#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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Weekly Wrap Up

Weekly Wrap Up

Happy Sunday Friends. I hope your week has been amazing. This past week was my last week in my current two courses. Last week I had a research paper due for each class and this week was *sigh* final exam week. I won’t get into specifics of how bad it sucked, but I will leave you with this: I’m glad it’s over. 

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I am currently in the middle of 2 audiobooks and loving them both despite the fact that I have been too busy to listen to them these past few days. I did manage to read one book this week, and that was Low Country Christmas by Lee Tobin McClain. I rated this holiday romance 4/5 stars. It was may first romance by the author, and I really enjoyed it. I began reading this while participating in TisTheSeasonAthon and finished it up this week.

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The only thing I listened to this week was one episode of the Fated Mates podcast, where hosts Jen and Sarah chatted about their favorite romances of 2019. You can find that episode here.

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Last night, I introduced my daughter to the beloved holiday family film, The Santa Clause. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I watched that movie but I had obviously blanked at some point on how hilarious it is. It was so good, I am so glad after all this time, I finally rewatched it! And my daughter Loved it!

Over on Youtube, Vlogmas is in full effect! I am patting myself (tiredly) on the back because your girl has posted a video everyday in the month of December. I don’t want December to go, but..Vlogmas is exhausting! It’s fun, but exhausting. It definitely challenges you creatively. I may do a post about it at some point, but yes, fun and exhausting!

One of my favorites to keep up with during Vlogmas is my friend Michael, from the channel Michael Reads. I am always so interested in seeing what he’s reading, especially his short story collections, he has the cutest niece  and I love his coffee shop visits!

I just wanted to pop in and say Hey this morning. I hope your December has been amazing so far.

*for more content, make sure if you are a YouTube fan, you hit the subscribe button on my channel. I’ll leave one of my latest videos here!

#Blogmas 12 Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

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Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber was a reread for me. I read it for the first time November of 2018 and loved it. It is with great joy, to say that I enjoyed it just as much this go around as I did the first time.

This is the enemies to lovers, holiday romance between Julia and her jerk of a neighbor, Cain Maddox.  Julie works at Macy’s and is up for a promotion where she could be working in the store’s social media department. It is between Julie and another employee for the position and the deciding factor boils down to, who can create a blog and generate the biggest following in the allotted time. Julie has no idea what she would create a blog about, until her best friend recommends starting a blog about killing her jerk neighbor Cain with kindness.

Cain’s last relationship dealt with him falling for an employee who used him to gain a promotion then ditching him once he got it, so this obviously causes some issues when he learns that Julie has basically done the same thing (minus the ditching part!)

What I find lovely about rereading is the comfort in returning to a story you’ve already grown to love and knowing that it is still going to come through for you. That’s what this story represents for me. I just know I will return to it every holiday season. At the core of this story is kindness. Julie literally starts a project to be kind to Cain, regardless of how much of a jerk he is to her. I like that. I like how Debbie Macomber makes that the center of the story and sticks with it.

xx.

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#Blogmas Past Vlogmas Recommendations

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I absolutely love Vlogmas where Youtube creators will vlog everyday in December leading up to Christmas. I feel like it’s when creators creativity really shines through with having to come up with daily content, edit and upload. I was thinking of some of my favorite Vlogmas videos from past years. I had to do a bit of digging but I managed to track down a few to share.

Cheyenne Barton is one of my all time favorite Youtubers. I could literally post all of her videos, but I won’t do that. Please, go check her out though. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend Connor and beautiful cat Sophie. Her vlogs are so cozy and as soon as I get notified she’s posted one, all nonsense ceases so I can tune in!

 

Maria from the channel May Seventeenth is another Favorite of mine. She is originally from Spain but lives in Paris now. I love seeing Paris through her eyes.

 

I have been following Alexis Belon since Myspace days and while she hasn’t really posted in 2019, I don’t mind going back and rewatching her videos. She is a New York City vlogger and like Maria, I love getting to see her city through her eyes. We aren’t seeing the touristy parts of the city, you’re seeing the everyday hustle and bustle from someone from there and still living there. My Fingers are crossed she comes back to making videos again soon.

