The Secret Sister Project (11)

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Wow. Round eleven of #OTSPSECRETSISTER!!

For those of you who have been around for a while, this is gonna be like the same post as always…but it’s still important! The biggest change for this round is that due to the awesomeness of Brittany’s candle shop, she will not be a host this round. Myself and Amy are your two hosts.

Let’s first get some housekeeping things out of the way…

The two most important things to do when signing up to be a part of this project are:

  1. Head over to the google form which coincides with your monetary tier and fill it out in full. NOTE: If you forget to do this then we cannot pair you, it is what we use to do all of our pairings.
  2. BEFORE scrolling down to the questions, and BEFORE signing up to be a part of this project please thoroughly read our FAQ and Rules post. Memorize the rules and refer back to it throughout the project to make things easier for everyone.

Just to cover all of our bases let me reiterate a few things, but please keep in mind that this is just a basic glossing over of these rules, we go more in detail and clarify everything in the main post that we are asking you to read.

First, please remember that this is a commitment. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card AND gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” for which you sign up. Those in the pen pal tier are not expected to send gifts, that is strictly letters/cards AND you will NOT keep your identity secret if you are ONLY in the pen pal tier. Those in monetary tiers: you are also asked to send letters and or/postcards to foster positive communication IN ADDITION to packages. Please remember: this is not a subscription box. It is not about the gifts. It’s is about the connections you are making!

Last thing, sign-ups run from July 13 to midnight on July 26!

NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPANTS: Due to time zone differences and issues in the past with late questionnaires, etc. we are only able to give you until July 20 to sign up for round 11 of The Secret Sister Project. We have had very few people sign up for international…if we do not have enough, we will not be able to offer it internationally. More details on how to sign up as an international participant below.

The Rules:

  • You must “know” one of the hosts in order to join! 
  • You must be 18 or older to participate in The Secret Sister Project 
  • You must actively use the hashtag (to thank your sister, etc.) #OTSPSecretSister during your time participating in The Secret Sister Project.
  • If we have to reach out to you more than once to ask if you why your sister hasn’t yet received anything then you will be asked to cease in participating.
  • If we contact you and ask if you sent something to your sister and you say yes but are unable to provide tracking for the package then you will be asked to cease in participating. 
  • If you have not received anything by the end of the month then YOU must contact US.
  • If for any reason you find that you have to drop out of this project, please email us immediately.
  • You will be asked to provide the name and contact info (email addresses, please) of a “buddy” who will be willing to answer questions put forth by your sister. We are asking that you keep this to someone who is in the community and therefore will be easy to contact. Husbands/moms/sisters are not easy to contact.
  • Below, you will be asked to provide a Goodreads or Amazon wish list with 20 or more books including newer and older titles that is specific to The Secret Sister Project. *Do not share this list with anyone else!
  • You must answer ALL of the questions put forth in the sign-up email as well as be detailed and thorough.
  • Keep in mind that there is strong emphasis on the pen pal aspect. Meaning that if you have signed up for one of the higher price ranges, you should still send a letters to your sister.
  • Do not tweet or use the hashtag to ask for specific and/or luxurious items.
  • Do not tweet negativity while using the hashtag
  • Do not send swag
  • Pay attention to your sister’s likes/dislikes and wishlists
  • ARCs and shipping do not count toward your monetary limit
  • Do not send packages directly from Amazon without speaking to your point person first

Please read and re-read our FAQ and Rules post and remember that we are here for you. Do not hesitate to reach out to use if needed, we want to help you and can’t unless we know what is happening! This all probably seems like a lot – but please keep in mind that we sometimes have up to 200 participants at any given time and we ask you to follow these guidelines to make things easier on us as we all share in this community.

Okay, now we can move on to the fun stuff!

So how do I sign up?

It’s easy! Just answer every question in the questionnaire below and email it over to onthesamepagesecretsister@gmail.com by midnight on July 26! ALSO In addition to the questionnaire, you will also be asked to answer a few questions for a Google form. PLEASE NOTE: If you do not fill out BOTH of these things in full, then you will NOT be paired. This is what we will be using to pair you, so do not forget!

For those of you wishing to join the Pen Pal Tier ONLY: please still fill out the questionnaire in full with the exception of your wish lists. The questions will be a good way for us to pair you up with someone, and for your pen pal to get to know you. REMEMBER: Your identity is not to be kept secret from your pen pal.

International participants: Please use this Google form to sign up instead of one coinciding with the tiers. There will be a place for you to fill out your preference of which tier you would like to belong but we can not guarantee this. Due to international participation being low, we may have to put you all into the same tier, or may not be able to include international participants this round. Please remember that you have until midnight on July 20 to sign up as an international participant.

Here we go!

Name: 

Mailing Address: 

Is the above address a residence/PO Box/Condo/place of employment: (*As in, will your mail get to you when the tracking says delivered, or will you need to wait to get to the mailbox/mailroom?)

Email Address: 

Blog: 

Twitter Name:

Did you participate in one of the prior rounds of the Secret Sister Project? If yes, which round?

If yes, please provide us with the names of your former sisters (those you gave to, and received from – it is okay if you don’t yet know who is sending to you this round):

How much are you willing to contribute to the project monthly? Choose one (NOTE: this is just a range, you can of course go over the limit but please keep the pen pal aspect in mind, and please remember that is about cheer and not just gifts.) REMINDER: International participants are to fill out THIS google form only, do not fill out one provided below.

  • Pen pals: That’s right, this is strictly letters and cards. No trinkets, no extras, nothing besides letters. If you want to send ANYTHING more than a letter or a card every month then we ask that you sign up for one of the higher monetary tiers. NOTE: YES you may sign up for a pen pal tier and a monetary tier. Ensure that you fill out a google form for BOTH. *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE PEN PAL TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM
  • $5-$10: (Send a heartfelt letter to catch your sister up on how things are going that month and then send an e-book, baked goods, homemade bookmark or other DIY project, or how about a movie night box with a DVD (thanks to the $5 bin at Walmart) and some candy for a movie night!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $5-$10 TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM.
  • $15-$20 (Any of the possibilities listed above and perhaps a newer hardcover from your sister’s wish-list, some fun socks, fandom tshirt, themed box, get creative!!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $15-$20 TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM
  • $25+ (The sky’s the limit here, we just ask that you remember to reign it in a bit and remember the goal of this project is for cheer, and joy and forging positive relationships, not excessive gifts. Send those heartfelt letters!!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $25+ TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM

Your OTSPSecretSister “buddy’s” Twitter or email: (*We are asking that you keep this to someone who is in the community and therefore will be easy to contact. Husbands/moms/sisters are not easy to contact.)

Goodreads Profile (*so that they can access your wishlists! Make sure to turn off the privacy setting & try and keep it updated!):

Goodreads/Amazon bookish wishlist: (*must have at least 20 titles of older and newer titles, please try not to purchase any books off of this wishlist and if you do please let your sister know via your buddy or one of us. Do not give anyone else access to this list. Not parents, husbands, friends, co-workers, secret santas…etc. If you do not want to share a wishlist by making it public, you may list the books here instead.)

“Other” wishlist: (*Keep these within reason for prices, etc! Please do not include pricey things, this is more for places like Etsy or for cheap DVDs on Amazon, and so on!)

Important Dates to Remember (*This can be anything and everything! Your birthday, the day you are expecting your baby, the day you are leaving for your next vacation, your anniversary with your partner, a big test you have coming up, the first day at your new job, the anniversary of the day you quit smoking, even a sad anniversary on which you would need some cheer!)

Your favorite items under $5: (things like stationary, nail polish, fav candy etc.)

