Day 2 of 5 Days of Love

In case you didn’t already know from reading this blog, I love getting cozy with a book and getting lost in another world.

I Love Reading

I love reading and in the past year I’ve even expanded my reading repertoire and have been using Goodreads like a social media platform. I grew up without internet until I was in high school so instead of surfing the web or playing games, I read. My mom always had a book on her nightstand and when I was old enough to read chapter books on my own she made sure I did too.

I was one of those kids that got super excited when the Scholastic Book Fair came to my school and I’d gather up all my savings just so I could buy all the books I wanted. I also borrowed books from my school’s library when I could and when I got the chance to go to the next town over where there was a public library, my mom made sure I was able to get what I wanted. I would definitely say that my love of reading came from her and I’m so thankful for that.

Reading is far different from watching a TV show or movie and I think teaching kids early that reading is fun and not just something you have to do for school is important. The accessibility to books is astonishing and I personally think that everyone should take advantage of that accessibility. When I was in middle school I babysat all summer for a family that didn’t have TV or internet in their house so I spent a lot of my Friday afternoons grabbing as many books as I could at the library so I had something to do the next week. If it wasn’t for that easy access I don’t know what I would have done for those eight hour days.

Reading for me means constantly learning and keeping my creativity alive. I love getting settled with a book that I can read for hours and get lost in the story. I don’t just read novels either, I’ve become more interested in books of poetry, graphic novels and educational books. I just finished a book on how to get organized in every room of your house and I loved it! Right now, I’m rereading the Harry Potter series because why not?

Reading is what you make of it and I know some people don’t read at all and that’s okay, but I don’t think I could ever be that type of person. I hope to read as much as I can for as long as I can because it’s part of my lifestyle and I absolutely love doing it. AND I’m always open to book suggestions so if you have any drop them in the comments below.

Stay tuned for the next three days of love!

Day 1 of 5 Days of Love

In honor of Valentine’s Day this Friday, I wanted to share five things over the course of the next five days that I absolutely love, love, love. I’ve always believed that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples, it’s for expressing your love even more for those you truly care about. I also think it’s great to get discounted chocolate the day after which brings me to Day One.

I Love Chocolate

I really love chocolate. Any type, form, with nuts, with caramel, all of it. Chocolate is my favorite sweet and I almost always have it on hand in my house, and in my desk at work (for emergencies of course). It’s my comfort food, my happy food, my I’m too sad to function food, you name it. If I have any choice of dessert, it’s probably going to have chocolate in it. Here are just a few of my favorite forms of chocolate:

  • My all-time favorite kind is the Lindt Lindor milk chocolate truffles. Literally the way to my heart is chocolate coated chocolate.
  • My favorite cookie is the classic Oreo. No double stuffed nonsense.
  • Candy bar: KitKat.
  • My favorite ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food: chocolate, caramel and marshmallow perfection.
  • Cake form? Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting all the way
  • I love hot chocolate with a bit of whipped cream too.

Stay tuned for the next four days of love!

Book Review: “The Last Time We Say Goodbye”

Book thirty nine/forty of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye

This book was a little hard to read mainly because of the central element of the story being about a teen’s suicide and how it affects those close to them. I think Cynthia Hand handles the touchy subject very well and really tells a genuine story about a sister who unexpectedly loses her brother. High school is hard enough but when your brother becomes “the kid that committed suicide” everyone starts to look at you differently and walk on eggshells whenever you enter the room. Lex faces a lot in this novel but that’s what makes her a great character.

I’ve said it multiple times before and I’ll say it again, I love character development. Lex’s character development is so well done in this novel. Saying it’s tough to deal with suicide is an understatement and you really see that through Lex’s eyes which made it kind of hard to read at times. Hand really did a great job in making the reader feel the pain Lex felt throughout the entire book so I was personally hoping that she would eventually get closure because I needed it too.

Something that I don’t like in books about touchy subjects is when an author leaves out details to “spare the audience.” I think if you’re writing a novel that has sensitive elements, it needs to be written correctly, no filter. Hand did that. If you sugar coat things or make them unrealistic, it’s not enjoyable to read. She didn’t sugar coat the story and it made it harder to read sure, but it also made in more enjoyable. Death isn’t an easy topic, but then again neither is life. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is about those not-so-easy topics. Lex deals with a lot of inner turmoil that in a way, buries her in a grave of her own thoughts and she has to find a way to dig herself out. Even though she’s alive, she’s dealing with death and how the moments leading up to her brother’s will never leave her.

