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Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine’s Day

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, these romance reads will sweep you off your feet. Just in time for the sweetest day of the year: Valentine’s Day.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's DayPhoto by Leonardo Wong on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

What’s better than getting gobs of chocolate and a night out on the town with the one you love? Snuggling up in bed with a feel-good book. (Is my introvert showing?)

Ah, romance. Where happily ever afters are real, and love almost always finds a way.

In keeping with the sticky, syrupy sweetness of this holiday, here are some reads that will make you feel all warm inside.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day

Desperate Duchesses Series by Eloisa James

This series contains 9 books as of this posting. I’ve only read 2-4 and 7 at this point, so those are the ones I’m recommending. Because I never read books in order. Ever.

Beginning in the 18th century and moving into the Regency period, these books focus on British aristocratic romance. If you’re fond of historical romance but need a breather on the Victorian era, try this series.

The Rules of Scoundrels Series by Sarah MacLean

And here’s another historical romance series set during the Regency period. It’s only 4 books long, and I’ve read all of them. (Not in order, of course. I began with number 4.) What I love most about this series is how it focuses on redemption and justice in addition to the romance.

The First Freak House Trilogy by C.J. Archer

If you prefer your romance a little more on the supernatural side, this is a fantastic series. Set in Victorian England, this is a nice, clean romance. With plenty of fire and magic.

 

Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy by C.J. Archer

I’ve only read the first book in this series, but it was pretty compelling. It’s also set in Victorian England, and the heroine talks to dead people. As in ghosts.

 

 

 

The Bradens at Trusty, CO Series by Melissa Foster

If you’re in the mood for a modern romance firmly set in reality, this is a good place to start. I’ve only read one book in this series, but it’s fairly memorable.

 

 

 

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

If you enjoy romantic poetry, it doesn’t get much better than Neruda. Especially when read in the original Spanish.

 

 

 

Juliana Series by Vanda

Set in the U.S. starting in World War II, this series currently has 2 books. I’ve only read the second book, but it contains some of the most historically accurate and well-rounded depictions of queer romance I’ve ever read. If I had to choose my favorite book from this entire post, Olympus Nights in the Square would be it. Definitely an LGBTQ+ romance series to follow.

 

 

 

 

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Affirmations to Boost Your Mood

As busy, stressed people, we could all use a little self care every now and then. Here are some truths that might help you reboot and reconnect.

💜Your worth isn’t tied to what you do. You are infinitely more valuable than that.
💜 You are allowed to make mistakes. We all do. Mistakes don’t mean you’re incompetent, stupid, or weak.
💜 Every atom in your body is the same age as every other atom in the universe. You are timeless stardust.
💜 What people say about you tells you more about them than it does about yourself.
💜 You are more important than you realize.
💜 You have the right to exist, take up space, have a voice, and you matter a whole hecking lot.
💜 Everybody struggles with their body. Everybody.
💜 Most people aren’t as successful as they seem on social media. Everyone has burdens.
💜 And most people want to help you, too. All you have to do is know how to ask. That takes practice.
💜 No heartbreak, no matter how intense, stays as dark and vivid as it initially feels forever. (This wisdom comes from experience. I’m a survivor of child abuse. And a couple of my friends were murdered.)
💜 Mental illness isn’t imaginary. Taking medication and seeing a therapist doesn’t make you weak or dangerous. It means you care about your health. Anyone who mocks you for this doesn’t care about your health as much as they might say they do.
💜 Whenever possible, stay away from negative people both in real life and online. Especially if they like to tear you down.
💜 The music you listen to, stories you read, and shows you watch affect your mood and energy more than you may consciously know. Choose wisely.
💜 You are more than your thoughts and feelings. You have more control than you might realize.
💜 It is okay to rest. It is okay to go slowly. It is okay to fail. Failure is the beginning, not the end.

I hope these words brighten your day. ☺️

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Romance Authors You Should Read this Valentine’s Day

Here are a couple romance authors who should go on your V Day reading list.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Melissa Foster

Athena Wright

Hard Rock Tease

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10 Business Terms with Surprising Origins

The terms we use in business today didn’t always mean what they do today.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

I love etymology (the history of words), don’t you? It peels back the layers of time and allows us to peek at the origins of terms we use every day without even blinking. Here is a list of business and work-related words whose meaning has changed significantly over the course of human history.

1. Desk

This term comes from the same Latin (and before that, Greek) root as the word disk. The modified word originally meant “platter or dish.” (So that’s why working at your desk always makes you so hungry.)

2. Calendar

Like many ancient words, this came to us from Latin and Rome. But did you know that the root word is even older? It actually used to be a Proto-Indo-European word that meant “to shout.” And that’s probably why my calendar always gives me a headache.

3. Staple

This humble office classic comes from a Proto-German word that means “pillar.” What’s even more interesting is that root word transformed in other ancient languages to mean: a candle, a tub, a tooth stem, a foot-rest, a beam, and an execution block. Yikes! Let’s put the staple gun down and talk this out, okay?

4. Boss

The origins of this term are a bit murky, but it’s possible it came from an old Dutch word that means “uncle.” Oh, how times have changed.

5. Manage

This familiar term comes from a Proto-Indo-European root that means “hand.” The French language shaped this word to refer specifically to handling horses before it settled into the word we know and love, today. Carrots, anyone?

6. Business

A term we all respect today had its roots in an Old English word which meant “anxiety.” As in, I’ve really gotta do something with my hands right now to stay busy. In fact, this word didn’t relate to work at all until the latter part of the fourteenth century. Now you know why work makes you so anxious. 😉

7. Salary

Now, this word surprised me. As a Spanish speaker, the root word was so obvious once I saw the entry in the Online Etymology Dictionary (which is a fabulous resource, by the way). Yeah, but salt. Salary comes from a Proto-Indo-European word for salt. Tasty.

8. Negotiate

This term comes from a Proto-Indo-European word that means “lack of leisure.” Got to keep that hustle up, right?

9. Plan

Here is another word whose origin became more obvious when I saw it. This term comes from a Proto-Indo-European root that means “flat; to spread.” Like a mathematical plane. Duh.

10. File

Finally, this term paints a vivid image of what record-keeping must have been like in the ancient world. The word originally meant “a string or wire upon which documents are strung,” and that’s why we sometimes hear people say things are kept on file. The ancients must have hung up their paperwork like laundry on a clothesline. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

PS: Don’t forget to share this post with your friends!

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One Character’s Lucky Break

One Character's Lucky Break

Well, that was lucky.

One Character's Lucky Break

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Okay, I have a confession. I don’t know how to play poker. And I’ve only played the lottery once. Even then, I only did it to give back to the student scholarship it funded. So, gambling isn’t really in my wheelhouse.

But this character could play poker in her sleep. And win.

She is one lucky ducky. Or is she?

 

One Character's Lucky Break

Ella Hote is a graduate student on the verge of earning her master’s degree in quantum physics. And her final project, a quantum computer, is nearly complete when the story opens. But she unwittingly stumbles upon more than she was bargaining for. After a series of lucky coincidences and terrible accidents, Ella realizes that some things don’t add up.

Does luck really exist? And if so, will anybody believe her?

Conservation of Luck, by Lesley L. Smith, is a first-person sci-fi novel that touches on quantum physics, relationships, personal responsibility, and addiction. Though not always likable, Ella is a compelling character. She wrestles with the implications of her discovery rather than choose a side (selfish or altruistic) right away. And she’s often oblivious to the lies she tells herself, both about love and addiction. It’s an incredibly realistic portrayal of an all too common problem.

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Paperback: 335 pages

PS: Want to read another book by the same author? Read this review.

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Favorite Books from My Childhood

Child sitting on a bed reading a copy of The Lord of the Rings.

The stories you read in childhood can stay with you for a lifetime.

Child sitting on a bed reading a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Today I wanted to share some books that shaped me both as a person and a writer. I was always an awkward child (as I’m sure some of you might be able to relate), but it’s something I’ve grown to love about myself (and you should, too. 🙂 ). And though I read pretty much all over the place in my childhood, three genres enticed me the most: fantasy, mystery, and horror. (I blame the horror bit on the fact that my birthday’s so close to Halloween.)

Now, decades later, I continue to find myself circling these genres again and again, with a little science fiction thrown in for flavor. Here’s a list of some of my absolute favorite middle grade books from childhood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

1. At the Back of the North Wind

2. The Chronicles of Narnia

3. The Dragonriders of Pern

4. Encyclopedia Brown

5. Nancy Drew

6. Sherlock Holmes

7. Poems and Tales of Edgar Allen Poe

8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

9. Goosebumps

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How to Write Effective Letters for Every Situation

Uncapped calligraphy pen on a sheet of paper with some handwritten text.

Whether you’re searching for a new job, applying for grad school, or something equally as important, writing and formatting is only half the battle.

You don’t want to just write any old letter: you want to know how to write effective letters that increase your chances of success.

Luckily, this post has exactly what you need.

Uncapped calligraphy pen on a sheet of paper with some handwritten text.
Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash


Here’s a quick table of contents to help you get to what you need faster:

Page 1: History of Letter Writing
Page 2: Cover Letters
Page 3: Business Letters
Page 4: Letters of Introduction
Page 5: Letters of Recommendation
Page 6: Letters of Resignation
Page 7: Letters of Complaint
Page 8: Letters to the Government
Page 9: Letters to Save a Life


Does the thought of writing a formal letter make you break out in a cold sweat? If so, you’re not alone.

Most of us don’t spend our days crafting handwritten correspondences like our forebears did. In this modern world of instant communication and bite-sized exchanges, letter writing is a skill that no longer comes naturally to most of us.

But there are several instances where we are required to compose a formal letter in order to achieve the desired result. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the history.

The History of Letter Writing

If you want to learn how to write effective letters, it may help to understand a little about the practice and how it has evolved over time.

Though the origins of written correspondence is a bit murky, ThoughtCo. cites 2400 B.C.E. as the first mail service for which we have historical proof. This was in Egypt, and many developed cultures also utilized messengers before the Common Era. As for the first handwritten letter, Handwrittenletters.com claims it’s an epistle written in 500 B.C.E. by Queen Atossa of Persia (now Iran). But ThoughtCo. states the oldest surviving piece of mail wasn’t written until 255 B.C.E. in Egypt.

And honestly, they could both be right.

Perhaps the Persian letter was hand-delivered and not mailed. Maybe the Egyptian letter was stamped instead of handwritten.

Either way, one thing stands out: people have been writing letters for a long time.

Bonus: This post by Buzzfeed on letters from history is fascinating. And if you’d like to read historical letters with a more romantic slant, read this post by Co. Design.

On the next page, we’ll tackle the type of letter most of us will face at least once in our lives: the cover letter.

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8 Books to Start Off Black History Month

Beautiful and happy black woman outside on a sunny day.

These black authors weave stories and touch hearts.

Beautiful and happy black woman outside on a sunny day.
Photo by @theoptimistdreamer via nappy.co

It’s Black History Month.

I don’t know about you, but my ancestors did terrible things to black people. And some of my ancestors were black and on the receiving end of those atrocities. You wouldn’t know by looking at me.

Maybe this month you are honoring your own black heritage. Or maybe you are focusing on making far overdue reparations. And maybe you’re stuck in the middle, like me. Either way, one of the best things we can do this month (and preferably all year) is to support black voices.

The following books are from some of my favorite black authors:

  • Frederick Douglass
  • Maya Angelou
  • Chinua Achebe
  • Barack Obama
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Justina Ireland
  • Trevor Noah
  • Angie Thomas

These books range from classic to the modern day. Let’s dive in:


This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

1. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


3. Things Fall Apart


4. Dreams from My Father


5. Americanah


6. Dread Nation


7. Born a Crime


8. The Hate U Give

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A Sci-Fi Read That Is More Than it Seems

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems

This Sci-Fi novel had me on the verge of tears.

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems

Photo by Jaclyn Moy on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Not many books will make me cry. Maybe that’s because I subconsciously avoid depressing books. At any rate, this week’s sci-fi novel tore at my core like Edward Scissorhands in a fistfight.

And it was 100% worth it.

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems

Sabrina Sabriya knows a few things. She’s an orphan, most of humanity died in a nuclear fallout, and religion is evil. And her best friend, Lindsey Mehdina, is her opposite in every way. Whereas Sabrina prefers practicality and usability, Lindsey is a colorful and visionary artist. Literally. And Lindsey’s visions can see into the past, present, and future.

This is a book of dualities. Religion versus science, flamboyancy versus minimalism, humanity versus machines, man versus woman.


City on a Hill, by Ted Neill, is a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel that delves into the human condition. And holy crow does it ever dig deep!

Since Sabrina was raised by the head of the city, a man she calls “uncle,” she has certain views of the world. Because of that, she enlists in law enforcement. And in the process of furthering her career, she slams up against several difficult truths. While she struggles with these difficult new truths, she is forced to make an impossible choice.

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Paperback: 402 pages

 

PS: Want more dystopian fiction? Read this review.

 

 

 

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5 Book Covers Featuring the Moon

Different phases of a lunar eclipse

Isn’t the moon lovely?

Different phases of a lunar eclipse

Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

If you’re reading this post from the Western Hemisphere right as it goes live at 6 a.m. (PST), drop what you’re doing if it’s safe to do so, and go look at the sky! Hopefully, you’ll catch the tail end of an incredible lunar event that only happens about once every one-hundred-fifty years: a Super Blue Blood moon. That’s THREE lunar events for the price of one. (Yeah, it’s still free. For now…)

But for anyone who’s not quite sure what all the fuss is about, here’s a quick primer:

Supermoon

What it is: When the moon is at the part of its orbit that brings it closest to Earth.

How it looks: From our vantage point, the moon will appear slightly larger than ordinary. You’ve probably observed this phenomenon before.

Blue Moon

What it is: The second full moon in a single month.

How it looks: Like a normal full moon.

Blood Moon

What it is: Unlike the ominous moniker, this is really a lunar eclipse.

How it looks: Earth’s shadow will gradually move over the surface of the moon. When Earth has completely eclipsed the moon, our celestial neighbor will take on a slightly reddish hue.

Got it? Sweet!

In honor of this once-in-a-lifetime event, I’ve dedicated this post to books with covers featuring every Earthling’s favorite natural satellite. And like today’s guest of honor, they balance pure simplicity and mesmerizing, sometimes even haunting, beauty.

 

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

 

1. Seasons of the Moon

2. City Moon

3. The Girl Who Drank the Moon

4. Moon Spells

5. Huntress Moon

PS: Did you catch the lunar event? I’d love to hear about your experience!