Friday, February 28, 2014

40 Days

It might sound odd, but I'm kind of looking forward to Lent this year. You may or may not believe it, but next week is Ash Wednesday. It feels as though we shouldn't be getting ready for Lent yet. On the other hand - it's later in the year than usual so I guess it's about time.

In the past, I've written about Ash Wednesday and Lent and kind of have poked fun at how we recognize this time of the year in the Christian church. You can read it here.

Traditionally, I feel like we think of Lent as a time when we have to feel guilty about everything and be sad all of the time. We're supposed to reflect on sacrifice, how we're awful sinners, and we don't deserve anything. Which... I guess is true to an extent. But it all goes back to guilt I think. Or we at least get in the mindset of guilt.

Which makes it seem odd that I would be excited for Lent.

For the record- no where in the Bible does it say we HAVE to practice Lent. In fact, Lent isn't even in the Bible. It's a time of year the early church set aside to prepare for Good Friday, Easter, etc. So, if you don't practice Lent or do anything for it - that's okay! You're not a bad Christian or anything like that.

To me, when I think of Lent, I don't think about guilt. I think about having 40 days to have extra reasons to focus on Jesus. In a way, it's like a reset button so I can have a time of cleansing and refocusing, because so many times I loose track of where I should be looking and thinking.

This year marks the first year in a long time where I do not have any responsibilities for Lent. Working as youth minister, Lent was a really busy time for me. The youth served meals every Wednesday, prepared an Easter Breakfast, and held a garage sale. All of these are great things and it was good we did them. However, I would be so exhausted every week there were times I barely thought about what the whole point of it was.

This year I don't have any of those obligations.

I can pick how I practice Lent this year. Where I go to worship on Sundays (if I choose to). What I participate in. What will work the best for me to get my focus back where it should be. How I can really let Jesus shine through.

There are several ways people practice Lent. The most common way is to give up something. Another one is to fast (which... is still giving up something. Technically.). I talked about that a bit in my post a couple of years ago. This is perfectly fine and I know of some people who have gotten a lot out of practicing this. However, if you want to read my concerns about it, read my post from a couple of years ago here.

As I was brainstorming today's topic, I decided to go on Facebook and ask my friends what their favorite Lenten practices have been. They had some amazing (and some hilarious) ideas.

- "I've tried giving things up in the past, but never felt I truly did it for the right reason. It was more like a "glorified diet", like no chocolate, or no junk food. One time I gave up caffeine...I didn't make it. Haha. BUT, I have tried adding something each day that helps to strengthen my faith, and I've found that to be the most meaningful of all my attempts. One time I did adding a daily devotion. Another time I read a section from a book about reasons Jesus died for us (I forget the title) each day. To each their own, of course, but I found that taking something on rather than giving something up worked better for me.

-"A friend of mine two years ago chose to do a daily 'cleansing' but did so by going through her closets, kitchen cabinets, garage, etc. One day it would be scarfs; she would keep 4 or 5, and then donate the rest. Same with coffee mugs; keep some but donate the rest. Each day it was something. I thought it was a cool idea!"

- "I try to change things that have become part of my daily routine that aren't the best. Like, instead of spending a spare ten minutes on Facebook, I spend it in prayer or reading the Bible. I still give something up because I feel it has good intent behind it, and when done in prayer, can be quite powerful."

- "I have given up stuff a few times in the past, but I always felt like I was glorifying myself in that. Look at what I can do, I have so much willpower type deal. A few years ago I started picking something specific and praying for it every day during lent. One year for example it was all pro-life things and then next year it had to do with human trafficking and healing for victims and also working to stop it. I haven't decided what I'll pick for this year yet but I have found that the idea of picking something very intentional and focused on a broad topic works well for me. Am I making sense? I think I explained it well." "Every year I do the lenten breakfast and make king's cake to share."

- "I make a point to thank God for something new in my prayers every night. So often we are wrapped up in ourselves when we pray so I make sure I say thanks instead of asking for "special favors."

- "I gave up make up my freshman year of college. It was good, I was way too concerned with appearance. After that I felt much freer to decide how to present myself. God sets us free as he sends Jesus to the cross. Do I care how I look? Of course, it's now part of my job, but it does not rule who I am. All because God gave me the courage to go barefaced for six weeks."

- "Eating a crapton of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, pretending Lent doesn't exist, and then eating a crapton of chocolate on Easter Sunday. That probably wasn't the answer you were looking for.......;" (OK... no... but YEAH FOOD I LOVE FOOD.)

- "I've toyed with the idea of giving up church for Lent but it seems almost too ironic...."

- "I do my best to give up guilt each Lent."

A few other ideas:

- Try getting a book of prayers. I used The Divine Hours Eastertide where I had four times of devotions and prayers a day.

- Volunteer your time and/or money to a favorite charity

- Read a book

- Take up journaling

- Pick a book of the Bible to read through

- Fully observe a traditional Sabbath each week during Lent

This year, I'm doing two things. One, I just ordered a devotional and reflective journal where each week I'll be focusing on one of four themes: hope, follow, live, and bless.