Food Allergies:

Fandoms:

Your Likes (*Give us an array of things here! Types of snacks, TV shows, movies, bands/types of music, art):

Your Dislikes (*Example: chocolate covered cherries, anything cinnamon flavored, the color brown):

Do you have a favorite store?:

Are you okay receiving a gift card? If so, to where?

Would you be comfortable receiving baked goods of some kind?

What Do You Splurge On?: 

Favorite Flowers: 

Favorite Color?:

Favorite (or least favorite) smells: (*for things such as candles, soaps, bath bombs/bubbles, perfumes)

Do You Collect Anything?:

Do You Drink Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate?: 

Do You Have an E-reader?: 

Would you be okay being gifted an ebook? If so, please provide the email associated with your e-reader:

List some of your favorite genres or authors: 

Are there any authors or genres that you won’t read? 

T-shirt size:

Hogwarts House:

Favorite Disney movie and/or princess:

Any magazine that you wish you had a subscription to? 

Anything else we should know about you? (*Be thorough here! There is no such thing as “saying too much,” the more your “secret sister” knows, the easier it is to spoil you!)

Third and final reminder that you MUST also fill out a google spreadsheet which coincides with your monetary tier. Links can be found above.

As always, please remember that you can always reach out to us with any inquiries or issues, that is what we are here for! Especially reach out to us if you have not received anything by the first of the month. We want to keep everyone active and honest! Use the #OTSPSecretSister hashtag to talk with us and your fellow sisters, the best part about this project is the community. Thank you for helping us continue to spread positive vibes and cheer throughout our community!

The Secret Sister Project: FAQs

secret sister project

Hey there, friends! We have been absolutely blown away by the generosity and positive vibes shown during The Secret Sister Project! Thank you all so much for your kind words to those of us who host, and for being there to provide cheer for one another. It is really something to go through the hashtag and see you all lifting each other up despite only being matched to one “sister.” Your generosity shines through and it is heartwarming to be part of a group filled with strong, uplifting people!

We ask that you read this post thoroughly, and refer back to it PRIOR to reaching out to us with questions during the project. In addition, keep in mind that the hashtag #otspsecretsister is ALWAYS a fantastic resource for information needed, odds are that someone participating knows the answer to your inquiry!

The Basics:

The What:

The Secret Sister project is essentially a cheer club. Think Secret Santa but all year round (in 6 month intervals) with less emphasis on big presents, and more thoughtful notes, cards, small somethings sent just to let your secret sister know that you are thinking about her!

The When:

  • We will announce each round of signups at least a week prior to the sign up post going live
  • Each round runs for 6 months so sign ups are generally in January and July

The Who:

You guys! But there are some conditions that must be met prior to signing up, we are going to outline those below under “The Rules.”

The How:

We will be posting questionnaires on our blogs for you to fill out. In addition to the questionnaire, you will also be asked to answer a few questions for a Google form. PLEASE NOTE: If you do not fill out BOTH of these things in full, then you will NOT be paired.

Continue reading

Fortnight of Fright: Witchy Reads by Cassie

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Hi, friends! Today we have my dear friend Cassie from Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile talking about her favorite witchy books! Take a look at what she has to offer and head over to Amy & Brittany’s blogs to see who they have featured today! Don’t forget, we are hosting wonderful bloggers & authors for two whole weeks with recipes, book recommendations and a lot more awesome!

FAVORITE WITCHY BOOKS

As a fanatic of all things Fall and Halloween, one of my favorite parts of this season is curling up with a good book about the unknown, ghosts, doppelgangers, and more importantly, WITCHES. Witch lore and stories have always fascinated me, so it’s not surprising I wrote this post as a recommendation of the best witch-tastic books for you to read this month.

Best Witchy Book/Play in Classic Literature

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Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Why should you read this play?: The Three Witches (or the Weird Sisters) are the most iconic witches in literature who create turmoil and conflict with their chants. Their ominous prophecies and contradictory appearance set up a plot full of misinterpretations and a deep pondering of freewill versus fate.

Best Witchy Series in Middle Grade Literature/Young Adult Literature

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Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Why should you read this series?: The Harry Potter series will always hold a special place in my witch-loving heart. This series is magical in every way. It’s a book that encompasses a fantastical world, memorable and lovable characters, and an epic showdown between good versus evil. The story, setting, lore, and characters are perfection. Continue reading

The Secret Sister Project (5)

secret sister project

I cannot believe that it is already time for round FIVE of #OTSPSECRETSISTER!!

Let’s first get some housekeeping things out of the way…

The two most important things to do when signing up to be a part of this project are:

  1. Head over to the google form which coincides with your monetary tier and fill it out in full. NOTE: IF YOU FORGET TO DO THIS THEN YOU WILL NOT BE PAIRED. THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT WE ARE USING TO PAIR YOU UP, IF YOU AREN’T ON THE FORM, WE CAN NOT PAIR YOU.
  2. BEFORE scrolling down to the questions, and BEFORE signing up to be a part of this project please THOROUGHLY read our FAQ and Rules post. Memorize the rules and refers back to it throughout the project. We are going to have to put more strict standards in place this round and therefore there is little leeway for tolerance of people not abiding the “rules.”

Just to cover all of our bases let me reiterate a few things, but please keep in mind that this is just a basic glossing over of these rules, we go more in detail and clarify everything in the main post that we are asking you to reference.

First, please remember that this is a commitment. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card AND gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” you sign up for. Only those in the pen pal tier are not expected to send gifts, that is strictly letters/cards. IN ADDITION to packages, you are also asked to send letters and or/postcards to foster positive communication. Many people asked for their to be an emphasis on the pen pal aspects of this project and we have been working hard to remind everyone that it’s not about the gifts, and this seems like the perfect way to do so. It is very important that you don’t sign up for this unless you are willing to follow through. Please think of how sad (and unfair) it would be for someone to be working hard to make their secret sister feel special and not receive anything themselves!

Last thing, sign-ups run from July 16 to midnight on July 30! Continue reading

The One Where I Binged All of the Shows (and Read None of the Books)

Hello, beautiful friends! How is everyone? Things have been pretty quiet for a while around the blog, eh? I feel like every year I hit a point mid year where I am like whoa…haven’t posted in a while, maybe I should do a mid-year check-in so people know I’m alive and well! So here it is…it’s summer and things get crazy, work is busy with summer reading and life is busy with love and just all good things! So let’s catch up…

What I’ve been doing:

So much! January brought me to ALA in Boston with Amy and Brittany, and we were able to see our PEOPLE and it was glorious and wonderful. I got a pretty good haul, too!

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Then of course we had BEA in Chicago this year and I got to hug Kiki again much to her dismay! I went to fun dinners and outings and got to spend time with some of my very favorite people in all the land and it was lovely.

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I got a new tattoo that I am in love with, as you know I am very much into the idea that you make your own choices and are Queen (or King!) of your own life and that’s what the tattoo represents! Speaking of Queens, Alexa and Kelly came to see me and we spent the day at The Book Barn and walking around the town of Niantic. Always fantastic to spend time with people who just get you and offer no judgment on who you are on the inside ❤

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Hmmm what else…Oh! I am running a summer reading program that I created from scratch at work and it’s tons of work. Like…cue weekly panic attacks over it lots of work. So far we have done Cupcake Wars and Trivia Night and both have gone over very well so I am pleased but still have to hope that I come out on the other end unscathed.

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Dr. Seuss FTW!

What I’ve been watching:

Ohh so I am currently obsessed with playing The Witcher! By obsessed I mean that I will play for HOURS for DAYS and then won’t pick it up for a month…but it is SO. GOOD. Also I am so behind on reading (as I’ll show you below) so I have been binging too many shows, such as:

  • Twin Peaks: OMG why did it take me so long to get into this?! Could. Not. Stop. Have made multiple people start watching so we can discuss WTF is even HAPPENING.
  • Preacher: I read a few of the comics and it doesn’t seem to follow the story TOO closely but hoo boy is our Preacher good lookin’ I am completely on board.
  • Lucifer: I tried to get into these comics and it just wasn’t working for me, but the show is fantastic. Also again with the handsome male lead.
  • Game of Thrones: This season has been SO. GOOD. I don’t want to spoil even though I hope people are caught up by now but oh man….I was on the edge of my seat every episode. It was a VERY different experience being that it was the first season that surpassed the books so I didn’t know what was coming but still saw some theories come to light and it was just amazing *sheds a little tear*
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Quick, fun and hilarious. Everyone recommended this to me because I love The Mindy Project and New Girl (though I am SO MANY episodes behind on both that it’s shameful) and they weren’t wrong. Loved it.
  • Downton Abbey: It’s over! I can’t believe it! I was honestly sad to see this one go, but will definitely be going back to re-watch. I thought the ending was superb, I loved how things were tied up.
  • Gilmore Girls: Ah! My re-watch before the miniseries comes out! I am on season 4 now and just had some MAJOR Jess feels! I will say it is so strange to watch this now and relate to Lorelei instead of Rory! It is a totally different experience but I love it so.

#amreading

I am so so behind. I have lowered my Goodreads challenge TWICE and I am still two books behind. I am in a slump! Since I have only read 23 (ugh) books this year lemme share!

I finally read Alanna!

I binged the entire Mara Dyer series and loved it

The Smell of Other People’s Houses was surprisingly wonderful

Romancing the Duke was my first try at those so called “bodice rippers” and SIGN ME UP, I loved it so!

I finished The Lunar Chronicles, Winter took me ages but it was worth it and Stars Above gave us the very best epilogue ever *swoon*

Ghostly Echoes was possibly my favorite of the three Jackaby novels, I loved learning about Jenny!

I finally got the courage to read The Rose and the Dagger and finish the series and it was so beautiful. It took me so long because I just kept re-reading passages over and over.

Me Before You was not as good as the movie (GASP!) In fact, I had a hard time liking the novel on the whole

I read the BFG to prep myself to see the movie with my niece. Unfortunately, I hate read most of it and will be writing a post all about the why!

Currently I am reading The Gunslinger and I am really liking it which is great because I generally do not enjoy King’s writing. I am also reading and LOVING My Lady Jane and Lost Gods which was one of my most anticipated books of the year. Also! I was just approved on Edelweiss for an ARC of Yesternight by Cat Winters and I cannot WAIT to delve in!

What’s to come:

Hmm…Our next round of Secret Sister (omg round 5!!) starts in just a few weeks. Amy is coming to visit at the end of the month. Soon it will be FOOTBALL SEASON aka pumpkin flavored everything season aka scarf season aka holding hands while traipsing through a pumpkin patch season aka THE BEST SEASON! I’ll hopefully review some of those books I’ve been reading…or not cause I am very “I do what I want” and sometimes reviewing feels like a chore, what can I say? Oh and in November I will be heading back to Illinois for Friendsgiving with Amy and Britt which is basically the highlight of my year, every year. That’s pretty much it for me…As you all know I give too much away on Twitter and share too many pictures of my books and cats on Instagram! ❤

On The Same Page: The Lies of Locke Lamora

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On the Same Page is a new feature here on Books Take You Places that I am hosting along with two of my very dear friends, Amy (Tripping Over Books) and Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide). Essentially, we will be reading one book a month together and then doing a non-traditional review such as a playlist, character analysis, and so on…To find out more about this new feature, head on over to its dedication page!

“I don’t have to beat you. I don’t have to beat you. I just have to keep you here…until Jean shows up.”

As I was reading The Lies of Locke Lamora I couldn’t help but notice the truly wonderful friendships throughout the novel. The banter between the characters and the way they play off of one another was truly my favorite part of the whole story.Though I adored the Sanza brothers and their newest initiate, Bug, it was the friendship between Locke and Jean that really stood out throughout. There was real angst and heartbreak when one thought the other was in trouble. Real worried thoughts and guilt when one knew he was keeping the other waiting and knew he would be worrying. Real love and loyalty and camaraderie that is not easy to find. It was really endearing, and they were very fun to watch together. With that in mind, I have decided that for this On the Same Page post I am going to focus on some other literary bromances that I really adore. Continue reading

Blogger Love-a-Thon Mini Challenge (4)

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I hope everyone is enjoying their time today and that everyone is finding new blogs to love! Welcome to Blogger Love-a-Thon! This is a 24 hour event that helps us bloggers take some time to show love to one another! If you are so inclined, head on over to the Announcement Post! This event is hosted by Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and Katelyn from Kate’s Tales of Books & Bands! For this mini challenge I am going to get reflective and write a letter to my younger blogging self!

Dear sweet Alyssa,

What were you thinking?! Starting a blog on a whim in your last quarter of graduate school!! Are you crazy? You’re going to feel the pressure, lady, and you only have yourself to blame! In retrospect you really should have taken some time to hoard some reviews so when school takes over and blogging starts to feel like work you won’t cry and nearly quit! Don’t quit, though! Things do get better. Especially after your move to WordPress, though that move is quite a pain in the arse, I must add.

Here are some things that you have to look forward to: Book Expo America, it is amazing and you will meet lovely bloggers and authors including Lemony Snicket who is really rather handsome and just as funny in person. More importantly, Melissa Marr will hug you even though she claims that she isn’t a “touchy” person. You are going to find new books to read and more importantly, new genres. Be open to them, the books you never thought you would enjoy will turn into some of your favorite reads of all time. You will meet new bloggers who will inevitably turn into some of your best friends IRL. Twitter is your best friend and keeping up with social media is necessary, but I promise once you find your niche it is one of the best things about the whole community. Listen to your fellow bloggers, they love what they do and get just as much joy in recommending books as you do, you can trust them. Most importantly, listen to yourself. If you are struggling with a book that you feel obligated to finish so that you can review it, don’t. Don’t let these “obligations” get in the way of what you love: reading. Though maintaining a blog takes work, it isn’t your job and your obligations are to yourself first and your readers second in that you maintain honesty with them always.

Stay classy, my dear. Things are about to get awesome!

A

Love is Louder

Love is Louder 2013

Some of you may have seen my Twitter post yesterday but to follow up, I just wanted to share a quick message with all of you readers about The Love is Louder Project. 

For those of you who don’t know, Love is Louder was started by The Jed Foundation, which works to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college and university students. Love is Louder was started by this foundation and the actress Brittany Snow to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone.

From their website:

“It’s hundreds of thousands of people just like you who have turned this idea into a movement.  A movement of all types of people who have come together to raise the volume around the message that love and support are louder than any internal or external voice that brings us down. Individuals, communities, schools and organizations have embraced Love is Louder as a way to address with issues like bullying, negative self-image, discrimination, loneliness and depression.  Even as we work to stop negative words and actions that hurt us, we can strengthen our abilities to cope with hard times, focus on the positive, support the people around us and reach out for help if we need it.”

I’m not asking you to do anything with this information, I simply wanted to make you aware of a beautiful cause and provide you all with ways that you can participate. The high school where I work is joining the project and the picture above was put together by myself to support the movement, if you want to get involved in any way you can visit the Love is Louder website, follow them on Twitter and tweet using the hashtag #loveislouder or simply tell someone you know.

With your help, we are getting louder.

2012 in review

Though these stats aren’t anywhere near as high as some of my friends, they made me feel pretty fantastic. Not only was this my first year of blogging but I switched to WordPress from Blogger half way through the year so I am impressed with the showings of my hard work. Thank you to all of my readers, I really do appreciate every single comment and kind word from you. I love you, friends! 2013: Let’s do this!!

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.