Saturday, November 30, 2019

DNF&Y [23]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

When the Stars Lead to You 
by Ronni Davis
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love. *I originally reviewed this book on November 10, 2019.

DNF at 45%

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really liked the concept for When the Stars Lead to You, but felt like the story was poorly executed. Devon is an eighteen-year-old that wants to be an astrophysicist, but her voice was very juvenile (unless she was talking about space and the stars). I sometimes forgot she was in her senior year of high school, and mentally pictured her as a fourteen-year-old obsessively in love.

When I say obsessively, I'm not exaggerating. Devon and Ashton's relationship was instantaneous and heavy. They fell in love literally at first sight, and their relationship only got more intense the longer it continued. I just cannot imagine Devon sitting on a porch for an entire day and night just because he ghosted her on their last day at the beach together. Their relationship was suffocating and unhealthy. Yes, teenagers fall in love hard and fast, but this felt different.

I also dislike it when a character throws everything away for their love interest. College and astrophysics have been Devon's dream for years, but she starts slipping as things heat up with Ashton for a second time. He's dealing with depression and family issues, so his presence is very time-consuming and emotionally draining for Devon. She doesn't know how to help him, but tries to be understanding and available. It just felt like she was too easily derailed from her lifelong plans and aspirations.

We go from insta-love, to second-chance-insta-love, to heavy and very intense, to all-consuming love. Questions like, "Do you love me?" started popping up pretty early on, and even discussions about marriage. Marriage. "I told my cousin I was going to marry you someday." (Ashton said this the first time he saw her on the beach.) "I still think about marrying you someday." (Ashton said this shortly after they reconnected over a year later, even though he'd previously been dating someone else.) "I feel like if anyone could take you away from me, it's her." (Devon's feelings on love and marriage with Ashton.) I hate that Devon felt so insecure after giving her heart to him and having him leave her without a word. I understand her feelings, but her willingness to fall back down the rabbit hole with him was disconcerting.

It really did feel like an obsessive relationship -- on both sides -- that I had trouble rallying behind. I wish there had been more secondary characters to offer their perspectives and opinions, but Blair only warns Devon vaguely about her happiness. She also threatens Ashton, but there wasn't much fire behind it. It felt like Devon and Ashton were in their own little bubble, which felt unrealistic and didn't offer much variety to the story. I also dislike it when a book does more telling than showing, which I think added a lot of unnecessary dialogue.

Their accidental run-in a year later didn't feel realistic either. They spent an entire summer together on the beach and never discussed their hometowns or schools? Yes, they talked about college, but never about where they went to high school? They mentioned maintaining a relationship once the summer was over, but didn't talk about how that would work? Where they would each be living? Ashton was very cagey during some of their conversations, which might be why that didn't come up, but it still felt off.

I did like the biracial representation, and how the author showed Devon dealing with other people's microaggressions throughout her life. Offhanded comments that are said one way and perceived another -- very well done. The discussions about depression and suicidal ideations was well-represented as well. The author's note at the end is definitely worth reading, and lets the reader know this was an #ownvoices story.

Overall, I enjoyed certain aspects of When the Stars Lead to You, but after skimming through to the end, I know that quitting when I did was the right call for me. A lot of other people really resonated with this story, so check out other reviews before making a final decision!

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)
 by Kresley Cole
Narrated by Emma Galvin
Synopsis (via Goodreads): #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.

She could save the world--or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline "Evie" Greene leads a charmed life--until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future--and they're still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can't do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can't totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it's not always clear who is on which side...

In Poison Princess, New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

DNF at 40%

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really, really wanted to like this one. The tarot card element was unique and fascinating, but underdeveloped. I wish the author had focused more on the cards and how they related to specific people, since that was what initially drew me to the book. Instead, we're stuck with an obnoxious and whiny main character that shows very little growth and suffers from Me Me Me Syndrome. 

Evie survives an apocalypse, yet her personality leaves a lot to be desired. I was willing to overlook her bratty behavior before, but not after. Small spoiler: Her mother was seriously injured -- likely bleeding internally -- and Evie thought protein was the answer. Her attempts to grow food nearly killed her, and she used certain talents without fully understanding them or their implications. 

Jackson is supposed to be the sexy bad boy, but he's equally annoying and a pig. He toyed with Evie whenever they were together, and his motives remained unclear. Did he like her? Did he enjoy making her uncomfortable? Was he just an asshole? I didn't know, and I really didn't care. His interactions with Evie were aggressive, he's drunk most of the time, and all he cared about was getting into Evie's pants (or any girl's pants for that matter). The hate-to-love angle failed to hit its mark, and I honestly didn't care what happened to either of them. 

The audio also wasn't a win for me, so I tried switching to a physical copy to see if that made the experience better --  it didn't. The creepy guy at the start of the book made my skin crawl, and I hope something terrible happened to him before the book's conclusion. Unfortunately, the rest of the book was so uninteresting and frustrating, that I felt like skimming to the end would've been a waste of time and energy. 

There's also very little world-building, which was super disappointing. Again, an apocalyptic event happened, but there are very few descriptions of the world after the Flash. Honestly, there were hardly any details about the world before the Flash, so I guess I shouldn't've been so surprised. 

I thought Poison Princess had a lot of potential, but it's a series I will not be continuing. The characters were terrible people, the world-building left a lot to the imagination, and I felt like the story was lacking substance.

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Friday, November 29, 2019

My Weekly Pull [98] & Can't Wait Wednesday [68]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Transformers Galaxies #3 by Tyler Bleszinski, Livio Ramondelli
Fallen Angels #2 by Bryan Edward Hill, Szymon Kudranski, Ashely Witter

Jacob's comics for the week!
Punisher 2099 One Shot by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, Matt Horak, Patrick Zircher
Scream Curse of Carnage #1 by Clay McCleod Chapman, Chris Mooneyham, Skottie Young
Venom #20 by Donny Cates, Jose Carlos Silva, Iban Coello, Kyle Hotz
Yondu #2 by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, John McCrea, Cully Hamner

I've been reading the newest Transformers series, and recently started Transformers Galaxies, but I have no idea if the two are related. Honestly, I'm getting bored with both stories, so this will likely be my last one. I still need to read the first issue of Fallen Angels, and will hopefully get to it this weekend!
Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
Expected publication: June 2nd 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she's also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she's also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray

Narrated by January LaVoy
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Something dark and evil has awakened...

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened...


Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series is one of my all-time favorites (and one I've been wanting to re-read)! I fell in love with Bray's writing and the various characters she created. Her worlds are full of magic, but it's subtle and sucks you in before you realize what's happening. I was lucky and met Bray at an event that was giving away ARCs of The Diviners, but put off reading it when I disliked Beauty Queens. I was afraid this new series would be a disappointment, and I wasn't ready for that. 

Fast forward several years, and here we are! People are raving about this series and how delightfully eerie it is. When my library purchased the audiobooks, I knew I couldn't put it off any longer. Resistance was futile at this point, especially when the narrator blew me away with her voice and skills. The setting (20's) and characters were phenomenal and wonderfully written, and I had a blast experiencing this story through multiple perspectives. No two people were alike, and I was invested in all of their lives. 

The Diviners also made my skin crawl. Naughty John is a terror, and his presence always made my heart beat just a little bit faster. I frequently had to remind myself that everything was fictional, and that ghostly reincarnations of serial killers weren't lurking around corners. My traitorous brain would start replaying Naughty John's song, and ugh. It brought back all of the horrible crimes he committed. That is truly remarkable writing, and Bray evoked very visceral reactions from me.

I'm currently on hold for the second book in this series, and I'll keep my fingers crossed it's as fantastically creepy as the first. Additionally, I think we should bring back some of the lingo used in the 20's. Telling someone you're on the trolley, or that something is copesetic. And how! The bee's knee's. Father time. Fella and sheba. I'm Jake! (These are just a few of my favorites!)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Sunday Post [31]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


Heee's baaack! Most of you don't know this (because I rarely talked about it), but my husband has been deployed since February. Friends, it was not easy. Relationships are hard enough without thousands of miles separating you, and the monsters missed their dad like crazy. Thankfully, he's home now (and right on time for our son's Thanksgiving break). We've been spending a lot of quality time together as a family, which is why I've been absent from the blog and social media. 

We've been together through short hair and long, good times and bad, and three children (so far). It's never been easy, but he's definitely worth the effort. We've both made mistakes, but we've also put time and energy into making our marriage and family work. He's my best friend, my partner in crime, and he has my heart. We're better than the worse things we've ever done, and we'll continue to work on ourselves and our marriage while enjoying everything life has to offer.

Previous week on the blog:

Tuesday: NA
Wednesday: NA
Thursday: The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah [Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway]
Friday: NA

What I'm currently reading: 

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda

What I plan on reading next: 

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2) by Helen Hoang
Coral by Sara Ella

What I'm watching:

We watched Avengers: Endgame last night! We've always watched Marvel movies as a family, which is why we're just now getting to this one. We still need to watch the newest Spider-Man movie, and the one with Captain Marvel. I think those are the only ones released while he was deployed... I could be missing one. I enjoyed Avengers: Endgame, although I didn't agree with some of the decisions that were made. I thought it was a nice conclusion to the storyline they've been building for years. 

Challenge updates: 

Beat the Backlist Challenge: 89 / 100
Discussion Challenge: 5 / 11-20
Goodreads Challenge: 394 / 500

Don't forget to check the list of giveaways in the sidebar! Most of them are ending soon!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

My Weekly Pull [97] & Can't Wait Wednesday [67]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Marked #2 by David Hine, Brian Haberlin, Geirrod Van Dyke
Amazing Mary Jane #2 by Leah Williams, Carlos E. Gomez, Humberto Ramos
Canto #6 by David M. Booher, Drew Zucker

Gwenpool Strikes Back #4 by Leah Williams, David Baldeon
Excalibur #2 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, Mahmud Asrar
Spider-Verse #2 by Ryan North, Pere Perez 

Deadpool #1 by Kelly Thompson, Chris Bachalo
Once & Future #4 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora
Marauders #2 by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, Russell Dauterman

Firefly #11 by Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, Joe Quinones

Jacob's comics for the week! 
2099 Alpha by Nick Spencer, Viktor Bogdonovic, Arthur Adams
Absolute Carnage #5 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman
Absolute Carnage Captain Marvel #1 by Emily Ryan Lerner, Andrea Broccardo, David Nakayama
Amazing Spider-Man #34 by Nick Spencer, Patrick Gleason
Punisher Kill Krew #5 by Gerry Duggan, Juan Ferreyra
Strayed #4 by Carlos Giffoni, Juan Doe

Sooo many comics this week! I'm really excited about the new Deadpool series! Why? BECAUSE KELLY THOMPSON IS WRITING IT! She's one of my favorites (All-New Hawkeye, West Coast Avengers)! Once & Future and Firefly are two I always look forward to reading (AMAZING). Gwenpool Strikes Back is more obnoxious than entertaining, but I am curious how her current situation will play out. 

The first issue of Amazing Mary Jane was interesting, and I liked that MJ was the focal point instead of Peter. We get to see what she does while he's out being Spider-Man, and how her relationship with him impacts her day-to-day life. Canto is almost over, but I don't feel like very much has happened on his journey. I likely would have stopped reading it after the second issue, but my son likes it. Although, I do have to gloss over some of the details he's not old enough for.

Marked had a unique concept, but I didn't really like the first issue. I'm hoping the second one is better. Marauders and Excalibur felt very similar (both are about the mutants and their new island), but are about different characters. I haven't read the first issue of Spider-Verse yet, but my husband assures me it's something I'll enjoy. We'll see!
Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Expected publication: March 24th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A boy on the run. A girl determined to find him. A compelling fantasy looks at issues of privilege, protest, and justice.

All light in Chattana is created by one man -- the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong's prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.

Nok, the prison warden's perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family's good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat's twist on Victor Hugo's 
Les MisΓ©rables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice -- and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading! 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
[Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on blog tour for The Light at the Bottom of the World, hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I am happy to share this lovely spotlight post with you, and want to thank you for stopping by. Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom! 

Title: THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD (The Light at the Bottom of the World #1)
Author: London Shah
Pub. Date: October 29, 2019
Publisher: Freeform
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 320
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean's surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people, often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he's innocent, and all she's interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she'll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

About London:

London Shah is a British-born Muslim of Pashtun ethnicity. She has lived in Britain's capital for most of her life, via England's beautiful North. When she's not busy re-imagining the past, plotting an alternate present or dreaming up a surreal future, she's most likely drinking copious amounts of tea, eating all the sweets and cakes, strolling through Richmond Park or along the Thames, getting lost on an evening in the city's older, darker alleyways—preferably just after it's rained—listening to punk rock, or losing herself in a fab SFF book or film. If she could have only one super power, it would be to breathe underwater of course!

​Her debut novel, THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD, a YA sci-fi, is out now. You can read more about it here.

You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and/or get in touch with her here

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD, US Only.

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

11/4/2019 Bookhounds YA Excerpt
11/5/2019 Geronimo Reads Excerpt
11/6/2019 Starlight Reads Review
11/7/2019 Jrsbookreviews Review
11/8/2019 Wonder Struck Review

Week Two: 

11/11/2019 Nerdophiles Review
11/12/2019 Here's to Happy Endings Review
11/13/2019 Review
11/14/2019 Lifestyle Of Me Review
11/15/2019 A Dream Within A Dream Review 

Week Three: 
11/18/2019 THE BOOK NUT Review
11/19/2019 Savings in Seconds Review
11/20/2019 Book Briefs Review
11/21/2019 Do You Dog-ear? Review
11/22/2019 Treestand Book Reviews Review

Week Four:
 11/25/2019 Confessions of a YA Reader Excerpt
11/26/2019 Book-Keeping Review
11/27/2019 Fire and Ice Review
11/28/2019 Jena Brown Writes Review
11/29/2019 Two points of interest Review

Week Five: 
12/2/2019 Forever Lost in Literature Review 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Mini Reviews [35]

Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook: 100 Mouth-Watering
Recipes for Time-Crunched Vegans by J.L. Fields
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Versatile vegan recipes for quick and easy meals.

Whether you’re a full-time vegan or just interested in eating more plant-based foods, variety will spice up your life. The Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook brings a new selection of fresh meals to your table, pronto! From one-pot to pressure cooker, choose your favorite cooking method—without being held hostage for hours in your kitchen.

This flavorfukitchen.

This flavorful vegan cookbook doesn’t require a long list of ingredients or a huge time commitment. The preparation techniques are simple—there’s even a chapter devoted to not cooking at all (Gazpacho, anyone?). Every recipe lists nutritional information, and most include tips for ingredient substitution, adding more protein, or other easy customizations.

The Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook includes:

100 tasty recipes—Whip up meals full of personality and variety like Artichoke Heart Salad, Spicy Pinto Bean Skillet, Mushroom Stroganoff Bake, and more. Fast, easy, or both—Choose from chapters on 30-minute recipes, sheet pan and casserole meals, 5-ingredient dishes—or even recipes with no cooking required! Dietary options—This vegan cookbook lets you adapt menus to your needs with handy labels for gluten-free, nut-free, oil-free, or soy-free diets. 

Eat easily, healthfully, and deliciously with the Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook.


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

It is so hard to find a cookbook that I'll use regularly, especially one that's 100% vegan. Typically, I'll end up using only a handful recipes, so keeping the entire book has always felt a little pointless. Does anyone else do that? Buy an entire cookbook just for a couple of recipes? Well, I am happy to report that there are quite a few recipes in the Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook that I'm looking forward to making. I've skimmed the entire book, marked the pages that snagged my attention, and successfully made Creamy Portobello Soup

My son had to leave school early on Friday because he had a fever, and soup is a pretty standard response when someone is sick. Me? I always want potato soup (the chunky kind my mom makes, but that I can never get exactly right). However, my son loves mushrooms. I remembered seeing a recipe in this book, so I stopped and grabbed some friendly fungus on our way home. 