The second thing I will be doing is something I've been thinking about starting on here for awhile. The title of this blog is about love, and in theory, this whole blog is about love. Yet, I feel like I've gotten away from that. So I want to start 40 Days of Love Sightings.

Everyday from Ash Wednesday until Easter, I'll share ways I see love in everyday life. Whether it's a way I see love from my friends and family and people around me, or even just someone I happen to see that I see as I go about life. (Example: last week while at Starbucks before church I saw old friends reunite and it was so sweet!) Then at the end of whatever blog post I'm writing that day, I'll share what I saw.

I'll even take submissions from you!

This way, instead of focusing on guilt and how awful we feel as people, we can see how God (love) is being expressed every day.

If you recognize Lent, what will you be doing this year? Do you have any suggestions that I missed? Any favorites you saw in what my friends said or what I listed?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't Judge Me By My Facebook Page

Does anyone take a look at their Facebook wall and wonder "Wow... why are people still friends with me?"

Because this has been a daily thing for me lately. Or even any social media really. Not as much my Twitter, but there are moments I take a step back and look at it and I'm all "Who is this girl? That's not me, is it?"

I live-tweet Twilight movies (although some people loved it and though it was hilarious!), there's an abundance of Buzz-Feed quizzes, endless links to my blog, or I'm fangirling over something. Now, there are times when I'll post something and people will love it. That's awesome! But there are so many times when I look over all of my social media sites, and I can't help but wonder why the hell people still follow me. Sometimes I pity my friends who know me almost solely (if not entirely) through the internet.

(Or maybe they've all just blocked my posts and I don't realize it. Who knows?)

Does anyone else have this problem? Or am I just insecure?

One of my favorite bloggers, Nadine from Back East Blonde, wrote a fantastic post back in January about online personas. (You can read it by clicking here.) She talked about how her blog and online persona really is her - but it's not an accurate depiction of her completely. It shows certain sides of her, but not 100% everything. It's not because she's being fake or dishonest, but there are still aspects of her life and parts of her personality which don't always shine through on her blog and in social media.

I think that's true for me as well. I try my best to  be honest and transparent on my blog. When I'm struggling with something, I find a way to talk about it. When I like something, I tell you all about it. If there is something major happening in my life I try to be sure I mention it on here. Yet, I can still tell there is only a certain persona of myself people see.

Generally, I do think it's accurate. I am a fangirl. I'm a geek. I love books. I think the writing on my blog reflects my own "voice" as much as it can. However... there is more to me than that.

From reading my blog you can't always see the day-to-day of my life. My relationship with my parents and my friends and co-workers. You don't see all of the things which make me laugh or cry. The snacks I always have on hand. The way my voice sounds or how I laugh at certain jokes. The way I look at people and how they look at me when we're having a conversation.

I feel like those who know me best would agree. Yes, I really am me on this blog and on social media, but it's not a 100% perfect depiction of who I am.

There's so much more to me (and to you!) than my Facebook page.

My hope is that people stick around enough to learn this and to see me. The REAL me.

Does anyone else feel this way?


On another note, I wanted to share with you my new blog t-shirt!

Whitney from I Wore Yoga Pants to Work has started a t-shirt line. Every month she comes out with a new design and you have two weeks to order it. Then the next month she comes out with a new t-shirt! It's pretty awesome and it makes me wish I had thought of such a great idea. Anyways, the shirt I ordered came in the mail today! It was exactly what I needed because today was a rough day at work. This put a smile on my face.

You get a free cozy with your order!
I LOVE this shirt! It's just as soft and comfortable as Whitney tells you on her blog. If you want to check out her blog and her t-shirt line, click here.

On yet another note- I'm still accepting sponsors for March! If you are interested I just added a "Work With Me" page on the blog and you can email me for details!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Top Ten Favorite Book Characters

When you read as much as I do... there are a lot of characters to put into consideration. This is a really difficult choice! There are so many characters I have fallen completely in love with, it is difficult to pick only ten. However... here we go. In no particular order.

Wellington Books from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences

Books, or "Welly" as his partner in crime calls him, is one of my newest book loves. He's completely adorable! He's very proper, loves books and history and artifacts, and always wants to stick to the rules. However, it's not because he's stuck up. It's because it's how he shows love and respect. (Think Simon from Firefly but not as suave.) I love how proper he is and he gets so frazzled when things don't go quite his way, and I also love the struggle with his past and how he was raised, and the way he lives now and what he believes is right.

Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments

I'm not going to lie - Magnus is part of why I've stuck around with The Mortal Instruments series. He's an old soul, but so modern and ecclectic. I love his attitude and his relationship with Alec. He's completely facinating and I love seeing how shocking he can be.

The Vampire Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles

I am completely facinated with Lestat. In Interview with the Vampire, he's so evil and you love to hate him. Then in The Vampire Lestat and the continuing books in The Vampire Chronicles, you see all of these different sides and layers to him. (Like an onion.) I love his struggle with good and evil, but then embracing the "devil" inside of him. How he defys the norm all of the time and pushes the limits of heaven and hell just to see if he could. He's by far one of the most facinating characters I've ever read.

Celia from The Night Circus

Let's get some girls on this list! Celia is beautiful, strong, sensitive, creative, and romantic. Granted - the entire book is this way. She brings the magic of the story to life and embodies the heart of it.

Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings Triology

How can you not love Sam? He is seriously one of my heroes. He is loyal, kind, brave, and the best friend anyone can have. Ever. So much of LOTR is really his story.

Jo March from Little Women

Growing up, I always felt like I could relate to Jo. Maybe it was the fact we were both writers. Or maybe because we had sisters. Or maybe because she loved the theatre. Or maybe because she loved crazy adventures. I'm not sure, but I've always felt a kinship to her character. She's wild and fiesty but so loveable. Even now, I do understand why she turned down Laurie. (Don't interpret my understanding of this with my liking it. Those are two different things.) She's completely wonderful.

William Marshal from The Greatest Knight

Technically, William Marshal was a real person and The Greatest Knight and the other books Elizabeth Chadwick wrote about his life and family were based on her impeccible research about him. However, since this is actually a novel, I feel like this still counts. William Marshal is brave and strong, but was also known for his honor. What was so fantastic about him is that it showed you can have honor and treat people well, but that doesn't mean you are weak or a pushover.

Scarlet O'Hara from Gone With the Wind

Let's be honest - Scarlet is a bitch. She's mean, spiteful, a brat, and will do anything to get her way. Even if it means hurting her own family. But I love her. The beginning of the book she's basically just a brat, but as the story goes on it develops into this inner strength because she does what she needs to do in order to survive. And guess what? Her family does survive and so does she. (For the most part.) She does things in probably the worst way possible and hangs on for a pathetically long time to a man who will never love her the way she wants him to and loses the actual love of her life in the process, but at the end of the story she still gets up. She keeps going no matter what.

Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games Trilogy

Peeta is one of the best characters to embody love, grace, kindness, and strength. He's not your typical macho alpha male type and I love it. He inspires me to want to be a better person and brings out the best in the people around him. So many times you come across a character like him, and you're kinda intimidated and all "I could never be that good." But he's more inspiring, and I think the other characters in the trilogy are inspired too.

Harry Potter from Harry Potter

This one shouldn't be a surprise and it probably sounds cliche. But hear me out. How many people actually say Harry Potter is their favorite character in the series? Hardly anyone. Usually it's Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, etc. At least in my experience, I haven't met many people who have said Harry is their favorite. But he's mine. He's ridiculous, brave, has the martyr syndrome, and most of the time really stupid. But he's loyal and an orphan and lost and just wants a family. I absolutely love Harry Potter and he is my hero. Or at least one of them.

There are a ton of other characters which aren't listed here whom I love. My opinion will probably also change tomorrow because it's so hard to pick!

Who are your favorite literary characters?

Linking up with Broke and Bookish for 10 on Tuesday, and Karly Kim & The Glossy Blonde for Totally Posted Tuesday.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rook- A Book Review

Have you all heard of "New Adult" books? It's a new-ish genre of books which are aimed for people in college - 20-something. From what I've heard, basically young adult (more for teenagers) but for my generation and more sexy times. Or at least sterotypically.

I wasn't sure if I was interested in trying this new genre or not. On the one hand - I LOVE young adult novels! (The Fault in our Stars, Hunger Games, etc. are all actuall YA books.) Yet, there are times when I feel weird reading them all of the time considering I am 27 years old. Therefore, stories which read like YA but are for my age group would be fantastic. On the other hand... if the sterotypes were true about it basically bing YA but with more sexy times... eh. Not so much.

However, thanks to NetGalley, I can read some New Adult novels for free. Therefore, if I don't like it - no harm done.

The first one I've tried is Rook by JC Andrijeski. This was an awesome first peek at New Adult novels!

18939988Basic Overview Without Spoilers:

The story begins in modern-day San Fransisco, but it's slightly different than the world we know. There is another race called "Seers" who are almost human, but not quite. They have cool powers, but are treated as servants/slaves.

Meet Allie. She's 28 and just had some MAJOR relationship drama which didn't end well. As in... she gets arrested because she was overly violent which is very much not her personality. Not long after, she has another violent outbreak. Enter in Revik, who at first seems like a major creepster but isn't at all. He basically kidnaps her, and Allie discovers she's not actually human. She's a seer. But not just any seer - a super seer called the "Bridge" and her existence basically means the begining of the apocolypse.

Chaso and romance ensue!

My Thoughts:

This book was awesome! Allie was a great protagonist. At first it was difficult to get to know her, but she holds her own and grows on you. I loved how she can fight for herself but still has a heart. So many times I feel like you get the two extremes. Either the character is really sweet and tender but can't defend herself, or she's tough as nails and it's hard to get attached. She had a good balance I felt. I will say, at first I wasn't sold on the love interest. Once it was established, I loved it. But building up the tenstion and all could have been done better.

The world was really interesting too. I liked learning about the history of the Seers and how they intertwined with other myths, legends, and religions. Sometimes I wasn't entirely sure how the Seer race was different from the humans (other than some special powers) though. As the story went on I could see it, but I felt like the nature of the two races was too similar.

The book read like a YA book, but still slightly more mature for an older audience. Which was what I expected and enjoyed. As a fan of YA novels, I was glad it had somewhat of the same feel. There was a bit more sensuality than there would be in a YA novel, but nothing over the top and crazy. I was grateful for this.

It also felt like an action movie. Car chases, explosions, guns, running - the works! It kept things really exciting and made the book go by quickly. However, I sometimes have a hard time processing a lot of action scenes when I'm reading. That's nothing with the author or writing though, it's strictly a me thing. Even in Harry Potter I would have to re-read sections that were action-heavy.

The one thing which bothered me was that the author kept changing tenses. For one section we were in first person past tense, then first person present tense, then third person - it was exhausting! I did get used to it after awhile and got the feel of her writing style and who's perspective was whose... but I wouldn't reccomend this for most books. In fact, I've always been curious about switching tenses and persepctives the way the author did in my own writing. I learned that I will never do this in my own stories.

Overall though, I really enjoyed Rook and I know there are several other stories to follow in this series. I'm excited to see where it goes because this was a pretty crazy begining!

I gave Rook 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

I recieved my copy of this novel as an eArc free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Music Guilty Pleasures

To be honest- I don't have a ton of guilty pleasures when it comes to music. I mean... can it be considered as thus when you don't actually feel guilty about it?

I'm lookin at you Glee. I know I probably shouldn't love it as much as I do, but it's a fact, and I'm not even sorry. Also, it's coming back on Tuesday and I'm beyond excited.

While we're on this topic- let's add Lady Gaga to the list of things that should be my guilty pleasure, but I don't feel guilty about. Not even close. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. (Name that movie!)

However, there are a few things in music which I do consider guilty pleasures. Or at least confusing as to why I like them so much.

First, there's "Friday" by Rebecca Black. I don't actually like the song. It's not good. However, whenever I'm excited for a Friday I find myself singing "Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday..."

You do it too - don't even lie. I see you signing to yourself over there.

The biggest one though, I think is, songs about partying. You know, the ones about gettind drunk, club hopping, and not caring about the consquences. That's right, when I've had a bad day and need to let off steam, once I hear a dance club beat and I hear people singing about getting drunk, I can't help but feel better about life.

It's completely ridiculous. Will you sometimes see me jamming out in my car to some Ke$ha? Yup. Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" and "This is How We Do"? Absolutely. What makes it so crazy though, is that I know nothing about this lifestyle the singers are talking about.

Never once have I danced on a table top the way Katy sings in her song. Not even sober for a musical. Never ever.

I've never kicked someone to the curb unless they looked like Mick Jagger.

I've never gone through the backdoor to get into a club with glitter on my eyes.

I've never gone to breakfast in last night's dress. (I did pull several all-nighters in college, but for different reasons. And I always changed clothes before going to breakfast.)

To be 100% honest - I'm pretty sure I've never been as drunk as the songs talk about. Give me one drink or two and I'm done for the night. Even in college I had friends who would go out to clubs sometimes, and when I would inquire about going they'd be all "Emily... you'd hate it." Which, is probably true, but I remember being sad they didn't at least let me turn down the invitation myself. At least I'm a cheep date, right?

Yet, I love these songs. It's just... they're fun!

And when you add Glee into the picture, well, all bets are off. Especially when Darren Criss is singing the lead.

Please tell me some of your music guilty pleasures so I can feel better about myself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Change of Heart

In case some of you haven't gotten on board the British TV train- you better get on. I mean, from Doctor Who, to Sherlock, and countless others - there are a ton of shows to watch and fall in love with.

In January, I binged on Sherlock. I watched the first two seasons on Netflix and then watched it religiously when season three aired in America. Now, I'm just waiting for the next season of Doctor Who to begin. When the fourth season of Downton Abbey wraps up I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself.

Every Sunday I love sitting in the living room and watching the soap-opera-esque lives of the Crowly family. This week, however, something stood out to me.

The character of Tom Branson (the son-in-law who was a cheauffur) has always intrigued me. I wasn't always sure of my opinion of him, but I thought he was interesting. He fell in love with Lady Sybill, was firm in his beliefs, but for the sake of his daughter he now lives with the Crowly family as one of them, even if it goes against what he believes politically. He hasn't quite found his place there yet, however, but I think he's growing fond of them, and they of him. They have created their own unique family. 

This week, Tom met Sarah Buntin at a political meeting. They seem to have an attraction towards each other and keep running into one another - which is the way of television. However, she appears to have a certain prejudice against the upper classes. AKA- people like the Crowly family. Tom helps Sarah with her car troubles and he tells her part of his story. She claims she doesn't like to assosicate with those types of people. Tom replies with: "I don't believe in types. I believe in people."

