Book Talk: Queen of Shadows General Thoughts + Marked Spoiler Discussion

Book Talk: Queen of Shadows General Thoughts + Marked Spoiler DiscussionQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 1, 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”




a2Queen of Shadows837696 bowdown(credit)

a4Queen of Shadows was everything I had hoped for. When I finished it (literally binged it from Friday night, went to bed, then woke up and finished it Saturday which was intense because that book is THICK) I was just like BRAIN. EXPLODING. BRILLIANT. OMG. I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS. I LOVE EVERYTHING. CAN I HAZ BOOK 5?? I’m just so obsessed with this story and world and obviously the characters. I can’t really put into words, non-spoiler words, to explain what this book did to me and why I loved it so much…it was just everything and made my love for it expand all the way to the undiscovered parts of the universe and back. Sarah is just so brilliant in the way she truly makes me feel and understand these characters, why they do what they do, their struggles, what they are fighting for, etc. Everything was epic. I am so, so beyond invested and basically will sign a deal with the devil not to die before this series ends haha.  Sooo I’m just going to talk in spoilers now because that’s the only way I can discuss it.


View Spoiler »



factors+ EVERYTHING.
Not a thing I would change. Honestly. I mean, I would change that I have to wait for so long for the next book?? Or that like it’s not a zillion more pages so I can be with them for forever.

Re-readability: UH YEAH. Will probably reread a whole lot of times.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? ALREADY HAVE.

a5EVERYONE. DUH. No seriously, if you were mixed about it in book 1 I think you should give book 2 a try because maybe it really IS for you and you will miss out on so much epic like in this book.

a8Queen of Shadows is all I had hoped for and more. All the love I had for this world/characters/story before x 1000000000000. Sarah continues to deliver the perfect amounts of everything I need: amazing character development, complex romances/relationships, hella interesting plot and flawless writing. It’s just one BIG, and I mean big, book of badassery and perfection. GIRL SQUADS, HOT DUDES, HOLD-YOUR-BREATH MOMENTS. SCENES THAT WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH AND CRY AND HAPPY CRY. It was all glorious and I am basically dead still after reading it.

review-on-post-itQueen of Shadows


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!



The Perpetual Page-Turner

Monthly Rewind: August 2015



Processed with VSCOcam with t2 preset

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1. Will and I started looking for a dog One day I’m just like LET’S JUST GO VISIT THE PUPPIES and the next day we are seriously looking for one. We put in an application for a 3 month old Staffordshire puppy at the shelter and then they called our leasing office (we thought the dog met the weight requirements and all) and they denied us and said we couldn’t have a Staffordshire because of breed restrictions and apparently they have some pit bull blood in them. I was so upset. We loved this dog. He was so sweet. I think breed restrictions are such crap and of course all the sweet dogs we fall in love with are that breed. So we are still looking..hoping we will find a dog to come home with us!

2. Will and I celebrated 3 years of marriage — I can’t believe it’s been 3 years but also it feels like we’ve been married way longer because we’ve been together since January 2007. We ate in Center City at one of our favorite places and indulged in donuts and ice cream and just generally walked around enjoying the beautiful weather.

3. We saw Matt and Kim, Atlas Genius, Saint Motel and Wolf Alice.: Another fun concert series!!

4. We tried a new local brewery– We went to a brewery that is basically right in our backyard (Conshhocken Brewery) and we loved it! I can’t believe it took us this long to go. It was really cool though because a bike trail is right behind it and soooo many people riding on the trail would stop for beers. MY KIND OF PEOPLE. Exercise followed by beer.

5. Will and I are starting the process of looking at houses: We are in the very very early looking stages and starting to figure out our range, what we want/where we want and need to inquire about loans and mortgages and all that crap BUT it’s starting. Any tips are welcome!!!




I put all my Monthly Rewinds in a Spotify playlist so you can listen to them here !


1. Alive Tonight — Grace Potter (super super love her stuff she does as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals but loving this new stuff!)

2. Deadwater — Wet

3. Never Ending Circles — CHVRCHES

4. Colors — Halsey (you know I’ve been obsessed with Halsey for awhile…MOAR MOAR MOAR PLS I JUST WANT MOAR)

5. Drive — Oh Wonder

6. Falling Faster — Andrew Ripp


Honorable mentions:

Sorry by Meg Myers
A Perfect End by Atlas Genius
Mr. Rodriguez by Rayland Baxter
Night Swimmers by Foals
Space Song by Beach House

Check out the rest of my August playlist



I read 8 book this month!

1. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler — I really enjoyed this one so much which made me happy because I’ve enjoyed this author’s past books but didn’t have good success with her most recent one before this.
2. Happiness For Beginners by Katherine Center: I read this book at just the right time when I needed to! It’s an adult fiction book and I highly recommend.
3. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: Best book I read all month and probably all year to be honest. Everything I had been hoping for and more.




Yes Please Amy Poehler

My review of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please




“When one dream burns to ash, you don’t crumble beneath it. You get on your hands and knees, and you sift through those ashes until you find the very last ember, the very last spark. Then you breathe. You breathe. You fucking breathe. And you make a new fire.” — The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

I loved this and it is kind of my new mantra when things aren’t working out.


1. Perception, Reality & Our Super Reader CommunityI really really loved hearing your thoughts on this!! It was also really nice to hear from authors on Twitter and for them to (sadly) confirm a lot of what I’ve been thinking.

2. If We Were Having Coffee: Love getting to catch up with you guys!!

3. Retail Therapy: In Need of Cute Mugs: OMG I AM GOING MUG CRAZY.

4. Aussie YA 101: I love talking about the Australian books I love and I’m glad so many of you found recs!

5. Authors On My Auto-Buy list: I’ve realized I have a lot of auto-buy authors…good thing they don’t all publish books at the same time!! EEP.


mr12My Whatcha In The Mood For? post! The first one of these I ever did got a lot of great feedback and I LOVED that people were posting their own recommendations for the categories because I thought it might be helpful! But each month it’s gotten less and less and this month was really sad! I LOVE doing these posts so I won’t stop but I really was hopeful it could be interactive where people could help others out with recommendations in the comments as well.


I actually DID get my butt in gear this month! I filmed a video about what I’ve been reading, a tag video and a book haul (which you can also find here if you don’t do videos).


1. Why I Do Not Use Social Media AnymoreI thought this was interesting! While I definitely am not to the point where I want to give it up, because it DOES (well Twitter at least) add to my life in positive ways, I have cut back A LOT for the same reasons she talks about. Social media is great but I’ve realized being on it as much as I used to is not how I want to spend my days. I also loved her post The Phone People…something I’ve noticed before as well and found equally as distressing.

2. The Answer To Where Do You Get Your Time: Love this! I feel like people ask me a lot about where I get the time to read so much as well as blog about it and this is how I feel, too!

3. Slow Cooker Mango Salsa Chicken Burritos: Made them since bookmarking that post and YUM. And YES….Will cooks 99% of the time but your girl actuaaaaally made these. Heh well the slow cooker did but DETAILS.

4. 32 and growing up; what I know so far: I really enjoy this blog and I just liked the lessons she shared and found myself really agreeing with them as I’m approaching 30 this fall.

5. Why I Scrapped My Bucket List: I am a big fan of the bucket list but I REALLY liked this post. I liked her question: “If I truly only had 6-12 months left of my life, how do I want to spend that time? What could I realistically achieve in that time, that I would totally regret not doing? If I had one wild, final fling with life, how could I life it to the fullest?”


1. Looking for dogs at the shelter: No like it has turned into an obsession. I can’t start my day without looking at all the dogs on the website to search for shelter dogs. Will and I send new arrivals to each other all the time. ONE OF THESE DOGS WILL WORK OUT.
2. Bookworm Boutique – This shop….TAKE ALL MY MONEY.
3. Game of Thrones: I started finally watching the show and I’m pretty addicted. I still can’t decide if I should read the books. GAH.



1. The last block party concert of the year: Panic! At the Disco, Joywave, The Wombats, The Front Bottoms + Good Old War.

 2. Visiting my dad: Will and I are taking a few days to go stay at my dad’s and I’m REALLY looking forward to it!
3. New album from CHVRCHES: Very very excited!



Favorite memory you made this summer?




Pick a category (or 5… or all of them) and tell me what went on in YOUR life this month!! What sort of things were noteworthy for you this month? New obsessions? Any new song recs?? Best books you read this month? Great posts I missed on your blog? Answer to my question of the month?

Series Send Off: Something Strange & Deadly series by Susan Dennard

Check out past Series Send Off posts in which I finish the last book in a series & chat about it plus introduce new readers to the series with my general & non-spoilery thoughts about the series as a whole!

I do this weird thing where sometimes I hold off reading the last book of series I love — especially if I’ve waited the time in between rather than binge reading. It’s a weird thing. I KNOW. It’s a combo of 1) I just don’t want things to end and 2) also I get afraid because I’ve been let down in series before.   I had read the first two books a while ago and finally had the guts to finish it!


 Goodreads // Amazon


Upon finishing the series I say to all of you who haven’t started the series:


This would make such a good series to binge read because it’s ridiculously action-packed and you’ll want to compulsively read it. And it honestly truly feels different than a lot of series out there! It’s this great mix of magic and adventures (holy great settings to have these adventures in) and steampunk goodness. So action packed, too! The stakes get higher and higher in each book and things get even more real! Necromancers! Armies of the dead! Really intense baddies! Magic! Demons! What is going on in Book 1 is just a smaller sliver of the bigger picture of what is at work!



What The Series Is About:

It’s 1876 and the Dead are rising in Eleanor’s city of Philadelphia because of a necromancer who is hellbent on raising them. She finds out her brother’s disappearance could possibly be related to what is going on and, in her search for answers, finds herself spending time with a rag tag group called The Spirit Hunters who are also trying to track down this necromancer and stop all the madness! Together with the Spirit Hunters, Eleanor sets out to find her brother and stop the necromancer which proves to be a tough feat that sends them all over the world for answers and the chance to stop even worse things from happening.



Recommended For People Who Love:

steampunk, adventure novels, magic, zombie-lite type of books (if you are looking for like a really heavy classic zombie book this isn’t it…like the dead have risen but THEY aren’t the main focus), readers looking for action



Thoughts On Each Book

(Skip below to the next section or read my review for book 1 if you haven’t read the series yet!)


Something Strange & Deadly — You can read my full review of Something Strange and Deadly here but I just have to say, especially after finishing the series, this book is definitely the lighter of the 3 in terms of what is going on. Seriously the magic and things going on gets so much darker. And after thinking about this book I’m just like WOW WOW WOW look at the adventure they went on after the things they realize in book 1 and how those things were small in comparison to the scope of the rest of the series. LOVED this book…hold your butts for the adventure that goes on in the next 2. That’s all I’m saying. Also, LOVED that the setting was my stomping grounds of Philadelphia in the late 1800’s.


A Darkness Strange and Lovely: I personally didn’t think this book suffered from second book syndrome in the way that some other books do. It definitely did a lot of setting up for the epic and explosive book 3 but in a way that I felt natural because at the end of book 1 they are figuring out just what kind of shit Eleanor’s brother was really in and how much bigger it is. They are looking for answers and figuring things out in this book and trying to put an end to it all — without realizing just how dark it all is. Plus, we meet Ollie — a demon that changes things for Eleanor when he offers her magic and who is one of the greatest characters in this series. It creates a lot of interesting things between her and the Spirit Hunters but also I think Eleanor has a lot to grapple with as she uses it. You see her really change and test the limits of her own morals as she discovers what she can do and how she can use it. She wants to help and save her friends and put an end to the stuff going on. She has good intention but that kind of power doesn’t come with consequences. I loved the Paris setting and the action and the development of the story.

Strange and Ever After: WOW what an emotional, explosive and truly action-packed series conclusion! I loved that the stakes really and truly felt higher and more dangerous. Sometimes I feel like battles aren’t as tough in some series as I’d like them to be but this one truly made me feel how hard these characters fought. I truly felt like they were in danger as soon as they really figured out what they needed to do. That this battle they would inevitable have would cost them in ways. And I wasn’t wrong in that feeling as the gang faces Marcus in this book. Eleanor grows a lot — she isn’t always easy to like or get along with and she constantly pushes people away but she’s starting to realize her tendencies. Plus I think a lot of how she changes and grows is related to the power she possesses. It changes her and she has to figure that out — same with her friends — they don’t approve of it but also they recognize how it helps them. All these moral grounds they all have to work through.  I really loved how much we got to understand Ollie in this book. I love him so damn much. I will say the only thing that tripped me up during this book is that I felt like confused with some of the magic. Even more elements are added and even some Egyptian gods and stuff but I got so confused with some of the layers of it all.

I think the ending to the series is definitely polarizing but I found that I REALLY loved it.

View Spoiler »




Rating Broken Down By Books

Something Strange and Deadly


A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Strange & Ever After



And so I’m saying farewell to this series:

Farewell my spirit hunting, friends! Thank you for taking me on wild adventures and reminding me that, despite what you’ve gone through in life and how easy it is to push people away because of it, it’s better to embrace the people who genuinely want to love you. Thanks for allowing me to become part of your rag-tag, misfit unit of a family.


What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it?? What did you think of the series overall?? If you haven’t read it, have I piqued your interest?

Dumplin’ Playlist + A Giveaway For An Amazing Prize Pack

Oh man, you guys. If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram (way more real time on both) you know I LOVED Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’. In fact, it’s definitely one of my favorite 2015 books I’ve read this year!! My review will be posted here very soon but I am SO SO SO excited for you all to meet Willowdean and experience this book if you haven’t already.

That being said, I have Julie Murphy here to share a Dumplin’ playlist (YOU KNOW how much I love music here) and she’s offering the cuuuuutest prize pack to one lucky winner. I’m hella jealous I can’t win it myself. (Also, super important, she has a FAB pre-order campaign going on now!)




First, big thanks to Jamie for having me! I’m so excited to share my playlist with y’all. I love music, of course, but it doesn’t normally play such a huge roll in my creative process as it did for DUMPLIN’. When I was first drafting and still getting a feel for Willowdean, I remember feeling kind of stuck because I couldn’t figure out what made her tick. And then EUREKA! Willowdean’s Dolly Parton obsession was like the final twist in the Rubik’s Cube. This playlist isn’t all Dolly Parton, though I definitely have several of those, but I’d like to think that if Willowdean were going to hit the road for a Texas road trip, these tunes would serve her well.


Dumplin playlist jUlie murphy[Keep Reading]

Aussie YA 101

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I’d Put On My Aussie YA 101 Syllabus (should someone entrust me to teach them anything)

I don’t know what it is about Aussie YA but they are some of my FAVORITE books in existence. They have some of the best and most unique things I’ve read plus I always feel like their characterizations are just THE BEST EVER. I can’t even tell you.

So if you are wanting to dip your toes in the Aussie YA waters…here are some of my favorites as of right now that I’d put on my “syllabus” if I were teaching an Aussie YA class.  Basically this class could be just Marchetta and Marchetta alone but I DO super love other Aussie books!

Australian fiction YA

All the Melina Marchetta contemporaries: Seriously, her books are some of my ALL TIME FAVORITES — Saving Francesca, The Piper’s Son and Jellicoe Road. (I have not read Looking For Alibrandi yet but I have no doubt it is amazing).

The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta: As of right now this is my all time favorite fantasy series that is finished! Melina Marchetta is just my queen. (my series review)

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley: Ah I loved this book so much! From my review:Graffiti Moon is one of those that hit me over the head and yet subtly invaded my heart all at the same time with its dazzling prose,  heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) story of love in its many forms and a strong visual sense of the adventure they are having all across the city in a single night.”

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager: Oh this book. MY HEART. Also the beach setting and the surfing. YAS. (My review of Raw Blue)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: One of the best books I’ve ever read!

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak: His lesser known book when compared to The Book Thief but I loved Ed Kennedy and this story! (My review of I Am the Messenger)

Girl Defective by Simmone Howell: This one just got published her last year and I really enjoyed it. It was a quirky read that I adored! I need to read Simmone’s other books because all my Aussie friends love them. (my review of Girl Defective)
Wildlife by Fiona Wood: Another Aussie book I had been wanting and finally got published here! LOVED this one so much and the outdoorsy setting! Can’t wait to read the companion novel to it (that weirdly was published FIRST in Australia…but this one was published first here and Six Impossible Things is being published soon). — My review of Wildlife

Love & Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (also loved her book Good Oil aka Holier Than Thou): If you need a pretty strong plot, I’d skip this one. But oh man did I love this one. Such a great character driven book that made me FEEL SO MANY THINGS. (my review of Love & Other Perishable Items)

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty: This is such a offbeat, quirky fantasy novel and I really enjoyed it. I’ve heard AMAZING things about her other books which I think she is MORE known for than this one.


So tell me…what Aussie books MUST I read?? What books have you read from this list??

Book Talk: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book Talk: Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Books For Young Readers on September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Madeline hasn’t been able to leave her house for the past 18 years as she has a rare disease that basically makes her allergic to the world. The only people come in her house are her mom, nurse and sometimes a tutor who all have to undergo a long decontamination process. One day she looks out her window to see a family moving in and she makes eye contact with a boy her age. They start communicating from the window and email and she knows she’s falling in love and she knows it’s pretty impossible considering she’s stuck in her house.



I really liked this one but am having a hard time figuring out just WHAT to say about it. I want you to know that the main character has lived a bubble basically her life. She’s had this really super rare disease that basically makes her allergic to the world because they don’t know what triggers these deadly attacks to her body. She lives in her house with her mom and the only two people who come in besides her are her nurse and sometimes a tutor — and they have to go through major decontamination. I want you to know that she meets a boy that moves in next door and that they start talking via email. And they fall for each other. That’s what I want you to know. I don’t want to give any hints on if they end up together or how they have a relationship given her disease. I feel like any reactions I have will give too much away.

Things I’m willing to say: it’s such a cute and heartwarming book but also it’s deeply heartbreaking in ways. I loved how it explored how, once she tasted what having love and a boyfriend would be like and experienced things she never had, she could never go back to the life she had. I loved watching her trying to wrestle with that even though it hurt my heart — watching her realize all that she has missed out on and FEELING it.  I will also say the writing was excellent and I totally shipped them even though it felt like an impossible ship.

I have some conflicted feelings that I honestly keep waffling back and for towards regarding aspects to the ending but overall really enjoyed this!!

If you’ve read it, here’s what I’m going back and forth over. SPOILERS.

View Spoiler »



factors+ plot, writing, romance
–  unsure how I feel about a thing

a5contemporary YA fans, people looking for a romance that is unique

a8Everything, Everything is a book with a unique romance that felt impossible but I still totally shipped. I had a lot of FEELS for the main character and her situation especially as it played out. It was well written and I every much enjoyed that it wasn’t like anything I’ve really read before.


