't think anything will go wrong, but I have to put a disclaimer! Now let's get entering!!!

Giveaway ends Wednesday, March 8th (U.S. only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm linking up with the following blogs this week-

Friday Favorites- http://meetat-thebarre.com/
High Five for Friday- http://www.ktcupoftea.com/
Friday Favorites- http://tabanderika.blogspot.com/ 
Oh Hey, Friday- http://www.farmerswifeamy.com/
Five on Friday- http://www.northcarolinacharm.com/

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dual Review: Peter Darling + When Did 30 Become A Big Deal?

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

Review: At 164 pages, Peter Darling is between a novella and a novel for me. While I would have loved to have more of the story - since I really loved it - I do think it works at its length since Peter Pan and Captain Hook have a lot of history already.

What I absolutely adore about this retelling is that Peter Pan is actually Wendy Darling. In Wendy's world, he knows he is a boy, but in the time he lives in, nobody else understands. He goes to Neverland as a child and loves it, since he's now in the body of a boy - newly named Peter Pan. He goes back home for ten years but in Peter Darling, he is back and determined to live the rest of his life in Neverland and as Peter.

Peter is still a fierce character in Chant's version. He likes to fight and wants to go after the pirates, especially Captain Hook, even though the Lost Boys have a new leader and are currently living in peace. The eventual relationship between Peter and Hook is done well, without moving too fast. Like I said before, they have a lot of history already, and in Peter Darling, there is a moment where they are trapped together, allowing them to get to see other sides of each other instead of the caricatures they saw each other as: Peter as the troublesome boy and Hook as the villainous pirate. The relationship between these two reveals that Peter is not only transgender, but he's also gay, which adds even more diversity to the book.

Despite thinking the length works, I would have loved to have more of the story as it's quickly become a favorite of mine. In fact, I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads! There is one physical moment but it's nothing terribly graphic, so if that's something that normally deters you from certain books, don't let it keep you from reading this one! Neverland is fully imagined and I loved the side characters - from the Lost Boys to the mermaids to the fairies, including Tink! This is one for Peter Pan fans and for those that don't know the original story well!

Interested? I'm an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchase gets me a small percent. Check out the book here!

When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? by Alessandra Ebulu

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummarySanmi wakes up on the morning of his thirtieth birthday to alarming news: his best friend Bidemi reminding him of the pact they’d made when they were seven that they would marry each other should they still be single when they turn thirty. He brushes it off as a joke, but then Bidemi, whom he always thought was straight, begins to court him…

Review: When it comes to LGBT+ fiction, I really love the whole friends to lovers trope. When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? is a short novel that focuses on just that. Sanmi has just turned thirty and his best friend for 20 years, Bidemi, reminds him of the pact they made as kids. If neither of them were married by age 30, they would marry each other. Sanmi assumes Bidemi is messing with him, since he's never got the inkling that Bidemi is gay. But Bidemi is completely serious and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that Sanmi sees him in a new light.

One of the things that I LOVED about this book is that it's set in Nigeria, so being out and open about homosexuality isn't safe. It's also exciting to read a book set in a different country, especially one I don't think I've ever read about. Sanmi and Bidemi are great friends and it was fun seeing the two of them grow closer in a new way. This isn't a gay-for-you novel, though I don't always mind those, in case you are worried about that particular trope.

There were a variety of side characters that really added to the story, like Sanmi's other best friend from work and both of the boy's parents. All of them are pretty supportive about Sanmi's sexuality and they don't seem to mind the idea of Sanmi settling down with his best friend.

This was a short and sweet novel, with some added humor, which is always a plus!

Interested? Check it out on Amazon here (I'm an affiliate: I get a small percent of any sale)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

River Road by Carol Goodman

River Road by Carol Goodman

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryNan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a state university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party after finding out she’s been denied tenure. On her way, she hits a deer, but when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is nowhere to be found. Eager to get home and out of the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year—and the lowest point of her life…

The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before. And because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the death of Nan’s own daughter, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.

As she begins to dig further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, is hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her reputation is destroyed for good?

Review: I'm not really sure why, but I often enjoy books set on or around a university, as does River Road. As the summary above states, creative writing professor Nan Lewis hits a deer coming back from the holiday faculty party one night. She gets out but doesn't see the deer anywhere. The next morning, she finds out that one of her students, Leia Dawson has been killed in a hit and run and Nan is suddenly one of the suspects, as her car looks suspiciously like she hit a person.

River Road was a fascinating mystery, definitely full of suspense and a little chill. Nan Lewis is a character that you can definitely feel sorry for, as she lost her own daughter years before in a hit and run. She's not doing so well with her life at the time of the accident, but she's a good person and she is obviously distraught over the death of Leia, who she always saw going on to do great things. The town easily turns against Nan, believing her to have run Leia down and leaving her to die in the snow. Strange "tokens" are being left at the death site, making Nan wonder if Leia's death is related to her own daughter's death.

I won't say more as I never want to spoil a book. These details already shared are revealed in the summary or early on in the novel. I would definitely recommend this one. If you're still dealing with snow and cold weather, this is certainly an appropriate book to cozy up with. Not because it is cozy, by all means, but because the weather will perfectly mimic the book.

I will say though that I figured out the culprit about halfway through the book. There is a moment that occurs and I was suddenly thinking "It has to be this person" and I ended up being correct. That doesn't mean everyone will correctly guess the culprit, or that it's a big deal even, since there are other secrets and reveals that occur throughout the book to keep things interesting and mysterious!

Interested in reading? I'm an Amazon Affiliate - I get a small percent of any sale. Check out the book here! Check it out as an e-book here!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spend All Day in Bed With Books!

While my weather is being very weird lately - going from nice to really cold - it's still usually cold enough to want a day in just relaxing and not worrying about anything important. As a big reader, this would obviously include lots and lots of books. Before we get there, let us set the scene. I would probably be lounging in bed, with really soft pillows keeping me propped enough, so that I can read more easier. I don't know about you, but holding up books while lying in bed is quite a workout on the arms, so I'd like to lessen this a bit so I can keep on reading for hours. Next I'll be snuggled under a variety of blankets to keep me warm and cozy. I tend to sleep with at least three blankets, so I'd probably have about that many for my day in! Then I would definitely have my dog lying next to me add a little extra warmth and love. She loves to cuddle up with people and she's a big sleeper, so I'm sure she'd be right next to me, dozing away, while I enjoy my day in bed. Now that I've set the scene a bit, let us get back to those books!

My sleepy dog Luana
I'm happy to read almost anything, but if I'm looking for a relaxing day in, I might go with something light or funny. I've read one book by Jen Lancaster but I own a few more and this would be the perfect time to dive in. They are real life stories that are sure to make me giggle and pass the time with ease. I could always add in some old favorites too, if I want a break from funny for a bit. Harry Potter is my all-time favorite series, and going through one of those books might be a fun way to pass some time. I doubt I'd get a whole book read in a day, but it would be enjoyable to dive back into Harry and Company's story. I highly recommend the illustrated version for a day in as well because it adds a little something extra to these classic stories. I've read the first one already, so I might have to grab the illustrated Chamber of Secrets. I think a mix of childhood classics and breezy, funny reads would be perfect for a relaxing day in bed. 

Despite currently on a diet plan, I'm sure I could still find some yummy goodies to snack on while reading, so I don't have to get out of bed for long. Some quick ideas would be popcorn or apple slices and peanut butter. They are both relatively light snacks that will keep you going while you rest and read. Sounds like a perfect day! What about you? How would you spend a day lying in bed? Would you break out a book, nap, watch a favorite movie, or do something else? Let me know in the comments! 

*I was given the idea for this post by Leesa, an online mattress company - check out their Giving Back page - but all thoughts are my own and I was not compensated for writing. And if you’re on the market for a mattress, you can read about a few kinds here*

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference - Want to read/review?

Happy Sunday! How was your weekend? Do anything fun?

I'm currently working on a blog tour of sorts for Brent Hartinger. There aren't set dates you have to post, but we are looking for people to read/review Brent's next LGBT+ novel, The Otto Digmore Difference. If you've read his Russel Middlebrook series, then you will recognize Otto's name. Don't worry, you don't have to have read the other books to read this one. It's the start of a new series. We do have previous books available if you feel the need to check any of them out.

Brent has various e-copies of the book available, so if you are interested, please let me know and what format you would need the book in! While there aren't set dates for posting, we'd love to have things go up in March since the book comes out next week.

I have a list of emails already of bloggers who would like to know about future blog tours for LGBT+ novels. If you want to be added, please let me know! You are never obligated to help with any book. I just want a list of people who I know are interested in at least LGBT+ novels.

For more on the book, the official summary is below:

“Road trip!” 

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success. 

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time. 

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie. 

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend. 

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

StyleWe: Buying Fashion Online

I was recently contacted by StyleWe, an online shop for women's clothing and more, about doing a sponsored post and I eagerly accepted (all opinions are still my own)! Despite what people may think, I actually do love clothes. I just tend to have a hard time finding things I like that actually look good on me. Since I'm on my current diet program, I am really excited to see what types of clothes I'll actually be able to wear in the future. It doesn't hurt to window shop now either!

Let's start with rompers. There are currently a couple of rompers on sale right now. I love rompers. I think they are a lot of fun to wear during the summer, and isn't the above photo adorable?  It's the perfect picnic in the park outfit, don't you think? I got one romper last year and I loved it so I'm excited to venture out again and see what else I can find. I'd love something with a fun pattern.

I don't have any formal events coming up, but I'd be excited to wear many of these blue party dresses for a wedding or night out on the town! I love the dress above; the blue is bright and fun but it's still sophisticated. I think the website has a lot of options for prom dresses too, if you happen to know any girls looking for one!

And now we have the sexy party dresses. I like that the website has a varying idea of what sexy means. You could even find a dance dress from this collection, like the one I show above. I can see a lot of teens wearing this to a dance. Can't you?

I think StyleWe has a nice variety of options from rompers to dresses to skirts to sweaters to much, much more! You also get free shipping if you spend $60 or more, which isn't bad at all!

What would you get from StyleWe? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it's mostly about sex. 

No, it isn't that kind of theory. Aki already knows she's bisexual—even if, until now, it's mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too. 

Actually, Aki's theory is that she's got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she's got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It's time for her to actually do something. Or at least try. 

So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing. 

But it's not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you're in love? It's going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love.

ReviewAki is pretty sure she's bisexual but she's only ever kissed boys. Only her best friend Lori even knows she feels this way. When the two girls join their local church on a mission trip to Mexico, they both decide to make the summer one worth remembering by having a fling. Aki doesn't count on meeting Christa, a very pretty girl that Aki thinks is way too cool for her, until Christa makes it obvious she's interested in Aki too. The two begin getting to know each other, mostly in secret, as neither of them are out. Plus, Aki has her older brother and father on the trip and she definitely doesn't want them know. For awhile, Lori is the only one privy to the details of Aki's burgeoning summer romance with a girl. 

I've read Talley's first two books and loved them so I was really excited to read this book, since it seemed all about coming to terms with your sexuality and not just gay/straight, but bisexualiyt. There aren't that many YA novels that focus on being bi so it's exciting to come across one done so well. The setting of Mexico was used well, allowing these girls a place to escape normal life and get to know one another from the usual pressures of being a teen. I appreciated that Talley was matter of fact about the sexual aspects of their relationship, as it makes it a responsible read for real life teens. Despite the focus on safety, it's still a romantic and enticing read. I loved getting to know both Aki and Christa - and even when they found things they didn't love about one another, they were able to keep things moving forward. There were definitely lies or lies by omission, but nothing that was added for unneeded drama. 

One of the main things I really enjoyed about Our Own Private Universe is that it doesn't just focus on Aki and Christa. There is also Lori, Aki's best friend, who might not be the same girl Aki always knew. There is Drew, Aki's older brother, who has secrets and life-changing revelations of his own. There is Aki and Drew's father, who both are scared to talk to about important topics since he's their church's minister. They aren't sure how much religion and other personal beliefs will affect how he sees them when he discovers their various truths. Among these characters are other wonderful secondary ones who you really feel like you get to know. I'd personally love to have a book from Jake's perspective - a fellow teen on the trip who helps Aki really think about the world at large and not just the part she occupies. 

Definitely a good read. I would definitely recommend and not just for LGBT+ fans! There is much more to discover within these pages. 

Interested? Check it out on Amazon (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Show Us Your Books: A Whole Lot of LGBT+ Fiction

It's time for another round of Show Us Your Books with Steph and Jana. I'll be sharing all the books I reviewed on this blog since the last SUYB post. If you're interested in purchasing any of these books, visit the review post and check out the Amazon link (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale). 

This past month I read and reviewed a lot of LGBT+ fiction, so many of these titles fall under that "genre." Not all are though, so check them out, even if you aren't interested in LGBT+ fiction! 

Graphic Novel Series

Alias: Jessica Jones Volumes 1-4 - Review here

Picture Book and Middle Grade Fiction

When You're Sick by Coy Bowles of Zac Brown Band - Review here

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes - Review here

YA Fiction

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera - Review here

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka- Review here 

Dreadnought by April Daniels - Review here

Adult Fiction (these are all LGBT+)

Off Base by Annabeth Albert - Review here

Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood - Review here

Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox - Review here

Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt - Review here

Whiteout by Elyse Springer - Review here

As I Am by A.M. Arthur - Review here

The Only Book I Did Not Enjoy
*This is an Adult LGBT+ novel too*

Shelton in Love by Dianne Hartsock - Review here

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Galentine's Day!

Happy Galentine's Day everyone! If you aren't aware, Galentine's Day is February 13th and it's where girls celebrate the other girls in their life. Who cares if you're married, engaged, dating, or single? Today is about friendship so everyone can take part!

What are your Galentine's Day plans? Or Valentine's Day if you're celebrating tomorrow...

Love ya,


Friday, February 10, 2017

It's Friday and I'm Loving It!

After a really long January, it's crazy to me that February seems to be moving so quick. I'm not complaining though! It just means one step closer to some slightly warmer weather. I'm all about sitting on the front porch and reading a book. I can't really do that right now though. Anyway, I'm here today to talk about 5 things from the previous week that I'm loving!

1. Leave a Mark Auctions are back for 2017 and the second auction of the year ends tonight at 9 p.m. EST. I'm really proud of these auctions, and I'm so thankful for all the people that bid and spread the word and generally help support me and the authors! If you don't know, these auctions are where authors mark up (or annotate) one of their books OR someone else with fame (musician, TV star, etc.) marks up their favorite book.

Once this is complete, we auction the books off! Sometimes I choose the charity and the author agrees or I let the author choose their own charity. People bid and the highest bidder at the end donates the money, sends me proof, and the book is mailed out! It helps raise money for some great charities and the lucky winners out there get a one-of-a-kind book. By the way, annotate/mark up means they write notes in the margins. Know an author or other famous face that might want to help? Get in touch!

The current auction is for Without Trace by Simon Booker. It ends tonight at 9 p.m. EST and I'll mail this one international so ANYONE can bid/donate! Oh, and follow the blog so you are up to date on future auctions and even some fun giveaways in the works!

2.  It's been 20 years since the first Harry Potter book came out and in honor of that, they are re-releasing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the British version of the first book) in all the house colors. The photo above are all the hardback covers, but they will have paperback ones too. I am so excited about this! You can pre-order now, and for those of who do not live in Europe, you can pre-order via The Book Depository. I think I need to pre-order a book each month - when I have the money. I'm definitely getting all the hardback ones and I'd love the paperback too at some point. The books are coming out June 1, 2017. I can't wait! Who else is excited? If you had to choose ONE house, what would it be? I'm going with Slytherin!


3. I found the picture above online, but it's basically what my new crock pot looks like! I've only made one meal in it so far since I just got it this past Saturday, but I love it. The sides where you close it are very handy and keeps the lid from moving. Plus, it's just really cute. Hey, I can think my crock pot is cute, okay! Anyway, I'm doing a weight loss program through my local hospital and the recipe I made is one they gave me. I think this will really come in handy since I'm having to do a lot of meal planning to make sure I'm eating the right things. I'll be doing a post on my journey thus far if you're interested - should be up soon-ish! You can get a similar crock pot on Amazon here (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale)

4. The TV show Speechless is one that I must watch every week. I don't regularly watch a lot of TV, but I absolutely love this half-hour comedy. I highly recommend it if you aren't already watching. This Wednesday was their Valentine's Day episode and it was great, especially the story line between the mom and dad. Too adorable!

5. Finally, my happy planner! The photo above is the exact planner that I have. It's a Michael's Create 365 Happy Planner and I just love it. I spent some of this past Sunday working on mine alongside my sister (she has a different planner). I've always used planners in the past but this is the first year I got a large planner that would fit all my everyday life notes as well as blog information. I'm loving that I can decorate and have fun with it too. I'm not amazing at it, like some other people, but it doesn't matter. It's creative and fun. I might do a post sometime soon showing off some of my pages and just talking about how I use my planner. Would you be interested?

