Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lit Cube #2

You guys! I've got a bunch of cool mail recently. Today I'll show you my second Lit Cube, the We'll Never be Royals themed box, but tomorrow I'll show you  my first OwlCrate!

So if you remember, last month was my first Lit Cube and it was an Oz themed box. The book I got with it, Spelled, wasn't totally awful but it really wasn't great, either. But the swag I got in that first box was pretty great. This month, equally nice box!

Easily the nicest item is the royal purple t-shirt that is a Game of Thrones/Star Wars mash up. I'm not a Star Wars fan but I do like the Game of Thrones, and the shirt is pretty fun so I do like that.  (Value $16.99)
We also got this 4 ounce mini mug, not totally sure what I'll use it for, but it IS cute! Currently, it's sitting on my bookshelf. (Value $7.99)

We also got a free audio book code ($7.99 value) which I won't use because I don't do audio books, so things like this are kind of a waste for me. Also we got a small tin of "Once Upon A Time Fandom Adagio Tea Blend" ($4.99 value) which again, I don't drink tea so I gave that to someone. Along with a few other bookmarks, including one that came with a bottle cap key ring, it was a decent little box.

The book Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis ($12.99 value) also came with it. It's a YA book and it sounds... meh. I don't know. It might end up being really good but it'll be awhile before I get to it. It did come with a signed book plate for it, so that is always a fun thing to stick in the book.

Overall? Not a disappointing box at all. A lot of comments I've gotten have been, "Oh, well you could just go buy this stuff" and true, I totally could. Honestly though, I'm the worst online shopper (hate it) and I don't do well finding these types of things on my own. I keep saying it, but I really do need a responsible adult to take charge of my life. HA!

So that's the second Lit Cube. October is a "Supernatural Idgits" theme and that sounds... questionable. November is a vampire them and you know I am ALL OVER THAT, just take all of my money.

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Here Comes the Dreamer

I feel like I haven't been reading as much as I should/could be, but thankfully I have a few smaller review books before my larger ones are due so that's been helpful. (See? I'm actually looking at number of pages and being realistic!)

Here Comes the Dreamer - Carole Giangrande
Here Comes the Dreamer
Alastair Luce is a dreamer, one of three who tell this tale. A Canadian expat in the 1950s, he lives in a New York City suburb with his wife, Nora, a passionate American who misses the excitement of wartime life and finds an outlet -- and a lover -- during the Red scare. Alastair's an artist, a quiet man who paints houses for a living, fears atomic holocaust, drinks too much and worries about his suffering child, Grace. Just before the accident that kills his daughter's best friend Todd, he offers a ride to their teenage neighbour, Claire Bernard. She continues the story as a witness to tragedy, a wry observer of suburban mores and a compassionate friend of Alastair, whose talent and politics she'd long admired. Yet in the era of Vietnam, she's not prepared for his love or his anguish as she marries and leaves for Canada. In Toronto, it's Alastair's exiled daughter Grace who speaks, giving voice to her fury, an artist who works to "burn" the city down with brilliant colour, who resents Claire for hurting her dad, and still grieves the loss of young Todd. Yet Grace, Claire and Alastair are bound together by their history, and a crisis draws their painful stories to a climax. It's then that Grace ventures homeward for the first time, into a startling vision of the unknown.

For such a small book (127 pages) there is a lot of story fit into it. Even more surprising was even though it was so short, I really had a hard time sticking with it. Normally I can power read through things and 130 pages in a sitting isn't unheard of. Instead, this book took me days to get through because at no point did I feel really emotionally invested in. Was it good? It was. But I found myself not caring much about what happens to these people. 

Here Comes the Dreamer centers around three main characters: Nora, Alastair, and Grace. Grace is the child of Nora and Alastair and I felt absolutely terrible for her because it was clear her mother didn't like her. Mostly because she was too similar to Alastair and Nora was very pragmatic and based in reality. She steps outside of the marriage and it results in another child. What I found odd was that even though it was clear that Nora didn't even really care for Alastair, you can tell there was still something there towards her. But we also have Claire, who wants to be friends with Alastair (even though there is a HUGE age gap and it almost makes me reminiscent of  K.L. Cook's The Girl From Charnelle) but that's hard to do after the accident that killed a little boy, who happened to be one of Grace's only friends. I guess for me, this sums up what happens when you have a family who don't focus on the child (Nora/Alastair) because Grace ends up... well she ends up kind of angry and trying to reconcile her mother's abuse and everything that essentially starts at the accident. 

Honestly, the last third of the book was the best part because I felt like it was all really coming together. The first two thirds are good, but I felt like we were gathering all of this information, swirling around, and not really sure how it was going to end up- why was any of this essential information? I do think that if I had lived in the post Cold War era, I would have understood the sentiment behind some of the passages. I don't know what it's like to inherently distrust someone based on their belief. Sure, we have something similar now, but certainly not at all to the degree that this book highlights. 

You can order the book through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It might even be a great gift (or stocking stuffer) for your parents or even Grandparents this year! 

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Penelope... 5 months!

I know, I did a post on Penelope yesterday, but it's also worth noting that Miss P is officially five months old now!

We are SO close to sitting all on our own. She can sit well propped up and for a few seconds with no prop. But she can sit well with her hands forward!
SO much personality!! This girl is so much fun to be around. She is a great mix of Olivia and Jackson. She's sweet like Olivia and funny like Jackson. She loves to be talked to and she will cuddle with anyone.
She makes the BEST faces. Seriously. This face... I have such a hard time not kissing her pretty constantly.
She's discovered her toes and loves them. I don't think she fully understands that even with socks on, they are still there. She doesn't totally play with her feet with socks on but as soon as you take them off it's like her long lost friends have arrived.
Both Olivia and Jackson were in love with "babies" (known to you and I as stuffed animals) and they would love on any of them. I really think Penelope is going to be a blanket baby. You give her a fuzzy blanket and she gives you the biggest smile. She won't nap unless she has some kind of blanket to rub her face on.

She is SO wiggly. Truly. If you hold her, have a tight grip because she starts wiggling pretty hard out of no where. She loves to be in her jumperoo. We bought a Johnny Jump Up (we've never used one with my other kids) and she doesn't like to jump in it so much as swing. I have it set so she can't touch the ground right now and she LOVES when someone pushes her in it like a swing.

She continues to adore Olivia and Jackson. They are so great with her. Honestly, I was so worried about the 7 year gap between my babies and all of that worry was for nothing. As it turns out, big gaps like this are SO great. Sure, maybe later on it'll get tough but right now? It's perfect. Olivia loves to carry Penelope around the house and Penelope loves it, too. Jackson gives Penelope "puppet shows" every day, pushes her in our make shift swing, and plays toys with her.

Anytime she's fussy (which really is rare) if you put music on, she gets happy. She's such an agreeable baby, hands down the easiest of all. I feel bad this isn't the one my mom gets to watch all day, every day (she was my daycare for the other two so I could work) because Penelope is a dream. Honestly, she's the only reason I'm considering one more. (I know, a post for another day). Matt says Penelope is so easy maybe a fourth would be fully self sufficient. HA!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Penelope... kind of hates actual food.

I should start this by saying that with my older two kids, they were eating table foods by 10 months. Yes, they'd still get their bottle, but they didn't mess around with baby food much and by 10 months they were eating whatever we were eating at the table. And it was totally fine. They weren't loving rice or oatmeal cereal, but they were down to eat something like we were. Jar foods also were a bit hit and Jackson loved anything orange so much that he actually started turning orange so we had to lay off of them for awhile. So I assumed Penelope, who is a far more voracious eater than the other two EVER were would totally love starting first foods. She gets so angry if I try to eat and she's constantly trying to grab at my food, so I thought- she's totally ready. 

As it turns out, hilarity ensued and she is not pleased. 

My first attempt was right after her 4 month check up. I figured rice cereal was pretty bland and we'd just mix it until it was watery with her formula. 

She was suspicious of the spoon and as soon as I put it in her mouth it was clear that she was totally onto me.
The looks this girl gives when she isn't happy are kind of hysterical.
Just total displeasure in the turn of events. I decided feeding her around dinner time would be a good routine to get into since she sits with us when we eat anyways, but also because she's generally super hungry at this point.
As it turns out she wasn't happy.
She didn't cry, she just gave us angry faces and her little hands would shake. I anticipate that being a fun addition to a temper tantrum later on.
Mostly though if she saw the spoon coming towards her she'd squeeze her lips shut as tight as she could. After about 10 minutes I gave up and decided to wait.

Fast forward three weeks. This time I've let her play with the spoon a few times so she knows it's not this weird, scary thing. I decided to say screw it with the rice cereal, what if I did a pear/pea mix.
Gave her the spoon, she was pretty agreeable at this point.
First taste and then gave her the spoon again. No tears, no shaking, I was pretty optimistic at this point.
Quickly discovered she has zero interest in the spoon going into her mouth, she would much rather lick the spoon, like a puppy.
If you let her lick the spoon clean, she's totally happy and will willingly eat. Put the spoon in her mouth and it's mutiny. 

So... I was going to try again this afternoon at lunch time, just to see. I'm not really rushing the solids yet because I don't need to. She's clearly on track for height and weight. I have another small jar of pear and pea left so maybe I'll try that again, but add a little cereal to it. One of my favorite memories of when Olivia was a baby (and truthfully, I don't have many because I was pretty deep in post partum depression for her entire first year) was feeding her at lunch time. Saturdays were the only day of the week I was alone with her for the entire day and it always stressed me out the entire week. I was truly worried I wouldn't keep it together and something awful would happen. I'd stress out over how to take care of her by myself and meal times were the worst. But I do remember sitting in our tiny kitchen, with her in her high chair, carefully exploring foods. Nothing more than that, just a memory I've got from a really foggy year. 

So we'll see. I'll keep trying with Penelope, she's got to come around some time, right? :) 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Oh yes, Olivia is a tween.

Holy shikes, I totally forgot to tell you about Olivia's 10th birthday... at the beginning of September! Jesus. I am not kidding, I feel like I'm losing it, lambs.

So this year for Olivia's birthday I really didn't have much money. I barely had enough to get her a gift (a shirt, a cool water bottle for school, a book, and some neon pens) but I certainly couldn't afford to give her a "party". Which, we kind of ended the big parties on their 6th birthday because I just can't afford it. Instead, I try to plan a fun family day with them. Way back in June I bought a Groupon for Minnesota Children's Museum in the Twin Cities, buy one/get one. So for $20 I got all of us in.

Turns out, that place kind of sucks. It reminded me a lot of the Children's Museum where we live and it's all just super boring and shitty. I called the desk BEFORE I bought the Groupon, explained I had a 7 and would be 10 year old and if there was enough for them to do/see. She assured me that oh yes, they have a TON of exhibits and over half are geared towards their age. Um, no. There was one exhibit they liked and that was where they could take a bike tire off. We were in and out of the place in a half hour. Total bust but thank god I didn't pay more to get in.

After that, we went and had some lunch and drove to where my brother lives with his wife and daughter. We haven't seen them much and it's a big to-do for us to drive down there (a little over 2 hours away from us) so I thought it'd be nice to see them for Olivia's birthday, see his new place, and swim at the pool that's in their townhouse complex. We get there and decide that we'll take the kids swimming first because it was looking like it might rain and I have been talking this up for weeks since again, I couldn't afford the water park, so I was not letting them leave without going into a pool.

 I bought a float for Penelope, and a swim suit, but you can tell she wasn't pleased.
Like really not pleased.
My other kiddos LOVE the pool! They swam with no floats and were pretty excited!
Penelope still was not pleased.
She decided to hell with us all, she's taking nap. And still looks angry.
After a few minutes, my niece totally loved it!
It did start to rain, so we headed back to my brother's place and grilled a few things. Had some cake (which I couldn't afford so my brother and sister in law covered it for me because they are gems).
Olivia got a bunch of scrapbooking stuff from my mom, a guitar stand from my dad, and some cute school clothes from Travis and Krystle.
Sadly, I got TERRIBLE pictures of the babies, just 5 months apart, playing together. I'm super bummed! They had a good time staring each other down.
On her "actual" birthday, Olivia got to decided what we had for supper and she of course chose tacos. No surprise there!
It's so hard to believe my little Olivia is already a tween. I really cannot even handle it. It really does seem like yesterday I was bundling her up and trying to figure out this parenting thing.
But even the littlest of girls grow up eventually

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Mistake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pretty Girls

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

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

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos