Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Changes to the Blog!!

If you follow me on any of my Social Media accounts, you have probably noticed that I'm changing things up a bit. It's come after an awful lot of soul searching, and deep pondering. And also WAY more worrying than is healthy for a woman. I wanted to let y'all know my thought process behind the changes, and what you can expect here on Tomes and Tequila in the future. Because now that I've made up my mind, I'm actually VERY excited to start adding content again...which is good, because I'd been in a slump. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I love this blog. I have been playfully accused by my husband of occasionally loving it more than him. I enjoy writing, and sharing the many thoughts I have with other people. I wish I would've started something like this years ago, but hindsight is 20/20. Unfortunately, I'd found myself in a bit of a reading slump recently...and it had morphed and caused the blog to become a chore.

This should not be a chore for me.

This blog has always been a passion project of mine. But for years my life revolved 24/7 around books. And now, it doesn't. I am no longer working at a library. I'm currently not working at all, actually...which should translate into me having TONS of time to devote to this blog and creating all sorts of really cool content for y'all. But instead, I found myself reading things I didn't really want to read...and the procrastination had become quite epic.

So, I went back to the drawing board and started brainstorming what I love about this blog, and that is communicating with my friends (and I consider all of you to be my friends). If the big attraction for me is interacting with people, and sharing information with you and generally bs-ing...then perhaps I should take the focus off 100% books, and expand to everything that I love. As my children keep reminding me, this is MY blog, and I can write about whatever I want on it!

All of this thinking, debating, pondering and self-reflection has come at a time when I'm also trying to really focus on myself for the first time in my adult life. To get a little deep for a minute here, I've always been one of those women who takes great care of everyone else, but hasn't taken very good care of herself. I recently had what some people refer to as a "come to Jesus" moment, where I came to realize just how important it is that I stop saying I'll start making improvements in my life starting next Monday, or next month, or next year...and start NOW, before it's too late. So I joined Weight Watchers, and as of this writing I'm down 16 lbs, with a whole lot to go...but it's a start. I've also been trying a lot of the other hints and tips that I've gleaned from the self-help books that I love so much. Actually TRYING, and not just filing away for future use.

But all of this bundled up into a neat Christina-sized ball means that I decided I wanted to add more ME to the blog, and take the focus off the books.

Are there going to be book reviews still? There absolutely will be because I am a huge reader and always will be. But I'd like to go back to being in charge of what I'm reading. I had way too many books coming in that I felt I HAD to read, as opposed to WANTED to read. I will be way more selective in the future.

What else can you expect to see on the blog? I plan on adding more beauty and lifestyle features. I am a HUGE makeup addict, and I love trying new I think it would be fun to share with you what I'm loving and using, and which things you could probably steer clear of. I'm also really trying to treat my skin better, as a 42 yo woman who had horrible acne as a teenager, and wasn't great at treating my face well in my 20's and 30's. I have a giant bucket of skincare products that I have been playing with, and have also received a few items to review that I'd like to share with all of you. There will also be more essays and random stories on the blog. OH, and I feel I need to make it clear that when I say Lifestyle, I admit to everyone that I usually stay in my pajamas all day at least once a week...and live in a rental property with an old dog. It will be realistic, and probably look nothing like the stories I enjoy perusing on Instagram. 😀 (If you're on Insta, you know what I'm talking about!!)

I would also like to share with everyone my journey on Weight Watchers, as a means of both keeping myself motivated, and hopefully helping to motivate a few of my friends and anyone else who has struggled with their weight. I am trying to lose a good sized adult human's worth of weight. There is a certain amount of shame and embarrassment that comes along with publicly stating that. It will be a long-haul journey for me. I need to find a way to stay focused on my end goal, and I've always done better when I was helping other people. My heart says that if I'm honest with y'all, and if I write maybe once a week after my weigh-in and talk about how my week went, and what I I can improve and do better the next week, etc., will both help myself and maybe help someone else too.

All of it can be bundled into me wanting to make 2018 the best year I possibly can. I would like to take all of you along with me. Hopefully you will be as excited by the changes to the blog as I am. If you're not, I hope you will at least come visit for the book reviews! For those hanging around, I have big plans to make more videos on both Facebook and YouTube. They scare me, but I love them...and I am a huge fan of watching other's videos so I'd like to get in on the action a bit! I've created a Tomes and Tequila YouTube channel that presently only has one old FB Live video on it...but if you'd like to hop over there and subscribe, it would make me feel great and let me know that you want videos!

OH, and I also want to briefly talk about Affiliate Links for a minute. I've signed back up to be an Amazon Affiliate (and I'm still an Etsy affiliate). If you go to my Review Policy page, I have a write-up on these links, but I wanted to explain how they work a bit. As an affiliate, if you purchase from my links, I will receive a small commission. How small? Between 2% to 7% depending on the program, and it is at NO additional cost to you. There is NO FEE to you for buying from my link. I will ALWAYS put an asterick and a note in my posts letting you know that there are affiliate links in the post. Why am I doing it? I said earlier, I'm not working right now...and I spend a lot of time working on the blog and finding links etc. If I can make a couple of bucks off of it, then I can devote even more time to working on it! To put it all in perspective, I have been an Etsy Affiliate for over a year now and have never received a check because I haven't earned enough. I believe I have made about $13 so far, and you need to make over $20 to get your first check. I was kicked out of the Amazon program before because if no on purchases from you after 180 days they kick you out, and no one had ever purchased from my links. I, personally, don't mind using affiliate links...and became aware of them when shopping off my favorite beauty guru's videos on YouTube. It takes time to look up products and put links into posts...something I wasn't aware of until I started doing it myself! But I can promise you...and those who know me in real life will know how honest I am, the rest of you will just have to take me at my word...I will never send you to shop somewhere that I wouldn't buy from. I will also never use an affiliate link for something I didn't like...a book I gave 2 stars to, or an item I thought was crappy. I will only ever use them for products I like because this blog is me, and it has to stand for something. I hope all of that makes sense!! In short, I'm not making a million off of you if you purchase, and you're not being charged more if you follow one of my links. I'm just trying to value myself and my time, and help all of you out at the same time.

I hope this giant rambling mess of a post makes a tiny bit of sense. I also hope that you all will stay with me to see what 2018 has in store for Tomes and Tequila!! If there is anything that you'd like to see on the blog, please leave a comment to let me know about it! I'm very open to suggestion. I'd love to hear if you like videos, FB Live chats, YouTube, Instagram Stories, and any of the other things I've mentioned adding to the mix!! And once again, thank you for making 2017 a great year for me and my blog.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Breath Of Life Devotional Review

 Breath of Life by Karen Ferguson review on Tomes and Tequila, Amazon Link

I have to preface this lovely devotional review with an apology for going so long between blog posts. I'll be writing up a full post detailing what's going on, but for those who haven't noticed the changes on my social media accounts...I'm planning on tweaking the blog some. The lack of posts has basically been me trying to wrap my head around what I wanted to do, and how I was going to do it. So, big ole apologies for disappearing right before the holidays. All I can really say for now is...I'm back!!

So, author Karen Ferguson contacted me about taking a look at her devotional Breath of Life: Living God's Promise of Peace in the 7 Dimensions of Wellness * and I thought I would give it a read for a couple of reasons that I think are important before I get too far into the review. The big one is that, although I love the IDEA of a devotional, I have found very few that I actually like. I will see a beautiful picture of one on Instagram, with a passage highlighted that I find incredibly inspiring...then I buy the book and can't connect with it, for whatever reason. I'm sure the problem in this scenario is me, but I REALLY would like to find one that I love.

Enter Breath of Life.

The book is pretty small at only 138 pages, and covering twenty-one days, but I honestly think I would've read a 365 day copy. For whatever reason, I really connected with this book and loved the message that author Karen Ferguson was trying to get across.

Her twenty one days are split up to cover what she calls the "7 Dimensions of Wellness": spiritual wellness, physical wellness, mental wellness, emotional wellness, social wellness, vocational wellness and financial wellness. And my favorite part of the whole book is the section at the end of each day featuring a contemporary worship song, a scripture verse to meditate on, a question for reflection, and a wellness tip. I can honestly tell you all that I've never really listened to contemporary christian music, but I have actually looked up each of the songs in this book and listened to them. And I may never have given it a chance if it weren't for this little nudge.

 Breath of Life by Karen Ferguson, review on Tomes and Tequila, Link to Amazon

The author is quick to point out that this devotional is for anyone, regardless of where they are in their "relationship with Jesus". But it is, of course, a very Christian book. So if you're looking for a devotional that isn't quite so full of God and Jesus...and those books ARE out there...this selection isn't going to be the one for you.

