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


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!


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


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


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!


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.


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 ❤


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.


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.


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


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)


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!


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 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.

Looking Back: The Best of 2012

I know that I did the 2012 end of the year survey but I wanted to make this one a little more personal for my favorites of 2012!

Book that reminded me that I love to read: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. Any of you who have read my review know how much I adored this book. I hugged it after I finished and I am anxiously awaiting book two.


Favorite BAMF: Silas Dane. Guys I can’t get enough of this man. He is foreboding, a tad evil, yet extremely loyal and smart and he has a pet crow! I would LOVE a pet crow! YUMMY, for sure!

Favorite companion: I really had a soft spot for Fianchu from Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier and, as always, Fiacha from her Sevenwaters series and the main character in her novella Twixt Firelight and Water.

Favorite debut author: So many that I loved this year so I’m going to cheat and name a few but first, let me say that every single debut author listed here has been SO incredibly nice and reached out to myself and fellow bloggers to thank us for our reviews. If you are reading this, dear debut author, just know that I personally squeal very loudly and do a happy dance when you read and/or respond to a review or mention! So my favorites in no particular order are: Ruth Frances Long, Anna Banks, A.C. Gaughen, Marissa Burt, Rachel Hartman, and I think this might be cheating because I do believe he has written a children’s book before, Christopher Healy

BFF: Scarlet from Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen. I loved this book so much that I was petting its pages. Scarlet and I would totally be BFFs, she is hardcore but a softie on the inside (don’t tell anyone, YA HEAR?!)

Most swoonworthy lad: Duval from Grave Mercy, I think. He was just the right amounts of good and bad. All gentlemanly, yet MANLY at the same time…YAY!

Favorite setting: New Orleans, baby! A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton. Despite not loving the book, it has an absolutely beautiful setting, it really made me want to travel there right this minute!

Favorite pick found while perusing: The Wintercraft series by Jenna Burtenshaw. This was a series I had heard nothing about and simply saw it on the shelf at my local library, read the back and immediately checked it out. There are so many things to love about this series. The world building is intricate yet not overwhelming, the plot is unique, the main guy is totes swoonworthy, yet there is no love triangle and very little hinting at any romantic interludes. Though part of me longs for them (I LOVE YOU SILAS!) a larger part is really impressed at Burtenshaw’s level of storytelling that doesn’t fall back on familiar tropes. Go add this to the TBR, friends, you won’t be disappointed!


Fantastical creatures: DRAGONS, FOR THE WIN!! I read so many books about dragons this year, friends! Top of my list for favorite dragon book has to be Seraphina by Rachel Hartman but I also thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George and Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey. Both of these titles reminded me of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede which I absolutely adored while growing up.

That bad boy you shouldn’t love, but…: OH SOPHIE’S CHOICE! Disclaimer: The answer here, hands down, goes to WOLFIE from Scarlet but this book has yet to be published and I have yet to review it so by default I must choose another…I think I am going to go with Silas Dane here AGAIN. Yes he is a BAMF and he is a teeny bit, ya know, evil, but reader, I LOVE HIM!

Favorite male lead: I think Duncan, from The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom takes this one. He makes my heart happy.

Favorite female lead: I would go with Scarlet Benoit from Scarlet by Marissa Meyer here but I am sticking to books already published SO I am going to say Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. She is pretty awesome and though she is scarier in book one – until we get to know her, like most villains – she is still pretty amazing in book two!


Best summary in two words: Assassin nuns.

Good thing I didn’t judge by it’s cover: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I have NO idea why but this cover nearly turned me off to the book! I know that so many people love it and after reading the book I actually understand that, but if Heidi hadn’t ASSURED me that I would love this one I am ashamed to say that I might not have picked it up!

So glad I judged by it’s cover: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I had it on my radar solely because the cover was absolutely gorgeous, then I read some reviews and I was hooked!

Hug the book moment: You’ll just kill me if I choose Hero’s Guide for yet another answer, right? So if I tell you that I physically hugged that book after finishing it you will be bored and just never return to the blog again? Okay, I won’t say it (even though it’s true). Instead, I will leave you with this part in Storybound“It became Una’s habit, on days that she felt especially invisible, to retire to the basement of the school library. Most students stayed on the main floor, grouped together at sunny tables, giggling over their math problems and English homework. But Una preferred the lower level, where she could sit undisturbed except for the odd student scurrying down to get some reference book needed for a research paper. She would tuck into her favorite desk underneath one of the high basement windows – half daydreaming, half reading – while the minutes flew by and she wondered what it would be like to live a different life.”

Worth the hype: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I was wary to pick this one up but I devoured it, AND its sequel which I was lucky enough to own, and let me tell you, they both gave me the biggest book hangovers of 2012. Add them to the TBR if you haven’t already.


Newest addiction: All things Neil Gaiman. Especially his audiobooks, yessir!

Scariest villain: Oh my I think Rumplestiltskin from The Book of Lost Things takes the cake for this one, he was one scary guy.

Favorite laugh out loud moment: “Wild card, got it,” Duncan said. “Just like in Crazy Eights. I can be a diamond; I can be a spade. Whatever you need me to be, I’m that thing. That is so me.” – From The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Best slow burn romance: Okay, yes, Juliet Marillier again provided us with a lovely slow burn romance between Flint and Neryn in Shadowfell, HOWEVER, I think that Duval and Ismae’s relationship from Grave Mercy got to me a bit more. There is a moment where she is laying in bed and he walks over and grabs her ankle…I literally made a girly “eep” noise out loud as I read it. Oh my.

Biggest ugly cry moment: The ending of Tiger Lily. That letter. Oh my, I can’t even…

Mermaid book worth taking the plunge over: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks. I think my review explains my feelings nicely.

Favorite new to me genre/book: Middle Grade books for SURE! This year I fell in LOVE with middle grade novels thanks to Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George,  The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver and Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. I can’t wait to devour SO MANY MG novels in 2013!

Thank you Netgalley!: Amber House by Kelly Moore was a book I randomly found while perusing Netgalley one day. I needed a book to pass the time while at a family party of the beau’s (lovely, I know) and I saw the cover and my interest was immediately caught. The book was beautifully written and creepy at all the right parts, I don’t think enough of you know about it so take my word and add it to the TBR!

amber house

Non-bookish THINGS that I loved in 2012:

Doctor Who: That’s right, people! I started watching it on Netflix and now I can. not. stop. I am nearly through season 1 and here are my thoughts..

  1. The Doctor is yummy.
  2. I do NOT like it when Rose and The Doctor share any sort of intimate moment. Keep your hand OFF of his cheek, woman!
  3. I would make a better companion than Rose.
  4. The question “Are you my mummy?” makes me want to cry in a corner for a bit.

The Hobbit: Though I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings movies I do not remember loving them as much as The Hobbit. We went to see it on my birthday and I was literally clasping my hands in glee. I especially loved the part with Smigel, “If he guesses wrong….WE EATS HIM WHOOOLE!” Love.

Tin Man: I’m not going to get into too much detail here since I will be reviewing this for you all during Project: Fairy Tale, but just know that it is totally worth watching, Zooey Deschanel is amazing, the Tin Man is yummy and SyFy is sometimes really, really cool.

Book Expo America: It was an amazing experience. I was able to meet authors and bloggers who I really admire and my eyes were opened to many opportunities as a blogger as well as knew titles I had yet to hear anything about. I am really looking forward to what BEA 2013 has in store!