Discussion: Do Reviews Need an About the Author Section?

Do Reviews Need an About the Author Section?

When I first started blogging, I did not include an “about the author” section in my reviews. Mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing anyway. But then I saw so many reviewers including that at the bottom of their reviews. So I started doing it.

Over these five and a half years, I have come across so many authors who don’t have their Goodreads author page set up, don’t have a website, or don’t have any social media – some a combination of two or all three of these things.

It is hard to also keep all those links updated in old reviews over the years if they change. And how would I know? I don’t go back into them and check the links. And it looks really bad (in my opinion) when you click on a link from a website and it does not work.

Recently I wrote two reviews. One author had nothing but a generic website with pictures of their books. That was it. The other had nothing. So I made an executive decision to completely remove the About the Author section at the bottom of those reviews.

Now I’m thinking of doing it for all of my reviews. Removing the About the Author section permanently. It would definitely save me quite a bit of time and hassle.

Is this a reviewing taboo? I really don’t know.

Do you include an About the Author in your reviews? Is it blogging etiquette to do so? What if I got rid of it?

WOW Moments Trying to Date Again

Since the break-up, I have tried dating. Tried being the operative word, here. I’m now convinced we live in a one-date culture today, but that’s another story. Today is all about stupid crazy shit these guys have said to me that are just HARD eye-roll moments.

So…you were going to either bail last minute or stand me up entirely? On a date YOU asked for? That’s been planned for 8 days? Mmmm. No, boy. I think I gotta wash my hair…


I love my friend Joyce. “I’d read that blog.” Well, y’all, I made it happen. Don’t even get me started on this crap. The lies or the blaming Christianity thing. No, honeyboo, that means you’re a Baptist. Let’s move on…


Dudebro doesn’t even know WTF he is. Too bad, he seemed cool. Obviously…not. But don’t call him a player. He’s not a player.


Y’all. This one had SO much potential. And then he no-showed…twice. So, player, but initially great conversations. Too bad. His New York balls and loud mouth were about to get him an “aight, bet” in a “abort, abort, fatal death mortality ahead” kind of way down here in Texas. Also, you gotta feed this unbiological Mexican girl the food of her country, dumbass. (Y’all, I have said this since I was in like 7th grade – my Mexican uncle will claim me, so don’t be hating.)


This just got me all fired up and roasty. Apparently someone got some chestnuts over an open fire. And yes, I did read this to my classes that day. You don’t get to be a misogynistic asshole. I have endured too much of that crap and I won’t stand for it anymore. I might also be getting feisty like an old folk in my “old” age, but IDGAF. Come at me, bro!

Discussion: Things I Learned on My First Cruise

Things I Learned on My First Cruise

Just like anything new you try, going on a cruise for the first time can bring learning experiences. Most of you know I went on a cruise to Cozumel at the beginning of the month. While it was my first time out of the country and I had such high hopes and expectations and excitement, the learning curve brought me down off my high. So, here’s my hard row to hoe that I am imparting to you…

