Thursday, January 11, 2018

book review: leaving time

Leaving TimeLeaving Time by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's hard to choose a "main" character here. I'm not entirely sure whose story this is, as it is told through alternating viewpoints. We mainly hear from the young girl Jenna, who is looking for her missing mother and Alice, Jenna's mother who's obsession and research on elephants guides her life. Jenna recruits psychic Serenity and PI Virgil, who are both drawn to and inspired by Jenna, to help her figure out if her mother is dead or alive, and where she might be.

It was a cool adventure trying to solve this mystery. There is a lot of detail given about elephants which was interesting, and I really liked the descriptions of how the Gift works for a medium... but I hated the ending. There's a point where you kind of realize that some assumptions you made throughout the entire book may not be correct, and it's not often that I get tricked like this, so I do give the author credit. But once you get past that tipping point it's a confusing rush to the end. That's all I'll say here, to avoid spoilers.

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

book review: Wonder

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another five star review for Wonder.

All the glowing reviews this book got: “I laughed, I cried, I cheered out loud!” Well, they were right on. Wonder is fantastic, from the message to the way the story is told by the different characters. It’s a perfect book that makes my mama heart so happy, and I can’t wait to share it with my kid.

“Sometimes people surprise us.”

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

good mornings

A few months ago, I explained this gist of this article to Oliver. I told him that I'm going to make time to connect with him every morning, so that his brain can wake up peacefully. I asked him what he would like to do if we had a few minutes to spend together and he said, "play Legos."

The next morning I went in his room, flipped on the light, and gathered his clothes. I laid in his bed and asked Siri to set a timer for 5 minutes. We snuggled for a minute and then got up and played Legos until the alarm sounded. He liked what I built. :) It was freaking magical. He got dressed on his own and went downstairs. I didn't have to ask him more than once to get his shoes, jacket, backpack, etc. He told me twice that he liked connecting with me. He let the dog out. He poured his own milk.

I didn't expect this miracle to repeat itself daily, and honestly I haven't been the best at reserving a set amount of time with him, but it has made an impact. This school year has thrown some interesting challenges at us, and I really think that getting down on his level - literally and figuratively, can only help us navigate what we'll face in the years to come.

As the new year begins, I will continue to make time for his little soul. My favorite quote from the article says, "...fill your child’s cup before the day starts, and reconnect after the separation of the night." They're only this age once!

second grader

Friday, September 1, 2017

book review: The Girls

The GirlsThe Girls by Emma Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were parts of this story I really liked… things I could identify with. 14-year-old Evie was totally desperate for acceptance, to find a place she fit in. The perspective on her younger self from her older point of view was interesting, and being in my 30s there are a few things I would like to teach my past self. The internal narrative was well done here, describing all the tortures young girls put themselves through, trying so hard to figure out their place in the world. How is she supposed to act? Does she exist only as a reflection of those around her? What is attraction? Desire? Love?

But there were parts that fell very much flat. Her time with the cult felt forced and unrelatable. At first, I could see how Evie was drawn to Suzanne and her self-confidence, but the experimentation with drugs and sex were glossed over. If a young teen is so obsessed with relationships and her place at “the ranch” why weren’t these aspects analyzed a little more? Suzanne was the only one of “the girls” with any depth – the rest, including the cult leader, were like background noise to the inner workings of a self-centered narrator. Maybe my lack of familiarity with Charles Manson and the murders this story is based on is at fault here, but regardless, a book should tell its own story.

The rest of Evie’s life was underwhelming. There was no closure… life during and after boarding school are presented as an afterthought. It’s noted that her name is mentioned in some accounts, enough that her present-day visitors are aware of her involvement, but interactions with police and journalists are left assumed. As a whole, the present-day exchange could have been much more fulfilling. Evie didn’t grow or change, and her adult self still craves attention and sees how easy (or even rewarding) it is to please the boys.

Despite a three-star review, I would still recommend this to someone that enjoys historical fiction – for a one-person take on a cult atmosphere.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

book review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed how the pieces came together gradually... over time. We didn't get dumped right into the plot, it really felt like the story unfolded around Rachel, the (drunk) girl on the train as we discover things along with her. I liked the fact that this is told from the POV of three different women, and that despite being very different, they have something in common.

Another book where you have to be careful to read the date headings... much, if not all of Megan's side of the story is told months behind where Rachel and Anna are, with good reason of course.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

book review: Fates and Furies

Fates and FuriesFates and Furies by Lauren Groff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I first finished, I felt like I wanted to cry. Not for any of the typical reasons, like not wanting to leave the characters behind, or even a powerful emotional conclusion. I was angry. I've been taken for a ride.

Part 1: Fates is Lotto's version of events, his life story and point of view through he and Mathilde's marriage. For all the raves touting the author's "stunning prose" I was mostly bored, and sometimes annoyed with him. All but one of his plays were uninteresting. There are only so many ways to describe someone who's born rich and through either sheer luck or charisma (questionable, given the multiple descriptions of his acne) manages to stay well taken care of despite his lack of knowledge in how the world works. We get it, she loved him in spite of his privilege and obliviousness. It says a lot when the most compelling thing about the guy is his need for constant adoration.

Part 2: Furies is Mathilde's side of the story. When I first started reading her voice I rejoiced! Maybe this book would save itself from exaggerated self-awareness. She was actually interesting in her own telling - Mathilde had a brain and a history you (Lotto) never knew! She wasn't likeable... neither of them were really, but she didn't have to be. She was sharp, with more under the surface and behind the scenes than you'd ever expect. Then things went wrong again. The timeline in the second half jumped around so badly! I can handle a flashback or two dozen flashbacks if they make sense, but Furies gave no warning and had no sense of order. In the end, this couple did few things right, which is probably realistic, but made this novel hard to embrace as a whole.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

probiotics + cranberry

I've never really been good at remembering vitamins... even prenatals! I've been trying to take better care of my health this year though, and a multivitamin and extra vitamin D have made it into the morning routine more than half the time - it's a start!


The timing of this review post worked out well... we just got back from vacation. If you're anything like me, vacations wreak havoc on the digestive system. I started taking these a week beforehand, and I didn't have any issues on the trip. The women's probiotic at 6 billion CFU plus cranberry for digestive health goes down easy in a daily capsule. **Results may vary from person to person. These products cannot be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.

"25FREESHIP" gets you 25% off on all products at store.healthlabsnutra.com.