Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book of the Week: BabyFat, Pauline Campos

Let me start by saying that I'm no stranger to stories about motherhood, by moms who have been through it all. The proverbial ringer. And yes, let me offer a disclaimer that the lovely and talented Pauline Campos and I are friends. Friends who have never met, but friends just the same. Social media and the blogosphere are kind of amazing that way.

So. Where was I? Telling you about my friend - right? Anyway, when the opportunity came for me to be one of her advanced readers and book reviewers - I kinda' jumped at it. And yes, when you're friends with someone it's a tricky step to take.

What if you don't like their work? What if you're a little iffy on the content or the tone? What if ... what if ... what if?

I felt pretty confident that Pauline's work wouldn't be an issue. I had a strong feeling I'd enjoy it. And knew if I had any problems with any of it that I could tell her. She's just like that.

And so, I dove in. And read. And read some more. And suddenly I was finished reading.

BabyFat is the kind of read you really do dive into. It's not just because I know her that I felt like I was in Pauline's head. You really ARE in her head when you go through this book. Her words, her emotions, the things that make you say HELL, YES! ...? All those things are there. You feel where she's coming from - where she's at - and you know it, too. You can relate. At least I could.

Her tone and experiences combined give you a relatable story that you don't need to turn away from. You never roll your eyes. You never sigh with disdain. You pretty much say ME, TOO! over and over again. Even if you don't relate to the letter - you get it. You're a woman who has experienced issues with her body. Shoot, haven't we all? You don't have to be a mom to get this. You don't have to be a mom to relate. Just because her shared journey primarily takes place after her daughter is born - I'm going to tell you - yes, YOU! - you'll get it, too.

Because who among us hasn't said to ourselves that we're going to start tomorrow? Tomorrow we'll throw out the chips and the cookies, and hell, even the bread? All of it! Trashed! Tomorrow!

Tomorrow - or fine - honestly? Monday. It's always Monday for me.

Tomorrow. Monday. Whenever? We'll start. We'll go to the gym every day. We'll work out regularly. Take walks in our neighborhood. Eat veggies with every meal. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

And tomorrow rarely comes. (Disclaimer, my tomorrow has finally come. I still freaking loved this book. Because I get it. I know. You do, too.)

The way we beat ourselves up over that lost tomorrow? Pauline relates. She shares it. She shows us the way. She talks to us like she'd talk to a friend, and we like it.

In case you can't already tell, Campos is an artist, beyond the written word, and the images she has created to go with her chapter intros are beautiful.  They're also really fun. I'm lucky to be able to share a few of them with you throughout this review.

Now - for the best part!! And yes, I know, after all this there's a better part? Yep.

I've got digital copies to give away to two of my readers. So check out the Rafflecopter form below and enter. It's really easy to do, promise. I'm not going to make you jump through hoops or anything. You do the super easy parts to officially enter and if you want to do more go for it and choose your entries. Easy peasy.

Or you could avoid the wait and head over to Amazon immediately to buy your very own copy. It's definitely affordable and worth it, promise. You know I don't steer you wrong when it comes to great reads, right?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm thrilled to share this book with you. I hope you'll enjoy it and give my girl Pauline some huge love when you do.

** I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review. All expressed opinions are completely my own. The author is providing two copies of this book for me to give to my readers. Affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. I will receive a few cents if you buy through my links. Enough to buy about half a book - possibly. Thanks for the love and support!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Five Books You Should Be Reading Right Now

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You know me. You know I can't stop reading. I'm close to the 50 books mark for 2015, which doesn't leave me much hope of hitting 100 this year, but I'll continue to try.

In the meantime, I have a few books I'd like to recommend that I haven't discussed with you yet. And I decided that it's time to direct you to some incredible reads.

So, here goes. These are some books you need to be reading right now.

The Royal We

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An intriguing and lighthearted story - a taste of Royal fan-fiction - Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan give us a glimpse into what Kate and William's lives are like. Toss in a pretty much dead ringer for Prince Harry and you've got The Royal We. It's such a fun read. There's definitely more than just love and laughter, though. There are relationships, friendships, family drama. The Royal Family is Nick's backbone, but he's not quite the same as the rest of them. His brother, Freddie, brings a bit of fun and intensity to the story, as does Lacey, the twin sister of our primary character, Bex. The friendships and road to forever is an interesting one. And despite the real royal couple finding their happily ever after, we have no guarantees that this will happen for Nick and Bex. An inside look at how paparazzi impacts celebs, and how hard it is to live a normal life when you're so easily recognized, all of that comes into play as these two connect. It's a fun and light read - and you should pick up a copy - or download a copy - pretty much immediately.

Come Away With Me

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Karma Brown is one of my new favorite authors. I couldn't put this book down. Seriously. I devoured it. And it wasn't a light read, by any means. Tegan's story is incredibly emotional - her loss unfathomable - we learn early on what she's been through, and we journey with her towards healing. But it's so damned hard. It hurts. We hurt for her. I wanted to cry many times, and yet, I was also so mad - about so many things - that I didn't cry - I seethed. I felt for her. I wanted to help her. I understood why she hated her husband - why she was so angry, but I felt his loss, too. His pain. Poor Gabe. I felt happy when they let that lift for just a few moments here and there. And then sucker-punched when it returned with a vengeance. The toll that grief takes on your mental health is touched on in this story, as well, and I found myself shouting at Tegan to get help and take care of herself, or let others take care of her. This book, Karma Brown's first release? Phenomenal. Get yourself a copy. Stat. 

Her Sister's Shoes

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I recently reviewed this book, but I'm including it in this list anyway because I really think that it needs to be read by more people - and so I'm telling you again that you should read it. The dynamic of the sisters and their mother throughout the story was so well-written. Farley captured each woman's individuality, while still expressing her true familial connection. The personalities, relationships, problems and happiness, all thrown together make for a wonderful novel. Honestly, I'd love a sequel so we can see what happens to the sisters and their families. The kids alone would make for a great follow-up story, as well. A title you definitely need to add to your to-read list.


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George is the kind of book that you, as an adult, can read in a few short hours. But it's the kind of book that stays with you for way beyond that. George is a young girl who lives in the body of a boy. She struggles so much with being recognized for who she is that it pains us to witness all she goes through. Her voice is crystal clear, and her words are honest. She shares her feelings, her pain, so so much pain - how she hurts when people say things that are offered up with good intentions, but impact her through to the inner workings of her being. I honestly know that this sounds almost too intense to be a book about a young child. I know my description sounds like I'm talking about some telenovela - or who knows what else - but it's George. Completely. And you need to know her. Your child does, too, when you determine that they're ready. Because this book offers a perspective that isn't heard very often, but is very very necessary. 

The Kind Worth Killing

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A novel akin to the many mystery novels out there these days - The Kind Worth Killing is a fantastic read. The character of Ted connects with a woman while waiting for his plane home. Somehow, while pouring out way too much information to this woman, he shares that his marriage is failing and that he thinks his wife is cheating on him. Kind of random to share with someone you've just met - and yet - who else to share it with, right? But Lily, Lily, oh, Lily. She's not quite the right person to have shared this with. Because when Ted says something along the lines of how he could just kill his wife Miranda, well, Lily? She encourages him to do it. She says she'll even help. Saywhatnow? This is really bizarre. They connect, and it's interesting. We wonder - could he actually DO it? Could he kill his wife? Would he? Maybe. All I can tell you is that Swanson unravels a story like nobody's business. It's a great read, and one you'll find yourself unable to put down. So pick it up.

And there you have it. Five books you should be reading. Now.

Go grab your copies. Download them. Order them. Check your local library. Whatever it is you do when you hear about a book you need to read and want immediately. Because these are good reads. I promise!

* Affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. I'll make a few pennies if you order the books from them and then I'll use that to buy my next read. Thank you! *

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book review: Sit! Stay! Speak! Annie England Noblin

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* I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours. All expressed opinions are completely my own. There are affiliate links throughout this post. *

This is Annie England Noblin's first book, but I've just this morning done some digging and learned it won't be her last. Yay!! Honestly, this is something I could have told you anyway, because Sit! Stay! Speak! is a great read.

Noblin captures a true dog lover in Addie. She has Addie doing things I, myself, thought, YES! Go on, I'd do that, too. And it's no wonder - have a look at our author with one of her own sweet fur-babies.

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We meet Addie just as she is becoming familiar with her new neighborhood. Having inherited her aunt's home in Arkansas, she's got a great view of her neighbor as he dances outside in his underwear. We can't help but laugh with her - carefully - as she approaches this new life.

We know that although Addie is comfortable in her aunt's home she has no intention of staying. We also know she's running from something in Chicago. Something went down with her fiancé Jonah, and we know it was bad.

I'll admit - I had my guesses. I pegged what it was - but this did not impact how much I enjoyed the book. If anything it prepared me to enjoy it even more.

Addie's pain resurfaces now and then, and we feel for her. We recognize that she hopes to slink through country livin' unnoticed, but soon learns that in a small town that's pretty much impossible.

And then there's her new puppy. Addie has saved this pup's life - beyond your general adopt-a-rescue-pup situation. She literally (I know - that word, right? But I mean it!) saved this dog's life. And he's so cute. We love how she earns his trust and how he shows his love through intense puppy affection.

There's so much more going on, though. We're not sure how this poor doggie ended up in this life-threatening situation to begin with, but we know it's not good. We also know that this town is pretty afraid of the people who might be involved, for whatever reason.

