Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Cottingley Secret

I have had so much fun taking part in the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge, and receiving glorious packages of books all summer for my perusal. I am still in shock that people will send me books to read...and I hope that I have done a decent job at getting reviews and photos out there for the world to see. Our move this summer got me a bit behind, but I am still working my way through my never-ending To Read Pile, and I hope to eventually get through all of the books I was sent. 

But, in spite of what the thermometer read this morning, it is no longer Summer. It is now Autumn...the time of pumpkin spice everything, leaves falling from the trees, cups of tea drank while curled up on the couch with a light blankie, no longer sweating your ass off if you move an inch...Autumn!! It's time for the Booksparks Fall Reading Challenge, otherwise known as Booksparks University...and I am lucky enough to be a part of the program! And a few days late, I have THE epitome of a fall book for you...The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Olivia Kavanagh learns upon her grandfather's death that he's left his beloved used bookshop to her, along with a very special manuscript that he writes is somehow linked to their family. The bookstore, a cottage, and a grandmother with Alzheimers are all left in Olivia's hands...but they are all in Ireland and she's meant to be getting married in London soon. But everything about the area feels like home, so she takes some time to straighten things out and think about what she wants for her future. While ruminating, she picks up the manuscript that her grandfather left her and finds that it's the memoir of Frances Griffiths, one of the two Yorkshire girls who claimed to have photographed fairies in 1917. As she reads about a country getting caught up in a story of fairies, she embarks on a journey to figure out what she wants in life. 

This book was beautiful. I honestly don't know how to express how much I enjoyed reading it! Impeccably researched, with information in the back on why the author chose to write a book around the Cottingley Fairies, along with the original photos and a letter from Frances Griffiths' daughter, I feel this is one of the best fictional books I've read that is wrapped around a true story. The book within a book is woven together so seamlessly, and it gave me far more information about that old fairy story than I knew before. 

But along with telling a story steeped in history, it also tells a contemporary tale of a woman finding herself in what amounts to a magical bookstore. And really, what book nerd isn't going to love reading a novel set in a bookstore?!? Now, please don't read "magical bookstore" and get any strange ideas. I'm not talking about books flying around or any HP mumbo-jumbo. Ms. Gaynor sprinkles just enough whimsy in her tale to warm  your heart without any saccharine-sweet after taste. It is just the right amount of love, which honestly made me want to run out and buy a small space to open my own used book store!!

So really, this book is the perfect Autumn reading selection. If you are a fan of historical fiction, books set in the UK (*cough..Kat...cough*), books with a sprinkling of fairy dust, books about bookstores, women-centric tales of finding yourself, etc...this book is for you. It is the perfect book to read on a brisk Sunday, snuggled up in your favorite chair with a cable-knit blanket around your legs and a hot cup of tea in your sassy coffee-mug. 

Booksparks has started their Fall Reading Challenge off with a bang!! I am so jazzed about the rest of the books in the program, and I can't thank them enough for letting me take part. 

Can you think of a book that fits the impending Pumpkin Spice Latte season?? If so, let me know in the comments! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Christmas in September (and a Giveaway!!)

A Tomes and Tequila Guest Post by author Kaylie Newell

Hi, guys! I'll start off by thanking Christina for having me on Tomes and Tequila. I’m proud to say that we were both raised in the Rogue Valley (southern Oregon) together, children of the 80’s and 90’s. We eventually outgrew our bad hair and embarrassing pants, and into the super classy book lovers we are today. I’m so honored that she asked me to write a guest post!

My name is Kaylie Newell, and I write contemporary/paranormal/romantic suspense. I love watching movies, reading, writing, walking our dog, hanging out with my family, drinking wine with my best friend- basically I’m pretty average.  Except for one thing that sets me apart a bit, as well as annoys my husband to no end… I’m officially off my nut about Christmas. Since it’s coming up, and since I also have a Christmas book releasing soon, I thought I’d elaborate a little.

