Monday, September 30, 2019

Cursed, Wild, and more!

I have so many book reviews and frankly, I have no more room in my calendar until mid November for posts, so my solution is to do a couple of books on one post. Sneaky, huh? Ha! Which will be tricky because for me to condense my thoughts so these aren't the longest posts of all time is going to be tough.
Cursed - Thomas Wheeler 

Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…

That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.

Alright, so if you have a child who is really into comics- this is a really great book for them. If you have a kid who loved comics when they were little and now they "hate to read"- this is a really good book for them. Make no mistake, this isn't a comic book, it's a 400+ page novel with amazing illustrations throughout to make this story come alive. I'm not super excited about fantasy but even I had a good time reading this one, and now my son (11) is completely into it. The cool thing is that this is going to be Netflix original series soon so you could read this and then watch it on screen. I'm interested to see how they bring some of this to life on the screen. I will say it read kind of like a screen play to me? I do like the story, I like a re-telling of a classic but with a twist, and I like when the character we have always envisioned is completely different than the one we're getting in the book. Overall, this is 3 for me. I liked it, I didn't love it, but I think if fantasy is your preferred genre you may enjoy this one a lot.

A HUGE thank you to Simon & Schuster for my ARC!

Wild  (Honor Bound #4) - Angel Payne

Five mini-episodes give emotional updates for the couples with whom you’ve fallen in love during the series’ first three books, as well as a not-to-be-missed preview of what’s in store for Tait Bommer and Kellan Rush in Wet, book five in the Honor Bound series.

“Raze the Barn”: Garrett and Sage reignite their flame as Dominant and submissive during a well-timed visit to see Wyatt and Josie on the farm, and a visit to “kinky barn” that neither will soon forget.

“Tie the Knots”: Garrett and Sage have finally said “I do,” but the knot-tying lessons have just begun for Zeke and Rayna, the best man and maid of honor who only have eyes—and other body parts—for each other.

“Diamonds In The Rain”: Ethan is taking Ava home to meet his parents, but when a mansion full of friends is invited for the occasion, there’s a storm of deeper conflict for the couple, requiring Runway to expose his “inner Dom” in a decadent new way.

“Glacier Girl”: Josie is burned-out and emotionally frozen until Wyatt whisks her away for a weekend full of erotic surprises—and one shocking surprise guest.

“Moonrise”: Their road to love was filled with the craziest twists life could deal before it completely blew up the route. Now, Luna is locked from Tait in a night that doesn’t seem to have an end. Can he bring the light of love back to her?

If you've been a reader for awhile you know I have read a good variety of books. I've read some stuff that made even me blush, some that made me feel downright uncomfortable, some that were so on the edge that if this were a real person I'd call for a welfare check. I think we all have a different idea of what is sexy so this might be a home run for someone. Maybe lots of people.

It very much was not for me.

Also, I want this noted that this was one of the "extra" books in my Bookworm Box so it isn't one that I necessarily would have picked up at a store. It has a series of five short stories, which I love because I feel like I can get a section done before bed and I'm not hanging on a cliff hanger. I should tell you I only made it through three of the five, so technically this is a DNR (did not finish) but I read enough to surmise what the heck was going on.

They are heavy BDSM stories so if that isn't your thing, right off the bat this isn't your thing. It's not even Fifty Shades BDSM, this is more "realistic" I suppose and I say that loosely because if any guy said some of this stuff to me I'd tell him to pound sand. The men are supposed to be domineering, macho, and masculine but they come off as assholes in need of therapy. The first story was the worst for me and why I stuck around, I don't know. Sage has post partum depression so her husband's solution is to reinstate their D/s relationship to show her who is really the boss. (EYE ROLL) Sage is all for it apparently and just... I don't understand the mentality of any of this and maybe it's because I'm in extensive counseling for depression myself but this couldn't be any more unhealthy. Honestly. Oh, and at the end he's like "and see a counselor". (Do you hear that sound? That's the sound of my eye balls rolling out of the back of my head onto the floor.) Just.. no. The stories are all kind of like that and I just can't deal with this. It's too corny, it's too dumb, it's just too much.

Of course everyone else on Goodreads loves it so maybe it's me.
Coming Soon! 
Here are some things you will see here soon... 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Book Review: The Nanny

Do you  have a specific time of year that you read a specific genre? Like beach reads in the summer? I have that but I also do thrillers in the fall. I don't know why but fall feels very thrillerish to me so here we are. And I kind of lump all mystery/suspense in the thriller category so don't bother telling me I'm wrong.

The Nanny - Gillian Macmillan

When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

In this compulsively readable tale of secrets, lies, and deception, Gilly Macmillan explores the darkest impulses and desires of the human heart. Diabolically clever, The Nanny reminds us that sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.

I should tell you that this is the first book I have read from Gillian Macmillan and it certainly won't be the last. I really liked the writing voice, I liked how the story flowed, taking little detours but always getting us back on track.

Was there big shockers for me? I don't think so. I didn't feel like I could guess the entire story, but there were definitely some areas that I was like, "well obviously..." so I got a little worried I wasn't going to enjoy this one as much. Coming in at 400 pages this was really pushing it for me size wise since I try to stay at 300 and under for time purposes, and there are a few areas I felt could have been edited out, but for the most part I felt like I was flying through this one because the author pulls you in and is always leaving you little crumbs so you feel like you can't really stop yet. The entire dysfunctional (at best) family has secrets they don't want to come out and each one is a little piece of the puzzle.

Also- the story is through different perspectives AND we flip flop from the past to the present so for me (with memory issues and cognitive dysfunction) I had a hard time keeping things straight but I'm certain with a good brain you'll be just fine!

I really liked Jo and I think her journey to figure out what happened to her nanny was really interesting but man alive- Jo would fall for anything. Gullible isn't even the word to describe her, it was really like a child like mind even as an adult. I didn't really care for Virginia or Hannah but I don't think we were supposed to. If I had to describe this book? Gray. The entire time it felt gray. The house is spooky, the land around it is gloomy, nobody is a ray of sunshine themselves, and the story is just eerie. Plus anytime you have dead bodies in the lake it kind of brings the atmosphere down a bit.

Overall? I'm giving this one a good 3. I liked it, I liked the slow burn aspect of it, I liked the conclusion and felt satisfied, and I had a hard time putting it down. The only thing keeping this from a 4 or even a 5 is I wanted more drama, more big surprises, something really scandalous to make me say, "what the heck is even happening?!". If you like a good mystery, you'll enjoy this one.

A big thank you to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for my ARC! This post contains affiliate links so if you click on them (or order) I just make a whopping few cents and that helps me keep the blog moving. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Book Review: Mother Knows Best

I think we all know someone who is struggling with infertility so I tried to keep that in mind while I read this. If you like crazy thrillers that make you think, question your ethics, and puts you in a position where you're not really sure where you'd fall? Here's your next read.

Mother Knows Best - Kira Peikoff

Claire Abrams’s dreams became a nightmare when she passed on a genetic mutation that killed her little boy. Now she wants a second chance to be a mother, and finds it in Robert Nash, a maverick fertility doctor who works under the radar with Jillian Hendricks, a cunning young scientist bent on making her mark—and seducing her boss.

Claire, Robert, and Jillian work together to create the world’s first baby with three genetic parents—an unprecedented feat that could eliminate inherited disease. But when word of their illegal experiment leaks to the wrong person, Robert escapes into hiding with the now-pregnant Claire, leaving Jillian to serve out a prison sentence that destroys her future.

Ten years later, a spunky girl named Abigail begins to understand that all is not right with the reclusive man and woman she knows as her parents. But the family’s problems are only beginning. Jillian, hardened by a decade of jealousy and loss, has returned—and nothing will stop her from reuniting with the man and daughter who should have been hers. Past, present—and future converge in a mesmerizing psychological thriller from acclaimed bestselling author Kira Peikoff. 

I went into this book with a pretty unclear idea of where I stand with genetically modified babies. I mean, that sounds strange and I'm not sure if it's an accurate description of the situation. Here we have Claire, who after the death of her beloved son, is desperate to have another child but she knows with her genetic mutation that likely would be passed down to her next child and end in a similar circumstance, she isn't optimistic. Her husband things she's too cautious and eagerly wants to try again. She finally agrees, under the condition they do it under Dr. Robert Nash.

Her husband isn't a fan because he has serious doubts on the legality of his practices, but is certain his ethics aren't where they should be but he agrees because he wants a child as well and if this is the way to do it, he's willing to do it. Claire, on the other hand, has an ulterior motive. She knows (through a private Facebook group for women struggling with infertility) that Robert Nash has been experimenting with a process that would use eggs from two different women but the sperm of one man- thus producing a child with three parents. While this sounds very bizarre, it would give Claire the opportunity to carry her child without the fear that her genetic mutation would manifest itself later on. They would all keep it a secret. Claire would have her baby, Dr. Nash would have his critical research, and his assistant (the second egg donor) Jillian would make history.

Except it all goes to hell because this blurs the edges of ethics but it's also incredibly illegal. Jillian is left holding the bag while Dr. Nash and Claire disappear into the ether.

Until Abby, Claire's teenage daughter, participates in a science project at school involving DNA and finds missing relatives to connect with. One of them is a long lost "cousin" of her mom's and she sets up a surprise family reunion but the cousin is really Jillian.

Everything starts imploding and secrets come out.

Claire is effectively losing her mind (or is she?), Abby is digging around and uncovering the past without any idea of the consequence of the future, and Jillian is completely unhinged. I could not be more serious- but she is so unhinged even I am completely blown away at how crazy she is.

The entire story starts unraveling quickly, Jillian's prison time, stolen sperm, kidnapping, I mean- this story legitimately has everything. I had such a hard time putting this book down because every time I thought things would kind of mellow out, something even more insane would happen. If you know me in real life you know I often say, "No wait, it gets worse.." and that's the best way to describe this book.

I will say I am still conflicted on how I feel about the process this book describes. I can see both angles of it and it seems like the only way you can really form an opinion and understand it is by being in it yourself. It definitely gave me something to think about long after I finished the book.

I always seem to read a lot of thrillers in the fall and I'm really glad this is the one to kick that off this year. Absolutely 5 stars.

A huge thank you to Crooked Lane Books and Meryl Moss Media for my ARC! This post contains affiliate links as well. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Book Review: Smoke in her Eyes

If you are a regular reader of this blog (thanks!), you'll recognize this author's name because I reviewed the first book in what will be a trio. I really enjoyed the first book so when I had the chance to read book two I jumped on it! I'm crossing my fingers for book 3!

Smoke in Her Eyes - Anna Belfrage

Six months ago, Helle Madsen would have described herself as normal. Now she no longer knows if that terms applies, not after her entire life has been turned upside down by the reappearance of not one, but two, men from her very, very distant past.

Helle Madsen never believed in mumbo-jumbo stuff like reincarnation—until she came face to face with Jason Morris, a man who purportedly had spent fifty lives looking for her. Coping with being reunited with the lover from her ancient past was one thing. Having Sam Woolf, her vindictive nemesis from that same ancient past join the party was a bit too much. Suddenly, Helle finds herself the reluctant heroine of a far-flung, time-transcending epic story, one in which pain and loss seem to play a very big part.

This time round, Jason and Helle are determined to make it to the happily ever after. Unfortunately, Sam Woolf will stop at nothing to crush them. That ride into the golden sunset seems awfully far away at times…

If you know me you know that historical fiction isn't really my jam. I'll read it but it has to really be special for me to enjoy it. While this isn't really historical fiction, it does flash back from the WAY distant past and then today, so it's kind of like... a modern historical fiction. Does that make sense? Probably not but we're going with it.

In book one we left off on a cliffhanger, Jason & Helle weren't in the best shape but they were together, and Sam was in even worse shape and really pretty pissed off. He's determined to take Helle for his own, like he's done every other time around, but Jason is stopping at nothing to get his chance of happily ever after with Helle. Helle, by the way, isn't a useless damsel in distress, she's coming into her own and she's not going down without a fight. She has an idea of which guy she wants to be with but she wants them both to understand it's 2019 and she's not a possession.

The great thing is that even in book one these characters were developed really well and had a back story, characteristics, and personalities but this book enhances them. Everything feels more and bigger, and I was here for it.

Jason and Helle's relationship is tested by jealously (which we saw a tinge of in book one, but it's definitely a strong theme in this book), but also Helle is really insecure in this book which I felt was.. I'm not sure. I didn't love it, but I could understand why she felt that way. Someone from Jason's past comes back making trouble, people are hurt left and right, we have erotic scenes (which were great), and Sam is absolutely bonkers. He's the villain that you know is the worst but you also want to see how completely over the edge he's going to go and he's really pushing it in this one. Jason.. I didn't really love him in this one and felt like he was pushing Helle away and the whole thing with his aunt felt  little odd.

Overall? A solid 4 stars from me. Anna Belfrage is a particularly exceptional writer and she's able to give us realistic historical passages and flawlessly switch to today and it almost feels like two stories in one. We have a lot of build up in the bulk of the book and the sexual tension is great, and the last big thing in the book is PERFECT and sets us up for book 3, which I am anxiously awaiting.

A huge thank you to Anna Belfrage and TLC Book Tours for my ARC- I'm excited to get the chance for part two! This post contains affiliate links which cost you nothing but I get a couple of cents and it helps keep the blog going! 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Book Review: The Photo Ark VANISHING (National Geographic- you need this)

I'm really lucky I get to review books at all but I consider myself VERY lucky to be able to review books from National Geographic. I grew up with them being THE place to learn about anything in our environment and on our planet and all of these years later... they are still my go-to place when I want to learn. And this book?


The Photo Ark Vanishing: Joel Sartore
Joel Sartore's quest to photograph all the animal species under human care celebrates its 15th year with this glorious and heartwrenching collection of photographs. The animals featured in these pages are either destined for extinction or already extinct in the wild but still alive today, thanks to dedication of a heroic group committed to their continued survival. From the majestic Sumatran rhinoceros to the tiny Salt Creek tiger beetle, Sartore's photographs bring us eye to eye with the kaleidoscopic diversity of shapes, colors, personalities, and attitudes of the animal world.

In these vivid pages, Sartore singles out the species most likely to disappear in the next decades, as well as some that have already been lost. Alongside these indelible images are the words of scientists and conservationists who are working to protect and restore populations of endangered species. With Sartore's distinctive portrait photography, he invites us to look closer--and to care more.
I'm going to tell you that the photos in this book are absolutely stunning and you will find yourself compulsively turning the pages. I know you aren't at all surprised by that because National Geographic is known for it's arresting photographs but this book gives you a head on photo that guts you like nothing else. For me, seeing an animal in the wild or even at a zoo is cool and you're thinking they must be OK because they are being cared for and you feel a little better about it. And be honest- how often do you read the informational display about every animal?

Slim to none.

You might read a few and think, wow- I didn't know that, and then you move on to the next animal and give no more thought to it.

This book forces you to give more thought to it.

Each page has an amazing, up close photograph of an animal and lists their common and scientific name, gives you an idea of their general location and maybe a really interesting piece of information about their impending extinction. It touches on the common animals we know that are in danger (polar bears, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffe, etc) but also to all of the countless insects, fish, birds, and more. It also explains the ICUN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) list and the classifications, which was helpful for me because I didn't realize there were so many classifications. I really though there was extinct, almost extinct, and just fine. Nope. Did you know the classifications are:
Extinct in the Wild
Critically Endangered
Near Threatened
Least Concern
Data Deficient
Not Evaluated

The book does a great job at looking at animals and talk about their most current evaluated populations but also what is causing the drop in their numbers. Things like the Addax, it's like an antelope, and I've only seen one and it was at a zoo, but their living range has been reduced by up to 99% in the last century. Every animal in this book has a starting statistic that makes you stop and think how are you contributing to that? What can you do to help?

Interestingly, there is a beetle mentioned that is almost gone but the St. Louis Zoo is making a valiant effort to save it, and I was just at that zoo and saw an entire display. I didn't really get the big deal until I read this book and wow. To think one little ol' zoo has spent years keeping this from being extinct is amazing.

Olivia and Jackson (ages 14 and 11) have also been looking through this and they recently said wouldn't it be weird to be one of these animals and know that pretty soon there won't be anymore of you left? Or know that soon you won't have a home, or food to eat?

Kids get it. Why can't adults get it?

I absolutely LOVED this book and I have a better understanding of the nature domino effect. We think the loss of one bird isn't going to be a crisis but it would be because now another animal has no food source, and now the next and the next. It will always come back to us so we should absolutely be concerned. We should all be trying to fix this.

I highly, highly suggest this if you're a general of fan of National Geographic, if you like animals, if you work in a school (a cool classroom or library book!), home school, or just like to have cool books on the table. Easily a 5 star book and especially pertinent as the Amazon forest burns to the ground. How many animals are moving up on this list because of politics? And is it really worth it?

I don't know if you've ever been in the National Geographic online store, but you can find this book (comes out September 10, 2019) but there is SO MUCH cool stuff in there and you could load up on Christmas gifts now. Don't get the junky gifts, give something people will enjoy and maybe learn something from... and maybe make some resolutions that could better the planet at the same time.

A huge, huge thanks to TLC Book Tours and National Geographic for letting me be on this tour and sending me a copy to review. I love everything to do with National Geographic so I always jump on the chance when I get to! I also have to tell you that this post contains affiliate links so when you buy something from them I make a couple of cents (literally) at no cost to you. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Book Review: Fix Her Up

It's a good thing I have some books sitting here that I've already read and just haven't typed up for you because the post I was supposed to do today is delayed a bit but that's OK! I've been dying to tell you about this book and here we are.

Fix Her Up - Tessa Bailey

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World... whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there's Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her... 

If you're on Instagram at all and follow some #bookstagram stuff, you would have seen this book EVERYWHERE all spring and summer, and with good reason- it is great! I was a little hesitant at first and I wasn't sure I was going to even get into this but Tessa Bailey can develop a great character and it turns out that I loved Georgie and I loved Travis just as much and I found myself rooting for them the entire time!

We have Georgie, who is a professional clown, and the baby of the family. Her entire family are successful and running the family business (real estate, house flipping, etc.) and they kind of blow her off as the baby, and she hates it. She just wants to be taken seriously. We also have Travis, back home after suffering a devastating injury effectively ending his professional baseball career, and he's a friend of Georgie's family.

Georgie has also been in love with him since she was much younger and thinks people aren't giving Travis enough credit and encouragement to be the best version of himself that Georgie sees. Of course, Travis has no idea that Georgie is in love with him, so when he comes up with this idea of them fake dating to show that he has matured and can be a good announcer/role model, he doesn't think twice. Georgie wants her family to look at her like an adult and what better way to do that than a complete make over and adult relationship?

All is swell until Georgie and Travis have sex once the attraction gets to be too much. They start developing feelings and while Georgie is doing a great job at distancing herself knowing this will all end soon, Travis isn't sure if HE wants it to end.

This book has some great steamy scenes, I loved the absurdity of the trope but Tessa Bailey does such a great job with it that I had a great time reading this and really didn't want it to end. I'm excited to see there is a follow up (but with Rosie and Dominic's story) and I'm going to tell you I really don't care about Kristin and Steven. I didn't like either one of their characters at all so I don't know if I'd be all in on that one. But this one was an absolute gem and you're going to enjoy it.

I am so, so glad I bought this one versus borrowed from the library because this is one I'm going to re-read for sure! This post does contain affiliate links, so help a gal out (at no cost to you!)

Happy reading, lambs! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Book Review: Disgrace

You guys, I have to confess I am still reading Brittainy C. Cherry books every chance I get. I was going to start a different one but my friend Shirley said I had to read this one next so I did.

She's always right.

Disgrace - Brittainy C. Cherry

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again.

After fifteen years together, he walked away from me, and into the arms of another.

I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know how to exist without him by my side.

All I wanted was for him to come back to me.

Then, Jackson Emery appeared.

He was supposed to be a distraction for my mind. A summer fling. A confidence boost to my bruised heart.

We were perfect for one another, because we both knew we wouldn’t last. Jackson didn’t believe in commitment, and I no longer believed in love. He was too closed-off for me, and I was too damaged for him.

Everything was fine, until one night my heart skipped a beat.

I didn’t expect him to make me laugh. To make me think. To make my sadness somewhat disappear.

When our time was up, my heart didn’t know how to walk away.

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again, yet slowly my prayers began to shift toward the man who wasn’t right for me.

I prayed for one more smile, one more kiss, one more laugh, one more touch…

I prayed for him to be mine.

Even though I knew his heart wasn’t destined to love.

Do I even need to tell you that my obsession with Brittainy C. Cherry's books continues? I probably don't, but I continue to love them and this one is another home run for me.

In this book we have Grace, fresh from a separation from her husband after several years of miscarriages and heartache, is forced to move back home to regroup and start over. Once she gets into town she runs into the town "monster" Jackson Emery, who has earned himself a reputation of being an asshole but also really great in bed. From the start it's clear he doesn't like her but her car needs to be repaired so she's pretty much at a loss for alternatives. Her mom is over the top awful, her dad just takes it, her sister is the absolute best, and her best friend? Horrible and you'll see why.

Jackson has had a tough life, running a car shop he never wanted, taking care of his alcoholic father, his mother has died right after she walked out on them for another man, he's given up on the life he had wished for himself.

Through a few interesting events, Grace and Jackson realize they have more in common than they thought and Grace realizes she needs to find out who she is. Her identity has always been part of her ex-husband and she isn't sure how to do that. Jackson agrees to help her and somehow they start sleeping together with no strings attached for the summer. It never works out that way, and as the summer comes to an end, a big secret that had been kept for decades comes to light, Grace stands up for herself, and it turns out it's really Jackson who needs to find himself.

You guys, I loved this book. LOVED IT. It's the good girl, boy from the wrong side of the tracks trope and I'm completely here for it because Jackson is the best under his tough exterior. They are perfect for each other, it's like polar opposites who need each other to work, if that makes sense. I loved everything about this book except one tiny thing, and that's with the ending. There is a little string that I wish could have been tied up and I can't even tell you what that is without giving the entire book away. I will tell tell you that there is a part where Jackson recognizes Grace's miscarriages in a big way and I'm telling you- I COMPLETELY MELTED. I teared up because it's perfect and amazing and Jackson is the best. He's not even real and I love him. 

I highly suggest this book, along with everything else she has ever written because they are home runs every single time. 5 stars, no doubt.

This post contains affiliate links, click on them and I earn a couple of cents (literally) at no cost to you. YAY! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Review: Don't You Forget About Me

I have some photos and even funnier stories to share with you but I need to get myself in order before I can do that, so be patient. I'm really having a hard time getting myself into a comfortable routine with the kids in school, dance, book stuff, house stuff, me stuff, and so I feel like I'm on a bicycle with a wobbly wheel when you know the damn thing is going to fall off eventually.

That's basically my life.

Don't You Forget About Me - Mhairi McFarlane

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…
I know I've read two other books by Mhairi McFarlane (It's Not Me, It's You and Who's That Girl?) and I enjoyed them but they weren't ones I was going to re-read, you know? Now we have Don't You Forget About Me and this one was pretty dang cute and this one is one I will likely snuggle in with again because I really enjoyed reading this start to finish. 

We all have a first love and that's what this book jumps on with Georgina and Lucas. I'll be honest and tell you the reason I picked this one was because I really am drawn to stories where a character has a bad day that just gets exponentially worse because if you know me in real life you know that I always say, "No wait, it gets worse!" and anything on that premise sells it for me. Georgina is having a really bad run of luck but it gets to a point of humiliation when she has to take the first job she can which means her first love?

Would be her boss.

That's bad enough but he has absolutely no memory of her.

Now... think back to your first love. I know mine and I have to say, if he didn't remember me after all that... not a confidence boost, friends.

The best part about this book is you can completely relate to Georgina and you can really empathize with her feelings and her situation in general. You want to be pissy with Lucas but honestly? You can't because they are adorable and I wanted them to be together. (No, I'm not going to tell you if they are or not, just trust me- it's worth it.) So not only do we have a romance and some comedy in here, there is some drama thrown in so this is a little bit of everything for everyone. You are going to really enjoy this one.

You can head over to HarperCollins website to find this one (HERE) but also Mhairi's other books, which are just as fun! Happy reading lambs!

A big thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for sending me an ARC of this one! This post does contain affiliate links, so be a dear and order from those so I can keep this little 'ol blog rolling. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Purple fingers, season change, and pills

It's been awhile since I've talked about what's happening health wise. Not that I think anyone really cares, but it's been nice for me to constantly have this to check back on when I forget. Between my blog and Facebook memories, that's really the only memories I have. Is it weird to say I'm grateful for social media for that? Anyways.

So it's fall, and as I look back on this time of year the last three years I see that this depressing slump I'm in is pretty par for the course. I had therapy last week and I went in as a wreck. An hour no longer seems like a long enough session and she said maybe down the road I might consider going weekly because I seem like I could benefit from it.

That's probably true, but I'm getting tired of always waving the flag. Every threshold I've had in the "I'm not that bad" column I seem to be crossing off and it's frustrating and defeating.

It's fall now and I can feel depression coming in like the cold weather. Any motivation I had to try to do things is pretty much gone. My interest in pretty much everything is gone. My appetite is gone. I'm so tired all of the time that all I want to do is sleep. Even with my medications it's just.... gray. Everything feels gray.

Have you ever been to the blog Hyperbole and a Half? Anyone who was anyone in the world of blogging 5-10 years ago had visited this blog regularly and she just did it so well and ended up writing a book and it is great. Anyways- she did a blog about depression that was so SPOT ON and honestly, if you  have never seen it, please-please-please go, read it, and come back.


OK, so that's kind of what it is. It feels much worse some days. It dawned on me the other day that the idea of dying or being dead no longer scares me. I think for a little while after my AFE the idea of killing myself or being dead was scary because I had never had the feeling of wanting to be dead. I think when you first register yourself as someone struggling with suicidal ideation (which is different than being suicidal, don't freak the hell out, people) it's kind of alarming. More alarming though is being in it right now and know that you had a couple of weeks/months where you didn't think about it and you never realized how good you were having it right then because you depression is still bogging you down. Then you realize that's it is really depressing that that moment in time becomes the goal, knowing that you are fully depressed and feeling awful but at least you didn't think about wanting to die everyday.

That's a really depressing goal.

It also makes me wonder why am I even hanging on if that's my goal, that's what I'm working towards. Because that couple of weeks/months wasn't great at all, it was just a period of nothing. I felt nothing, but I wasn't raging. Realizing that my brain functioning makes no sense to me but is also really difficult to manage is just.... it's defeating.

Aside from that though, the medical situation is just as bad.

Auto Immune stuff: My inflammation lab work is still very, very high despite taking my methotrexate every Wednesday. I was on 8 pills on Wednesdays and then she had me do half in the morning, half in the evening to see if my body absorbed it better. It didn't seem to make a difference and the lab work showed that. Now I'm up to 10 pills on Wednesday, split doses again, and still- I feel no different. I've become one of those people who are like a weather barometer- I can feel the weather. Last week was pretty rough and I normally feel like I'm getting the flu but last week I felt like I was on day 3 of the worst flu of my life. That was every day and there isn't a thing I can do to deal with it. Plus, my fingers are almost constantly purple so hello, fall.

Gut check. I continue to have really horrible abdominal pain. I've done so many tests, scans, and lab work and nobody has any idea why my entire abdomen area hurts. It's not heartburn, it's not my gall stone, it's not my liver or appendix, it's not cancer, it's not any weird disease or syndrome, it's not a diet issue, they legitimately have no idea. Which is just great. They said I could "come back if I wanted to" later this year and it's like YES- BECAUSE MY ENTIRE MIDSECTION HURTS EVERY DAY TO THE POINT OF HAVING TO LAY DOWN AND DOING BREATHING EXERCISES AS IF I WAS IN LABOR TO GET THROUGH THEM. So yes, I want to come back. Fucking fix this. Jesus. I mean, I get not knowing, but ask another doctor, send me somewhere else, literally do anything at this point.

Busted. In not sexy news, my entire reproductive system and parts seem to be busted. Intercourse hurts and it's all for nothing because I can't feel anything and orgasms aren't happening. I know that this is probably really normal for my situation but the last three years has been... crappy. I see my primary care doctor in November for my physical so that's on the agenda but yeah. It's busted. Also, the hot flashes are getting SO MUCH WORSE. I only get a period once a year (which is just fine) and this year I got it maybe a month ago and it was so painful and I felt like someone was actually stabbing me for an entire day. It only lasted for one full day, and so I'm grateful for that because it was painful.

Neurology. I won't get into it much here but just know, my memory is not improving. For awhile there I thought maybe it was but that was like a false oasis because it's gotten worse. At first you think it's just little things like your car keys or phone go missing, you forget to put the milk away or shut a cupboard- all stuff that regular people do everyday. I know people blow that stuff off when I talk about it but for me, that's irregular. That is not my normal, those are not things I normally would do. Then it kind of morphs into other stuff. I'll forget to take my medications, I'll sort them all wrong or forget to have Matt check them, I'll forget to wear my CPAP mask at night, forget to shower or how to wash my hair, I couldn't remember how to tie my shoes last week. I dropped Penelope off at school and couldn't remember how to turn my car on and then how to get home. The forgetting where I live thing is starting to happen more and more. I had a bigger incident that I know Matt kind of brushed off and said, "well you remembered- and that's what matters" and I'm like, NO- the fact I forgot IS A BIG DEAL.

Sometimes it feels like a split personality. Where fog Sara is kind of in control and at the wheel but then old Sara pops in to say, "danger! danger!" and nobody listens. Like some little part of my brain knows I'm in murky waters but can't get me out.

I'm really afraid that I'm going to just progressively decline. I'm doing all of the puzzles and exercises, I do them all of the time, and still- it's not working. The closer I get to the 5 year mark (which is when I should be at my "peak recovery"), I'm getting scared, like I'm going to just miss the target.

Ha ha. I saw in Facebook memories that a few months after my AFE I was like, "god, I hate taking all of these meds" and I was only on 4 things. FOUR. That's nothing.
I've got all of my steroid replacements, my beta blocker, my acid reducer, my mental health medication, and my vitamins. And this is only my normal day, when I get to Wednesday I have to add 10 more in. 
That's my typical morning. I'm so used to it now that I don't even think about it but at every doctor appointment I ask if I can stop any of these. I know the answer will be no because my body doesn't produce any of this stuff or function without them, but I ask anyways.

I'm just in a really awful spot. Yes, I have my kids. Yes, I have things to look forward to. Yes, I have a great husband. Yes, I have family and responsibility. I know all of this, and I get all of this. But I also know that I'm tired. It's like asking an amputee to just drag themselves a little further through a desert when they are straight exhausted. I feel like I can't keep dragging myself around.

But I do it. I'm medicated and even-keel so I can keep going.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book Review: Almanac 2020

Anything National Geographic does, I want to be a part of it. I've been lucky enough to be on a few of their review tours before (and I have a few more coming up!!) but when I saw Almanac 2020 up, I had to get on it because one of my favorite things to mindlessly page through is an almanac.

Almanac 2020 - National Geographic

The latest dynamic annual for the 21st century, featuring high-energy pages packed with facts, photos, infographics, time lines, and maps that capture today's world. Perfect for ages 12 to 112.

An almanac like no other, this book offers everything you need to know about the world in 2020--from science and nature to history, world cultures, and the environment. Filled with exquisite National Geographic photography, informative infographics, illustrated time lines, and authoritative maps, this striking new edition will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with practical tips for improving your own sustainability habits.

The book begins with trending topics in science, technology, and culture, then moves into fascinating chapters on travel, exploration, earth and space, biology, culture, and history. Recurring features include inspiring quotes, revealing facts, photos from National Geographic's Instagram, and a Quizmaster trivia feature. With new discoveries on every page, this cutting-edge book brings you the world, no matter what your age.

I should tell you that if you want to encourage even a reluctant reader to pick up a book, have a National Geographic book on your table. If you've never perused the NatGeo online store you are missing out because you could probably get all of your Christmas shopping done right there. In Almanac 2020 there is a flamingo picture on page 195 that my daughter is obsessed with (flamingos are her favorite animal of all time) and she wants it as a poster or something for her room.


Almanac 2020 will make you feel equal parts dumb (because there is so much we don't know) and smart (because you will finish this knowing so much more information about a huge variety of things), and that's the best part about the book. The book is sectioned out as follows:

  • Trending 2020
  • Exploration & Adventure
  • This Planet & Beyond
  • Life on Earth
  • The Science of Us
  • Yesterday to Tomorrow
  • Our World
Throughout the book they have a "quizmaster" page and it's a list of questions you think you know the answer to (spoiler, you most likely won't) and tells you which page you will find the answer on. My favorite section was Exploration & Adventure because our family is trying to make a state by state bucket list so we have a starting point for future road trip planning. (Bonus? I found a road trip playlist in the book!)

Fun Fact: Lake Superior stretches across 31,700 sq miles of the US and Canada making it the largest lake by surface area. (I already knew this because Lake Superior is only five blocks away from my house!)

My son really liked the section on fossils because the idea of something forever preserved in a rock is bizarre to him. My oldest daughter liked the page with animal tracks on it, she goes on "woods walks" with Grandpa (who worked with the DNR so he already knows this stuff), but she has been trying to identify what she sees out there. Same with the caterpillar and butterfly pages, our backyard becomes a caterpillar nursery for a good chunk of the summer and it's a serious enterprise they have going out there.

Also, there is a really FASCINATING section on understanding gender.There is actual science to that and I had no idea and didn't really understand it before but it was very cool to learn about. 

Not counting the index, it's 381 pages of JAM PACKED information. If you are a school librarian or even a classroom teacher, pick this one up and have it for that reluctant reader. The short sections and facts might be enough to keep them turning the pages. Also, if you home school your child(ren) this might be a great resource to have on hand. Every year these are so full of information and I wonder what they will include the next year and it continually blows me away. Not to mention the photographs are stunning, as usual, but I'm telling you, I made it through this book in just a few hours. My kids have been picking it up every time they sit on the couch. People who have come over automatically pick it up and learn something. It's a very cool book to have out.

Also, on page 316-317 it shows all of the variations of the American flag. Did you know the United States has had 29 versions of the flag? Each image shown lists the dates in which that flag was used and some are incredibly... interesting. All but one is the stars and stripes theme, but the design of the stars area has changed pretty radically over the years and that was pretty interesting.

I could go on and on with information in this book but I'll end this with telling you this is absolutely a 5 star read, no question. It's well organized, the information throughout the book is relevant to topics we see on the news but also just incredibly interesting. I think you'll really enjoy it!

A huge, huge thank you to National Geographic and TLC Book Tours for sending me a beautiful copy of this book for review! This post also contains affiliate links.