 

Lastly, I think anyone who reads books and subscribes to someone on Youtube who reads book knows about Reagan from Peruse Project. While we don’t read the same books, a few years ago she created a separate channel for Vlogmas. It might’ve been intended for vlogs period but it mostly consists of vlogs and sadly, she hasn’t uploaded to it in 2 years. I really, really enjoyed her Vlogmas videos and lucky for us, they are still up.

 

I wanted to share these favorites in the case you are doing Vlogmas and maybe need some inspiration or just need channels to go binge! I really love/have loved these channels and hope you find something you like.

xx.

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#Blogmas Gift Ideas for Little Readers

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Here are a few book recommendations for the little readers in your life:

Home Alone and Home Alone Lost In New York by Jason Rekulak and illustrated by Kim Smith.

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I am all about introducing my kids to classic television and film. We hauled the illustrated edition of Home Alone when it first released and I read it out loud to my kids. They loved it, it was a hit! So, I ordered the dvd and yet again, another hit. Their laughter makes me so happy, especially when they are laughing at a book! Every Christmas we sit around and revisit Home Alone. I didn’t know Home Alone 2 was out until one day at Barnes and Noble as I browsed the children’s books as my four year old played with their train set. I sat and read to him while he played and the story and art work are just as fantastic as the first book.

The next recommendation is another book I read to my four year old on one of our bookstore visits, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup and illustrated by Matt Tavares.

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The Gingerbread Pirates kick off with Jim and his Mom baking cookies for Santa. Jim’s favorite gingerbread man is Captain Cookie who carries a gingerbread cutlass and has a toothpick peg leg. Jim doesn’t want Captain Cookie to be eaten so he keeps him near his bed. That night, Captain Cookie sets off on an adventure to track down his pirate crew. I loved this story so much and the artwork is amazing. A must read for your little readers!

Brad Meltzer has a wonderful ongoing children series called, Ordinary People Change the World, and my kids love it!

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My daughter loves I Am Lucille Ball and I Am Rosa Parks and my boys love I Am Jackie Robinson. Meltzer creatively teaches young readers about these phenomenal people from their beginnings to the amazing things they eventually did. The artwork is very accessible for kids; it is almost like reading a comic book. The books are perfection and I think your young readers will really enjoy!

This last one is an absolute favorite of mine and has been since I was a kid. It makes me so happy to have shared it with my babies and that they too, love it!

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The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf (as told to Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith) This gem is the wolf’s perspective and how the story we have all been told is wrong. All he was trying to do was ask his neighbors, the pigs, for a cup of sugar to make his dear old granny a birthday cake. He didn’t mean to blow their houses down and such, but he had a really bad cold. I love this story way more than the original story and the artwork is so, so good! Haul this one and read it to your little ones. They will love it.

xx.

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#Blogmas It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

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Let’s just preface this with saying that initially when I finished It Started With Christmas, I felt like the ending redeemed the rest of the book. As days go by though, I think my mind is changing..

It Started With Christmas follows Holly. Holly and her Nana go to their families cabin in the hills outside of Nashville, Tennessee expecting a girls getaway. Once they arrive though, there is a visitor already in the cabin who’d been renting it out and due to the crazy Tennessee snow storm, had to extend his stay. Joseph and Holly hit it off pretty quickly, and Holly’s Nana is a tad suspicious and isn’t really feeling him.

Okay, so after this initial meeting is when things get a little weird and remain weird basically the rest of the book. Joe is engaged. He is planning the wedding because his lawyer fiance is super busy with this big case she’s working on. It gets somewhat obvious throughout the book that Joe has feelings for Holly and vice versa, but..Joe is engaged. ENTER IN, blast from Holly’s past, Rhett, her childhood best friend, first love and things get even more crazy.

It Started With Christmas is kind of a mess.  On one hand I look at it like, what if the person you’re destined to be with, is currently with someone else? In a romance though, if cheating is not your thing, this book feels a lot like cheating. No, nothing happens, but meeting Holly definitely has Joe changing his mind about his relationship. Which, maybe they weren’t meant to be in the first place, but all we are able to go off is, he begins to change his mind, the more time he spends with Holly.

I got the point of Rhett being in the story and then I didn’t. He definitely threw in a nice wrench in the story..just when Holly and Joe’s friendship starts getting a little weird, the Tennessee winds blow in Rhett! His character had the potential to really add value to the story, but that didn’t happen. I feel like if you’re going to throw a wrench in the story, come harder and make the wrench meaningful.

I think this story would’ve worked for me had the focus solely been on Holly going and finding herself. I didn’t feel chemistry between Holly and Joe or Holly and Rhett. Maybe that was the point..? Sadly, this one was a disappointment. Initially after finishing it, it felt like a four star read or high three star, but as time continues to pass, I am rethinking my rating.

xx

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#Blogmas A Wedding In December by Sarah Morgan

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“Do you ever read a feature praising a woman whose life is to care for her disabled child or parent with Alzheimer’s? No, you don’t. When someone talks about ‘achievement’ they’re talking about Salary and Status, not the fact that you actually managed to take a shower and change your clothes after being in the hospital with your child for two nights straight even though, believe me, that’s an achievement. You read about Hedge Fun Managers who get up at three in the morning so they can get their workout done, use the gym, clear their emails and make a healthy breakfast for the whole family before putting in a full day of work in the city and returning home in time to read bedtime stories and then do another few hours of work before having perfect sex, three hours undisturbed REM sleep and waking up and starting again. You read about women who were at home with children and suddenly realized that if they started charging for all the cupcakes they made for their children’s friends and school events, they could turn their baking skills into a profitable business. And, by the way, the woman I read about didn’t look as if she’d ever baked a cupcake in her life and she certainly  hadn’t eaten one. What you never read about is the millions of normal women who are struggling to hold it all together and don’t own a planner because we don’t exactly know what we’d write in one.”

A Wedding In December was a five star read from me. I like that the holiday romances we are getting from Sarah Morgan are more women’s fiction yet still have a love story at it’s core. A Wedding In December all centers around Rosie getting married and her parents and sister traveling to America from Europe for her December wedding. The family doesn’t just show up however, they come with secrets tucked away. Sister Katie who is a doctor back in Europe is hiding a work place situation from her family which really has her on the fence as to if she wants to continue with her current career. Rosie’s parents are faking a happy marriage when in reality they have been separated for months. Katie arrives with every intention of digging up skeletons from Rosie’s fiancé’s closet because being the big protective older sister she is..she doesn’t want to see her sister get hurt.

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I think Sarah Morgan did a fantastic job of keeping the central story line in the forefront, while also weaving in the emotional journeys and issues that each woman was dealing with and not leaving any loose ends in the end. Also at times when reading a book following different main characters, I find that certain characters can be overshadowed but I didn’t get that with A Wedding In December. Each character was well fleshed out and very well developed.

This book delves deep into the relationship between sisters. What it’s like to be the oldest and have a younger sibling who is sick a lot. We see Katie have to learn to lean on her younger sister for a change. Now that they’re grown women Katie has to learn that their relationship can change, can be different.

I think for most of the book we put Rosie into this needs protection box because that’s how her family views her and treats her, but she has this moment of defiance towards the end of this book where she sticks up for herself and has to remind her sister that her decisions, are her decisions!

The Mother, Maggie, was kind of my favorite character. I adored the fake marriage, but really married trope. It was interesting to see how long Maggie and her husband could pull it off but in the course of being a fake couple, things are set up for them to do as a couple which I really enjoyed seeing. It puts them in this predicament where you either continue to try and fake the funk or..you know, maybe work things out.

I could go on and on but what it boils down to is, treat yourself to Sarah Morgan’s writing. This was a wonderful, wonderful read that I absolutely adored. This is what women’s fiction should read like. This one is part of my Holiday Romance 5 Star Predictions list and I am so thrilled to say it lived up to my expectations.

xx.

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