Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Mistake

I first read Elle Kennedy after I got the first book in this series, The Deal, which I received in my first Bookworm Box. I really liked that book so I went on a book buying binge and bought a few of her other books as well as this one, which is book two in the Off Campus series. I am pretty anxious to read the others in this series because I'm a fan of romance, and hockey, and this is a great pairing of the two!

The Mistake - Elle Kennedy
The Mistake (Off-Campus, #2)
He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game…

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

The best part about romance novels is that you always have one of the lead characters making terrible choices because they are so dumb and can't look at other options openly. A perfect description of John Logan, because his alcoholic father is the bane of his existence and he's willing to give up a career in professional hockey to give his brother a break and take care of his drunk father. Which, I think without reading the book we can all agree that is a TERRIBLE idea. (I say that with my best Aziz Ansari voice) Enter Grace, who isn't socially awkward so much as a nervous mess. She babbles, she's not the prettiest girl on campus, she's a little shy but sarcastic and funny once you get to know her. She doesn't have a chance in the world with a guy like Logan but yet.... she finds herself sharing gummy bears and Pepsi while watching Die Hard with him totally randomly. Also, you can tell right from the beginning that while Logan is kind of a man slut, he's a good guy at heart, and Grace just doesn't see that right away. 

Overall? I have to give this 4/5 stars. I really do. There isn't a ton of substance to it (it IS a romance novel, after all) but I really liked it. I liked the internal struggle of Grace trying to be herself but maybe sex it up a bit. I liked Logan who really struggled with his obligations and his future and trying to reconcile them. I loved, loved, love the "challenge" Grace gives him to prove he isn't messing around with her and is serious about being in a steady relationship, though it's a bit of a foreign thing to him. Lots of fun sexy time, realistic (and believable) dialogue, great characters, and a good teaser to the other characters I can only assume future books in this series will be about. 

You can find The Mistake on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! I'm pretty excited about this series. The books aren't terribly long, just under 300 pages, and I got through this one in one day with no problem. A great option for people who don't have time to get into anything longer. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pretty Girls

YOU GUYS. It has been so long that I have read a thriller that had me staying up to finish it, despite being utterly exhausted. This book did that.

Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter
Pretty Girls
#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

Full disclosure, I haven't read anything by Karin Slaughter before this book so I wasn't sure what kind of writing I was getting into. But this book..... SO DAMN GOOD. It started off a little shaky with what turns out to be letters written by the girls' father and I wasn't sure how I felt about that but then we're immediately introduced to Claire, the youngest of the three girls, and her husband Paul. And I immediately liked them both but holy hell, what a story we were going to go on. 

Basically it is the story of Julia, who goes missing in March, 1991. Her family fractures in different ways- mother goes through an alcoholic, depressive phase. Father is the vigilante detective, trying to figure it out only to kill himself in the end. We have Lydia who makes a series of terrible choices, primarily becoming a drug addict and never really being able to form relationships. Then we have Claire, who is like an emotional chameleon in a way. She does everything she needs to, but never excels enough to show up on anyone's radar, except for Paul's. Paul is a bit of a nerd and you can tell he really loves Claire. But almost immediately, Claire suffers unspeakable loss and through a series of scary, confusing things, she reaches out to long lost sister Lydia to help her. Together they try to piece together the things Claire finds in the wake of tragedy and when the whole ball of yarn is unraveled... holy  hell. I mean, there really is no other way to express what I was feeling once everything clicked into place. 

From the writing, the story telling, the way the story weaves in and out- excellent, stunning thriller. I am absolutely floored by this book and it makes me eager to pick up anything and everything by Karin Slaughter! You need to immediately pick this book up, you absolutely will not be disappointed (Amazon/Barnes & Noble). 

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bookworm Box Reveal #3

Guess what else I'm behind in? Book box reveals! I've gotten three since the last time we chatted about them. I know, I am kind out of control. But my defense is at least I'm not on drugs, right?

Books, not drugs, kids.

So here's what I got, lambs!

First up, I got another copy of The Raven, which I already have. Whomp, whomp. I'm sending my spare copy to my friend so at least I won't have two on my shelf. I got a copy of Fury, which looks/sounds cool but it's book THREE in a series so that's annoying because that means I now have to buy books one and two and what if they suck? What if they suck?! *sigh*

I also got another pen (which no hate, that's a damn good pen), a chapstick, a weird can koozie thing, and an assortment of book marks and postcards.

Which.. honestly this is disappointing. I hate to say it, but I'm going to give Bookworm Box one more month to get their shit together. The "swag" is terrible. At least with other subscription boxes we're getting really cute things like character key chains, necklaces, etc and for as much as we're paying for this (almost $50 a month!!) I feel like we should be getting more, to be honest. If other boxes can mail us books and super cool swag for less per month, I don't know why Bookworm Box can't. So.. we'll see.

They are currently on hiatus this month so we won't be getting a box in September, but supposedly we'll be getting one in October. We'll see.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Crafty Saturday: More baby book progress! Slow me down, folks.

You guys! I'm like... actually making progress! I'm not going in any kind of order but so long as I get her book done by her first birthday, I'll feel like I've got things under control. Ha!

I'm trying to do it in chronological order so I don't get confused on what I'm doing. So first up I wanted to do was my belly pictures!
It was kind of amazing to see how much I grew! I really love looking at Olivia and Jackson's baby books and I remember Jackson being particularly freaked out when I explained that he actually grew inside of me. 
But dammit, how cute am I towards the end?? SUPER CUTE.
I never did take pictures of the nursery Olivia and Jackson had. Coincidentally, they had the same theme, Classic Winnie the Pooh, because I couldn't afford to give Jackson a different theme. Plus, at that point, we moved our room downstairs, Olivia got a "big girl" room, painted pink, and then Jackson was born and just assumed the nursery/smaller room.
Which means Penelope is the only one with pictures of her nursery in the baby book, but I totally love her room so much so I knew I had to include it. 
Next up were the pictures from my baby shower! I didn't even think about it at the shower, but I never did get a picture of me with my friends who helped put it all together- FAIL! But I picked out a few pictures from that day. The cute baby accent on that page was actually on the front of a card!
I'm making good progress! I'm hoping next week I can tackle maybe ultra sound pictures and then possibly the pictures from when she was just born. We'll see!

Friday, September 25, 2015

In the news: selfies will kill you, ebooks are LAME, and more!

This has been... the longest week EVER. We had a couple of nice days, and now a couple of blah days and it makes me legit worried how I will fare as a stay at home mom this winter when it's the equivalent to a frozen tundra out there. Anyways- here's the news in my view:

Selfies will KILL you. I am the first one to tell you that I am not anti-selfie. In fact, I love a good selfie because I'm usually alone at home so there isn't someone to take super cute pictures of me and Penelope as we do adorable things. Also, sometimes my profile picture needs to be updated and Matt really sucks as taking pictures. SUCKS, I tell you. As soon as I saw the first advertisements for the selfie stick I just knew this was going to be a thing where we all laughed 20 years down the road just as we do with hammer pants and slap bracelets now. But interestingly, in 2015 there have been more deaths by selfie than there have been by sharks. LET THAT SINK IN. Pretty soon Shark Week is going to be stupid and we'll have Selfie Week or something. But what does it say about society that we don't want to even go to a stranger and say, "Hey- can you take our picture?" instead we'll rely on a stick and look like a total asshole?

Die, Ebooks, DIE. When eBooks became a thing Matt insisted that I get a Nook. By principle I am not a fan of Amazon and I don't shop there and I refuse to get a Kindle, I don't care if it's easier or nicer, I just won't. *insert me stomping my foot here* I got the Nook and the very first book I read on there was Water for Elephants and I remember being amazed at how much faster I read that, no easy task considering I'm a very fast reader anyways. But I also didn't like it. I ended up buying the print copy of the book and I loved it so much more. Now for some reviews I know publishers try to push the eBook version because it's probably cheaper on their and and I hate it. I strongly dislike eBooks. I will always be a pro-print gal and hearing that eBooks sales are down and print remains steady makes my heart burst a little bit. one of my favorite stories of all time is Fahrenheit 451 where it's in the future and they try to rid us of books. As a kid reading this it was horrifying but it was the same feeling I got when there was this surge of eBooks. They, for the most part, aren't any cheaper than print books and just like with CD's, if I can have a tangible thing to hold in my hand, I will always prefer that over something digital I can easily forget about.

Spin, spin, spin faster, dammit! I was recently talking to people about weight loss and I keep hearing that I should do a spin class, it's super fun and goes quickly but you burn a lot of calories. The idea of essentially riding a bike with no destination seems bizarre to me. Then I saw this and if this was an actual class, I'd be all in.

Black Dot Campaign: We've all seen it on Facebook- people are spreading the word that a black dot on your hand means you are in a vulnerable relationship and it's a "silent signal" that they need help and/or may be in immediate danger. Which, super good idea. Until you think about the logistics of it. First off, if they were in danger, are they really going to put the dot on their hand now? I mean, if they've seen it on the news and all over social media, isn't it reasonable to assume their abuser would have as well? What kind of reaction would that get if an abuser saw that on their victim's hand? I mean, I am all for any solution to bring people to safety but this doesn't seem like the safest route in my opinion.

Okay everybody, that's IT for this week. Do you have a news story you want me to weigh in on? Email me at sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com and it just might get featured! In the meantime, I have a crafty post tomorrow, I'm taking Sunday off, and I'm back at it on Monday morning!

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Thursday, September 24, 2015

So I talked about being behind in life, right? Well these are from August. I know, it's almost two months ago. That is a good summary of my current situation- I'm two months behind.

Every summer the local children's museum has it's annual bubble fest. Truthfully, this is only the second time we've gone and I purposely got there at the beginning to guarantee we'd see bubbles. Last year we got there an hour before it was done and everything was basically over, they were out of supplies and it was a bit of a dud. This year we had gorgeous weather so I had it all worked out that we could stay there for awhile. We made it to everything in 15 minutes. It was... disappointing.

 The kids made bookmarks with bubble wrap used as stamps and acrylic paint.
 Jackson made sure he used EVERY color available whereas Olivia went for something a little more artsy.
I think this face sums up Olivia's reaction to the whole thing.

Jackson was more interested in getting bubble solution on himself.
Another station they had to make their own bubble wand or something out of.. string? Needless to say it was a mess and then didn't even work.
The station that took us the longest was the one where you make a wand out of pipe cleaners and straws. Matt got so annoyed that the people leading it had nothing pre cut for kids, didn't even have scissors that could cut through pipe cleaners, so he's whipping out his Leatherman multi tool and then ended up building the damn things himself. This is a great shot at Jackson's reaction.
He declares, "I'm pretty sure this isn't what it's supposed to be dad. I don't think this is how any of this works."
They had a vendor there to buy sweet treats and I had heard of them, never saw them in action. I'll tell you what- these people are making a killing off of Oriental Trading candy and campfire marshmallows you can buy at the store. Total rip off.
Olivia spent $.50 on a marshmallow, but because they didn't have change, she had to buy her brother a sucker. He was pleased with this turn of events.
Oh yes, here's my one picture of Matt getting angry at the arts & crafts table.

Overall? Kind of a dud. I think if you are a small toddler, this was probably the day of your life. Last year they at least had science experiments geared for older kids so that was what we were hoping for. Instead, the closest they got was a station that was going to make like, a silly putty, but none of the volunteers knew the actual ratio so all we got was a ziploc bag full of cornstarch and water that Jackson left in the van and it started to smell.

The only positive was that we got to spend the day together and it was gorgeous weather. We've hardly had any time together as a family this summer because of Matt's work schedule and me doing PTO stuff so it was nice to at least get one really great day this summer.

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

School daze is a legit illness.

I'm not dead, I'm just swamped with things to do. That's all. But let's play catch up of things I'm really late in sharing with you. 

In September, Olivia started fourth grade and Jackson started second.
Look at how freaking skinny she is! Ugh. She had her ten year old check up and she's underweight which is frustrating consider how much food she eats. But if she's anything like me, she'll fill out soon enough.
Jackson was pretty disgusted he didn't sprout five inches this summer. He's certainly gotten taller to me but he is sure he's still shorter than everyone else. Fortunately for him, he mostly plays with the girls and they are all his height so that works out.
I am pretty lucky that my kids actually love school. Like, a lot. They were counting down the days they could go back this summer and were up long before I was on the first day.
I remember being so worried about Jackson when he started school. He was so upset when Olivia started school because his play partner was now gone, but he quickly embraced all of the extra attention. I wasn't sure if he'd do well but he has pleasantly surprised me. He does well, though he does get frustrated easily and if he isn't perfect at something right away he gets easily discouraged. But he's like that in everything that he does, really. Olivia on the other hand excels at school and I always know that she put forth all of the possible effort that should could have. And she's really good at encouraging Jackson to try a little harder. 

