Cheap Bookish Ways to Beat Depression

Today is my birthday, and I guess I’ll go ahead and just say it: I’ll be turning 44. Wow. For some reason, this birthday is a tough one for me. I have never been a big birthday celebrator and I’m not even that enthusiastic for holidays. (I celebrate them for my wonderful daughter, who must continue to discover all the little joys in life!)

Partly, I realize it’s due to my crusty nature, and with all my obligations as a single working mom (also back in school no less), I just don’t have the motivation. Whatever the deeper underlying issues may be (I won’t go into them here – you’re welcome), my depression and anxiety has reared its ugly head.

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I’m grouchy, irritable, gloomy, melancholy… a real doozy. To top it off, I’m dead broke, so forget about buying any gifts for myself or getting my “hair did” or a mani/pedi, etc. Sooooooo, what’s a girl – okay, I guess I really can’t myself a “girl” anymore at 44 – what’s a lady to do?

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Along with using this blog post as a way to wallow and vent my birthday distress, I thought I’d try and come up with some inexpensive ways book lovers can beat depression, and also maybe post a few comfort books I can always count on to brighten my day.

  • Find your local thrift stores (or used book stores) and go shopping! It’s cheap, distracting, and you feel accomplished after you’re done! I did this recently and look what I found. (There’s my favorite photo bomber, Kitty, in pic #2. She must smell another animal on these used books!)

 

  • Go to Amazon and search for free or cheap books to add to your Kindle! This one      can be hit or miss, but you can get lucky sometimes! Again, it’s distracting (this is a key component to fighting depression and anxiety) and fun. I recently found a book I really liked called Karma by Donna Augustine and it’s still only $0.99 on US Amazon!
  • Go to a local coffee/tea shop and drink your beverage of choice and read a book or magazine. It’s less expensive than going to a restaurant and buying a whole meal, and let’s face it, there is just a good vibe in coffee houses. Or there should be. They smell fantastic too!
  • Go to your local library! Free books you can check out and a free place to sit and hang with people while being introverted! Most libraries are interconnected, so you can search for books you want, and if your local one doesn’t have it, they can get it for you from a neighboring library. Also, since audio books are more expensive, try finding them here! I found some AWESOME series on audio that made me feel all the right feels!

Examples: The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton, anything narrated by Steve West.

  • Talk to co-workers. You may be pleasantly surprised to find people you never expected have similar reading tastes and will let you borrow stuff for free (just remember to return it in the same condition). My love for graphic novels was rekindled this way and I got to read the entire Preacher series and The Invisibles this way!

I’ll end this long post by leaving you (and thank you so much if you’re still here with me) with a few of my comfort reads. They never fail to lift my heart and allow me a respite from the drudgery and survival mode I often find myself in.

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Because Barrons and The Nine.

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Because I love all the characters and want to be Kate. I totally ship Hugh also. Hey, it’s my fantasy world, right? 🙂

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Because sometimes you just need the fantasy of a hot alien falling for you no matter what flaws you may have!

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The Vampire Blood series by Juliette Cross – because I love vampires and vampire romances are my go-to for a good escape.

(Honorable mentions: Eric Northman, all the guys from Black Dagger Brotherhood, Bones and Ian from Night Huntress, Spike from Buffy, enough said.)

Okay, I will leave you with one last technique I find amazingly effective in distracting the moody bookish person who may need an intervention….

BONUS:

Look at hot men (or women, whatever your preferred flavor may be) on the internet! The Dust Off Your MacHalo group at Goodreads has a “harem” topic where we post pics of hot guys and I promise, it can make a person very happy!

See. I already feel so much better! 🙂 If you struggle with depression or anxiety, know that you are not alone. Never give up. As with early parenting, distraction and redirection are two great methods to manage it.

If you feel like sharing your emotional status and/or have easy and cheap ways to find and enjoy books, leave a comment below. Or just comment on guys you find hot. Beards are good. Very good. Am I right?

7ya8izz

My Shiny Pretties

In my last book review I mentioned my pretty, shiny books that I keep under lock and key. So for this post I thought it’d be fun to share just a few of my favorite book covers. I know, I know, this gets done a lot (and with good reason because there are so many gorgeous covers out there!), but I thought it was a nice and natural segue that needed to be taken advantage of.

Ann Aguire’s Razorland Series

I haven’t finished this series, but the reason I initially began reading it was because I was drawn to the cover of Enclave. It’s still my favorite of the group, but there is something that appeals to me about the series as a whole.

Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle

I think this cover perfectly represents the creepy weirdness that is this story.

Charlie N. Holmberg’s The Paper Magician Trilogy

This is a series that I may never finish because I was so disappointed in Book #2. However, I still love the cover art and love the logical transition from one to the next. I just wished the books lived up to their potential.

Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire

I have no idea why I love these so. Maybe it’s all of the dead bodies with swords like grave markers?

Benedict Patrick’s They Mostly Come out at Night

For disclosure, I have not read this book yet, but there is something so alluring about the cover art (and the book title!) that I had to add it.

Cat Winter’s The Cure for Dreaming

I have no idea if I’ll actually ever read this book, but the reason it is currently residing on my TBR shelf is because I found the cover so compelling.

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V. E. Schwab’s Shade’s of Magic

This is really a no-brainer. Her cover art for this series is fabulous. It’s what drew me to the first book, but it was her writing that kept me hooked.

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarian

The book that started all the love for these big blue, horned alien brutes. Gotta love it.

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Francesca Zappia’s Made You Up

This is another case of maybe-I’ll-never-read-but-that-cover-art-is-just-gorgeous.

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Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele

This was one of my few 5 star reads last year and, incidentally, also one of my favorite cover designs.

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These are just a handful of my favorites from the never ending pool of possibilities. I’d love to see some of yours!

Sam Says (1)

Nightfall (Jack Nightingale #1) by Stephen Leather ★★☆☆☆

(I’m apologizing in advance for the giphy review. I had to find entertainment somewhere.)

Okay, I’ll admit it. Not only am I a sucker for a pretty cover, but I also like pretty book titles.  I keep all my pretty shinies tucked away in a safe spot, where no harm may befall them and where I can privately gaze at them, whispering sweet nothings and stroking their smooth, blemish free exteriors. My pretty, pretty shinies….

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Ahem.

Back to the subject at hand. Book titles, yes. In this case, it was the title character’s name that did it for me.  Jack Nightingale just has a sound to it, ya know? Jack Nightingale, Private Investigator. Now there’s the man I’d want working my case. If I opened the yellow pages or google or whatever app people use to choose service professionals and had to pick someone, anyone, who could help me and there was a listing for Jack Nightingale, he’d be my choice, no question.  There’s just something about the name that whispers “greatness.” And, in the beginning, I was not disappointed. The opening was fantastic. I just knew I was going to love it.

But then something happened.

The magic of those beginning chapters was lost.

It became repetitive and uninspired.

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Thanks to my handy dandy kindle app I was able to do a word count. “Cigarette” was mentioned 122 times in the book. “Smoke” was mentioned another 88 times. Now he only mentioned his favorite brand, “Marlboro”, a mere 21 times the slacker. Let’s see, he also said “Pentangles” 54 times and “Satan/Satanist” another 42 times. Gah! Anyway, the shit just bugged me.

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Any of the interesting bits there were were lost in the cloud of smoke that perpetually surrounded Jack. What made him so fucking special? Why in the world would a demon go through so much trouble, kill all of those people, just to get to Jack specifically? And the more I read about Jack, the more I began to dislike him. He’s extremely self-centered, he’s crass, and he’s sexist, and normally, those things aren’t always deal breakers for me. Sometimes it’s okay to have a main character that possesses an/some undesirable traits. It adds flavor and diversity. I’m totally cool with that. But take this as an example. He has an assistant, Jenny, (that apparently has a thing for him though I can’t imagine why) and instead of actually taking the time to read her CV/resume and appreciate her for her accomplishments, he hired her because she has great legs and a nice phone voice. By the end of the book he still hasn’t taken any time to get to know her better, and she still has a thing for him. WHY???

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This is from the very last pages of the book:

“You’ve got to be joking.” (Jenny)

“Jenny, just do as you’re told…”

and then the next page,

“I’ll try,” said Jenny.

