Friday, November 27, 2015

Wyoming Rugged & GIVEAWAY!!

It never fails, anytime I feel like I'm in a reading rut, my go-to genre is always a romance. I can whip through a romance novel like it's nobody's business and that always gives me a good jump start to get the reading bug again. While in my last rut, this was the book I chose.

Wyoming Rugged - Diana Palmer

Billionaire oilman Blair Coleman has always taken care of his business. After having been used and cast aside by a woman he thought he loved, his personal life is far from his first priority. He knows only one has ever truly cared for him—but the irresistible blonde beauty is the daughter of his best friend. 
Niki Ashton has seen her father's friend wounded and she's seen him fight. Blair is the strongest—and most stubborn—man she's ever known. That very heart and passion makes him the man of her dreams, but whenever they've been in danger of getting close, Blair has always pushed her away. 
It takes a possible tragedy to strip away all of Blair's misgivings. Now it's all or nothing: marriage, baby, family, forever. But will the choice be too much for Niki…or too late?
Right away, I will tell you that while this is #5 in the series, you would never know it. This is 100% a stand alone book, so that's really nice. Also, Diana Palmer is a new to me author and I would read her again, which tells you what I think about the book.

So let's get the things that annoyed me out of the way now. First up, Niki.... sigh. Niki is like, she's naive but she's worse than naive. She's the phase before naive, she's practically puritanical. If you had locked a woman away in a dungeon with zero social contact and let her loose in a bar, that's the only way you could replicate her naivete. She has zero idea what flirting is, has zero idea what physical attraction feels like, and honestly, she's basically childlike in a way. Then Blair is a bit of a moron who spends the entire book focusing on the 16 year age gap, as if that's even an issue nowadays. Aside from that, my biggest complaint is that a solid 30 pages towards the end of the book? Could be taken out. At least. It's rehashing of them rehashing, or the first time they rehashed EVERYTHING. Honestly, it's either take that 30 pages out or get rid of the entire first part of the book and give us just the 30 pages. I found myself skipping entire pages because I had already read this stuff three, sometimes four times earlier in the book, already. Instead of all of that (without giving the conclusion of the book away) I would have liked to seen more of their ending. I feel like SO MUCH TIME was put into rehashing everything we've read that the ending was rushed and that does a disservice to the book, I think.

BUT. With that, it's a solid little romance. If you're looking for seedy love scenes and graphic detail, you will NOT get it in this book. If you are that person who likes to read a love story without all of the detail in love scenes, this is absolutely the book for you. It's an incredibly quick read (around 295 pages) and it's available as a mass paperback in December 2015, but you can pre-order it on Amazon right now. If you think this is for you, I encourage you to check out Diana's website and her Facebook page to see what you can get of hers right now.

Overall? I enjoyed it. Sure, the 30 page thing was annoying, but if I imagine the book without that, I really liked it. It's a good romance, a fast read, it kept me wanting to find out what happens with Niki's health and if Blair gets his head out of his ass.

Lucky for you..... I have one copy to giveaway (US/Canada)! To win a copy you must...

  • Leave me a comment- what are you reading now or next? 
  • Make sure you EMAIL is in your comment so I can contact you if you win! 
That's all, lambs! Have a ton of fun shopping this Black Friday. Think of me as I'm cleaning up the aftermath at Target today. Just know I'm exhausted and wish I was reading. 


If Only In My Dreams

If you know me at all, you know that Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday of all time. It's my favorite time of year, and one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season? Read holiday season themed romances.

Oh shut up, it's not as cheesy as it sounds! Typically they are short novellas, perfect for a night curled up in my chair, under my favorite blanket, with my cinnamon scented candles burning and at least one pet at my feet. It's that or watch another thrilling episode of Star Trek with Matt.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what I'll pick.

So if you're in the mood for a similar evening, I've got a great book selection for you!

If Only In My Dreams - Mariah Stewart

New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart’s timeless, charming holiday novella, originally featured in the popular yuletide anthology Upon a Midnight Clear, now available as a standalone at a great price!

A lively family reunion on a Montana ranch brings on a flurry of memories for a beautiful young writer—and a winter storm that rekindles an old flame—in this “warmly magical” (Library Journal) feel-good holiday gem!

Reluctantly retired baseball player Cale comes back to Montana after an injury ends his career. Suddenly single, with two twin five year old boys, Cale struggles with his uncertain future but tries coming back home to see if that helps, despite the memory of his first love, Quinn. 

Quinn, a children's author and illustrator, takes a break from the big city to come home for Christmas, despite the lingering sadness of the love of her life, Cale, seemingly breaking her heart by leaving without her. 

After a trip to her grandmother's long abandoned cabin to lay a holiday wreath, following family tradition, Quinn finds herself stuck on the mountain in snow storm. In an effort to seek shelter, she tries to get home but is distracted by the ghost of her grandmother Elizabeth who leads her to the cabin of Cale's relatives. Assuming his sister Valerie is the one occupying the cabin, she's surprised to find it quiet, but warm. She soon realizes Valerie isn't there at all, but in fact, Cale and his boys are there. Cue increase in snow storm intensity and a couple of awkward days and the revelation of what really happened on that fateful day so many years ago that broke both of their hearts. 

It's a fast read, it's a really adorable story and I'm going to say it- it opens the door for other novellas, consider Quinn has several single siblings and there is a little teaser in there with Cale's sister, Valerie. I would totally love to see more of these stories with this family! Mariah Stewart is a really solid romance writer and she's perfect if you are that person not into the S&M fantasies that are increasingly popular or a lot of descriptive sex scenes. Lots is left up of the imagination but you don't feel like you've missed anything at all. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a light and fun holiday read. 

It's officially available on November 30, 2015 but you can pre-order it now (ebook only) on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, or Simon & Schuster directly. If you want to learn more about Mariah and her other books, visit her website or follow her on Facebook

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Owlcrate: Myths & Legends

Hello! So today we're going to talk about what is... my third Owlcrate box? I'm pretty sure it's my third. The theme for this month was "Myths & Legends" and somehow I had missed that announcement in all of their posts on Instagram and Facebook.

But what is super cool is they now have a referral program, so once three people join Owlcrate with my referral link (THIS ONE RIGHT HERE) I can get a free box. So if you were ever on the fence about this, totally do it now. ALSO, if you join now, use the code NEWMEMBER and you get 10% off your first box. Totally cool promotion for you to see if you love it and you're helping me out at the same time. The theme for December is "Get Inspired", so that sounds pretty darn exciting.

*fist bump, lambs*

So let's talk about the nightmare it was to get my box this time. It comes 3 day priority mail, so that's pretty amazing, once you get your tracking information, your box comes quick! Unless you have a moron mail carrier like I do, who delivers your package to the wrong place. The tracking told me it was delivered. It most certainly wasn't. I call, they have no idea where it is. Turns out, he delivered it to the college campus dorms over two miles away. The address is no way similar. Who even knows what he was drinking in the morning. But finally! I got my box.

 Hello, you beautiful box of happy.
We got Richelle Mead's new book Soundless and while Richelle's other books are so great and every other book I have ever gotten from Owlcrate has been absolutely amazing.. I'm a little worried. Right away anything with Chinese lore usually bores the hell out of me, but I'm going to give it a try because I am a fan of the author.
Also in our box was a really gorgeous castle locket from The Geeky Cauldron- it's a pretty stunning piece, actually. We got a bracelet from The Colorful Geek, which I don't have pictured because I threw it away, it was one of those rubber ones everyone uses to fundraise for a cause and I don't like them. We also got a mermaid pocket mirror from My Clockwork Castle. The large box is fairytale tea from Adagio Teas. Now, I can't stand tea. I don't drink tea (or coffee) so this is going in someone's Christmas bag of goodies for me. We also got coupon codes for The Geeky Cauldron and The Colorful Geek, which is kind of nice because I know a few people who would like a few things on each website for the holidays.

Overall, not my most favorite box but I'm certainly in the minority because others are raving about it. I will tell you that my other boxes have been AMAZING and Owlcrate is still my favorite box for value and what you get for that price ($29.99 plus shipping). You can gift a box as well, if you have a reader friend that would love this kind of thing, and in the words of Eddie Griswold (if you don't know who that is, you are dead to me), "That's the gift that keeps on giving, Clark!".

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas Wish List

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Christmas. I take a lot of joy buying gifts for people and often spend way more than I should. This year I've pre-planned what I'm doing for everyone so hopefully I don't get carried away. But every year I do my Christmas wish list in the hopes that I get some of these things.

SQUEAL.

1. Chameleon Art Pens
Chameleon Alcohol Color Tone Marker Set of 22 - Deluxe Kit
I have so many stamp sets that require me to color something in and then I don't use them because I'm terrible with shading and it never comes out like I see tutorials doing it so I get frustrated. I have watched the videos on these pens hundreds of times and I really think these are fool proof. I want them so badly!

2. Silhouette Cameo Starter Kit

Do you know how many gifts I could make with this?! A TON. I've wanted this for awhile and I'm confident that after a few changes in my craft room I'd have room for it. And then I could load up my Etsy shop with lots of cute things!

3. Anything from Sassy Lemonade, but especially these whale earrings.
I am in love with the shop Sassy Lemonade on Etsy. I wanted to buy it all but I have zero funds. Just kidding, a few friends might get an item from here because I love Etsy and I try to buy as much as I can from various shops and support local.

4.Books!

As if I wasn't going to include books on my list. Here are the ones I've been itching for:

But obviously a Barnes & Noble gift card would be amazing as well.

5. Dracula Scarf.
6. Supernatural Shirt
I'm a size large. I need this in my life.

7. A gift card so I can shop and buy a ton of Stampin' Up stuff! I love all of their stamps, inks, tools, and paper. I'm a junkie. I was sober for a long time but I've basically fallen off the wagon.

8. I want Matt to make me this desk for my office so I can get rid of the desk I hate. But I'd like three shelves because I don't want you to see my feet. That's totally storage space possibility!
oh, no-- this one is EVEN BETTER

9. Shoe Cabinet (that could easily double as better storage at the top of our stairs instead of the dresser that is falling apart up there now. JUST SAYING.) 
 10. Scarf organizer. Nothing fancy, something like this would be perfect!
 11. Victoria's Secret Gift Card.
Let's face it, I'm down to three pairs of underwear (that fit) because the mother effing dog EATS THEM ALL. Also, my boobs are larger than I would like and have not gone back down to normal size since having Penelope and also, the bras I have that do fit are so stretched out it seems a wasted effort. 

I don't have any of the seasons on disc, I've just been watching them through Netflix, but I'm not done! I'm working my way through season 8, and I believe season 11 is happening right now on real TV. But I don't need the box (obviously, I just like the picture), but I would like this. 

Um, I think that's it. HA! But honestly, I love gifts that people find and are like, "Oh, this is SO SARA" because that means you thought of me while you were out and about, and that's perfect. But I know Matt is looking at this, and I've included buy links on almost everything (if it's in color, it's a link) so there is zero excuse for you to say you have no idea where to find it. Love you. Smooches. 

What's on YOUR wish list this year?! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lit Cube: Immortal Kiss box

Here's what's funny. So after last month's box, the Supernatural themed one, I really thought I should just cancel this and call it good because the book was terrible in every box so far and ugh. The swag wasn't making up for the shit books, you know? But time got away and before I knew it, I had missed the first of the month deadline and my account was charged and this box was coming. 

So my super awesome mail day happened last week, two packages in a day! I think my mail man is getting real sick of my shit and packages. He used to be nice and put my stuff in my back porch on rainy days but now he just leaves them on the step like sad little orphans.
Anyways, the box is pretty solid this time! I felt immediately guilty wanting to break up. We got a 5x7 Dracula-Inspired Watercolor Print ($6.99 value), which is stunning. It's totally getting framed for my office. We got a lip balm and mirror set ($9.99 value), which I would not pay $9.99 for. Not  a damn chance. But the lip balm came from an Etsy shop that is kind of amazing - Lippincott Soap Co.  If you are looking for unique stocking stuffer ideas, she has a ton of really fun things in there for an affordable cost. Various bookmarks and a pen meant to look like a syringe.
The book we got this month was Elise Walters' Tentyrian Legacy.  I'm worried, the reviews are really mixed so if this sucks just as bad as the last, I'm going to say goodbye to this box. We also got a really kick ass journal from Whit and Ware ($9.99 value) that you can't buy anywhere else, it was made exclusively for Lit-Cube. But the line on the front of the journal reads, "Only Dracula can truly love you forever" and man... I absolutely love that line .So the journal is maybe my second favorite thing.
My first favorite thing absolutely HAS to be the most kick-ass, holiday skulls infinity scarf ($9.99 value). I don't know where it came from, but I am in love with it. It is easily the best thing in this box and if every box came with something this fabulous, I would probably never quit it. 

So we're on the fence. The box for December is "You're a Mean One, Grinch" and that can go so horribly wrong and I'm really nervous I'm going to get a box of useless shit I'll mostly throw out. So we'll see. If that box sucks, I'm for sure out. We are going to for sure break up. I mean it this time. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Year's Wish

I'm kind of feeling the whole Christmas spirit a little earlier this year, and that's OK. I always like reading holiday themed books and novellas are the BEST because it's perfect for all of you who want to read but don't have the time to bite into a full size novel. You get all of that in just a few pages and it's a good way to wind down an evening. I finished this one in under an hour, so it's perfect for your busy schedule!

The New Year's Wish - Dani Lyn Alexander
Typing out memos is anything but torturous when your boss is this hot! Dani-Lyn Alexander’s irresistible new yuletide romance is a lighthearted office romp that will make you long for the company holiday party.

