Monday, January 23, 2017

Those Texas Nights (review & giveaway)

*This post contains affiliate links that I may make a commission from; however, all opinions are my own.*

I know it's only January, but I'm "right on track" with my goal of 100 books this year on the Goodreads challenge! It's helpful when I'm reading romance novels because I fly through these quickly, especially anything by Delores Fossen!

Those Texas Nights (Wrangler Creek #1) - Delores Fossen

The Granger siblings thought they'd left their ranching days behind, until fate sends them home to Wrangler's Creek, Texas and into the passionate arms of those they'd least expect

It's some run of bad luck when Sophie Granger loses her business and gets left at the altar all in one day. Desperate to not appear jilted, Sophie begs Clay McKinnon, Wrangler's Creek's smoking-hot police chief, to pretend they're having an affair. But Clay refuses, leaving Sophie to retreat to the family ranch to lick her wounds.

Hoping to leave his disreputable past behind, Clay moved to Wrangler's Creek for a fresh start. But that looks unlikely when Sophie's ex-fiance shows up married to Clay's impulsive kid sister. Overcome, Sophie resuggests the affair but this time for real. Clay is hesitant. City-girl Sophie isn't usually his type. But he can't deny the desire she elicits or his yearning to have her plant her cowboy roots for good.

Do I have to tell you I loved the cover of this book or is it just assumed? Because YUM. I will tell you that when I started this book I got a little worried because how Clay and Sophie meet each other is a little... it's not conventional and I thought that we had hit a real low in romance novels. Basically, Sophie gets dumped the day of her wedding and instead of handling it like a grown up and telling her family, she runs out and decides to go up to a stranger (Clay) and asks him to be her "date" and basically go along with the story that she was seeing him all along. So... you'd rather be seen as a cheating whore versus someone who got dumped? Riiiiight. Seems legit.


But once you get past that, it's actually an endearing book. Not only is she dumped at the altar, but their family business is basically stolen by a family friend/their Godfather/trusted CFO for 40 years, so now she's jobless as well and forced to move back home to Wrangler's Creek. To top it off, her ex-fiance is engaged to (dun, dun, dun) Clay's younger sister!

Cue drama!

I can't give you much more information than this because it'll ruin the story, but I'll tell you I'm giving this one 5 stars. Surely, the beginning is eye roll worthy, but the rest of it was funny, it was sweet, and it was a fun read. I got through this in one evening because I wanted to keep going. I am SO looking forward to the rest of the books in this series, I anticipate they will be as engaging as this one. This has all of the charm of small town living, with some big city characters trying to acclimate, and it's just a really great start to the series.

I highly recommend this read if you want something fun and airy, but want to have the best parts of a romance novel as well! I encourage you to enter the giveaway HERE, but in the meantime, you can follow Delores on her website, Facebook, and Twitter! I'm a big fan of Delores so definitely check out some of her other books as well!

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Darkest Torment (review)

*This post contains affiliate links that I may make a commission from. All opinions are my own.*

The Darkest Torment - Gena Showalter

Can Beauty tame her Beast? 

Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he's back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he's unable to withstand the touch of another and he's quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride just not his own.

Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she's taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she's plunged into a war between two evils with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.

But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she'll have to teach him to love or lose him forever.

Alright lambs, just in time for the movie version of the classic, we have Gena Showalter giving us a grown up version of Disney's The Beauty and the Beast, the twelfth installment in her Lords of the Underworld series. I know people are going to tell you that these are stand alone books and that you won't miss much if you don't read them in order, but they are liars. I'm telling you right now you need to read these from the start not just because it's a damn good series, but because there is so much from the lore and backstory that won't make any sense to you if you just jump in on this book. But I'm telling you it's worth the journey because these guys... woo. It's not just my pre-menopausal hot flashes happening in here, lambs! 

If you've been keeping up with this series then you know that this is Baden's book. Baden is screwed over by the demon of Distrust so you know that he's going to struggle with distrust on his journey. Enter Katarina, who he basically gets dumped into his lap and dun dun dun....he kind of starts falling for though he shouldn't. Never mind that she gets married to a guy so her dogs aren't tortured, so the whole Baden and Katarina relationship is starting off on a terrible foot. I will say that the biggest complaint about this book for me is I'm not loving Baden and Katarina as a couple at all. I think the author could have really done this so much better and it makes book twelve feel rushed and like not as much care went into planning this book out. And it's not much of a spoiler, but it IS a stretch because I went into this book with the romanticized Beauty and the Beast thoughts in my head, then I read this and OK- she treats him basically like a dog while having sex (because he's not used to touch so she's essentially "training" him) and it's just SO WEIRD. So, so weird and I just couldn't get into it and it was just... it was just a really strange way to get yourself to the Beauty and the Beast comparison. There were SO MANY other ways to do this. 


