Thursday, April 30, 2020

Books That Should Be On Your Radar

I've been meaning to post a lot of these sooner but moving had them in boxes but guess what? They are free from their dark cardboard dungeon! Let's talk about them!

Gotham High - Melissa de la Cruz
No surprise here that this is a great book, Melissa de la Cruz consistently brings us great stuff, and always with a little twist. In this one she partners with DC Comics and illustrator Thomas Pitilli and together they give us a young adult graphic novel. Now, I know some of you are rolling your eyes but this was actually really interesting and fun. Not to mention, its an incredibly fast read! It gives us the younger versions of Batman, Catwoman, and The Joker slogging their way through the doldrums of high school. If you are a fan of Riverdale or even Gossip Girl, you'll enjoy this one and your teen will, too!
Close Your Eyes - Darren O'Sullivan
I gave this one five stars because it was pretty great. We have a man who clearly is having memory loss issues (something I deal with daily) after waking up from a coma. Years later someone is demanding he find something that he apparently stole, except this guy has NO idea what they are talking about. I think this was compared to Gillian Flynn novels and that is pretty accurate, the twist at the end had me shrieking. 
The Sound of Stars - Alechia Dow
To be honest, I'm only half way through this but I really love it. I think my daughter is itching to get to this one herself. A really interesting dystopian/sci-fi young adult book has a teen girl named Ellie being helped by a lab created AI named Morris to basically save the world. It really reminds me of a modern version of Fahrenheit 451, where books are illegal and destroyed. In this one it is books and music, basically art in general. Its really interesting and strange but if you want something different from what you usually grab, this is the one to do that with. 
What I Want You To See - Catherine Linka
Easily one of the prettiest and coolest covers I've gotten this year so far. I read this one a few months ago, so did my daughter, and she really enjoyed it. This one centers around a high school graduate heading to art school who finds out higher education isn't like what the brochures sell you on. She realizes that it is competitive and nobody is really your friend, even the teachers who are meant to guide you along. She inadvertently finds herself in the middle of a crime and nobody to really help her. Again, this one is YA but adults will enjoyed this one a lot too. Definitely an interesting one if you have a teen interested in art. 
The Last Letter From Juliet - Melanie Hudson
I know I'm not the biggest historical fiction fan but sometimes on sounds so good I have to give it a try, and I am so glad I did. Yes, this is a WWII book and I don't know about you but it feels like there are SO many in the market right now. I'm not going to say much because this one had me misty eyed at the end and I think I read the last third in one sitting because it was beautiful. So far, this has been my favorite historical fiction of the year and it will likely make my top ten list for the year.
Little White Lies - Philippa East
Oh guys. One of my worst fears is for myself to be kidnapped, but also having one of my children abducted. In this one we have a young girl abducted but is found seven years later. By this time she's a teenager and not only do we find out exactly what happened to her during her time away, but her mom has some confessions of her own and basically she's trying to bond with her daughter again but also find out if her daughter really remembers all of the details from the day she disappeared. It started a little slow for me but once it got moving I really enjoyed this one.

Alright guys, I think that's all I have for right now. I have so many review books coming up (mostly romance) but I spent the last of my gift cards on books that were specifically NOT romance just to shake things up a bit.

Have you read any good ones I haven't read yet? Let me know because I have room for more books!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Penelope is FIVE.

