The Secret Sister Project (7)

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I cannot believe that it is already time for round SEVEN 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 have had to put more strict standards in place due to prior issues 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” for which you sign up. 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 7 to midnight on July 21!

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 16 to sign up for round 7 of The Secret Sister Project. 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 #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 or comfortable to contact.*Don’t stress out about this. This person will be available to ask you questions from your sister, or let you know to check your mail. It is not necessary for this person to know you inside and out, just that they have the ability to be contacted, and to contact you when your sister has a question. Additionally, do not bog this person down with incessant questions, use your best judgement when possible and get creative!
  • 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. We will absolutely be sending emails back to you that we deem “incomplete.”
  • 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 wishilists
  • ARCs and shipping do not count toward your monetary limit
  • Do not send packages directly from Amazon without speaking to your point person first

I cannot say this enough times, 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!

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 21! 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, so DO NOT FORGET. Please remember to thoroughly answer each and every question, and keep in mind that there is no such thing as saying “too much!” If you need some help filling this out, head back over to a previous round’s FAQ and Rules post and check out the example we provided!

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.

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, which will most likely be chosen by the majority vote, in order to ensure that you all get a match! Please remember that you have until midnight on July 16 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. *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 or comfortable to contact. This person will be available to ask you questions put forth by your sister, or let you know to check your mail. It is not necessary for this person to know you inside and out, just that they have the ability to be contacted, and to contact you when your sister has a question. Do NOT bog this person down with incessant questions, use your best judgement when possible and get creative!)

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! Use the #OTSPSecretSister hashtag to talk with us and your fellow sisters! Thank you for helping us continue to spread positive vibes and cheer throughout our community!

Fortnight of Fright (5)

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Wow. We are back here for a FIFTH year for Fortnight of Fright and I can hardly believe it!! As many of you know, September – January is my very favorite time of year and Halloween is my one true love! Therefore, it is no question that Fortnight of Fright is something that I love hosting along with Brittany (The Book Addicts Guide) and Amy (Tripping Over Books)!

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about (hello, and welcome!) Fortnight of Fright is a time in which we host and share different posts related to Autumn and Halloween! We work with you guys and some amazing authors to showcase some creepy books, interviews, movies, and SO MUCH MOAR! There is no limit on what you can post about! Do you have a signature Halloween or Autumn cocktail recipe? Pinterest board filled with DIY decorations? A book recommendation for those of us who love to be scared? We want it all!! JOIN US!!

Sign ups will be open from 9/12-9/25 and you will be notified the following week to confirm your post topic, and so on. We are going to ask that all posts get to us the week of 10/10 as we will be hosting you during the event which runs from 10/17-10/31! As always, the more the merrier, so scroll on down to our Google Doc and sign up to help us out!

Also don’t forget about All Hallow’s Read and the giving of books in lieu of candy!

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Wondering what we had going on from years past? Check it out:

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! ❤

Love-A-Thon (3)

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Hey there lovelies!! I am sure most of you know that the lovely Alexa over at Alexa Loves Books is hosting her annual Love-A-Thon, it is just another way that some of us are trying to focus on the cheer and positive aspects of our book blogging community. I will have a few posts on the blog throughout the weekend, and will be participating as much as I can on Twitter using the hashtag #LoveAThon so make sure to stay tuned! Happy reading, friends!!

What’s your name?

Alyssa, but honestly so few people call me that as I have so many nicknames from my loved ones. I go by “A” in the blogging world mostly.

Where in the world are you blogging from?

New England – I WAS PROMISED SNOW, WHERE IS IT?!

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How did you get into blogging in the first place?

I was actually in graduate school for my MLIS a few years back and we had to observe different resources for reader’s advisory, one of which being blogs. I had been following a few (The Book Smugglers, and Broke & the Bookish being two!) and I thought about how fun it would be so I started one, and convinced my friend Heidi from Bunbury in the Stacks that it was a good idea that she start one as well!

How did you come up with your blog name?

I wanted something that was meaningful to me, that spoke of my feelings regarding books and how important they are. I have always felt that books took me away from the drama of the real world and you can become immersed in the fictional world for a little while and forget whatever it is that needs forgetting. Thus Books Take You Places was born.

What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?

I read a lot of fantasy, it makes me the happiest!

What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?

Hmm I have been known to write some Disney posts ranking the swooniest male leads and villains. I also write some “non-traditional” reviews for my On the Same Page feature that I do with Amy (Tripping Over Books) and Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide)!

Best blogging experience so far?

Hands down, the best blogging experience has been meeting my best friends. I like to call Amy and Brittany my “better thirds” because they make me a better person overall. I often think about how lucky I am to have found soul friends through the power of THE INTERNET 😀 Honestly, I couldn’t make it through a day without these two. With these two, I have created The Secret Sister Project which does its own to foster positivity in the community, that is probably the blogging experience of which I am most proud.

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Favorite thing about the blogging community?

THE community is my favorite thing about the community!! Though we have those negative moments, for the most part everyone works hard to promote positivity and importantly, LITERACY. As a librarian I am a huge advocate for ALL THE READING!! It honestly brings me glee that I can hop on an app on my phone, send out a message or inquiry or even sad thought and have so many people reply back with an array of assistance.

Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

-THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER by Renee Ahdieh (GIVE. IT. TO. ME. NOW.)

– The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch (please please be this year)

– Yesternight by Cat Winters

– Heartless by Marissa Meyer

– The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (because now I can start and binge the whole series YAY)

Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years!

Hmm this is harder…

I am going to binge read the entire Raven Boys series

….and The Mara Dyer series

I have to finish Winter…oops.

Six of Crows is still waiting for me

…and I still never started Shadow Scale

What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni. I loved it so much. It encompasses so many wonderful elements. If you’re looking for an immensely atmospheric, mysterious, and romantic read, I highly recommend that you pick this one up immediately.

Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Sybella from Dark Triumph, I think. Though we are so very alike so I may need to choose Ismae instead so she can even me out a bit…

Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

AHHHHH….Bran from Son of the Shadows, I think…though I think Red is probably better for me as he is more patient than Bran and I am in need of a life partner with patience 😉

Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max)

Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor for ALL THE REASONS

Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik because duh, magic

Door from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman because duh, she can make doors and we might need them on the other side

Snow White from Fables by Bill Willingham because she is a fighter and basically never loses

Liadan from Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier because she is a skilled healer

Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?

Hmm I binge watch a lot of shows (currently the last two seasons of Downton Abbey), I spend hours and days playing video games, and then don’t play again for ages (currently The Witcher), I do puzzles and just started loom knitting like a proper old lady. When it’s warm, I hike and Letterbox and sometimes Geocache…but for the most part, I read.

Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?

Hmm…makeup, I suppose. I don’t really shop for myself, though I spend a lot of time buying fun presents for other people!

At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?

Oh lawd…I don’t know! This depends on who I am with, you know? Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is a song that I will sing no matter where I am when it comes on, can we count that?

Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.

I think….The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Of course, this is only if it can be made PHENOMENAL. Like, Harry Potter adaptation phenomenal.

What would your dream library look like?

Actually it would look like my personal library…I work very hard to make it the coziest place ever! 

Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?

Definitely Neil Gaiman! This is the obvious choice, right? It isn’t just because of my obvious obsession with his works, I think that he is incredibly brilliant. I would love to talk to him about all things in life, and I think we would have enlightening conversations! After I got over my definite nervousness, of course!

 

The Secret Sister Project (4)

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I cannot believe that it is already time for round FOUR 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/OR gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” you sign up forIN ADDITION to this, 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 January 16 to midnight on January 29! Continue reading

The Secret Sister Project: Meet Your Hosts

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Hey there loves! As many of you know, one of the biggest “rules” that we are pushing is that we hosts must “know” you. A lot of you have asked what constitutes us “knowing” you, and that is a very valid question in this digital age! Basically, we want to have faith in those that we are allowing into our precious project. We want to be able to say, “Oh yeah, that is the girl who chatted with me about her search for a job as a Librarian.” Or, “She is the girl who was active in the hashtag despite not being able to join in on last round.” We look at your avi picture, we memorize your name, we make notations next to your sign-up in our spreadsheet. Full disclosure: when we go to our spreadsheet and one (OR TWO!!) of us has to notate, “no idea who she is, she doesn’t even follow me” we give some serious side eye. Are we looking for followers? Not in the least bit. Do we think that you ONE BILLION PERCENT should know who ALL THREE hosts are? OH. YES. We actually had a ridiculous amount of people this round thank two of us, not know that they were speaking to one of the hosts when we reached out to inquire about an issue, and so on. It is embarrassing for YOU when we bring this info back to base as the information on who we are is so readily available in a few different places. With that being said, we thought it would be helpful if we each wrote up a little “about me” so that you had some points to bring up when you chatted us up over the next month. HINT: THIS MEANS IT IS A VERY GOOD IDEA TO GO AND VISIT BRITT AND AMY’S POSTS, THERE MIGHT BE A QUIZ LATER. We put the question to twitter, and some of you had some things you just HAD to know, so let’s get goin’! 

How did you get the idea for The Secret Sister Project?

To sum it up, I was having a rough 2014 and needed some cheering up and I remembered about this Secret Sister project that is put on at churches where my family attends. I brought this idea to Britt and Ame and we pondered if we could take this idea and put it to the test with our online community because who doesn’t need more cheer in their life? We launched a mini group as a sort of trial to see how it worked out and we were so thrilled to see how well it worked. I am always astounded and proud to see how well it is working and feel so lucky that this community is filled with such kind people.

How did the three of you meet?

Through the magic of the Internet. To be perfectly honest, it is somewhat hard to remember a time in which we weren’t friends as we have become family over the years. I do know that Britt and I bonded over The Princess Bride after she saw my reference in my Twitter profile and continue bonding to this day over our conversations that can be carried out by using only quotes from the TV show, Friends. I was lucky enough to be paired with Amy for my first year participating in The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa. I remember being floored at how perfect she is at picking out presents for me (something I am still thankful for to this day) and it wasn’t long before I realized that she was the best listener and kindest person I may ever know. Somehow we got a group chat going that now is a literal consistent conversation all day, every day. Fast forward through weddings, 15 hour road trips, tears, laughter that makes you pee a little and here we are – soul friends! There are few things that I am more thankful for.

Continue reading

Fortnight of Fright: Not As Creepy Halloween Recommendations by Lauren

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Today we have my dear friend Lauren helping you all out with some not so creepy Halloween recommendations!! Though Halloween is indeed my favorite since I love being scared (and the Halloween decor is the type that I keep up all year round) I still know that a lot of you don’t love the whole horror vibe! So I am going to let Lauren take it away and help you guys out with some things to read, watch, and eat!!

I have to say, I think it’s kind of funny that I ended up here on Alyssa’s blog, with my post full of non-creepy Halloween things. Alyssa is probably the first person I think of when I think of scary things, skulls, and anything else along those lines (that I tend to avoid). Regardless, I’m happy to be here on her blog because Alyssa is one of my favorite people even though she’s like the Lucille Bluth-iest.

SO today, I’m here to share some Halloween fun from a person who usually doesn’t get into the scary, horror-filled books or movies of the season. I love fall more than most people (my birthday and football and pumpkin things!), but just… not the scary stuff. My mom is the complete opposite so it’s kind of weird that I turned out this way. Regardless, here are my picks for how to enjoy the Halloween vibes of October without getting scared.

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I’m not opposed to being scared every once in a while, but horror or mystery books are usually not the first ones I reach for. Fall is a great time for getting a little creeped out by what you’re reading… but I usually prefer not to be looking over my shoulder thinking there’s a ghost. (Reading in the dark apartment while my boyfriend is asleep makes me too nervous sometimes.) I’ve curated a list of books that are FAIRLY creepy or have a cool mystery/thriller vibe to them, but probably won’t cause you to be afraid of the dark. I also included a TBR of some of the books I hope to read this season. In addition to all of the Halloween-y books, I included some movies and recipes to get you in the spirit!

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Fortnight of Fright: Daughters Unto Devils Review & Cupcake Recipe by Becky of Stories and Sweeties

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Readers, you are the luckiest today! SUPER excited today to have Becky from Stories and Sweeties join me today because not only is she reviewing a book that I have been dying to read, but she is giving us an AMAZING cupcake recipe. Take it away, friend!

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release date: September 29th, 2015

Intended audience: Young adult

Stand-alone

Source: from publisher for honest review

Rating: 4

Review: Daughters unto Devils is all the things I want for a perfect Halloween read.  Incredibly eerie atmosphere, a classic horror movie feel to it, a touch of gore, and plenty of spine-chilling scenes that make you hesitant to turn out the light at night—it’s all here.

Amanda Verner makes for a great unreliable narrator. The Verner family lives on a mountain side and their isolated family dynamic and extreme piety makes them feel like a bizarre and twisted Little House on the Prairie. They were trapped in their house during a bad winter, clinging to their lives and their sanity, while the flu-stricken mother gives birth to a deaf and blind baby.  Something happened to Amanda that winter, and it’s unclear if the isolation got to her head or if she truly saw something in the woods. Her bewildered family questions her goodness and her sanity nearly as much as she does herself. After a secret affair with a boy from town leaves her with child, she finds herself lost and at odds with her only ally, her sister Emma.

At the threat of another bad winters, the family fleas to the plains—and that’s where the creepy really sets in. Terrifying things start happening, you get a few of those classic horror moments where you find yourself yelling at the characters, “No! Why would you do that?!” The haunting past of the plains and their new house takes its toll on the whole family until things spin out of control and culminate in a wildly gut-churning end.

There are definitely no shortage of disturbing scenes in Daughters Unto Devilsnot for the faint-hearted, but absolutely perfect for readers looking for a truly horrifying Halloween read.

Devilishly Sweet Cupcakes

I’ve come up with a Halloween treat to perfectly accompany you while you dive into Daughters Unto Devils!  Rich devil’s food cake, fluffy cream cheese frosting, and a bloody good surprise inside! 😉

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Fortnight of Fright: Review of The Dead House from Jaime of The Best Books Ever

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Hey monsters! Today we have Jaime bringing you a solid review of a creepy read, The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich! I have to tell you guys that this one was on my TBR for this month and I just don’t think that I am going to fit it into the schedule, which makes me so sad, especially after reading Jaime’s review! Take it away, Jaime!

The Dead House

Dawn Kurtagich

September 15th, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.

I LOVE a good horror story, any time of the year, but especially around this time of the year. When it is starting to get cold outside, the leaves are changing and it gets dark earlier. Fantastic background for getting the crap scared out of you. Unfortunately, I didn’t get too scared reading The Dead House. Fortunately, I loved it anyway!

Dawn knows how to write a creepy story, no doubt about it. And the fact that she writes it in the form of diary entries, newspaper articles and police reports is truly impressive. Like I said, I never really got scared, but the creep factor was high. Kaitlyn Johnson is a very unique character. She is definitely the darker half of the Carly/Kaitlyn duo. Her descriptions of living the night are right on target with an angsty, scared and lonely teen girl. She wasn’t the most relatable or likeable character ever, but I loved her anyway. Being in her head was downright disturbing! The other characters in the story take a backseat to Kaitlyn, but they were very well written characters. There wasn’t a character involved in the story that didn’t have a place in it, or didn’t add something to it. Even the most minor ones. Continue reading

Fortnight of Fright: Dionaea House & Other Scary Stories by Lindsey of A Bookish Sinister Kid

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Hello dears! Lindsey is here to chat all about Dionaea house and other creepy places! Lindsey always has the best stuff, she is the one who found me some of the ONLY stories that have ever scared me (thank you, Reddit) and I can always count on her to send me the creepiest and most perfect things that only a select few cool (okay, maybe weird) peeps would enjoy. Also, she is totally traveling to CT to see a LORE show (which she hooked me on) with me this month!! Anywho, take it away, Linz!

You can pretty much find anything on the Internet these days, which means there’s no shortage of creepy stories, websites dedicated to spreading the scariness around!

I religiously go to a livejournal that dishes the best celeb gossip called Oh No They Didn’t. Besides celeb gossip, they cover all sorts of entertainment news as well as current events once in a while. Every now and then there’s a tag that pops up with a post that’s called: “creepy post” usually associated with the horror genre releasing something. One of the reasons I love this livejournal so much is for the comments section! I live for their comment section–I’ve read new books because of them, looked up items mentioned, watched various films, and listened to great new artists because the comment section has a ripple effect.

During a creepy post a few years ago, close to Halloween, someone posted about this website called the Dionaea House. The comments I had been reading mentioned that it was “supposedly” an abandoned film project that created a website to hype up the movie before release. With it being like 1130pm and my parents downstairs I decide, eh, why not–I like being scared, let’s start reading…which was so foolish because OMG I WAS SO FREAKED and panicked to go to sleep. Continue reading