Friday, January 29, 2016

Best Books of January

It's time once again to tell you about the best books I read this month. This month kicks off the year and it was a great one, reading wise. Hopefully you'll find a few you want to read in this group, too!

I was so excited to finally get to read the first book this month--I even got an advanced copy. It debuts February 16, but you can pre-order it now. You're Invited, Too is the sequel to You're Invited, a fun book about four girls who start up a party-planning business. You can read this book separately, but I'd recommend starting with You're Invited! The cover to the sequel is somehow classy and girly at the same time:

Every young girl who dreams of someday being a wedding planner must read this book! Four middle schoolers take on planning a mega-wedding for a true bridezilla. Not only are her demands unreasonable for tween wedding planners, but they'd be unreasonable for any wedding planner. This book shows the charm of living in a small town, where everyone takes care of each other. Plus, there's a hurricane evacuation that becomes a sleepover for the whole town. Am I weird to want to live in a town where that happens?!

My next book was a fun YA indulgence. I've been trying to read more YA novels recently and this one was the perfect choice. Fun fact: the publisher once had a vote to determine the cover for The Distance from A to ZClick here to view the two choices and see if you agree with me that this was the best:

One thing I love about these Epic Reads e-books is the sexual tension. I've missed that since trading in romance novels for younger books. Natalie Blitt has it down. She has created two characters that constantly push each other away in that classic love story sort of way until you're dying for them to get together. If you love a good romance, along with the glamour of a story about a young girl learning to speak French, this is your book!

I also got to read the latest from Megan Whitson Lee. I loved Megan's book Song from the Ashes, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I'd love it! I've made no secret of the fact that I'm fascinated with missing person cases, but Captives was so much more.

Captives is one of those books that gets under your skin. You know the kind of book I'm talking about: you can't stop thinking about it in between reads. When you're finished, you're left missing the characters. The book is told from three perspectives: the sister of a missing girl, a former sex-slavery victim who helps with the search for the missing girl, and a sex addict who lives in the neighborhood where the missing girl is found. (She's found early in the story, so that isn't giving anything away.) The story might seem like it's a mystery, but it's about what happens to some of these missing girls--and it begs the larger question of whether many of the young girls who get involved in prostitution and pornography aren't victims of sex slavery to one degree or another.

Next up are two books from my blogging buddy, Cathrina Constantine. When I downloaded Snow on Cinders, I immediately realized it was part two in a series. So, of course, I had to download the first one!


The Tallas series focuses on a future in which civilization as we know it has been wiped out. The survivors are left to live under the rule of Mediators who dominate using violence and threats. In Snow on Cinders, the main characters try to form a new civilization far away from Tallas. However, there are dangers at every turn. Cathrina has a talent for compelling readers to turn the page, packing each chapter with action. You don't have to read Tallas to jump right into Snow on Cedars, but I would recommend it. Reading both books together makes it a great experience!

What books did you decide to kick off 2016 reading?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

At Least You Don't Work There

Sometimes we get takeout from a local Italian deli. It's a great place to get yummy sandwiches.

As I waited at the cash register for our to-go order recently, the obviously experienced waitress who greeted me handled two phone calls, got drinks for another table, took an order from the table behind me, and flagged down the server who took our order by phone. 

Minutes ticked by. 

I started feeling impatient, but as I looked around, I noticed there were two servers for the whole restaurant. There were about 20 tables, all occupied by customers. Both servers frantically rushed around, looking as though they didn’t know how they’d dig their way out of this mess. 

Meanwhile, more customers were pouring through the door, gathering in the small waiting area to be guided to a table by a hostess that didn’t exist. 

It all took me back to my younger years. I remembered working in similar jobs. No matter what you do, you’re letting someone down.

As I finally paid and gathered my order to walk out the door, I wasn’t upset that it had taken about ten minutes to pay for an order that was already bagged up and ready to go. I was grateful that I got to go home and spend the evening like this:

There were two servers who likely would have traded places with me in a heartbeat.

Have you ever had a stressful job? Does revisiting that same type of business take you back?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Time to Sign Up for A to Z

Are you interested in growing your blog readership? If yes, keep reading. If not, scroll down to the pretty picture of puppies.

Okay, bloggers who want new readers--today is the day to prepare to get them. In a little more than two months, many of your blogging friends will be participating in this:

Starting April 1st, we'll be posting a new (short) blog every Monday-Saturday, with each blog post representing a letter of the alphabet. Those of us who want to gain readers from it will be reading other blogs in the challenge and making new friends. A few of you are here because we met during either the 2014 or 2015 challenges.

What do you need to do? Today, head on over to the sign-up page and add your name to the list. Then start thinking about a theme. You can pre-write your posts or wait until April to write them, but on April 1st, you'll post a blog every Monday-Saturday, starting with the letter A and ending with Z.


For those who aren't participating, it's still going to be fun. My topic is something I can't wait to get started on--it will be quite different from last year's theme, which was this:

Plus, I'm one of Alex Cavanaugh's minions, which means I'll be helping keep the list of participants clean throughout the month. Here's our cool minion badge:

Come back on A to Z theme reveal day, February 22nd, to hear all about my exciting 2016 theme!

Are you participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year?