book reviews - my June reads

Thursday, June 29, 2017

remember last month when I not so humbly bragged about having listened to 7 books? Ya well, that's not quite the case this month. Having said that, I haven't given up all together and still managed to listen to 4 books and, if I do say so myself, a book a week isn't too shabby.

Soooo here's what I've been reading:

As you may know, part of the reason I got into listening to books was so I could participate in the Blended Blog's book club. This has given me some great book recommendations and allowed me to connect with some fellow readers/listeners.

In June the Blended Blog switched things up a bit and Alison, of Puppies and Pretties, organized all of us who were interested in pairs. We each got a recommendation from the person we were paired up with and recommended something for them. The goal of this was getting us to read something out of our comfort zone.

I got paired up with Alison (the organizer extraordinaire) and I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to expect because I know Alison reads a lot of Fantasy novels and that's something completely out of the norm for me. Alison picked Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel. She told me prior to my starting that it was a kind of funny book with vampires and werewolves... not my typical read but I was open... So here's my review:

Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel - Alison didn't lie (obviously), this novel was filled with all things supernatural including vampires, werewolves and ghosts. She was also right in how surprisingly humorous it was. I found myself laughing, smiling and smirking at multiple points during my listen - this made more interesting, I'm sure, by the fact that I listen while at the gym and the random giggles and grins make me look a wee bit unbalanced or perhaps like I'm really enjoying my workout. Despite my initial doubt about this book, I very much enjoyed it. Actually, I enjoyed it so much that it's highly likely I'll be reading/listening to the next book in the series at some point! Thanks Alison for organizing AND making me branch out. My favorite part of this book? The unlikely and somewhat hilarious love story throughout - who knew?!

What else have I been listening to?

The Handmaid's Tale - Truthfully, my motivation for adding this to my playlist was primarily the fact that it seemed like everyone was talking about the tv series and I felt like it only made sense to read/listen to it before watching the series. I have a vague recollection of this being on a reading list in late high school but I'm confident I skipped that selection because the story seemed brand new to me. The whole plot is disturbing but oddly fascinating. It was also a really interesting listen not just because of the story line but some of the words and phrasing used (I won't lie, I busted out Google for a few words lol). Having started the tv series now (and dragged Mr. B along for the ride) I'd highly recommend reading or listening to the book first.

Anne of Green Gables - Alright, Canadian girl confession? I have NEVER read this book. Yes, I'm probably the only Canadian woman who didn't read this as a child and the truth of the matter is the real reason I decided to listen to it was because I came across it on Audible and it was only $0.49. Seriously, you can't buy a second hand book at a garage sale for that much anymore. It was a good, wholesome, fairly feel-good story but there's little point in my recommending it, particularly to my Canadian friends, as I highly suspect they've already read it lol

What Alice Forgot - My dear blogger friend, Deena, recommended this one as my next read. For some reason I was hooked within the first few minutes. Despite it being a fairly lengthy selection at almost 14 hours, I completed this book in record time (4 days). I found myself coming up with all kinds of things to do that allowed me to listen to this book (think walks, cleaning the bathroom, dishes, folding laundry - the list goes on). It's hard to pinpoint what I liked so much about this book but I think it boils down to the different way we perceive relationships and how sometimes we just need a little perspective, or perhaps to lose 10 years of memories. Either way, a great read/listen and I'd highly recommend. Thanks Deena.

You can sign up for our book club online - since we had some great recommendations in our pairings last month, we're using those titles as our selections for July and August - read (or listen to) one or read them all! Your call.

If you've posted a book review don't forget to linkup below!

a proud mom moment

Friday, June 9, 2017

Motherhood is a lot of things. It’s a big mix of constant contradictions like immense love and utter frustration. Motherhood often means perpetually doubting yourself and your abilities and praying that your children turn out alright in spite of you.

I am a mom, come October (ish), I will be a mom to three, yes three, little human beings.That means three times the self-doubt my friends. That's a heck of a lot of self-doubt.

Most moms I know have said this once or a million times, but becoming a mother has been both the greatest gift and the most challenging thing that has ever happened to me.

Some moments, heck, some days I struggle HARD.

I worry a lot and I make mistakes and I think, for me, the most difficult part is knowing that we, as parents, have such a profound impact on these little humans and truly not wanting to mess it all up.