Olivia Calloway isn’t cut out for the nine-to-five life. She’s a born entrepreneur. She just has to figure out her soul’s true calling—and she’s given herself until the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve to do it. With her trust fund dwindling and only two and a half months to go, she takes an assistant position at prestigious law firm Harris & Harris. The problem is, Olivia’s a terrible employee—incessantly late, forgetful, and clumsy. Not that her gorgeous new boss Garrett Emerson seems to mind. Beautiful, charming Olivia has been on his mind ever since she ran into him, literally, sprinting to the interview. But Olivia’s first big assignment—to plan an elaborate last minute New Year’s Eve party for the entire company—could make or break her job entirely. With Ms. Harris herself demanding perfection, a jealous office rival rooting for Olivia to lose, and even Garrett dreading the affair, can Olivia finally prove herself—or will an unforeseen complication send her back to the drawing board? All she wants for the holidays is to be her own boss—and to ignite the flirtatious sparks between her and Garrett…so she can file their relationship under love.


So let's start by saying that Dani Lyn Alexander is a new to me author and I absolutely loved it. She's definitely one I will add to my Want to Read lists because she crafts a story well and I really enjoyed this novella. 

We have Olivia, who is pretty much a hot mess in most aspects of her life. She's chronically late, she has started several business, all of which fail because she's just not equipped. She doesn't really know what she wants to do in life but she knows she has to pay the bills so she applies for a receptionist position at Harris & Harris. Unfortunately, nothing goes her way and she winds up almost two hours late, covered in coffee and in no shape to conduct an interview but she does anyway because at this point, what does she have to lose? 

Cue Garrett, who she narrowly avoids spilling coffee on. Now, this could have gone all dominant boss a la Fifty Shades but it doesn't. It stays sweet and they find love. Honestly, I don't know what was more fun, the romance or reading how Olivia botches one thing after another. Garrett is reluctant to find love again after his ex wife seriously burned him and Olivia also burned by her fiance of three years, it's basically a perfect match. You have to love how hard Olivia tries, even if she does manage to screw something up. 

I definitely recommend this if you are in the mood for a light romance, and a fast read with a holiday theme to it. It's actually on pre-order right now and available on November 30, but it's only $.99! That's a total  bargain! You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Simon & Schuster. In the meantime, hop over to Dani Lyn Alexander's website to catch up with her and maybe find another couple of books to read until The New Year's Wish is available! 

Be sure to follow me on Bloglovin' so you don't miss another book review or real life shenanigans post! 

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend

I am so annoyed with myself that it's taken me this long to get this review up for you. It's such a great book and I hate that I haven't given it the love it deserves. Add this to your shopping list for the growing bookworm in your life, probably ages 8 -12, I'd say.

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend (a memoir by Jacques Papier) - Michelle Cuevas
Nobody likes Jacques Papier besides his sister; when he comes across a cowgirl at the park and she informs him that he's an imaginary friend, just like her, Jacques’s world is forever changed.

I have to tell you I absolutely loved this book from the cover to the end. Honestly, it was a little sad to me because I kind of loved Jacques and I felt bad for him the entire way through. The book is written as his memoir and he details his every day adventures. His parents don't like him, everyone at school ignores him (even when he knows the answer in class), he never gets picked (at all) for anything, the bus driver even leaves him. The only person who likes him is his sister Fleur. Imagine his surprise when he overhears their parents talking about Fleur's imaginary friend! He feels a little hurt and annoyed that Fleur never even introduced him to her imaginary friend and he isn't sure why. Imagine his surprise when he realizes HE is the imaginary friend! His whole life was a lie, so he convinces Fleur to set him free. He wants to go out into the world and find himself, so to speak. 

Hilariously, he embarks on an adventure and finds himself "assigned" to new children. Which, while funny and adorable, Jacques struggles to find out who he really is, beyond the life of an imaginary friend. 

I can't tell you the end but I totally cried!! It reminds me a bit of The Giving Tree, which if you know me at all, you know I hate that book. That poor tree just gave and gave to the selfish boy (then man) until it had nothing left to give and the man discovers none of it was worth it. But what I loved is at the end, Jacques returns to Fleur, and his new friend, who he finds is achingly familiar and when you realize who it is- BRING ON THE MASSIVE BOX OF TISSUES. Not the $1.25 boxes from Target, but the BIG classroom size ones you get at Sam's Club, because that's how many you need. Get the ones with the lotion because you will have snot and just all of the feels. I don't think kids will have that reaction but I know adults will because we all remember what it's like to leave a childhood prized thing and then years later reconnect with it. It's a special connection that doesn't go away with time. To put it another way, you remember in the movie Toy Story where Andy grows up and his toys feels sad because he doesn't need them anymore? That's what this is. GUT PUNCH. (Which you know that's why I never saw those movies in the theater because I didn't want to full on ugly cry in front of a bunch of kids because I am a mature adult who should be able to handle this.) 

Seriously. Get this book, read it for yourself, and you'll enjoy it. Confessions of an Imaginary Friend is available through Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon. Michelle has other books out as well, be sure to swing over to her website to get those titles, too! 



