Friday, May 31, 2019

Quick and Dirty Book Reviews/Feature: Angels, Kings, Good Deeds!

I have a LOT of books I need to share with you and realistically I can't do one book per day but I'm also too lazy to do several posts in a day SO.... I'm going to try to squeeze a Feature Friday in every few weeks so you can look through books quickly.

Angel Thieves - Kathi Appelt
This book kind of reminded me of the Hush, Hush series but only kind of? I can't really wrap my head around it but it has a little romance in it but a lot of a magical realism throughout. Kathi Appelt normally writes middle grade books but is tip toeing into the world of Young Adult and it's a pretty OK first book. My only complaint about this book is it is told through multiple points of view and that's not always my jam, but it's an angel thief, an ocelot, and a plain ol' girl who is supposed to save the angel thief. Also, one of the POV's was a river? I think? That's so bizarre to think about so I don't know if that's really the case of I just really misunderstood who the character is, but it was strange. The book also jumps around in time and I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of who went where and when. Overall? 3 stars for this one, and I can see the young adult crowd, especially the upper middle school/early high school readers enjoying this one.
   

The Fever King - Victoria Lee
Anyone who is anyone has seen this book advertised everywhere and it's been all over your Instagram most likely, and with good reason. The first book in the Feverwake series, it's an exciting read, a perfect introduction to a duology that people are anxiously awaiting the sequel for. And can we talk about this cover? BEAUTIFUL. Eerily timely to current affairs with refugees  (kind of), this book reminded me of The Darkest Minds (kind of) where kids are used by the government for their powers without consideration of whether it's ethically OK to do or not, but the people with the power learn how to stand up for themselves. Kind of. I can't really give you more without giving some of the plot away, but if your teen (or even you) are looking for a book that would make a pretty cool movie, and is on equal standing with all of the other popular dystopian novels, this is what you should pick up. 
   

No Good Deed - Cass Green
You guys, this was the most messed up book that had me saying, "What the hell is even happening?!" multiple times. I was instantly hooked because one mention of a date from hell is what pulls me in because if I were in the dating world, I'm completely convinced I'd end up dead in a suitcase left in a hotel somewhere. I'm sure of it. The story itself is so completely far fetched that it feels like a Dateline episode happening right now. We have Nina, who ends up on a crap date, but then is saved by a stranger, only to be held at gun point by stranger. There's a baby, there's an entire night of running around and a bloody guy, and guns, you guys- it's BANANAS!! And every time you're like, "this is too damn much!" something happens and you can't put this down. I realized my pulse was going crazy, my heart was beating, and I was sucked all the way in that I scorched the top of my stove with boiling water because I forgot I was boiling water. Seriously- if you're in the mood for a psychological thriller that doesn't require you to really think and isn't a ridiculous length long, grab this one. 
   


Alright, if you pick any of these up and read them, let me know what you thought about them. Especially No Good Deed because I need someone to talk to about it. 

This post has affiliate links which help keep this little ol' blogging going. I received ARC editions of these books in exchange for an honest review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Happy reading, lambs! 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Family Roundup: what's happening

I had my endoscopy and colonoscopy yesterday. I'll tell you about that tomorrow because I'm sure you're super excited to hear about me being probed from both ends. Today Olivia gets her *braces taken off* and to say she is excited is an understatement. She's known since March and has had several countdowns in our house reminding us. She's had them on for 3 1/2 years and is desperate to not have them anymore. She'll have retainers (one permanent and one removable) but it's nothing compared to braces! Also, Jackson goes on a big field trip today and they have an awards ceremony for fifth graders afterwards and I said I'd help serve cake so it'll be a busy day for sure.

I have so many pictures from my phone that I keep forgetting to share on here so I'm going to dump a bunch of random stuff on you. You'll love it.
Lots of people have asked me about Twinky since he was attacked by a dog a few weeks ago. For the most part, he's all healed up nicely. We think he has some nerve damage on the side of his neck and his one ear because if you go anywhere near it he yelps and starts shaking. So you have to be careful when you pet him or pick him up. The other thing we're dealing with is his fear of basically everything now. If you open up the back door to let him run in our yard (fenced) he's hesitant to go beyond the steps. If we're out there with him, he's fine. By himself, not so much. He's scared of other dogs and will sometimes run and hide or comes right to us, and that's kind of sad. A few times now he's peed on the kitchen floor because he wouldn't go out after hearing a dog bark or something as they walk by. Honestly I don't know what to do about this at this point. Matt has been taking him on short walks and TWICE he's encountered dogs being walked and not on a leash and people are just the absolute worst. So here's my PSA: even if you think you have the best, nicest, most loving dog in the whole world, LEASH YOUR DAMN DOG. You have NO idea what goes through their mind, you have no idea what might trigger them to defend you or to just be a dog. You have no idea. Leash your damn dog. Always. No exceptions.
Jackson has been making my bed for me. He says it drives him crazy because I never do. I'm perfectly happy to crawl back in to the exact place I was sleeping and I'm happy about it. We also decided that once the windows in our front porch are installed, we are going to put our headboard back onto the bed. It's going to block an entire window but I literally don't care because I really hate not having a headboard. BUT.... we might move the bed the other way, I just haven't told Matt this yet. He's not going to be happy because our bed is a million pounds. At least. 
Lucy is doing pretty well in speech class. We're struggling in some areas and he told us it might get worse before it gets better. I practice sounds with her but man... this girl gets so upset. I think she's realizing that we can't understand her, and that's probably really frustrating and maybe a little bit scary. 
A few weeks ago Matt and his mom took the little girls to the aquarium for a PBS Kids Carnival night. It's a free night at the aquarium because we're PBS Kids Club members. Anyways, I guess Penelope didn't want to go up to anyone but Lucy really, really wanted her picture with Arthur. Is she not the cutest damn thing you've ever seen?? 
It's not summer here yet and it's only spring-ish like two days a week if we're lucky, but on the sunny days we make it a priority to get outside, even if it's only for a little while. Penelope and Lucy are basically desperate to play outside but I get cold easily and then my hands and feet turn dark purple so I have to go back in, so Matt has been taking them out like the champ that he is. 
Penelope has mastered her scooter. She just goes back and forth on this really short strip of sidewalk but doesn't want to venture to the street or a better sidewalk. 
The girls are still BIG into dress up stuff but Lucy has recently gotten into wearing her skunk hat. A lot. My dad actually bought it for Penelope because she was in a phase were everything had to be soft so she could rub it in her ear, so he thought the tail of this hat would do the trick. It didn't and she hardly wore it but Lucy has found it and is loving it. I have a ten second video of her hissing like a skunk? She thinks they hiss and I don't know what sound a skunk makes so we let her go with it. 
WAY back in April it was Independent Bookstore Day so I had it in my head we would go to Barnes & Noble and then out to lunch. It turns out my brain kind of went haywire (literally) and we ended up on the exact opposite end of town at Bookstore at Fitgers, which is just as good. Everyone picked out a new book. 
We tried to take a group picture but that was kind of a fail. I think I need a selfie stick because we have just too many damn people and I have short arms. But right after this I have ZERO memory of what we were doing, how I got there, where the kids came from, where I parked, how to get to the car, how to get home, etc.

I cannot emphasize it enough- those moments are terrifying. It's like those movies where people find themselves locked in a basement of a serial killer and have no idea how they got there? That's me when this happens. It's really awful and I wish they would just stop. The running theory is MAYBE my brain short circuits because it's trying to make connections again, or MAYBE it short circuits because it's damaged and this is just how it's going to be. Either way, it sucks, and I am SO GRATEFUL that Olivia and Jackson help me, though I'm sure it's scary for them as well. 
Oh, so here's what we got during our trip. It turns out the books for the little girls were meh. They aren't that great and nobody wants to read them. I haven't started Colleen Hoover's Verity, but I hear it's REALLY good. Jackson isn't loving his book but said it really isn't what he thought it was. Olivia hasn't started her book either but I told her to give me the review when she's done because while I won't have time to read it, I want to know why all the people are dying in that lake (it's a true story, I guess). Oh, and Penelope got a unicorn because they are her favorite and I couldn't pry it out of her hands so to even it up Lucy got the giant, super soft pig she was desperately squeezing.

So that's that. What have you been doing? Or going? Or seeing? Or watching?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Review: The Forbidden Billionaire

I'm not going to beat around the bush. By the time you are reading this, I am in the middle of an endoscopy AND colonoscopy. I'll tell of my harrowing adventures of prep and procedure another time... probably Friday. Just know that while you're busy not working at your desk or letting your kids run wild through the house while you have some coffee, I am busy being probed from both ends at the same time. I don't need to tell you who is having a better day.

The Forbidden Billionaire (The Sinclaires #2) - J.S. Scott 

All of Jared Sinclair’s wealth still can’t ease the pain from his terrible childhood… or his guilt over a recent tragedy. Unable to forgive himself, the billionaire property investor buries his emotions, toughens his skin, and becomes a notorious womanizer, refusing to commit his heart to a woman when he’s convinced she wants only his wallet.

But ever since Jared arrived in Amesport, Maine, he’s been intrigued by Mara Ross, the petite and sexy shop owner who asks nothing of him. When Mara’s store is purchased without her knowledge, she stands on the brink of losing her home, her livelihood, and generations of family history. Then the irresistibly persuasive Jared proposes a business deal to Mara… and soon draws her into a steamy, sensual affair, convincing her that he’s anything but cold. However, when a revelation shakes Mara’s fragile trust to the core, Jared must finally confront the truth about his past.


I read the first one in this series and had to buy the rest of the series because I have an issue with not being able to quit a series and I have poor impulse control, so here we are. Thankfully though, this one didn't disappoint! It's not a hot, steamy romance read, but if you're a fan of a light romance with some drama tossed in, but also a fast read, this series just might be for you. 

In this book we have Mara, a single woman who owns a doll shop that has been passed down her family for generations. She lives above it, the place is a city code violation dream, but she isn't raking in the dough selling dolls to do anything about it. Jared is a billionaire who is dead set on the belief nobody could love him because of a choice he made YEARS ago that ended up getting two people killed (that's his opinion, not actual fact). But Jared has thing for old buildings and he's got a bit of a thing for Mara so he buys the building without her knowing it. Doesn't matter because the damn thing burns down and now Jared is helping Mara get back on her feet.

The drama, as you've guessed, is that Mara doesn't know that Jared was the buyer but also, he becomes a financial investor in her new business and she doesn't like the feeling she's taking advantage of him because that's what Jared expects from people. So while they struggle with that, there's all of this sexual tension, and it leads to some great moments.

Overall? This was a 3.5 for me. I really enjoyed Mara more than Jared, actually, and she's a pretty smart woman who has some self image issues, she's confident in her abilities to get through life. She's kind and logical, and when she meets Jared's brother Evan (he's a future book), even he seems to be taken aback by how good of a person she is. I had a good time reading this one, managed to get through it in one day and you might enjoy this if you're looking for a romance that won't make you blush at a kid's soccer game.

   
*This post contains affiliate links which help keep this blog going. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book Review: Junk Mail

Today I have a rheumatology appointment and then Lucy has speech right after her nap so we'll see how cooperative she is. Oh, and I'm prepping for a colonoscopy beginning at noon today. It should be AWESOME. How I'm going to do this during Lucy's speech therapy, I have no idea. This week is going to be bananas, and I think I mentioned that yesterday, but I feel so worried and I don't know why. Well, I'm a little worried about my procedures this week but honestly, they are so routine there's no reason to be worried.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a short read, something fluffy I can whip through to break up the heavier stuff I'm likely reading on the side. Thankfully, Facebook ads never let me down.

Junk Mail - Kendall Ryan

It all started with a sexy selfie.
Texted to the wrong number. 
Oops. 
Not my finest moment—but I have nothing to be ashamed of.
She thought I was no better, and I quote, than the knuckle-dragging douche-bags she was never dating again.
It was a stupid dare from a girl I’d met online, but since she’d given me a fake number, I didn’t feel bad that my interests were suddenly focused elsewhere—on the fiery and sharp-tongued, Peyton that I found myself sparring with over text for the rest of the evening.
The following day, my case of mistaken identity came back to bite me in the banana.
When I strolled into the office, I was introduced to Peyton as the new client I needed to win over. The Peyton , in case you're not tracking.
And let’s just say she had my full attention.
Brains? Check. 
Beauty? Oh yeah. 
And the best part? She hated me on sight. 
Dear God, do I love a challenge. 
Let the games begin. 


