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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - August 21,2016

I have started so many STS lists over the past many months. Like so many other things, I let my blog lie dormant and that part of me slip away. While I've been reading of late, there was a long stretch where I wasn't reading anything at all and that's not like me. It didn't stop me from shopping for new books, though. I looked for the bargains, the deep discounts or the Kindle deals.

I am not going to step back though and try to recreate any of those lists. What's in the past is in the past and I need to move forward, start fresh and take baby steps until I can gain my footing again. And my momentum.

Until I can really get back in the swing of things again, though, I hope this will suffice.

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This week, I wasn't looking for books. I didn't order any. I didn't shop for any. But I did get a book in the mail. A pre-order. And what a book it is!

 I finally got my very own shinny new copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! (Cue angelic choir).

It's only been a few days and I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it sleeps right next to my bed and I look at it and pet it every day.

It's so bright and shinny I don't need a night light when I sleep.

Can't wait to dive in!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Review: How to Make Out By Brianna R. Shrum

I was alone.
In the dark.
In a box.
At the edge of the world.
And then the most extraordinary thing happened.
I got a book.
It wasn’t a gift.
It wasn’t a swap.
It wasn’t a purchase.
It was won.
Having been nothing for so long, I felt compelled to pick up that book.
And read.
Once the book was begun, I could not put it down.
And I just knew.
Knew that this book was going to change everything.
Not because it was the most fantastic book ever read.
Nor the worst.
Not wholly remarkable really.
But it made me care.
Care to read.
Care to stop staring at the TV.
Or play Minions Paradise.
Or Minion Rush.
I felt compelled.
Compelled to finish a book.
To think about what that means.
To think at all outside the work box.
To share those thoughts.
Though no one might care.
And I felt obligated.
To give a voice to those thoughts.
Though no one might listen.
To let the author know she is valued.
Because I have an opinion.
And all opinions matter.
And finally, because it is a book that I won.
And I was so profoundly happy to receive it.
And to say thank you.
For helping me find myself.
And to find my voice.
Be gentle.
It is still a little hoarse.
And unused to vocalizing.

How to Make Out By Brianna R. Shrum

Book Description (From Amazon):
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.

So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).

As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.

Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

My Thoughts:
Cyberspace can be dangerous waters. Once you put it out there, it’s out there. You can fry your internal hard drive. Recall the post. Drop your laptop, phone or tablet in a lake, or toilet, but your cyberself lives on. What you have shared on the web, stays on the web. Somewhere. In some form. It can always be found. If there is anything binge-watching Bones and Castle has taught me, it’s that.
Maybe I’m too old school, or maybe too old, and not adventurous enough, but I personally don’t put a lot out there. I’m not linked in or any of those other apps that allow you to check in every step you make every second of the day, every day of the week and so on. If I had, the world would see that I have not moved off my couch for many a month. Having been newly indoctrinated into the worlds of Bones and Castle, I had a lot to catch up on. But I digress.

Yes, I do realize I have this vehicle for communicating and sharing my thoughts and opinions on the internet. And while I have shared some things about my life past and present, there are just things I would never share. Bit I digress again. Or I still digress.

Whichever, the digressing is still occurring.


My niece, who is soon to be 13, was 11 when she asked me if I knew how she could make money on You Tube. Not when she graduated high school or college. Now. She posts videos of animal stuff. She volunteers at an exotic pet store/bat and animal rescue. So she knows her stuff. Really. Struggling with math and reading, but she knows about animals.

The point is, I was horrified to learn she had a You Tube channel. She’s had it since she was at least 10, if not younger. Slightly less horrifying to find out it is a protected channel by invite only, but still. That is something I never would have allowed. And it makes me realize how much separates me from the current generation. This is a fact of life today. Social media, internet awareness, cyber lives are all part of today’s generation and were never part of mine.

This all does have a point and on this point I found it hard connect with Renley, but on the whole, I found her to be relatable. We’re all a little bit messed up inside.

Renley is a nobody. An invisible person. It’s not that she doesn’t have friends and people don’t know who she is, but she just doesn’t matter. To anyone of any import in the school. Parents are divorced. Dad cheated and she is now living with her dad and his new wife, the former mistress, who is a heck of a lot younger and super happy about life and everything. Renley’s dad is trying to force the concept that the new stepmonster is a replacement for the mother that didn’t fight or want custody. Stacey, the new wife, keeps referring to herself as Renley’s mother.

