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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving.

Today is a day like no other. It's a day my family gets together to celebrate our blessings. 
At our Thanksgiving dinner, before we dive into the newspaper to check out all the Black Friday ads, we take a few minutes and remember all the things we've been blessed with. And I love that my family does that. Because there is really soo much.
Then we pray and thank God for everything. 
Then we eat, drink coffee, and are merry.
But just those few minutes of reflection helps us truly see how blessed we are. And it helps us to not get caught up in the Christmas craze that will come knocking tomorrow morning. 
It is very humbling.

So, before I went off with my family, I just wanted to let you know that today I am thankful for all of you.
Yes, you. I love my blog and it's because of the wonderful people that I have met on here and talk to and that comment on my posts that make me want to keep doing this.
So thank you everyone for being my follower and for being my friend.
Y'all are awesome!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday #Readathon

I loved doing this readathon last year and can't wait to take part in it again this year! Especially since it will be right after NaNoWriMo ends. I will need some R&R time (relax&reading time) by then.

I'm not sure what books I will be reading but I will probably jump into the Harry Potter series and I have some Christmas books that I want to get read too. I just have to decide which ones.

There will be mini-challenges and giveaways and there are other bloggers and authors signed up to participate too!
We will be using the twitter hashtag #readathon the whole weekend, so feel free to let everyone know what you are reading, how you are doing, etc.
On Sunday there will be a twitter party using the same hashtag at 9pm EST. We'll talk about books, the holidays and whatever else comes up. And there will be giveaways during the party too!

Liza has a challenge posted on the main page. You don't have to do it to participate in the #readathon, but it's worth it. You pledge an amount for every page or every book you read, then donate it to a charity of your choice for Christmas. It is strictly the honor system so only participate in the challenge if you really are going to donate.

My pledge is $3 for every book I read with a $10 minimum. So even if I don't get to read as much as I think I will get to I will donate at least $10. And I will be donating it to Books For Kids which was started by Britney and Farrah, the two lovely ladies behind I Eat Words.

Hope you join us for all the fun!

Top Ten Tuesday {3}

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookishwill answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Top Ten Authors I Would Love To Have Over For Thanksgiving Dinner:
(in no particular order)

  1. J. R. R. Tolkien- He created Lord of the Rings....that pretty much says it all right there. But I would love to pick his brain about world building over a piece of pumpkin pie.
  2. C. S. Lewis- Again, amazing world builder here. Him and J. R. R. Tolkien were good friends in real life too. So I think talking to the both of them would be nothing short of life changing.
  3. J. K. Rowling- I'm seeing a pattern here. Big story authors. Big worlds. Another person I would love to get to talk to in person. Why not at Thanksgiving dinner?
  4. Suzanne Collins- She created one of my favorite trilogies. I have to invite her. It would be an incomplete author dinner without her.
  5. Veronica Roth- Maybe if I sucked up to her enough with extra helpings of turkey and mashed potatoes she would tell me where I could find my very own Four.
  6. Stephanie Perkins- She has amazing pink hair, inspired me to put blue streaks in my hair (though they were only temporary and are gone now), was super incredibly and wonderfully sweet when I met her at the Austin Teen Book Fest (I had a million things I wanted to tell her, ya know, like "I loved your book" and I totally got all tongue tied the second she said hi. Then she started talking to me and I loosened up. Thank God.) AND!! last but not least, she inspired me to take french lessons. Stephanie was pretty much a no brainer when coming up with this list.
  7. Laura Ingalls Wilder- I love people who have incredible stories to tell (which is just about everyone), but I think she has even more stories then got put into books and I would love to know some of them.
  8. Maureen Johnson- If you have even seen one tweet from her you know exactly why I want her there. And if you don't know, it's because she is made of awesome. There would never be a quiet moment with her there.
  9. Jane Austen- Another person that I think would have incredible stories to tell. Especially since I love the time period she lived in.
  10. Frank Peretti- I have yet to meet a Peretti book that I don't like. His writing is deep and dark and the spiritual warfare is scary. He is an amazing storyteller. I'm hoping if he came to dinner he would give me a little sneak peek of his new book that doesn't come out until March.

