Thoughts|| Hot Mess.

9781525811418.indd

Hot Mess by Emily Belden
4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Description: Twenty-something Allie Simon never imagined she’d fall for a recovering drug addict—but that was before she met Benji Zane, Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming chef, who’s known as much for his hard partying ways as for his unparalleled culinary skills. Six months into their relationship, the food and chemistry are out of this world, but the reality of living with a cooking wunderkind hasn’t exactly been all hearts and flowers.  Still, Allie’s convinced that her love is the key to fixing this talented man’s broken soul—so when Benji is offered his dream job as chef de cuisine for a new restaurant opening on Randolph Street, Chicago’s foodie hot spot, Allie agrees to invest her life savings in his future. But less than a month after she goes all in, Allie learns a heartbreaking lesson: addicts lie. Benji cracks under the pressure, relapses and disappears, bagging out not only on the restaurant, but on her, too. Left with nothing but a massive withdrawal slip and a restaurant that absolutely must open in a matter of weeks, Allie finds herself thrust into a world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.


I was sent a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I read Emily Belden’s first book Eighty-Sixed and really enjoyed it, so I was so excited when the publisher reached out to me and asked if I wanted to read and review Hot Mess!

Hot Mess was pretty fun to read and at times it got a little intense. I was sucked into right at the start. The story is told in Allie’s POV and I instantly liked her. Right from the start Benji seemed a little sketchy to me, but Allie was in love with him and willing to do whatever to make sure he never relapsed; even looking past all the red flags that were popping up and intense situations between them. I couldn’t believe she was willing to invest her life savings into Benji and the restaurant and of course it takes a turn for the worse. Now Allie is stuck trying to figure out the food business without him.

There were times in the story when it did slow down for me and was a bit hard to get through. It was probably around the time that Benji disappears after he relapsed. I felt like the pace slowed down and some things weren’t as exciting as before. I still really enjoyed it for the most part though and I loved all the funny conversations and things happening between Allie and some of the other characters. Allie grows throughout the book, which I love and she tried to push on with life even after Benji up and disappeared. It’s not at all an easy road for her.

Let’s talk food! Hot Mess is all about the food industry and restaurant business. I honestly don’t know that much about any of that (aside from watching all the cooking shows on Food Network :P), but it was interesting to learn about. AND ALL THE FOOD DESCRIPTIONS! I was hungry about 90% of the time as read this book. I wanted to climb in the book and just eat everything. Overall, I enjoyed Hot Mess so much. It was fun, a little crazy at times, but it had a mix of everything you could want in a contemporary. It did slow down a little bit for me, but I seen other reviews that actually thought the opposite, so maybe it was just me? I would recommend reading this book, especially if you love a good contemporary and FOOD!

In case you missed it;
Book Tag|| 20 Questions.
Random|| Picture Update.
Thoughts|| Invictus.

I hope you have a great Friday and weekend!

ashleyblack

Book Tag|| 20 Questions.

booktag

Hey!

I was tagged by Lilly from Lair of Books to do the 20 questions tag. Go check out Lilly’s blog! Her blog is one of my favorites to read and she’s super cool! I am so far behind on doing tags (I have a ton of drafts started, so I know what tags I need to do), so hopefully this will get me in the mood to finally catch up on all those tags!

The Questions:

How many books is too many books in a book series?

+ This is a tough one, because it all really depends on the series. I think I’ll go with five books. I think after that then it’s usually a bit much. I do love the Falling Kingdoms series so much though and that’s six. 😛

How do you feel about cliffhangers?

+ I have a love/hate for cliffhangers. I love them because they are usually really crazy and leave me a wreck. I hate them because if the series isn’t already completely published, then I have to wait until I can read the next book. The wait almost always kills me more than the cliffhanger.

Hardback or paperback?

+ Hmmm….I guess I’ll choose hardback for my official answer. They are a lot prettier and look nicer on my bookshelves. I do love paperbacks though, they are a lot easier to read, not as heavy lol.

Favorite book?

psycho

+ Psycho by Robert Bloch. I loved this book so much. I love that they made a TV show based on Norman Bates (Bates Motel). I actually think this is a series too, but I never got around to reading the other books. I would love to get my hands on copies of them though and read them.

Least favorite book?

cursethelaststarshockofthefallilluminaewewereliars

+ This is a tough question, because I’m not really sure what I would say is my least favorite book. Here are five books that I either gave a 1 or 2 stars to.  The Curse Keepers, The Last Star, The Shock of the Fall, Illuminae, and We Were Liars. Unpopular opinion with Illuminae, but oh well. It was not my jam. I think a lot of people loved We Were Liars too, but I thought it was so boring. I don’t even want to get on the topic of The Last Star, UGHH.

Love triangles, yes or no?

+ No thanks. I find them a bit annoying.

The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

ihateeveryonebutyou

+ The last book that I could not finish was I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn. I couldn’t get into it. It was boring. I didn’t like the characters.

A book you’re currently reading?

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+ I am currently reading Hot Mess by Emily Belden and also Member of the Family by Dianne Lake. I am hoping to have both of these books finished this week.

Last book you recommended to someone?

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+ The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. I told my sister she needed to read it, because it was just so crazy and disturbing.

Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

+ The oldest book I read was The Day Boy and the Night Girl by George MacDonald. It was originally published in 1882. It’s actually one of my favorite stories too.

Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Love and Other Carnivorous Plantsimmortalreign

+ The newest book that I read was Love & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves. It actually doesn’t get published until May 15, 2018. The newest book I read that is already released though is Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes.

Favorite author?

+ I’m going to go with Mitch Albom and Rick Riordan for this one. So far I have really enjoyed all of their books that I’ve read. They are also some of my auto-buy authors.

Buying books or borrowing books?

+ I like buying books, but I don’t mind borrowing them. I usually check out e-books and audiobooks from my library a lot.

A book you dislike that everyone else seem to love?

courtfury

+ A Court of Mist and Fury. ACOMAF was not the greatest and also why I don’t even know if I can pick up another Sarah J. Maas book again, to be honest. It was boring a lot of the time, Feyre was annoying AF, Maas messed Tamlin up BADLY. LIKE WTF? It was like he was a completely different person than he was in the first book. Feyre did so much in the first book for her love with Tamlin and then it was completely thrown out the window in this book like it didn’t mean anything. I’m just confused by the entire thing, to be honest. What was the point of ACOTAR? ACOMAF took everything from the first book and threw it out the window. It just shouldn’t have ever existed with what she did with ACOMAF, to be honest. Such a disappointment, because I absolutely loved ACOTAR. I don’t know if I will be continuing the series or not. Haven’t decided.

Bookmarks or dog-ears?

+ Bookmarks! I feel guilty even accidentally messing up any of the pages in my books. I probably have like 100+ bookmarks.

A book you can always reread?

harryenclave

+ Harry Potter series or the Razorland series. I love these two series so much. I am in need of a Harry Potter reread ASAP.

Can you read while hearing music?

+ Not usually. I lose focus on the story if I do. I like complete silence. I discovered this group called Sparrow Sleeps and they do lullaby covers of some of my favorite bands/songs. I end up singing along (even though there are no words), haha.

One POV or multiple POV’s? (POV’s = Point of views)

+ I prefer one POV. Sometimes multiple POVs annoy me, especially if there are a TON of them. I read a book once that had like seven POVs and I ended up hating the book. I better connect with the characters when it’s only one. Maybe even two. With the exception of the Falling Kingdoms series….Morgan Rhodes made it easy to connect with all of them. It seems like Falling Kingdoms is the exception for everything. LOL.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

+ Rarely do I ever read a book in one sitting. I am not going to lie, I get distracted a lot (stupid iPhone). So I’ll read some pages, scroll through my phone, read some pages, scroll through my phone, etc. So I usually read over multiple days. There have been a handful of times where I have read books in one sitting though.

A book you’ve read because of the cover?

+ Almost all of them? LOL. Not going to lie, I tend to only look up books if I see a cover that I really love and then I’ll go check out what it’s about. I know that’s bad, haha. But I am guilty of this 9 out of 10 times.


I Tag:

I’ve seen a lot of you already did this tag, so I won’t tag any specific person. If you want to do this tag though, please feel free to link me to your posts so I can check them out! 🙂

In case you missed it;
Random|| Picture Update.
Thoughts|| Invictus.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack

Random|| Picture Update.

pictureupdate

Hey!

I haven’t done a picture update post (besides photo a day or travel ones) in a month, so I have quite a lot of pictures to share. My total picture count was a little over 60 pictures. I decided to break it up and put my Disney on Ice pictures in their own post that will probably go up next week. If you follow me on Instagram (heyyitsashley) you may have seen some of these; others haven’t made it there yet, so you’ll get to see them first! Anyway, onto the pictures!

The hubby and I went to walk around Downtown Hollywood (Florida), because they always have new wall art popping up on buildings and I wanted to check them out and get some pictures. Here are some of the ones that we seen. I still have so many more to see though.

These mermaid ones were pretty awesome! It was one giant wall, so it was harder to get the entire seen in a picture. Instead I broke it up into three pictures of the mermaids.

These were some smaller ones or close ups. The parrot one is a smaller one that was on the side of a hotel. The anchor and fishes were a closeup from the mermaids above.

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I really loved this robot one so much.

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FLAMINGOS! This one was my all-time favorite one that I seen so far. This is also a big wall. The other side has more flamingos on it, but these two looked the coolest.

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This one was across from the mermaids. It was also on a giant wall, so this isn’t even half of it! The other side looks identical though. Really love this one and the colors.

It was National Beer Day on Saturday, so we went to this bar in Downtown Hollywood called Old Hollywood Beerhouse. They sell 200 different beers, so we decided to check out a few of those. I loved all the ones I got (pictured above). The sour wheat ale was probably my favorite. We plan to go back again to try some more. It was a cool vibe there. They played old Hollywood movies on old TVs and played old music on a record player.

Random selfies, because why not?

PIZZA! We love pizza at my house. Right was from when the hubby and I went to go see Love, Simon at the movies. I love that our theater has recliner chairs now.

I am living for dresses lately. I finally got around to wearing my cat one (right) and my sunflower one. I am in love with my sunflower one. My yellow TOMS went perfect with it too.

Weekend Vibes.

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My nephew Jackson.

I seriously hate these things (all spiders and bugs, really) and this time of year they pop up EVERYWHERE. We probably have 10+ in our backyard. Even little baby ones.

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These three above are just some random pictures. The last one of the sunset is really cool though. I took it from the side passenger mirror in the car. It came out really cool.

Little Leaf! She got spayed last Friday. Colby and October HATED her when she came back from getting spayed. They didn’t want to be around her and if she went near them, they would hiss at her. She went to hide in blankets and plastic bags to get away from them. 😦 I guess it’s a thing that happens sometimes with cats when you take one to the vet and bring them home. After about a day, Colby was friendly again with her. October took the entire weekend before they became best friends again.

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See! Friends again! 😀

Leaf (left), ColbyJack (top right), October (bottom right).

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My boys; Colby & Dax.

I bought a lens ball recently, because I seen so many cool pictures on Instagram taken with it. I got the 80mm ball and it has a bit of weight to it and it’s a pretty big size. I also decided to get a 60mm one as well. I was so scared I was going to drop it, haha. I decided to take it down to the railroad tracks and get some pictures. I still need to get the hang of it though and try to get more creative with it. This was just me trying it out since I’ve never used one before! Here are a few of the pictures I got. The left side are the originals and the right side are the rotated versions.

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And this one was just a random one that I took at my house. I didn’t rotate the picture for this one, because I really liked it like this and how it came out with the lighting. Depending on the picture, sometimes it looks cooler rotated and other times it looks better as it originally is taken (subject being upside down).

Minus the bad lighting in my house, I tried it out with a book. I also figured out that it’s so much easier to hold the lens ball this way versus how I was holding it in all my other pictures, haha. Easier for me anyway, since I have smaller hands and the 80mm is a little big and heavy. I already took all the other pictures before trying it out this way though, lol.

Well, that’s all for this post! My Disney on Ice picture post will come at some point next week. I should also hopefully have a review of Hot Mess. I am hoping to finish it this weekend. I think I am also going to finally get to some of those tags done as well. I currently have eight drafted tag posts that I need to finally work on. I think once I get this next lesson done for school, then I’ll have a little free time to do some tags.

In case you missed it;
Thoughts|| Invictus.
WWW Wednesday #49.
Thoughts|| Huntress.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack

Thoughts|| Invictus.

invictus

Invictus by Ryan Graudin
3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Description: Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.  But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.


I originally received Invictus from The Novl and from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t get around to finishing it last year (more later), but I decided to check out the audiobook from my library and finally finish it.

So why did I not finish it last year? Honestly, I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I started to get bored early on and decided I needed a break from it. I didn’t want to force myself to read it when I wasn’t in the mood for it, because it probably would have made me hate it. I set it down and it got lost in the pile. I finally finished it though, so at least there’s that.

Fast forward to this year and I finally finished Invictus! I am not entirely sure what to say in this review, so it may end up being a short one. As you can see, I gave it three out of five stars. The boredom still lingered at the beginning and at some parts throughout the book. I didn’t feel enough excitement. The second half of the book was a little better though and I did enjoy it. There’s a lot more going on and things to get a little excited for. I felt like I didn’t click with the characters as much as I hoped I would. They were likable, but my connection to them just wasn’t that strong. There were some “feels” moments and laugh out loud moments with them. Not enough for my liking though.

Overall, I did enjoy the second half of Invictus a lot more than the first half. While I didn’t love the characters in the story, I did like them. There were some fun moments and a couple interesting twists. I’m sad I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped I would, but I am still glad that I finally picked it up again. This was my first time reading a book by Ryan Graudin, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It wasn’t a bad story at all and I can see why so many people loved it.

Have you read Invictus? If so, what did you think?

In case you missed it;
WWW Wednesday #49.
Thoughts|| Huntress.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack

WWW Wednesday #49.

wwwwednesdayflower

WWW Wednesday is a weekly MEME hosted by Taking on a World of Words. Simply answer the following questions. 🙂

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

*Goodreads linked below.


Hey!

Once again it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these posts. It’s so hard doing these lately, because I am not reading as much as usual; so they always end up looking exactly the same as previous weeks. I’ve been trying to fit in more reading, but school and regular life is happening too. I like the school work though, although the reading for school is a little boring. Haha. Here’s what I’ve been reading over the last couple of weeks.

Currently Reading:

invictus9781525811418.inddmemberofthefamily

Invictus by Ryan Graudin
Hot Mess by Emily Belden
Member of the Family by Dianne Lake

I’m reading three books…I know, it’s a lot. I actually don’t usually ever do this either! The most I read at one time is two. On the plus side, I am almost done with two of them. Invictus and I’ll have it finished today. Honestly, I’m not that impressed by it. It has it’s good moments, but I’m mostly bored with it. 😦 Part of why it took me forever to finish it, because I originally started it last year! I’ll have a review coming soon. I’m also reading Hot Mess, which I am really into it! I am almost finished with this one too. It’s really good and pretty crazy at times. I’ll have a review probably next week. I am also reading Member of the Family, which is written by one of the girls that was a part of the Charles Manson family. It’s about her life when she lived with him on the ranch. I’ve always been interested in everything about Charles Manson since I was younger (weird, I know, haha). I’m not that far into it, but so far it’s good.


Recently Finished:

huntress

Huntress by Julie Hall

I recently finished Huntress, which I thought it was really good. It’s about demons, angels, demon hunters. Supernatural vibes all around. It was a pretty fun read minus all the religious vibes. I guess it’s understandable (to some extent) because it is about angels and demons. There’s mention of God and Satan too being involved. Sometimes it just felt a little much. It was still enjoyable though. My review will be linked at the end of this post if you want to see more.


Reading Next:

ontheroadwarfare

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Warfare by Julie Hall

I am not really sure what I am going to read next, to be honest. I have so many choices of books, especially ARCs that I need to read for review. I’ll probably be picking up one of those. Not sure which one yet, I’ll keep you posted! I checked out the On the Road e-book from my library and I may give that one a chance. I’ve seen it mentioned in quite a few books I’ve read (most recently being Member of the Family (mentioned above)). I think I might finally get around to reading it since I’ve seen it mentioned once again. Warfare is also on my list of what I might read next. It’s the sequel to Huntress (mentioned above). Honestly though, it’s up in the air.

What are you currently reading? Recently finished? Reading next? Have you read any of these books? Feel free to link me to your posts, so I can check them out!

In case you missed it;
Thoughts|| Huntress.
Photo A Day|| April 1-4.
Wrap Up|| March.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleypink

Thoughts|| Huntress.

huntress

Huntress by Julie Hall
4 out of 5 stars.

“Life, and even the afterlife, is a dance between being prepared and letting go. The wisdom is in knowing how to prepare and when it’s time to let go.”

Goodreads Description: No one’s afterlife is as dispiriting as Audrey’s―at least that’s what she believes after waking up dead without her memories and being promptly assigned to hunt demons for the rest of eternity. She’s convinced God’s made a cosmic mistake; after all, she’d rather discuss the color of her nails than break them on angelic weapons. It doesn’t help that her trainer, Logan, is as infuriating as he is attractive. And just when Audrey and Logan appear close to developing an amicable relationship, a decision made under duress pushes their hearts in a direction neither of them saw coming. Despite her sub-par fighting abilities, an ancient weapon of unparalleled power chooses Audrey as its wielder, attracting the cautious gazes of her fellow hunters and the attention of Satan himself. With Satan’s eyes now fixed on Audrey, a battle for the safety of the living looms in the shadows.


I was sent a copy of Huntress from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was participating in a IG Tour & Giveaway for the final book in Life After series (Dominion), so I was sent copies of the books to read and review as well. There’s still a couple days left for the giveaway (ends April 12th) if you check out my Instagram account (foreverbookish_) or the author Julie Hall’s Instagram account (julieghall). Now onto my thoughts about the first book in the series, Huntress.

As you can see above, I rated it four out of five stars. There were a lot of things I really loved about this book. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, the world building, and it was such a fun book to read. It gave me a lot of Supernatural vibes with the demons, angels, and demon hunters. I was pretty addicted to the story and wanting to know what was going to happen next. There was a lot of information to take in and the first book really set everything up. There wasn’t a whole lot of demon hunting (which was a bit of a disappointment), but understandable since the main character had to train to be a hunter first.

With this story being about angels and demons and having God and Satan thrown it, it became a bit preachy at times; especially certain conversations with God himself. I felt like I was in a bible study class or something, lol. I am not religious at all and I felt like the entire exchange between Audrey and God was so weird. Aside from that, I really enjoyed Huntress. I thought it was a really fun read and trying to figure out what the heck was going on was making me crazy (but in a good way). I plan to continue with the series, because it was actually really good. A lot of things unanswered as well, which I am looking forward to seeing how they play out. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to.

In case you missed it;
Photo A Day|| April 1-4.
Wrap Up|| March.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack

Photo A Day|| April 1-4.

photoaday1

Hey!

I’ve been taking part in monthly photo a day challenges on my Instagram account (heyyitsashley) and I’ve been having a lot of fun with them (when I don’t fall behind on pictures). I figured I would also cross post them to my blog as well. I think for the purpose of blogging, I will post 3-5 per blog post that I do throughout the month. That way I am not spamming my blog with a million photo a day posts back to back. You can follow me on Instagram (linked above) if you want to see them daily though! Some of these pictures will be taken with my Nikon. There will also be some taken with my iPhone.

Days 1-4 of April.

This month the topics are the alphabet and the first week or so being numbers.  Coming up with a picture idea for numbers hasn’t been that easy. By the way, my caption game has not been on point so far this month. Emojis for everything. 😛

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Instagram Caption: happy easter! 🐣🐰 || photo a day • one.
Camera:
iPhone.

Took this one on Easter. I knew I wanted to use an Easter egg, because I wanted to post a “Happy Easter” picture. I love how this one came out. There were actually two pictures I took and I could not decide which one to use for my photo a day picture on Instagram. I chose this one and ended up posting the other one to Facebook. I’ll share the other one in another post when I do photo update post that I usually do. I think it’s been awhile since I’ve done one, actually.


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Instagram Caption: ❤️🧡💛 || photo a day • two.
Camera:
Nikon.

You may have seen this picture if you checked out my Butterfly World post (here). I decided to use it for this day, because I really wasn’t sure what to post for “two” and remembered these two guys and I hadn’t shared it to Instagram yet.


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Instagram Caption: 💜💜💜 || photo a day • three. 
Camera: 
iPhone.

I actually skipped this day until this morning when I was randomly taking pictures of some flowers. When I was looking at my pictures after I took it I seen there were three purple flowers that stood out, so I decided to post it a day late.


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Instagram Caption: 💙☁️🌳☀️ || photo a day • four.
Camera: 
iPhone.

I was trying to come up with ideas all morning for this one and then I seen the number “four” on my building at work. Took the easy way out and took a picture of it. It actually turned out really cool though, because you can see the reflection of the sky and trees on the number plate.

In case you missed it;
Wrap Up|| March.
Thoughts|| Love and Other Carnivorous Plants.
Book Haul|| March.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack