Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baby Shower!

You guys, I can't even tell you how great my baby shower. It was THAT great. To be honest, I went in thinking not many people were going to end up coming and I'd walk out with a couple of cute outfits. What I did not anticipate was my friends blowing me away and leaving there with a mini van full to the top (literally) of things resulting in several loads of goodies going up to Penelope's room.

I'm so used to not expecting much so I don't end up disappointed, and it was overwhelming to say the least.

Isn't this banner super cute? It looks just like the invite did. My friend Amy, the lead hostess, ordered it from VistaPrint. SUPER cute. I'm going to use part of it in a shadowbox for Penelope's room.
I got a ton of super cute clothes for Penelope. Oh, and Olivia was my gift note taker. She said she wanted a job to do and this was right up her alley. Granted, she phonetically spelled the gifts so writing thank you's was interesting. HA!

I had forgotten how tiny baby stuff was. I've purchased baby things for Penelope as well as my niece Adriana, but still. It's very overwhelming to realize a very tiny human is going to be here soon. 

Oh! And my friend Connie is a Scentsy consultant and she got Penelope a Lulu Lamb, who is incredibly SOFT and easily the sweetest thing ever. She has a little newborn satchel that goes in her so it'll (hopefully) induce Penelope into a peaceful sleep. AND Connie got me my own hard cover copy of Just Go The F*** To Sleep. That right there tells you that you have good friends. 

And my diaper cake! Which was displayed all pretty in Penelope's room for two whole days before Jackson could not help himself and unwrapped it. Then tried to tell me he totally was not the one who did it, it was definitely a cat. Unfortunately for him, he had tissue paper stuck to his sock and that's all the evidence I needed. SO, the cake itself is not standing, but the diapers are put away and the flowers are in a vase on her dresser.

Overall it was amazing. I got a TON of stuff. Afterwards I had gotten a few more things in the mail, a few friends are bringing me things they don't need/use anymore and are just giving it to me, and it's just really overwhelming. I keep using that word because I can't think of anything else that really sums up how I feel right now. I am so lucky to have such awesome friends and family that go out of their way and put a dent in their household budgets to get me a gift and to spoil Penelope.

And it wouldn't have happened had it not been for Amy, Tammy and Andrea. They all just worked so hard behind the scenes, kept me mostly in the dark, and did such a fantastic job. I'm a very lucky mama, that's for sure.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Week 30. Still kicking. Literally.

I know. I know I have been an absolutely slacker with blogging, but I swear, I have a good reason. Mostly exhaustion and nesting, and quite frankly, I feel like at week 30 I can use both of those and have it still be a legitimate excuse. Mostly because I all of a sudden feel this urge to get everything done. Literally, everything. Matt is getting really annoyed with it all but I firmly think if he just did the things I asked the first time (months ago), it wouldn't feel so rushed and stressful now.

But nooooooo, I'm just pregnant and hormonal, what do I know??

But week 30. Here we are.
Things about this week:

  • It really does feel like my vagina is angry because it hurts. It hurts to sit, it hurts to stand, it hurts to lay down, it feels alright if I walk for a bit but then it hurts. No relief. It constantly feels like a bowling ball is trying to come out. Surprisingly, Penelope isn't low, she's clearly hanging out under my boobs and near my ribs. So that's kind of scary, because what if she's just a big baby? Maybe she can be in two places at once?! 
  • I'm only up 17 pounds this pregnancy, though I feel like that number should be around 50. Admittedly, with Olivia and Jackson I had only gained 15 pounds total with each of them, so Penelope is already breaking records. Again, that's scary. 
  • Did I mention I passed my glucose test?
  • Because that's important when I note that my love for Sweet Tart jelly beans is fierce and I love them so. 
  • I have nesting urges. It's not an all of the time feeling like with Olivia. I never had it with Jackson and maybe because I basically wasn't in any position to change anything and had gender neutral everything already so I felt ready. But with Penelope, I feel like I'm starting from scratch. But for most of the day, I feel fine. It's in the evening where I get this urge to start scrubbing something clean, folding her things, or I think whatever project we're working on needs to be done right NOW. 
  • I had my baby shower last weekend! It was amazing, I was totally spoiled and my friends did such a great job. I'll share more on that, and pictures, maybe tomorrow. 
  • So clearly I've been busy putting everything away and organizing. Then re-organizing. 
Overall? I feel really great. Sure I'm exhausted and my vagina hurts, but I really do feel great. I know it seems like I complain a lot, but I actually like being pregnant. I realize that the things I'm dealing with are minor and my body really is meant for birthing babies. It really doesn't need me to help it along, my girl parts collectively know what they are doing and just do it without me. 

With that being said, I'm debating when to start my maternity leave. Do I give myself to be home, alone, for a few weeks to get things done and feel OK once she comes? Or do I say screw it and just work until I go into labor? My doctor has been pretty non-committal though she is a fan of pregnant women relaxing as much as possible. So I don't know. I really do need to decide this week and just stick with it and get things in gear and I'm torn. 

As usual. 

But I've got 10 weeks left, 70 days, until my due date. Feels like a long time but I know in reality it's a blink of an eye. It'll go by very quickly. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Time to Leap

I am whipping through books lately and I don't want to jinx myself, but so far, they've all been pretty good!

