Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Meet George and Banana

I can't remember if I mentioned that we had to put one of our cats, Lola, down in October/November? Long story short, we thought she was sick and it turns out she was literally full of cancer. Like FULL. We had no idea because she was such a fluffy cat so we couldn't feel any lumps or anything, but that's what it was. We put her down and we've all been sad without her here. Our last remaining cat, Batman, was clearly sad and he was quickly losing weight, and he would make the most pitiful moaning/meowing sound, clearly looking for Lola. He would go to each of her spaces all day, and we were starting to think maybe he was depressed.  

Fast forward until December and I saw a Facebook post about two kittens that were abandoned/found in a barn and in really rough shape. Of course I wanted one, plus they looked like Batman so I thought we'll go and pick one. 

Matt and I got to the place and I was immediately connected with George (he's fluffier, long hair) and Matt was loving on Banana (short hair) and the kitties were reaching for each other. You guys. 

I had to have both. I can't separate baby kitty brothers who are the only surviving of the litter since everyone else starved or froze to death. I could not separate them. They had different names that were lame, and I decided my cat would be George (left) so Jackson said the other kitten would be Banana (right). 
I was worried how Batman would adjust and it was an iffy first day, but from then on? He's a good dad. He holds them down when they get too rowdy around him or when he aggressively cleans them. He is CLEARLY happier and he's putting on weight again and he's wanting love from us again, so I know we made the right decision. 
See? We bought a new cat tree and he's out and about, willing to pose for photos. Yes, I know he's a large cat. He's large and in charge. 
Yes, Twinky loves them, too! They cuddle with him a lot, he lets them eat his food, he kind of just sits there with a "please help me" face and you have to move a kitty to the other bowl. 

The best part? George and Banana are always looking for each other. They meow for each other in the dark, which is annoying because I thought cats could see really well at night but these two are apparently blind and/or dumb. They also prefer to sleep together. They really don't care where they sleep, but they like to be together. They are LOUD when they purr and they purr all of the time and I love it. George is more cuddly and he's definitely lazier, likes to eat more. Banana is thinner, definitely more wild, and he likes to be in the toilet. We don't know why but it is alarming to just... see a cat in the toilet. 

Matt is an absolute sucker for kittens, and I forgot about that. They totally love Matt, probably because he's like a squishy cat tree, I guess. The only thing that isn't great? They have gas. George, especially. They have the strongest, grossest gas I have ever encountered, let alone in an animal. It's not awesome when they get snuggly with you and then just fart. It reminds me of the Walter, the Farting Dog books because for real. 
See? They snuggle together and honestly, how can you not want to squish them?? 
The kids really love her, Penelope especially. Penelope really likes to pick them up and love them. A lot. We have to tell her to put them down quite a bit, but this is her and Lucy's first experience with kittens, so I can totally understand their excitement. 

Overall, I am so glad that we adopted two kittens on a whim. I am glad that we took both home because I can't imagine either one of them being without their brother, they are definitely a dynamic duo. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Book Review: Unchosen

One of my goals for 2021 is to read more Young Adult (YA) books because I feel like I haven't really read very many and it is one of my favorite genre to read. I'm pretty open to all kinds of YA books but every once in awhile one jumps out at me, and that's what this book was for me. 

Unchosen - Katharyn Blair

Katharyn Blair crafts a fiercely feminist fantasy with a horrifying curse, swoon-worthy sea captains, and the power of one girl to choose her own fate in this contemporary standalone adventure that's perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and Seafire, and for anyone who has ever felt unchosen.

For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.

The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.

The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.

Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.

When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.

The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.

But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.

Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning. 
If ever there was a time that we could use a hardcore, feminist book for teens about a crazy ass plague, now is that moment. There is no better time. 

In this book we are in a time during the Crimson, think The Walking Dead but with blood red eyes, and instead of it being spread through bites, it is spread through looking at one of the infected's red eyes. It happens rather quickly once it comes ashore and we find ourselves with three sisters: Harlow, Charlotte, and Vanessa. 

Harlow is the oldest and pretty badass, and she basically becomes a leader of sorts of this little group of people. Vanessa is the youngest and everyone realizes she is the Chosen One, which is (seemingly) what the Infected are looking for to bring to their leader. Nobody knows what will happen then but it surely can't be good and Harlow and Charlotte know they must protect their sister at all costs. 

Then we have Charlotte. Charlotte is the middle kid, she never gets what she wants and nobody asks how she is doing. She is in love with Dean since childhood (never mind these are teenagers so basically still children as it is), but Dean and her sister Harlow are together and in love. Charlotte remains heartbroken but she does her duty to protect Vanessa. Charlotte is the only one who seems to be thinking of a way to stop the Crimson or something, but she feels unimportant because she isn't a leader and she isn't the Chosen One, so she doesn't know what her place is in this strange world. Vanessa randomly speaks in riddles and Charlotte is trying to decode them, and during an attempt to find a priceless headdress, she basically leaves a blinking trail for the Crimson and Runners (kind of like human traffickers but instead of selling sex they are selling uninfected to the infected to... eat/consume) and all hell breaks loose. 

I'll be the first to say that all of the information about the Crimson and laying out the different groups of people (depending on how infected they are), and I was getting worried this would all go over my head. It was all for nothing because once the action starts happening, I could NOT put this one down! 

I love that the Crimson starts because the world believe an angry woman cursed it. I can't tell you how it ends but I will tell you that I love the bigger story of this book. I love that we are telling girls that only they can pick their fate, that despite what history says and what people assume of  you, that only you get to write your story. 
You will not choose my end. 
For this heart is mine. 

If you are looking for a positive, but adventurous, story to read for you or your daughter, I highly suggest this one. It was such a homerun for me and I say that as someone that doesn't consider fantasy one of my top genres. I loved this. I think you will too. 

Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC for review. The cover is stunningly beautiful, it is even prettier in person, but this book feels like it can be compared to current world health issues. 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Book Review: Wrecked Palace

I am such a fan of Catherine Cowles and I think I have been on the last three or four tours of hers and I don't even look to see what the book is about before I sign up, I just know I'm going to love it. 

Wrecked Palace - Catherine Cowles

One night was all it took for everything to change.
From college student to guardian in a single breath.
My siblings became my world.

No time for date nights or romantic dreams.
I traded quiet weekends for sleepless nights.
Giving my all to make sure they were cared for.

But Griffin had a brokenness that called to me—one that mirrored my own.
Gruff and just a little bit reckless.
He was the last thing I needed. But everything I wanted.

Only someone isn’t happy about this new life I’m building.
Deciding to set fire to everything I hold close.
And when the smoke clears, there might be only ashes left behind…
Have you ever started a book and knew instantly that it was going to wreck you and make you cry? Yeah well, that happens almost every time I read something from Catherine Cowles and that's what happened here. It turns out I am a sucker for books where a main character suddenly becomes a parent to siblings. I am also a sucker for broken guys and LUCKY US, this book has it all in spades. 

WRECKED PALACE features Caelyn, who we met in RECKLESS MEMORIES, and Griffin, who is the moodiest grump in all the land and I love it. I love a moody grump because you know under all of it there is someone who would absolutely love and cherish you to the death, it just takes a long time to get it out. While this is definitely a slow burn romance, it is worth the journey because the end is everything. 

Also prominently featured in the book are the siblings: Mia, Ava, and Will, who were so great and I really loved them. The story line of Caelyn basically giving up all of her life plans to take care of them is so great and the author does a fabulous job making you sympathetic towards Caelyn but also glad that she was willing and able because these kids are so great and you hate to think of the what if. Also? There are SO MANY one liners in this book that made me swoon, tear up, and want to squeeze Griffin. Both Caelyn and Griffin are dealing with different kinds of grief that brings them closer, but you guys, this book will break you. I mean, it gets better, but just know going in it will wreck you.   

I very highly recommend this one, and if you haven't read anything else by Catherine Cowles, get on it. For real. She is one of my go-to authors and I have never been disappointed. While this is book three in the Wrecked Series, it is a stand alone so you are totally OK to read out of order. Thank you to Social Butterfly PR for once again having me on her tour, I am so grateful. 
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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book Review: Hadley and Grace

You may not remember this but I called Suzanne Redfearn's last book, In An Instant, my book of 2020 before 2020 even started, and I was not wrong. That book rocked my world and I still think about it often and that is one that will stick with me for a long time, and if you haven't read it yet- you need to.  

Here we are, the beginning of 2021 and Suzanne Redfearn has done it again, this might be my book of the year, certainly the top five. 

Hadley and Grace - Suzanne Redfearn

Needing to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids, knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but she finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s, and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each must decide how much she is willing to risk for the other.

A powerful story of self-discovery, Hadley and Grace is the heart-racing tale of two women facing insurmountable odds, racing to stay one step ahead of the trouble that is chasing them, and discovering new kinds of love and family along the way.
Raise your hand if you loved Thelma and Louise, for all of their faults and terrible choices? That is exactly how I felt about Hadley and Grace. Both of them have their own faults, and they certainly made questionable choices along the way, but their individual back stories are complex and tragic in their own way and dammit, you just root for them. You literally find yourself cheering on both of them through danger, federal crimes, crossing state lines, all with children with them. They were both at really dire crossroads in their lives so what do they have to lose? 

It turns out they had quite a bit, but freedom is always worth the price, isn't it? 

I started this book as an evening, before bed read, which turned out to be terrible because it kept me awake. The book starts outlining the current situation Hadley and Grace are living in, then they realize how they are linked, and we learn that coincidences don't exist for no reason. Immediately they are on the run, both untrusting but they also know they are better off together than apart. Each woman has strengths the other one needs and it works perfectly in this story. 

I loved the character development in this book, I loved them separately but their bond together is perfect, too. I loved the drama and danger in the book, I loved that you feel like you are on this journey with them so when police circle in, your anxiety is as high as theirs is. I loved the secondary characters and how they come in and out, I loved how the book alternates between Hadley and Grace- they are such compliments of each other. By the end of this book I was crying and I just felt like I was emotionally spent in the best way. I feel like there aren't as many books that come across my path that just gut me, but in a good way, that connect with real human emotions and experiences, but all of this is a strong skillset Suzanne Redfearn has and we all benefit from it. 

I know we are all kind of burned out from the news and Covid, but if you are looking for a book to sink totally into and really get an escape? You need to pick this one up. I think this would be a fun book club read but honestly, this might be one just for you. Get cozy in bed, line up your snacks and drinks, and start reading. You will love it. 

A huge thank you to Lake Union Publishing and Suzanne Redfearn for sending me an ARC for review. I feel like I can't possibly start a new year without a new one from this author, who is quickly becoming one of my go-to favorites. 

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Medical update, weight loss, and cat butts.

I haven't done a medical update in kind of awhile, not because I have nothing to report, but because I'm trying to figure out what's next. Let's go by department, shall we? 

Psychiatry: I see my new guy in March. I am grateful I even have a new guy considering the ridiculous lack of mental health resources anywhere, let alone quality ones. I'm a little bit nervous for this because my last psychiatrist was amazing and if I could still see him (even though he's in a state far away and a totally different health system), I would because he was the one I trusted with all of my medications. Part of my psychiatry visits is to monitor all of my medication use because I am considered "high risk medication use", so I have to be monitored. Yay. He would always tell me what would happen with a med, how I would feel, when to call, and he believed me when I would report weird side effects. Having a doctor believe what you're saying is huge and I am already missing that a lot. So send all of your Care Bear vibes my way that this is a good fit for me because my other option is less good, we'll put it that way.  

Neurology: This guy. If there has ever been a department that blatantly says, "I don't care" and can walk out and nothing is done about it, it's neurology. My really great neurologist has left, and I hear rumor that she's setting up shop somewhere else so I have to do some sleuthing on that because this guy is THE. WORST. I went for migraines, and he was mildly helpful with that but I ask about the nausea, and flat out say that Zofran doesn't work, he prescribes me Zofran. It's like, are you deaf or dumb? Which one? I ask about my memory issues, and he says, "that's too bad", and GOT UP AND LEFT THE ROOM. That's it. That was the end of my appointment. In the notes he says I'm depressed and that's my problem. And you know, I 100% acknowledge that I am depressed, absolutely no question. 


I am actively seeking treatment and I am 100% compliant with my treatment, so he can jack off. And I say that as nicely as possible. I've had two doctors mention this note and to them I say, perhaps I wouldn't be so depressed if any one of my health issues could be fixed, or maybe if I could remember my address and how to get home, or I could remember where my kids are during the school day or when to get them? It's pretty bad that I rely on my 15 and 12 year old to tell me where I need to be. 

But you know, that's too bad. 

Rheumatology: Honestly, I don't know why I even go anymore. Well, that's not true, I go because I have to in order to get medication refills each month, and they monitor my lab work. My lab work looks great, by the way. My inflammation is down with a slightly higher dose of Methotrexate, but if this starts to not work I will need to go to an injectable version and that does not please me. I'm afraid of needles so the idea of me doing it myself is ridiculous. I could have Matt do it but he isn't always gentle, and I know this because he helps me after any medical procedure and yeah, the level of gentleness is not something we agree on. So I'm not excited for that. I think honestly though, I'm going to just not say if I hurt any more and wait on that until I get really bad, if I ever do. I asked about my fatigue, the extreme fatigue, and she had no idea. She suggests maybe I do mindful and deep cleansing techniques. 

Weight loss: Admittedly, I've dropped the ball here. I haven't been exercising and I haven't see that doctor in almost a year. I know, it's bad. At this point I'm almost afraid to make an appointment knowing full well I'm going to get yelled at. The bright side? I'm still losing weight, but I'm certain that's because I'm sick to my stomach and nauseous all of the time but hey- no big deal, right? Sigh. 

I am currently 169 pounds depending on the day and when I started this, I think I was 212, so if those numbers are right, I've lost a little over 40 pounds. The goal was for me to get to 160, check all of my lab work, and see if I moved myself out of the pre-diabetic group, and then talk about long term maintenance. I am so close, and I need to just make the damn appointment already. That orange shirt, though? I bought that in 2015 when we were in South Dakota and it was a little snug. It is currently a little loose and I don't hate it. 

Gastroenterology: I still tear up when I think about my last two GI appointments, mostly out of anger. If you've been following along, you'll know I've had a ridiculous amount of lab work, endoscopies, colonoscopies, scrambled egg test thing, the CT scan thing, ultrasounds, MRI's, and x-rays. I feel like I have done it all aside from a barium test and I had already decided I would refuse that. HARD pass. Anyways. 

All of it says I'm normal. All of it. All of my lab work is within normal ranges and I keep saying to my doctors that what is normal for you, or the general population is not my normal. My body doesn't process anything normally, I don't absorb things normally, nothing, and that's some my old psychiatrist was firm about, he totally believed me and was absolutely fascinated by it. Anyways. 

The GI doctor in a very nice, but matter of fact way, said he has no idea and he can't help me. He said he's ruled out pretty much everything. 

Apparently, being constipated and then having the worst diarrhea of your life, both of which make leaving the house an absolute nightmare, is normal. Abdominal pain almost every day, sometimes so bad that you have to lay down and do breathing techniques like you would if you were in labor, is normal. Being so nauseous out of no where, throwing up for no reason, having no appetite and being unable to it, is all normal

Primary Care: I had my physical, I went over literally ever issue and of course, she has no idea either. We did learn that when Endocrinology took me off all of my vitamin D supplements, I was right, and my numbers are in the single digits. *sigh* So now I'm taking my own supplements and he can go ahead and yell at me when I see him in March, too. But I had my mammogram, the boobs are good, I was referred to pelvic floor therapy, which I see this week, and then I was referred to the University of Minnesota for GI. 

Oh, but don't get excited. I cannot go there physically, it is virtual only, but because I live in Wisconsin and they are not licensed outside of Minnesota, that's too bad

I also got referred to the other hospital in town here for Neurology, and they have changed my appointment 6 times in the last week, so who knows when I'll actually see them. 

Endocrinology: It all comes down to the doctor who always insists I pee in jugs for no actual reason. There is nothing wrong with my urine output but that and my vitamin D levels are basically all he cares about. Every doctor has told me to take my list of complaints to him because they are all likely from my adrenal insufficiency and hypopituitarism not being managed correctly. I have zero faith in this doctor and honestly, I don't know what to do about it. I'm just over it. 
But you know what I do have? Kitten butts. This is George, he likes to climb around my head anytime I'm on the computer. 
He's pretty great. George and his brother, Banana, are pretty great. I don't know if you know this, but having a kitten cuddle up on you and purr very loudly is great when you aren't feeling so hot. It's been a mood lifter for sure. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Book Review: A Curse of Ash & Embers

TGIF, baby. TGIF. Although this week went by rather quick, it was a complete change in my daily pace and change is hard. The kids went back to regular (well, hybrid) school and that was great but it was also a huge change and now I feel like I have to get used to an entirely new schedule. Once I get used to a schedule and make myself new patterns, something changes and I have to start all over again.  

It's really hard and sucky. 

I also didn't get as much reading in as I had hoped, but I was able to start/finish this one and I am happy about that. 

A Curse of Ash & Embers - Jo Spurrier

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it's Elodie's job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she'd find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha's final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie's help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it's still better than going back home.
I always forget how much I like witch books until I'm elbow deep into a witch book, and then I wonder why I'm not looking for these more often. Also, I don't even know what my last witch book was, and that's just sad. The great thing is that this is the first book in The Blackbone Witches series, which makes me excited because I cannot wait for book two. 

In this one, we begin with Elodie, the oldest child of her family, who is being unceremoniously sent away for no reason. She's sure that her step-father has done this and she can't understand why her mother is OK with it, but it's clear that it isn't a happy household. While she's partly excited to leave home and be away from her step-father, she's concerned about her siblings and it's abundantly clear that she won't be welcomed back. She has a new job, essentially, for a mistress she knows nothing about in a place she has never been. On her strange trip, she realizes her mistress is a witch who is in dire straits. Elodie doesn't know quite is wrong with her, though it's fairly obvious she's not able to care for herself, and this totally wrecked home. 

It doesn't take long for Elodie to notice things aren't quite normal. We have warlocks on weird horses, a demon tree that was grown too large, strange monsters running amuck, and some other strange characters you don't quite know what to think about. It also becomes obvious that her mistress, Aleida, is a bit outmatched and she needs Elodie's help even though Elodie knows next to nothing about magic or witches, but she's going to learn because she has no other real option. 

I really liked this story, and the pace is fantastic. Sometimes with fantasy is gets a little sluggish, but I felt like this one had things happening right away and every time I got to a spot that was a good place to pause... I kept going "just to make sure" and sure enough, something else would happen. Needless to say, this was hard to put down for me. I also really enjoyed trying to figure out what happened with Gyssha, who some of these other characters were and what their part was, and trying to figure out just what the heck was going on and why. Both Aleida and Elodie are similar, having had really awful people manipulate and treat them badly, in different ways, and they come together to form an unlikely duo, two very different young women from very different backgrounds. 

Overall? I really liked this one and I'm anxious to see what the next adventure for Aleida and Elodie are. You find yourself rooting for them both, and for a young adult paranormal book, it has strong female characters with a "you can't always trust what people say" kind of theme to it. Highly recommend. 

Thank you to HarperCollins for my copy for review! Next up? Book two, Daughter of Lies and Ruin. 

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review: Crush

Before you do anything, you absolutely have to go back and read CRAVE because this cannot be a stand alone. You can read my review for that one here and that book was so good. SO GOOD.  

Crush - Tracy Wolff

Everything feels off—especially me. I’ve returned to Katmere Academy, but I’m haunted by fragments of days I have no recollection of living and struggling to understand who, or what, I really am.

Just when I start to feel safe again, Hudson is back with a vengeance. He insists there are secrets I don’t know about, threatening to drive a wedge between Jaxon and me forever. But far worse enemies are at our doorstep.

The Circle is caught in a power play and the Vampire Court is trying to drag me out of my world and into theirs. The only thing Hudson and Jaxon agree on is that leaving Katmere would mean my certain death.

And not only am I fighting for my life, but now everyone else’s is at stake—unless we can defeat an unspeakable evil. All I know is that saving the people I love is going to require sacrifice.

Maybe more than I’m able to give.
I want to tell you about this book and tell you all of the things but I'm trying to control myself. *I am really squealing on the inside and bouncing in my seat.*

Deep breath

In this book we begin back in Katmere Academy and learn that Grace has actually been technically gone for months. While people are happy she's back, the discovery of what Grace is is startling. She really is special but special isn't always what you want to be. 

Not only is Grace back but so is Hudson. Well, only kind of. He's seemingly connected to Grace, to both of their detriment, and the entire book is centered on the quest to get rid of Hudson for good. Unfortunately for everyone, Grace begins to form an unlikely friendship with Hudson, and it is hard not to because he is always with her. All of this is also putting on a strain on her relationship with Jaxon, her mate. 

I have to stop telling you anything more because it gives away some major plot points. I'm dying to tell you all of it. I loved this one. I loved that the author continues to write Grace as a bad ass and self sufficient character. This series is heavily compared to TWILIGHT and I can absolutely see the similarities, but one of the things that set this apart is Grace is no Bella, and thank god. Bella was the absolute worst and I am so glad Grace wants to be in charge of her own future and she's going to be the one making her own decisions and I am here for it. 

I loved we have creatures we don't hear of much at all (there's your hint) in the paranormal genre (at least I haven't), we have new plot twists coming at all angles, we also end with a bang (literally) and I finished this book completely blown away, I switched teams but I don't think it's a bad thing and it makes me feel better about another little tidbit mentioned in the book. 

Of course none of that makes sense to you because you haven't read it, but you need to because I need to talk to someone about it. I have so many things to say about this book but I can't. I'm so sorry. I know this is a cliffhanger of a review but it is the best I can do. Book three, COVET, is coming in March and book four, COURT, is hopefully not too far after. I'm crossing my fingers, lambs. 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Book Review: Nourish

I am having such a week and it is only Wednesday. I feel like I'm juggling too many things but nothing at all at the same time. I can't put my finger on what my problem is but I'm struggling with life in general. I probably just need a nap. 


An evidence-based, practical resource that explores the many benefits of a plant-based diet and provides parents with the tools they need to feed their families for health and with joy.

While nearly all parents agree that a nutritious diet is important for children to thrive, most feel that their children are not eating a healthy diet. This is not surprising, given the demands of busy families and confusing, conflicting research about what diet is really best for health.

Nourish offers the solution parents have been waiting for when it comes to deciding what and how to feed their families. Authors Reshma Shah, MD, a plant-based pediatrician and affiliate clinical instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Brenda Davis, RD, a world-renowned expert and pioneer in plant-based nutrition, will empower parents to become the experts of nourishing their families. 

Parents will learn:
How a diet centered around plants can optimize health, prevent chronic disease, care for our planet, and be an act of radical compassion. Nutrition specifics for all the stages of childhood—from pregnancy and breastfeeding all the way through adolescence. Tips, strategies, and mouthwatering recipes to bring all of this information to their dinner tables as they transition to plant-based eating.
If you've been a follower for long, you know that I have four kids ranging from fifteen to four, a wide range of likes and dislikes, that's for sure. I know that I struggle with feeding our family of six and frankly? I'm not a fantastic eater and I know that I need to be better on my own. Also? I admittedly don't know what fruits and vegetables are best, and what helps which conditions best, and it is really an overwhelming area to dive into all on your own. 

Enter Nourish, an incredibly in-depth guide on what to eat, why, and how. I love that this book really highlights that children's preferences towards food have a lot to do with what they are exposed to. If we don't introduce a wide variety of foods, their preferences won't be very diverse. 

I really liked that this book packs as much education as it did, although at times it is SO MUCH, so this is definitely not a book you're going to pick up to read cover to cover. Nourish is more of a reference book when you're in need of some information or if you're in search for an answer to your question. The book actually has a lot of common questions throughout, all with thoughtful and detailed answers, so if you are wondering about something related to a healthy diet, the answer is likely right here waiting for you. 

My other favorite part of this book is the chart of minerals. I can't even tell you how often I hear "Oh, well you probably need more magnesium (or enter literally anything else)", as if I know what the heck magnesium is even for or where I would find it outside of a capsule. This chart is incredibly detailed, it tells you what the function of the mineral is, but it also tells you what happens if you get too much or too little of the mineral, AND the best sources to get the mineral through food. Important to me is iron, potassium, and sodium, those are the ones I try to stay within normal ranges of but gets tricky with some of my other health issues, so I appreciated the added information this book gave me. 

Lastly? You get through the book and you're ready to jump into a healthier eating lifestyle, but where do you start? Don't worry, the book tells you! It goes into specifics on how to do this yourself but also how to lead your family into healthier eating. The book ends with some great recipes to try out (including tacos!), so you are encouraged with your food exploration. 

Thank you to PR By The Book for having me on this tour and providing a copy for review. I know almost everyone wants to be healthier in the new year, but will quickly get overwhelmed and give up, so I highly suggest looking into Nourish for some education and encouragement!

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Friday, January 8, 2021

Book Review: Betrayal at Ravenswick

I am so glad it is Friday and this week is over. What a heavy, exhausting week, am I right? I don't have a whole bunch planned for this weekend, but I feel like that's just fine. I am going to work on something for a fun Valentine's giveaway on my Instagram coming up, so stay tuned for that!  

Betrayal at Ravenswick - Kelly Oliver

Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie...

What's the best way to purge an unfaithful husband?
Become a spy for British Intelligence, of course.

Desperate to get out of London, and determined to help the war effort and stop thinking about her philandering husband, Fiona Figg volunteers to go undercover.

At Ravenswick Abbey a charming South African war correspondent has tongues wagging. His friends say he's a crack huntsman. The War Office is convinced he's a traitor. Fiona thinks he's a pompous prig.

What sort of name is Fredrick Fredricks anyway?

Too bad Fiona doesn't own a Wolseley pith helmet.
Are you a fan of Agatha Christie? I know next to nothing about Downton Abbey so I can't give you a comparison there but it really did have some touches those familiar with Agatha Christie might pick up on. I didn't realize that I haven't read a historical mystery in quite awhile, so this was a fun read to break up some heavier books I've finished as of late. 

In this one, we open with Fiona Figg, literally walking in on her husband being a dirtbag. It becomes the catalyst that changes her life completely. The story takes place during World War 1 in London, and through a series of good ideas on her part, she finds herself living the life as a spy. (Side note, I felt like this book was really female power centered, because despite having her marriage fall apart, Fiona pulls herself together and speaks up loud enough for people to hear and it turns out, she was the one with the best idea and it turned out to be brilliant.) She goes on this mission but the rub? She has to pretend to be a man... and do it well. Oh, and a doctor though she has next to no medical training. Honestly, that was the most fun part of the book for me, its such an interesting premise so I couldn't put it down. 

I should just tell you that the book does end on a bit of a cliff hanger, so if you are able to have book two on hand, High Treason at the Grand Hotel, I would recommend it. I was able to be provided a copy and I'm half way through it, and it is written exactly the same and had a great transition. 

The story itself is fun and entertaining, I think the premise was good, the setting was really well written, and the time period was captivating. My only complaint was not being able to connect with the characters. In hindsight though, I'm not sure we were supposed to. It's a mystery, we aren't really supposed to form a connection, we should be able to look at everyone with fresh eyes, right? It did have humor throughout and that really helped. Also, if you are looking for a quick read, this is a good option. The chapters are rather short so you fall into the "just one more chapter" guise and suddenly find yourself half-way through. 

Overall, it was a fun little book. I'm finishing book two because you know how I am, I can't leave something unfinished and I have to know what the heck is going on. I also want to know how Fiona ends up, I just really want her to have some kind of happily ever after with someone who understands how great she is. I'm saying this having finished Bridgerton and I just want everyone to get a happily ever after. Fight me. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour and author Kelly Oliver for providing copies for review! 

Do you enjoy cozy mysteries? I've really seen a lot of them popping up so I feel like this one is right on time in the publishing world!
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Thursday, January 7, 2021

Book Review: Primal Calling

It really feels like Friday, you guys. I can't say I'm on the struggle bus because I really do feel like I've gotten a lot done this week and I still feel really on top of life and like my new organized system is working so I really hope I can keep this up all year. 

Primal Calling - Barry Eisenberg

While rummaging through the attic, high school senior, Jack Davies, is surprised to find his never-before-seen birth certificate, revealing a startling bit of information that changes his life. The story his mother told about his birth, he discovers, is revealed to be a lie, shattering long-held beliefs and the trust he had for her. Jack becomes obsessed with discovering the truth, leading him down a dangerous path. Faced with unanswered questions and confounding obstacles at every turn, Jack finds himself deeply enmeshed in an intricate world of national security and international intrigue. Relationships are tested as his every move is tracked by a group of mysterious people. Who are they? Whose side are they on? Who can he trust? And, most importantly, who will he ultimately become?
What a cool book. This book had a little bit of everything, a little bit of coming-of-age for Jack, a little lost love kind of thing, a little thriller, a little secret national security operations, it was just a whole lot of stuff, easily packed into one book. I easily finished this one in a day because each chapter is fairly short but written in a way that you keep telling yourself you're going to just read one more. 

In this book we have Jack, a high school student who inadvertently discovers that his mother has kept the identity of his father a secret his whole life. With that newly discovered information, Jack goes on a fairly improbable search for his father. I say improbable because there is next to no chance you could do this search yourself and yield anywhere near the amount of information Jack was able to get, but I had to keep reminding myself this is all make believe so we need to let that go. The path Jack is then set on has him in precarious situations, meeting a whole slew of characters (at one point it felt like the author was juggling a few too many but it worked out in the end), and learning about the pretty bizarre life of his father. I mean, from the first incident early on in the book you knew this was going to be quite a ride. 

I felt like the buildup to the end was the strongest part of the book and the ending felt a little flat for me. I'm not really sure what I needed from the ending it just felt like this wasn't the right one for this book. It also had a whole lot of politics and the inner workings of the oil industry and I kind of don't care about that so it started to lose me there but if you gloss over that, it becomes manageable. 

I really liked Jack and I appreciated his determination in the search for his father, even when things were getting far beyond his control. His simple search unraveled a huge ball of yarn that affected a whole lot more than his interested in getting to know dad. I really liked how the author was able to take this easy task and turn it into an actual mountain. Overall I'd give this one 3 stars, I liked it. I thought it was a great first novel for this author and I'd be interested in seeing what he does next. 

Thank you to FSB Associates and Vanguard Press for sending me a complimentary copy and including me on this tour. 

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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Book Review: Your Story, My Story

If you follow me on Goodreads you maybe saw that I decided on 128 books for my 2021 Reading Challenge goal. My friend Andrea gifted me a weekly planner so I decided to use that solely for my blogging and Instagram goals, so I feel like I can be diligent about my reading all year so hopefully I can actually make that goal. I basically have to read two and a half books every week. All year. Think good thoughts, lambs. 

Your Story, My Story - Connie Palmen

In 1963 Sylvia Plath took her own life in her London flat. Her death was the culmination of a brief, brilliant life lived in the shadow of clinical depression—a condition exacerbated by her tempestuous relationship with mercurial poet Ted Hughes. The ensuing years saw Plath rise to martyr status while Hughes was cast as the cause of her suicide, his infidelity at the heart of her demise.

For decades, Hughes never bore witness to the truth of their marriage—one buried beneath a mudslide of apocryphal stories, gossip, sensationalism, and myth. Until now.

In this mesmerizing fictional work, Connie Palmen tells his side of the story, previously untold, delivered in Ted Hughes’s own uncompromising voice. A brutal and lyrical confessional, Your Story, My Story paints an indelible picture of their seven-year relationship—the soaring highs and profound lows of star-crossed soul mates bedeviled by their personal demons. It will forever change the way we think about these two literary icons.
I went out on a bit of a limb to read this one, if you have been following me for awhile you know that literary fiction isn't really something I read a lot of. I have been seeing this book all over Instagram and the cover is just intriguing and I couldn't say no. I also should note that I am not terribly well versed in the story of Sylvia Plath (except the highlights, of course) and I always seem to forget she was ever with Ted Hughes, so I didn't remember that there was ever anger towards him for her death although she clearly committed suicide. All of that to say that because I am not knowledgeable in this history, I can't tell you how reliable this could be called Ted Hughes's point of view. It is, of course, a work of fiction, but it really does read as if it is a reprint of a journal or maybe even an interview years later. 

YOUR STORY, MY STORY is well written but without chapters, merely only periodic line breaks so it makes it difficult to take a break during the book. The writing does sound rather... snooty? I suppose if it is written as if Ted Hughes has written it, that is maybe true to form, but it made it difficult to get into for me. When the story veers off into the drama between Plath and Hughes, that was the most captivating for me because any kind of glimpse into the demise of someone is captivating, as terrible as that sounds. I definitely can't call this a love story although I think the intention is to turn two people who really probably shouldn't have been together into a romantic goal, saying she loved me so much she killed herself, thus binding us and our story together. This isn't a Romeo and Juliet story but it almost feels like this relationship is being sold as such. Certainly, Hughes was a dirt bag in his own right but Plath was clearly unstable in her own right that I wonder if she used him as an excuse to end her life. 

I mean, who knows. I was reading this late at night and was starting to get confused so I feel like I am missing plot points. 

Overall? It was definitely an ambitious and interesting take on a tumultuous love story that doesn't really seem like a love story after all. Instead it seems like the story of two young people, each brilliant in their own way but having no idea who they are or what they could become, being drawn together. It's like two stars combusting, and nobody ends up brighter in the end. It was sad in parts and I think if you are a fan of Sylvia Plath, or maybe you hate Ted Hughes, this would be a really intriguing read for you. 

Thank you to Over the River PR for having me on this tour and providing a copy for review! 

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Book Review: The Grumpy, Frumpy Croissant

Happy Tuesday, lambs! Look at me, still all organized on the fifth day of the year! I'm not sure how long my new systems will stay intact and working but pray for me. Ha! 

Today I have a children's book for you and I am so excited to have a few of these on the horizon this year. I feel like I should be doing more with how many books I read to Penelope and Lucy! 

The Grumpy, Frumpy Croissant - Mona K

This is a story about a grouchy croissant who is angry with his friends.
He uses the mindful magic of breath to get his butter back.

If you are like me, you are always in the market for new children's books. My five and four year old LOVE books and we read a LOT each day, which is definitely a great problem to have! I am also a big fan of children's literature in general so any time I have an opportunity to read new ones for review, I jump at the chance! 

My youngest children's school has been focusing on mindfulness techniques every day, which I think is just so great, and I love that this book kind of centers around self management techniques. We have croissant, who starts off just fine, but then toast and scone do something unintentionally that angers croissant. Toast and scone are now angry because croissant is angry so milk comes to the rescue. 

The book is rather short, perfect for young readers, and perfect to begin conversations with children to talk about feelings but also tie in reading comprehension skills. My five year old is in kindergarten, so she is learning how to read, so the short sentences and the easy words made it easy to have her help me with words as we go. 

I also love the book includes a recipe that makes ten croissants. I definitely tried but I don't know if you know this about me, but I cannot handle yeast. I don't know what my problem is, I cannot make things with yeast successfully so I ended up with really dense bread balls. Ha! I think I really need help with baking. Also included? Four pages your child(ren) can color themselves! (Especially perfect if you have children who are budding illustrators... or at least try to be in their books.)

Overall? We really liked this one! If I had to give a critique, I would have liked the book to be longer, maybe offer additional techniques to calm down or solve problems between friends, maybe talk about the importance of communication. Aside from that, this would be a really cute classroom read, counselor read, or gift book (maybe with a box of crayons and ingredients for the recipe at the end of the book). I also loved the simple, effective, and expressive illustrations throughout the book, my kiddos really enjoyed Croissant's "mad face". 

Thank you to DartFrog Books for having me on this tour and providing a review copy! This is a new to me publisher so I'm excited to see what they do next. 

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