Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark Book 1) by Pepper Winters

I don’t even know where to begin with this novel. I honestly cannot believe I read it. I am in absolute denial over how highly rated this novel is, not because the writer is lackluster, just the opposite. This writer is phenomenal with the story she created, the scenes she conjures within your mind, and dragging you kicking and screaming through every page.

But that’s just it. There is so much kicking and screaming, this novel was hard to read.

I have many followers that I like to keep in tune with on various social media platforms, this one in specific was on Instagram, as they always offer such amazing content. One in particular shared her newest tattoo, a beautiful script on her forearm saying, “Je suis a toi,” or “I am yours” in French. Curiously, I searched for the novel on Amazon and found that it was the fourth and final book of a series. The graphic on the cover was beautiful for each novel in the series, and my follower recommended it heavily based on her tattoo, so I found the first book in the series and ordered it for free on Amazon.

Dummy me. I didn’t even read the description! My fault entirely!

Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility. For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world. But paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror. Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can’t save her from the horror of being sold. Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

A New Adult Dark Contemporary Romance, not suitable for people sensitive to hard to read subjects. A story about finding love in the strangest of places, a will of iron that grows from necessity, and forgiveness that may not be enough.

See that bold disclaimer up there? It is no joke! I found myself cringing as I read some of the scenes, but I have never not finished a book. It’s just some compulsion I have to finish a story, to know the ending, regardless of whether I like it or not. I have to know! So there I was, trying my damnedest to finish the darn thing. She is a phenomenal writer, and I do not regret becoming acquainted with her work. Looking back on it now, if Pepper Winters ever came out with something tamer (I hate to sound square), then I would be all for it!

American Girl

I’m a thoroughbred American girl. I grew up on both sides of the coin.

I lived in a small town/city where there was always something to do, but not so small that everyone knew your name. I had freedom in that aspect to meet someone new as often or as little as I wanted. I saw first hand how public education, higher education, and capitalism could send people in different directions.

I also had grandparents who loved in a rural area not far from me where they grew a garden every year and had horses, barn cats, and dogs. I know what it’s like to dig your hands in the dirt and give a seed your undivided attention. I used to shovel the stalls, roll in the hay, and marvel at the instant gratification a tractor could provide.

Regardless of location and circumstance, I have seen success and defeat throughout my life in many different ways. It has helped mold me into the person I am today. A person who knows no matter where you are in this country, you can choose your path. It only takes a choice.

Lidl Shopping

If you haven’t heard of Lidl yet, you will! It is a grocery store chain out of Europe that has taken my area by storm, offering better selections and lower prices than even Aldie! I prefer Lidl over Aldie any day!

Like Aldie though, Lidl’s selections are of their own production with some off brand and name brand selections. Half their selections are organic while the rest claim to be preservative and/or additive free. And did I mention their prices? I have never seen eggs or milk at a grocery store so cheap! Gosh, I’m such a mom.

I have literally cut my grocery bill in half! There are still some items I have to go to Harris Teeter for, but that is because I am picky about my daughter’s milk and my makeup. Other than these one-off items, I am now a Lidl-er!Image result for lidl

Garmin Smartwatch – Vivoactive 3

Hubby was determined to get us smartwatches for activity tracking, swearing it would be the drive we needed to get back into working out. Ha! He’s so silly sometimes. Well, he went to Best Buy, hemmed, and hawed over the selection. Fitbit, or Garmin? We had both for some time before returning them previously (long story, the gist being a bigger and better model, the Vivoactive 3 and HR, were coming out soon)Image result for vivoactive 3

We both agreed the Fitbit App was intuitive, but underwhelming, whereas the Garmin App was overloaded with information, the polar opposite and overwhelming. The Fitbit had better food logging options, but Garmin’s bread and butter was fitness tracking. Since we had just purchased mountain bikes the past summer, he was all about the fitness tracking. (Ask me how many times we have ridden them.) 

Hubby finally settled on the Garmin after the salesman breathed his hangover all over us, and before we walked out of the store, Hubs had them on our wrists. He hooked them up to our phones and decided we needed to go for a walk which we hadn’t done in quite some time. So, yeah I guess it has gotten us moving, but as the honeymoon phase has waned, the watch aspect is becoming their sole use which is great for keeping time! Ha!

 

Determined to Travel

Gah! I can’t believe we are close to the middle of the year already, and I have yet to go to New York City. It is on my “To Travel” list as it is an easy travel destination. Just over five hours in a car, and I would be there, but it just hasn’t worked out yet. 

I’ve never been to New York City even though I have lived on the East Coast my entire life, but my husband has. He swears that it won’t be the travel destination that I am thinking it will be, but I just want to see it once, do the tourist thing, and mark it off my list. Seeing the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, and the Empire State Building in person, just to say I did is my main driver. Bucket list worthy to most, but I will only go to New York in the summer. No snowy tundra will ever be on my bucket list.

