I Quit Social Media for 30 Days: Why I Did It And What I Learned

My friend Ashley from Ashes Books & Bobs and myself decided to quit social media for the month of July. For me, that included Facebook and Instagram. I went so far as to deactivate both accounts and delete the apps from my phone. 30 days, no social media, no Facebook, no Instagram, nothin. Just plain ole, simple livin.

My reasons for wanting a break were simple:

  1. My mental health. I struggle with anxiety, and I’ve been learning how to cope with it for the past year or so. I realized that viewing images of other people’s lives and seeing their beautiful vacations, the way they parent, what they wear, how gorgeous their skin is, how successful they are, how nice they are, how happy they are, etc. gave me a near-constant drum roll of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. Despite my best efforts, I was never able to shy away from the nasty green monster that reared its head at times. I needed a break.
  2. Time. Remember a couple of months ago when Apple came out with the new screen time feature where it tells you how much time you spend on each app? Yeah, that was a little frightening. I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I was spending on my phone, but let’s just say it was a lot. I have a 4 year old daughter, am taking summer classes, and my husband has been working full time and attending clinicals since August. My time was stretched thin, yet I was spending so much of what little time I had on my phone. I needed a break.
  3. Curiosity. I genuinely wanted to see what life would be like without social media. I’ve been on social media since I was a junior in high school, so it’s been a part of my life for almost 10 years. Without it, what would happen? Would I become a recluse? Would I miss out on something? Would people even notice I was gone?

So, what happened during my little hiatus? Absolutely nothing. And it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I don’t plan on going back anytime soon. I have read 5 books this past month, not including what I’ve read for my required reading in school. My anxiety has been less persistent, and I have felt content for most of my days. My need to be perfect has dwindled, and I’ve been feeling okay with who I am.

I have realized that social media may have been a good idea at first, and it may still be good for some, but in my season of life right now, it’s not good for me. This is all being said by someone who used to argue against those who belittled social media, mind you, because I used to love it so much. I have made a lot of online friends and I do truly enjoy conversing with other book lovers in the multiple book groups I’m in on Facebook. While I do miss that aspect, the negative affect the rest of social media has on me isn’t worth it.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what time away from social media would look like, you now have my experience. I would encourage you to try it, because you may have a positive experience like me.

Have you ever felt like you needed a break from social media? Do you have any of the same issues as me, or do you have different ones? I would love to converse about this, because sometimes it can be hard to find people that are willing to share their thoughts on this subject. Be sure to head over to Ashley’s page where she shares some of her thoughts on the hiatus as well.

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I Quit Social Media for 30 Days: Why I Did It And What I Learned

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult Review

I read all different types of books. I read funny books. I read romantic books. I read thrilling books. I read fiction, nonfiction and, since I read one amazing soon-to-be-trilogy, I can say I read fantasy. As a book lover, it’s just what you do. You read everything and anything that piques your interest. But there are certain books that mean something more than all of the others. They’e rare. When you read a book with this magical ability, something inside you stirs, slowly at first, but then fiercely, refusing to leave the confines of your soul, embedding itself in your most intimate crevices. These books open our eyes and widen our worldviews. They change the focus of the lenses through which we see the world, leaving us forever transfigured. As I said before, these books are rare. But I stumbled across one recently, and it’s called Small Great Things.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.


Racism exists in our country, and it’s a problem. If you don’t agree, then you’re part of the problem. Even if you do agree, you’re probably part of the problem. I’m saying this as someone who’s part of the problem.

Hear me out.

Have you ever heard a news anchor or politician mention the term “white privilege” and thought, what are they talking about? I’m a white person and I’m not privileged. I’ve worked just as hard as anyone to get to this point in my life, if not harder.

Yeah, me too.

Until I read Small Great Things, that is. Jodi Picoult wrote this book in an attempt to show people like me exactly what the term ‘white privilege’ means and how it plays out in our society. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you she got it exactly right. Because truthfully, I don’t know. This is my first tiptoe into the waters, so to speak, so I don’t know if she missed something or if she butchered certain aspects. I know she did something of significance, though. She helped me see the world through someone else’s eyes. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what reading is all about?

“It is amazing how you can look in a mirror your whole life and think you are seeing yourself clearly. And then one day, you peel off a filmy gray layer of hypocrisy, and you realize you’ve never truly seen yourself at all.”

I loved the court scenes in this book. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve come to a better understanding of how our justice system works thanks to the documentaries my husband and I have watched. That knowledge was definitely helpful while reading this book. There was only one term I had to look up, so I’m counting that as a win.

The one aspect of this book that I found to be somewhat unbelievable was the outcome of Turk’s character. I wanted to believe it, I did. But it was just really hard to believe that shift in him without witnessing it.

This will be a book that sticks with me for a long time. Much longer than the ever-dreaded book hangover. I will lend it out to anyone and everyone that wants to read it, because it is powerful. It has already led me to other books, which will then lead me to even more. I’m now on fire for this topic, and I can’t wait to learn as much as I can.

To see purchase options for Small Great Things on Amazon, CLICK HERE!

 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult Review

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer Review

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

With loving adoptive parents by his side, Rev Fletcher has managed to keep the demons of his past at bay. . . until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue’s parents are constantly fighting, and her only escape is the computer game she built from scratch. But when a cruel online troll’s harassment escalates, she not only loses confidence but starts to fear for her safety.

When Rev and Emma meet, they’re both longing to lift the burden of their secrets. They connect instantly and deeply, promising to help each other no matter what. But soon Rev and Emma’s secrets threaten to crush them, and they’ll need more than a promise to find their way out.


This is the second book in a series. I didn’t get to review the first one on my blog, so here is the buy link for that one:

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

My review for More Than We Can Tell.

Here’s the thing about young adult literature. The single most important factor that needs to be had in a YA book is that it needs to be about young adults doing young adult things. The icing on the cake is when it provides lessons and thought provoking scenarios that guide young adults down the beautiful road of independent thinking. Let me tell you something, Brigid Kemmerer knows how to write a young adult novel.

More Than We Can Tell is one of the best young adult novels I have read in a long time. I really, really liked Letters to the Lost, but this one, somehow, is even better. It’s sharp, compelling, and all-consuming. It includes multiple different issues that teens face today like parents divorcing, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, depression, anxiety, abuse, and it gently dabs into racism. There is so much that goes on in this story, yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming at all. Everything fits.

Rev Fletcher was one of my favorite characters in Letters to the Lost, and getting to know him on a deeper level in More Than We Can Tell was so very gratifying. While not every reader can relate to what Rev has gone through in his life, a lot of readers (teens, specifically) can relate to his inability to understand the paralyzing feeling of feeling. Emotions run rampant in this stage of life, and the building blocks for dealing with that aren’t always stable. If anything, Rev provides the “yeah, me too” feeling for humans who can’t seem to quiet their inner voice, who often question the thoughts that drive them. Emma’s character was great, too. She plays a vital role in the story and she is every bit as important as Rev. But Rev stole the show, much like he did in Letters to the Lost.

Rev’s parents will also stick with me. If someone were to write a definition of what good parenting is, Geoff and Kristin Fletcher would be that exact definition. I might even go as far to say that they should be the definition of being plain ole’ good humans. I’m so glad that readers get to know them more in this second book. It was also fun to witness Declan from a different point of view. I liked him in the first novel, but I grew to like him even more in this one. Brigid Kemmerer successfully writes intricately woven characters that are real and relatable, and Declan is no different. I tend to read books centered around female characters, which, I guess this one splits it 50/50 centering around a male and a female, but I feel like the males in both of these stories shined brighter.

These stories will stick with me for a while, as will the characters. I can’t wait to see what Brigid Kemmerer does next. Her characters are real, her writing is fluid, her topics of choice are relevant. She is definitely one to watch out for. Hopefully I will be able to have copies of these in my future classroom someday, as well as whatever else she decides to release.

To see purchase options for More Than We Can Tell through Amazon, CLICK HERE!

To see purchase options for Letters to the Lost through Amazon, CLICK HERE!

 

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer Review

F*ck Marriage by Tarryn Fisher Review


Fuck Marriage by T Fish

Two years ago, Billie Tarrow’s husband left her for another woman. Shamed and divorced, Billie retreated to her family home in Port Townsend, far from her old life in New York. After a near-death encounter, Billie decides to return to the city that took everything from her. 

But sometimes in the midst of heartache, hope suffocates the pain. 

Satcher Gable has carried a torch for Billie for ten years. When she suddenly returns to New York a single woman, he can’t believe his good fortune. But convincing her to walk away from her heartache is proving more difficult than Satcher anticipated. A changed woman, Billie’s only goal is revenge.


There were things that I liked, and there were things that I didn’t like. Neither outweighs the other, which leaves me feeling pretty “meh” about this book. Let’s start with the things that I liked.

I liked Billie for the most part. I found her reactions and her ways of dealing with the divorce to be realistic. Dramatic, yes, but also believable. Tarryn always celebrates the aspects of women that are looked down upon in our culture. Being overly emotional, dramatic or sensitive are often seen as female flaws. Rather than point them out as defects or weaknesses, Tarryn shines light on them and highlights those character traits. It’s one of the things about her writing that keeps me coming back, and it’s the main reason I was able to root for Billie in this novel. 

Satcher was okay. I didn’t want to like him for a couple of reasons. One- he’s a known player. Ugh. Players are never attractive in real life, but seeing their hidden vulnerability in books is hard to pass up. Two- his character is one that I’ve read before, multiple times. There’s not much that’s original about him. He’s an ex-player who is secretly in love with his best friend’s girl. What’s new? Despite both of these reasons telling me to not like this character, his genuine and unconditional love for Billie was endearing.

Now, let’s talk plot. This book has a lot going on in certain parts and then hardly anything going on in others. Near the end, it was like ping pong. One decision led to this which led to that which led to this a year later. I think this particular plot line could’ve been executed better near the end. The last 25% of this book felt rushed and unrealistic. Unfortunately, it’s largely what led to my dislike of the novel.

I think this book could be extremely cathartic for someone who is or has gone through a divorce, and I’ve read a lot of reviews that prove this to be true. So, if you are looking for a new love after divorce novel, this may be your new baby.

To see purchase options for F*ck Marriage on Amazon, CLICK HERE!

 

 

 

F*ck Marriage by Tarryn Fisher Review

The Year I Left by Christine Brae Review

The Year I Left by Christine Brae

Carin Frost doesn’t understand what’s happening to her. A confident businesswoman, wife, and mother, she begins to resent everything about her life. Nothing makes sense. Nothing makes her feel. Maybe it’s the recent loss of her mother in a tragic accident. Or maybe she’s just losing her mind.

Enter Matias Torres. As their new business partnership thrives, so does their friendship—and his interest in her. Carin is determined to keep her distance, until a work assignment sends them to Southeast Asia where a storm is brewing on the island. In the midst of the chaos, Matias asks her to do something unimaginable, exhilarating, BOLD. Carin knows the consequences could be dire, but it may be the only way to save herself.

An honest look at love and marriage and the frailties of the human heart, this is a story of a woman’s loss of self and purpose and the journey she takes to find her way back.


I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of The Year I Left by Christine Brae, and it didn’t disappoint. Word on the street is that this is Brae’s very last novel; she plans to step away from the booksphere and focus on her other career. Her readers (myself included) will be sad to see her go, but if there were to be any last words for Christine to leave us with, it’s perfectly said in The Year I Left.

Women face many obstacles. We fall in love, we grow and birth children, we raise them, we work to care for them, and sometimes, if we’re not careful, we lose ourselves in this cycle. Some might say that this is the ideal type of woman, the one who immerses herself so wholly in others that the person in her mirror is a stranger, but I disagree. I’d argue that it’s impossible for a woman to care for others authentically if she can’t face the woman in her mirror. Brae tackles these issues in this novel with bravery and honesty. She tells the truth, and she isn’t shy about it.

“I agreed that nothing made sense when you looked at me from the outside. Everything was so in place, it was ridiculous. I had no secrets, no scandalous past. Just an ordinary life with ordinary joys and ordinary sorrows. At least that’s how it looked to me.”

I had a hard time connecting with Carin for a large portion of the novel. I kept having a feeling that the story was going to move forward in a way that would leave me feeling angry. BUT, I was delightfully surprised that it ended perfectly. I loved witnessing the struggles Carin went through, and the way she came out a better person because of it all.

“Sometimes, life keeps you pretty close to the ground. There are no guarantees that one day you’ll take flight.”

This novel bears Brae’s best writing, hands down. It is really cool to see her grow and experiment and write about different aspects of life. The Year I Left wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but it ended up being even MORE than I expected. If you are looking for a heartfelt summer read that tugs at your insides and makes you question things, this is it.

To see purchase options for The Year I Left through Amazon, CLICK HERE! This novel is currently available to pre-order and will be live on 8/20.

The Year I Left by Christine Brae Review

The Rebound by J.R. Rogue Review

*This novel is currently available for pre-order and will be live on July 18th*

The Rebound by J.R. Rogue

Some love affairs aren’t meant for the public eye. Some love affairs won’t survive the fallout.

Calliope das Dores is not the perfect rebound, even if her name means “muse”. She is not who I should be running to. But I want her anyway.

She keeps telling me my squeaky-clean image can’t handle the scandal, but this want between us is not black and white, and it never will be.

I don’t care that she’s my uncle’s wife—or that she shares my last name. After finding my girlfriend in bed with my uncle at the end of my worldwide tour, the truth is clear: Calliope and I are the only family we both have left now.

In the beginning, after flying to the Ozarks to tell her of our partners’ sins, I tell myself it’s just so she won’t hear it from someone who would lie to her. But my manager and best friend say I’ve wanted her since I was a kid, and now, finally, she is allowed to want me back.

She says we can get over them with each other—even if it’s in secret, for a summer—but I have to promise her I won’t fall in love. It’s not part of the plan. The details in our past deny us of any future we could have had. 

What starts out as a rebound for both of us eventually consumes me. But the flames don’t reach her.

My muse is consumed, too. But not with me.


Did I just read an all consuming book that made me swoon like crazy and wonder if these characters are actually real and living out in the world somewhere? I sure as heck did. You guys, this book was all that I was hoping for and more. Get ready to hear me gush because I seriously can’t help it.

I knew that the main character in this novel was going to be based on Shawn Mendes. When I first heard about it, I didn’t really get it. Sure, I’d heard a few of his songs on the radio before, but I didn’t know anything about him other than that. As time went on and news of ARCs being released came out, I started to do some preemptive research to see what I was getting myself into. I listened to his music and watched some of his interviews. You guys. I’m not even kidding you when I say that I think J.R. Rogue literally wrote the actual personality of Shawn Mendes into her character Sean. It is crazy how I can listen to his song lyrics and relate them all to the character she built. I don’t know exactly what kind of skill you’d call this, being able to translate a real-life muse so seamlessly, but J.R. Rogue DEFINITELY HAS IT.

Aside from creating a character that feels authentically realistic, this same character is also completely swoon worthy. Sean das Dores will make you ditch your life-long book boyfriend so hard that you forget you ever had one other than him. No joke. He’s THAT good and THAT dreamy.

“I don’t want to capture the world the way she does, I just want to watch her do it.”

One of my favorite things about this novel is how both characters have so much depth. By glancing at the title and reading the synopsis, it may seem like you’re in for an easy beach read. That couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Both of the main characters are sharp and profound, and J.R. Rogue does a great job of building them both up until the very last page. And that ending. Oh my gosh, that ending. I’ve never read one that I’ve loved so much. It was absolutely perfect.

“If you listen to what your body is telling you, the answers are clear. But we often mistrust the gut instincts, the tingling tell that so badly wants to tell us something. Anything.”

Of course, this wouldn’t be a J.R. Rogue novel if it didn’t have awesome writing, which it does. Her words are like crack. I’ll read anything she writes. She has this way of putting things you’ve always wondered about into words you could never form. It’s so easy to tell how smart she is and how linguistically heightened she is. I’m so glad she writes books, because I love reading them. And I absolutely LOVE The Rebound. This will be a book that I reread someday, and then I’ll reread it again, and again, and again. I loved it that much. The Rebound has my heart.

To see purchase options for The Rebound through Amazon, CLICK HERE!

 

 

 

 

The Rebound by J.R. Rogue Review

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult Review

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shame­ful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future.


Disclaimer: I’m a Jodi Picoult fan. The first book I read by her was My Sister’s Keeper which we read in my eleventh grade English class. It was the first time I read something in a high school class that genuinely intrigued me. I ended up buying my own copy so I could finish at home ahead of my classmates; I had to know what happened. Jodi Picoult’s stories do that to readers. They immediately suck you in and keep you prisoner until the very last page. The Storyteller is no different.

“It doesn’t matter what it is that leaves a hole inside you. It just matters that it’s there.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although at times the subject matter was rather difficult to bear. I cried and I yearned for the world to be different, for history to have been different. As always, Picloult highlights the gray areas of life. She has this way of forcing readers to see things from different angles, ones they may have never before encountered. From a young age we are taught to view the world as black and white. Wrong and right. I feel as though Picoult would argue that there’s hardly anything that simple, and that we are all mostly consumed in gray. This is what makes her storytelling so compelling.

“Good people and bad people. As if it were that easy. Everyone is both of these at once.”

The Storyteller jumps back and forth between the past and the present, between a larger story and a smaller one, and between characters. Picoult’s style is a success. Never was I confused about what I was reading or where I was in the timeline. I was simply captivated. The characters are well developed, all weaving in and out of the story at a perfect and precise pace. Picoult even managed to shock me by throwing a wrench in the plot at the end. Her writing is well crafted. Just look at those quotes. The woman knows what she’s doing with words.

This was an all-encompassing read, but it wasn’t easy. Some chapters were very hard to get through due to the intensity of the situations and how realistically Picoult paints those pictures. The subject matter is in relation to WW2, so know that it tackles those tough subjects in depth. The Storyteller is a great reminder in how important it is to never neglect nor demerit history. We should use it as fuel to better the world as time moves forward.

“History isn’t about dates and places and wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them.”

I loved the bread making aspect that Picoult relied on in this story. Over the last year I’ve been experimenting with baking, specifically different types of savory breads. It was interesting to read about baking from a baker’s perspective, and I even picked up a few tips and tricks to keep in my pocket. Bread is its own character in this story, and Picoult used it wisely.

Part of me wants to read this again someday because I know Picoult said a lot of things in between the lines that I missed out on. Another part of me doesn’t want to ever read it again because of how painful some of the subjects are. To me, this is a sign of a really good book.

To see purchase options for The Storyteller through Amazon, CLICK HERE!

 

 

 

 

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult Review