INSPYs 2017 | Welcoming Judges

Friday, April 21, 2017

Good afternoon, book nerds, readers and friends! Today is an important day in the INSPYs timeline. Today, we formally welcome and announce our 2017 judging panels. Please, join us in welcoming them all.

Before we announce them, I'd like to thank everyone who supports the INSPYs. Those who have judged and are judging, and those who applied. We so appreciate it. Please, consider applying again next year again - whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro. Your time, support and enthusiasm is MUCH appreciated. Thank you.

Without further ado, let us meet our amazing 2017 panels.

Now that the advisory board is (nearly) done with the task of shortlisting the books nominated in the 2016 INSPY Awards, the advisory board is pleased to introduce you to our 2017 panels of judges. We now hand the job of choosing the winning novel over to them. The INSPY Advisory Board thanks each and every applicant for their enthusiasm and is thrilled to announce the judges for 2017. The shortlists  are coming your way. They will be announced on April 30! Once our judges receive their respective books, they then have the task of narrowing the list from five novels to the one worthy of the 2017 INSPY in each category.

We enthusiastically welcome these judges and thank them for their time and service.

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense Judges

Becky Ritta is a thirty-something single girl from small town Nebraska. She’s been a voracious reader ever since the moment she realized c-a-t spelled “cat.” By day, she teaches journalism and manages the website and social media accounts for a Christian high school. By night, she reads, blogs, experiments with gluten free baking, and binge watches ’90s TV shows. Becky began blogging on MySpace back in 2006; in 2008 she moved over to Christian Chick’s Thoughts  and posted her first book review. She loves interacting with authors and other book lovers, and her favorite part of reviewing is discovering great new (or new-to-her) authors.
Karen WeidoTing’s Mom Books, fantasizes about a place where her task list only includes sitting in the sunshine and reading books. But since that is not a reality, she spends her days juggling wife and mom duties while squeezing in books any chance she can. Karen has been writing Christian fiction reviews since early 2014, and loves discovering new authors and characters. Outside of her blog, you can find Karen on her other addiction – Instagram. There she shares her adventures with her husband, two children, one dog, and lots of books. Karen and her family live in South Arkansas.
Bree Herron is the blogger of Bibliophile Reviews. A mom to a young daughter and a student working on her second Bachelors, Bree finds reading to be her relaxation. Books are a source of inspiration and happiness, giving her mind a break from the studying, and every day life. A passion for reading is one that Bree intends to hand down to her daughter, books are the future of our present.

 Historical Romance Judges

Annie LOVES books – the look, the feel, the smell and the words. She’s an avid reader turned blogger reviewer. She dabbled at sharing her thoughts on her blog, Just Commonly for years (very sporadically), and only since 2015 have she focused on reviewing what she loves best, BOOKS! A widely known book nerd, once you get her started on a book, she might talk your ear off until you just had to get your own copy. She’s a big fan of all Christian fiction, as well as books in the Young Adult, Middle Grade and even Kids Fiction genre. She’ll test out recipes from cookbooks and share thoughts from biographies to books on nutrition, spiritual help or just any book that struck her fancy. Being a speed reader, she’s happy to be able to immerse herself in more books than normal. Next to reading, her other interests includes spending time with friends and family, eating and somehow challenge her non-existent athletic abilities to improve (tremendously) her tennis and golf game.

Annie is proud to be one of the founding stewards of the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat. Christian Fiction Readers Retreat (CFRR) is a one day event gathering of Christian Fiction readers and authors, 2016 being its inaugural year. The event’s theme is “Honoring God through Christian Fiction” and will feature speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer & worship and author signings.
Maggie Boyd has been an avid reader since the second grade when she discovered the riveting Billy and Blaze books. She found out about Inspirational romance in seventh grade and has been hooked ever since. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two sons and when she isn't reading she is often writing about reading at either Heroes and Heartbreakers or All About Romance.  The things she looks for in a novel are originality, whimsy and a soul deep connection between the hero and heroine.
Maggie is an active member of her church Care Ministry team as well as being part of the meals ministry. The book she has read cover to cover most often is the Bible and she collects prayer journals and bible studies at an alarming rate.
Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She strives to edify and connect with readers and authors through her blog and on social media. Beth is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories.
Beth lives with her husband and their four children in a close-knit rural southern Illinois farming community. They love their laid back lifestyle and small country church family. When she isn’t reading, Beth enjoys indulging in a favorite show or movie with her family, completing DIY projects with her husband, and seeing the country on long family road trips.

General Fiction Judges

Kristi Morgan works in retail management but my passion is reading. I have been reading since before I started kindergarten and always have a book with me. I love to blog about the books I've read and will talk books with anyone who will listen. I live in Indiana with my husband of 23 years and our spoiled rotten Sheltie and two equally spoiled cats.
Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Carrie lives in Kentucky with her husband Eric and their quirky dog Zuzu and is a co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat. She blogs at Reading is my Superpower.
Alyssa Washburn is born and raised in the West, but Southern at heart. Alyssa currently lives in the mountains of Northern California amidst Gold Rush country and former Maidu and Miwok territory. She began her reading journey with Nancy Drew and the Lord of the Rings at an early age, and never turned back. Alyssa also loves to write, classic films, music and all things vintage. She's also very involved in her church as a Sunday School Teacher. She has a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Pro-Life Movement, Politics, Personal Freedom, and an advocate against Human Sex Trafficking. Alyssa is also an amateur Genealogist and has found her ancestry to have everything and the kitchen sink. Her stories are a mixture of truth and happily ever afters because this world could use more happily ever afters.

Literature for Young People Judges

Katie is an avid book lover who can never seem to have enough books. The stacks around the house prove it. Along with reading, Katie has been blogging for 5 years about Christian Fiction at Too2017 Judge Katie Read or Not Too Read and can't wait for another 5 years. Reading hasn't always been easy, having been diagnosed with dyslexia, but with a determined teacher-mother and 8 years of homeschooling, Katie was able to graduate high school with a college reading level. Now in her early 30's, she has a preteen daughter to share the love of reading with. Along with blogging, Katie is a library assistant. Books are in every aspect of life!
2017 INSPYs Judge RachelRachel is a stay at home mom who LOVES to read. She enjoys good (clean) books of all kinds. However, she has a soft spot for historical fiction. There is something magical that can only be found between the covers a book. Her desire is to share that piece of magic with you.
Rachel has been reviewing books since 2014 and simply adores being immersed in the bookish world. Her husband and 2 beautiful children are her life and joy. Among the 500 things she does a day, she somehow still finds time to read.
Tressa has been an avid reader her whole life. She grew up listening to her parents read the classics, which started her love for story-book worlds, especially the various challenges of characters and their happily-ever-after endings. She blogs about her love of books at Wishful Endings and is a tour co-host at Prism Book Tours. Outside of blogging, she’s active in her church, a total Marvel geek, Austen lover, has way too many hobbies, and enjoys hanging with the family (husband, four kiddos, and pup).

Mystery / Thriller Judges

Elizabeth Olmedo loves all things books. Whether reading or writing, she spends most of her waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours lost deep in the world of fiction, especially if they belong to the mystery, suspense, and/or romance genres. To feed her addiction, Elizabeth reviews books for Fiction Addict and Radiant Lit, as well as on her personal blog.
Elizabeth lives in Spain with her dog, Ari, and works as a freelance writer, editor, and social media specialist. When she isn’t reading, Elizabeth also enjoys writing, watching movies, and cooking (often while listening to an audiobook).

You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook and Twitter, or find her on Eli’s Novel Reviews.
___________Jessica Baker
Jessica Baker is an avid reader from Cooperstown, NY. When she's not busy working as a mortgage lender, wife and mother, she runs A Baker's Perspective blog. It is here that she shares her love of books with others. Jessica is the leader of the young youth group at church and enjoys spending time with her church family.

Born only a few miles from where Jesse James robbed his first train, Rachel Kovaciny has loved the Old West all her life. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and their three homeschooled children. In her free time, Rachel writes, reads, blogs, bakes, watches movies, and daydreams.

Speculative Fiction Judges

Ian Acheson's debut novel, Angelguard, is available in the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. This is the first release in the Angelguard Chronicles, a series of speculative fiction novels that explore the interconnection of the spiritual and physical worlds and the power of prayer. Ian reads a lot, and a lot, and a lot more. He reads widely in fiction, non-fiction, magazines, web and newspapers. He’s been telling and writing stories for most of his life since early childhood.

When Ian’s not writing he’s a professional strategy consultant having been in the Corporate world for the past 25 years. He brings some of this experience into his stories. He’s lives in Sydney, Australia, and shares life with his wife, Fiona, two adult sons and one gorgeous daughter-in-law. In addition, they have two adored dogs that keep them active. This will be Ian’s third year as an INSPY judge and he’s excited about getting his hands on the shortlisted finalists.
Michelle R. Wood is a professional freelancer in theatre and web development. Her education included studies in Theatre and English, including classes in London and an internship with Walt Disney World. When not working backstage or on a computer, she continues to enjoy reading, a habit she learned at a tender age from her bookworm mother. Michelle's personal musings and book reviews can be found at her blog, Distractions of Grandeur ( She is honoured and excited to return as a judge in the speculative fiction category for her fourth time.
Meagan Myhren-Bennett developed an early love of reading growing up in a family where books were the gift of choice. And when you move often books quickly become one of your best friends. This love was the perfect excuse to become both a reviewer and a librarian.

When not at the library, she can be found at home, which is a small farm in rural Northwest Central Wisconsin, spending time with her family or reading with some of the family’s 15 dogs, of which 13 are dachshunds who   
Meagan also leads the Page Turner's Book Discussion Group in Bloomer, which is a monthly themed book club Where she’s more than willing to help other readers discover her favourite authors.

This is Meagan's third time serving as an INSPY judge and another great excuse to pick up her next great read. You can connect with her on her blog Blooming with BooksFacebook, or Twitter.

Booktube Talk | The Disney Princess Tag

Thursday, April 20, 2017

We all love Disney, right? We relish in the adventure of a fox robbing the wealthy (all for a good cause); relate to the strength and bond of sisterhood between siblings who are opposites; admire a book-loving girl who sacrifices for someone she loves; and believe in the impossibility of a girl who dreams of nothing more than touching her feet to grass. Even if, as adults, we’re no longer invested, I’m willing to wager Disney played a role in most if not all of our childhoods.

Because this book community is an endless source of creativity and amazing people, Of Stacks and Cups combined the personalities of Disney princesses with our love of books and created a book tag.

Was I tagged with this? No, but I ran across it and since I’m looking for fun ideas for my booktube channel, I couldn't resist putting this together.

Today, I decided to split up the tag. Half of the princesses and their prompt are featured here on Finding wonderland, and the other half (because apparently I’m mean like that) are in my new booktube video. So, read on through these twelve prompts and the princess they’re paired with and then, if you’re inclined, head on over to Finding Wonderland’s channel to hear my rambles.

Let’s get started. *First 5 answers are on Booktube!

1. Snow White - Name your favorite classic 

2. Cinderella - Name a book that kept you reading well past your bedtime

3. Aurora - Name your favorite classic romance

4. Ariel - Name a book that's about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams

5. Belle - Name a book with a smart and independent female character

6. Jasmine - Name a book with a character who challenged the social conventions of his or her world

Tris Prior, who's name being the answer to this prompt should be self explanatory. 

7. Pocahontas - Name a book [with an] ending [that] was a roller-coaster of emotions

Sara Ella’s Unblemished comes to mind. I don’t remember any ending beyond it that really struck me as awe-inspiring or jaw-dropping. I know there have been some, but since Sara’s is a recent read, hers in foremost in my mind.

8. Mulan - Name a book with a kick-ass female character

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The fact that Lizzie works inserted into a world of zombies is either very (very) wrong or somehow so right.

FILM REVIEW | Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) – Or the Film in Which Darcy and Lizzy Kick Butt

9. Tiana - Name a book featuring a hardworking, self-made character

Ella from Joanne Bischof’s The Lady and the Lionheart. Ella is far more self-sufficient that I think the surface reader gives her credit for. True, she chooses to have to be as “alone” as she is, but given the times she lives in, I think she’s incredibly brave, strong and admirable.

10. Rapunzel - Name a book that features an artist

Evelyn from the beautifully, emotional contemporary novel, Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh.

11. Merida - Name a book that features a mother-daughter relationship

Breaking the book rules here and picking the icons, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. (Although I will admit, sometimes they're relationship is unhealthy when Lorelai should be more of a mother than "bestie," I still love them.)

12. Anna and Elsa - Name a book that features a great relationship between siblings 
The relationship between siblings in Hillary Manton Lodge’s ‘Two Blue Doors’ series is fabulous. I know this might not be the kind of relationship this prompt is thinking of, but the D’Alisa siblings are pretty special.

That brings the Disney Princess tag to its conclusion! If you want to know how I answered (and what books I paired with them!) the first six princesses featured in this tag, check out my latest Booktube video now on Finding Wonderland’s channel.

I tagged one person in my video, but since I don’t want to overburden anyone on Booktube with tags (plus I don’t know who likes to put tags together), I skipped out on tagging there. As a result, I’ll tag a couple new bloggers I’ve recently met whose blogs I enjoy. Saying “Tag! You’re It!” to Cait of A Page with a View, Tiff of Mostly YA Lit, Shannon of It Starts at Midnight, and anyone else who wants to join in, please do. Only thing I ask is come by and share your blog post/video link, because as usual, I want to come by to read/watch your spin on this tag!

Which of these princesses are among your favorite? Which of these ladies is your favorite character? Comment down below with all the bookish and Disney comments. I’d love to chat with you all. For now, thanks for reading.

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland.

Agent Carter, Season Two (2016) – 1940s Glitz, Glamour and Sunny Hollywood

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If there is one thing that could make ABC’s Agent Carter any more sophisticated than it is (and let’s face it, that’s nearly impossible), it’d be transplanting the series to the opposite Coast. Season two moved (nearly) the whole gang to sunny California, and the cool, 1940s vibes it gives are pretty fabulous.

In the wake of her wildly successful contribution to the agency and capture of the mysterious nuisance known to the SSR as Dottie Underwood, Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is finally on equal standing with her male peers. New York chief Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) even places enough faith in her to send her to LA where their newly promoted West Coast Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) is in need of her skills.

Once in LA, Peggy is reunited with her faithful friend, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy). So long as she’s in LA, she’s given the run of Howard Stark’s mansion and the assistance of Jarvis. All help Peggy will need if she’s to solve the puzzle that is the body of a woman found in a frozen lake. A case that will propel this team, and a handful of newcomers to stop a dangerous enemy they call, “Dark Matter.”

As is the golden standard of this show, the pilot right up until its final episode (which doubles as the series finale) is fast-paced and thrilling, and somehow, charming. Everything about this Marvel TV serial personifies itself as being quality television. Down to the minuscule detail (plus the big stuff too). In short, everything about Agent Carter is lovely.

Season two does (very nearly) write itself into a pickle with its attempt at a love triangle (or perhaps its sum is greater than three). That said, it redeems itself with a nearly picture perfect ending despite the fact that the writer’s probably weren’t sure of its cancellation at the time of filming. An ending that is, really, as perfect as its episode title (‘A Hollywood Ending’) and I’d even be so bold as to say, it’ll make even ardent Steve/Peggy shippers smile in delight.

The production of this series is lovely, whether it has a low budget or not. They do everything they can to bring us into the 40s. From the wardrobe (when doesn’t Peggy look like a perfect lady albeit one who can kick butt) to the iconic red lips and nails of the era, and through the automobiles. The vintage vibes go on for miles and impress every single time.

All that to say nothing of the stories. This season is tightly interlocked, which is both interesting though it does (in my opinion) slow the momentum. Time after time the baddies get away, which makes the chase (on occasion) wear thin. Nevertheless, we have too much fun learning more about her heroes and heroine to care. We chase these villains with the soft-hearted, but smart war hero; the devoted, loyal servant and loving husband; the scientist who crushes on an emotionally unavailable woman; the funny secretary who’s more than just a secretary; and of course, the smart SSR agent who outwits her male colleagues no matter the day of the week.

Whether you like period drama or comic book stories, Agent Carter will give you both, and it does it in style.

(Content: There is some innuendo here and there. Violence does play a role, but never becomes graphic; characters double-cross allies. Commonplace profanity crops up now and again. The show is rated TVPG.)

Can't Wait / Waiting on Wednesday | Fourth Edition

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hello, readers and followers! As we do on every Tuesday with Top Ten Tuesday, today we're again joining the "Waiting On" fun with Can't Wait Wednesday! 

