Sunday Coffee

Hello Friend, how are you this morning? How was your week? I have had quite a bit on my mind this week. I’ve been gradually reevaluating some things, and just want to share some of my thoughts with you. I hope you have a nice cup of coffee or tea, let’s chat.

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I have been thinking about the online book community and specifically my place in it a lot lately. When it comes to my small presence I question what am I doing it for? Am I satisfied with what I am putting into this community? Am I satisfied with what I am getting out of it? These are some of the main questions I have been meditating on.

I discovered the online book community back in 2014 when I first moved to Texas. I remember setting up a new twitter account and following the R&B singer, Amerie, and she shared a link to a Youtube video. Up to that point, I had not been one to watch Youtube but I loved her and her music so I clicked the link which took me to a channel she created. I was shocked when I saw that on this channel, she was discussing books. I watched the book side of Youtube for about two years before getting the guts to start my own channel which I have had now for over three years.

I remember how excited I was when I created my channel. I loved hauling books and sharing them with followers. I looked forward to discussing all the books I read during the month as the month came to a close. I enjoyed the different tags that were created as a different way to inspire you to talk about books.  I was such a fan of the community I had become part of.  So, I guess another question I have been pondering on is, do I still have that excitement that I felt when I first joined the online book community?

The good thing about the online book community, is how many different platforms there are. You can do Youtube, you can blog, you can create a podcast and/or you can create an Instagram dedicated to book content. If you want to share your love of reading online, there are ways to do it.  Joining Youtube, in the beginning was the route that I chose. At this moment, if I had to answer the question in regards to if the excitement is still there or not, I’d have to say No.

Life has changed for me in the matter of just a few months and in reality, I don’t have the time to dedicate to creating the content that I want. At first I was okay with filming when I could film, but eventually it started to feel like a job or a chore. I have had to make peace with not allowing Youtube to be yet another thing that stresses me out. It is hard though. You see other creators and how often they post and how big their channels are getting and how quickly they’re growing. Paying attention to stuff like that can really take a toll if you let it. So for a while, even though it felt like a job, I continued putting content out there, because I felt like I needed to keep up. I think I have held on too because I have built some amazing friendships with other content creators and subscribers–but I’ve realized, those friendships are going to be there regardless of if I am making vides or not.  Sometimes the hardest part of walking away from something, is taking those first few steps, but I told myself in the beginning, when it is no longer fun, I’ll be done. And at this moment, it is no longer fun.

I am happy I discovered the blogging world and right now it feels good with the way my life is going. I also am really enjoying putting more focus into Instagram and sharing books I am excited about through that platform. Reading is something I have always done for fun. It is basically a lifelong companion. It has been there through the darkest moments and the brightest days. I never want to turn my love for it into something that turns long it into anything negative. I want to be reading for fun, I want to be reading because I love doing it, and not because I found a community and feel like I need to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

I am a big advocate of being kind to yourself and I need to practice more of what I preach. I think part of being kinder to myself is not beating myself up about having to cut the cord with things that once upon a time meant the world to me. Things change and there comes a time when you have to move on. I’m so excited to root for my friends still creating and cheering them on..but as just a viewer. I am ticking this off of my list of stressors. It is definitely time for me to move on from creating content on Youtube and focus on sharing my love for reading on the other platforms I’ve discovered I love.

Whew! That was a lot, and I appreciate you hearing me out. Share with me what has been going on with you and please be kind to yourself today. Until our next chat, take care of yourself. xoxo

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Reading As A Busy Mom

Hello Friends! One question I get asked often is how I juggle reading with working full time and being a Mom of three.  My husband and I are both active duty military in a career field that doesn’t work your typical Monday through Friday 8-5.  There are a lot of 12-14 hour days and long work weekends.  Add on having three young kids who demand quite a bit of attention, wanting to blog, wanting to take photos and post to Instagram and Youtube, I can understand the question of, “How do you juggle it all?” So I wanted to share some of my tips, or things I do to squeeze reading into my already busy life.

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  1. I posted the above photo because it was around the time that I read The Wedding Date, that I became serious about the advice I’ve heard from so many online friends to, “Always have a book with you.” I have found this piece of advice very helpful. If I know I have a doctors appointment or will be somewhere with some down time..even if as a family we are driving somewhere, I always have a book with me for those moments I’m able to read a few pages.
  2. Continuing on with always having a book with me, I highly recommend downloading the Kindle App to your phone if you are a Kindle user. I have the app on my Ipad and IPhone. Having the app on your phone is so convenient.  For those days when I can’t bring a physical book with me, I still have all my ebooks on my phone thanks to the Kindle app which comes in handy for those few moments throughout the day I am able to squeeze in some reading.
  3. One word: Audiobooks. I know there are still a lot of people who don’t really vibe with audiobooks. I thought for the longest that I was one of those people. I think what helped me was before I read my first audiobook, I had already spent about a year listening to Podcasts. So I was already used to listening to people talk. I have friends who read 6,7,8 books a week sometimes thanks to audiobooks. I usually listen to mine on 2x speed and depending on what I have going on, can usually finish one in 2 to 3 days. Now, where do I listen to them? My commute to work is only about 10 minutes. Regardless though, I listen while driving to and from work. Depending on what I’m doing at the gym, I occasionally listen while there. I listen while prepping and cooking meals. I have a speaker I purchased from Walmart so  I’m able to listen while taking a shower or sitting in the bath. While putting awa laundry I’m listening, while cleaning the house, I’m listening. I pretty much listen whenever and wherever I can.
  4. I find ways to keep myself excited about reading. I find the more I keep myself excited about reading, the more I stay motivated to incorporate it as much as I can into my day to day. To keep myself excited, I’ll read blog posts by friends to see what they’re excited about. I may listen to one of the bookish Podcasts I listen to or watch one of my favorite Youtubers who talk about books. I think excitement and happiness can be contagious. Seeing someone else excited about something they read definitely inspires me to continue reading and find the next thing that excites me.
  5. Try reading more than one book at a time. I used to be a one book at a time kind of girl. I admire people who can focus on one book at a time, but I have grown into one who reads multiple books at once. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for the one book you may have set aside to read. If you’re not in the mood for it, but still want to read, pick up something else. I have found in a strange way, this keeps me interested in everything I am reading and has upped the amount of books I have been able to read a year.
  6. Do buddy reads. If you’re already part of a real life book club, that’s great and pretty much the same thing but if not, find a friend and let them know you’re interested in reading something with them. All of the buddy reads I have done have been with online friends and we share our thoughts via the Voxer App. I love buddy reads. Even though you’re reading the same book, everyone interprets things differently. It is always cool to see how someone else viewed a situation. Buddy reads have really helped me read books that I probably would have not finished or maybe not even started had I went at it alone. Usually with buddy reads you set a page count or chapter count for the day and to keep up it kind of forces you to make time to read so you can share your thoughts with everyone. And they are just so much fun, especially if you’re reading a really fun book or one that causes a lot of discussion.

 

I hope these little pieces of advice help. They are just some of the main things I have done to help balance being a full time working mom of three with my love of reading. When it all comes down to it, incorporate reading any way you can into your everyday life. Whether listening to an audiobook while cooking dinner or having a book in your bag to read while waiting for your doctor’s appointment to start, make the time to read what you can when you find the moments to do so.

Until next time Friends, take care of yourselves. xoxo.signature

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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The Kiss Quotientby Helen Hoang

Berkley; June 2018

5/5Stars

A confession before I get into this review:  I tend to usually wait for the hype around a book to die down a bit before reading it. I honestly was going to treat The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang no different. I hauled it on a random Sunday night trip to the bookstore and planned to sit it on my shelf for a few months before picking it up. Obviously though, that didn’t happen and I am very happy I didn’t put reading this book off. I loved it!

Plot Summary:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

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Firstly, let’s shout out an own voices story that is in the spotlight and getting some amazing recognition. There is a lot to love about this story.

I really enjoyed the whole premise of this book. It was cool to read from Stella’s perspective knowing she has Aspergers. It is such a big part of who she is, but she didn’t let it define her. But as someone who doesn’t live with Aspergers it was an awesome experience to get bits and pieces of how someone who does live with it, processes things. I found that fascinating. And I adored, once Michael figured out that Stella had Aspergers, how he was immediately able to communicate and interact with her in ways that wouldn’t frustrate or overwhelm her.

I loved how the author created these two very different people from different social statuses and family structures and made them perfect for each other. Michael believes that Stella is too good for him. Stella has this amazing job as an econometrician, while he works in his Mother’s alteration/dry cleaning business and also does escorting on the side. He has it made up in his mind that as soon as she learns about who is father is and the things his father has done, that she won’t want anything to do with him. Stella keeps her disorder a secret, believing that once Michael learns about it, he won’t want anything to do with her. There first couple of scenes together were super awkward but Michael was so adorably patient.

I appreciated the family aspect in this book. Michael literally put his life and the things he wanted to do on hold to take care of his Mom who has been sick with cancer. It was cute seeing him interact with his sisters and Grandmother. There is a scene early on in the book where Stella meets his family, her disorder still being a secret, and she basically blows it. The whole meeting was over stimulating for her and on her part, she says some things and does some things that come across as rude. But she realizes how important Michael’s family is to him, and does what she needs to do to right her wrongs.

This book was so swoon worthy. So many parts of it bought a smile to my face. I’d have to say my favorite part of this story was seeing the feelings grow between Stella and Michael and watching them both try to figure those feelings and emotions out. Stella is so used to trying to please the men she has interacted with that it was awesome to see her finally get comfortable with Michael and allow him the opportunity to please her. It was awesome to see Michael, who sticks to these rules and guidelines he has set in stone to keep between him and his clients, completely throw all of that out eventually when it came to Stella. It was so cute how he noticed the little things; like how she looked at him like he was the most important person in the room, how she wanted to wear his tee shirt to sleep because it smelled like him..I loved reading how happy these things made him feel.

I could seriously go on and on about this book Friends, but I’m just going to leave you with this: Read it. It is fun, it has a steamy romance, cute family moments and two people who eventually realize they are made for each other.

Have you read The Kiss Quotient? What were your thoughts on it? I hope all is well with you, take care of yourselves–I’ll chat with you in my next post. xoxo

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3 Reasons Why Reading Romance is Good for my Mental Health

I believe that everything happens for a reason. I’ve shared my story of how and why I decided to give romance a try but I’ve never discussed how in just a few short months after I picked up my first romance, my mental health began to plummet.  I have depression and anxiety due to PTSD. Until March of 2018, I was great at ducking and dodging my triggers, but around the second week of March, I wasn’t able to anymore. It honestly felt like all the ghosts I tried to keep locked away were escaping the closets I locked them in and were free.

No shade thrown on the mental health system but the beginning of my process to get help was not the best. In the beginning on one of my darkest days, I went to the hospital only to leave within 20 minutes of basically waiting and being given an appointment a full two weeks away!

A Life Counselor at my job called a local mental health facility and asked if I could attend their outpatient group therapy. I did that for two weeks before starting a four week group therapy with the military.

I still have a long road ahead of me, but I feel I’ve definitely made some progress. Reading romance has made such an impact on my journey to getting better. Romance novels were what I carried in my bag with snacks back and forth to group, to read if we didn’t start on time or had a break. They’re what I listen to in the car on my way to appointments.

There are so many wonderful things about the romance genre, so many reasons I love it, but I want to share 3 reasons why I feel it is good for my mental health.

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  1. Escapism: Now I have always been one who reads for the escape but I feel this was heightened once my mental health started to shift.  When I started reading romance I was mostly reading authors like Debbie Macomber and Raeanne Thayne. These women authors write stories that take place somewhere that quickly feels like home for me, with characters who feel like such real people with real problems. Reading their novels, I instantly become sucked into the story and forgot about what I have going on. When you’re in a constant battle with your own mind and thoughts, it is refreshing to focus on something else–to get so lost in the story that for those few pages, few hours of reading, you weren’t in your own head.
  2. Perspective: One thing I enjoyed about attending group therapy is that I got to spend a few hours around other people who were also going through something. Our stories weren’t the same, our symptoms weren’t the same but we had the fact that we were in the same place for a reason in common. One thing I’ve really loved about the romance novels I’ve read is how there is always a big underlying element of hope in the background amongst the angst and characters whose lives aren’t perfect. Reading romance has helped put into perspective for me that everyone is battling, has battled or will battle something and because of that, I never have to tackle this thing alone.
  3. The Happy Ever After: Last weekend I re-watched a childhood favorite movie with my daughter, called “Now and Then,” and in the movie one of the girls tells her friend who just found out her parents were divorcing, “It’s normal for things to be shitty.” That is what I started believing during my darkest days and then I really started paying attention to the romances I was reading. The character’s have to put in work to grow through their issues and eventually make it to their happy ever after. There is nothing wrong with wanting that and reading romance has been a big motivating factor for me to continue getting better because I deserve, like everyone does, my own happily ever after.

 

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, Friends!  I was a little hesitant to type this post but I want to be as honest and as transparent as I can with you. If you have any recommendations to send my way, I’m always looking for those. Until next time, take care of yourselves!

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Romance Bingo First 5 Wrap Up

Hey Friends! I hope you had a wonderful week and are enjoying your weekend. I wanted to check in and quickly recap my first five completed reads for the Summer Romance Bingo I’m participating in.

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  • My pick for a historical romance was Katherine by Anya Seton which I gave 3/5 stars. This is the fictionalize depiction of Katherine Swynford and John Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster’s love affair. Their love affair changed history. My first Anya Seton novel was Dragonwyck and it completely blew me away but the two I have read since have just been okayKatherine is over 500 pages and to be honest the first 200 were very slow. Had I not been reading this as a buddy read, I probably would’ve DNF’d it.

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  • I read Redemption Bay by Raeanne Thayne for the challenge of “reading a novel with someone in the medical field.” This is book three in the Haven Point series and I gave it 4/5 stars. Redemption Bay follows Mayor McKenzie Shaw whose sister Devin is a doctor. I loved this story, so much.

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  • For the challenge of “read a paranormal romance,”  I read The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark.  I gave this one 3/5 stars. It had so many things in it that I am a complete sucker for but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. Somewhere along the line, I started losing interest and had no idea what was going on. It had the creepy old house, a town full of witches, demons, vampires and faeries. It had old manuscripts from a romance author who lived in the creepy old house before passing away. I seriously wanted to love the hell out of this book, but I didn’t.

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  • For the challenge of “read a book with a cowboy in the story,” I read the next book in the Haven Point series, Evergreen Springs.  This is Devin’s love story with single dad, cowboy,  Cole Barrett. I gave this one 4/5 stars. Raeanne Thayne does such a fantastic job at truly capturing human emotions. Her characters are very real people with baggage, ghosts in their closets and self-doubt. I loved it.

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  • Lastly, for the “small town romance,” challenge, I read Riverbend Road which is book four in Raeanne Thayne’s Haven Point series. If you can’t tell, I was totally sucked into the town of Haven Point. I literally couldn’t get enough of them so I finished one and immediately jumped into the next and lucky for me, they fit into a few challenges.  Riverbend Road is the love story between Police Officer Wyn Bailey and the Chief of Police, Cade Emmett. These two have pretty much grown up together–Cade’s mentor was Wyn’s Father who was a police officer until his death, and he was best friends with Wyn’s brother.  Raeanne Thayne does such a good job in this novel of capturing that internal conflict we tend to have when we don’t think we are good enough for someone. That was definitely the case for Cade. True enough he worked himself up to Chief of Police but he saw Wyn’s family structure and never thought he was good enough for her because of how his was set up. I gave this one 4/5 stars!

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Let me know if you are participating in any summer reading challenges or if there are any read-a-thons coming up you’re excited for! Until next time, take care of yourself!

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Romance Chat With Friends.

phonto (11)Hey Friends, I hope all is well with you. An idea I have had for my blog and really wanted to do was the occasional bookish chat with different friends from the book community. My first two friends I chatted with are both romance readers and have been reading the genre for years now. I chatted with Britt who is a big contemporary romance reader and blogger. And Sarah who shows a lot of love to Harlequin romances and has a booktube channel. I will post these ladies information and I highly recommend you go follow and show love. They are both so sweet and super passionate about the books they read and their individual ways of sharing what they’re reading with the rest of us!

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A Christmas romance. A demon lover & reaching my Goodreads Goal.(Weekend Catch Up)

Hey Friends! I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend. I honestly just wanted to check in with you all and chat about my current reading status and my thoughts after having reached my reading goal on Goodreads.

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Recently I finished Evergreen Springs by Raeanne Thayne which is book 3 in the Haven Point series. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads. This series is just what I need at the moment. I really believe sometimes you read books when you’re truly meant to, and that’s how I’ve felt with each of these books. Yes, this book is a Christmas romance and yes, I know it is the middle of June. I told myself I would read Christmas novels throughout the year because they really put me in a good mood!

After finishing Evergreen Springs, I immediately checked both Audible and Overdrive to see if either had the audiobook to book four, Riverbend Road. I was super excited to see one of my libraries indeed had it-so just like with Evergreen Springs I will be reading the physical copy and following along on audio.

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