Monday, March 19, 2018

Bloggiesta: Day 1

It's the first day of Bloggiesta!! I'm super excited to work on my blog and to participate this year. My goals for the week can be found here.

So today I'm going to be making sure I comment on other blogs that are participating this go around and make sure I'm replying to comments on my blog as well. After that I really want to work on my Goodreads TBR shelf. It really needs some attention, I have books on the list that I really don't want to read anymore. So they need to go! 

If I can get all that finished I want to work on scheduling some posts for this week and the next. I'm going to be going out of town next week and figured if I have some posts ready it would make it a lot easier. Is there anyone out there that tries to do this as well? I would love to know.

I'm not sure which Mini-Challenge I want to try this time just yet, but they all look great.  

So what are your Bloggiesta goals for the first day? 



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway Tour: The Secrets We Bury

It's time to showcase another fantastic book! Today we have The Secrets We Bury by Stacie Ramey. 

The Secrets We Bury by Stacie Ramey 
Published: March 1st 2018
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire

Seventeen-and-a-half year old Dylan Taggart is on the run. His family is trying to put him in a school for psychologically challenged students. Dylan realizes he’s had some anger issues and he's a complete loner, aside from the friendship of his cousin Emily, who he calls the other pea in his pod. But he knows the Believers Charter School is not the place for him. As the investigators his mother has hired close in on him, he decides the Appalachian Trail, a hike that takes approximately six months––the exact length of time he needs to stay off her radar until his eighteenth birthday––may be the perfect place to hide out until he can legally drop out of school.

Except Dylan needs people more than he'd like to admit.  And  the biggest surprise is a hiker named Sophie, whom the other hikers call “the ghost.”  Dylan finds a bond with Sophie he's never had before with anyone, and slowly they confide the secrets of what they're each running from.  Trusting someone is scary, but Dylan is about to find out that sometimes love is more important than keeping promises, and some promises are made to be broken. 

Stacie Ramey learned to read at a very early age to escape the endless tormenting from her older siblings. She attended the University of Florida where she majored in communication sciences and Penn State where she received a Master of Science degree in Speech Pathology. When she’s not writing, she engages in Netflix wars with her children or beats her husband in Scrabble. She lives in Wellington, Florida with her husband, three children, and two rescue dogs. Visit

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @stacieramey

Compulsively stirring my coffee in Nowhereville, New Jersey, I recognize I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining when Emily gets here. Well, assuming she’s figured out my code and picked the right coffee shop.
I look at my burner cell and check the time. 12:02. Not super late. Especially not for my cousin, who is less governed by rules than I am but still hates being tardy. Tardy is her word, not mine. Although I totally approve, because it feels specific to the situation of meeting with someone. I hate nondescript words.
Cell in hand, I’m hit with a new, burning desire. Text Mom. Tell her I’m okay. Tell her that I’m sorry I do these things that only make sense to me. Like that time we went to my great-aunt’s farm. The older cousins wanted to scare us younger ones, so they told us there was a big pit where the previous farm’s horses were buried. We were warned to stay away. So of course, that’s the first place we went. The place was nasty. It smelled. There were thorns everywhere, but that didn’t stop me from digging and going deeper into the pit. They had to call the fire department to have me removed from what was really a sinkhole used as a large animal grave. My brother, Brad, and Emily’s sister, Abby, got in huge trouble. Emily had burns on both hands from trying to pull me out by the rope I had tied around my waist. I was so freaked out about the bones I found, about the smell of death and all the animals buried, that they had to sedate me. Good times.
Man, I was a pain in the ass. Once I set my mind on doing something, I couldn’t veer from whatever stupid thing I’d decided to do. Mom never understood that I couldn’t control my obsessive behavior. But it wasn’t her fault. I am a lot to handle.
I start to type. Mom, I’m sorry. I was always sorry after I’d upset Mom. But for some things, like not following clear-cut rules, rules like Don’t dig where you shouldn’t or Don’t run away from home, saying sorry doesn’t help, so I delete the text.
Emily and I are more like brother and sister than cousins. From the time we were little, we were always together, only interested in what the other one was doing, never paying attention to anyone else. Ignoring the older siblings and cousins, especially.
“We would hang out with other people if anyone else was remotely interesting,” I always said. Emily agreed. Of course.
But this time, I’m not sure she’ll agree with what I’ve got planned, so I have to tell her the right way, which is never easy for me. Words come to me like pictures stored on a hard drive that cycle in front of me constantly. I can’t always control which ones I choose as they spew out of my mouth. They call that verbal impulsivity. It comes along with a slew of other labels doctors have given me over the years. Whatever you call it, for me, choosing the right words is an exquisite sort of pain.
“Be brief,” Dad used to tell me. “Let people catch up to your brain.”
He said that to make me feel better. Like none of my dysfunction was my fault.
The waitress approaches, lifting the coffeepot and her eyebrows.
I shake my head, drink my coffee, and think about how I can explain my plan to Emily in a way she’ll get behind Operation Wild Thing.
The taste of coffee paired with the drizzling rain sends my mind back to a time when our families were on the Cape and everyone was at the beach. Emily and I hung at the house, because I needed some away-from-the-rest-of-them time. A fly buzzed around my head, the sound making me insanely edgy. So edgy, apparently, I was sitting there with my hands over my ears. Maybe even rocking a little. Okay, rocking way too much.
Emily yanked me out of the house by my arm and into the fresh air. We stood on the dock behind Uncle Bill’s house. The sky was overcast, and the breeze kept the gnats and mosquitos away.
I rubbed my shoulder joint. “That used to be attached, you know!”
She punched me in the arm. “The fly is going after the crumbs, not you, Dylan, you big dork.”
“I knew that.” I did. It’s just that buzzing puts me in such a constant state of make-it-stop that I can’t do the simplest thing, like figure out I can walk away. But Emily does. And she gets me.
If I was the kind of person who blushed, I would have blushed then.
It started to drizzle. “Come on,” I said, going around the side of the house. “They’ll be home soon.” I tapped my leg. “Max, we’re going for a walk.”
The rottweiler Dad brought home for me when I was six jumped up from his spot on the grass to join me.
“Wait for me.” Emily ran inside and grabbed a rain jacket—yellow London Fog, because she wanted to be like her mom back then. “I can’t believe with all of the things you hate touching and the things you hate touching you, you don’t mind the rain.”
She was right. I didn’t mind the rain. Never had. It was like nature’s drumming. I was obsessed with drumming. Not actually playing the drums, but listening to them as loud as I possibly could. A therapist had explained I liked the sound because I could feel them before I could hear them. Whatever the reason, they calmed me, for sure. Just like the rain did that day.
Now, a good five years later, sitting in a coffee shop in a tiny town in New Jersey, I wonder if I’ll feel Emily’s presence before I hear her. I sent her an email the other day using the fake account I set up for us before I ran away from home and the alphabet code we used when we were kids.
I have something big to tell you. Huge. Meet me. Next letter. Tell me when and where. But do it soon.
Coffee. 12:00 3 on the list on TLD. You always scare me.
I stare at my coffee. My Dad used to drink his coffee black. “Like my heart,” he always said. The rest of my immediate family uses a dash of cream and definitely no sugar. I like my coffee light and sweet. Is it any wonder we don’t get along?
The waitress appears again. Alice, as her name tag says, refills my cup. I’m supposed to thank her, even though she doesn’t seem to mind our nonverbal exchange. But then she goes and ruins the silence. “You want anything else?”
I shake my head, pour in more cream, and wait for it to swirl around my cup like the thoughts that swirl around my mind. After coffee, that is. Without coffee, I am stuck in a fog of nothingness, like my brain knows it’s supposed to be processing information but just doesn’t feel like it.
Emily always said coffee was going to be my undoing. My Kryptonite or some bullshit. But it’s not like I’m at a loss for things that destroy me. The list is long. Starting with sounds. Like Brenda White’s shoes scraping against the floor of my kindergarten classroom over and over again. Scrape scrape scrape scrape. Pause. Scrape scrape scrrrapppe. Is it any wonder I flipped my shit and hid under the desk? Or Josh Mellon’s click click click of his pen during exams in physics. I could have told him flicking his pen wasn’t going to get him the right answers. Or…
The door opens. I look up. Not Emily.
The refrigerator at the front of the shop hums, and that makes me want to cover my ears, but the best way to deal with unwanted sounds is to tune them out by playing louder ones. I scroll through my playlist: Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin (best band ever). Dad and I agreed about that. I guess I get distracted by listening to the drum solo in “Moby Dick” for the zillionth time, because shoes appear in my field of vision next to my table and stop. Em’s shoes. Running shoes. Since I’m planning the biggest running-away-from-home plan ever, I find that ironic.
Emily puts her raincoat on the back of her chair, giving me a second to acclimate to her presence. Her coat is a navy-blue North Face, because Emily is all about being serious now. Serious as a heart attack, motherfucker. “Hey,” she says.
“Hey, yourself.” I wave. Stiff-handed (my usual).
She punches me in the arm. It’s a trick of hers. The punch floods my body with enough input that I can actually handle being hugged. She leans in. Emily smells like she has since she was five years old: cherry Life Savers, rain, Dial soap. It’s weird to know what soap your cousin uses, but I’m not being creepy. I can literally detect the scent of more than a dozen different brands of soap. It’s awesome to be me.
I wrap my hands around her shoulders and hold for five seconds. That’s the usual amount of time that people who are related to each other hug. I don’t hate it for the first one or two seconds, but by the fourth second, I’m like, Seriously, can we be done? But I let her hold it longer, because I know most human beings don’t mind physical contact for five full seconds. Some even allow seven. Sick bastards.
Emily grabs the biscotti off my plate, the extra one I’d ordered because I knew she’d take mine when she got here. She bites a hunk of it, oblivious to the crumbs she’s sent flying, and says, “You were counting, weren’t you?”
My eyes go to my coffee. “No comment.” I take a drink, slurp on purpose. She laughs. God, it’s great to hear that laugh.
“So, what’s the big emergency?” she asks as she motions for the waitress.
“I never said emergency.”
“You said, ‘Soon.’ That’s definitely heightened language for you.” She puts air quotes around the word heightened. The waitress approaches. Waits.
“You have mochaccino?” Emily asks.
The waitress rolls her eyes, taps her pen on her pad. “We don’t have crappuccinos here. Just real coffee. For people who like coffee.”
“Alice!” the woman in the front of the shop yells, clearly having overheard her.
Alice scowls. “Our frappé machine is down at the moment. May I get you something else?”
“Bring her a double espresso, whipped cream, lots of whipped cream.” My hand palms the sugar packet dispenser. “Don’t worry. We have enough of this to make it palatable.”
Emily nods. “Oh, and a menu.” Then to me. “You look skinny.” She pulls out a wad of cash. Yes, a wad. The bills are all crumpled, and change flies everywhere. “Babysitting money. It’s on me.”
When the waitress’s steps tell me she’s out of earshot, I reach for Emily’s hands, trying to grab the mess of bills sticking out everywhere, trying to contain her chaos. I need her to focus on what I’m saying, so my hands clamp over hers. “I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail,” I say.
She drops the money on the table. “What?”
“I’ve decided. You can’t talk me out of it.”
The waitress returns, stands, pad perched. I read that as a little hostile, but I’ve no idea why. And like with most human interactions, I really don’t care.
Emily stares at me as if she’s suddenly gone mute, selectively mute, which is one of the other labels those doctors tried to stick on me. I close Emily’s menu, aim my voice at Alice the waitress. “She’s going to need a few minutes.”
Alice huffs and moves on. I point at her moody retreat. “Did she seem a little…?”
Emily stares at me like—I don’t know. Facial expressions? They’re fuzzy for me. Muscular patterns? Those I can read. Like how Emily’s gripping her closed menu like it’s the only stable thing in an insane world. Obviously, she’s angry. Her fingers are turning white because she’s exerting so much pressure with her grip on that innocent menu. I’m the only one who can piss off Emily that much. So she must be mad because of the Appalachian Trail. Got it. So of course I say, “What? It’s totally safe.”
She throws her head in her hands, then looks up. “Sure it is. Why not? Why don’t I just put my life on hold and join you?”
I stir my coffee, only it doesn’t need stirring because I’ve mixed my cream in completely and it’s a nice homogenous blond. “That’s ridiculous. You like your life.” I take a sip, which must really piss her off, because she reaches for my cup, a tactic Emily only resorts to when she’s about to go nuclear. I move my cup out of her reach. “Hold up, psycho.” Then I lean forward. Leaning forward makes you seem earnest. “I have to. It’s my only choice.”
“You could come home,” she says, but she knows I can’t.
The last school they sent me to had a special unit for “emotionally challenged” kids. I only agreed to go there because it was Emily’s school. The teachers and counselors had a big meeting, and they said if I didn’t do well, I’d have to go to a school that had a more “therapeutic environment.” And I guess forcing the faculty to have to evacuate the entire school from the auditorium after losing it during an assembly qualifies as “not doing well.” Yeah. But honestly, me sitting in class with a bunch of kids who are more messed up than I am? Not. Going. To. Happen. Not if it’s up to me. Which it will be in six months when I finally turn eighteen. Which is why I ran away from home to begin with.
I hold her hands again, this time because I need her to believe me. My hands over hers doesn’t make me feel as closed in as if she put hers on mine, but even this brief contact is only possible because it’s her, Emily. I soften my voice, which also indicates concern. “They’re getting closer.” I look into her eyes. “They almost caught me at a coffee shop in New York.”
She nods. She knows Mom’s detectives are pretty motivated. “I told you coffee was your Achilles’ heel.” A skinny tear drips down her cheek, and part of me considers what it means to cry thin tears versus big fat ones. Has anyone done a study on the size of tears in relation to the emotional load they bear? I look away, mostly to contain the smirk I’m sure is on my face since I’m depersonalizing the situation, as usual. She pulls her hands back. Uh-oh. She noticed.
“Damn it, Dylan. Stop playing me.” She sounds sad, and that makes me feel bad.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper.
She stares at me. She can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve said that two-word combination to anyone. Actually, I remember each and every time. Two before this. The last one when it was too late.
I lean back. “I’m not playing you. If I stay here, Mom’s guys will find me. In six months, I can make my own decisions. Do you know how long it takes to hike the Appalachian Trail? Six months. That means something.”
It’s hard for her to argue with Dylan logic. “Okay, that does seem coincidental, but you’ve never hiked before.”
I break out the book I bought about hiking the trail and slide it across the table. “First line, ‘So you’ve never hiked before? No problem.’”
She raises her eyebrows but can’t keep from smiling. “That’s a stupid first line.”
“I thought it was kind of catchy myself.”
“The wilderness isn’t some kid-invented adventure,” she says. “What if something happens to you?”
“It won’t,” I say. Because bad things can’t happen to you after the worst thing already has. “I just need time. And I always considered doing this anyway.”
True. That was a lie. This is the kind of thing Dad and my brother, Brad, and maybe my cousin, Christian, would do, planning for months, needling me because no way I would ever want to join them. “But I feel like it makes sense.”
“You could get lost.”
I almost choke on my biscotti. “It’s a trail.” I trace an imaginary straight line on the table. “I mean, point A to point B.”
“People get lost. They’ve gotten lost on the trail before. There’ve been people—”
“I know. I realize that, but, Em, the thing is, I’m trying to get lost, aren’t I?”
“Only for six months! Not for—”
“I’ll come back. I have to. We’ve got Max’s revenge. You know I wouldn’t miss that.”
Max hated Halloween with a passion. Barked his little head off. So, we’d have an anti-Halloween every November 1. We’d hang out on the floor with him all day, no matter what day of the week it was. Take off school. Cancel all plans and do what the dog liked best. Which was to lounge with us while we watched movies. Usually the Harry Potter ones, which never got old.
“Every November,” she says solemnly. “So, when are you going?”
“The normal time. When most people do.”
She looks at me like I’m confusing her. Or annoying her. Or—
Then she whacks me on the arm with her spoon. “When?”
“Next week. April 15.”
This time, fat tears fall down her face, and she swipes them away fast. Those are the kind of tears that sting. But she knows she can’t argue with me now. That detail was my wild card.
“You’re such a dick.”
“I know, but I’m a dick with a profound sense of irony.”

This giveaway is for 2 Copies of The Secrets We Bury

Runs March 6 -March 31 (US & Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Blogger Hop #33

Book Blogger Hop is another post I'm going to be trying out and this one has a topic each week, which is something I've been trying to bring to the blog.  I'm really excited about this one because I have a hard time coming up with something fresh to talk about and I'm hoping this helps.

If you would be interested in doing your own post, please CLICK HERE to learn more about this great hop! 

This weeks question is really hard for me to answer...

16th - 22nd - Who is your favorite children's books author and why? (submitted by Kitty @ Vicarious Bookworm)

I have so many favorites but I'm going to go ahead and say it's a tie between Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. I'm guess a lot of people will say Dr. Seuss but honestly those books are for everyone even adults. Just sayin. I loved re-reading them to my kids. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mini Me Corner Review: Tiny Little Rocket, The Magician's Hat, and The Misunderstood Shark

Alright Mini Me Corner is a type of post that I started here on my blog where I talk about Children's or Middle Grade books that are sent to me for review. Today I've got three fantasic books that I would love to recommend to any parent to read to their children. Each of these books were sent to me from Scholastic and I thank them very much for sending them to me to share with you! 

I am going to be doing something a bit different this go around for this post and each review will be short of shorter than normal. I really just want to talk about the main points of the book for each. Since I have three to talk about today it just makes it easier for you to read and for me to post!

 Tiny Little Rocket byRichard Collingridge 

 There's a tiny little rocket that will take you to the stars.
It only flies there once a year but zips you out past Mars.
Its fins are solid silver with a door made out of gold.
There's a cozy pilot seat inside for a person young or old.

Climb aboard for a bedtime picture book.

This adorable little book teaches children about space, the sun and even about birthdays. Yep I said birthdays. It teaches about the Earth's birthday which I thought was a great way to end the book. It also have a great pull out at the end of the book as well, which I loved. It has great illustrations and the words are beautifully written lyrics. All in all I really enjoyed reading this book. 

 The Magician's Hat byMalcolm Mitchell 

 Super Bowl champion and literacy crusader Malcolm Mitchell presents the story of a magician who reveals an awe-inspiring treasure from his bag of tricks -- books that make every kid's dream come true!

This is not your typical afternoon at the library -- a magician invites kids to reach into his hat to pull out whatever they find when they dig down deep. Soon -- poof! -- each child comes away with something better than they could've imagined -- a book that helps them become whatever they want to be, and makes their dreams come true through pages and words, and the adventures that follow. But each child can't help but wonder, What's really making the magic happen?

"Malcolm Mitchell is changing the world through the power of reading." -- Dav Pilkey, bestselling creator of the Dog Man and Captain Underpants series

"The Magician's Hat will cast its spell on you!" -- Jeff Kinney, bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

Now this book is my favorite of the three I'm reviewing today. Mainly because of the meaning behind this story. The theme or meaning is that books are magical and take you wherever you as the reader want to go. To me as a reader who has loved books for so long, this book is just perfection. The illustrations, which are done by Joanne lew-vriethoff, are also perfection. The cover itself is very eye catching and pleasing to look at. There are also words throughout this book that pop out at you are in bold colors, which I really love when books do that. Always a great way to teach new words to kids. This fanastic story also teachers that dreams are magic as well. So much love for this cute book! 

Misunderstood Shark by Ane Dyckman 

Every beachgoer knows that there's nothing more terrifying than a... SHARRRK! But this shark is just misunderstood, or is he? In a wholly original, side-splittingly funny story, New York Times bestselling author Ame Dyckman and illustrator Scott Magoon take this perennial theme and turn it on its (hammer)head with a brand-new cheeky character.

The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a... SHARRRK! Poor Shark, he wasn't trying to scare them, he's just misunderstood! Then he's accused of trying to eat a fish. Will Shark ever catch a break? After all, he wasn't going to eat the fish, he was just showing it his new tooth! Or was he? Explosively funny, extraordinarily clever, and even full of fun shark facts, this surprisingly endearing story gets to the heart of what it feels like to be misunderstood by the people around you. With a surprise twist ending, our Misunderstood Shark will have kids rolling with laughter!

I found this adorable children's book to be very funny and easy to read. It's full of great shark facts so there is the learning aspect in this book as well. Which I always find to be a great way for kids to learn, especially when the book is as funny as this one. The illustrations are really cute as well. All in all I found this book to be a fun and cute read.

Each of these books would be for the younger age range, but even as an adult I thought they were really cute. My son also loved the one about the rocket ship and the shark! (And he's 10!) So if you see any of these books at an upcoming Book Fair or in your local library they are a must to pick up and read with your kids. Hope you all enjoyed this post and as always...

Here at Ali's Bookshelf we accept books in exchange for a honest review. The book above I recieved in exchance for my honest review from Scholastic publishing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Teaser Tuesday #128

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser

 It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind.

This is a book that I've wanted to read for a long time, it's been on my TBR for a while! Time to dive in! Wanted to also read it before I went to see the movie. 


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