I’m steadily watching for a Groupon, or a deal on lodging, but haven’t had any luck of yet. To spend a weekend in a busy city rather than at the beach for more than five hundred dollars just doesn’t sit well with me, so I wait. Hopefully I can find something lower price and finally make the trip.The New York skyline from the top of the Empire State Building at night lit up

Cost of Childcare

Is the cost of childcare directly related to how many children are born each year? I find it to be a very believable correlation.

I currently pay childcare for my daughter as my husband and I both work full time jobs. She loves her “school”, and I believe we have genuinely found a facility that loves her just as much. I will not consider moving her again after having left two previous providers, but that’s a different story for a different day. (Disclaimer: it was more about my satisfaction than my daughter’s as to why we left the other facilitators. She was happy, but I wanted more for her.)

View of a baby's forehead and nose with light blue eyes and light eyebrows

Moving on to my point. With the amount of money I pay on childcare, I could have a small house or townhouse in Florida! It is legitimately a mini-mortgage! I would never trade my daughter or any potential children I may have for said Florida home, but that is a real comparison.

If the cost of childcare wasn’t so high, I think I may have already had another child by now. I can’t believe I just said that out loud! It has taken me some time to get to this point, but I am finding it an inevitability as my daughter grows up and my baby fever spikes ever so slightly when I hold my newborn nephew. I know my daughter will be the most amazing older sibling, too, as she tries to be such a big help with her baby cousin.

It will be a few more years before baby number two is on its way, though. It could happen before then if we win the lottery, but for now, we’ll just anticipate the working our way to higher salaries the old fashioned way, grinding for every penny we earn.

Coco – Movie Review

I am a Disney fiend if you didn’t know. It is safe to say I have watched every Pixar affiliated Disney movie, and more than my fair share of Disney’s older animated movies. Ever see those memes floating around of “how many Disney movies have you watched”? Well, I’m that person that can say close to all!

When Coco was first being advertised, I honestly wasn’t sure if it was one that I would enjoy. Day of the Dead doesn’t exactly bring up thoughts of a family-friendly movie, but I was sorely mistaken. Coco was phenomenalCoco (2017)

IMDB: Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

I cried. I literally cried watching this movie. The focus on family, the emphasis on putting your family first above all else, is heartwarming. What I thought would be a hard topic, death of a loved one, is put to such a beautiful light and celebrated in a way even my toddler is able to understand. 

The music in this movie is awesome, very mariachi style, true to its Mexican roots. My daughter loves the soundtrack, and to hear her try to pronounce some of the Spanish words cracks me up! “Un Poco Loco” is her favorite, but I swear it sounds like he is saying un coco loco or un pollo loco. The imagery in this movie is so beautiful with its bright colors and smooth transitions between hot and light coloring. The detail these artists went through to put the designs on the skeletons typically seen on the Day of the Dead celebrators is incredible. It is something to be seen. I highly recommend this movie and love it whole-heartedly. 

Everything happens for a reason.

I believe things happen for a reason, but I don’t believe in predestination. Sounds a little confusing I know, but life is much more colorful than black and white. I believe in the gray that allows us to make our own decisions. Decisions that shape many different paths that we may walk of our own freewill, but ultimately lead to another fork in the road.

All this to say, there was absolutely a reason I didn’t get to post anything yesterday as I typically do. And I believe that reason was because of the dream I had last night.

If you know me, you know I’m not a real emotional person such that I don’t cry in certain scenarios other women might. I have gotten a bit softer in the recent years and have cried at silly things like a movie or song, but I attribute that to crazy hormones more than anything.

Well, after my dream last night, I’m just a crazy mess. I’m having a horrible morning between spilled breakfast and making a mess preparing my lunch. My clothes don’t match, and my hair is a mess. But I’m at work, trying to make it through the day and forget about the feelings my dream has dredged up.

In 2015, my grandmother passed away after battling breast cancer for a year. I had taken her to her first appointment when the oncologist first met with her about treatment. The entire battle was hard, but she fought just as hard.

Last night, what I can remember of the dream, she was in it. She was talking to me, but I can’t remember what about. I do remember feeling sad, but she hugged me and told me she loved me. I held her tighter and started to cry, and that is all I remember.

I think I missed posting yesterday so I could get this off my chest. I find solace in writing, more so than just talking it out. This is my way of getting it off my chest, and I am glad I waited until today to do it.

I miss my grandmother, but I am glad I got to see her in my dreams.

Back to Basics

Life is all about building you up then throwing you back down as fast and as many times as it can. You get used to something then it changes. You get into a routine and a wrench gets thrown in it.

Then the excuses start. Oh, I’ll get back to it later. Oh, I have to do deal with this then I’ll deal with that. All the while, what had been the goal is slowly forgotten.

Until that goal comes back in a new light, possibilities for accomplishing it unveiling themselves through the excuses, and suddenly, your back to basics.

You’re back to figuring it out, fitting it into your routine, making it work.

Life has a funny way of pushing and pulling us through time, kicking and screening all the way, but this time, I’m back to my basics.

I will fight to keep this routine again, and life will laugh at my plans, but what this crazy ride doesn’t realize is, I need this. I need to write. I need to be heard. I need this outlet to find readers who want to escape as much as I want to give them one. It’s time to start again, and this time, dogdge the wrenches.