“Good girl,” he said.

Like she’s a fucking dog. And this is after he’s had an entire book for some character growth.

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It’s not only how he treats other people, he also makes a ton of conjectures based on very little information, one such conjecture being what constitutes a “Satanist.” Has he never watched Supernatural? A Crossroad Demon can be summoned by digging a hole in the dead center of a set of crossroads, burying a box containing a picture of the mortal wishing to make the deal, some graveyard dirt, and a bone from a black cat (yeah, I googled that shit.) You don’t have to be a Satanist. Seriously, like literally anyone can do it. Trust me on this. But apparently, according to Jack, owning or having anything to do with the occult means you worship The Devil. Bollocks!

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Oh, Crowley. Of course we’ll snuggle.

So at the end, the author tries to give a half-assed explanation for all of it, but I’m not buying it. Nope. Not buying a  word. I think all the shit that went down was solely for dramatic effect and the end was a feeble attempt to tie it all together.

I’m giving it two stars, and that’s only because I liked the beginning so much. There was so much promise in that opening. *sighs*

Sam Says (1)

The Mirror’s Truth (Manifest Delusions #2) by Michael R. Fletcher

Welcome back to the sick and twisted world full of insane people, debauchery, violence, and delusions. We have our favorite trio back from the Afterdeath: a nice place to take a vacation if you like the color gray, tasteless food, and monotony. No? Doesn’t sound like much fun? Well, you’re lucky then, because Morgen, the boy-god has Ascended, and can bring you back to the “real world.” It’s not much more fun, but at least there is real booze and the food tastes…marginally better?

Morgen finds our trio separately and makes separate deals with them. Our “hero,” Bedeckt (huge guy with battle axe who refuses to acknowledge his insanity and may be a bit of a berserker) just wants to make things right.

Stehlen, the psychotic Kleptic, just wants revenge on Bedeckt, because she loves him and he rejected her. She also might be in love with Wichtig, although she has no idea why. She also gets to keep her lover, the great swordswoman Lebendig. Nobody is allowed to take ANYTHING from her!

Wichtig, the Greatest Swordsman in the World, is just thrilled because he’ll get to have sex again, drink good ale, and resume his quest to best all swordsmen everywhere! For all time! Because he is the best. And cutest. And the best. Of all time. And really attractive and charming and the wenches be all up in his shizz. (I love Wichtig, lol.)

So, there is tons of brutal violence:

We see a LOT of the insides of people. There is also lots of betrayal:

Because that’s the way this world rolls.

Our trio spends most of the book trying to find each other, to pay each other back for all the wrongs and imagined wrongs. The boy-god Morgen is trying to expand his kingdom, but finds out it’s a messy, dirty business (and he can’t stand messes). He might be a bit OCD about cleanliness.

There is also a crazy dragon, a chick who is so deluded she has convinced herself she speaks to the earth and can move dirt and rocks, and some other crazy guy who is convinced everyone has a demon inside of them he has to exorcise.

I LOVE this series so much! I can’t put my finger on what it is. In a way, it’s meandering and we spend a LOT of time in the various characters’ minds (and that can be a crazy place to be), but the writing is so darn good, and the humor is so dark and twisted, it just warms my shriveled up heart.

I think my favorite character is Wichtig. Somehow he is just likeable, even though he’s such a POS! One of my favorite scenes is where he tries to train his new apprentice.

“The facts don’t matter. Facts are a hindrance. Unless they support whatever it is you’re saying, in which case they are the most important thing in the world and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot.”

“Your opponent doesn’t matter. The crowd matters. Convince the crowd. Never fight without a crowd if you can avoid it. If there’s no crowd, then you have to convince your opponent. If that fails, you might have to actually rely on skill with a sword. That should always be a last resort. Now, talk to the crowd. Look at the pretty girls or boys or whatever your preference is. Ignore your opponent. Nothing pisses Swordsmen off more than being ignored.”

“You don’t care what they think about you, you care what they think about the fight. What they think about your opponent.” Wichtig closed his eyes. “I’m tired. Keep practicing in your mind. Imagine the crowd. Imagine what you’ll say and what your opponent will say. Wake me if the dragon comes to eat us.”

Man, he gets put through the wringer in this one! It’s horrible, but yet I couldn’t stop reading! Poor Wichtig! LOL

Don’t expect these characters to have nice and tidy HEAs. lol

This is an anti-happy-ever-after world and “dark” fantasy at its best! Hands down. I will read anything by this author! I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

My review at Goodreads. My review for the first book, Beyond Redemption, is also at Goodreads.

7ya8izz

 

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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First things first, more Fetch please.

Here we have a book that dares to cross genres. It’s a fantasy/dystopian blend that is mostly-vague about the origin details. We know there was a world very similar to ours, same country names, technology, books, and culture. Then, “something happened” in an event known as The Crossing and we lost technology, electricity, advanced medicine, and were reduced to living in a world with torches, swords, archery, farming, hunting, villagers and nobles, etc. etc.

This is the story of a 19-year-old girl who is the heir to the Tearling throne, had been hidden and raised by foster parents until she came of age, and then has to suddenly become a queen. Her kingdom has been brutalized by her uncle, who was Regent, and by a neighboring evil queen who demands a repulsive monthly tithe of Tear slaves.

Kelsea is the new, young queen and she immediately begins making changes and struggles to earn the respect of her guards and citizens. This was a book that ended without a cliffhanger, but there were plenty of pieces that are still to be resolved.

What I really liked:

  • Kelsea was great. She is one of my new favorite female characters. She is no Mary Sue and has to fight and earn her place. She is assertive and confident and yet still has the realistic self-doubt of any young woman concerning her looks and desirability. I thought there was a lot of girl power in this!
  • As I mentioned, no cliffhanger. The first part of the story ends satisfactorily, but makes you want more because there are still at least two people that Kelsea will potentially have an epic showdown with.
  • No romantic angst or manufactured drama! (There is no romance in this at all, actually.)

The only minor issue I had was that the book felt a bit over-long, but the pacing was still pretty even.

I would not classify this as Young Adult. There was no smut, but there were graphic descriptions of sex, rape, and abuse to women and children. People got their throats cut and were gutted. The main character is 19 when the story starts and everyone else is older than her, so if anything, it’s “New Adult.”

I enjoyed this enough that I am putting it on my favorites shelf and would buy a physical copy and re-read it at some point.

Buddy read with the MacHalo group. My review at Goodreads – five stars! 🙂

7ya8izz

That’s a Wrap: July Edition

I can’t believe July is already over! I thought I’d have more time! You see, the kids start back to school on Thursday then I start back on the 21st. I have no idea after that point how much reading and gaming I’ll be able to get done before then. The pressure! Gaaaaaaaah! Okay, so really I’m the only one putting pressure on myself but still, it’s there, waiting to squeeze me until my insides become my outsides and I slide to the floor in a puddle of intestinal juices and goo. So, before that disgusting example of a tragedy occurs I need to get my affairs in order, beginning with a quick July wrap-up.

Surprisingly, July was not super productive reading wise. I completed seven books. There were a few others that I started but ultimately ended up setting aside, for now anyway. It’s a mood thing. To organize my list somewhat I’m going to start with the worst and end with the best (this should be easy, as there is only one I’d really put in the “worst” category.)

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Through the Door (The Thin Veil #1) by Jodi McIsaac ★★

This book is what I like to call fantasy light, meaning that it’s kinda hard to pinpoint to a specific fantasy genre, but it’s also not what I’d consider “real” fantasy. It’s like bubble gum fantasy or popcorn fantasy even, light and fluffy and without much depth. I was drawn to it because I thought it had an interesting premise, as it revolves around a mother and her child. We don’t see a lot of mom MCs, so I was interested to see how the author handled this scenario. The result? It was okay. It was fine. It was nothing stellar. I had originally given this book 3 stars, but, in the scope of things, I bumped it down to 2 stars. There’s nothing wrong with this book on the large, but there were quite a few small things that annoyed me, the biggest issues being that the actions of 3 of the main female characters revolved partly/mostly around pining after a man (why?!?!) and that a large part of the conflict revolved around unnecessary secret keeping (which is one of my peeves.)

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The Edge of Oblivion (Night Prowler #2) by J. T. Geissinger ★★★

This is most definitely a paranormal romance series, not a genre that I love love, so it’s harder for me to rate. Even with that disclaimer I’d have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised. In this second installment of Night Prowler we pick up shortly after Shadow’s Edge (Book #1.) This follows Morgan through her quest for redemption for actions that took place in the first book (so you kinda sorta need to start with Shadow’s Edge.) The books themselves are a little romantic angst heavy (which is kind of par for the course for the genre) so the plot gets lost at times. However, I still like the world and the mythos that the author has created, I liked this couple more so than the last, and I will probably give book 3 a shot in the future.

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Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier ★★★1/2

This was a long anticipated read for me: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast written by a truly gifted story teller. I hate to say it, but this would have to be the biggest let down for me this month. I love Ms. Marillier’s writing style. It’s whimsical and poetic and often poignant. However, I found this lacked a little bit of her normal magic. The two main characters were boring, and the secondary characters only just made up for it. I also felt the story lacked enough information, like it was missing chunks of backstory and history. There were a lot of unexplained phenomena, like the castle, and the mirrors, and the Tor in general. It hints at a long, magical history but never does it expand on that. With that being said, even though I was a little disappointed, it was by no means a terrible book. There’s always a definite beauty to be found in her writing, and this was no exception. I just didn’t connect as much as I hoped I would.

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The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1) by S. J. Kincaid ★★★★

I know some may classify this as science fiction, and it is to an extent, but to me this reads clearly as a YA dystopian that just happens to have a space setting. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Calling it science fiction just makes it sound more grown up. But it’s cool. Because I still actually like depressing dystopian settings, and I really like space. Win-win for me. This is a book that I read in basically one sitting, into the wee hours of the morning. It was bloody and dirty and sad and fun? All I can say is that I really liked Nemesis. I liked that she managed to remain true to her character, that she was able to remain calculating and fierce while at the same time discovering her capacity for emotions, for humanity. I thought the author achieved a great balance there. As for the rest of the cast, I don’t trust nobody (yes, that’s my southern Podunk vernacular.) You hear me? Nobody.

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Rescued by an Alien (Stolen by an Alien #2) by Amanda Milo ★★★★

I know, I know, another alien romance. What can I say? It’s my guilty pleasure. Ah, who am I kidding? No guilt here, none whatsoever. This is the second book in the Stolen by an Alien series. It picks up towards the end of Stolen by an Alien (Book 1), basically right dab in the middle of the chaos at the end. Where Arokh and Angie’s story concludes (ish), Zadeon “Z” and Callie’s story begins (ish). I liked this one just as much as the first. It has heart and soul and all the alien goodness that I crave, while at the same time it has a slightly darker undertone and touches on some pretty sensitive issues. I’m now officially a fan.

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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) ★★★★1/2

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The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2) ★★★★

by Patrick Ness

Yes, I know. I seem to be on repeat. First there was yet another alien romance and now there’s yet another science fiction dystopian to add to the list. Eh, what can I say? I guess I’m pretty predictable. Here’s the deal: I was hoping to finish this series before the end of the month. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I’m a slacker, that’s really my only excuse. This series, gah, it’s so frustrating and heartbreaking and so amazingly well written. Mr. Ness is a consummate story teller, even if that story is harsh and ugly and hard to bear. It’s like the trifecta of dystopian tales: this series puts humans who settled this foreign planet against the non-human natives AND the haves (those with the cure to a “plague” affecting the humans) against the have-nots (those without said cure) AND the men against the women. There’s literally SO MUCH CONFLICT. And, get this: just when you think there can’t possibly be anymore strife, in book 3 we’ll see the new settlers land and throw their lot into the pot as well. I really have no idea how this is all going to go down. Of course, I know how I want Book 3 to end (with the Spackle/natives getting some much deserved vengeance against the humans), but I doubt Mr. Ness is going to take it there. Whatever happens to conclude this series I’ll just say this: I think this story was brilliantly told. It stemmed a lot of interesting discussions in our group so I’m really happy to have read it with the group of people I did. Thanks guys! Book 3 is on the books for mid-August so be on the lookout!