I don't remember a whole lot from my pregnancy with Penelope, but I remember being so excited she was coming. The last couple of weeks were rough, but on the day she was born I was ready. And at 10:52 p.m. Penelope was here.
She was the largest (and still is) baby I've birthed but I think her birth was my favorite one. I had the most fun during that, which is odd to say, but its true. I know I had post-partum depression and really struggled being alone at home with her. By the time she was six months old I was already pregnant with Lucy and that was really tough. 
Penelope is easily, hands down, the hardest child I have. She isn't bad or anything, she just challenges me in way none of the other kids do. And that's OK. By the time she was one year old she was absolutely certain what she would and would not eat, cupcakes and other baked goods were always acceptable. She was walking, babbling away, and had the softest hair. 
Age two was rough but she really developed her personality. I think this was a hard year for her because just when she really needed a lot of attention and support, Lucy was born and kind of stole her thunder. Penelope has always made sure we knew she needed love too, and even now she will say, "I need some loving, too." and I love that about her. I love that she is always able to tell us exactly what she needs. 
By three we learned she is for sure left handed, loves art, and is incredibly smart. She started a 3K program and did so very well. We also learned that she is terribly shy, which was bizarre for us because she is the exact opposite at home. She's bossy and demanding here, totally quiet at school. 
Four was a pretty great year for her. Challenging a lot of the time but man. She is such a neat kid. She always brings me to the brink of insanity but always makes me laugh, too. She really is so stinking smart, and it's obvious her brain works differently. I feel like she really is the classic middle child a lot of days but when she gets in the zone, she's a dynamo. 
She doesn't listen worth a dang at home though. She tests boundaries far more than any other kid and when she decides she wants to do something, she will do it. Traits that will be great as an adult, but also really awful as a four year old who has no issues running into a road. This was the year a fence went up in the yard. Ha! 
She looks like me so much and it's so great to really have a mini-me. My mom says I was just like Penelope and if that's true I'm so sorry, mom! But also, how lucky were you to get me? ;) 
Her favorite things are candy, swimming in the pool, being outside, jumping and running like a maniac, 
Trolls, princesses, playing dress up, and UNICORNS. In 4K this year she got to pick one of the animal units and she picked unicorn. Her teacher is so amazing that she absolutely went with it and Penelope was so incredibly happy. We also learned that what we thought was just normal shy is a bit more. She's really painfully shy and it was heartbreaking to see her on the playground at school, in tears, holding her teacher's hand. Her teacher said it seems like it is really a fear of rejection that holds her back. Which bums me out because she's such a cool little kid. 
Having her turn five seems so weird to me. A lot of the times I feel like I missed so much with her because I'm trying to treasure my time with Olivia and Jackson, but also Lucy because she's my absolute last, and Penelope gets shuffled along. I don't know how parents of more than four kids do this and feel like everyone is getting an even amount of attention.

I tell Penelope every day that she is my favorite Penelope in all the land, that if there were a million Penelope's, she would be my very favorite. I give her lots of hugs, snuggles, and kisses. I am trying so hard with her. I hope she knows that. 💗

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

It would've been a good week.

I haven't really looked at the calendar much except to stay on top of book reviews because everything is obviously cancelled. It really hasn't been a big deal because we don't do much, but this was supposed to be a big week.

  • Olivia would have had high school transition night yesterday. She is going to be a freshman next year and I'm so nervous and excited at the same time, and I know she is too. I think she was looking forward to that just to learn more about high school and ask questions to calm her nerves. She's like me in that way, she wants to be as prepared as she can ahead of time and it helps. 
  • Today would have been Penelope's spring concert at school. I was going to buy her a cute spring dress to wear and she was going to sing some songs, probably have a family craft day afterwards like for the holiday concert. 
  • Tomorrow Penelope turns FIVE, if you can believe it, and no pandemic can cancel that so we'll still celebrate. 
  • Olivia would be having her final middle school band concert on Thursday. She was looking forward to that too and her songs sound amazing. I think this is the first of a few things she's sad about as she closes out her time at middle school. 
  • Friday would have been big, Penelope should have been going to Kindergarten Round Up. She would be meeting teachers and seeing classrooms. Maybe doing a craft alongside some other kids. It would help her be less scared when we (hopefully) start in the fall again. 
  • Sunday would have been a finale practice for Olivia's dance recital. The recital would have happened on May 9th, but the show I know she worked so hard for is cancelled. Well, they are doing some kind of performance on Zoom and its going to be lame and she likely can't even do it because we have zero room in the house to do it. We get zero internet in the yard so that's out. I'm so angry that our costumes can't be used next year which is a whole other thing, and Matt is livid that we're expected to shell hundreds of dollars for more costumes when we didn't get to wear these. I get it. Sigh. 
Some good things, though: 
  • Penelope turns five tomorrow and I'm so excited. She has been counting down for months and her little brain just about exploded when she realized tomorrow is the day! We have a cake for her, some presents for her, and some ice cream, of course. I think a couple of friends are going to drop something on the porch for her, too. She was really bummed that she can't be the birthday star in her little 4K class, but her teacher DID mail her a little card and she was so excited and as she put it, had "happy tears". 
  • My library/craft space/office is amazing. I know I keep talking about it but truly, it is so amazing and I'm so grateful and I thank my lucky stars Matt is so great at everything. 
  • Its getting warmer, which means I can walk outside more often. I am hoping I can find my winter hat and just got now. (It's still chilly and my ears get too cold.)
  • Twinky got to go to the groomers and thank goodness because I think he was just as nervous as I was when I told him I was going to try to give him a hair cut. 
I'm trying to write out the good and the bad every day. It's OK to get the bad out there as long as I don't dwell on it and I am able to throw up some good there, too. I hope you have some good happening, too. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Weeds, weight loss, hair loss, over it

Let's just do a week/weekend roundup. I'm trying really hard to take more pictures of our day to day life because what if this becomes like the 1918-1920 flu pandemic and people want our souvenirs for museums one day? I don't know what I'd even give them. Maybe I'll save an empty container of Lysol wipes and my masks.

What would you save??

Anyways, it seems like forever since I posted about having to lose weight and I bet you thought I feel off that wagon but nope. I'm still bumping along the road. For the most part I make good food choices but I'm honestly never hungry. Since having my gall bladder taken out I have lost all appetite. Not only that but anytime I do eat anything (or drink something other than water), it becomes a repeat of the Linzess situation and I just can't live like that.

It isn't even reasonable.
I've eaten quite a few salads and I just have to ask, and maybe I'm an idiot, but why do they put weeds in it? WHAT IS THAT? It looks like the weeds that grow in your yard that you spray chemicals on so they go away. Seriously. I asked Matt and he almost choked on a crouton laughing at me. 
In other news, Lucy has taken to reading to her baby dolls. Well, she comes up with her own colorful story but it is always hilarious, especially when she tells the doll to settle down. 
The girls got to wear swim suits for dance (via Zoom) and its clear we need to get some new ones. Well, I'll buy one for Pep and then Lucy will get Penelope's old ones. This week is pajama week I think, AND it will be on Penelope's birthday!
A few things here: 1. I hate telehealth doctor appointments. I hate them. I don't even Facetime people because I had all video calls. Strongly dislike. 2. I can't remember if I told you I'm losing hair. Like, a LOT OF HAIR. If you know me in real life you know that I have VERY thick hair that is normally curly/wavy (I usually straighten it because its easier for me to maintain day to day). You can kind of tell in the photo that my hairline is receding. I'll have to get a better photo, but my hair is half the thickness it used to be.  Half.

I'm 95% sure it is from taking Arava for my rheumatoid arthritis, so I've stopped taking it. It's been about three weeks now and the loss isn't near as bad as it was, so I'm hopeful it'll grow back some? The doctor tried to tell me that isn't a side effect but it clearly is but ALSO, it turned out to be why my mom doesn't take it. So clearly I'm not nuts.
Oh yes, my neighbor snow blows his grass, apparently. I do feel like there is more action/more people doing stuff outside in this neighborhood than my last, so that has been fun. Olivia and Jackson helped Penelope and Lucy ride their bikes down the street and some guy was cheering them on and honking his horn. 
We also had our first freezies of the year. It was chilly so Penelope and Lucy had to put theirs in oven mitts to hang onto them but still, its a win. (Notice Penelope's shoes are on the wrong feet?)
You can also see Olivia trying to give Twinky some of hers but I'm not sure if he likes cold things so much. 
Jackson being an absolute dork. He's really been helping me with hauling things out of the house or bringing things from the garage to the house so that's been nice. 
Matt and I have been trying to go on lunch dates on the weekends because we really need to spend some kid free time together (it is a priority of ours this year) to de-stress. I saw on Instagram that one of our favorites, Chilly Billy's was open with very limited hours so we went and it was fantastic!
It was even sunny! And hey- you can see how much hair I've lost! Not just hair on my head but eyebrows and some eyelashes, too. Totally sucky because I was really feeling good on the Arava but man... I can't handle that kind of hair loss. 
Oh! The big library/craft room/office reveal is coming soon! Matt worked SO HARD on this room and I am so grateful. I told him yesterday that it really is better than my old room. For real. Even better? I'm in the basement, as far away from people as possible, with a door that locks. It's so great. But here's the sneak peek I posted on Instagram this weekend
Oh- so back to weight loss! I can't find a before picture (?!?!?!?!) but here is today. I'm down to a size 14 pant but I think I might be close to a 12? Some of my 14's are big but the 12's are just a little uncomfortable still.
And! Let it be known that my boobs are no longer perky, but officially saggy. Matt asked if it was a no bra day today and nope. I had a bra on. A new one, in fact. He even checked for a strap in the back to confirm and yeah. That made me feel crappy. Sigh. Treasure your perky boobs, ladies. Treasure them. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Review: Barefoot on the Beach

I know it isn't summer yet but because I'm home all of the time, and surely wishing it were summer, I'm all about beach reads at this point. I feel like if you read summer books early it gets you into a summer mindset!
Barefoot on the Beach - Katlyn Duncan

Renee may be thrilled to be planning her sister’s wedding, but after witnessing her mother’s two failed marriages, she has always vowed that she is better off on her own.

But when Renee discovers that Luc Hardy has moved next door, her world is knocked off kilter. Luc was her whirlwind summer romance as a teen and, more importantly, her first love. Now he’s back in West Cove, looking more handsome than ever.

There is no escaping the romance in the air this summer. With the wedding planning in full swing, Renee begins to believe that she might be able to put her childhood reservations about marriage aside.

Yet when her mother arrives, she stirs a torrent of emotions in Renee’s heart. She’s up to her old tricks again – boasting about her latest conquests – reaffirming Renee’s lack of faith in love.

As Renee’s happily-ever-after hangs in the balance, will Luc be able to convince her that true love can last forever?

It's always nice to find a new to me author, and Katlyn Duncan is certainly that! In this book we have Renee, who has decided that love and marriage wasn't for her after watching her mother cycle through husbands her entire childhood. Over summer though, she finds herself becoming a last minute wedding planner for her sister who is getting married in a month. One morning her dog runs into the neighbor's house which is when she realized that the guy next door this summer?

Her first crush and definitely the guy she lost her virginity to. Their summer fling ended abruptly and she never heard or seen him again.

They end up hanging out over that month and she finds herself reluctantly rekindling things with him though she has no idea what she's doing. Between that and planning her sister's wedding (who doesn't seem to have a care in the world), having to deal with her mess of a mother, and trying to keep her freelance work afloat, this is an incredibly stressful time for Renee.

Overall? I liked this one, I'd give it a solid 3.5 star for sure. Renee wasn't really someone I would want to hang out with, she wasn't warm or approachable, and it seemed like using her mother's failures as her reason to not even try was just an easy excuse. What she really was feeling was scared to fail herself and she wasn't very nice to Luc. I really liked him a lot and he seemed like a genuinely good guy, he definitely didn't deserve the attitude Renee through his way.

Also, Renee's sister is the worst. I get it she has anxiety and stress but she is incredibly selfish and self-entitled and I really wanted Renee to tell her exactly where to go and how to get there. Don't even get me started on the mother.

If you are looking for a light read, something to enjoy while your kids run around screaming during quarantine, this should be your next pick. It's a fast read, you won't be swinging by the last thread of your emotions, and that's what we all need at this point!
A huge thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing a copy for review!  All thoughts are my own, of course. Happy reading, friends!
This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Book Review: Mackenzie's Heroes

I'll have to post more about my Linda Howard shopping spree later but as I was going through her books (all in one box, of course) I found this and realized I hadn't read it and her books are always fast for me so why not?
MacKenzie's Heroes - Linda Howard 

Mackenzie's Pleasure

Navy SEAL Zane Mackenzie was a pro. No mission had ever gotten the better of him—until now. Saving the ambassador's gorgeous daughter, Barrie Lovejoy, had been textbook—except for their desperate night of passion. And though his job as a soldier had ended with her freedom, his duties as a husband had only just begun. For he would sooner die than let the enemy harm the mother of his child.

Mackenzie's Magic
Talented trainer Maris Mackenzie was wanted for horse theft, but with no memory of that fateful day, she had little chance of proving her innocence or eluding the villains behind the prize stallion's disappearance. Her only hope for salvation? The stranger in her bed. 

Well, as it turns out, I had already read MacKenzie's Pleasure before and you can read my more detailed review about it HERE. The quick and dirty of it is that Barrie is "randomly" kidnapped and in some gross terrorist holding building in Benghazi, Libya. Zane, a SEAL who finds himself deployed with his time in action and not in charge because of a training accident injuring some of his team, is sent to rescue her.

I don't have to tell you what happens because it is a really fast read and you'll get through it in a day. My favorite part about Linda Howard books is that while a lot of her books (especially the earlier ones like this) have the cheesiest story line and no way is it realistic but dammit. Here I am and take all of my money.

Out of all of the MacKenzie's though, Zane is maybe my favorite. I take that back. It is really tied between him and his brother Chance but that's another book for another day. I felt like this book though, really had the romance-slash-sex scenes you are wanting when you get into a romance and for being a book written in the mid-90's, its pretty spot on.

Part two of this book is MacKenzie's Magic and it is basically a novella covering the youngest of the MacKenzie family, the only daughter, Maris. I didn't expect a whole lot from this one considering it really is just a novella strapped to the end of an actual novel, but this one fell flat for me. I mean, Maris decides to marry a guy while she is still concussed and doesn't even know his first name.

So that happened.

Her entire story centers around a horse (the family is big into horses but she's living in a different state than them and doing her own career) maybe being a target in an insurance scam and/or murder plot. Of course the FBI is involved and Maris finds herself in the middle of it. Instead of letting the authorities handle it like a normal person, she uses herself as bait and literally all hell breaks loose.

The book, with both stories together, is a 4. I really liked MacKenzie's Pleasure a lot more than MacKenzie's Magic but hey, I'm not going to turn down a novella. I feel like this was written when novellas weren't really a thing people cared about or wanted so I have to cut it a little bit of slack.

I am going to try really hard to start reviewing the books I have on my shelf that I've read but just not blogged about, so stayed tuned for that. Linda Howard really is one of my favorite authors and I don't know if its just because she was the one who really kicked off my reading obsession as an adult, or what? I was a big reader as a kid and then when I graduated high school I kind of got out of it and it was my mid 20's when I can back and it was because of her book Open Season. I don't know.

So if you're in the mood for a romance, maybe even a cheesy one that'll be eye roll worthy enough to make you forget about the quarantine nightmare we're living, go for this one.

(This post contains affiliate links. When you click on them and order something, I will make a few cents at no extra cost to you.)

Friday, April 17, 2020

Book Review: Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Are you reading during this quarantine? I'm trying to get through some of the books on my TBR that I had started before all of this (and the move) but now I'm trying to get back into them and finish. This was one of them, I'm so glad I got back into it.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown - Talia Hibbert

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And... do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

I don't think I have to tell you what draw me to this book but for the newbies here, I will. The premise of a romance book featuring a character with chronic illness that affects their day to day living and functionality is right up my alley. Not only is that personal to me, but a lot of the issues Chloe dealt with are ones that I deal with daily as well. Her description of becoming so tired that she basically melts to the floor?

I can identify with that. In fact, I took a nap on the dining room floor the other day because that's where my body decided to stop.

So to say I liked this is an understatement. I was worried that I wouldn't like Chloe when I started because it kind of started oddly and she was really pretty snobby and rude to Red. As the story unfolds it feels like the author found her groove and the humor really kicked in and I could not get enough of this.
"Apparently, this climb was wearing her out - but she'd been taking irregular walks for years, damn it. Surely she should be a semipro athlete by now? Apparently not. The human body was an inconvenient and unreasonable thing." - page 41
Let's talk about Red though. Red was so great. Sure, he has some hang ups and real issues that he struggles with in this book but I really adored him. He's so great with Chloe and her medical issues, he does the verbal combat on her level and it made it so fun to watch their relationship unfold. They each have a similar of issue of trusting others and together they learn how to do it.

Chloe's list is pretty fun too, and his willingness to jump into it is pretty adorable. I love her guilt of her "spying" on him, I love the camping trip, I even love the drunken night of debauchery. This book was fun, funny, sweet, and the sexy moments were pretty good (not explicit, but just enough) and I really enjoyed this one as my bedtime read. I'm excited to read the next two in what I think is going to be a trilogy, I'm assuming covering her two sisters. The sisters were quite the characters themselves so those will be really fun.
This post contains affiliate links, if you click on them and purchase an item, I may make a few cents at no cost to you. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Book Review: You and Me and Us

I don't know about you but quarantine is kicking me in the rear. I think it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to get a house ready to sell at the same time. I'm working until exhaustion every day and then I come home and read at night and OF COURSE, I picked up a book that gave me all the feels.
You and Me and Us - Alison Hammer

Alexis Gold knows how to put the “work” in working mom. It’s the “mom” part that she’s been struggling with lately. Since opening her own advertising agency three years ago, Alexis has all but given up on finding a good work/life balance. Instead, she’s handed over the household reins to her supportive, loving partner, Tommy. While he’s quick to say they divide and conquer, Alexis knows that Tommy does most of the heavy lifting—especially when it comes to their teenage daughter, CeCe. 

Their world changes in an instant when Tommy receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, and Alexis realizes everything she’s worked relentlessly for doesn’t matter without him. So Alexis does what Tommy has done for her almost every day since they were twelve-year-old kids in Destin, Florida—she puts him first. And when the only thing Tommy wants is to spend one last summer together at “their” beach, she puts her career on hold to make it happen…even if it means putting her family within striking distance of Tommy’s ex, an actress CeCe idolizes.

But Alexis and Tommy aren’t the only ones whose lives have been turned inside out. In addition to dealing with the normal ups and downs that come with being a teenager, CeCe is also forced to confront her feelings about Tommy’s illness—and what will happen when the one person who’s always been there for her is gone. When the magic of first love brings a bright spot to her summer, CeCe is determined not to let her mother ruin that for her, too.

As CeCe’s behavior becomes more rebellious, Alexis realizes the only thing harder for her than losing Tommy will be convincing CeCe to give her one more chance.  

You and Me and Us is a beautifully written novel that examines the unexpected ways loss teaches us how to love.

Phew... I don't know where to start with this because I don't want to ruin anything for you. I'm really not joking when I say that this book needs to unfold naturally at its own pace. Even with that, I had forgotten there was a death of a spouse and that is my worst fear, if Matt died before me. I don't know what I would do so I could kind of imagine what feelings Alexis was having. I couldn't imagine what it was like having a teenager who seemingly hated you because you focused on work far more than you ever did being a parent.

To be honest, that really gutted me. I know what a big deal it is to go to things your child is involved in, and Alexis repeatedly misses them. She's starting a new marketing business and it involves a lot of time, and Tommy has always been able to smooth it over with CeCe, but once he passes away, CeCe is left hanging. Through Alexis's grief, CeCe really struggles with her own grief so she lashes out towards her mom but of course, along comes a boy.

We've all been a teenager with a boy. A first love kind of boy.

As a mom this was gut wrenching and I felt for Alexis and CeCe. I remember being a teenager and what those feelings are like. Two very different people learning to grieve in vastly differently ways the same person who meant the world to them in different things. It's like two people losing their anchor and having to find a way to come together.

You guys. This book was BEAUTIFUL. It was beautifully written, the characters were well organized, the story itself felt like a ribbon twirling in the air. It takes to all of the places we needed to go but so gently and beautifully. It's really the best adjective for this book: beautiful. It had me smiling, it had me tearing up, it had me full out sobbing, and it had me hoping beyond hope that this would come together and end well.

I won't tell you if it does or not but I will say if you are looking for a book to keep you entertained through quarantine, this will be that book for you. If you are in a book club and you are looking for a book, this will be a great selection. I cannot wait to see what Alison Hammer writes next.
A huge thank you to William Morrow and Harper Collins for sending me a copy for review and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour! All thoughts are my own and this post contains affiliate links. Another suggestion is to check out the Harper Collins website to purchase this one and more because who knows how long we'll be stuck in our houses! 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Losing my sanity.

I know, I absolutely know that I am not special. Just because I am losing my sanity being in quarantine doesn't mean I'm special.

Everyone is slowly losing their minds and I get it.

What is different here is that since my AFE, I have a whole slew of mental health issues. On my absolute best days I struggle with volatility. I might be happy as a clam and out of nowhere I'm so angry I could break every dish we own. I might start a craft project with the best intentions and suddenly I'm throwing it all away and sending everyone to their room because I can't handle the sounds of their voices and I'll likely burst into tears because I know it isn't normal but I can't stop it.

Believe it or not, that's me medicated. That's the best version of what life is like for me.

Is it normal? NOPE. Is it OK for the kids to deal with that? NOPE. Do I feel like the worst mother in the world? YEP. Am I angry that this is how I am now? ABSOLUTELY. Do I feel terrible because I used to be a really great mom and now I just suck and make everyone cry? NO DOUBT.
The last couple of weeks started out alright. I had a list of things to do everyday and my therapist told me I can do anything for short spans. If I look at things as small chunks of time, I can do anything. Look at the start and end date and I'll be OK. The problem with there being no end date here is that I am just left feeling like I'm in a bottomless pit of awful. It reminds me of the spans of time that I was suicidal.

Don't get me wrong, there has never been a time that I didn't think about being dead in general or being dead as a solution to life. That remains consistent; however, with medication and coping techniques I've been able to shift my thinking on really awful days.

Unfortunately, those aren't long term solutions. I'm 100% sure that if I lived in a warmer climate I would be better because at least I could go for a walk or a bike ride and not worry about getting so cold that I can't function. It isn't a matter of bundle up and I'll be fine, I no longer manage body temperature too well so I swing wildly from so cold I might die to so hot I'm going to pass out. It's one and then swing wildly to the other. You might be able to ride your bike with a light jacket and maybe gloves but I need full winter gear and then will sweat profusely, only to feel like hypothermia is setting in when I take the jacket off.

Going outside isn't a real option for me.

Instead I've been trying to keep busy around the house. Unpacking, cleaning, going to the old house to work on stuff. It's great until I get going and everything starts to hurt. I get so tired, like I've run a marathon, and all I've done is swept the kitchen floor. It's aggravating and I get angry because I just want to be normal and do normal things. I stopped the medication that kind of helped with that because my hair is coming out in massive clumps. Handfuls. That picture above? you can see the receding hairline on the sides (like right under my pins). My hair has always been outrageous thick and full and now? I can put a bun in my hair. Absolutely unheard of a year ago. Without the medication though everything on me hurts. I'm also so tired that ten hours of sleep isn't doing it. I'm barely making it to nap time every day.

I won't even tell you about the outrageous crying sessions I'm doing. Last week I collapsed onto the living room and just cried. For HOURS. Meanwhile the kids are seemingly used to it and just go around me. Matt has to work and frankly, he doesn't need to deal with me. I am hoping I can do a telehealth appointment for therapy in two weeks otherwise I might go right off the deep end. I'm barely hanging onto the edge anymore.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Book Review: French Kiss

I guess the best part of quarantine is that I am getting a lot of reading done and I'm not hating it. Have you been reading anything good? You'll have to let me know in the comments!
French Kiss - Stacy Travis

It didn't take a medical degree to know that Josh Weitz was insanely hot, from his swoony grey-green eyes to his dark hair that begs my fingers to run through it.

But he was my best friend, and I was too busy crushing on his roommate--otherwise known as the ‘Wrong Guy’--to notice.

Sure, Josh has always been there for me, and he makes me laugh like no one else can. But it's only when ‘Wrong Guy’ stands me up in Paris and Josh shows up for me, once again, that I start to appreciate all the things I've been missing.

Like the way his eyes crinkle when he laughs, and how he always holds the door for me and the unexpected kiss we share under the Eiffel Tower. He makes me feel that spark I have always longed for.

But trust doesn't come easy for me, and being with him is a risk.

Will I lose my best friend . . . or my heart? 

The story begins with Hannah, and Josh, entering their residency, and developing a dependable friendship. It's clear that Josh likes Hannah more than a friend, but in the book Hannah states several times that she isn't attracted to him and can't see him as anything more. I was taken aback by that because the description says he's "insanely hot" and while he grew into his looks, it bothered me that what Josh looked like was such a focus. I wonder if people would still love it if we had a man liking a woman now that she lost some weight? That's always something that bothers me.

Of course Hannah falls for Maddox, Josh's roommate. They make plans to meet over seas for a rendezvous but of course, super hot Maddox is a no show and lets her down big. Josh comes to the rescue and they decide to wander Paris together. Of course, sparks fly and things go a little differently than they thought it would. There is a little twist at the end and that was probably the best part of the book for me.

Overall, I thought this was a sweet book. I thought a few spots got a little sluggish and too much detail was put into it that could have been taken out and this would have been a home run for me. I have to give this one 3 stars, it was OK and I liked it, it just isn't one that I would re-read. It's absolutely an exciting debut novel for this author and it definitely will keep her on my radar.
A big thank you to Stacy Travis and Social Butterfly PR for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. All thoughts are my own and this post contains affiliate links. Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Book Review: Southern Storms

You know I love anything Brittainy Cherry gives us and this one... you guys.... SO GOOD.
Southern Storms - Brittainy Cherry

All I wanted to do was run away, I never expected to crash into his arms...

After leaving the city life behind to escape my loveless marriage, I moved to small town Havenbarrow for a fresh start.

What I didn’t expect was to find myself drawn to the town’s black sheep.

They called him troubled. Cold. A man with a dark past.

What everyone seemed to miss about Jax was the splashes of light in his eyes. The random acts of kindness he performed when no one was watching. The way he made me smile and laugh.

Jax helped unpack the baggage I’d been carrying around with me. He was patient with my pain and gentle with my scars. He was the stillness during my hurricane.

Yet when both of our pasts came back to haunt our present days, we realized quickly that sometimes love stories didn’t end the way we’d hoped.

Sometimes you were left with only the damage from the storm.

You guys. I cannot even fully express to you HOW MUCH I love this book. So much. I can't stand Nicholas Sparks and I don't like Hallmark movies (come at me, bro) but this? This is like those times a million. The last couple of Brittainy Cherry books have been alright but they've been missing that little extra something for me and this book brought it in spades!

We have Kennedy and Jax, childhood summer camp sweethearts and best friends, reunited as adults in what is appropriately called kismet. Just a fluke of life experiences land them together again after both facing equally awful traumas, both of them equally broken and worn out by the world and thank goodness.

We have a couple of sexy scenes but you know what? We didn't even need them. (But the library one was FIRE and I feel disappointed I've never had a library date, to be honest.)

You're hearing me right, this is a romance book that was so good that we didn't even need sexy times. I loved Kennedy and all her quirks, but maybe because I identified and can personally relate to some of her PTSD and panic attacks. I loved Jax so much and he's the hero we all want. He's got a little bit of work to be done that only real love can fix and dammit.... swoon. Also? I loved his "partner" Connor. Connor turns 18 in the book but his parts in here made me laugh out loud and I am forever disappointed to not see more landscaping businesses called "Two Men and a Hoe". Just throwing that out there.

Overall? I have to give this five GUSHING stars. I would give it more if Goodreads let me. I hope like hell the physical copy of this comes out soon so I can hold it in my hands but ALSO, I hope book two of her Compass series comes out (this is book one) and I'm here for it.

Thank you Brittainy Cherry and Social Butterfly PR for having me on this tour, I am so incredibly grateful. This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Book Review: The Silent Patient

I can't even remember how I heard of this book but once I started reading it I think I was mixed up on which book I thought it was but nonetheless, it was pretty darn good. I also have to give a shout out to my friend Suzy, she encouraged me to get my ass in gear in reading this. (I told you I'd finish it!)
The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him... 

I'll be honest with you, when I first started this I really struggled. It started a little too slow for me. It is almost fully narrated by Theo, the psychotherapist who seemingly becomes obsessed with Alicia. Alicia is in a psychiatric hospital for the rest of her life for the murder of her husband Grabriel. Gabriel's murder was so grizzly that even Alicia is basically muted from the trauma of it. She's convicted since she is silent and unable/unwilling to contribute to her defense and that's that.

Until Theo sees a position opening at The Grove, the facility that Alicia has been living in. At the beginning of the book it becomes fairly clear he's obsessed with her and her case though it isn't clear why, and he leaves his stable, predictable job to (hopefully) be a part of Alicia's care team even though The Grove is in danger of closing.

I thought Theo came off kind of like a nut because he was so hyper focused on Alicia and though he seemed like a fairly decent and confident psychotherapist, it always felt like there was a stalker element to him. While he was there he runs into an old work acquaintance and neither of them like each other, colorful residents, a Director who almost seems like he's being pushed out of The Grove (for good reason??), and of course, Alicia.

Once Alicia begins her sessions with Theo it seems fairly hopeless. When Theo gets a clear sign from Alicia she's not having it, he isn't deterred. He continues on, desperate to get Alicia to talk but also have her tell him what happened the night her husband was murdered. Theo turns into a detective even, visiting remaining family of Alicia's but also the gallery that kept her paintings. Everyone in Alicia's life is suspect and all of them seem a bit off, and all of them portray Alicia as being paranoid and maybe even a little unhinged but Theo doesn't fully believe that.

The best part of the book is the last third because everything starts rolling downhill and even the last 50 pages are maybe the best part of the book. All of the strings start weaving together into the tapestry of a bizarre and sad story.

I really liked how the author pulled this together, his writing style is easy to follow and keeps you hooked chapter to chapter, made even easier by the short chapters. I really liked Alicia's revenge almost, this is a woman who, despite every obstacle in front of her, her quick thinking and brilliance made it all come full circle.

My main complaint was Theo's odd, seemingly pointless personal story line with his wife Kathy felt bumpy and unfinished. I had a hard time deciding what was the past and what was the present (or maybe it didn't matter), but also, it never really had an ending. Theo had an ending (kind of) but I wanted to know what was the end of the Theo & Kathy story. You string me along all through the book, the least you can do is giving me a finish there. I also wanted just a little bit more from Alicia's ending. I mean, we get one... kind of. But I just wanted a little more. To be fair, I have a hard time saying goodbye to books in general so don't let that hang you up on this one.

Definitely a worth while read if you like a good suspense or you need something that would be a quick read. Once the story picked up I was able to get through it quickly. I would definitely read something from this author again. I would give this one a 4 1/2 star, rounded up to 5.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Book Review: The Hunting Party

What a weekend you guys. The best part of the weekend though was getting through a few books so stay tuned for some good reviews!
The Hunting Party - Lucy Foley

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

Are you in the market for a whodunnit? Are you in the mood for a book with a ton of characters that you don't like but we've got a dead body here and someone did it, but who?

I have to tell you right off that there are almost two many characters and none of them are likable and they all have a motive. Easily the biggest challenge for me was the amount of characters there were but also the flip flopping between past and present. I struggle with that and that's fully on me, so don't let that sway you from this book!

My other complaint? I absolutely saw the ending coming and that was a bit of a let down for me. The saving grace easily was the story to the end though because the weaving in and out between characters and time that makes it worth it. I don't think the ending is the key part of this book, its the story around it and that's what will keep you turning. Also? Not only are we trying to figure out who committed the murder, but we also don't know who the person is that died.

The best part is that the remote location makes it a little more creepy and reminded me of a few other books from Dean Koontz and Mary Higgins Clark that I've read. Somehow, winter is the best time of year to read a whodunnit and having dead bodies just hanging around.

Overall? I'd give this one a solid 3 stars.

Thank you to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour! I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.