Friday, August 4, 2017

BOOK CHAT: July 2017 in Review

Time to wrap up another month!  July was a great month for reading, though I didn't post a lot here on the blog or on social media.  A lot of my absence was because of my recent surgery that I addressed in a bit more details here.  Another reason is because I am in the midst of organizing an Out of the Darkness Walk for my city and surrounding communities.  Life is definitely not slowing down these days!  Let's get to the books before I share more of the personal details . . .

The TOP POST for the month was actually BOTH of the posts that I was able to get up during the month of July!  Ha!  BOOK CHAT:  High Summer Readathon & #24in48 Readathon had the most hits, but BOOK CHAT:  June 2017 in Review received the most comments.

The TOP PIC was a stack of books!  No surprise there, right?!  This stack was the stack that I was tackling for the month and for the readathons.  I still haven't gotten through the whole stack, but I'm slowly working on it and hope to finish the whole thing before the end of this month.

My list of BOOKS READ definitely increased in July compared to previous months.  Check out this list!
  1. Bite Somebody Else by Sara Dobie Bauer
  2. Dork Diaries #3:  Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renee Russell
  3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. Fostering Resilient Learners by Kristen Souers
  6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #10:  Old School by Jeff Kinney
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11:  Double Down by Jeff Kinney
  9. Bear Witness by Melissa Clark

Having to choose a FAVORITE READ this month was a hard decision, but I must say that The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has to take this title.  It was an emotional and relevant read, and one that I recommend everyone read.  This was also the book that I hosted a readalong for over at Book Bloggers International this last month, and it is a story that is very much one that needs to be discussed as you read it.

What's on the agenda for AUGUST?  So, so much!  I hope to get in as much reading as possible, of course.  But, I also have a lot of work to do on this Out of the Darkness Walk that I am organizing.  This walk is one that helps promote awareness of suicide and ways that we can all work to prevent it and provide hope to those struggling.  It is the largest fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization that I serve on the state board of.  I am also taking a self-study course on QPR (a suicide prevention training), and am working to also run or participate in a multitude of other events in September for suicide prevention awareness month.  Oh, and of course, school is starting, which means that I will be returning to work.  I will be moving offices this year, so I need to get in there and get it all moved and set up for the new school year. Whew!  I hope I have time to get everything done this month!!

Last, but not least, I have not shared an update in a while on my annual one word:  WRITE.  I have been writing.  I have had three articles published over the last few months in a local magazine discussing suicide and how people can make a difference.  I am in the midst of writing another article for a small-town newspaper about the upcoming Out of the Darkness Walk.  I wrote my grandmother's obituary.  And, I have read through and provided feedback on a friend's story.  As for working on my own stories, I have not really touched them, and I'm not sure when I will have the chance to before this big walk that I am organizing.  So, I will be focusing on getting back to blogging on a regular basis, and working on a few pieces here and there.  I will still be writing, but I have to put the novel on the back burner for a bit.  

How was your July?  What do you have on your agenda for August?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Healing & Readathoning

Hello!!  Is anyone still out there?!?  It's been a while since I have posted, but I have still been reading.  And, I've got a good reason why I've been away for so long.

I have mentioned on social media that I had surgery a little over two weeks ago.  I have been saying that it has been a little procedure, but really it was a fairly big surgery.  My doctor has told me that I have restrictions for 4-6 weeks.  I have had some good days, where I probably overdo it because usually the next day is not so good and I just want to lay on the couch.  And, when I lay on the couch, I have been trying to get through GILMORE GIRLS (just finished Season 5), read, work on my many projects as I feel up to it, or sleep.  A couple of days ago, I finally ventured out for a little walk.  I didn't make it far, but I got off the couch and I will take that as progress.  I finally feel like I am beginning to have the energy to accomplish something, so I'm back and we will take it one step at a time.

Speaking of reading, I did participate in two recent readathons.  The first one was the two week High Summer Readathon, the second #24in48 that was over a weekend.  The #24in48 readathon did not go as planned.  I ended up spending more time sleeping since I was still within my first week after surgery, but I did get in a bit before crashing each day.  The High Summer Readathon went better.  My reading took a hit during the first week because of my surgery, but the second week was definitely better.  The events overlapped, but here are the numbers broken down for each.

#24in48 Readathon
197 pages

High Summer Readathon
939 pages
about 1 hour of audiobooks
a bit of dabbling in magazines

Not bad at all considering.  And, it's got me back to reading regularly, which is the best result I can get!

Hopefully, I will be back soon to chat more books with you.  I sat down and wrote a long list of posts I want to write for the blog.  Now, I just need to get to writing them!

How have you been doing lately?  Any great books or events you've been experiencing?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

BOOK CHAT: High Summer Readathon & #24in48 Readathon

Good Morning!

I meant to get this posted a bit earlier this week, but life got a bit crazy.  Then, I had a little surgery and I have been sleeping so much that I haven't even turned on my computer.  Today, I am feeling better and I decided it was time to announce that I am participating in two readathons.  What better timing since I am already on forced rest because of my surgery?!

The first readathon, the High Summer Readathon started on Monday, July 17 and will run through Sunday, July 30.  It is two weeks of reading as much as you can.  I did get in a bit of reading earlier this week, but I hope to get in lots more from here until the end of the month.

The second readathon is the #24in48 Readathon, which has participants attempting to read 24 hours over the 48 hour weekend.  I'm not sure I will reach the full 24 hours because I am still sleeping a LOT and I'm getting a bit of a late start, but I am sure going to try my best.

As for what I will be reading . . . I will be starting off with more of THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas for the #12mos12rals over at Book Bloggers International.  Also, I am in the middle of the audiobook, PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver that I hope to get a bit in here and there.  Other than that, this stack will be what I will be pulling from . . .

Well, I'm off to read!  I will be posting updates via Instagram and Twitter over the weekend, so feel free to follow me there for details.

Will you be joining in on either of these readathons?  What are your reading plans for the remainder of July?

Friday, July 14, 2017

BOOK CHAT: June 2017 in Review

I'm back with another monthly wrap-up and I'm so glad to say that the month is not completely over this time!  It's only about half over!!  I call that improvement!

The TOP POST for the month was actually two different ones.  WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Love & Loss had the most comments, but AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Sara Dobie Bauer & Bite Somebody Else received the most hits.  I was not able to share much last month with all that was going on, so I really didn't have much to choose from.  I'm hoping to get back into the groove this month.

The TOP PIC for the month was from a book that I originally started as an audio, but then it was automatically returned to the library before I could finish the last pages and I had to rush out to get myself the print copy in order to know what happened.  I'm glad I was able to get this copy from my trusty library!!

My list of BOOKS READ was shorter this month than in May.  The chaos of June just proved to not have a lot of time for reading.

  1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  2. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstilskin by Liesl Shurtlift
  3. The Brothers Grimm:  101 Fairy Tales
  4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

One book stood out this week.  In fact, it kind of swept me off my feet.  It is definitely going to go down as a FAVORITE READ of 2017!  Which one?  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.  So good!

What's on tap for JULY?  Or, maybe I should say what is on tap for the rest of the month.  Lots actually.  I am hosting a readalong over at Book Bloggers International for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  I will be participating in a couple of readathons:  the High Summer Readathon and the #24in48 Readathon.  Outside of the books, I have been in the middle of organizing a local Out of the Darkness Walk in my community during the month of September.  For those not aware of what these are, it is a walk to help promote suicide prevention and awareness.  I am getting super excited about how open my community has been in opening their arms to embrace this event, and I can't wait to see it come to fruition.  September is actually Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and I have a couple of different activities up my sleeve that I have in the works.  It's going to be a busy month!  Oh, and I can't forget to mention that I will be having a little surgery next week.  No worries and no need to stress.  I'm hoping it will just get me to feeling better and it has been a long time coming!  I look forward to having some downtime, laying on my couch reading and writing as I heal and care for myself for a while.  

What's on tap for you the rest of this month?  How was your June in the books?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

BOOK CHAT: May 2017 in Review

Well, June is almost done so why not wrap up May!  I am behind this month because my life has been a bit crazy.  I'm not really going to rehash that here.  If you want the lowdown, I encourage you to read my latest Weekly Wanderings post on Love & Loss.  With that out of the way, let's wrap up what life was like for me in reading and blogging during the month of May.

The TOP POST for the month was no surprise ... ARMCHAIR BOOK EXPO:  Allow Me to Introduce Myself!  It was the only post I was able to get up for the event because of all my time spent on behind-the-scenes tasks, but I'm okay with it.  Since it is the final year of the event, I kind of have to be.

The TOP PIC of May was a picture of these cuties.  They really need no other explanation.  They speak for themselves!

