{Month in Review/Monthly Preview} Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes....and they feel so good!

Sorry this is a week late!

I was GOING to post this on July 31st. I had plenty of free time!!! 

Buuuuut I always post Month in Review/Monthly Preview the first Sunday of the month, and it technically wasn't Sunday, so....

I started this post earlier in the week, but then I started working on banners for my group's Book Blogger Creativity Project, PLUS, I was the first person to post, so I wound up without the time needed to finish this post. 

I'm really sorry! I know I apologized last week, too, but it doesn't make up for being late, I know!

Better late than never, though, right?  ^^;;;;

Please Welcome Mandy to A Backwards Story!

Have you met Mandy yet???

She's my IRL friend and co-worker, and we have very similar tastes in books! When I heard that Mandy was thinking about starting her own book review blog, I asked her if she wanted to join mine instead. I've been needing help as I've gotten busier and had less time to focus on blogging. Plus, I've had SO MANY computer issues, health issues, etc. this year, that it would have been so awesome to have a co-blogger to keep everything going. I have felt like such a sludge, and like you all must hate me, lol! 

I'm really excited to introduce you all to Mandy, and I hope you all will love her as much as I do! 

She's also on Twitter now if you want to communicate more one-on-one with her and get to know her!

Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To!


Last fall, I went on my first-ever writer's retreat, hosted by author CJ Redwine. I didn't go to the second retreat this summer for a multitude of reasons, but CJ just opened up registration again for next fall. Not only have I decided to go again, but I'm bringing a friend and writing buddy with me who wanted to go previously and couldn't. We're both so incredibly excited!!! (And not just because we get to spend time together outside of work!) I'm really excited to return to the beautiful Smoky Mountains and write my heart out!!!


The other awesome piece of excitement? I joined #OTSPSecretSister for the very first time!!! I always see you guys having so much fun doing it on Twitter, and decided to take part this round. I'm really excited to meet my Sister(s)!!!!  ♥ ♥ ♥


For my birthday, my sister gave me two Essie polishes (my two and a half year old niece picked out the colors, a greenish-blue and a lilac purple). One of them was from the new Gel Couture line, where the polish is like gel, but you need a special top coat. She thought I had the top coat already so she didn't pick it up, and I haven't been to the store yet to grab a top coat so I can try it out. Hopefully this month!!!

My nails are still broken and short, but I'm taking more vitamins and hope to have them nice again by fall!

I only really did one nail art design, and it was for the midnight release of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD!

I'm not an artist, and I decided to go with house crests, so after pasting them into Word and shrinking the images to half an inch, I printed them and cut them out:

Then, I painted my nails white with Zoya "Purity." After I painted the first nail, I went and put a decal down...and made a huuuuuge mess. So I waited until they were a little tacky! That worked a lot better, but I shouldn't have waited QUITE so long because they were a little too firm. I did put clear top coat on the back of each decal before pressing down. I also used HK Girl "Glisten and Go" as a top coat because it doesn't smear colors as much. 

Let me tell you, using paper images was HARD. They don't like to stay down and will feel a little weird on your nails. After a day or two, the image will start to run because, well, it's paper and your hands have been wet. (Sooner if the image wasn't sealed down well). It's also hard to do a really good clean-up job because you don't want to get your hands wet in case you didn't seal it well!

Final outcome:

I did get a lot of compliments, so....!


Here are some of the photos I've taken and shared this month!

Happy Birthday to ME!!!
Every year, I choose a birthday book.
This year, I chose WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones
You know you listen to too much Hamilton when you start
telling your ravioli to "rise up!"
Mmm, free ice cream sundae from Friendly's to say "Happy Birthday!"
Saw a blue penguin at the aquarium!!!
I didn't know penguins could be blue, did you!?
Ferry Ride to the aquarium!
(And my 2.5 year old niece's first boat trip...AND first aquarium trip!)
Mmmm, crab and portobello mushroom quesadilla!!!!
My first-ever purchase from Book Outlet!!! Under $40 for all this...
...and MAID OF SECRETS came secretly signed, whoot!!!

Last week when I painted my nails for the Harry Potter Midnight Party, I decided to randomly shuffle my Broadway Playlist on my iPod to listen as I worked. I tweeted the songs as I went. Just in case anyone's interested! I heard a lot of songs I haven't heard in a while, and I actually decided to listen to the same playlist again yesterday! I love when I take the time to update and use my iPod.

For my birthday, my dad gave me Waitress the Musical, which I'm really excited to listen to! Especially after hearing Sara Bareilles' version of her songs for so long...and then watching the awesome waitresses from the Stardust Diner do their own version yesterday when Playbill.com tweeted about it!

I also caught up on what Todrick Hall has been doing on his YouTube Channel (And blogged a bit about it, too!) I purchased and have been listening to his song "No Place Like Home" a lot on my iPod a lot lately. Sometimes back to back with "Carousel" by Melanie Martinez, because they remind me of one another!

Yeahhhhh, and I still listen to Hamilton the Musical way too much!


My dad has never seen The Hunger Games movies before (or read the books), and I've never seen all of them, so we watched them this summer while TV was on hiatus.

The mix for Mockingjay, Part II was the worst I've heard since Interstellar. The background music was sooooo loud, and then the people would practically be whispering. We had to constantly turn the sound up and down.

Twice, there were explosions that freaked out my dad's dogs. The first one sent Mary Jane running up onto the couch between us!

Poor Scared Puppy!!!

I also started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix. Someone recommended it last year when the show had been on for a while already and early episodes were no longer On Demand. The main character looks a lot like one of my friends from uni, a friend who sang all the time and was crazy and kooky and amazing...and this show really makes me miss her!!!

That was my July. 

How was yours???

Here's a look at everything that happened this past month!


Check out the August Blog Tour Schedule for more upcoming giveaways!
(Most blog tour stops feature giveaways as well!)

*Book Blogger Creativity Project: The August 2015 - June 2016 School Year YA Yearbook! {8/8; posting on Day One}
*THE ARCHITECT OF SONG by A.G. Howard {8/15 Review}
*A CLEARING IN THE FOREST by Kim Love Stump  {8/29}

{All links to Goodreads!}

*NEMESIS by Anna Banks
*LIRAEL by Garth Nix


*THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab {YA}
*CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber {YA}
*MARKED by Jenny Martin {YA}
*WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook {YA}
*OUTLIERS by Kimberly McCreight {YA}
*ABHORSEN by Garth Nix {YA}
*CLARIEL by Garth Nix {YA}
[link to my GoodReads account so you can see my blurb feed as I read]
{All links to Goodreads!}

TOTAL: 9 Books; 1 novella

*AMERICAN GIRLS by Alison Umminger {YA}
*AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White {YA}
*MORRIGHAN by Mary E. Pearson {YA}
*THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson {YA}
*THE HEART OF BETRAYAL by Mary E. Pearson {YA}
*DESTINED FOR A KING by Ashlyn Macnamara {Adult}
*GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers {Upper YA} [Redux]
*DARK TRIUMPH by Robin LaFevers {Upper YA} [Redux]
*WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones {Upper YA}
*SABRIEL by Garth Nix {YA}
{All links to my review!}

*WHEN WE COLLIDED by Emery Lord {Upper YA} [Spotlight]
*THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE by Jennifer E. Smith {YA} [Spotlight]
*SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE by Morgan Matson {YA} [Spotlight]
*AMERICAN GIRLS by Alison Umminger {YA}
*THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson {YA} [Redux]
*THE HEART OF BETRAYAL by Mary E. Pearson {YA} 
*AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White {Upper YA}