This book - a fiction novel with loads of character - also gave us a bit of a mystery.

And then there's Jasper.

We like him.

So does Addie.

Jasper likes Addie, too. We can sense it.

Addie doesn't know if she can trust him, though. She also doesn't know if he's available. That kind of puts a damper on things. But we like him, anyway. We want things to go well.

Noblin writes the chemistry between Addie and Jasper beautifully. It's the kind of subtle connection that stirs you up a bit as you wait to see how their relationship unfolds. Will they connect? Will they continue to cross paths? What's Jasper up to that he won't talk about? Do we really care? Should we?

I especially love how Noblin has written the relationship with Addie and Wanda, her new friend from the vet's office. Wanda seems to become an immediate sister to Addie - and if I'm being honest, I'd love to see a sequel written specifically for Wanda. She needs to find her way, too! That would be a great story.

The connection growing between the two women - the relationship Wanda had with Addie's aunt - the way Wanda teaches her about southern living - from preparing incredible food to town gossip - it's all a lot of fun.

And lastly, that's a huge part of the story that I really loved. Maybe it's because I live in the south now - but references to Aunt Tilda's recipes strewn throughout the book? Fabulous. Teaching Addie about southern specialities like good grits and chocolate gravy? Hushpuppies and sweet tea? Welcome home, sweet Adelaide. Welcome home.

This book was definitely a fun read. It's not quite what I'd classify as chick-lit, but a combination of that and a bit more. If you're looking to grab your own copy head on over to Amazon today. It'll be worth it, I promise.

* I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours. All expressed opinions are completely my own. There are affiliate links throughout this post. *

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Guest Post: Christine, The Accidental Tourist

Let me introduce you to my friend Christine. 

Christine and I go back as far as our college days - which - if I'm being honest - is kinda far back. 

After I graduated we didn't keep in touch that well. And actually, it's a shame there was no Facebook by the time I relocated to my second office in Manhattan, because we worked a few buildings down from one another and didn't know it for the longest time. Crazy, right? 

I'm pretty sure we ran into one another once or twice - but not enough to keep a connection. 

Until ... years later? Facebook!

And just like that we're connected again. Immediate happy-face. Read on for your own smile.

friendship, clumsy, athletic, kayaking, paddleboarding, lake, vacation, relaxation

I am clumsy.

Like, phenomenally clumsy.

You name it and I have tripped over it, spilled it or walked into it.

I take after my older sister, who is even clumsier. My youngest sister once told me that it was a stage I would grow out of. The oldest was behind her, shaking her head like, "nope." She broke her foot just walking. Didn't trip over anything. Didn't fall. Just walking. Twice.

While my mishaps are pretty constant, I save the good ones for vacation. We're not talking about grand adventures where I have earned my injury and have a great story to tell. Oh no. No. We're talking stupid, embarrassing, and sometimes naked injuries. I refuse to travel without muscle relaxers and pain medication. For a reason.

There's the trip to the Pacific Northwest, for example. I went kayaking with orcas. I hiked down to Canyon Lake and back up. And then I fell down the stairs at my friends' house.

The trip to Disney World was my personal best. My friend Polly and I took our godchildren, aged 6 and 9, to Disney. We flew in late, drove to the hotel, and went directly to bed. We got up in the morning and showered to get ready for our first day. This, right here, before we even left the hotel room, is where it turned bad.

The floor was wet, I was putting on moisturizer, and my legs started to slide in opposite directions. Now let me drop some knowledge on you, so you don't have to find out the hard way.

A) If your legs are sliding in opposite directions and you can't grab hold of anything to stop yourself, you can, in fact, do a full split. You may think your body can't do that. You are wrong.

B) If that happens, it is bad. So very bad. You will hear things popping. You will not know what they are. Only that they hurt.

So, here I was, lying on the hotel room floor (ick), in agony, unable to get up off the floor. Naked.

I grabbed the only thing I could reach, which was a hand towel that I strategically used to cover my juicy bits. I yelled at my nephew, "Go get Aunt Polly!" Thank goodness for adjoining rooms.

She opened the bathroom door six inches before it plunked against the top of my unmoving head. After hearing my story and assessing the situation, she said to me, "I would normally call an ambulance, but you're naked. So I'm going to let you make that call."

I don't remember how I got off the floor. I've (blessedly) blocked that out, much like you do the pain of childbirth. I do remember, however, the joy of having Polly have to put on my underwear for me over the next four days, then pull them high enough so I could tug them the rest of the way without bending.

I remember my godson putting on my socks and tying my sneakers for me for the rest of the trip. And I remember seeing Disney for the next two days from a wheelchair. Somewhere, there might be photographic evidence. Or I might have destroyed it.

Which brings us to a recent vacation, camping at the beach in Rhode Island. I was at the campground for less than an hour, hadn't even unpacked yet, when I tripped over the tent flap, falling headfirst down a hill. I was almost relieved to see my road rash. I had gotten the injury over with early, it was something that would be gone in a week or so, and wasn't going to interfere with my vacation. Score!

So I decided to go paddleboarding.

I know.

Stop laughing.

My sisters got on their boards - no problem - and started practicing nearby. Nothing to it, right?


I climbed off the dock, got on the paddleboard on my knees, and promptly fell off.

Right there along the edge of the bay, where the quahog boats unload, where the little fishies hang out, among the small spots of oil slick.


But did I give up?

Oh, nay.

I couldn't get back on, so the instructor had me swim over to the stone retaining wall so I could brace myself against it to get back on. I was (almost) steady when I fell off again. This time I went hands first into the wall.

I came up insisting, "I'm okay! It's not broken!" (It was totally broken). I was ready to try again when the instructor took pity on me and suggested I trade in my paddleboard for a kayak.


For the love of all that is holy, YES!

Except now I had to get out of the water. But I couldn't climb off of the board onto the dock like everyone else, for obvious reasons. And I couldn't pull myself out of the water because of the broken finger that I was still pretending wasn't broken. So I slid my upper body onto the wall and kind of swung my legs up and rolled ...

Directly into the parking lot.

I'm pretty sure I looked like a beached whale.

My always diplomatic sister stated, "It wasn't exactly graceful."

The parking lot was made up of crushed shells, which I've now rolled my wet and dirty (remember the oil slicks?) body in. You know when you're making dinner and you dredge the chicken through the bread crumbs? Imagine that. Except I'm the chicken and the crushed shells are the breadcrumbs. The whole time I was kayaking I was trying to figure out why I was so itchy.

It was the shells.

In. My. Bathing. Suit.

So now I've got the scrapes on my legs and elbow, my right hand exhibiting a variety of colors I never knew flesh could turn. And it was so swollen that you could tell it was trying to be a hand and not quite succeeding.

But I was on vacation, damn it. And I would not give up.

There was swimming to do and beaches to visit and babies to play with.

And later in the week, when my sister and I were bobbing along in the waves, my splinted hand over my head in a permanent Miss America wave, I turned to her and said, "You know if we're ever going to get attacked by a shark it's going to be this week, right? Because you're with me, and that's just the week I'm having."

Christine is a 6th grade teacher whose students are beyond lucky to have her in their corner. She's quickly learned that walking up to and down from her 4th floor office guarantees her at least 6,000 steps every day - and then some (and she's a New Yorker, people - you know how much New Yorkers walk every day!). My guess is that when she's not working you can find her with her nose in a book or rockin' out to some old school music with a smile on her face.

Christine is someone who will make you feel special pretty much all.of.the.time. and because of that and her huge heart, I'm truly lucky to call her my friend.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

And so ... We start again.

Today is Grandparents' Day.

And tonight, right now, at sundown, starts the highest of holy days on the Jewish calendar.

Two stark reminders of how life is so different without you.

It's been a while since I've written with moments and memories of you.

But it doesn't make a difference, because I think of you every day.

I see you in my own reflection.

My smile.

My eyes.

*You look like Daddy,* I hear. My own voice. The words of others.

I bake sweet potatoes and want to pick up the phone.

You're not there. I know that.

What temperature? How long? Can I play it by ear and be successful? Like you always were.

Are. You always are. Why not are?

I made chicken broth and it's not like yours. I did a simple recipe to make it quickly.

It didn't work. I should have known better.

I wasn't trying to replace your recipe.

I'd never do that.

I tried to make it differently so I wouldn't flash back every time I sipped it.

That clear liquid. The broth that made everything better.

Even the smell of it, as it drifts up from the bowl. The spoon. It's exactly like yours.

It's amazing.

It hurts.

So I tried a different one. Left a few things out.

It didn't work. It tastes gross.

I'm sorry.

I won't do that again.

I'd rather feel the pain of loss as I remember something we loved together than miss you more with something subpar.

*Pinky promise*

The new year approaches and I feel hollow without you.

I should do more.

I should bake challah (I know, ridiculous, but maybe I'll try again someday) - (I can't eat it right now anyway). I should - I should - I should.

What should I do?

Is there anything I can do to bring you back?

There's not.

I can't.

I know.

It sucks.

You should be here.

Celebrating the start of yet another new year.

Breaking bread.

Reciting blessings.

Why not?

This holiday was yours, above anyone else's.


And it remains.


Only you're not here.

And so.

It's ours.


All of ours.

To hold onto.






I'll always remember.

I'll never forget.

I love you, Daddy.

L'shana Tova.

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