Monday, November 16, 2015

Losing your identity and sanity

It's no secret that marriage and parenthood are hard even under the best circumstances. I've never pretended that I had it all together or that things were easy, but I do try to put on the happy face because that's what we're expected to do. No newlywed or soon to be parent wants to hear that things are going to get tough. And, at some point, we kind of forget about all of the hard days later on down the road but it doesn't mean those hard days don't exist.

They very much do.

Right now I'm struggling and it's hard to really put into words what's bothering me. Currently, I am doing the stay at home mom thing. I won't lie and tell you it's grand because most days I would very much disagree. I love my time with Penelope but I find myself getting dumber every day. I'm getting angry when there's no reason to be angry. I'm frustrated and tired.

Matt is also working a ridiculous amount of hours at work. On one hand, it's nice because the extra money is always needed and especially heading into the holiday season and winter months, it gets tough. On the other, it really sucks because I don't get a break. He's worked almost 31 days in a row and while I appreciate that means he hasn't gotten a break either, I'm about ready to lose my mind. My argument is at least he gets to leave the house. I'm stuck here. I can't afford to go anywhere or do anything, I'm literally stuck in this house with three kids who demand every ounce of energy I've got.

And it's not that I hate it. It's just that I'm tired.

I haven't slept well in months. My back is killing me because Penelope is damn near twenty pounds. I'm constantly freezing because I'm trying to not turn the heat on too much and hopefully that'll save some money. I often forget to eat or don't end up having time to eat. I'm overwhelmed with PTO stuff. Just when I think things are in a groove, I get parents emailing me telling me what a crap job I'm doing. I think people are annoyed with me when I can't just get up and run an errand, but don't realize that I've got a VERY small window each day that I can run errands that are in between Penelope's nap time so it really limits what I can do and where I can go.

I've tried telling Matt I need help and I feel like I'm slowly going insane. He did a load of laundry and then went to work. I'm not ashamed to tell you I cried in the bathroom while Penelope cried in her crib and Olivia and Jackson argued over who gets to use the Kinetic Sand castle shaper first. And I'm just feeling like I am barely treading water. I'm starting to just not give a damn about anything.

Sunday was especially bad and I'm not too ashamed to say I spent what little I had on my credit card to get Santa pictures of the kids, get their Christmas concert outfits and a top to wear for our family pictures coming up. Which is absurd because to think Matt will even get off of work in time to go is nuts. I'm at the point where it feels like he'd give his left arm for his job and the rest of us can just suck it. This is the downside of being that dedicated employee, you get treated like shit but he apparently likes it. He doesn't even see that people say no because they know he'll pick up the slack.

I can't even fault him for that because honestly, that's what it feels like with some of the things I'm involved with. I don't know what it's like to have actual time for myself anymore. I love when people say, "Oh, I can't help out because my kids have *insert activity* tonight and I've got to sit there." Oh, nice. I don't know what that's like. I have to drop my kids off and hope someone can get them in case I can't get there on time to pick them up. I'm expected to just make time and rearrange my schedule because you know, it's just my life, no biggie. It makes me feel resentful and used, honestly.

But through it all, I feel like I'm slowly going back to that place I was at in 2008 where I had no idea who I was anymore. I gave and gave until I had nothing left and I was in, probably the worst depression valley I have ever been in. And I can't even get on medication to fix it because let's be honest, I can take all of the pills in the world but if things in my environment don't change, nothing gets better. It's hard to just get out of bed anymore.

I mean, it's just the American Dream, right? Welcome to marriage and motherhood, I guess.

Battle of the Books: Ramona Quimby, Age 8

I am almost embarrassed to admit how incredibly slow I am at working through my Battle of the Books list. Being sick really threw me for a loop, but we're back at it. It's pretty bad when my 10 year old has read more than I have!

If you want to follow along, check out my Battle of the Books post and read with us! If you happen to be homeschooling a fourth or fifth grader, it's a fun little reading activity to do with them as well.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - Beverly Cleary
Mr. Quimby's going to college, Mrs. Quimby's going to work. Now that Ramona is eight, she can go to a new school with a new teacher and ride the bus all by herself. But after school she has to stay with Grandmother Kemp and be nice to that bratty little Willa Jean until Beezus (who's tempermental enough to ruin anyone's day)comes to take her home. Life isn't as easy for Ramona as it used to be. All the Quimbys have to adjust, and Ramona gets her chance to prove that she's "big enough for her family to depend on."

When I was little, I really connected with Ramona because I kind of understood her. I wanted to do this perfectly, just like she did. Unlike her, I was the oldest and my brother was two years younger than me, but I really understood Ramona's role in the family. My mom was a single mom for years and then she met my step dad but even still, we weren't well off and my mom worked a lot. In order for her to work that much, it was understood that we really had to be good for our uncles (who babysat us) and we were expected to take care of things because my mom didn't have time to do them. A lot of sacrifices were made with the understanding that that was just how it was going to be. It's not fun, but there wasn't another choice. 

In this book Ramona has had to move to a new school (totally could relate, I had gone to six different schools from Kindergarten through graduation) and she struggles with fitting in at school and then having to deal with an annoying toddler after school. She really dislikes going to Grandmother Kemp's house after school, but as she's reminded time and time again, she just has to be good and get along with Willa Jean because her parents need her to continue going there so they can work and go to school. The family struggles financially, and Ramona worries if she's doing good enough so she doesn't add stress to her parents. She silently struggles with a mean boy at school and worries her teacher thinks she's a nuisance. It's everything an eight year old struggles with as they learn how to get about in the world.

I loved it as a kid, and I loved it again as an adult. Even though, as an adult, I find Ramona to be kind of annoying. She's a watered down version of modern day Junie B. Jones (which I cannot stand, there- I said it). The book itself was a fast read (for me) and it comes in at just under 200 pages. It's a great chapter book for kids third-fifth grade ideally, maybe even a few advanced second graders. The concepts are easy to follow and the story structure itself is easy to read. Honestly, every eight year old girl should get this for her birthday. It's like a rite of passage, really. 

The next book I'm reading for Battle is The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which I said I would read before this but Olivia borrowed this from the public library and I had to get it back by Saturday. I remember reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond in fourth grade, so we'll see how much of the story I remember! Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin' if you want to stay current with my Battle of the Books journey, as well as my other book reviews! 


Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Crafty Saturday: Christmas edition

Hello, lambs!

I've been super busy cranking out Christmas cards for my Etsy shop and I have even more in the works right now! Here are some of my listings from this week:


I've had this stamp set for awhile and I always forget to use it.  The set is from Stampin' Up and called "It's Snow Time", and comes with 12 stamps. Very versatile, I plan on using this for a few more cards. I know I used this stamp combo a few years ago for our family cards but had sparkly brads to go in the snowballs. What a complete pain in the rear that was. And it ended up costing extra to mail, so probably not going that route again!

I actually got this stamp in my stocking one year, it's just a random single stamp but it's easily one of my favorites. I had a few red gems laying around so I thought I'd add it to the card for a little extra. AND I finally found my blender pens, so I've been playing with those, and shaded his little scarf in with them. I forgot how much I love my little blender pens. The reindeer itself is heat embossed so he has a little shine to him.

I forgot I had made these this summer after I found a bunch of pieces I had cut out last year and ran out of time to make them! But again, a stamp set from Stampin' Up, but this time the middle snowflake has a little gem in the middle.


Another set I had basically cut and stamped, but I just hadn't assembled. I wish I had more of that ribbon but alas, that's it. I can't even find it at Michaels or Hobby Lobby, so maybe it's vintage now. HA!

Easily my favorite reindeer stamp. If I had a pet reindeer, I would bet he'd frequently have things tangled in his antlers. But this is actually blank on the inside, so they would work perfectly for thank you cards (because you need to send thank you's for Christmas gifts and for being invited to holiday parties, don't be rude) but you can also use them as emergency Christmas cards. We all send our cards out, then get one from a random person and think- maybe I should send them a card... This set is perfect for that. Also, if you have work exchanges or Secret Santa gatherings, this would be a cute little set to include with your gift! 

Remember to follow me on Bloglovin, Pin/Tweet/Share! As an added thank you, use the code "SARASBLOG" in my Etsy shop for an extra 10% off your order! If you live in Superior, WI, you can use code "FREESHIPSUPERIOR" and I will hand deliver your items and save you the shipping cost. My shop now accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover, along with PayPal. Lots of different options for your convenience! 

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Owl Crate Spooky Box!

Of all of the book subscription boxes I'm in on (three, no shame lambs, no shame), this is maybe my favorite?

The theme for October was "Spooky" and it had all kinds of fun things!

First and foremost, we got A Madness So Discreet  by Mindy McGinnis. My inner nerd loves that the books come wrapped in plastic. I don't know why I love that, but I do. The book is getting amazing reviews and I had been eyeing it up so I'm happy to have gotten it. The quick and dirty is that it's about insane asylums. Along with it, we got a letter from the author about the book and a mini poster.

Also, we got some sugar skull erasers, not sure what I'm doing with those but they look pretty. The only weird "why do I want this" item was scented beads with a vampire scent. It's from Adventure Scents and I'm not a fan of scenty things gifted to me because I'm pretty sensitive and weird things will trigger a migraine so these are going to someone else.

We also got an Edgar Allen Poe canvas bag. I'm actually going to use this in my purse to hold all of the chapsticks I feel I need. (Seriously, I probably have 12 in there right now).

Overall? Very cool little box. I'm so excited about the book- watch for a review on that one eventually!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

After Alice

Honestly, sometimes when I read a book I feel so dumb that I wonder how I ever passed high school English classes. Then I thank god I never went to a four year college because it's books like this that make me think I wouldn't have done so hot.

After Alice - Gregory Maguire
From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis's Carroll's beloved classic

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice's disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll's enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice's mentioned briefly in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself. 

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next isAfter Alice.


Anyone who knows me at all knows I love a good re-telling of a classic story. Secondly, you would know that I never read the book Wicked and I saw 30 minutes of the play someone had recorded and I thought it was lame sauce so I didn't finish it. 

I know- it's practically a sin to admit that, but here I am, subjecting myself to the "what's wrong with you" comments. It's fine, I've practically heard them all by now. 

But when I saw this come up for review I immediately jumped on it because I absolutely loved Alice in Wonderland and everything about it. When I was little I had always kind of hoped maybe I would fall in a hole in a tree and go on an adventure but we didn't really have big trees where I lived, we had sewers and that didn't hold the same charm, you know? 

This isn't a re-telling really, it's more of a second story within a story. Something happening at the same time as the main story. We have Alice's friend Ada, who essentially follows Alice after she goes missing. Cue her own adventure "after Alice". The premise of this is perfect, it has the opportunity to be just as grand but in a more modern, more humorous kind of way. The only problem with this is that it falls so short of it because every sentence is filled with the worst words the author could have chosen to use. I have two friends who were reading this with me and I'll be honest, I was afraid to even tell them that I didn't get what the hell I was reading most of the time because I was sick of using the thesaurus app on my phone to look words up. Thankfully, one of them mentioned it first and suddenly I didn't feel like a 14 year old in a college literature class trying to follow along to The Odyssey. I wanted this to be light and fun but instead it was a little darker, and it required you to really think about what was happening and overall it had a somber feel to it. I really struggled to finish this and that was so disappointing for me. If you are a big Lewis Carroll fan and are looking for the next generation, keep looking- you won't find it in this book. If you are a big Gregory Maguire fan and really loved the book Wicked, you are going to absolute enjoy this with everything in you because it's so very similar. I don't think it's going to win any Lewis Carroll fans over but it's a steady followup to Wicked in style and writing. 

Follow Gregory Maguire on his website, and you can find After Alice available on Amazon
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Bookworm Box: October

Well, The Bookworm Box took September off to pretty much get their shit together, but they came back in October. I just... I don't know how I feel about it.

Immediately, I noticed they switched their box. What's really weird is a lot of the book subscription companies talk about their box, like, "We have new boxes!!" and I'm over here wondering who actually cares? Because I don't care. So long as my stuff gets to me in one piece, I'm happy.

In the box this month I got:
two books, a gross candy bar, yet another chapstick, and a crap ton of bookmarks and stuff. Oh, and a pen. I can't knock the pen because I do like the pens. People keep stealing mine because they really are that good.

What is annoying is that the Jamie McGuire book is part of a series, and I don't have the others so now I have to get the others so I know what's going on. Equally annoying because you know how I feel about Jamie McGuire, so now I'm torn. The other book is a new-to-me author, Kathryn Perez, and that actually looks promising. I'm just really over all of the book marks. I have resorted to throwing them away because honestly, who needs all of this shit? As much as I hate to get rid of it, because the first two boxes were SO stellar and these last two have been kind of lame ass, I feel like I might have to bite the bullet. The concept of this box is tremendous- all of the contents are donated, proceeds are then given to charities. The execution of it and what you're getting for your monthly fee? Not really feeling worth it. I want to feel like I'm at least getting my money's worth and I'm just not. Whomp, whomp.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Life & Other Near Death Experiences and giveaway!!

Oh lambies, part of me thinks I should apologize because your reading lists are getting long but then the other part of me says READ FASTER because I can't help it. You need this in your life.

