I’m not dead.

This is good news, right?!

2014 has been a year off blogging, for the most part. It was really a year off reading – I’ve only read 108 books this year!

But the truth is, I always think about this blog in the back of my mind. The community I was a part of is never far from my thoughts – and thanks in large part to Twitter, I never felt as if I totally left it.

One of the things I did this year instead of reading and blogging was writing. Not a book (well, okay, yes – a book. But that’s not what I’m talking about here!), but letters! I found a few pen pals and I joined the Letter Writers Alliance. Then I discovered Postcrossing. And Reddit hosted a postcard version of Redditgifts.

Postcards are cool.

So when I saw that Quirk Books was looking for folks to review two new postcard books, I jumped at the chance!

And these are now my favorite postcards (and I’ve become a bit of a collector these past few months).


Wilhelm Staehle’s Silhouette Masterpiece Theater (silhouettemasterpiecetheater.com) is the rare Web comic that deserves to be printed. Each panel in the popular weekly strip features a painstakingly detailed etching carved from a beautiful painting; the results are gorgeous and very funny.

These two postcard books feature some of Staehle’s finest work. Hugs and Misses is a terrific Valentine’s Day gift, full of lovelorn ladies, roguish gentlemen, renegade Cupids, and indecent proposals. Stars and Swipes offers a hilarious vision of classic Americana, with farcical frontiersmen, prattling presidents, and other all-American oddities.


These would make great coffee table books to facilitate interesting conversation. But I’ll be honest – I plan to use these postcards! They’re so amazing that I just want to share them.

They’re made of high quality and thick card stock, so you don’t have to worry about them being ruined in transit. There’s plenty of room on the back to write a quick note. And they’re just all around fun.

My favorite postcard from Stars and Swipes is:

stars and swipes

My favorite postcard from Hugs and Misses was really hard to pick – they’re all so great! But I wanted to narrow it down, so this is the one I picked:

hugs and misses

These are the kinds of things that make me gigglesnort.

If you need a gift for an office holiday party, or for that one awkward friend in your life – these are definitely for you. But honestly – I think these would be perfect gifts for just about anybody who has a decent sense of humor.

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt – ReviewRelease Date: May 27, 2014
Title: We Are the Goldends
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Pages: 208
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it.

3 Stars

I am so very frustrated right now.

I’ve been on a serious re-reading kick for the last several months. We Are the Goldens is the first new book I’ve picked up to read since I can remember. I was really hoping to be blown out of the water.

But I wasn’t.

The book was interesting enough to keep me turning the page, but when I got to the final page it really felt as if there should be more pages. The story is one where Nell, the younger sister, keeps her older sister Layla’s secret until she just can’t do it anymore.

But we don’t get to see the fall out from that secret. And let me tell you – it’s the kind of secret that’s a Big. Fucking. Deal. Even though you figure out the secret very early in the book, before it’s confirmed.

The story I wanted to read was about how the secret – and its consequences – affected the sibling relationship.

The story I got was simply a younger sister complaining about how her sister is different until she can’t hold onto the secret any longer. The end.

I needed more to really connect with the story and the characters. This book only scratched the surface, and it left me feeling disappointed and a little bit as if I wasted my time with it.

Reading the Paranormal - 2014 Seriously Series Reading Challenge

I am finally reading series like crazy! Well, mostly series re-reads, but it’s fantastic - I am loving this whole read without reviewing thing I’ve got going on. Here’s my progress through June (you can see all of my goals here).

Series Started Before 2014:

Started Before 2014
4/10 series
  1. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
    • The Fiery Heart (series complete until next book comes out)
  2. House of Night by PC & Kristin Cast
    • Revealed (series complete until next book comes out)
  3. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
    • Shattered (series complete until next book comes out)
  4. The Ashfall Trilogy by Mike Mullin
    • Sunrise (series complete)

Series Started In 2014 (in Progress):

Started in 2014
1/5 series
  1. The Farm by Emily McKay
    • The Farm
    • The Lair
  2. The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts
    • Dark Witch
    • Shadow Spell
    • Blood Magic (not released yet, series complete until next book comes out)
  3. Blood of Eden by Julie Kagawa
    • The Immortal Rules
    • The Eternity Cure
    • The Forever Song

Series Rereads (in Progress):

2/3 series
  1. The Hollows by Kim Harrison
    • Dead Witch Walking
    • The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
    • Every Which Way but Dead
    • A Fistful of Charms
    • For a Few Demons More
    • The Outlaw Demon Wails
    • White Witch, Black Curse
    • Black Magic Sanction
    • Pale Demon
    • A Perfect Blood
    • Ever After
    • The Undead Pool
  2. The Meredith Gentry Series by Laurell K. Hamilton
    • A Kiss of Shadows
    • A Caress of Twilight
    • A Stroke of Midnight
    • Seduced by Moonlight
    • Mistral’s Kiss
    • Lick of Frost
    • Swallowing Darkness
    • Divine Misdemeanors
  3. The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
    • Darkfever
    • Bloodfever
    • Faefever
    • Dreamfever
    • Shadowfever
    • Iced
  4. Shifters by Rachel Vincent
    • Stray
    • Rogue
    • Pride
    • Prey
    • Alpha
The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno – ReviewRelease Date: July 8, 2014
Title: The Half Life of Molly Pierce
Author: Katrina Leno
Pages: 256
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
From the Publisher: You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering. 

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.
4 Stars

I didn’t reread the synopsis before I picked up this book.

So yeah. I had no idea what was going on. But bonus – that helped me relate to the MC because she had no idea what has happening either!

I did, however, figure it out before she did.

Molly Pierce loses time. She’ll suddenly find herself in a different place hours later than it should be. She thinks she’s going crazy.

One day, she “wakes up” to find herself driving. A boy on a motorcycle appears to be trying to catch up to her, and in his hurry to rush through an intersection his tire is clipped by a passing truck.

This boy that Molly has never seen, who is lying in a puddle of his own blood as his life slips away, seems to know who she is.

And it is this event that sets in motion a course of events that will change Molly’s life.

And I am glad I got to take that journey with her. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that happened in the book (I loved Mabel and Sayer together), but I understand why it had to go the way that it did.

Hard to read endings are sometimes the best ones, for reasons.

Me Since You by Laura Weiss – ReviewRelease Date: February 18, 2014
Title: Me Since You
Author: Laura Weiss
Pages: 368
Publisher: MTV Books
Source: Edelweiss, NetGalley
From the Publisher: Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother—and herself—from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?
4 Stars

Let’s start with Twitter, shall we?

Those tweets pretty much perfectly sum up the constant emotion I felt while reading this book.

It hurt.

But I’m so glad I read it. It was so real and so raw. I’ve never experienced anything like what Rowan went through in this book. Yes, I’ve been depressed. Yes, I have wanted to be dead. But I’ve never even considered the possibility of making that happen.

I just can’t imagine. Even though I read it and felt it and lived it with her, I still can’t imagine that being someone’s reality.

Yes, this book was hard to read.

But it was worth the hurt.

Me Since You is definitely the kind of book that can begin a dialogue with teens who either are, or know someone who is, depressed. I highly recommend it.

Just Sing by Rene Gilley – Review

Just Sing by Rene Gilley – ReviewRelease Date: June 5, 2014
Title: Just Sing
Author: Rene Gilley
Pages: 202
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: Sixteen-year-old Lily has always dreamt of singing professionally and being the first person in her family to attend college. Two years into her four-year plan, she’s on track for acceptance into her dream college’s prestigious music program. Until the school board holds an emergency budget meeting and cuts her high school’s award-winning vocal program. Lily now has the summer before her junior year to formulate a new strategy, or she can kiss her hopes of getting into Berkeley goodbye.

Back taxes and no money not only forces her family to sell some of their land but means having to learn to accept an intrusion on their peaceful ranch life. When the snobby new neighbors move into their mansion up the hill, Lily is positive summer can’t get any worse, and she’s determined to hate and ignore them—until she meets Aiden.

He’s broken and beautiful, and they become reluctant friends. In a confusing relationship that hovers between barely speaking acquaintances and something more, Lily finds the strength to question her tried-and-true plan and find a new path to follow her dream.

However, when Lily discovers her family is on the verge of losing their generations-old ranch, Seven Oaks, suddenly her plan, Berkeley, and dreams of being a singer all seem irrelevant and selfish. All that matters is saving her family’s home. Lily realizes that stepping out of her comfort zone and taking a risk in the last place she ever expected may just be the key to save Seven Oaks.
3 Stars

I love music. It’s a very large part of my life. So it’s no surprise that I jumped at the chance to read Just Sing when I saw it on NetGalley.

I wanted to love it.

But honestly, it got a little tiresome.

Lily is an amazing singer and has a lot of people in her corner, even if she can’t quite see it.

Her family ended up selling most everything they had in order to pay some back taxes, and Lily often uses this as an excuse to whine and lament her lot in life. She chooses to “self-sacrifice” – all the while complaining about it – so that her family isn’t burdened further financially by her dreams.

But I felt like Lily should have spent all of the time and effort she put into feeling sorry for herself doing something more productive – like finding a way to live her dream.

In the end, things were tied up a little too neatly for my liking. And Lily’s character didn’t experience a whole lot of growth. And if there’s one thing you really want to get out of Contemporary YA – it’s character growth that leads away from teenage angst.

Blindfolded Innocence by Alessandra Torre – Review

Blindfolded Innocence by Alessandra Torre – ReviewRelease Date: January 28, 2014
Title: Blindfolded Innocence
Author: Alessandra Torre
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: "I'm not sure what you have been told about me, but I'm not nearly as bad as they make me out to be." His deliciously deep voice carried a little bit of ego.

I'm sure you are exactly as bad as they make you out to be….

Brad De Luca is used to getting whatever and whomever he wants. The premier divorce attorney in town, he's a playboy who's bedded half the city—including his own clients. And when the newest intern at his firm poses a challenge, his seductive prowess goes into overdrive.

Pre-law student Julia Campbell is fresh off a failed engagement and happy with her new independence. Even if she weren't warned away from Brad at every turn, she'd know he was bad news. The last thing she needs is a man who could destroy her job prospects, not to mention her innocence. But before she knows it, the incorrigible charmer has her under his spell. His deviant tastes plunge her deep into a forbidden world of sexual exploration…but her heart may not survive the fall.
4 Stars

I’ll be honest. This wasn’t the best written novel I’ve ever read. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of it.

You know that you’re holding something special in your hands when you feel an inexplicable rage of jealousy on behalf of the main character.

Yeah, that really happened.

Julia was so trusting and Brad was so…. Brad. I got angry.

But I got over it. Because Brad was delicious.

And I really don’t care if books like this perpetuate the myth that women can change men. It’s fictionThe whole point is to escape reality.

And this one? Well, I escaped a lot.

Welcome to Month 2 of The Hollows Reading Challenge!

If you’re already signed up, then you’re ready to begin reading!

If you haven’t signed up yet, or want more information about what this challenge is all about, click the challenge button at the top of this post.

Month 1 Winners: 

  • Sarah @ The Bibliophile’s Diary is the winner of a signed hardcover of The Good, the Bad, and the Undead, along with a bus token from the Hollows.
  • Ann Buckhame @ Readster Quilt’s is the winner of Kindle editions of Dates from Hell and Holidays are from Hell, along with a bus token from the Hollows.

Month 2

April 17 – May 16

The goal for this month is to read Every Which Way but Dead and A Fistful of Charms.


There’s no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who’s already put her love life and soul in dire jeopardy through her determined efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice.

Between “runs,” she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a hot new vamp suitor.

Rachel must also take a stand in the war that’s raging in the city’s underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin – and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation.

And now her dark “master” is coming to collect his due.


The evil night things that prowl Cincinnati despise witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Her new reputation for the dark arts is turning human and undead heads alike with the intent to possess, bed, and kill her—not necessarily in that order.

Now a mortal lover who abandoned Rachel has returned, haunted by his secret past. And there are those who covet what Nick possesses—savage beasts willing to destroy the Hollows and everyone in it if necessary.

Forced to keep a low profile or eternally suffer the wrath of a vengeful demon, Rachel must nevertheless act quickly. For the pack is gathering for the first time in millennia to ravage and rule. And suddenly more than Rachel’s soul is at stake.


The Details:

1. You have all month to read these two books.

2. You have until May 16th to post a review or simply your thoughts about the books to be entered into this month’s giveaway.

3. Be sure to come back to this post to leave a link to your post, wherever it is (Goodreads, your blog, Twitter, etc.). You must leave a link to be entered into the giveaways. The link must point to a post written during the dates of each challenge month.

Month 2 Giveaway

One winner will receive Kindle editions of Dates from Hell and Holidays are from Hell, along with a bus token from the Hollows, a burning bunny pin, and Rachel’s Coat Check Tag from Carew Tower.

Don’t forget about the extra credit reads!

If you read any of the shorts/novellas on the extra credit list, you can post your reviews any time during the challenge. Each of those links will give you an extra entry into the final giveaway and an extra entry into that month’s giveaway! Just remember – create separate links for each book/novella you read that month.

ALSO! It’s okay if you don’t finish the books in the scheduled month. You won’t be eligible for the giveaways that month, but you’ll still be reading an amazing series.

Leave your links below for posts created between April 17 and May 16, 2014.  The linky will remain open through May 17.

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi – ReviewRelease Date: April 1, 2014
Title: The Summer I Wasn't Me
Author: Jessica Verdi
Pages: 352
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: NetGalley
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she's afraid that what's left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there's nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path...
5 Stars

The Summer I Wasn’t Me was one of the best and most difficult to read books I’ve ever read.

Lexi likes girls.

The truth was, I had never felt sad about being gay. It was just another part of who I was, no different than my size-seven feet or 20/20 vision. The part I hated was the hiding; the pretending to be someone I wasn’t; the steady, tormenting harassment that came in the form of Bible scripture and church sermons; the constant fear that if people found out, they would hate me, ridicule me, possibly even hurt me. That stuff sucked.

When her mom finds out, Lexi is sent to New Horizons – a religious camp intended to “cure” her homosexuality.

Yes, it’s a loaded topic.

And it was, at times, unbearable to read.

At the camp, Lexi was forced to wear a uniform (white sweater with cap sleeves, pink tank top, pink skort with white pinstripes, and white heeled sandals) to ensure she always looked feminine. She was forced to wear a gold cross necklace at all times to prove she was following Jesus. She was forced to say that she liked girls because her parents didn’t raise her properly and she was made to role-play her final memory of her dead father – changing it to tell him she was forgetting the relationship they had (since it had “damaged” her). It was horrifying.

I wanted to stop reading so many times, because I so fundamentally and vehemently disagree with everything New Horizons stands for. I come from a community of people who believed as they did and mistreated people in many of the same ways. I left that community for a reason, and I didn’t want to relive it in the pages of this book.

But I found myself completely invested in Lexi’s journey. And in the journeys of her friends Matthew and Carolyn.

I won’t tell you what happens, because you need to discover it for yourself – but trust me when I say that this book is worth reading. Push through the hard parts and come out on the other side changed.

I wanted her to be okay. I wanted her to live. To be herself.

Need More Information?

  • Book, Blog, BakeThe Summer I Wasn’t Me was such an impressive book. It was so hard to read about New Horizons, and to really read about the struggles of the characters, but it was so worth it. They all felt so real!
  • PinkindleI loved The Summer I Wasn’t Me. It tackled a subject that I had never read about before, and starred a lesbian protagonist which I haven’t seen enough of in YA fiction. There’s also a really cute romance, and some sweet family revelations. I just really, really enjoyed it.
  • The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say ShhhhhThe book gets a B for not doing much to help the huge divide between the Christian community and the LGBT community, so I would warn readers to remember that not all Christians believe in ex-gay therapy.
Adaptation by Malinda Lo – Review (Adaptation #1)Release Date: September 18, 2012
Title: Adaptation
Series: Adaptation #1
Author: Malinda Lo
Pages: 400
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: NetGalley
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.
4 Stars

This book opened up with birds going crazy and plunging into the ground (to their deaths) or flying en masse into airplanes causing crashes all over the world.

My first thought was what is happening here?

As I continued reading, I grew more and more fascinated – and more and more confused.

Mysteries, secrets, and conspiracies oh my!

This is one book where I couldn’t possibly have predicted what was really going on.

That makes me adore Malinda Lo.

Reese is my favorite kind of main character. As her life is imploding and the world around her seems to be going crazy, she doesn’t keep everything to herself (even though the government required her to sign an NDA after her accident). She finds ways to talk to her mom (yes – her mother). She decides – with David – that it’s okay to bring her best friend Julian into the loop. She doesn’t just suffer in silence and try to fix the world herself. I get so angry with characters who do that!

Her mom is actually involved in her life. That never happens in YA! A large chunk of the book is dedicated to Reese discovering that she likes girls (too). Her mom catches her kissing a girl, and there’s no drama whatsoever surrounding the scene. LOVE.

I do think the ending was wrapped up a little too neatly (in what world would the government release Reese and David simply because of media pressure?) but I’m excited to see what happens next. This story is far from over.

Need More Information?

  • Rather Be ReadingDespite my drawbacks, Lo successfully left me aching to know what happens to her characters. The blending of paranormal elements and conspiracy theories was incredibly intriguing. Pieces of the story felt so real to me that I couldn’t help but be wary of flocks of birds when I saw them. I have no idea what will happen next for Reese, but I am very anxious to see what Lo has in store for us.
  • Assorted InsanityThe plot was crazy. It starts off as birds crashing into random shit like they’re missiles and ends up being some crazy thing that I can’t really explain because of spoilers. It’s so weird and nonsensical. As you can tell, the only words I can use to describe the plot are weird, insane, and crazy. 
  • The Book SmugglersAdaptation is one of those rare, unique birds in YA: a good, cool and geek-friendly sci-fi story featuring an extremely diverse cast of characters and a beautifully portrayed bisexual protagonist.
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The majority of the books I review are obtained as advanced copies via Net Galley or Edelweiss, through ARC tours, or they are finished books I have purchased myself.

If you are an author or publisher and would like me to review your book, please read my review policy and contact me.

Each review will contain affiliate links to various booksellers for that book. If you choose to purchase the book through those link, I will be compensated.

~Mandi Kaye Ottaway

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