Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ABC Reads: August 2016

Hi everyone! Welcome back to the ABC Reads link up! We're linking up to share the books we've read in August and the letters we can check off our lists. 

Need a refresher on what the ABC Reads challenge is all about? Never fear, we've got your back: 

What does the challenge entail? Well, I'm glad you asked. There are 26 letters of the alphabet and we challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter. For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on. Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it. We're easy to please around these parts. On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card.  Congratulations to Jessica at Frikken Duckie for completing the challenge and winning the gift card! Go visit her and say congrats! :) 

If you didn't get a chance to link up last month - no worries at all. Feel free to jump in with Andrea and me any time!

OK, so let's get to it. What did you guys read this month? How many letters did you check off? Here's my progress (August books in blue): 

A: (The) Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Completed March 2016. 
B: Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. Completed February 2016. 
C: (The) City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin. Completed May 2016. 
D:  Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts. Completed April 2016. 
E:  Europe on 5 Wrong Turns A Day, by Doug Mack. Completed April 2016. 
F:  Finders Keepers, by Stephen King. Completed January 2016. 
G: (The) Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. Completed January 2016. 
H: (The) Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher. Completed April 2016. 
I:  I Will Find You, by Joanna Connors. Completed June 2016. 
J:  Julia, by Peter Straub. Completed July 2016. 
K: Keeping Faith. Completed July 2016. 
L:  (The) Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. Completed January 2016. 
M: (The) Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom. Completed February 2016.
N:  Night Film, by Marisha Pessl. Completed June 2016. 
O: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Completed January 2016. 
P:  (The) People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau. Completed August 2016. 
R: (The) Revenant, by Michael Punke. Completed March 2016. 
S:  Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce. Completed June 2016. 
T:  Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. Completed April 2016. 
W: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion. Completed February 2016. 
Z:  Zone One, by Colson Whitehead. Completed May 2016. 

"The People of Sparks" is the second book in the Book of Ember series. Here's a brief synopsis: 

When Lina and Doon lead their people up from the underground city of Ember, they discover a surface world of color and life. The people of a small village called Sparks agree to help the Emberites, but the villagers have never had to share their world before. Soon differences between the two groups escalate, and it's up to Lina and Doon to find a way to avoid war!

In the riveting sequel to the highly acclaimed The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau explores the nature of conflict and the strength and courage necessary to overcome it.

I really liked The City of Ember, the first book. But this one was a little disappointing. It was pretty predictable from beginning to end. And any "conflicts" that happened in the book were resolved in like 0.2 seconds with solutions that were way too easy. It was just anti-climactic for the most part. 

But it wasn't all bad. There were some moments, especially from Lina, that I enjoyed reading because of her courage. 

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. 

So, there you have it! What letters did you check off this month? Come link up and share with us! See you back here next month. Ciao! 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Saris and a Single Malt by Sweta Vikram

I don't think it's any secret around these parts that I love poetry. It's beautiful to me and it's something that I think everyone should read because it evokes so many emotions. When I received the opportunity to review Saris and a Single Malt by Sweta Vikram, I was thrilled to check it out. 

Here's a brief synopsis of the book: 

Saris and a Single Malt is a moving collection of poems written by a daughter for and about her mother. The book spans the time from when the poet receives a phone call in New York City that her mother is in a hospital in New Delhi, to the time she carries out her mother’s last rites. The poems chronicle the author’s physical and emotional journey as she flies to India, tries to fight the inevitable, and succumbs to the grief of living in a motherless world. Divided into three sections, (Flight, Fire, and Grief), this collection will move you, astound you, and make you hug your loved ones.

This book was hard for me to read emotionally because I have not lost a parent and the thought of it terrifies me. One of our first relationships is that between parent and child and it's disconcerting to think about no longer having that connection. So I read most of the book with tears in my eyes and a frog in my throat. I felt for the author very much because of her grief and sadness.

One of my favorite poems from the book is "It's Not Easy" where Vikram writes:

It's in our silence
that you hear goodbye.
It's in our tears
that you see the marks your absence left behind.

It's beautiful and sad at the same time. And it hurts my heart to think about what she went through. I don't handle difficult situations well, and in trying to put myself in her shoes, I just felt this gaping wound. I appreciated reading her beautiful poetry and I only wish there was more of it. More of her and her mother's backstory, more of their memories together.

About the Poet:

Sweta Srivastava Vikram, featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is an award-winning writer, five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Amazon bestselling author of 11 books, writing coach, columnist, marketing consultant, and wellness practitioner who currently lives in New York City. A graduate of Columbia University, she also teaches the power of yoga, Ayurveda, & mindful living to female trauma survivors, creative types, entrepreneurs, and business professionals. Sweta is also the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife, which helps you attain your goals by elevating your creativity & productivity while paying attention to your wellness.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Modern History Press (2016)
Available on: Amazon
Author's Website:

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

This review was coordinated by Poetic Book Tours.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Don't let life pass you by
Don't let regrets take over
Don't settle
Don't postpone
Don't minimize your self-worth
Don't doubt your abilities
Don't sit on the bench
Don't be afraid of love
Don't shy away from inspiration
Don't worry about eating cookies
Don't let the important people go
Don't live small
Don't dwell in your comfort zone
Don't look back
Don't forget to explore
Don't lose sight of what's important
Don't dull your light
Don't hide from who you are
Don't be afraid or ashamed
Don't listen to the haters
Don't shy away from praise
Don't stand by and do nothing
Don't ever ask is that the best I'll ever be

*This post was inspired by the weekly writing prompt from The Figment Forum, a free Facebook group for writers. Click here to join. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Words of Encouragement

The other day, I received a card from a dear friend. I wasn't expecting anything and getting that surprise in the mailbox made me smile. And when I opened it, the very first line said, "Dear Mia - I believe in you." And I immediately burst into tears. 

I had been doubting myself, as I normally do, and thinking about giving up on something I was working on. And her words of encouragement just really hit me in the feels. It's a very powerful feeling to know that someone believes in you. It means that they can see past your weaknesses, and see past your excuses. They know that you have the strength, the capability, and the kick-assery to get stuff done.  

And when someone believes in you, it gives you a sense of accountability. It motivates you to succeed. Because you want to prove them right. Even if you do fail, then knowing that they'll be there to cheer you on as you pick yourself back up and try again - it means so much. It can be the little shove you need to stay the course. 

"When you believe in someone you profoundly increase their ability to have faith in themselves and achieve." -Jason Versey

I sent a love note to my newsletter subscribers last week (click here if you want love notes, too!) about just being there for someone. Being there doesn't have to mean spending a million dollars on presents. It means letting someone know that you care, that you are willing to listen to what they have to say. And that can mean the world. 

So, take time out today to tell someone you believe in them. And watch their eyes as they shine a little brighter. Watch them stand a little taller and smile a little wider. Watch their jaw set in determination. 

And then watch out as they kick ass and take names. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Honest Reflections

Do you ever tell yourself something so often that you come to believe it's true, even if it really isn't? I do this a lot. I don't mean to. Maybe it's like positive reinforcement or something. Fake it 'til you make it, I guess. But sometimes I think it's nice to just be nice to yourself. I'm going to share a series of fictional statements and then counter them with the truth. And then you tell me which one is better.  

I try to eat healthy as much as I can and exercise. 
I drink wayyyyy too many Cokes and Frappuccinos and not enough water or Kale-smoothie-green-grossnessgoodness. And when ice cream calls, I always answer. 

I'm not the best mom in the whole world, but I'm doing pretty OK with my kids. 
I can't remember how many days it's been since we did anything educational. Sure, watch TV for hours. I'll be over here reading. Or eating.  

I'm going to write a novel this year. A first draft, from start to finish. And it shall be glorious. 
I scrapped everything I wrote previously and am starting over and am already over it and I barely feel like writing anything.  

I'm going to stop being a hermit all the time and actually go out and do stuff. With people. And have fun and not be grumpy. 
Hahahahahahahahahaha. No. 

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Fiction just sounds so much nicer. I can say anything to myself. Fiction self to me: "You are a pretty unicorn princess." Me to fiction self: "Awww, you're the best. You're right, I totally am. *glitter sparkle rainbow weeeeee*" 

So, I guess the moral of the story is....... I have no idea. Just let me keep being a pretty unicorn princess and all will be right with the world. 

*This post was inspired by the weekly writing prompt from The Figment Forum.*

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Coffee Date

If we were on a coffee date, I would be drinking the Iced Coconut  Milk Mocha Macchiato. OMGGG, y'all. Have you tried it? It's soooo delicious. My new favorite for sure. 

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you to read these posts by these amazing ladies. Because they capture all of the things I've been feeling lately. 

-Take Your Seat at the Table (by Bourbon, Lipstick, and Stilettos) 
-I Want to Love Myself Again (by Chaotic & Collected) 
-Define Your Own Success: Good Days (by The Girl Who Loved to Write) 

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you if you've seen Suicide Squad. Because I saw it a few days ago and loved it. Don't let the critics keep you from seeing it. It's a comic book movie - nobody expects it to win any Oscars. I never pay any attention to critics. I like what I like. And it's funny and action packed and just all-around awesome. Plus, Joel Kinnaman. That is all. 

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I've been so incredibly tired. I'm not sure why. Is it possible to be tired doing nothing? I haven't been doing anything strenuous at all. Reading. Watching tv shows. Hanging out with the kiddos. Not exactly the Olympics over here. I don't know. I just feel like I can never get enough sleep. *Chris Rock voice* Tired, tired, tired! 

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I haven't been focused lately. Maybe this goes back to being tired. But I have so many things I want to accomplish and just no motivation to get any of it done. What is my deal? But I'd also have to tell you that I have amazing friends who don't let me just settle for blah. They check in with me and encourage me and offer ideas. Thank you for that. It means so much. 

Click here to check out my FB page. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd admit to you that I'm not ready for my youngest to go to Kindergarten. He's my baby. I know that I will be crying my eyes out when he gets on the school bus on his first day. I can't even think about it without tearing up. I'm not ready at all and I wish I could keep him little forever. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that I'm looking forward to Fall. Bring on the sweaters and scarves. Bring on the cool, crisp days. Bring on the football. Bring on the fire burning in the fireplace. Bring on the pumpkin everything. It's the best time of the year. 

So, what would you tell me if we were on a coffee date? 

*I'm linking up with Amber and Erin for the Coffee Date link up.* 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Three TV Shows That I Can't Stop Watching

I've been watching a lot of TV lately. Like... a lot. Probably to the detriment of any kind of productivity. But it's been awesome, I must say. Losing myself in my favorite shows has been relaxing and helps to quiet my mind. 

So, what have I been watching? So glad you asked. These are a few of my favorite shows: 


I am not even sorry for how much I blab about this show. I have seen every episode dozens of times and I never get tired of it. All 4 seasons of the show are on Netflix, so go check it out if you're looking for something to watch. It's basically about two homicide detectives for Seattle PD, Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, who obviously solve murders. But the absolute BEST part of the show is watching Linden and Holder in action together. I finished watching the end of the series last night and I'm totally starting over with season 1, episode 1 again later tonight. 


Aggghhh, this show is so good. It comes on the Starz channel and I can't get enough. The show is about James St Patrick, a nightclub owner, who is also secretly a drug kingpin called Ghost. And the show is about his dual life and how he is trying to get out of the drug game and focus on his nightclubs and be "legit." The 3rd season started a couple weeks ago and I've been very impatiently waiting for each new episode on Sunday nights. It's one of those shows where people keep double and triple-crossing each other. I lurrrve it. :) 


Outlander is also on the Starz channel and it's the best. It's about Claire, a nurse in the 1940's who is on a trip with her husband, and she accidentally travels back in time to the 1740's in Scotland. And she tries her best to survive based on her medical knowledge and her limited knowledge of what's going to happen in the future of Scotland. She meets Jamie, a Scottish highlander, and things get interesting from there. 

The chemistry between the actors who play Jamie and Claire is phenomenal. The show is based on the books in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and the show stays pretty true to the book storylines. 

What have you been watching lately? Comment below so I can check them out. Are you as excited for the fall TV season as I am? Bring on all the shows! 

*This post was inspired by the weekly writing prompt at The Figment Forum.*