Friday, July 29, 2022

Book Review: The Game

It's been a hot minute since I've been in this little corner of the world, but I have been insanely busy. We've had summer school, college program for one kid, another kid working two jobs, trying to clear out unused toys and too small clothes, another round of summer school, rounds of covid, my first dance with lice in a kid, dealing with depression and PTSD with Lucy turning six on Monday, and then trying to keep up with mom duties? It's been....stressful. 

The Game - Scott Kershaw

To save their life, you have to play.

Across the globe, five strangers receive a horrifying message from an unknown number.


To save them, each must play The Game – a sinister unknown entity that has a single rule: there can only be one winner.


But what is The Game – and why have they been chosen?

There’s only one thing each of them knows for sure: they’ll do anything to win…

Do you remember that show Squid Games? Maybe Squid Games and Saw had a baby and boom, we have The Game. I felt like this book was kind of like that, but also not really? Instead of playing a game for a lifetime of financial stability, these people receive a text saying that in order to save a loved one, they need to play. That makes complete sense, doesn't it? I don't want to give you too many details because you really need to let this unravel the way the author intended. I will say, this book has quite a few characters, and while sometimes I struggle to keep stories like that in order, I had zero issues with this one. Why? Because there is SO much going on that you literally cannot put this down. None of the characters are particularly likeable but that was kind of a key point of the story for me. 

I loved that I couldn't predict where the heck this book was going, there are nonstop twists and turns. The book reads quickly due to the chapters being rather short, so that's pretty great for the reader who maybe doesn't have a ton of time to read or the attention span to read for long periods of time. The only issue I had with this book was the inclusion of the topic of sexual assault (also rape and a dead dog...sorry, friends) and the use of it within the story. I know this is a debut for the author, and while I'm interested in reading his next book, I do hope using a topic such as that is avoided. Interestingly, this book ends with a hint of a book two, so I'm interested to see how that would possibly develop. 

Overall I thought this was a good read, definitely kept me on my toes and entertained. A huge thank you to HQ Stories for sending me a copy for review! 

Friday, July 8, 2022

Book Review: The Decadents

Happy Friday!! I'm telling you what, if I don't catch the ice cream truck this week, I think all of Wisconsin is going to hear me rage. I'm just putting that out into the universe. 

The Decadents - M.C. Schmidt

Phil Ochs has his troubles. His adult son is a failed artist who’s targeting him in a terroristic poetry campaign, his wife has developed an addiction to As Seen On TV gadgets, and a professional rival is poaching managers from his seventeen Fry Buddy fast food franchises.

Worst of all, Phil is a southern conservative who shares a name with a famous liberal folksinger. It’s this lifelong association, he believes, that’s denied him the respect he’s always craved. Who could take him seriously, after all, when his name evokes thoughts of that radical hippie tree-hugger?

When he loses a coveted business award to a producer of testicular implants for neutered pets, Phil is finally through being disrespected. He devises a scheme that’s certain to bring him notoriety. Whether that means becoming a figure of admiration or of national hatred will all depend on how well he conceals the more depraved elements of his plan.

The Decadents is a darkly satirical novel featuring a cast of unique and unforgettable characters.
I did not realize this was the book I needed until I read it. I feel like not everyone is going to really get the humor in this, but I did and it was right up my alley. This almost felt like it could be an episode of that show, Arrested Development, or even Curb Your Enthusiasm, both of which are in my top 5 of favorite shows. Honestly, this would make for an indie comedy or something, I think only a few people are going to love this for the gem it really is. The fact that Phil, our man Phil, loses an award to someone who makes testicular implants for neutered pets had me absolutely roaring. Maybe it was just funny because where I live there is currently this annual competition going for best business/provider in a ton of different areas and businesses all over are begging people to vote for them. Honestly, the whole idea we have contests for that kind of thing is ludicrous to me as it is, but thinking of the insane businesses out there means there probably is a market for implants for neutered pets. (And somehow, thinking of that makes me picture an ASPCA commercial with that Sarah McLachlan song we all associate with sad animals.)

I digress. While the story does wind its way into a more political tale (which really isn't funny given our current state of affairs, but I'm taking desperate measures to laugh nowadays), I did appreciate the dark comedy and absurdity. I had a hard time putting this one down, which was surprising because that's not usually something I struggle with outside of the romance genre. I love that the main character referred to his son David as a "most dramatic little twit", which made me spit my water all over the place. I can literally imagine someone just deadpan telling me that about their kid and honestly, that is who I want to be hanging out with. 

An example of a book I maybe otherwise wouldn't have picked up but ended up really loving. I can't wait to read something else by this author because this was exactly the book I needed over the last week. Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Library Tales Publishing for sending me a copy for review! 

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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Is it even summer?

I hate that it feels like we aren't even in summer. I mean, it does because nobody is in school, but it also doesn't because the weather has been crap and we have no vacation. I keep thinking maybe I should have just planned a vacation, even though we definitely cannot afford it, because not having something on the calendar is just depressing. I can't even lounge on my deck and read because it has either been cold and windy, or just plain rainy. I can't even garden because honestly, my plants look like garbage because they think we're still at the end of May, so they aren't doing a dang thing. 

Olivia has been busy working two jobs, so we honestly almost never see her. Jackson has been doing Upward Bound (which is like a college prep program), so he has been living in college dorms Monday-Friday for six weeks, so we hardly see him. I know this is part of them growing up, but man... I understand now when parents say they miss their kids as they grow up. They drive me nuts sometimes, but I do like having them here, even if it just means they are in the house somewhere. 

Penelope decided she wanted to get her ears pierced, so Matt took her to do just that. She truly believes she has real diamonds in her ears, so we're letting her think that because she thinks she's hot shit and it's adorable. 
I signed the littles up for summer school, so we walk there and back each day. Because of the holiday, there is no summer school this whole week, but honestly... I'm not sure if I'm even going to muster the energy to go back next week. They don't seem to be die hard about going and it's basically a glorified childcare thing, so it seems dumb. I remember when Olivia and Jackson were in elementary school, there used to be fun stuff happening in summer school. They went on field trips, had zoo animals come to school, had fun games and craft things going on, etc. and none of that happens anymore. It's kind of lame. 
We've only had like three days warm enough to swim in the pool, so that stinks. Honestly I hope we have an outrageous string of hot days so the kids get use out of it otherwise I'll feel like we spent all that money filling it up for nothing. This is also the year that Lucy can touch the bottom and I don't know why, but that made me super sad when she told me. 
We've also been going to the library like twice a week. We are flying through books in this house. Penelope finished all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and is now onto Dog Man, which she thinks are hilarious. Olivia read Stephen King's Insomnia, which is like 800 pages or something, in a day and a half. I can't really complain though, because at least I have a couple of kids who really like reading. 
Lucy turns six on August 1, and she asks me how many days is it at least three times every day. Needless to say, she is ridiculously excited about it. I'm working my way down into the depressive slump I find myself in every year right around then. It's hard to know if my low mood is because of stuff going on or just my body's response to our trauma anniversary. I do know that I am getting so weary. I haven't felt like this in a couple of years, but once again, I find myself at the point where I don't know why the hell I'm hanging on so hard. I finally told Matt about a week ago that if my health doesn't improve, and this is just how it's going to be, I really can't do it. I cannot do it for the rest of my life, and that's just a truth I think we all know but havne't acknowledged yet. I feel like I've done all of the things, I've seen all of the people, I have checked everything off on every list I've been given and still.... I feel no better and seem to just steadily get worse. I just don't have it in me to do this forever. It's just depressing. 

In the meantime though, summer marches on. I just keep going through every day but there is never a time where I don't just feel completely exhausted. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Book Review: A Matter of Temptation

I don't even know where to start to explain the reason for my recent hiatus, but I will say that I am getting so very close to just throwing in the towel with health stuff. I'm so frustrated, and tired, but tired of being frustrated, and I just don't know what to do at this point. I'm trying really hard to keep afloat, but I'm telling you, we need to stop telling people to advocate for themselves, and instead, give them actual steps on what to do because I feel like I've hit the actual wall. 

A Matter of Temptation - Stacy Reid

Miss Wilhelmina "Mina" Crawford is desperate. Having been ruined in the eyes of society years ago for one foolish, starry-eyed mistake, she spends her days secreted away at her family's crumbling estate, helping her brother manage the land but not able to truly live life the way she's always dreamed. When her brother admits to just how dire their finances have gotten, she takes it upon herself to procure employment...but the only one who will even consider the scandalous idea of a female secretary is the brilliant, ruthless, and infuriating Earl of Creswick.

Simon Loughton, the Earl of Creswick, needs help if he wants to finally pass the reform bill he's been championing for years and secure the vote for England's most vulnerable constituents. Too bad help comes in the form of a woman with breathtaking nerve, fiery red hair, and a sense of humor to match.

Now temptation--disguised as a lovely, clever-mouthed devil--lives and works under Simon's very roof. And Mina finally feels as though she's truly living life to her wildest dreams. But even the most incendiary of kisses can't incinerate Mina's past...or the shocking secret that could ruin them both.
How many times have I said that I forget how much I enjoy historical romance until I read it? I feel like I say it every single time I read one so I'm not sure at what point it's going to just lock into my head that I am a fan of historical romance. Also, this is now my second book from Stacy Reid that I've read and I am now putting her into my must-read author list because her books are truly that good. 

This book has everything, we have a lady with a tarnished reputation, a failed elopement, a Viscount, a duel, an Earl, angst, and romance! I mean, honestly, it's like everything you can possibly imagine in a historical romance all balled into just under 300 pages. (My copy also came with a bonus story, and can we just talk about how much I love a bonus story??) 

I absolutely loved Mina, she's feisty and witty, and I loved that she decided since her reputation is basically trashed, she can say whatever the heck she wants, which leads her to being fairly blunt with her words. The author does a great job at breaking some common trends we see in most historical romance (the 'woe-is-me' kind of gal, or the one who plays dumb and tries to deny any attraction to anyone when it is clear as the damn sun shining) and for that alone she is my new go-to author for this genre. As great as Mina is, I loved Simon, the dashing hero of the story. Simon is like... the perfect guy, and just when you think he can't possibly be more perfect, he runs out into the rain to save a puppy. 

I mean, are any of us even wearing panties at this point? 

As with every story there is some great conflict that threatens the happy ending, and while I honestly can't think of another book with the same story line (at least in historical romance, it's definitely something I've seen a similar twist in other romances), I think the author handled it really well. I liked really questioning whether Mina and Simon would end up together, and as I got to even the last chapter I was really starting to worry how this was going to end. I will tell you we do get a happy ending and you will be eternally grateful for an epilogue... how's that for vague? But I feel like the author does a good job at really laying out how much Simon and Mina really do love each other and honestly these two are kind of #couplegoals. 

If you're in the market for a steamy Regency romance, you definitely will like this one. Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for sending me a copy for review!
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