Monday, December 28, 2015

A Madness So Discreet

I can't even remember what month I got this in my OwlCrate box, but I am so annoyed with myself that I didn't break into it right away. Absolutely stellar book.

A Madness So Discreet - Mindy McGinnis

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

The book takes place in 1890 in Boston, and we begin in an insane asylum. Quickly it's obvious that while some of the people in the asylum are there for legitimate mental illnesses, but most of them are there for things that are easily absurd. The story centers around Grace, who finds herself in the asylum, and we can infer from other people's observations about her that she comes from a seemingly wealthy family, and presumably one with a high social status because she's to be treated better (kind of) than other patients. Grace is also pregnant, which is what lands her in the asylum- to be pregnant out of wedlock with a bastard child in 1890 goes against every social and moral standard, so she's to spend her pregnancy locked up. Her baby already promised to a caregiver in Grace's ward, and her future uncertain.

Grace has taken to not speaking because the road that's she been on to get to this point is pretty horrible (which we find out more about who the father of her child is later on). There is a point in the story where, after being sexually propositioned basically, Grace loses it and stabs a man with a fork. That sends her to essentially one of the worst "treatments" I have ever read and the ending result of the treatment hardens Grace in a way that we all see coming but man... it's so hard to read. So hard.


So then she finds her non-compliant self down in what is basically a dungeon basement and she "meets" a pillar of support, Falsteed. Falsteed warns her of Dr. Thornhollow, who performs "procedures" on the worst, non compliant patients and it leaves them quiet and docile. Grace longs for this because she just wants to not remember her past, the traumas she's been through, and her losses. After meeting Dr. Thornhollow, she is interested in his work and he finds her interesting and peculiar and from there they hatch a plan to rescue Grace from her current asylum and she would assist him on his study of serial killers.

Fast forward and Grace finds herself in a much better asylum in Ohio, where she meets a group of friends who are kind to her and she finds this a much nicer living arrangement than in Boston. She goes on "adventures" with Dr. Thornhollow and they become friends though some suspect them of more. The second half of the book is like a beginning look at the study of serial killers, like profiling 101 if you will. We also learn about vengeance and how maybe the justice you want isn't always the best.

Some notes about the book:

  • I want SO much to talk about the relationship between Grace and Dr. Thornhollow but everyone will think it's a spoiler but ugh... I want so much more. SO MUCH. 
  • When Grace is in Ohio, she has a friend who is in the asylum because she suffers from small pox. It had been awhile since I looked up small pox and holy hell- don't do it, friends. DON'T DO IT. Especially during lunch. 
  • One of my favorite passages in this book which made me burst out laughing is on page 201 and reads, "Grace's throat itched to join them, but it was not only subterfuge that kept her mouth firmly shut. Emotions had welled close to the surface, and she thought her heart had never felt so full as it did standing next to the defiled grave of a whore while lunatics sang the national anthem." Just the visual of this? I felt like I shouldn't laugh but I really couldn't help it. 
Overall? This book is absolutely stunning. It's a beautifully written, absolutely horrifying, amazing book. It starts out as a punch to your gut and you are immediately filled with an immense sadness for not only Grace but the general treatment of mentally ill people but also people who were locked up for petty reasons, and you don't know if you are going to make it to the end. But it's like a slow break in the clouds as you read this book and you are left feeling hopeful for not just Grace but for the rest of the cast of characters. 

You can find a copy of A Madness So Discreet on Amazon but also on Barnes & Noble. It would be a great thing to purchase with a Christmas gift card! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Golden Yarn

Now, the first two books of this series has been on my to-read list for awhile but when I got the chance to review this one, I jumped in and figured I'd catch up later. Which admittedly, put me a little behind and I was a little lost for part of the book because I didn't know the backstory, but overall, great book.

The Golden Yarn - Cornelia Funke
I had a friend who is familiar with the first two books tell me that she really is like the "German J.K. Rowling" which is really true because Cornelia's stories are just as complicated and layered as Harry Potter. I will say though, it doesn't have the charm that makes Harry Potter live in the hearts as so many. I think if enough people gave this series a shot, they'd be enthralled with it as well. Also, I read this book twice because as I finished it, I felt like something wasn't quite right and truly- on my second reading I somehow missed small details that you'd think pointless but in the end, they really mean something after all. Which is how I felt about Harry Potter, so I have to give it to this author, brilliantly written.

And while I don't know the other two books, I was absolutely hooked. Clearly I have missed so much so I am missing some very basic, probably pretty crucial, character development so that makes me sad. Here's what I thought: poor Jacob. Does he just really never catch a break? He fights a LOT of demons in this book and there are things that threaten his future and I just... I don't know. I felt terrible for him and I really have to know what's going to happen in book four. I feel very on edge.
Kami'en and.. a fairy? A dark fairy? I mean, I'm not 100% sure what a dark fairy is but that story line was SOLID. Admittedly, I teared up. The dark fairy needs to be killed in order to save Will's girlfriend Clara, but ugh. I can't tell you how that ends up but man... good stuff.

Lots of loose ends at this book which only opens the door for book four, and since this is a new release, we have a long wait. What you do know is that the world beyond the mirror is expanse and it is complex. Nothing is really what it seems, every character is complicated and everything comes together... we're just waiting to see how all of these strings of story come together in the end. It's like a giant ball of yarn. We know some of the strings, and we know what they can do together, but when they all come together in one large ball... what will we have left? What kind of ending are we going to get?

I guess we wait.

I highly recommend this series if you have a Harry Potter fan in your life because I think they will really appreciate the complexity of the story and I think they will appreciate all of it coming together as it does. Easily.

To find out more about the Mirrorworld series, or her other books, you can visit Cornelia Funke's website HERE. You can find your very own copy of The Golden Yarn on Amazon right now. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I Love My Pet Elephant

I am absolutely love children's books, even more so because I have three kids who love to read and be read to. It's been a fun little spurt of fun book review opportunities for them to participate, and this was no exception!

I Love My Pet Elephant - Lauren Micchelli

Here is a cute little story about a girl who happens to have a pet elephant named Pete. The book covers all of the things they like to do together like sledding down snowy hills, ride bikes, swim, and more. The pages are beautifully illustrated, the story is an easy read and kids are engaged. I'd say easily a beginning reader could master this book with little help from you, and is a GREAT book for an older sibling to read to a younger sibling! We have a Horton the Elephant stuffed animal which Penelope played with while Jackson read her the story, and they both had a good time, especially when Jackson started making elephant noises and pretending to be one! I highly suggest this book if you have a kiddo in your life that likes books that are a little bit silly, full of imagination, or pretends to have a fantastic pet like Pete. You can ask what would they do if they had a pet elephant, it's sure to be a fun conversation! Lots of easy rhymes as you go through the story of this girl and her best friend.

You can buy I Love My Pet Elephant on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, of course. Lauren Micchelli actually has written several children's books so if you are looking to make a fun little book set as a Christmas gift, you can find her other books on Amazon as well.

Lauren Micchelli is a newly published author, having penned her first book in 2014. She has since continued the Snootzytime Adventures of Maddie and Murphy series, and went on to publish A Day of What Ifs and I Love My Pet Elephant. Impressively, she was the recipient of the New Book Award 2015 for I Love My Pet Elephant. You can find Lauren on her website and also Twitter!

There is a fabulous giveaway happening where you could win 1 of 5 print copies, 1 of 3 ebook copies, or an Amazon gift card! Good luck and happy reading, friends!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Precious One

Normally I have this up first thing in the morning for all of you who read blogs when you get to work instead of working, but....... I decided to rock Penelope to sleep for her morning nap instead. It's amazing what rocking a baby to sleep does for your stress level.

The Precious One - Marisa De Los Santos

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary — professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter Willow only once. 

