My 2020 trip to Vegas

Today I’m taking a step away from bookish posts to talk about a recent trip I took. I hope y’all don’t mind, I will be back to talking about books super soon.

The long version

On January 3rd, I traveled to BWI to catch an airplane to Las Vegas, Nevada to be a bridesmaid in my “sisters”/ best friends wedding. I got up around 5:30 am and we stopped at wawa on the way to grab some food. Alison was driving and I was super nervous because it was raining. Also because this was my first flight in 6 years, my first one alone and I was traveling somewhere I had never been to stay in house full of people I didn’t know. We were almost the the airport when our windshield wiper broke! We quickly pulled over but decided we had to keep going so that I didn’t miss my flight. We finally got the airport and even though I hadn’t eaten, I got sick. After I calmed down, we grabbed my stuff out of the back and headed into the airport. Alison came as far in with me as she could before I had to go through TSA. We said goodbye and I followed the line.

Once I was on the other side. I quickly found my gate and made myself comfortable. I was around 3 hours early but I had wanted to make sure I had plenty of time just in case something happened. I sat and tried to read but was too nervous for even that. I did end up talking to a very kind older woman who was traveling through the gate next to mine. I hardly left the gate other than when I finally went to go buy some food (salted caramel rice cakes which were lost in the chaos of the weekend). When I got to board, there were only middle seats left which I was fine with so I sat between a sleepy looking man and very nice woman. She was kind when I got scared as the plane pulled back from the gate and kept the window open for me. She had asked if I wanted it closed and I said no that I was more comfortable with it open but she had the seat so it was really up to her. The flight attendents on this flight were great and even though it was a little bumpy, I think I did really well. I mostly watched the Downton Abbey movie and tried to read. We landed right on time and I texted Amanda to let her know that I was there. She told me where to meet her and I set off to find her.

I got a little lost and ended up asking for help to which the lady told me I ended to find and take the tram. I did and walked through baggage claim before finally finding a door to the outside. I called Amanda and asked where I needed to go and then waited for her. She got out of her car and made sure I was okay before helping me get my stuff inside. She took me to Chick Fil A for lunch since I was super hungry. Then we drove to where the reception would be. They were still setting up and we both got to work helping. I set up part of the hot chocolate bar and then put lights on the cake table (which didn’t end up getting lit). During the setting up of the lights, I took a misguided step to my left and stepped/fell into a pool which surrounded a tree. My leg and shoes were soaked but I kept going (hopeful that Amanda wouldn’t notice). Slightly before 4, Amanda came out and announced that she and I were leaving to go pick up her wedding band. I was more than happy to go with her since I was still very anxious. On the way to her car however, she noticed that one of my pant legs were different than the other and I had to admit what had happened.

After we picked up her ring, we headed back to her house to help with putting together the wedding flowers. I have experience in floral design because I went to a tech school for 4 years and trained in it. Once I said this, I had a lot of questions thrown at me and I was put in charge of making the bridal bouquet. I stood off the side with Amanda and messed around with it until she was happy. Around this time, it was almost time to get ready to go out to dinner which was the kick off of the bachelorette party. I didn’t end up making my own bouquet because we had to leave. We went to a fancy italian place and unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking what I got. I should have gone with one of the other things that had caught my eye so I’m pretty sad. But while we were there, I got to talk to one of the other bridesmaid whose name is Casey. Casey is so incredibly kind and I am so lucky I met her.

After dinner, we went back home and helped with more flowers. I should have taken this time to do my own flowers but as exhausted as I was (being 3 hours ahead of nearly everyone else) I was only interested in doing what HAD to be done so I could get some rest. We did 128 flowers for the backs of chairs and then we had what most people would call a typical bachelorette party. I am not going to go into any detail here for two reasons, 1) Amanda’s privacy and comfort and 2) I was very uncomfortable the whole time and wish not to remember it much. We went to bed extremely late for how early we had to get up and I was so excited to get some rest.

The next morning Amanda got up around 5 I think. Casey and I stayed in bed a while longer until we were told that someone was there to help with our hair and makeup. Casey got her hair curled so beautifully and my hair was braided a bit and also curled since I wanted something different than what I normally do. We watched (but mostly listened to Moana) as we did our hair and makeup.

