The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

I received my second-ever Owl Crate in August and I was pretty excited to get it. I think I was in the last batch to be sent so I got mine super late compared to others, which meant I had a hard time not being spoiled. And I was. But that’s okay because I loved it so much.

The Edgar Allan Poe-ka dot socks are a little small for me (I have giant feet) and I don’t drink coffee, but that fountain pen is my favorite thing ever.

This month’s book was The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones! I’d never heard of it before it came in the box, but I was excited to dive into it.

The Hearts We Sold – Emily Lloyd-Jones26309792

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

“This was how normal people survived their own fairy tales. They became their own kind of monster.”

“I just feel like I’m just this collection of broken pieces I don’t know what to do with.” 

The concept of this book was unlike any I’d ever read before, so that just made me excited to get into it. I read it over two days and (shockingly enough) not at 3:00 a.m.! I know, this is very exciting. I read it over Labor Day weekend.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I’m still not sure if that’s the right rating for me, but it’ll stick for now. Let me preface this by saying I thought this book sounded super good. The blurb hooked me and I went into it open to whatever was inside these pages.

This world, which is our modern day world but instead we have these “demons,” which have made themselves known to everyone. And they can grant wishes, but they require a body part as payment. Interesting concept. Not one I’d heard about in any other YA book.

Dee Moreno never wanted anything to do with demons. That is until her life went super wrong and she had to find a way to fix it. Enter the knitting demon, which is what I referred to him as until much later. Except this knitting demon does things a little differently. Instead of taking a toe or hand, this dude takes hearts.

Now I found the plot of this story super interesting. It’s fast-paced and action filled, and I really liked that. This was a quick and easy read but it didn’t grip me as much as I wanted it to. But for me, a great book needs more than just an intriguing plot. It needs great characters and in my opinion, The Hearts We Sold just didn’t have that. Honestly I just didn’t really connect with or care about them, which is a big issue for me. Well rounded, fleshed out characters with personality and individuality are what take a book from mediocre to spectacular for me and I just didn’t feel that way about these characters.

Dee is our main character. She’s a teenager in a prep school with a pretty crappy home life. At first I couldn’t figure out what was so wrong with her home life, but the more I felt terrible for her. I liked a lot of different parts of her character, but it was really hard to like her overall. She had some character growth throughout the book, so that was nice to see since in the beginning she kind of drove me bananas. But I just didn’t get too invested in her.

James is the main love interest. He’s a mysterious, sweet artist who sold his heart for talent and to matter in this world. I liked his backstory, and I found him very intriguing. But again, I wasn’t too connected with him. There was way more romance in this book than I thought it would be. I was expecting a creepy spooky paranormal story and it was mostly a contemporary. That was disappointing, and this is coming from someone who loves a good romance. This just wasn’t one of them.

There are several side characters that I thought needed more development because I actually liked them, including Dee’s roommate Gremma and the Daemon knitting demon himself. I don’t think the demons were fleshed out enough to really catch my interest. It felt like we just glazed over the surface of what they could have been. Plus they weren’t evil enough for me, especially the knitting heart-stealing demon. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but not in a good way. My favorite character was Gremma. She was the most unique but we barely saw her.

I’m going to be honest. Some characters die in this book. I mean, it’s a world filled with demons stealing parts of bodies so shit is bound to go down. And it does. But when certain characters die, I just wanted to affected by it. I just read it, went… oh, well. There’s that…. and continued on. And that’s not the way a character death should be.

There are a few specific moments in the book that drove me crazy. Dee bargains the demon for money. I won’t tell you why, but just that she needs a large amount of money. But the thing is, she never specifies how much she needs. I would never leave that up to a demon to decide, especially when bargaining with someone as important and fragile as my own heart. I kept waiting and waiting for a shoe to drop, like he tricked her into getting her heart and only giving her $100. If I was the main character in this book, that would not fly. Noope. Too much of a control freak. I would require a very specific amount of money. She had way too much trust in a being that’s supposed to be evil.

This might also be a nit-picky thing, but I also didn’t like how Dee’s parents were referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Moreno. I understand that the story is told from a third-person perspective, but it just felt a little odd.

Okay, I think that’s it! I wanted to like it, I really it. And I guess I kind of did, but then I kind of didn’t.

 

Advertisements

Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Long time no see!

Let’s talk about why I’ve been missing for so long. 1) My small town was hit with devastating flooding, causing millions in damage and knocking our power out for over 40 hours. I work at the local newspaper, so I was busy for two weeks covering the flood from a million different angles and perspectives. Now things are starting to slow down a little and I have a few moments to breath. If you’re interested in hearing about what happened with my small town, check out https://www.gofundme.com/sumnerflooding. 2) My interenet has been down since the flooding happened. Apparently in the storms that dumped 15 inches of rain on my town in 24 hours destroyed our internet router. It was finally fixed and I’m connected to the rest of the world again!

So, during this of no internet, I’ve actually been reading a few books! Nothing like no connectivity to the world to make you read more. I should try that more often.

Anyway. To Books!

I’ve been a fan of Colleen Hoover for a long time. I’ve been slowly working on collecting all her books (because I have a book buying problem) but it turns out I haven’t actually read them all. In order to call myself a CoHort (which is what fans of Colleen call themselves), I need to read all her books. So I picked up her first book, Slammed.

This review is filled with spoilers. Sorry. That’s just the way I roll. It’s a good one. You should read it. I went into this not knowing anything about it, and that’s how I’d recommend it to you.

13372690Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

 “Don’t take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it.”

“Push your boundaries, that’s what they’re there for.”

“So you keep your ocean, I’ll take the Lake.”

“I got schooled this year by a boy. A boy that I’m seriously, deeply, madly, incredibly, and undeniably in love with. And he taught me the most important thing of all…To put the emphasis On life .”

I’m just going to preface this by saying this book made me cry. On multiple occasions. Like ugly tears. At 3:00 a.m.

I adore Colleen Hoover’s books, so I thought I’d venture back to her first one. I wanted to see what baby author Colleen’s first ever published book was all about. I constantly see references to it on the Facebook fan page, CoHorts, and I was tired of being out of the loop.

So. We meet our main character, Layken, as she’s preparing to move from Texas to Michigan with her mother Julie and brother Kel. Her father had just died from a heart attack, and they’re moving up north so her mom can get a better job.

As soon as they pull into their new house in Michigan, an adorable boy from next door is there because his little brother is playing with Kel. Enter Will Cooper.

Immediately Lake and Will hit it off. By page 30, they’re on their first date and they’re infatuated with each other. I know I just started this book, but I was wary. I hate insta-love books and I had this feeling that’s what I was getting into. I know this is early Colleen Hoover, but I know she’s not like that. She doesn’t write books that have that trope. So I kept reading, waiting for some shoe to drop. It was all too perfect and easy and so fast.

Well, we find out almost immediately after meeting Will that he’s 21. On their date, Will takes them to a club that hosts a slam poetry night once a month, and Will does a piece that blew my mind. Slam poetry is my favorite part of this entire book. Now, I’m not a person who loves poetry. I wish I was, but I am not. But reading it in this book enhanced the entire plot. It helped us learn different plot aspects without it being spelled out. It was such unique part of this story that I just adored. Will performs a piece about death, and in it we learn that Will’s parents were killed in a car accident and he’s now responsible for raising his little brother, Caulder.

I couldn’t figure out how a relationship would work between these two. He is mature, responsible adult and she’s still in high school. They’re very different people. That was before the SHOE DROPPED.

Lake starts her first day of her senior year at her next school, and that’s when it happens. Turns out, 21-year-old Will is a teacher at her school. And not just any teacher, her poetry teacher.

Not going to lie, I did NOT see that coming. That threw me for such a loop. Now any relationship between them would be impossible.

A lot of this book centers around their relationship, them trying to stay away from each other and not being able to. But there are so many other parts of this book that I think are worth mentioning because they had me in tears.

On her first day of school, Lake meets Eddie. She makes a point to befriend Lake and does her best to make her feel welcome. They become instant friends. Eddie has such a tragic backstory as a foster child. She’s gone from foster home to foster home after her mother tried to sell her for money in a Walmart parking lot. When she didn’t get the amount she was hoping for, she just left her there. Eddie has been living with Joel for several years, and when she turned 18, they had a birthday party for her at her favorite pizza place. Joel had filled balloons with names of all the foster siblings and parents she’s had throughout the years, and let go of every one of them except one. The last balloon was one marked DAD, and he asked to adopt her. I was bawling my eyes out. It was my absolute favorite part of this entire book, and it had nothing to do with our main characters.

When Lake and her family moved to Michigan, her mom said it was because they couldn’t afford to live in Texas anymore. Turns out, that wasn’t true. Later in the book we learn that Lake’s mom has stage 4 lung cancer, and is dying.

It’s after we learn about her disease is when Lake kind of drove me crazy. I in no way can relate to her situation, but the way she reacted was kind of annoying. I understand she’s upset because her mother lied about why they uprooted to a different state, but her mother is dying. You’re running out of time with her, and yet she doesn’t talk to her for days. She’s so mad, but to me if just feels like she’s wasting time with her.

She turns to Will in her grief and disbelief, and eventually Will turns her back to her mom. And then he stops talking to her. He’s doing his best to be a responsible adult, to keep her away so he can keep his job and provide for his younger brother. He wouldn’t be able to put her first. His brother and his job would have to come before her, and he didn’t want to put her through that. We later learn that he kept away so she could spend more time with her mom, and that just made me love Will more.

And then we got to the ending, and I really loved it. Throughout the entire time, slam poetry is talked about but Lake has never performed any. Until the end. She races to the club looking for Will, because he’s always there every month, and she goes up to perform.

“I got schooled this year
by
a
boy
.

A boy that I’m seriously, deeply, madly, incredibly, and undeniably in love with.
And he taught me the most important thing of all

To put the emphasis
On life .”

And then she’s looking around for him and doesn’t find him. As she’s walking away, she hears him over the microphone. Turns out he was a judge and heard the entire thing. He steps up and performs his own slam poem.

“And life definitely doesn’t want me

To just let it tell me

that the girl I met,

The beautiful, amazing, strong, resilient girl 

That I fell so hard for

Should only come in third 

Life knows. 

Life is trying to tell ne

That the girl love 

The girl I fell

So hard for?

There’s room for her in first. 

I’m putting her first.”

Yup. I was crying then too. I cried a lot in this book. It tugged on so many heartstrings and made me feel so many things. I’d glad I went back to Colleen’s debut, which was self published, and saw where she began. I can see how far she’s come since then, how her storytelling has evolved and grown since Slammed, but this book is special in so many ways. I loved it so much. I have the remaining two books in the Slammed series so you can bet I’ll be digging into those books soon!

 

Mid-Year Book Freakout 2017

I know I’m a little late with this, but I’m now getting out of this weird depression-type feeling I’ve been having for a few weeks and finally feel like getting back into writing! Hello everyone!

Many, let me tell you  – depression kind of sucks. And by kind of I mean majorly. I just got into this weird funk where I didn’t want to really talk to people or go outside much. It wasn’t fun.

ANYWAY.

This is the mid-year book freakout 2017 tag, which features books you’ve read throughout 2017. I’m kind of disappointed with myself because I haven’t read as many books as I thought I had, but oh well. I’m on track with my Goodreads challenge so there’ that!

1.Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

Well, it’s kind of a tie. I don’t know how I’m expected to chose the absolute best, that’s just impossible. I’ve loved all the books I’ve read so far. I’m going to have to go with A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Mass and Roar by Cora Carmack.

I loved A Court of Wings and Ruin because it’s part of a world that I’m obsessed with. I haven’t written a review on it here because I really don’t know how to talk about it because I thought it was just so wonderful. Roar by Cora Carmack is SO GOOD. I loved everything about it – such a bad-ass main character, wonderful world building and a wicked cool magic system.

2. Best sequel you’ve read in 2017?

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. OH MY GOD this book was so good. I read both the first book and this book this year because I’m always behind (they came out in 2015 and 2016). But Rose and the Dagger was such a great sequel to the Wrath and the Dawn. It was so eye opening to another world that I knew almost nothing about, and it was just so well written and awesome.

3. New release you want to read?

There are SO many I want to read that have been released so far this year. In line with #2, I want to read Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. I loved the previous two books so much and this books sounds so good. Also Atheists Who Kneel and Pray by Tarryn Fisher. I’ve read only one book by Tarryn, F*ck Love and I adored it, and this books sounds super good. I want to read it right now!

4. What is your most anticipated release for the rest of the year?

Again, how am I to pick just one book? Well, I’m not. There are so many! There’s Someone Inside Your House, Stephanie Perkins: I am all for a thriller, and Stephanie’s previous books were so great. Out Sept. 26. Without Merit by Colleeen Hoover: I LOVE COLLEEN’S BOOKS. I will read anything she writes. Out Oct. 3. Shelter by Jay Crownover: this is the second book in Jay’s Getaway series and I loved the first one so much. Out late 2017. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: I haven’t read a book by Adam yet, but I hear so many good things. The premise of the books so unique and interesting. Out Sept. 5.

5. What is the biggest disappointment you’ve read so far?

My answer is probably Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I don’t know if it was just the circumstances I was in while reading it, but it wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be. I haven’t read any other books in the series yet, so maybe the more I read, the more I’ll like? I don’t know. It was interesting, but doesn’t really match the hype for me.

6. What is the biggest surprise you’ve read so far?

Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven. I did not expect to be affected as much as I was with this book! I can’t even go into how much I loved it. If you’re curious, go ahead and check out my review here. Leisa herself saw it and tweeted to be about it and commented on the review – I couldn’t freaking believe it!

7. Who is your favorite new author?

Sandhya Menon – the author of When Dimple Met Rishi. I loved getting to learn about the Indian culture and traditions. Plus this book was so freaking adorable. Rishi is the cutest little nugget and I loved how independent and awesome Dimple was. SO GOOD.

8. Who is your newest crush?

Marco Leone in The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia. I loved this book because it was in this world that reminded me of Fast and the Furious, which I loved. Marco was so dark and mysterious and troubled, I just loved him.

Oh and Cassian from ACOWAR. I mean, really? How could I not?

9. Who is your favorite fictional character?

Rhysand. Hands down. The end.

10. A book that made you cry?

Uh, like every book I read this year? JK maybe not, but I tend to tear up easily in books, so more than likely a lot. Oh, I know. A Monster Calls. Because of course.

11. A book that made you happy?

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett. This book was so dang adorable and made me happy the entire time. It reminds me a lot of You’ve Got Mail, which I LOVE, so it was just cute.

12. What is your favorite adaptation this year?

13 Reasons Why. Hands down. I binged it in like two days. So good. I cried my eyes out the entire time.

13. Your favorite review so far?

Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven. I really liked this book so much and I think I really expressed that in this review. I related to this main character so dang much. AND LEISA SAW IT AND COMMENTED ON IT AND TWEETED ME ABOUT IT. *faints*

14. Most beautiful book you’ve gotten so far this year?

Probably Roar by Cora Carmack. I have two copies – one ARC and one hardcover – and they are both freaking gorgeous. It’s also so beautifully written.

15. Books you need to read in the second half of the year?

I really want to read the rest of the Throne of Glass series. Also the Mortal Instruments series because it seems every single person has read those books and i have not.

If you’re interested in filling this out, then you’re tagged!

 

 

Podcasts I’m Obsessed With

I have been in a major reading slump lately. I think I’ve just been so busy with life and work that it’s been hard to find time to read books. That makes me extremely sad.

So – instead of reading, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. They’re so easy to listen to while I’m at work or in the car. I know, I could be listening to an audio book, but in my defense – podcasts are free and that is directly in my budget.

There are four major podcasts that I listen to religiously. I know I mostly focus on books here, but I’d thought I would share the other media/stories I’ve been ingesting. You might find a theme in the majority of the podcast I listen to…


Logo-Last

Last Podcast On The Left 

Hosted by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski

The Last Podcast on the Left covers all the horrors our world has to offer, both imagined and real, from demons and slashers to cults and serial killers. The Last Podcast is guaranteed to satisfy your blood lust. 

I guess you could say I’m relatively new to LPOTL. These three goofballs have been working with the podcast since 2011, and I just starting listening to them about a year ago. I found them through another podcast I listen to, which I’ll talk about later. Ben, Marcus and Henry cover a wide variety of topics. They just don’t focus on true crime, but delve into conspiracy theories, UFO sightings, sometimes they read fan-submitted creepypastas, and many other topics related to things weird and spooky in our world today. They do a great job of mixing facts with humor. Sure, the topics they talk about aren’t funny – serial killers and the like, but they infuse humor into their commentary and I really appreciate that. They take a macabre subject and make it seem not so scary with humor, while still being respectful. 

I’m kind of obsessed with them. Marcus is an awesome researcher. He does his best to make sure all the facts they state in their weekly show are true, and he looks through so many books and sites to give as much information as possible about their subjects. I think every podcast needs a person like Marcus on staff because I can count on LPOTL to be accurate. Sure, they’re not always PG (okay, like never) but I know the facts they’re stating are true. 

Ben is probably my favorite of the trio. I just find Ben to be funny, but also I just really like the stories he has to tell. I generally agree with most of the things he says, and I just like him because he’s a giant. He’s like 6’9″. 

Henry is an odd duck. I find him extremely funny in most parts, but he’s a comedian who’s not afraid to cross the line. Some of his comments go a bit too far for me, but it doesn’t bother or offend me in any way. I enjoy Henry’s brand of humor. He also does a lot of research along with Marcus. 

They upload typically every Friday. Their most recent topic was Timothy McVay, the Oklahoma City bomber. I was really interested in their three-part series on that sociopath because the first true crime book I ever read was about him. It kind of sparked my interest in true crime in general. I thought I knew a lot of about him, but from listening to LPOTL I realized I really didn’t. They opened my eyes to a lot of information I didn’t know about the bombing itself and Timothy as a person. The Last Podcast guys don’t really ever leave stones un-turned. They go deep into their subjects, and as an avid listener, I love that about them. If you’re into true crime or anything really strange and aren’t going to be offended by some dark humor, I highly recommend these guys! 

I listen to them through the Apple Podcast app, but a complete archive of their shows can be found at http://cavecomedyradio.com/pod-series/last-podcast-on-the-left/ 

 

427My Favorite Murder 

Hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark 

Ready yourself for a murder adventure hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, two lifelong fans of true crime stories. Each episode the girls tell each other their favorite tales of murder, and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans. Check your anxiety at the door, cause Karen and Georgia are dying to discuss death. 

These ladies published their first podcast January 2016 and have exploded ever since. I jumped on the bandwagon a few months after their first podcast, and I’ve just been hooked. In the beginning, I had a hard time listening to them (and even left a negative review, which I NEVER DO) because their audio quality drove me insane. The couches they sat on sounded like that plastic inflatable ones and constantly squeaked when they moved and I just couldn’t handle it. Thank God it’s improved and now I just love them. 

They typically release two episodes a week. Monday/Tuesday they release a show featuring fan-submitted stories, and they release a longer episode on Thursday where Karen and Georgia each chose a murder/survivor story and go into detail about it. Don’t rely on them for all the details though, that’s kind of their thing. They don’t do an awful amount of research, but they know enough about them to have good conversations. Sometimes they get things wrong, but their human. It happens. They discuss murder and crimes from throughout the world and from any decade. They’ve introduced me to a lot of serial killers and true crime that I didn’t know about. I feel like if someone looked through my browsing history, they would be very concerned about me because I’m just googling serial killers left and right. Totally normal. 

I also like how they address anxiety and depression as well. As someone who suffers through episodes of both, I like listening to people who have the same experiences and thoughts as I do. They also do their best to be respectful of everyone and never victim-blame. They’re helping teach women to be safe, teaching them things to look for in dangerous situations and just making them more aware of the dangers out in the world. They’ve created this awesome community of people who love what they talk about, who call themselves Murderinos. They’re honestly bringing people together from all walks of life. I’m part of the Iowa Murderino group, which obviously gives us Iowans who are obsessed with this podcast a chance to talk to each other, make friends and meet up to talk about our favorite murders. I’ve met people I never would have before and it’s SO GREAT because you already know you have something major in common. Loving true crime and murder stories is a little weird and looked down upon, so finding people that share that same love of stories is so great because it makes you feel less odd. 

Obviously I love this podcast. These two ladies led me to Last Podcast on the Left and many other true crime/mystery podcasts. They reminded me how much I love this genre and encouraged me to embrace my love of the creepy, murdery and spooky stuff. Kind of weird, but then again I’m weird. So there’s that. 

There’s an awesome story about them in Rolling Stone! 

I listen to them through Apple Podcast app, but a complete archive of their episodes can be found at http://www.feralaudio.com/show/my-favorite-murder/

 

NoSleep.Podcast.S4.Logo_1400No Sleep

Hosted by David Cummings

The No Sleep Podcast is a multi-award winning anthology series of original horror stories, with rich atmospheric music to enhance the frightening tales. 

Again, I am so very late to the party. This podcast has been around since 2011, and here I am midway through 2017 and just listening to my first episode. I know, it’s just sad. But, in my defense, I’m just now really getting into podcasts so this was bound to happen. I didn’t really know what this podcast was about when I found it, but now I’m addicted to it. I’ve only listened to about four episodes because I literally found it yesterday, but STILL. THIS IS SO GOOD. 

I’m also a new user of Reddit. I’ve obviously heard of Reddit before, but I just didn’t really understand how to use it. I know, I know. It’s really not that complicated, but I guess I never really gave it a shot. But now.. oh man, I have been reading it all day. I originally found that subreddit of that guy who posted about being a search and resuce person in the woods and the STAIRS! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can find it here. 

I stayed up all night reading that. Never figured out if it was fake or not. Doesn’t really matter to me because I thought it was SO good. But that led me to the overall the subreddit NoSleep, and I have been so into it ever since and many other subreddits like Paranormal and Unresolved Mysteries. 

So this podcast, The No Sleep Podcast, takes the best stories from the Reddit page and turns them into fully casted narrations. It’s like listening to an audio book, but they’re  spooky short stories. I really love them. They’re so well done and the voice actors are great. I’m a big fan of this podcast and I can’t wait to listen to more of it! 

You can find more information about it here! 

 

rVnEQJRl_400x400Sleep With Me

Hosted by Drew Ackerman

The podcast that puts you to sleep with a lulling, droning, boring bedtime story to distract your racing mind.

It’s no secret I have trouble sleeping. This blog is called Late Night Reading because when I couldn’t sleep, which was most nights, I distracted myself with a book and then accidentally stayed up until 3:00 a.m. because I couldn’t put the book down.

I think I originally heard of this podcast through Georgia Hardstark and My Favorite Murder. I wasn’t really looking for anything to help me sleep. I just accepted the fact that maybe I just can’t sleep as long as everyone else. Until I found this podcast.

Honestly, this podcast has kind of changed my life. When it’s time for me to go to sleep, I have a hard time shutting my brain off. I think of anything and everything, so many decisions I’ve made or problems I’m having and I dwell on them so much that I can’t fall asleep. Which is why I read at night. But now, I turn on this podcast, shut off all my lights, close my eyes and focus on the words Scooter is talking about. Drew Ackerman, aka Scooter, tells the most boring stories, and he gives you permission to ignore him. I listen to him every night, I barely make it through the introduction before I’m fast asleep.

“This is the podcast that’s here to put you to sleep. It’s a bedtime story. Get in bed, turn of the lights and press play. I’ll do the rest. I’m creating a safe place where you can set aside whatever is keeping you awake. I’m going to send my voice across the deep dark night…”

That’s basically how he begins every episode. Scooter’s voice is gravelly and in his lower range and it’s meant to soothe you to sleep. The very beginning he talks about the sponsors and things that keep the podcast free, and then leads you into the roughly 12-minute introduction. Then he goes into a 45- or 50-minute story about the most random things. I have never actually made it to the story portion of the podcast; I’m always asleep by the end of the introduction. His stories are enough to keep you engaged so the things that usually race through your mind are kept at bay, and you can focus on the stuff Scooter is saying. But it’s boring enough to put you asleep. It’s like how when my nieces wouldn’t fall asleep when they were little, we’d put tennis matches on TV and it would bore them to sleep.

I can’t stop raving about this podcast. It’s been so beneficial to me. I listen to it every single night. I’m honestly considering purchasing Sleep Phones because they’re a headband with built-in headphones that will make it so much easier to listen to this podcast while I’m falling asleep, but I just can’t afford them yet. Some day though.

If you’re an insomniac like me (or at least like how I USED to be), I highly, highly recommend Sleep With Me. That’s a weird sounding sentence. Anyway… It has really changed the way I fall asleep. If I’m having a bad night and can’t stop thinking, I can turn on Scooter’s voice and he lulls me to sleep. Usually within 10 minutes. Seriously, it’s changed my life.

 

This isn’t sponsored in anyway. I just genuinely love these podcasts and want to rave about them! If you have any true crime podcast recommendations, or any podcast recs in general, let me know!

#7StormyDays ROAR Photo Challenge!

Hey guys!

Its release week for Cora Carmack’s new YA fantasy novel, ROAR! Super exciting!! To celebrate, Cora and my fellow street team members, the STORMLINGS, are hosting a #7StormyDays photo challenge. Each day of release week will have a different Roar-related theme, and all you have to do is post a picture on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (all three for more entries) using the hashtags #7StormyDays and #Roar to be entered to win! Cora will pick one random participant each day to win a Roar prize pack, and then a grand prize winner at the end of the week from people who participated in all seven days! For challenges, entries must be posted by 9:00 ET on each date below. Winners will be chosen every night at random.

Each daily prize will consist of the same “basic” prize pack plus a larger swag item that changes from day to day. Basic prize packs include Roar bookmarks, Challenge Your Tempests wristbands and a Stormheart power necklace (those are SUPER cool).

Below are the daily challenges and possible prizes! Have fun with this, challenge yourself and be entered to win some awesome goodies! Don’t forget to use #7StormyDays with each post!

IMG_7178

Tuesday, June 13: Release Day! Challenge: #RoadDay Find Roar in the wild (at your favorite bookstore) and post a picture using the hashtag #RoarDay

Prize: basic prize pack plus a Roar/Aurora- themed candle!

Wednesday, June 14: #Shelfies Challenge: post a picture of your bookshelf, and get a double entry if Roar is there! Post using the hashtags #Shelfie and #Roar

Prize: basic prize pack plus a limited edition “Challenge Your Tempests” necklace!

Thursday, June 15: #RoarQuote Challenge: post your favorite quote from Roar using the hashtag #RoarQuote

Prize: basic prize pack plus a cover art journal!

Friday, June 16: #CharacterCrush Challenge: tell the world which Roar character you’re crushing on. Post using the hashtags #CharacterCrush and #Roar

Prize: basic prize pack plus Locke and Cassius candles!

Saturday, June 17: #BlackOutPoetry Challenge: create a piece of Black Out poetry with a (photocopied or printed) page from Roar. Post your poem using the hashtags #BlackOutPoetry and #Roar

Prize: basic prize pack plus a cover art canvas print!

Sunday, June 18: #StormChaser Challenge: post a storm image that makes you think of Roar. Get a double entry if you are the creator! Post with the hashtags #StormChaser and #Roar

Prize: basic prize pack plus a set of storm candles!

Monday, June 19: #RoarParty Challenge: Join the Twitter party at 8:00 pm ET and ask Cora questions about Roar, fantasy, books, movies, writing and more!

Prize: basic prize pack plus a canvas print of the world map and canvas cover art! Plus more small giveaways during the party!

If you have any questions, shoot them my way! Have you finished Roar? Let me know what you think of it because I am obsessed!!

Roar by Cora Carmack

Roar by Cora Carmack

 

Twister Picture Black and Gray

My first experience with Cora Carmack came several years ago when I was loooking through the book section at Target, which is almost a must when I’m on a Target run, and browsing through the store’s recommended reads section. I remember seeing “Losing It” on the shelf next to a Jay Crownover book (which is what caught my attention because let’s be honest, Jay’s amazing) and I noticed this Cora lady’s book and I read the blurbs and description and thought, well – why not?

I have read all of Cora’s books she’s published  – from the Losing It series to the Rusk University series and everything in between!  When I heard she was releasing a young adult fantasy novel, I was intrigued. She completely switched genres on me, but I know Cora writes amazing story lines and characters no matter what, so I was pretty excited. Let’s just say she did NOT disappoint!

29939048Roar by Cora Carmack

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands riding the wind. You are Stormling, Aurora Pavan. Believe it. Believe it, and others will too.” 

“…she took a deep breath and said her final good-bye. To Pavan. And to Aurora. From this point on, she could only be Roar.”

“If she were a storm, she could destroy him, and he would never lift a finger to protect himself.” 

“You asked me if I thought you had made a mistake by coming with us, and my answer is no. You are exactly where you are you supposed to be. And I am here with you..”

I’m writing this on the eve of Roar’s release, and I am so beyond excited for you all to get your hands on this piece of perfection. It’s going to be very hard for me to hold myself back from spoilers, because all I want to do is tell you EVERY. SINGLE. THING. I loved about this book. Which is a lot.

I’m amazed by Cora’s talent with words. Roar is so beautifully written, Cora easily paints the picture of this vast, foreign land filled with deadly storms and amazing magic. She allows the reader to place themselves in Aurora’s world. I can picture myself there as she first meets her fiance, when she enters into The Eye, when she meets her first storm head on. Cora has the ability to weave this gorgeous tale through twists and turns, love and loss, betrayal and deception, and it’s such a wonderful story. She has such a unique way of telling showing what’s going to be coming, but you don’t really figure it out until it happens. Once I reread it, I found some little hints she left between those crafty words of hers.

Let’s talk about the plot, shall we?

Roar focuses on a young woman named Aurora, who is the Princess of Pavan, next in line for the throne. This world she lives in is filled with magical storms and Stormlings born with power to protect the people from these storms. Aurora’s bloodline is filled with Stormling power. Unfortunately, that power seems to have skipped her. Total bummer. So her mother has arranged a marriage to Prince Cassius, the second-born son of the kingdom of Locke and a super-powerful Stormling, and the union will guarantee the safety of Pavan.

As is well and good until Aurora learns of Cassius’ true intentions, and she’s not letting that fly so easily. The thing you learn about Aurora pretty quickly is that she is strong-willed and independent. She seeks out the answers to the many questions she has about Cassius, about Stormlings and about power in The Eye, marketplace filled with dark, seedy characters and illegal magic. There, she stumbles upon this rag-tab group of storm hunters who travel throughout the land doing exactly that, hunting down the deadly storms that ravage the area.

Aurora makes the ultimate choice. She takes her future into her own hands and refuses to let anyone make any more decisions for her (which I greatly admire). Once she teams up with this band of merry hunters (some now so merry), the sheltered, naive, smart and tenacious Aurora transforms into Roar, a total bad-ass

 

Once outside the city walls, we see how strong, independent, determined, a little stubborn, fiercely loyal and a great example of a female leader she is. We don’t always see strong women like Roar as our leading lady, but I’m happy we have Roar because she is the epitome of female power and strength. Whenever she stands up for herself against someone “stronger” or more powerful, I want to stand up and cheer her on! We follow her on her journey into figuring out who she really is and what she can really do. Trust me, once you find out, there’s no going back!

This gang of storm hunters is filled with amazing characters, each written in such a way that you want to get to know them. I love each one of them in different ways, but my favorite is Locke. Cora does an amazing job giving each character a strong and diverse, and sometimes heartbreaking, back story, allowing each character to stand out in their own way.

Oh, the epic magic system and amazing characters aren’t enough for you? Well, let me tell you about the romance in this book. Oh yes, there is a love story and it’s such a slow burn. I’m not telling you who, but these two push and pull at each other throughout this entire book. This relationship builds on mutual trust and friendship and annoying the crap out of each other and sly glances and flirty banter and it molds into this steamy romance that just makes you swoon. And I swooned. Hard. I know from past books that Cora writes a great romance, and this one did NOT disappoint!

giphy                              giphy-downsized

I want to tell you so much more. I loved so many things throughout this book. Here, look at my ARC. I marked every scene or quote I loved with a green post-it.

DCIruC_UAAATFqXI want to talk to you about ALL of those things, including my FAVORITE scene of all time that I’ve read more times than I care to admit and have bookmarked it with a post-it filled with tiny little hearts and a rain cloud. I’m also obsessed with storms and grew up wanted to be a storm chaser, so this book was right up my alley. There are moments in here that actually reminded me of Twister in a weird way. Which made me love it MORE, if that was possible.

I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE SECOND BOOK!

 

Roar is a completely captivating story filled with adventure, storms, love, betrayal, magic, storms, spirits and so much more! It comes out today, Tuesday, June 13, everywhere!

 

 

 

 

Check out these links and get your copy of Roar today!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2rvA6ag

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2qxlFoi

iBooks: http://apple.co/2rvx3im

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2q0MP2U

Book Depository: http://bit.ly/2qWjb3Q

Take a peak at this amazing book trailer!

Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven

Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven

I love to read, this is not a secret. One of my favorite things about reading is being able to find myself in the characters of a story. Similar personality traits, senses of humor, experiences, I love to find those little quirks that help make the character more real for me and relate to what they’re going through.

Not every book offers this kind of experience, and that’s okay. Maybe you’re not meant to. Regardless, I look for myself in these characters. Am I the only one who does that?

In all my years of reading, there are few characters that I can really find myself truly relating to, really connecting with. When I bought this book after a friend recommended it, little did I know I had found my character. She is me. I am her. I absolutely loved this book, so be prepared for an extremely long discussion below. I have been known to be quite wordy… 🙂

34452618

Mister Romance – Leisa Rayven 

I have been in a bit of a book slump recently, and I have been looking for the perfect book to help me break it. For me, romance books are the trick to break the dreaded slump, so here I was, browsing through my digital and real-life book shelf trying to find THE book to drag me out of the pit of despair (okay, a little dramatic) and back into the light.

I’m a big fan of Leisa’s Star-Crossed Lovers series, even though I didn’t realize there was a third book so now I have to read that, so there was no way I was turning this book down. Plus, the plot sounds fantastic.

As his alter-ego Mister Romance, Max is a drop-dead gorgeous escort who makes romantic fantasies come to life. No sex, just swoon-worthy dates to die for, and the cream of New York’s socialites can’t get enough.  Whether they want a dominating billionaire, bad boy with a heart of gold, hot geek, sexy biker, or best friend who loves them from afar, Max can make it all happen, but he’s careful to keep his real identity a secret.

Enter investigative journalist Eden Tate. Having caught wind of the urban legend of Mister Romance from a lovestruck client, Eden is determined to publish a scathing expose on Max and his ability to swindle lonely society women out of their fortunes.

Desperate to protect his anonymity and his clients, Max challenges Eden to give him three dates. If she doesn’t fall in love with him, she can run her story with his blessing. If she succumbs to his charms, the story dies.

Cynical Eden has no doubt she can resist his fake romance personas, but when the real Max admits he’s falling for her, she has to decide if the professional liar is telling the truth, or if the passionate man with the mysterious past is just one more character designed to con her out of her career-making story.

“…it’s easier for you to think being alone is a choice rather than admitting you might be unlovable. Let me tell you, you’re not. Not even a little.”

Great characters really help make a book wonderful. In Mister Romance, it’s a tie for me in regards to my favorite character. In one corner we have our leading lady, Eden. In the other, the gorgeous Maxwell Riley.

I knew from the moment we met Eden that I liked her. The more we learned about her, the more I found myself in her. She’s cynical about love, about relationships, about men in general…and girl I can relate. She sleeps with them and kicks them out the next day with no phone number or any wish to see them again. She’s an investigative journalist who isn’t afraid to dig deep and ask the tough questions to get her story, but unfortunately she’s stuck in a Buzzfeed-esque office writing click-bait stories. I can feel her pain – as a fellow journalist – I don’t know how I could survive in that place writing those terrible “stories” instead of the ones I love to write.

          “I’m not someone who experiences the meet-cute situations. They’re for                          leading-lady types, and that’s not me. If I were in a movie, someone like my                sister would be the romantic lead while I’d end up playing the smart-ass                      friend…” 

I feel like at times, Leisa was reaching into my own soul to channel Eden. I’ve thought the exact same things as she has, I’ve felt the same things about myself and about love and relationships, so this book was extremely personal for me. I felt like I was Eden on this journey, watching Max break through her mile-high wall around her heart and finally reaching the sad and lonely woman beneath it. I could understand the pain and confusion she was feeling when those deep, emotional feelings, which she has never felt before, started to take over and force her to re-evaluate her life and the way she was living. I loved getting to watch Eden slowly learn to trust and open up to Max, learning to love someone and feel lovable.

While there are many serious moments and conversations in this book, it was also hilarious. Eden’s sassy and sarcastic sense of humor was a breath of fresh air. I liked how she didn’t take any shit, and was so full of great little quips.

            “…it will be Turtleneck Tuesday at Hooters before I admit that I enjoyed                       being with him.” 

Now let’s move to Max. Maxwell Riley is a complicated man. Another thing I loved about this book so much was the plot line. Max is a male escort, providing romantic fantasies (sex fee) for money. The concept was unique and intriguing, and having a leading man like Max made it work so well. I honestly fell in love with Max and all of his personalities, all showing a different part of himself.

I liked how we slowly worked through Max’s personalities right along with Eden, learning about him bit by bit and revealing more about this gorgeous, mysterious man. I felt like we were falling in love with him right along with Eden. His backstory was so full of angst and despair and sadness, I couldn’t help but feel for him when we finally learned everything. He’s gone through a lot, but he’s learned and grew into a great man with a wonderful heart.

Now, if you don’t want to be spoiled, then I suggest you depart here, head on over to wherever you buy books and pick this one up. It has moved up to one of my favorites and will definitely reread it. No doubt about that. 10 out of 10 will recommend forever. Thanks for hanging out and giving my review a read! Come on back when you’ve finished it and we can freak out about it together.

SPOILERS! AH!

Can I just say how much I love Eden’s tenacity? Some people in her position would just do their click-bait job, earn the paycheck and be miserable every day. Not our Eden. She wants something better, believes in herself enough to make it happen. So when she marched into Derek’s office and instead of getting fired, gets a chance to write the story of her career, possibly get a killer promotion and a hella big raise – I was rooting her on!

When she first met Kieran, I was a little suspicious. She’s in the beginning of her investigation  of Mister Romance and then she meets this gorgeous Irish guy who is totally into her? How does this play into the plot? Why introduce him when I know she’s going to eventually fall for Mister Romance? So I thought – well, Mister Romance is a hot Irish dude. Okay cool, I can totally get behind that. He’s found her and is checking her out to see if she’d make a good client. Makes sense.

When Eden and Asha (who I love btw) met him at the bar, I knew something was up. I felt bad for Eden because she thinks she gave him up to make her sister happy, but can totally understand why she did that. But when Asha tricked Eden into eating at that fancy restaurant, the whole time I’m thinking – clearly Eden doesn’t see this is a setup. It’s so obvious. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time she and “Kieran” were at the restaurant because I knew that had to be him, but how are we going to find out it’s him? But then her phone keeps ringing, and you know it’s going to be Mister Romance about the interview because why not – terrible timing right? But Kieran was sitting across from her clearly not on his phone, so then I doubted myself. I thought I had it, but obviously not.

BUT THEN IT WAS HIM AND I WAS LIKE – GIRL I KNEW IT!

I didn’t expect the Irish thing to be an act though. Or for him to have so many different personalities. That was an interesting part of Max’s character in general. And that he was so good at it and never broke character. I was very impressed by his rules regarding touching and sex and things like that. I mean, the idea that he sells romantic fantasies didn’t really seem like it would be a real thing to me, but the more we learned about it, the more interesting it sounded. What he does for woman is actually kind of amazing, especially leaving sex out of it.

The first date they went on was sure something! Caleb is probably my favorite personality that we see of Max’s. because I’m a sucker for hot musicians who can sing like that. Plus, the man is covered in tattoos so YES PLEASE. I just loved the fact that Max knew Eden would come to the concert and planned for it, bringing her up on stage – talk about a girl’s dream! (especially this one!) Holy hotness, you could cut that sexual tension with a knife that entire night. I found myself wondering what would Max pick for my date if I hired him? How would he fix me? I’m sooo curious.

I really liked the deeper moments of this book. It was a delight to read, full of funny and witty lines, but it also touched on something pretty important. Romance – not sex or love, but how actual real, good romance can affect a person. And Max was extremely good at it, slowly teaching Eden how to open herself up and feel those romantic feelings, even though she thought she was unable to feel them.

This book was such a slow burn too, filled with sexual tension and steamy flirtation. I’ve always thought the idea of sexual restraint was almost sexier than the actual sex. Max had a very strict “no sex with clients” rule and limits the amount of physical touch they have, helping women love themselves and value themselves without the physical aspect of relationships. He was so respectful of Eden and his former clients. Max honestly has a heart of gold.

             “You can live and die within the lifetime of a decent kiss. Trust me on this.” 

I kept looking at how much of the book I had left when they finally got together. I kept thinking – there’s too much book left to get a happily ever after right now, so what’s going to happen? I couldn’t imagine Eden being able to live with Max’s job since they were together – the jealousy would definitely eat her alive. I knew her article would get published, I just didn’t expect Max to be the one to make it happen. I thought she accidentally sent it to Derek instead of herself and he’d print it (but I’m glad it didn’t go that way!). I was in emotional turmoil as things were playing out in the end, as Eden tried to figure out her feelings and how they could make a life work together. I cried a lot, especially when Max said:

           “…it’s easier for you to think being alone is a choice rather than admitting                  you might be unlovable. Let me tell you, you’re not. Not even a little.”

It’s probably my favorite from the whole book because man, did that ever hit home for me. Max obviously sees past Eden’s defenses and why she lives her life the way she does. He understands her. UGH I LOVE IT.

It all wrapped up very nicely, I thought. The ending was great – the idea of creating a large business out of his job, hiring more men and women to reach more people was something I did not expect.

I also wanted to add that I loved the side characters in this book, primarily Nannabeth and Asha! Nan was a hoot, and I felt terrible for Eden going through Nan’s time in the hospital alone because she felt she had to. Girl, I can relate to you so much in that moment. She felt she couldn’t lean on someone for support because people let you down all the time. She had to stand on her own and face those problems without showing weakness. She had to be strong. But you don’t have to be strong all the time, and I’m glad she finally realized that and cried her eyes out on Max’s shoulder. I cried along with her!

        “…so you’re telling me that you’re happy, and determined to go through life                alone?”                                                                                                                                                  “I’ve done pretty well so far. I don’t need another person to make me complete.”        “Not needing someone and not letting yourself need someone are two different           things. I’m not sure you know the difference…one is called independence. The             other is denial. Humans need love and affection. We’re pack animals. We’re               not designed to be alone.”

I loved Asha’s little hopeless romantic heart. She and Eden couldn’t be more different, but their sisterly bond was strong and very important in this book. I hope she can find her happy ending too!

The next book in this series is called Professor Feelgood and comes out this September. I know absolutely nothing about it. After some quick Googling, I still know nothing. But I trust Leisa and I know she writes great books with fun and interesting story lines, so I can’t wait for it!