Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher - Book Review



I've seen Tarryn Fisher's name on Instagram and Facebook so often because of her previous books, that when I saw she had new one coming out later this year, I was grateful to get a review copy from Harper Collins to check it out!

The Wives is a bit tricky for me to review. I really liked the first half a whole lot, but it gets very dark very fast, and the ending didn't sit well with me.

Here's the premise. A woman is part of a polygamous marriage. Her husband has two other wives. The wives do not live together and do not know each other. One of the wives starts to wonder more about her husband and the two other women with whom she shares him. She discovers the identify of one of the wives, Hannah, and befriends her. However, she also notices that Hannah has bruises on her body. How did they get there? Was it her husband? Can she help Hannah somehow? And who is the third wife?

The Wives is fast-paced domestic thriller that is great for fans of novels that are dark and twisty. For me, it kind of read like a suspense movie, and I enjoyed that. It has an unreliable narrator which always adds an interesting layer to a novel.

I've noticed that there has been a trend in domestic and psychological thrillers lately to use the themes of pregnancy and/or pregnancy loss as a tool in their plotlines. The Wives does as well. Maybe I was hoping for something more original? The second half of the book was a bit more gritty and twisty than I'm used to reading. I would still try another book by this author, though.

Ultimately, this is a story about the importance of truly being seen by those you love. It's okay for a weekend distraction, but probably one to pick up from the library instead of the bookstore. Look for it December 30th.

xo
Jenn

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

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

How To Organize Your Digital Photos

Does this sound familiar? You have a million digital photos and no idea how to organize them? Maybe they're spread out on a variety of different computers, external drives, phones, accounts, and clouds? Maybe you started a backup system years ago but abandoned it because you simply didn't have the time to continue? And what about video clips? What do you do with those?

That was exactly me a few months ago. We had thousands of digital photos everywhere. Some were my own, some were Rob's, some were from professional photos we'd had done as a family. Few were backed up, and many sitting in a hot mess on my work computer. Not exactly the ideal situation.

However, one of my resolutions this year was to organize and backup our digital photos. I'm really happy with how it all turned out, so here's how I did it.



STEP 1 - MAKE A LIST OF ALL OF THE PLACES YOUR PHOTOS ARE CURRENTLY STORED

I had digital photos in the following places: my phone, my husband's phone, random folders on my work laptop, iPhoto, Picassa (now Google Photos), my husband's Google Drive, along with saved emails and links to photos on SeeSaw from my son's teachers. You may also have some on an external hard drive.

STEP 2 - DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT

I had three goals for this project:
1. Backup all of our photos in one location and sort them by year.
2. Create a printed photo book for each year.
3. Combine each years video clips into a single video.

Then I made a list to help me track where I was and what photos I'd sorted.


STEP 3 - DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO BACKUP AND SORT YOUR PHOTOS

After researching and crowd-sourcing ideas, we landed on using Google Photos to backup and store our pictures and videos. If you ever used Picassa, anything you had already stored on there is currently in your Google Photos account (yeah!). I bought 100G of storage (the annual fee is cheaper than the monthly fee), and this is more than enough storage for us right now.
($27.99 CAD/year)

Many people use external hard drives; however, Rob and I don't feel as confident about that choice. Eventually the drive will fail or become obsolete (Think: Floppies, diskettes,  CD ROMs).
We decided to put our backups on the cloud, which we could access at any time from anywhere.


STEP 4 - START SORTING

My next step was to create an album for that year in Google Photos. Then I went through each of the locations I listed in step one and pulled out all of the photos for that particular year. I started with 2007 and repeated for each year. The good thing about digital photos, is that most of them have a date assigned to them, so this isn't too difficult to do.

*Tip - Have your partner share their Google Photos account with you in their settings, or at least some shared folders, so you can pull photos from their account as well. Rob and I each have our phones automatically backing up to our Google Photos accounts now, so this will make photo sorting much easier in the future.

The fun part about this is that there were actually photos and videos I'd taken that Rob hadn't ever seen and vice versa :)


STEP 5 - DELETE DUPLICATES

Once I had all of my 2007 photos and video clips uploaded to my 2007 album in Google Photos, I'd go through it slowly and delete duplicates and photos/videos I didn't want to keep.  I did this by hand, though some programs offer this feature.


*Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each year.*


STEP 6 - CREATE A PHOTO BOOK (optional)

There are dozens of places online where you can turn your digital photos into photo books. After looking up a number of them online, I decided to go with Shutterfly. The main reason was because they have this excellent "make my book" service that saved me a ton of time and their photo books and are almost always on sale.

Once I had my photos for that year narrowed down, I uploaded them to Shutterfly and chose the Make My Book option. I selected the theme, style, size, and layout of my book, and they did all the heavy lifting by designing each page using my pictures. To me, this is totally worth the $10 additional fee.

A few days later, I'd receive an email with a link to preview my book. I could make any changes I wanted before placing my final order. (You are also under no obligation to purchase the book if you change your mind entirely.)

I played around with a few different formats and here are my preferred settings for their photo books:
- 8 x 11
- flatlay pages (not the deluxe ones, then your book will be massive)
- watercolour layout



*First note - Sometimes the portrait photos I took on my iPhone didn't upload properly to Shutterfly, and got cut off. To fix this, open the photo on your computer, rotate it all around once, and save it. It doesn't actually look any different, but it should then upload properly to Shutterfly. This is, by far, the most annoying part of the whole digital organization project. See pic below.




*Second note - Shutterfly doesn't accept .png photos, so I used this free website to convert any .png photos I had to .jpg.


Printing six photo books in one year is both a financial commitment and an investment in time, but I will never regret having these photo books printed. To help me manage my time, I'd work on this project for 30 minutes/day as often as I could.


STEP 7 - CREATE A VIDEO COMPILATION (optional)

The last thing I did was I downloaded all of the video clips for each year and used iMovie to make a video compilation. All of our 2012 video clips were put together into one longer video. Most of mine ended up being about 30 minutes each. Then I'd upload the full video back to Google Photos (for easy sharing). My son loved it when one of the videos was ready for us to watch. It made for a fun family evening to see these videos together.

Tip - grandparents love these videos/links as well!


And I think that's it! It's been a labour of love, but I'm happy with how everything has turned out. I'm finishing up my 2018 photo book this week, and I feel so much more at peace with our our memories are stored.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 14 October 2019

A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by Alicia Elliott - Book Review




A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is award-winning Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott's debut essay collection that holds back nothing as she shares her thoughts on the experiences of Indigenous people in Canada.

These essays are thoughtful, controversial, and absolutely necessary. Part-memoir, part historical exploration, Alicia Elliott opens up about her own trauma and abuse while simultaneously examining the systematic roots of oppression Indigenous people in Canada faced throughout history and continue to face today.

"We know our cultures have meaning and worth, that that culture lives and breathes inside our languages. Canada knew that, too. Which is why they fought so hard to make us forget them."

She tackles the issues of mental health, abuse, language, culture, residential schools, racism, colonialism, poverty, belonging, cultural appropriation, and body image. Additionally, she calls out Canadian political parties (both past and present) for what they have and haven't done to help mend these relationships, so healing in these communities can begin.

"No one should have to feel thankful that their child isn't dark-skinned."


While these essays examine how racism continues to be fed in Canadian society today, Alicia Elliot offers hope for us to be thoughtful about our own voices and choices moving forward. If you're interested in learning more about a modern perspective on Indigenous relations and history, I highly recommend this coming of age collection by a wonderful writer. It's available now from your favourite bookseller.

xo
Jenn

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

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Stretch Marks by Amber Trueblood

Amber Trueblood is the passionate voice behind Stretch Marks, a self-help book designed to help mothers who are feeling stretched in every direction. I know I often feel that my to do list never ends, and that I'm being pulled into a million directions. It's not easy to slow down and prioritize exactly what needs to happen next, for my family, and for myself.




Stretch Marks is designed to help you cultivate true happiness in your life. Amber Trueblood shares personal stories and scientific research to prove that our happiness matters, along with tips and mindsets to help us get there. Andrea is a fierce cheerleader for your abilities and offers practical tricks you can easily adapt into your everyday life.

Stretch Marks currently available on Kindle and will be out in physical format this December (perfect for gift giving đŸ˜‰). If you're interested in learning more, I encourage you to check out her website and take a peek at her retreats. They sound like the perfect weekend away, and she has one coming up in October!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - Thank you to Andrea Trueblood for sending me a complementary copy of this book.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Ribbons of Scarlet - A Novel of The French Revolution's Women

As a self-professed bibliophile and fancophile, books set in France hit my sweet spot. I studied French history in university and read many academic texts about the French Revolution. When I learned about the book Ribbons of Scarlet, I immediately knew that I'd enjoy a literary novel about this tumultuous time, especially as it's written through the eyes of the women involved. (Unsurprisingly, my assigned academic readings all focused on the main male politicians at the time.)


Ribbons of Scarlet is a historical fiction novel of the French revolution from the perspective of women who were there before, during, and after. What makes this novel initially compelling is that it is authored by six female authors: Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and E. Knight. Ribbons of Scarlet is simultaneously six short stories and one cohesive novel. I've never read anything quite like it.

While this novel will appeal to all historical fiction fans, this is a deeply story about women. About their voices, their value, and their often unacknowledged role in history. Women throughout history are regularly caught in the tension of what society expects women to be and who they truly are. How do you speak when you are asked to be silent? How can you still ensure your words are heard? In Ribbons of Scarlet, the reader learns of, as Heather Webb describes in her author's note, "six incredible women who shaped the French Revolution through their pens, their speeches, their battles in the streets, and their sacrifices."

We hear from Sophie de Grouchy, a woman who embodies the ideals of the feminist movement, Lousie Reine Audu, a revolutionary, Princess Élisabeth, King Louis XVI's sister, Manon Roland, who passionately worked with her husband in government after the royal family was exiled (and executed), Charlotte Corday, who famously assassinated Jean-Paul Marat, and Émilie de Sainte-Amaranthe, a Paris beauty who will capture the hearts of the readers with her story.

The dedication in Ribbons of Scarlett

I can't possibly begin to imagine the planning these authors would have completed to ensure their stories are as historically accurate as possible while being consistent throughout throughout six sections. Not to mention that the majority of the resources available to study for research were likely in French.

This novel isn't perfect. With seven different first-person points of view to read, I did get a little overwhelmed at times; however, the lengthly authors' notes at the end more than made up for it. To save me from having to Google what parts of this story are true, each of the six authors share the research they found, which pieces are speculation, and why they made the decisions they did for the their characters. The women in the novel are real historical figures, and Ribbons of Scarlet encourages us to remember their names. I can see myself rereading it again, as I'm sure there is more to this story that I'd learn should I pick it up a second time.

Ribbons of Scarlet is available as of today (yeah!) from your favourite bookseller.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel from Harper Collins Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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