Thursday, October 31, 2013


Oh ladies. Oh ladies, ladies, ladies. Just whip out your credit card, get yourself onto Barnes and Noble and pick this one up. Just do it.

Rule - Jay Crownover
Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters
Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight–A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want–and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.
To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.
But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.
First up, this is the first in a SERIES. You know how I am about a series, I cannot get enough. Let them never end. Then to make it even better, they all feature boys who are slightly on the fridge of what society would consider acceptable, and who gives a damn because Rule is pierced
Let me just let that sink in for you. 
Alright, back to the review. Obviously, I loved it. I love a good romance, I love the bad boy type, I love everything about this. It felt a little like the book Beautiful Disaster because you have Shaw, this beautiful and intelligent "good girl", but then you have Rule, equally handsome and intelligent but he comes with a load of emotional baggage. He doesn't particularly care what people think of his appearance but he's also guarded and has no idea how to have a functional and emotional romantic relationship but wants to badly. He messes up, she messes up and you watch them basically walk together. Throw in a crazy ex-boyfriend and some family issues and you have yourself a really great book that you will not put down. Like me, who read until 1:30 in the morning and was up at 6, looking (and feeling) like hell for work. 
But it's OK but it's worth it. The best part is that it even makes you consider nipple piercings. Not that I would do that because my nose was bad enough and that is now gone AND I've heard enough horror stories of what can go wrong with a nipple piercing to say no thank you to that. But for a solid 5 chapters I thought, maybe. Maybe it would be worth it. 
It was clearly the lack of sleep talking. I'm piercing free on my nipples, world. 
I highly recommend this one. I am excited for the next book, Jet, that I think is on my list to review and I believe the third one, Rome, is on my list as well. SQUEAL. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Upir and the Monster Gang

This is one of two books this week that I had Olivia read and do a review for me. Which she clearly thought she was totally badass, so this was actually a lot of fun to do with her.

Upir and the Monster Gang - Sharron Thornton

Upir, a young vampire, gets entangled in a secret plot that might change the monster world forever. He joins forces with Payne, a pumpkin headed scarecrow, Gusty, a smart aleck ghost, Isabelle, a purple eyed witch, and Hawthorne, a green hairy creature. Along the way their nights become treacherous when they have to dodge flying skulls, avoid man eating plants, run from a mad scientist and most of all, steer clear of Muriel, a gorgon girl with slithering snakes for hair. She and her nasty monster friends have vowed to destroy Upir and his gang.

First up, what a cool book! Olivia is eight and she really loved it. She said she liked Isabelle the best because she is a girl, she is a witch, and girl witches are the best. She also liked Upir because he is smart, even though he kind of started the whole thing. We both really loved the illustrations- holy cow were those cool. I mean, I know for books aimed at the 9-12 crowd you'll get a few illustrations and some of the books Olivia reads the illustrations are kind of lame. This one has far more detail and are the kind that libraries would hang up as posters encouraging kids to pick up a book and read. Olivia even said it was cool because it talked about bullying a little bit and they were talking about bullying at school. 

Overall? We both really loved it. Seriously, such a cute book for that age group, it's a story they can follow easily, and if it turns into a series- it's one that kids would keep reading all the way through. 

But in order to make this all happen, there is a Kickstarter project running from October 1 through November 16. Go HERE to watch a cute video about it, and hopefully donate a few bucks to help this project get off the ground. All of the money from the Kickstarter campaign is going to go to the publication of the first edition of the book. And just think- your donation of $20 (or more/less) could get the new Harry Potter off the ground. Can you imagine? It could be really great. OR, you could fulfill someone's dream to see their book in print. Either way, it's a win. 

Mind Without A Home

Whoa. If you have anyone near and dear to you with a mental illness? You need this.

Mind Without A Home - Kristina Morgan
Mind Without a Home fin
Experience the inner world of a woman with schizophrenia in this brutally honest, lyrical memoir. Kristina Morgan takes us inside her head to experience the chaos of the schizophrenic mind. With the intimacy of private journal-like entries and the language of a poet, she carries us from her childhood to her teen years when hallucinations began to hijack her mind and into adulthood where she began abusing alcohol to temper the punishing voices that only she could here. This is no formulaic tale of tragedy and triumph: We feel Kristina’s hope as she pursues an education, career and builds friendships—and her devastation as the insistent voices convince her to throw it all away. Woven through the pages of her life are stories of recovery from alcoholism and her journey to live a fulfilling life.

I'm going to be honest and tell you right up front, judge me all you want, but certain types of mental illness scares the pants off of me. And by that I mean, I could never work with people with a mental disability because I could not handle it. I don't work well on the fly, I get scared and I don't know how to reason. It's terrible and I hate it. I should also say right now, I'm not one of those people who would turn the other way or refuse to be in a place with people with any kind of disability, I'm not that kind of jerk. I just don't understand it and fear comes from someone not understanding. 

This book? Made me understand it far better. 

The book is a bit jumpy, in that it jumps from one time period to the next, then back, then forward, etc. And that's OK because I feel like if you have schizophrenia, this seems like a logical way things happen. The author lives with schizophrenia is so incredibly open, honest, and endearing that you can't help but just want to hug her. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be in her position and feel like either something is wrong with your or something is drastically wrong with the world. How incredibly terrifying would that be? Then when you look at the people around the person with schizophrenia, you get it. Friends and family are frustrated, scared, and want to help and it looks like the person with the illness isn't trying or appreciative. It's like those shape sorter toys- trying to jam a triangle in the circle hole and the circle being jammed into the triangle hole and nobody understanding why nothing is working. It's frustrating and when you think about a person maybe harming themselves or others, it can be scary. 

And I won't lie- the first thing I thought about was Amanda Bynes and just feeling a thousand times more sympathetic for her. She lived this out for the entire world to see and that is embarrassing and just so sad. What also makes me appreciate this book is the plea for treatment. Just like food stamps help people who are hungry, there really needs to be something better in place to help people who have a mental illness. Everything seems like an overwhelming feat in the beginning, but just think of how many people are out in the world, just lost. Lost, scared, and not having a clue what's going on with them. It's not right. Not in any way. 

But seriously- it takes a really strong person to live with schizophrenia, oh and throw some alcoholism in there as well, and you just want to gives this author a standing ovation because dammit. What a woman. Seriously. She may be flawed, but we all are. Not many can say not only are they living life, by they are kicking life's ass at the same time. Such a tremendous book and I highly recommend it. 

Oddities & Entities

Just in time for Halloween, lambs!

Oddities & Entities - Roland Allnach
Oddities and Entities
Oddities & Entities is a surreal, provocative anthology of six tales within the supernatural/paranormal/horror genres, exploring a definition of life beyond the fragile vessel of the human body. The stories are: ‘Boneview’, in which a young woman struggles to balance her ability to see through people with the presence of a supernatural creature in her life; ‘Shift/Change’, in which a hospital worker struggles to regain his memory as he is confronted by a series of desperate people; ‘My Other Me’, in which a lonely college student finds himself displaced from his body by his alter ego; ‘Gray’, in which a frustrated man is stunned to discover a little creature has been living in his head; ‘Elmer Phelps’, in which a brother and sister find themselves linked in a strange reality by a bat bite in their youth; and lastly, ‘Appendage’, in which a cynical mercenary is hired by his son to protect a research lab on the verge of a stunning discovery.

If you are looking for a slightly creepy book that fits every definition of different? Bam. Pick this up. This also would make a really kick ass Christmas present for someone who likes really weird things and you find yourself trolling the aisles of Spencer's Gifts looking for something bizarre but still cool. Now you won't have to wander that store wondering the appeal of fart pills and nipple clamps- you can buy this online and never leave your couch. 

Win for everyone. 

Basically, it's a collection of short stories that are all weird. And by weird? I mean, do not read this before bed. I read right before bed and I'm telling you what- I had 3 days (I read two stories per night) of the most whacked out dreams. Boneview and Gray are probably my favorites. Boneview is where this poor girl can see through people, but she can also tell when they are going to die. Which, if you think about it- how horrible would that be? Can you imagine if just say, you lived in a large city? Every day, all day you would inundated with people and you'd be able to tell who was going to die? What a horrible existence. And Gray was good because the first thing I thought of was another book I recently read (review coming soon) about schizophrenia and that reminded me of that right away. My Other Me kind of reminded me of the movie Fight Club, except it's not nearly as violent but some of the passages reminded me of that. 

I'm not even a big fan of short stories, but this one was so bizarre I couldn't put it down. Granted, some of the stories were a bit stranger than others, but it was a pretty fun read for the month of October. And I do know a few friends who would adore this book so that's fun too. If you are into odd, into a little bit different, want to try something new, like short stories and the ability to fly through a book- this one is definitely for you. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Oh lambies. It's not often I get to post a book review for you that isn't commissioned as a review but YAY! I have one for you. And before I get into it, please know that I adore this author. I love her long time. Her first book, On The Island, is on my favorites of all time. I loved it that much. When I saw that she had another one out I bought it immediately but only now had a chance to read it.

Finished it in one day, lovers. One day. Laundry be damned.

Covet - Tracey Garvis Graves
What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else? 

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together. 

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross.

I don't care who you are, but at some point in every marriage you will hit a rough spot. And it's how you deal with that rough spot that sets the tone for the rest of your marriage, if there even is one. Matt and I have had some real difficult patches and we continue along a bumpy road hoping for the best. I have had opportunities to cheat on Matt, not just physically but emotionally as well. I have had moments where I have dangled one leg over the line thinking maybe I should throw caution to the wind and feel

I didn't, though. I'd rather be sad and lonely than feel like I've betrayed my husband. 

The story is mostly about Claire, who though supporting her husband through the recession and his job loss, she feels isolated and lonely. She's a busy mom and freelance graphic designer. Her husband Chris takes his role as family provider seriously and instead of turning to her and figuring out a solution together, he turns inwards and essentially shuts her out. Eventually he finds a job but it requires a high amount of travel so instead of feeling relief because they aren't financially unstable anymore, she feels even more lonely and struggles with what to do because now even her kids feel the strain. 

Then you have Daniel, a police officer Claire befriends, and it's clear- he's smitten. Struggling with the loss of his family, Daniel is vulnerable which catapults their friendship into rocky waters. They both want more but Claire is obviously conflicted because she still loves her husband and would always choose him, and Daniel wants Claire but is trying to not cross the boundaries they set for their friendship. 

Also in the book? The stories of Claire and Chris's friends- all of whom have seemingly have it together but are all cracking at the seams at the same time. 

I absolutely adored this book. I could relate to Claire so much it felt like reading my own story. She asks the question- is it possible to love two people at the same time? And I say yes. Yes, it is. I feel like it's so easy to cheat, to just satisfy what it is you feel like you're missing. It's harder, but more rewarding, to get that from your spouse. I won't lie- I struggle. Every day it's a new thing I feel we're lacking but we try so hard and I can't help but think someday all of this struggle will be worth it. I think the best part of our marriage is that we both know individually we could (and should) be better, and it's not just us pointing the finger at the other person. I think the danger comes when a couple stops questioning what they could do better for their spouse and for themselves. 

I so highly recommend this book. You know what else I love? I love that even though this is a literary fiction/romance/chick lit novel, it's different. There are others that try to tackle this scenario but none that I have read have really gotten it. The flip flop between Claire-Chris-Daniel chapters pull you in and you see all facets of this complex situation and you're left feeling for them all. Your heart breaks and you know there are no winners here. Sure, one relationship will go forward, but it will never be the same for any of them. And maybe that's OK. 

So I encourage you to check this book out. Immediately and then buy her other one because you'll be glad you know me and that I do the hard part for you. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One minute.

I've decided that since I've not been blogging a whole bunch, I would take exactly one minute to just spew what's happening in my life right now. Fortunately for you, I'm a fast typist. WOO. 

1. I volunteer at a lot of things/places but there is one particular one that is driving me nuts. I put a lot of time into it and I understand volunteering is mostly a thankless job but man. There are some people I deal with that complain about everything. Whatever I do to make it better, they complain more or in a really passive aggressive way say my first idea was better even though they shot it down, prompting me to come up with something better. No matter what I do, it's shit. 

2. Finances are a freaking mess right now. The not awesome thing is how one bad month can mess up several months later. I'm trying to keep my head above water and just make everything happen and it's awful. 

3. Matt is wishy washy on his anti depressants again so you can assume what that's been like. 

4. I'm sick of hearing someone complain about how their life is and they do literally nothing to fix it. They complain about being broke but have such high requirements for a new job and won't take a second job.

5. Then the plight of shitty work ethic? Good lord. It turns out that I know a lot of people who have a terrible work ethic. I'll tell you what- I don't care what I'm hired to do, or where I work, if my boss tells me I need to clean bathrooms? I'm going to do it because I'm getting paid to WORK. I might not like it, but that's the point of a job- you work. Even if it's something you hate to do and really don't want to do. Be thankful to even have a job. 

6. I'm contemplating going back to school. Dudes- I know. I'm freaking out. I'm on the fence. I really want to be an editor or even a copy editor, and some day work for a publishing house. That's a post for another day with my entire dilemma spilled out so you can see what runs through my head every day. It's ridiculous. 

7. Facebook makes me want to stab myself sometimes. I swear to you, if you have multiple kids, and I'm going to say anything over 2, you are an expert. Stop asking dumb fucking questions in your quest for attention. I mean, first time parents? Ask away. Second time parents? Still OK because the second kid is far different than the first usually. Anything after that? Come on now, get your shit together. I mean, by kid 5 you should know when you can feed them solids. Don't be a dumb ass. 

8. I was volunteering at Barnes & Noble this weekend because my kids' school was having a book fair fundraiser. I turned out to be the one man fundraiser and that was fine because I made friends with a cool children's author. ANYWAYS. I was kind of appalled at how many people flat out were like, "We support no other school, just ours." Um, are you kidding me? What kind of jerk are you? I support every school. If I'm shopping for books, and I see a book fair table, I will always go get the voucher and help someone out. I'm already buying the books- it's not like I'm shelling out additional money. I was just surprised at how many people aren't very giving at all. 

9. I read a cool article about how this guy, who is divorced, wrote about what he could have done better as a husband, but also what his wife could have done to be better. Which, totally interesting not matter the state of your marriage. But what was cool was that he was basically saying that as a wife, husbands want you to appreciate them and need them, but not TOTALLY need them. Basically you can't be a co-dependent, where if they just up and left you, you'd be stranded. Which I loved because that's how I've always kind of been. Sure, if Matt left I'd have to move back home for a bit but it wouldn't be the end of the world. I'd figure it out and get it worked out. But I know lots of women who rely on their husbands for EVERYTHING. Husband leaves for work for the weekend and you see on Facebook, "This is so hard", etc. And it's like dang..... get it together. What would you do if he died?? And sadly, that happens. So Matt and I have this good balance of needing each other at the right times but both knowing that if one of us leaves or dies, the other will be OK. Sad for awhile, yes, but not completely losing track of the cart either. 

So there. One minute. 

What's going on with you?

Oh and YES- to the few who've emailed, if you have a Dear Sara, go ahead and email me! I have a few rainy day ones in my inbox still and maybe I'll pull those out. We'll see. ;) 

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Demon Abraxas

It's been awhile since we've had a book where my first response was, "Oh what the hell is this?!", so here we go:

The Demon Abraxas - Rachel Calish
The Demon Abraxas
San Francisco after dark can be full of unusual sights, but the last thing Ana Khoury expects to stumble across is black-garbed figures carrying a body into a building. Her call to 911 is interrupted by a blow to the head, plunging her into nothingness.

Sabel Young has long been attracted to the gentle and alluring Ana, but her esoteric assignments have left her with few options for romance. When she realizes that Ana has been taken—and by whom—her very private life and Ana’s normal world collide. Her orders were specific: she is not supposed to get involved with demons.

Even if Sabel’s interest in Ana weren't already personal, there is no way she will leave a woman with no magic in the hands of dark powers. With daring and luck she pulls Ana to safety and at first it appears they have escaped dark magic unscathed. 

You all know I am a big fan of paranormal romance so I think that's why I signed up for this one without any hesitation. And then I realized that oh hey- this is a lesbian paranormal romance, I didn't know what to think. Clearly the description makes that obvious and maybe I had assumed it was a typo or maybe I didn't read it at all because I don't know that I would have gone for it. And rightfully so, the romance portions of this book do absolutely nothing for me. If ever there was a doubt of my sexuality, this book sealed it. I am very much a fan of penis and not a fan of vagina. 

But yay to those who are fans of vaginas, I am not saying I am anti gay. Big fan of gay and lesbian. It just literally does nothing for me. 

And maybe that's why this book was blah for me. Sure, the paranormal stuff? Interesting and weird. Mostly weird because Abraxas is a demon, but he's in Ana, and that's weird. Honestly, it makes me think that Ana probably looked schizophrenic, she has conversations with the Abraxas and that was odd. Abraxas is insightful and intelligent and it forces Ana to basically look at what she's doing and figure out if it's what she should be doing. The other thing is that Sabel, the love interest, is a witch. And demons are not besties with witches and vice versa, so that is clearly a complication. I don't know if I missed something in the book but I don't really understand the origin of the demons and witches essentially hating each other, maybe it's something you just come in knowing? I felt a little lost on that aspect and skimmed back twice to see if maybe I had missed a page but no. 

Overall, it was alright. I'm not saying run out and buy it because our friendship depends on it, but I'm not saying fully say no either. I think really the hiccup for this book is the lesbian relationship and that is fully my own fault for not figuring that out sooner. So if you are into that? This book will be out of the ballpark for you, all the way. You will have the warm tinglies and who doesn't love that?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Harvest Run = Redemption

So, do any of you remember my last two runs? The fun Neon Run and then the one I came in dead fucking last? When I say "dead fucking last", I really mean "long after the old people and small children finished".

Well that was shameful and I knew I had to redeem myself. So I signed up for the Harvest Run. I've done this one before and they have a really amazing course, gorgeous along the shore of Lake Superior, and the finish is at Fitger's Brewhouse which means I'll get a burger and fries at the end. So worth it. Well I signed up for it, but Olivia said she wanted to sign up for the kid run too, which was only 1K, and I thought- awesome mommy and daughter bonding experience!

So I signed us both up. And then did not train. At all. Like a MORON. I seriously felt like not even going to the damn race because I was so grossly unprepared but I thought, no.... I paid fees, I'm getting a shirt, and Olivia wanted to go. So we went.

While waiting for the train to come (because you get to take the train to the start- pretty cool), I saw this lady behind me. She has what appears to be a hand made headband that had "Duck Commander" written on it? I think it's something to do with Duck Dynasty, but she doesn't have a beard so it's odd. Then after I saw the guy dressed as a storm trooper, I think that maybe they are the only two that thought this was a dress up run? Um, no. It is not a dress up run.
While in line for the train, Olivia and I posed in our shirts next to the lake. Freezing. It was freezing.
Then we got on the train. Only I would be getting off, but your family/spectators can ride and watch the start. They get dropped back off at the finish, and Matt said by the time they got there the first people were finishing the race. CRAZY.
As it turns out, I had signed up to walk this race instead of run. Which was fine because oh hell no I was in no shape to run a full 5K. But I only had two goals for this race: do not finish last being the important one, and then finish before the storm trooper. If I got beat by a storm trooper, I should just stop all together. 
 So off we went. It turns out there were a bunch of walkers. All of which were incredibly slow. Like I got to the half mile mark and I could no longer even see them. So then I thought, I'm just going to do a light jog. It was basically a fast walk with more arm movement. And I didn't die. I felt pretty good and had to really slow down in some spots, but overall I felt like I was booking it. I was actually passing people who were full fledged running who looked like maybe they weren't doing so hot.

And before I knew it, I was done. I thought I had gotten my best time but no, my best time ever for a 5K was 41 minutes and some seconds, but this was a respectable finish for me.
I didn't even feel super exhausted at the end, either. I felt pretty good. The best part? Is that I won. 
I actually won FIRST PLACE for the walkers. Which, you might scoff at that, but I have never won first place in anything athletic, ever. (Unless you could the time I won first place in a baton tossing competition but it was blind luck that I caught that toss and it would never be repeated again.) I didn't know they were giving out prizes for walkers, so when I heard my name called, I may or may not have yelled, "Holy shit! That's ME!" A bunch of guys sitting on the deck of Fitgers laughed at me, but it was a big deal. I got a medal AND a gift card which I'm going to use to buy new shoes. But it was pretty awesome. Oh- AND I passed the storm trooper. But a LOT. Phew.
 After my race, I got Olivia ready for hers. She has done a few running things but a 1K was further than she's gone and because I don't understand the metric system, I told her the wrong distance. Whoops.
 But she is an awesome little kid and she just ran her little heart out. She took off and she said not only did she not fall (she's a bit clumsy) but she only stopped and walked for a few seconds and took off again.
 There's my girl crossing the line.
 And afterwards, she said she felt good and wants to do it again. So every time I'm racing and there's a kid option I'll see if she wants to do it. I'm trying to do things to promote being healthy versus exercising to lose weight with her.

Overall it was a really nice October morning. We both got some exercise in, didn't totally freeze but came close, and had the boys cheering us on. I haven't run since (shocker) but it's days like this that make me wish I'd just stick with it. My next challenge is running in the cold. I know people do it and can handle it but I don't do well with cold and I wish I could afford a gym membership just so I could run indoors during the really long winter here. I was set to go out this morning but it was 38 degrees and raining. No thanks.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Finding It

Oooh lambies! I cannot scream "I love this author" loud enough. I'm a first time reader of Cora and I am hooked. A few more books in and I might be the creepy fan reader stalker.

Finding It - Cora Carmack
Finding It
Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong . . .
Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life . . . or that’s what she keeps telling herself.
It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.
This book.... oh. *insert giggles here* . 
OK, so I loved this book. Mostly because this story right here is one of the reasons I wish I had slutted it up in college and maybe had gone to a four year and traveled abroad. Wrong? Maybe. But I don't care because if I had ever encountered anyone like Jackson Hunt or had a story like this to tell? WORTH IT. 
First of all, Cora Carmack is kind of great. She weaves a story that is written exactly as if you were sitting down and hearing about your friend's trip. It's funny, it's engaging, it's something you can relate to. We have Kelsey, who with her own bag of demons and some low self esteem, sets out to "find herself" but while doing that she's slutting it up and getting drunk. Her self discovery is actually just a series of bad choices she's using to mask the fact she has suffered actual trauma as a child and her parents are ridiculously terrible. Then you have Jackson who is a mixed bag of mystery and they come together. Full disclosure- I figured out the jig with Jackson immediately. Why? Because I read a lot of romance novels and watched my fair share of Lifetime movies. 
No shame in that. 
But both characters are flawed and battered for greatly different reasons, but together they are good. The best part is seeing how both of them, in their own way, discover that what they were doing before wasn't working so they work together to do something better. 
Or until Kelsey discovers what Jackson's jig is all about and loses her shit and cue dramatic plot twist!
But it's things like this that propel each individual character to take what they've learned with the other.... and carve out a new way on their own. Because everybody knows that you cannot have a successful relationship unless each person in it is secure, valued, and successful on their own. You can't roll a cart with a broken wheel, eventually you'll find a new cart. (Did you see that? I threw a little Dr. Phil up in there.) 
I can't tell you anymore, it would ruin it for you. But I will tell you this- LOVED this book. Love Cora, love it all. The book isn't very long, you'll fly through it, you'll get some heated scenes in it, you'll get a good love story and you'll end up wishing your husband write you letters and draw you sketches. Swearsies. 
And if you have time, check out Cora's website, her Facebook and Twitter and make a list of everything else of hers to read this winter. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Almost True Confessions

I'm just saying, with a title like that, how could you not pick this book up?

Almost True Confessions - Jane O'Connor
Almost True Confessions
This comic mystery set in the elite zip codes of Manhattan will leave you breathless . . . literally
What could be more fun for a freelance copy editor than work- ing on a juicy tell-all about one of Manhattan’s most enigmatic society doyennes? But when Miranda “Rannie” Bookman arrives at Ret Sullivan’s tony Upper East Side apartment, she finds more than the final draft of the reclusive author’s manuscript waiting for her—there’s also the half-naked body of Ret herself, tied to her bed and strangled with an Herm├Ęs scarf.
Was this merely a case, as the police believe, of rough sex that got a little too rough? Or was Ret murdered because someone wanted to make absolutely sure she didn’t meet her deadline? Once again, Rannie must prove that her mind is just as sharp as her Col-Erase blue pencils—or risk getting rubbed out too.
If ever there was a character that I wish I could be, it would be Rannie Bookman. Mostly because I love the fact she is a copy editor, even if it is freelance. Here's a full confession: when I was in high school I adored English and I really lived for grammar. I wanted to go to college to eventually work in a publishing house. I would have been a receptionist, I didn't even care. I do live Simon & Schuster (featured in this book), but Harper Collins would have been my dream, I think. I am that dork that would like to visit this building if ever I were in town on vacation. Monuments? Who cares. Show me to the publishing house! Or the library. I love libraries too. Oh yes, and book stores. 
Let's talk about the book. First off, loved it. I loved how Rannie is just a normal gal, trying to get by freelancing while raising her children (only one of whom is still at home), trying to figure out her love life and whether Tim is it or not, and then oh yes, she finds dead bodies. She is unwittingly thrust into a really convoluted murder mystery where things feel connected but you can't quite figure out how or why. So Rannie does some digging and can't help but try to figure it all out. Because after all, if it is all connected- she's the next peg to knock off, so she's trying to figure it out because she dies a terrible death like Ret or the others. Yes, more people die but I cannot tell you who because that will ruin it. I swearsies. 
The book is what I would call suspenseful chick lit. It's everything you want out of a chick lit, but you have the murder mystery. You also have a little romance drama, a little family drama, all rolled into one making it a book you will have a hard time putting down and you will ultimately enjoy. And I will say, did not see the ending. Didn't see it. I kind of thought two people were involved but when one died I had NO idea what was going on. Loved it. I really enjoyed this author too. For a story that could easily have been dark, enough humor was written throughout so it feels like a fun, light read. 
Totally worth picking up for yourself OR for your friends as a Christmas gift. Oh you know I went there.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Hourglass

Oh hey... book review! I'm rally banging these out as of late, aren't I?

The Hourglass - Sharon Struth
The Hourglass
"Can forgiveness survive lies and unspoken truths?"

Until Brenda McAllister's husband committed suicide, she appeared to have the ideal life: a thriving psychology practice, success as a self-help author, and a model family. But her guilt over her affair with Jack's best friend prevents her from moving on. Did Jack learn of her infidelity? Was she the cause of his death?

The release of Brenda's second book forces her into an unexpected assignment with arrogant celebrity author CJ Morrison, whose irritating and edgy exterior hides the torment of his own mistakes. But as she grows closer to CJ, Brenda learns she wasn't the only one with secrets--Jack had secrets of his own, unsavory ones that may have led to his death. While CJ helps Brenda uncover the truth about her husband, she finds the path to forgiveness isn't always on the map.

So have you ever seen the show "Who the Bleep Did I Marry?" because it's a pretty fantastic show, you should watch it. But this book basically reminded me of this because of poor Brenda. Brenda the relationship expert, psychologist, who is also a widow after her own husband commits suicide for reasons unknown to her. She has residual guilt from her own infidelity and she wonders if that is what set him over the edge. But as you read the book you know quickly that it was for far more damaging reasons than that. 

Enter CJ, who hires Brenda to assist with the character development on his upcoming book. After a terse first meeting and some awkward slash rude follow up encounters, Brenda isn't sure if she is sure she made the right decision agreeing to work with him. But she continues on because she is nothing if not professional, and she is looking for a challenge. 

I've seen the term "boomer lit" pop up on other blogs and some online magazines I read and I don't think I totally understand what that is as a genre, but after reading this, I would put this there. It's kind of pegged as a romance, and while there is some of that in there, it's not what you would expect from a romance novel. Not that I'm saying you need to break out nipple clamps and ropes, but that there should be something. And the something in this book is some conversation, sweet gestures and a little more, but you don't get a glimpse into the bedroom, if you will. And at first I was turned off by this because that is a foreign thing to me, I know what I want from a romance book and I'm not saying no to nipple clamps all of the time, let's just say. But when I think of the ages of the characters, basically my parent's age, mid 50's, and that's not really their prerogative. Not to say a mid-50's guy or gal can't get freaky, I'm just saying that typically, it's not really their thing. So it's like a really cute, awkward couple dipping their toes into dating towards a meaningful relationship. 


While all of this sexual tension is happening with CJ, Brenda finds out her husband is being investigated for fraud. Her job, whether out of wifely duties, residual guilt, and/or fear of judgement from others, decides she's going to do everything she can to basically defend his name and legacy if not for him, but for their two children who in their own ways, still grieve for him though it's been a year. 

The book is well written. The plot doesn't feel hokey and you can tell Sharon really put forth a good effort. I enjoyed the book and found it difficult to put down. In hindsight, it's not one that I would maybe have picked up right away, but I am glad I did because it didn't disappoint! Here's a trailer for the book if that helps you at all: 

Give it a shot. It's actually a rather quick read and I got through it in a weekend. AND it has a pretty cover. You know how I feel about covers. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I wish I could extreme coupon some windows. Or a roof.

Shit is getting real, folks. Matt and I are officially out of reserve money thanks to him buying a truck without telling me.

Yes, I'm still a wee bit pissy about it.

Tomorrow he gets paid and things are going to get bare bones. And when I say bare bones, I really mean it this time. This weekend ended up being unexpectedly not booked with anything, so we really sat down and decided what we need to get done in this house. Fortunately, most of the work part of it will have to wait until next summer, but there are a few things we're going to do over the course of the winter since it doesn't requires anything outdoors to do.

Indoor Repair/Make Less Shitty List:

  • Upstairs toilet. I know, bitches. I know. We'll have a less leaky toilet soon. 
  • Downstairs toilet. I'm getting sick of cleaning this one seven times more than normal. 
  • Downstairs bathroom sink counter top. Because OH HEY, it's all warped and weird because some douchenozzle got it wet and just did nothing about it. AND, as it turns out, it's not really connected to the cabinet. Because of course not. 
  • Paint downstairs bathroom. The fish theme? Has to go. 
  • Make family room area in the basement. This will be a pain because Matt has grand ideas, as do I, and this will mean him really doing a super good job because this is our forever home and he can't half ass it. 
Outdoor List for Summer:
  • 19 windows replaced in front porch. Rough estimate? $3000. *blow* In order to combat that, we're thinking of ways to reduce the weird height of the window but also so it doesn't look weird on the outside.
  • New roof. Matt will do it, so that saves us thousands in a contractor. BUT, we're still looking at probably $6000 by the time it's all said and done. 
There is no way, currently, that we can save $10,000 by next summer. No way. The next option is for me to get a second job, which will mean every night and probably every weekend will be me somewhere working part time just for home improvement projects. Which isn't a big deal, I really don't care where I work. A paycheck is a paycheck. But the thought of having less time to do what I need to is a wee bit daunting. I already feel like I'm barely staying above water as it. 

Best case scenario is we can get another year (or maybe even two) out of our current roof. It isn't awful, but it's clear that it's in need of some help. We bought the house knowing we'd need to do it and projects don't scare us off, it's just daunting when you realize that oh hey- I'm a grown up and I actually have to pay for that roof. And it's not even a fun purchase where you can show it off. Nope- nobody cares if I have shingles or whatever. 

I'm most excited about toilets. Which seems weird, but seriously lambs- the toilet situation is serious up in here. We need to get this resolved. I feel like if I get the two toilets totally replaced, I will feel less angry when I go into the bathroom. And nobody wants to be angry in a bathroom. 

So that's where I'm at. 

OH yes! Check back tomorrow because A) I have another book review and B) I have a super awesome, amazingly kickass giveaway for you. Like over the MOON excited about this one. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Book review! I hope I can get a regular post out to you tonight, but my night looks a little full, but I'll do my best!

Unexpected - Faith Sullivan

One day forever changes the destiny of college overachiever, Michelle Rhodes.

Shattered, confused and alone, no one understands the trauma consuming her until she meets Connor Donnelly.

A native New Yorker, he believes he can aid in getting her life back on track. But what if he's even more broken inside?

Offering her a chance at a fresh start, Connor convinces Michelle to move in with him. Hiring her to waitress at his bar, their mutual attraction only complicates matters.

As more details surrounding Connor's past emerge, Michelle uncovers the full magnitude of the loss he's trying to hide. Refusing to let her feelings for him hinder his recovery, she makes a decision that winds up hurting them both.

By sacrificing her heart, Michelle thinks she is helping Connor come to terms with his grief. Little does she know, Connor is gambling everything for the sake of having a future with her.

What happens is truly unexpected.

I've read other books by Faith and I really like her. I just do. I've emailed her a few times and she's the kind of gal you just want to have coffee with and talk about the chunky girl wearing white leggings as pants in the coffee shop. So anytime I get to review a book of hers I get excited because I have high expectations. 

And I haven't been disappointed. 

What I love about her books is that they aren't super long, they aren't drawn out, and you don't have all of this extra fluff and all you have is the story. And she always has normal, flawed, human characters. These are people you have in your life right now. They face actual problems and the things they deal with are things that are legitimate issues. 

Take Connor and Michelle. Connor is a business owner not far from the World Trade Center who lost his best friend on 9/11. He struggles to cope with the loss of someone he considered a brother. Michelle, alone in the city for the first time on her own, freaks out and can no longer handle any of it. She goes back home and in a weird coincidence of fate, Connor and Michelle connect in her hometown. He convinces her to give New York City a try again and offers to give her a job at his bar and let her live upstairs with him until she can get on her feet. Enter mutual attraction, and you've got a romance just bursting to happen but neither are emotionally in any kind of shape to go there. 

I really liked this because Michelle is the type of person I hate. I should say strongly dislike. But she's the girl who never really strikes out on her own, isn't ever independent, is basically scared of what's out there. She's the girl who marries her high school sweetheart right out the gate, she's the girl who refuses the thought of going away for college, she's the girl who can't live on her own. These girls are annoying. They make me shake my fist in the name of feminism and want to shake them silly and say, DO THESE THINGS. Do all of these things because you won't understand what you are made of until you do. 

And Connor. Swoon. We all want to be the girl who fixed the boy, don't we? Admit it. We read these books with flawed boys and think we could be the ones who guide them to the light and they fall head over heels for us. I won't judge, I'm right there with you. 

But Michelle and Connor are perfect for each other. They really are. They both suffered a loss that day, and they kind of need each other to get through it and get to the next stage of life. Except they can't do it under the guise of "If I fix them, I'm fixing me." It never works that way, and that's Connor's lesson here. 

I flew through this book in a couple of hours and you will too. It's good, it's light, and it's not smutty. I know some of you don't like the smutty (I'm a fan, don't judge), but this one is good. You'll like it. You can go HERE to the page on her blog with all of the links to purchase this one, as well as all of her books. Good stuff, I tell you. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mother, Mother and GIVEAWAY

I just knew that when I signed up for this book that it was going to be good, but I had no idea it would that good. It's good in the "this will mess you up" kind of way because you can't even imagine a mother being this way. I couldn't put this one down because it's that screwed up. Even more amazing? It's a freaking DEBUT. A debut, people. That means if Koren is this good now? Wait until a few books in. GIDDY. That's how I feel.

Mother, Mother - Koren Zailckas
Mother Mother Jacket Image
In MOTHER, MOTHER we meet the Hursts: William, a twelve-year-old autistic boy, who wants nothing more than to please his parents but can’t seem to figure out how; Violet, a rebellious teenager whose experiments with hallucinogenic drugs have just landed her in a mental ward; Douglas, their father who spends too much time at the office and the remaining hours with a bottle of scotch; and Josephine, whose subtle manipulations are slowly but steadily driving her family to the brink of disaster. And key to uncovering Josephine’s motives is Rose, the daughter who got away, but whose presence is still keenly felt, and whose fate is mysteriously unknown.
While authors get their inspiration from many places, Koren didn’t need to look further than her own childhood when she decided to tackle the topic of a dysfunctional family. Growing up, several members of her family showed traits and characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, including her own mother. She decided to write MOTHER, MOTHER in part to challenge the assumption that all mothers are compassionate and kind. Deeply personal, Koren’s first foray into fiction showcases her brilliant, firecracker prose, a page-turning plot, and an unmistakable voice.
Full of wise and witty observations, and a mounting sense of dread, MOTHER, MOTHER is an astonishing debut. 

OK, so this book bounces between the Hurst children that are essentially left, Violet and William and their relationship to their mother and father, and then everyone wondering about what really happened to Rose. Basically, their mother Josephine is very Joan Crawford. She's the perfect, well put together mom on the outside, but inside family walls she's a very over bearing, passive aggressive, narcissistic woman who makes everyone's life a living hell. Rose has seemingly run away which leaves Josephine fit to be tied. Douglas (the dad) is an alcoholic who instead of recognizing the damage Josephine does to the kids, he checks out and drinks himself into a stupor because he can't handle it. Violet is the classic middle child who can't quite live up to Rose's greatness, and she doesn't have the autism/epilepsy problems her brother Will has. Then you have Will, socially awkward, maybe ill, very much a kiss ass to his mother. He's that little boy that grows up to have mommy issues and wears his mother's underwear when she dies. 

I mean, that's not mentioned in the book, but I've watched enough Lifetime movies to know that's what happens. 

So after a tumultuous night that Violet doesn't totally remember, she ends up in a psych ward after being told she assaulted her brother with a knife and insisting she say her sister Rose in the hallway. Violet is sure of two things: she didn't hurt her brother and she definitely saw Rose. 

What is amazing about this story is just how screwed up Josephine is. She tells each member of the family conflicting things but can maintain a lie like nobody else. The horribly cruel things you find out that she did to Rose? Ugh. So each person is trying to piece together an impossible puzzle because nobody has the same pieces. Make sense? And poor Violet, she just wants to figure it out and when she suddenly starts receiving letters from Rose, she's skeptical and hesitant, but she also sees a way out. 

Or is it? 

By the end of this book I was so emotionally invested, and rightfully scared, for all of these kids. I stayed up until 12:30 last night finishing this book because it's THAT GOOD. Seriously. If you need a book for fall, buy this one. If you need a book club recommendation, use this one. It's so stinking good. This is the kind of book you just consume and it consumes you because you just feel so bad for Violet, and kind of scared for Will because he's clueless and just a lost little boy, and you're mad at Douglas for not having an adequate pair of balls, and you wish there were special places for people like Josephine. And what kills you, just totally kills you, is that you probably know a mom like this. So perfect to everyone else but an absolute horror to her family. You look around to the families who have children with issues like these and it makes you wonder- is there mother like this? Probably. It's so sad. But there's a line in the book that basically says that just because you birth a child, doesn't make you a mother. And that's so true. I really don't believe in anything like mothering instinct, because if it was true we'd all have it. I've met enough women who shouldn't be mothers at all yet they have a gaggle of kids and I think wow- those poor kids.

So yes. Read this book. You will love it and it will horrify you, but you'll still love it. The best part is that I have a copy I can give away! To you! (US/Canada only)

Leave a comment on this post with your email address and I'll draw a winner on Friday October 4. Good luck lambies!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hello lovers. Let's talk about the time I peed my pants.

It feels like forever, doesn't it? I know I've kept you going with book reviews, but the days of me writing about life and lamenting about the latest home improvement projects feels far and few between. Things are busy for everyone and I'm right there with you, and I keep taking notes on things I should be blogging about. I'm hoping I can just get my shit together but folks it's hard. But let's start tonight and see if I can't make you laugh like old times.

So remember how last week I said I was going to a play called Spank that was a parody of the book Fifty Shades of Gray? And I was so super excited because I was going to go with Emily, who I really love and who I really miss, and I was just so excited to get the fuck out of the house? I didn't feel great Monday, Tuesday I was home with a fever, and then Wednesday I felt just fine. Great, actually. I thought for sure I would be good to go to this play which was in Minneapolis so that is about a two and half hour drive from me one way. It makes for a long night, but it's almost always worth it.


So I met her in Forest Lake and we drove into the city together and that drive... I all of a sudden felt off. But then I thought, well I haven't eaten today so obviously my blood sugar is tanking and I'll be fine after I eat. We got to Minneapolis and decided to eat at a place called Brother's Bar, which turned out to be nice and inexpensive and if I were feeling better I probably would have liked my food. I mean, I'll try it again, let's put it that way. I ordered a wrap and literally, as soon as I got it, I felt sick. Like going to lose my shit sick.

I went to the bathroom, and nothing. You know that feeling where you want to puke because you are convinced you'll feel so much better? And you wish you had paid more attention to the bulimia unit in school to learn  how they puke on command? Well that was me, and nothing happened.

We walked over to the venue for the play and Mill City Nights is a bizarre venue. Not only did none of the employees seem to have a clue what was going on, they had on suits and attire that made them look like they were pretend CIA folks who felt grossly important because of their shiny shoes and jackets. But they clearly had no clue.

And the play was alright. It was funny in spots but not really what I was thinking it was going to be? And the male lead was not the guy as advertised and honest to god- this guy looked like a mannequin. Not in a good way either, maybe it was just too much makeup to make him look chiseled on his face? I don't know. What I do know is that shortly before the half way mark I felt like I was going to vomit on the guy in front of me. And bless Emily- she said it was OK if we left and I hope it wasn't because I looked like I was going to vomit all over her. I would have really tried to turn the other way. Because that's what friends do.

So we leave, and I feel terrible for basically wasting our money, and I feel terrible like I'm going to throw up in my car, and it's just a total downer. I know I was a terrible date and I was probably far too quiet and it was only because I was trying really hard to not throw up.

So I drop her off at Forest Lake. I decide to drive to the gas station and get some gas, thinking I would be able to not stop in Hinckley, and get home faster.


As soon as I got out of my car I knew it was coming. I knew it. I kind of ran into the store and into the bathroom where I promptly vomited enough to necessitate a courtesy flush. Not only that? But I peed my pants.

That's right people, this 31 year old, absolutely stone sober woman, peed her pants in public. Not just a little, but enough to make it clearly obvious that oh hey- remember that sprite and water you drank all night? Yeah, bladder don't care- it's coming out. Proof that all of the kegels in the world can't save you from urine.

The best part about this is that I still had to pump gas. And drive two hours home in urine soaked pants.

After that humiliating bit, I got back into the car, after finding a Target bag to sit on, and started driving. Only realizing that every few miles? I had to pull over and puke. And I don't know if you have ever puked on the side of the highway in the middle of the night but it's pretty fucking scary.

And I ended up stopping in Hinckley anyways to get some water and also to puke again. But that was disorienting because on the other side of this bakery is a night club. Keep in mind, this is a Wednesday, Hinckley is Bible beating farm country, and they are playing music you'd hear at a rave where you would be dancing with Molly. So I've got the "boom, boom, boom" bass thing, and I'm puking and all I can smell is baked goods and it wasn't good. I probably also scared the attendant because my makeup was smeared, I obviously smell like urine and vomit, and my pants are clearly stained.

I got back on the road and from all of the puking? I was exhausted. So exhausted that I started hallucinating animals on the road, and all of the fog was really screwing with me, and I slammed on my brakes for a barrel. Thank god almost nobody ever is on the road with me otherwise I would have totally looked like a drunk driver. I made it home just before 1 a.m. and seriously- I felt rough.

So that was my Wednesday night.

I'll tell you about Thursday and Friday.... tomorrow.