I knew I liked him.

It's nothing we haven't heard before. We all know we shouldn't stereotype people and put them into boxes. We shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. The whole Beauty and the Beast type of thing. This isn't a new lesson.

What I love about this though is that Tom's heart is warming. He had one image of people in his mind, and now it's starting to change. Now - Tom is still Tom. He has the same personality and the same general ideals. However, something in his heart and mind are begining to change.

It makes me think of my own past and my beliefs and how some of my opinions have changed as I've gotten older. If the person I was in high school, or even college, were to look at me now, they'd probably be shocked. I'm still me, but how I view certain things and people and ideas have changed. They've grown and evolved.

Then I think back to the original statement, "I don't believe in types. I believe in people." On the surface, I scream "YES! Exactly!" But yet... how many times do I go against it? Heck, even later in the episode I can see Tom going against it. (Even if just slightly.) It makes me sad to think of of hypocritical we people can be. We say one thing and do and think another.

That doesn't mean we don't make progress. We still grow, we still change, we still evolve, and we still try. I label people all of the time. I hold grudges sometimes. I judge others. But... I keep trying, and I think others are too. Or at least some are. Maybe even more than some. I hope I can become more like Tom, letting my heart warm up to others. Maybe then someday, what he said really will be true in all aspects.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Think I Have a Problem

Do you ever notice that people tend to have strange relationships with technology?

I don't know about you, but I have some pretty unique relationships with three things. My laptop, my iPad, and my phone. I currently have all three out and find myself justyifying why all three need to be out and running at the same time.

Phone: I've been texting with some people.

Laptop: I'm blogging - obviously.

iPad: Watching Supernatural while I blog.

See? All necessary things. I obviously need all three of these screens with me at this exact moment .

But then, even after I'm done blogging... all three will still be out. I'll continue to watch Supernatural. I will keep texting people and then once I hit publish on this post I will then continue onto Bloglovin to read my daily blogs, then go to Facebook, then Twitter, then Tumblr, then Pinterest... and it'll go on. I might even decide to switch to watching some sort of DVD and play it on my TV. Then I will be using my iPad to check social media while my laptop is being used for other things. Hopefully writing.

Many times, you'll see me wandering around the house with both my phone and my iPad and sometimes a book. To the living room. The kitchen. The dining room. My bedroom. Because I might need them at any point and time and clearly they need to be attached to my hands always.

Then... then... something awful happened.

My iPad got sick. It all started last week. I was reading on my Kindle app and suddenly it started to quickly flip the pages of the book backwards and wouldn't let me go forward. I thought it was just the app so I closed it and tried some other things. Facebook freaked out. Twitter freaked out. Email freaked out. Then the home screen was spazzing out.

Naturally, my first stop was the Apple store. The first guy I talked to said "So... it's possessed?"

Where are the Winchester brothers when you need them? I mean... seriously. Then my iPad problem would be fixed and I would have Sam and Dean Winchester. It's a good thing we have Netflix...

Anyways. When I talked to the actual technician for iPad, they said it might be the screen but since my new screen was put on by a third party so they couldn't help. They sent me to someone else who said it might be hardware and they don't do hardware.

Long story short- I have a crazy iPad that either is posessed or had random seizures.

Right now, as long as I don't try to type or use Kindle I'm okay. Thankfully, I can still watch Netflix. (And yes, I completely backed up and restored my iPad. Still having issues.) However, until I have the money to really figure out what's wrong with it, I'm stuck. All of this made me think about other technology issues I've had.

When I dropped and shattered the original screen of my iPad this summer, I almost cried. When I've forgotten my phone somewhere I start to panic. The laptop I am working on right now is my third since my senior year of high school. Each time I've had to replace my laptop it's been sad and there are even times I miss my original old Dell laptop. Or the pretty red one I had before the one I have now. (Although if anything happens to this baby - I'll be so upset!) When my camera broke two summers ago and I had to replace it, it was awful.

Lately, I've seen some of my other friends have technology problems as well. When they have to send their computer off somewhere to be fixed or replaced, I feel sad right along with them. While more often than not, the new item is an upgrade. It works better, the technology is newer, and there is this new shiny toy. However, it's almost like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Am I completely crazy? Am I the only person who has this crazy relationship with computer, iPads, and phones? Please tell me I'm not.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Show a Blogger You Love Them

Random person that I know:  "I love your blog! You are such a great writer!"

Me:  "Really? I didn't even know you knew I had a blog... well... thanks! That's awesome!"

I don't know about you, but this happens to me ALL OF THE TIME. I'll be talking to a friend or a family member and they'll mention my blog in some way shape or form. Usually it's in the form of a compliment. Or they'll say something like "I stalk your blog sometimes... is that okay?" The problem is - I had no idea they read it.

Maybe I said that wrong. It's not really a problem. People reading my blog isn't a problem at all! I love it when people tell me they read and check out my little corner of the internet, and I love it even more when they tell me the like it. Or even love it!

However, I wish more people would tell me so.

I know - this sounds like I'm begging for attention. I'm not. But think about it for a second. Think about your favorite blogger out there. Every single day (or a few times a week, depending on how often they post) they sit down at their computer and put together a blog post. They do the research. They take photos (sometimes begging friends and family members to take these photos for them). They search the internet for the perfect photo or GIF to express what they're thinking and feeling. They go around to other blogs to network and read and comment. They live on social media and respond to comments so they can connect with their readers. They many times pay for things like blog design, their domain name, sponsorships on other blog sites, and then have to corridinate other sponsors for their own blog.

It's a lot of work sometimes. It's good and fun work, don't get me wrong, but it takes a lot of time and effort sometimes. Now, there are days when I can push out a blog post easily and get it published and I'm good for the day. Other days, I am at my computer for a few hours trying to get everything done between writing, researching, photos, and networking.

Do you want to know what the best part of blogging is though? Everyone you can connect with! I love reading comments and responding to them and getting to know other people and their thoughts and stories. I love it when someone says they could relate to something I wrote or want me to check their own blog out. The community is awesome.

While most bloggers don't do this for the attention- sometimes getting a little love is appreciated.

So, do you love a blog? Here are some ideas for how to show the blogger(s) how much you love it:

1) Comment comment comment!
Comments are seriously the best! I love it when someone shares their thoughts, tells their story, or even just says hi on this blog. Even if you write a comment when you don't agree, if you write it in a way that is respectful and kind, those are appreciated too. Even if it isn't on the blog itself, maybe you can comment on the Facebook post or Pinterest.

2) "Like" their blog post.
Don't know what to say in a comment all of the time? That's okay! If the post is shared on social media such as Facebook, Tumblr, Bloglovin, Twitter, Pinterest... all you need to do is click that awesome "like" or "favorite" button. It seems small, but we notice those too! Or there are times when I just don't have the time to visit every single blog I follow and leave a comment. Times like this, I simply click the "like" button so they know I appreciated what they wrote that day.

3) Share!
Seriously, this one is HUGE. A few weeks ago I had written about how the song "Let it Go" from Frozen is my life anthem. Later that day, a friend of mine shared it on her Facebook wall saying how much it meant to her. It made my day. Not only was my blog being shared with a bigger audience than I normally would reach, but it's always nice to hear that something you wrote touched someone else. So, if you like a blog post, share it on your favorite social media site(s). I can't tell you how many bloggers have gotten tons of traffic simply because their readers shard it on Pinterest. Most blogs will have buttons right on the page for sharing, or even a Pinterest button on their photos. With my blog for example, if you hover over the photos you'll see a nice little "P" for Pinterest will show up and when you click on it, you can pin it to Pinterest right there. Then, if you go to the bottom of the post where you would go to comment, you'll also find buttons to share the post on Facebook, Email, Twitter, or Google +.

4) Talk to them about it.
This especially is aweosme if you know the person in real life. Now, I'll admit, sometimes it's awkward talking to people in "real life" about my blog. I don't know why, but it is. However, deep down it makes me happy because it shows someone is reading it. Or even respond to a question they ask. There are times I"ll post a question on my Twitter or Facebook for feedback or ideas for the blog, and nothing is more discouraging than when people don't respond. On the other hand- I love it when people do answer and respond because it gives me a good idea of what to write about.

5) Actually visit their page.
This might sound weird, but this one really does help. There are blogs where I follow them only through email or something. Yes, I can just read it right there in my gmail and it's fine. However, I'll be sure to read it in my actual browswer. That way, when the blogger checks their stats (that's assuming they're ridiculous like I am), they can see the numbers going up and they can see people really are going to their site.

6) Sponsor Them.
For some bloggers, it costs money to keep their site up and going. If their domain name is their own, that costs money. If they had their page designed my someone else, that costs money. If they sponsor other blogs, it costs money. (Sponsoring other blogs shows them you love them, but it also gives your blog A TON of exposure.) If they host giveaways, that costs money. Offtering to be a sponsor on a blog is a great way to show you love them. Can't sponsor? Offer a guest post opportunity or work with them in some other way.

Speaking of sponsors... (see what I did there?)

I'm going to try and open up sponsor opportunities again on the blog! I had done this awhile ago strictly with doing sponsor swaps. Now, I'm going to offer a few other options. All affordable because trust me- I hate it when it costs and arm and a leg to sponsor a blog.

Each month I'll have four slots for ads available.

Option 1: $5 and you get your blog/store/button on the side of my blog for a month and you get a small feature on the blog.

Option 2: For $8 you'll get the same stuff as option 1, but you will also get a weekly social media shout out on the sites of your choice.

Option 3: For $10 you get all of the above PLUS a day when you get to take over my blog and do a guest post on a day that fits you. The topic can be your choice!

Need some other option because of limited funds and/or you have a business? Email me and we can work out a sponsor swap or something else that works for you.

All sponsorships will be paid for through paypal. Please note, all money from sponsorships will go toward anything blogging. (Myself sponsoring other blogs, paying for design and/or domain name, blog conferences, etc.) If you are interested, email me at

How about you? How do you show other bloggers you love them? How do you want your readers to share their love?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Debt of Tamar- Book Review


The Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck was definitely a bit different from my "normal" type of book. The deep history in Jewish/Turkish/Persian history though with ties to modern day though made me intrigued. 

Basic summary without spoilers:

The story starts in 1542 Portugal and follows a wealthy Jewish family runing to Istanbul to escape religous persecution. From there it sets up the stage of a tragic love story between Tamar and the sultan's son, Murat, and how it leads to a curse which then affects the rest of Murats and Tamars families. In the second part of the story, we fast forward to modern day Istanbul, the third part is Paris during World War Two, then back to modern day to conclude the book. 

My thoughts:

I loved the premise. I've found that I enjoy books which connect different family members and different time periods through the ages and seeing them all come together. It's a great way to show how we can connect to the past and how people have always been the same, no matter what time period. I also really loved looking more into the Jewish/Muslim/Christian dynamics as well and learning about different pieces of history that I hadn't known much about before. 

However, I felt like everything fell just slightly short. I got into the story, but no so much where I couldn't put the book down. The characters were interesting, but not quite three-dimensional enough to make them jump out of the page. Everything seemed to be a little bit simplified. I could see where the author was going and what she wanted the reader to feel and she set everything up well, but I think she could have dug even deeper. While I really enjoyed the set up in the first part of the book and all of the history, I think she should have made it shorter. While reading I had thought these were going to be the main characters, but they weren't at all. I feel like she could have made the first part a prolouge or had it dispersed throughout the book instead of dedicating the first quarter (or more) to these characters. This way she could have given more depth to the WWII and present day story lines and characters which are the ones with whom I felt the reader was supposed to connect with the most

The end was a bit different than I had anticipated (which is rare), but it suited the message the author was trying to express and still gave good closure to the story. 

Overall, I gave The Debt of Tamar three stars on Goodreads. While I did enjoy the story and the characters very much, I felt as though she could have dug deeper and made it even richer.

I received my copy of this novel as an eARC free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am also linking up with Meg for Mingle Monday which can be found here:

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Should Write About Today

Ah... it's Valentines Day.

All day as I've been running around going to work and attempting to get other life things going, I've been trying to figure out what I should write about for Valentines Day. I have nothing against the holiday, but I also don't have much planned either. Either I'll go to a movie with my mom (Winters Tale comes out today!) or I'll go to a friends house. Nothing fancy. However, I felt as though being a blog whose title and whole theme has to do with love... I felt like I should do something special for a day dedicated to love.

However, I then read a post written by one of my blog friends, Sweeny. (She also writes for the Snark Squad.) Her posts this week have been completely fantastic, but in view of Valentines Day, I felt like she said it better than I could.

So... go on over to her blog by clicking the link below, then go spend time with the people you love. Whether it's your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, fiance, child, parent, friend - WHATEVER. Just spend time with them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Simple Valentines Day

Do you remember Valentines Day when you were a kid?

Working at a pre-school right now, we've been talking a lot about Valentines Day and how we're having a big party for it tomorrow. It makes me reminisce about when I was in elementary school and having class Valentines Day parties.

Going to the store with my mom to pick out what box of Valentines I would give to my classmates and decorating our mailboxes or bags in class. It was always a lot of fun.

Did you ever make a huge deal about who would get which Valentine? I totally did. My teacher was always obvious because the box gave you a specific teacher card ... usually. Everyone else was always a challenge.

First there was the card for your best friend at the moment. They obviously needed one which was awesome and cool and the best card ever to show you really were BFFs.

Then you would pick out the card for him. Yup. The crush. It had to be perfect. It had to be way cooler than the other cards you would give to the rest of the boys in class, but it couldn't be too mushy or something because then OBVIOUSLY he would figure out you had a crush on him and that just COULD NOT HAPPEN EVER.

As Ron Weasley would say "You never tell a girl you like her. It makes you look like an idiot."

Or in my case, a boy.

Also, if any of you can find me GIF of Ron saying that quote from A Very Potter Musical, you will be my best friend forever. I couldn't find one anywhere.


Then you would get to school and everyone would hand out the cards and you would love to see which ones you got and be all mad if someone else got the same box of cards as you.

Good times. Good times.

It was a simpler time when we were all innocent (for the most part) and life wasn't as complicated. In a way, I'm actually really excited for the pre-school party tomorrow.

But that also might be because of chocolate and parents are running it, so basically we teachers just get to sit back and enjoy.

What are your favorite Valentines Day memories from when you were younger?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Cry For Help

A few days ago, I must have been in a weird mood.

How do I know?

