Books, Reviews

Second First Impressions Book Review

Have you ever been caught off guard by the sound of your own heartbeat? Maybe you’ve pressed your ear weirdly on your pillow, and now all you can hear is your own proof of life. You are confronted with your mortality in a base, clock-ticking kind of way: you have an engine room, and it has a finite timeline. What a miracle and a privilege. – Ruthie

After reading two intense adventure books, I thought this book was really slow when I first started it, but it was the best surprise!

Plot Summary

I’m not great at describing book plots, so enjoy the one provided from the back of the book:

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at Providence Retirement Villa for years, living on- site at the beck and call of the wealthy residents – and the rare tortoises that roam the manicured lawns. She has her routine, and not much ever changes. Until she lays eyes on Teddy Prescott, the son of Providence’s new owner and her new neighbor. Tall, tattooed, and with the most magical on Earth (just ask him), Teddy’s in town saving up money to pursue his dream of opening a tattoo shop. He’s the definition of risky, and Ruthie’s dazzled at first sight – until he mistakes her for a little old lady.

Luckily, Ruthie has the perfect revenge for Teddy’s insulting first impression. Her most eccentric residents have just places (yet another!) ad seeking a personal assistant to torment. The Parlonis are ninety-year-old, miniature menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a week. Ruthie knows a quitter when she sees one and is more than happy to offer up Teddy.

To Ruthie’s surprise, Teddy proves to be the ultimate hire, charming his way through the entire villa and into her heart with his joyful, never-serious outlook on life. But with the future of Providence hanging in the balance, and Teddy’s family’s plans threatening to shatter Ruthie’s safe little universe, will Teddy be there when it really counts?

What I Thought

This book pleasantly surprised me and gave me all the sweet and good feels!

After skimming some of the reviews on Goodreads, this book has gotten a bit of dislike… mainly for not being relatable or for the main character being to meek and blah. I find that assessment very unfair, because I happen to relate to Ruthie in so many ways – it’s kind of sad actually. At one part, I took a screenshot of the page and highlighted parts that sounded like me and sent it to my husband and best friend who laughingly agreed. I think discounting a book for a character not that all around relatable or someone you want to aspire to is silly, because everyone is different and I think it points out that she has reasons for her behavior as well as recognizing where she needs to grow. For those curious, here is the excerpt that describes me: “ID,” the bartender calls out in a forbidding voice when I reach the top of the stairs. “Wow, okay,” I reply and hand it to him. “I’m twenty-five.” He checks it, rechecks it, then chuffs a laugh. “You look about twelve.” I’ll take being mistaken for twelve over a Golden Girls cosplayer any day. As I tuck my ID back into my purse I briefly consider getting wasted. Maybe I’ll drink straight from that bottle of green stuff back there. I’ll leave my car here all night and order my first ever Uber home. Like no joke, I’ve had these very thoughts and conversations. So, in Ruthie’s defense, she is relatable to sheltered, sweethearts like myself. 🙂

I’d like to take a second and just say that I adored Teddy. I thought he was fantastic, adorable, and charming. I like how misjudged he was because of his appearance as a rich, confident, bad boy because of his tattoos, motorcycle, family, but as you learn more about him and see how he interacts with literally all the characters, you see that he is so much different and more than that. The “bad boy” trope is just so big right now, but most real girls don’t actually want a bad boy. We want someone to respect us, adore us, cheer us on…. so I reeeeeally appreciated that this book took a different route. I loved the explanation as to why Teddy was interested in Ruthie – because girls like Ruthie can be a catch for all you haters. And I felt that he truly treated her well and their friendship-turned-relationship was so so so sweet and it felt like something out of my very own dreams. I feel like the author got into my head from a few years ago and wrote a feel-good book just for me!

Let’s talk the love scene. I’ve already said that this book was basically written for me and the love scene was no different. It was hella romantic! But let me back up and say that this is chick-lit, not new adult or romance, so keep that in mind. The book is a love story, but it’s more about the getting to know you, becoming friends, accepting the feelings, and the love scene isn’t until the end. So getting back to the scene itself – I appreciated it, because of how sweet and realistic it was compared to a lot of the raunchy scenes out there. It is described as playful and affectionate. They chat a little in the beginning and laugh. There are kind compliments sprinkled throughout. Not to mention consent is present multiple times through phrases like “Want to keep going?” and “Can you keep going?” It was female positive (is that the word?), because the woman is treated as more than just an object or toy – “I never thought about my body as anything other than an instrument for him to find pleasure. All Teddy wants to do is make me smile and shiver, and his own body doesn’t seem to concern him.” It is obvious that feeling safe was a key in this scene from the way they communicate – “If I ever thought touching him in return would be awkward, I was wrong: we are friends above all else, and we can talk about these things: I can tell him how I want to try this, and this… He lets me.” And last but not least there was aftercare which you rarely ever see. All in all, this scene is spectacularly written. It was kind and sweet and vulnerable and sexy. I loved that the author showed you can write a wonderful love scene without making it dirty and raunchy.

The supporting characters grow on you as well. I wasn’t sure about Mel in the beginning, but as the story moves forward, I ended up really adoring her. The Parlonis were quite funny and I could picture them perfectly in my head. I really like elderly people too, so I found them very endearing.

So the book did start out a little slow. It took maybe 3 chapters before I started to really understand where the story was going and care about the characters. But I am SO GLAD I stuck it out, because this might be one of my favorite books now.

My Rating: 5 Stars

I loved this book and really appreciated how a lot of things were written. It was nice to finally have a main character I could relate to and see parts of myself in. It was fantastic to see a beautiful, kind love scene. I could go on and on. Anywho I recommend to those who enjoy chick-lit – a light-hearted, sweet romance.

Let’s be friends on Goodreads!

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Life Update // Getting Back to Normal

It’s been awhile friends. Sorry – not sorry – for that.

For those of you who don’t keep up with us on social media, Jameson is back home! He has been home for just under a month. I haven’t posted practically at all, because it has been quite the overwhelming, exhausting journey. He was released on a Friday evening and that Monday morning I started back to work. My in-laws were in town. Both them and my mom stayed with us for different periods of time to help out. We learned that week that Hazel had developed hand food and mouth disease, so she had to spend another two weeks with my mom. There were many follow-up pediatrician appointments for both of them. Lots of information to take in. There was a feeding tube and there still is formula thickener.

So let’s just say it took us awhile to fall back into our normal lives.

We were prepared for Jameson to be different than Hazel, but I’d say we greatly underestimated how different he would be. Obviously this isn’t his fault and we had no way of knowing that any of this would happen. It’s one of those things where you never think it will happen to you until it does. But we are relieved to finally have both kids back home with us. I won’t lie – it has been a stressful process learning Jameson. He has gone through so much in his short life so far. Being premature he was already going to be a bit behind for his age group, but then after being hospitalized he has been a bit fussier than before. We have to work extra hard at not comparing him to Hazel, because she was a rare, easy baby who slept through the night within a few weeks, had no issues eating after we switched to bottles and formula, and had the sweetest, easiest temperament. But Jameson is coming around!

Our Fourth of July was a good one! I got us altogether for a little family photoshoot and they turned out really cute. The day of, the kids and I went to a family swimming party. Hazel was a little fish and Jameson got to “swim” for the first time; he wasn’t a fan. That night, the kids had a sleepover with their grandparents and Jeremiah and I watched some fireworks. Then a couple days later, we went to our city’s firework show and it was so so so good! Jameson sported some huge headphones and slept through the whole thing and Hazel was giddy with excitement as she said “boom” between fireworks and proceeded to clap. She talks about them constantly.

I’ve still been reading a lot. Not as quickly as while we were in the hospital, but I still make a point to read every day.

While in the hospital, my health took a back seat. It wasn’t my top priority nor is it easy to be healthy while living out of a hospital room. In the first two weeks being home, I continued to eat like crap, drink way too much soda, and was still overwhelmed, exhausted, sleep-deprived, and stressed. But as things have settled and calmed down, last week I started to be mindful of my health. I have officially cut out soda – Dr Pepper – for 9 days and counting. I also haven’t had fast food in 8 days. For six days straight, Jeremiah and I cooked all our meals at home and did not eat out. Sunday was our “cheat” day… although we didn’t say we couldn’t eat out, we just didn’t and it has felt great! Today we went for a mile long family walk – the first significant walk I have gone on in ages. I’m taking slow slow slow baby steps to getting healthy again, but I want to work hard and lose the baby weight + hospital weight.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. How has the summer been for y’all?

Books, Reviews

Fable & Namesake Book Review

Like a weary bird flying out over the most desolate sea, I finally had a place to land. – Fable

Wow! I haven’t written a book review in a long time, maybe a couple years, but this duology really grabbed my attention that made me want to fly through the pages in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. It was refreshing!

Plot Summary

I’m not great at describing book plots, so enjoy the one provided from Goodreads:
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

What I Thought

I am shocked at how much I enjoyed both of these books. Fable drew me in and I turned the pages quickly and wanted to know more and more about her world. I was so enthralled with it that the night I finished it, I ordered the second book. I finished Namesake in 24 hours and was sad that it was over. I want – maybe even need – more of her story and her world.

Truthfully, I grabbed Fable off the shelf at Target, because the cover was just so darn pretty. I never in a million years thought I was going to be drawn in and obsessed with a story about pirates (although the word pirate is never used). It is a gritty, cut-throat world that I would never want to live in, but I loved escaping to it. It sucked me in and I could picture it all perfectly in my mind. I loved the juxtaposition of how dirty the ground was, but all the underwater scenes were so beautiful.

This series had it all – adventure, family, romance, grit – I couldn’t get enough. I am pretty much always up for a love story and I really like a love story that is entangled in a bigger story especially one with some stakes. I liked that the romance builds as the story moves forward. I liked West and Fable together and was rooting for them from the start.

The characters are so great. I liked the crew so so much. I wanted to know so much more about all of them. Even though they were all dark and mysterious, I couldn’t hate or dislike any of them. I thought Fable was a fantastic female lead. She was tough and strong, but also vulnerable. I know West gets a lot of hate for being reckless, dark, and kind of controlling, but I liked him from the very beginning; I felt like he was more steady and reliable with a reckless side when it came to the ones he loved. I liked the backstories provided and the character redemptions. I even liked the bad guys.

If you can’t tell already there wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about this series. It had just enough of everything I needed. It was so so enjoyable and took me on a thrilling ride!

My Rating: 5 Stars

I give this duology 5 stars. Both of them. Fable was definitely more fast paced and Namesake provided a bit more background. But if you like adventure or if you like adventure with a bit of romance, then I highly recommend you give this series a read and then come tell me about it. 🙂

Has anyone else read these books and loved it as much as me?

Let’s be friends on Goodreads!

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Life Update // Time Flies When You’re Reading

Geez, I can’t believe it’s already been thirteen days since my last post. I thought I would be updating the blog a lot while stuck in the hospital, but instead I got engrossed in reading. Literally reading a new book every couple of days. And it has felt amazing!

Being in the hospital for over a month now has been really hard, but once I sat down and forced myself to finish the book I had been trying to get through ever since Jameson was born, I just couldn’t stop. Somedays I actually found myself relieved to be in the hospital with a book instead of facing the outside world. I’ve been living here for so long now, when I do leave, regular life is so strange and overwhelming. It’s honestly more exhausting.

The time in the ICU flew by because I spent every day and most of the night reading. I finished six books during our twenty-two days we were there. I have now read more books this year so far than the past two years combined. I used to be a total bookworm, but ever since getting married and having kids, it’s just fallen to the wayside… but being here and having the time, I have actually started to feel more like myself. Getting so invested in a book, in the characters, in the world, that I laugh and cry and cringe and my heart beat gets faster and I dream about it. It’s one of the blessings that has come out of this experience – getting reminded of who I am and what I enjoy.

The books I have read since being in the hospital:

  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
  • Fable by Adrienne Young
  • Namesake by Adrienne Young
  • Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

The greatest part is that all of these books have been pretty good reads (except for Holding Up the Universe which I found difficult to trudge through). Such good reads that I actually wanted to write a review for some of them which I haven’t been interested in doing in years. I even found a new favorite series that I can’t get out of my mind and am dying to tear through the sequels… I mean how have I never heard of The Court of Thorns and Roses series??? Boy, have I been missing out.

In other news – for those who don’t already know – Jameson is still in the hospital. We are on day 31. He was released from the ICU and moved to the general pediatric floor a few days ago. His current goals to go home are for him to be weaned off all of his medications and to be finishing feedings. Right now he is on three medications: Ativan, Methadone, and Hydrocortisone. He is fighting through withdrawals – tremors, sneezing, and occasional diarrhea. Jameson’s feeds are hit or miss, but he hasn’t finished a bottle yet. We are making progress. I am hoping we can go home mid to late next week, but if I’ve learned anything being here it’s that their projections kind of mean nothing. As always, we appreciate all your prayers, thoughts, and good vibes!

Faith, Postpartum

This is the Day the Lord has Made…

Last night was my night to spend at home. I thought I was going to get home and get a great night sleep, wake up early, and just be productive and carefree… well, boy, was I wrong!

When I get home – later than expected – I am a little overwhelmed by the state the house is in. It’s not a huge mess, but it wasn’t as in order as I would have hoped it would be. Our playroom wreaked of pee (still does, because I can’t find the culprit), Hazel’s toys were all over the living room, and the kitchen was filled with dirty dishes and a full dishwasher. I decide that since I am mostly healed up that I wanted to spend some time picking up my house; who would have thought I would miss picking up toys and doing dishes? Not me! When the living room and kitchen were in a better place, I went down the hallway to put some things away in Hazel’s room and noticed a wet spot on her Nugget Couch. I was instantly furious. This thing had already been peed on once and I was already exhausted and didn’t want to have to clean anything else, but I pulled the cover off and set it in the laundry room to wash in the morning.

I get all comfy and cuddle up in bed. My nice, warm, cozy bed. And I lay there. And lay there. I laid there for hours before I finally passed out. I jokingly laughed to myself that maybe I was getting too used to sleeping in the hospital recliner and didn’t know how to sleep somewhere normal anymore. Before I went to sleep, I had set my alarm for 8am planning on a full day of productivity.

My alarm went off this morning and I shut it off and rolled back over. By the time I woke up, it was 10:30am. I’m not big on sleeping in, because I feel gross and like I wasted my whole morning. Well that was exactly how I felt this morning. I finally got myself out of bed, let the dog out, and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I fed the dog, started the washing machine, and decided I was going to watch some TV until the washer was done and I could take a shower. When I walked into the living room, I noticed Winnie, my dog, licking something on Hazel’s little llama chair. I shooed her away and noticed a bloody pee spot on the chair. I literally lost it. If I had to smell pee or clean up anything else I just didn’t know what I was going to do. I started crying and called my mom to figure out how to clean it and to vent. She suggested hydrogen peroxide and luckily that worked to get the blood out, but not the pee smell. I wiped the whole seat down with peroxide and then sprayed the chair with fabric febreeze and then put it in Hazel’s bedroom and closed the door.

I guess I should clarify that all this pee is not from my child, but it’s from one of our cats. A few months ago he started peeing everywhere and then we started seeing blood in our sinks and bathtubs. Every time we try to take him to the vet something happens – first it was that he didn’t get enough of the calming medication; the next time I had to go the ER; the most recent time our son ended up in the hospital. We know we need to take him, but we’re not sure how we will pay for it. It’s just an added layer of stress. I love him dearly, but I’m over cleaning up pee and smelling pee.

I’m crying hysterically by the time I’m done cleaning up the chair and I finally sit down and calm down while I watch the TV episode. By the time the show is over, the washing machine has finished, so I lay out the couch cover and get in the shower. The shower feels nice, but I’m not going to lie, postpartum is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and I thought I had better prepared myself this time around. But it turns out I haven’t. I absolutely dread getting out of the shower and trying to pick something out to wear and today was no different, actually it was worse. Because I spend practically all my time at the hospital, I haven’t done laundry in weeks, so the small amount of clothes that fit me and I feel comfortable in are dirty. It took me a little over half an hour to find something to put on. There was ugly crying. There was imagining myself ripping all my clothes off hangers and throwing them in the floor. It wasn’t pretty, but postpartum in general is hard. Postpartum with a baby in the hospital is hard. Postpartum with added layers of stress is hard. It’s just so hard!

As I’m laying there on my bed, tears streaming down my face, trying to have a pity party, the thought that kept popping into my head was, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Over and over. It just kept interrupting every negative thought I had. It was honestly pissing me off. I got off the bed and yelled that I get it as I turned off the light and walked down the hallway. Are you allowed to do that? Yell at God? I’ve been closer to Him than ever lately, so it warmed my heart that I could hear the help He was sending, but I was also frustrated and wanted to wallow. I think it’s allowed. I think He understands.

I wish that was the end of the frustrating part of my day, but it’s not. I get the car all packed up and am headed to grab lunch (the first thing I’ve eaten all day) when I realize I forgot my sweatshirt. So I have to turn around and go back to the house. I know, not a big deal, but it felt like a big deal. One of those, c’mon seriously!, moments. I get the sweatshirt and make it to Taco Bueno and literally everyone and their grandma is in the drive-thru, so I’m forced to go inside, because I have no patience left and I’m starving. I’ll admit that going inside was the best thing that could have happened. I could sit and eat without trying to balance it in my lap and just take a small breather. That’s exactly what I did.

And you know what, my day got better from there.

I made it to the bookstore across DFW to pick up a book I had ordered and then headed straight to the hospital – my happy place these days, how ironic is that? No traffic, no accidents, no stupid drivers. I surprisingly didn’t yell at a single person on the road. And then once I made it to Jameson’s room, I was instantly relieved. I got the latest update on what they are watching and waiting for. I got to kiss his little head. I got to hug my husband. I got to sit in my favorite recliner. I wrote thank you cards to the nurses. I listened to some country music. I sat on hold with the toll tag people to straighten some things out. Now I’m writing to get my feelings out of my head…

So even if I wasn’t grateful for God’s wisdom earlier, I am now.