Then… something happens and one of my incredible human beings does something so remarkable that it causes a shift. Something happens that causes tears to well up in my eyes as I beam with pride and not just in the little person who has astounded me so, but also in myself, and my parenting partner (shout out to Mr. B), because, gosh darn it, if one of our littles can do something so awesome, well, we MUST be doing at least something right. Right?

Now with that intro, you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m going on about and I’ll tell you. Before I do, I’ll warn that to most, this may not seem as remarkable as I am leading on, but to me, it’s confirmation that we’re all doing ‘okay’ and that is nothing short of awesome.

The morning I'm writing about started like most. I left early to go to the gym (that in and of itself is something) and got home just as Mr. B was getting the kids up and dressed. Not surprising, little miss was fighting the 'getting ready' process. To say it kindly, she's not a morning person (I feel ya hun). Anyways, I walked into a battle royale as Mr. B was trying to patiently negotiate what pants she was going to wear under her dress. In an attempt to be helpful, I took over trying to offer a plethora of options, surely providing one that would be viable. There were NO pants that would please little miss. We threw up our respective hands in frustration, me heading to the shower and Mr. B opting for the child to go pant-less while she ate and he'd pick up the battle prior to leaving the house.

Things continued as usual. The kids ate, I secluded myself to my bathroom to ready for the day. As things were wrapping up I crossed Mr. B's path coming up the stairs only I noticed a giant smile on his face. I love the man, but he doesn't usually walk around all smiley-like for no reason. Naturally, my curiosity was peaked and I asked "what's that smile for?". He obliged my inquiry and explained that, while successfully getting little miss to put on her pants (ones, I might add, that we had already picked and got denied) she cooperated and was quiet for a moment. She then asked him for a hug and a kiss and said "I'm sorry I was grumpy with you this morning, that was not very nice". Tears flooded my just-mascara'd eyes.

I looked down the stairs and saw her still sitting at the bottom, waiting for her dad to come usher her out the door and I said "Annabelle, I'm so proud of you for telling daddy you were sorry" and her response was "mommy, I need to talk to you too". I went downstairs and she gave me the biggest, most genuine hug and kiss and said "I'm sorry to you too, I was grumpy and wasn't talking very nice". I thanked her for her apology, said we all have grumpy mornings (because, let's be serious) and said the important part is she knows it was hurtful and she said she was sorry and hopefully will learn to try and be more kind next time.

But guys, I walked away from that embrace literally glowing with pride. My daughter, our just 4 year old daughter, had enough insight to know that she was grumpy, that she hadn't been treating us kindly and she had the awareness and the want to apologize and to try and remedy the hurt.

Yes, it's what she should have done, it's what you might expect from an adult but truthfully, I know some adults who aren't able to recognize when they've done wrong like this, let alone genuinely apologize for it.

Even writing this, a week later (because I started writing the morning of, but you know, life and all of that) I'm still so incredibly proud of that little girl but I'm also proud of her father and I. We are NOT perfect parents. We mess up, probably more often than either of us would care to admit. Life can be hard, adulting is challenging and parenting can try even the most patient of souls. These little people, as they reveal themselves to us, are helping us recognize that 1) we all make mistakes but the important part is that we do what we can to acknowledge those mistakes, apologize and try and do better next time and 2) we need to give ourselves more credit because gosh darn it, if our kids are learning these things from us, we're obviously doing something right!

This also serves as a reminder for those not-so-stellar moments that there are little people watching practically ALL.THE.TIME. Little people who learn from us how to be in the world and how to treat other people. This is a gift, an honor and a HUGE responsibility. Good thing situations like this lead me more and more to believe that we might just be up to the challenge and they may just turn out alright in spite of us - fingers crossed :)

Book review - May reads

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Happy Thursday and welcome to my book review post.

I need to tell you that I'm rather impressed with myself these days because I'm keeping up with all the recommended reads from the Blended Blog's bookclub - GO ME!!!

This is month #2 in the book club for me and I'm loving it. I reviewed all 4 April reads already (and there were some good ones so make sure you check them out) and I've been very busy in May. To be fair, I'm not technically "reading" the books but rather listening to them via the audible app on my iphone. In short, listening to books is a much more realistic way for this busy lady to actually enjoy some books. Plus, I find it keeps me productive with other things (i.e. working out or cleaning) as I can multi-task while listening - HELLO productivity!!

In May, I not only finished the 4 book club books but also added a couple more to my list (woohoo!).

First, the book club picks:

Thunderstruck - this was my least favorite listen to date. I finished it but if I had of been reading as opposed to listening, I wouldn't have given up early on. This book had great reviews online and was supposed to be a story about the interwoven lives of two men and emerging technology. I also read that people found it incredibly suspenseful. I did not. Sure, near the end things got more interested and captivating, but truthfully, there was far too much technological language and unnecessary detail that I was fairly bored. I don't like to be negative but this was definitely not the book for me.

The Magnolia Story - read by the subjects of the book, Chip and Joanna Gaines share a detailed look of their lives together. Chip and Jo take the reader/listener through their relationship and professional histories and documents all the trials and successes along the way. In all honesty, I've watched half an episode of Fixer Upper and it was late at night so I missed "the big reveal" because I fell asleep. I think that had I had some prior knowledge of the couple/show I would have definitely found the book more enjoyable. It was okay, but just okay to me. Having said that, I'm more inclined to watch the show if it's on (and not too late at night) as I know a little more about the couple. I also feel the need to add that some of it just seemed a little unrealistic to me, like no matter how tough things got, everything just seemed to work out for the better. I'm not sure everyone can relate to that kind of life experience. Kind of ambivalent about recommending it - I'd say, if you're a fan of the show, have a read/listen for sure, otherwise, I'd say skip it.

The Shack - a fiction novel that deals with faith and religion and devastating loss. I was unsure about this book prior to starting but have to admit it caught me off guard, in a good way. I was worried it would be a little too "magical" for me (if that makes sense) but I really enjoyed the listen and found it to be incredibly thought-provoking. Instead of it feeling far-fetched, I found this book inspiring and it served as a jumping point for me to consider what my own faith looks like and what that means in my day-to-day life. I would definitely recommended reading or listening to this one.

The Arrangement - this was my pick for the book club this month. I picked it because it was said to be both hilarious and emotional and it had glowing reviews. In short, it's about a couple who decides to try having an open marriage. It was an easy listen, had interesting characters and left me wondering how things would end up. I found this book to be a good representation of the changes and challenges that most relationships face and while most of us will never endeavor an open marriage (hell to the no for this lady), you can certainly see aspects of your relationship in that of the main characters. A great summer read and entertaining start to finish.

Books I picked for myself:

A Man Called Ove - a heartwarming story about a grumpy old man who you can't help but simultaneously dislike and love. I found this book humorous in an unsuspecting way and I couldn't help but giggle out loud at some of this miserable man's antics. I also found myself smirking as his walls got broken down by his new found friends. A beautiful read/listen and really makes you consider the impact we have on the lives on others.

I Liked My Life: A Novel - I happened upon this title while browsing for my next listen on Audible. I am so glad I picked it! This book instantly captivated my attention and I found myself doing anything I could to find time to listen (even putting away laundry!!!). I finished this one very quickly and it held my interest every second. A thoughtful story about family, love, loss and death. I know books are supposed to leave you wanting more but this was left me feeling perfectly satisfied. Although, I would absolutely read more from this author based solely on this book.

Leaving Time - my third Jodi Picoult book and I have yet to be disappointed. This book follows a young teenage girl and her unlikely companions in the search for her missing mother. The book takes place from a number of different character perspectives and while I sometimes find that challenging to listen to, I found this book was able to do it in a way that left me unsure who I wanted to hear from next but wanting to know more from each perspective. I liked all the interesting information about elephants and their nature (though, I'm sure to some it might seem like too much information) and how alike humans they seem to be. The ending was a complete shock to me and left me rethinking the entire book (in a good way). If you like Jodi Picoult, Leaving Time does not disappoint.

I JUST realized that I listened to 7 books this month!!!!!!! That's much better than the 1 a year I was averaging post-children. Yup, listening to books is definitely the way to go for me.

Have you read any of these books? I'd love to hear your thoughts?

Anything amazing reads I need to add to my "must read/listen" list?

Wanna join in on the book club fun? You're not too late to start reading one (or more) of ours May picks!! Just go to The Blended Blog book club signup and you're all set

Link up your book-related posts with my Blended Blog friends and I below: