Showing posts with label pregnancy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pregnancy. Show all posts

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Driving Lessons by Zoe Fishman

Title:  Driving Lessons
Author: Zoe Fishman
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

When Sarah and her husband trade in a crowded commute, cramped apartment, and high stress New York City jobs for life the slow lane in Farmwood, VA, the pressure is on to have a baby. At thirty-six Sarah knows it's time to get started, but the urgency motivating her to reach this pinnacle of self-fulfillment looms large. Meanwhile, her best friend Mona, a single and successful editor who's always wanted children, is diagnosed with cervical cancer. At the same time, Sarah's younger and seemingly perfect sister-in-law has just given birth to her son, Franklin. When Sarah uproots her new life with her husband in Virginia to return to New York and care for Mona, the three women will help each other navigate their new realities.

My Review:

Ah, women's fiction.  Lord knows it's been one of my preferred genres for a long time.  Especially when it's also borderline "mommy fiction", like Driving Lessons.  I love it when an author can really dive deep into the emotional side of marriage, motherhood, and friendships: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Driving Lessons attempts to do just that.  Sarah is balancing a huge career change, her marriage, a big move from NYC to the countryside, her relationship with her sister-in-law, her best friend's hysterectomy, and the decision of whether or not she wants to be a mother.  Tough, thought-provoking stuff.  All this, plus she hasn't driven a car in years, so she needs to take driving lessons once she moves down to Virginia.  (Cue "Very Obvious Metaphor Used Throughout Novel".  Sorry, don't mean to be snarky.  It just nags me a bit when the metaphors are SO blatant.)

It's hard not to like Sarah.  She's a fun, somewhat socially awkward thirty-something, who manages to approach most of the mishaps that are thrown at her with a positive attitude and good humor.  But this inherent likeability is also the reason why this book probably will not leave a lasting impression on me.  Everything just seems to come up roses for most of the characters...even when they are battling truly devastating circumstances (like her friend Mona, who is diagnosed with cancer).  Many of the characters themselves seem a tad too perfect (Sarah's husband Josh pretty much fits every mold for Model Husband).  And the girl-power love-fests just got to be WAY too much for me after a while.  So many of the female-to-female conversations devolved into "You're so wonderful!", "No, YOU are!" scenarios that I started to gag a little towards the end.

Overall, I like the premise of this novel.  It has a heartwarming message.  And I had a good time getting to know Sarah.  But with SO many tough issues to explore, I expected something a little more hard-hitting, and a little less perfectly tied together.  I usually do like the inherent optimism of women's fiction novels, but this one tipped a bit too much on the happy-girl-power scale for me to really get behind it.  There has to be a few thorns in the roses sometimes, I suppose.

As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Zoe Fishman on her website and Twitter.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Book Review: The Stork Reality by Malena Lott

Title: The Stork Reality
Author: Malena Lott
Publisher: Buzz Books
Publication Date: February 25, 2012
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

What to expect when you're expecting? For Jake and Taylor, a career-driven couple that hadn't planned on having kids, it's a nine-month roller coaster ride. 

Creative director Taylor Montgomery gets the surprise of her life when she finds out she's pregnant the same day her best friend, Hilarie, finds out she's not. Taylor never wanted to be a mom, but it's all Hilarie has dreamed about. The Stork Reality updates this novel about the journey to motherhood and how pregnancy changes marriage, work, and even close friendships. 

Taylor gets a dose of the stork reality as she maneuvers the wild new world of moms-to-be and comes to terms with what it means to be a family. 

My Review:

My first read of 2014!  I actually finished this book around 3am on January 1, so it just barely made it into the new year.  Here's to a year's worth of new reads.  :)

The front cover of this book has a critic's quote on the front that says it's a blend of chick-lit and mom-lit.  I'd say that nails it fairly well (and with the caveat that you should be pretty familiar with pregnancy/childbirth before reading...certain specifics of it are not explained very well for the layperson who might be reading).  The main character, Taylor, is a high-powered ad exec (think Mad Men), married to a high-powered lawyer, and no real plans for kids in her future.  She's got a great job, she's in tip-top shape, her husband is a hottie, and she has a pack of girlfriends to hang out with.  Chick lit: check.

But, Taylor very unexpectedly finds out that she's pregnant.  Whoops.  Now she's got 9 months to figure out this whole baby/mothering thing.  Mom lit: check.

I've read my fair share of "mommy fiction", and while this book was fun, I can't say it was my favorite.  A lot of the book felt a bit disjointed to me.  For example, (as mentioned in the description above), Taylor's friend Hilarie is battling infertility during Taylor's pregnancy.  This is pretty emotionally draining for Hilarie, of course--if you know anyone who has faced infertility, you know that's true across the board.  So that's why I was rather surprised when Hilarie's dream finally does come true...with very little fanfare.  It happened quickly and without the sort of massive celebration I expected leading up to the event.  I felt similarly about how Taylor's husband (Jake) came around to the idea of the pregnancy.  He does such a quick about-face in his attitude towards it, it almost seemed like he wasn't the same character.

Then there's this whole backstory about Taylor trying to come to terms with her parents' deaths...I don't know.  I just wasn't feeling it.  I think the real issue is that this book tried to tackle some emotionally difficult problems, but wrote about them so shallowly that they weren't really given their due.  It's hard to write with a chick-litty flair and still be able to let your main character properly explore her deeper attachment issues, you know?  And it's not like the book made up for it in humor, because I didn't get much of that either.  As a result, the writing seemed rather bland overall.

Final verdict...if you want something light and have an interest in pregnancy/mommy related fiction, this may be a good way to pass the time.  But I do think there are other options within this genre that tackle the issues better, with more humor, and more depth.

What was your first read of 2014, friends?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ALL HAIL TATER TOT! He has arrived!

Hello bloggy friends!  Well, you can never say that I'm not good at scheduling posts, seeing as how the last three you've read here were all, obviously, scheduled before this major life event occurred...

That's right, darling Tater Tot decided to make his grand entrance into the world last Wednesday, December 11 at 6:01pm.  Momma here was only 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant, so it was certainly unexpected (seeing as how Small Fry stuck around for 40 weeks and 6 days...).  :)

Lil' Tater was a healthy 7lbs 12oz, 20.5 inches long, and super super adorable (which clearly goes without saying):

It's been a whirlwind of a week, but we have fallen in love with our new little guy and it's been great settling in as a family of four!

As mentioned previously, posting may be scarce here for a wee bit (though these 3am feedings really are helped along by my Kindle).  But I promise I am not completely disappearing.  I will have more booky goodness for you very soon!!  MUAH!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Final Countdown: November 2013 in Review

IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!  (**cue cheesy synthesizer music**)

That's right, my darlings--only 21 days until Tater Tot's due date.  I can hardly believe it.  (Never mind, I can totally believe it, because I am the size of a house.)  Most moments, I'm ready and super psyched for him to make his debut.  A few other moments, I'm like, "OMG WHAT DID WE DO?  AM I REALLY READY TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR 2 TINY HUMANS?"  And then I LOL and figure that ship has long sailed, so panic time is over and I am back to being super psyched.

Fair warning that I will probably go MIA for quite some time after Mr. TT arrives.  Though of course, I will try to at least pop on here and let you know that he HAS arrived.  But afterwards, I'll be going pretty light on the reading until things calm down around here.  I hope you will bear with me during my book blog "maternity leave"!  I plan to get back in the game as soon as I can, though I'm guessing it won't be for a month or two, we shall see.  I do know that I have my trusty Kindle Paperwhite to help me through those 2am feedings, so that should help me along.  :)

For now, I am trying to devour any reading that I can find the time for, while at the same time, devouring all the food in my fridge, since I only have about 21 more days in my life where this will be socially and gastronomically acceptable.
Me and Giant Tater Tot, rocking out in the Thanksgiving snow
Anyway, how was the reading this month?

I am going to do my fave/least fave picks, because I always do, but they really don't feel very fair this month, because all 6 of the books I read were good!  So the "least fave" is definitely not a bad's just #6 on a list of enjoyable books I read this month.  Capiche?

November 2013 Favorite Book:  The Whole Golden World  by Kristina Riggle
November 2013 Least Favorite (but still good) Book:  The Preservationist by Justin Kramon

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:

The Preservationist by Justin Kramon
The Last Camellia  by Sarah Jio
Buying In by Laura Hemphill
The Whole Golden World  by Kristina Riggle
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
The Memory Palace  by Mira Bartok

Otherwise, I volunteered at the Rochester Children's Book Festival, and did a Small Fry Saturday post for How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen.

Posts you can (hopefully) look forward to before this giant baby arrives: 
-my "Best Books of 2013" list, 
-a review of my 2013 resolutions (as well as a list of my new ones for 2014), and 
-a wrap-up of all the crazy reading challenges I signed up for this year.  

What do you think, Tater Tot?  Can you stay all up in my belly until I get that stuff written?

Friday, November 1, 2013

October 2013 in Review!

Happy NOVEMBER, readers!

October has flown by in the blink of an eye.  We are pretty much all settled into our house, and have now been working on projects like painting the baby's room, hanging pictures on the walls, and staring disdainfully at the last 3-4 boxes that need to be unpacked.  (Isn't it ALWAYS the case that there's 3-4 boxes of stuff that you're like...why do I even OWN this?  WHO NEEDS 50 PICTURE FRAMES?)

Stay-at-home mom life has been great.  Small Fry and I have found tons of stuff to do; there is never a boring day around here, that's fo' sho'.  I am so happy that I'm getting this time with him alone before the baby as well.  He keeps me VERY busy.  :)  And, I can't believe that I can now say Tater Tot is due NEXT month.  That's insanity.  Part of me just wants the baby to get here already, while the other part of me is freaking out because THERE'S TOO MUCH TO DO!  Isn't that always the way...

In other news, my brother did get married last month (as I mentioned), and he had an absolutely fabulous wedding day.  Much fun was had by all, his bride was gorgeous, and Small Fry was a very flippin' adorable ring bearer.  Driving 8 hours each way while 30 weeks pregnant is not on my list of things to do again, but in this case, it was worthsies.
Wedding time for me, Small Fry, the Hubs, and Tater Tot (hiding in my ginormous belly)
Anyway, how was the reading this month?

The October 2013 Fave/Least Fave picks were tough, because I really had three AWESOME reads that I couldn't decide between, but in the end:

October 2013 Favorite:  Sharp Objects  by Gillian Flynn
October 2013 Least Favorite:  The Stranger You Know  by Andrea Kane

In total, I read/reviewed 5 books:

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane
We Are Water by Wally Lamb
The Dinner by Herman Koch

Otherwise, I gave my thoughts on the World War Z movie, and we talked about my inappropriate internet search habits.

Oh and also, I FINISHED my Goodreads goal of reading at least 60 books this year!  WOOOOOO!  Savor that, because when this baby shows, methinks 2014 won't see nearly so much reading.  Le sigh...

I hope you all have a great November!  I am really stoked for Thanksgiving this year, as we are hosting and it will be tons o' fun to have our whole family at the new house with us for a few days.  Hope all my other (American) friends have big turkey day plans on the horizon as well!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Moved In! September 2013 in Review

Another busy month around these parts!  Obviously my posting frequency has gone down lately, but I am happy to report that we are fully moved into our new home...PHEW!!  We are still busy with unpacking the last few boxes, making endless trips to Home Depot, and wishing we had a box spring (our queen size box spring didn't fit up the stairs...therefore, I have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the last 3 weeks as we await our new!), but overall the move went well and I am looking forward to getting into a routine around here.

