Friday, October 28, 2016

The Very Fondest Of Farewells

Hey Everyone!

This post may seem like it's coming out of the blue, but it's one I've been struggling with for the better part of this year. I kept telling myself (and you) that the small changes like taking Mondays off and the few week-long breaks to focus on work weren't the beginning of the end for this blog, but they were.

For much of this year, the blog, as much as I love it, has felt like a second job. A second set of deadlines to meet. A second set of emails in need of responses. A second set of demands on my time. Even though the deadlines are entirely of my own making, it's gotten to the point now that I simply can't keep up, and my desire to do so has waned. I promised myself as soon as this amazing endeavor stopped being fun, I would let it go, and as much as it brings tears to my eyes to say it, that time is now.

I can honestly say, with absolutely no exaggeration, that this blog has changed my life. What started as a fun way to share my newfound obsession with reading has launched an entirely new career, and I never would have gotten to this place without the blogging community. You guys inspired me to take a chance on something that was incredibly daunting and oh-so scary, but has proved to be the best job I've ever had. You supported me at every turn when I took my first tentative steps into the cover design world, voting when I entered design contests, commenting when I shared my work on the blog, and endlessly encouraging me on social media. Words simply cannot express my gratitude.

While Supernatural Snark has had a profound impact on my professional life, it's also been enormously influential in my personal one as well. I've always been close with my mom (except for a select few teen years, right Mom? ;-)) and my mother-in-law, but this blog has allowed my relationships with them to flourish further. They both jumped onto this crazy ride from the very beginning, and haven't stepped off since. They've given me book recommendations, written reviews, and tackled 6 years of the epic monster that is BookExpo America with a smile on their faces even as we've all wanted to break down and cry at how much our feet hurt. Though I know we'll continue to swap books and share recommendations, I will thoroughly miss sharing this blog with them.

To all of you who've read this blog but haven't commented, thank you. I don't know who you are, but you've made everything I've put into this blog worthwhile.

To my fellow bloggers and friends, a simple thank you will never be enough, but I have to say it anyway. Thank you for being a constant source of support. Thank you for sharing your lives and your loves with me. Thank you for making someone who lives a somewhat hermit-like life feel less alone during the long, quiet hours of the day. Thank you for being you. All your gorgeous diversity has made me a better person.

To all the authors and publishers who gave me the opportunity to celebrate books on a daily basis, I will be forever grateful. You opened my eyes to new characters and new worlds, and pushed me to step outside my comfort zone so that I could discover all the joys I would have been missing without you.

And finally to the Moms, I love you both. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Though this is a goodbye for Supernatural Snark, it's the very beginning for Seedlings Design Studio. I've just launched my new website and have finally, FINALLY, jumped on the social media train and created a Facebook page. *pats self on back* While it will primarily be a place for me to promote my work, I plan on posting the occasional book recommendation as well because it's going to be impossible for me to keep all my thoughts to myself after nearly seven years of sharing them with all of you. I hope you stop by for a visit now and then!



From the very bottom of my heart, thank you for the past seven years:)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cathy Reviews: The Bookshop on the Corner

My mother-in-law Cathy is back today to share her latest review!

Jenny Colgan
Adult Fiction
368 pages
William Morrow
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan is a charming book, especially for those who have been book lovers since childhood. This book brought back memories of how I loved going to the bookstore. I couldn't wait to see what books awaited me. Though in the story it's a mobile bookstore, it holds the same feel of anticipation for all those book lovers in the small towns of Scotland.

Nina is more than a librarian, she is a true book lover who enjoys pairing just the right book with each person. When her job is eliminated, she decides she is going to start fresh and follow her dreams. She buys an old van that everyone told her was too big for a "little lady" and leaves her home to head for the glens of Scotland. All is not easy for Nina but she perseveres. Some of her failures are treated with humor, but Nina feels things deeply and believes the best of everyone. Because of this, she has some very painful moments. Nina is so passionate about life, but most is based on what she has read in books rather than experienced. There are many great references to other books that makes you want to read them all. But as Nina travels around Scotland and actually becomes involved with her customers, she begins to live her life not just through books.

Ms. Colgan not only has us fall in love with Nina but also the life and culture of Scotland. The descriptions of the scenery and customs draw us in and we are rooting for Nina to embrace and be embraced. There is a romantic interest for Nina that starts on the wrong foot, but like everything else in her life, it takes work. But I think Nina's name for her mobile book store is perfect foreshadowing for this book. She named it Happily Ever After!

Rating: 4/5

Find Jenny:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my, or in this case Cathy's, honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Into The Fire

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Night Prince #4
Jeaniene Frost
Paranormal Romance
Releases February 2017 from Avon

From Goodreads:

In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

VLAD!!! It will have been two years in between books by the time Into the Fire hits shelves in February, and that has been much, much too long for me to be away from my beloved Vlad. Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series was my first paranormal romance series, so it and its spinoffs will always have a very special place in my heart and on my shelf. While Bones will always come first in terms of book boyfriends, Vlad is a very, very close second, and I can't wait to see how this final installment unfolds!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Life With Pit Bulls

Hey Everyone!

Along with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is also Pit Bull Awareness Month, and given dog rescue – and pit bull rescue in particular – is a cause very close to my heart, I wanted to share a post about my girls to bring a little attention to it, even if only in this very small way.

As with any issue, I think educating oneself before formulating any kind of opinion or stance is vitally important, so I'm hoping my girls' story helps shed a little light on the controversial nature of the pit bull breed(s) (I put the "s" there because the pit bull label actually encompasses several different breeds).

Here are just a few of the things my husband and I heard when we told people what kind of dog we were planning to adopt:

"Is that safe?"

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?"

"You know, pit bulls are more likely to turn on their owners than any other breed."

"I have a friend (family member, neighbor, etc.) whose dog was attacked by a pit bull."
(We got several variations of this one, with the teller recounting every horror story they'd ever heard.)

"Aren't they supposed to be mean?"

And so on.

It was heartbreaking to get reactions like those both from friends and family as well as strangers, especially since we hadn't even brought Gracie home yet. It was an eye-opening time for us, and made us both all the more determined to be advocates for the breed(s).

Since bringing Gracie home however, we've encountered no outright hostility, mostly due to the fact that she's an exemplary breed ambassador. It's hard to accuse pit bulls of being vicious killers when a smiling, wiggling mass of dog with a face that's an absurdly lovable combination of Yoda, a gremlin, and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon is waddling toward you. (Though we did have one woman tell us after meeting Gracie that she didn't realize pit bulls could be "tame". Um. What? We didn't adopt a lion cub.)

 Her ears. I die.

What we hear most often now is perhaps the most innocent-sounding of all the comments about pit bulls we've had directed our way, but also the most damaging for the breed(s):

"You know, it's all in how they're raised."

At first glance this seems like a nice sentiment, a compliment directed at me and my husband that suggests Gracie's sweet nature can be attributed to us. Under the surface however, what this comment actually implies is that a pit bull is nothing more than a reflection of its upbringing – a bad dog when raised by bad people and a good one when raised by good people – when I would argue the opposite is really true. Pit bulls are loving and loyal companion dogs often despite their upbringing. It's this reasoning that sees adult pit bulls at the top of the euthanasia list at the shelter, or languishing in rescues for years as they continually get passed over in favor of puppies.

We adopted Gracie at 2 years old and take absolutely NO credit for the amazing dog she is. She came to us chock-full of personality (seriously, she's ridiculous) and sweetness (except when she's being a stubborn a-hole), and we've done nothing but fall madly in love with her.

I'm not so blindly passionate about my girls though that I can't understand why people might be afraid of them. Gracie in particular is built like a brick shithouse, with a head and chest that comprise at least 70% of her body weight, and it's one of the first things people comment on when they meet her. We hear "that's a thick dog" or "she's got a chest on her" all the time, forcing me to tell Gracie to flaunt what God gave her so she doesn't take it personally ;-)

Physically, both Gracie and Mya are intimidating, so when people see them and ask us what kind of dogs they are, I can't really hold it against them when they take a step back or yank their hand away when they hear "pit bull". I get it. I do. But what I want people to understand most is pit bulls are not an inherently dangerous breed. They're not what any of the myths surrounding them say they are. They don't have a special kill/fight gene bred into them. They don't have magical jaws that lock and never let go. They're just dogs. Strong, muscular dogs capable of inflicting damage who are used in cruel ways for just that reason, yes, but they are not the first breed of dog, nor will they be the last, to be used as such.

Mya is a perfect example what I hope people will start to see when they look at a pit bull. Many of you already know a little of Mya's story from what I've shared with you previously, but knowing more of the details I hope will go a long way toward revealing the true nature of the breed(s).

Mya was purchased by a dog fighter as a puppy, and while we can only imagine the horrors she endured the first year of her life under his "care", we do know the specifics of her last day with him and what led to her rescue. When she proved to be an inadequate fighting dog, Mya was used for breeding. She ended up miscarrying her litter of puppies, and for her misfortune was kicked repeatedly in the belly hard enough that her uterus eventually came out and she was left in the yard to bleed to death. A neighbor saw the beating take place and thankfully stepped in, paying the owner a fee for him to hand Mya over and then rushing her to the vet. After her surgery she found her way into a rescue and loving foster home, and that's where we found her a little over a year later.

As a result of everything she went through, Mya is understandably wary of new people. This wariness presents as growling and sometimes escalates to alarm barking when it looks to her as though someone she doesn't know is going to come into her space. Her primary triggers are extended eye contact, objects in people's hands (even treats), and hands reaching toward her face, all of which result in her hunching down to make herself a smaller target and growling.

I'm not sharing Mya's story to shock or horrify (though it is both shocking and horrifying), but to educate. While Mya does have some trouble in larger social situations, she's also a beautiful example of how resilient a pit bull can be. Despite the nightmare that was the first year of her life, she came out the other side happy and wiggly, and wants nothing more than to be near her people. While "trained" to fight, she absolutely adores other dogs, and shows not even the slightest hint of aggression no matter how other dogs behave toward her.

Because those who meet her don't know her history, however, the growling to them says "aggressive" rather than "fearful", and as a result, Mya has the very real ability to confirm the pit bull stereotype for some people. (We are currently working with a behaviorist to help us be what Mya needs us to be to thrive, and she has made a staggering amount of progress in the 5 months we've had her. We have ways to go yet, but we'll get there:))

I wish every single person who hears her growl could know her story. Know that her wariness has absolutely nothing to do with her breed, and everything to do with being abused. People hurt her. People failed her. Yet she is the one who bears the burden of that failure because she sometimes plays into the stigma of a pit bull. Mya's story circles back to the "it's all in how they're raised" comment. She was raised to be vicious. Raised to fight, to attack, to use that mythical jaw to inflict as much damage as possible for sport. But despite all that, my husband and I have a dog who loves to snuggle and give kisses. Who is unbearably gentle in disposition and wants so badly to please us that her body never stops wiggling in our presence. Both she and Gracie are more than their separate upbringings, and my hope for the future is to see an end to breed specific legislation and the idea that the breed(s) as a whole is violent.

I know there are many who would read this post and rant and rave at me about things they've seen, heard or experienced regarding pit bulls, citing dog bite statistics and sensationalized articles about attacks, and I honestly can't refute their claims having not witnessed them personally. The only thing I can say is what I know of pit bulls being involved in rescue and having two of my own, and that is despite the circumstances of how they were raised – Gracie, a neglected stray with 15 minutes to spare before she was put down at the shelter, and Mya, a survivor of nightmare-inducing abuse – they are sweet-natured and loving to the core.

For those of you who might be interested in learning more about pit bulls, there's an outstanding documentary currently on Netflix called The Champions. It's the story of the dogs rescued from NFL star Michael Vick's dog fighting operation, a landmark case marking the first time dogs involved in a fighting ring weren't automatically euthanized. They were given the opportunity to be rehabilitated instead, and it follows 5 or 6 of them that were eventually adopted out into loving homes. It's a very honest documentary and one that's pro-pit bull for sure, but it also doesn't show this case as all rainbows and unicorns where every dog has a happy ending either. There are a number of dogs that were simply too brutalized to be able to fully recover emotionally and mentally, and those dogs will live the rest of their lives in the safety of a sanctuary. It's light on details in terms of the actual abuse while a part of Vick's operation, so all you fellow animal lovers don't have to worry on that front!

This was a very long, very personal post as my dogs are my kids, and I hope it might inspire you to do some research into the breed(s) or into dog rescue in general!

Before I go, a few more pictures of my girls in all their pit bull glory:)

 "Helping" Dad lay sod in the backyard.

Gracie doesn't like to snuggle with us all that much, 
but with Mya she has no concept of personal space.



Friday, October 21, 2016

Giveaway: Black Widow: Red Vengeance

Happy Friday Everyone!

As a little celebration for another week being over (who's ready for a vacation?), I have a fun giveaway to share with you all! Last year Margaret Stohl dipped into the Marvel Universe with Black Widow: Forever Red and has recently released the second book in this series, Black Widow: Red Vengeance. I happen to be a huge fan of all things Marvel, so while I haven't had the chance to read these yet, I'm thoroughly looking forward diving in to both of them!

Before we get to the giveaway, here's a little bit about book two:
Emotions are dangerous, which is why the graduates of Moscow’s famed spy school the Red Room are taught to keep their enemies close and their loved ones at a distance. Black Widow and Red Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff and Ava Orlova, forgot that lesson once, and they won’t forget it again.

But the Widows have inherited something else from their shared Moscow past: a relentless need for vengeance—Ivan Somodorov is dead, but his network of terror remains.

While the Widows search South America in order to extinguish a smuggling operation with ties to their old nemesis, their own Red Room not only attempts to assassinate them both but also hacks their secure S.H.I.E.L.D. network. As a result, Ava and Natasha find themselves thrust into a trying mission of international intrigue that takes them throughout the world and back to New York City, where their friends Dante and Sana become unlikely targets as well.

Once again, nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and no one is safe—not unless the Widows can stop a conspiracy involving stolen nuclear warheads, mind-altering chemical weapons, and ultimately, betrayal by old friends and enemies alike.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Margaret Stohl is the #1 New York Times best-selling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels (also a major motion picture) and the author of the instant New York Times best seller Black Widow: Forever Red, as well as a contributor to multiple Marvel comics. Previously, Margaret was a veteran of the video game industry, working as a writer and designer before co-founding 7 Studios with Lewis Peterson.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


One lucky winner will receive copies of Black Widow: Forever Red and Black Widow: Red Vengeance, plus a branded tote bag and pin! A huge thanks to Marvel Press for providing the prize pack. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Interview: Jessica Shirvington & Disruption

Today I'm thrilled to welcome author Jessica Shirvington back to the blog to answer a few questions about the first book in her newest duology, Disruption. I fell madly in love with Jessica's storytelling with her Violet Eden Series, and that love continued with One Past Midnight, so I can't wait to get sucked into Disruption:) If you've yet to read any of Jessica's books, they have my highest recommendation and I hope you leave here immediately and add them to your shelves!
Dystopian and Science Fiction novels often depict a rather terrifying future, altogether too believable even in their fiction. What Dystopian, Sci-Fi or Post-Apocalyptic world from any piece of fiction is the most nightmare-inducing for you?

Yes, they are all fairly terrifying. Oddly enough, I don’t mind the ones that take us back to the basics – where we have to rebuild and start again. There is a part of me that sometimes thinks that is the way things will probably go. The dystopian worlds which really frighten me are the ones run by technology. It worries me to think that we hand over so much trust to technology that is basically without morals, foresight, need, emotion or hope. That is really scary.

If Maggie could escape from her world and jump into any other YA novel, which would top her list?

Good question. I’m not sure there is any other dystopian story she would particularly like. However, there are a few worlds that I think she would survive well in. If I had to pick, maybe Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi. It would certainly be interesting to see her in that world.

If Maggie could send a warning back to us about what the evolution of the smartphone and the effect it’s had on her world, what would she most like to say?

No matter how smart the technology is, you can’t map out and decide what and who people are going to become based on statistics and history. Every person is unique and deserves their chance to try and fail-or-succeed. Technology gives us too much of the wrong kind of information. 

Aside from the smartphone, what’s one other piece of modern technology you can easily see evolving in a disturbing kind of way?

Food and the way we eat it. If we don’t start looking after the environment we won’t be able to have the same kind of fresh produce and animal life that we are used to. Our food will become a technology based resource – it will be heavily processed and bolstered by more and more supplements on the side. Already an apple tastes different to when I was a kid. I worry that if we don’t take steps to look after the climate issue, my children’s children will have a very different understanding of food.

How would the Maggie at the beginning of Disruption describe Quentin Mercer, heir to the M-Corp empire? The Maggie at the end?

In the beginning, Maggie would describe Quentin as entitled and predictable. She would also describe him as nothing more than a stepping stone. In the end…well, I think she would describe him as someone she values greatly, and as the person who is her greatest weakness (amongst other things ;)
Thanks so much for stopping by Jessica!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


The heart-stopping first chapter in bestselling author Jessica Shirvington's Disruption series.

What if a microchip could identify your perfect match?

What if it could be used against you and the ones you love?

Eight years ago, Mercer Corporation's M-Bands became mandatory. An evolution of the smartphone, the bracelets promised an easier life. Instead, they have come to control it.

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched helplessly as one of the people she loved most was taken from her, shattering her world as she knew it. Now, Maggie is ready. And Quentin Mercer - heir to the M-Corp empire - has become key to Maggie's plan.

But as the pieces of her dangerous design fall into place, could Quentin's involvement destroy everything she's fought for?

In a world full of broken promises, the ones Maggie must keep could be the most heartbreaking.

Find Jessica: