Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris' move to Paris from New York inspired these hilarious pieces, including the title essay, about his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that "every day spent with you is like having a caesarean section".

His family is another inspiration. "You Can't Kill the Rooster" is a portrait of his brother, who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers of food and cashiers with six-inch fingernails.


This is my second David Sedaris' book, and I have to say that I am becoming quite the fan. I find David's writing to be quite humorous, and his use of irony fantastic. I also have a very sarcastic sense of humor and I often felt that David said exactly what I would have been thinking had I found myself in the same situation. He paints very lively caricatures (or maybe portraits is a better word??) of himself, his friends, and his family. Many of the stories in this book are laugh-out-loud funny, and I think it is easy to dismiss them as just another funny story, but often there was a deeper meaning. 

Through humor, David explores the issues of acceptance, identify, love, relationships, etc. I think humor is often used to make less savory things more palpable or easy to digest. Stripped of their humor, some of these stories are truly heartbreaking, and I think it's the humor that allows us as the reader (and maybe David as the writer) to explore and share these experiences. An overall good read.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book of short stories


The Shining by Stephen King

Terrible events occur at an isolated hotel in the off season, when a small boy with psychic powers struggles to hold his own against the forces of evil that are driving his father insane.


Confession: This is the first Stephen King novel I have ever read. I have purposely avoided reading any of his books until now. 

Why? Because I've seen several of the movies based on his novels and they freak me out! The Shining still ranks as one of the scariest movies I have ever seen in my life. Not because there is tons of blood and guts, but because it is a normal enough situation that it could almost happen. The story borders just enough on the edge of reality to make it truly terrifying. I always said that Stephen King's head was not a place that I would ever want to be lost in, nor is he someone I would want to come across in a dark alley. This is grossly unfair to Stephen King, because I am sure he is a very nice person, but his imagination scares me. 

This book was no different from the movie and there were some nights when I truly regretted reading it just before bedtime. It is fairly similar to the movie story line (probably because King wrote the screenplay too), but certainly not a carbon copy. The book was everything a good thriller should be, and if you are a fan of the genre, then King is certainly right up your alley. I can't say that I "enjoyed" the book, because honestly, it creeped me out big time, but I did like it for what it was.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book that scares you


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, an “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she has written a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. 

As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together they endure the agony of foot binding and reflect upon their arranged marriages, their loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace in their friendship, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their relationship suddenly threatens to tear apart.


I enjoyed this book from start to finish. It is a well researched historical fiction novel about 19th Century China. I liked reading about the customs that governed female relationships, even if some of them (foot binding! ouch!) seemed totally barbaric to me. I thought the idea of Nu Shu, or the secret language of women, was really intriguing, as well as the idea of laotong

Lily and Snow Flower's laotong relationship was really fascinating to read about, particularly since their relationship basically took a 180. Lily was originally the one in a lower position, but through marriage becomes someone of great importance. Snow Flower started out as the one in the higher position, but in the end falls from grace. Watching these two women navigate their fates, while still trying to hold on to each other was at times emotional. Each stage of life brought with it new adventures and challenges. 

The narrative is well written, including a lot of rich historical detail, without sounding like a textbook. Lee weaves the story of these two women together beautifully. It is a book that I would not hesitant to recommend to my female friends. There are so many things in it that are universal to the female experience, even though the story takes place centuries ago and in a culture vastly different from my own. I'm glad I listened to my mom and read it. :)  

2015 Reading Challenge: A book your mom loves


The Paper Swan By Leylah Attar

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. They lie. For 21 days she held on. But on Day 22, she would have given anything for the sweet slumber of death. Because on Day 22, she realizes that her only way out means certain death for one of the two men she loves.

A haunting tale of passion, loss, and redemption, The Paper Swan is a darkly intense yet heartwarming love story, textured with grit, intrigue, and suspense.


This is a truly amazing novel. It was loaned to me by my very best book friend with the order of stop everything and read this now. I read the synopsis off GoodReads before diving in, but it did not at all prepare me for the story that I got. I don't want to give anything away, but I was so engrossed in this book that I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. There was just no good stopping point. 

I was able to figure out a few mysteries along the way, but there were certainly twists that I did not see coming. I also wasn't sure how Leylah was going to resolve this love story. The couple in this novel had every possible odd stacked against them, but their story speaks to the power of true love.

This little stand alone is a complete gem and so worthy of a read.

Better When He's Brave (Welcome to The Point #3) by Jay Crownover

Titus King has always seen his world in black and white. There is a firm right and wrong in his mind, which is why as a teenager he left behind the only family he’d ever known to make a better life for himself. Now a police detective in one of the worst cities in the country, he can’t deny his life has turned into a million different shades of gray.

The new criminal element in The Point has brought vengeance and destruction right to Titus’s front door, and walking the straight and narrow seems far less important now. The difference between right and wrong is nothing compared to keeping those he loves alive. To add to his already strained moral compass, the beautiful and mysterious Reeve Black has made her way back to town. This girl might be as dangerous to Titus as the guy trying to destroy the Point but he can’t walk away because he needs her—in more ways than one.

Reeve knows all about the threat trying to destroy The Point. She knows how ruthless, how vicious, and how cruel this new danger can be… and instead of running away, she wants to help. Reeve knows that she has a lot to repent for and saving the city, plus the hot cop that she hasn’t been able to forget might just be the only way she can finally find some inner peace.

With an entire city poised on the brink of war, Titus and Reeve stand in the crossfire—and it will take two brave souls to fight for the ultimate love.


Hot damn, this series gets better and better! Just when I think Jay can't top herself, she delivers a character like Titus King (best name ever!). "Hot Cop" doesn't even begin to encompass all that he is. I was curious how Titus was going to fit in with the resident bad boys of The Point, and worried that his "righteous, do-gooder" persona would come off boring compared to Bax and Race. Boy, was I surprised (and wrong)! 

Our "Hot Cop" turned out to be an incredibly complex character. I love Bax and Race, but Titus is just something else. He is a tightly coiled spring that is somehow just...more -  more intense, more tortured, sexier, just more...everything. He is the ideal hero - forever willing to stand on the front lines and protect the innocent. He's Atlas, carrying the weight of entire city on his shoulders. Strong and brave. Yet he doesn't belong on a pedestal. He's not perfect and battles everyday against his inner demons - his background, his past choices, where he grew up. He makes the hard choice everyday to walk on the right side of the law, to not take the easy way out, in a place that doesn't often reward that. 

Reeve was the perfect counterbalance to Titus, and I liked her "git 'er done" attitude. I liked the push and pull between her and Titus, and how she never seemed to back down. She's a strong female character up against an intense, overwhelming male character, but she holds her own. Their love story is ripe with tension, and when it explodes, it will leave you in need of a (or several) cold shower. I loved this book, from cover to cover and every page in between!

Up next in the series is Nassir and Keelyn's story, due out in Spring 2016. Can't wait to return to The Point!

Something Beautiful (Beautiful #3) by Jamie McGuire

America Mason, a sassy undergrad at Eastern State University, is in love with a Maddox--Shepley Maddox. Unlike his cousins, Shepley is more lover than fighter, but a road trip to her parents' home in Wichita, Kansas could mean the next step, or the end of everything.


Don't be fooled by this novella's small size. It packs a huge and dramatic punch! I love America and Shepley and just like many other fans of the Beautiful series, I wanted more of this adorable couple. We get glimpses of this couple throughout the Beautiful and Maddox Brothers series, but I enjoyed getting to spend some one-on-one time with them. Jamie doesn't disappoint either. This novella starts out slow, but then switches into high gear and doesn't let up until the very satisfying end. Love, love, loved this novella! 


Cover Reveal ~ Built (Saints of Denver #1) by Jay Crownover

Introducing the cover of the first book in Jay's new series, The Saints of Denver. World, say hello to Zeb Fuller! Isn't he wonderful? I love all the Marked Men and Point Men, but I think Zeb gives even Rome a run for Jay's best cover. I am super excited for Built, and to see what Jay has in store for us next! If you don't know Jay or her books, get thee to a bookstore STAT!!

Look for Built coming January 5, 2016. Keep reading for a synopsis and a sneak peek at the first few pages!


Sayer Cole and Zeb Fuller couldn’t be more different. She’s country club and fine-dining, he’s cell-block and sawdust. Sayer spends her days in litigation, while Zeb spends his working with his hands. She’s French silk, he’s all denim and flannel.

Zeb’s wanted the stunning blonde since the moment he laid eyes on her. It doesn't matter how many smooth moves he makes, the reserved lawyer seems determinedly oblivious to his interest—either that or she doesn't return it. Sayer is certain the rough, hard, hot-as-hell Zeb could never want someone as closed off and restrained as she is, which is a shame because something tells her he might be the guy to finally melt her icy exterior.

But just as things start to heat up, Zeb is blindsided by a life altering moment from his past. He needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. He can’t risk what’s at stake just because his attraction to Sayer feels all consuming. But as these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, battling together to save a family, the steam created when fire and ice collide can no longer be ignored.


Sneak Peek


I met her at a bar.

She had a beer bottle in her hand even though she looked like she should be sipping champagne out of an expensive flute, and that inexplicably turned me on. She was pretty and looked completely out of place in the no-name bar sitting across from one of my longtime friends who also happened to be her long-lost brother. He was the reason she was here. In that split second that I laid my eyes on her I wanted to be the reason she stayed.

I knew it was rude and that the two of them needed some time together, some time to figure out what they were to each other now that she had blasted into his life unannounced. If I was a better friend I would have left them alone. As it was, I made my way over to the tiny table and sat down. I was covered in sawdust and had drywall mud caked in the hair on my head and on my face, but she didn’t flinch or bat an eyelash when I purposely broke up their party of two and placed myself as close to her as I could without actually touching her.

My buddy Rowdy St. James lifted his eyebrows at me as I stared at her while he introduced us. Sayer Cole. Even her name was elegant and sophisticated sounding. She was an enigma, this pretty woman that seemed like she should be in any place but this bar with the two of us. She’d showed up out of the blue a couple of months ago claiming to be Rowdy’s half sister, claiming that they shared a father, claiming that all she wanted was to be in his life and have some kind of family of her own. She looked too delicate to be that brave. Came across as way too proper to have said “fuck it all” and picked up her life to move it someplace unknown without being sure of her welcome. She looked like silk, but if my guess was right about her, it was silk wrapped around steel.

Luckily Rowdy was a good guy. After the shock of discovering he wasn’t alone in the world, and once he realized he had someone tied to him by blood forever and ever, he had warmed up to the idea of having a sister and appreciated that the sister was Sayer.

I liked Rowdy a lot. He was a stand-up guy and a good friend, but I had a feeling I was going to like his newly found big sister even more. In my usual tactless way I asked him without looking directly at the knockout blonde, “So you have a sister? A hot, classy sister?” A sister that was also a lawyer, so beautiful and smart.

I expected a giggle from her or an eye roll at the outlandish compliment, but what I got was a wide-eyed stare of disbelief as eyes bluer than anything I had ever seen on earth danced between me and her brother like she wasn’t sure what to do with herself or with my overt interest in her.

I thought that I had gone too far, pushed the beautiful stranger too far out of her comfort zone. I was a big guy and knew I looked far wilder and rougher than I actually was. I figured it might be too much for a woman already obviously out of her element and depth to take.

Instead, Sayer surprised me and I could see by the way he stiffened that she surprised Rowdy, too. While she wasn’t exactly overflowing with welcome and warmth, she did ask me about the current project I was working on after Rowdy explained I was a general contractor and had rebuilt the new tattoo shop he worked in. She seemed genuinely interested, and when I told her that my specialty was rehabbing old houses and giving them new life, her eyes practically glowed at me. I wanted to touch her to see if she felt as smooth and polished as she looked. I wanted to leave streaks of dirt on her perfect face to mark the fact that I had touched her, that she had let me touch her. It was a primal and visceral reaction that I couldn’t explain and I liked the way it felt. Liked the weight and heft of it in my blood even if I knew the feeling wasn’t likely to be returned.

She told me all about a fantastic but crumbling Victorian she had purchased that was falling down around her. She asked me for a business card and I saw Rowdy stiffen across the table. I sighed and rubbed a hand over my already messy hair. I watched her eyes follow the light cloud of dust that escaped the strands. I was great at my job, loved what I did, but I couldn’t do anything with her or for her without laying everything on the line. Especially not with Rowdy giving me the death glare from just a few feet away.

I dug the card out of my wallet, and when I handed it over our fingers touched. I saw her eyes widen and her lips part, just barely. She looked a little dazed when I grinned at her.

“You take that card, but understand that the man giving it to you has a past.”

She blinked at me and cleared her throat. “What kind of past?”

It wasn’t something I liked to tell a beautiful woman when I first met her. It was something I liked to work up to, liked to prove it was behind me, but with this one it seemed like I wouldn’t get that chance.

“I tell everyone that I do any kind of work for or that considers hiring me on for a project that I have a criminal history. I spent time locked up for a few years, and while I’m not proud of it I can’t deny it happened. I was a hotheaded kid and it got me in trouble, but I’m the best at what I do, so I hope that doesn’t discourage you from giving me a call.” Hopefully for more than some construction.

Usually I got a concerned frown followed by a hundred questions about what had led me to serving time. I got none of that from the stunning blonde. She tilted her head to the side and considered me silently for a long moment before reaching down and slipping my card in her purse. If anything, I could have sworn she was wearing a look of sympathy when she told me softly, “I see it every day from the inside. Sometimes the system simply gets it wrong.” A slight grin turned her mouth up at the corners, and I wanted to lean over and kiss it. “People make mistakes. Hopefully they learn from them.”

