Review: Julie Farley & The New Ever After Series

I was first introduced to author, Julie Farley, being on tour for CLP Blog Tours, back in 2013.  She wrote a trilogy, which I love.  Here are the books and reviews for them:

Click here to read my review.

Click here to read my review.

Because I enjoyed the previous two books, I was quite excited to learn that Julie had written another book! The last book in the trilogy: Another Tomorrow.  This is a book that cannot be read as a standalone and is a compliment to the two previous novels.  The cover, in my opinion, doesn’t adequately represent the storyline.  Although, it is both Heather and Jenny, best friends who have endured a number of situations and life changes.  This book deals primarily with Jenny and her self discovery, after her divorce.  I was uncomfortable reading about the yoga retreat, where there is a lesbian kiss, although it doesn’t define Jenny and doesn’t really impact the rest of the story.  I think that scene could have been excluded, without affecting the overall storyline.  While the story revolves more around Jenny, it is great to still know what is happening with Heather, her new marriage, and her ever growing children.  They were just born in the last book!  I loved the romance that happens for Jenny and the way she finds peace with her ex-husband, learns to be a single mom and venturing into dating, as well as dealing with a serious health issue. Overall, Farley fans will enjoy this book and be glad for the happy ending!

great cupcake rating 4

*This book was provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

copyright 2015

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Short Stack Reviews


At the beginning of the year, I was reading so much that I simply didn’t want to stop and write about them. Before I knew it, they had accumulated and I wanted to share them with you here.  I plan to write more “Short Stack Reviews”, where you can gleam what I’ve read, add them to your TBR list (if you see any that you might like), and also to help me keep track of my reading.  Be sure and click on each book picture to read the synopsis!

This is my first DNF, this year.  I don’t typically include books I haven’t read because I certainly am in no position to rate them.  However, I am including this one.  From the first chapter, I was hooked into the storyline.  It was intense, an “edge of your seat” kind of book, that I just couldn’t continue reading.  I had so much anxiety worrying if Mark, the astronaut left behind, was going to die.  I didn’t watch Gravity, the movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, because I didn’t want to see him die.  I’m a wimp when it comes to movies and books.  Because I didn’t finish this book, I have no idea if Mark survives, but my heart couldn’t continue.  It is a book for sci-fi fans, those who want a narrative story (as Mark is the only one on Mars…and his potatoes), and for those who love intense books. So, what did I do with this book? I gave it to my son, who loves sci-fi, is fascinated with Mars, and loves an intense storyline.  He also saw Gravity and loved it, so there you go!

*This book was provided by the publisher and Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan.  So, when Cyndi from “A Utah Mom’s Life“, suggested this book, I downloaded it.  I loved this book and the adventures Jane (Jane in the book, not The Jane) has in Austenland.  I don’t know if there is such a place, but wouldn’t it be amazing to jump back in time and meet people that are from Pride and Prejudice? Jane has a great sense of humor and does admit the corsets get old, not being able to be alone with a male is stifling, and lack of cellphones can be a bit hard.  However, she has her own adventure, has some love challenges, and finds her happily ever after…or so I hope.  The ending did seem a bit rushed, but it was in perfect Austen form-love always prevails!

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 I must admit, before reading While Beauty Slept, I just didn’t have an appreciation for Princess Aurora.  This book is another twist on  Sleeping Beauty, where Princess Aurora wakes up but doesn’t have her happily ever after.  She isn’t in love with her prince, the kingdom is in disarray, and she learns that all is not as it seems.  This novel is the first to a trilogy, which I am excited about and is a great YA book for those who love stories about fairy tales with twists.  There are definitely some cliffhangers, which I am sure the other 2 novels will address, and can’t wait to read them!  This is definitely a book that different from Elizabeth Blackwell’s book, so don’t compare them because you will be disappointed.  They are vastly different and equally good in their own right.  I enjoyed this book very much!

great cupcake rating 4 *This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.


copyright 2015


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Finding the Silver Lining

silver lining

I am an optimist at heart. I always look for the good in someone and something, no matter how small. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in such an abusive environment that even in the darkest moment there was hope, perhaps it’s because of my wonderful great-grandmother who nurtured and loved me, perhaps it’s because of the wonder and beauty I see in my children every day, or perhaps it’s because of the beauty and love I have seen through my Heavenly Father and my relationship with Him.  Maybe, it’s a combination of it all.

To get to this silver lining that I want to share with you, I must first go to the dark side.  The dark side of blogging. Below are links that you can read up on to be informed of what has happened.

Blog Posts:


These hashtags can lead you to some of the discussions that have happened on Twitter: #BlogHonest, #StopPlagiarism, #TruthTrain

The Ugly Side to Blogging:

1. Don’t be bullied into silence.  If someone is private messaging you, emailing you, calling you out on social media to get a response, don’t respond.  However, don’t stay silent on issues that are important to you.  The issues are separate from the person.  Issues teach us how to grow and learn from them, how to bridge support, and how to help one another.  Talking about the “issue” doesn’t mean the person is being vilified.  It means we are using the issue as a platform to grow.

2.  At the end of the day, all you have is your word.  If you can’t keep your word, then that is an issue and a person I choose not to be around.  I want to be around those I can be myself with.  I want people to be around me, who can also be themselves.  Trust is highly important and I want to be able to trust your word, no matter how bad it may seem.  If we can’t be transparent and authentic, especially behind closed doors, then our relationship is based on falsehoods, and I don’t want to invest my time in that.  So, choose your inner circle wisely.

3.  Everyone has an opinion.  That is what I love about social media. That is what I love about America.  That is what I love about Texas (because yes, all Texans believe Texas is a great country-it’s our joke).  Will everyone agree? No. Will everyone disagree? No.  People will have their opinions.

Truthfully, I don’t know how anyone can watch The Walking Dead.  It’s creepy and gross.  But, I’m in the minority…aside from being Latina and female, I know I am because so people love that show.  My son loves it, watches it every week, and my bloggey friends post all about it.  I still adore them and love reading their posts and know what they’re reading! You know what? I don’t try to force my infinite love for Housewives on my son or my bloggey friends.  But- I do talk about it! Because I love those shows (minus Atlanta and Miami).  Hopefully, they still love me even though they have no idea why I love to watch them!

Same goes with the issues of plagiarism and the person who did it.  People have opinions that some will agree with and others wont.  You know what? That is okay.  My opinion: that person is not horrible, or a pariah.  She doesn’t have to be exiled or banished from the blogging world or any world, for that matter.  She is a wife and mom, who made a ridiculous mistake that has natural consequences.  However, it brought up great points for us to discuss: when to say no, how to say no, how to ask for help, what it means to blog, and what we can do as a community to bridge this division that has been created.

While people may want the talk of “plagiarism” to go away, it won’t.  It won’t because people need to process through what happened, especially when it happened to them or by someone they trusted.  It’s a grieving process of sorts.  It is not okay for someone in J’s camp to belittle, harass, or send private messages to ask what you implied, what you meant, and say they are “her protector”.   We are grown adults, we can speak for ourselves.  An apology was sent out, whether someone chooses to receive it or not, is up to each individual.  However, it is not someone’s right or place to feel the need to check in with everyone and see where they stand.  That is childish and brings up a whole other set of issues.

My Silver Linings:

1. I learned the importance of copyright:  I spent a lot of hours on my blog posting copyright information, after being informed about what it actually means and how to protect my work from being plagiarized.

2.  I have simplified my reviews:  I don’t post a whole lot of descriptive information (unless it’s from a book tour), and I write about what I love about the book.  I don’t write negative reviews.  I don’t care to invest my time in writing about a book I didn’t enjoy. Why would I want to even finish a book I didn’t love?  So, my blog will contain reviews on books that I want to share with others.

3.  I am streamlining my presence on social media.  I am still working on my accounts, but am limiting my social media accounts to FB, Twitter, and Bloglovin’.  I will also still keep my FB page because that is where I like to share all the freebies Nook has to offer!  It’s exhausting, overwhelming, and unnecessary to have accounts in every place…at least for me.

4.  I have learned the value of “blocking”:  Life is short.  My time with blogging is limited.  This is a hobby I enjoy and will continue.  This means that I choose not to read the negativity or attacks on people, who have an opinion that is different from theirs.  It’s okay not to agree with everyone, it’s okay to not necessarily enjoy everyone’s posts, and it’s okay to not follow everyone on social media.  It is okay and the world will still go on.  Surround yourself with those who value your worth, who inspire you, and who teach you….and yes, surround yourself with those who have a freakish, crazy habit of book hoarding, too!

My goal on social media is to promote great books and authors, whose work I love.  The bonus to that is I have met some incredible bloggers and have enjoyed reading about their daily life, what’s on their bookshelves, and tours they have joined.  I also like to share about my daily life and my crazy love for reality tv.  So, I’ll still be tweeting, just not as much.

5.  Back to Basics:  Like any hobby or job, anything can be consuming if we allow it.  Therefore, I plan to spend less time on social media and more time being involved with my family and friends, in person.  This means not checking in on social media, while out to dinner with my family!  I am at a place in my life where I am able to move around and exercise (no longer suffering from shoulder pain), and I need that for my own self-care.  I can’t be a help to others if I am not taking care of myself.

6.  My family comes first:  When my hobby is overtaking my family time, it’s time to step back. These past couple of months have shown me the importance of that, as I’ve dealt with health issues and family friends who have health issues, too.  I have spent too much time reading tweets and FB posts and not enough time doing the things I should be doing-like printing out our Hawaii vacation pics from 2010!!

7.  It’s okay to say NO:  Saying no doesn’t mean I don’t want to, it just means I can’t right now or in the near future.  I really hate having to tell publishers, authors, and tour hosts- “no thank-you”.  However, I have been doing more of that and feel more free to read what I can without the pressures of review dates.  Due to my health issues last year, I had to cancel on book tours and realized that while I can “today”, things can change down the road. Thankfully, the tour hosts have always been quite understanding, very helpful,  and immensely supportive.

8.  Self-care: I mentioned that earlier- if I can’t take care of myself, I can’t be of help to others.  This means making time to exercise, spending time with my Bible and having devotionals, volunteering more (because that brings me joy), and doing things I enjoy that doesn’t include a laptop or a book. Gasp!  Yes-I just wrote that!!  And, that’s hard because I always have book with me.  However, it’s all about balance!

9.  Forgiving others:  It is so important to forgive others, even when they hurt you (intentionally or unintentionally).  Life is too short.  Anger and hate takes too much energy.  I have forgiven J and even “her protectors” because they are human, they are doing or did what they thought was best at the time, and it gives me peace to move forward in my own life.  I choose to enjoy the talks and moments I did have with them and realize that some friendships end, while others begin.

10.  Being Helpful:  When I first started blogging, it was because of my love for reading and talking books with others.  I had just had my car accident and was unable to drive, was in constant pain, and limited in what I could do.  Bloggers were my cyber friends, who talked about books and shared about their joy for reading.  I learned so much from them, continue to, and I want to do the same.  I want to help those who need my help, even if it’s just giving emotional support or prayer.

Our community of bloggers have one thing in common: we love books.  Behind our computers, we are all people, who truly care about books, love to talk and share, and are compassionate people.  That is my goal: to not lose my compassion and to always look for that silver lining.

My thanks to these awesome bloggers that started this conversation, so that we can all grow and learn as a community.  If I left anyone out, it wasn’t intentional. Please add your link and I will add it to this post.

copyright 2015

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Review & Giveaway: Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting


Tallulah de Longland,’ she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgement. ‘That,’ she announced, ‘is a seriously glamorgeous name.’

From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched by Annabelle, by her family, and their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small, coastal town of Juniper Bay. Their lives become as entwined as Annabelle’s initials engraved beneath the de Longland kitchen table.

But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.

Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgiveable.

It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.

My Review:

This is a book that grew on me.  As I turned each page, I became more immersed in the story of Tallulah de Longland.  When it ended, I simply wanted it to go on. The story spans a few decades, with Tallulah (Lulu) reflecting back on the past and sharing her story of the present.

It starts out with Lulu meeting Annabelle at their Catholic school, St. Rita’s.  Soon, they become the best of friends, developing their own language and creating a dictionary.  Both come from eccentric families, with Lulu’s mom struggling with a mental illness that is never defined (but includes bouts of severe depression).  While her mom, Rose, has her quirks, she loves her daughter immensely and loves to bake!  Lulu has twin brothers, who aren’t main characters in the storyline, but still show how resilient children can be, in a home where someone is mentally ill.  Both, Rose and Harry, are a couple who do what they can to provide for their children and help move them along to create their own adventures.

Lulu experiences first love with Josh, and the three of them (Annabelle, Lulu, and Josh) become inseparable.  Something happens and Lulu’s life stalls.  Annabelle and Josh move on, and it isn’t until Lulu moves in with a friend, that she meets the infamous Duncan.  Lulu develops her own voice and draws the line (so to speak), with Duncan, which sparks a life long friendship that is so endearing and heartfelt!  Duncan has his own issues, one being that he loves women with the letter “K”.  It is through Duncan’s own journey, that Lulu comes into her own and embraces who she is.

Because Lulu grew up Catholic, it made sense to see how much Lulu struggles to accept happiness and gifts from others.  However, through the course of the book, she learns to forgive herself, forgive those she loves, and embrace the adventures that her family and Duncan very much want for her life.

Frances Whiting is a debut author, who wrote this book, with the setting being in Australia.  So, there is some Australian lingo, mate.  However, it doesn’t come across confusing or difficult to follow.  This story has so many beginnings and endings, throughout the novel, that it really seems like this novel could have been a sequel of sorts.  Reading the interview at the back of the book, I was simply amazed that this book was a labor of love that took 7 years to write!!  The novel doesn’t show this at all, as it is seamless, quite relevant, and has a great rhythm to it.

While it could easily have been a “girl meets boy” tale, Frances takes the story even deeper and brings forth issues that happen in real life-which makes it quite relatable to anyone.  Frances also raises serious issues about friendships, boundaries, infidelity, health issues, starting over, and finding love.  Frances shows that everyone has flaws, have  journeys that sometimes intersect with their past, and above all, that everyone deserves a second chance.

This was a beautiful novel that I enjoyed.  I cried, laughed, and simply loved the way every character has his/her own personal challenges to overcome, yet no one is ever truly alone to experience those.  The title didn’t make a whole of sense to me, until I read the interview Frances gave.  Then, it made perfect sense.  Like a trampoline, there are dips, falls, and times you are soaring in the air!  Overall, an excellent book that I highly recommend!

P.S. I do hope Frances considers writing a sequel to this novel! There are so many adventures for Lulu and her family and friends to share with all of us!!

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*This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley. No forms of compensation were given.

Book Giveaway!

The publisher has graciously offered 2 copies of this book!! 

Simply fill out the form and 2 winners will be randomly selected. 

This giveaway is open to US & Canada readers.

Giveaway ends March 10, 2015.

Please Note:  This is a 2 part process! 

1) Fill in the comment form (it will not be visible to anyone but me, Books in the Burbs.

2) There is a question in the comment form.  Answer it below this post, where the general comments are listed.

****In order for your entry to be valid, both parts must be answered.  This includes your mailing address.  It takes time to receive word back from winners and I am on a deadline to submit both winner’s information to the publicist.  Thank you!   

copyright 2015

Mug O’Comfort Swap-Sign Me Up!

Last month, I participated in a Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap, and loved it! So, of course, I had to join this swap, too! 

I am really looking forward to this, since I have new found love for my Keurig.  It has been extremely cold lately, in Texas.  Crazy, right? Since I don’t drink coffee, I have been drinking hot cocoa!  Yummy! Naturally, I’m also loving using my Christmas mugs (because hot cocoa is magical to me), but I can always use another fantastic mug!  If you want to join in on the fun, look at the info below and I hope to see you there! Who knows, I may even be partnered with you!!

Your Swap Objective:

Get to know your fantastic partner and send them an awesome package that has a mug and other mug-related goodies.  Goodies can include things like treats, cocoa, coffee, tea, etc.

Dates to Remember:

  • Sign-Ups Start:Monday, February 9th.
  • Sign-Ups End:Monday, February 16th.
  • Giveaway Ends:Tuesday, February 17th.
  • Partners Assigned:Wednesday, February 18th.
  • Packages Ship: by or on Saturday, March 7th.
  • Show-Off Link Opens:Wednesday, March 11th.

You can click on the image above and will directed to Chaotic Goddess Swaps!

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2014 Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

My Review:

I absolutely fell in love with Rainbow’s book, Eleanor and Park, so I was extremely excited to read her latest book. This book is definitely not YA, and is a modern twist to the movie, “Back to the Future” and “Scrooge”. What would happen if you could go back in time and rework your troubled marriage? Would you make the same choices? Would the ending still be the same? These are the questions Georgie finds answers to, as she faces the possible demise of her marriage.The story follows Georgie and her husband, Neal, as Georgie connects with her past through the yellow old rotary phone hidden in her childhood bedroom closet. Georgie is at a crossroads and is faced with the decision of: spending Christmas with her family or meeting a deadline and pitching a new show. As many women willidentify with:career vs. family, Rainbow raises interesting questions as readers follow Georgie over the course of 1 week.

Told through Georgie’s point of view, Rainbow gives reader a well-rounded character and helps readers see how quickly work can become the other person in a marriage, and ultimately the cause for breaking a relationship up.Rainbow Rowell gives readers an inside glimpse into Georgie’s interesting family: her mom is a sexy Cougar, her sister is “hiding in the closet”, and Georgie is stuck in the 80’s. While the story kept me glued to each page, it would have been interesting to have had the book told by Neal’s point of view, too, and to have had a little more story development about her sister, Heather.

I loved the way the book all tied up nicely at the end, although it would have been great had Neal given more clues about knowing something magical happened between the two of them, while both rekindled their romance on a landline.

great cupcake rating 4

*This was a guest review I posted on another site, which has since been shut down.  However, I wanted to give this review a home, since I did enjoy this book, so it’s here at Books in the Burbs (where it belongs)!


copyright 2015


TLC Book Tours: One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (January 27, 2015)

The #1 international bestseller reminiscent of After I’m Gone, Sister, Before I Go to Sleep, and The Silent Wife—an intricately plotted, thoroughly addictive thriller that introduces a major new voice in suspense fiction—a mesmerizing and powerful novel that will keep you guessing to the very end.

No one has ever guessed Emily’s secret.

Will you?

A happy marriage. A beautiful family. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life—to start again as someone new?

Now, Emily has become Cat, working at a hip advertising agency in London and living on the edge with her inseparable new friend, Angel. Cat’s buried any trace of her old self so well, no one knows how to find her. But she can’t bury the past—or her own memories.

And soon, she’ll have to face the truth of what she’s done—a shocking revelation that may push her one step too far. . . .

My Review:

This is a book that has a dark and gloomy feel about it.  It’s not until the very end, that there is a little ray of sunshine.  Emily leaves her husband and family behind, choosing to go by the name “Cat”, as she starts a new life in London.  She is determined to hide who she is to this new world, while there are moments the reader is brought to the past to shed light into the world of Emily and who she is.  Emily is the oldest twin, with her younger one (Caroline) being the reckless one.  It is shared that Caroline was not expected, as having twins was a surprise for their mom.  As a result, Caroline was treated differently from the very beginning, while Emily was the child that was loved and nurtured.

Told in alternating viewpoints, the reader gets to know what Emily and Caroline’s parents felt and experienced, Ben (Emily/Cat’s husband), Angel (Cat’s friend), as well as Emily/Cat’s perspective.  I would have loved to have known Caroline’s point of view because she is so central to this storyline.  However, the reader is left to speculate what she felt and why.

Emily is married to a loving man and has 1 child, pregnant with another.  She is a successful attorney and has the support of her family and friends.  Then, abruptly, she leaves to run away from her past and the reader slowly puts the pieces together to figure out what would make Emily leave the comfort of her home and wonderful family to start anew. Cat is rather reckless as she ventures into the world of drugs and partying.  She meets a friend, named Angel, who becomes quite close with her.  However, never close enough to know Cat’s secret.

This is a novel that I absolutely enjoyed reading. It’s a novel that will keep you guessing, wondering what’s happening next and what happened in the past.  As it all unfolds, the reader can’t help but have compassion and happy to see a silver lining at the end.  While it isn’t addressed as openly in the novel, it’s quite certain that Emily suffered from PTSD, which explained the alter-ego and the spiral towards self-destruction.  It’s simply a great novel that kept me guessing until the very end. It’s a great read that I truly enjoyed!

great cupcake rating 4

*My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel! No forms of compensation were given.

About Tina Seskis

© Laila Hegarty

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, England, and after graduating from the University of Bath spent more than twenty years working in marketing and advertising. One Step Too Far is her debut novel, and was first published independently in the UK, where it shot to the #1 spot on the bestseller list. Her second novel is forthcoming. She lives in North London with her husband and son.

Find out more about Tina at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Tina’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 27th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, January 28th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, January 29th: Fuelled by Fiction

Monday, February 2nd: BoundbyWords

Tuesday, February 3rd: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, February 4th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, February 5th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, February 6th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, February 9th: The Well-Read Redhead

Tuesday, February 10th: Vox Libris


copyright 2015