reading

Three Terrific Reads

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Hey, y'all! We're all readers here, and I thought y'all might want to know what I've been reading and loving. I love sharing my love of reading and good books, so this is how I've decided to do it. At the end of every month, I'll share the top three books I read and would recommend during that month!

I read a few books this month, and some I really want to recommend! Read on for three terrific reads! :)


I finished a great series. Ever heard of the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series by Krista and Becca Ritchie? It's really good! Here's info on the first book, Addicted to You:

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She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.

Get it on AmazoniBooks | NookKobo 


Then, I read another series about a siren that was really cool. Rachel Higginson has always been a sure bet for good reads, so I knew these books would be awesome, and they were! Here's info on book one, The Rush:

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A life not her own—A future already decided.

Every facet of Ivy Pierce’s life is meticulously planned out and plotted. Cynical and jaded by sixteen, Ivy’s only hope is to escape the legacy she was born into. 

She has a plan, a carefully thought out, feasible plan. She just has to play by the rules until everything falls into place. Unfortunately as predictable as her life can be, she never sees Ryder Sutton coming. He tumbles into her life unimpressed and untouched by her and the life she lives. He’s an enigma to her. A gorgeous, frustrating, sincere mystery and a complete phenomenon in the ugly world she lives in. 

What blooms between them is a fiercely intense attraction that cannot be ignored. Even though they would both be better off without each other—Even if both their lives depend on staying apart.

Get it on Amazon


To finish off my top three of the month, I have a children's book to recommend. I bought a book to gift to a little girl and I, of course, gave it a read before passing it on. I love the Pout-Pout Fish books, and this one was just as great!

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Mr. Fish wants to help his friend Ms. Clam when she loses's her pearl, but though he's fast as a sailfish, as smart as dolphin, and as strong as a shark, Mr. Fish has a secret: he's scared of the dark!

Very young children will swim along with Mr. Fish as he journeys deep into the ocean to new and mysterious places. They will discover, as Mr. Fish does, the power of friendship to light the way through the big-big dark.

Get it on AmazoniBooks | NookKobo 

Looking back on 2016

2016 has been a long, but exciting year! I thought it would be fun for me to recap some of the highlights.

First, let's recap the releases. Mary and I finished releasing The Ninth Inning books. I had four solo releases: Bending Under Pressure, Driving Me Mad, Making Me Sane, and Back to Me. It was a very successful year! Thank y'all for your support and sticking with me. :)

I completed another year of school (only one more year to go)! I started eating healthier and exercising more. It's been great. I also bought all the necessary supplies to start a new hobby (learning how to sew because I want to learn how to quilt), but I haven't done more than a no-sew quilt board so far.

My goal was to read 120 books, but as you can see, I didn't quite make it. 32 were paperbacks/hardcovers, which is about 30%, so that's a good ratio for me! The longest book was 656 pages (Lover Mine by J.R. Ward). It's pretty cool to see those stats about the total number of pages, too!

I could list the most memorable, but the easiest way to see which I'd recommend is to check out either my Books Worth Reading board on Pinterest or my Favorite Books board. Also, in case you missed it, check out the Paperback Pick Recap

Lastly, my travels. In January, Mary and I went to Pittsburgh to see her Blackhawks play my Penguins for her birthday. In March, we went to Dallas to see the Stars kick her Blackhawks butt. In May, I went on an Alaskan cruise with a friend and her family. That was such an amazing trip. In July, I saw Florida Georgia Line in concert.  In August, I saw Shinedown in concert and did a 5K. In September, I spent a week in the Outer Banks. In October, I did another 5K and did a signing in Charlotte. Not much as happened since then! I've included some pictures if you want to see them, too.

That's it for 2016! It's been a relatively good year and I can't wait to see what 2017 will bring! What are your 2016 highlights?

2016 Paperback Pick Recap

I wasn't always on time, but I was able to read at least one paperback from my unread pile every month this year. Some of these books caused me to read more paperbacks, so that's awesome. My genres varied from Young Adult to Paranormal Romance to Sports Romance and more. I figured it would be nice to do a quick recap that shows off my favorites. You can see all of my paperback picks either on Goodreads or on Pinterest. Obviously, there were a lot of favorites.

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?

2016 Goals & Plans

It's Day One of 2016, and I'm excited! As promised from my 2015 Recap post, I want to share my goals and plans for the year.