We did have lots of exciting milestones this month too.  The Hubs and I celebrated our 6-year anniversary, though it landed smack on moving day, so it was mostly celebrated by unloading boxes and sweating too much.  Still, a great day:

I also had my 30th birthday (as you know), and I hit the third trimester of this crazy pregnancy!  Time is flying and I can't believe I have less than 3 months til Tater Tot arrives.  EEK!!  Here's an update on my growing bump for ya...this was taken when we went out to dinner for my birthday (27ish weeks), and I feel the moving boxes as background are very appropriate:

Otherwise, I have been trying to fit in all the reading I can with my new birthday gift, a Kindle Paperwhite (thanks Mom!).  I am pretty much in lurve with it, madly and deeply.

Anyway, how was the reading this month?

The September 2013 Fave/Least Fave picks go to:

September 2013 Favorite:  Flowers for Algernon  by Daniel Keyes
September 2013 Least Favorite:  Help for the Haunted by John Searles

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:

Early Decision  by Lacy Crawford
The Shining by Stephen King
Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Expecting Better by Emily Oster
Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Otherwise, I celebrated my favorite books of love, and created my "30 Books to Read by 35" list (kinda) in honor of my epic birthday.

Now, on to October!  Month of fall and pumpkins and PSLs and way too many apples!  (Seriously, we went apple picking last weekend and I have a bushel of them, so send me all your apple recipes before I develop a fruit fly problem.)  Enjoy your month, reader friends!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Title: Expecting Better
Author: Emily Oster
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Source: copy received from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Pregnancy is full of rules. Pregnant women are often treated as if they were children, given long lists of items to avoid—alcohol, caffeine, sushi— without any real explanation from their doctors about why. They hear frightening and contradictory myths about everything from weight gain to sleeping on your back to bed rest from friends and  pregnancy books. Award-winning economist Emily Oster believes there is a better way. In Expecting Better, Oster shows that the information given to pregnant women is sometimes wrong and almost always oversimplified, and she debunks a host of standard recommendations on everything from drinking to fetal testing.

When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless to make the right decisions for her pregnancy. How doctors think and what patients need are two very different things. So Oster drew on her own experience and went in search of the real facts about pregnancy using an economist’s tools. Economics is not just a study of finance. It’s the science of determining value and making informed decisions. To make a good decision, you need to understand the information available to you and to know what it means to you as an individual.

Take alcohol. We all know that Americans are cautious about drinking during pregnancy. Official recommendations call for abstinence. But Oster argues that the medical research doesn’t support this; the vast majority of studies show no impact from an occasional drink. The few studies that do condemn light drinking are deeply flawed, including one in which the light drinkers were also heavy cocaine users.

Expecting Better overturns standard recommendations for alcohol, caffeine, sushi, bed rest, and induction while putting in context the blanket guidelines for fetal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of thirty-five, and nausea, among others.

Oster offers the real-world advice one would never get at the doctor’s office. Knowing that the health of your baby is paramount, readers can know more and worry less. Having the numbers is a tremendous relief—and so is the occasional glass of wine.

This groundbreaking guidebook is as fascinating as it is practical.

My Review:

Apologies in advance for the limited potential audience for this review book, readers.  However, when I first heard about this new release from Emily Oster (mostly through countless emails/texts from my friends that said "This is YOUR pregnancy book!"), I knew I had to read it ASAP.

Pregnant ladies, throw away your copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting, because Expecting Better is...better.

When I was pregnant with Small Fry, I often found myself frustrated with the advice in traditional pregnancy books.  WTEWYE, in my opinion, is basically a user's manual for everything that can potentially go wrong in your pregnancy--and often with no true indication of how likely/unlikely that is.  Others are somewhat better (my personal favorite was Your Pregnancy Week By Week), but still included annoyingly specific pregnancy diets (does anyone actually follow those?) and week-by-week ranges for how much weight you should have gained (spoiler alert: I was always (ALWAYS) heavier than the recommended range...woo, ego boost!).

Doctor's advice can help to counter the confusing info in these books, but is often just as difficult to interpret.  I remember asking my OB if I needed to avoid hot dogs due to listeria risk during pregnancy.  Her answer: "Well, in all my time as an OB, I've only seen one woman get listeria during pregnancy, so I think you are fine to eat them."  This cleared up nothing for me.  How long has she been practicing?  (Am I her 10th patient and that one listeria case happened last week?)  Did that one patient get listeria from hot dogs, or from something else?  I ended up avoiding them completely, much to my ballpark-frank-loving dissatisfaction.

Okay, so given all that, let's talk about Expecting Better.  If you want to really know the whys for all those pregnancy rules, this is YOUR pregnancy book.  Emily Oster is an economist, and approached her pregnancy with an economist's view of the rules.  So if her doctor told her that she couldn't drink alcohol--she wanted to know why.  She went into all the medical studies surrounding the topic, gathered the findings, and helpfully compiled them here for you to read.  She does NOT rewrite the rules, or tell you what you should/shouldn't be doing during your pregnancy.  Instead, she presents you with the scientific findings for each question, and it is then up to you, as the babymaker, to use those findings to make informed decisions.

Oster covers a long list of topics here: alcohol/caffeine/smoking during pregnancy, the foods that are most likely to include a listeria risk (not what you would think), the true risks involved with sleeping on your right side/left side/back, proper amounts of exercise, pros/cons of an episiotomy, etc.

Admittedly, some parts can get a little dry (this is a compilation of scientific studies, after all), but I learned more from this book than I did from every other pregnancy guide combined.  I feel like a smarter, more informed baby-baker.  Does this mean I'm going against all of my doctor's advice because of what Oster wrote?  No.  But it does mean that I can ask smarter questions when I'm having discussions with her during appointments, and can advocate more clearly for myself in various labor situations.  For that alone, this book is worth its weight in gold.

It is true that Oster has been slaughtered a bit in the media for going against the "traditional" pregnancy advice in some areas.  For example, her research on drinking during pregnancy shows that a few drinks in moderation do not have negative effects on the fetus--definitely NOT what your doctor usually tells you.  However, as I said earlier, the thing I like about this book is that Oster is not telling you to drink.  She's putting the facts on your radar, and then it's your job to use that information to make your own decisions.  I'd like to think I'm an intelligent person, and as such, I appreciate the fact that this book empowers me to use that intelligence in my pregnancy decision-making.

I think it's safe to say that every pregnant (or hopes-to-be-pregnant) woman should read this book.  It will give you a better understanding of your pregnancy, and allow you to make better decisions for your baby--who doesn't want that?

What's your favorite pregnancy "manual"?  And if you're not interested in pregnancy or being pregnant, tell me something awesome about penguins, or something.  Haha...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Review: Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti

Title: Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores The Truth About Parenting and Happiness
Author: Jessica Valenti
Publisher: New Harvest
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Source: personal purchase

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

If parenting is making Americans unhappy, if it’s impossible to “have it all,” if people don’t have the economic, social, or political structures needed to support child rearing, then why do it? And why are anxious new parents flocking to every Tiger Mother and Bébé-raiser for advice on how to raise kids?
In  Why Have Kids?,  Valenti explores these controversial questions through on-the-ground reporting, startling new research, and her own unique experiences as a mom. She moves beyond the black and white “mommy wars” over natural parenting, discipline, and work-life balance to explore a more nuanced reality: one filled with ambivalence, joy, guilt, and exhaustion. 
Would-be parents must navigate the decision to have children amidst a daunting combination of cultural expectations and hard facts. And new parents find themselves struggling to reconcile their elation with the often exhausting, confusing, and expensive business of child care. When researchers for a 2010 Pew study asked parents why they decided to have their first child, nearly 90 percent answered, for “the joy of having children.” Yet nearly every study in the last ten years shows a marked decline in the life satisfaction of those with kids.  Valenti explores this disconnect between parents’ hopes and the day-to-day reality of raising children—revealing all the ways mothers and fathers are quietly struggling. A must-read for parents as well as those considering starting a family,  Why Have Kids?  is an explosive addition to the conversation about modern parenthood.

My Review:

I heard about this book when it was first released last year, and it stuck out in my mind because I remembered many media outlets commenting on the "controversial" nature of its contents.  As a new-ish mom myself, I couldn't help but wonder what Valenti was touching on that could be getting so many people's backs up.  I bought myself a copy for Christmas, finally got around to it--and now I understand the hype, though I wouldn't say it's anything unique to the world of parenting discussion topics.

Valenti's central question is, why do people choose to have kids, especially when so much research shows that parents are, on the whole, not as happy as adults without kids?  And if parenthood is making so many people unhappy--why?  Can that be changed?

From the first page, Valenti had my wheels turning--if nothing else, this book is thought-provoking from cover to cover.  I think I did more Kindle highlights in this text than any other book, ever.  I'm tempted to go through her book point-by-point and analyze it for you, but I'll spare you the diatribes.  My bottom line on it is this: Valenti has gathered some interesting research for sure.  She touches on a variety of hot-button issues, such as whether it's better to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, whether it's fair to say that parenting is really the "hardest job in the world", and if breastfeeding really is "best".  (I know, do you smell blood in the water, or what?)  Valenti relies on many scientific studies in her discussions of these issues, which is helpful--if I wanted a blanket criticism of stay-at-home moms, I can jump on pretty much any mom blog/chat forum and have a field day.

However, the problem I had with this book is that Valenti is completely and undoubtedly biased, one way or the other, on each issue she mentions.  As such, the research she draws upon for many of her conclusions are primarily from studies that support her opinions.  Yes, she will cite a few contrary studies here and there, but her tone in writing is so skewed that you can tell she gave those alternate viewpoints short shrift.  (And this is coming from someone who agreed with many of her biases--hello, one of my favorite quotes from the book has got to be "Hell hath no fury like La Leche League scorned.")

Because of this, I found myself alternately loving this book, and feeling annoyed by it.  I wanted to be able to take it seriously as an unbiased discussion of these issues, especially because, in the end, she does make some strong points about how we can make parenting better.  But Valenti's obvious preferences prevented me from fully doing that.  Prime example: at the end of her discussion on working vs. stay at home moms, she essentially finishes by stating, "I hate to say one of these is better than the other...but heck, I'm going to say it anyway" before she gives her (not entirely empirically-supported) opinion on why working moms are better off.  That was a head-scratcher.

However, the book did make me think more critically about these topics than the usual mom blog or forum would, which I appreciate.  Her final points (like encouraging us to raise our children in a community, do away with the idea of "natural" parenting, and support each other in our parenting efforts) are absolutely worth putting into practice.  And the flame-worthy factor of her opinions made for interesting brain candy, at least.

Overall, I'd say this book is a shining example of why the "mommy wars" exist in the first place.  It's nearly impossible to have a discussion on these issues without letting your bias show through.  I appreciate that Valenti tried to back her opinions up with some research, but I wish she had made a better effort to show both sides of the coin.  Even so, if you're a parent (or thinking of becoming one) and want a quick, thought-provoking read, I'd recommend it.

Have you read any "controversial" nonfiction lately?

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Surprise and A Sorry: July 2013 in Review

What a month July has been!  To recap...I will start with the "surprise" part of my post title.

Last week was our appointment to find out if Tater Tot (hereby the official blog name of baby #2) is a boy or a girl.  We didn't find out before Small Fry was born, so it was kind of exciting to get the reveal this early.  ALL of our friends and family were predicting girl.  And guess what?

All of our friends and family are terrible guessers.

Tater Tot is a BOY!  Woohoo!  Here comes a little brother for Small Fry!  Somebody break out the first aid kits, I'm going to need them with all these little men in my life!
Don't worry, I'm not posting the picture of his "goods".  I am not THAT mom.
Beyond that, our lives have been filled with getting ready to MOVE.  Our official move date to the temporary rental house is this coming Monday.  EEEEKKKK.  Most of my life is in boxes right now.  But hopefully by mid-next-week we will be somewhat settled into our temporary residence.

The "sorry" is for how spotty my posting will probably be during the next few weeks.  We have next week's move, and then we'll be spending lots of time getting settled and figuring out our new neighborhood/town.  I will be charging into my new adventure as a stay-at-home-mom.  And, by the end of the month, we will be preparing for our second (and FINAL) move into the new house, in September.  Don't worry, I do have some reviews lined up, but I just might not be very comment-respondy or Twitter-chatty.  I will let you know when life returns to normal though!

Onward to the July reading!

The July 2013 Fave/Least Fave choices are deceiving this month, because I can't say I disliked any of the books I read...I just liked some more than others.  So my "least fave" shouldn't be read as being a "bad" novel, capiche?

June 2013 Favorite:  Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
June 2013 Least Favorite:  A Woman in Jerusalem by A.B. Yehoshua

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Joyland by Stephen King
July 7th by Jill McCorkle
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
A Woman in Jerusalem by A.B. Yehoshua
Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

I also posted 2 new Small Fry Saturday Reviews of On The Night You Were Born  by Nancy Tillman, and Roadwork by Sally Sutton.

In addition, we chatted about my biggest reading pet peeve, things that make me tell a book to talk to the hand, and the generalized chaos in my life.

So here comes August...month of moving.  AND 1-year Blogoversary!!  Stay tuned for that, I will definitely have a fun giveaway lined up.

Have a great month, readers!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

NEWS: Part 2!

I've kept you waiting long enough, eh?  Here's part 2 of my non-book-related news (recap part 1 here).

My reviews were kind of lackluster for a few weeks in May/early June.  Posting was scarce.  I tweeted a lot about food.

That would be because I'm pregnant.
Beaching the baby belly in Cape May last week
That's right kids!  Small Fry is getting a tiny companion in a few months.  December, to be exact.  (Christmas Eve, if you want to be more exact, although if this one is anything like Small Fry, we'll be watching the ball drop in Times Square before he/she arrives.  LATECOMER.)

In addition to being tired and somewhat sick, I have also been super nervous for the last few months, because remember when I posted about how February sucked?  That's because I had a miscarriage.  Which really did suck, emotionally more than physically.  So when I found out I was pregnant again in April, I got scurred.  I was reluctant to tell anyone and I didn't even want to treat it like the real deal, for fear of getting too attached.  However, we've had countless ultrasounds and prenatal visits by now, and things have been going smoothly.  I'm 14 weeks along and getting way more excited now that I'm in a safer spot, time-wise.

Anywho, I hope this explains a few things from the last couple of months: fewer "creative" posts, less presence on Twitter, fewer comments on other blogs.  I even had to post one of my Novel Publicity blog tour stops 2 days late (felt really bad about it, too), because I felt so tired/nauseous from morning sickness that I couldn't look at my Kindle for days on end.  (You know it's bad when the book blogger can't even bring herself to READ.  Oh my.)

This also explains why my monthly wrap-up posts have been kind of vague.  "Oh, I had a good month" in April should roughly translate to "OMG I'M IN A FAMILY WAY, Y'ALL!!  But I can't tell you yet.  Frick."

Nowadays, I am back from vacation and firmly in the second trimester (read: less nausea and fatigue), so I hope you will see a kick of enthusiasm from me around here.

So that's my news, officially out in the blogosphere.  I promise I won't plague you with details of my pregnancy here, but feel free to email me if you're dying to know all about round ligament pain and stretch marks.  I AIN'T SHY.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: I'll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde

Title:  I'll Take What She Has
Author: Samantha Wilde
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Source: e-ARC received via NetGalley for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Nora and Annie have been best friends since kindergarten. Nora, a shy English teacher at a quaint New England boarding school, longs to have a baby. Annie, an outspoken stay-at-home mother of two, longs for one day of peace and quiet (not to mention more money and some free time). Despite their very different lives, nothing can come between them—until Cynthia Cypress arrives on campus.
Cynthia has it all: brains, beauty, impeccable style, and a gorgeous husband (who happens to be Nora’s ex). When Cynthia eagerly befriends Nora, Annie’s oldest friendship is tested. Now, each woman must wrestle the green-eyed demon of envy and, in the process, confront imperfect, mixed-up family histories they don’t want to repeat .  Amid the hilarious and harried straits of friendship, marriage, and parenthood, the women may discover that the greenest grass is right beneath their feet.

My Review:

As I mentioned in my Monday post, I love me some mommy fiction.  Motherhood is in a unique zip code of Crazy-Town that has a very specific set of worries, rewards, and neuroses.  Women's fiction novels that deal in this area are, admittedly, targeting a very specific audience, but I think that audience is often eager to see their daily joys and sorrows brought to life on the page.

Hence my excitement for this novel.  As it opened, I found myself enamored with the two main characters, Nora and Annie.  The chapters alternate between their points-of-view.  Nora is desperate for a baby, and has been trying to conceive for nearly a year with her husband Alfie.  Her best friend Annie, on the other hand, has two "oopsie" babies (very fertile, she is) and stays at home to care for them.  She's convinced that she's meant to stay at home, and not work...or is she?

Right away, I was struck by how vividly and humorously Wilde was able to write about Nora and Annie's opposing struggles.  From Nora's frantic ovulation charting, to Annie's hectic diffusion of toddler tantrums, she had me laughing and sympathizing with both of them.  I was impressed by the wide array of mothering issues that were touched upon in the novel, and in a way that will leave mom-readers nodding and smiling as they go.  Plus, Wilde's writing style is such that she often purposely leaves you hanging with certain conversations and details, which is a great way to keep you interested from chapter to chapter.

However, in the end I felt rather lukewarm about this book.  Why?  Well, outside of the clarity with which the motherhood issues were illustrated, the rest of the book felt a little shallow.  Take, for instance, Cynthia Cypress--the new friend of Nora's that is mentioned in the book description.  She plays a fairly large role in the plot, but her character is annoyingly flat and one-sided.  For someone who has such an emotional impact on the protagonists, we learn very little about Cynthia by the end of the novel.  At first, I thought this was an attempt to shroud her in mystery, but the "reveal" about her at the end was underwhelming, and didn't seem to warrant her lack of development throughout the book.

I felt similarly about the plot action as a whole.  Its movement was very slow, and often anticlimactic.  I found that, by the conclusion, I didn't have much emotion towards how everything wrapped up.  It was rather a feeling of, "...that's it?"  Much like with Cynthia's character, the major plot events were not built up enough throughout the novel, which makes the ending feel bland.  There is also a lot of repetition in the novel, best illustrated by the constant use of the phrase "I'll take what she has" (or some variation) in the character's conversations.  This constant use of the title became grating after a while, even though the message it attempts to convey is a good one (the grass is not always greener on the other side).

Final verdict?  This book is a perfect illustration of a 3-star Goodreads review.  There were a lot of things I loved: the motherhood anecdotes, the humor, the jumping POV between characters, the underlying message.  However, there were a lot of weaknesses in the foundational parts of the book:  plot and character development.  In the end, this one was middle-of-the-road for me.

Other reviews of I'll Take What She Has:
Book'd Out
5 Minutes For Books
Life, Army Wife Style
Imagination Designs