There are a lot of cookbooks out there that claim their recipes are "fast and easy," but most of the time that's simply not true. Thankfully, Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook is exactly what it claims to be. The recipe I followed was straightforward and required very little of my time. Bonus: I already had most of the ingredients (just not the main one, haha), and was able to prep this meal and have it ready in 15-20 minutes.

I also really liked the variety in this cookbook, and appreciated the inclusion of the recipe index and dietary labels at the end. Whether you're a vegan or not, this cookbook is definitely worth looking into. Side note: I used 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of 1 teaspoon, waaay more salt that what was required, and 2 mushroom caps instead of one (in case anyone decides to give this recipe a whirl). 

How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen
by Joanna Faber & Julie King
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A must-have resource for anyone who lives or works with young kids, with an introduction by Adele Faber, coauthor of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, the international mega-bestseller The Boston Globe dubbed “The Parenting Bible.”

For over thirty-five years, parents have turned to
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk for its respectful and effective solutions to the unending challenges of raising children. Now, in response to growing demand, Adele’s daughter, Joanna Faber, along with Julie King, tailor How to Talk’s powerful communication skills to children ages two to seven.

Faber and King, each a parenting expert in her own right, share their wisdom accumulated over years of conducting
How To Talk workshops with parents and a broad variety of professionals. With a lively combination of storytelling, cartoons, and fly-on-the-wall discussions from their workshops, they provide concrete tools and tips that will transform your relationship with the young kids in your life.

What do you do with a little kid who…won’t brush her teeth…screams in his car seat…pinches the baby...refuses to eat vegetables…throws books in the library...runs rampant in the supermarket? Organized according to common challenges and conflicts, this book is an essential emergency first-aid manual of communication strategies, including a chapter that addresses the special needs of children with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders.

This user-friendly guide will empower parents and caregivers of young children to forge rewarding, joyful relationships with terrible two-year-olds, truculent three-year-olds, ferocious four-year-olds, foolhardy five-year-olds, self-centered six-year-olds, and the occasional semi-civilized seven-year-old. And, it will help little kids grow into self-reliant big kids who are cooperative and connected to their parents, teachers, siblings, and peers.


How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen was a phenomenal book! Parenting isn't easy, and I always wonder what I could be doing better. I don't like feeling frustrated with my children (but we all know it's unavoidable), and this book offered insights into their way of thinking, and how they might perceive a situation. Oftentimes, what I'm frustrated about can be easily resolved if I take the time to address their concerns in a way that makes them feel really listened to.

This book provides tools that have improved my understanding, bettered the communication between me and my children, and created a more positive environment for everyone. It's not always a quick fix, and it doesn't work every time, but there has been a noticeable difference in our day-to-day lives and how we respond to problems. The tools are effective more often than not, and I think that says a lot about the benefits of this book.

The girls will be three this month, and my son is five, so they've started fighting more often and using words like mine. The arguing, fussing, and crying were driving me crazy. This book helped me implement tools that made my children feel like they were being heard. It's amazing how many problems can be resolved just by acknowledging their feelings. They calm down and explain what's wrong without whining, and my ears are endlessly thankful.

I have highlighted this book to within an inch of its life (not an exaggeration), and have flipped back through the chapters whenever I'm struggling to communicate clearly with my kids, or when I think they're fighting more often and coming to me with this or that conflict. Sometimes just changing how I say or ask something can make a situation more positive and provide better results. If you're a parent, I cannot recommend this book enough!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Sunday Post [30]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


I was really sick last week, but now it's just a lingering cough. It's obnoxious but manageable. Unfortunately, my son was sent home from school on Friday, because he had a fever (boo). He's been confined to my bedroom (since there's an adjoining bathroom), and is bored out of his mind. He wants to play with his sisters (aww), but I really don't want three sick kids. Luckily, his fever broke this morning, and I'm letting them watch a movie in the same room, but still limiting their interactions. 

Soccer season has concluded -- hallelujah -- and now my son is getting ready for his piano recital next month. He wants to get back into Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but the closest classes are 45 minutes away, which doesn't work now that he's in school. He's done jiu-jitsu for three years now, and I know he misses it. Maybe they're will be something nearby when we move? Fingers crossed! 

Yes, we're moving! Military life.

The girls are going to be three this month, and I cannot believe it! My babies! We've been getting things ready for a small party at a trampoline park. 

Previous week on the blog:

Sunday: When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis ⋆⋆
Monday: Heart of the Moors by Holly Black [Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]
Thursday: Nothing!
Friday: The Perfect Seat by Minh LΓͺ & Gus Gordon (Illustrator) [Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway] ⋆⋆⋆⋆
Saturday: Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy, #4) by Ilona Andrews ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

What I'm currently reading: 

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda
Marauders #1 by Gerry Duggan, Russell Dauterman, Matteo Lolli

What I plan on reading next: 

Coral by Sara Ella 
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

What I'm watching:

The only thing I've watched recently is Let It Snow on Netflix, and I wasn't a fan. The movie felt pointless, and I wasn't sure what any of the characters had in common. Why did their stories overlap? I haven't read the book, so I don't know how it compares, but the movie felt like a waste of time.

Challenge updates: 

Audiobook Challenge: 40 / 30+
Beat the Backlist Challenge: 88 / 100
Discussion Challenge: 5 / 11-20
Goodreads Challenge: 388 / 500

Don't forget to check the list of giveaways in the sidebar! Most of them are ending soon!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy, #4) by Ilona Andrews

Synopsis (via Goodreads): From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

"I couldn't fight a mental duel with flying scorpion ticks trying to rip us apart."
Whenever I start a book by Ilona Andrews, I struggle to put it down and resume my day-to-day activates. Knowing this about myself, I decided to start Sapphire Flames one night while I was putting the kids down for bed. This was both good and bad. The good: no interruptions. The bad: I stayed up all night reading. I never went to sleep that night, and was a barely-functioning zombie the next day. Was it worth it? And how!  Am I still tired? You betcha!

There's just something about this author duo and their stories that completely captivates me as a reader. I have devoured every book of theirs that I've picked up, and look forward to reading the ones I haven't. I simply lose myself in the worlds they've created, and I know I'll happily revisit these books in the future. I was a little concerned about the character shift (the first three books were from Nevada's perspective), but Catalina is on par with her sister. They're completely different characters, but they both love their family and would do anything to keep them safe. Also, they seem to have similar tastes when it comes to men -- ruthless and unbelievably attractive.

I really love how the individual books have a mystery that's resolved by the end, but still contributes to a larger Unknown Problem that's slowly unraveled over the course of the entire series. Every book has a Bad Guy, but one that's usually connected to a Big Bad Guy that manages to stay just out of reach. I also enjoy connecting the dots, and usually don't discover clues and secrets until the characters do. It's like we're experiencing everything together, and every twist is a surprise. Additionally, all of the magical elements are fascinating and creative. It's amazing how effortless the world-building feels, like I could drive over there and insert myself into their lives.

Catalina's relationship with Alessandro is hot. The physical attraction alone -- phew! However, the underlying desire they share really sets the tone for their interactions. Alessandro is quick to tease and flirt, while Catalina fervently tries to keep from blushing, but they're both quick to protect the other. I enjoyed their banter and how well they worked together as a team. It's impossible not to smile when the two of them are sharing a space.

"There was life before this kiss and there would be one after, but they wouldn't be the same."

I really, really love the family dynamics, and it was so great to read about all of the Baylor's again. I wasn't particularly fond of where they left things with Nevada, but her current circumstances make sense. I just hope there's more resolution in the future, so their family can go back to being a cohesive unit. I'm not going to lie... I missed Mad Rogan and Nevada being major players in the story, but I can definitely get behind Catalina and Alessandro. I just hope there's more of them together in the next book.

If you haven't read a book by Ilona Andrews, you're missing out!