Monday, 24 June 2019

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle - Book Review


Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle has three narrators: Beth, Jeffery, and Marcus. Beth is on the run from a violent husband. Jeffery's wife is missing, and he is the prime suspect. Marcus is the lead detective searching for Jeffery's wife.

The first half of this novel is strong. I was completely engaged, and the three narrators kept me turning the pages. Lots of little twists kept me trying to figure out Beth's true place in everything. Unfortunately, I predicted the main twist about halfway through the novel, so the ending left me feeling slightly underwhelmed. That being said, I would absolutely still try another book from this author. It has been awhile since I've read a domestic thriller, and I'm already wondering about which crime novel I'll pick up next.

Dear Wife is a quick, distracting summer read to throw in your beach bag or if you're heading on vacation. It's available tomorrow from your favourite bookseller.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel courtesy of Harper Collins Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

The Day I Finally Asked for Help With My Post-Partum Depression

I walked into our family doctor's office with my husband and our 5 month old son. The late afternoon sun was warm for September, and not at all reflective of the darkness I was feeling inside. We entered and sat in the waiting room with other patients. Rob had taken yet another afternoon off work to come with me to this appointment. One too many panicked phone calls to my husband in the middle of the day tearfully begging him to come home from work and here we were.

We had been in this waiting room a number of times over the last few months. Our family doctor sees all three of us, and we'd been to see her recently for all of our son's regular baby checkups. This time was different. This time we were here for me. Sebastian wasn't going to be bouncing on my lap as a distraction. The nurse called my name, and I followed her into one of the exam rooms. As I walked into the room alone, I felt heavy and defeated. I was finally going to have to admit out loud the challenges and sadness I'd been feeling post-partum.



My limited understanding of post-partum depression was that it meant that you wanted to hurt your baby. I certainly didn't feel that way, so it was very challenging for me to believe that I could have post-partum depression. I was exhausted and drained and often upset, but I was posting happy mommy and baby moments on social media every day. Snuggles, cute onesies, trips to the park, I really did feel joy in those moments. I never wanted to hurt our son or wish him away. We had tried and yearned for this baby for years. I loved him and was afraid that a post-partum diagnosis would symbolize that I didn't really love or want my son. I wanted to feel happy and full of warmth but, I felt weighted down with sadness and guilt. I later learned just how many levels there are within PPD.

As I waited for my doctor to come in, I tried to figure out how exactly I would say the words out loud I'd been avoiding for months. How do you describe these feelings to someone? I felt like I was at confession, and I was ashamed that I couldn't handle the challenge of motherhood. In the end, I just couldn't bring myself to actually say the words "post-partum depression".

My doctor came in, sat down beside me and asked me how she could help. I told her, "I've been feeling really sad. More sad than I think I'm supposed to be." She nodded kindly. I could tell that, thankfully, she understood my code. "Both Rob and my mom really think I should talk to someone," I added.

I was so relieved that she didn't ask me more questions. The acknowledgement alone felt like enough for one day. My doctor logged into her computer and looked up potential psychiatrists for referral. We live in a large city, so it would be easy to get access to psychiatrists that specialized in PPD and even PPD groups if I was interested. (At the time of this appointment I was absolutely not interested in a PPD group. I was embarrassed enough admitting my problems to my doctor, whom I actually know and like.)

My mom and husband had been not so subtly hinting at me for awhile that I should check in with my doctor. I hated that they were right. I felt so guilty that I couldn't handle being a mom. I was supposed to do one thing. Take care of our son. And I was failing.

Before I left my doctor's office, she reassured me that things would be ok and that I would hear very soon from a local hospital with my psychiatrist referral appointment. She made sure I understood I could come back and see her anytime and to let her know if I didn't hear from the hospital within the next few days.

That particular appointment was only a few minutes long, but it was a turning point for me. The truth was finally out in the open, though I didn't leave my doctor's office feeling magically better that day.

I was still scared, and I was still sad. All of those feelings of failure, darkness, and defeat were still coursing through my body, and I was not optimistic that those feelings could change. They were simply too heavy. I was scared about talking about being sad, and I was convinced that my friends and family would judge me for not being strong enough to handle those first few sleepless months. I was afraid I had already failed.

Yet somewhere deep within my heart I knew asking for help was important. Healing could now begin, and there was a tiny truth that I was beginning to learn. Experiencing post-partum depression didn't mean I didn't love my baby and, I was asking for help because I loved my baby.

xo
Jenn

This post was originally published on The Mighty in 2016.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Book Review


Daisy Jones & The Six is the latest release from author Taylor Jenkins Reid. It was everywhere I looked when it was published earlier this year, and I was so delighted when Penguin Random House sent me a copy to review. I absolutely loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and I couldn't wait to read another book by this author.

What happened to the (fictional) 70s rock band Daisy Jones & The Six? What caused them to suddenly break up when they seemed to be on top of the world?

Told in a documentary/oral history style, this novel answers those questions. From the exhilarating highs to the tragic lows, we learn what brought Daisy Jones & The Six together, along with what would ultimately tear them all apart.

This book really worked for me. The interview format makes it a quick read, and I think it's worth the hype it's getting. I'm not a 70s music guru even a little bit, and I loved it. I can tell that Taylor Jenkins Reid is an excellent writer because as she describes the emotion behind the creation of the songs, I would feel the tension between Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne (lead singer of The Six) and ache to hear the music in real life as I was reading. At the back of the book you can find the lyrics to the (again, entirely fictional) Daisy Jones & The Six album. I can't begin to imagine how much work and research went into writing not only this book but an entire rock and roll album as well! I'm excited to hear that Daisy Jones & The Six is going to be an Amazon Original Miniseries. It's easy to envision this as a real documentary as you're reading it.

Lastly, and importantly, similar to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid does an exceptional job at giving a voice to women and the vastly different paths our lives may lead. I don't want to share more on this because it's spoilery, so I'll simply say that how she writes female characters really stands out to me.

Daisy Jones & The Six is the type of book that will appeal to many different types of readers. I even bought seven copies to gift to all of my son's teachers at the end of the school year!



Thank you again to Penguin Random House Canada for sending a complementary copy my way to read and gush over.

xo
Jenn

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum - Book Review



"Everything in our universe is made of pieces. There's no one point at which anything is truly distinct." 
- Rachel Barenbaum, A Bend in the Stars

A Bend in the Stars is the debut novel by Rachel Barenbaum. Set in 1914 Russia, with WWI looming, Vanya, a young Jewish physicist, is in a race to prove Einstein's theory of relativity. For if he can complete the math necessary, solving this puzzle is the ticket for his family to escape their dangerous lives in Russia and move to America.

However, his journey takes him, and his sister's fiancé, far away from home. With the help of a stranger, Vanya's sister, Miri, is determined to find her brother and reunite their family.

I would have never believed that a novel about proving the theory of relativity would be fast-paced, and frankly, interesting, but that's exactly I got with A Bend in the Stars. As the characters are in conflict with both a solar eclipse and the czar's control during wartime, this is a game of cat and mouse that will keep you engaged. The characters are likeable, and I always enjoy when there is a little love story along the way. A Bend in the Stars is rooted in real history, and this novel had me googling events afterwards to see exactly which pieces of the story are true.

I will say that to help those of us who aren't quite as well-versed in Russian geography, a map at the front of the book would have been helpful.

I look forward to reading more from Rachel Barenbaum as she grows a writer. She definitely knows how to tell a story. A Bend in the Stars is available now through your favourite bookseller. I hope you pick it up!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel from Grand Central Publishing and Read Forever  for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman - Book Review



I first discovered Fredrik Backman when my book club read My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, a few years ago. Then I fell further in love with this author when I read Beartown, twice. He has a way with words, and they seem to always hit their mark.