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister — a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Told in alternating voices — Taisy’s strong, unsparing observations and Willow’s naive, heartbreakingly earnest yearnings — The Precious One is an unforgettable novel of family secrets, lost love, and dangerous obsession, a captivating tale with the deep characterization, piercing emotional resonance, and heartfelt insight that are the hallmarks of Marisa de los Santos’s beloved works.

Marisa de los Santos is not a new to me author, in fact I remember reading one of her books called Belong To Me way back before I was a book reviewer simply because the cover with the rain boots was pretty. I really enjoyed the complexity of that story and as it turns out, the complexity of this story is why I loved it.

The story is written where we hear two voices: Taisy and Willow. They both share the same father but have very different mothers and very different lives. Taisy's parents divorced when she was in her major developing years, where you really need to know your parents love and want you. Parents get divorced and her father remarries a woman who is the polar opposite of her mother and her father has a new daughter, Willow. Willow is the prodigy- she is everything that Taisy and her brother are not. She's the golden child, she's does everything in her life to make her father proud of her not just because it's expected but probably because she knows first hand what happens if you don't- you end up like Taisy, seemingly outcast.

Their father, Wilson, suffers a pretty horrific heart attack (that Willow blames solely on herself) and in his recovery he essentially demands Taisy and her brother Ben to come see him for an "extended visit". Also in this recovery, Wilson decides it's best if Willow (who has been sheltered from everything her entire life) continues her education at an actual school versus at home. It's not funny, but some of the things that happen to Willow are kind of hilarious because we all know what school is like but for someone who has never experienced it, it's a pretty harrowing experience. She hates everything about it and clearly, all of the students don't like her.

I absolutely was absorbed into this story even though Wilson is an absolute ass. He just is. Sometimes I wonder if it's hard to really craft a character that nobody could like, how can you possibly think of all of the ways to make him absolutely despicable despite the fact that he clearly thinks he's done the best possible job? This author nails it. I really liked Willow and Taisy as well because it's clear they just did the best they could with what they were given and in a way, it's a great lesson in parenting, really. What too little love can do and what helicopter parenting can do, both crippling a child but in very different ways.

Overall? I loved this book. I absolutely loved it, Marisa de los Santos really needs to be one of my go to authors because she is such a talent. Adore her and this book.

If you are still struggling with a good book gift for someone, I highly suggest this one. You can find The Precious One on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also connect with Marisa on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Maybe Not

I'm going to share what I got in my Bookworm Box tomorrow, but today I'm going to review one of the books that came in it! I'll give you a spoiler: this was the best Bookworm Box yet. We'll talk more about it tomorrow.

Maybe Not - Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover, the New York Times bestselling author of Maybe Someday brilliantly brings to life the story of the wonderfully hilarious and charismatic Warren in a new novella, Maybe Not.

When Warren has the opportunity to live with a female roommate, he instantly agrees. It could be an exciting change.

Or maybe not.

Especially when that roommate is the cold and seemingly calculating Bridgette. Tensions run high and tempers flare as the two can hardly stand to be in the same room together. But Warren has a theory about Bridgette: anyone who can hate with that much passion should also have the capability to love with that much passion. And he wants to be the one to test this theory.

Will Bridgette find it in herself to warm her heart to Warren and finally learn to love?


Maybe not.

OK, so this is a novella and I've said it before but it's worth saying again: I am a huge fan of novellas. If you are that person who is all, "Ugh, I'd like to read but I never have time to read", then you really need to invest in novellas. They are always so short (this one is 120 pages, not including the sneak peak of her next book) so there is literally no reason to not read.

Stop being stupid, folks.


First thing, I have read a few other books by Colleen Hoover so I know I'm in for a fun romance with some pretty great sexy time scenes. The description says this is "wonderfully hilarious", but I'll tell you I didn't laugh. This isn't a hilarious book. It's your run of the mill romance and the guy is kind of a moron with an inflated ego and they play pranks. Pretty much all of my expectations for this book were met and it's pretty standard.

Let's talk about what drives me nuts in romance novels that are trendy now: a pissed off, angry girl. It's so cliche. Wah- bad things happen to me so I'm going to be a bitch towards everyone, all of the time and be as immature as possible and then wonder why nobody likes me but I'm going to pretend I don't care because I hate the world.

Authors- I am SO SICK OF THIS CHARACTER. Sick of it. Frankly, it's becoming the thing if you can't quite develop a character but you want to get your new book out to just do this and go with it. Just stop it. Stop it already, it's enough, the horse is dead, stop beating it to death.


So that's my rant for this book. And before you comment and say, "But SARA! Did you not read what happened to her? It's AWFUL, you are a terrible person!", shut up. I read it, I get it, but I am also tired of this being the default result when someone has been through a tough childhood. Stop it. There are more possibilities out there and I am begging you to find them because I know plenty of people who have something traumatic happen to them and they would not act this way.

What I did like? I liked the sexy scenes. Let's face it, that is kind of the point of a romance novel and Colleen does a fantastic job of it. She's always very solid here and she delivers again.

Honestly? I'll give this book 3/5 stars. It's a fun little book and I think if you don't read 50 romance novels in a year (at least, like me) that you will likely enjoy this more than me. Not to say I didn't enjoy it, I did, but I am also glad it was only 120 pages versus a full length novel. I will say, I am looking forward to her next book, Maybe Someday because the characters Ridge and Sydney (which we meet in this book) get their own story in Maybe Someday and I'm intrigued.

You can find Maybe Not on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. Obviously you can get it in an e-format but you know I'm pro print so I'm going to suggest this as a fun stocking stuffer because it can easily be squeezed into a stocking!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Travels of PJ Mouse review AND giveaway!

I know a lot of us parents really struggle to find age appropriate, reading level appropriate, fun books for our kids to read. It really is a struggle and it can be just as frustrating for your kids as it is you. Today I'm reviewing two books by author Gwyneth Jane Page. I read book one and two as a series but they can certainly be stand alone reads.

Definitely age appropriate for kids anywhere between seven and ten. The reading level is about second grade. My second grade (seven year old) Jackson read these with ease to me as part of his at home reading time.

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse - in Canada
PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world-discovering exciting new places and people along the way! Come join PJ on his first adventure across Canada as he hikes on a glacier in the Rockies, finds a salt lake in the prairies, and walks on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia.

First, let's talk about the illustrations. Jackson pointed out that they look like someone colored them in with colored pencil, and he really enjoyed that. Also, the illustrations really complimented the text itself, which sometimes in chapter books for kids they are mostly just little doodles with no real point to them. These definitely go with the story and make it a fun read.

The story itself was pretty adorable. We start off by meeting PJ Mouse (he isn't a real mouse but rather, a stuffed little mouse), who fell out of a bag and into a puddle. Everyone walks by him except for Emily, who spots the poor little mouse soaking wet and cold. Emily's mother agrees that they can bring him home and that's the beginning of his grand adventure. In book one PJ visits lots of places in Canada such as Niagara Falls and Quebec City. But he also visits a glacier and the ocean floor (which was Jackson's favorite chapter). The only thing Jackson didn't like is some of the wording, or how things are phrased, are a bit different than what he's used to, but that's on account that the author studied and lived in several places around the world. If anything, it was a fun way to explore how students learn different ways to say something in English, depending on where you are.

You can find this book on Amazon, it would be a really great stocking stuffer for the little reader on your shopping list!

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse - in Queensland

Come join PJ on this, his second adventure, along the coast of Queensland, as he snorkels at the Great Barrier Reef, chats with a Loggerhead turtle in the midst of a great undertaking, and explores the tropical rainforest - until he ha to be rescued by one of the local friendly wildlife.

I'm going to start by telling you that Jackson really loved this book. He said this one was by far, his favorite of the two. In this book, PJ gets to go boogie boarding, which Jackson asked me why there were boogers on a board, which made me laugh and we had to take a break from reading. It also talks about the Great Barrier Reef, which they studied briefly in first grade so he knew about that and had a general idea of what PJ was seeing. 

Another thing about these books we liked was the last chapter in both books PJ talking with the cat. In book one, he meets the household cat, but in book two it's a chat with the cat. Jackson didn't think it was so believable that PJ and the cat would be friends but they truly are and PJ recounts his adventures to the cat who misses him when he's gone. In fact, the cat uses PJ as a sort of pillow, until the cat finds Star Bear, which Jackson thought was hilarious. 

What I really liked about the book is that there is so much fun information about things we otherwise might not learn about. Jackson liked reading how sea turtles lay their eggs and agreed with Emily that they do, indeed, look like ping pong balls. 

Overall? We really liked this book as well. This is a really great series and we look forward to seeing more soon! You can find this book on Amazon as well, and I really think any child would enjoy these. It's a fun little book with a stuffed mouse who comes alive. Who doesn't love that? 

Meet the author and illustrator:  

Gwyneth Jane Page (Jane), who holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University, has called many countries home. She grew up in such places as England, Peru, the USA, and the Caribbean, and has also lived in Australia and Canada. She now resides in Victoria, BC with her husband and four children. The PJ Mouse books are based on Jane's family trips with the real stuffed animal, PJ, who was found by Emily, Jane's youngest daughter.

Megan Elizabeth, Jane's second oldest daughter, has lived in Canada and Australia and travelled extensively with her family
​ ​
and PJ. Having been artistic since she was a little girl, illustrating the PJ Mouse books has enabled her to combine her love of travel with her love of art. Megan completed her studies at VanArts and is now building her career as a professional photographer as well as an illustrator. She currently resides in Victoria, BC with her family.

Connect with Jane on her website, Twitter, or Facebook

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Whistling Women

It's another review! Two for you today! I know, I've been a reading nut. 

Whistling Women - Kelly Romo

Life went terribly wrong for Addie Bates in San Diego, and she’s been running from dark memories ever since. For fifteen years, the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony has provided a safe haven for Addie to hide from the crime she committed. But when the residents pack up to go on exhibit at the 1935 world’s fair in San Diego, Addie returns and must face the thrilling yet terrifying prospect of reuniting with her estranged sister, Wavey.

Addie isn’t the only one interested in a reunion. When her niece, Rumor, discovers she has an aunt, Rumor is determined to bring her family together. But it’s not so easy when the women are forced to confront family secrets, past and present.

Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the devastating consequences of a single impulsive act.

I'm going to start by telling you that this book is a little over 400 pages so it's no joke. Secondly, so much of it could be taken out and the story would not suffer. Just, it's a public plea from me to authors- just stop it. You can stop adding all of this fluff, none of us want the fluff. It doesn't add to your story, it makes a person want to put it down. 

But don't put this one down, read through the fluff, because it's worth it. It almost reminds me of K.L. Cook's The Girl From Charnelle, which is a book I absolutely adore and I think about it often. Whistling Women centers around two main characters, Rumor and her aunt Addie. Addie, upon the death of her parents, finds herself in an orphan asylum, but once her sister Wavey is able, she brings Addie to live with her and her new husband, Ty and they have a baby on the way. You don't find out until almost the end, but something pretty horrific happens between Wavey, Ty, and Addie and it sends Addie to lose her way in life and she finds herself spending most of her adulthood on a nudist colony, which is properly sinful back in those times. Addie finds herself in San Diego, where Wavey lives, and she knows her time is almost up at the nudist colony because she's getting older, and she wants desperately to reconnect with her sister. 

Rumor and her older sister Mary live with their mother, Wavey. Wavey hasn't done so well either, she's gone through two husbands and currently has a rotating door of boyfriends and comes home drunk too often for Rumor's liking. Inadvertently, Rumor discovers Addie is her aunt and that's how the snowball towards a really great conclusion starts. 

I really enjoyed this book. I tell you though, the first half is boring. Absolutely boring. I almost gave it up but then I really wanted to know- what could Addie have done to warrant her sister abandoning her? The other things I wish were stronger: Mary, she could have been a much bigger player. She's featured heavily through the book but she doesn't really do much and she should. Also, Ruby? Ruby is a brief character where if you aren't paying attention, you'll miss it- but her connection to Papa Jack and his upset the last time he sees Mary and Rumor during the day- did something happen with Ruby? It's kind of a point in the plot that was maybe going to be more, then decided against and instead of scratching it all together they muted it a bit, if that makes sense? Commit to it or don't at all, it's confusing otherwise. 

Overall? I really enjoyed this book, a solid 4/5 stars for sure. 

You can find Whistling Women on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, of course. You can connect with Kelly Romo on her website, Facebook, and Twitter

One Step Too Far

Hi Lambs! I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving break, and as you can see, I'm back at it. I have a few reviews for you this week and a really great list of fun shops you've never heard of that you should shop at- so stay tuned. But right now, review time!

One Step Too Far - Tina Seskis

To be fair, I actually read this book way back in 2013 for the first tour it was on. I didn't love it then, and I'll share that review with you now and then a few thoughts after I read it a second time: 

I will start by saying that this was a weird book. It was good, but there were so many parts where I started to really hate Emily not just as a mom and wife but as a person. Even though I can sympathize with wanting to just start all over because it's hard. Life is hard but you add the duties of motherhood and being a good wife into the mix, it's even harder. But she has had a lot of confusion and inner demons her entire life and I guess over time, it just gets to be too much. 

The secret that essentially drives this book, it's what keeps you reading because you want to know what it is, isn't earth shattering. I read it and was like, "Ok. No reason to freak out, totally something you could work out.". But given the personality of Emily, I understand why it would be a big deal for her. 

Things I didn't like about the book- is that she seems really cold. I mean, the thing keeping me back from running away is knowing it would screw my children up forever. Now, she thinks it's doing her son a favor but come on.... does anyone really think that? I mean, somewhere in your mind you have to know this is wrong. Then she moves into the most bizarre living situation with all of these randomly put together flatmates and eventually develops a drug habit along with shoplifting and yeah. How a person thinks this is the way to turn your life around is beyond me. 

I so badly want to give my two cents on how the book ends because I hated the ending. Oh, did I hate the ending. The only thing about the ending that I did like is that everything had closure. A lot of authors like to leave loose strings and you're left wondering what the characters did after all, but this book ties it all up. Nothing is left to your imagination, you get the answer for everything and I really appreciated that. Especially with this book weaving different points of view and just bizarre topics into the story in general. So overall... I'm a 2/5. I just... I just can't give it more. I really struggled through it and I felt myself irrationally angry through most of it and I just can't give a book more than 2 for that because it's not one I would pick up again and it's not one I would necessarily recommend. 

I have to say, I know a few people who would really enjoy this book considering I have more reader friends and they all have very different tastes from me. Secondly, I think I really am in the minority when it comes to this book. Even after all of this time, I knew what the "twist" was and I thought perhaps reading it again knowing the twist would make me appreciate it more but no. I still thought it was not as huge as it's portrayed to be. But admittedly, I am not the person who has this kind of thing happen to me and freak out. I'm very much not a freak out kind of person. It's like, yes- that's a totally terrible tragedy but dang, your reaction is pretty unwarranted, you nut job. 

I will say again that I am very much in the minority and I think people are enjoying it far more than I ever did so maybe don't listen to me at all. At least on this book. I'm usually always right. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Wyoming Rugged & GIVEAWAY!!

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

Wyoming Rugged - Diana Palmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Only In My Dreams

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

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

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

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

If Only In My Dreams - Mariah Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Owlcrate: Myths & Legends

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

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

*fist bump, lambs*

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas Wish List

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


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

2. Silhouette Cameo Starter Kit

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's on YOUR wish list this year?! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lit Cube: Immortal Kiss box

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

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

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