Amanda’s wedding was very special and different to me because it was a mormon wedding. This meant that the actual marrying of Amanda and Jerem was done inside a scared temple. I learned there are many requirements you must meet before you can go inside. I am not mormon and therefore do no meet the requirements for going in for the temple sealing so I waited in the lobby or outside. After they were officially married, they came out and we took pictures and all that good stuff. One thing that was so special to me was when they were doing individual pictures with the girls and Amanda was that when it was my turn, Amanda took the time to make sure that I was doing okay (since I have extreme anxiety normally and not knowing anyone but her, being without my wife and being a place I didn’t know had sorta taken my anxiety to a new level). I was good for the most part and I happen to know that the videographer caught us saying I love you to each other so I really hope I get to see that. Amanda and I also recreated a picture we took at my wedding so I can’t wait to be able to put them side by side!!!!!

After pictures we did luncheon where we got to eat some really good pizza and salad. Amanda’s two sisters (Rebecca and Jaclyn) did some super sweet speeches and Jerem’s best man also spoke. Amanda and Jerem did the shoe game in which the bride and groom take off their shoes and trade one of each and then are asked questions (who said I love you first, who is the messiest sort of stuff) and they have to raise the shoe of the person who is the answer. After luncheon we (the bridal party mostly) went back to Amanda’s house to chill out for a little over an hour. This is when all of my feelings caught up with me. As everyone else went inside, I stayed in the van and cried a little. Honestly, I’m not too sure why I was so upset but I was. I went inside after a few minutes and found Casey. We took a nap in Jaclyn’s room and then it was time to head to the reception space for last minute details and a run through of the ring ceremony.

Since there seemed to be a fair number of people who could not go into the temple for the sealing, Amanda and Jerem also had a ring ceremony. This for me is what I consider a “wedding” and I was so grateful they did this. We all lined up and got to hear the music so that we knew when to walk and then it was time!!!! The music was very sweet and I walked down the aisle with Jerem’s youngest brother. Watching Amanda walk down the aisle was very emotional for me because I love her so much and she has been my big sister for almost 8 years. She is one of the most amazing people I know and I am so happy that she found her happily ever after. When the ring ceremony was over, it was time to eat and party!!! They had soup and salad at their reception and I dug into some of the chicken and potato soup. They did a first dance to Can I Have This Dance from High School Musical 3 and Amanda danced with her dad to Cinderella and halfway through they invited all fathers and daughters to join them.

Casey and I ate dinner, danced together and all around had a really great time. After a sparker send off to the bride and groom around 7, it was time to breakdown the reception space. It took probably around 2 hours and then we were all back to Amanda’s house. One of the groomsmen was drunk (even though there was no alcohol at the reception) so Savannah (Bridesmaid) took him home and Jaclyn, Casey and I went to Jaclyn’s friends to make sure Savannah had a way home. We stopped at Del Taco on the way back and my exhausted mind ordered wayyyy too much food but it was all really great and I wish I had a Del Taco where I live. Once we got home, Casey and I ate and went to bed right away.

On Sunday, I woke up before anyone other than Amanda’s parents and kind of wandered around the house for a bit. After Casey woke up, I couldn’t find anyone who actually lived in Amanda’s house so we could only find a beach towel for me to shower with. I quickly showered and headed back downstairs to find Casey. We mainly just had breakfast (wedding cake which was amazing) and hung out before she and everyone else started getting ready for church. I am in a weird space with relgion so I asked if I could stay home and just hang out. Everyone was so kind about it and said of course so I took the time to (finally) have a proper phone call with my own wife before taking a short nap.

Amanda and Jerem came over to open gifts and I hung out with them, the best man and his wife until everyone else got there. Before we started dinner, I asked to be taken to In and Out so I could try it and I really loved their chocolate shake. The best part of going to in and out though was the time I got to spend with Jaclyn, Amanda’s little sister.