When I discovered that he had a non-fiction book coming out with advice for his son, I knew I'd want to read it. I have a son. Tell me what he needs to know! Because, seven years in, I often still have no idea what I'm doing.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is a collection of essays and anecdotes Backman shares with his son about early fatherhood. It's interesting to get a peek into an author's life after becoming such a fan. Additionally, I have read a lot of parenting books written from the perspective of women, so it was really wonderful to get a father's point of view.

I have a good sense of what's important to most moms, but what do dads think about?

Bravery, friendship, and love. As well as bacon and video games.

This collection is witty and heartwarming and full of love. It will absolutely make you smile, pull at your heart, and give you a few things to think about in your own life. I already look forward to rereading this someday. I admire Backman's writing so much that I'd read his grocery lists at this point.

Here's a flavour of what you can find in here on becoming a parent:
"The realization that you will, from that moment on, draw all your breaths from someone else's lungs hits you harder when you aren't prepared." - Fredrik Backman, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

And on finding a partner:
"The majority of things in life are about picking your battles. You'll learn that too. And that will never be clearer than when you're at IKEA." - Fredrik Backman, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World will live right beside Beartown on my bookshelf, a slowly growing collection of books that I hope my own son will one day read.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada for review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Mom Truths by Cat and Nat - Book Review



"No one will ever have all the answers. Every single mother out there - including the seemingly perfect moms who appear to breeze through life - has highs and lows. Every mother has feelings of both joy and guilt."
Mom Truths, Cat and Nat

This is such a fun book to read. Mom Truths is the first book from the best friends, and motherhood internet celebrities, Cat and Nat. The duo share their own parenting wins and fails, to help you both have a few tips, and also not feel like you're the only one to which crazy parenting crap happens!

Mom Truths vividly brought me back to my maternity leave when I would literally count the minutes until Rob would come home from work. Those were not my best days. In retrospect, Cat and Nat help me see that some are simply days I just needed to get through, and that's absolutely okay. Our children aren't going to remember that part. They are going to remember how much we loved them.

There were one or two chapters that didn't fully hit home with me, but overall I enjoyed this collection quite a bit. The chapters are bite-size and vary in structure which makes this book a quick read. It would be especially easy for a busy mom to pick up and put down if she only has 5 or 10 minutes to herself. My favourite chapters are "Instagram is Bullshit" (I love Instagram, and this is still one of my favourites!), and "Up, Yours Honey Nut Cheerio Bee" which is a chapter full of tips to shake up your routine when you're feeling like you're in a lonesome, repetitive mom rut.

Mom Truths is a perfect read for any mama who has a little one (or little ones) from the newborn to elementary school age. I really hope Cat and Nat write another book when their children become teens. I'm going to need it!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Sebastian: 7-Years-Old and 20 Questions



I cannot even believe we have a seven-year-old. Here's our annual interview with this growing monkey!

1. What is your favorite colour? pink (for the fifth year in a row!) and red and yellow and white and orange
2. What is your favorite toy? my new poop emoji that I got from Valentine's
3. What is your favorite fruit? strawberries and apples and watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv show? Scooby Doo (for the second year in a row)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? ice cream
6. What is your favorite outfit? footies (for the third year in a row)
7. What is your favorite game? talking about Plants vs Zombies 4 and playing Plants vs Zombies 2
8. What is your favorite snack? ice cream 
9. What is your favorite animal? cat (for the second year in a row)
10. What is your favorite song? Captain Underpants movie theme song
11. What is your favorite book? Captain Underpants
12. Who is your best friend? Jude and Connor
13. What is your favorite cereal? Corn Pops
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play (for the second year in a row)
15. What is your favorite drink? milk (for the second year in a row)
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas (for the third year in a row) and my birthday 
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Scooby 
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? birthday waffle pancakes
19. What do you want for dinner? tacos (for the second year in a row)
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? book writer

And here are his answers from his 6th birthday5th birthday4th birthday, and 3rd birthday.

xo
Jenn

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