Along with school, Olivia has resumed dance, still has her guitar lessons and started volleyball. I couldn't convince Jackson to do any sports this fall but Boy Scouts has started again. A new school year means the PTO has started up again at school, so my to-do list has grown exponentially. I've done a really good job delegating things to others so it could certainly be worse. There are just some things that fall squarely on me and that's OK. I've gotten into a pretty good rhythm of my day so I don't feel like I'm spending an an entire weekend catching up. 

I have lots of posts to catch you up on, though. So stay tuned and be patient. Everything feels like actual organized chaos. At least I'm true to name. 

 Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Drowning to Breathe excerpt tour!

EEK! It's here! It's here! The book is for sale now, but I have a special treat for you.... an excerpt! Don't miss out on this book- you'll be an uncool kid.

The danger in pretending is it becoming

Sebastian Stone, Sunder front man and guitarist with a rap sheet
about ten miles long, escaped to Savannah,
Georgia, to get away from the trouble he’d caused.
Not find more of it.
    The moment he saw Shea Bentley, he saw beneath
all her sweet and innocence to something that went deeper.
Their relationship was
built on secrets; their love built on lies.
Sebastian never imagined
how deep her secrets went.
When the past and
present collide, Sebastian and Shea find themselves fighting for a future
neither believed they deserved. Their passion is consuming and their need
Now, holding the truth
in his hands, Sebastian is faced with sacrificing everything he’s come to love
to protect Shea and his family.

pasts intertwined.
lives bound.

Will their demons drown
them or will Shea and Sebastian finally learn to breathe?

Drowning to Breathe
A Bleeding Stars Novel,
Book 2

My brow pinched, because this fucking hurt. Hurt that Shea had been resisting confiding in me because of who I was. A fucking loose cannon. Someone prone to violence. And there it was, right beneath the surface, fire flaming and licking and begging for release. 
My voice was tight. “Made you a promise I’d protect you, Shea. Live for you. And that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. You and Kallie? You’re my life. My everything. And I will do anything…give up anything…to make sure you two are together. I won’t let him win.” 
She brushed the back of her hand over the wetness on her cheeks. “He will do anything to break us apart…to separate us. He knows we’re weaker alone. All his words about taking us down at the same time?” 
Her head shook with bitterness and hate, something so foreign on my girl’s face, but I saw it there—the atrocities he’d committed—the things she still kept inside. 
The scars she wore on her heart while I wore mine on my skin. 
“It’s a tactic. A ploy. He thinks he can fill us with threats. Convince our subconscious into believing together we’re easy targets. But, no.” Her eyes drew together as she refuted the idea, as she spilled her own belief. “He’s a coward. A coward. Someone who allows others to carry out his crimes and then lords it over them as if he is the one exerting control.”
That brave chin quivered. “I gave him my submission for so long, and I refuse to ever be that girl again. I was her, Sebastian. I was weak.”
Strength filled the profession. “But I’m not weak anymore. And I’m even stronger with you by my side.” 
“Promise me you won’t let him provoke you, Sebastian. He knows exactly how to ruin people. He finds their weaknesses. He knows Kallie is mine. And he knows the two of us are yours.” 
I swallowed hard. “I promise, baby.” 
I promise. 

He wanted nothing at all…

Until he found she had everything to give…

Sunder lead singer and guitarist Sebastian Stone has
everything—fans, fame, and fortune. He also has a heart full of bitterness and
a reputation for a short-fused temper. But an outward reputation rarely reveals
the true man inside. Facing assault charges after trying to protect his younger
brother, Sebastian is sent to Savannah, Georgia to lie low until the dust
settles in L.A.

Shea Bentley is beautiful, kind, and hiding from the very
lifestyle Sebastian has always embraced.

When the mysterious, tattooed stranger begins hanging out at the
bar where she works, Shea is quick to recognize he is nothing but trouble, but
she's helpless to the way her body lights up every time his intense gray eyes
tangle with hers.

They both soon find themselves drowning in a sea of desire and
passion that won’t let them up for air.

Sebastian knows firsthand secrets never die, and he’s not the only
one who’s hiding them.

Loving someone always comes with a price. But will it be Shea’s
past that costs them everything?

A.L. Jackson
is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary and new adult romance.

She first
found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college
student.  She filled the journals she
carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the
difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life.

Years later,
she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends
and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel.
A.L. now spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her
husband and three children.

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