Monday, December 18, 2017

Hot In Aruba

I first learned of Marissa Campbell way back when her debut novel, Avelynn, came out. A historical romance, not typically a favorite in my wheelhouse, won me over immediately. The sequel was also good, but not as good as the first for me, but still- Marissa has a special writing talent that makes it hard to not enjoy what she gives you. Imagine my surprise when her third book was introduced as a romance, but set in modern time, promising hot sex in Aruba?

You don't need me to tell you that I was completely sold. I love following her on social media and as soon as I saw review copies were ready- I jumped at the chance. I wanted to see if she could be a hit outside of historical romance and she is. I liked this book even more than Avelynn.

Hot In Aruba - Marissa Campbell

Vulnerability is Samantha Mackay’s kryptonite, and she keeps her emotions—and her men—at arm’s length. But when her good friend Carlos Naldini invites her on an all-expense-paid trip to Aruba, her resolve waivers.

Tired of being relegated to the friend zone, Carlos enacts his foolproof plan, inviting Samantha to join him in Aruba, hoping the trip to paradise will soften her reluctant heart.

Samantha agrees to Carlos’s proposal, giving him exactly ten days to prove he’s boyfriend material. After some wild Aruba nights and hot, sexy days, things appear to be progressing swimmingly, until Carlos’s ex-girlfriend arrives, exposing an intricate web of deception and betrayal. When news from home shatters Samantha's hopes further, she leaves Aruba, giving up on her dreams of happily ever after. Devastated, Carlos is determined to do whatever it takes to bring Samantha back to Aruba and into his arms. 

Secrets, lies, and heartbreak lurk in the shadows behind sunshiny days of sex on the beach, cocktails by the pool, laughter, and friends. It’s getting hot in Aruba—but the sparks might just consume them.


I'm not sure where to start with this, but I also don't want to give too much away and ruin it for you. So we have Samantha, comes from a drug addicted mother, dad is long gone (or is he??), has a terrible record with guys, and is your typical do-it-for-myself kind of gal. Enter Carlos, going to law school even though he doesn't want to be a lawyer, family is wealthy, he wants to be a musician. He's talented and is on the cusp of signing a music deal but he really wants Samantha. She has put him firmly in the friend zone, but he's sure if he had the chance, he could win her over.

Enter Carlos' brother's wedding in Aruba. Carlos invites Sam instead of his pretend girlfriend in Italy (See? I can't give too much away about this without ruining it!), his friends find out what's going on, his family finds out, shenanigans happen, all hell breaks loose, miscommunication all around, someone dies, and a great ending. How's that for vague? In between all of it we have Sam reluctantly falling for Carlos, Carlos already head over heels for Sam, some hot sexy times proving Spanish/Italian men do it best, and in the end, a sweet romance any of us would be totally jealous of. Marissa manages to take a story from textbook to fairy tale in 306 pages. It was pretty great. I wanted more with Sam and Carlos, I didn't want it to end. Also? I may or may not have added cave sex to my bucket list. Just saying.

All great stories come to end but it doesn't mean there can't be a sequel! I'm thinking...Lora and Paul? It would be GREAT. Maybe they can go to Jamaica or something. No! Maybe they go to to Carlos and Samantha's wedding in... somewhere that speaks Spanish! YES. Lora feels like a spitfire, this could be amazing.

Sigh.

Overall? I'm actually going to give this one 5 stars. You know I don't throw these out willy nilly, but I absolutely loved this book, I loved the romance AND the drama, it played out as the best, "you'll never believe THIS" story you'd share with girlfriends comparing who had the worst blind date experience. This would win it. Easily. I highly recommend this is you are in the mood for a good romance that will make you wish you were on an island.. or anywhere it isn't winter.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

16 months

I have decided that it's really strange for me to measure Lucy's age and know that it's the same measurement of my AFE recovery. Two very different things, seemingly going in opposite directions, and it's always bittersweet. I suppose maybe when she's 20 or something it won't feel like such a big deal? Maybe. I'm not really sure, I guess. Some times it seems like it's been no time at all because my sense of time isn't like everyone else's, and then other days I feel like surely it has to be longer than this, right?

Nope. Lucy is officially 16 months old as of December 1. She's basically the same age as Penelope was when she was born. I might be a month off.... I can't really remember. So that's bizarre, too. To think I had a newborn at the same time as a 16 month old? I can't even wrap my head around it. It's maybe OK that I have no memories of that time. Then I think maybe that's why Penelope is SUCH a challenge? Maybe having to fight for attention is why she's a bear almost every day all day? I'm not sure.

But let's talk about 16 months.
Lucy is actually a great listener. If you tell her to sit down, by god that girl will sit down. She sits for story time, she sits when a "show" comes on, and if I'm bringing a new activity and tell them to sit down, she goes right to the rug and plops down. She's going to be a teacher's DREAM some day. 
Lucy absolutely LOVES to take things out of containers and try to get in. The drawers of the ottoman hold DVD's and every single day she takes them all out for the sake of taking them out. 
She's always up for an adventure, which is great because Penelope has her be her partner in crime. On this particular day they were looking for Penelope's shadow. If you ask Lucy where something is, she will ALWAYS drop down and look under the ottoman first, apparently she thinks that is the Bermuda Triangle of lost things. 
She still loves me the best. Every day for nap she wants me to rock her and I have to sing to her and Penelope. You have to sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and You Are My Sunshine, 5 times EACH (minimum) before they will go to sleep. As soon as I walk into her room and give her the pacifier, she lays her head right on my chest and assumes the position by tucking her feet and hands under her. It's pretty adorable. 
Lucy is easily the BEST baby ever. No question. This girl loves everyone, she loves to be cuddled, loves to read books, plays quietly by herself, and you can tell she's just a gentle soul. 
Lucy is always happy. Even when she's the crabbiest baby, she's still happy. You can still make her smile and laugh. It's so rare that she's so cranky you beg for bedtime. Penelope is like that all day every day, but not Lucy. She's very go with the flow. 
Her favorite thing? These dumb My Little Pony glasses we got in a McDonald's Happy Meal. We have two pairs and I swear, it's her most prized possession. She loves them and will bring them to you to put them on her. She hasn't totally figured out that she can do it herself, she wants someone else to. Then she looks at you with this cheesy grin and she's just so damn happy about it. It's hard to be depressed around her. She really is everything good in my life. Everybody loves Lucy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It shouldn't be this hard.

I have made it no secret that Lucy was very much an oopsie baby. We were taking precautions and none of it actually mattered because my uterus hates me. Maybe she just likes to be busy, I don't know. Lucy is 100% our last baby, that is the plan. Matt has had his vasectomy and they are 75% sure I can't get pregnant if I wanted to because of the tremendous blood loss to my ovaries and also not having any hormones, those are important things. But that means there was the 25% maybe and if Lucy could slip through that teeny tiny window, god knows triplets or something would make it in that 25%. So Matt had the vasectomy because we wanted to make DAMN SURE a fifth baby cannot happen.

So no more babies. We knew that. I know that. I do. I can't remember anything from yesterday but I vividly remember agreeing to no more babies. Done. No more.

Which makes my recent feelings about that really bizarre to me. I remember being sad when we got rid of all of the baby things after Jackson, I definitely did not feel done after him. This time, I feel done. I do. I think. I mean, I guess I don't remember if what I feel now is different back then, but it's really tough.

In the back of my head I had this wiggly, random angry feeling about being done. It's one thing to be done on your own terms, but being told I am done from a medical standpoint? That bothers me. It feels like a parent telling a kid no and they've got that look in their eye when you know they are going to do it anyways. It's just like that. Part of me wants to get pregnant and be like, "SCREW YOU, I can totally get pregnant!" and the other part of me is so damn relieved I don't have to do it again. I never have to deal with the fear of delivery and wondering what if.

Then there are days like today, where I'm trying to clean and organize, and it's not going well. I was getting angry with myself because I don't have the ability to do things like I once could, and I decide that now is the time to clean the cupboard with toddler dishes.
So I lined all of the bottles up and the mesh feeder and I started crying. Crying so hard I almost couldn't breathe. It felt like the biggest punch to my gut, a visual realization that this is really it. Then when I realized that I don't remember any of Lucy's firsts, or what it was like to snuggle her newborn self, the sound of her first laugh, her perfect baby smell, how soft her first hair was, or what she felt like on my chest? I can't remember what it was like to feel her kick in my stomach, or rub my belly, the excitement of labor and knowing she was coming. I cried like someone had died. On my kitchen floor. Alone. I cried and I cried.

I am so angry that all of those moments, especially profound since she is my last, are gone. They have been stolen from me and I can't ever get them back. Worse yet? I have no memory of any of my kids. The only "memories" I have are like actual snapshots in my head. Like the pictures in their baby books is what I have and I know it must have happened because I'm in the photos. I don't have that with Lucy. I don't know what it was like to hold her for the first time, and I imagine I must have felt a lot of things considering I had died.

Matt said he was told that one of the medications they had given me at some point would basically make me not remember the event and subsequent pain, but they didn't know if I'd have any other memory loss- it's kind of a toss up. And in hindsight, know how much is gone, I would give anything to have it all back. I would have taken the horrific pain for these memories. But I know in the split seconds they had, the medical team thought this was best. I can't fault them for that,  I would have made the same call if someone asked me to make that kind of decision for someone else.

I imagine this is what it maybe feels like to have dementia or the beginning of Alzheimer's, there are lots of things you don't remember and you don't remember what you don't remember. If you ask me a direct question, I probably can't answer it, but if I'm not trying to remember, some times it just pops through my head. Like in the dark, until your eyes adjust your peripheral vision is better than looking straight ahead- that's how my brain is. I know the information is there but if I try to remember in a really roundabout way, I can do it. Ask me to recall information right away? Nope.

So that's where I'm at. I am slowly ridding the house of baby things and it's killing me. The crib will likely come out this weekend and I know I am going to be a mess. I know it. I'm scared. I feel like there isn't ever going to be a good time to do it and maybe I need to just rip it off like a bandage. All of my doctors and therapist tell me it's normal to be angry and sad. To have unexpected triggers and it's OK to cry. I don't have to apologize for it, I just need to get myself to the next moment. It all passes, even the moments when it hurts so bad it feels like a tangible pain. I would never wish this on anyone. Never, ever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Axel

I'm going to preface this by saying I have not ordered the rest of this series yet, but they are all in my Amazon shopping cart and I think I'll be able to get them Wednesday. I don't want to get presumptuous, but I think that will be what I'm doing next weekend.

Axel - Harper Sloan

Fate hasn’t always been friends with Isabelle West. In fact, fate has been a downright bitch. 

Isabelle has learned the hard way how hard life can be when fate isn’t by your side. It can hand you dreams on silver platters, but it can snatch them right back and hand you nightmares. One thing Isabelle knew for sure fate was consistent with was taking away everything she ever loved.

For the last two years Isabelle has been slowly clearing the clouds of her past. Happiness is finally on the horizon. She has a thriving business, great friends, and her life back. All she has to do is jump over the last hurdle…her ex-husband. 

When problems start causing her to fear her new life, and memories that are better left forgotten start rushing to the surface the last thing she needs is a ghost from her past to come knocking on her door. 

Axel never thought he would look into the eyes of Isabelle West again, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to now. He’s carried his anger for so long he isn’t sure he can just turn it off, but when he is faced with protecting her and an unexpected desire to have her again, life gets a little more complicated. 

How will Axel and Isabelle deal when all their cards are put on the table and everything they thought was true blows up in their faces? 

I'm going to start by being honest and saying the cover didn't scream "drop everything and read me right now", but I picked it over everything else because it wasn't very long and I'm desperate to hit my Goodreads reading goal. I've got to seriously kick it up a notch if I'm going to make it. Gulp.

I also need to say that while I'm going to give this book 4/5 stars, it's 100% because the sex scenes are good and Axel is pretty damn hot. Isabelle (Izzy) is literally one of the worst characters ever. Imagine the most sensitive damsel in distress, incapable of functioning like a mature adult, whose only solution to a tough day is to get out of control drunk, and you've started describing Izzy. She's literally the worst. I actually almost tossed the book because I did not like her at ALL. Not even a little bit, not even when I heard her story (as tragic as it is), and I just thought- Izzy is actually really stupid.

The book centers around Izzy and Axel, high school sweethearts. He's off for the Marines, and she's vowed to wait for him. He had a chance to advance in the Marines, her parents die, she moves, and they lose contact. No wait, Izzy tries to keep in touch by sending letters to his foster parents which any reasonable moron would know would NEVER pass them onto him, and he would never visit. I mean, you're stupid, Izzy. So they are apart 12 years.

Well in those years Izzy gets married to Brandon, classic abusive husband. Their relationship fails after a particularly violent incident, but he's still harassing her so she reaches out to her friend Dee and her brother, Greg for help. Greg enlists his friend Reid to help but WAIT!!

Reid IS AXEL!

Holt Axel Reid is out of the Marines and is operating a successful security business. When he discovers the woman with the abusive husband is HIS Izzy? Shit goes to hell quick.

I feel like it was all a little to quick the whole "forgive and let's sleep and be together" thing, but I'm looking for a fast read so that's fine. It's a good introduction for the series, which I'm hoping to buy later this week, and I'm hoping the author has worked out some of the kinks in her writing style. There are parts of the book that you can tell she wanted to expand and maybe she didn't know how or maybe it got cut out during editing, but the ending felt really rushed for me. I wanted more with Brandon (the crazy ex), but at least he isn't a loose string in the plot line. Axel himself was maybe the best part of the book and he made the entire thing readable.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Fighting Chance

Oh boy, I have a couple of great reviews for you this week! I'm going to start with this one, which I bought on a whim through the Bookworm Box shop. It's a signed copy and it was half off so I threw caution to the wind.

A Fighting Chance - Annie Stone

When Mackenzie meets Carter, it’s love at first sight. They have a blissful year together before trouble arrives. In the form of Carter’s two teenage sons.

When Hunter and Carey decide they want to live with their father in California, Mackenzie knows right away that she’s in for a tough time. And she couldn’t be more right.

The two boys show her on a daily basis that she’s not good enough for their dad. In fact, they make it quite clear their lives would be better without her. But could it be that Hunter has quite a different motive for hating her?

Let me start by saying I went from one end of the book loving spectrum to the complete other end during this book. I started it thinking it was going to be weird, that I was going to hate it. By chapter five I wasn't sure if I was even going to finish it or if it was worth finishing. Once I got 3/4 of the way in I was on the edge of my seat because I didn't want it to end. I loved this book THAT much.

It centers around Mackenzie (known as Mac) and Carter, they've been together for a little over a year, she's moved in, and now she's meeting his sons Hunter and Carey. Hunter is 17, Carey is 15, their mom is a drunk so they are visiting their dad for a break. While on that break they tell him they want to live with him permanently, which normally wouldn't be a big deal but it's clear that they hate Mac. They aren't nice to her and actually are aggressive with her. Alarming for Mac, considering she has abuse in her past and works in a domestic abuse advocacy organization, so the fact that she feels like an insecure victim in her own home is alarming for her.

As summer progresses, Carter is gone more and more, forcing Mac to interact with his sons. A lot of things happen over the summer that lead to them bonding, but it soon becomes clear that Hunter wants Mac for his own. It all comes to a head when Hunter decides he is enlisting in the Marines. Carter, in a fit of rage, tosses Hunter out, and Mac follows him because she wants to make things right before Hunter goes.

I won't tell you any more but I will tell you that I've ordered the rest of this series and it should be here Tuesday. I am prepared to literally drop everything in my life to read these. Ha!

I'm giving this one a 4/5 stars and I'm only knocking it down because it was a bit slow. I honestly thought we'd have something major happening sooner in the book, but it was still a great book. The most conflicting part of this book is I found myself actually hoping that Mac (age 25) and Hunter (17) got together. You guys, I KNOW THIS WOULD BE ILLEGAL, so I felt terrible. And then OK with it, then terrible again. It's been a long time since a book has made me feel the full range of emotions, but this did it. Bravo.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Bubbles & Books - LUCAS

So this post is going to be two-fold because I'm going to talk about my first box from Bubbles & Books, and then I'm going to review the book I received in that box. Normally I'm not able to do that but this was a really short book so I finished it in just a few hours so you lucked out!

I heard about Bubbles & Books a few months ago as part of a round up of book subscription boxes and it caught my eye because it's focused on romance novels and instead of crappy swag I just throw out, this box mails bath related goods. In my first box I got a handmade bar of soap, which smells so good, a felt bookmark, a weird sponge thing, and then a perfume sample which was terrible. It was definitely how you would think an old lady would smell. But the book... I wasn't sure what to think about it. This box allows you to choose from three different romance genres: bad boy, paranormal, historical. I went with bad boy because I felt like paranormal can be really hit or miss and historical isn't always my jam. It's not that I won't read them, it just has to be a really interesting sounding story for me to commit. Frankly, there are thousands of books that fall into the bad boy romance so I thought for sure we'd get something amazing so when I saw this I was disappointed. I don't mind that it was only 148 pages, but it's clearly a self-published/indie book and I'm going to be a book snob here... but 75% of the books in that category aren't picked up by a major publisher for a reason. Are there exceptions to that? Yes. Absolutely yes and I've read a bunch of them. I'm saying an overwhelming majority is crap. This basically falls into it.

Lucas - Susan Fisher-Davis

Emily Walters needs help fast. Her ex-husband is being released from prison and Adam swore he’d never let her go. She knows he’ll come for her. Her only choice is one of the bad boys of Dry River, Lucas Taggart. Lucas raised a lot of hell when he was younger and never backed down from anyone. It's what Emily needs in a protector and a husband. She offers him half of her ranch in exchange for protection and marriage. Whispering Pines is one of the largest horse ranches in the States. Would it be enough to entice the brooding man? 

Lucas Taggart isn't interested in marriage but he is interested in Whispering Pines and when he looks into Emily’s eyes, he knows it wouldn't be a hardship being married to her, as long as it's a real marriage. 

When Adam shows up to claim the woman he still thinks of as his wife, will Lucas have to do the unthinkable to protect the woman he's come to love with all his heart? What happens if or when Adam is finally out of the picture? Will Emily still want Lucas around and will she ever return his love?


I'm going to start this review by saying this is 100% not a book I would see on a shelf, read the description, and put in my cart. I only read it because it came in my recent Bubbles & Books subscription. Secondly, this book is listed as "erotic romance" on the title page and I'm telling you it absolutely is not. Well, unless you consider the author insinuating the characters are having sex as filthy, then by all means. I've hardly read a more vanilla standard romance, so if you are going into these 148 pages looking for erotic romance you will be disappointed.

The premise of this book is Emily runs a successful ranch but has an ex-husband in prison set to be released soon. Instead of trusting the authorities to help her (because the ex-husband is just so rich, he buys them all off) she decides the best way to protect herself is to get married to a "bad boy". And by "bad boy", I'm talking a guy who was a little punk as a kid but turned into a decent, law abiding citizen. So she asks Lucas if he'd do this (he's not a total stranger, though- he helped her when she was a kid and fell off a horse but that was years prior and she's harbored a crush on him since, of course) and he agrees.

He AGREES on a damn whim. No, I take that back, he agrees knowing he'd own half of the ranch Emily owns.

Because every decent marriage is based on bribery.

So they get married but Lucas decides he wants it to be a real marriage for all intents and purposes, and Emily agrees, but she's no hussy- she wants to get to know him first before having sex. (Are you rolling your eyes yet? Just wait, it gets better!)

But WAIT, you guys! Ex-husband is out (Adam) and he's crazy as a loon, y'all! He's killing people left and right because nobody is going to take his Emily away! Instead of making his character really despicable and have him being physically abusive or something, turns out Adam is just mildly verbally abusive but basically a misogynistic pig. Emily is terrified of him though, hence Lucas. Lucas is a bad ass though, so he's going to save everyone.

I won't ruin it for you but know there's a happy ever after. But can I just talk about something that drove me NUTS when I was reading it? These people take a shit ton of naps. I have chronic fatigue, I understand being tired ALL of the time but this is over the top. Emily has a conversation, needs to lay down. She did payroll, need to lay down. Adam calls, need to lay down. Also, for someone who describes herself as self sufficient, she relies on Lucas a LOT. She can't even take one of her 375 naps without him. It's just too much. This entire book was laughably terrible. I don't even want to donate this book anywhere, I honestly want to toss it in the trash.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Goal

I had a lot of feelings going into this book, but it was so good that I honest to god hope there are more. I know- I'm that person who doesn't think everything should be a series, but I really love Elle Kennedy's writing and I love this series. I hate to see it end.

The Goal (Off-Campus 4) - Elle Kennedy 

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated...

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

I am just going to get picky and say this cover here? LOVE IT. The new cover featured below? Strongly don't like them. They aren't eye catching at all and the original covers should have stayed. I have three of the hot covers and now this one and ugh.. I hate it. Anyways.

OK! So this is an interesting book because though it is a stand alone, it's so much sweeter if you read the entire series in order because this book features the other guys and their gals quite a bit, I thought. It's John Tucker (goes by Tucker) and Sabrina's story, and if you have read the other books you know that Sabrina is a the bitch on campus. She's smart and knows it. She's gorgeous and she's bitchy. Just by looking at her you would assume "mean girl" but you'd be wrong. Turns out, Sabrina has a pretty awful home life. She lives with her grandma and stepfather, her mom up and left years ago. Stepfather is a disgusting pig who kind of leers at her all of the time and is almost always drunk. Grandma has no backbone, but is sleeping with the stepfather, and is kind mean to Sabrina. She drives an hour each way to campus and she excels at everything so she can get out of her situation. She avoids relationships partly because she doesn't have time for them but also she doesn't think she's deserving of anything good.

Enter Tucker. He's a good guy. He's maybe the best guy out of the bunch of them and he falls for Sabrina fast. He knows that patience is a virtue and that Sabrina needs to be handled with kid gloves... so he does. He's maybe the most patient male character you will ever find in any book because holy hell. It's well over a YEAR before she says she loves him and that's through a pregnancy.

Yup- Sabrina, fresh on the heels of being accepted into Harvard Law School, finds herself pregnant. It was the first encounter between her and Tucker and accidents happen, birth control fails, but she's devastated. She has to decide to keep it or not but she also wants to lean and depend on Tucker.. but is convinced by doing so she'll drive him away and he will end up resenting her. She's convinced she is ruining his life. Tucker sees it all differently- he's in love with her, ready to move to the next level or two with her, and wants nothing more than to be a dad.

The book is full of miscommunication and I actually kind of liked Sabrina. I really identified with her though I will say that I expected her to come around MUCH faster than she did. It was almost too much and I was getting a little annoyed with her myself. Overall? I really liked this one. I've really enjoyed this entire series, but if this really is the end, it went out on a good note. All of the characters are matured, ready to graduate college, and all go their own way. It feels like a fitting conclusion. But I'm going to just mention book 5 would be fantastic, and we could focus on Fitz's character. Just throwing that out there.

   

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dear Professor

This is one of the books I bought from the Bookworm Box shop and I bought it solely for the cover. Obviously.

Dear Professor - Blair Drake

Dear Professor,

Does it bother you that you’re ten years older than me?
Have you ever thought it’s wrong that you watched me fuck another guy on camera for months?
What do you want from me, really? All I wanted was my letter of recommendation, but now I’m stuck, aren’t I? Stuck under your thumb… And your body.
From cam girl to personal whore, and all by the age of twenty-one. You’ve got me good, haven’t you?
But guess what? I can play too. Grab the polish, because I’ve found your skeleton, and it's time to dust.
I’ll see you in class.
Oh and, Sir? I’m not wearing any panties.

Love, Darcy

P.s. you’re an asshole.

Aside from the fact this went through a shoddy editing process (lots of minor grammatical errors throughout), I kind of loved this book. I know it's getting just under 4 stars on Goodreads and normally that would be my cue to go to the next book but the cover was good so my gut was telling me to stick with it and I'm glad that I did.

Darcy is a senior in college who excels at all of her classes. Notably so. Her dream is to go to Harvard Law School and in order to apply she needs a letter of recommendation from all of her professors. Not an issue for them, they are happy to recommend her, but Professor Jordan Keaton isn't so quick.

Jordan is a bit of a pompous asshole. He knows he's good looking, but he's also highly intelligent, aloof, and nobody really knows the story with him. Jordan knows Darcy's secret though- she's a cam girl. She does live video of her masturbating, having sex with other partners, pretty much anything a viewer wants in exchange for money. It's how she is paying her way through college and potentially Harvard. As it turns out, Jordan is her number one fan and Darcy is horrified to find out he's the one behind the mysterious user name. Even more shocking is Jordan's ultimatum- either Darcy becomes his personal whore (basically) for the next six weeks OR he tells the college what she's doing on the side, kissing her chances at Harvard goodbye. In exchange, he'll write her the much needed recommendation letter.

Obviously she has no choice or other option, so she signs on the dotted line and that is how their very hot, very push and pull relationship begins. We find out why Darcy isn't looking for love, why Jordan is the way he is, will the college find out about their arrangement, and what happens when the two of them come together?

Overall? I'm actually giving this 4.5 stars. I know, it's pretty high and a lot of people are going to read this story and do a major eye roll. I liked it because it's reminiscent of Fifty Shades of Grey, but also Sylvia Day's Crossfire Series because we have the highly dominant male, in a position of power, and the seemingly dainty woman who turns out to be a spitfire capable to breaking through to the guy. It's a recipe for success and women like this story line for a reason- we all think we're capable of changing a man, aren't we? I flew through this in a day and I couldn't put it down. I kind of wish there was a bit more in the end, but overall I'm more than thrilled that this is not the start of a series, it's a one and done. THANK YOU for not turning this into a series. I'm so tired of authors doing that.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sara's Christmas Wish List

I know you were all anxiously awaiting this post- the list of magical items I would like to see under the tree. My husband keeps asking me for ideas and I swear, do you think I text images and links to you all year for no reason?!

Sigh.

Without further adieu, behold! The Wish List.

1. Back Scratcher. I know, this seems stupid but a bonus of diabetes insipidus is that I am forever dying of thirst and my skin is ridiculously dry. I can contort like the best of them but christ on a cracker, I just cannot get the middle of my back. You can't find these stupid things when you need one but I'll see them and forget about my need. This is a need.

2. Air Fryer. Anything that I can deep fry without a ton of grease I'm all about. God knows I don't have the dexterity to handle that but this I could do! It's the hot item this year. This and an Instant Pot, but I honestly don't get the deal with that and since I'm home all day I don't need one. But this? Would be amazing! 

3. KinderPerfect. We don't have friends to socialize with, but I'd seriously consider making some just so I could play this.

4. Hand Lettering Book. I always see people practicing this and I really want to try! It looks fun.

5. Dear Asshole. I feel like this is self explanatory.

6. Gift cards! I always ask for these because I like to shop, on my own, at night, and do it when I'm stressed. Unfortunately, it's hard to do when you're poor. But I like to shop at Kohl's, Maurices, Old Navy, Barnes & Noble (obviously), Amazon, Target, you know- mom basics.

7. Dumbells. One of my goals is to tone up what I can, maybe lose a little weight. My goal is 5 pounds next year.

8. Incumbent Bike! I used one of these in physical therapy and I did really well with it! He advised me to stick with this versus walking or running because it doesn't put as much stress on my back, but still gives me some cardio. I really liked it and I could totally put it in the basement. Or Matt could, let's be honest. HA!

9. Books!!! I can never ever have too many books. Don't even say it.

10. Sneakers. I've settled on always wearing sneakers. Anything else really hurts my feet, ankle, knee, and hip. Sigh. I am a fan of white shoes. I don't know why, just do.

I'm going to leave my list at an even number because that suits me. I could list things all day long. I heard there are Roomba's that will sweep AND mop your floor?! If that's a real thing, I need that. HA! Practical things like a toaster (white) and an electric can opener that is actually decent (because it's getting harder and harder for me to use the hand one) are good, too.

What do YOU want for Christmas?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Finally!! Some good news. And cream.

So you may remember back in September I went to Rheumatology for the first time and I felt like this doctor was nice but clearly thought I was crazy. She did a bunch of blood work which showed I'm fully out of whack and nothing makes sense.

No shocker there.

The most alarming thing was finding out that I might have antiphospholipid syndrome, which is a clotting disorder that's rare but dangerous. I checked off two of the three boxes, "significant event" (my AFE) and then a wonky blood test. The procedure is to wait approximately 12 weeks and test again, if you get two positives- ding ding ding- you are a clotting disaster waiting to happen. I have been on EDGE the last 12 weeks because that kind of thing is scary. On the other hand, I was kind of hoping I did have that because then I could maybe have a reason for my AFE and I wouldn't feel like I was a ticking time bomb. I've said this entire year that I'm not scared of a diagnosis, I'd rather know what is (good, bad, or ugly) because if I have a defined problem, I can fix it... or at least cope with it. The fear is walking around thinking I've got some other problem we don't know about, just waiting for another perfect storm to take me out like my AFE.

And maybe that doesn't seem rational or make any kind of sense to you, but it does to me.

This week I went back to rheumatology for a follow up and talk about my next step in regards to the Plaquenil that I'm apparently allergic to. I got a totally different feel from my doctor this time and I feel like she doesn't think I'm nuts, and that like all of my other doctors, she's intrigued by me because I'm a puzzle. I'm rare, I'm complicated, and nothing conventional really works because I have enough wrong with me that it changes things.

I'm a guinea pig everyone loves, basically. The class pet everyone is fighting over.

We do my exam, she orders a bunch of lab work, and decides my next stop is going to be Methotrexate and a Folic Acid supplement. I've heard a mixed bag of experiences with this so I'm worried, but I also want to feel better so that's winning over right now. I agree to give it a whirl and head over to the lab.

The lab is a nightmare. It's busy but my experience is that they move pretty quick so I wasn't worried. An hour into my wait I was starting to get worried. They finally call me back and I'm told they've got a student and am I OK with that? Oh sure. I'm fully supportive of students getting hands on experience so I can't remember ever turning them down. So as I'm sitting down I saw all of these vials on her counter and I said, "Wow- I'm glad I'm not that person!" and she looks confused, asks me to confirm my last name and date of birth and then says, "Oh these are for you! It won't be too bad."

Guys? It was 15 vials. FIFTEEN. My previous most was 12 I think, but 15? Good GOD.

Approximately six vials in she informs me that my vein has decided to stop all together. Nothing was working and after calling over the actual lab person for help, that person decided to just do my other arm because she didn't insert it correctly. Super. So she gets the other nine vials with no problem and did it really fast. I felt bad because it was almost 4 when I was leaving and there was still a room full of people waiting to be helped. Yikes.

But fast forward to my results!! You guys? I do NOT HAVE antiphospholipid syndrome! Woo Hoo!! I'm so excited to not have a "thing", you can't even imagine! On the other hand I'm a little disappointed I don't have to thing to point to and say, "maybe this is why I had an AFE!", but it's OK. That means I don't need more medication, and I can always get on board for that. Relief.

Oh but all good news has to be countered, right? So at my physical this month I spent a lot of time talking with my doctor about Mayo Clinic's suggestion for my estrogen replacement. They recommend I use an estrogen patch, progesterone supplement (to help maybe minimize the cancer risk of the patch), and then an estrogen cream because it's an added boost for your vagina and all of that.

She agrees I need to be on something and that this would be the route to go if I want to minimize migraines and daily headaches (I do), but there aren't a lot of studies that look at the long term effect of using such estrogen replacements at this age (35). Most studies focus on women in their 50's and beyond and it's "pretty safe". I'm taking a risk going this route at age 35, but the consequences of not replacing estrogen are pretty concrete and serious. So I decided I would do the replacements, hope for the best and never miss or put off a cancer screening, monitor my side effects carefully, and hope for the best.

Gulp.

Naturally, I had Matt pick up my prescriptions and I knew that the estrogen patches were going to be expensive. Those are around $82. My progesterone was around $60 (and that's SUPER important for me to take with all of this, absolutely NO missed doses) and I was surprised by that cost.

But the vagina cream? It's a tube of cream, you guys. It's not anything fancy.
$418!!! Can you even believe this?! It's like a tube of toothpaste and I need one gram twice a week. But this tube is $418!!!!! I can't even wrap my head around this.

I know what you're saying- "Sara, that's the retail price, what is it with insurance??". You guys, I pay 100% of my prescriptions until I hit my deductible, which is $4500 for me alone. So right now my monthly fee for prescriptions has exceeded $900 and that's assuming I don't refill everything. (Some stuff I don't use all of it in a month like my nausea pills and my migraine medicine, and the stuff I take to be alert and awake.) I will be paying almost more than my MORTGAGE for medications.

The hilarious part about all of this is that I used to laugh so hard at those commercials about dry and delicate vaginas because of menopause. Don't laugh, lambs. Dry and delicate vaginas are really horrible and you don't want to deal. Imagine a hundred tiny paper cuts in your vagina. It's like that. Brutal. This cream better make it like brand new for this price. Dang.

I guess the plus side is that now I have every hormone replacement taken care of. It's taken a year and it's not perfect, but it's something.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Break Me

I can't remember when it was but I ordered a couple of books from The Bookworm Box store, they offer various titles signed by the author for purchase. They were on sale and I figured I'd just grab a few shorter ones so I can play catch up with my Goodreads goal. This was one of them.

Break Me (TBX #1) - Ashley Christin

Returning back for the spring semester of college, Brealynn and her best friend, Kelsey, are ready to start a new chapter. 
After the loss of their mother, Pro BMX rider Colt Taylor and his brother, Parker, hope to rebuild their lives by concentrating on competitions. 

One night brings them together.
One night shatters it all.
Can they survive the break?

I guess the best way for me to start my review for this is buying telling you I have zero interest in the sequel, Kelsey and Parker's story. If you know me at all, you know that I am a sucker for a series and even when I'm not in love with a book, I will force myself through it and this is one of the very few times when I can say... I don't really care if I read the part two. Yikes.

The book centers around Brealynn, fresh off of a break up with high school boyfriend who turned out to be a complete douchebag, and Cole, a playboy BMX pro-rider, fresh from his mother's death. Unlikely duo but you know what happens- good girl hooks up with bad boy, both have terrible communication issues, she's a general moron, and he believes you can never ever love someone without it going to shit.

Sigh.

We've read this story so many times, haven't we? Change out the names and his career/hobby/whatever it is, and it could be any basic self published romance novel out there. My overall opinion is that it isn't well written. My friend Shirley (who has almost the same opinion I do on most books) said the dialogue is ridiculous and far fetched, and she's right. None of this is stuff you would say in real life. Would a girl ever say, "Breathe me in" in reference to letting her into his heart as he's pushing his penis into her vagina? No. No that would never happen, and if she did I would strongly suggest that guy run like hell and change his phone number. No normal girl will say that. Also, would a guy suggest a girl move in after what, a handful of weeks? No. Clinger alert! CLINGER ALERT!

At best I'm giving this one 2/5 stars. I didn't like Brealynn's character at all- she goes from clueless, insecure, bitchy and unreasonable all over the place. If I were Cole I'd honestly wonder if she was stable. Cole is better, but his hang up on his dad being a jerk thus making him incapable of loving a woman is bizarre and I wish authors would give this reasoning up. STOP IT. There are so many other reasons a person would be hung up on falling in love, use them.

Sigh.

I will say it's a rather fast read, but only because you're busy waiting for something exciting to happen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Check available storage space.

One of the most annoying messages I get on my stupid phone is the "check available storage" meaning my phone storage is full. Which, I don't understand it because I have less than 20 pictures, all my music is in the stupid cloud and I have hardly any apps.

Sigh. A problem for another day.

But it reminds me of how my brain works differently now. For the last year I have heard countless times that I only have so much working memory, so much space to put stuff into because once that's full, I'll start forgetting things. It's my brain's way of making room for new stuff, but it doesn't differentiate between stuff I need to keep and just useless stuff. I will be the first to tell you I am my harshest critic, I give myself no slack, no grace, and if you could hear the things I say to myself when I hit a road block- you would cry yourself to sleep.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, can put me down better than I can. I have done it for years, I am an absolute professional when it comes to being cruel to myself. I know my flaws before you do. I know my short comings, every reason I am a terrible person, daughter, wife, mom, friend, neighbor, etc. I can list a hundred things I should be doing better because frankly, there is no excuse not to. Brain injury? Stop being a baby. Physical limitations? You're being a pussy. You died? Yeah, everyone dies. BIG DEAL.

Trust me, I am far harder on myself than I should be, but it's the one thing that's remain the same. The only thing that makes me feel like me. It makes me feel like there's at least one thing that hasn't changed, that hasn't failed me.

I know it's messed up. I can't help it.

I've found that my inner voice is now coming out to people who don't deserve it. Well, I suppose sometimes they do and I've always tampered it down but that filter is fully gone now. I'm rude because my anxiety is through the roof and I just want to hurry up and get out of there as fast as I possibly can and go home. Then I get here and I wish I could leave because I feel like my spirit is dying more and more every day.

But the biggest thing I've noticed is my inability to give a damn. People tell me stories, things happening, whatever and I used to be able to care. Really care. I would think about what I could do to help, or how I could ease the burden for my friend, I'd bank the information so I can use it later as a random act of kindness. I could fake it better than any actress and it was OK because it made people feel good that someone was listening to them.

I can't do any of that anymore.

More than once I've had to tell people "Please stop talking. Really. I'm not listening, I don't care, I can't fill my head up with this crap.". I really don't mean to be rude, it feels like an act of self preservation at this point. I'm trying so hard to get my memory to improve, losing valuable information every day is terrifying. I want to be social but a lot of times I really can't. I just can't do it.

Cue feelings of guilt and anger, the internal voice describing all of the way I'm awful, and my depression deepens. I'm faking it every day. I'm trying really hard to keep it together. I'm grateful, I just can't keep everything afloat. I feel like I'm drowning for the sake of keeping everything else out of the water.

Honestly, I don't know if this is going to get better. I'm not hopeful. I'm doing the therapy. I'm taking the medications. I'm going to all of my appointments. I'm doing everything I need to be doing. It feels like it's all for nothing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Last Mile

I tried to read this one slowly because I did not want this series to end. I am surprised at how much I liked all of them.

Last Mile (Vicious Cycle #3) - Katie Ashley

After her father was murdered in the line of duty, ATF agent Samantha Vargas is determined to take down the scumbags of the drug trade. When her partner takes on a case to infiltrate the Hells Raiders MC, Samantha agrees to go undercover as his old lady but is surprised to find herself drawn to the very man she is investigating.

Benjamin “Bishop” Malloy has worked hard to carve a place for himself both in and out of the MC world. Working days as a mechanic, he spends his nights rebuilding motorcycles with the hope of one day owning his own shop. After taking one of the club’s new hang-arounds under his wing, Bishop is conflicted over his growing attraction for the man’s girlfriend.

Even though she’s determined to bring down the Raiders, Samantha discovers their world isn’t as black-and-white as she thought. And as the stakes grow higher, she’s in danger of losing more than her heart.

Every one of these books begins with some heart wrenching set up so you know why the characters are the way they are, the difference in this one is it actually starts with Sam, not Bishop. We know right away Sam doesn't like bikers (with good reason) so the fact she is able and willing to go undercover and assimilate into a MC is kind of a big deal for her personally. She isn't alone though, she goes in with her gay best friend/partner Gavin who poses as her boyfriend. Things don't go as planned and all at once Sam finds herself on this mission alone. Before she can dig the dirt on the MC, Sam learns that they actually are going legitimate, that Bishop isn't the bad guy she assumed he was, and that she is in far deeper than she wanted to be. It all comes to head when the MC gets raided on an anonymous tip, evidence is planted, and Sam finds herself trying to exonerate the MC. 

Alright, this books is fairly action packed, we see more deaths and almost deaths. Sam is... she's tough to like, if I'm being honest. Overall? This was my least favorite of the three books but it's still good enough to be 4/5 stars. I was so impressed with this new to me author that I already have some of her other books on my Christmas wish list. She's my author to watch. If you're looking for a Christmas gift for the reader in your life that likes bad boy romance, this would be a great option.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Close Contact

I am on a romance kick right now it seems, but anytime I get the chance to read Lori Foster, I jump on it because she's a favorite of mine. The great thing about short term memory loss is I don't remember books like I used to so she is one that I read and re-read multiple times and I love them every time. This one won't be any different.

Close Contact - Lori Foster

MMA fighter Miles Dartman’s casual arrangement with personal shopper Maxi Nevar would be many men’s fantasy. She seeks him out, they have mindblowing sex, she leaves. Rinse, repeat. Yet lately, Miles wants more. And when Maxi requests his services via the Body Armor security agency, he’s ready to finally break through her defenses—and protect her day and night.


Receiving a large inheritance has brought chaos and uncertainty into Maxi’s life. Her ex has resurfaced, along with lots of former “friends,” and someone is making mysterious threats. Then there’s Miles, who doesn’t ask for anything…except her trust. Pleasure is easy. Now Maxi has to give her heart as well as her body…or risk losing a man who could be everything she needs.



I'm going to tell you that though this is book three in the Body Armor series, this is absolutely a stand alone. We see the other Body Armor guys (and their girlfriends) but this story is all about Miles and Maxi. Miles and Maxi were at one time, a casual fling. They met up three times and that's all it took for each of them to feel the impact of the other. Maxi up and disappeared without explaining to Miles her situation, and Miles had no way of contacting her. Lo and behold, Maxi shows up in the Body Armor offices in need of a bodyguard, and she went there because she knew that's where she would find Miles- the only guy she trusts. Maxi recently inherited her grandmother's farmhouse and since then, odd things have been happening. All of that was nothing compared to the time she woke up in the gravel near the pond on her property and had no idea how she had gotten there. She learns she was clearly drugged, but the fact someone did that to her and was in her secluded farmhouse, was enough for her to admit she had a larger problem on her hands.

Enter Miles. Miles wants to reluctantly take the case but he knows he would never leave Maxi and her problems to anyone else. He wanted her, and if this was how to do it? So be it. Miles moves in as her bodyguard and immediately assimilates into farm life with her. They live like an actual couple and no surprise, they are both really terrible with communication. Ha!

As he's protecting Maxi, he's looking around and trying to figure who is putting Maxi at risk. We meet some town people, including her unassuming neighbor Woody and the local cop, Fletcher. Fletcher is kind of an odd duck with plenty of means, but what's his motive? Maxi has awful siblings who want her to sell the farmhouse and land and give a portion of the proceeds to them so they can pay their legal bills, but Maxi doesn't want to budge. She has a loser ex-fiance and her first boyfriend is an even larger deadbeat, believe it or not. Lots of potentials- so who can it be?

I'm usually really good at figuring it out but I didn't! Of course looking back all of the signs were there. Overall? I really loved this book. I loved Miles and Maxi as a couple and how they do this little dance throughout the book, they've crossed the professional line but can Miles convince her he's there to stay? Can Maxi get over her past relationship mistakes and trust Miles' true intentions? You'll have to read it to find out. I highly recommend this. If you like romance with a little suspense, this is your next read! 



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bookworm Box and... Uppercase!

If you know anything about me, you know that I love happy mail. I don't care if it comes as a surprise or I mail it to myself, but I love it. Anything to break up the daily pile of bills and crap I don't know why companies waste their money to send. Surely they'd be far more profitable to not send me the exact same offers four times a week.

Anyways.

I've been eyeing up the Uppercase box for some time now and finally, I got an email with a discount for your first box. (You also know that I love a good deal.) So I signed up for it, but also ordered a few things from past boxes in their store, and I actually forgot all about it.

Until it showed up and it was exciting because YAY! It's happy mail!

So here is what I got:
The book this month is Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne, and I'll be honest- it's not one I'd even pick up to read the back cover description.  Then I went onto Goodreads to see what it's about and yeah... I'm not impressed at all. I paged through it and I'm not sure I'm even going to read it anytime soon. I have so many other interesting books on my shelf, so this one might get donated to a school. Surely some kid will love it.
Here is the little card included in my package detailing what I got. The only thing I really loved was the Moby Dick notebook. I don't need another notebook to save my life, but it was kind of cool and fits in my purse so I put it in my drawer for future use. The neat thing about Uppercase is that you get a bookmark with read along opportunities, so you read to a specific page and can discuss with others reading the same book and you don't have to worry about spoilers because you're with the people who are at the same spot as you.

To be honest? I'm going to cancel this box. I tried it, didn't love it.

So then a few days later I got my Bookworm Box, which is a box that traditionally has always had great books. I can only remember one, maybe two boxes in a couple of years that I didn't love. The swag you get is kind of lame (unless you love pens, bookmarks, and random pins or magnets), except for the one month we got insulated cups! Those were hands down, the best ever. 
They have recently gone back to offering a two book box subscription so I obviously signed up for that because my favorite thing about this box was always that we got two books, and this was the first month that was put into motion. In our box this month was a small notebook, a Bookworm Box ornament (like, really? Do you really think I want a Bookworm Box ornament? Garbage.), a bookmark, and a pin. Which I tossed because where would I wear that? Nowhere.

But let's talk about the books. We got Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel and Whisper If You Need Me by Dina Silver. If you are a long time reader you'll remember that I have already read and reviewed Whisper If You Need Me, which you can read HERE. I really liked it even though the first part was kind of boring, but the rest of it I liked. I've read a few more from Dina Silver and she's pretty good. So that book is being mailed to someone who has a kiddo who might like to read it.

I knew going in to the two book box I might get a duplicate (they said so in their live Facebook video) but I figured because I had such a long span between my cancelled subscription and my renewal that I might not. Well, I did. So this month kind of sucks, but I remain confident the rest will be interesting.

So because I cancelled Uppercase, I have something in my fun money to do something new! So that means I'm going to try Bubbles & Books, because this you can customize a little more. AND it's only $24 a month, so it's a little cheaper. My issue is you can choose from three boxes - paranormal, bad boy, or swept away. I CAN'T CHOOSE. No, that's not true. I'll cross out swept away because historical romance isn't my favorite. But now I'm down to two and I am having a really hard time deciding.

I'll keep you updated.