A Time to Reap (The Legend of Carter Gabel #1)
A Time to Reap (The Legend of Carter Gabel, #1)
Pemberton Academy is not just a school, it’s a gathering place for the children of the future that are afflicted with Temporal Displacement and Telepathy; in short, time travelers and mind readers who have been diagnosed with this “disease.” The Academy is not all as it seems after an explosion nearly takes one of its classmates, but not before Carter Gabel rescues her by using an unknown symptom related to his described illness. An unsanctioned group called the Program begins taking notice as the two classmates exhibit stronger abilities when they are together. Carter's sense of reality begins to unwind as he learns more about his estranged father's involvement with it all. 

Carter will have to overcome the past of his father leaving, the present of an unknown adversary hunting him down and a future that seems to change with each decision he makes. He will have to learn who to trust out of the people in his life if he wants to conquer the looming notion that the government may be hunting him down because of his developing abilities.

I honestly didn't know what to expect with this book, but it's definitely a YA novel, set in the future, that keeps you hanging until the very last page. The really great thing is that even if you don't read any more of this series, you'd be OK. Sure, the book ends on a kind of cliff hanger, but it's not the kind where you're left screaming at the book, frantically looking for pages that aren't there and then cursing the author for making you wait god knows how long until the next book comes out. 

The book is about Carter, who knows he is a Leaper (in that he can leap to different times), but he's still trying to control his ability. Mainly so he doesn't keep leaping and ending up in his new time stark naked. What Carter doesn't realize is that he is far more powerful than his mother has led him to believe and all in a very short time he's expected to learn about his new abilities AND how to control them. Which isn't easy. Mostly because nobody fully knows what Carter is capable of. 

Carter's mom has special abilities and it seems like she's hiding big things from him and he's not sure what to think of that. His dad is MIA and seemingly took off once he found out Carter was a Leaper. Carter then gets approached by a sketchy Lord Ray (nice name, right??) and that throws everything into motion. Carter befriends Mo, a girl at his school who is just as strange as he is, and they quickly realize that together they harness far more power than they do apart. Cue teenage love story. 

But everything basically goes to hell once it's learned that Carter is super powerful and everyone is essentially out to recruit him for The Program. Which is how the Government "learns" and controls people with the varying types of power that Carter and Mo possess. Mo is useful, but it's Carter they really want. 

Overall? I really liked the book. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get into it, but by page 20 I was all in and couldn't put it down. On my Nook it clocked in at 186 pages and I flew through those rather quickly. I believe in paperback it is about 250 pages, but you won't have any trouble getting through it. It's a really fascinating YA novel with time travel elements and it is just starting to touch on the moral implications of tracking and controlling people who are maybe a bit stronger than the regular ol' human race. The bonus to this book is that currently on Amazon, you can get the Kindle version for $.99, so it's definitely an interesting read without a huge investment. I'd recommend this to basically anyone who likes a good YA novel, but it would be OK for late middle school/high school ages as well. 

Under pressure.

So it's week 29! I feel like this last week has gone the fastest of all of the weeks so to me, that feels like it's all going to snowball to a triumphant finish now.

  • I have gained 20 pounds this pregnancy total. Which, to be honest, is a lot. At least for me. With Olivia and Jackson I gained 15 pounds each with them. I guess the blessing here is that it is literally all in my stomach. I can still wear my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, I'm not puffy or swollen anywhere (like I was with Olivia), and my face hasn't spread. Which happened more with Olivia than with Jackson. I think my issues with Olivia is I was pregnant mostly during warm months and I just retained water. 
  • I can still tie my shoes and shave my legs! I'm going to keep documenting this because so many women say they can't and I feel like they are totally milking it. Sure, depending on the shoe I have to get creative but I'm still rocking cute shoes. 
  • Oooh... except I bought these really cute shoes from Maurices that are slip on. I have almost nothing to wear with them but they were on clearance and I love them so. 
  • The most notable thing is all of the pressure. At my 28 week appointment last week she checked my cervix and all is well, locked up tight. BUT, she said she could tell there is a little more room which makes her think most of what I'm feeling is just stuff moving to accommodate being able to birth a baby down a tiny little hole. It essentially feels like I have been kicked in the vagina all day every day. It's really kind of awful. I never had that with Olivia, but Jackson I did only because he was head down, ready to go from week 24 or so all the way to the end. Penelope is not head down ready to go, she's a fan of sitting on my bladder, bouncing on it, and trying to push up into my boobs as often as she can. 
  • I passed my glucose test! I have literally no idea how I did that, but I don't care because yay for not being diabetic! Bring on the cake!
  • I start going to the doctor every two weeks now, so my next appointment is actually next week for week 30. I feel like it's going to start happening so fast now. Which is very exciting. 
  • My baby shower is this weekend and I am so excited. I basically am itching to buy baby things and it is so hard to not just free for all while in a store. I did register for it (that was super fun) and according to the website, I have 79 days until my due date. EEP! 
Overall though, I'm feeling good even though I'm exhausted. I'm not getting a second wind at all, I'm just trying to plug through the things I need to do before Penelope comes. The kids are super helpful and are really excited about her coming soon. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Forgetting Place

This is totally the kind of book my dad would absolutely love. Definitely a thriller, definitely a fast paced read that is difficult to put down.

The Forgetting Place - John Burley
The Forgetting Place
A female psychiatrist at a state mental hospital finds herself at the center of a shadowy conspiracy in this dark and twisting tale of psychological suspense from the author of The Absence of Mercy

Menaker State Hospital is a curse, a refuge, a prison, a necessity, a nightmare, a salvation.

When Dr. Lise Shields arrived at the correctional psychiatric facility five years ago, she was warned that many of its patients-committed by Maryland’s judicial system for perpetrating heinous crimes-would never leave.

But what happens when a place like Menaker is corrupted, when it becomes a tool to silence the innocent, conceal an injustice, contain a secret? Why is it that the newest patient does not seem to belong there, that the hospital administrator has fallen silent, and that Lise is being watched by two men with seemingly lethal intent? The answers are closer than she realizes and could cost her everything she holds dear.

In this chilling follow-up to The Absence of Mercy, author John Burley—a master at medical and psychological detail—showcases the many ways in which the dangers of the outside world pale in comparison to the horrors of the human mind.

Though it was a slow start, the really short chapters help you along. You think, "just one more chapter" and you realized five chapters later, you're getting into this book. It's a psychological thriller and nothing makes sense. To be clear, I haven't read the book that comes previous but I didn't feel like I was out of the loop. I'm not even sure if the author's first book is really the start of a series or not, but this one certainly didn't read like it. 

The story features Dr. Lise Shields who finds herself working in a correctional psychiatric hospital though everyone agrees she could be doing so much more. The entire feel of the hospital feels really off, like everyone else knows what's really going on in this place except for her. She's assigned to the newest patient, Jason, and he comes with no paperwork. She has no medical, psychological, or criminal history on him- she's starting from scratch. Soon after talking with him, she realizes there is a lot more to the story of him being there then she's being led to believe. 

The key to this book are the key plot points, which I can't go into because it will spoil it, but the ending? Didn't see it coming. Well, not completely. I'm not what you would consider a strong reader of suspense thrillers, but I do enjoy them and I do enjoy trying to figure out what exactly was going on. There are some pretty heavy clues early on in the book and if you can remember those points, it all comes together at the end. Jason's arrival at the correctional facility isn't cut or dry, it's part of a much larger conspiracy which pulls Lise in as she digs for answers. 

If you are a fan of thrillers, definitely pick this one  up. It's roughly 350 pages but I'm not kidding when I say it's a fast read. A really great weekend read. Pick this one up on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. You can also get more information about the author, stay up to date on appearances, or learn more about this book and his first one, The Absence of Mercy by checking his website, Facebook, and Twitter.   

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

28 - 12

Well today is officially week 28 of pregnancy. I have twelve weeks to go, which means I'm seven months along and in my third (and last) trimester. Which on one hand is CRAZY that I'm already this far and on the other it's like, are you kidding me? This is it? Good gravy, I'm never going to give birth.

Which is crazy because Penelope will be here before we know it.

So here's some stuff that's happened since last week's update:
I've certainly gotten larger, that's for sure. The really nice thing is that so far (knock on wood) literally all of my weight gain is stomach. I can still comfortably wear my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans from Maurices, and though I can get my pre-pregnancy regular jeans on and buttoned, they aren't comfortable for long because there is just no give. So that makes me feel pretty good because that absolutely was not the case with my first two pregnancies.

My stomach is rock hard all of the time. I think that's the same thing I mentioned last week, but it literally is never not hard. Which is really annoying because being able to sit comfortably would be a treat.

Let's see.... what else? Oh! Yes, almost every day for periodic periods, I feel like I have been kicked in the vagina. I'm not kidding. I also don't remember that from my other pregnancies. Which is making me wonder if I have early on set dementia or something because I just can't believe Penelope is THAT different than the other two.

Then again, maybe this is a sign of what's to come and you can all remind me of this conversation when I describe the horrors of raising a third child.

Oh, heartburn? Ohhhhh man. Heartburn is horrible and I seriously might even say it is worse than when I had it with Olivia. I clearly remember that from her pregnancy. With her I had it 24/7 from day one until a few days after she was born. Didn't matter what I ate or drank, no over the counter medicine did anything for me. This time it's not 24/7 but it comes out of nowhere and once it's here, forget it. It hurts. Again, no over the counter medicine is helping so I'm basically just dealing with it.
But in super fun news! I've gotten some baby presents in the mail from a friend and that was super exciting! I had registered at Target for my upcoming baby shower (next weekend!!!) and she found these cut things on there. The play gym and receiving blankets came yesterday in separate boxes and the kids were super excited.
Then today, this little guy came too from Kim so it was a bonus thing because she said two packages were coming, and I assumed that they already came. But this little guy is super cute and plays songs and announces colors. The kids again thought it was fun. Olivia found a spot for it in Penelope's room.

Oh, speaking of room! I'm almost done with it. Seriously this time. I found a couple of wall things that Matt is going to put up this weekend. A friend is making me wall art too, and I'm excited to see it. So pretty soon I'll take pictures of everything. It's maybe the most Pinterest worthy room in the house!

So this is what 28 weeks feels like. Easily the best part is feeling her move around. I forgot how much I loved that. Well not really forgot, you never forget that, but I feel like I'm really going to miss feeling that a lot more this time around once she's born. But for right now, it's a nice way to go to sleep and a nice way to wake up- with her rolling around and occasionally kicking the crap out of my bladder.


I have a ton of fun posts coming for you, but let's continue with book reviews! I haven't read a YA novel in awhile so when I got the opportunity to review this one, I jumped on it.

Pucked - Rachel Walter

Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life? Riley Silk, captain of the Warrior’s Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present.  If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life.  He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals. Audrey Jacobs, the Warrior’s number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations.  Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can. Then lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held.  With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path. Can she find her true self before her world burns around her?  When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul?  Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely? Who keeps the puck?
**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**
Definitely a YA novel with it's writing style and story line, Pucked is the story of Audrey and Riley. Audrey basically has the all-American family with her happily married parents and gaggle of brothers. Riley is her best friend and he comes from a highly dysfunctional home. His parents are divorced, he doesn't know where his dad is, his mother is a hot mess and is dating an abusive alcoholic, and Riley finds himself as primary caregiver to his six year old sister. Riley is basically in love with Audrey, except he is 100% focused on hockey and developing that into a career as he sees that as his only way out of his home and hometown. Audrey also is in love with Riley but she's sure he only sees her as a friend and she doesn't want to ruin their friendship. 

The theme through this book really focuses on addiction and how that effects children in different ways, as well as parental alienation. Riley soon discovers the story he has heard from his mom about his father may not be totally true and that his father actually has wanted to be a part of his life. His mother does everything in her power to turn Riley and his sister against their father, but it's at the expense of the kids. She doesn't recognize how her actions are hurting them ultimately and it really has nothing to do with her. Riley also learns that love isn't an awful thing, that it's OK to rely on someone and it doesn't mean that they will inevitably hurt you, but also that shutting people out is hurtful and not beneficial to that other person. 

It's a really great book that I think any teenager who is going through a parent's divorce (in any stage) could relate to. Even as a YA novel and me being a total adult (most days), I was pretty much hooked right away. I love a good teenage angst story and this was very much that, but also had a fast paced story line. On my Nook it came in at 308 pages and I was actually able to get it done in a day because though lengthy, it felt like a quick read. SO many things happens to poor Riley that it's a miracle the kid keeps it together, but Audrey does a bang up job doing her best helping him through it. It's really nice to see a story that unfortunately, so many teenagers are going to be able to relate to, written well and covers heavy topics without being horribly depressing. 

Currently, you can purchase the book on Amazon and Smashwords

Monday, February 9, 2015

Much to do, all to do.

I feel like since this week will mark the first week of my third trimester, that my time to get projects and things I've wanted to get done are really starting to loom over me. I mean, I have 12 weeks left. That sounds like a lot of time, but I know that it is going to fly by. I have to buckle down and just tackle the projects one by one. I showed Matt the list yesterday and he says I'm insane.

1. Clean the pack and play. I bought this used pack and play off of a Facebook group a few months ago for next to nothing. Admittedly, I haven't taken it out of the bag. It could be the grossest thing in the entire world and I'm kind of scared. Best case scenario, all it needs is a good cleaning. Which I found a good tutorial on Pinterest on how to clean one, and every one featured pictures of gag worthy bath water. I'm trying to pawn this off on Matt and so far, he doesn't seem to want to do it.

2. Scrapbook the photos I have printed. At least finish our vacation albums from our last trip to Florida and then South Dakota. I feel like if I can get those done, I'll have the world in my hands.

3. I have been given some clothes that will fit Olivia and Jackson in another year or two. I got these months ago and I have just been stacking them in a closet near my bedroom. Well that closet is now completely full. I need to sort which items go to which kids, and buy enough hangers to hang them up in the appropriate closet. It'll be nice to reclaim the closet by my bedroom again.

4. I need to get Matt to move the china hutch out of the dining room and into the garage so we can sell it. Mostly because with the carpet in the dining room gone, the floor is slanted. Not a big deal, but the china hutch is VERY wobbly. So to solve that issue, and keep the storage we need, we purchased kitchen cabinets and a nice counter top that Matt is going to install in the dining room. I'm secretly thrilled because during the holidays I realized how badly I actually need a counter top in the dining room to place trays of food. SO, we'll get that back. But I want this all done before Penelope comes because I have a fear the current china hutch will fall on a kiddo.

5. Finish the basement living room area. Seriously. I was on such a roll and then I took a break and basically gave up. But I think it'll be nice to have that totally completed so the kids can play video games together down there and not worry about being too loud for Penelope during nap time.

6. Clear out all of the toys and outgrown clothes from both kids' rooms. Seriously. It's out of hand. I know once Penelope is here, I won't have the time it takes to do this and poor Olivia's closet is cram full. I'm saving a lot of her stuff for Penelope obviously, but that means I need to make room the basement. I can see now how people fill their basements. It's terrible.

7. Prep for a yard sale. Yes, I know it's absolutely CRAZY to try to do a yard sale a few weeks after giving birth. I get it. I can either do that, or sell things one by one out of the garage and basement. I don't know what is going to be less of a nightmare, but I know it has to go because we need to be able to use the garage, bare minimum.

8. Make some freezer meals. Granted, I have wanted to do this for quite some time, but haven't been ambitious enough to really look into it or do it. But I feel like the chances of me wanting to cook are going to be non existent, and when I'm in the hospital, Matt still needs to feed himself and the kids. So if you have a freezer meal that doesn't taste like leftovers, is easy to prep and make, or tips for freezer meals- share them with me.

Nesting is absolutely in full effect. I am trying to get things done now so I don't feel like I have to do it while trying to sleep with a newborn.

The Unidentified Redhead

I need more Alice Clayton in my life. I mean, what more can I really say?

The Unidentified Redhead - Alice Clayton
The Unidentified Redhead (Redhead, #1)
The first in USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton’s Redhead series is a playful and erotic romance between an aspiring actress and Hollywood’s hottest new leading man.

When Grace Sheridan returns to Los Angeles to become a working actress, it’s a second shot at a life-long dream. With some help from her best-friend agent, will that dream become a reality—or at thirty-three, has Grace missed her chance at the big time? And when an unexpected sizzling romance with Jack Hamilton, the entertainment industry's newest “it” boy, threatens to shine an uncomfortable spotlight on her life, how will that affect her career…and his?

Funny, borderline neurotic Grace is perfect in her imperfections, and the sexual chemistry between her and charming yet blissfully unaware Jack is off the charts. With laugh-out-loud dialogue and a super-steamy romance that will get your heart racing, sneaking around in L.A. and dodging the paparazzi has never been so fun.

I'm going to be honest. I'm really incredibly torn to read any more of this series because I want Grace and Jack to be a forever thing. I don't want her stupid move to New York to ruin it, and I don't want him becoming this huge movie star to ruin it. It's just too perfect and great. I saw the previews for the next two books and I just.. I don't know. I want them to stay perfect and in my head, make up the dream ending for them. So I'm on the fence. 

Which means I'll totally read them because we know how I am with a series, no matter how terrible it is, I'm going to finish it because I am an addict and I have a true problem. 

But I absolutely loved this book. The only thing I didn't love was the emphasis on the age difference between Grace and Jack, which is 9 years. Which, OK- could be a huge deal but honestly? Who even cares. They both went into this thinking it would be a tryst. It turned out to be an amazing tryst, blowing the expectation for both of them, so yes, that makes it an issue worth discussing. But if he doesn't seem bothered by it, why should she care? 

I also don't know what the fuss about Michael was. Michael is the guy Grace really liked in college. She played a little too hard to get and he didn't bite, and she was basically devastated. But instead of having an actual conversation with him, she doesn't until she sees him so many years later... when Jack is in the picture. This is obviously setting up for book 2 where Grace is in New York, working with Michael and I'm sure something "develops" between them and yeah. We know how that will play out. 

This is a fun read, a good romance novel that'll have you laughing, definitely smirking, and you'll find yourself adding Alice Clayton books to your Goodreads To-Read list. You can find this book on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Girl Before A Mirror

You guys. GUYS. This book is everything. I hate that I always forget how much I love Liza Palmer until I read a book and instantly want to read everything all over again of hers and then I want to be her best friend.

Girl Before A Mirror - Liza Palmer
Girl Before a Mirror
The author of Conversations with a Fat Girl—optioned for HBO—returns with the hilarious and heartfelt story of a woman who must learn how to be the heroine of her own life-a journey that will teach her priceless lessons about love, friendship, family, work, and her own heart

An account executive in a Mad Men world, Anna Wyatt is at a crossroads. Recently divorced, she’s done a lot of emotional housecleaning, including a self-imposed dating sabbatical. But now that she’s turned forty, she’s struggling to figure out what her life needs. Brainstorming to win over an important new client, she discovers a self-help book—Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero—that offers her unexpected insights and leads her to a most unlikely place: a romance writers’ conference. If she can sign the Romance Cover Model of the Year Pageant winner for her campaign—and meet the author who has inspired her to take control of her life—she’ll win the account. 

For Anna, taking control means taking chances, including getting to know Sasha, her pretty young colleague on the project, and indulging in a steamy elevator ride with Lincoln Mallory, a dashing financial consultant she meets in the hotel. When the conference ends, Anna and Lincoln must decide if their intense connection is strong enough to survive outside the romantic fantasy they’ve created. Yet Lincoln is only one of Anna’s dilemmas. Now that her campaign is off the ground, others in the office want to steal her success, and her alcoholic brother, Ferdie, is spiraling out of control. 

To have the life she wants-to be happy without guilt, to be accepted for herself, to love and to be loved, to just be—she has to put herself first, accept her imperfections, embrace her passions, and finally be the heroine of her own story.

I'm going to tell you right now, some of my girl friends are going to get this book at some point this year. That's all there is to it. I have one friend in particular, who is going to get it before the month is out because this reminded me of her the entire way through. The conversations, the awkwardness, the sarcasm, just everything reminds me of her and I and our conversations through the day. 

The book revolves around Anna, who is recently divorced and has gone on a dating strike after the "Thunder Road Incident" (which is HILARIOUS and one of the best starts to a book I have read in such a long time) but she's turning 40 and feeling a little left out of life. Being single again isn't what she thought it was going to be, nor is dating, and she finds herself at a loss. So she throws herself into work and tries hard to land a marketing campaign that would put her at the top of her career game. That's if, and only if, the boss's daughter doesn't sabotage her and/or take all of the credit. But in order to that, she has a newbie employee (who was "recruited" at a strip club) dumped into her lap and she made grand promises that she could land a romance novel cover hunk to be in the campaign. 

Problem, she thinks romance novels are lame, but her new assistant is a romance novel junkie. They embark on a trip to Phoenix to attend RomanceCon and she is basically assaulted with all things romance and she is definitely not in her element. But she stands out (clearly) and in the middle of all of this she meets Lincoln. Lincoln is a good looking piece of man meat AND he has a British accent (cue all of the great cheese that is involved in any good romance novel) . I am going to tell you right now that Anna and Lincoln? Might be my favorite chick lit couple ever. EVER. I absolutely could not stop laughing at their exchanges, the absolute awkwardness of it all, and it was so fun. 

So much fun that the book was over before I knew it and I read it a second time just because I enjoyed it that much. 

I highly, so very highly, recommend anything Liza Palmer writes if you are in need of a fun book that is going to make you laugh yet you can absolutely relate to. Especially this one. And can we talk about the gorgeous cover of this book? I am not even ashamed I usually buy books based on the cover and this is so pretty and I want those shoes, and it's just everything. *sigh* 

You can purchase the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Then let's all stalk Liza on her website, Facebook, and Twitter. (Please do it so I don't look like a total crazy. Liza Palmer 4 ever.)

The Price of Blood

If you are looking for a book that is part of a trilogy, but you want it to also be a stand alone, that is historical fiction? Absolutely you need to add this to your growing to-read list.

The Price of Blood - Patricia Bracewell
The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy, #2)
Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure

Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.

As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.
Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.

When it says it rivals the work of R.R. Martin and his Game of Thrones series, they are not joking. I actually read the first book, Shadow of the Crown, awhile ago and I really wish I had more time so I could have re-read that and then get into this because I forgot how absorbing Patricia Bracewell is with her writing. But don't let that scare you, these are absolute stand alone reads that have the ability to be amazing if you are reading them back to back. I really can't wait for book three in this trilogy because wow- talk about an intricate story line that literally keeps you hanging until the very last page. 

The book takes place in the eleventh century England and everything is essentially in shambles. We bounce between four view points throughout the book and it's clear nobody trusts anyone and second guesses the motives of even family because as we know- power is king. Everyone wants all encompassing power so you're forced to second guess even your most trusted advisers at every turn. But King Aethelred is a bit of a jerk and he's known to be power hungry himself but he's also cruel and inhumane. His wife, Queen Emma, doesn't love him for a second, but she has produced a rightful heir with the birth of their son. She sees the King's tactics for what they are and her love of the people, and the safety of her son, leaves her no choice but to form alliances with people who are equally as dangerous. She's playing a really risk game of chess basically. 

What is really interesting is that this is all based on a true story, so it's evident so much time and effort has gone into the research for this book and it's predecessor. While normally I get annoyed and turned off by rich descriptions and over use of adjectives, it's absolutely pertinent in this book because you are left with a brilliant description of what is going on and what is around the characters that you actually feel like you're reading the subtitles of a hit show as the scenes are played out on the screen. 

I highly recommend this book if you are at all a fan for historical fiction or if you are interested in this time period. Absolutely fascinating and stunningly written. 

A very cool thing happening Viking and the author have created an online book club kit that will bring 11th century England to life at your book club.  And, for you history nerds out there, the author is tweeting out really random, but very interesting, #AngloSaxonFact that she learned while researching for this book. Head over to Twitter and follow her to see these. You could be the hit of the office with your random knowledge. The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

27, what what?!

Can I get an AMEN that it is my last week in the second trimester? Anyone?

Actually I feel like I'm dangerously close to feeling like this entire pregnancy is going down the hill at an alarming rate considering how I have felt over the last three days. Here's a quick recap:

  • Contractions! Yes, it's really early. No, I don't think these are just Braxton-Hicks. Yes, I'm annoyed. No, resting doesn't make them go away. Actually, resting seems to make them worse, if that even makes sense? The more active I am, the better I feel in general even if I'm left exhausted and everything hurts. 
  • Back pain! Oh yes. I don't actually remember having back pain with Olivia, but I had it with Jackson for the entire last semester. Mostly because that boy lodged his head as far into the birth canal as he could without my cervix being open. He was ready to go by the end of month six. Which meant that by month eight, it felt like he was going to just fall out. I really was worried that if my water broke, I was screwed. It didn't and I ended up being induced because he refused to kick, but that's a whole other issue. 
  • My feet are killing me. Does not matter the shoes I wear, how much I sit, or much I get up and move, if I elevate or not, they always hurt. 
  • My boobs are spilling out of my bra. It's come to my attention that it is indeed time to get myself a larger bra that is going to accommodate this. My boobs are an accident waiting to happen. 
  • It is so hard to get in an out of the mini van. I so miss Gideon the Escape. I am literally winded trying to get in and out of the damn van. 
  • Sleep. Oh sleep, I miss you. It's not that I can't sleep. In fact, I am absolutely exhausted, literally all day every day. I just can't get comfortable. If I lay on my left side, my left arm and shoulder hurt the next day. I can't sleep on my back because then I can't breathe. If I roll to my right (if I can get there) it's OK for a few minutes but then it's like I can feel my heart start racing and my breath slowing down. So then I roll back to the left and within seconds, feel totally fine. It's all very annoying. 
  • Loss of appetite. Currently, my brain and my stomach are not on the same wavelength at all. My brain says, "Eat all of the things!" but my stomach is saying, "Bitch, you eat one cracker and I'm going to make you feel full for hours. Then switch to famine with no notice." It's so frustrating. Even when I eat small meals I feel so full I could throw up. I struggled to eat a granola bar this morning. 
But some really fun things have been happening too! 
  • My baby shower is on the 21st this month and I'm ridiculously excited. I have decided I'm going to buy a bra so I don't look like a hot mess, I might even get crazy and get my eyebrows waxed so I don't look homely. I'm super excited though. 
  • Nesting has kicked in! I mentioned this earlier, I am in love with folding and re-folding baby outfits, organizing, and just sitting in Penelope's room wondering what it's going to be like once she's here. 
  • She moves SO MUCH. Seriously, so much. Sometimes it's a bit jarring or she's clearly jumping around and practicing her tumbling skills, but most of the time it's this graceful glide and I love it. I forgot how much I love it. 
  • Olivia and Jackson can feel her regularly now and I think it scares Jackson, but Olivia thinks it's the coolest thing ever. 
Week 27 is probably going to be much the same as week 26 was. I do my glucose test next Thursday (disgusting) and my first cervical check. Admittedly, I'm a little concerned about that with regard to the contractions, but I'm hoping things will be locked up tight down there. Keep your fingers crossed! 

In Flames

I am totally slacking on my reading challenges but I think very soon I'll have more time to crank out books. So stay tuned. Here's one though that I didn't slack on!

In Flames - Richard Hilary Weber
In Flames: A Thriller
In Richard Hilary Weber’s passionate new thriller, a smoldering mystery ignites on a tropical island as lust, murder, and politics collide.

San Iñigo is a jewel of the Caribbean, a playground paradise for the foreign elite, a hell for unfortunate locals. For recent Princeton grad Dan Shedrick, San Iñigo promises the fulfillment of too many desires.

Dan hires on at a powerful American firm as a junior architect, but still finds time for tennis, booze, a reckless affair with the sexy wife of a resort owner—even a bit of reconnaissance for the U.S. cultural attaché. But soon he discovers that nothing on San Iñigo is without consequence. When a much-loved local radio personality is found on a beach with his head blown off, Dan’s lover becomes a suspect. And not long after his foray into espionage, he’s dragged away on a brutal journey into the heart of darkness.

Buffeted by aggression, depraved ritual, and personal betrayal, Dan discovers fierce truths about San Iñigo . . . and himself. In the island’s forbidding mountain jungle, his life goes up in flames—a deadly inferno that will forever change him, if he survives at all.

Maybe I'm just not hip to current thrillers, but I don't know that I would really call this a thriller. I kind of knew the jig right from the word go, and though a lot of stuff happens? It's not even fast paced, though it was only 175 pages long on my Nook. I found it really hard to get into, and so much time was spent giving you descriptions of things and that felt like unnecessary filler. You know what it feels like? It felt kind of like an episode of Law & Order, but in a tropical locale. Like, all of the crimes and action has happened and now someone has to go to trial and as readers, we're trying to piece together each story to figure out what actually happened.

So what we have is Dan, who is a victim of the crashing stock market and terrible economy, forced to take literally any job he can get. That brings him to an exotic island with a benign company for a one year contract. He goes there, only to find out that crime is rampant and truly it's not an ideal place for an American citizen. He finds himself spending his non-working hours drinking and seemingly enamored with Elaine, the young wife of a friend who runs this club. Friend dies, and Dan thinks Elaine actually has feelings for him.

Newsflash: she doesn't.

But he finds himself taking a side job which leads to dangerous territory and a lot of violence. Oh, and an abduction and rescue. I think what disappointed me was that literally none of it seemed plausible. The plan he comes up with to get away from captors is not likely, the whole thing was just hard to get into. I think if you are a fan of thrillers, you might like this. Especially considering it's inexpensive and it's not very long at all, you could whip through this in a day easily. But I am also the person who thinks books like Girl With a Dragon Tattoo were lame, so I might be the worst person ever to judge. I will say though that if you are in the market for a new read but don't want to invest a lot of time, this is the route to go. I'm becoming a big fan of books under 200 pages because time is valuable, but I still like to read.

The book can be purchased on Amazon HERE. For more information about this book, his previous book, and upcoming books, check out Richard's webpage HERE. The author, Richard Hilary Weber, is hosting a giveaway for a $25 e-gift card to an online retailer of your choice AND a copy of In Flames. Definitely worth a chance!


New Adult
Date Published: April 10, 2015

 Maxine Daniels was made an offer that she couldn’t refuse. She couldn’t think of a better time—after breaking things off with her fiancé—to change cities and merge her company with Saunders Literary Agency. At thirty-three, she isn’t getting any younger, so it’s time to start fresh and leave her past behind.

What she doesn’t anticipate is the diversion that lies ahead. Kyle Saunders is a catastrophic tsunami that enters her life and consumes her world in just a matter of minutes. Everything about him is telling her no, but her heart and the heat between her legs is screaming yes. He was never a factor in her divine plan—nor was she in his.
Kyle is the cliché bachelor; he is a twenty-four-year-old charismatic chick magnet who refuses to settle down. He’s dead set on living the carefree single life—that is—until Max comes strolling in. Then all his ridiculous rules fall to the wayside. Who knew that just one hello could alter their lives forever?

My mouth hangs open. It’s like time freezes, and all I can think is holy fuck! I’m speechless. Never in my life have I been speechless or caught off-guard to this magnitude. The woman in front of me is fucking hot! On fire! I slowly take her in, starting with her high red pumps, long legs, and tight red skirt reaching her knees, hugging one amazing ass and some unGodly shaped hips. Man, those hips though. I can already see my hands being at home on those hips. My eyes drift up to her tiny waist and voluptuous breasts. Yum. Her face is flawless: lips plush and eyes a beautiful iridescent blue, which completely contrasts against her darker complexion and the brown of her hair. Simple perfection.
I must be standing here like a doof, making an ass of myself, because she smiles with a tiny bit of amusement. She reaches her hand out to me. “Hello. You must be Kyle?”
I continue to stare, completely mesmerized. It takes me a moment to snap out of it. “Uh, yes, I’m Kyle. You must be Maxine.” I grab her hand, immediately feeling the softness of her skin. “It’s nice to meet you,” I say with a smile.
“It’s just Max,” she informs me.
Cover Reveal - February 4th

Shevaun DeLucia, author of the Eternal Mixture series, lives in upstate New York with her husband, four children, and two dogs. As a stay-at-home mom while her children were young, she fell in love with reading. She indulged in the small moments that took her away from the reality of her loud, rambunctious household, bringing her into a world of fantasy. When reading wasn’t enough to satisfy her, she turned to writing, determined to create the perfect ending of her own.

Twitter: @shevaundelucia1

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

All of Me is LIVE!!

First of all, if you haven't read anything by Lisa Renee Jones, you need to pull your head out of whatever it's stuck in and get on it. She's a fantastic writer and every book of hers I read I fly through and am looking for more. The other nice thing is that she has several book series that you will get sucked into, and they are all really good.

Right now though, the sixth book in her Inside Out series literally just came out and that is called All of Me. You guys. You have NO idea how much I love this series. It's so good. It starts with a love triangle and a disappearance, but it morphs into so much more. It's has everything a really great romance novel would have, spread out over several books.

This is the final book in the series, BUT there is a TV series in development and I can't even handle it. If it's even half as good as the books have been, I'll be glued.
From the moment I met him, I was forever changed. From the first look in his eyes, the first touch of his hand. His first demand for the control he needs, and I could not deny him. He has become my passion, my life, the missing part of my soul. He is the reason I am all I can be, not just some shadow of the possibilities. And together, we are the sum of all the broken pieces of our lives made whole again. Nothing will destroy us. Nothing, and no one, will keep us from the ultimate promise, to spend the rest of our lives living on the edge of absolutely everything and doing it together. I won’t let it. 
If you have already started the series, and just need this one, you can get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble right now.

If you haven't started the series, you absolutely should, and you can get the first FOUR chapters of If I Were You (the first book) plus some bonus content FREE, but only for a limited time. You can do that at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. But I promise you, you'll get hooked and end up buying the whole series.

Also look up her other series, a lot of times you can get the ENTIRE series for almost nothing on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, so that's always a happy day.

Happy reading!

Urine & Scat = coolest words EVER.

One of the best parts about being in school is no doubt, field trips. I am usually the parent who volunteers to help out on the field trips, and that's kind of fun. I love watching my kids interact with other kids and see them learn in a new environment and see how they are when they are when they aren't with me. I don't always get to see that and it's fun.

Sadly, Jackson's class was going on a field trip to a nature center and the plan was to snow shoe. Now, something I'm not into is nature and snow shoeing sounds like the worst time ever. So obviously I was out for chaperoning that one. BUT, Matt is outdoorsy, and owns proper winter gear, and his jacket zips up. (Mine currently does not because Penelope is living in my uterus.) Matt has actually never been on a field trip so doesn't know what he's supposed to do, but I am trying really hard to get him more involved with kid things because I think that's a good thing.

Matt was a bit reluctant, but Jackson was absolutely THRILLED that his dad was going to come on a field trip with him and his class.

The day of the field trip, it turns out we don't have enough snow to snow shoe and it was actually pretty warm out. Lucky jerk. Every time I end up on an outdoor field trip, it's freezing and raining. Every time.

But Matt went. Jackson made me confirm with Matt several times to make sure his dad was going to be there. Thankfully, Matt was on time and was such a good sport. Matt tells me they had a great time learning about "Scat and Tracks". Apparently, Jackson's most favorite thing of the whole trip was learning that another word for poop is scat.

Jackson tells me his dad was the coolest because his dad found a woodpecker and the kids thought that was pretty awesome. Overall Jackson had a really great time and when I picked him up from school, he wouldn't stop raving about how great it was that Dad came on his trip.

My cute little explorer, looking for scat.

But the best part? Is now Jackson looks for every opportunity to use the words scat AND urine. He tells me when he's scatted on a daily basis now. I don't think he can tell you a thing about animal tracks but now he's fascinated with poop. He even checked out a book at the library today because he heard from a kid it had illustrations of dragon scat.

No, I'm not even kidding. This actually exists and he is in love.

I think he has one more field trip this school year and I think it's bowling. Unfortunately, I think it's after I have Penelope so I will do my best to get a sitter and see that I can go. I always wished my mom could have gone on field trips with my class but she always had to work. Totally understandable. I hope my kids appreciate all of the time I spend volunteering in their class and at their school. I know Jackson appreciated Matt being there on his first field trip in first grade.