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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#SmutAThon

Happy Day 1 of SmutAthon. I wanted to jump on here for anyone who may have missed that this romance readathon is happening!

This readathon is hosted by Riley and Lainey and takes place January 4th through the 11th. I will post both of their announcement videos for you:

The hosts have also created a Roaring Twenties themed Bingo Board with the prompts for us which you can find here.

I am playing it safe this round being that I start back to school next week, so I only have four books on my to be read list, but am very excited! I will leave a link to my video below.

I would love to know if you plan to participate. It is so much fun and all about reading romance for a week. I hope you’ll join us.

Chat with you soon. xx.

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No Faves in 2019

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Okay, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way before I start this post: About 98% of the reason I don’t have a worst or favorites list posted, is honestly out of procrastination and poor planning on my part. Lesson learned for 2020: do better at tracking favorites throughout the year. I have plans in mind to help me with better tracking because for real, when I sat down to start making a list of ‘favorites,’ I became extremely overwhelmed.  As I roamed through my 2019 reads on Goodreads, I realized that books I was positive I’d read in reading years prior, were actually read this year, I saw many titles I’d honestly forgotten about and there was a plethora of titles that I remember reading but couldn’t tell you a single thing about.

My reading goal for 2019 was to read 75 books and I’ve read over 150. As of today, I am less than 10 books away from reading 200 books actually. That is the bomb, and I am so proud of myself. (You know there is a ‘but’ coming) The issue for me is, as I browsed through my reads for 2019, I became aware that at some point during the year my reading became more quantity focused, instead of quality focused.

It is so motivating and inspiring being a part of the online book community and seeing how many books a week some of my friends read. It definitely pushes me and motivates me to step my game up and read more. This is cool. I like seeing how I can incorporate reading into my day to day. What I found myself doing was binging quick reads. Totally fine, but in the end this caused me to neglect so many books that have been sitting unread on my shelves.  Books that at some point sounded interesting enough for me to haul, but also may require a bit more attention and time.

I’ve come to rely heavily on audiobooks. I love audiobooks. Listening to so many though, when I pick up a book that doesn’t have an audiobook available, I cringe a bit inside at the thought of having to actually read the book myself. This is crazy to me, because once upon a time that is the only way I consumed a book. I have seen how many more books I am capable of reading with audiobooks available and how quickly, so thinking of how slowly I read without an audiobook messes with my mojo. It really became about picking up books I could make my way through fast so I could move onto the next book and make my way through it fast!

I remember reaching my reading goal earlier than I tend to. In years past, I typically hit my reading goal mid-June. This year, by the time June came, I’d already surpassed it and as much as I wanted to just chill, it became this rat race..can I hit 120? 120 turned into 150. I think challenging myself is fine, but I would get on audible escape and look for books less than 6 hours, or so many pages and go with that rather than something longer.

Did I read books this year that standout? Absolutely. Do I have favorites? Yes. I am not going to stress myself out though with curating a list this year. Most of the books I loved, have been mentioned either here on the blog, or numerous times over on my Youtube channel. I want 2020 to be the year of dedicating time to the books that blow my mind. Showing love to those slow but steadies. Making dents in those chunkers. I have so many titles that have been calling my name and I’m constantly putting them off, choosing instead, something I can read quicker. I want 2020 to be the year of quantity. I know, I know.. we don’t know what we’re in for when we go into a book. I get it, but I have so many neglected gems sitting on my shelves and I want 2020 to be the year I rectify that.

At the end of 2020, when asked for favorites I want to be able to rattle off titles without having to revert back to Goodreads. I want to just know off the top of my head, whereas with 2019, it really took some though and a few glances back to my Read Shelf.

I would love to hear what your 2019 reading favorites were. Was it an easy list to make?

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Weekly Wrap Up

Weekly Wrap Up

This past week went by in such a haze. Over on my Youtube channel, I have been going so hard with trying to stay on top of #Vlogmas, that it has consumed so much of my life. It has been fun, I’m proud of myself; up to yesterday I had filmed and uploaded everyday. It feels like though, that I haven’t really consumed much. December is almost over and it feels like all I have to show for it is a video everyday. *the struggle* the weird thoughts I tend to have.

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I had two really stand out reads from this past week. Most recently, was Romancing The Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels. I was in the mood for nonfiction but romance at the same time and decided what a perfect time to remove this gem from the to be read cart. Whether wanting to create a romance novel of your own, or in my case, to step your review game up, I think this gem is a read that’s definitely worth it if you love the genre and want a bit more clarification on the mechanics which make it work.

I also read and loved (of course) Insatiable by Melanie Harlow. This is such an emotional and sexy as hell friends to lovers romance between Noah and Meg that to my core, hit all the right spots.

I chat about it in a recent video on my channel where I break down and chat a bit about a few of my favorite romance tropes..

 

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On audiobook I have been listening to Fluffy by Julia Kent which I really recommend if you are subscribed to Audible Escape. I highly recommend reading the novella prior to this book, Little Miss Perfect, but this one is hilarious. It is a friends to lovers’ish romance between Will and Mallory. All I’ll say is “my high school crush thinks I’m a porn star.” If anything, read it for the hilarious scene the leads to this quote!

It is safe to say, I am addicted to the Fated Mates podcast. I recently listened to Season 2, Episode 15 which is a recommendations episode. Click here for more info and to check them out.

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At 1 AM this morning, I watched Christmas On my Mind on Hallmark which starred, Alice from Twilight! She did a really good job. She was always my favorite side character in those movies and I’ve missed seeing her. It is so nice to see her in the starring role and in a Hallmark movie.

Of course I am trying my best to keep up with fellow creators vlogmas videos. One I have been loving is my girl Donna Tsundoku. I love her channel, her videos are so creative and I really look forward to seeing what she is reading next.

I hope your week was amazing and your December has been one you’ll definitely remember. I will chat with you soon friends. take care of yourselves. xx.

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#Blogmas Christmas In Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas

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Christmas In Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas was such a joy to read. At the core of this book is Cooper and his brother Elliott. Cooper is headed off to a rustic cabin in the Winter Valley woods to care for a herd of wild mustangs while Elliott stays back at their ranch, Maverick Ranch, trying to keep things running smoothly. With family visiting at the ranch, things are a bit crazy for him.

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While on his way to the cabin, Cooper discovers a surprise who truly made the story for me! It was a little heartbreaking, but such a delight to see incorporated into the story.

What I admire about Jodi Thomas after having read Christmas In Winter Valley, and her holiday romance released in 2018, is her ability to weave multiple story lines together without things being confusing and each story leaving my fulfilled in the end. There was a lot going on in this book, but each story felt significantly special and wrapped up nicely.

In this book, all of the main characters have a romance and a happy ever after. Elliott has a second chance romance when a blast from his past shows up unannounced to make sure she no longer has feelings for him before she gets married. Cooper has a blooming romance with the town veterinarian who helps save his life when he suffers an injury, and the ranch’s cook has a romance with a ranch hand whose been known to ‘float’ from place to place.

I think when writing different storylines, there tends to be times when certain plot lines overshadow others. Jodi Thomas definitely does not fall into that category. I don’t know how she is able to write an entire cast of characters whom you grow to care for and show just the right amount of attention to them all, but she does. It worked really well.

xx.

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