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences - Camille Pagan
Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.
With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live—and love—a little longer?
From critically acclaimed author Camille Pag├ín comes a hilarious and hopeful story about a woman choosing between a “perfect” life and actually living.
First up, you know how I feel about whiners, I really cannot stand them. I really loved Libby in the beginning, could not stand her for the entire middle chunk, then grew to like her again. And the fact that I kept with this despite really not liking her is a testament to the story as a whole. Because I have to tell you, if you have had a family member or close friend go through cancer and subsequent treatments, Libby's decision to not even try can be a bit frustrating. On one hand, you're totally getting it- she's doomed to die, who wants to suffer to the very end like that? On the other, you're like, good god- just GO to the doctor and find out what you're really dealing with. Never mind her doctor has terrible bedside manner, or that her husband dropped a terrible truth on her just hours after being told she has cancer. 
So she does what any of us wish we could do, she puts her house on the market, quits her job, and goes to the beach. She then meets a hunky beach guy after he almost kills her and she basically questions life and her motivations throughout life and questions the memories she has once she realizes her family has different memories of the same time. She really begins to question everything about her life, really. Ultimately, the book is about hope and perception. And the will to just help yourself because nobody will do it for you. Sometimes we have to be a grown up and do the hard stuff even when everything in us wants to crawl into a hole and die. 
Something in this book kind of struck me as it kind of relates to me personally. In the book we find that Libby has loved Tom with everything in her for as long as she knew him. He was basically the be-all, end-all for her and you want to hate him for what he hid from her. You do because we women stick together and if any one of our husbands told us that, we'd come together to slash his tires, bare minimum. But on page 56, there was a line that just hit me hard because it's exactly what I had on repeat in my head during some of my own personal marriage woes: 
"Paul was right: we were too young to be making such a major life decision. And while I may have been too foolish to know better, somewhere in his soul, Tom must have-he just must have-known he would one day betray me with his truth, and yet  he went and married me anyway. I'll be honest: when I thought about this, I literally wanted to kill him, in the  most grammatically accurate rendition of the phrase."
Gut punch if there ever was one. Another great thought from the book that life really is a near-death experience. In the end, I really enjoyed this book. I found it hard to put down, I found myself rooting for Libby even when I thought she was being a giant baby, and I loved the humor and optimism. It's a really great book and a full story (and range of emotions) in just 233 pages. This would make a GREAT Christmas gift for any friend. You can pick up this great book on Amazon, but in the meantime you can catch up with Camille Pagan on Twitter and her website
Lucky for you, I can give away one copy of Life and Other Near-Death Experiences (US/Canada only)! All you have to do is: 

  • Leave a comment telling me what your favorite recent read is.
  • Make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you! 
  • Follow me on Bloglovin'!
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Winner will be drawn on Friday, November 13!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Crow Made a Friend and giveaway!

Have I mentioned lately how much I am loving being able to read and review children's books? My kids love to read and before I became a mother I knew reading to and with my kids was going to be one of my favorite parts about being a parent, and it turned out to be true! I also discovered that I like to read to groups of children because anytime I can see a spark in a little set of eyes, that's the best feeling.

Scheduling didn't work out so that I could read this to my first grade friends in time for the review, but I'm hoping to do it with them soon AND do a fun little craft with them. But in the meantime, here's a cute little book you might want to add to the Christmas list for a little person in your life.

Crow Made a Friend - Margaret Peot
Crow Made a Friend: An I Like to Read® book
Try, try again is the lesson Crow teaches beginning readers in this vibrant early reader about a lonely crow who works hard to make a friend.

Crow is all alone. But like all crows, he is very clever. Using autumn leaves for wings, sticks for the body and a crab apple for the head, Crow makes a friend! But winter winds blow in, destroying his creation. Undaunted, Crow fashions another bird friend out of snow but cannot prevent it from melting in the warm spring sun. Alone again, Crow hears the caw, caw, caw of a real, live bird and finally forms a friendship that will last in this warm, satisfying story that celebrates perseverance and ingenuity.


 I actually had Olivia (10) read this to Jackson (7) and Penelope (6 months) because she enjoys reading for others. The book is really short, perfect for the pre-school and Kindergarten age child. Also, it's a really good early reader book as part of the "I Like To Read" series. Nice, short sentences that feature sight words that pair perfectly with beautiful illustrations. Truly, the illustrations in this book are so great. The story is a simple one, crow feels lonely so he tries to make a friend. His first two attempts at building a friend prove to be unsuccessful, but then he meets a girl bird and together they make a little family, thus crow isn't alone anymore. It's almost reminiscent of the The Little Pigs, the first friend falls apart in the wind. The second friend melts in the sun but the third friend is just right. If your child is familiar with that classic story, you can ask them if they see some similarities, which will help with comprehension and critical thinking of the story. 

Overall? My kids enjoyed it. They especially loved the little bird craft, which you can find on her website HERE.  For those that homeschool, on her website under "Activities" there are several other activities you can do, including a crow fact dial so your child can learn some basic facts about crows and maybe you can go out on a little nature hike looking for some. You can connect with Margaret Peot on Twitter, her website, also on The Inkblot Book website. Crow Made a Friend is currently available on Amazon, as well! 

Lucky for you, I can give away one copy of Crow Made a Friend (US only)! All you have to do is: 

  • Leave a comment telling me what your favorite children's book is.
  • Make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you! 
  • Follow me on Bloglovin'!
Winner will be drawn on Friday, November 13! 


Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos