Friday, March 29, 2019

"The Age of Light" by Whitney Scharer

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This novel falls into a genre that seems to be growing in popularity that I call "Biographical Historical Fiction" (I have no idea if that's a thing or not) which, to me, are novels based on real people and events but with a fictional story line. Lee Miller was a model for Vogue who then studied under Man Ray as a photographer and eventually became one of the first female war correspondents during WWII. Fascinating, right? This book is set largely in 1920s France but with flash-fowards to her time as a war correspondent. I loved being able to Google Lee and Man Ray and see photos of them together as well as the specific works of art that are mentioned in the book. 

Ugly Cry Potential: Low
LOL'd: No
Disturbing?: Mildly
Steam Factor: HOT (It's 1920's France after all)
Overall Concluding Feelings: Fascinating, dark and sultry.
Best for: Lovers of art (especially photography) and 1920's Paris

Monday, March 25, 2019

"The Mother-in-Law" by Sally Hepworth
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰
Probably best not to pick this one up when you have a lot of cleaning to do. This page turner was a lot more compelling than my chore list this weekend! After losing her own mother, Lucy is very eager to meet her future mother-in-law Diana but their relationship is vastly different than what Lucy expected. Sally Hepworth develops characters with surprising depth and reveals each layer to us little by little.
Ugly cry risk: LowChance of getting cleaning done before finishing the book: Extremely LowYou'll enjoy this if you're a fan of: Liane Moriarty Conclusions: Momming is hard. Don't judge a book by it's cover (re: characters....not the actual book and its cover) 🤣
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest feedback.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

"Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children" by Reid Wilson, PhD and Lynn Lyons, LICSW

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you have anxious kids this is a MUST read. I've struggled with anxiety my whole life (and taught my kids to be anxious) and have read dozens of books and this one is hands down the best. The authors truly understand anxiety and what works and what doesn't work. One of my biggest take-aways was that while our instinct is frequently to reassure our kids and to try to minimize the problem, that this can actually increase the anxiety. Instead we need to teach them how to expect the unexpected and face it head on. They explain why we have anxiety, how we let it take control and how to get that control back in 7 simple steps. The skills in this book are applicable to ANY situation no matter what the cause of the anxiety. There is a companion book called "Playing with Anxiety: Casey's Guide for Teens and Kids" that your kids can read or you can read with them. If you ever have the chance to see Lynn Lyons speak I highly recommend going. She is funny and engaging and will put conquering anxiety within reach for you and your kids.
"The Secret of Clouds" by Alyson Richman

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

This book had me at line 1 with "Let me tell you a secret." The story is told largely from the viewpoint of Maggie Topper, a young 6th grade English teacher who, in addition to her regular class, also has agreed to tutor a young boy named Yuri whose health condition doesn't allow him to attend school with the other kids. We also learn about Sasha and Katya, Yuri's parents, who grew up in Kiev which made the book an interesting blend of contemporary and historical fiction. Alyson Richman's poetic prose drew me in and kept me turning the pages through this tender story of friendship and compassion and the lasting impact that great teachers can have on our lives.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"The One-in-a-Million Boy" by Monica Wood
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A touching story about relationships, love and the mourning process. An 11 year old Boy Scout is assigned to help 104 year old Ona Vitkus around the house on Saturdays. The boy's school project to interview an elderly person coupled with his fascination with Guinness World Records lead the two into a touching friendship. As Ona's story unravels secrets are revealed and new adventures begin. Monica Wood's exquisitely lyrical prose is sprinkled with Guinness World Records and snippets of the boy's recordings of his interviews with Ona about her past. If you loved "A Man Called Ove" this one's for you - it has the same warm and funny yet heart-wrenching style.

Laughed: Yes - and smiled lots.
Safe to Read in Public: Yes - Moving but not to the point of tears.
Warning: Don't read the reviews on Goodreads/Amazon - spoilers are everywhere!
Concluding Feelings: Appreciation, a new understanding of the elderly and like I just got a big warm hug.   

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I remember reading this when I was little and being captivated by the mystery and the many delights that were discovered within the garden walls. Re-reading it with my daughter (age 11) I also saw the important lessons about friendship and how changing your attitude can change everything.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

"The Wartime Sisters" by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

Millie and Ruth were very different growing up and didn't have the best relationship. As adults they are brought back together as a direct result of the war and their relationship is still tenuous when someone from their past returns and threatens everything. The Wartime Sisters is a refreshing take on WWII historical fiction. Based entirely in the US it gives a very different and lighter viewpoint than other novels of this genre. A combination of the incredibly well-researched history and Loigman's masterful descriptions made me feel like I was stepping back in time. I especially enjoyed how the different viewpoints allow the reader to see the same situation from multiple perspectives and highlighted how easy it is to misread the intentions of others.

Friday, March 1, 2019

"I'm Fine and Neither Are You" by Camille Pagan
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

I adored this book! Penny is a busy working mom of two kids who doesn’t take any time for herself. When her best friend dies suddenly she takes a good hard look at her life and decides it needs some re-working. My favorite thing about this novel was how unfiltered Penny’s thoughts were. If you’ve ever wondered what moms are REALLY thinking this book lays it all out there. I found it all very validating! From the opening scene with Penny sitting on the toilet as her son barges in to complain about his big sister picking on him to the closing scene where….well you’ll just have to read it to find out!

Thank you to Camille Pagan and the #TallPoppyWriters group for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.