So what about you? Who would you LOVE to see sitting at your Thanksgiving table with you?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bookish Crafts {1}

Right up there with my love for reading, I have a love for crafting and design. So the past few weeks I have been looking up projects that combine the two.

The first project I found on Pinterest. With the recent release of the last Harry Potter movie on DVD I felt a bit sad. It wasn't until the release of the 3rd movie that I got into Harry Potter and ever since then I have looked forward to each new movie every year. Now what am I going to look forward to next year (other than The Hunger Games)?
Well, I have decided to have a Harry Potter party. It is going to be 3 days, like one day a week for three weeks. And each day some friends and I will get together and are going to watch a couple of the movies, eat some food and just have fun.
So I have been looking up ideas for the party and I thought this would be an appropriate first project since everything at Hogwarts starts with an owl dropping off an acceptance letter to you.

At first I was thinking of handing them out as invitations, but I settled on having them set by the door as a "Welcome To My Awesome Harry Potter Party" note.
All you need is white balloons, one for each of your guest (and yourself, of course), white ribbon, a permanent marker, and notes to attach at the bottom. Oh, and I guess helium if you want them to float. All of that can be found at your local Walmart.
I haven't done this yet, so I'm not sure if it would be easier to draw the design on before or after blowing the balloon up, so I think I will try both.
Pretty snazzy though, right?

What with the holiday season being upon us I think I will have this party after the first of the year, so if you have any Harry Potter party ideas, let me know about them! And I will also post more when I find some other good ones to do.

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

**This is a spoiler free review for this book. But the synopsis and review contain spoilers from the previous book.**

"Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart."-GoodReads.

Paperback359 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Harlequin Teen
Source: Bought at bookstore.

I am so beyond happy how much Meghan grew up in this book. As much as I loved the first book, The Iron King, she was hard to relate to because she was quite whiny in the beginning. But towards the end of the first book and on into this one she started to grow up and realize that whining is not helping anyone so she better get smart and keep her wits about her.

To me The Iron Daughter was a tad slower than The Iron King, but it didn't really bother me all that much. It gave me time to catch up and learn more about certain characters, ya know, like Prince Ash. Who, if I might add, is just as hot as ever.
He has such a hard exterior which definitely shines for a good part of this book. But, for very good reasons, so I can't really blame him for being a jerk sometimes. Once you finally get past that exterior shell though, he can be even more fantastic.

There is so much more I could say about this book. I really truly love The Iron Fey series. They are such great faery books. But I don't want to spoil things for anyone who has yet to read this one. Just know that the action, adventure, humor, and romance are all still there and just as great as the first book.
Julie Kagawa's master story telling skills shine again. So if you enjoyed The Iron King, you should most definitely enjoy The Iron Daughter.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games Trailer.

In case you missed the premier this morning on GMA here is the first official The Hunger Games trailer!
Does that not make you so freakin excited for the movie?! I got chills through the whole thing.

March 23rd 2012 cannot get here fast enough!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update.

So I am 12 days into NaNo and am quite behind. But that's okay because I was out of town for the first couple of days...and my story required a bit of research. The last couple of days have been really good writing days though and I have slowly started to catch up with my word count...kind of. A couple more all nighters and I should be golden.

So tell me, how are you doing with NaNo? Are you right on schedule or are you being like me and procrastinating a bit? Do you have a system that works really well for you or a snack or drink that just gets you all kinds of motivated to write?
Fill me in :)

And if you want another writing buddy, feel free to add me (justso_jessica). I always love having more writing buddies :).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

As a wedding planner, you'd think she would have the perfect wedding experience...
Sherilyn Caine has left Chicago behind to marry Andrew Drummond IV, an Atlanta native with a family name that tops all the social registers. Landing the job as The Tanglewood’s wedding planner is a piece of cake for someone with a Type A personality; she’s the perfect fit for a wedding destination hotel known for its attention to even the tiniest details.
But when everything else is going along swimmingly, why are her own wedding plans drowning right before her eyes? One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance?"-GoodReads.
Paperback320 pages
Published October 28th 2011 by Abingdon Press
Source: Publisher Review Request. Thank you, Abingdon Press!

In Always the Baker, Never the Bride we are introduced to Emma Rae Travis, the diabetic baker. And in Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride we are introduced to Sherilyn Caine, Emma Rae's best friend from college. While Emma couldn't hardly ever eat anything with sugar, Sherilyn eats sugar at almost every possible moment. A habit that Emma told her would catch up with her after college when life slowed down. Which it eventually does and Sherilyn is now very self-conscious about (along with many other things).
When she first comes to the Tanglewood Inn she finally feels as if she fits in somewhere and she thinks that the transition her and her fiance are making back to their hometown will be completely smooth. And that her wedding plans will be too. But, of course, that would not make for a very good story.

Many things go wrong from wedding plans getting messed up to exes randomly popping back into their lives to thinking Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance because she keeps getting horrible rashes whenever she is around him. All in all it's a cute and fun story.

Though I did enjoy meeting new characters, I really loved Emma and Jackson in the first book so whenever they were present in this story I found myself missing them being the main couple. But at least they were in the story enough to satiate my curiosity for what was going on with their relationship. And I end up enjoying Sherilyn and Andy's story, as well.

A few times it felt like there were one too many relational problems between Sherilyn and Andy. I know a lot had happened to them since they got together and they hadn't known each other for very long before getting engaged...but still, I needed a problem break every now and then but rarely got it. 
Also, there a few sentences and conversations that didn't make a lot of sense so I would have to read them a couple times to figure out what was meant by them. So that ended up jarring me out of the story. But then sentences like this: "…wearing a fine Italian suit, polka-dotted with rain-drops,’ would happen and I would be reminded of how much I enjoy Sandra's writing.

Other than my couple of qualms, Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride is a cute story that has me looking forward to the 3rd and 4th books.
If you read the first in the Emma Rae Creations and loved it I would most certainly suggest you giving this one a go. If you haven't read either of them yet, get to the bookstore and get them. They will satisfy your craving for something very sweet.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, altered my opinion of the story or my review.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Author Interview with Sandra D. Bricker and book trailer!

Yesterday I posted my review for Always the Baker, Never the Bride, which I really loved.  So today I am excited  to share the book trailer for the second book Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride and an interview with author Sandra D. Bricker!

1. How did you decide on a wedding destination hotel as the setting for your books?
 As a former publicist, a lot of event planning went into that job. I used to wish all the time that there were more venues that offered everything in the same place, and that led me to this idea of one location that offered everything from engagement party through honeymoon...and The Tanglewood was born!

2. How did you "meet" the character of Sherilyn?
 I looked in the mirror. LOL. Well, then I squinted my eyes and made her a natural redhead with awesome features! Sherilyn is very much a reflection of myself. She battles a weight problem, she's uber-organized to the point that she makes the people around her a little crazy, and she has a wilder side that she has worked very hard to divert.

3. Is there any part of your personality in Sherilyn or the other characters?
 I think there's a little piece of me in all of my characters. From the first book, Emma was a diabetic with a penchant for cake. [Check!] In The Big 5-OH!, Olivia was an ovarian cancer survivor in search of what comes next after an experience like that. [Check!] Sherilyn, of course ... [Check! and Check!]

4. While doing the research for this book, did you come across any interesting stories of weddings gone awry?
 I did! A disappointing wedding, I have come to believe, is the most traumatic thing a bride can experience. She's been building up to that one moment and that one day, often since childhood. I came across several stories that made me cringe, and even cry. One bride with an outdoor wedding wasn't just rained out; it was a monsoon! Another bride I read about broke the heel of her SIX INCH shoes and fell into her cake before they even cut it. Like any other carefully-planned event, a wedding is pretty likely to have something go wrong. But sometimes things go "wronger" than others.

5. Do you think you would make a good wedding planner?
 I think I would. I used to love that part of my job as a publicist. My clients were all actors, and they had their fan club gatherings and pet charity fundraisers, all of which required event planning skills. But on occasion, I've been asked by my less-organized friends to help out with planning their weddings, and it has been a real kick for me. In fact, my friend Dianne (the most UN-romantic or ceremonial person I know!) told me she and her fiance had decided to go downtown that week to get married at the courthouse. "Dianne," I objected. "You can NOT call your friend the romance writer and say something like that!" A month later, they went to St. Augustine and were married in a beautiful destination wedding planned by ME.