Gaming:

Well, after completing the ME trilogy last month I thought I was going for another play through of The Witcher III (only this time with ALL the DLC). That commitment lasted like a day. I was on a ME high so decided to go for Mass Effect: Andromeda instead. It didn’t suck me in like the others did. Now, don’t get me wrong, I played it hot’n’heavy for like 2 weeks…but once I stopped, I stopped. Maybe it’s knowing there’s nothing else to come? No DLCs, no game 2, nothing, nada, zilch. It’s kinda sad to become invested in characters knowing this is all there is. However, hopefully this means there’s a DA:4 on the horizon–that will be my consolation AND I will eventually at least complete the main story of Andromeda.

Aside from ME:A, I also went ahead and purchased Borderlands: The Handsome Jack Collection. My son and I have had a few days of fun with that. For those who don’t know, it’s just like guns, guns, and more guns. It’s pretty awesome, and dare I say badass?

We’ve also been into a different sort of gaming: BOARD GAMES! Taking it back old school. That’s been pretty fun, especially since we are all super competitive. Our most recent addition is Smarta**. Trivia games are like my jam. Fortunately, I managed to answer the bookish ones right (John Grisham and Ernest Hemingway)

Movies, TV, etc:

This will be simple: I can’t remember the first movie I watched, so either a) I didn’t watch any OR b) they weren’t worth remembering. As for TV, well I turned on our actual satellite for the first time in like a year and was pleasantly surprised to see the newest season of Hoarders (mostly) recorded. Yay! Just when I thought I needed to clean my house, I now realize it can always be worse. Thanks Hoarders for feeding our slovenliness! I also googled “Best Shows on Netflix” and discovered Rectify. I cried like every episode and of course binge watched the entire thing in like a week. Even though it was cancelled, the writers did a really good job of concluding the series. It felt complete (mostly.) It was a good pick, so thanks Google!

Let me see…

Well, I turned thirty…ahem, I mean TWENTY-five this month and my daughter turned SIXTEEN!!!! (don’t do the math. it’s very complicated). SIXTEEN people. Where does it go? I’m all for any excuse that allows for all-you-can-eat sushi, but really? Really?! It seriously goes by so damn fast, y’all. There was a little bit of a theme going on for her gift-wise too, as she received a Ouija board, an EMF meter, and multiple books on ghost hunting and haunted places. Oh, and I must not forget her Harry Potter: Dark Arts loot crate. That was a pretty cool reveal as well. It was a lot of fun for her and a lot of sad for me. Gah!

Oh, and we’ve decided to try our hand at knitting. You know what they say: families that knit together…maybe there’s no saying for that. Well, either way, it should be interesting. My son wants to knit a cape. He’s the coolest weird kid I know.

Alright, I’ve rambled on entirely too long. This was supposed to be a quick wrap-up. Maybe I need to reevaluate my definition of “quick.” Sheesh.

Sam Says (1)

Ya got any comments, questions, or concerns you know what to do. Peace (and then I mimic a mic drop.)

August New Releases!

Only a few books are noteworthy new releases this month. Oh well it’ll give me time to get caught up on my massive TBR list.

August 1: Ride the Storm (Cassie Palmer #8) by Karen Chance

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I was beginning to lose my faith in this series. Some things were dragging on too long such as Pritkin’s dilemma and the love triangle. I was lucky to receive an ARC. This book redeemed my faith in the series. The first half was was painfully slow and repetitive, but it was worth it to get to the end. I was thrilled and can’t wait to see where things go from here! Check out my review on goodreads.

August 3: Trashy Foreplay (Trashy Affair #1) by Gemma James

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Affairs and cheating aren’t something I usually go for, but Gemma James’ books are entertaining smut. I may give this one a whirl.

August 8: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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Dee made a deal with a demon and gave him her heart. Can she love without one? This isn’t at the top of my TBR list but I do want to read it eventually.

August 22: Hideaway (Devil’s Night #2) by Penelope Douglas

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I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever for this book to come out. I loved the first one! It was deliciously demented. You can read my review here.

August 28: Fallen Heir (The Royals #4) by Erin Watt

The other 3 books in this series were absolutely addicting and nothing but a guilty pleasure. Be prepared for lots of over the top drama!

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