For this meme, I'm linking up with my Bookstagram partner in crime, Tressa of Wishful Endings.

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. (Find out more here.)

For today's meme, I'm turning the spotlight on not one or two, but three authors and their respective stories. This new novella collection is darling on the outside, something I've zero doubt will carry over to the inside of the novel.

Right where we BELONG
Publisher: INDIE Published
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Novella
Publication Date: May 1 2017 (Psst, Available NOW!)

This beauty doesn't yet have an official full synopsis, but I mean, there are plenty of reasons for the excitement level to be off the charts for this one.

1. TAKE A LOOK AT THAT COVER! I mean, come on! Tell me you aren't smiling wide just looking at it. 

2. THE COLORS! Yes, this is cover related, but seriously, they're perfect. 

3. THE AUTHORS! Just look at the talent contained in this tiny package. The proof? Those three little names emblazoned on the cover. 

4. MEGAN'S STORY! Yes, that is right Walker Family fans, Melissa is finally gifting readers Megan's, the sassy barista, story. And I've every confidence it will be magic. 


Whether in a quaint home bakery in Langhorne, Missouri, a cozy boho coffee shop in Maple Valley, Iowa, or a charming lakeside cottage in Sweethaven, Michigan, love grows best in small towns just like this! - Amazon 

Comment down below with your thoughts, Waiting on / Can't Wait Wednesday blog links. I'd love to chat all things bookish with you. 

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland. 

Bookstagram Challenge | May 2017 #WishfulWonder Challenge

Hello, my book loving friends. Another month is nearly upon us. This can mean only one thing. Tressa (of Wishful Endings) and I are pleased to announce we have put together another Bookstagram challenge.

Before we get to the the specifics of May's challenge, I'd like to give everyone who has and is joining in, a round of thanks for joining the fun. As always, your time and creative efforts are such fun to "see" reflected in the photos you take inspired by so many amazing authors and their novels.We also really appreciate everyone who shares about our challenges. Thank you.

As is my usual habit, below I'm spotlighting a few photos that I've loved from our April challenge.

A post shared by Bookish Notions (@bookishnotions) on

Next, yes, I am going to indulge in my usual "spiel" trying to tempt you to join us.

+ If you’re pressed for time to participate in daily challenges, first and foremost, while we love it when you do, there’s no rule that says you must post every day. (Not that you needed my permission to say this, but I thought I'd put this out there.)
+ If you think you can’t participate because of it being “too much work,” try taking a handful or several days’ worth of photos for an hour. (This is generally what I try to do, which is nice and I often find I have a little “stock pile” of Instagram photos as a result.)  
+ If you're looking to meet other Bookstagrammers (people in the book community on Instagram) and bloggers, or build your "brand" in the book community, joining a challenge is an excellent way to do this. 
+ If you don’t think our #WishfulWonder challenge looks like a good fit for you, there are TONS of challenges on Instagram. A brief #Bookstagram or some variation of a #BookChallenge hashtag search will show this. 
+ Best of all, the best thing about these challenge (well, aside from the people. And the books.) is the creative outlet. You develop your OWN style of photos, which is what makes everyone's account so unique! I've seen simplistic (in terms of prop use, etc.) photos that are stunning and I've seen more elaborate shots that compliment the book and suit the style of the bookstagrammer. Plus, if you're like me, and you love creative outlets, this is an excellent way to do this. 
+ Still not convinced? Go ahead and follow our #WishfulWonder tag on Instagram or Twitter to be inspired!

Everything for this month is self-explanatory (or we hope so!). Introducing our May 2017 #WishfulWonder Challenge.

If you have any questions about the prompts, please feel free to ask! Again the rules are simple. We’d love to see your pictures, so be sure to tag us with the usual, #WishfulWonder hashtag. Also, feel free to share this.

Finally, consider letting us know what ideas you enjoy best! We'd love to have your feedback.

Happy day, Book Nerdigans. Join us in our fun, bookish endeavors - we look forward to chatting with you.
Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland.

Top Ten Tuesday | A Reader and Her Kryptonite: The Things, Concepts, Worlds, Characters, and Story Tropes

Monday, April 17, 2017

How many things does a book have to have to ensure you will instantly read it? One? Two? Or more? Inquiring minds (the Broke and Bookish gang) wants to know.

Broke and Bookish April 18: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book
 – Broke and Bookish

BLOGGER DISCUSSION | On Book Blogging and Monetization

There are a number of things that will draw me towards a book. Some of which are more prevalent and important to me than others. Either way, let’s be honest, we all have elements or things or issues that make us more or less likely to read a book. Some are superficial (*COVER SNOB ALERT*), others look deeper and ask  the heart of the reader in us important queries.

So, today I thought I’d look at the five things that make me want to read a book – and maybe, because let’s face it, I cannot seem to stop there, take a closer look at the “why” behind these A-Z reasons.

1. Author | I’ll confess I’m a “comfort zone” reader. This means if a book has the name Jenny B. Jones or Stephanie Perkins; Sarah Sundin or Kiera Cass on its cover, there’s a 99% chance I’ll read the book.

2. Concept | While I love to read in that (above) referenced “comfort zone,” I also admire new concepts and worlds. Examples of out-of-this-world reads (for me) are These Broken Stars (quite literally in fact!), A Shadow Bright and Burning, and The Selection

3. Cover Art | Yes, I’m shallow. When it comes to books, the prettier the cover, the more I’m drawn to it. This is a subjective quality since we all find something different defines “beauty,” but whatever your definition of it is, I am a self-diagnosed cover snob. Some recent examples of favorites include (And yes, depending on the execution, I have a fondness for “model covers” and those with “headless” designs. Example A, example B, example C. Plus, who wouldn't like this sweet "model cover"?)

4. Genre | Contemporary reads are my jam. I  know, it’s weird since I’m such a British costume/period drama buff, but overall, it’s the contemporary world that most suits me.

5. New Author, Same Publisher | When I’m in my I-really-should-be-working-on-X, but-I-really-want-to-browse-Goodreads-or-Amazon mode, sometimes I run across new authors. When this happens, I look at the synopsis and publisher. If the former hooks me, and its from a publisher I read often, my curiosity scale level goes off the charts. New finds include a book from actress Bailee Madison (Blink), Sadhya Menon (Simon Pulse), and Joanna Davidson Palitano.

Publishes tomorrow afternoon
That’s a wrap on another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. What are some of your favorite book “catnip” concepts? I’d love to chat with you about the things that draw YOU into a book? Comment down below with all the thoughts, opinions or bookish (or otherwise) comments. I’d love to chat them up with you.

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland

Discussion | On Book Blogging and Monetization

Book blogger. What does this mean to you? What is its definition? It’s a title I wear proudly, enjoy and am fully invested in. Five years ago when Finding Wonderland began, ironically, I knew next to nothing about book blogging or the community that surrounds it.

Since learning about this vast community and inserting my book worm lovin’ heart into it, I’ve found book nerd bliss. Speaking from a personal standpoint, I’ve only experienced the welcome mat in this community. A community that is full of writers and bloggers who, at the heart of things, just want to have fun and fangirl. A place I find myself frequently in, and as there’s no one in my life who really “gets” this, I’m always glad to have a place to go and fangirl – with all of you.

Despite these happy thoughts, there is, sometimes, problems. Bloggers fight over various things (that seem insignificant) and sometimes debates turn cruel instead of keeping to an “agree to disagree” healthy debate. One stigma in book blogging is monetization. My question, asked without any disrespect or idea there is a “wrong” answer, is simply, why?

Far as I know, I’ve never been part of a debate in regards to this issue (with the Internet, one can be dragged into something without knowing about it), but I do know it’s a touchy subject.

Full disclaimer, it’s also not a subject I’ve done much research reading on. Considering I have (in the last year) made strides to monetize here, it’s become something I’m aware of, and made me rethink my choice to go this route.

From the little I do know as to the “why” it rubs some the wrong one, the main reason seems to revolve around book bloggers doing what they do for the love of reading and nothing else. This is something I understand. But at the same time, I personally don’t think that a blogger who places ads on their page means they have any less respect or appreciation for authors, books and their fellow bloggers. I don’t.

Having an avenue on my webpage that involves monetization in NO WAY means I am any less devoted to spreading the word about amazing books, authors or bloggers. I’m still 100% committed to helping promote books, their authors and sharing my love of fangirl things through writing.

Like anything worthwhile in life, book blogging takes time and investment. Or in my case it has. While a lot of my blogging is a “hobby” (because it’s darn fun!), a great deal of it is a kind of “profession” as well. Writing is my passion, so I see this space as a place to hone that, to improve it, to challenge myself. Apart from the investment of time, many blogger’s also opt for a personal URL. This is a cost to us, and while it’s a choice we make, it’s also a helpful shift if you want to create a “branded” niche that might open doors to new opportunities.

Debate or not, care or don’t, at the end of the day it’s an individual blogger’s decision. Perhaps in 3 months I’ll make a different choice or maybe I won’t. For now, it’s an avenue I am exploring. Right or wrong, good or bad, so far, my limited experience with it hasn’t been to one extreme or another.

I’d love your thoughts. What are your opinions on monetization in book blogging? Have you experienced it? Do you monetize in blogging? What experiences have you had with it?

Share your thoughts down below. I’d love to chat with you!

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland 

Easter Greetings 2017!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Here we are again. Another month reaches its midway point. This time around, it brings with it, Easter Sunday.  It may be late in comparison to last year, which seems to have inspired warm weather (it's supposed to be near or at eighty today!) and the tulips (they're blooming already). A seasonal simple joy in life, a sign that life "reawakens" and renews after the harsh winter season.

Since my (extended) family has obligations on Easter Sunday, we're heading up there this afternoon for a good meal and fellowship. Beyond that, we'll be home on Sunday enjoying another stunning day. A day in which general laziness (this is allowed on weekends, so holidays are a MUST), conversation and of course, as all Sundays do right now, it'll end with Hallmark Channel.

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter filled with many laughs and simple joys, good food (and maybe a Reese's peanut butter cup - or two), family and friends. Be happy, friends.

Happy Easter
Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland

Summer Love (2016) – Sweet Summertime Romance in the Corporate World

Thursday, April 13, 2017

If the calendar is anything to judge by, we aren’t in the good ole summertime – yet – but one thing that’s never out of style is a fun romance.

Easy isn’t something Maya Sulliway (Rachel Leigh Cook) can enjoy. Her life is anything but simple and neat these past years. In the wake of her husband’s death, she’s been pushing herself to meet goals all while raising her young daughter, Addison (Hannah Cheramy). With her daughter away at summer camp, Maya can focus on finishing school (accounting), and more specifically making the grade with her internship. 

When her professor assigns Maya to the hip tech company, Kizzmit, she’s confused. In comparison to her young class mates, what does she, a mature 30-something, have to bring to the program?

Despite her many reservations, Maya finds she underestimated the company, especially when it comes to her boss, Kizzmit’s CFO, Colin Fitzgerald (Lucas Bryan), a man who’s more than the executive stereotype. When the founder of the company, Will (Travis Milne) shows an interest in Maya romantically, she has to decide whether to follow her heart or find her voice in the business world.

In case you didn’t guess it, Summer Love is another Hallmark film that once again finds its voice cemented in the branding of this channel. When this premiered last summer (as part of their “Summer Nights” campaign), I missed this its debut. (*sad face*) Other titles came and went, and then when I recently saw this one was re-airing, I remembered it was one I'd missed. Needless to say, the DVR was set, and I settled in to watch, what I hoped, would make for a fun night in.

Turns out, that and more is what this little gem does. I loved everything about this one. It made me smile long before five minutes pass. What makes this one distinctive is its story structure. Most interesting is the fact that Addison has very little screen time. Children in single parent stories often play an important role to a story, and while Addison’s character does have an important part, she isn’t present for most. That said, this doesn’t bother me as it lets Maya’s goal take center stage and allows the story to have a unique setting (one in the corporate world) without losing its heart.

Part of the reason for this is Maya’s character. Her nervous, rambling albeit completely lovable characterization is what great writing should always be. It makes her down-to-earth and relatable. Then there are the guys. Both have their attributes and flaws, but if you’re anything like me, there will be one clear winner who you’ll root for as “The One” for Maya. What else works really well in this script is the romance. It isn’t “certain” (developed) as the story progresses, and instead ends with a promise of something to come rather than certainty. While sometimes we crave a more concrete surety, this is the best ending (for this story) because of what happens prior (plus, pay attention, a key conversation alludes to a happy future between these two).

The cast is also fantastic. I loved Rachel seeing in the leading lady role (she might not be as familiar a face on Hallmark, but she suits these characters and films well), and enjoyed seeing Bryan in this as he’s unfamiliar to me (especially in comparison to someone like Andrew Walker). All that’s left to say is, go watch Summer Love. In the excitement of the upcoming summer films (airing later this year), don’t let this one slip past. Make a date with your DVR and let it sweep you up in its sweet story of summertime love, and happiness. ♥

Photos: Hallmark / 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ryan Plummer

Scorpion, Season Two (2015) – Lighthearted, Intelligent CBS Drama with Heart

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When a show comes along that manages to entertain with smiles while simultaneously ripping our hearts out, this is a story medium that earns my respect. One such show is CBS’ (a powerhouse network at my house) Scorpion.

Team Scorpion is among the brightest in the world. If you’re Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel), you’re a man with a 197 IQ and you’re always the smartest guy in the room. It’s Walter who assembled the team known as Scorpion, a team that works closely with Homeland, and their handler, Agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick).

The rest of the ensemble team is also geniuses, all in specific fields. There’s mathematical (and germ phobic) genius Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham); mechanic and emotionally unavailable, Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong); Toby Curtis (Eddie Kayne Thomas), the shrink who analyzes them all; and then there’s Paige (Katharine McPhee). Paige is the lone ordinary in their group. She’s the single mother of a genius son who helps Scorpion understand the world and they in turn, help her with her son.

Together, they are Scorpion. And together, they solve some of the most mystifying cases.

The sophomore season of CBS’ interesting drama premiered to (mostly) positive ratings which propelled it into its second offering. A journey that has been, in my opinion, some of its best writing yet. The story has undergone shifts and changes, particularly in the emotional payoff. All of which are wonderful experiences (and if you watch this show, you know precisely what I mean by this). Props to the writer’s for stretching these characters. For challenging them. They’re “stuck” more in their comfort zone than most characters, and it’s a joy to see them evolve.

When this series began, everyone was closed off and private, which is where Paige’s skills come into play. She’s the one with “human” emotions how-to. She’s the one pushing everyone else to open up and express their feelings; in more ways than one. She wants them to, not only realize it’s okay to be vulnerable, but to also see things and people as more than mere puzzles to solve with equations. I love that Paige pushes them. I love that she sometimes “saves the day.” I love that she’s right there for them when they need this nudge, and I love that sometimes, they are there for her in unexpected ways. The long and short of it is, I love how they’ve gelled as a functioning team who’ve come to realize the value in emotion and people.

Those who wanted more emotion or (could be) ship possibilities will find this season is written for fans. From the two potential ship couples to new characters, this season is gold. I love how “out of the box” unusual it is, and that it gives its viewers a puzzle without losing itself to darkness like the crime drama genre generally does. This season we see Walter sentenced to community service (what??), a hilarious new (unofficial) team member in Kevin Weisman (Alias) and a beautifully emotional story between Sly and Megan (Walter’s sister).

The cast ups the ante this season, and brings their A-game to their characters. From the more experienced cast to those who are relative newcomers to the industry, they are each memorable. I like the chemistry between them as a team unit and as pairings. Then there’s the late-to-the-party edition of Scott Porter (Hart of Dixie) who is added as a complication, but doesn’t play the stereo typical role despite his being an “irritant” to a specific plot.

If you liked season one, you’ll love this second season. Despite the fact that it’s now outdated (because I’m forever behind on TV binges), taking the chance to fangirl over this show was too much temptation to fight. Between its ships (#Waige, #Quintis), humor and many qualities, this show is a comprised of unique DNA that is hard not to love. It’s smart, entertaining and above all, fulfilling. The backstories make us cry, the present makes us proud, and the cases keep us on the edge of our seats. What more could we ask for? Nothing I’d venture to say.

Content: Scorpion tends to be one of the cleaner shows on TV. Tense situations crop up, and there are gunfights (rarely, if ever, graphic). There may be some minor innuendoes here and there; some commonplace profanity, but overall, it never abuses its TV14 or TVPG (depending on the episode) rating.

Photos: CBS
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