Sips By Tea Unboxing


Nothing goes better together than a big book to read and a warm cup of tea. That’s why I’ve partnered with Sips By to share with you my great new tea subscription.

Like any subscription box, this tea is a monthly service that provides you with a few choice teas every single month. All you have to do is sign up, take their quiz (to see what teas you like), and then they’ll send you a box of teas.

The best thing is that you can try all the teas and rate them on the site. If you don’t like something in particular, then you can veto that for next time. It’s kind of awesome.

The box also comes with sachets that you can use for loose teas. I love using my reusable tea strainers, but these sachets are unbleached which means you’re not drinking harsh chemicals with your tea.

I also love that it’s just a tasting of teas rather than getting a whole bag of something you may not like. It’s so lovingly packaged and I can’t wait to share with you the teas that came in the box.


This month, I got four different kinds of tea. Here’s specifically what came:

Detox tea from Wild Leaf


I really love a good detox tea. I’m a huge fan of what these teas can do for your body. While many people can argue that detox teas don’t do anything, the point of the teas isn’t to help you lose weight. It’s about getting rid of all the inflammation from things like auto-immune disease or even during your period.

This blend seems to carry all the makings of a good, warming tea that will also help you reduce some of that monthly puffiness.

Wild Wuyi Black Tea from Heirloom Tea Co


This one is probably my favorite one out of the entire box. I love that the description just says “Unsmoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong black tea produced by the Chen family on Huang Gang Mt, Tong Mu, Wuyishan, Fujian, China.”

I feel like there’s some legitimacy when you’re drinking a tea produced by one family in one mountain somewhere in China. The authenticity here where there’s nothing else added is like drinking tea leaves straight from the plantation.

The taste is also amazing. I was worried about this one because black teas can get pretty bitter if you steep them too long. However, this tea is pretty subtle with tiny notes of English Breakfast. Definitely a good morning cup of tea if you ask me.

Organic Green with Citrus and Ginkgo by Harney and Sons


This is probably the only tea in the box where I know the name. I love going to Harney and Sons in the city and picking out some great teas. However, I haven’t tried this green tea with ginkgo and citrus. The flavor is similar to that of chamomile or lemongrass tea. It’s got quite a punch if you let it steep for too long, but the mildness is also really soothing.

Yunnan Gold by Kuan Yin Teas


This is the last one I haven’t tried, but I’m super excited about it. Not only is it a good tea for drinking, but it’s supposed to have flavors of a s’mores. The notes explain roasted marshmallows and a soft chocolate aftertaste, which to me sounds like a fancy cup of s’mores (one treat I absolutely love to eat, but hate to make).

I can’t wait to try this one as well!


This is such a great treat and if you’re a big tea drinker like I am, then you’ll definitely enjoy these offerings for yourself.

If you’d like to buy a box, you can use SIMONE5 at checkout for $5 for your first box. I honestly think it’s worth it especially if you love tea and you want to try a little variety in your life.

Now, it’s back to books for me!

The New Crimes of Grindelwald Teaser Trailer

Well, if you follow me on Instagram then you know that I’m obsessed with the new trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Check out the new trailer above.

I’ve already watched this a few times through and there were a couple of things that got me the most excited by this:

The new Wizarding World logo

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If you’re not aware, The Wizarding World logo represents all things Harry Potter. Because JK Rowling expects to expand the universe, it felt fitting to have all of the films and books under one house name. Not everything is about Harry Potter and I’m assuming that after Newt Scamander’s story, we’re going to expect more from the other folks who live in this universe.

The logo (which looks like an open book) represent the nine wands of witches and wizards who have made an impact on this universe. Each wand belongs to those magical folks and you can find out more about why they’re represented here.

The screenplay is written by JK Rowling

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I know that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is also written by JK Rowling, but I do want to mention that this entire series of films will be written by her. While JK Rowling provided the Harry Potter books as a source for the films, this is the first time we’re actually seeing her words put directly onto the screen.

I mean, we always talk about how film adaptation of books are always missing pieces and aren’t fully developed as the book would be, so seeing that JK Rowling will continue to write these screenplays is like reading canon directly from the source. Drinking the water from the well, if you will.

I know this is a super small detail, but seeing her name on camera that doesn’t say “Inspired by the books by JK Rowling” just got me so pumped for this film.

We get to hang out with Jacob Kowalski again!

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I think my favorite part of the first movie was the muggle, Jacob Kowalski. Everyone was such a huge fan of this character in the first film that I felt like he would be making an appearance in the second one. A human with no magical powers who is playing the guy we all want to be. Even if magic exists and I turned out to be a muggle, knowing and experiencing some small amount of this magical world would be enough to satisfy me for the rest of my life. Seeing it through Jacob’s eyes is like living out that dream vicariously.


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This man needs no introductions. I think the most exciting feature of this film is a glimpse into Dumbledore as a young professor. While there was some controversy over Dumbledore not playing as an openly gay character, I’m still super excited about seeing Jude Law stand up to Michael Gambon and Richard Harris’s Dumbledore. Will he be quirky? Will he talk in riddles? Will we all love him for being the most outstanding wizard that he is? Will he be secretly plotting something behind everyone’s back? Let’s hope so.

The Deathly Hallows return

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HUGE SPOILER: If you didn’t see the wisp of smoke that turns into the Deathly Hallows symbol, then you can definitely check the film’s moniker and see the three pieces of the Deathly Hallows represented there. I won’t go into the details of the Deathly Hallows, but I would definitely read about them here.

If you aren’t aware, Grindelwald steals the elder wand (the most powerful wand in the wizarding world) from the wandmaker, Gregorovitch, and then Dumbledore gets the wand from Grindelwald during an epic duel. The story of how the wand gets into Dumbledore’s hands takes place in the 1940s after the second World War, but Newt Scamander’s story takes place during the 1920s. I have a feeling that these films will be touching on Grindelwald retrieving the wand and perhaps even how Dumbledore eventually gets it? It might be wishing for too much with that last part, but a girl can only hope.

Reading books and dealing with triggers


Recently there has been some buzz around the new novel The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Naturally, I was really interested in reading this book because the rest of the world was interested.

I went to Goodreads to check out what the book was about and add it to my list of books to read. Here’s some more about that particular novel:

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The moment I finished reading this summary, I decided I wasn’t going to read this book.

You must be wondering why I would give up on reading a book that has been praised over and over again as an immensely beautiful read. Well, because this novel’s synopsis sounds like the book would hit one of my emotional triggers.

I don’t want to go into my triggers, but one of them has to do with existential feelings and knowing/expecting your life to end. For example, I couldn’t read Water for Elephants because the parts that cut to the old man dying and telling his story gave me so much anxiety that I couldn’t go to sleep at night. I had anxiety attacks for a week after watching the series finale of Six Feet Under.

I’ve been seeing a therapist about this for a little less than a year and he believes that my anxiety here is actually triggered by my OCD. I’m worried about dying and death and what happens to you afterward, so it’s not uncommon for those thoughts to spiral out of control and you’re in the throes of an anxiety attack.

So I decided not to read The Immortalists for the sake of my mental health. However, I do know there are many books with many different triggers in them. I really wish that there was some disclaimer on novels where the book will hurt you mentally if you read it. I have some friends who can read about domestic abuse or humiliation because those are feelings they’ve experienced in their life or they have trouble digesting those kinds of brutality even if it is fictionalized.

Mental health is super important to me and I do a lot to try and keep my health up. I don’t go on my phone and do social media after a certain hour and I try to identify and avoid my emotional triggers. But when it comes to books especially when I’m diving into a book I’m not sure of, I have to be super careful. I  hate when I come across a book that I love, but I have to put down because it’s so emotionally triggering. It’s better for me to preserve my mental health than to read a book everyone has been loving.

However, if you do get caught in a book that’s causing some anxiety or triggering you, here’s some steps I suggest you take before moving forward.

Take a minute to breathe

Look up. Breathe in through your nose for a four count. Then hold your breath for seven counts. Finally, release your breath through your mouth at an eight count. This breathing technique helps not only with triggers, but also if you’re having trouble falling asleep at night or if you’re feeling some bout of anxiety.

Focusing on your breathing is a meditative exercise that allows the brain to move away from the spiraling hole of your trigger. It makes you present. It makes you come back to the state you were once in.

Put down the book

This is a heavy decision for anyone that loves to read, but it’s a big one. If the book you’re reading is hitting your triggers, try and see if you can skip over those passages. Was it only that section of the book that was causing you to trigger? Is it a recurring theme?

If so, then take the time and judge if this is the right book for you. There are literally millions and millions of books in the world and while this one may be the next best book in literary history, I don’t think it’s worth your mental health.

If you’re feeling anxious or if you can’t seem to finish a passage without going into a full blown anxiety attack, then stop and put down the book. Perhaps it was a temporary thing that you can just skip over, but if it’s a recurring theme and you’re worried you’ll end up triggered some more, then it might be time to DNF.

Distract yourself

This sounds silly, but one of the issues with OCD is that your brain is telling you one thing and it focuses on it until it spirals out of control. When this happens, a good mental health exercise is to change the subject. Distract yourself by talking to a friend or working on a project.

I’m not saying that this is the solution to all of your issues, but distracting your brain will cause it to reroute and focus on the distraction. For me, I have Candy Crush downloaded to my iPad. I tend to get a lot of triggers at night (night triggers?), so when I’m watching TV and vegging out on my couch, I like to keep my brain occupied by playing Candy Crush. The game is just difficult enough for me to use my brain on strategizing my next move. It keeps me in the present, which is super important for someone with OCD. The pretty colors also helps me with getting out of the darkness as I like to call it.

If you ever see me in public playing Candy Crush, it’s not because I’m bored and waiting for someone. It’s because I somehow hit one of my triggers and need to step away for a minute.

See your therapist

This is probably the most important step and maybe I should reorder these as the number one step. But if you have a therapist, make sure to bring up your triggers with them. Speaking with someone about your feelings and your mental health has been so cathartic to me. It’s like getting another person’s perspective from someone who won’t interject with their own thoughts or try and find you a solution to your problem.

Venting helps as well, but being able to chat and explain that what’s going on in my head is not a bad thing makes living with triggers a little bit easier for me.


My Most Anticipated Reads of March 2018


Since March has a ton of new releases coming out (and it’s also the start of the Spring season), I wanted to share some of my anticipated reads for the month. Many of these are hitting the bookstores on March 6th, but the month will have a ton of great reads as well. While there’s a ton of books coming out, I do want to highlight the ones that I’m super excited about. You can always find more on Goodreads, but here’s what I’m anticipating in March:

Bachelor Girl by Kim Van Alkemade (March 6)

35297281When the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, takes Helen Winthrope, a young actress, under his wing, she thinks it’s because of his guilt over her father’s accidental death—and so does Albert Kramer, Ruppert’s handsome personal secretary. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.

New York in the Jazz Age is filled with possibilities, especially for the young and single. Yet even as Helen embraces being a “bachelor girl”—a working woman living on her own terms—she finds herself falling in love with Albert, even after he confesses his darkest secret. When Ruppert dies, rumors swirl about his connection to Helen after the stunning revelation that he has left her the bulk of his fortune, which includes Yankee Stadium. But it is only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed that Helen and Albert will be forced to confront the truth about their relationship to him—and to each other. 

Inspired by factual events that gripped New York City in its heyday, Bachelor Girl is a hidden history gem about family, identity, and love in all its shapes and colors.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs (March 6)

35297219Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.

While in Los Angeles for Isaac’s funeral, Hazel realizes she’s not the only one searching for his life’s work, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch.

As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac’s favorite son—a theoretical physicist—and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel’s grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao (March 6)

34275212When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them. 

Camp Austen by Ted Scheinman (March 6)


The son of a devoted Jane Austen scholar, Ted Scheinman spent his childhood eating Yorkshire pudding, singing in an Anglican choir, and watching Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. Determined to leave his mother’s world behind, he nonetheless found himself in grad school organizing the first ever UNC-Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Camp, a weekend-long event that sits somewhere between an academic conference and superfan extravaganza.

While the long tradition of Austen devotees includes the likes of Henry James and E. M. Forster, it is at the conferences and reenactments where Janeism truly lives. In Camp Austen, Scheinman tells the story of his indoctrination into this enthusiastic world and his struggle to shake his mother’s influence while navigating hasty theatrical adaptations, undaunted scholars in cravats, and unseemly petticoat fittings.

In a haze of morning crumpets and restrictive tights, Scheinman delivers a hilarious and poignant survey of one of the most enduring and passionate literary coteries in history. Combining clandestine journalism with frank memoir, academic savvy with insider knowledge, Camp Austen is perhaps the most comprehensive study of Austen that can also be read in a single sitting. Brimming with stockings, culinary etiquette, and scandalous dance partners, this is summer camp like you’ve never seen it before.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (March 6)

34728667Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (March 6)

29736467Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind. 

Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick (March 6)

35437058Kandri Hinjuman was never meant to be a soldier. His brother Mektu was never meant for this world. Rivals since childhood, they are drafted into a horrific war led by a madwoman-Prophet, and survive each day only by hiding their disbelief. Kandri is good at blending in, but Mektu is hopeless: impulsive, erratic—and certain that a demon is stalking him. Is this madness or a second sense? Either way, Kandri knows that Mektu’s antics will land them both in early graves.

But all bets are off when the brothers’ simmering feud explodes into violence, and holy blood is spilled. Kandri and Mektu are taken for contract killers and must flee for their lives—to the one place where they can hope to disappear: the sprawling desert known as the Land that Eats Men. In this eerie wilderness, the terrain is as deadly as the monsters, ghouls, and traffickers in human flesh. Here the brothers find strange allies: an aging warlord, a desert nomad searching for her family, a lethal child-soldier still in her teens. They also find themselves in possession of a secret that could bring peace to the continent of Urrath. Or unthinkable carnage.

On their heels are the Prophet’s death squads. Ahead lie warring armies, sandstorms, evil spirits and the deeper evil of human greed. But hope beckons as well—if the “Master Assassins” can expose the lie that has made them the world’s most wanted men.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (March 6)

34499221Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy? 

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 6)

33294200A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent. 

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (March 6)

35297394Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself. 

Laura and Emma by Kate Greathead (March 13)

35297416Laura hails from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, born into old money, drifting aimlessly into her early thirties. One weekend in 1981 she meets Jefferson. The two sleep together. He vanishes. And Laura realizes she’s pregnant.

Enter: Emma.

Despite her progressive values, Laura raises Emma by herself in the same blue-blood world of private schools and summer homes she grew up in, buoyed by a host of indelible characters, including her eccentric mother, who informs her society friends and Emma herself that she was fathered by a Swedish sperm donor; her brother, whose childhood stutter reappears in the presence of their forbidding father; an exceptionally kind male pediatrician; and her overbearing best friend, whose life has followed the Park Avenue script in every way except for childbearing. Meanwhile, the apple falls far from the tree with Emma, who begins to question her environment in a way her mother never could.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (March 20)

35604686Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (March 20)

35604682When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

Hot Mess by Emily Belden (March 20)

9781525811418.inddTwenty-something Allie Simon never imagined she’d fall for a recovering drug addict—but that was before she met Benji Zane, Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming chef, who’s known as much for his hard partying ways as for his unparalleled culinary skills. Six months into their relationship, the food and chemistry are out of this world, but the reality of living with a cooking wunderkind hasn’t exactly been all hearts and flowers. Still, Allie’s convinced that her love is the key to fixing this talented man’s broken soul—so when Benji is offered his dream job as chef de cuisine for a new restaurant opening on Randolph Street, Chicago’s foodie hot spot, Allie agrees to invest her life savings in his future. But less than a month after she goes all in, Allie learns a heartbreaking lesson: addicts lie. Benji cracks under the pressure, relapses and disappears, bagging out not only on the restaurant, but on her, too. Left with nothing but a massive withdrawal slip and a restaurant that absolutely must open in a matter of weeks, Allie finds herself thrust into a world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (March 27)

35297272For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (March 27)


Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. 

See any books on this list you might be interested in?

Why I prefer eGalleys over ARCs


As a book reviewer, I read a lot of books before they’re released. It’s more than just getting books before they’re released. It’s about reading some great reads, sharing your thoughts, and hopefully helping the rest of the community pick that book as a favorite.

Recently there has been some controversy over the number of ARCs publishers hand out. If you weren’t aware, ARCs (or advanced reader copies) are pretty expensive and limited. They are also uncorrected proofs, so what you read isn’t what you’re going to get in the final product. Also, there are some arbitrary rules around owning ARCs because the book isn’t finished. For one, you can’t sell them, you can’t quote them, you can’t do anything other than read them.

So why do people read them and covet them?

For some it’s definitely about the bragging rights. Being given a book well before it’s released is like watching the series finale of Friends before it aired. You have this thing that no one else can have and only a few chosen have received. It’s a pretty cool sight.

For most, it’s a book that you’re excited to read and can’t wait to see what it’s about.

However, what I’ve been seeing lately are ARCs being sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars. That’s ridiculous! First off, you’re not supposed to sell these ARCs because they’re not the final product. Second, ARCs are a cost on the publisher’s dime. The author doesn’t make any money and you’re basically pirating a book for way more than its cover cost on the date of publication. Is it worth it to read the next installment of your favorite Fantasy series at $500 a pop?

So publishers have been pulling back on who exactly they hand these ARCs out to. I don’t know what goes into the request process, but I do know that publishers are looking for bloggers who specifically review books, they have a large following, and their interest is in reading books and not hawking them for way more than they’re physically worth.

Over the past year of reading ARCs for publishers, I found that eGalleys are way better than physical ARCs. This is a PDF file of the book you’re requesting instead of an actual copy of the book. Yes, physical copies of a book are better for holding and annotating and even taking photos of, but what do you do with those ARCs after you’re done? What if you don’t like the book?

In the controversy over ARCs, I would much prefer reading the digital version of the book. eGalleys are easily downloaded to my e-reader of choice, I can remove them from my reader once I’m done and I don’t have yet another book on my TBR pile staring at me every night.

The controversy over selling ARCs is also diminished when you have a digital version of it. I don’t think publishers do this, but they can easily lock their books or have them on a timer to expire after a certain time. This way, the book will never be sold, copied, or even unread.

Another really great reason is because sites like Edelweiss or NetGalley doesn’t require you to write that marketing letter about how great you are and send them to publishers. Of course there are books that aren’t being put on these galley sites, but they do have a mass majority of the ones the publishers are excited about reading.

And if I really loved the book, I can wait until it comes out and own the hardback. You would have two copies of the book for the price of one.

I find this to be a much more efficient way to read these advanced books without having to keep physical copies around. Naturally, I still love receiving ARCs and also love the amount of work and effort marketing teams put into creating these books. However, I really love being able to quickly request a book on NetGalley. It has all my credentials and it updates it while my social media grows. The publishers can see all of that and make the decision to approve or deny me a copy of the galley. It’s so easy and so perfect that it rarely matters to me if I get the actual book.

Even with photography, I’ve stylized my eGalleys with books so that it looks a little bit prettier and the results have been pretty successful in the past.

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I know many of you will disagree with me here, but you have to admit that eGalleys are just more convenient than the actual ARC sometimes. Perhaps I’m more pragmatic than the normal book reader. Also, I’ve basically given up on emailing publishers and will take what I can get.

Words Between Worlds Book Club


Hey readers!

I just wanted to take a moment to shamelessly plug this new book club that I’m help running with my online friends. It’s called Words Between Worlds.

The club will be focusing on diverse reads because this is a theme that all of us share in common. We love reading diverse books and for many reasons. For some it’s to learn more about a culture they didn’t know before. For others it’s to learn more about themselves and their own voices.

The one thing I like to always consider is how reading and diverse books create empathy. We all live in a bubble and that’s not entirely a bad thing. We live our lives. We have our families and we have our responsibilities. Some people’s bubbles are wider and lets them travel all around the world to see new things and experience different cultures and people. Other people’s bubbles are smaller and that allows them to live comfortably and focus on what matters most to them.

For those who aren’t able to travel all around the world, there really isn’t any way to find out about what’s going on than to read. You’re either reading the news or in books, but you want to expand your bubble and read a lot more. I think it’s always great to take a journey outside of your comfort zone and open your heart to read about something you’re not used to reading.

That’s why we started this club. We are an eclectic group of people from all over the place and we want to share our thoughts and stories with everyone else. It’s a safe environment to share these thoughts and even if you may not relate to the culture or to the people, there’s always something more to learn.

I do hope you join us! You can find more info on our Goodreads page and we’ll also be posting your photos to our Instagram. Let’s get to reading more words between worlds!

Unpopular Opinion (Valentine’s Day Edition): I have read 50 Shades of Grey twice

A photo to document my reading of 50 Shades the first time

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m not a big Valentine’s Day celebrator, but I know many of you love the day of Love, so I hope you have a wonderful one.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write a little bit about a very famous book series that is finally playing its final film in theaters right now. I’m talking about 50 Shades of Grey.

I know the title of this post will give me away, but I have to be honest with you and tell you that I have read the entire 50 Shades of Grey series twice. Sigh. Please don’t hate me.

I first read the series a few years back as a treat for my birthday. I wanted to have a guilty pleasure read and I hadn’t read the series before, so I decided I would give it a go and see if it was as good (or as bad) as the hype was saying. Turns out, it was both.

I loved that it was terrible. I  honestly think that this is the reason why I continued to read it at first. I thought that it was crap and that the sex was not believable and the relationship between Ana and Christian was this super toxic one.

However, the biggest driver of my love of this series was the fact that I wanted to learn more about Christian Grey. If you weren’t aware, Christian Grey is a person who was abandoned by his mother at a very young age. He was abused by his mother’s pimp and his mother was also a drug addict. He lived in a crack house and after his mother died, the doctor treating his mother decided to take him in. He was extremely lucky as an abandoned child to meet his forever mother in a hospital waiting room.

When I read a story like that, I get curious. I want to know more about Christian and how he went from being a poor orphan to a super rich deviant (“I make $100,000 an hour,” is a line from the book on his salary). Why is he the way he is? Will they go more into this as the story unfolds? What kind of growth do I expect to see from someone as terrible as Christian Grey?

These were some questions floating around in my head after I finished the first one. Also, the first one leaves you on this massive cliffhanger and I needed to see what happened in the second one to ease my curious mind.

Sadly, you don’t really learn more about Christian Grey, but you do see him grow. From being the man who can barely stand a woman’s touch, he falls in love with Ana and ends up marrying her. It’s such a beautiful story, but when the writing and the writer aren’t the strongest, it becomes a story much more difficult to appreciate because of those glaring flaws.

However, that’s not the reason why I read it the second time. The second time I read it was when I went to go see the movies for the first time. I had seen both in the theaters and after watching both, I felt this compulsion to read the books again. I honestly don’t know really why I wanted to read it again other than the fact that it was such a guilty pleasure.

And I know that many of you will still be weirded out by the fact that I watched the movies more than once and read the books twice, but I really loved how brainless these books were. When you read a lot of serious novels about serious subjects, you want to escape that for a while. For me, I tend to read trashy romance novels with poorly depicted images of a very misunderstood subculture. Do I feel shame in this? Not really. Because I like what I like and it made me happy to read about Christian and Ana and eventually what happens to them.

And my inner goddess agrees.