Month: February 2016

January Book Reviews

I read A LOT. Any free time I have (when I’m nursing Peyton or during nap time/before bed at night), I read, read, read. I am going to attempt to review or just do some free thinking about the books I read. I realize I’m pretty late on the January books (8 in total!), but life has been happening lately and I haven’t had a ton of time to sit in front of the computer. Here goes!

potatopie

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows

4/5 stars

This was a cute little book (is that the proper way to review a book? Ha!). It’s comprised entirely of letters written among friends, set just after WWII. They bond over their love of books. The characters are clever and witty and it left me longing for a time before the loud hub bub of social media. It’s not that drama didn’t exist before social media (because it certainly exists in this book) but it just didn’t sound quite as loud. It made me want to find a bunch of people who were committed to writing letters, who have a great love of books and form my own Potato Peel Pie club. Maybe I will just move to Guernsey, it sounds like a lovely place.

all the bright places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

5/5 stars

(Spoiler warning!)

I read this book with my best friend Kayleigh (we’ve been reading books together, it’s so much fun) and this was such an emotional book for us, we both hoped, laughed and eventually cried. It felt odd, after the fact, that this was one of the books we chose to read, because we ended up losing a friend to suicide shortly after reading this book. The story’s main characters are Violet and Theo (aka Finch), Theo is battling a mental illness (he is Bipolar), but has such an amazing personality, he truly lives life to the fullest and on his own terms. Violet and Theo become friends (and then lovers), they wander around Indiana for a school project and Theo changes Violet’s life forever, giving her a new perspective about life she didn’t have before. Unfortunately, the demons Theo faced became too much, his mental illness goes untreated and he commits suicide toward the end of the book. This book very much reminded me of John Green’s novels. I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down.

the dinner

 The Dinner by Herman Koch

2/5 stars

What. The. Heck. Plain and simple. This isn’t a terrible book, so maybe it deserves more stars, but the entire time I was reading it, I just wanted it to end. It takes place over a dinner between two brothers and their wives. They meet to talk about a terrible event that their sons perpetuated. It goes back and forth between the present and flash backs over several years. The characters were bizarre and not likable. I felt like the plot jumped around a lot and I was left with so many questions. I couldn’t tell if some of the events actually or if it was just in the main character’s mind. I was left with so many questions at the end of the book and thankful it was over (even though it wrapped up too quickly).

mebeforeyou

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

5/5 stars

(mild spoilers)

First off I must say, I completely disagree with the ending and the choice the main character (Will) decides to make. But this story was beautiful. This was another book Kayleigh and I read together. We were cheering both main characters (Will and Lou) on the entire story. We wanted Lou to break through Will’s tough exterior, to change his life, to make him believe that even though he hated his  new circumstances  (he can not walk, and has lost most function of his entire body), that his life is precious and worth living. I feel that the story between Will and Lou does prove that all life is precious but that the message is never received by Will, which is so unfortunate. He impacts Lou’s life in such a big way, he makes her stop just existing and makes her start living. He opens her eyes to the world and everything it has to offer. And she gives him back some of the life he felt he had lost. This book was addictive, so hard to put down. I’m looking forward to seeing this on the big screen and reading the next in the series to see what happens next.

dead in thew ater

Dead in the Water by Stuart Woods

2..5/5 stars

This is the type of book I call a “formula book”. Woods’ has a series of books with the character Stone Barrington, who is a retired NYPD officer turned private detective. Although the story lines are all different, the books are essentially all kind of the same, with slightly different secondary characters or plot lines. It’s easy to guess what is going to happen. I’m not sure I will continue reading these books, they are easy reads but they don’t evoke much thought. I don’t even really want to go into what this book was about. It’s not worth your time.

winter garden

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

5/5 stars

This is the second book I’ve read by Hannah and while I didn’t love this as much as the first one (The Nightingale, which is amazing and you should stop what you’re doing and start reading it), it was still such a beautiful narrative. It did seem to start slow for me but I was eventually consumed by the story line. This book is really a story within a story. The three main characters (2 daughters and their mother) are on a journey of self discovery and self forgiveness. It is set in present day and flashes back to the mother’s early adulthood. It’s heart wrenching and has an incredible ending. I don’t want to say too much because it’s really such an intense story that it must be felt through reading the story, not by reading a mediocre summary by Isha. The lesson I learned from it: It’s never too late to apologize, to try to set things straight. Sometimes people aren’t what you think they are, you just need to take some time to listen to their story.

friendship

Friendship by Emily Gould

1/5 stars (although I would feel comfortable saying 0/5 stars)

Kayleigh, I am so sorry I suggested this book! Seriously. I don’t get it. It was just so blah. The characters are so into themselves, they are awful friends to one another, it was boring, it had no real plot line. It seemed to skip around. It wasn’t solid. I’m not going to waste anymore time thinking about it.

everything everything

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

5/5 stars

Another Kayleigh and Isha book club book. This was short and sweet, very to the point. The main character, Madeline was diagnosed with a disease in which she is allergic to basically anything, it’s hard for her to know what will set her off so she is confined to her home and has only her mother, a nurse and a teacher or two that she comes into contact with. But new neighbors move in next door and Olly comes into her life. I don’t want to spoil too much about the book, but it leaves you asking yourself, “Am I really living my life to the fullest extent?”

That’s it for January. Hopefully I can tackle February’s books soon!

Happy Birthday, Princess Peyton


p born

It doesn’t seem like a year ago, that we made our way to the hospital, as the snow lightly fell and you were telling me, “Mama, it’s really time! I promise I’m not joking anymore, I’m on my way.” And oh my goodness, we had no idea how much we would love you, how much our hearts would grow. You came so quickly, so fast, sunny-side up and ready to greet the world. And your cry, was ferocious, everyone in the hospital knew you had arrived and I prayed you would always hold on to that ferocity.


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Daddy said, “It’s a girl!” And I thought, oh my little Peyton, please love me. And do you ever. You probably love me more than anyone has ever loved me. You’re smart, you’re beautiful, you’re funny, you’re perfect. You were ready for this world and you haven’t stopped, you crawled early, walked early, you always need to be doing something, you’re a learner. You follow your big brother everywhere and as much as you’re mama’s girl, you’re daddy’s girl too.


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We love you our little Princess Peyton (you live up to that nickname and we wouldn’t change a thing about you).

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You’re Easy to Love

kissy

10.01.11

Happy Valentine’s Day, Joshua. Here are 14 ways you make it easy to love you. I’m sure there is more but this is all I could come up with.

  1. Your feet

That’s a joke, I’m not a fan of feet.

  • You always know what to say. Whether it’s to calm my anxieties or to make me laugh.
  • You think logically. This probably goes along with #1, but you don’t let your mind get ahead of itself. You don’t let worries or crazy thoughts cloud your judgement (unlike your wife).
  • You always say “yes” to me. I’m spoiled and I know it. But thank you for putting my happiness first even if it means you have to play Qwirkle with me for the 50th time in one week (and lose to me AGAIN). 
  • You are a great dad. Our children are so incredibly lucky to not only have a hard working dad but one who loves them completely, who puts them first and who wants them to know what is truly important in life. 
  • You are forgiving. But not only forgiving, but you don’t harp on my shortcomings, you don’t bring up past wrongs. 
  • You’re good with your hands (keep your minds out of the gutter, friends!). You know how to fix things, take care of our house, garden, you’re an amazing artist, you are able to create something out of nothing.
  • You are passionate about your beliefs and convictions. You aren’t swayed by what society wants if you. 
  • You are a good person. It’s just who you are, right to your core.
  • You love food almost as much as I love food. I love trying new foods with you and I love when you make me breakfast burritos.

Well that’s 9 things, I can’t think of anything else. But you’re an okay guy.

Just kidding, here are 5 more.

  • You’re smart (smarter than me even!). You are a wealth of knowledge and I’m always pleasantly surprised by some of the things you know.
  • You’re funny (but not funnier than me). And even more so, you’re incredibly silly, people would be so surprised if they knew just how goofy you are. 
  • You see life as an adventure and you’re always ready to go on one, either on vacation or simply a hike in the woods, searching for creatures in the stream.
  • You’re always willing to get me water and/or food, even if you’re tired. Simply put: you put me first.
  • You take pride in your work (as you should, you create beautiful spaces) and at the same time you remain humble.

Hopefully that’s 14 things, I’m not good at counting. It’s our 6th Valentine’s Day. I remember one year I told you not to get me anything and you listened! I’m glad you’re no longer that naive. I love you, Charles-y.

Suicide: Let’s Talk About It

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about suicide. It feels like such a delicate topic, the elephant in the room and even shameful, to admit you have attempted it or had a loved one die by suicide. It’s so prevalent, yet we often times only hear about it when someone famous chooses it. It’s like a quiet black cloud that moves through the world, sometimes we can even ignore it. We feel the sorrow when we hear about it on the news, but that comes and goes. Sometimes we question, “But how? That person had the whole world, why would they choose to end their life?” Unfortunately it’s not that easy, there are no simple answers. 

Why aren’t we talking more about suicide?

Here are some statistics:

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America.

Every year 42, 773 people die from suicide.

For every 1 suicide, there are (approx) 25 attempts. 

In Indiana it’s the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals aged 25-34.

 On average (in Indiana) over all age groups,  1 person commits suicide every 9 hours.

 

I write this today because I recently lost a friend to suicide and my heart is shattered, each piece feels something different: anger, grief, confusion. It’s hard to imagine that he isn’t out in the world laughing and joking, which is how I think about him most. Laughing. Happy, bright and shining. I think about those who were closest to him and their lives have stopped, their grief is unlike anything they have felt before. Suicide is a hurricane of devastation that never ends.

He wasn’t the first person I’ve known to die by suicide, but it never gets easier, it never makes sense and if past experience dictates future, then I will forever wonder what more I could’ve done. I will lay awake at night for the years to come and think about him, wondering how he felt that final day and wondering, how we could have saved him. I will think about all of the life he could’ve lived. All of the things he is missing.

Here are some warning signs:

suicide

It is hard to read them because it feels like there are often signs when there is no thought of suicide but also because it’s hard to look back, to see what was missed, to feel helpless about an action that has already taken place. It instills such despair. A life ended when it wasn’t supposed to.

I write today to start a conversation about suicide.

I write today, for you, the mourner, you the person left behind but mostly to you, the person who has contemplated, who maybe has even planned it out, who have wondered if life is worth living anymore. It is. I promise you, it is. Taking your life, away from the many many people who love you, it will devastate them. But it will also take away your chance to live. Even if you feel that you’re up against a wall, I promise you, there are people that will help break down that wall. You may not see or feel it, but there are so many people who love you, who want and need you to live and be in their lives. You are loved. You are worthy of life.


There is help for you.

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