Audio Review: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Carry the Ocean: by Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevelt
Release Date: May 29th, 2017
Pages: • Format: Audio
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
Amazon Audible

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When Jeremey’s untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

 

five-stars

I am in general a fan of this authors but I think this may be her best work. This was extremely well written. This is an unconventional love story about two young men who are a bit different and have a host of challenges to over come in their lives.

The story begins one summer when the two guys meet at a neighborhood block party. Jeremey is struggling with depression and anxiety and he gets no support from his parents. Due to his personal struggles he is oblivious to Emmet’s existence. Emmet on the other hand has been watching Jeremey across their yards for months. Emmet is on the Autism spectrum and he’s been practicing daily for what will happen when they finally meet. When Emmet approaches him, Jeremey is unsure of him at first. With gentle persistence from Emmet the two of them become friends and then they eventually fall in love.

Their story is not an easy one. The two of them have very different ways of perceiving things which makes them struggle to understand each other sometimes. They are also both different from what mainstream society says they should be and they have to deal with a bunch of outside pressure. Their lives are a roller coaster and things are very hard for them in a few places in the story.

I thought the author did a fantastic job writing this story and dealing with both boy’s conditions. It was obvious she did a lot of research and I think she really presented these characters as real people. She did not sugar coat anything or make it one of those “love heals all wounds” type of stories, but she also did not paint them as people who were less than or who were incapable of having a love story of their own. It may not have been traditional but I think that made it even more beautiful.

My favorite part of the story was Emmet and his parents. I loved all three of them. On the flip side I could barely contain my anger for Jeremey’s parents. Every mother instinct I had came out over his character and I swear I raged every time his parents were on page. My emotions were all over the page. One minute I was laughing and the next I was crying. That, too me, is a testament to a really well written story.

I did these on audio and they were narrated by Iggy Toma. I feel like he also did an excellent job. He does two very different voices for both Jeremey and Emmet. I think Emmet’s was probably a bit challenging as he is described as having a flatter affect and not being able to modify his tones like others do due to his inability to read emotions. The narrator really did a good job with this aspect. There were also multiple side characters and I think those were also all done really well.

I’m sure there a lot better written reviews out there that describe this beautiful story but I will end this is saying that I definitely recommend this audiobook. It is not only a great story but it is narrated extremely well and the narration adds another level of emotion to this story.

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About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.

Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.

Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email.

Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

Narrator: Callie Dalton
Source: Tantor Audio

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Wait for It by Mariana Zapata
Narrator: Callie Dalton
Release Date: March 8, 20117
Format: Audiobook (15 hrs and 52 mins)
Genre: Romance
Published By: Tantor Audio

If anyone ever said being an adult was easy, they hadn’t been one long enough.

Diana Casillas can admit it: she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing half the time. How she’s made it through the last two years of her life without killing anyone is nothing short of a miracle. Being a grown-up wasn’t supposed to be so hard.

With a new house, two little boys she inherited the most painful possible way, a giant dog, a job she usually loves, more than enough family, and friends, she has almost everything she could ever ask for.

Except for a boyfriend Or a husband. But who needs either one of those?

four-half-stars

This was another winner from Mariana Zapata. I was a little scared that my second audiobook by her will succumb to the sophomore jinx. No such worries because this book had my favorite trope, the single parent who finds love. This story focused more on the family aspect than the romance and I loved that. Callie Dalton definitely fits Zapata’s characters because her voice added to my enjoyment.

Diana Casillas (yes, related to Sal Casillas from Kulti) is raising her two nephews, Josh and Louie at the ripe ole age of 29 years old. Events led her to meeting her neighbor Dallas Walker. As a parent myself, I appreciated hearing Diana’s inner musings as I have similar thoughts going on in my head. I also loved how much she just loved those boys and did her best with what hand life dealt her. I knew Dallas was a good guy even though we didn’t know his situation with his ex. He was trying to look out for his brother as well as looking after his grandmother.

There was moments of sadness, angst, humor and romance. The author just took her time to outline the plot, form the characters and unfold the story. I loved what each character brought to the narrative. I also loved how the narrator’s voice brought this story to life. The ending was just so AAAHHHHHH! I just exhaled with pleasure. Bravo to the author. I can’t wait to get to the other books Mariana Zapata has written because these are the kinds of books I want to listen to.

Ezi

Misdemeanor by C.F. White

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Misdemeanor: by C.F. White
Series: Responsible Adult #1
Release Date: July 4th, 2017
Pages: 226 • Format: eARC
Published By: Pride Publishing
Purchase Links:
Pride PublishingAmazon

Life isn’t always responsible.

After his mother tragically dies and his deadbeat father goes off the rails, nineteen-year-old Micky is left to care for his disabled little brother, Flynn.

Juggling college, a dead-end job and Flynn’s special needs means Micky has to put his bad-boy past behind him and be the responsible adult to keep his brother out of care. He doesn’t have time for anything else in his life.

Until he meets Dan…

 

two-stars

I read this book over a month ago. Initially, I needed my thoughts and feelings to marinate before I attempted a review. Well, I’ve marinated and if anything I wish I could have DNF it instead. I know it seems harsh, but after thinking on some things in the story its like I would rather not know. This was my first attempt by this author. I don’t know if the language or writing is the usual style but it isn’t for me. The writing that is. It might my biggest problem with the story. It was super choppy. I honestly think no one at the editing team has ever heard of PAGE BREAKS. The pov changes in the middle of a character speaking was super annoying. I would constantly go back to see who is saying what.

It was not all bad. It was angsty on the cusp of me wanting to punch Dan for being a punching bag at times. I mean come on! I am not a fan of the angst, but I was able to push through with it. I liked the idea of Micky taking care of his younger brother. Love knowing that he decided to put Flynn first. What I didn’t like was Micky reacted to quick. I mean, here you are responsible for this minor and every little negative thing gets a reaction out of you. I know its called being human, but he lacked the maturity that the author seemed to paint him with in this. After all this its no wonder that the relationship was hopscotched around. It had its good moments with them, but then the melodrama would start and I would get disinterested.

I didn’t get why the author made Dogie a big component of the story for him to be this solemn character. Not to say that everyone’s response to him was okay. Nope! I won’t go on a tangent, but for the healthier community stay away because you might email blast the author!

Just my opinion folks! It ends with a cliffhanger and my interest with it. Like I stated earlier, in my earlier reading and frustration with the quality I would have liked to DNF it, but against better judgment I decided to keep going. I don’t see myself reading any more of the series. If this gives you the curiosity to do so, then go right ahead! Maybe send me a pm on book 2. A summary would be just fine!

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Standalone Sunday (7/2/17): Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!
Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Blurb
“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to. 

It didn’t take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon – why she’d ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.

ADD TO GOODREADS



Standalone Sunday (6/25/17): Under Locke by Mariana Zapata 

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!
Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. 

BLURB
: He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a widow, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario: If things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before; one more wouldn’t kill me.
After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude and impatient, and he doesn’t know how to tell time. And the last thing they ever expected was each other.
Narrated by: Callie Dalton
Length: 16 hrs and 5 mins

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I’m currently listening to this audiobook because I loved The Wall of Winnipeg and Wait For It by the same author. Zapata takes her time with character development so that the friendship, attraction and subsequent love story never feels rushed. I am anticipating a satisfying story today.

Have you read or listened to this book? Did you enjoy it? What about this author, have you tried her before?

#audiobookmonth #standalonesunday 

Goodreads Monday (6/19/17): The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To participate, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners and add your own links!

My choice today is The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

BLURBI’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I got this book as a freebie arc during the Romantic Times Convention 2016 in Las Vegas. It’s been on my bookshelf but I was traveling to Montego Bay for my annual anniversary vacation, I grabbed it for a plan ride.   It was one of my favorite reads of 2017. I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane. I wish I read this one last August when it came out. 5-Star all the way! I will add a review as soon as I’m caught up on real life stuff. I do have her Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) audiobook but I haven’t listened it yet. Have you read anything by Kami Garcia? Watched the movie maybe?

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf?

 

Goodreads Monday (5/29/17): When It’s Real by Erin Watt 

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To participate, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners and add your own links! 

My choice today is When It’s Real  by Erin Watt.


BLURB
:


From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

ADD TO GOODREADS 

Isn’t that cover beautiful? Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors: Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy. I devoured their Royal series (See Review) on audio in a week. I hope to finish this book tonight and have a review for tomorrow. I’ve only read one book by Jen Frederick but I just bought my second audiobook to try. On the other hand, I’ve read 2 different series by Elle Kennedy which I will loved:  Killer Instincts  and Off Campus. I normally don’t enjoy rocker romances but I like this one so far.  Have you read anything by the two author? What did you think?

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf? 

Standalone Sunday (5/21/17): Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

  

BLURB: If anyone ever said being an adult was easy, they hadn’t been one long enough.

Diana Casillas can admit it: she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing half the time. How she’s made it through the last two years of her life without killing anyone is nothing short of a miracle. Being a grown-up wasn’t supposed to be so hard.

With a new house, two little boys she inherited the most painful possible way, a giant dog, a job she usually loves, more than enough family, and friends, she has almost everything she could ever ask for.

Except for a boyfriend.
Or a husband.

But who needs either one of those?

Kindle Edition: 670 pages

Audiobook
: 15hrs, 52 mins

Published:
December 7th 2016 by Amazon Digital Services LLC

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I’m currently listening to this audiobook narrated by Callie Dalton. I chose this book because I read The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by the same author a week and a half ago and loved that book. So I purchased this book. I plan to also get the Audiobooks Under Locke and Kulti by Mariana Zapata. This author’s writing was that gripping and entertaining to me.

Have you read or listened to this book or any book by Mariana Zapata? Did you enjoy it? Happy First Day of the Week!

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen OakleyNarrator: Candace Thaxton, Jonathan Todd Ross, Kirby Heyborne
Source: Netgalley

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Format:  e-ARC (366 pages)
Published By: Gallery Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble •  Books-a-million iBooks Indiebound

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died…

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition…

An evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, Close Enough to Touch is perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.

three-half-stars

This book had a really interesting premise but it took me two-thirds of the book before I truly got invested in the characters. It was written well but there just wasn’t a connection with the main characters for most of the book. The beginning was like 2-3 stars and the second half was 4-stars.

As a three year old toddler, Jubilee Jenkins developed a rare skin allergy that made touching other humans deadly. Her mother went to specialist after specialist before abandoning her to marry some rich guy in another city. After a kiss in high school almost killed her, Jubilee grudgingly acknowledged that her life was meant to be different from others and without skin to skin contact.

When her mother died and her step father withdrew financial support, Jubilee was forced to find a job to pay for her own bills. She got hired at the library which placed her around people. Once Jubilee saved a little boy Aja from drowning, Jubilee was introduced to Eric Keegan, Aja’s father who slowly opened Jubilee’s heart to a future of happier possibilities.

I like that Eric Keegan wasn’t this hero that made everything better. He had his own messed up situation and was trying to figure out his own life. Eric’s drama made everyone including Jubilee made her face some things from her past as well as make some decisions about her future.

I like how the author used the library and reading as vehicle of communication to allow the characters to understand each other. I felt the most for the young boy Aja. He was clearly in pain and I just wanted to hold him so tight. It was after Aja and his X-men comments that I truly plugged into this story.

Colleen Oakley didn’t write a clean, smooth, cheesy story. It was a slow burner where the individual journey overshadowed the romance, which was okay with me. The writing in the first half dragged but the second half was more touching (pun intended). Overall, it was a good read.

*Special Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books via Netgalley for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

Ezi

Goodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye #1) by Sarina Bowen

Series:
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen (originally In Front of God & Everyone (Pay It Forward #1))
Series: Hello Goodbye #1 (Pay It Forward #1)
Release Date: March 21st, 2017 (first published February 18th, 2015)
Format: e-ARC                Pages: 331
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Cult romance
Published By:
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble Kobo Google

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh & Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counterThis book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone. For more about its previous publication, you can read this blog post.

four-stars

This is one of those books that makes you believe in the young people’s resilient spirit and the kindness of strangers. It was sweet, hopeful and just encouraging that people can recover after horrifying childhoods peppered with traumatic experiences.

This story was told from both Caleb and Joshua’s POV as young people trapped in a cult where the elders usually kept 4-6 wives, some as young as fourteen. Consequently, boys over the age of 14 were considered a threat to their family structure and were sent to live the bachelor quarters. The young guys considered “weak” usually disappear from the compound after they are reach age of majority. Joshua and Caleb grew up together as best friends and live together in the bachelor quarters but it was generally understood that Joshua was a weak link. So, when Joshua was thrown out close to a bus station with $50, Caleb ran away to join Joshua.

From the beginning, it was clear that the bond between Joshua and Caleb was stronger than just mere friendship. It was ardent, devoted and passionate. It was as though their hearts were always bound together from day one but it had to be hidden. Once outside the confines of the religious cult, Joshua and Caleb had to learn how to deal with the feelings that they had been taught were sinful and perverse. Joshua struggled a lot harder than Caleb. I struggled with Caleb’s seamless transition from accepting his feelings to use of cuss words. I was expecting the guys to have some difficulty adjusting to the “outside” life as well as some language barriers since cult language seems to be more biblical and less informal/conversational in secular society. In addition, this story lacked the angst that I expected from boys tormented by the cult leaders. It’s almost like their past was forgotten. There was no mention to save those left behind or even rescue other boys who were sure to be discarded like Joshua.

Regardless of those issues, I found the love that blossomed between Caleb and Joshua to be so sweet and endearing. In Maggie and Daniel’s home, Caleb and Joshua found freedom, acceptance and finally, their talents. There were wonderful secondary characters that made this story richer. From Washington, Daniel, Maggie & Chloe, the supporting cast helped make this story heartwarming. Caleb and Joshua would have had a much harder and rougher time but for the continual support of the secondary characters. Most of all, I love that they all helped Joshua find his voice and gave him the strength to use it. Joshua was the one I rooted for the most because I am always drawn to the underdogs of the world. His development made this book for me.

If you want a super dramatic, angst-filled story, this isn’t it. This romance was a steady and emotionally even love story, not just between two guys, but a makeshift family.
Ezi

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.