6. What type of environment is best for your writing?
 I write best with a large block of time (no less than four hours) to be alone and play my inspiration music and really get into my story. I usually have a cold bottle of water, a cup of coffee or tea, or even a soda nearby, and a bowl of munchies like nuts or pretzels nearby.

7. What do you hope readers will take away from your stories?
 Before I turn it in to the publisher, I pray over every manuscript I complete and ask that God's hand would be upon it, and that every person who reads what I've written would be blessed in some way and draw closer to Him.

8. What's next for you?
I've just completed the third book in the Emma Creation series (Always the Designer, Never the Bride), and I'm just about to start on book four, the final one in the series (Always the Baker, FINALLY the Bride). I'm really excited about the opportunity to give Emma and Jackson their happily-ever-after ending at last. Emma's been a good friend to me, after all! I want to see her blessed and happy.
I am terribly excited for the 3rd and 4th book of the series! I am reading Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride and am loving it so far. I hope you enjoyed the interview and book trailer! Now, get to the book store and pick up Sandra's books!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

Thirty-six-year-old Emma Rae Travis has been baking specialty cakes and melt-in-your-mouth pastries at The Backstreet Bakery in historic Roswell, just outside of Atlanta, for the last six years. But here’s the rub about her job as a baker … Emma is diabetic. When she tastes her creations, it can only be in the most minute portions. Emma is considered an artisan for the stunning crème brulee wedding cake that won her the Passionate Palette Award last year, but she’s never even had one full slice of it.
When Jackson Drake hears about this local baker who has won a prestigious award for her wedding cake artistry, he tells his assistant to be sure and include her in the pastry tastings scheduled at his new wedding destination hotel the following week. And for Jackson, that particular day has started out badly with two workmen trapped in a broken elevator and a delivery of several dozen 300-thread-count bed linens in the wrong size abandoned in the lobby. But when the arrogant baker he met a week prior in Roswell stumbles into the dining room with a platter of pastries and a bucketful of orders, he knows for certain: It’s going to be a really rotten day.
Can these two ill-suited players master the high-wire act and make a go of their new business venture? Or will they take each other crashing downward, without a net? And will the surprise wedding at The Tanglewood be theirs?" - GoodReads.
Genre: Christian Fiction, Romantic Comedy
288 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Abingdon Press

How much would it suck to be an awesome baker and not be able to taste more than just one small bite of your amazing creations because of diabetes? Well Emma is just such a baker. She has won awards for her treats but has never been able to fully enjoy them herself. Which would be awful if you ask me, I would probably end up in a sugar comatose because I don't have that kind of self control. But Emma has a lot of self control.
Even when it comes to Jackson, the good looking but kind of rude owner of a wedding destination hotel that has just hired her as the hotel's baker.
He can be incredibly infuriating, but this is an opportunity of a lifetime for Emma so she doesn't want to pass it up. Finally to have her own kitchen to create all her goodies in.

This story had me giggling late into the night. It was just such a sweet and fun story that I didn't want to stop reading, so I didn't. In one night I finished it. The characters felt so real, like people I would really like to know in real life. From Jackson's sisters to Emma's best friend Fee, I loved them all.
 And there are actual recipes scattered throughout the story. They sounded so good so I ended up highlighting most of them on my Kindle to go back later and attempt making myself.

Though there is an undeniable attraction growing between Emma and Jackson, they are both trying to get over things from their pasts. So the question of 'will they move on and get together' is always there.

Funny and oh so sweet. I loved this book.
If you like Christian fiction or romance with a bit of real life humor thrown in you should definitely give Always the Baker, Never the Bride a shot.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo has begun!

30 days.
50,000 words.
1 novel.

This should be tons of fun.

This will be my first time participating in NaNoWriMo. Are any of you doing it?
Let me know! I would love to have some writing buddies!
My screen name is justso_jessica, so add me and we can help each other out :)
Happy NaNoing! :D