Everything Everything Nicola Yoon

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
If you’ve read it, did you expect what happened?? (mark spoilers please)



The Perpetual Page-Turner

Whatcha In The Mood For: Book Recs Based On Your Mood

book recommendations for what type of book you are looking for


It’s that time where I dole out recommendations according to what kind of mood you might be in at random — whether that be an actual mood or a specific type of book. Check out past Whatcha In the Mood For recs!


I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you could also leave some recs for my categories in the comments to further help people looking for books that fit! Also, have a good idea for a category or something you have been looking for? Leave it in the comments!


Want to be confused out of your mind?

Mara Dyer series

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Why?  Confusing like whoa. Constant wtf-ery. This one is a paranormal that constantly had me like WTF WHAT IS GOING ON. I admittedly 1) haven’t finished the series but plan on rereading this one and then finishing and 2) didn’t find it to be a PERFECT read as there were things I didn’t dig but reviews of the second made me definitely want to continue on. I could NOT put this one down when I read it!

*thanks for this reader suggested category from Leah*

Wanting a book that packs an emotional punch?


If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Why?  I read this in a couple hours (it’s only 276 pages) and OMG MY EMOTIONS. Just tears streaming down my face. From the ostracizing and bullying the main character goes through to protect a secret to some emotional things that happen at the end, I just couldn’t get a handle on my emotions the whole time I read this. I don’t get why it’s not more popular. It so should be! It’s a gem! (My review of If I Lie)

In the mood for a really fun paranormal mystery series?


The Body Finder series

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Why? The main character can sense the bodies that have been murdered. It’s most been animals but a serial killer is on the loose in her area and she finds herself being able to hear their echos and they leave a certain imprint from the killer that gives her the ability to possibly be able to help solve the crime. The series is 4 books and SO fun. Very quick reads with good mysteries, an interesting paranormal element and an adorable romance. Plus, as of when I am writing this, the Kindle book is only $1.99! Perfect time to try the series out! (my review of The Body Finder)

Want To Read A YA Historical Filled With Drama and Scandal?


Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Why? Oh my gosh what an addictive romp through King Henry VIII’s court that re-acquainted me with historical figures I’m familiar with and introduced me to new ones I’d never heard about. It’s seriously such a perfect blend of history and fun. I’d definitely recommend it to people who are wary of historical novels because it’s SO addictive. If you know anything about this era, you know there is a lot of drama and scandal to give something like Gossip Girl a run for its money. If you’ve enjoyed watching Reign on the CW (I have but I am totally behind), I highly recommend as its more in that vein of entertainment! (My review of Brazen)

In the mood for a good gothic mystery?


My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Why? Everyone seems to know Rebecca by this author (likely you had to read it for summer reading like I did in high school?) but I also REALLY love and recommend this one! I was constantly guessing about Rachel and if she was all that she seemed. Philip is 24 and was raised by his cousin Ambrose. Ambrose is abroad and keeps in touch by writing letters and soon enough he tells Philip that he has met and fallen in love with Rachel. But his letters become more alarming when he’s fallen ill and thinks Rachel could have something to do with it…only for Philip to find out Ambrose has died and suddenly Rachel shows up. Daphne du Maurier is a brilliant writer and I really enjoyed this one!

Have you read any of these? Agree/disagree with my recs? Have any to add?? Also, if you have a specific mood you think I should do next time….drop that in the comments!

Empathy in Creating Characters With Michelle Levy + GIVEAWAY

Today I’m excited to have Michelle Levy on the blog today. Michelle is the author of Not After Everything which actually is my current read now and just came out in the beginning of this month!


I love her topic for today as I’m slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) developing this story idea I’ve had for a while and this post about how she creates her characters was really helpful to me and something for me to think about as I develop these characters who have been in my head.  So I hope this will helpful for any of you writers out there or for any readers who just like to know how authors craft characters!




“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . .Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” –Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines empathy (noun em·pa·thy \ˈem-pə-thē\) as: the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else’s feelings: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.

No, this is not a bad best man speech. Bear with me.

Imagine you’re in line at Starbucks behind a father with his young son. The little boy is trying very hard not to cry because a minute ago the dad harshly warned him that if he did cry, he’d give him a real reason for crying and the boy is clearly very afraid of the dad. You wonder how much worse this father must be if he’s not afraid to show this kind of behavior in public. Now imagine how you’d feel if you were the boy. How would you feel as a teenager who still carries this memory around with you? Did that memory make you tougher? Did it make you more detached? Did it make you a coward? Or did you become the bully?

Now imagine you’re the father. What must you have experienced to make you act so cruelly to such a sweet little boy? Was your father the same way? Your mother? Are you just having a bad day and you’re usually the best father in the world? Maybe you just lost your job. Maybe you’re hung over. And so on.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Book Talk: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine CenterHappiness For Beginners by Katherine Center
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 2015
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Library





Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Helen is 32, has been divorced for a year and just really wants to get her crap together and bounce back from this. When her younger brother, by 10 years, suggests a 3 week wilderness survival expedition she jumps on the opportunity as a way to get her life back on track and prove she can still be happy and strong after all this. What she doesn’t know is that her brother’s best friend, who she’s known since they were younger, is also going which Helen is not happy about because she wanted to be anonymous on this trip while she worked on her life. And when she gets there? The group is definitely not made up of the people she expects but they end up teaching her a lot about herself.

a2I need to start a 3 good things notebook — reminds me of something two of my friends did back and forth for quite a while!

a4This book had been raved about by a bunch of my friends — specifically Estelle and Anna. I am happy to report that I LOVED it. It was just what I needed to read right now where my particular headspace was at. It was funny but really hit these serious notes about growth and change that resounded within me so deeply. I found myself really reflecting about life while reading this and even after finishing it.

I loved the characters from the main ones to the more minor ones in her wilderness group.  JAKE JAKE JAKE ILU, man! They made me laugh and made me think. I feel like *I* learned a lot from them. I LOVED the romance as it wasn’t super typical. I totally shipped it. TOTALLY. And I also really loved the setting — I’m not the MOST outdoorsy girl but I do love the outdoors and I loved how we saw the wilderness and the beauty which contrasted with how grueling this program was.

I could go on and on about how excellent this book is and what I specifically liked about it but I want to touch on Helen’s journey because where I’m at right this moment? It hit me right in the feels. I am so the person who thinks I need to like Eat, Pray, Love my way out of a funk and change my life and BECOME HAPPIER.  I am all about FINDING MYSELF. I wouldn’t have signed up for a crazy outdoor thing like this but I am SO this type of person. I just always get caught up in thinking I need this life-changing experience to CHANGE or to grow/find myself/get out of my rut and be happy… when really, as Helen finds out, we can learn, cultivate happiness and grow in smaller ways (as well as these grand ways) when we shift our thinking about what happiness really is and how we can find it. I also am the type who gets really disappointed when said HUGE THING doesn’t produce the results I expected. I just SO understood where Helen was at to even contemplate doing this wilderness program so her journey resonated with me the whole way through. It kind of shook me at the core how entangled I felt in her journey.  I felt so proud of her and all she learned.

 There were some things about the book that were kind of predictable but it didn’t really affect how I felt about the book because of how much it entertained me and how much I feel like it really hit me on a personal level. The other thing is I SO wanted more wilderness stuff but it wasn’t like a problem if that makes sense?

a6RATING-beyondloved[Keep Reading]

New To The Queue {15}

New To the Queue is a sporadic thing around here wherein I give you a tiny glimpse into some of the books, movies, tv shows and bands I’ve recently added to my never ending queue of things to read/watch/listen to. For past posts, go here!



Girl At War cover

Girl At War by Sara Novic (Amazon // Goodreads)
Publication Date – May 2015

Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:  I rarely look at my “recommendations” on Goodreads but this one showed up and I was intrigued! Looks like a good coming of age story and interested in the setting (Croatia) and the civil war the character experiences.

What It’s About: Zagreb, summer of 1991. Ten-year-old Ana Jurić is a carefree tomboy who runs the streets of Croatia’s capital with her best friend, Luka, takes care of her baby sister, Rahela, and idolizes her father. But as civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, soccer games and school lessons are supplanted by sniper fire and air raid drills. When tragedy suddenly strikes, Ana is lost to a world of guerilla warfare and child soldiers; a daring escape plan to America becomes her only chance for survival.

Ten years later Ana is a college student in New York. She’s been hiding her past from her boyfriend, her friends, and most especially herself. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, she returns alone to Croatia, where she must rediscover the place that was once her home and search for the ghosts of those she’s lost. With generosity, intelligence, and sheer storytelling talent, Sara Nović’s first novel confronts the enduring impact of war, and the enduring bonds of country and friendship.”


You're Never Weird On the INternet


You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day ( Goodreads // Amazon)
Publication Date- August 11, 2015

Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
I keep seeing everyone reading this! I don’t really know much about Felicia Day, just a little bit, but I’m intrigued!

What It’s About:  “From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.”


Sword & Verse

Swords & Verse by Kathy MacMillan  (Amazon // Goodreads)
Release Date: January 19, 2016

Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
I’ve been craving fantasy more and more and this one looks interesting! Love that language is a huge part of it!

What It’s About: “Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training, who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that’s been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground rebel army—to help liberate the city’s slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.”


Just Visiting

Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler ( Amazon // Goodreads)

Release Date: November 17, 2015


Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
It sounds sooo like a me book! Plus I really enjoyed Dahlia’s debut!!

What It’s About:  “Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.  Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn’t go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won’t stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective… only to learn she’s set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they’ve sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don’t know about each other’s pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they’ll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.”





Men, Women & Children

Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue:  I was watching another movie and it was a preview (I am a weirdo and really like watching previews for other movies…also I couldn’t figure out how to work Will’s Xbox controller).

What It Is About: “This insightful social drama examines the countless ways the online landscape affects the relationships, communication and self-images of digital-age adolescents, whose parents try to contend with the pitfalls.”




Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue:  I hadn’t heard much about this when it premiered but then all of a sudden EVERYONE was talking about it! Plus I definitely think Will would dig this one!

What It Is About: “Lucious Lyon has ruled the hip-hop universe for years, first as an artist and then as a savvy businessman and the head of Empire Entertainment. But Lucious’s life priorities are overturned in an instant when he learns he has a crippling disease.”





Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue: I believe I heard this documentary talked about on the Call Your Girlfriend podcast and I was intrigued!

What It Is About: “Liz Garbus created this powerful documentary film that tells the story of two teenagers, Shanae and Megan, and their dramatic journeys through the juvenile justice system and back out on to the bleak streets of East Baltimore, Maryland. With unprecedented access to the system and to the complex interior lives of the protagonists, the film provides shocking insight into the world of young women struggling just to survive teenhood.”



 New Politics — Vikings


Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation:  I’ve loved their past two albums (especially their last one) and Will and I got to see them live this year and they were sooo fun! I have been listening to all the singles they have dropped for this album and knew I would dig it. 

Melanie Martinez — Cry Baby

cry baby

 Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation: Honestly? I LOVED her during her season on The Voice. She was just totally my style of music and I adore her voice and how unique she was! Digging it so far. It’s pretty true to the kind of music I thought she’d make!

Rayland Baxter — Imaginary Man


Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation: I saw the album on Paste’s website I think or listened to a single there…something..and was digging it!

If you want to catch what I’m listening to…follow me on Spotify! Let me know who you are so I can follow back and check out youuur music!


YOUR TURN! Tell me one book you added to your TBR list recently! Tell me a movie/tv show you added to your must watch list! Tell me a new band/singer you just added to your musical rotation! Also, have you read/watched/listened to anything on my recently added list? Or did I make you add something to YOUR queue? Tell me, tell me!

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