And that's it for my Friday post! I hope you enjoyed. I'll try and do these every week if I can, because it's fun to look back on the week and see what you loved or what made you happy!

Have a great weekend (and if you comment on my blog, I'll visit your blog and comment!),


Today I'm linking up at the following places:

Friday Favorites- http://meetat-thebarre.com/
High Five for Friday- http://www.ktcupoftea.com/
Friday Favorites- http://tabanderika.blogspot.com/
Oh Hey, Friday- http://www.farmerswifeamy.com/
Five on Friday- http://www.northcarolinacharm.com/

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Shelton in Love by Dianne Hartsock

Shelton in Love by Dianne Hartsock

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryShelton is falling in love with his roommate, Nevil—but Nevil isn't the type who believes in lasting love, though he's more than willing to take Shelton to bed and have all the fun they can. How does a man who wants forever convince a love'em and leave'em type to give a relationship a try? Sheer determination, and a whole lot of heart.

Review: This was originally published in volumes, I guess, so when reading the book all the way through, it did feel a bit disjointed. Maybe it was just the ARC, but I hope the finished product will clue readers into the time shift a bit more. Sometimes it's just a six month jump, but it would still be nice to have that along with the chapter number so you aren't reading and then suddenly going "Oh, this is the future now." Basically, it just kept throwing me off.

While I wouldn't say the author is a bad writer and I'd be curious to see what else she publishes, I only gave this one 2 stars on Goodreads. To be honest, it relied way too much on the physical nature of their relationship and that got really old after awhile. I liked Shelton and Nevil and the book follows them through some major moments in their life, but again, it felt like it was a narrative of a couple's life over a a period of years with lots of sex. Not quite for me, but maybe you'll like it better!

Interested? Check it out on Amazon (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale I bring.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

As I Am by A.M. Arthur

As I Am by A.M. Arthur

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWill Madden is healing.

Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he's taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.

Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.

In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn't seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.

Review: As I Am is the third book in the All Saints series. I recommend reading them all, because I think it's a great series, but each one focuses on a different couple so you're welcome to read whichever one most interests you. For As I Am, the book focuses on Will Madden - who we meet in previous books - and Taz Zachary.

These two meet in an online chat room where the goal is just to talk, not to arrange hookups. They find quick friends in one another as they both suffer from PTSD. Eventually, the two decide to meet each other and that's really when the story takes off. I thought the background behind each character's PTSD was done really well. It was obvious that the author wanted to show that while the two could help each other, they couldn't completely heal one another. Just being in a relationship wasn't going to make everything okay. They would still have panic attacks and need other things in their life to help them heal.

Both Will and Taz are easy to love. They aren't perfect by any means, but I like that. They felt like real characters who were unfortunately carrying a lot of baggage. Their baggage just happened to go together well enough.

This book has a bit of a mystery attached, which was exciting! It gave the book a suspenseful tone, along with the budding romance and delving into the characters' respective pasts. As I Am is definitely a good read - as are all the other All Saints books.

Want to read? Check it out on Amazon - I'm an affiliate so I get a small percent of any sale. Want to check out books 1 and 2 of All Saints? The first book is Come What May and the second is Say It Right.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Whiteout by Elyse Springer

Whiteout by Elyse Springer

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryNoah Landers wakes up one day with a headache and no memory of where—or who—he is. Jason, the man taking care of him, tries to fill in some of the blanks: they’re in a cabin in Colorado on vacation, and Noah slipped on ice and hit his head. But even with amnesia, Noah knows Jason is leaving out something important.

Jason O’Reilly is sexy as hell, treats Noah like he’s precious, and seems determined to make this the romantic getaway they’d apparently dreamed of together. But Noah’s more concerned that he’s trapped alone with Jason in the middle of a blizzard while his slowly-returning memories bring hints of secrets and betrayal.

Noah’s not sure what’s the truth and what’s a lie. But as he learns who he is—and who Jason is to him—he’s forced to reevaluate everything he believes about himself, about loyalty . . . and about love.

Review: Whiteout is the first book in the Seasons of Love series. It wasn't until late in the book that I realized the series title comes from the musical RENT, which is a favorite of mine, so that was exciting to figure out! As for the actual book, I LOVED this one and I would highly recommend it. While Noah does lose most of his memories after an accident, it doesn't take terribly long for most of them to come back. When they do, the book is really just beginning, so readers will definitely be on for an interesting ride.

There isn't much I can say without giving away spoilers, but I will say that while Noah is trying to remember who he used to be, he's getting memories back that make him unsure about Jason and whether he's really telling him the truth. Despite this, Noah has this feeling - intuition if you will - that he really does love Jason, so he tries to go with that since he's stuck in a Colorado cabin with nowhere to go. As for Jason, it's easy to tell that he really does love Noah. He's obviously keeping some things back, but he was also told by a doctor not to reveal too much to Noah so that his memories have a chance to come back on their own.

Like I said, this is just one part of the overall story, but I can't go on for fear that I'll ruin some twists and turns! Definitely read it!

You can check it out on Amazon here. I'm an associate, so I get a small percent of any sale. Thanks!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

New Auction: Annotated Copy of Without Trace by Simon Booker

Just a quick note today to let you know that you can bid on an annotated copy of Without Trace by Simon Booker, which is a great mystery book. I'll share a link to my review below! I loved it and I definitely think you should bid. It's also open to International bidders -so that means anyone can bid/win this one! Please think about sharing. I'd love to have more people bidding - and following the blog. It helps get more authors to agree to annotate a book for charity.

Now, if you're curious, here's a link to my book review.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday if you're watching. My parents and sister are, but I'm not really into football. Regardless, we all want the Atlanta Falcons to win!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Glossies Made Me Do It: Fun Ideas With Nail Polish

It's another edition of Glossies Made Me Do It with Erica and Ashley (check out their posts today!) If you want to join us, let me know, and we can start adding a link-up. Glossies Made Me Do It takes part the first Friday of every month. You take a magazine from that month and share a new DIY, recipe, review, or idea that you found from it.

For this month, I used the February 2017 issue of Parents. Yes, I subscribe to Parents. There are a lot of great non-mom ideas - plus I have a lot of kids in my life and it's fun to read things that might relate to them.

From this issue, I saw this little article called "Clever Ideas for Nail Polish" and I thought it would be fun to try one of these out! I got a mini bottle of orange nail polish for Halloween. I never used it but I figured it might be a good job for this idea!

I didn't want to spoil all the ideas, but the one that I chose to go with is last on the list: Paint phone-charger ends so you'll know whose is whose.

I don't really have a problem keeping track of my phone charger, but I still really loved the idea. It adds a little fun to the charger and it will help me keep track of it if I go on vacation with my family - since we all have our own chargers.

You can see some of the white underneath, but it looks a little better in person. I might have to go back over it once it dries!

Here's another shot of the charger with the nail polish that I used! I think this photo shows a side that's a bit darker, which I love.

I think this was a really cool idea and I do recommend it for people that live with their family or roommates. Or you could just get some younger kids involved and they might enjoy "painting" with nail polish. If you want to know other ways to use nail polish, check out the February 2017 issue of Parents Magazine. It's on sale now!

What do you think of this project? Have you used nail polish for anything other than painting nails?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryOnce a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.

Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.

Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.

It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.

Review: Afraid to Fly is the second book in the Anchor Point series (first book is Just Drive - my review here) and it's just as enjoyable as the first book. The book switches between the perspectives of Travis Wilson and Clint Fraser, allowing you to get to know both men really well. They have gone through a lot in their pasts, so when they find a mutual attraction, they don't really put a label on things right away.

Travis has PTSD from a plane crash that almost killed him and another man, while Clint has PTSD from a drone accident he was involved in. Both men were previously married to women and have children. They have a lot in common and once they start opening up to one another, they realize they have finally found someone that can understand them. Neither of them are bothered by the others PTSD- related nightmares, because they both have them. They seem like a good match.

Regardless, it wouldn't be a romance book without some "drama" if you will. Don't worry, it's not drama that makes you want to yell at the characters. It's all very realistic. Both of these guys have other people in their lives to worry about, and Travis is holding onto a secret that worries him about a future romance.

I loved both of these guys. It was heartbreaking to read about all the things they have had to endure due to the military. While they loved their jobs at the time, and are still in the military during the book, they know that it screwed up their lives in a lot of ways and that's hard to deal with. L.A. Witt has written another great read and I'm curious to see who she focuses on next in the third Anchor Point series (I assume there will be a third). Oh, and the two main characters from Just Drive make some appearances throughout, which is always fun!

