books

Happy 7 years to us!

October 15th is a special day in my household. It’s an anniversary date and a birthday.

In 7 years, I’ve released 43 books, 20 of them with Mary Smith. I’ve traveled for book signings, met readers, and I’ve been able to sustain myself, even taking a few trips to see hockey games. I would not have been able to do any of that, if not for you, my dear reader. Thank you for your support, love, and friendship. I hope to see you in another seven years!

Now, I also mentioned a birthday.

Bartley turns 7 today. It was meant to be that he was my dog, considering the coincidence that he was born when my first book released, even though I didn’t find him until three months later. I’m very thankful for the seven years we’ve spent together; he’s my little buddy and sometimes, it feels like it’s me and him against the world. Even though he likes to worry me with his health condition, I hope I can come back on his fourteenth birthday and celebrate it with y’all as well. :)

I’m sitting with my grandma today while she recovers from her fractured ribs, but I’m thinking some sugar cookies and an extra treat for Bartley is exactly how we’ll celebrate!

Why don’t you do a little something to treat yourself and celebrate with us! Tell us how you’re celebrating in the comments. :)

Three Terrific Reads

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Hey, y'all! It's time for me to share my love of reading with you!

Three Terrific Reads is where I share the top three books I read this past month and would recommend! 

Read on for three terrific reads you should check out! :)


Catherine Gayle is an auto-buy, go-to author for me. I can always count on her for a good read and Rain Dance was no different!

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He's in a drought. No rain. No goals. No women. 
She has what it takes to quench his thirst. 

Ethan Higgins, a defenseman for the Tulsa Thunderbirds, is in a rut. He hasn't scored a goal in ages, and he hasn't had a woman in his bed for even longer. The only thing in his favor is that he gets to spend time with his son when the T-Birds play at home on the weekends. Determined to be nothing like his abusive father, Ethan sets out to show his son how a real man behaves, and Natalie Turner gives him the perfect opportunity to do so. 

Natalie has nowhere to turn when her boyfriend gets physical with her, this time in public--at least not until Ethan steps in to offer her a safe place to stay. Wary of trusting anyone, especially another hockey player, and even more so one as rough and tough as Ethan, Natalie attempts to resist the lure she feels toward the protective man. When Ethan's son does a Rain Dance, the skies open up. But will soaking their hardened and cracked hearts be enough to end the drought?

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play


I love this series and somehow skipped over this book between reading book two and four. Upon discovering this, I had to read it immediately! So glad I did!

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The ride of her life . . . 
Once upon a time, Carissa Teodoro believed in happy endings. Money, marriage, motherhood: everything came easy---until she woke up to the ugly truth about her Prince Charming. Now a struggling, single mom and stranded by a flat tire, Carissa's pondering her mistakes when a vaguely familiar knight rides to her rescue on a ton of horsepower.

Climb on and hold tight . . . 
In high school, Carson Steele was a bad boy loner who put Carissa on a pedestal where she stayed far beyond his reach. Today, he's the hard-bodied biker known only as Joker, and from the way Carissa's acting, it's clear she's falling fast. While catching her is irresistible, knowing what to do with her is a different story. A good girl like Carissa is the least likely fit with the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Too bad holding back is so damned hard. Now, as Joker's secrets are revealed and an outside threat endangers the club, Joker must decide whether to ride steady with Carissa---or ride away forever . . .

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play


Sawyer Bennett is another auto-buy go-to author of mine, so I had to snap up her latest release!

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The best of friends. 
Two men. One woman. 
A sinful playground called The Wicked Horse. 

Entrepreneur turned millionaire, Dane Hawthorne, has been known to get his kicks at The Wicked Horse Vegas, and he has no shortage of beautiful women waiting for a shot at him. Driven to succeed, no matter if he’s in the boardroom or the bedroom, Dane never backs down from a challenge. 

Avril Carrigan isn’t the type of woman to take risks in her personal life but after a broken heart and too much liquid courage, Avril decides to best way to get over one man, is to get under another. Looking to experience all the debauchery she’s heard about from her best friend and business partner, Dane, she requests one thing of him—take her to The Wicked Horse. 

The request seems simple. One friend helping another in her time of need. But now that they’ve crossed the threshold, things aren’t as easy as they once seemed. Not only is Dane looking at Avril in a new light, but so is their other business partner and best friend, Andrew Collings. As Dane’s envy blooms, he wonders if he made the right decision when he agreed to show Avril his wicked world. 

What happens when the lines of friendship are blurred and boundaries are crossed? Will their relationships survive or will jealousy tear them all apart?

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play


That's all for this month! Have you read any of these books or books by these authors? What were your favorite books from those you read in October?

My Semester in Books

The semester is nearly over, and I had to read 19 short stories, picture books, and novels for one class this semester. I thought it would be fun if I shared some of my favorites with y'all. 

I am so happy I chose Literature for Children as an elective. I haven't read some of these genres since I was a kid, and some of them, I had never read at all. I definitely went out of my reading comfort zone and I was pleasantly surprised.

I don't know why because good things normally come when I venture out of my reading comfort zone. Unlike when I try new things at favorite restaurants, but that's another topic altogether, so let's keep moving forward.

We had four modules in this class. The first module was all about picture books. I didn't have a lot of expectations, I'll be honest. I almost thought that since I hadn't read a picture book since like kindergarten or so, then what are the chances I'll enjoy it? How am I going to relate to whatever is happening? 

I had to read six picture books. One of them swept me off my feet. It was The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen and Pictures by Dan Hanna. It was simply adorable with illustrations that paid attention to all the little details. I was ridiculously tempted to find more of these books and read them while I was at the library that day.

In the second module, we had to read 4 books: a Modern Fantasy, a Multicultural Literature, and 2 types of Traditional Literature. My favorite of these was Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. What a better class than one that gives you an excuse to read books that have been on your TBR for forever? This was a book where I got attached to the characters and was left wanting to see more of them. Always a good thing in my book (haha!).

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Next, we had to read books that were award winners (or honor books) for the Belpre, King, Newbery, Printz, Caldecott, and one from either the NC Children's Book Award or the NC Young Adult Book Award.

Let me get a favorite out of the way first. I loved The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. This was a book I had in my own personal collection that was waiting to be read and this gave me a reason to bump it up. Everyone needs to read this book. Just so good.

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The other book I'll mention from this module was one that took me by surprise. It was Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. I was kinda worried because I couldn't remember the last middle grade novel I read, so how do I know I'll enjoy this one? (This class made me realize while I'm generally openminded, I'm also SO skeptical, which I don't like.) This book was really good. It was funny, set in NC, and had a good little mystery. This is another one that made me want to keep reading the others in the series.

Lastly, we had to read an informational science book, an informational social studies book, a biography, a historical fiction, and a realistic fiction. Did those first two make you groan? It did me because science and social studies were never my friends in school. Yet, my favorite book from this module was Secrets of a Civil War Submarine by Sally M. Walker.

I'm still thinking about this book. It's just so interesting what happened with this submarine! There's also a museum for it in Charleston, SC, so you can guess where I'll eventually go. There was a compelling story, a mystery, and you get invested. What more do you need?

So, there you have it! Another semester in the books for me. Only one more to go. Have you read any of these books?

P.S. For my last semester, one of my electives is a class on Grimms' Fairy Tales. Should be interesting! 

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N 

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N 

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N 

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine by Sally M. Walker: AmazonB&N 

May's Paperback Pick

I reserve the right to be late, especially when I'm traveling for 12 days of that month and fitting in time to read is a bit difficult. BUT I'm still 5 for 5 this year, so YAY!

May's Paperback Pick was chosen because I wanted to step into a different genre than usual and I've loved every book of

Kristina McMorris

's that I've read, so I knew

The Edge of Lost

was the perfect book.

I wasn't disappointed either. The first little bit of the book felt a little slow to me, but then the pace picked up and soon my heart was hammering in the midst of what was going on with Shan and I couldn't stop reading until I found out what happened to him!

If you haven't read a book by

McMorris

, do yourself a favor and read one.

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.
Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.
Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

April's Paperback Pick

This month's paperback pick was "forced" on me by Mary Smith. Once she found out I hadn't read this series, she insisted I start. So, last month when we were in Dallas in a bookstore, I saw Dark Lover by J.R. Ward and bought it. I deemed it my Paperback Pick of the Month.

It took some time to get used to how it's written, but once I did, I was hooked! So hooked that before I even finished the book, I bought books 2-13. I'm anxiously waiting for Tuesday when they will come in.

I just got sucked into the story and into the lives of all these characters. It was definitely a book that makes you want to read it all in one sitting. Forcing myself to go to bed and then spending most of the next day running errands while every other thought was of wanting to finish the book is not fun!

I can't wait to keep reading and find out what happens with everyone. Thanks for the rec, Mary!

The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed — orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate — Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both....

March's Paperback Pick

Three for three, y'all! March's Paperback Pick was The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. I've had this book for a few years and this month, I wanted to switch things up.

What better way than to read a vampire book?

And what it a book, it was! It sucked me in (haha!) right from the start. I just finished it and I plan to buy the next two books in the series.

I forgot how much I loved paranormals; it's been a long, long time since I've read any. This may just be the book that restarts my love for them.

With this book, I was instantly swept away and absorbed into a world I know nothing about with fantastic writing, great characters, and an ending that was a cliffhanger without being a cliffhanger.

It wraps this journey in its own way, but I definitely need to know what comes next and I want to continue following along the journey Allison is on. This is my first book by Julie Kagawa and it definitely won't be my last.


To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness...…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.

February's Paperback Pick

I'm two for two so far this year! Woot, woot! This month's paperback pick was Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It was gifted to me for Christmas and I chose it this month based solely on the cover.

I'm so happy that I read this book. It made me smile and I was turning the pages as fast as I could read them. I started getting worried about halfway through because I needed to know what was going to happen, and I was getting anxious.

The book was good, told in an interesting manner (with some IMs & images), but was told perfectly, I think. My heart being the way it is, I do wish for a little more from the ending, but I'm still completely happy with it. If I'm not clear though, I only keep physical copies of books I truly enjoyed, and I'll definitely be keeping this one.

Plus, that cover! I still love it.

That's it for this month's pick. I'm going to see if Nicola Yoon has written more books or if I get to wait for her next one. :)

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

January's Paperback Pick

Woohoo! I'm starting 2016 off well! The first Paperback Pick of the year has been read!

This month, the pick was This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. I was so excited for this book because I read and adored The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

This is a fast-paced read, and for the most part, I enjoyed it. I expected it to be a fast love with a cute story, and it was. There was something missing though. I've been trying to put my finger on it, but can't quite grasp it. Maybe it was because I didn't really connect with the characters or maybe because I wanted more from the ending. Something was missing for me though, and the book kinda fell flat.

However, I'm glad I read it, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Smith's books. I think I have The Geography of You and Me, so maybe I'll read that one soon!

What about you? Have you read this book or a book by this author? How did you enjoy it?


If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

2015 Recap

Well, today is the last day of the year, and what a year it's been! I'm going to jump right in and start with a breakdown of the year.

Books Released: 9 (2 solos; 7 coauthored)

Places I Went: Pittsburgh, Charlotte, St. Louis, Las Vegas, & Huntington.

Personal Highlights: Turned 21; saw my Penguins play in Pittsburgh for the first time; Upgraded my car; saw Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett in concert; went to a few hockey games in Raleigh; made plans to see all the NHL teams play a home game and marked two off the list (Pittsburgh and Carolina); & celebrated four years writing, Bartley's fourth birthday, and one year of living on my own!

Bookish Highlights: I read 112 books, and my goal was 100. I should probably deem 2015 the Year of Catherine Gayle and biker books, as I read all of the books in Catherine Gayle's Portland Storm series and got hooked on books with bikers. Also, I did 7 Paperback Picks out of 11 months. Hopefully, I'll do better next year.

It's been a really great year. December made it tough and pushed all my buttons, so I'm thankful it's over. I have a feeling 2016 will be amazing, and I can't wait to see what the new year brings. Tomorrow, I'll share some plans and goals for 2016!

A Bookish Life Update



It's been a long time since my last life update, which is good. It means things have been so good and crazy, I haven't felt the urge to write one.

You may remember how these updates came out. They used to be my anxiety updates, but I changed it to life updates because my life is about more than my anxiety.

Still, every life update seems to come about when I either am or have been struggling with something. That said, here's the most recent life update.

While this isn't weird, it feels a little weird.

Usually, I miss my characters the same amount once I've finished their story.

And then there's Corey and Olivia from Nepenthe. It's my book that gives me all the feels. The book that makes me proud while breaking my heart because I want everyone to read this book the most out of all my books. It means so much to me.

So, so much.

You see, whenever I'm struggling with either the anxiety or depression side of things, I think about Corey and Olivia. Among the craziness, I think about this book. I think about what I wanted to accomplish with it, what readers have told me about the effect of it on them, and what this book means to me.

In a way, it's my own nepenthe.

Corey managed to crawl out of the hole when he was at his lowest. It was a slow crawl, but he made progress, little by little. He managed to see the speckles of light to push him forward, to keep trying, to hold onto to hope that things would be better one day, to know that he would one day simply be able to throw a football again.

While I love all my characters, especially those you'll be introduced to in December with Without a Doubt, I wish Corey and Olivia were real.

I miss them and think about them the most. These characters fuel me into hanging on and knowing I can survive whatever life hands me. They remind me that though we may not want seek help, doing so is highly beneficial.

If one book has my heart and soul within the pages, it's Nepenthe. When life is hard, one of the people I turn to are Corey and Olivia. (See why it feels weird?) I'll read the book and find a source of contentment from their accomplishments and their love. It always makes me feel better about whatever's going on.

So, basically, my life update is that I still struggle, but I'm still doing my best and doing well in the grand scheme of things. I guess I felt the need to share all of that about Nepenthe because I relate to Corey so much. We're both trying to keep making progress and keep pushing through the tough times because we know we can and we know it's worth the fight.

Plenty of updates to go around

Let's kick this post off with a positive.

The next six months are going to be awesome and I can't wait! I want to spill the beans about everything, but a few of those things have to be kept secret, only to be told at the right time.

In my personal life, I have three exciting things happening in the coming months. I'll graduate with my Associates degree and will transfer to a university to continue with my Bachelors in January. And Mary and I are going on a writing retreat/birthday trip in February for my 21st birthday! We're going to be having a blast in Pittsburgh!

Writing-wise, I'm going to start with this crazy fact: between now and January 2015, I'll release SIX books. SIX! So, I sure hope y'all are ready for more. 

Of course, this month is Bracing the Blue Line. Then in October, it's Looking for You, book one in Mary & my new series. The other three Oh Captain, My Captain novels will release one-a-month until the fourth one in January. 

PLUS, my secret WIP *may* come out in January too. So yeah, hope y'all are ready for more because they're coming.

Speaking of that WIP...

While I was writing Don't Panic, I was in the middle of one of my lowest points with my anxiety. The book was giving me panic attacks and it beat up my already broken down mind. The emotions that I was experiencing, combined with those I was writing about, overwhelmed me. There were a lot of moments where I nearly quit. I felt too much with that book. I felt all of it.

And it hurt.

Writing that book drove me as crazy as my anxiety did. The crazy, the anger, the sadness, the panic, all of those were working double time, 24/7. I was on edge all the time and there were moments when I didn't think I could do it. Just thinking about it has brought tears to my eyes. It's still hard to think about.

I don't talk about DP a lot, even to promote, and it's because of that. The book reminds me of my darkest times and I don't like thinking about it. Who would? (This totally goes against the reason I wrote the book, but that's an issue for me to tackle later.)

So what does that have to do with my secret WIP? Well...

I'm bringing up DP now because my WIP deals with similar issues as DP. This WIP is hard to write too. No lie, I cry at some point in almost every single chapter. It's not nearly as difficult as DP because I'm in a way better place now. Still, I've been more up and down with my moods than normal and picked up one of my old nervous habits again. (My leg is constantly bouncing up and down while I'm writing, and sometimes during other parts of my day when I'm not.)

This goes to show that writing and my sanity go hand in hand sometimes.

I've been wanting to write another book where a character deals with a mental disorder for a while, but I've been terrified. The opportunity for this book was unexpected. I didn't plan to write one like this anytime soon, but then I tweaked a thing or two and the idea was practically handed to me on a silver platter.

So, I'm writing it.

There's no way I would even attempt it if I weren't in a good place in my life at the moment. My three and a half years of therapy have done wonders and helped make me strong enough to write this book. While it's affected me somewhat, there's no way I'm going to stop. I can handle whatever is thrown my way, I'm sure of it.

This book needs to be written and I'm going to write it.

For the characters, for who I am now, for the hell I went through and had to crawl back out of, and for every single person who is dealing or has dealt with mental health issues before.

I wasn't intending to share this much, but my life update posts always end up being long. This is just part of what I'm dealing with both in my writing and in my personal life. I've never been one to not post about my anxiety or my other issues, so I felt like I needed to say something about it. And it gives you a little sneak peek to what's to come.

That's it for this post. Thanks for sticking with me to the end! I started this with a positive, and that's how I'll end it.

If you're a person who is struggling with something, anything, keep fighting. Things will get better. I promise.
Source: Pinterest




Characters Waiting to be Written

I have a lot of characters waiting to be written. Lots of ideas jotted down and I even have a handful of books I've started, but ended up pushing aside for others. The list is pretty endless as far as what's waiting for me to start working on next.

There's this true southern gentleman with a name I really love and a storyline, and he's waiting rather patiently for me to write his book. 

There's this girl named Chloe who is waiting for me to get the guts to try her story because it's unlike what I usually write. I will need lots of focus for her book and I don't currently have enough to give.

There's the two solo WIPs I keep going back and forth between.

There's a list of characters for my and Mary's books.

And then, there's the story I'm here to talk to you about today.

I've been wanting to write it for a while. I don't think about it a lot, but I do every blue moon. Lately, though, I've been thinking about it more than usual. I know why I have, but that's not something I'm going to get into. Like I said, I want to write it.

But I don't really.

I'm struggling with wanting to write it and not wanting to write it. What's the big deal with this story? That's what you're thinking, right? Why would I not want to write a book?

Because I'm scared. 

It's that simple. A portion of it would need to be carefully written a certain way, and that makes me nervous. The reason I thought of this idea is very personal, so that makes me nervous. And because of that, if I do write it, I know that I'll be even more obsessed with every last detail to make sure that the story is told perfectly. 

The story itself scares me.

Not because of anything bad, but because of my personal attachment to it. This won't be a true story, but there will be a lot of truth in it. 

So, here I am, thinking about this story, half way to obsessed already. But the fear has been holding me back. 

Until today.

I don't know when I'll finish this book or if I ever will finish it. However, I'm going to start writing. Thinking about it won't get me anywhere, so I'm going to pour my heart into this story in bits and pieces until it's either done or until I can't work on it anymore. I realized that all I need is progress. That's the only thing that will help. 

Not thinking about it for hours on end.

Not wondering if I'm good enough to tell this story.

Not my fear of writing it.

This may be the only time you'll even hear about this unwritten book, but I need to do something instead of thinking about doing something. That's my new plan with this particular idea. I'll start writing it and take it slow, and we'll see how it goes.

What a CRAZY Year!!!

This year has been the wildest ever, but I've loved every second of it. I hope I have many more years like this to come because it's been absolutely wonderful.

Here's a recap.
  • I turned 19. 
  • I have attended three Penguins/Canes games and the Pens have won each one! 
  • Always released.
  • Mary Smith became my co-author! I met her in person and loved her even more! We started writing and finished the first draft in just two weeks. We've been writing ever since and have published two books in our trilogy, along with a novella. I can't wait to continue writing with her in the new year and see what amazing things are sure to come for us. Mary has become a best friend. After this year, I honestly I don't what I would do without her!
  • The fifth Bold as Love book was not only given a title and release date, but I finished it completely. I can't wait to share Our Happily Ever After with you on the 13th! The cover will reveal tomorrow!
  • I completed another semester of college and have been 99% anxiety-free. If you missed it, you can read my post on that here.
  • I also completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal to read 50 books! Woohoo! You can see all of those books on Goodreads, if you want to check them out.
In short, I've had an awesome year all the way around! 

I hope your year has been great as well and that 2014 will be even better for you and your family. Share a highlight of yours from 2013 in the comments! I would love to see it!