After we got back, we heated up leftover soup from the night before and watched them open the gifts. We couldn’t find what I had sent for a while and I was devastated as I had gotten something specifically for Amanda’s use and wanted to see her open it (I had almost bought it for her a previous Christmas but Amazon kept losing my packages). Right before they left to go back to their hotel, Jerem found it and I was SO happy that I literally was jumping up and down. I got them a gift card to Disney, a shower curtain, bath mats (all kinda boring but what they asked for) and an elephant shaped ring holder (the thing I was so excited about). They left for their hotel and Savannah offered to take us all to YSA which was a church event. I guess I was feeling some FOMO because I went with them.

At YSA (which I later found out stood for Young Single Adults (I felt kinda odd going as a married woman but it is what it is), we mostly just played a game called telephone charades which was a lot of fun and I had a great time. Casey got to show me the chapel were they have church and the stillness and quietness of the empty chapel was really peaceful. After YSA, we went home to hang out for a while. We had to leave the house around 3:30am because my flight back to Maryland was leaving at 6:40am. We watched National Treasure, decided we were hungry and that I wanted Chicken and went to Jack in the Box (amazing bacon and cheddar wedges) and then back to In and Out for another shake before going back and napping to Tarzan. I got up at 3:15 and packed the rest of my stuff and we headed out.

I was early again but I was more than happy to be because I got to watch the airport open and shop around before buying a Vegas T shirt to remember my time with. I boarded my plane and turned on music before deciding to nap. We hit some bumpy spots and next thing I knew they were calling for medical staff to the back of the plane. I got super scared and basically couldn’t sleep from this point on. Luckily everything was okay and we landed twenty minutes early and I was reunited with Alison. We went and wandered around a mall so I could talk to her without interruptions and then we headed home.

My favorite parts/highlights

Casey. Yeah I know it’s not an exact moment or memory but I truly feel that Casey will become a big part of my life. She was so kind and gentle with me when it was clear that I was uncomfortable and totally out of my element. Basically everyone but me was mormon but any time I had a question, Casey would sit with me and explain everything and I was able to talk to her about my deepest feelings of church, God and religion without fear,

Making Amanda’s bouquet. This was so special to me because I had spent all of this time doing floral in high school and hadn’t really been able to anything with it since. Knowing that I was making something special for her and that it would be just the way she liked it was so amazing and I am blessed to have been given that opportunity.

I’ve already talked about this one thing I really want to remember and cherish forever is when we got to take our individual pictures with Amanda. I walked up to her last and she gently rubbed my back and asked me if I was okay. We were both worried about me not knowing anyone other than her and being alone in a place I didn’t know. I told her I was doing okay and we recreated a special picture from my wedding.

I got to dance with Casey and Amanda to I wanna dance with somebody and that was a ton of fun.

All and all I think it was a pretty great trip and I would love to visit Vegas again and see Amanda and Jerem as well as do some more touristy things next time.

I Hope You Get This Message || Book Review

Hey y’all. So lately I’ve really been slacking on this blog and to be honest, I’ve been slacking on reading too. Sometime in January, I read a book about Queen Elizabeth and got a really bad book hangover. So in February, I am mainly focusing on “ARCS” and blog tours but hope to get back to a normal schedule in March.

Today I wanted to share my thoughts on I Hope You Get This Message.

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Author: Farah Naz Rishi

Publisher: Harperteen

Published on: October 22nd 2019

Number of Pages: 420

Bought, Borrowed or ARC: Bought at Barnes and Noble for half off

Where can you get it?

Again, I make no money off of these links. These are simply for your convenience. These prices are accurate as of January 19th 2020.

Amazon: $8.99

Book Depository: $14.61

Barnes and Noble: $16.19

Books-A-Million: $17.99

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In this high concept YA novel debut that’s We All Looked Up meets The Sun Is Also a Star, three teens must face down the mistakes of their past after they learn that life on Earth might end in less than a week.

News stations across the country are reporting mysterious messages that Earth has been receiving from a planet—Alma—claiming to be its creator. If they’re being interpreted correctly, in seven days Alma will hit the kill switch on their “colony” Earth.

True or not, for teenagers Jesse Hewitt, Cate Collins, and Adeem Khan, the prospect of this ticking time bomb will change their lives forever.

Jesse, who has been dealt one bad blow after another, wonders if it even matters what happens to the world. Cate, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she never met. And Adeem, who hasn’t spoken to his estranged sister in years, must find out if he has it in him to forgive her for leaving.