Interested in reading Afraid to Fly? Check it out on Amazon (I'm an associate - I get a small percent for any sale). Want to read Just Drive first? Find it here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Look Back at January + Goals for February

Linking up with GretchRuns and See You In a Porridge for What's New With You? and Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction for the Monthly Wrap-Up

Hey everyone - if you're new here, I'm Lauren! I focus a lot on entertainment (especially books) but I'm slowly adding in more lifestyle, etc. I want to make the blog about all things that I enjoy so hopefully you'll like it too! 

January was a really long month, I have to admit. I went back to work after a couple weeks off for the holiday. It was nice to get a break, but I'm part time so I didn't get paid. That's the big downside, so getting paychecks again is really nice. 

There are a lot of political posts going around. Not all of it is about politics though. Many are just about equal rights. I wrote up my own thoughts on Facebook and I shared it on my blog. If you haven't seen it and want to, check it out here. That's all I'll say about that here though. Let's move on to the rest of January...

Shannon from It Starts At Midnight has monthly book giveaways and I won her December one. I got to choose any book that was released that month - following a certain price point- and I chose Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. It looks great. It's essentially about the books that you love in your life. Perfect for me!

Garth Brooks
I saw Garth Brooks in concert this past Sunday. I've never seen him live, and he hasn't been to Cincinnati in 20 years, so it was great to finally go. I went with my sister - my ticket was part of my Christmas gift from her. We both had an amazing time. Randy Houser was there for about four songs to opening up, as well as one of the backup singers. She's a singer/songwriter herself and played a few songs, including "Red High Heels" which Kellie Pickler sang - her and Kellie wrote the song together. Her was is Karyn Rochelle, and she was great. 

Garth Brooks
Then you finally get Garth who is just insanely energetic. You could really feel the intensity and it was easy to see he was having a great time. I can't imagine having his energy though! His wife, Trisha Yearwood, had a set in the middle of the show and it was great seeing her too. 

Trisha Yearwood
They sang a song together before Garth left the stage.  I'm a big 90's country fan so I grew up on people like Garth and Trisha. She sang a few songs and then it was back to Garth! He played all the classics, including favorites of mine like "The Dance" and "The Thunder Rolls." The show was sold out so it was amazing to hear everyone singing along. Definitely a favorite concert of mine. I'd totally see him again if I get the chance!! 

If you have any questions about the show, let me know! I'm happy to share more. If you want to see more photos and a lot of videos, visit my Instagram

I took this picture a few weeks ago, I believe? Anyway, I figured I'd use this to explain that I'm taking part in a weight loss program led by a local hospital. I have meal replacements for two meals - I'll mostly use them for breakfast and lunch. These are either shakes or soups. There is a pudding option, but I'm not really a fan of pudding. Anyway, the other meal - probably going to be dinner most of the time - is something I have to do myself. I also have to do my snacks. I get a certain amount of starches, lean meats, fruits, veggies, and fats to use throughout the day. I have a list of food options and how much of that item you can use to reach your fruit or your veggie for the day. For example, I get two fruits a day. One small apple is a fruit, about 17 grapes is a fruit, etc. 

Anyway, I've just started but I'm determined to lose weight and become a lot healthier. Diabetes runs in my family and I really don't want to get it. There are other things I really need to work on too. I was thinking of doing a post here and there about my journey and how things are going. Would you be interested in reading something like this? 

I'm also linking up with the hosts for The Monthly Goals Link Up

Normally you would go over your January goals, but I didn't really make any. I'm just going to go into my goals for the month of February.

+Read at least 5 books. I read 10 last month, but February is a bit of a shorter month and I never know how long a book will be, so I'll go realistic! 

+Lose around 10 pounds. They say you can expect to lose a couple pounds a week on the program, though I know it can be a bit more in the very beginning. I'm not sure what I'll end up losing, but I figure it should be around 10 pounds by the end of February. It will be interesting to look back and see! I know once I start seeing results that it will make all of this a lot easier. 

+Keep utilizing my planner. I got a Happy Planner from Micheal's for the year and I'm doing really well using it. I want to keep this up, as well as using more stickers, etc. to help liven it up and make it more fun! I plan on keeping the planner at the end of the year as a look at the previous year. 

I think those are it for the month! What are you hoping to accomplish in February?