Photo Review – Consumed by Fire (Fire #1) by Anne Stuart

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Consumed by Fire (Fire #1)

by Anne Stuart

Summary: Evangeline Morrissey remembers the last time she saw her husband: it was during their honeymoon, right before he stole her grandmother’s earrings and abandoned her. Now, five years later, the enigmatic man who’d broken her heart and destroyed her trust is back. But she’s not the same naive young woman who fell for him so easily.

Marrying Evangeline and letting her think he was nothing but a common thief had been James Bishop’s plan all along. As an assassin for the Committee, a covert agency dedicated to stamping out international crime, he had no business even thinking about marriage. But it was the only way to protect Evangeline after she’d unwittingly wandered into his operation against a group of human traffickers, placing herself in grave danger. And now that James’s vigilant watch over Evangeline’s life has revealed to his enemies that she’s his one true weakness, he must set out to have, to hold, and—above all—to protect his bride.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy

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Review:

Every so often, I’m in the mood for a romance novel. Sometimes, I don’t even really want a cutesy contemporary or a racy fantasy, but something somewhere in between. I read and liked a couple of her Ice series romances, so I decided to pick this one up. I love the type of romantic interests that aren’t really heroes nor villains (though I’m totally fine when they stray toward the villain side) and that’s exactly what Stuart delivers in her romances.

I enjoyed the plot and I loved the feisty main character and the chemistry. Both characters weren’t afraid to get up in each other’s faces. If you are a fan of the Ice series, this one is definitely worth reading!

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Star 4

 

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Photo Review – The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

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The Husband’s Secret

by Liane Moriarty

Summary: At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read
My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

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Review:

I flew through the book and thoroughly enjoyed every page. There is something about the way Liane Moriarty builds her stories and characters that is so completely engrossing. I could not put the book down and I loved all of the what-if scenarios. I felt like the story was about people, the choices they make, and the way their lives unfold as a result of those choices. I highly recommend the book.

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Star 4

Wreck This Journal – Pages 180-181: Stain Log

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Wreck This Journal

pages 180-181

Stain Log

Book Lover’s Stain Log

 

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The various ways book nerds can stain their books:

  • Tears for sad books
  • Dirt from dragging books
  • Smudges from turning the pages
  • Lipstick from leaning the book on your lips, thinking.
  • Papercuts from turning pages
  • Rain from reading outside
  • Eating Cheetos while reading
  • Foundation from dropped the book on your face
  • Finger ink smudge
  • Shutting a gnat in the book
  • Mascara when the tears come
  • Coffee stain
  • More tears from those books that make you sob
  • When you eat and read and spill food
  • Sand from the beach
  • Grass stain from the yard

 

“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names… Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on walls. They get in wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.”

-Maya Angelou

Photo Review – Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

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Girl, Wash Your Face

by Rachel Hollis

SummaryWith wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.

Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

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Source: I purchased a kindle copy

Review:

One of my old coworkers was reading this book for her work book club and I decided to join in. Self-help or even nonfiction in general are not genres that I typically read, but after reading How to Win Friends and Influence People last year for work, I try to keep an open mind about books that are designed to help me grow personally and professionally. I’m always a work in progress and I think it’s helpful to reflect on who you are and what choices you make.

I should start by saying I have no idea who Rachel Hollis is. Which is fine, because I don’t have any opinions about her and was definitely open to hearing what type of great life advice she wanted to give. I love the title and I was looking forward to getting some no-nonsense advice for women. I did hear that the book was kind of Christian (I think it’s from a Christian publisher) but it wasn’t over the top. I think it was more religious that I would have preferred, but I was largely able to ignore the references in a lot of the chapters.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Girl, Wash Your Face. I enjoyed the first few chapters and figured I could kind of skip over the religious or working mom aspects of the story because they do not apply to me and it was pretty easy to do in the beginning. Over time, though, I became more and more frustrated, not just at those things, but at the entire tone of the author and the specifics of the Lie/Chapter.

The first 4 chapters were great. The first 4 lies (The lies: Something else will make me happy.  I’ll start tomorrow. I’m not good enough. I’m better than you.) we tell ourselves are lies that we often do tell ourselves regardless of who we are, what we do, or where we are going in life. They are lies we need to overcome and the anecdotes in the chapters were helpful and funny and mostly got to the heart of the matter.

I’d even venture to say that chapter 6 (the life: no is the final answer) and chapter 12 (I need to make myself smaller) were also good lies to touch on that impact nearly everyone. The rest of the lies were oddly specific and mostly irrelevant to me. (Loving him is enough for me, I’m bad at sex, I don’t know how to be a mom, I’m not a good mom, I’m a terrible writer…)

While some of the chapters had great titles (I will never get past this, I can’t tell the truth, there’s only one right way to be) later on, the actual meat of the chapters grew increasingly specific and unhelpful as life advice and were little more than just the author telling me a story and how it all worked out in the end.

I did not need the author to keep telling me how successful she was. I believed her the first couple of times.

I did not need the author to tell me how marathon running helped her cope if she wasn’t going to explain how she came to know that about herself. I mean, the book is about finding ways to cope with life, find joy in life, and discover who you can be. If marathon running is a hobby she found helpful, then I would have liked to know what sort of things she may have tried first, how she realized it was right for her, so that her readers could perhaps use the same methodology to find their own sport/hobby/coping mechanism.

It was like that with a lot of things. She would go on to say how she believed it was important to focus on the most minute of details when dreaming up goals, but never talked about writing down SMART goals, figuring out what your goals might be, making them actionable, or anything. I mean, dreaming up what color scarf you are going to put on the expensive purse you always wanted to be successful enough to own is great, but how did you lay out your steps for actually making that milestone? It’s not that she gave bad advice in the book so much as she just failed to share the more helpful parts of defining your own success. The only thing I know about her journey to success is that she “worked hard” and that was about it. She referred a lot to her faith and trusting God’s plan, which for me, I just replaced that with finding the good in your situation, but there was little emphasis on doing just that aside from the first chapter. How do you maintain your positivity? What things help you do that? Quit telling me to just trust or have faith. I’m not sure, but I think even religious people reading the book would’ve liked some more emphasis on the ways to stay positive and trust in the plan.

As the story went on, it became clear that I was not the right audience for this book. I don’t care about celebrities or cardio fantasies or vacation homes in Hawaii. I don’t care about how successful you are or how you never took no for an answer if you don’t share actual helpful advice in a book geared towards advice and how to use it. Save those stories for your memoir because they didn’t add to the book and some of them were reaching pretty far to be somehow categorized as whatever lie chapter they were apart of. I felt like the author was writing for herself, to herself, and not to the audience of people who may need a little bit of specifics and a little less self centered stories.

I also have a love/hate relationship with self depreciating humor. I do like it to some degree. I think it is humbling to share a success story when you can admit your own failings and admit that maybe you didn’t know what you were doing. It does help make people relatable. However, it can be overdone and very much was in the book. Not to mention, if you’re constantly name dropping and referring to your own success, the more you try to “come down to my level” in your stories, the more fake you seem. By the end of the book, I felt as though the author missed the mark, missed a great opportunity to really talk about what it means to be a women, be successful, and overcome a lot of those lies we tell ourselves in a way that seemed authentic and genuine.

I rated it 3 stars because maybe I was just never the right person to read this. I’m not a mom, a working mom, a lifestyle person, a person who follows Pinterest or lifestyle blogs, a person who does anything on instagram that doesn’t involve books, or a person who trusts in any sort of spiritual plan, or a person who knows who the author is and wants to know why she got where she is today or how.

I didn’t like it, but I also feel that some of the negative reviews are unfair, which is another reason I’m rating this 3 instead of 1 or 2 stars. Yes, the author is privileged and successful and perhaps didn’t have to work as hard as others to come as far, but I think she did a good job of backing up and saying those things from time to time. She mentions often that other people have it worse. Some of the reviews I’ve seen are pretty scathing and only because the author had the audacity to shell out advice from her pedestal. I don’t enjoy living in a world where we tear down others because they are privileged and therefore shouldn’t be giving me life advice of any kind because she didn’t starve enough, wasn’t poor enough, wasn’t a minority, or got lucky. We can always learn from others and I even admit that I enjoyed the first few chapters because they were things I needed to hear.

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Star 3

 

Photo Review – Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Bird Box

by Josh Malerman

Summary: Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.
Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?
Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

Bird Box has been all the rage as of late due to the Netlflix movie. Coincidently, it was also the January pick for my local book club AND has been on my TBR list and Kindle for a couple of years. I was excited to finally have reasons to bump it up on my never-ending TBR.

It took me no time to get through the book.. it was a quick read and a relatively fast paced book, though it was still character-based. It was less focused on the outside world and more focused on the main character and her survival both before, during, and after the “events” unfolded.

Bird Box was eerie, but not really what I’d call a scary novel. I liked the premise and the focus of the story and the way it was told as it jumped back and forth between timelines. This is a tad spoiler-y, but I also liked the ambiguous ending. I’m known to like books with “bad” endings, though. It initially made me a little mad, but I like being able to think up future scenarios in my head and have the feeling of the book stay with me.

I can’t wait to watch the movie and I definitely recommend it. Even if horror/post apocalyptic books aren’t your jam, it’s so short and quick to read, it’s totally worth it.

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Star 4

(2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt: A book written by a musician)

Review – White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri

White Stag (Permafrost #1)

by Kara Barbieri

Summary: The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

“[A] compelling debut . . . packed with equally gripping action and emotion.” –STARRED BooklistReview

“A promising debut from a gifted young writer!” –Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the After series

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Source: I received a digital copy from Netgalley and also participated in a Blog Tour.

About the author: Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.

Review:

White Stag was a beautifully dark tale of goblins, power, and identity. Janneke had been a part of the goblin world for a hundred years and struggled with her identity as human. When humans end up in the Permafrost for too long, they are unable to return to their world as their peers would see them as tainted, but if she chose to remain in the goblin world, she would become more and more like them.

Other reviewers have mentioned some similarities with Fae stories, but with goblins, and I think there’s some truth to that. With the Fae, though, their world is often beautiful along with the Fae themselves. Some stories have the Fae as desirable, others cold and cruel and calculating, but I think the overall feel is that it’s hard to resist the beauty, no matter how ugly underneath it all is. With the goblins in this story, however, the ugliness was front and center. They were violent, with the coppery stench of blood and raw meat often mentioned. I think the entire feel of the world was different and I think that’s what drew me to it so much.

The book is dark and violent, with the main character having suffered at the hands of another goblin, kin to her protector, Soren. She was broken and scarred, but quite dark and violent herself. A few people DNFed the book due to the nature of her past and the assault, physically, mentally, and sexually, that she suffered. If you can get over that or those things don’t typically bother you, the book is definitely worth reading through to the end.

There were some twists with the plot and Janneke’s past, as well as a bit of romance. I enjoyed the themes and blend of mythology and recommend to fans of faery tales, fantasy, mythology, and goblin lore in general.

Wreck This Journal – Pages 178-179: More Ways

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Wreck This Journal

Pages 178-179

Write a List of More Ways to Wreck this Journal

 

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  1. Burn the Page
  2. Paint with the Ashes
  3. Fill a page with compliments
  4. Scuba Dive with the journal
  5. Bury in the sand
  6. Drip candle wav
  7. Confess your secrets
  8. Move the journal across the country
  9. Move the journal across the world
  10. Pack into a forgotten box
  11. Forgive someone. Write about what happened.
  12. Tell your story…

“The way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head and out of the heart.”

-Charles Bukowski