With only a week to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide as their worlds are pulled apart.

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I’ve sat for about 10 minutes trying to explain to everyone what I didn’t like about this book. The best I could come up with was that I felt that the story and the characters were too nicely connected and I really disliked how the book ended. I didn’t feel for any of the characters and many of them rubbed me the wrong way. I was really excited for the “what would you do with your last days” idea of this book but ended up disliking it. I will be donating this right away

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If you read this one, what did you think? How has your new year been going? I’d love to hear from y’all.

Dear Evan Hansen || Book Review

This book is so special to me because it was a gift from my maid of honor. Amanda had been with me through a lot and I can kinda relate to Evan and all of his anxiety and feeling alone. You will be found is a song that touches my heart every time and makes me think of Amanda and all she has done for me.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Dear Evan Hansen: the novel and Dear Evan Hansen: The Musical.

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Author: Val Emmich (Goodreads Author), Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Publisher: Poppy

Published on: October 9th 2018

Number of Pages: 368

Bought, Borrowed or ARC: Gifted by Amanda (therefore priceless)

Where can you get it?

Again, I make no money off of these links. These are simply for your convenience. These prices are accurate as of January 19th 2020.

Amazon: $10.99

Book Depository: $11.63

Books-A-Million: $17.09

Barnes and Noble: $17.09

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Dear Evan Hansen,

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t be right, but if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.

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Before reading Dear Evan Hansen, I had really only listened to the musical and I think even then I only listened to it all the way before picking my favorite songs ( read: the most popular ones) and only playing those. I don’t think I ever really looked up to find out if Dear Evan Hansen had a happy ending, I just kinda assumed it did. I guess in the end it does in a way but it didn’t end how I thought it would.

I feel like some of my judgement about this book/musical is skewed because someone who was very close to me introduced it to me and we mainly focused on “You Will Be Found” which is a song that always makes me feel better and reminds me that no matter how I feel, I am not alone and someone out there does care about me. I relate to Evan with his anxiety, feeling alone and suicidal ideations/intentions so sometimes this book was hard to read because it brought those feelings up.

Even though Evan makes some not so great choices, we can all relate to him in some way. Maybe we have made bad choices or lied to get someone to like us, maybe we feel alone in this world and just want someone to love and care about us. I feel that how relatable of this musical is why is has been so successful and I’m glad Amanda showed it to me. I hope to one day see the show.

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Have you read or listened to Dear Evan Hansen? What do you think of it? What other musicals do you like? Let me know!!

Love, Dana

Down the TBR || Part 14

I think I accidentally missed one of these last Saturday. I’ve been pretty busy with work so I’m not surprised but I’m glad to be getting back on track.

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Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

Order on ascending date added.

Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time

Read the synopses of the books

Decide: keep it or should it go?

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Isabella is shocked when her parents book her passage on the incredible Titanic and inform her that she’ll be sailing by herself. She is given an envelope and told the contents will explain everything, but she is forbidden from opening it until the boat reaches the U.S.
Lucille is worried over her mother’s poor health, and her father is always distracted, never around. Left to her own devices, Lucille discovers some dangerous secrets that could tear her family apart.
Abby is desperate. She’s all her little brother has in the world, and her only hope is start a new life in New York. But the only way to do that is to smuggle her little brother aboard the Titanic and hope they can last the week without him getting caught.
Three girls, three different classes on the ship, yet their pasts and futures are more intertwined than they know–and their lives are about to be forever changed over the course of the Titanic’s maiden voyage. That is, if they don’t all drown in secrets first

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‘You are my sister now,’ Victoria said, quietly and solemnly. ‘Never forget it. I love you like a sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.’ Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Miss V’s father has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess, which he calls the Kensington System. It governs her behaviour and keeps her locked away from the world. He says it is for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it is to keep her lonely, and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the wilful and passionate Victoria, Miss V has a decision to make: to continue in silence, or to speak out. By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.

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When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

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Two sisters. Two lives. One future.

Sohane loves no one more than her beautiful, carefree younger sister, Djelila. And she hates no one as much. They used to share everything. But now, Djelila is spending more time with her friends, partying, and hanging out with boys, while Sohane is becoming more religious.