Reading Goals
Last year, my goal was to read 100 books, and I read 112. This year, I'm aiming for 120 books. That seems like a good increase that isn't too much higher than what I was able to read in 2015. I'm also hoping to read my Paperback Picks each month.

Writing Goals
IF all goes as planned, then I'll release five solos this year. I already have my YA Romance, Bending Under Pressure, pretty much ready to go. The next is Brittany & Trace's story, which will happen in two books and is an Anxiety/Depression NA Romance. After that, I plan to launch a new hockey romance series, Carolina Rebels, which will start with Noah & Meredith's book. And to finish off the year, a story where there's an age difference.

Last year, I experimented with having self-imposed deadlines. Turns out, deadlines are meant to be missed where I'm concerned. In 2016, I'm tossing out deadlines, but keeping my tentative plans. The key words being tentative and plans. I don't want to feel pressured or feel rushed. Considering I can make my own schedule, it only makes sense that I do so in a way that truly works for me. My goal for 2016 is to not freakout if I have to rearrange some things or if I'm taking longer than I'd like to get something done.

Traveling Plans
I'll be leaving for a short trip to Pittsburgh on Monday, and then Mary & I are hitting up Dallas in March and Chicago in the fall. I'll also be going on a Alaskan cruise research trip. Lastly, I'll be heading to Charlotte for Carolina Book Bash in October. I'm so excited about all those trips, and hopefully, I'll be planning a vacation at some point. It's going to be a busy year, and I'll need to make time to take a break.

Personal Goals
I have no idea what I want to accomplish personally. I'll be going to school part-time in the fall to be able to focus more on my writing. This allows me to keep going to school, but lowers the stress that comes from being a full-time student and a full-time writer. I feel like 2015 was a great year personally, and if I could just maintain doing well, then I'll be happy. I'm constantly growing and evolving, and I'm hoping 2016 is the year where I continue to do so.

That's it for me! What are some of your goals and plans for 2016?

Life Update: Am I Fixed?

Reading is a form of therapy for me. My actual therapist agrees wholeheartedly about this. If I'm not writing and not reading, she gets concerned.

It's probably a form of therapy to you, too. I mean, isn't a point of reading to get lost in another reality separate from our own? We don't want to step away from emotions or troubles, but to step away from our emotions and troubles and reality.

As of today, I've read 22 books this year. That's a huge number for me, especially in a short amount of time. To me, that speaks volumes. There's been something in my reality that I've been desperately trying to escape. I still can't say what that is.

I've been in an all-around funk and it's been weird and sucky. It's been plaguing me for months. Like since Oct/Nov, whenever it was that I finished Nepenthe. It's almost like an I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-myself feeling. Or kind of like a I-have-no-desire/energy type of thing.

It annoys the hell out of me because things have been good. For the most part, I've felt great. But there's something not quite right in the mix of it all and the unknowing of what or why makes me more rattled than anything else.

Usually a reading-binge fixes me, fixes me emotionally and fixes my lack of desire to write. But this funk has been like a veil hanging over regular everyday stuff. We'll consider it luck that it's only truly affected my writing. It's mostly been with my solos because Mary and I have pretty much been writing machines with the exception of this past week. Still, I've felt off.

Reading hasn't helped. Or at least, not in the way I'm used to. My reading-binges consists of three-to-four days of reading every free chance I get. Priorities are tossed to the side unless it's an absolute must. I've been reading more and more lately. I've been trying to escape something I can't put my finger on to identify. That in and of itself is annoying because I like to know what's bugging me. How can I solve a problem if I don't know the problem?

For 22 books, I've been trying to "fix" myself. For the most part, I've been failing. The off feeling is still there when the book ends, which leads me to pick up another and another and another.

But I think I've finally ended my funk.

The other day, I was super excited because I was writing in a solo. I only wrote about 400 words, but it felt amazing because that invested/obsessed feeling was there again.

It left as quickly as it appeared.

So what did I do?

I read three books in three days. I closed off everything else in life and read.

And tonight? I feel FANTASTIC.

Finally.

I feel energized, happy, and ready to tackle all the projects I'm working on.

There's a chance it'll be gone by morning, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic. If not, I have bookcases and a Kindle full of books waiting to be read until something bends in my favor and I can work out my issue. This blog post started with the title of Am I Fixed? That's still up in the air for the long-term, but for the moment, I am. That's good enough for me.

Reading Helps Me Deal with Life. (This Post is All Over the Place. And Long.)

(This post started as a simple anxiety update and turned into something else. Something really long.)

Do you ever look at your life, at how far you’ve come over whatever hurdles you’ve had to jump, and feel completely baffled that you’ve made it? Maybe I’m still feeling emotional after reading Left Drowning by Jessica Park (if you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?), but it hit me today.

I’m starting my third semester of college.

I made it through my first one, even though I missed a week due to my psych ward visit.

I made it through my second one, even though I had to take the spring semester off and start back in the fall.

And now I’m starting my third semester of college. Not only that, but I haven’t had a lick of anxiety. None. Okay, that’s sort of a lie. The only hint of anxiety I’ve had is the first day of class, I was nauseated as I drove there. Once I was on campus, it disappeared. And then there was a flare today because I was going to have to get up and speak in front of the class, but it was gone as soon as I realized it was there. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t had any anxiety because I haven’t had to consciously put forth extra effort to manage it.

I really hope I don’t sound like a broken record every time I do these anxiety updates, but I need them. This is therapeutic for me. But if I do, feel free to ignore me. I won’t blame you.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I feel baffled by this realization. It almost seems impossible to think that I’m here after being where I started. Or impossible that I was ever that way to begin with. I’ve been thinking about the past a lot lately. I don’t know why. Maybe I need to tell my therapist about this.

But I’m happy with life. I’m me again.

Things that used to seem so elusive and hundreds of thousands of miles out of reach. I want to say that I now hold those things in the palms of my hands, but that feels inaccurate. Those things are coursing through my veins again, touching every part of me. I don’t think I could be anything but happy right now. How could I?

One thing, that I think is really getting to me, is that I’m reading again. Not just a book here and there, barely making it to my goal of 50 last year. I mean that craving I had before, that need to constantly have a book around and immersing myself in another reality hasn’t been as strong as it used to be.

When I started spiraling with my anxiety, the magic of reading left me. No comfort could be found between the pages of a book. I had never been without that before and it was devastating for me to lose that. My therapist has said numerous times that reading is just like me attending my appointments with her every two weeks.

The ability to get lost in someone else’s story, someone else’s joys and heartache, to escape my reality, was therapy for me. Always had been to some extent. 

When my life got to be too much, I read. 

When I needed something to make it through the day, I read. 

When I just wanted to enjoy a taste of happiness, I read.

So I was out of sorts when reading no longer did that for me. When I no longer had to always carry a book with me. When I didn’t get excited about going to the bookstore. When I couldn’t fathom sitting down for any period of time to read a book. And I know this sounds crazy, considering I write books and would still read here and there. But it wasn’t the same.

It’s been an uphill battle as I’ve slowly gotten it back. A couple weeks ago, my therapist told me something along the lines of how I need to read. I need that magic as part of my therapy.

It helps me deal.

With anxiety.
With bad days.
With good days.
With life.

Reading helps me deal with life.

Just like writing does.

But writing and reading aren’t exactly the same for me.

Writing helps me be in control. I can escape reality, but I’m in complete control of this other reality in which I’m immersing myself. It helps me cope, heal, and get to a better place.

Reading lets me hand those reins to another person, to that author, and they let me relax, cope, heal, and get lost in another world.

Sometimes, I need to be in control. Sometimes, someone else needs to be. I’m thrilled that both keep me grounded.

Books truly are amazing, magical, wonderful things. I get to enjoy reading, just like I used to. More than that, life is so much better when reading is part of my "therapy". (My therapist doesn't force me to read or anything. It helps me deal, and that's what I mean by therapy.)

I feel like the reader I used to be and I couldn’t be happier.

I'm happy. 
I'm anxiety-free. 
I'm writing.
I'm reading. 
Life is good.

When I Need Inspiration I...

Inspiration is hard to come by sometimes. I have a couple of different techniques to help me become inspired. Today, I'm going to share those with you.

  • Listen to music. Pretty much any kind of music. My favorites range from country to R&B to rap to rock to the oldies.
  • My family. Sometimes, I get inspired by what is happening in our lives.
  • Reading. This should be first. Reading is the best way to get inspired. When I read a wonderful book, motivation sets in and I'm off to my laptop.
  • Quotes. Quotes are a fantastic source of inspiration. They really get my mind going.
  • Pictures. What a great way to wonder what the story is behind a picture and then creating it.
These are my top five resources for inspiration. What inspires you?