I am a big fan of Kendall Ryan and she's one of those authors I recommend when someone is looking for a quick book that's good and easy, and this is in that group. The book only comes in at 287 pages but margins are generous and the print seems a bit bigger so you honest could fly through this book in a day if you wanted to.

We have Josh, who definitely isn't a play-boy/douchebag type (which I really appreciate because I'm getting kind of tired of that trope in romance books), he's a decent guy who happens to be on a dating website when the discussion of sending "a picture" comes up. He puts some thought into it and it turns out he sends it to the wrong number.

In fact, he sends it to Peyton. Peyton is the client he is meeting the next day to work on a collaboration. Peyton realizes it right away, then Josh does, and everything gets incredibly awkward in the cutest possible way. The best part is that they are attracted to each other immediately, outside of his impressive photo, and it takes off from there.

The description says she hated him on sight? No. It's definitely not that way at all, it's just incredibly awkward so if you're looking for a book where the guy has to REALLY win her over? This isn't for you because she very much wants to ride the pony, it's just weird to basically have sex with your boss/business partner.

Overall? I really enjoyed this and it was a quick read to fill my day with. It's light, it's funny, it's sweet, it has steamy moments, it has a cute ending, it's basically everything you want in a light romance. I'd add this to your summer reading list.

   
This post has affiliate links in it which help keep this blog going. Happy reading!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Book Review: Waisted

It's Memorial Day! I hope your holiday is sunny and you're doing something decent. We're hoping to drive to Fort Snelling (a couple of hours away) to go see my grandparents' resting place, but we'll see what the weather does for us today and the temperament of a couple of toddlers takes us. In the meantime, here is another book review (have you noticed my mojo is back??) and I'm hoping I will have a few more for you later this week. I know it's supposed to be Weight Loss Challenge day, but I'm giving you this instead, which is kind of related.

Waisted - Randy Susan Meyers

Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them.


Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother’s knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.



The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary.



The women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability...until they decide to take matters into their own hands.


In this book we focus mostly on Daphne and Alice and their journey to this boot camp. Both come from vastly different backgrounds and families, but they ultimately have the same thought: if they could just lose weight, they would be happy and their lives and the issues in them would be fixed. Alice is mixed race but is told that a black woman needs to be "strong" (which is a nice way of saying "large"), and her husband is successful but she suspects he has a wandering eye. Her family loves her just the way she is and can't understand why she's unhappy with how she looks. Daphne's situation is totally different, her family (mostly her mother) is very critical of her weight, she realizes her daughter is fixated on her own weight because Daphne has modeled unhealthy behaviors, but Daphne's husband loves her unconditionally- but he lets her know that because she accepts all of this criticism, it's hampering their sex life and that's a problem for him.

In order to get a grip on their life they agree (with other women, all strangers to each other) to enroll in this boot camp/documentary (think The Biggest Loser) in order to lose weight fast and hopefully gain the skills/knowledge on how to keep it off. The only problem is that it's immediately clear that something is amiss because the trainers are incredibly cruel and the rules are outrageously strict (if you speak when not spoken to you get a "shot"). To be honest, those parts of the book were difficult to read because I know how I would feel in that situation, so I could absolutely relate to this women as if I were in camp with them.

After camp though, they have harsh truths waiting for them at home because the problems they had wasn't really with themselves, but they were also putting blinders on to avoid the other issues. Failures in parenting, issues with their marriages, being a selfish friend, etc. They discover the work isn't done just because you lose weight, that isn't a miracle cure all for the problems, it just puts a nicer picture on them.

Overall? I really enjoyed this book. It's a fast read and I found myself invested in these characters, both who were easy to like but also easy to be annoyed by. We all have that friend, the one who complains about needing to lose weight while eating nachos with you. I really think this is a good book club book but also one to add to your list for this summer.

    
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Atria Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This post also features affiliate links, which helps this blog keep going. Happy reading! 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Book Box Review: The Unplugged Box (don't judge me)

One of the best things are book boxes. I know, I've gone on and off with them for years and everyone is like, "God, SARA! Do you need any of this?!".

No.

No, I don't, and I don't care Mr. Judgey Pants.

On Instagram randomly one day I saw a sponsored ad for Unplugged Book Box and after some sleuthing at past boxes, I decided to give it a try. They have a YA box and an Adult fiction box, promising to mail out a new release book. I chose the YA box because adult fiction is always kind of broad and hit or miss for me. At least with a YA, if I don't like it Olivia or Jackson might so there's more use of the book.
My first box came, the May 2019 box, and I was pretty damn excited, almost attacking the mail man. Even HE was judgey and said he thought I was done with these. It's pretty bad when the mailman (who I know from high school) is making comments about my mail. 
I had to wait until nap time before I could open it. So as soon as you open it you noticed that everything is individually wrapped and the post card detailing your box is on top. 
I have always loved this quote, so it is obviously a sign that this box is meant for me. 
Here's what we got, a cool candle (that doesn't smell that bad, actually), a compact mirror and a chapstick (which Olivia has already stolen from me)...
a mason jar glass that says, "We you can't beat the odds, change the game", a face mask, and a pair of Harry Potter house socks...
and the book EVERY MOMENT AFTER by Joseph Moldover. It's about high school friends dealing with the fallout of a school shooting that left many of their classmates and friends dead. Is it one that I would pick up out of a store? No, but it's pretty relevant to current times so I'm interested in giving this one a chance.
We also got a card telling us what the June YA Summer box is going to be, "Create Your Own Sunshine". That sounds pretty promising, so I'm excited.

Now the big question.... should I start The Bookworm Box again? You know how I love a good romance novel. OR should I do Owlcrate again? OR BOTH??

(If you're my friend, you would say, "Of course you do both, Sara!") 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Penelope turned 4. I'm behind.

I'm so behind and it honestly feels like Penelope turned four a lifetime ago but it also feels weird to say she's four. I'm not used to it but she tells me all of the time she can't wait to be five.

Because I had some poor planning, we ended up doing Penelope's birthday in two parts. On her actual day she got to open two presents from us (not big gifts at all) and we had a cupcake.
She opened her present and I quote her directly, "Is that it?". To say she was disappointed is an understatement. 
But the gift was an art thing that I thought for SURE she would love because she's big into crafts and art stuff. As it turns out, it's a dud and not nearly as cool as I thought it was going to be. 
I redeemed myself by buying her unicorn cupcakes from Walmart. (They weren't actually that great, so don't waste your money.) She blew out the candles before we could sing so this is take two.

Her ACTUAL "party" was that weekend and her grandparents and Auntie Kate came. We had pizza and fruit salad (her choice). 
And cupcakes, of course. This time she was more patient with letting us sing the song before she blew out the candles. These cupcakes were much better, but Frozen themed. The party was a Frozen/Unicorn mash up. 
She got some pretty cool gifts that included summer outfits, a puzzle, a LeapReader, and more. She was greatly disappointed that she didn't learn how to read in 3K, like they failed her or something, so my mom thought this would be a cool gift for her.

If you have a toddler who likes to read, consider getting one of these. Olivia and Jackson had one years ago and used it all of the time, it's a little more sophisticated now but Penelope (and Lucy) have enjoyed it. 

Next up was Penelope's big gift from us. She had spent MONTHS telling us she wanted a bike. She's big enough, she's going to be four after all, that's all she wanted. We looked at bikes online. She picked a Frozen bike and told me she HAD to have a helmet. The bike HAD to have a basket, and a bell, and a spot for her babies on the back. She needed all the "safety" so she wanted knee pads and elbow pads and gloves. 

So that's what I got her. We went all the way out and spent a whopping $75 on the whole stuff after waiting for sales and stuff. 
Her face when she saw it being wheeled in? Everything. She was SO surprised. 
Immediately wanted to try it. Matt had put it together a few nights before so the basket and bell were even on there.
It was a little shaky in the dining room but honestly, I thought once outside she'd fly down the street.

At this point Lucy was upset saying SHE wanted a bike. Quick thinking, I told Matt to go out into the shed and get Penelope's tricycle (that she never figured out how to ride) to give to Lucy.
Lucy was thrilled as Grandma Renae was helping her get the hang of it.

So we decided to let Penelope hit the streets. This is where I need to mention that Matt is probably the least patient person I have ever known. He's the worst person to have show you how to do something because if you don't pick it up at his lightening speed, he silently deems you stupid and gives up on you, walks away irritated.

I don't even ask him how to do something, I muddle through it on my own or find it online because his impatience makes me anxious.

Naturally, sending him out to teach Penelope to ride a bike was probably a poor choice, but here we are. 
To his credit, he was out there for maybe 20 minutes. Penelope fell pretty hard once but he made her get back on, and that's when she started scream crying, "This is the WORST!!!". I started laughing because it was actually funny and if you knew Penelope you could see this playing out in your head.

Needless to say, it's been three weeks and she has not gotten back on the bike. I'm going to try when it gets a little warmer because I'm certain she'll be able to do it. 
Meanwhile Auntie Kate was helping Lucy the Unicorn go down the street and this picture will always make me laugh. She was determined to go on that tricycle and she had a good time. And don't freak out, I have a Sesame Street helmet for her, so I'm not some derelict mother.

Oh! But I have to share this one, too. Lucy's FAVORITE movie is Toy Story. She loves all of them and we're totally bringing all of the kids to see Toy Story 4 in the theaters. Anyways, she has a Woody and a Buzz Lightyear that she got for Christmas, so it's only right she get a Slinky Dog. 
She loves her Slinky Dog and walks him around the house while saying, "Come on puppy", and it's the cutest damn thing you've ever seen. Honestly. This girl makes me want to squeeze her guts every day.

Overall? Penelope is four and she's loving it. She had a good party and kept saying thank you for having a party for her. That girl may bring me to the brink of insanity, but she really is a sweetheart when she wants to be. It's really fun to watch her grow up and know she was the baby I was never expecting and she isn't anything like the others. In the best way possible.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

You can dance if you want to.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you would know that all three of my girls are in dance. Olivia is 13 but has been doing it since she was 5 or 6, and Pep & Lu started this spring as part of a special session, just to see if they'd like it (or participate). It turns out Pep & Lu absolutely LOVED dance class, so much so that we're going to sign them up in the fall for the full class. I think it's going to be a good socialization piece but also Lucy's speech therapist mentioned having her in an activity that stimulates her gross motor skills might actually help her, so we're going to try it.

In the spring there is always a final show and I look forward to it every year. Because Penelope and Lucy were in the youngest group, they got to open the show. We had been talking about the show for weeks and Penelope was pretty proud of herself because she told us all she has "great talent" and thought she was a big deal being in this show. Lucy is just really stinking cute and she really enjoyed practicing at home.

They took it seriously, you guys. Like for real serious.

So imagine MY surprise when we get there and as I take them backstage when Penelope says, "I'm a little bit scared". Thank god I decided to put a pull up on her (even though she's potty trained) because I didn't know where bathrooms were and to get a leotard and tights off in seconds? I just didn't think I'd do it and I have no back up costume. So as we're standing there she's making a weird face so I ask what's wrong. Her response? "I can't stop peeing."

GREAT.

(Sure enough when we got home? That pull up was FULL.)

So I snapped a picture quickly before I found a seat:
If you know Penelope at all in real life she's shy at first and then she gets comfortable and runs the show. And sure enough, we saw glimpses of her running wild behind the curtain. Sigh. 
Lucy though, was totally excited and she's game to try anything. She got comfortable as soon as she saw Olivia back there. 
And of course, Olivia. Isn't she beautiful? She was in 4 routines plus the finale, so 5 performances total. Even though I had seen all of these at some point during their season for practice, seeing the finished thing is always a treat for me. 
Quick goodbye before I had to sit down!
Did you notice that Lucy's smile is kind of bizarre? Matt told her months ago, "Let me see your teeth!" when we were taking a picture so now she believes this is the face we make. For everything. If you say smile? This is what you get. 
Olivia was SO EXCITED for the recital but would like me to let everyone know her braces come off in eight days. Not that she is counting or anything. 
The thing about these recitals is their instructors are usually on the floor in front of the girls kind of miming the routine in case anyone gets lost or forgets what to do. Lucy had been doing this dance for weeks just fine but inexplicably, 
she literally sat on the floor the whole time doing exactly what the instructors in front of her did. Never mind the rest of her class is standing up,  she's copying those instructors no matter what. It was pretty adorable. Penelope did all of the moves but at some point decided to face the side instead of the front for the rest of the dance and ended it by lifting her skirt to rub it in her ear. The whole thing was adorable.
Penelope and Lucy were supposed to run back to me to sit in the stands so they could watch the rest of the show with us. That ended up working well and the photographer got the best shot of Lucy ever. I feel like I should frame this one.
Olivia was up next with their jazz routine to Seven Nation Army by Vyvienne Long.  It's an interesting cover of the song, not my favorite, but the dance was really beautiful. 

She was also in the Junior Hip Hop dance with a remix called "Shake" which was kind of cool. She wasn't so sure about that class for the first month or so but then she started to really love it, and it was interesting to see her improve over the year.
This spring Olivia also did a special session for Lyrical, which will be a full class next year. She said she really enjoyed Lyrical but that it was actually harder than her regular classes. They did this routine to Hozier's Work Song, which is one of my favorite songs so that was fun. (She's on the far right) I'll tell you, I only saw bits and pieces of this routine, never the full piece, but Olivia was so beautiful, and her friends did so well and I won't lie, I teared up a little. She just looked like a full blown teenager.
She got a little bit of a break before their Middle Kix performance and that was to a Rockstar Remix. It was her favorite routine to do and holy cow- those girls did SO well. It was very cool to see how well they did. Truly. 
I really, really wish I was able to record this dance because it was my favorite. It's actually my favorite finale dance they've ever done. Ever. Ever, ever. It was called "New York" (the recital theme was New York), and it was so, so fun to watch. Olivia was just the cutest ever.

Overall, it was a fantastic show. The Director of her program and the teachers they had were so great and I'm really bummed to have no classes until September now. They might have some pop up classes over the summer, and Olivia has already told me she wants to do any or all of them.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Book Review: Whatever It Takes

It's Tuesday. Honestly it feels like it's going to be a long week and that it should be June already. I'm fully over May. Oy.

Whatever It Takes - MJ Markovski
Regan Argent inwardly uncovered a dark conspiracy that has her on the run. Forcing her to return to her childhood home, small town just outside Dallas, to seek refuge. Unexpectedly, she bumps into Hunter Grainger, a man she never saw coming. An Air Force pararescueman, only you, with only one person who is supposed to know of his return home. The unexpected meeting ignites a chain of events where they will be forced to help each other or be executed. 

Man. I am going to be honest, I'm a little torn on this one. On one hand, it's a cute love story with a little drama thrown in. Then on the other.... it needed another edit. Or two. There were a lot of technical errors that really made it hard for me to look over. For instance, in any given chapter we have Regan talking to herself, then all of a sudden Sherry is there and then we've switched to something from New York. Basically, the voice of the book was all over the place. I'd get fixated on issues like at her party she's wearing a red dress and even her panties match, but then a few pages later it mentions she's wearing a sapphire dress. Um, no. It's red. That kind of thing happened throughout the book and it made it really hard to settle into the story.

But.

It isn't all doom and gloom because while the characters were really roughly developed, I think after a couple of stories and some serious editing and rewrites, this is an author I'd be interested in reading again in a few years to see the development. The characters are really hard to like because Regan, though she wants to be independent and seen as such, she's actually incredibly stupid and makes poor choices and is scared of everything. Then we have Hunter, who I can't say I didn't like because I've read enough books with a lead male like him with a similar backstory (Locke by Harper Sloan comes to mind immediately), so I kind of have a soft spot for seeing the tough guy get sucked in by a good girl.

I think if you don't really read a lot of romance novels and are putting your toe into the water, you will likely enjoy this one quite a bit. If you're an avid romance reader, this isn't going to get your motor running and you might be bored. All in all, I'm going to give this one 2 out of 5 stars. It definitely wasn't awful and it had some good scenes and some moments I enjoyed but is it one I would re-read or gift? No, I can't say that it is.

   
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and White Bird Publications for the Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own. Happy reading!