On Lock Down Check In

Have I lost my mind yet..?

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I am holding up. I’ll be honest, initially when the word began to spread and sink in about the pandemic, my anxiety was through the roof! My oldest worried me because of her immune system, my middle child had a cold and I was trying to prevent the oldest and youngest from catching the cold my middle child and husband BOTH had. Oh, and yea in typical Mom fashion-I found time, from time to time, to worry about my own health. *insert wine drinking*

Okay, here’s what I’ve been doing to keep my sanity.

  • Completely taking advantage of the Hallmark weekend Christmas marathons. Currently this is their second weekend and I am loving it! Leave it to Christmas cheer to come through in the month of March and lift my spirits!
  • Staying on brand with Christmas, yes, yes I did, put Christmas lights back up in my living room. My kids love it for their night time Phineas and Ferb binges and I love it for late night kindle reading.
  • Cooking favorite foods. I made a delicious Mississippi pot roast a few days ago in the slow cooker and I am making a bit pot of spaghetti today! I can’t wait. There is something really calming about cooking. Add on the excitement of eating something you love, and this whole process has really taken my mind off the craziness in the world around me.
  • My mailbox is literally at the end of my street but let me tell you! That few minutes there and back, make me so happy. I enjoy my little bit of fresh air. It is a nice, quick way to get out of the house.
  • Try and be productive. Obviously, being an online college student I have things I have to do; discussion posts, reading for school, papers. Trust me, there are days where I have no motivation at all to do any of these things. If mentally, my head just isn’t in it then I don’t force myself but I do muster up the motivation later that day or the next day to use my time wisely and get things done! This goes for school, cleaning, laundry. Don’t force yourself if mentally you’re not up for it, but when you are feeling productive, immerse yourself in the feeling and make it happen!
  • And of course, reading. I have been seeing a lot of readers admit that they can’t concentrate on reading right now. My reading has been quite the opposite actually. I have been craving, fun, escapist romances, Graphic novels, and memoirs! I am so in the mood for travel romances right now which I typically gravitate to during spring and summer anyway, but with being stuck inside this year-those kind of stories are really calling out to me! If you’re not in the mood for reading, it’s okay! It’s understandable. There is a lot going on in the world right now. It’s okay.

 

Thanks for sticking around Babes, I hope you are taking care of yourself. Staying sane. Mentally taking care of yourself, are good on toilet paper and good on food. I am thinking of you, rooting for you.

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Show Yourself Some Grace

Remember when we thought 2020 was going to be our year?

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I am currently sitting in the bed listening to The Summer House by Jenny Hale. I just hung up the phone with my oldest son’s teacher. She called to let me know she emailed me the link for their distant learning which begins next Monday, March 23rd. Immediately my mind drifted to: how are we going to juggle this? I am online student so during the day, I need my computer. My husband is now doing distance learning for his school. Okay, we need a schedule or something. It’s the moments like this, that exhaust me. I just want ONE DAY where I’m not worrying about something, not trying to figure out something.

Yesterday was when we got the notification that school being out was extended through April 3rd. I started freaking out: we need more snacks, we need more snacks! The kids will be home all day. After days of being in the house, I got in my car to drive to Dollar General. I felt bad. I felt like I was breaking some kind of rule-but what do you do when you simply need to run to the store for a few things you need? Right now my worry is about next school year. No one has said it, but I think here in Texas, the school year is over. I’m in that weird state of worrying about the unknown.

I know this is a weird time for all of us, but I hope that amidst all of the craziness, you find the time to show yourself some grace. That is exactly what I’m doing today and tomorrow-full self-care mode! I need to get my mind right the best way I know how..basically reading romances, watching Hallmark, drinking wine and journaling! Be nice to yourselves Babes. Use this time to catch up on that Podcast you haven’t had the chance to listen to. Put it on while you’re making dinner or folding laundry. Rewatch an old favorite movie.  Find a favorite childhood show. Last night I introduced my kids to Lion King 1 1/2 and they loved it! I forgot how hilarious it is. Besides that, we have had quite the Connect Four tournaments going on.

I hope you are taking care of yourselves. Show yourself some Grace-I’m only a message away if you need to chat.

xx.

 

 

Mid Month Reading Wrap up

It’s Monday, March 16th. Its 11:05 in the morning as I type this..and I’m exhausted. I was wide awake until 2:30 this morning, slugged out of bed at 8-tried to do school work: and here we are. I wanted to share with you all how my reading so far in March is going, so without further ado..!

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Inappropriate by Vi Keeland. I am used to reading Vi Keeland as part of her author duo with Penelope Ward, so I was really excited to see a new release of hers alone. At this point, I am so used to these two as a duo, I don’t even know if I could tell the difference between a book written by the duo versus individually written books if I was blind folded. I rated Inappropriate a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  There wasn’t anything about this book that blew me away; it kicked off with a lot of promise and potential but in the end, ended up just being an okay book.

His Outlaw Valentine by Jessa Kane. Jessa Kane’s novellas can be so twisted and feel so wrong, all the while feeling so damn sexy. His Outlaw Valentine is a friends to lovers romance between best friends Jessie and Ryan. Ryan is OBSESSED with Jessie. Like, it took me a while to get into it there for a minute, but Jessa Kane has this way of making it work, unapologetically, and I liked it. 4 stars.

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Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin. I stayed up one night, binge reading all four of the books in this graphic novel series. Lesbian love. 90s nostalgia. A music store is where the bad ass heroines work, and where the new girl learns that her co-workers are all part of an all girl vigilante fight club. It is amazing. I was sad once finished because it didn’t look like we’d be getting anymore books,  but through some digging on Goodreads it looks like a spin off is coming!

Perky by Julia Kent. Perky is hands down, my favorite romantic comedy so far in the Do-Over series. The novella prior to book one wasn’t bad-I wasn’t the biggest fan of book one, but then I got to Perky! It is laugh out loud hilarious. What happens when the ex-boyfriend who you are 100% positive leaked some compromising photos of you to the internet shows up as part of your best friends wedding? You give his ass a hard time (obviously)! But, what happens when you start to wonder if he really did it or not..? I loved this.

Murders and Metaphors by Amanda Flower.  Seriously, with the Little Women craze we have going on at the moment, I can’t recommend Murders and Metaphors enough! This Alcott classic tries its hardest to help Violet, our protagonist and sleuth, solve the latest murder in her small New York town. This series is addicting, hands down my favorite cozy mystery series so far. I love the magical bookshop setting, Violet’s Grandmother (Grandma Daisy) and Emerson and Faulkner (the shops cat and crow). If you are a fan of cozies, this series is a must read!

Secrets We Told The City: Poems by J.R. Rogue and Kat Savage

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“I’m caught up in the way you breathe me in differently.” I loved this. I find myself awake at 2 in the morning, one clicking away on kindle unlimited poetry collections and man..there is some not so good stuff out there! But, I really like both of these authors individually, and this collection of theirs together was so. Damn. Good. One of those collections that had my emotions all over the place. My mind was racing back and forth, reminiscing on past and present situations. I just love when a collection is able to do that. Bravo to these ladies, they killed it with this one.

The Way To A Man’s Heart by Frankie Love. I’ll post a picture of book 1

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I binge read the first three novellas from this series in basically a day or two. They all have these cute pun intended titles and bright, cute covers. All three books were 3 star reads for me. ENTER RANT: Okay, my issue or side-eye with this series is more of a personal preference, or something I am noticing. Each heroine in this series is completely innocent-she has never had sex. I completely understand that for some women, this is reality. They are in their 20s and have no sexual experience. Trust me, NO SHADE! However, in a genre written for women, BY women, I don’t get why this has to be the NORM! It feels like it is saying, only innocent women get a happy ever after. I as a reader, am not going to judge an author for writing a heroine who is whatever age, and has slept with a few guys, or girls. I’m not going to judge that at all. At this point, I’d absolutely welcome it. I am getting a little tired of what I’m seeing.

A Witch In Time by Constance Sayers. I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t love A Witch In Time more. It had all the makings of a five star read for me; reincarnation, story following more than one heroine who are all connected in some way, a love transcending time. In some ways, the things I didn’t love about the book were also, not that bad. This book is really the story of four women with our main character living in present day. She learns that she is the reincarnation of a woman from 1890s France named Juliet, who made some choices-and ended up with a curse placed on her. The curse entails not living beyond your 34th birthday and our present day heroine, Helen, is quickly approaching her day! Throughout the book, we tag along with Helen as she relives her past lives. Cool. Each woman’s story felt like its own book which absolutely should have worked for me, but I think after a while it felt more like a drag.

My last and most recent finish was Open Book by Jessica Simpson.

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I gave this 5 stars, I really liked it! I listened to the audiobook which Jessica narrates herself and it was a blast. I love her honesty, her willingness to poke fun at herself and her ability to share some of the toughest times of her life; horrible moments with girls at school as a teen, not making the Mickey Mouse Club. I think for anyone who grew up during the time of the boy band boom and when Britney, Christina and Jessica came out- this book will definitely add some perspective to things we probably assumed at the time but weren’t sure of. I remember watching and loving Newlyweds and thinking her and Nick Lachey were perfect together; Jessica’s recounts of their relationship weren’t done in a harmful way, but still provided what she was going through during that time. I really liked it and if you’re a fan of memoir, I think this one is definitely worth the read.

 

xx, those are the books I have read so far in March. Let me know what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading!

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Spring Reading List

Hi Friends, let’s chat about what I hope to read this Spring.

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Yours In Scandal by Lauren Layne

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Lauren Layne must’ve known I needed a new series after I read and loved her Central Park Pact series. Yours In Scandal is expected to release on March 10th and is the romance between Robert Davenport, New York’s youngest mayor, recently named Citizen magazines, Man of the Year who is aiming to bid for the government seat and Adeline Baker-the daughter of his opponent. Yours In Scandal sounds like it will be perfect for spring reading.

The Anti-Honeymoon by Bethany Michaels

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Expected to release on March 16th, The Anti-Honeymoon by Bethany Michaels  is the romance between Jenna and Zack. Jenna’s fiancé is making their wedding day into a publicity stunt so she decides screw this! She should’ve never given him the time of day anyway, and ditches him. Her getaway driver is her now ex’s former business partner, Zack and it sounds like they take advantage of the already planned honeymoon, while switching things up a bit; rather than couples yoga, they take kick boxing classes  and choose pizza instead of five star dining!  It sounds so much fun and there is something about starting over, something new that feels perfect for Spring.

Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu

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I was very surprised and grateful to be approved for Destination Wedding on Netgalley. It doesn’t release until June, but it is at the top of my list for reading this Spring. Destination Wedding follows our heroine Tina and it sounds like she wants to belong, but is in the midst of figuring out where. Does she want to be in India or America? Brooklyn or Bombay? NOT PICTURED: me totally freaking out, excited to read this book! My fingers are crossed that it is full of Indian culture. I love the premise so much, because EVEN AS A 30 SOMETHING..SAME SAME SAME! I think we need more stories that reflect the idea of not really having things figured out or knowing where your place is.

Matzah Ball Surprise by Laura Brown

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Gaby needs a date to her family’s Passover dinner so she asks this guy at the gym, Levi. I am so ready to dive into this romance. A Jewish heroine? Sign me up! I have yet to read a romance with a Jewish character and I need to right my wrongs. I am missing out am so excited that this will be my first. Levi is the hot guy at the gym, who also happens to be deaf. The cover to this is adorable and the premise of this story, the inclusion in this story just makes me so happy. I am loving the diversity I am seeing with 2020 releases. My fingers (and toes) are crossed that this is amazing!

She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway

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Kristin Rockaway is back again! (I may or may not have been singing that to the Backstreet Boys song, in my best AJ voice) How To Hack A Heartbreak was a favorite read of mine last year and I am so happy she has a new title coming out. She’s Faking It releases in June, but I have a copy via Netgalley and am so excited. This follows Bree who is a college dropout, working as a food deliverer (think, Grubhub). She’s living a chill life. Bree posts something on Instagram and quickly finds herself as a quickly growing self help Influencer. I think Kristin Rockaway is perfect for this type of story. I loved what she did with How To Hack a Heartbreak, so I’m really looking forward to what she has in store for us with Bree’s story.

Blind Date With A Book Boyfriend by Lucy Eden

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Blind Date With A Book Boyfriend sounds so good Babes. Our heroine is Jordyn who flies from New York to Culver City, California to interview for the job of a lifetime. She walked into The Bookstore looking for a steamy romance or two, to pass the time before her big meeting (as one does) and walks out with books and Mike. Mike is this gorgeous, sweet cinnamon roll of a guy! This one is already out and is only about 166 pages. I have been devouring novellas like candy lately and am really looking forward to getting into this one. I mean, look at this amazing cover. I’m in love already!

 

Okay friends, those are the reads at the top of my Spring reading list. Let me know what some of your Spring reading plans are. I would love to know. We will chat again soon.

xx.

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Trying To Do All the Things (& failing)

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Here’s the thing; I want to do Everything sometimes and here’s the thing with trying to do all of the things; it is exhausting! I am getting better at telling myself it is okay to take a break, which is hard to do in this online world of trying to be relevant and all. During your days off, someone else is posting pretty pictures, someone else’s Youtube video went up, someone else posted an amazing blog post. This past week I have been in a rut creatively, totally uninspired.. but I realized I miss blogging. I was in a weird fog where I didn’t know what to post on here anymore, or if I even wanted to. I thought and thought about it though, and I came to the conclusion that- even with my blog, the only pressure I was experiencing, was pressure I was putting on myself. Let’s be real here: if you’re paying for it, it’s yours to do with it as you will! So, that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I love talking about the books I’m reading and the bookish community has so many platforms available for us to do so; Do I think it’s doable to talk about your passion on more than one of these platforms? Absolutely. I think what I’m learning is key though, is to remember that reading is fun.  It’s something I love to my core. It’s been a faithful companion through some of the most difficult times in my life. Anything that goes along with my love of reading, should remain fun as well, or it’s not getting any of my attention.

I found myself conflicted on what content to put where; what should I talk about on Youtube? What should I put on my Blog? Which platform has more of a following? That’s the one specific content should go versus the other. It just got to be too much.

All of this to say, cheers to doing what we want in 2020. FallingForRomance will continue to consist of me gushing about romances I’ve been reading, but it will also have my random thoughts, crazy ideas, moments of failure, lessons learned and all the things in between. I want to engage more with my readers, and disappearing for months at a time doesn’t help with that! Also, I think it’s cool when creators I follow, share more of themselves.  We are in fact, more than just people who love to read.

I am so excited to see where 2020 leads. I hope your February has been amazing. I would really love to know any tips or advice you have for when you’re feeling creatively in a rut. Let me know.

xx.

Cutting Down my Screen Time in 2020

Hello Friends, it has been a minute since I logged on. December wore me out just a bit, but I am getting my life together and am excited to get some content posted for you all. Let’s catch up.

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I can’t complain about 2020 so far. I am not overwhelming myself with a bunch of goals I probably won’t stick with or a list of resolutions. I am taking life day by day and it has been pretty chill. I have one big self-loving project I am working on and so far, so good: and that is to cut back on my screen time.

I have chatted with my therapist about this a few times and she asked me something/put something in my head the first time we talked about it: she basically told me to ask myself how I feel after I log off social media. A lightbulb went off in my head at that moment, months ago when she said this. I began to really pay attention to this and reflect on it with each meaningless scroll I found myself partaking in.

Here’s the thing: I kept using the fact that a good 98% of the accounts I follow on Instagram are book accounts. Instagram is this world where no one is posting about the really crappy day they had, how their face broke out or that they still can’t fit into their favorite jeans. Everything is perfectly filtered and we’re all living our best lives on there! The bookish corner though is not exempt for turning your okay mood, into a crappy one.

I love, love, love my account-the friendships I’ve built-the opportunities that have presented themselves-thanks to Instagram, but, I am giving myself 40 minutes a day to be part of it. I have to make those 40 minutes count, because once my phone lets me know that limit is reached, it’s a wrap until the next day.computer

I have been consciously paying attention to when I am grabbing my phone and why-it boils down to habit and boredom. When things are quiet and not a lot is going on, I have this natural reaction to grab my phone. Stuck in traffic? Grab my phone for a quick scroll. In the line at the grocery store? Grab my phone for a quick scroll. You know what else is on my phone? My Kindle App, Scribd, Overdrive, Audible and my  word search games-apps that would allow me to squeeze in more reading and stretch my brain a bit. When my therapist planted the bug in my mind and had me thinking of how I felt when I log off social media, in all honesty, it was shitty. It is this constant rat race against the algorithm and stupid rules to try and get noticed, gain followers and real talk! It’s exhausting!

I think my biggest issue personally, is I grew up at a time where I remember computers becoming what they are, I have seen the evolution of cell phones. I know what life is like without these things, so it’s like if I lived without them once upon a time, why is it so hard to put them down and do something without them in tow now? I find myself so wrapped up in Instagram stories, and meaningless scrolling that I am not paying attention to the moments in real life, passing me by. I don’t want to miss anymore of those moments. I want to see how much more reading I can get done if I fill those few moments with reading a few pages rather than scrolling for no reason-and stopping in a crappy mood.  I think in the end, I’ll be better for it. I am 33 and not afraid to say that even at 33, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in comparison; what am I not doing? why am I not growing as quickly as__________ I am hoping that my project gets me into the headspace of, it’s for fun and it doesn’t matter. I am not getting paid to do this, it’s a hobby, it’s for fun. I don’t need to be so involved at all times of the day.

So, here is to doing things with more intention, and a meaningful 40 minutes a day.

xx.

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Spirit Bound by Christine Feehan

“He was standing in the shadows and I swear the earth moved when our eyes met. I knew. Right then I knew it was him and it was always supposed to be him.”

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Spirit Bound is book 2 in the paranormal suspense romance series by Christine Feehan, the Sea Haven series. Full of obsession, hidden identities and special psychic abilities, this romance between Judith and Stefan was a great follow up to Water Bound. Stefan Prakenskii is the brother to the hero, Lev, from the previous book. In the beginning we see Stefan in a jail cell with this guy Jean-Claude who obsesses over photos of this woman-Judith. Situations transpire, Stefan busts out of jail and makes his way to Sea Haven where Judith resides. This is their romance.

Let’s start with the cons and end on a positive. I only had two issues with this book: the first being the hero’s use of the word exotic when describing the Japanese heroine’s eyes as exotic. I’m not sure, but I feel like this a term we are tired of seeing used to describe Asian women. It bothered me. If it shouldn’t, please let me know.

My second issue was that I felt like it did drag slightly. I think this book could have been 30ish pages shorter than what it was.

This book felt pretty on brand with the previous one: the hero comes into Sea Haven, falls for the heroine and makes it his mission to protect her from the circumstances going on around her after doing a little digging. So much of this book lies in Stefan posing as Thomas to Judith, but I appreciated that it wasn’t the entire book-your girl was getting confused with both names being tossed around. Just like with the previous book, the hero is written as this big tough guy, assassin who becomes smitten with the heroine because she sees the real him and makes him feel-something he has been unable to do before.

I liked the way the author wove the story together-specifically the heroine’s history and how things played out in the end. Jean-Claude, who we see Stefan in jail with in the beginning of the book is responsible for the death of the heroine’s brother-she loved Jean-Claude but was unaware of the man he truly was. This obviously is a huge factor for the conflict with Stefan hiding so much of himself from her.

I think it was a solid second book in the series.  I’m excited to move onto the third book.

xx

 

 

 

Water Bound by Christine Feehan

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“Before you turn her world upside down, you make sure you are prepared for what her world has to be. You have a choice. She doesn’t. Certain things have to be in place for her to cope.”

Water Bound was published in July 2010 by Berkley publishing. It is book 1 in the Sea Haven series which apparently is a spin off of a previous series by Christine Feehan. This is a paranormal suspense romance between our heroine Rikki and hero, Lev. Rikki is an autistic bad ass elemental who controls water and Lev is basically a trained assassin who falls in love with her after she saves him in the ocean.

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This was my first five star read of the year and the only book I’ve rated above a four star up to this point. I loved it, so much. One of the “goals” I have for this year is to explore more of the romance subgenre’s I have neglected to read in previous years. Whoa, am I glad I did. I read and finished this book and immediately hauled the entire series. I am hooked.

The pacing of this book was done so well. Initially in the book, Rikki, who feels most comfortable out on the water, is tossed overboard by this huge wave. With Rikki’s ability to control water, so many of the analogies in this book are done with beautiful water descriptions.  Looking back it’s super obvious that Rikki and Lev would absolutely have to have their “meet cute” via water. Lev is not a good guy, especially in the beginning. He is rough around the edges and slightly unlikeable but it doesn’t last long. Somehow, Christina Feehan writes him in a way that you know there is more beyond the surface and you have to give it time to unravel. Rikki feels that being so she saved him, he is now her responsibility and she sees the real him. This is a huge part in what shatters his armor and kicks off the beginnings of him falling for her.

“he was drowning. He’d lost his footing and he’d sunk hard and fast. He desperately needed an anchor. She was turning him inside out and he wasn’t doing a thing to stop it.”

The plot gradually continues with these two spending a lot of time cramped up in Rikki’s home, which is new for her: she doesn’t allow anyone in her home, for their safety. The author takes two very damaged people, who are both loners in the world and puts them in Rikki’s home together. I won’t go into their back stories here because those are for them to tell you, but so much of the suspense element to this book deals with the heroines past and what I love about this book is the hero’s determination to prove to her she never did anything wrong.

The middle portion of this book is the hero coming to the realization that the heroine lives with autism and what sold me on him, is we never see him become frustrated with her. Rather, once he figures it out, we see this determination to always figure out the adjustments he needs to make to make her feel comfortable. You see the heroine struggle with trying to figure out how the hero will fit into her life: she has so many routines-but love always finds a way.

The end portion of the book had me on the edge of my seat and had a scene where Rikki uses her powers that brought tears to my eyes. I have quite a few friends who were rooting for me while reading this book-they love this series-and I can see why. It was so good.

xx.

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MORE & LESS

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Recently, I found myself completely worked up about something I had no control over. I’ll be honest and admit I was kind of hurt and it bothered me for an entire morning. Now that time has passed, I look back at the time I wasted being so worked up about something on the internet.

This year I want to do better at recognizing when I need to disconnect. I love the online bookish community, but there are times when it brings more stress than it does enjoyment. It’s so easy to fall into the traps of being too concerned about who is shouting out who, who is left out of those shoutouts-what advanced copies are being sent out and the fact that you’re not receiving them. Things that in the grand scheme of it all, do not matter whatsoever.

This year I want to do more reading and less scrolling. When I can’t sleep in the middle of the night, I want to immediately grab my kindle instead of my phone. I want to consciously choose to spend those moments reading, rather than immediately going to social media to see what is going on.

I think I tend to do a lot of aimless scrolling when I’m bored. Rather than getting on social media, or spending hours upon hours of youtube watching, listen to an audiobook instead. Or catch up on one of my favorite podcasts.

Look, I get it. As creators we have to utilize social media to boost our work, but like with anything else-I am beginning to take a good, hard look at how I feel once I’m done scrolling. Most of the time when I click out of my apps I have these ideas of I need to do better. When in actuality, I am doing okay and that’s enough. 

Plan of action: I am finally committing to setting a screen time limit each day which for my social media apps is set for an hour and for youtube is set for 2. I am so excited for the new ways I find to spend my time this year.

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Weekly Wrap Up

 

Weekly Wrap Up

We have made it to another Sunday friends! Let’s wrap up this week.

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This past week I participated in 2020’s first round of Smutathon which is hosted by Riley Marie and Ginger Reads Lainey over on Youtube. My ‘vlog’ went up this morning, which I’ll leave here for you all. I already have a 2020 Favorite from reading this week which I am excited about.

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My listening this week mostly consisted of audiobooks for the books I was reading. I am back in school, so audiobooks are a lifesaver after a day full of reading and I can longer convince my brain to look at words and make sense of them! Podcast wise, I am going back and listening to older episodes of the Fated Mates podcast and I listened to Season 2, Episode 22 of the Currently Reading podcast. It isn’t a romance focused podcast, but I really enjoy the conversations between the two hosts.

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I really want to find a good show to watch when I take a break from reading or am done with homework for the day. I love old school comedy so I am on the prowl for something good. I binged Everybody Loves Raymond a few years ago when it was on Netflix  and loved that, so I am thinking maybe Frasier or Cheers next. If you all have any recommendations let me know. I did watch a few episodes of the (classic) version of the Twilight Zone. I love that show so much and am currently on season 3.

Not much from me this week. I really focused on getting books read. I am on the hunt for great Romances this year, so I am trying to be a little low key and actually focus on getting reading done.

I’d love to know how your 2020 is going so far. Have you had a five star read yet? Let me know.

xx.