Sunday, December 31, 2017


Oh lambs... this is book 104 of my Goodreads challenge!!! My goal was 100, I clearly spanked it, so next year I'm going to shoot for 105. Crazy pants!

Cage - Harper Sloan

Greg Cage was born to protect. While growing up, he was his mother and sister’s shield against the world… until he failed. For the last decade, he has carried that guilt and need for vengeance around… until it was stripped from him. Now, with his best friend getting married and no longer needing his protection, he is even more lost, completely adrift, and desperate for some control. All he has ever known was how to protect: his family, his friends, and his country. Can he go against everything he has ever known, and give up that control?

Melissa Larson will never let anyone hold the reins in her life. She has been the rock in her family for more years than she can remember, and the fight to keep them together is her main priority right now. She has always been fiercely independent and proud. The last thing she will ever do is ask for someone else’s help. But when that choice is out of her control, forcing her to rely on others to save her and her family, and pick up the pieces that are left, will she be able to let someone else be her strength?

The second Greg locks eyes with Meli, he knows that she is someone he needs. Someone he craves. Meli knew the second she met Greg that he would be nothing but trouble and heartache. Her life takes an unexpected turn, and that bitch Fate is back to wreak more havoc on another member of the Corps family.

All hell breaks loose, leaving Greg no choice but to call in a favor. He hooks back up with his old friend Braxxon Breaker from the Breakneck MC. Together, they make sure that nothing threatens anyone Greg loves again.

Let's just say right out of the gate I'm giving a solid 4/5 stars. I'm itching so badly to give one of these books a full 5, and I'm going to guess that will happen when I get to Locke's book.

I really liked Greg Cage in the first book, AXEL, so I was pretty excited he was the next book, it felt like a logical step. In this one we have Cage meeting a nurse, Melissa, and it's basically love at first sight for him, but she has vowed to never let a man in. The connection between these two is that each of their sisters were caught up in the same guy and they both ended up dead. Once Cage makes that connection he thinks it would send Melissa running so he doesn't say anything right away. That catches up with him, we have drama with her sister's ex-mother in law, we have Cage's ex-girlfriend who is fifty shades of CRAZY, and then we have an introduction to some kind of career criminal, who I'm oddly hoping is a catalyst for another series. It's just a LOT going on in this book but I felt like that was more entertaining than the first book where I kept wishing something would happen. A lot happens in here. Which is easily my favorite part of the book. Also? Cage's dick piercings. Oh my. I had to Google an image and yeah... that's really something.

Things that were meh about the book? Melissa is kind of irrational. She flies off into despair over everything. Everything is a crisis worthy of being sedated to get through it. It's just really unrealistic. And Cage constantly saying the word "baby" was enough to make me scream. I felt like I should have kept count but I'm glad I didn't because that alone would make me knock it down a star. Can I just say though, that when Cage would say, "I need you to say the words" in order to get a concrete answer from Melissa, that was kind of hot. I really liked that even though I thought maybe I wouldn't, turns out I do.

So far, I'm really enjoying this series. I think I have purchased the rest of them now so I'll be working my way through them soon!

The end of the worst year of my life.

I know I said last year was the worst year of my life, but that's not true. If anything it really was the best year. Sure, I died and that's not ideal, but I saw the kindness of so many people, people who knew me and even more who didn't and it's hard to not be buoyed by that. My family was completed with Lucy's birth. So many good things happened in 2016 that I can't call it my worst year.

2017 grabbed that title easily. Here's why:

  • I started the year off with my first suicide attempt. It wasn't real serious, it was more of a trial run with messing with medications just to see what would happen. I ended up in the ER and back home in a few hours, but I felt awful for weeks. 
  • I thought 2016 was my rock bottom with depression and that wasn't true. 2017 wanted me to hold it's beer and show me how it's really done. I have never in my life gone through the harrowing moments I did this year. I suffer mostly in silence because I'm scared what people will think when I tell them what's going through my head. Instead, I mostly cry in the shower as every horrible thought goes through my head like a movie reel I can't stop. 
  • I tried so many medications to improve my mental health and I finally understand when people say the side effects are almost worst than the illness itself. I have dealt with bugs crawling on me, electronic shocks all over my body, numbness in all of my limbs, shooting pain down my limbs, the worst migraines of my life, stomach pains that rivaled labor contractions, and uncontrollable thoughts. 
  • In the spring I stood at Enger Tower and stood with my arms outstretched on the edge of the cliff. I just felt the wind going through my fingers and voice telling me to do it. It was the most liberating, and most terrifying, feeling I have ever felt in my life. 
  • I realized just how disabled I am. Sure, there are lots of things I can still do, but a lot of the things that made me like myself are things I can no longer do. I am learning that I never learned to love myself for myself and if I'm not doing something perfectly, it's OK. If I'm not the best, the quietest, the most organized, the over achiever, it's OK. It doesn't feel OK. I'm just a regular nobody if I'm not over achieving. 
  • I had more panic attacks than I want to admit. More outbursts that scared my children and Matt. I learned that PTSD isn't a joke and it doesn't care how much therapy you do, it will always find you. I have spent more days crying in my dark closet than I have doing something I enjoy. I don't enjoy anything anymore.
  • In November it was everything I could do to not pull over on the Blatnik Bridge and get out. I felt like I actually had no control over it. The only thing keeping me here is guilt and I'm sick of feeling guilty about everything. I just want peace. 
  • I have sat in parking garages of the hospital and sobbed because I'm sick of being diagnosed with another thing. I'm sick of feeling like every ache or pain is a larger ailment, that I'm falling apart and I have no control over it. I am sick of people looking at me and feeling sorry for me. I'm sick of people assuming I'm fine because I "look good" when inside I'm constantly looking for a way out of life. 
With all of that, it's not hard to think that 2018 has to be better. Just statistically, a single person can't have continuous awfulness, right? I mean, it has to surely end sometime. So let's talk about my goals for 2018. I no longer have resolutions, I'm giving myself goals. 
  • Lose 5 pounds. Seems easy and lame but it's going to be everything in me to lose that given all of my health issues and restrictions. I'm going to try though. 
  • Do a boudoir shoot. I feel like I'm at the most disgusting physical state that I have ever been in and every time I look in the mirror I cry at how wrecked my body is, it's been to actual hell and back and I hate every inch of it. Seems logical to do this photo shoot, right? I figure maybe someday I can do another one and it'll be an improvement. 
  • Do a regression therapy session. I feel like I really need to go back to my trauma and see it happen. I am hopeful, I am terrified, I am every range of emotion. I worry that my emotional state will be worse afterwards but honestly, what do I have to lose at this point? 
  • Do one fun mini trip with my kids and Matt. Last year we did Florida and that's not happening this year, but I'd like to do something with them. 
  • Find a medication cocktail that actually works and that I can afford. 
  • Go to a concert. I have two on deck for next year, but I'd like to find two more. 
  • Read 105 books. 
  • Plan a 15th anniversary trip with Matt for 2019. Just us, no kids. 
  • Finish my book. I am half way through it and I'm finding I need to take large breaks between writing sessions because I am an emotional mess. 
  • Do a random act of kindness every month. One of things that used to give me joy is spreading kindness, doing something nice just because for someone. I've started on that this month already but I am running on the theory that if I do it more, it'll bring more joy. We'll see. 
I hope 2018 is kinder to you as well. I know we all have problems. People are out there dying and they don't want to, and I'm over here wishing I was dead. I understand the absurdity of that. It is what it is. These are the cards I was given, I'm shuffling them and dealing them out as many different ways as I can and I'm trying. Nobody can say I'm not trying. God speed, lambs. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

One Pink Line

You guys.. this is book 103 for the year!! How many more can I finish?? We'll have to see.

This one came in one of my Bookworm Boxes months ago and I've read another book by this author and it was pretty OK so I figured I'd probably like this one, too. And I did but for different reasons.

One Pink Line - Dina Silver

Can the love of a lifetime be forever changed by one pink line? Dina Silver's tender, absorbing novel, One Pink Line, is a warmhearted, wry story of love, loss and family, as seen through the prism of one singular, spirited young couple who find themselves in a predicament that changes the course of their lives, and those closest to them. With heart, humor and compassion, this debut work of women's fiction is certain to stir anyone who relishes a good laugh, can stand a good cry, and, above all believes in the redemptive power of love.

This unique, contemporary story gives readers a dual perspective. Sydney Shephard, a sweet-tempered, strong-natured college senior is young, in love with an exceptional man, and unexpectedly pregnant. Faced with a child she never planned for, she is forced to relay this news to her neurotic mother, relinquish her youth, and risk losing the love of her life. Then there's Grace, a daughter, who believed she was a product of this great love, grows to realize her existence is not what she assumed, and is left with profound and puzzling questions about who she really is.

Spanning generations and every imaginable emotion, One Pink Line reveals how two points of view can be dramatically at odds, and perhaps ultimately reconciled. Simultaneously deeply felt and lighthearted, One Pink Line deftly mines how the choices we make are able to alter so many lives, and how doing the right thing and living honestly can bring unexpected, hard-won happiness. It's a must-read for anyone who craves a great love story, absorbing characters, and plenty of laughs along the way.

I feel like I should mention I'm kind of at war on whether to bill this as romance, contemporary romance, or chick-lit. It's a little bit of everything and I feel like the main story isn't really Sydney and Ethan, it's Sydney and her daughter Grace. But Ethan is important too, so... it's a toss up. 

In this story we have Sydney, living up her high school years pining over a boy who doesn't know her from a hole in the wall. She meets Ethan, who clearly has been pining over her, and they quickly fall in love. Sydney is constantly surprised at Ethan's dedication, his logic, his calm personality, and even though they go to different colleges, they maintain the long distance relationship. Until Sydney gets restless once she knows Ethan is graduating and taking a job in a different city and won't be able to come home like he used to, so she decides maybe she doesn't want to be tied down. Her childish decision lands her with a one night stand with a friend, she ends up pregnant, the dad abandons her, and she makes big decisions for herself.

She goes on to have the child, her and Ethan slowly reconnect, and surprisingly- he doesn't hate her. He wants to be involved in everything but she doesn't want him to feel obligated now that she's a package deal. The story flip flops from all of these dramatic years to present day when Grace (the baby Sydney had) learns that her dad (Ethan) is not really her dad. She starts asking questions and becomes flat out hostile to her mother. I actually felt like Sydney should have set that girl straight from the word go about what a loser her sperm donor was and how she should be appreciative that Ethan loves her like she's biologically his. All of the questions get answered, and though I almost gave up on the book, I'm glad I finished it.

Overall I'm giving this one 3/5 stars because it wasn't awful but I really wanted more romance since that's the kick I'm on, and this wasn't really that. Overall the story was good but I fear college age girls would read this and get their hopes up because let's face it, 9 out of 10 boys are jerks and wouldn't stick around like Ethan and take it all in stride.

The Wildwater Walking Club

I'm almost embarrassed to admit how long this one has been on my to-be-read shelf.... since 2010ish. I know, it's embarrassing and Matt would maybe have a stroke if he knew that, but to be fair, I got it on a major sale so that makes it better in my reasoning.


I picked this up because it was right around the time that I was starting to really try to lose weight and if you're a long time reader of this blog you might remember my love/hate relationship with the fuckmill... the name I so lovingly gave my treadmill. It seemed only fitting that I pick it up now because I'm trying to get back into that motivational spot I was in. Trying.

The Wildwater Walking Club - Claire Cook
After losing her boyfriend and her job in one fell swoop, Noreen has no idea what her next step is. So she puts on a new pair of sneakers and a seriously outdated pair of exercise pants, and walks. Before long she's joined by two neighbors as lost as she is and figures out time flies and fitness is actually fun when you're walking with friends. Throw in a road trip to Seattle for a lavender festival, a career-coaching group that looks like a bad sequel to The Breakfast Club, some terrific romantic comedy twists and turns, a quirky multigenerational cast of supporting characters, and the result is a tribute to female friendship that will inspire you to pick up the phone and call all your old friends--or maybe even start your own walking group.
Alright, from the book description alone, this book sounds intriguing. I'm going to be upfront and wish that there was more between Noreen and her loser boyfriend, I think that would have really made the book a better read for me. I'll just toss that out upfront. The book centers primarily around Noreen, freshly unemployed and dumped, she is a gal "of a certain age" so it isn't like she's got a spring in her step (you see what I did there??), she isn't that fresh face anymore. Though her resume is spectacular, she doesn't know who she is outside of that piece of paper so she's using her 18 months of paid unemployment to do that. Her last (and only) act of rebellion is to purchase a bunch of shoes from the company who unceremoniously kicked her out and decides she may as well put them to good use. She meets two neighbors who not only offer to help her with a clothesline and lavender garden, but they go on these walks with her. All of the women are at different stages of their lives but all are at a crossroads of sorts, and that's basically all they have in common. None of the women seem to actually like each other so, from my own experience with walking groups, if you don't like the people it isn't going to last. It's really like dating, I give you one shot, that's it.

Aside from the three women not liking each other (or so it seems), I didn't like Noreen's attitude towards her mother, and I could NOT stand Tess. I know it's billed as fast an easy read, and I suppose it would be but I had a hard time picking it back up to keep continuing. Put it this way, it doesn't make me eager to find the next book (I guess it's a two book series??) or anything else by this author. It's going in my donate pile. It was.. 2/5 stars. I didn't hate it but I definitely didn't love it, it was just blah.

Also? If you're keeping tabs- this is book 102 of the year for me. Two over my goal!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Reliving trauma.

One of the things I had never understood with PTSD victims is when they would discuss "reliving trauma" and how small things can be big triggers. I didn't fully understand what a trigger is or why it's a big deal.

Until now.

I totally get it. For the last year that I've been in therapy I have been told that eventually I'll learn what my triggers are, but that doesn't mean I won't add to that list, and some things might end up being OK in time. It all seemed really vague and I don't really do well with vague. Give me a concrete answer, a list of tasks to complete, that I can work with. Maybe that's been my problem this entire time- I know that I'll never be the me I was before Lucy, that ship has sailed without me on it, so what am I working towards? How will I know I have gone as far as I'm going to? Where is the finish line?

Nobody knows.

It's frustrating and I get so angry when I try to give myself some end goals, things I want to work towards. I spent my whole life perfecting myself and getting to a point where I was happy. Remember when I went through my weight loss and running phase? That was always something I was going to do again, after I was done with babies. I was looking forward to it, oddly enough. I can't do that now because I have serious issues to contend with now that I make no cortisol, I can't take enough synthetic in fast enough to compensate the stress that running would do. So what do I do in place of it? Remember when I was doing more for myself in terms of self care? I was going to concerts, going on trips with friends, taking the kids on adventures... a lot of that is gone too. Well, I can do them but I can't do them alone. The days of me driving to Chicago on a whim? All night road trip? That's all gone. It's hard because a lot of the things that brought my joy are no longer reasonable options for me. I have to find new things that bring me joy.

You know what's strange? You know how in the book Me Before You where the character wants to die because he's paralyzed and only thinks of the things he can't do and doesn't want to find new things? He knows that the new things, while they might be OK, they aren't like the old things he loved and he won't get the rush from them like he used to- and that's what he misses. Not the activity itself but the way it made him feel? So he arranges his suicide and that's the story. That's how I feel. I'm not at arranged suicide level but I finally understand his point of view. I could never imagine how a person feels when they get to the point of wanting to be done. I used to always think it was such a selfish act but now that I'm in it, I'm swimming in those waters, I finally understand that it has nothing to do with anyone else. It's really a battle against our own brains. Sure, we can "reach out for help" but for what? So people can tell us all the reasons why we're great and that they'd miss us? What if that isn't enough to keep us here? Do you think that we don't know all of this? Forgive me if I don't reach out to be lectured. The voice inside of my head is loud enough, I don't need it on the outside too.

My psychiatrist said an interesting thing at my recent appointment, "if you wanted to be dead, you would have already done it" - is that true? Is that really the litmus test for that? I'm not sure. I've thought about it a lot and I don't know that I agree. I think I've thought so much about it, I'm very much that person who wants to be sure. So I keep going to doctors, I keep trying to find solutions and fixes, ways to cope with all of this, because I really just want them to say, "We've done everything that we can, this is really it" and then I'd be done. I'm starting to suspect they all know that and are purposely telling me we have lots of things yet to try.

At my last therapy appointment I was challenged to write Lucy's birth story, involving not just the narrative I've been given, but incorporating much more detail. Think about the event from all angles and maybe I'd remember something. Anything. How do I think I was feeling being rolled into a c-section I didn't want? Do I remember a smell? Lights? What was it like holding Lucy? Was I scared to not remember? What did the nurses think? Did I say anything to them? How long was I really dead? What is every single medical event on the timeline?

All of this feels really challenging. A rational part of me says that my memory blocks things out for a reason, that maybe I shouldn't press into this, that maybe I'm not emotionally able to handle it. Then I feel defiant because I'll be damned if someone tells me what to do. So I've reached out to all of the medical personnel that I can think of. I know they have gone over this with me a hundred times but I can't help it, I have to hear it again.

In the meantime, I'm going through the records I requested from the hospital again and man... it's traumatic. I have read these maybe 15 times, nothing in this is new to me but every time I read it I feel panic rising in my chest and I don't know if I'm remembering the fear of the event again, but it is scary.

Another thing I'm going to reluctantly try? Regression therapy. I heard about it in Steph Arnold's book 37 Seconds, she really had a hard time connecting with her AFE event because she couldn't see it happening. Which is exactly how I feel. As traumatic as it would have been, I wish I had more pictures, or video, to look at so I can wrap my head around it. The few that I do have don't even look or feel like me. It feels like I'm looking at someone else. It's strange. I've reached out to someone near me that thinks he can do it and I'm scared. I feel like I need to do it but I'm scared.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Saving Grace

I am so stinking excited that I have finished my 2017 Goodreads Challenge of 100 books, and even more awesome? This was book 101!

A Saving Grace (Free At Last #3) - Annie Stone
After a grave injury Hunter is in a bad state. He can’t see the light anymore. Mackenzie can’t accept this and sends him a reason to live. With love and determination Hunter approves, but will life ever be the same again? 

I am really torn on this book. On one hand I am so glad I got through the trilogy, and that Hunter and Mac end up together. We all know that this is what the three book buildup was for. On the other hand, they have a LOT of issues that don't get addressed in this book and honestly, I was kind of wondering if this relationship should even happen. If you are an abuse counselor or therapist you will have all kinds of alarm bells ringing with this trilogy.

Alright, this book finds us with Mac, parenting little Hazel who is now around three years old, and Hunter, off doing the war hero thing. (Oh! Let me just throw in here a little note about the time line in this book- it is bizarre. You feel like you're reading about events fairly close in time but no, it's like three years. Never mind that makes this entire weird relationship between five and seven years and you're like, get off the pot, yall.) Anyways. On his way back to America, the convoy he's in is attacked in a surprise ambush and Hunter is seriously injured. Unable to get to America in that condition, he's sent to Germany to have his multiple surgeries and recover. In Germany they notify his next of kin (his brother Casey), who has been living with Mac and Hazel all this time as friends, so he sends Mac to Germany, convinced it'll be this amazing love story ending.

Except it isn't. Hunter isn't at all the same person, war changes someone, and he's become angry and hard. Once he learns the extent of his injuries he's dangerously angry, depressed, and suicidal. Seeing Mac only amps all of those feelings and she decides she's going to win him over with a blow job! (I know, this is as ridiculous reading it as it is me talking about it.) Anyways, so that's bad so she goes back to San Diego, dejected, and still hasn't told Hunter about his damn daughter. Fast forward to him coming to Virginia for the rest of his recovery and rehab, so Casey and Mac decide to temporarily live in Virginia, determined to win him over. Hunter finds out about his daughter, has all of the feels for her, and Mac because he's angry at her but feels like a jerk for abandoning her when she clearly needed him. Reluctantly they go forward with a bizarre relationship.

I'm only giving this book 3/5 stars because while I'm glad we've got the whole happy ending thing, there are so many red flags in this book that I'm uncomfortable giving it a higher rating. So we have Mac, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, now in a highly dominant relationship with a man who readily says he's going to use her how he wants, when he wants, and an orgasm for her is a gift? Oh hell no, asshole. While giving him a blow job he pushes her head onto him to the point where she's struggling and at the end has tears in her eyes? NOPE. I think the draw for Mac to Hunter was that he was kind, and caring, a soft spot to land, but he's become harsh, unkind, domineering, and a "take it or leave it" kind of guy. I just don't see how this would work in real life.Oh well. Overall the series was a fast read and I would recommend it.


A Losing Battle

I just want to say that this is the 100th book I read and reviewed in 2017! This one officially closes out my Goodreads Challenge, but I'm going to give you a teaser- I surpassed it. HA! I'll review those later, but let's start with this one.

A Losing Battle (Free At Last #2) - Annie Stone

Hunter has left home to join the Marine Corps, leaving Mackenzie behind, confused and unsure about her feelings. She loves Carter, she really, really does, but could there be a spark between her and Hunter, as well?

Mackenzie does the only thing she can in the circumstances: she buries her conflicting emotions in her work. But when she sees Hunter again, she knows the time for a decision has come.

Little does she know, time is running out for the both of them.

I reviewed the first book earlier this month and I told you I was hesitant to keep reading it because it had a weird premise- Mackenzie (Mac) was dating Carter, but Carter's 17 year old son Hunter was falling in love with her. He turns 18, shares his feelings, she's torn, and he's joined the military and left her there. It's kind of odd and just felt a little wrong, but still, I was intrigued enough to keep going so I promptly ordered book two and three. 

Book two of the Free at Last series finds Hunter excelling during his time in the Marines, going through all of the training he can in the hopes of becoming one of the elite members, like top tier Marine. His motivation to get through the grueling BUD/S "hell week" was Mac- he thinks about her constantly and wants her to be proud of him and his achievements. It honestly feels like a really warped mommy issue thing since his mom is not great and out of the picture. But eventually Hunter gets a much needed break and comes back. It's hard because he cut off communication to and from Mac but also his brother Casey, so he has no idea that Mac and Carter's relationship is falling apart quickly, and he has no idea how lonely and sad Mac is without him around. His quick visit includes them having sex for the first time, it's everything amazing and more, and then Mac makes the DUMBEST CHOICE EVER, and when Carter finds the two of them? Let's just say it doesn't go well, Hunter leaves angry, and Mac is devastated. 

The book ends with Mac having a baby, Hunter's baby, but she has no idea if he knows about her because she's written letters and emails but with no response. She knows he has gone to Afghanistan to fight so she worries endlessly and places all of the guilt of a potential injury or his death on herself. She feels like she drove him to go and in a way, she did.

I am SO GLAD I had already purchased book three because I had to rip right into it as soon as I finished this! I'm giving this one a 4.5/5 stars. I'm dropping it down a notch because Mac is kind of annoying in this one and I feel like she should have and could have tried harder to get through to Hunter but what do I know?


Friday, December 22, 2017

Cowboy's Legacy

I've read another book in the Cahill Ranch series and I remember I liked it, so when I got the chance to review another one, I jumped for it.

Cowboy's Legacy - B.J. Daniels
After a rocky marriage and even rockier divorce, Sheriff Flint Cahill finally has something good in his life again. Maggie Thompson's down-to-earth charm and beautiful smile hooked him from the start. When she disappears on the day they plan to start their lives together, all signs point to abduction- and his ex-wife. 

Functioning on adrenaline and instinct, Flint must call on his every resource to bring Maggie home before it's too late. His past and future are blurred. Maggie's only chance at surviving her abductor and a raging winter storm depends on an old vendetta that could destroy it all. But the Cahills don't give up easily, and flint's love will have to be strong enough to conquer anything, including the unimaginable. 
I'm giving this... a solid four stars, let's just get that out of the way. If you like romantic suspense, and are a fan of Karen Robards, Linda Howard, and maybe even a little Nora Roberts when she dabbles in suspense, then you will like this one. Though it's the third book in the Cahill Ranch series, it is a stand alone so not reading the previous two isn't going to be an issue.

So in this book we have Flint, Sheriff with a crazy as a loon ex-wife. It's believed she's stalking, harassing, and intimidating his new love interest, Maggie. Nothing anyone can prove so she's not gotten in trouble for any of it, but she adamantly denies any involvement. Things go from minor to dangerous the day that Maggie impulsively agrees to move in with Flint and ends up abducted. Before things get too crazy, we also learn of another woman who was thought to be murdered by her husband but it turns out that she ran away, assumed another identity, but has now vanished for real this time. Are the two disappearances related?

Let's dig in to the good and the not so great. First, this book was interesting because while it is a romance, and Maggie and Flint's relationship is the point and we see it develop, it develops with them apart. For most of the book. So it's interesting to see a relationship get stronger considering the situation, I really can't think of another book where I've encountered that. I do have to mention that the suspense aspect of this book is really pretty great, I had no idea what was going on, how the web all connected things, I couldn't see the larger picture, so as I got to the end it all unraveled really well and that made this a pretty hard book to put down, so bravo there. I also want to point out it does have a Christmas feel to it, so it feels weird to recommend a book about abductions as a good holiday read, but I'm doing it, guys. The only reason I'm not giving this a 5 star is... I kind of couldn't stand Maggie. I know! It's kind of an unpopular opinion but right away she rubbed me wrong. She comes off as annoying and hard to like, she overthinks everything, she obsesses over minor things, she wants to marry Flint but doesn't want to move in because it's a big step... it just felt odd. I also thought it was odd that we have a woman who has no interest in delving into Flint's past and finding out what worked and what didn't in his previous marriage, and also no interest in sharing anything from her past- how was that really going to work out long term? Honestly if she was just a little less frustrating and conflicted I would have given this 5 stars because the suspense made it worth reading.

Happy reading, lambs! Are you following me on Goodreads? If you are then you know my goal was to read and review 100 books this year... I am ONE away. Will I do it by December 31? Psh- of course I will. Come on now. Do you have reading goals? Are you making any for 2018? I think I'm going to stick with my 100 again. Maybe I'll say 105? That feels a bit crazy though. I don't know. We'll see!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bertyl: I just want to belong

One of the habits I picked up years ago was to clear your desk before the end of the year. I had a boss who wasn't superstitious, but this was something she was adamant that we all clear our desks off, finish all of the tasks, you want to go into the new year on a clean slate. I haven't worked for her in years but it's still something I think about this last week of December every year. In that spirit, I'm going through my desk and basket, throwing things out, filing them away, finishing up everything possible. Hidden in my basket was this gem of a book, with my notes on a sticky note, all ready for me to review on here for you, I just never did it. So here we are.

Bertyl: I Just Want To Belong - Sandra Dobozi
How can Bertyl fit in? Bertyl is a charming adventure story written in rhyme about a sweet little turtle searching for his identity. When Bertyl is born he becomes a beloved surprise to his family. But Bertyl wonders why he is different and doesn't look like other turtles. Beryl's loving family and wise friends help him understand that "We all fit in and we all belong." This charming, wise tale reassures readers that we're each exactly right, just the way we are.
I am such a sucker for children's literature, it just holds a special place in my heart because every children's book is the potential catalyst for a lifelong reader. I really love books that naturally give you questions to ask a child about the book, it makes reading more of an experience. In this book we read about Bertyl, a little turtle who was born with no color. Bertyl is pretty sad about this, wants to look like her parents, so she goes on this mission to get color. It becomes clear (see what I did there? Bertyl is a clear turtle... I crack myself up. HA!) that it isn't about looking like everyone else to fit in but rather fitting in just the way you are. Finding friends who will like you for your imperfections anyways. It's a pretty cute little story, Penelope (age 2) really liked it. She can't understand the greater meaning of it of course, but she was astute enough to pick up that Bertyl started off sad and then was happy at the end.

I imagine this being a good book for the younger demographic when talking about making friends, fitting in, being inclusive to others, etc. Bright illustrations highlight the story throughout so it would also give great visual clues to the story as well for emergent readers.

If you have a little one in the 2-7 age range, this might be a nice little book to have in their library or as a classroom read.

December blahs.

I don't know if I always feel the way I feel right now in December but we aren't even to Christmas yet and I've got a case of the Mondays. Every day. I just don't have it in me to care about anything, I don't want to do anything, and I'd just as soon sleep all day to be honest. I'm not finding any joy in any of it and I feel bad because Penelope and Lucy seem excited about everything going on. It must be pretty cool to just randomly have a tree in your house, right?

I know when Olivia and Jackson were smaller I really dreaded the day that they didn't believe in Santa and all of the magic. I was really worried about it. I got kind of worried because Olivia is 12 now, has given me no indication that she knows that Matt and I are really Santa, and I was worried she was going to get beat up at school for talking about Santa. I decided that I was going to take her out to run errands and just have the conversation in the car. Turns out it was for nothing and SHE was the one who was relieved and said to me, "Oh thank god I don't have to fake it for you anymore!".

Nice, kid.

Jackson, on the other hand, FULLY believes in Santa and he's nine. I wonder though if kids are saying things at school because he's been asking me if I believe in Christmas, in elves, in Santa, in magic, etc. I've been kind of non-committal about it all but it is pretty clear that he is all into it. Of all of the kids he is (so far) the most sensitive and he's just a gentle soul. I almost said something to him about it this past weekend on the way to tennis but then he started talking about how this year he is going to try to stay up and listen for reindeer and I just couldn't.

Oh! But on our drive to tennis, we were talking about something and I actually remembered what he was talking about. I said to him, "Jack! I remember! I know what you're talking about! Can you believe it? I actually remembered this time!" and that smart ass starts singing the song "For The First Time In Forever" from Frozen.

Little jerk.

I'm all done with Christmas everything. Well, no that isn't true- I have no idea what I'm cooking on Christmas and my plan is to shop tonight so... yeah. I need to get on that. I honestly planned on cereal but Matt had hopes for an actual meal so I guess I'll give it a whirl. I think I am going to spend some time over the weekend writing my book. Well, parts of it. My therapy homework is to write about the actual event, no editing, no re-writing or adding in, just every thought I think of as it pops into my head until I feel like I've gotten it out. I'm working on forming a new narrative, I guess. It's proving to be tough because I'll be in the car and think of something really great and god knows I won't remember it, then I get angry at myself. Or sometimes I can hear it in my head but I can't get it out, if that makes sense? It's a voice only I can hear but I can't translate it into words on paper. The brain works in bizarre ways, I suppose.

So I've been feeling blah. I'm not happy. I'm not really angry (just moderately so- ha!), but I feel indifferent. Take it or leave it. If the house went up in flames I'm not even sure I'd have any emotional response to it. It's hard to know if this is an improvement in mental health because of medication but it doesn't feel like it. Though I suppose before I was actively planning my death and now I'm not... I just think about it and don't have the energy to plan. It's like one of those, "if I get around to it" projects that never happens.

Alright. I know I have more book reviews for this year but next week I'm going to highlight 2017's highs and lows, and my goals for 2018. Still working on those. Ha!

Presidents' Day

I am so close to reaching my Goodreads goal of 100 books this year, I have three more to read by the end of the year. Totally do-able, right??

Presidents' Day - Seth Margolis
From the author of The Semper Sonnet and Losing Isaiah comes a tautly plotted political thriller, perfect for fans of the Netflix series 'House of Cards, ' where being President is the second most powerful job in the world-behind the person who put you there.

I need to admit that I signed up for this review simply because I really like House of Cards and this is thought to be in that similar vein. It's a political thriller and I can see why there are also Dan Brown comparisons, he isn't really a political thriller author but this book also has the larger than you can imagine, big picture story. The running theme in House of Cards is that sure, the President is a big deal but how much power does he really have? Isn't it more powerful to be in other positions, where deals are actually made, bribery and blackmail run rampant? Who really elects the President, us? Or is it really all rigged for reasons we can't understand? The argument can be made that's actually a reality given our current President was elected based on the electoral college yet lost the popular vote by millions- is there any point to voting? It's a really depressing way to look at American politics, especially given the current climate we're in right now, so if that isn't your jam or you just can't absorb any more of that in your life? Avoid this book. If you like to entertain a conspiracy theory, believe that true politics lie within the closed doors of the nation's capital, then this is your book.

So in this book we have Julian Mellow, who is the villain of the story, much like Kevin Spacey's character in House of Cards. He's determined to essentially buy the next President of the United States and make him a puppet in his larger plans of avenging his son's death in Africa. He has a shady history himself and once others figure out what he's doing they come in to "save the day" but they have their motives too. I can't really give you more without giving away some key plot points in the story that you really need to read in order for it all to unravel the way it's meant to.

Here's what I liked: if you are a fan of HoC you know that the characters have a plan, a backup, a backup to the backup, etc and can seemingly switch direction at the drop of the dime and it all still works- that's what we have here. No matter what is happening it seems like Julian is always a few steps ahead, every move has a purpose and has fingers grabbing onto other directions he could go at any moment. For that alone it's a fast read because it is action packed, there is quite a bit of violence in the book, but you find yourself not putting it down because it's just always moving forward. Oh! One of my favorite characters from HoC is the journalist out to uncover the story, he knows there is a larger game at play and ends up going to prison in the show. In this book that character is Zach and though he isn't totally the same, there were enough similarities for me to get excited about him in here. Aside from the violence (which I'm finding is a sticky thing for me as of late, I'm not sure why it bothers me, to be honest) this book teeters on the impossible. I'm sure some of this could happen. Maybe. But I am not a conspiracy theory buff, I don't think the government gives a hoot about us and I don't think they track us like people believe, so I'm not one to grab a political thriller normally. I firmly believe that if you ARE a political thriller fan, if you think there are larger things at work behind the government, you will very much enjoy this book. Overall? I'm giving it a 3.5/5 stars. Not quite up to a 4, but no less than a 3.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Moonlight Over Manhattan

I know Christmas is right around the corner, but this would be SUCH a good book to read over the holiday break. Truly. If you are avoiding family, aren't interested in last minute shopping, or (worse) the day after Christmas shopping, I suggest you unplug the phone, turn the TV off, and cuddle up with a book. This book.

Moonlight Over Manhattan - Sarah Morgan

She'll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle... 

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list--dealing with Madi's temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi--how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple--he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there's nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan's kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all--letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

I have read a couple others in this series and I think I've mentioned it before, but these always feel like Hallmark movies waiting to happen. If you love Christmas novels, or just really sweet romances that don't involve whips and spreader bars, this is the series for you.

Alright, so this book begins with Harriet, who I absolutely adored. It starts with her on a really awful blind date, and she's sneaking out of a restaurant's bathroom window to escape the guy. Honestly? The fact she's doing this would make her my new best friend. But during her escape she kind of hurts her ankle, and she's a professional dog walker so she needs to be able to walk, so she goes to the ER just to have it checked out.

Enter Ethan. Hunky doctor who has learned to shut his emotions off and just treat patients. He sees Harriet and assumes she's looking for medication, can't figure out if she's truly that genuine and sweet, but she's gone before much thought goes into it.


Ethan (very reluctantly) agrees to watch his sister's dog, Madi, while she handles a family crisis, and he has no idea that his sterile life is going to be turned upside down. It feels like fate is lining everything up just right because Harriet is Madi's dog walker, and he realizes he's not equipped to care for a dog like Madi, so he proposes that Harriet live in his apartment to care for this dog because he is hardly home. Normally Harriet would never agree to this, but she's on a personal  mission to push herself to do things outside of her normal so she agrees because this is something Old Harriet would never even consider. Ethan and Harriet quickly fall for each other, and the rest of the story is just really sweet and perfect.

If you love chick lit, sweet romance, a female lead you can relate to, and a male lead who is likable, this is your next read. No question. This is part of a series but they are all stand-alone, and I really think you are going to enjoy the others so it's maybe worth ordering more than one because they aren't very expensive at all. There is also a really fun giveaway with this book (see below) that's always worth entering, you just might win!

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.


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


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!!


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.