But if you are in the  market for a new devotional, one that is short and sweet, and covers every area of your life...I think this is definitely one to pick up. It left me feeling reinvigorated, and bolstered in my faith. It also gave me hope that there may be other devotionals floating around in the bookosphere that I'll enjoy! And I really connected with how she focuses on you as a whole person, in all of your facets. It really resonates with my recent efforts to take better care of myself...ALL of myself, including my spirit.

So, if you read devotionals and know of any others that you love and think I should read, please let me know in the comments. And be on the lookout for a post detailing the changes I'm planning to make to the blog!!! (I think they're good ones...)

OH!! And if you didn't happen to catch it yet, I did a Facebook live video with my daughter on the 21st of December that you can watch on my FB page HERE. We discussed our top 3 books of all time, along with some other silliness. I've also put an old video I did talking about getting the most out of your library up on YouTube, which you can find HERE. Let me know if you'd like me to make some more videos...and if you have any video suggestions (even if they're not about books!!).

*This post contains affiliate links, please see my review policy if you have any questions!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Good Widow Book Review

 The Good Widow on Amazon, review by Tomes and Tequila

Sorry for the long delay in content on the blog. It has been one thing after another recently, and I've been in a blogging slump. I'm thinking about changing things up a bit after the new year, and adding some other content in addition to the book reviews that I love so much. Hopefully those of you who have been reading me for a while won't mind the change, and will enjoy the addition of some new content that will come from my heart. And there will always be books. 😁

For my book club this last month we read The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke*. This isn't the first book of theirs that I've reviewed on the blog. You can find my reviews for The Year We Turned Forty Here, and Your Perfect Life over Here. I love that these books are written by two best friends, and most of them center around women close to my age, and are just all around great book club selections.

The Good Widow had a different feel than their previous books, as it's more of a mystery/thriller. Teacher Jacqueline "Jacks" Morales has been reasonably happily married to James for eight years, and although things haven't gone exactly as she'd hoped they would, her life isn't bad. But when the cops show up on her doorstep to tell her that her husband has died in a car accident in Hawaii, when she thought he was on a business trip in Kansas, her life is turned upside down. Things only get worse when she finds out he wasn't alone in the car, but was with a beautiful younger woman.

 When Nick, a good-looking fireman, shows up at her house and tells her his fiance is the woman who died with her husband, Jacks is intrigued. Can he help her figure out what was going on with the deceased couple, and what they were doing in Hawaii together? Will Jacks be able to figure out the man she thought she knew so well? And will her life ever be the same again?

I really enjoyed this book. As someone whose husband has traveled for work a LOT over the years, this has to be a woman's worst nightmare. Not only to lose your spouse, but then to find out that he's possibly led an entire life that you didn't know about? How do you even recover from something like that! And since he's passed away, you can't even beat him upside the head until you get all the answers you want! And you can't beat the other woman upside her head either because she's dead too!!! Worst...........nightmare.

I thought Jacks was a likable character, who occasionally made questionable decisions, but I'm sure if you were in her situation, you would also. The mood swings she suffered, and most definitely her guilt over laughing and smiling again, were I think spot on for what a lot of people feel after the loss of a loved one. Because no matter what she discovered about James, he was still her husband of eight years, and she loved him. That doesn't go away because someone did something wrong. So, I came out of this book loving Jacks.

I don't think I'd categorize this as a fast-paced thriller, but it definitely kept me interested enough to keep flipping pages until way past my bedtime. I was right there with Jacks, wanting to get to the bottom of things, and desperately thinking that there was some missing piece of the puzzle that we might not have seen yet. I wasn't necessarily looking behind every literary shower curtain, but I had a feeling that the authors probably weren't laying all the cards on the table for us to see. (that's an odd sentence, but I'm keeping it!!)

All of the ladies in my book club enjoyed this one, and I think it's a great book for people who read mysteries and thrillers, but are also fans of contemporary women's fiction and chick lit. It's not a heavy thriller, if that makes sense. But it's definitely a great book club selection because it's not a horribly long or hard book to read, and yet it has conversation fodder up the ying-yang. (that sentence works better in person I think)

So, if you haven't read this one yet, put it on your Christmas list. Or buy a copy for your friend who reads things by Liane Moriarty, Ruth Ware or B.A. Paris.

 *This post uses affiliate links. Please visit my review policy for more information.