I’ve been this way since dirt (see picture. Remember the bad hair and embarrassing pants?).   I’m not just crazy for the holiday itself, but for everything leading up to the holiday.  I’m one of those people who start playing Christmas music November 1st. I like to have It’s a Wonderful Life on in the background at all times.  I binge watch Hallmark Christmas movies until my children are able to quote them backwards and forwards.  I make really bad sugar cookies and keep mints on the counter throughout the entire month of December. I drape the living room in blinking lights, and delight in setting up our cheesy cat nativity scene in the kitchen for all to enjoy.  You get the picture.

How did this happen? I’m not entirely sure. It’s not that every Christmas growing up was perfect.  Far from it. There was the year my mom dressed me up to see Santa, and on the way I stepped out onto the frozen duck pond, full of frozen duck poop mind you, to see if the ice would hold me.  It didn’t. And the Christmas when the pipes broke and our living room flooded, along with all our presents. The horror! But no matter what fate threw at me as a small child, if it was over the holidays, it was okay, because holidays. I guess that’s what people mean by the magic of the season.  Everything just seems right with the world when Christmas is around the corner. The cookies taste better, the movies are more fulfilling, and the family time is more precious. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, MERRY CHRISTMAS! In September. ;)

 Christmas at the Graff by Kaylie Newell on Amazon

If you love Christmas as much as I do, leave a comment and I’ll pick a few random winners to receive my new romance Christmas at The Graff, coming November 1st. Happy reading!
Jemma Banks is finally ready to celebrate and enjoy the Christmas season in a way she never did as a child. But when her father breaks his pelvis, she returns home to Marietta to care for him. He is desperate to make amends with Jemma, but she's determined to leave Marietta with her heart intact, even if it means being compared to Scrooge.
Physical therapist and snowboarder EJ Corpa can't ignore the pull when he lays eyes on his patient's daughter for the first time. Jemma is beautiful, but guarded. Deep down, EJ knows she’s a woman who’s longing for a little fun. When she agrees to help with his clinic’s tree for the Mistletoe and Montana auction, the armor she’s so carefully constructed begins to fall away, and the magic of the holiday season takes hold.
With ice skating, hot cocoa, and Christmas tree decorating for a great cause, EJ and Jemma begin falling for each other. Will EJ begin to see that life’s adventures are more thrilling when there’s someone to share them with? -Christmas at The Graff by Kaylie Newell
*Christina here!! If you want to read more about Kaylie, you can check out her website here or read the interview I did with her over here. And don't forget to comment for the chance to win her new book!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Yes, I Shaved My Legs for Our Lunch Date....

My thoughts on making friends as a grown ass woman. 

I just want to lift the curtain up for a minute and show you a behind the scenes moment from my house this morning. I'm going to paint a picture for you. I'm doing it for one of two reasons. The first is because I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not the only person around who feels this way, in which case you might feel better about yourself. The second is because I might BE the only one, in which case you'll find it funny and share it with your friends. 

I need to give you a little information before I jump right into my morning. As some of you know, I recently moved across the country to a town and area that I've never been to before. We moved for my husband's work, and I have yet to find a job here myself...although I'm looking. And both of my children are adults. We are a military family, but aren't living on a base...and my husband's office is small so the socialization is minimal. 

What all of this means is...I have no friends. 

Well, that's not right really. I actually have a bunch of wonderful friends, but none of them really live by me. I have a fabulous friend who lives almost close enough to hang with, but the rest are scattered around the world. That is one of the many joys of being attached to the military, and I'm sure it applies to many other professions and lifestyles nowadays. You move around and are forced to start your social life all over again.

Now, I am an extrovert. I normally have zero problems in social situations. I love to talk to people, and have always made friends fairly easily. BUT...and this is a big BUT...I have usually relied on a handful of scenarios to make friends. When your children are young, you make friends with other moms...and the mothers of your children's friends. You're at the school, sports functions, cheer, choir, the list goes on and on...and are surrounded by other people. Or you make friends with coworkers. You have your work posse, and you get together for drinks regularly to complain about whatever is pissing you off that week. Or as a military spouse, you have your spouse's coworkers and the functions that go along with them...squadron picnics, meet and greets, Christmas parties, etc. take all of that away, and what do you have? 

You basically have a bored Christina, who has taken to having long conversations with her dog...who pounces on her husband the moment he walks in the door because I'm dying to talk to someone else...who really needs a friend. (In all fairness, Thing 2 is around...but I have a feeling we are both in need of conversation with someone other than each other.) 

But today was going to be different. Today, I had a lunch date!!! The mother of my daughter's roommate was going to come pick me up and take me out to lunch!! I'd talked to her online a few times, she seemed incredibly nice, and I couldn't WAIT to meet her and have someone new to TALK TO!!!

Last night it felt like when I was little and I couldn't sleep before the first day of school. I was SO nervous! The only thing that made it less stressful was her telling me that she had no plans to be dressed up for lunch.

I mean really. each other out. Give each other a hint about what you're wearing when you're having a get together. It will eliminate 3/4 of the stress that we undergo when planning and getting ready. I know we're not supposed to give two shits what anyone thinks about our clothing, blah blah blah...but come on. I don't want to be wearing jeans if everyone else will be in skirts and dresses. Find some way to subtly toss out a reference to your outfit in a conversation beforehand. Your friend will love you for it.


So, the insomniac that I am didn't sleep well because of nerves, but to be a fly on the wall of my bedroom this morning. You would've thought I was getting ready for a date with Michael Fassbender! I not only plucked my eyebrows, I also trimmed those bad boys so I didn't look like Andy Rooney. I lotioned and potioned myself. I pulled out my favorite primer in the hopes that my makeup might withstand the sweat that would inevitably arrive due to nerves. I used my beauty blender for my foundation instead of lazily using a brush. My under-eye circles were covered by not only concealer but also BRIGHTENER. I whipped out my favorite perfume...even though it has patchouli in it, and I always worry it will give off the hippy vibe. It took me 15 minutes to pick which pair of earrings to put on my ears. I ran out of time to paint my nails, but I put lotion on my hands and elbows, because heaven forbid you have old lady elbows. AND...I shaved my legs with L'Occitane Almond Oil.

Yes, you read that right. I hurriedly shaved my legs to cover them up with pants, and then sit in a car and across a table from another woman who I had never met. Because I wanted her to be my friend.

Did my legs being cleanly shaved increase the chances of her liking me? Was she even LOOKING at my legs?? What was this???

And then, when I was done primping myself to the best of my abilities, I sat and waited at the door watching for her. You case she got lost looking for my house. Or trying to find a parking spot. It was about this time that I thought...trying to make friends as an adult can be more stressful than dating!!! I might as well have had a post-it note on my forehead saying "Please Like Me".

And my take-away, after a lovely lunch of nonstop conversation, was that this is probably something we all go through and never ever tell anyone about. Making friends as an adult can be a GIANT pain in the ass, and we are all so hard on ourselves...much harder than we ever would be on someone else.

So this is me lifting the curtain. Even extroverts like me get nervous in some social situations. In the future know that, if we're meeting up, I will try to throw out a "I think tomorrow feels like a jeans day" or "I am feeling like snazzing things up a bit, so I may just whip out a dress tomorrow". And because I'm a nerd, I will always crack some joke to let you know that I was nervous just in case you were nervous also.

Or maybe I'm just incredibly which case please leave a comment to tell me why this has never come up in your life. Because I actually wore one of my best bras also... 😁

Monday, September 18, 2017

Eden Review

I have to be honest with you guys, for some reason this review has been REALLY hard for me to write! I finished Eden a couple of weeks ago, immediately gave it 5 Stars on Goodreads...yet every time I sit down to write about it, I stare at a blank page uninspired. I write a few lines...delete them...and then end up writing a totally different blog post. I honestly don't know what my problem is, but I wanted to tell y'all beforehand so that if it doesn't read well...or sounds forced in any way, you'll know why. I feel like I need to apologize to Booksparks and the author before I even get started!! 😟

Eden, by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, is a sprawling multi-generational family drama mainly set in the fictional town of Long Harbor, Rhode Island. The property is called Eden, and has been in the family for ages and seen numerous family dramas. Becca Meister is the current matriarch, and following the death of a husband who was dreadful with money, she's forced to consider selling the property. That, combined with the unexpected unwed pregnancy of her granddaughter, has her thinking back on her life and the lives of her parents...along with a decision she was forced to make as a teenager.

The book bounces back and forth between times and people in the family, and is so richly me it felt like a grand family "Saga", if that makes sense. We start with Samuel Meister, a Jewish immigrant whose determination brought him from the factory floor up to the headquarters building...and see him struggle so his son Bernard could attend Yale Law and make a name for himself. Then we see Bernard industriously work to keep up with his independently wealthy classmates, and follow in their footsteps which led to him building Eden. And last we have Becca, with her marriage of convenience, and daughter who has an alcohol problem and can barely stand to be in a room with her.

I found it all mesmerizing, and although not a page-turning thriller, I was hooked for the entire book. I've always loved family stories...ones that show multiple generations and how they've changed through time. I find it interesting to see dysfunction and love morph and grow over the years, and the wealth and grandeur of this family was captivating. I especially enjoyed reading about the hurricane that hit Long Harbor, and the efforts to rebuild Eden and the local community. I thought it was fitting given the hurricane that hit Texas around the time I was reading the book. It was a good fictional reminder that this crap has been happening for ages, and people persevere.

I loved the book's ending. I thought it was wrapped up well...wasn't saccharin sweet or anything, but left me with a good feeling about the characters that I'd grown to care about. And I DID care for I wanted her to be happy.

So, I don't know folks. I'm grateful to Booksparks for sending me the book to review as a part of their Summer Reading Challenge. I enjoyed reading it. I don't know why reviewing it has felt like such a chore, but I wanted to make sure that I DID get a review out there...and let my readers know that I really DID enjoy it. I guess I could've kept it to myself that I've struggled with writing the review, but I try to be honest with y'all...and I'd hate for you to read this post and say "wow, this doesn't sound like her normal reviews" and have you wondering whether I'd been either day drinking or taking pompous pills (depending on how it read, my daydream of this scenario was undecided). But if I lay it all bare for you...then it keeps this blogging thing all transparent and authentic, or at least I hope it does.

But, if you enjoy family dramas, please give this book a shot. I am sticking with that 5 Star initial impression. 😁

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Blogger Recognition Award

This week I was overjoyed to be nominated by Tauri Cox for The Blogger Recognition Award! This is the first time I've been picked for one, and she had such nice things to say about me that I screenshotted them and sent it to basically everyone that I know (but most importantly my mom). I have a small blog, read by a loyal group of mainly ladies that I to be recognized by someone I've never met in person for the work that I'm doing meant more than she probably realizes. You can click over here to read more about Tauri, and her acceptance of The Blogger Recognition Award. She's an extremely cool lady, and I can not WAIT for her book to be published so I can share it with y'all!! (I've read it already, and I really think you will like it)

So, what is The Blogger Recognition Award? 

The Blogger Recognition Award is pretty cool because it's awarded to bloggers by bloggers as a way of promoting each other's brand and content, and basically passing the love around. Each person who is nominated shares with their readers the person who nominated them, and their nominees, while giving everyone a taste of what they're about. 

And, why did you start Tomes and Tequila?

I like to joke that this blog is my empty nest mid-life crisis!! I have always loved books...loved reading...loved talking to people. I'm a military wife who at one time had the BEST damn book club a girl could ever ask for. We had get togethers that were worthy of short stories, or t.v. episodes! But then all of my girls moved away, and I realized I needed a way to keep talking to them...keep prodding them to read more...keep giving them book recommendations whether they wanted them or not. That, combined with my love and envy over the beauty vloggers I watch on YouTube, turned into this little corner of the interwebs! I mainly write book reviews, but I've started branching out into other writing. I like making shopping guides, writing somewhat humorous stories, and I have a lot of ideas for building this into something even bigger and better. I like to think my reviews are slightly different than most book blogs. I try to keep the writing more like I'm talking to that group of ladies I love, sitting in my living room over a few bottles of wine. I read many genres, and review everything I read. I guess that's it, in a nutshell.😀

Do you have any advice for new bloggers??

It's funny that this is part of the nomination because I just wrote 2 blog posts about starting a blog!! First off, if you want the long winded answer to this...take a look at this post, and this post. But the short answer would be to make your blog an extension of you. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Don't try to make your blog be a carbon copy of what you're seeing elsewhere. If you are genuine, and put yourself out there on the page...your tribe will find you. It may take a while, and your tribe may be smaller than that other blog you follow...but that doesn't make it any less important or valuable. And remember that your blog is YOUR BLOG, so in the end you can do whatever the heck you want to on it. 

And who are your cool nominees? 

Tamara Welch at Traveling With T: I love this fellow book blogger! We read a lot of the same books, and she's nice to me on Twitter...which means a lot to me because I don't feel like I've quite cracked the book blogger code over there yet. 

Katie at Sweet Home Life: Katie is another lady that I follow on Twitter. Her blog is absolutely STUNNING, and filled with amazing posts on homemaking, organization and family. It really is a site to see, and the posts have a depth and weight to them that go beyond the norm in a lifestyle blog. 

Marisa Mohi: Okay, this lady cracks me up!! I follow her on Twitter, but where she stands out the most to me is on her Instagram. As a "writer with a day job", her blog posts range from books she's reading to a recent one about things that have scared her. They are all funny, and definitely worth checking out! 

Anne at I've Read This: This is another book blogger for you. She does vlog reviews, radio segments, and traditional reviews...and is slightly sassy. Our book picks occasionally match up, but she's normally reading something completely different which appeals to me a LOT. 

Books, Vertigo and Tea: This book blogger was actually one of my first followers on Twitter, and probably responsible for the first...200 followers I had! Her reviews are nice and long, and often include excerpts. She also occasionally reads YA books, which I know some of you read also. Honestly, her posts are something to aspire to. 

If Nominated, Do this Next

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and leave a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how/why you started blogging.
  • Give some advice for new bloggers.
  • Select 5-10 other bloggers to nominate for the award.
  • Contact the bloggers you've nominated, and give them the link to your post.
I hope everyone has enjoyed this little bit of Blogging Love!! I hope you've visited my nominees, and maybe found some other cool bloggers to follow!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Not Your Mother's Shopping Guide...

Well, unless you have a mother like I which case she might like these items also...what do I know?!?

*This post contains affiliate links!! 

Lately I have found the motherload of extremely cool items in my late night perusing of the wonderful website known as Etsy, and I thought I'd make a new shopping guide for you!! I was hung up for a minute because, strictly speaking, these aren't really book related items...and I usually try to tie my guides to a book or fandom of some kind. BUT, every once in a while I have to have a little talk with myself that goes something like this..."but Christina, it's YOUR blog, and you can do whatever you WANT on it!!"...which usually results in some of my most popular blog posts. (Barry Manilow, anyone?!?) 

So, here are some of the incredibly cool and epically sassy items I've recently found on Etsy. You might recognize a couple of them from my Giveaway and Instagram feed. If you're easily offended, or find cuss words abhorrent, you probably won't like these...but I find them all incredibly funny, and I personally enjoy adding those little odd somethings to my life. It makes it far more interesting and humorous...but that's just me!! I hope we're kindred spirits. 😀

 Coffee and Cuss Words Coffee Mug

This mug is just too cool, and applicable to quite a few people that I know. It was SO hard to put it in my giveaway and not keep it for myself, but my husband thinks I have a coffee mug "problem". This beautiful mug, perfect for your morning brew and pretty enough for photos (hello Instagram!), can be found in Mugsby's shop for $10.99+

 Shit I Can't Lose Ring Dish on Etsy

I think this falls under the label of 'why call it something it's not'?!? This is the perfect Ring Dish to hold all the important little bits and bobs that you definitely do NOT want to lose. Wedding ring, diamond earrings, key to your fuzzy handcuffs. I'm sorry...I meant key to your lock box! You know...important stuff!! You can find this one at DezCustomCreations for $11

 Oh Bloody Hell Tampon Bag on Etsy

Okay, don't kill me for this one!! Most women have a stash of "those products" in their purse, their car...if they are young, in their locker...why not corral them with style?? I have seen some really cool containers made for this purpose over the years, but this bag is both pretty and yet hilarious. You can find it on Mugsby for $14.39. (I am LOVING Mugsby)

 Makeup and Shit bag on Etsy

Clearly I am on a floral, girly kick at the moment!! I LOVE this makeup bag. It's a great size, and even cuter in person than it is on the site. And mine is currently filled with makeup and shit...surprise, surprise! It's another Mugsby item currently $13.49

 Bookish AF coffee mug on Etsy

Okay, I felt like I was being too floral and girly, so I thought I'd go in a completely different direction with this one. A striking and slightly militant coffee mug for the VERY bookish among us. If you somehow are unsure of what the AF is, ask the closest teenager you can find. If you don't have a teenager handy, you can always use Google. Mind you, I'm fairly sure that if you're reading my blog, you probably know what AF is...(I just looked at that and my brain said Air Force...which is so NOT right)...anyway, you can find this stark mug on BookeryBoutique for $15.95+

 I gotta good heart but this mouth tee on Etsy

I feel like this shirt sums me up fairly well...and it comes in a big size range, which isn't the case for a lot of the super cute tees on Etsy! This tee is perfect for advertising that the loud mouth doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad person. You can find it at 1OneCraftyMomma for $23+

 Set of 6 Engraved Pencils on Etsy

I have a weird stationery product fetish, and I blame my friend K. Back in 5th grade, when we first became friends, she had all of these really cool stickers and pencils...and I was always incredibly envious of her collection. Any time I buy a sticker (which I did today at Michaels, thank you) I think of her. (I love you K!!!) This collection of 6 engraved pencils really put out that Girl Boss vibe, don't you think?? You can buy them from MerrilyPaper for $7.95

 Get Shit Done Notepad on Etsy

Once again, I'm back to the stationery! Everyone needs a good To Do List, so why not add a little sass to it? It'll make you giggle a little as you're crossing things off like a boss. This 50 sheet notepad is the perfect accessory for your desk. You can find it at AlvaLumos for $6.50

 Football My Second Favorite F Word Tee on Etsy

Maybe not the best picture of this shirt, but I don't mind giving a new Etsy shop a try! It's Football season, and I personally think this is a good all around shirt to wear on the weekend while you watch the game. I looked for a shirt that said "Fassbender, my second favorite F word" but I couldn't find this will have to do. You can find it on EmpowerYourApparelCo for $25 and it comes in a large range of sizes!! 

 Le Cancer Ca Craint Necklace on Etsy

Okay, I have one serious listing for ya. I don't think there's a person around who hasn't been touched by cancer at some point in their lives. You either have had it, know someone who has had it, have lost someone to it, etc. I think this simple yet beautiful, hand stamped necklace that says in French a slightly harsher version of Cancer Sucks, is the perfect thing to politely express a feeling all of us agree with. You can find it at GypsySolDesigns for $30

So there ya go!! I hope you enjoyed browsing this small shopping guide as much as I enjoyed making it! I really do enjoy shopping on Etsy, and have never had a bad experience buying on there. (knock on wood) Let me know if you have a favorite Fandom or Theme you'd like me to explore in my next shopping guide...and try not to spend too much. If you do, please don't blame it on me. I have a horrible guilty conscience...😁

*This Post Contains Affiliate Links!! Please refer to my Review Policy for details. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Dark Net

I started this week so excited to share 3 really good books with y'all. But then the crud invaded my chest, and I felt like death and didn't want to leave my bed. And I find it hard to write a fun blog post when my chest feels like an elephant is sitting on it. But I've finally emerged from under my blankies, although I still haven't showered (it's a good thing you guys can't actually SEE me) and I'm ready to share at least ONE of these amazing books before the weekend. 

The one I've got for you today had me all aflutter for a couple of reasons. The first being it's set in Oregon...which is where I was born, and lived until I was a teenager. (Right now you might be thinking, but you love Southern Fiction because you call Louisiana home...and Paris fiction because you love Paris...what can I say, I am multifaceted) The second being that I grew up on scary books and movies, so couldn't wait to read a book with blurbs by Dean Koontz and Peter Straub on the back, authors that graced the bookshelves of my childhood. My mother is a HUGE fan of the horror genre. We can discuss the merits of her parenting style in another post, but I grew up reading Stephen King books and watching Friday the 13th movies. I think the only horror movie I wasn't allowed to watch as a child was The Omen, because the bad guy was a little kid. My family LOVES horror. Now, why I don't read more of it as an adult, I couldn't tell you....they just aren't the first books that call to me anymore. But when I do pick one up, I'm usually reminded of how much I love reading them.

So when I was offered the opportunity to read The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy, I jumped at the chance. The last creepy book I'd read was The Elementals, and I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit and delve a little deeper than the thrillers I've been reading recently. And I am SO happy that I did! (Thanks Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!!!)

The Dark Net tells the story of a rag tag group who come together to defeat evil. Yes, I know that's not what the synopsis on Goodreads says, but trust me...that's what this book is about in a nutshell. 

Hannah has been gradually going blind, and was just fitted with a fancy new set of eyes via Mirage, technological miracle glasses that should help her see. (instead of the visor in Star Trek: The Next Generation, my imagination went with Cyclops) But she is now seeing things that aren't making sense to her. Auras around people, and a darkness that her mother claims isn't there. 

Her aunt Lela, a technophobic reporter, has stumbled upon a mysterious company unearthing bones with strange markings on them. Her quest to figure out what the markings mean has her being chased by giant hairless dogs and weird men...which leads her to Mike Juniper. Mike runs a homeless shelter, is more than he appears, and knows a thing or two about what Lela is up against. 

And the team is rounded out by Hemingway, Lela's faithful German Shepherd. I kid you not, I spent the last half of this book saying out loud "they'd better not kill this dog!!". Shouting that at your book does not go over well when your husband is trying to watching college football. (and I feel like I should insert a Scooby Doo joke right about now)

The bad guys have arrived in Portland, and they are coming to you through the Dark Net, that area of the internet that is unpoliced...the perfect place to mount an attack through technology that is in everyone's hands. 

Regardless of the fact that I clearly can't write synopsis for the horror genre, I really enjoyed this book. To me it was the best of stuff I've always loved...some paranormal including hell hounds, technology offing people a la Stephen was brilliant. The story wasn't maybe the most original thing around, as my son kept telling me of other books and movies with similar plots while I was reading it, but as far as it being an entertaining read that I didn't want to put down? It totally passed that test. And page 144?!? I re-read that passage probably 4 times in shock.

My eyes glazed over a lot of the technology in it, because although I'm a gadget junkie...I'm not that computer savvy. BUT, although not giving away a whole lot about what happens in this book, when the shit hits the fan, you can bet I was looking around my house and assessing how many things I own that actually have some type of computer in them. 

So, this book totally won at creeping me out. To me it was very classic King and Koontz, although there are probably better contemporary authors to compare it to, I am just using authors I am familiar with. It was fast paced, and a quick read at 253 pages, and I'd highly recommend it for people who like their books creepy. Or people who want to see the Apocalypse start in areas of Portland they are familiar with. 😁

I hope to get TONS of reviews out to you next week as I have a backlog to write!! Enjoy your weekend. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The 5 Second Rule!

I have a new nonfiction book review for you from someone that I love...Mel Robbins. If you don't know who she is, you probably don't read self-help books, listen to TED talks in your spare time for fun, or heavily search the motivational section of YouTube. It's okay...I don't think any less of you. I realize that I'm a little bit of a nutcase when it comes to my love of this kind of book, but I am who I am.

I feel like I'm a better version of myself when I have some sort-of motivational/habits/productivity nonfiction book sitting on my night stand that I'm working my way through. I get more done, spend more time brainstorming new ideas for the blog, etc. My follow through and consistency are definitely lacking, but it's something I'm working on. Hence the books. 😀

So, one night when I couldn't sleep, I watched a YouTube video of Mel Robbins giving a TED Talk. It's long, so I'm not going to put that one on here. But, I watched it and immediately wanted to hear more of what she had to say. So I searched YouTube for more of her videos...and fell in love. This is a small 5 minute clip of her describing her 5 Second Rule. I decided to buy the book to learn more about it.

The two big concepts that are discussed in the book The 5 Second Rule are simple. The first one is that anytime you think of doing something, you should immediately count down from 5 to 1 and then just do a rocket blasting off. For example, the alarm goes off and instead of hitting the snooze button you count down and then jump your booty out of bed. And the other one is to stop waiting until you FEEL like doing something. That feelings have nothing to do with anything, we need to put things into action. For example, not waiting to exercise until you FEEL like it...just do it. Like I said...simple.

As for this little book, I liked it...but I only liked it. I didn't LOVE it, like I love Mel. And there are a couple reasons for that.

The first one is that I think she comes across much better in videos and lectures. If I'd listened to this as an Audiobook, spoken by her, it might have been better. For some reason I feel like the pizzazz that normally exudes off of her is missing in the written delivery. To me she is such a dynamic speaker, and the fact that she works the lecture circuit so heavily is a great indicator that I'm not the only one who feels that way. The book just didn't have that spunk that usually comes from her voice.

The other niggling turn-off for me was in the sparseness in actual hows. They were missing to a certain extent. I am always spouting off on here about needing my nonfiction self-help books to include the hows. I am someone who doesn't need so much about the background behind a concept, but I definitely need some serious time to be spent on how to put the concept into work in my life. Does that make sense? I need to know HOW to take this mind-blowing idea you have for changing my life and turn it into actionable steps. And instead of being filled with HOWS, this book was filled with testimonials...which was a little odd.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for being told how your theory worked in changing people's lives. As a matter of fact, that's usually where the most relatable content is. But this book just had little snippets of Tweets and Emails saying "Yay your #5secondrule helped me lose 100 lbs!!" but it didn't say HOW?!? I realize this is a simple concept for not procrastinating, but it made the book read more like an infomercial and less like a self-help book.

So, I liked the book. But I didn't love it. But I DO still love Mel Robbins. And I've already purchased her other book, Stop Saying You're Fine. AND I highly recommend you follow her on YouTube, and give some of her videos a look-see...especially if you need to work on procrastination/motivation or anxiety (she has good videos on techniques she used to come off anxiety meds).

Plus, I have counted down to get my ass out of bed in the morning. And to go for a walk with my dog. So the concept works...even if I feel a little silly doing it.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Giveaway Winner!!

I just wanted to make a short and sweet post to say that my latest Giveaway is now OVER and we have a winner!!

The winner of the two books, coffee mug and perfume is.....

Aneliya Allen!!!!

I am so excited to send this box to you, as I know you're going to love it!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who entered and shared. 

Aneliya, if you could message me your address...I'll get this package off to you ASAP.