Because I randomly decided I wanted to watch Twilight. Yes, that's right. I WANTED to watch Twilight. Not just the first one, but all of them. Because yes, I do own all five of them. (I got the first two forever ago and the others were on sale for like $4 on Black Friday so I figured I might as well... STOP JUDGING ME WITH YOUR JUDGING EYES I CAN SEE YOU!)

I have a weird relationship with Twilight. I'll admit- I enjoyed the books and the movies have their (rare) moments. However, I also realize they aren't good literature. A friend of mine once compared it to drugs. You know it's bad, but once you start you just can't stop. Twilight is a drug. I avoid it as much as I possibly can, but once I start... it's all downhill from there.

I know, I've probably just lost several friends followers.

As I finished watching the first movie, I think decided to live tweet as I watched New Moon. While some people found it fun and amusing (I'm glad some of you did!), others... well... they were concerned.

One of my friends asked if everything was okay and if I was being tortured or something.

I reassured her I was fine and kept on tweeting everything that is the Bella/Edward/Jacob drama.

Then another friend begged me to stop.

It was then that I realized, I was in denial. No, everything was definitely NOT okay. I love how my friends on Twitter know me better than I know myself.

Because everything is not okay. I try to be positive and keep going and encouraging, but my life isn't okay. It's not awful and I'm not horribly depressed or anything, but I'm not 100% okay either.

I'm frustrated and tired and I feel like nothing is happening. I realize this is all just part of change and the montage section of my life movie. I get that. However, it still isn't fun. But part of it is my own fault. When I look at what I do everyday, I see that some of this is my own doing.

I haven't been working on my novel.

Before yesterday, I was weeks behind on Cake for Breakfast.

I even joined this 30 Days of Hustle thing, but hadn't done a thing about it.

I've been lazy and then getting sad about nothing happening in my life. My motivation for anything has gone out the window.

So... my Twitter friends calling me out about watching Twilight in a way was my wake-up call. I need to get up. I need to do something. And I need to just keep going.

I need motivation.

What do you all do when you need a good kick of motivation in the butt? How do you get going when you're in a funk? Because I need help!

(And admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? Right.)

(Also, since I did have several people say they were really enjoying my snarky tweets about the Twilight movies... I probably will do the rest at some point. However, I'll forewarn people about it so if they want to block my Twitter for those few hours they can. )

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Top Swoon-Worthy Books

It's time for ten more books with Broke and Bookish!

Today I'll be listing the top ten books that made me swoon. (In no particular order.)

Warm Bodies by Issac Marion

Yes, I realize I'm probably the only freak in the world who thought a zombie love story was swoon-worthy. But seriously, I loved this book and I wanted R and Julie to be happy forever!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

With The Night Circus, you will not only swoon over Marco and Celia's love story (and WOW will you ever along with a couple other story lines) but you'll also be swooning over all of the other characters and the magical world Morgenstern created.

The Time Travelers Wife by Audry Niffinger

Henry isn't your typicaly swoon-worthy guy. In fact, he's almost an anti-hero. But just like Clare, I loved him and totally fell for this story. Their relationship I feel is real in spite of all of the time travel.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Um... Darcy. Do I need to say more?

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I can't express how adorable this book is! Levi and Cath are completely adorable and so good together. Along with a few others, I know you all have heard me squeal about this one before. But it's fantastic. I love Rainbow Rowell and she knows how to write a perfect and adorable love story.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Paris! Boarding school! Cute guys with accents! I mean... HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS ONE? (And special shout out to Lola and the Boy Next Door by the same author because that was was fantastic too.)

The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn

If you want a YA Christian romance, go here. It's kinda unrealistic and cheesy and hit you over the head with the Bible at times... but I love it anyways. Yes, it did slightly mess up my expectations about relationships, but I adore all of the love stories in this series, along with her other books.

The Mortal Instruments/The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Yes... technically this is two book series. But it's the same world and just go with it. By now, I will admit I'm getting tired of the Clary/Jace story because I think they've come full circle, but I was all about it at the begining and there are a few other love story lines in the series that I can't wait to find out what happens! Then with the Infernal Devices, I haven't finished the trilogy yet, but I loved it in the first one!

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

If you want a more adult Christian romance, go no furter than Francine Rivers. I was going to talk about her book Redeeming Love, but I've talked about that one on this blog before and haven't mentioned The Mark of the Lion trilogy much wich is just as good if not better. Marcus and Hadassah are fantastic together! I love the journey they make together in this book and it continues on in the second book.

Scribbler of Dreams by Mary E. Pearson

I had almost forgotten about this book until  was searching my Goodreads profile to find another swoon worthy book. I read it back in high school and it's basically a modern-day Romeo and Juliet without all of the death and it really WAS about the love story vs. the original one where people only THINK it's about the love story. But that's another rant for another time. I remember I devoured this book when I read it and immediately shoved it into the hands of my friends. My one friend Jenni said it was one of those books with a beautiful writing style that should win awards, but sadly never did.

Which books do you swoon over?

Glossy Blonde