  1. Pack an extension cord. There are no outlets ANYWHERE. Except right there for the TV. So if you have special needs, like a CPAP or more than one electronic and you don’t bring an extension cord, you’re going to have to pull out that TV from its cubby and pull all the cords through the hole to find the small extension cord for three and plug your shit in and have it dangling all over the room dangerously waiting to trip some unsuspecting person just wanting to friggin’ walk to the bathroom. So, pack an extension cord.
  2. Rest up beforehand. Do not stay up the night before packing and panicking. Do not let your sleep schedule get jacked up prior to your trip. Get yourself on a 9-6 schedule so you won’t be tired all the time on your cruise. That’s the worst. Because when you go back to your stateroom to take a nap after dinner and you fully intend to go to the comedy club at 11:30 and set an alarm at 9:30 to be back up and fresh, you WILL NOT be crawling back out of that bed until after 8:00 am. Kiss the comedy club, the marriage game, and any other fun night thing goodbye. Save yourself the heartache and regret by being fully rested when you walk on that boat. Ship!
  3. Don’t buy the internet package, which most likely will be a myriad of social media apps. Don’t waste your money, whatever the cost. Just don’t. Save it and go buy yourself a couple drinks. Because that shit will not work. Just take your photos and videos and share them all after getting back home. Which is like, the entire opposite point of living in the moment and everyone not vacationing living vicariously through you. Whatever, technology, I never liked you anyway.
  4. Wear your swimsuit onto the boat. You can’t go to your room half the first day anyway, so get your ass up to those pool decks. Get yourself out in that sun or you’ll be white AF when you come back. How can you say you even went on a cruise? Do you even lift, bro? Like, how do I *know* you went to Cozumel? Pictures lie. That could be anywhere. Photoshop is incredible these days. You still as white as when you left. Don’t come back home white as Wite-Out. Get some sun. Just do it!
  5. Do not buy the pictures from the cruise’s photography set up. They are not going to go on sale on the final morning of the cruise. Thanks, Susan! That was $200! Total rip off. Discreetly take pictures of YOUR pictures. They have to have your consent to photograph you anyway. It is YOUR face and YOUR identity. And they don’t do anything to you anyway except say over and over “No pictures. Copyright.” And then your friend starts freaking on you because they’ve said it 3 times and makes you bail. Sheesh.
  6. Don’t spend a lot of money on the ship. Take your money ashore. Bring a shit ton of money, or on your card or whatever. You can buy fabulous jewelry CHEAP!! They will bring the price down again and again to just make a sale. I also learned you should haggle with any of the little shops selling trinkets and souvenirs. Susan paid $25 for the same bag my brother got for $15, which was originally $40.

I have obviously thought I was hilarious this month, just saying. Stay tuned for more funny eyeroll shit coming soon!

Discussion: Returning to Reading

Returning to Reading

I am now two weeks into returning from my hiatus. I knew that would be a bit of a tough thing to do after being gone for two three months. It wasn’t too bad once I got started and into the groove of things with writing and scheduling, checking what’s left, drafting posts that aren’t quite ready to schedule yet.

I knew the hard part would be picking back up a book.

I stopped reading entirely mid-March. I just could not bring myself to even bother with everything imploding in my life. How? How is this possible when I LOVE reading? It has always been my escape from all the crap and shit in my life, which started at a young age. How could I turn away from the one thing I always turn to in times of stress and crazy events?

I don’t even know the answer. All I can think is that my anxiety level was so high, I just couldn’t.

Now that I am moved (again) and fully settled in except for a couple of very minor things, the bullet journal process is smoothed out, and I’ve gotten the blog up and running again, I decided I was ready to tackle books again. I left off not far into what seemed a promising book.

And I was scared.

Was it that I didn’t want to give up any more time from the things I was already doing (bullet journal, blog, TV, games)?

Was I in a slump and that’s why it was so easy to give up books?

I still remembered the premise of the book and what happened so far, which wasn’t much. So what was the deal? It wouldn’t be hard, I told myself.

I had to slowly, methodically choose a time for reading. A time in the quiet hours of the morning or night to put down the phone, turn off the TV, and just cuddle in with the first rays of sunshine beaming in or the occasional headlights flitting by.

I had to fall in love with reading again.


Have you ever fallen out of love with reading? How did you fall in love again?

Discussion: YA vs. NA vs. Contemporary

YA vs. NA vs. Contemporary 

I have had a problem distinguishing new adult and contemporary reads. Ever since these two terms were introduced a few years ago, I didn’t delve too far into them or put much stock in the terms or new niche genres. Mostly because I didn’t understand them and how they were different. There’s been some contention about YA vs. NA that I’ve come across, too.

I’ve read some articles arguing that YA is not a genre, it is a category filled with a range of genres (romance, paranormal, fantasy, thriller, etc.). I don’t think I agree with that statement. YA is most definitely a defined genre that has seen exponential growth in the last decade, most notably with authors like Stephanie Meyer and Rick Riordan at the forefront.

There has been controversy over YA in recent years, with a negative perception of adults who read YA. There has been great backlash from adult YA readers, and I am in total agreement. You can read whatever you want to read. As an educator, I still use children’s picture books to teach middle schoolers. And they love it! Your age does not define what you are allowed or not allowed to read.

As a genre, YA is published for readers in their youth to bridge the gap between children’s literature or middle grades literature and adult literature. It is typically written for ages 12-18 and it may contain adult themes and topics. Often I have discovered there is a societal issue at stake in YA books.

NA and contemporary seem too similar to me to differentiate. What is the difference? NA is loosely defined as having protagonists aged 18-30. Researching more details, I found this great passage about NA:

Suddenly thrust into a wealth of new responsibilities and their own legal agency, it’s no wonder that new adults face struggles that both their underage peers and older adults with well-established careers, families, and lifestyles don’t.

Everything that takes place in the life of a new adult is, indeed, new; it can be difficult for them to find their footing in many aspects of their new adult life, which is exactly what NA books address…or rather, what you’d think NA books would address.

Unfortunately, when NA books emerged roughly ten years ago, they did so almost exclusively with plots that can rather unanimously be summed up as “Young Adult fiction with explicit sex.”

In other words, NA mainly consisted of erotica set most often within universities where Greek life clichés reigned and no one actually matured into adulthood.

Ultimately, NA is about the perspective of a new adult learning to navigate the world independently, including being responsible for one’s self. Settings like going to college or entering your first career are common for NA books. Other themes include exploring the depths of friendships and relationships, understanding about mental health or abuse, discovering local social issues. It is the adult coming-of-age experience that crosses that threshold from youth to full fledged adult.

What about contemporary? 

Contemporary is a sub-genre of romance novels, set during the time they are written. Thus, they reflect the aspects of the time. So I’ve been using this term incorrectly for a couple years. I consider anything set in current times to be contemporary. Don’t you?

Then I’ve read that contemporary is realistic fiction depicting our world and society, growing up and confronting personal and social problems. Ultimately, a novel of understanding yourself and others.

So…is it strictly following the romance genre or not? The questions then arise, what do you all outdated contemporary books? Classic contemporary? Realistic fiction? As one individual put it, “Although classic seems to infer that the books are well-known and well loved, which may not necessarily be the case for just “old” books. ”

I’m still left wondering what exactly distinguishes contemporary.

Do you believe YA is a genre or a category? What do you consider contemporary? What should outdated contemporary be called?

Discussion: Sexuality in YA

Sexuality in YA 

Recently I read a post complaining about the blurred lines between YA and NA, and the mix of sexual content now cropping up in YA. I agreed with the blogger, who entirely disagreed with any sexual content in YA. Afterward, I started thinking on it. There are a couple of YA books that I thought of that do blur that line. It wasn’t meant to be shock value in either book. Rather, it was part of the natural progression of growth into young adulthood.

Bildungsroman is the term used to classify what I would consider the wide range of books that fall into YA literature. Bildungsroman focuses on the moral and psychological growth of the protagonist, commonly referred to as coming of age. The ultimate goal is maturity, and it is achieved gradually and with difficulty but is extremely important. Often the main conflict is between the protagonist and society. This covers every book YA book I know.

The first novel I thought of for this post was a book I read in middle school. I remember the book’s title and premise spreading like wildfire through our school. It was the whispered talk of the town. And I had to get my hands on it. Walking into that library up to Mrs. Almquist to ask if Detour for Emmy was in was one of the scariest moments of my life. I was sure I was going to be struck down or she would deny me to have it. Even better, she knew the book and what it was about – she had to buy it – and her facial expression didn’t change whatsoever. She was most helpful in getting me the book. What is more of a moral and social lesson than becoming pregnant as a teen? Being ostracized and criticized was a great learning lesson for me. It opened my eyes beyond the friendships, loyalty, and back-stabbings I’d already experienced.

Sometimes maturity, growth, and morals comes in direct conflict with what a character has been taught or raised to believe, including sex and sexuality. In Luna by Julie Andrew Peters, Liam is a teenage boy who transforms into Luna in his basement bedroom at night. It is a coming of age that is solely focused on sexuality, gender, and identity.

Another YA novel that hones in on morals and loyalty, identity and maturity is John Green’s Looking for Alaska. Pudge is sent to a boarding school with Alaska and the Colonel, along with a small cast of supporting characters. The novel caused an uproar in many school districts since it was available in their high school libraries and had a scene about oral sex. I didn’t read this book until I was halfway through college, but it had a great impact about being your true self. The educational sex scene was not designed to be subversively teaching teens how to perform oral sex. In fact, the entire lesson ruined that sexual exploit for the character.

The last YA novel that comes to mind that contains a sexual element is a beloved series, Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer. In this series, young Mary Faber goes through adolescence. She learns what it means to have her monthly cycle while at sea with a bunch of men. She grows up at sea and learns all she needs to about the birds and the bees there, while experiencing some compromising situations and exploring her own identity as a budding woman. For me, the story of Jacky’s notorious fame as a pirate was a stronger pull than the sexual identity and content.

These are not books that establish intimate or sexual relationships for the point of sexual content. In these books, the sexual content is a part of adolescence, exploration, and maturity. It is a natural element of the teenage years. These books are far from erotica and for most of them the sexual content is only a blip in the book.

So, I disagree that there should be absolutely zero sexual content in YA. I believe that it should fit the stage of life for which it is written for, primarily the 15-18 year range. There is a line, and in my mind explicit content crosses that line into NA and not YA.

How do you feel about sexuality in YA? Some? None? Doesn’t matter?

My Personal First Aid Kit

My Personal First Aid Kit

Last September Deb (from debbish.com) posted about her personal first aid kit. I was very intrigued by the topic, but I didn’t have the time to sit down and work on my own personal first aid kit. I threw it into a draft for when I had time to come back to it.

Here is Deb’s first aid kit post. She was inspired to do hers by U.S. blogger Carla Birnberg, who has done this for several years now. Carla wrote a post about her young daughter setting up her own personal first aid kit.

The core of the personal first aid kit is to be an emotional toolkit to treat, comfort and heal emotional injuries (as Deb said). The other thing I really liked about exploring this exercise is that Carla would make a new kit each year, and I loved that idea. We grow and change as people – and things in our life can drastically change in just one year.

Carla built her kit by thinking on these four questions:

  • In a moment where I feel sad what might make me smile?
  • In a moment when I’m lonely/feel like isolating what might provide uplifting company?
  • In a moment of anxiety how might I self-soothe?


1. My Kindle

I read almost exclusively on my Kindle these days. That Kindle goes with me almost everywhere (unless I’m lugging my purse around somewhere). I love to read and with my Kindle I have thousands of books at my disposal instantly.  Give me my Kindle and you might not see me for days. AND I can read in the dark. 🙂


2. A Reminder I Am Loved

I have kept mementos that students have made me. Most of them are either plastered to my classroom cabinet or on my home bulletin board (currently still packed away). I have also started collecting the cards from flowers The Man has sent me, and most especially the beautiful Valentine’s Day card he gave me this year.


3. A Body of Water

I’m a Pisces. Recently my mother told me about my younger childhood I don’t remember much, and the fact that I LIVED in the bathtub. She almost had to replace the bathroom floor. It was my own personal pool. I started taking lessons and did so for 6 years. I am a natural fishie, and being in the water has always soothed me and made me happy.


4. My Kid Movies

I am in love with the movies from my childhood. In April I ordered 8-10 movies that are lesser known (and more expensive!) that my brothers and I watched often. I love watching them when I’m in certain moods. It’s a great throwback and quick and easy therapy session.


5. Colorful Pens

I have always been in love with office products, but especially different pens. Since starting my bullet journal this year, I have discovered I’ve given in to a slight addiction…that might require an intervention.


What would you include in your personal first aid kit? Would you include tangible items like I did or more metaphorical items? 

Thoughts on Thursday: Reading Rituals

Reading Rituals

What are your reading rituals? Do you have a reading nook? What snacks or drinks must you have handy? Share pictures and recipes!

I am most comfortable reading in bed. Honestly, I do everything in my bedroom. It is my nook, my happy place. I only spend time in my living room if I have guests over, and even then most of the time we stay in my bedroom, too. (Typically it is my mother and brother and friend down the street.)

Yes, I eat in bed. I blog in bed. I watch TV in bed. I keep my TV on at night. I curl up with all my pillows just right, lay back, and read until my eyes hurt or I have to get ready and go somewhere. I usually have the TV on for background noise, something on Netflix I’ve seen before.

Just like when I write, when I read I get in a trance. I can ignore most of the bodily functions for quite a while. I’ll wait until I have to race to the bathroom because I am so engrossed. I typically ignore the fact that I’m hungry. Sometimes it goes away, and sometimes I slink off to the kitchen to find whatever requires the least amount of time.

What are your reading rituals?

Thoughts on Thursday: Why I Read What I Read

Why I Read What I Read

Why do you read the books you read? Explore why you gravitate towards certain genres and/or authors. How do you pick the next book you will read?

In general, I think I enjoy a wide variety of genres. There are a few I look at with sideeye, and a few I won’t even look at. I tend to gravitate to historical and romance the most. Those are the two foundations of my childhood, thanks to Little House on the Prairie and Harlequin Romance. I am also always up for a good middle grades read or murder mystery. I have shied away from YA in general due to the copious amount of tropes and love triangles. I also enjoy writing styles, so I will pick up books by authors with similar styles (such as Kristin Hannah and Elin Hilderbrand). In the last couple of years I have tried to broaden my horizons and I think I did a pretty good job.

Now that I think about it, the majority of my reading palatte comes from my relationship with my grandmother (except the romance). She was my confidant as a child. I spent more time with her than any other person. We watched the Little House on the Prairie series starring Michael Landon (my first book boyfriend). We watched a lot of comedy shows (All in the Family, Three’s Company, Family Matters, The Facts of Life), and all of the mystery shows we could (Murder She Wrote, Matlock, In the Heat of the Night, Magnum P.I., Diagnosis Murder).

I am proud of myself that I have been trying to get better about listening to audiobooks. I know most people listen while they commute, but I enjoy singing when I drive. I kind of have to in order to stay calm with the ignoramuses on the road these days. I listen when I’m working on the blog, cooking, or cleaning. While I don’t finish that many (I think this year I’ve finished three), I learned I can change the speed and won’t have to spend as long listening. These are typically books that have been out for a while and count for this challenge! I started downloading SYNC books three summers ago, so I have plenty to choose from!

Since I started my blog, I didn’t really “pick” my next book. They were always scheduled because I thought I couldn’t say “no” to an author (and also didn’t know I should shut down review requests). I still have a handful of books from repeat authors to read, but I am now at the point where I can actually pick my next read. I really do think I pick my next read based on cover love. If it’s pretty or interesting, I’ll start it. I don’t really have any type of system. I’m not really a mood reader like some people, either.


How do you pick out what you read? Are there certain genres you gravitate toward?

Thoughts on Thursday: Mid-Year Check-In

Mid-Year Check-In

I have fallen behind in a lot of things on the blog, particularly discussion posts. One month late isn’t too terrible, is it?

Currently I stand at 15 books for the Shelf Love Challenge. Up until now, I have been doing a lot of review tours with books that came out this year. I slowly weaned myself off of review tours like I had been doing. I did sign up for a few in August-October for series I want to finish reading, but I am being much more selective in tours. And I am grateful one of the tour companies I was very stingy with opted to shut down their operations. The reviewers were doing most of the legwork, so it was really frustrating and why I only signed up with them once in a blue moon.

Now I can read almost anything! Which means I really need to read my NetGalley backlog… :/


How have your challenges been going?