Renley’s best friend and next door neighbor, Drew, is a man-whore. She spends most of her time at his house and stays over late, often sleeping over in the same bed. Renley’s dad being guilty about tearing his family apart never disciplines her. While he may speak to her of her behavior, he ends up backing down, avoiding confrontation and eye contact. Drew’s mom is single and she is living life on the wild side. She parties and brings home men she meets. She doesn’t judge anything Drew does, just tells him to put a necktie on his door so she doesn’t barge in. She doesn’t care that Drew brings home a new girl practically every night.

Both Renley’s dad and Drew’s mom think Renley and Drew are sleeping together.

They’re not. (Well, not sleeping sleeping together. They sleep together, but you know, with their clothes on.)

Drew has however, confessed his undying love and devotion to Renley, but she will not have him.

And if you can’t have the one you love, well, you all know the rest.

They are all pretty messed up.

What triggers the chain of events that unfold in the story is a trip. To NYC. The math club, of which Renley is a member as well as her other best friend, April, is going to the Big Apple. April is going, but Renley has mixed emotions. One, her dad is not made of money and he can’t foot the bill for the trip, so Renley would need to make money on her own. Two, her mom moved to New York and has a new family now, with a new baby. She never contacts Renley and never answers any of Renley’s calls, texts or emails. On the one hand, she would like to see her mother but on the other, she’s afraid her mother will not care or want to see her. But April really wants her to go and she doesn’t want to let April down, so she agrees to go. Or to try.

What can she do to make money? She’s smart and good at tutoring. So she decides to start a blog, an anonymous blog, where she can give “How to” instructions. The first one? How to do Long Division.

Editorial comment: Seriously, if you need to look that up on a blog, pack it in. You ain’t graduating high school, if you even make it there. : Editorial end.

But let’s roll with it. The plan is to start blogging free instructional posts and once she has gained a fan base, to start charging for answers. She will charge the requester and anyone else who wants to read the answer. She figures she’ll make enough money off the blog in 7 months to be able to finance the trip. The catch - She is going to learn how to do everything she answers on her blog. The requests start out innocent enough, but become increasingly more scandalous.

Just how far is she willing to go? And where does she draw the line. With her blog gaining in readers, her popularity takes an upward turn. People start to notice her. Not because they know she writes the blog, but because she is forced to put herself out there to learn how to do the things she’s responding to. When the hottest guy in the school notices her, what is she going to do?

And what happens when Renly 2.0 threatens to obscure everything Renley 1.0 is deep inside? Will she lose everything she has to become who she might be? And is that someone she wants to be? What happens when cyber world and real world collide?

For these answers and more, you will just need to read the book. Shhhh. Spoilers!

Thank you to Sky Pony for the Advanced Reading Copy provided through the GoodReads First Reads program.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Launch Day - Starflight by Melissa Landers

STARFLIGHT Launch Blitz & Giveaway

Hey there, booklovers!

I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce the release of STARFLIGHT, the first in a brand new sci-fi series from Disney-Hyperion. I originally pitched this story to my editor as “Overboard” (one of my favorite romantic comedies) meets “Firefly” (an amazing show that was tragically cancelled after one season). STARFLIGHT follows the misadventures of Solara Brooks, a penniless felon who indentures herself to her high school nemesis, Doran Spaulding, in exchange for passage to a new world. But when Doran’s memory is temporarily erased, Solara convinces him their roles are reversed—that she’s the master and he’s the servant—and leads him onto a renegade spaceship, where intergalactic shenanigans ensue. STARFLIGHT is very different in tone from the Alienated trilogy, but the story is still filled with all the things I love: humor, heart, and adventure.

What do reviewers have to say?

“Get ready for blast-off! Action-packed and utterly addictive, nobody writes like Melissa Landers. A smart, satisfying romance set in a vividly detailed world, Starflight was just plain fun!” –New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman

“Teens will be bracing themselves during the swashbuckling action scenes. A great choice for fans of raw sci-fi action, reminiscent of the lawlessness presented in the television series Firefly.” –School Library Journal

“A lively tale of romance, space pirates, conspiracy, and made (as opposed to genetic) families.” –Booklist

If you like your sci-fi adventure served with a side of romance, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of STARFLIGHT today. It’s now available in stores and online.

Barnes & Noble:
Book Depository (free international shipping):
Indie Bound:

To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a STARFLIGHT swag pack, complete with custom nail wraps, bookmarks, and a mini poster! The giveaway is open internationally. Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information or just to say hello, visit

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hello World! It's me, Tammy!

It’s the same old story time and again. I sit down and my mind goes blank. I feel like I have literally had nothing to say for the past several months, but at the same time, I feel like I have everything to say. That is just me being delusional. I really haven’t been able to find my voice as much as I’ve tried.

So, I’m back. I would love to be able to say I was in witness protection or on a space mission circling the earth or that I was climbing Mt Everest or fell through a fairie ring. Sadly none of those things are true. Or any other manner of story you or anyone else can concoct.

The truth of the matter is that I injured my back. It was Comic Con. That’s right. Comic Con done me in. The hours and hours of walking on the hard cement floor, carrying pounds of books on my shoulder at any given time, the shuffle, that tedious, torturing zombie shuffle. It broke me.

I won’t go into the sad, pathetic details, but it broke my brain as well as my back. I have thought long and hard about this and I realize that I can’t accept the fact that I’m not as strong as I was.

Strong like bull. Pull plow all day. That’s always been my motto. My psyche was taking this little set back a little hard. I am trying to get into the habit of things again, but I find I lack any kind of motivation. It has made things very hard on me, impossible to get things done. Anything.

So, I haven’t been writing. So what I haven’t been reading or exercising or doing chores. I certainly haven’t wanted to go out in a long time. It’s been rough, but I am working on it.

Here’s what I did:

• I got caught up on a lot of TV viewing.
• I spent a lot of quality time being a soft pillow for my cat.
• At first I was getting some reading done, but I haven’t really been able to read much in 2016.
• I bought a lot of books in the last few months of the year. A lot of them were free or discounted to $3.00 or less on Kindle. They were bargains!
• I have bought only one paperback and 18 eBooks of which 7 were free.
• I have been cleaning out my samples to read on my iPad and deleting books off my wish list that I don’t want. I went from close to 600 samples on my ipad to less than 200 and the majority of titles I deleted deciding I didn’t want or need them.

Here’s what I’ve been watching:

Castle – Love Nathan Fillion! The show happened to be on one night when I was working late and I was hooked. It’s a buddy show for geeks like me! I love the fact that James Patterson and Michael Connelly have been on the show.

Bones – First time I saw an episode, I hated it, but it comes on before the block of Castle on TNT and it slowly reeled me in. I am now watching from the beginning on NetFlix. I just started the 5th Season, but I only recently realized the show is based on a series of books by Kathy Reichs. Thrillers and procedurals are not my thing, at least two read, but the interpersonal relationships have me hooked.

iZombie – I had DVR’d the first season, but didn’t watch it as it aired. I had almost the entire season to watch. The show is based on a DC comic book from the Vertigo line where a doctor gets the Zombie virus, but in order to retain her humanity, she must eat brains. Naturally, she gets a job at the city morgue. The problem is when she eats a brain, she has visions of the last moments of the victim’s life (naturally all the deaths in the morgue are murder victims) and she takes on personality traits of the deceased until she eats a new brain. With her visions, she helps solve the murders of the victims brought to the morgue. We upgraded our DVR, though, so all of the first half of season 2 got erased. I only saw the first episode of this season.

The Librarians – It’s a little campy I know, but a lot of fun. John Larroquette really makes the show.
Once Upon a Time – Look at that! Another curse comes to Storybrook where everyone loses their recent memories. Can’t get enough of Captain Hook, though, and the show keeps me riveted to find out exactly what is going on with every curse cast.

Agents of Shield – By far one of the best TV shows out there. Ties in nicely with Marvel’s Avengers properties. The show just keeps getting better and better and adds a bit more depth the the world of the Avenger’s and the agency of Shield.

Sleepy Hollow – I have loved the first two seasons of the show. They have found a way to make a colonial man in modern times still humorous with what he doesn’t know and to see him learning about the modern world. Oh yeah, and there’s some demons to destroy, but the accent! The third season is not as good as the first two, but I still need to find out where it is going.

The Muppet Show – Love Miss Piggy as a talk show host. She is very clearly unhinged, turning around every situation so that it is about her. The regular cast of characters are back, all as part of the crew with Kermit as the Producer and as Piggy’s ex-boyfriend. There’s always something going on and always something going wrong.

Doctor Who – Peter Capaldi is back and better than ever. The last season was such a disappointment to me, but this season has been awesome for the most part. It’s a good thing, too, as I got word that Doctor Who will not be airing in 2016 at all. Steven Moffat is leaving the show in 2017 and they want to make the next season coincide with his last season. Good thing I got the DVDs.

Parks and Recreation – An Office-type show where the characters are interviewed and the setting is a Podunk Indiana town. This is usually what we watch when we eat dinner.

Shadowhunters – I know the show has gotten rave reviews and I am really digging on it, but there are still things that just aren’t quite right to me. The movie was terrible, but I still love it. I think the casting was spot on for all but Valentine. Most of the casting for the TV show is perfect, but there are a couple choices I’m not keen on. They’ve made some changes to some details of the story which I assume is in an effort to streamline the show and make it more accessible to the TV medium, but some things I am not happy about. For instance, Clary finds out who her father is in episode 3 or 4, but in the book, she doesn’t find out until almost the end of the book or at least closer to the middle. The Institute is all but deserted in the book, but it is thriving in the TV show and I really just don’t know how I feel about that. Don’t get me wrong, I really like it, but it’s still not 100% there for me.

The Shannara Chronicles – I’ve been waiting patiently for the past couple of years for this to come out. The show is based on the second book of the Shannara trilogy, the Elfstones of Shannara. I have been reading Terry Brooks since college and Terry Brooks is one of my all-time favorite authors. I got to meet him at Comic Con and I even won a ticket to a ticket only cast meet and greet. Fan Girl Squee moment!!! It was Amazing!!!

The Magicians – I’m a little late jumping on The Magicians bandwagon, but from the moment I saw the first trailer I knew I had to watch. I started reading the book, but it is my elevator/bath book, so I don’t get that much time to read it. I’ve only seen the first two episodes, but I am really liking it so far.

Star Wars Rebels – Post Clone Wars/Pre New Hope. The tales of Ezra and his merry band of rebels fighting the good fight and making trouble for the Empire.

Ghost Adventures – The ghost busting team are tools, but I like the history they provide on the haunts. They’ve been hunting for years, though, and they still scream and OMG every time they see something or hear something, probably just to make it more exciting for the viewers.

Expedition Unknown – I want Josh Gates’ job. On second thought, I would not be willing to crawl down a rock tunnel to get to the mummy’s tomb. I’m claustrophobic.

I am not normally a TV watcher. I would watch movies or stream something I’ve seen before as background noise when I work at home, but this is the first time probably since Happy Days was on the air that I have been interested in so many TV shows. We were also watching Penny Dreadful and Into the Badlands which got deleted when we upgraded the DVR. Other shows I would like to catch up on are Arrow, The Flash and DCs Legends of Tomorrow which just started. I’ve got some other things cued up in the NetFlix cue, but I’ve got enough to keep me busy. At least some of the shows are book related. It helps me sleep at night.

It is time to try to motivate myself, though. I can’t be a couch potato for the rest of my life. I have things to do.

• I have to take down the Christmas decorations. Yes, you read correctly. Christmas is still up in my house, but only because the table I need to put the decorations on was covered with the baking stuff I needed to make my mother-in-law’s cookies that were part of her Christmas present. I just made the cookies last night.
• I have to take care of taxes.
• Fold laundry and hang up my work clothes. This is about four months overdue.
• Clean my niece’s room.
• Clean my bedroom, especially my dresser
• Finish cleaning up my iPad Kindle samples. I’d like to get to no more than 10 samples on my device.
• I have packages to mail.
• I have blog posts to write and load.

You know, I’m sure there is so much more I wanted to say, realizing of course that I have said nothing at all. Take it as you will. I will try to get out of my fog and get back to reading and writing, my two favorite pastimes, well, after cuddling with Egg.

So, TTFN and I’m sure we’ll be talking soon.