The BOOKS READ for May was much better than they have been in previous months.  Much better.
  1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  2. Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian
  3. The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn
  4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
  7. Soulless by Gail Carriger

Of all these books, it was hard to determine a FAVORITE READ, but there is one that definitely stands out more than all the others ... The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the power behind this story, but I'm hoping I can find the right words at some point to share with you in more detail.

I typically share more details here regarding life in general, but I'm going to skip it this time.  I will be back shortly to chat about June, so I will leave those thoughts for that post.

How was your reading in May?  Do you have big plans for these last couple days in June?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


It's been a while since I have written here.  If you follow me on social media, you have probably seen what has been keeping me away.  If not, let me tell what my life has been like since the last time I checked in.

The last day of school was Thursday, June 8.  Those last couple of weeks of school get a little crazy.  Add to the chaos that my son graduated from his elementary school, so there were extra added events this year than there usually is.

Also on that day, my dear sweet grandmother was connected to Hospice.  It was time.  It was probably past time.  Over the last few months, she has really been struggling and declining in health.  She had more frequent visits to the emergency room.  And though she was living in a memory care facility, I was frequently by her side.  Over the last couple of years, I have spent anywhere from 3-6 days a week with her in some way, shape, or form.  It was heart-breaking to see her decline and her pain increase.  Once Hospice came in, my time with her only increased.  I wanted to spend as much time with her as I possibly could before I no longer was able.

On the morning of Monday, June 12, she passed peacefully into heaven.  I was not there at the time of her passing, but I arrived only minutes after.  I wish I could have been there.  The moments following her passing, I was there for my mom and aunt to cope and prepare for the days to come.

I had to travel to my home town to meet with the funeral home along with my family.  Then, my own little family decided to hit the road to get away for a little while, to spend some good time together because of the difficulties of these last few months on all of us.  As soon as we returned home, we got back in the car to head to my home town once again for my grandmother's funeral and to say our final good-byes.

I thought that was it.  I was wrong.  The day of the funeral was hard, but the day after the funeral, I was hit hard.  My body was ridiculously exhausted.  I wanted to sleep as much as I could.  I did not feel good in so many ways.  I felt that my body finally knew it was time to let go.  All of that caring, giving, and grieving finally took its toll.  And, it lasted for days.

As I write this tonight, I am still tired and not feeling 100%.  But, I do feel that I am getting better and I see the light.  I've been spending some great time with my family and the extra time with my kids has been so good.  I greatly miss my grandmother.  Every day.  I am learning every day how to live without her physically in my life.  I still think about her though and I always will.  She was an amazing woman with an amazingly kind heart, and I am so thankful to have called her my own Grams.  May she now rest in peace.

I feel like in my absence, I have missed so much.  Catch me up!  In the meantime, I will be working to catch up here on the blog with how my reading was last month and what some of my favorite reads have been so far this year.  I've got plans, and I now have time to do them.

What have you been up to these last few weeks?  What are you reading?  What are you blogging? 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Sara Dobie Bauer & Bite Somebody Else

My dear friends, I am so excited to share a little interview with you today with Sara Dobie Bauer.  Sara wrote one of my favorite reads of 2016, Bite Somebody.  In case you missed it, be sure to check out my review of the book and an interview with her last year.  As of yesterday, her sequel to this fun book, Bite Somebody Else was released and for that reason, she is back today with a different kind of interview ... an interview of her favorites!!

Before we get to that interview though, I have to share how excited I am about this book.  As soon as it was available for pre-order, I got my order in.  I am away traveling for a few days, but I cannot wait to receive my own copy of this book as soon as I return home ... because that ending has had me thinking all year long!!

Now, let's welcome Sara Dobie Bauer, author of Bite Somebody Else!!

Favorite character in Bite Somebody.
Ian, because I have a huge crush on him.

Favorite character in Bite Somebody Else.
Imogene, because she’s all grown up.

Favorite quote from Bite Somebody Else.
“I’m an historian for the Stadium Lamia.” “Sounds like a piece of female anatomy.”

Favorite vampire book.
An ever-changing response. Today? Merrick by Claire Cray.

Favorite vampire movie.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman.

Favorite on-screen vampire (actor/actress who played a vampire).
Colin Farrell in Fright Night. He can bite me anytime.

Favorite shot from your latest vampire photo shoot.

(Photo credit: Bill Thornhill.)

Favorite beverage and/or snack to consume while writing Bite Somebody Else.
Dandy Blend. (Look it up. It’s delicious.)

Favorite place to write (vampires or otherwise).
The front window on the second story of my house. When I need a break, I play Rear Window and stalk my neighbors.

Favorite time of day to write.
Early morning.

Favorite pastime when you are not writing.

Favorite book(s) you have read so far this year.
Gun to My Head by Dira Lewis.

Favorite place you share news with your fans.
Twitter. Follow me for fun:


About Bite Somebody Else:
Imogene helped her newbie vampire friend Celia hook up with an adorable human, but now Celia has dropped an atomic bomb of surprise: she has a possibly blood-sucking baby on the way. Imogene is not pleased, especially when a mysterious, ancient, and annoyingly gorgeous vampire historian shows up to monitor Celia's unprecedented pregnancy.

Lord Nicholas Christopher Cuthbert III is everything Imogene hates: posh, mannerly, and totally uninterested in her. Plus, she thinks he's hiding something. So what if he smells like a fresh garden and looks like a rich boarding school kid just begging to be debauched? Imogene has self-control. Or something.

As Celia's pregnancy progresses at a freakishly fast pace, Imogene and Nicholas play an ever-escalating game of will they or won't they, until his sexy maker shows up on Admiral Key, forcing Nicholas to reveal his true intentions toward Celia's soon-to-arrive infant.

Author bio:
Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is a member of RWA and author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody, among other ridiculously entertaining things.

World Weaver Press: 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ARMCHAIR BOOK EXPO: Allow Me to Introduce Myself!

Today kicks off the big Armchair Book Expo event!!  Since I am a bit biased for this event because I am one of the original co-founders and still organize the event, I figured I had better participate in this daily topic.  I hope to participate in at least one more this week, but no guarantees.  Running this event from behind-the-scenes is a LOT of work, so we will see how much time I get to finish prepping more posts for the week!

Without further ado, let's get to the questions . . . or rather, prompts this year!
  1. I am . . . a blogger of 10 years here at Tif Talks Books, one of the original co-founders of Armchair Book Expo (what used to be Armchair BEA), and co-creator of Book Bloggers International.  I am also a mother, wife, freelance writer, advocate, and during the academic year, elementary school counselor.
  2. Currently . . . I am staying up way too late at the time that I am writing this, to ensure that all of the posts are set and ready to go for the big Armchair Book Expo event.  A lot of planning goes into an event like this, and I've been working for months alongside my amazing team this year to bring you another great event.
  3. I love . . . my family, lemonade, and chocolate.
  4. My favorite . . . reads include, but are not limited to, WICKED by Gregory Maguire, THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones, BLINDNESS by Jose Saramago, THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien, DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson, and of course, all things HARRY POTTER.
  5. My least favorite . . . read of 2017 so far is THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang.  I just could not get into that book.
  6. My current read . . . is actually one of many!  I am currently in the midst of reading lots of books at the time of this writing:  RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff, SOULLESS by Gail Carriger, FOSTERING RESILIENT LEARNERS by Kristen Souers, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX by J.K. Rowling, DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver, THE BOY WHO WAS RAISED AS A DOG by Bruce D. Perry, 101 FAIRY TALES by The Brothers Grimm, and THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES, VOLUME 1 by Arthur Conan Doyle.
  7. My summer plans . . . are to read, relax, work on some advocacy projects, read, relax, work on some household projects, and then read and relax some more.
  8. My buddy . . . for reading is typically my little dog, Lily or my amazing little daughter.  If I can have both cuddled up to me at the same time, I would be in heaven.
  9. My blog/channel/social media . . . can all be found under Tif Talks Books (tiftalksbooks).  Here's a few links of where you can find me online:  TwitterFacebook PageInstagram, and Tumblr.
  10. The best . . . reads of 2017 so far are BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead, and THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie.

Now it's your turn!  Feel free to leave a link to your own post if you are participating and I will stop by to say hello!

Who are you, and how would you answer any or all of these questions?

Monday, May 29, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: #ArmchairBookExpo is Coming!

It's been a while since I checked in.  I can't believe the month has passed so quickly, but the good thing is that we are just that much closer to summer break!  Things do not necessarily slow down when summer hits, but it does change and I'm really in need of a change right now.

The end of May also signifies a HUGE event coming our way, and one of the reasons I have been so busy behind the scenes these days.  Armchair Book Expo (what used to be Armchair BEA) kicks off this Wednesday!!  We have some really fun stuff planned this year, including some pretty amazing giveaways (some of which are a surprise)!!

Armchair Book Expo originally began way back in 2010, and I somehow managed to get in on the creation of this event.  I have only taken one year away from the project, but have been going strong every other year.  We have grown and evolved, but this year I am pretty excited about what we have coming your way.  So, if you haven't clicked on over and checked it out, click here now!  Go check it out, register for the event, and plan to join in on the action in whatever format best suits you.

The other thing that I have had going on this month is a readalong that I'm hosting over at Book Bloggers International for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie.  Let me tell you ... that book was amazing.  It was sad.  It was hilarious.  It pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I plan to write a detailed account of my thoughts here in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, you can check out all the discussion questions over at BBI.

What else has been going on in my neck of the woods?  Projects, projects, projects.  Beginning to wrap up the school year.  End of year activities for my own kids.  And, for the kids at the school where I work.  Tending to a sick family member.  Reading some good books.  Yes, I have had time to read this month, and I'm really not sure how I am doing it.  All I have to say is that I am thankful for audio books these days.  The month of May has truly been a bit of a beast, but I am trucking along and somehow getting things done and still taking a little time for myself.

With that, it is time for me to take a little Tif time.  I'm going to kick up my feet, grab one of the many books on my nightstand, and read a bit before heading to bed.  Good night!!

How have you been doing lately?  Do you intend to participate in Armchair Book Expo this year?  

Monday, May 22, 2017

BOOK CHAT: April 2017 in Review

Whoa!  Wait a minute!

It's almost the end of May, and I am just now getting my monthly wrap-up post done.  What is going on here?!  Let me tell you ... this month has been crazy busy.  I have been back to the hospital with a loved one.  I attended a funeral back in my hometown for a family friend.  I've launched my new business (more information to come on that one!).  I've been working a LOT behind the scenes on two additional blogging projects.  And, the end of the school year is quickly approaching and I am swamped with stuff with my own kids and school stuff.  So, I've been here.  I haven't forgotten this little blog.  And, surprisingly, I'm still finding time to read!!  Okay, let's get to the details from April, and then we can talk some more about what's been happening in May.

I have two TOP POSTS from April . . . Weekly Wanderings:  Spring Into Horror Readathon had the most hits and comments, but Weekly Wanderings:  Spring Break is Coming did tie that one in the comments.

The TOP PIC for the month was this beauty from reading outside.  What book was I reading?  Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, of course.

My list of BOOKS READ in April was a bit short.  Thankfully, I can say that May will have more than this!
  1. The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
  2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  3. Superheroes! by Laurence Maslon

Which of these three was my FAVORITE READ for the month?  I think I would have to say Superheroes! by Laurence Maslon.  I listened to this one on audiobook, and it was fun to hear real-life interviews with such artists as Stan Lee, and the number of random facts in this book proved to be intriguing.

So now let's talk MAY!  In case you missed it, I am hosting a readalong again this month over at Book Bloggers International.  We are currently chatting about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  Well, I'm chatting about it.  Not a lot of people have joined in (yet), and this is a fun one to talk about.  Seriously, this may be one of my favorite books of the year!  Also, I am working on preparing for the big Armchair Book Expo (formerly Armchair BEA) event that happens next week.  For those that are not familiar with this event, it is one that runs parallel to and in partnership with Book Expo in New York City.  It features tons of interaction, giveaways, guest articles, and reporting from the event in NYC!  I am the only remaining founder of the event that remains active in the planning, and it takes a LOT of planning.  Last, but not least, I have launched my new business as an Independent Consultant for Usborne Books!  Probably not the best time of year to add something to my plate, but I am officially up and running and going for it.  Feel free to follow me over at my new Facebook page, Tif Hearts Usborne Books.  I will likely keep blogging and business life separate unless I am sharing general news during one of my Weekly Wanderings posts.

Phew!  What a month!  At the time that I write this, I officially have 12 days left of school + 3 days of trainings before I am officially on summer break.  And, I cannot wait for a little break!  I'm looking forward to extra sleep, extra reading, and extra relaxation.  Speaking of which, I'm going to go get in a bit of two of those things ... sleeping and reading ... right now!  

How was your month of April?  How is your May treating you so far?