This is one of my least favorite of the series, but I'm not saying it's worth skipping. You need this in your life if you are reading this series. I'm just.. I'm disappointed that this is where we went with Baden. I liked Baden, though my memory of him is kind of foggy because either I missed something big, or it's a plot hole, but I don't know how Baden got into purgatory with Pandora?? Am I missing something? Granted, I read books 1-11 awhile ago but still, I feel like I've forgotten something crucial. 

Overall I'm giving this a 3/5 stars. It isn't up to the standards of the other books but it's not the worst. It's pretty middle of the road for me. I think if you are a hardcore LOTU fan you are probably going to nitpick a little more and be a little harder to please, but for me, the casual fan, it was alright. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wyoming Brave (review and giveaway!)

*This post contains affiliate links that I could make commission off of, all opinions are my own*
I have been on a reading roll, lambs!

Wyoming Brave - Diana Palmer

The Wyoming men are back! In their quest for true love on the range, are these ranchers bold enough to open their hearts to the women under their protection?

Ren Colter may own an enormous ranch in Wyoming, but he scorns his wealth. He's closed himself off since his fiancĂ©e left him years ago, so he's shocked when he allows Meredith Grayling to stay with him. He tells himself it's only to protect the blonde beauty from a stalker, but Ren's alpha instincts soon kick in. 

The last thing Merrie wants is a devastatingly handsome man like Ren lurking around her. He's too experienced, too appealing for her already shot nerves. What she needs is just to get away from it all: the man haunting her waking dreams and the one hunting her like an animal. But no woman escapes this Colter cowboy!

You know I absolutely love a good romance and one of the go-to authors is Diana Palmer. This is the sixth book in her Wyoming Men series and I have read four of them so far and they are all solid if you are in the market for a rugged male lead and not raunchy sex scenes. The romance is solid and true and it is everything you'd expect for this genre.

We have to talk about the characters because I was really worried when I saw this was Ren's book because he's.. hard headed, kind of arrogant, kind of comes off as a jerk and a little cold. With that, when we meet Meredith I'm like- OK, these are polar opposites. Merrie clearly is that magnet for abusive relationships and clearly lets everyone walk all over her so I wasn't sure if this was a great match. (Though it could be argued that it's the exact perfect match because he is so Alpha and wanting to be the provider, etc and Merrie is not that "I'm a bad ass woman, hear me roar" gal.) My only complaint about this book (which can be said for a lot of romance novels, let's be honest) is that so much stuff is repeated. Admittedly, I have some serious short term memory issues right now, but it was driving me nuts how many details of Ren and Merrie's past are repeated, not just for reader benefit but also in dialogue. It's like, JESUS, WE GET IT. We are remembering these facts just fine, stop talking about it.


I will also admit that the story itself is a little far fetched, as all romance novels are, but how many cowboy romances have a mob boss in it? Huh? Not many, lambs! This one totally does and it's kind of eye-roll worthy, but it plays into the cheese factor of this book. Is this the kind of romance novel I'm reading "alone", but it's a solid little romance that cheered me up while it's winter and gloomy. No thought needed, just get comfy and read your afternoon away. I love the setting of these books, I love the Colter family, and I liked the Merrie and Ren dynamic even though I wasn't sure I would get it, I did in the end. Overall? I'd give this book 3/5 stars.

If you want to enter the giveaway, head over HERE! Your chances are good, you just might win! You can also check out Diana's website and her Facebook page to see what she's up to and check out some of her other books, including the rest of the Wyoming Men series.

Dancing and Singing December Away

I didn't include these in a December phone dump post because they are kind of special all on their own and I don't think I shared them. It's no surprise that I feel like I'm struggling as a mom even on my best days. By the time the big kids get home from school I am so physically and emotionally exhausted from my day with the little kids that I feel like I have no time for them. It's just... I just want silence and they, of course, want to talk about their day and all of the drama they encounter at school and I can't, man. I just can't.

Cue the feelings that I'm screwing my children up and they'll be telling their future therapists that their mother wasn't emotionally available to them. Forget the college fund, I'll just set money aside for therapy. It's more beneficial anyways.

But in December I went to Olivia's dance recital.
And she did so well. The entire group did a great job and I enjoy watching her dance and I like seeing all of these girls get into their routine and just beam with pride. Normally I tear up when I watch her dance, always have, and it's because I'm just so damn proud of her and she's so beautiful and I just want to run up and squeeze her. I think what blew me away this year was realizing, long after I got home, that I didn't tear up. Yes, I was proud of her and I cheered and I clapped like a maniac. But it occurred to me that I didn't tear up and get all emotional.

Which only highlighted to me how off I am with depression. I don't know if it's the medication just numbing my brain or what but it's not a good feeling.

Later on in the month, the kids had their holiday concert at school. Again, I normally look forward to it, wave like that maniac mom in the crowd, and totally embarrass them. This time I snapped one photo of each kid and just sat there. I was such a mess that morning and I'm supposed to give myself credit for just going. But I can't because that's the bare minimum.
But can we all just say the collective "awwww" over Jackson? He wore his bow tie to school, kept it on ALL DAY, and was a little stud in the sea of ladies. And he sang. He didn't sing a whole lot but I saw those lips move enough where I could tell sound was actually coming out of them.
Then of course Olivia looked absolutely beautiful and was right up front. She is turning into such a stunning young lady, it's weird to see her change so much so quickly. This was her last winter concert in the elementary school and again, why wasn't I a mess? I know I would normally be a mess. I'll really be able to use the spring concert as a measure of my messed up head because if I'm not a blubbering mess at that, we'll know I'm really off the deep end.

I'm learning that not every day is going to be good. In fact, most days are going to be absolute shit. I can't even say that I'll have the glimmer of a good whole day here and there, it might just be a good moment or collection of moments from the day that I can call good. And maybe that's just going to be it for me, at least for awhile. I have to try to find one good thing in every day otherwise it's too easy for the sadness to drag me down.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Her Every Fear (review)

*This post contains affiliate links that I may make commissions from, but all opinions are my own*

If you don't follow me on Goodreads, you probably don't realize that I participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge every year. And every year my goal is always the same: 100 books. Some years I make it (2015) and some years I don't (2016, but I was SO close), but we'll see how I fall this year. It's already helpfully reminding me I'm behind one book so far, so I need to get cracking.

Her Every Fear - Peter Swanson

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves--until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met? 

Sometimes I steer away from thrillers because they can get tedious for me and I can usually figure out what's going to happen and then I end up angry and annoyed (like with The Girl on the Train). But then I decide that not every thriller is going to be lame and I pick another one up, which is where I found myself as I started this one. I have to be honest and tell you that my biggest complaint with books like these is that characters are SO hit or miss for me. Kate is that miss character for me, she just... I get that she's neurotic and paranoid and obviously has trauma in her past that lends her to being that way but man alive. Just stop and use your brain a bit, can we? Can we just stop writing characters that are just... stupid? Because I'll tell you what, if I moved into my cousin's apartment for six months (a cousin I had never even met so let's be real, all the "but he's family" arguments are frankly out the window) and his neighbor is found dead? You can bet your ass I'm going to assume  he did it. I mean, am I the only one who watches crime shows? Forensic shows? Anyone?

So not only do we have that but the entire book has a stalker vibe to it so honestly, you're left kind of creeped out especially if you aren't binging on this in one or two sittings. My only other complaint is while the book switches narrative (which I'm totally OK with and it works here), every time we switched perspective we had a repeat of information. It's like the character really is assuming we aren't switching back and forth and it's frustrating because I want the meat of the story, I don't need to keep getting the same information over and over again. (And this is a person with documented memory issues complaining here, I feel sorry for all you non memory issue folks, you might have more of an issue with that.)

Overall? I'm still giving it 4/5 stars. The plot is good, the suspense is good, it has that dark and sinister vibe to it and you're questioning things right along with Kate. It was hard to put down and I found myself having a hard time falling asleep after a reading a good chunk of it. Her neighbors are all weird, we've got murder and mayhem, Kate isn't really well enough on her own but throw her in with this cast of folks and who knows what's going to shake out of the bag. If you're a fan of a good suspense and thriller, I think you're going to really enjoy this. You can purchase the book HERE, but in the meantime, you can check out the author's web page and Twitter!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I've decided everyone should have a psychiatrist.

On Friday I ended my week of non stop doctors at the psychiatrist's office. To say I was going into this appointment exhausted is an under statement. Not only was I legitimately exhausted from lack of sleep because Lucy had been running a fever and a chest cold for three days, but I was absolutely sick of leaving the house. I swear if one more person tells me that getting out of the house is going to be good for my mental health, I'm going to officially lose it.

Having never been to a psychiatrist I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew going in was that I had exhausted every avenue my regular doctor had as far as anti-depressants, my psychologist said it would be a good thing to try, and I'm suicidal, so at this point I don't really have anything to lose by trying something new. As it turns out, this was kind of an interesting appointment. It was the first one in awhile that I left there feeling like someone actually got it, they haven't trivialized it, and they aren't treating me like I'm a fun experiment.

Which was just.... refreshing.

It was a two hour appointment and while I couldn't give you the blow by blow of what we talked about, but it was a lot. I learned that I was on a pussy dose of my anti-depressant so he increased that for me. I learned that I am grossly deficient in vitamin D, so I have a prescription for that. He's hoping that this combination is going to help me step back from the ledge of the bridge, so to speak. But the best part of the entire appointment was feeling like all of the things I have been feeling aren't necessarily normal, but more so that if I wasn't feeling those things, he'd be more seriously concerned about the stability of my mental health. It's like someone giving me the free pass to actually feel horribly about my situation.

I also left there being told that I have to stop feeling guilty. That when I feel like I can't do it today, it means I can't do it today and I need to not feel bad about it. I need to tell someone that hey- I can't do it today, and I just let people take over. I struggle with this because I feel like these are my kids, this is my house, I should be taking care of this. There are people out there who have it worse than me and I need to not be a baby. I feel like although it's been drilled into my head the last five months on repeat, it's just now starting to sink in.

It's OK to struggle. It's OK to not be able to do it.

I also learned that all of my fatigue isn't depression so much, it's my actual brain telling me it's time to shut down. It's on overload and it needs to restart. (Which explains why I don't feel in control of myself and I feel confused when I start getting tired.)

I now struggle with not feeling guilty with Matt. Because god knows, he has got to be at the end of his rope. He works SO many hours just so we don't get behind in bills. Not only that but then he has me, and I'm basically useless right now. Sure, I am taking care of the kids and I'm trying to stay on top of the household things but I'm not doing a good job at all. Honestly, my house now is nowhere near what it would normally be like. I feel like I'm failing as a mom. I'm desperately trying to tread water and I feel like most days by nose is barely above the water. So for me to say, "Oh hey Matt- I realize you just worked 12 hours but boy am I fried, I'm going to bed!", it feels unfair and unrealistic.

So that's where I'm at.

At least I feel like my anti-depressant change might make a difference, I go back in six weeks to the psychiatrist to give him some follow up. By the time I go to that appointment, I will have seen my therapist a few more times, my neurologist, and my regular doctor. Oh, and had my appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. But more on that another day.

Until then.. just keep swimming.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Now I Know It's Not My Fault (review)

I'm hoping to have a couple of book reviews for you this week, but let's start this week with one that was a bit of a heart heavy read, scary for any parent to read.

Now I Know It's Not My Fault - Laurie B. Levine
Alexandra Geller is a bright, underachieving fourteen-year-old coming of age in the big hair 1980’s. Alex is from an accomplished, well-educated family. The sudden death of her mother five years ago, and her relationship with her well-meaning but emotionally unavailable father, leaves her unmoored and vulnerable as she tries to figure out who she is. Early in her freshman year, she’s befriended by Paula Hanover, a young, attractive science teacher at her high school. Paula’s irreverence and charm attracts the attention of the girls, who look up to her, and the boys, who have crushes on her. Alex is thrilled to be chosen by this woman and relishes the feeling of finally “belonging” to a mother figure. Paula’s intentions aren’t so benevolent, as she slowly and carefully draws Alex into a relationship designed to meet her own needs, not Alex’s. Desperate for maternal attention, Alex finds ways to ignore the vague sense that something is wrong. Her compelling story sheds light on a common, but rarely talked about kind of trauma which is subtle, and occurs under the radar.

You know I'm not one to sugar coat a review, so don't expect me to change that in 2017. I'm just going to get my issues out right at the front: the cover doesn't pull you in, the time setting of the 80's is outdated and makes the book feel like it isn't relative to modern times I'm a stickler and I found a few grammar errors that make the book feel like it got the quick edit and made it distracting for me. 

But if you can get past that, the story is really compelling. We have Alex, who is going through high school and she's got a lot of home issues she's battling at the same time. I'll tell you I picked this book because the premise of a girl having a mother who has passed away and an unemotional father is something that my kids almost could identify with. Reading this was straight up scary because you realize that some children are basically targets for predators of all kinds, and it doesn't necessarily mean a sexual relationship. This book explores the world of emotional and mental manipulation and what that can do to a child who is desperate for positive attention. 

It's immediately obvious that the teacher, Paula, is inappropriate towards students and looks to more of a friend rather an authority figure. She wants to be seen as cool versus there to further their education. She seemingly can pick out the students who need the "extra" attention and she is a classic groomer of these kids for not just her abuse, but sets them up for a future of abusive relationships. Just like other books that explore the sometimes abuse between children and an authority figure, so many in Alex's life essentially fail her and she's forced to stick up for herself, hard for even adults to do. The book is around 330 pages, but I didn't find it to be a quick read. For me it was easy to put down and pick something else up, but then I'd come back to this one because I wanted to know what was going to happen with Alex. Overall, I would give this book 3/5 stars. 

*I received a copy of this book for an honest review*