Book Review: It Had to Be Fate by Tamra Baumann

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book 3 of It Had to Be… series


Casey Anderson owns a hotel in Anderson Butte – a town where all the residents are paid to ignore celebrities. For now she’s focused on being a good mother to her two boys, and is fighting to ensure she retains custody. Zane Steele is known for being an edgy party-boy rocker, and has come to Anderson Butte to hide out until things settle down. He’s captivated by Casey and wants to date her – but can he convince her to look past his public facade?

What I Liked

  • I really liked the intricacies that came along with Zane’s secret. (His secret is in white text here, if you want to know, but it’s a spoiler: he’s a twin, and its his twin that’s the bad boy. He’s a good guy, but his publicity team wants him to retain an edgy look – so he lets his twin get away with stuff under his name.) I can’t recall reading of a similar situation, although I’m sure I’ve seen it on TV. I liked the contract between public persona/reputation and who someone actually is.
  • Am I allowed to like the food in the book? They have spaghetti dinners and go on picnics and eat Count Chocula and so much more. Which is probably more accurate to a real-life dating scenario than one that doesn’t involve food at all.
  • Overall this is another great addition to the It Had to Be… series. It’s a typical romance, but it still held my interest fairly well, and I read it in one day.

What I Didn’t Like

  • As with any romance, it was somewhat predictable.

In Conclusion

This book is another feel-good addition to the It Had to Be… series.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

(affiliate link)


Book Review: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


This graphic novel follows Katie, the owner of a restaurant, as she tries to fix the mistakes in her life. Luckily, she finds a way to go back in time and change mistakes – but messing with the past has consequences. Will she finally be able to craft the life she wants? Or will she be even worse off than before?

What I Liked

  • This book is captivating. I planned on reading a hundred pages or so and then going to bed… that did not happen. I read it all in one sitting! I was pulled in by Katie’s story.
  • The story is somewhat unpredictable. For a large part of it I was unable to know what was going to happen next, which was why I kept reading.
  • It was fun to watch all the different elements of this book weave together. There are a lot of moving pieces in Katie’s life including love interests, business aspirations and dreams, friends, and mysterious happenings around her house.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The ending was perhaps a bit lackluster? Thinking back I’m not sure why I got this feeling at all – perhaps I just wanted to read more of her story, and it was suddenly over.

In Conclusion

If you’re trying to get into graphic novels (like me!) then you’ll enjoy this book.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

(affiliate link)

Quiz: Sort Your Dog into a Hogwarts House

My friend came up with this idea and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun! Here’s a short quiz to sort your dog into a Hogwarts House. Keep track of how many As, Bs, Cs, and Ds they get. I’ve included photos of my dog, because I think she’s adorable. ❤

  1. You take your dog to the a brand new dog park. They:
    1. Bravely bounce into the park, introducing themselves to all the dogs.
    2. Stick right by your side, annoyed if another dog tries to approach you.
    3. Are mostly interested in the agility toys (hoops, jumps) set up.
    4. Quickly introduce themselves to the other humans present, figuring out how to get pets/scratches from each.

      Daisy at the dog park
  2. You place a treat under one of three upside-down cups. They:
    1. Wait for you to reveal where the treat is.
    2. Sniff until they’ve found the right cup, and push it over to receive the treat.
    3. Immediately go to the correct cup and treat, no sniffing required.
    4. Knock over all three cups to find the treat.
  3. A visitor comes over for the first time. Your dog:
    1. Runs happily up to the person, wagging their tail.
    2. Sticks by your side until you indicate that the visitor is okay.
    3. Does something new and unexpected each time you have a new visitor.
    4. Doesn’t let the person in until they have been thoroughly sniffed and approved of.
  4. It’s time for a treat! Your dog prefers:
    1. Pretty much anything you give them. They’re always up for something new!
    2. A simple puzzle toy, like a Kong filled with peanut butter
    3. A complex puzzle toy, where they have to solve a puzzle to get a treat dispensed (like a shuffle board or flip board)
    4. A chew, such as a bull stick or beef knuckle
  5. Does your dog have any nervous habits?
    1. Nope, they’re always confident.
    2. They yawn.
    3. They hide.
    4. They stick out their tongue or lick their nose.

      Guess what my dog’s nervous habit is?
  6. Does your dog bark a lot?
    1. Only if approached by an unfamiliar dog or person.
    2. All the time.
    3. Only if you ask them to “speak”.
    4. Yes, but only at a low volume.
  7. You take your dog to an obedience class. They:
    1. Grow bored after a while and start exploring the area.
    2. Keep trying until they get every command perfectly.
    3. Pick the commands up quicker than all the other dogs in the class.
    4. Figure out how to get to the treats without following a command.

      A perfect “sit”
  8. Would your dog make a good service dog?
    1. Maybe. They’re generally kind to everyone, but also love adventures.
    2. Absolutely! My dog would do anything for me.
    3. Sure – they’re a quick learner.
    4. Nope, there’s no way they wouldn’t get into trouble.
  9. You take your dog hiking. They:
    1. Run ahead to scout out the trail.
    2. Never get tired and stick by your side the whole time.
    3. Want to sniff everything.
    4. Stay close, but as the leader of your “pack”.

  10. You give your dog a new toy. They:
    1. Destroy it.
    2. Are obsessed with it and play with it for hours.
    3. Quickly grow bored with it.
    4. Would rather play with the packaging.


Mostly As: Gryffindor – your dog is courageous, brave, and chivalrous.
Mostly Bs: Hufflepuff – your dog is a hard worker, is patient, just, and loyal.
Mostly Cs: Ravenclaw – your dog is intelligent, creative, a quick learner, and witty.
Mostly Ds: Slytherin – your dog is ambitious, cunning, resourceful, and a good leader.

(House descriptions from

Daisy the Gryffindor (and her summer haircut)

In case you’re wondering, that means my dog is a Gryffindor. (Although Ravenclaw was a close second.)

What house was your dog sorted into?

❤ Annette


Book Review: It Had to Be Love by Tamra Baumann

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book 2 of It Had to Be… series


Tara Carter is new to the town of Anderson Butte. It’s a small, somewhat remote town, which keeps her hidden from her past. However, the sheriff, Ryan Anderson suspects that she’s hiding something – and keeps poking around trying to uncover something she would rather keep buried. On top of that, they keep running into each other and the matchmaking town are trying to encourage them to be together.

What I Liked

  • It’s a super cute romance. Great for a summer beach read. (It’s already 105 Farenheit here in Arizona, so I can safely say it’s summer.)
  • The threat in the book was legitimate. Sometimes authors go for flimsier, over-exaggerated threats to keep the characters in motion. Not this time!
  • I loved the characters. I think I mentioned this is my review of the first book in this series, but I love how authentic the characters are. Lately I feel like I’ve been reading books where the author says one thing about a character, but as a reader, we never actually see it. It’s nice to read one a book where the fiesty characters make feisty decisions, and so on.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I’m not going to shout this one from the rooftops, but it was still a cute read. Hence four stars. 🙂

In Conclusion

If you enjoyed the first book in this series (It Had to Be Him), you’ll love this one as well.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

(affiliate link)

Bookish Happenings in June 2018

Welcome back to month two of “bookish happenings”. Here I try to share with you awesome bookish events such as new releases, movie releases related to books, holidays, conferences, and other events. Obviously I’m not going to be able to cover everything, but if your reading palate is similar to mine, then hopefully you’ll find this information useful.

Release dates are for the book/movie in the United States, so it may not be accurate if you’re living in another country.

Links to Amazon are affiliate links, other links are just for your convenience. 🙂

Movie Releases

(images from

June 1 – Breath
June 22 – Jurassic World

Book Releases

June 5

Always Forever Maybe by Anica Rissi
The Art of French Kissing by Brianna Shrum
Blazing Summer by Denise Grover Swank
 by Kate Messner (preorder swag details here)
Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos
Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider
Little Do We Know by Tamra Stone (preorder swag details here)
Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim
More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer
Save the Date by Morgan Matson (preorder swag details here)
Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh (Book 2 in the Flame in the Mist series)
The Start of Something Good by Jennifer Probst

always forever artof french blazing breakout fat girl invisiblelittle mariam more than save the date smoke start of

June 12

Final Draft by Riley Redgate
A Reaper at the Gates
by Sabaa Tahir (preorder swag details here) (Book 3 of An Ember in the Ashes series)

final drafft reaper

June 26

Bluestone & Vine by Donna Kauffman (Book 2 in the Blue Hollow Falls series)
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card – Volume 4 by CLAMP
The Museum of Us by Tara Redd

bluestone cardcaptor june1





All month – Audiobook appreciation month
June 1-2 – Sacramento Black Book Fair (Sacramento, CA)
June 2-3 – BookCon (New York, NY)
June 8-10 – African Americans on the Move Book Club Awards (Atlanta, GA)
June 9-10 – Printers Row Lit Fest (Chicago, IL)
June 11 – Caribbean Lit Fest (Brooklyn, NY)
June 14-16 – Romance Slam Jam Book Lover’s Convention (Kansas City, MO)
June 15 – Denver Comic-Con (included because one of my favorite authors will be there)
June 15-17 – Nantucket Book Festival (Nantucket, MA)
June 16 – Memphis Literary Arts Festival (Memphis, TN)
June 21-26 – American Library Association Conference and Exhibition (New Orleans, LA)
June 22-24 – 4th Street Fantasy Convention (Minneapolis, MN)
June 23 – Austin’s African American Book Festival (Austin, TX)

Let me know if you go to any of these events, I’d love to hear about them! Also let me know what you think of this feature – is this something you would like to continue to see?

❤ Annette

bookish happeningsmay 2018 (1)

10 Bookish Reasons My Mom is Awesome

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! Today I am outlining all the book-related ways my Mom is awesome. She’s awesome in many other ways, but since this is a book blog, you get book related things. 🙂 (A lot of these also apply to my Dad, but it’s not his day so…)

  1. She has recommended some great books to me.
    Did you know she’s the one who recommended Harry Potter to me? That alone should tell you how fantastic her book game is.
  2. She still recommends books for me to read.
    I wrote an entire post about it, which you can find here.
  3. She read books aloud to us when we were younger.
    The one I remember the most was The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. She read it to us before we were old enough to read it ourselves, and it was a great book to read and think about as a family.
  4. She would read books while we read books, just so she could discuss them with us.
    She read the Harry Potter series side by side with me, so that we could discuss them once I finished.
  5. She taught us to be readers by being an example of a great reader.
    My mom still reads all the time, and she did the same when we were children. (If I remember correctly, we thought it was funny to try to distract her from reading, or to jump on her while she was reading, back when we were toddlers.)
  6. She would let us choose a book to purchase from Scholastic.
    There were usually two 99 cent books as part of the Scholastic book flyers. She often let us choose one of them to add to our collection. In kindergarten I got one about different kinds of apples (don’t remember the title though), and as I got older, this was how I added Santa Paws and The Dolphin Diaries to my collection.
  7. She took us to the library all the time.
    Even to this day, libraries are still a wonderful, magical place. When we were little we got to pick out picture books to take home. I’m fairly sure I pretty much always chose Mary Wore Her Red Dress. When we got older we got to participate in the library’s summer reading programs. She’d let us wander the kids area of the library on our own while she went to look for books for herself. We had an entire shelf at home dedicated to library books, since as a family we checked so much out and read so much. By the time I graduated I had my library card number memorized and I knew many of the librarians there.
  8. We grew up in a home filled with books.
    I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a bookshelf. We had a white cube-like one when we were younger, which was great for our large picture book collection. I had my own (!) night-stand size one when I was in elementary school, which was awesome – it gave me ownership for the care of my books. And while I don’t think we ever bought books new, we always seemed to be inheriting them or finding them for cheap. I was never in want of books growing up.
  9. She started a business selling books.
    If you’re not yet convinced that my mom is awesome, maybe this will convince you – she started her own business! Being the bookish family we are, it was natural for her to start a company selling books. My Dad left his job and joined her a couple years after she started it, and it’s still what they do to this day. (If you’re curious, links to their Amazon and eBay stores can be found here.)
  10. She worked hard to teach me how to read.
    I don’t remember much of the process of learning how to read. But I know my mom would sit with me on the couch almost everyday when I was in kindergarten, guiding me through a book. The one that I remember fulling reading myself was Richard Scarry’s Farmer Patrick Pig. Although there were plenty of other books in there, including Go Dog Go, Hop on Pop, and some book about a fat cat.

There you go! A short glimpse into why my Mom is awesome. In what bookish ways is your mom awesome? Let me know!

❤ Annette


Book Review: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce

Book also by Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


This book takes place after the events of all of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books so far. If you haven’t read them yet, you should! They’re all like my favorite books ever. The series are Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, and The Daughter of the Lioness. (affiliate links) It is a collection of papers found in George Cooper’s trunk, which means there are a lot of cool things in this book such as:

  • Details on how the spy system of Tortall is set up
  • Letters from Ali and Thom’s childhood
  • Bios of characters throughout the series
  • Accounts of the food served at feasts
  • Killing machine reports
  • How Lord Sir Wyldon of Cavall became training master
  • Daine’s immortal notes
  • Dimplomat’s Guide to Tortall (including holidays celebrated in the country)
  • Nealan of Queenscove’s poetry
  • A timeline of Tortall up to 463 H.E.

What I Liked

  • Tortall is probably my favorite fictional land ever. So I loved every second I spent reading this book. It was great to see a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that happened during the different series.
  • This book is beautiful. It’s put together like a collection of papers, so some of them have cup rings or ink splots or (images of) wax seals and lots of other cool stuff. I love books like this that are in a slightly different format, or appear to be more of a hand-written collection than a book.
  • The timeline was fantastic – now I finally know the ages of each character at any given point in time, which was always sort of an estimate for me. If you haven’t read the series yet, I wouldn’t read this book though, because the timeline includes everything.
  • I loved the sections with sketches – the bios of different side characters, and Daine’s notes on immortals.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The thing that Alanna reveals at the very beginning of the book isn’t discussed at all for the rest of the book. 😦 The timeline doesn’t go that far either, so I guess we’ll just have to hope that Tamora Pierce writes about it in another series? 😀 😀
  • Because this is more or less a reference to Tortall, it could be a little dry at times. I loved it because I love all of Tortall, but if you’re not as big of a fan, maybe it wouldn’t hold your attention.

In Conclusion

Someone buy this book for me? 😀 If you’re a fan of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall, you’ll love this book. And if you’re not a fan of Tortall, you clearly haven’t read her books – so go read them!

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

(affiliate link)

Books Recommended by My Mother

Mother’s Day is one week away! In honor of that, here are some books recommended by my mother.

(Contains affiliate links)

Ice Limit by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

When I told my mom I was going to write the post, her first reaction was “It better contain Ice Limit!” So here it is as first. 🙂 It is marked as a thriller or an adventure novel, and, although I haven’t read it, it is definitely on my TBR!

Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller

Although the title sounds scandalous, this book is actually about olive oil. Apparently it is quite fascinating, and it’s another one I plan on picking up.

Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder

have read this one and it was fascinating! It is about retrieving a sunken ship (the richest in the world, according to the book’s tagline), and all the different technological advances were required to make it happen. It’s a lot more interesting that I’m making it sound, I promise. 🙂

Beautiful Cruel Country by Eva Antonia Wilber-Cruce

My mom loves southwest history (which is great, considering we live there), and no doubt she enjoys this book for that reason.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book covers the story of the life (and continued presence) of Henrietta Lacks. While she died over 50 years ago, her cells are still around and have been essential in many modern medical advances.

Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

This is another non-fiction that investigates the ramifications of having the ability to choose. Is it a good thing? How does it tie into freedom and our well-being?

All of the above (except the one’s I’ve read) are definitely on my TBR. Are you adding any of them to yours as well? What books would your mom recommend?

❤ Annette


DIY I Spy Bottle

In honor of children’s book week, I’ve got a craft based on Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick’s I Spy books. The craft itself isn’t unique (I’ve seen in everywhere on Pinterest), but I thought it’d be fun to try making one of my own!


Clear bottle or jar with lid or cap
Uncooked rice
Assorted miniature items

  • You will want to clean out your bottle or jar a couple days ahead of time to give it a chance to dry. I recommend plastic since the toy is for children and plastic is more durable. However, glass does look prettier, so it’s really up to you. I used a Pepsi bottle because it was clear and didn’t have extra indentations on it.
  • There are a lot of great ways to find miniature items. Keep in mind you want them to fit through the neck of the bottle! I found alphabet beads and pony beads at the craft store, which is where I got fun shapes/items like a turtle, dog, cat, fish, etc. I also had pieces from disassembled jewelry I found at a rummage sale (that’s where the peppers came from), as well as some fun shaped buttons. You could also use objects like pencil toppers.



  1. Choose everything you are going to put in the bottle (sans rice) and lay it out nicely. Take a picture. If you are giving this to a child who can’t read, they will want a picture of items they can find in the bottle. If the child can read you can reference the picture to type up a list of what is in the bottle.
  2. Stick a funnel in the top of your bottle. If you don’t have a funnel, you can cut the lid off of a soda bottle and use that. I taped mine on so I didn’t have to hold it.

    You can see all the escaped rice from when I tried to do this without a funnel…
  3. Pour a little bit of rice (3/4-1 inch) into the bottle.
  4. Add a couple of trinkets/miniatures.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the bottle is filled, doing your best to space the miniatures throughout the bottle.
  6. Place the cap on the bottle and try shaking it to see if you can uncover any items. If this is difficult, pour out a little rice to allow the objects to move more freely. Repeat until the bottle is fun to play with.
  7. I highly suggest gluing the cap on. Because mine was going to a house with toddlers, I wanted to ensure that the cap couldn’t come off and the choking hazards (the miniatures) would not become available.
  8. Print out your picture of the items, or list of the items, and include it with the I Spy bottle.

Older children may want to find specific items in the jar (find all the letters in their name, find the alphabet in order, find the orange dog, etc.), and younger children may just want to shake it to see what they uncover. Either way it should be a good boredom buster. It’s also a fun activity to match with the I Spy books. I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t like reading them! (My favorite was I Spy School Days [affiliate link])

Have you made an I Spy bottle? How did it go? What kind of objects did you use?

❤ Annette

ispy jar (1)

15+ Crochet Patterns Based on Children’s Books

I really enjoy crocheting, even if I don’t get around to it as much as I should. So today, in honor of Children’s Book Week, I have a collection of crochet patterns based on children’s books. One of my favorite toddler/child gifts is to give a book along with a crocheted plush that matches that book. As of me writing this post, all of the linked-to patterns are free! Yay!

Because I haven’t made most of these, there aren’t many pictures of the projects themselves. Click on each link to head to each site to check them out! The books each project is based on (or that I associated them with) is next to each link. Clicking on that will take you to Amazon via an affiliate link.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Crochet Hats by Repeat Crafter Me

Cat In the Hat Pencil Topper by Paper, Needles, n Sweets

Green Eggs and Ham by NyanPon

Star Bellied Sneetch by CraftyIsCool

Hungry Caterpillar Plush by Britteny’s Boutique (I’ve made this one! Check out my post about it here.)

Ballerina Mouse by Heart and Sew

Lowly Worm Plush by Little Black Marker (I’ve made this one too! Check out my post about it here.)

Little Red Riding Hood Doll by My Backyard Monsters

Little Red Riding Hood Cape by Repeat Crafter Me

Eeyore Plush by Skestes

Where the Wild Things Are Monster by Amigurumi To Go

Crayon Blanket by Interweave

Crayon Box Kawaii Cuddler by 3 am Grace Designs

Monkey Plush by Chimu Hamada

Fancy Goldfish Plush by Kate Wood

Mouse and Cookie Plush by Chaleur Life

Clifford the Dog Kid’s Hat by Crafter Chick



Do you have any patterns to add to this list? Which one are you most excited to make?

Happy crafting! ❤ Annette

crochet kids books