I don’t know that “wrong” was accurate in my case so much as misguided, but the complete lack of judgment or censure coming from her made me want to pull her into my arms and hold on to her even more. I had made a mistake, a huge one, one that I was forever going to have to carry around with me, but I had learned from it, was still learning from it. That kind of understanding from a total stranger was so rare, especially coming from someone in the legal field. I wasn’t accustomed to someone looking at me and seeing me, just me, not an ex-con loser after I explained where I had been. It was wildly refreshing and attractive. I couldn’t quite get a handle on what made the woman tick, but I would welcome any opportunity she gave me to figure it out. I found her outwardly flawless and pristine demeanor tempting to taint with my dirty hands and ways, and there was something about the way she watched me, the way she turned toward me like she was drawn to me, that made me think maybe I wasn’t alone in the inexplicable pull department.

Rowdy left and she stayed.

We had a couple more beers and talked some more about her house and what she wanted done with it. She already hired one contractor but felt like the guy was ripping her off. It happened a lot in the industry, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy was taking her for a ride. Spending time with her was easy. She was fun to talk to and really fun to look at. I really wanted to get my hands on her house and of course on her, and I felt like she was maybe, kind of, slightly leaning in the same direction when I made the mistake of asking her about her past.

I asked about where she had been before she found out about Rowdy and decided to move to Denver so that she could get to know him. I was curious what kind of life she had where she could leave everything behind and not be missed. Really I wanted to know if she had a boyfriend or husband stashed somewhere, but the simple inquiry must have touched a nerve. The next thing I knew she had paid out the tab for both of us and disappeared into the night. She went from glowing and bright to frigid and untouchable in the span of a heartbeat.

I figured I blew my shot by being too blunt, as always. I assumed she probably did have someone else in the picture and had been friendly and polite only because I was good friends with her brother. I thought I would never hear from her again and was baffled why the thought of that made my chest ache and my heart feel like it weighed two tons.

Imagine my surprise when she called me and hired me to renovate her house a week later without a bid, without a contract, without even knowing if I was half as good as I claimed to be.

Of course I accepted, but I knew once I was inside I would need to knock down and rearrange more than just the walls of the house, in order to get at something beautiful and lasting.

About the Author:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.


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Moby Dick: or, the White Whale by Herman Melville

“Call me Ishmael.”

Thus begins one of the most famous journeys in literature—the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod and its embattled, monomaniacal Captain Ahab. Ishmael quickly learns that the Pequod’s captain sails for revenge against the elusive Moby Dick, a sperm whale with a snow-white hump and mottled skin that destroyed Ahab’s former vessel and left him crippled. As the Pequod sails deeper through the nights and into the sea, the divisions between man and nature begin to blur — so do the lines between good and evil, as the fates of the ship’s crewmen become increasingly unclear....

Melville’s classic tale of obsession and the sea, one of the most important and enduring masterworks of nineteenth-century literature, Moby Dick is a riveting drama, exploring rage, hope, destiny, and the deepest questions of moral truth.


Wow, does this book have everything! Including the kitchen sink! I would call this novel a cross between an adventure story and a whaling handbook and encyclopedia. Melville tackles anything and everything related to whaling in this book - geography, history (both Biblical and Ancient), whaling traditions and folklore, types of whales (down to their minute details), anatomy of whales (specifically the Sperm and Right Whales), whale art, whale cuisine, whaling tools and tricks, the laws and etiquette of whaling, and lots more (there are over 100 chapters, after all!). 

Interspersed between these informative chapters is the story of Ishmael, an experienced merchant sailor, who decides to try his hand at whaling. He enlists on the ship, Pequod, unaware of its captain's ulterior agenda. The narrative is a mix between poetry and prose, and introduces us to some wild and unique characters. The narrative portion of this novel is definitely an adventure story with plenty of suspense, action, and conflict. 

Moby Dick remains a mixed bag for me. It is almost Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in nature, housing two unique and separate books within its covers. One part essentially focused on educating the reader on all things whale related (the informational side), and the second encompassing Ishmael's narrative (the narrative side). While I found some of the informational side interesting (namely how a whale was captured and what they did after capturing it) and relevant to the narrative side, a lot of it seemed superfluous to me. Why do I really need to read several chapters on depictions of whales in art, and how they are or are not accurate? What about whale cuisine? Is this a novel or food blog? At times I felt like I was reading a textbook, rather than a novel.

These tedious chapters amounted to nothing more than tangents (at least in my opinion) that often seemed to interrupt the narrative just as it was starting to gain momentum. This gave the narrative side of the novel a very stop-and-go, jerky flow. I really wasn't expecting the majority of the book to be made up of general whaling information. If you were to remove all but the chapters related to the narrative side, you wouldn't be left with much. I was also surprised that the White Whale, perhaps one of the most famous animal antagonists, doesn't appear "in person" until the very end of the novel. He is frequently alluded to throughout the novel, but doesn't actually become part of the action until the last few chapters. I find this interesting, especially since the novel is named for him. I just thought he would play a more integral role in the narrative. I also found the ending to be rather abrupt. All the build up throughout the novel, and the story was over in what felt like a blink of an eye.

Overall, I liked the book. I found some parts to be tedious and textbook-like, but enjoyed the action packed narrative side of the novel. I can appreciate why this book is considered a classic and I am excited to be able to cross it off my Classics To Read list. 

2015 Reading Challenge: A book with non-human characters   


Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone by Bo Burnham

Like a lost, twisted work of Shel Silverstein, EGGHEAD is an aggressively charming, hilarious and absurd book from one of today's most popular young comedians.

Bo Burnham was a precocious teenager living in his parents' attic in Massachusetts when he started posting funny songs to YouTube. More than 100 million people viewed those videos, turning Bo into an online sensation with a huge and dedicated following. Writer/producer Judd Apatow championed the young comedian, and Bo taped his first Comedy Central special at age 18, the youngest in the channel's history. 

Now Bo is a rising star in the comedy world, revered for his utterly original and highly intelligent voice. In EGGHEAD, his first book, Bo brings his brand of brainy comedy to the page in the form of off-kilter writings, thoughts, poems, and more. Teaming up with his longtime friend--artist and illustrator Chance Bone (real name)--Bo takes on everything from painful breakups to bald barbers. This weird and witty collection will have readers and fans laughing out loud and/or giggling quietly.


My brother gave me this book for Christmas, because he read and liked it. If you knew my brother, you would know what a big deal that is. He was the type while in school who pretty much avoided reading the assigned books like the plague. I wouldn't say he hates to read, but he really only does it when he has to. Knowing this about him and the fact that he wanted to share it with me, certainly made me curious about this book. 

I had never heard of Bo Burnham and did a little research on him before diving into this book. He's a young comedian with a unique act. He combines comedy, satire, music, singing, and performance art to create something that I have never seen before. I found some of his material funny, and while I found his material to often be interesting, witty and quirky, I don't know if he's exactly my cup of tea.

I felt the same way about his poetry. It is creative, witty, and quirky. I found some of it to be humorous, but certainly not anywhere near side splitting. I thought the illustrations were interesting, but I don't know if they really added anything to the poems. Sometimes they didn't seem to go together at all. But maybe that was the point? I liked a few of the poems, but for the most part I wasn't crazy about them. 

Beware that this book does contain a lot of crude language and profanity. This wasn't necessarily a strike against it in my book. I don't believe that writers/artists should censor themselves for fear of offending others. It's just something that stood out to me and feel it's something that other potential readers may wish to know.

The work did have a Shel Silverstein-like feel to it (which it has often been compared to), insomuch as there was a poem accompanied by an illustration. There's a lightness to the poems and they were often about seemingly random things, which is also reminiscent of Shel's style. However, I think that Bo's poetry falls short of matching Shel's genius. While it wasn't my favorite, I can appreciate that Bo Burnham is a talented individual. Overall, this was just okay for me.

2015 Reading Challenge: A funny book  


Gus (Bright Side #2) by Kim Holden

The journey that began in top-rated, best-selling Bright Side, continues ...

This is the story of Gus.
Losing himself.
Finding himself.
And healing along the way.

“ … but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t even know how to function anymore. Bright Side wasn’t only my best friend; she was like my other half ... the other half of my brain, the other half of my conscience, the other half of my sense of humor, the other half of my creativity, the other half of my heart. How do you go back to doing what you did before, when half of you is gone forever?”


Confession: I bought this book back in May when it was released, but I have been unable to bring myself to read it until now. I have been simultaneously dying to read this book and wanting to avoid it. It's an interesting feeling that I have never experienced with a book.

I loved Bright Side. Kate's story was so heartbreakingly beautiful. She was beautiful. Her story left me a sobbing, emotional mess. It was more than a book hangover...it was grief. I grieved for this character. It was days (maybe a week) before I could pick up another book. I've never had a story stay with me like that, and I've read some amazing books. Shortly after finishing Bright Side, I found out that Kim was releasing Gus's story. I wanted to know what happened to Gus after he walked away from Kate's funeral. I wanted to hope that the devastation he was feeling would end, and that happier times awaited him. Yet when the book arrived, instead of diving into the pages, I found myself putting it aside. It sat on my bedside table for months, and every time I looked at it, I found myself thinking, "not yet." I wasn't ready to feel her loss again and again on each page.

I'm glad I waited until I was ready to read this book. I'm not sure I would have the same reaction to it had I read it right away. It's perfect, and I found myself once again wrapped up in the story from the very first page. I relived my feelings of grief right along side Gus, taking an emotional journey that lasted from the first page to the last. I was deeply sad like Gus, I was angry like Gus, I was disappointed in Gus, and eventually, I was hopeful like and for Gus. I loved Scout and I think Kate would have loved her too. I loved taking this journey of healing and hope with her and Gus. Kate was there every step of the way, too. Not physically, but her presence was definitely felt, and it was a good thing.

It was nice to be reminded of and to watch Gus remember Kate's ultimate lesson:

"There is something epic that happens in every day if you look hard enough for it. And every day is a chance to go out there and do epic. The key is putting forth the effort. She did. Every fucking day she did. We all should. Is it harder? Hell yeah. It's much easier to complain...or self-destruct...or do nothing at all. But where's the magic in that?"

Life is hard, and it is easy to get bogged down in the negative. Kate certainly could have. The hand she was dealt certainly didn't make for an easy life. She could have become bitter, cynical, and hateful, but instead she chose to make the most of the life she had been given. She chose to see the "bight side." And Gus (eventually) does the same. He could have continued down his destructive path and lost everything, but he realizes that by doing this, he would miss out on all the good stuff too. The same can be said of Scout and everyone else who knew and loved her. Her example is life altering. We all have different definitions of "epic," but really what it boils down to is those moments in life that make it all - the pain, the strife, the struggle, the disappointment, etc. - worth it.

But "Do Epic" isn't a passive thing. I think Gus sums it up best:

"I’m at the tipping point of a transformation that began months ago, an intentional decision put in motion. And it feels so fucking good. I’ve come to the full realization that my happiness, my life, falls squarely on my shoulders. No one’s gonna do it for it me. I’m the one who makes it or breaks it.  

It’s a choice. 

 A choice that demands action in exchange for reward. Idleness and complacency lead to mediocrity. Sometimes action is really fucking hard fought, but that’s when the payoff’s the highest. 

That’s when great things happen. 
 Not good things … but epic things. 
And I’ve fallen in love with epic.
It’s the only way to live.”

"Do Epic" is a choice that you make every day. It's choosing to seize the opportunities that come your way and choosing to see the bright side in everything life throws at you. It's about being an active participant in life, even when it's hard, because that's what makes life worth it. That and the people you chose to take along on the journey. This is the lesson that I took away from Kate and Gus's stories. It's probably one of the most important lesson I've ever learned. That is why these books and these characters will forever be in my heart. All of these characters - Kate, Gus, Scout, Keller, all of them - are amazing examples of what it means to "Do Epic." It is something that I will strive to live out in my life every day. This is Kate's legacy. Thank you Kim Holden for these books and these characters. I am forever indebted to you and your talent. 

There's only one thing left to say...DO EPIC!!


Overruled (The Legal Briefs #1) by Emma Chase

As a DC defense attorney, Stanton Shaw keeps his head cool, his questions sharp, and his arguments irrefutable. They don’t call him the Jury Charmer for nothing – with his southern drawl, disarming smile and captivating green eyes – he’s a hard man to say no to. Men want to be him and women want to be thoroughly cross examined by him.

Stanton’s a man with a plan. And for a while, life was going according to that plan.

Until the day he receives an invitation to the wedding of his high school sweetheart and mother of his beloved ten-year old daughter. Jenny is getting married — to someone who isn’t him.

That's definitely not part of the plan.


Sofia Santos is a city raised, no-nonsense litigator who plans to become the most revered criminal defense attorney in the country. She doesn’t have time for relationships or distractions.

But when Stanton, her "friend with mind-blowing benefits" begs for help, she finds herself out of her element, out of her depth, and obviously out of her mind. Because she agrees to go with him – to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Mississippi – to do all she can to help Stanton win back the woman he loves.

Her head tells her she's crazy...and her heart says something else entirely.


What a fantastic start to a great new series! I have loved Emma Chase's writing since being introduced to Drew Evans and the Tangled Series, so I was definitely curious about what she would be releasing after that series came to a close. It was nice to visit briefly with Drew at the beginning of this story, but Stanton and Sofia definitely steal the show in this book. Plus it takes place in D.C.! Right in my backyard! 

Emma had me hook, line, and sinker from page one. This book lacks a little bit of the humor that made the Tangled Series so great, but I wouldn't put that down as a negative...just different. There was definitely a step up in the sexy department, as some of the love scenes left me wanting to turn the AC up from the heat. I love how the book jumped back and forth between Stanton and Sofia, because it allowed the reader a front row seat to both character's thoughts as they realized their causal relationship was anything but. The story line was genius and it wasn't predictable or cliche at all. It was a highly enjoyable read from start to finish. I'm excited to get my hands on the next installment, Sustained, which comes out later this month, and see where this series goes. Highly recommend that you pick this one up!

2015 Reading Challenge: A book with a love triangle


Sweet (Contours of the Heart #3) by Tammara Webber

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her: Sweet.


Lucas Maxfield is easily my favorite contemporary book boyfriend. I fell head over heals for him in Easy and Breakable, and I was even more thrilled to find out that Tammara was continuing with the series. 

This book tells the story of Boyce, Lucas's best friend from high school, and Pearl. The couple have know each other practically all their lives, and their story is a mix of past and present. I loved watching this couple dance around their true feelings for each other, both constantly on the brink of falling, but refusing to let go. The constant push and pull made for a page turning good time that I didn't want to put down (which I didn't...read this in one sitting!). There is plenty of drama and conflict, but the ending was perfect and earned a book hug from me. Love, love, love this book!

Breaking Stars (The Celebrity Series #2) by J. Sterling

An actress since she was fourteen years old, Paige Lockwood finds herself craving a little normalcy after a scandal rocks her otherwise predictable world. With everyone in her life attempting to control her, she takes matters into her own hands and leaves town without so much as a plan or a destination.

But the destination finds her as car trouble forces Paige to settle down in a small Southern town as she waits for repairs. There she meets the handsome, albeit standoffish, Tatum Montgomery, and both of their lives are forever altered as they learn that sometimes when you aren't looking for love, it finds you anyway.

But the real question is: Can you hold on to it when you're from two completely different worlds?


Another home run for J. Sterling! Alright, this series has nothing to do with baseball, but baseball and J. will forever be synonymous in my mind because of a certain lovable book boyfriend we all love (I'm talking to you, Jack Carter!!). But I digress.

This is the second installment in J.'s Celebrity Series and it's even better than the first. I loved these characters. Paige is a down-to-Earth girl that I could totally see myself hanging out with, and Tatum is sexy and ornery, a lethal combination. I loved watching Paige break down his walls and watching him trying to fight a losing battle. I liked that the book switched perspectives so that you got to be inside both character's heads and the ending was swoon worthy. Gotta love those grand romantic gestures! This book can be read as a stand alone, but it does mention characters from the previous novel in the series. This book (and series) is completely worth your time.  


All Played Out (Rusk University #3) by Cora Carmack

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.


This series just keeps getting better and better. I loved Nell! She is a girl after my own Type A, list making heart! I can totally relate to her story, having experienced a similar realization myself early on in my college career. Although my "list" didn't exactly look like Nell's, the motivation behind it was the same. I also loved Mateo's character and discovering the vulnerable side lurking underneath the confident exterior. On the surface, this couple shouldn't work, but somehow they end up being the perfect fit. This book is fun, funny, and sexy as hell. I loved the back and forth between Nell and Mateo, and watching their love story unfold. Don't be put off by the football thing, if you're not a fan of the sport. I'm not a huge fan either, but this series is totally worth the read.

Up next in the series is All Closed Off, which is Stella and Ryan's story. Looks like we should expect it sometime in 2016. I'm super excited about this one and have a feeling that it is going to be awesome!


Beautiful Sacrifice (Maddox Brothers #3) by Jamie McGuire

Falyn Fairchild can walk away from anything. Having already left her car, her education, and even her parents, the daughter of the next governor of Colorado is back in her hometown, broke and waiting tables for the Bucksaw Café. After every shift, Falyn adds to her shoebox of cash, hoping to one day save enough to buy her a plane ticket to the only place she can find forgiveness: Eakins, Illinois.

The moment Taylor Maddox is seated in Falyn’s section at the Bucksaw, she knows he’s trouble. Taylor is charming, breaks promises, and gorgeous even when covered in filth—making him everything Falyn believes a hotshot firefighter to be. Falyn isn’t interested in becoming another statistic, and for a Maddox boy, a disinterested girl is the ultimate challenge.

Once Falyn learns where Taylor calls home, everything changes. In the end, Maddox persistence is met with Falyn’s talent for leaving, and for the first time, Taylor may be the one to get burned.


Whew! This installment of The Maddox Brothers brings new meaning to the classic hit, "Love is a Battlefield." The odds seemed to be stacked against Falyn and Taylor the entire time. There was no reprieve and it seemed like every time they took one step forward, they got knocked back three. They battled their own issues, outside forces, and misunderstandings at every turn. It certainly made for an emotional journey and I found myself riveted to their story and turning the pages as fast as I could to find out what happened next. 

I admire Falyn and Taylor's willingness and ability to fight for each other and their love in the end. To be honest, I wasn't sure how this one was going to work out and there were plenty of twists in the plot that kept the story interesting and from becoming predictable. This is certainly no "easy" love story, but I think that's what makes Falyn and Taylor such a special couple. You will need to hang on tight through this one, but if you are willing to battle it out with this couple, I know that you will love where they end up. I would definitely recommend reading the other books in the series, as there is a lot of character/plot crossover, but this installment stands out as the best in the series so far.


Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchmanperfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.


To Kill A Mockingbird is easily in my top five favorite books. I first read it in eighth grade, and it is a book that will forever be in my heart. I identified with the spunky Scout and Atticus is my literary hero. I love Harper Lee's descriptions and observations of small-town Southern life and its inhabitants, as well as the stories of Scout's childhood antics. For me, Atticus will forever be a prime example of all that is good and righteous. So when I heard that Harper Lee was releasing another book, and that it would involve some of my most beloved literary characters, to say I was excited is a gross understatement.

When I first began reading the book, I was horrified! I felt like Harper Lee had taken everything I had loved about TKAMB and stomped all over it, threw it in a shredder, and then burnt it to ash. I didn't think I would be able to make it all the way through the book, until I remembered what this book is NOT. Go Set A Watchman is NOT a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. In fact, it is an earlier draft of what would eventually become the story we know and love. The differences in the story help to separate the two novels. For example, what eventually becomes Tom's trial in TKAMB is only given a few short lines in this novel, and Atticus wins that trial. When I remembered this, it made it easier to separate this book from what I know and appreciate it for what it is.

Go Set A Watchman lacks a lot of the polish and life that TKAMB has. Its plot is underdeveloped and overly simplistic. In essence, the whole plot boils down to: Scout comes home, Scout sees Atticus doing something she doesn't like, Scout gets mad. The plot falls flat when compared to some of the other things going on around it. There are glimpses of what would become the heart and soul of TKAMB in this novel, especially when Lee describes the people of Maycomb, and Scout's retelling of childhood memories. These passages are full of life, humor, and are much more engaging than the main story line. 

Many of the characters are also different and/or missing from this version of the story. Jem and Dill only appear in passing or in Scout's reminiscences. Boo Radley is missing completely. Atticus is so distinctly Southern and almost the polar opposite of what we know him to be. Scout is still strong willed and still makes for the perfect lens to view the story through. I think the differences in the characters, particularly Atticus, was the most jarring part of this book. It was hard to reconcile these versions with what I knew of the characters. If you are to read this book as a true sequel to TKAMB, then the changes are most alarming. But the truth is, you can't compare them to the characters that they would become. They are simply early versions of what would evolve into the characters we know and love. They are certainly not without merit and there are glimpses of the personalities of the characters they would eventually become. You can see it in Jem's seemingly nonchalant way of watching over his sister, Scout's fire when dealing with her aunt, Atticus' love for his children, and Scout's relationship with Cal. 

Go Set A Watchman is certainly not without it's own merit. The story does have some provocative ideas about identity and being your own "watchman," which is explored through the conflict between Atticus and Scout. I think Scout's disenchantment with Atticus over a difference in opinion is a fairly common part of growing up. Our thoughts and identities are all influenced by where we grow up, our families, religion, experience, and a multitude of other factors, and there inevitably comes a time when what we think about something will differ from what our parents think. That's part of being an independent person, and it can certainly cause conflict. Scout's way of thinking is certainly radical as compared to the thinking of her father and the society around her, but the lesson that I think Atticus tries to teach Scout is that it's okay to think for yourself. That ultimately we are all responsible for being our own conscious, or "watchman," and deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong, independent of the "collective conscious."

After reading this book, I can see why Lee's editor made the suggestions he/she did. It produced a better, life filled story. However, this version is not without its merits, and Lee's talent does shine through. If you go into this book reading it like a sequel, you will be disappointed. However, if you can separate it from TKAMB and appreciate it for what it is and what it is not, I think that you will get something out of it. I don't love this book the way I love TKAMB, but I'm not sorry that I read it either. It certainly doesn't change how I feel about TKAMB or its characters. Ultimately, I think Go Set A Watchman simply gave me a greater appreciation of Harper Lee's talent.