I would recommend this book purely because of Lex’s character development and the emotional draw that Hand manages to accomplish with the story. It’s a hard subject matter, but it’s something that everyone has or is going to experience in their lives. Unfortunately, suicide is prevalent all to much in our current society and it’s not going to help anyone avoiding the topic. Of course, proceed with caution if this subject is too close to home.

This book completes my 2019 Reading Challenge. I technically finished the book in 2020, but I began reading it in 2019 so I’m counting it towards my challenge. I also listened to an audio book (Michael Connelly’s Two Kinds of Truth) back in August that I wasn’t sure about including in my challenge total, but after thinking about it, I did listen to the entire book and ultimately thought it still counted (if you disagree, keep it to yourself). So with that, my goal to reach 40 books was a success!

Thank you to all that have followed along and have read my reviews. I’m anticipating wanting to write more book reviews as I add to my “Read” list on Goodreads so head back here for more this year.

Book Review: “Pumpkinheads”

Book thirty eight of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Rainbow Rowell’s Pumpkinheads

I’ve really enjoyed reading Rainbow Rowell’s novels and when I found out she had a graphic novel coming out that was fall oriented I was very excited.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Rowell’s writing paired with the illustrations is witty and fun and everything you want in a graphic novel. Even though the intended audience is young adults, I loved the story and the adventure across the pumpkin patch. I didn’t read any sort of graphic novel aside from maybe an excerpt or passage for a school assignment so this year when I decided to challenge myself with reading I wanted to expand my reading array. Hence the addition of graphic novels.

I always thought graphic novels and comics were not my thing, but I really like the idea of a story being told with the added bonus of images (and it not being a TV show or movie). The images help create the story and show the reader exactly how the characters were intended to be visualized by the author. An added benefit to graphic novels is that the writer doesn’t have to spend time explaining settings or what a character looks like and can focus on the story and the dialogue which is arguably the best element of novels.

The very talented artist, Faith Erin Hicks, brought the characters and the setting to life with beautiful colors and composition. I really liked the story, but I appreciated the illustrations even more. It’s difficult to show so much in a small square on a page but Hicks did just that and she did it very well. The emotions conveyed on the page made the writing pop and the story flow so easily. I really enjoyed the novel and hope that Rainbow Rowell continues to write both traditional novels and graphic novels.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Book Review: “The Photography of Game of Thrones”

Book thirty seven of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

The Photography of Game of Thrones

So I became a Game of Thrones fan a little later in the game than most and you can read more about that in my blog post here. I managed to get the first seven seasons finished before the eighth premiered so I was able to suffer with the rest of the world while watching the series finale. I not only fell in love with the stories, the heroism and the phenomenal acting, but I also fell in love with the cinematography, the set and the beautiful imagery that brought the whole series to life.

All of that is beautifully put together in the coffee table book The Photography of Game of Thrones. Series photographer Helen Sloan captured many wonderful shots of the acting and behind-the-scenes creation of GOT throughout its 10-year run. Each of the 850 photos was especially chosen and placed in a chapter to highlight the seven new gods of Westeros. Each chapter is also introduced with a synopsis of the god’s connection to the story and how certain characters and their behavior embody what that god symbolizes.

I’m a fan of photography and I’m a fan of Game of Thrones and this book was a wonderful Christmas gift that I didn’t waste any time leafing through. The never-before-seen photographs and candid shots were not only fun to see but also showed all the hard-work that went into the creation of each and every episode.

I’m hoping this year that I’ll be able to read the first book of George R.R Martin’s series that inspired it all so stay tuned for that.

Stay tuned for my next review: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

Book Review: “The Paper Menagerie”

Book thirty six of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

Short stories are always great to read because they’re short and a quick to finish for most readers. They let you get a taste of a story without the commitment of an entire novel. Unfortunately, for me, a book of short stories wasn’t so great. I was excited to read this book and immerse myself in several different worlds but after I finished one story I wasn’t really motivated to pick up the book again for another story. It was like starting a whole new book again, but every day.

I really liked the stories that I did get to read from this collection but I didn’t get to read them all. I borrowed the book from the library and it was actually sent from another library so when I went to renew it (for the second time), it wouldn’t let me because someone else was waiting for it.

I hope that I can possibly pick up the book again and read more in the future as the stories were really engaging and interesting. I enjoyed the fantasy, futuristic story lines and the characters that were developed so quickly but in a tasteful way.

I was really surprised that it was so difficult for me to read and keep going but I think I just learned that short stories are okay in smaller doses for me and not in a full 450 page book.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Photography of Game of Thrones by Michael Kogge

Book Review: “Yes Please”

Book thirty five of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Amy Poehler’s Yes Please

I didn’t think I’d like non-fiction and biographies in particular but with this reading challenge I wanted to try some new things. Amy Poehler’s biography about her life as a comedian and mom was one that I enjoyed a lot. I mean, who doesn’t like comedy? Add some candid writing from one of the best female comedians of this time and you have a greatly unique read.

Yes Please is Poehler’s autobiography about her life before comedy, her marriage (and divorce) and of course her life now as a working comedian and mother. Her style of writing is very blog-like with little quips and real honest writing which is always a great touch in my opinion. If a celebrity is going to write their own book it needs to show their character through the writing and I think Poehler did exactly that. I really felt like I knew her because of those little “breaks in character”.

Some of her stories from before SNL and stardom were so real and made me respect her as a celebrity. I always respect a celebrity more when I see or read about how hard they worked to get to where they are now. Of course reading about these little skits she did with other “not yet discovered comedians” and other things like the Upright Citizens Brigade made me fall down a YouTube rabbit hole of old videos after reading a chapter. So in addition to getting to read the book, I also got to watch a few standup routines and SNL skits.

The other side of her book parallel to her career is her personal life. Poehler talks openly about her life as a mother and as someone who has been divorced and it shows how celebrities have lives outside of their career that you don’t normally see. Right now, as a young adult, I like reading about other peoples’ lives because it gives me different perspectives and lets me take in life lessons that other people have learned. And that includes non-fiction and fictional stories. And obviously when it’s a real person’s story and lessons learned, it’s more impactful.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that’s a fan of Amy Poehler. Her writing is from the heart and genuinely candid and fun(ny) to read.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Reflecting on a Decade, Preparing for the Next

The new year, and new decade for that matter, snuck up on me way too quickly. I feel as though this last year went by in a blink of an eye and now it’s over and it’s 2020.

I’ve never been a New Year’s resolutions type of person and last year I think I set a couple 2019 resolutions, but I either forgot where I put the list or I didn’t write them down at all. Regardless of last year’s goals I’ve been thinking about all I’ve been able to accomplish and what has happened not only in the past year, but in the past decade. It’s strange to think that 10 years ago I was in middle school living in a totally different state thinking about a future that is far different from where I am today. I think reflecting on your past and seeing where you are in the present is a great step towards personal growth. Not to mention, it’s fun to reminisce.

So from the past to the present here are a bit of the highs (and lows) of my last decade.

2010

Living in Parks, Arizona, attending school in Flagstaff, Arizona.
– I finished my 7th-grade year at FJA.
– I went to Catalina Island on a school trip.
– My first “girl’s trip” to celebrate a friend’s birthday in Phoenix.
– I went to a summer ski camp for the second time in Mt. Hood, Oregon.
– I started my 8th-grade year at FJA.
– Skiing, skiing, skiing, school, school, school.

2011

Started the year living in Parks, AZ, attending school in Flagstaff, Arizona.
– Attended my first school dance: A Night in Paris.
– More skiing, more school.
– Renaissance Festival trip for school.
– I finished my 8th-grade year at FJA. Graduation ceremony at the Arizona Snowbowl.
– Summer babysitting of a family friend’s youngest son: lots of movies and lightsaber battles.
– I read so much. I think I made my mom take me to the library weekly.
– Going away party with school friends and teachers at my favorite pizza place.
– Moved to Colorado.
– I started high school at Middle Park in Granby, Colorado.
– First job at Devil’s Thumb Ranch as a hostess.
– I met a lot of new people. And my “brother from another mother”.
– I joined the high school ski team.
– Vacation back to Arizona for Christmas break by myself. Spent time with my grandparents.

2012

Living in Tabernash, Colorado, attending school in Granby, Colorado at beginning of year.
– I attended my first State Championship for Alpine Skiing.
– Joined the spirit squad (off-season) and met even more wonderful people.
– Prom 2012 as a freshman guest of one of those wonderful people.
– The family began falling apart.
– Summer cheer camp at Copper Mountain. Almost broke my face.
– Started my sophomore year at MPHS.
– First car!
– Moved to outside of Granby, Colorado.
– First football season as a cheerleader.
– Second season start for ski team.

2013

Living and attending school in Granby, Colorado.
– Second State Championship for Alpine Skiing at home – Winter Park Resort.
– First time struggling with a class in school. Damn Trig.
– Spring Break with my best friend’s family: Daytona, Florida.
– Prom again.
– Dyed my hair…way to much.
– Some of my best friends graduated high school.
– A fantastic 16th birthday day of adventure for a close friend.
– Hunger Games premiere, next day drove an hour and a half to see it again.
– First Rockies baseball game.
– I started my junior year of high school.
– Second football season as a cheerleader.
– Cheerleading competitions.
– Christmas back in Arizona for the last time. Parent’s long, drawn-out split begins.

2014

Living and attending school in Granby, Colorado.
– Third State Championships for Alpine Skiing.
– First car accident.
– Visited “brother from another mother” in college.
– Junior River Trip: A Life-Changing Experience.
– Prom with a wonderful guy and a great group of friends.
– Canyoneering trip #1.
– Grew a friendship from simple classmates to best friends.
– France with a great group of classmates and a kickass teacher.
– Beginning of my senior year.
– Senior photos paired with best friend photoshoot.
– First concert at the Pepsi Center, upgraded floor seats for Katy Perry.
– Student council, honors, AP, yearbook editor.
– Boy’s soccer manager.
– First (and only) college visit: University of Oregon.
– First love.
– Alpine last year.

2015

Living and attending school in Granby, Colorado at the beginning of the year.
– Final State Championship. I kinda blew it.
– Changed my mind about what to study in college.
– Spring break to Florida, again.
– First amusement park experience: Universal Studios.
– Joined soccer team. JV is more fun.
– AP tests, college prep.
– Senior prom complete with puking, converse shoes and lots of dancing.
– Canyoneering trip #2. Trip leader with my best friend.
– Started job at Never Summer.
– Graduation.
– Summer shenanigans.
– MLS All Star Game.
– Bought my second car.
– I moved to Oregon on my own and started college at the University of Oregon. Go Ducks!
– Struggled a lot to make friends and feel at home.
– Found an odd job that fit me perfectly.
– Home for the holidays.
– Mom surprises me with her new boyfriend. Mixed feelings.

2016

Attending school in Eugene, Oregon, home in Colorado for breaks.
– College is hard. Calculus is hard. Being an adult is hard.
– Spring break back at home. Lots of fun time with mom.
– New friends.
– First college party.
– Road trip back to Colorado with mom. So much in so little time.
– Backpacking trip with the girls right in our backyard.
– Lots of work.
– I waited for school to start, one month later than everyone else.
– Back to Oregon for my second year.
– ASL class brings me a best friend.
– Planned to complete school in three years instead of four.
– Fall football games.
– Thanksgiving with a fellow Coloradan in Oregon.
– Christmas back in Colorado.

2017

Attending school in Eugene, Oregon, home in Colorado for breaks.
– Spring break back in Colorado.
– Roadtrip to Moab with the best two people.
– Found Alpha Phi Omega.
– Found another best friend.
– Trip up the coast for two mountain girls.
– Major fundraiser for UO and the Annual Giving Program. Lots of hype.
– Became Media Chair for APO.
– “Brother from another mother” and I road trip back to Colorado.
– Lots of solo summer hikes.
– We welcome home Nash.
– Third and final year at UO.
– Moved into an apartment with two roomies.
– 21st Birthday.
– Met a pretty cool photographer guy.
– Went on a few adventures with some awesome friends.
– Thanksgiving in sweats with wine and The Great British Bake Off.
– Inducted two littles into Alpha Phi Omega.
– Home for the holidays as usual.
– Attended my first trade show for Never Summer.

2018

Attending school in Eugene, Oregon, home in Colorado after school.
– First trip to Canada for Alpha Phi Omega.
– Spring Break brought my two best friends from home to Oregon.
– Internship with Food for Lane County.
– Stepped out of my comfort zone and let that handsome photographer take lots of photos – including my senior pictures.
– I got to volunteer at the Prefontaine Classic at Historic Hayward Field.
– Memorial Day girls weekend in Hood River with my college best friend.
– Alpha Phi Omega end-of-year banquet. Lots of tears, happy and sad.
– Presented my final college project. Nerves galore.
– Graduation. A full weekend of highs and lows.
– Journey back to Colorado with mom and college best friend.
– Planning tourist in my home town.
– Back to work at Never Summer.
– First Harry Styles concert.
– Summer hikes with Nash.
– Became a volunteer with my old high school’s Adventure Education Program.
– Chaperone for Sophomore River Trip.
– Our family bought a house. Yay!
– Volunteered to help coach my old high school’s Alpine Ski Team.
– I was offered a job with Alderwood Resort Management as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator.
– Ended the year happy, healthy and with a career beginning.

2019

Living in Granby, Colorado.
– Started a reading challenge for the year.
– Celebrated my best friend’s 21st birthday.
– Got into Nordic Skiing.
– Traveled to Durango with the Alpine Ski Team for state. Five feet of fresh powder.
– Winter snowshoe adventures.
– Las Vegas work trip. First time in Sin City.
– Junior River Trip with the Adventure Education Program as a staff member.
– Lots of visits to Colorado Springs.
– Kayaking.
– Visit to Oregon to see 2019 Graduation and spend time with college best friend.
– Powell’s bookstore.
– Kacey Musgraves at Red Rocks.
– Summer hikes.
– Hammock reading.
– Camping trip with family.
– Heartbreak.
– Fall photo chasing.
– Carrie Underwood concert with mom.
– Accepted the fact that I have anxiety. Decided to do something about it.
– Taught mom how to kayak.
– Taking Steps for Cancer 5k.
– Birthday hike to ring in 23.
– First craft fair as a vendor. Bust.
– Planned our company holiday party. Success.
– Ski team volunteering again.
– End-of-year review. Promotion and raise.
– First massage. Fantastic.
– First facial. AWFUL.
– A beautiful Christmas with family.

Unfortunately, a few days into the new year I lost my grandfather, Poppy. It was a tough beginning to 2020 but I know he’s with his lord and savior and that one day I’ll see him again.

Looking Ahead: 2020

2020 is going to be filled with a lot of great things. I’m volunteering again with the high school ski team, I’m going to be traveling across the US to my company’s various properties, I hope to move out of my family home and into one of my own, Family Hawaiian Cruise 2020 and I’m planning to get out and have more adventures.

My boss and I were talking about New Year’s Resolutions and how instead of resolutions, she sets goals for herself. I think setting goals is healthier and more realistic. Having a goal is more tangible in my mind and will hopefully be easier to accomplish in the long run. And with that here are my 2020 goals:

  • Write 20 blog posts (not including book reviews).
  • Participate in an outdoor activity for at least one hour once a week.
  • Drink a bottle of water at my desk every day.
  • Take more photographs whenever I can.
  • Save $5,000 at minimum.
  • Read 20 books.
  • Continue my education with online or in-person classes and certifications.
  • Move into my own place. Decorate however I want.

I’m optimistic that this next year will bring a lot of great travel experiences and other opportunities both professionally and personally. I know these goals are only the beginning and that I will probably develop more goals or change these goals as the year goes on.

The Next Decade

It’s hard to believe that at the end of this next decade I will be 33 years old. I’m hoping by then I’m well into my career and I’m in my own home somewhere in Colorado. I hope to be happy and healthy and have many great relationships. It’s difficult to think about what’s going to happen even this next year, let alone this next decade, but going into it with optimism and goals should help.

What are your goals for the new year? What about in 10 years?

Book Review: The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series (1-6)

Books twenty nine through thirty four of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

J.R. Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood

I was first introduced to J.R. Ward’s world of vampires when I was in high school from that dear old bookworm of a friend that I’ve mentioned before. She owns all the books and let me borrow the first one, Dark Lover, that I read in high school. I was pretty hooked just from reading that first book but unfortunately school happened and reading for fun wasn’t a priority – sad I know. I remember starting the second and not being able to finish and when she left for college I didn’t think too much of the series until later when I started college myself.

Another bookworm friend that I met in college was volunteering at a huge book resale fair that the local Friends of the Library chapter puts on every year in Eugene and insisted that I come to check it out. I didn’t exactly hesitate attending a large, convention-center sized, used book sale where books started at just $1. After weaving through rows and rows and rows of books I saw the logo of the Black Dagger brotherhood on a book. I picked it up out of curiosity and discovered the Insider’s Guide from author J.R. Ward. I leafed through and started to remember a bit of the premise and remembered how much my hometown friend loved the series. I ended up buying the book as a gift to her and then thought to look for the books themselves for myself. Remember the (softcover) books were only $1 so I had no shame in creating a very heavy stack to haul back to my small studio apartment. Unfortunately, that stack did not include any of the other BDB books.

Fast forward to a little later in the school year. That same bookworm friend from college wanted to take me to a great used bookstore in Eugene called Smith Family Bookstore that she really liked. I had a list going on my phone of books that I wanted and would look for (what book lover doesn’t have that never-ending list?). On that list was the first of the BDB series. I figured I had read the first one, but should probably start over from the beginning anyway. I found the book and one other from the first six and brought it back to my apartment in hopes of starting up and getting into the series. I managed to reread Dark Lover but didn’t get much farther than that. I kept my eyes out for the next in the series but it wasn’t until my senior year when I finally got to the wonderful Powell’s City of Books in Portland that I found several in the series, the second installation, Lover Eternal, included.

Fast forward again to this year and I finally got into reading the series again. Since that first trip to Powell’s I’ve managed to acquire quite a few of the books and had the original six so I started off with the second book, Lover Eternal. I powered through that book, and then the next, and so on until I read all five remaining in the original saga. Keep in mind these books at all 400+ pages and I managed to read five in about two months, which surprised me. I decided to take a break and read some other books to complete my 2019 Challenge before jumping back into the series with book seven: Lover Avenged. Below is a little review on each book and then more on the series as a whole.

I will begin by letting you know that this series is paranormal/fantasy romance. So, if you are not one who is interested in sexy lethal vampires, I’d stop here. If you think you’d be interested in romantic tales of love, loss, family and the occasional killing spree please continue.

Dark Lover – Even though I read this look awhile ago and not during this year, I still want to touch on it considering it is the first of the series. Each book is focused on one brother of the Black Dagger brotherhood, an elite group of vampire warriors tasked with the protection of the race. The first book is focused on Wrath, the leader of the brotherhood. Wrath is stuck in the awkward predicament of helping his late friend and brother’s half-breed daughter during her transition which not only transforms her body from human to vampire, but from normal human life to the life of a vampire. Wrath attempts to console Beth during her transition and ends up falling in love with her instead. With Beth now in his life he decides the race needs a true, dedicated leader so he hangs up his daggers and ascends to the throne as rightful King.

In addition to the lustful relationship between Wrath and Beth many other things occur in the book. You meet the entire brotherhood and other vampires in the community as well as the race’s enemy, the lessers. The lessers’ goal is to wipe out the vampire race at the command of the Omega, a powerful other-worldly being. The brotherhood’s job is to protect the race and extinguish the lessening society but of course it doesn’t come easy. The book, and series as a whole, is packed with action, romance and twists and turns that keep you reading late into the night.

Lover Eternal – Rhage, a powerful warrior plagued with the curse of a beast, is lost within the brotherhood and scared of what the beast within could unleash at any moment around anyone. The vampire race is hidden within the normal world and no human is allowed into it but that changes when Mary gets thrown head-first into the arms of Rhage (literally). Mary, whose plagued with her own inner beast that she can’t control, sees something in Rhage that she’s never seen in anyone before. As the battle against the lessers rages on, the battle to keep their new found love together becomes a challenge all its own. Rhage and Mary’s forbidden relationship is one I latched onto. Their chemistry made me root for them from the very beginning and the challenges they face together made me fall in love with the relationship even more.

With Mary’s introduction also came the introduction of her gorgeous neighbor Bella who Mary always thought was different but couldn’t put her finger on it. Bella is a vampire. (Please note that Bella is far different from Bella Swan of the Twilight series. I know it’s a girl named Bella in a vampire series, but they are very different from each other I promise.)

Lover Awakened – Lover Awakened follows “the most terrifying member” of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Zsadist. Riddled with scars of his past, Zsadist finds little comfort with his brotherhood and even less comfort from others, possible lovers included. That is until he can’t get Bella out of his mind. His inner animal craves being with her and his vengeance to bring justice to the lessers that tortured her makes their bond even stronger. Though Zsadist at first doesn’t take in the love Bella practically throws at him, she eventually brings down his walls and he finds the love and comfort he always needed. I found this story the hardest to read because Zsadist’s past is tortured and cruel and far from loving in any shape or form. His scars, both physical and mental are only exacerbated by the presence of his twin brother Phury who grew up in quite the opposite way. Phury is tortured himself because like his brother he finds feelings for Bella which ultimately complicates their story even more. More on Phury’s story later.

Lover Revealed – Butch O’Neal is probably my favorite human character in the series. Butch fell into the vampire world and the inner circle of the brotherhood in the first installment of the series, Dark Lover, when he, as a local homicide detective, dug a little too deep into a case. Butch’s story is a long and complicated one that thankfully ends with love (and let’s be real, most of these stories end in love). Butch, who is totally immersed into the vampire world, falls head over heels for an aristocrat female vampire who is pretty much out of his league by several standards. Marissa is not only a highborn aristocrat but also the sister of the vampire race’s most prominent physician Havers. Because of their social status, Havers shelters Marissa from male vampires and especially the brotherhood. Butch being no exception.

In addition to battling his inner turmoil on whether to pursue Marissa or not, Butch also gets involved in the never-ending war between the lessers and the vampires. Butch’s story and his journey in his human life enthralled me from the first time I met him in Dark Lover. His sassy Bostonian attitude and blatant disregard for his own mortal state makes him an extremely lovable character that I was so excited to read about even more in Lover Revealed. His story evolves more throughout the book and what he brings to the brotherhood is so genuine and unique in its own way I couldn’t imagine the series without him.

Lover Unbound – Vishous’s story was one that kept me on the edge of my seat. Vishous is Butch’s best friend and is now dealing with a separation of sorts now that Butch and Marissa are together. Though he’s never shown affection towards others, Vishous suddenly finds himself craving intimacy. Now remember when I mentioned above about how humans aren’t allowed into the vampire world? Well, there’s always exceptions and so far in the series there has been two, Butch and Mary. Enter the third: Doctor Jane. Vishous finds himself in the ER of a human hospital in critical condition and Dr. Jane Whitcomb not only helps bring him back but sparks something that no one thought would exist inside him. With Jane’s life-saving measures, Vishous finds himself dealing with cravings he’s never had before, cravings for the love of a woman. Jane, like Mary, is thrown into the vampire world and has to make a very hard decision that could leave more than one person heartbroken. Each chapter in this story ended in a way that kept me starting the next chapter until I was reading late into the night or morning really. The book also ended in a way that had me picking up the next immediately.

Lover Enshrined – Lover Enshrined wraps up the main saga with the last main brother’s story. Phury, who has given his all to the brotherhood and to his twin Zsadist, finally gets a chance at love but it doesn’t come in the way he expected. In the vampire world procreation is dangerous. The time it takes to produce young is long and commonly results in the death of the mother. This therefor puts strain on the vampire population and maintaining the race’s existence. In the past there has been a male of the brotherhood that is chosen to keep the vampire line going by committing himself to the Chosen, a group of females dedicated to the preservation of the race. Phury’s dedication is well-known among the brotherhood and honorable to say the least, but when it comes to actually taking Cormia, his first Chosen, he shrugs off his responsibility and delays the process. Phury’s commitment to the mission of the brotherhood wavers and he becomes lost in a way. The journey he takes and his self discovery is a great story that I felt fit well as the final installment of the original saga.

In addition to Phury’s story, the lessening society’s story also hits a major peak in Lover Enshrined. An unexpected twist in leadership brings an entirely new threat to the vampire world and puts the brotherhood on high alert with little resources to protect the race.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide – The Insider’s Guide was a great book to reference throughout reading the first six books in the series. J.R. Ward writes little interviews between her and the characters of the series in addition to character profiles of each brother. I have to admit I looked ahead on one or two of the brothers to see if they ended up with the right lover – I was being impatient, the books are 400+ each after all. It’s a wonderful addition to the series and worth buying if you are getting into the series.

In addition to the brothers in the Black Dagger Brotherhood there are several other characters that are introduced and involved in the books. One of my favorite aspects of this series and of Ward’s writing style is the switch from character to character in each new chapter and sometimes even with a single chapter. This also sets up the next several books with characters that we’ve been introduced to but haven’t been able to get their own story yet.

Overall, I love love love this series and can’t wait to get reading the next book. I would like to write more and more about each book but I’d rather you take a look for yourself. Like I said before, if you’re not a romance novel person, this isn’t the series for you. If you are, please consider starting this series, you won’t regret it.

Stay tuned for my next review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

I’m on Etsy!

A couple weekends ago I took a chance at a local craft fair and got a booth for some of my crocheted ornaments. I made a few mini stockings last Christmas for some small gift add-ons and gift card holders and several people thought they were really cute and suggested I make more and try to sell them. I’ve always been a crafty person and I love having little projects to do so I added to my crocheted stockings and made snowflakes, hearts, stars and little trees as well for the craft fair.

Unfortunately, the fair was a little lacking in traffic so I didn’t sell much. The experience was great though and I really enjoyed meeting other local crafters and getting to know the process and feel of craft fairs. Since I had some inventory left I toyed with the idea of setting up an Etsy shop to see if I’d have any luck there. Soooo I made my very own Etsy shop!

Right now all I have up are my mini stockings in a pack of three. If I start getting orders I might put up some of my other creations or other bundle styles of my stockings. I’m also always welcome to suggestions.

Go take a look and let me know what you think!
My shop is called KelseyFaganCreative and you can follow the link here to get directly to my stockings.

The Short Warm Season: Summer and Fall Wrap-Up

Even though it is technically still fall, here in Colorado we are already in full-blown winter. It’s already snowed twice and it’s sticking to the ground so it’s staying for the next six months. I’ve been a bit absent from here lately, but it’s because I’ve been busy. So here’s a wrap-up of all that I was up to this summer and fall.

Camping

I only got out once this summer and believe me, I wish I had gone more. Thankfully, my family wanted to go out to one of our favorite remote spots in Routt National Forest for a weekend in August. It’s not far from where we live so it’s an easy location to pull the camper out to. We didn’t have the best weather, but the clouds cleared and the wind died down to give us this beautiful sunset.

Reading

I tried to read a lot this summer because it’s always nice to sit outside, enjoy the warm weather and get lost in a good book. Check out my 2019 Reading Challenge page to see what all I’ve read. My favorite spot to read: my hammock in the comfort of my own backyard.

Hiking, hiking and more hiking.

I didn’t hike as much as I would have liked, but I did still got out quite a bit. Some of my favorite trails are just 10 minutes from my house making them very convenient for a quick adventure. The Indian Peaks Wilderness offers an abundance of trail types and destinations like Cascade Falls where my mom and I try to hike to every summer together.

Concerts

I have never been a huge concert goer. They have just never been a major priority for me, but then again I don’t keep up on new music (fortunately, I have a friend who keeps a playlist updated for me). My first concert was the fabulous Kelly Clarkson back in 2006 when I was 10 years old and the next was my sophomore year of high school where my brother (from another mother) scored Katy Perry tickets last minute.

This year I managed to go to two concerts: Kacey Musgraves at the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater with my music guru best friend and then the stunning Carrie Underwood with my mom who hadn’t been to concert since Kelly Clarkson with me 13 years ago. Both were amazing concerts that I really enjoyed attending.

Kayaking

I have to say I’m lucky for having friends that are willing to let me borrow equipment and go out with them. My high school best friend has a spare kayak that I think I spent more time in than her family probably did. I’ll forever be grateful for where I live and the ease that comes with getting to nature. One of my favorite spots, Willow Creek Resevoir, is less than 10 minutes away and is non-motorized so you don’t have to dodge boats while paddling around.

Family Time

My mom got a kayak for her birthday and I got to take her out during the peak of fall foliage – resulting is some beautiful photos obviously. She loved it and can’t wait to get out next summer. I love spending time with my mom and hiking, camping, kayaking or just spending time with each other. It’s valuable time that I have now because I’m unsure where I’ll be next year.

Adventuring

Summer and fall are the best times to go out and adventure. I consider every day that skews from your typical routine as an adventure. I had a few ups and downs this summer so when fall came I decided to make the most of it and just enjoy life. That meant anything from taking a day to watch my favorite movies, sit and read or simply spending time with friends and family. It all wrapped up beautifully with a birthday hike with my best friend in early October.

Then winter hit…

The warm weather came to a halt on October 10th when we got our first snowfall of the year. So here is to the next beautiful season and all the adventures awaiting us!

My Pinning Addiction

I know I’ve been absent for quite some time with a post (book reviews excluded). I promise I’m working on a few new posts and I hope to get some up here soon.
With that being said; if you have any ideas for posts or want to know anything in particular, let me know in the comments below.

In the meantime, if you want to take a look at my Pinterest to get to know me more, click here.

I’ve been a fan of Pinterest since a friend in high school introduced it to me six or seven years ago and I haven’t stopped pinning since. I can say that I’m almost addicted to Pinterest at times and can spend a good hour just scrolling through pins. I don’t get too crazy though, and have narrowed down my boards over the years and taken out all the ones I created in high school that were too specific to teenage life. You know, the “Prom” board and the pins that talked about how to decorate your locker. I’ve grown up a bit and refined my tastes.

Lately, I’ve been focused on crafting, cooking and decorating. Of course, I have other interests that get their own board like “The Works” which is hair and nail oriented and “For My Feet” which is all shoes. Like most pinners, I have several boards that vary in category and content. Whenever I find myself pinning something more often to a board that doesn’t necessarily fit, I create a new one. It will most likely be an ever-growing social media platform for me.

If you’re on Pinterest give me a follow and I’ll follow back!

Stay tuned for more posts coming soon.