When Sohane starts wearing a head scarf, her school threatens to expel her. Meanwhile, Djelila is harassed by neighborhood bullies for not being Muslim enough. Sohane can’t help thinking that Djelila deserves what she gets. But she never could have imagined just how far things would go. . 

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“Hola, Jeni.”

J spun. His stomach clenched hard, as though he’d been hit. It was just the neighbor lady, Mercedes. J couldn’t muster a hello back, not now; he didn’t care that she’d tell his mom he’d been rude. She should know better. Nobody calls me Jeni anymore.

J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a “real boy” and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible – from his family, from his friends…from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he’s done hiding – it’s time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

An inspiring story of self-discovery, of choosing to stand up for yourself, and of finding your own path – readers will recognize a part of themselves in J’s struggle to love his true self.

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Leave it to the heroes to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

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One school. Twenty voices.

Endless possibilities.

There’s the girl who is in love with Holden Caulfield. The boy who wants to be strong who falls for the girl who’s convinced she needs to be weak. The girl who writes love songs for a girl she can’t have. The two boys teetering on the brink of their first anniversary. And everyone in between.

As he did in the highly acclaimed Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan gives us a world of unforgettable voices that readers will want to visit again and again. It’s the realm of possibility open to us all – where love, joy, and the stories we tell will linger. 

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Bridge and Wil have been entangled in each other’s lives for years. Under the white-hot Florida sun, they went from kids daring each other to swim past the breakers to teenagers stealing kisses between classes. But when Bridge betrayed Wil during their junior year, she shattered his heart and their relationship along with it.

Then Wil’s family suffers a violent loss, and Bridge rushes back to Wil’s side. As they struggle to heal old wounds and start falling for each other all over again, Bridge and Wil discover just how much has changed in the past year. As the fierce current of tragedy threatens to pull them under, they must learn how to swim on their own—or risk drowning together.

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When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Will

Maybe I’m too late. Maybe Zoe’s dad stole all her fifteen years and taught her to be scared. I’ll undo it. Help her learn to be strong again, and brave. Not that I’m any kind of example, but we can learn together.

Zoe

Maybe it’ll take Will years to come to terms with being abandoned. Maybe it’ll take forever. I’ll stay with him no matter how long it takes to prove that people don’t always leave, don’t always give up on you.

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In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistake.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the “Wilds” who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love? 

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This week I got rid of 5 and kept 5 which is pretty good. That will bring my TBR to 483 books.

January Wrap-up

The first month of 2020 felt so long and yet so short.

About halfway through the month, I fell into a reading slump which I am still not out of. But here’s what I did manage to read…

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Click the photos to be taken to the Goodreads page

This month I read 7 books with no DNF’s

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I was terrible at keeping up others from everyone this month which is SO disappointing to me because one of my goals was to do better with this.

How To Choose The Perfect Color Palette For Your Blog By Kat @ Novels&Waffles

My Unpopular Harry Potter Opinions By Laura @ thebookcorps

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During my reading slump, I did a lot of TV watching, especially on Netflix. I watched season 6 of Grace and Frankie which I adore and then I rejoined a group chat to celebrate part 3 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina coming out! Let me know if you are interested in joining the chat, it is a lot of fun and like a little family.

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This month felt SO long and I can’t believe it hasn’t even been a month since I flew out to Vegas to celebrate my Best Friend getting married. The wedding was beautiful and I am so glad that Amanda asked me to be a part of it. I’m not going to lie and say that I had the best time because I struggled a lot but overall it was a good trip and I am glad I went.

The only other big thing to happen this month is that Alison bought us Wicked tickets for when it comes to Baltimore in March. I am beyond excited about it because I have loved Wicked for YEARS and it is my dream show so finally getting to see it is marking something off of my bucket list.

This month seemed super boring and I didn’t get much done so hopefully next month will be better. The only productive thing I’ve started is the research for our upcoming immigration to Canada. We’re thrilled and a bit worried, but hopefully we will find the best immigration agency to help us out in this big step. How was your first month of 2020?

What I Want You to See || Blog Tour

As always, I am super thankful to the FFBC and all who were involved in allowing me to read an ARC of this book and to be a part of the tour. Please click the banner above to see the other stops!

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Author: Catherine Linka

Pub. Date: February 4th 2020

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Genre: YA

Pages: 384

Find it: Book Depository | Apple Books | B&N | Amazon | Goodreads

Author information

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Catherine Linka is the author of the young adult novel WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE as well as the dystopian series A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and A GIRL UNDONE. A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS was an ABA Indie Next Pick and won the Young Adult Novel Award 2014 from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. A frequent speaker at writing and teen conferences, Catherine received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and worked as a young adult book buyer for an independent bookstore for seven years. Prior to pursuing a career in publishing, she studied international politics at Georgetown University followed by a master’s degree in business at the University of North Carolina.Catherine is married and lives with her husband in the San Gabriel foothills. Visit her at http://www.catherlinelinka.com

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Winning a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school seems like a fairy tale ending to Sabine Reye’s awful senior year. After losing both her mother and her home, Sabine longs for a place where she belongs.

But the cutthroat world of visual arts is nothing like what Sabine had imagined. Colin Krell, the renowned faculty member whom she had hoped would mentor her, seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work—and warns her that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.

Desperate and humiliated, Sabine doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who understands better than anyone the pressures of art school. He even helps Sabine get insight on Krell by showing her the modern master’s work in progress, a portrait that’s sold for a million dollars sight unseen.

Sabine is enthralled by the portrait; within those swirling, colorful layers of paint is the key to winning her inscrutable teacher’s approval. Krell did advise her to improve her craft by copying a painting she connects with . . . but what would he think of Sabine secretly painting her own version of his masterpiece? And what should she do when she accidentally becomes party to a crime so well -plotted that no one knows about it but her?

Complex and utterly original, What I Want You to See is a gripping tale of deception, attraction, and moral ambiguity.

For the blog tour portion of my post, I was chosen to do both favorite quotes and a dream cast.

I love doing favorite quotes because I really connect with words and have an entire journal filled with quotes I love. For this book I picked out three quotes.

Dream cast

Kevin

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Adam

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Sabine

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Krell

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Rachel

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Thanks for joining me on this blog tour and make sure you check out everyone else’s posts!

February TBR

This month and in the following months, I am going to focus on ARCs and books I own. I am trying to go through and cut down on the books I own which is been pretty hard. I think I might do an unhaul post later February or early March.

Let’s start off like always talking about what ARCS I need to read for the coming weeks/month.

ARCS

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Pub date: February 11th

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Pub date: March 3rd

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Pub date: March 3rd

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Pub date: March 3rd

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Pub date: March 10th

Books I own

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I am only going to do six books as I have been struggling to keep up with my larger TBRs less last two months.

TTT: Recent adds to my TBR

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Just as a reminder, here is how Top Ten Tuesday works!

Jana assigns each Tuesday a topic and then we all post our top ten list that fits that topic. Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

You’ll find the schedule of upcoming TTT topics here you can plan ahead.If you don’t have a blog, post your picks in the comment section below! Have tons of fun talking books and getting to know your fellow bloggers!

As with the end of last year, I am still drifting in and out on TTT. I really only do the prompt if I am interested and feel that I can fulfill it properly. The last one I did, I think I changed the prompt which I hate doing so I decided to wait to come back until I found one I liked. I keep track of my TBR on Goodreads so that’s what I’m basing this off of.

This morning I went through and added a lot of LGBT based books from a list about 2019 releases so that’s what most of these are. Sorry there isn’t more variety.

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I can’t wait to see what y’all have added recently so that I can add more to my TBR. Let me know if you’ll be adding any of these to yours!

Down the TBR || Part 13

Happy Saturday!! I’m back for another Down the TBR. This week my TBR is at 480 books which means I have been adding a lot more books than I thought. Whoops. But it’s the start of the year and everyone has such great “books I’m looking forward to in 2020” that I can’t help myself. I am currently working through books I added around this time last year so I hope I can at least get rid of 3-5 out of 10.

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Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

Order on ascending date added.

Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time

Read the synopses of the books

Decide: keep it or should it go?

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It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth — and ultimately her life.

Read her diary.

Enter her world.

You will never forget her.

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Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry.

Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other.

Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He’s left her a bundle of notes, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed ‘PS, I Love You’.

As the notes are gradually opened, and as they year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on. With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing — and being braver than ever before.

Life is for living, she realizes — but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you

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Stealing is bad.
Yeah.
I know.
But my brother Levi is always so sick, and his medicine is always so expensive.

I didn’t think anyone would notice,
if I took that credit card,
if, in one stolen second,
I bought Levi’s medicine.

But someone did notice.
Now I have to prove I’m not a delinquent, I’m not a total bonehead.

That one quick second turned into
juvie
a judge
a year of house arrest,
a year of this court-ordered journal,
a year to avoid messing up
and being sent back to juvie
so fast my head will spin.

It’s only 1 year.
Only 52 weeks.
Only 365 days.
Only 8,760 hours.
Only 525,600 minutes.

What could go wrong?

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed.

But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh.

As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

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Calling My Name is a striking, luminous, and literary exploration of family, spirituality, and self—ideal for readers of Jacqueline Woodson, Jandy Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sandra Cisneros.

This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose.

Told in fifty-three short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, Calling My Name follows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel that captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.

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Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.

But then everything changes.

When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well. 

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`Child experts will tell you that I’m way too young to carry such a burden of responsibility on my tender shoulders. But really, what do they know?’ Who is Bobby Seed? He’s just your average sixteen-year-old – same wants, same fears, same hang-ups. Dull, dull, dull. But then there’s the Bobby Seed who’s a world away from average. The Bobby Seed who has to wipe his mum’s backside, sponge her clean three times a week, try to soothe her pain. The Bobby Seed whose job it is to provide for his younger brother, Danny, to rub his back when he’s stressed and can only groan and rock instead of speak. That’s Bobby Seed. Same, same, same, yet different, different, different …

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Meet ten amazing young women who were so inspired by Barack Obama’s inclusive feminist politics that they decided to join his White House. Although they were technically the lowest ranked members—and all in their early to mid-twenties at the time—their high levels of responsibility will surprise you.

There’s Kalisha Dessources, policy advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls, who recounts the day she brought a group of African American girls (and world-renowned choreographer Debbie Allen) to the White House for Black History Month to dance for Michelle Obama; Molly Dillon, who describes organizing and hosting an event for foster care reform with Vice President Biden, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and a hundred foster kids; Jenna Brayton, one of the members of the first White House digital team, who talks about an Obama initiative to bring together students of all backgrounds and ages from across the country to showcase their vision for the future through cinema; and more.

Full of never-before-told stories, here is an intimate look at Obama’s presidency, as seen through the eyes of the smart, successful young women who (literally) helped rule the world—and they did it right out of college, too.

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It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story–that she died proclaiming her faith.

But it’s not true.

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn’t say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I’m not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did–and didn’t–happen that day.

Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s right. I don’t know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up

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A young, street-savvy runaway looking for a place to call home realizes he might have conned his way into the wrong family in this fast-paced and thrilling novel from award-winning author Cristin Terrill.

When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.

Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again.

It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.

He isn’t Daniel Tate.

He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.

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For now I am keeping 5/10 of these though there are a few I am on the fence about and may decide to take off later. That brings me down to 475 books on my TBR (for the moment anyway). Thanks for joining me y’all and I’ll talk to you soon!

Beyond the Moon || Promo Post

Today I’m going to be sharing a promo post with y’all for Beyond the Moon. Make sure to check out everyone else on the blog tour to read their reviews on this book!

Thanks to Rachel from Rachelsrandomresources and the author for gifting me with a ecopy of this book,

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Author: Catherine Taylor

Pub. Date: June 25th 2019

Publisher:   The Cameo Press Ltd

Genre:

Pages: 496

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Catherine    Taylor

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands. She
is a former journalist, most recently for Dow Jones News and The Wall Street Journal in London.
Beyond The Moon is her first novel. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.

Giveaway to Win 5 x PB Copies of Beyond The Moon (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box
below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be
notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random
Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or
over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will
not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to
the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random
Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494326/

Let me know what you think of this book! Have you read it?

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