Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Book Review: The Love You Save

What day of the week is it? Who knows! I keep telling my family that it feels like Friday, everyday is feeling like Friday, so I have no idea what is even going on anymore. What I do know is that this is now the second day in a row that I've kind of forced myself to get dressed, try to look like a functioning adult, and I think that's helping. Also, I bought some new pants and the fact they are the same size as I was at my biggest isn't getting me down. I'm just happy to now own two pairs that fit me, lets just hope they don't shrink in the wash. Now I just need shirts, but I'm poor, so baggy hoodies it is! Anyways, lets talk books. 

The Love You Save - Goldie Taylor

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings meets Educated in this harrowing, deeply hopeful memoir of family, faith and the power of books—from acclaimed journalist and human rights activist Goldie Taylor 
Aunt Gerald takes in anyone who asks, but the conditions are harsh. For her young niece Goldie Taylor, abandoned by her mother and coping with trauma of her own, life in Gerald’s East St. Louis comes with nothing but a threadbare blanket on the living room floor. 
But amid the pain and anguish, Goldie discovers a secret. She can find kinship among writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. She can find hope in a nurturing teacher who helps her find her voice. And books, she realizes, can save her life.  

Goldie Taylor's debut memoir shines a light on the strictures of race, class and gender in a post–Jim Crow America while offering a nuanced, empathetic portrait of a family in a pitched battle for its very soul.

Profoundly moving, exquisitely rendered and ultimately uplifting, The Love You Save is a story about hidden strength, perseverance against unimaginable odds, the beauty and pain of girlhood, and the power of the written word. 
Wow. If you are doing any reading challenges that are asking for a memoir, let this be the one you pick. Today is actually its book birthday so go to your local bookstore and pick this one up. It isn't very long, 277 pages, but WOW. 

As a white woman, who was once a white little girl in the public school system in a rather poor neighborhood, I have absolutely no idea what life would have been like for Goldie Taylor, and this book was eye opening for me in so many ways. I try hard to learn the things I do not know and I'm coming to realize that no matter how hard I try or how much I learn, I will never get to the end. I'm sad about that, but that doesn't mean I'm going to quit. 

In The Love You Save, Goldie's father is brutally murdered, her brother is beaten and robbed, and if that isn't enough, Goldie's mother moves them to a mostly white neighborhood, which, in the 1970's, was bound to be difficult on all of them. Most of all anyone being sent into the school system because children are assholes. They can be sweet and loving, but we all know children are assholes when the adults leave. Goldie is then raped, her mother isn't the support she needs, so she is moved yet again. Her entire upbringing is a serious of chaotic moments, and at times dangerous, and we have this little girl trying to walk around all of it. The entire story is harrowing and that is really putting it lightly. 

I will say the times where they are left alone for long hours because mom is at work, I know what that feels like. I can't be mad at my mom, we have to have money to pay for an apartment and food, but man. It would have been nice to have a mom who wasn't so stressed out and tired. Or have a mom that would take us to cool after school events like the other kids. I'm not mad at her, as a mom of four myself I absolutely get it. I also found a home in my school work, and the few teachers who saw me and saw what I needed. Honestly, thank god for them, really. I am so grateful Goldie had those same kinds of teachers because without that, the entire course of her life could have been wildly different. 

If you are focusing on specific books for Black History Month, The Love You Save should absolutely be on that list. I know it's the end of January but this might actually be my memoir of the year. Sorry, Prince Harry. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. This one has made a mark on my heart. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Book Review: Accidentally Famous

It is Friday Eve and I'm here for it. Olivia is in Boston for a school thing, Jackson is busy doing pep band stuff, Pep and Lu want to do a bingo night at school, and I'm just... tired. I'm really tired. The last two days I took a five hour nap, was awake for four, and then went to bed for the rest of the night. What's wrong with me? I have no idea. In the hours I have been awake though, I have gotten quite a bit of reading in, so there's that. I can't hate that. 

Accidentally Famous -  Marissa Clarke

Jack Winston may be Hollywood’s biggest action hero, but he’s seriously burned out. He can’t even save himself from his PR team’s latest scheme: dating a starlet. But when his assistant accidentally tags Cassidy James from Blink, Maine (wherever that is) on social media, the paparazzi decide that she’s Jack’s latest fling. Now Jack needs to do some serious damage control…starting with the adorable home reno pro in paint-splattered overalls.

Cassidy is not prepared when the Jack Winston shows up in her quiet little town—and whew, he is that gorgeous in person. Before she can pick her jaw up off the floor, his PR team is bombarding them with a whole new plan involving “fake girlfriend,” “optics,” and “sign this NDA” (whatever that is). But no one warned her that Mr. A-List Action Star is hot, funny as all get out, and loves old houses as much as she does.

Now they have two weeks to convince everyone they’re in a fake relationship—two weeks that will drive Cassidy’s reno business through the roof and help Jack reclaim his “spark.” The plan is going fine, dare she say, perfectly...until she discovers something that will change everything.
I am so glad to be back in Blink, Maine with Marissa Clarke's latest, Accidentally Famous. Right off the bat I liked Cassidy, and I really liked Jack. I felt like it would have been an easy route to take to make Jack a real jerk but the author did a really good job at balancing his fame and his normalness. Cassidy was a fun character too and again, she could have been almost an angry heroine, and while she had some moments where she was definitely uncomfortable with something she was wearing (or the lavender nails), but she was a sport and she didn't want things to go badly for Jack. 

I also have to talk about the town, who we learned from book one, are all good and decent people who aren't easily starstruck. A star can come here and truly relax, and get some really great food but also not be absolutely hounded. 

Though a romance, it would be considered a very clean one, with only a few kisses. I normally like more (alright, a lot more), but I felt like this was the appropriate level given the story and how it was set up. Anything more would have been trashy and not totally appropriate, to be honest. I also don't know how anyone wouldn't melt a little inside when a hot guy texts you, "I'm coming for you, babe", am I right? 

Final rating? 4.5 stars rounded to 5. I had a hard time putting it down, I found myself smiling throughout, and I had that immediate, "that was cute" when I finished. I can't wait to see how this series folds out with a third installment (it has to be Cassidy's friend, right? RIGHT?) 

Thank you to Entangled Publishing for providing a copy for review, I thoroughly loved this one!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Book Review: Come What Maybe

I cannot believe this is the last full week of January. I've been working hard at trying to set up systems and reliable notes to really keep me on track this year. Well, at least a little better and last year. You know the biggest hurdle right now? My medication list/basket. I am losing track of what I'm taking when and why. I have like 13 medications split up over three times a day and it's just a nightmare.  


Come What Maybe - Kerri Carpenter

Social media strategist Lauren Wallace plans everything. But when she returns to the charming—if not too small for comfort—town of Seaside Cove, it’s only about a second before her tough-love Grams is already on her case. So when Grams tells her not to go to that bar, Lauren decides it’s time for a temporary rebellion. Which is exactly when the trouble starts.

Grams was right. The bar was not a good plan. Because suddenly super-cute bar owner Ethan McAllister has gone from being Lauren’s (kind of) high school nemesis to a very unexpected one-night stand. And worse, Lauren’s attempts to resume her ultra-responsible life keep getting thwarted by more unwelcome spontaneity. And a pregnancy.

Now there’s a baby on the way, Lauren’s the talk of the entire town, and all her planning has gone right out the window. All that’s missing is childbirth to make her pain complete. But it’ll be nothing compared to Grams’s reaction when she finds out that Lauren broke the biggest rule of all…falling for the wrong guy.

I'm going to tell you right off the bat I am giving this one 3⭐'s, but not because it's a meh story, that isn't the case at all. When I look at the Goodreads rating, a 3 is "I liked it" and that's exactly how I feel about Come What Maybe. It is an absolutely promising beginning to the Seaside Cove series and I am all in for it. I will absolutely be reading the rest of them as they come out. Kerri Carpenter has masterfully set this series up for success. 

My biggest issues with this one is Lauren. I really didn't like Lauren and for all the times she speaks poorly of others/the town because of gossiping and judgement but she really took the take, in my opinion. I didn't like how she made assumptions of her sisters, and her Grams' reaction, and Ethan in general. I liked Ethan a lot, and I really could understand his thought process and the poor guy. He's clueless in the psyche of women and it shows! Overall Lauren was so childish that I really started rooting for Ethan to find literally anyone else. (I have to put in a plug from Grams because she is the Grams we all need.)

Alas, we do have a happy ending, it's a clean romance, the book is very fitting given the coastal Maine setting, and I really love her sisters and look forward to their stories. 

Thank you to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for providing a copy for review! 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Medical Update: PTSD, diapers, almost diapers, and more!

I haven't given a proper medical update in... months. Honestly maybe even a year. I will be all over the place, but as always, if you have questions, feel free to leave a comment, email me, message me on IG, and I'm happy to do my best to answer them. 

Well, the best way to start the year is with a broken mirror, am I right? Well this was this summer courtesy of Pickles and it is still right there and it is still just as broken. At this point it really just feels like a metaphor for my life, you know? 

Let's talk about PTSD though, because I am finding out that lots of people don't actually know what it is. To be honest, I would have been in that group because when you think PTSD, I think we all automatically think combat veteran struggling when they come home. Right? I remember maybe three months-ish after having Lucy my doctor flat out held my hands and said, "You aren't crazy, you have PTSD. This is normal." I know I huffed, and I refused to believe it. 
Until stupid things would happen and I would find myself struggling, sometimes out of nowhere, and I didn't really have any other explanation for it. I've been in therapy for six full years now and I am able to recognize my triggers, I have coping strategies for different situations, and I also know how to manage my self-talk so I don't get to the point of needing the coping situations, if that makes sense. 

Cue December. 

Olivia and Jackson were finishing up their senior project hours for school, which was them participating in the Penney's From Heaven project. Different businesses in the community have Christmas trees full of tags with items the family(ies) chosen need. It's always a family (or multiple families as donations allow)who have been hit with especially hard times outside of their control. (We were a recipient in 2016, the same year we had Lucy and it's been important to our family that we give back, very much a pay-it-forward for us.)
We bought a lot of items, lots of different tags and I didn't even look at the tags I was picking up. One of the tags was a pack of diapers. Now, a normal person would walk in, grab the diapers, and keep it moving. Not me, lambs! 

Instead, I break into a cold sweat, that turns into a gross, weird sweat, my face, neck and chest turn read, and I start shaking because I feel like my blood pressure is going out of hand. Enough for Jackson to notice and nicely ask what the hell is wrong with me. There isn't anything wrong with me, I'm just freaking out for whatever reason. Baby things are really hard, even still. 
Also hard? The OB office. I hadn't been in here since November 2016, where I had the worst panic attack I had ever had (except I didn't know that's what it was). I learned that it isn't OK to break out in tears and tell people I died having a baby, and that they might die. Yup. I'm not even kidding. 

Fortunately, this time when I had a panic attack, I was steadily going through my coping things and I was able to get through the time in the waiting room. I cried, but quietly, and not to the point that I'd scare anyone. I do need to have a follow up OB appointment but it'll be in a new office so that was officially the last time I would ever see this waiting room. Which is bittersweet. *sigh*

Let's talk adult diapers though. Thankfully, I am not there. My god, I'm only 40, almost 41. I will say that four children has really taken a toll on me but also, the last two were REALLY hard on me and my insides. (I'm not naming anyone specifically, but Penelope was the largest baby, so..) None of my abdominal muscles do a damn thing so it is a surprise to nobody that it is the worst experience having a chest cold when your bladder and muscles have become squatters doing nothing in this house. Every time I would cough, I pee. Sneeze? Pee. God forbid you get the combo of a sneeze/cough, big trouble. I also have no idea where the hell it is coming from because if I pee, you'd think there would be nothing to sneak out, right?? RIGHT?? 

WRONG, loser. Wrong. 

Enter the incontinence pads and the little old lady doing me a solid at Target. Not only did I hear her entire journey from romps in a car with her husband when her hip was still good and he was alive, how she has three children but only one is grateful and in the will, and she's onto full diapers herself, but helpfully pointed me to the pads she recommends. (And then told me to get diaper cream because I might chafe and that it is no fun.) (I did not buy the cream and it was no fun.)

So that's where I'm at now. 

Between that now wishing I took eye serum more seriously in my early 30's because I'm paying for it now, that's for sure. (Get a good serum, ladies! Moisturize your damn face! Wear sunscreen!) My eyelashes are lightening, my hair is changing, my skin is thinning, wrinkles are popping up, and I feel like I'm in that weird zone that people panic in. I'm scared to get old, but I'm also not going to sadly cling to the youth that is packing up and leaving out the door. It's funny how we were desperately to be a grown up and now here we are and we want to stay young. 

Crazy times. 

But stay tuned because this coming week I'm going to update medical stuff by specialty, because I have hit them all, I think. Well, no. But if this was a Girl Scout badge, I'd have a pretty full sash, we can say that. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Book Review: Never Cross a Highlander

I feel like I owe you a life post, and I promise you'll get one. It'll probably be a doozy. Just have some snacks at the ready. 

Never Cross a Highlander - Lisa Rayne

Ailsa Connery has waited three long years to finally escape her enslavement at Stirling Castle and reunite with her clan. But her carefully laid plans are completely destroyed by the arrival of the infamous Highland warrior known as Dubh Mahoun, the Black Devil...who has plans of his own.

Kallum MacNeill's fearsome reputation has long allowed him to keep hidden his secret double life of freeing enslaved captives across the land. It's only when he kidnaps a servant lass—quite by accident—that he finds himself facing a wee predicament. He must accompany the lass home or risk her exposing his true identity. It'd be easy enough...if the feisty hellion didn't fight him at every turn.

As they make their way to the Highlands, the perils the two must face are surpassed only by their constant sparring. Soon, their heated sniping sparks heat of a totally different kind. The kind that ignites a hunger that could consume them both. Yet the difficult journey is no match for the dangerous secrets they're about to uncover.

You know I love a good series, but I love getting into the series for the FIRST one. I am perpetually finding a series in the middle of it and feel like I don't know what's going on, with who, and where. Clueless and I'm slow, so there's that. But we're coming into The Shadow Lairds series and woo-boy... I am here for it. Lisa Rayne has made me decide that my new favorite thing is highlander based romances, so I'll just be picking those up left and right, thanks. 

Setting itself apart from others, Never Cross a Highlander uses actual historical facts of Black history in the United Kingdom way back in the 1700s day. (Trigger, the book does feature abuse, physical and sexual.) I love how everyone is always trying to get back to their clans, such is the case with Ailsa. Enter Kallum, a warrior who helps slaves escape, who accidentally kidnaps Ailsa and that's where their story converges. (I mean, haven't we all accidentally kidnapped someone?) Both of them are independent, strong willed, but also highly intelligent and absolutely against the idea of marriage. Ever. Like forever and ever, you guys. Of course you know this means their chemistry is literal fire so a large part of this book is their brooding and brewing romance until... you know. Stuff happens. 


If we're being honest I didn't think any of their sexy time was explicit, it was fairly PG from what I normally read, and I didn't particularly get the feels from this book. I do like their relationship and how it developed, and it probably works for that couple (imagining it as a real life couple), but not for me. Overall though? I liked the story. I think the series is set up well, I like that we're going to likely see Ailsa and Kallum again. I liked the light humor in this, I loved finally seeing a historical romance with some damn diversity! It's there, it existed, let's write about it! 

Overall this was a solid 3 for me. I liked it, I definitely want to see where Lisa Rayne does next with this series, this was a great start. Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for sending me a copy for review!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Book Review: How To Be Awkward

Full disclosure, I wanted to read this one 100% because of the cover. Honestly, we're only half way through January and I feel like this is how I will look getting through the entire year so.... I can relate to this author already. 

How to Be Awkward- Amanda Turner

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store and Hair of the Corn Dog, Amanda Turner (previously writing as AK Turner) offers up a new collection of hilarity and embarrassment with How to Be Awkward.

Disclaimer: This book is not intended for the super cool. If you begin every day by setting an intention while doing yoga on a paddleboard (and somehow not falling off), you’re out of my league. If you are even semi-fluent in the Urban Dictionary, there’s little chance we’ll connect. And if you use a vaginal steamer, well, I think we’re done here. Especially if you don’t have a vagina. On the other hand… if your spirit animal is the blobfish or you regularly and inexplicably choke on your own saliva, we might be related. If you find intermittent fasting to be both cruel and unusual, I feel your pain. If your athletic abilities could best be described as blundering and oafish, I’m right there with you. It’s possible that we speak the same language. We should talk.
I have not laughed so hard while reading in quite a long time. I've read some funny books but honestly, I'm making a bold statement here.... I liked this better than Jenny Lawson's newest, or even Samantha Irby. Sure, I laughed with those, but I haven't identified harder with an author since Allie Brosh, and I've been with her since the start of her blog back in the damn day. Amanda Turner and I need to be friends. We're probably already friends and I just don't know it. 

She is your friend that you're slightly embarrased by and for, but dammit you invite her to everything anyways because if something is going to happen, it will happen to her. It's free entertainment. I am also that person, how many people do you know have gotten hit in the head with a magazine by a random person in the waiting room of a mental health clinic, you can officially say one... I am that one. 

Some of the essays a little longer, some are just 3 pages or less, and you will find yourself flying through all 26 of them. I finished and honestly, I want a part two. I'm over on the couch snorting and laughing so hard that I had to get up to pee several times because after four children, the ol' bladder ain't what she once was. I'm in denial and once step away from Depends at this rate, and I had no business reading this after drinking copious amounts of water. The book is funny, its thoughtful, it offers poignant life advice and what not to do, which is truly just as valuable. It's well written and an absolute journey. You will enjoy this one. 

I absolutely loved this book and I am actually going to buy a physical copy of it because anytime I feel like life is pulling a prank on me, I can pull this out and remember Amanda Turner has probably had it worse. (And I mean that in the nicest, most loving way a stranger could mean it as without being weird.) A huge, huge thank you to Red Clover Digital and Amanda Turner for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review, I cannot wait to read whats next!
This post contains affiliate links. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Book Review: Cinderella and the Duke

I don't know about anyone else but this was a long ass week. I'm glad we have a long weekend with the kids being home on Monday for the holiday, because I really just need an extra day. My brain was just...overwhelmed with doctor stuff and this week is going to end on a doozy of an appointment and I feel like I need to gear up for it. I'm waiting for a referral to call me, I need to get more labs done, I'm just kind of over it all, you know? 


In the meantime, let us talk about books because why not. 

Cinderella and the Duke

Miss Julia Beaumont has exactly one night to find herself a husband…

The Weatherford Ball is the last chance Julia Beaumont has to escape the clutches of her horrid stepmother. Any potential husband will do—rich, poor, even a reasonably well-groomed walrus. But all of Julia’s matrimonial chances are completely obliterated…thanks to the actions of an infuriating and utterly rakish duke.

Gregory Carter, Duke of Ashworth, would never risk his cherished bachelorhood by flirting with marriage-starved debutantes. But one look at the luscious and refreshingly clever Julia, and he simply can’t resist a stolen kiss—scandal be damned. Then just as things start getting deliciously interesting, the lady flees…leaving only a slipper behind.

And it must have been one dandy of a kiss. Because now Julia has proposed to him. After all, the lady needs a husband, and this roguish duke will certainly do. It’s simply a matter of making him the perfect scandalous offer…
I have already decided that I am reading more historical romance in 2023 and I'm off to a great start. If you love the traditional Disney romances of your childhood, it is definitely time for you to have the grown up version, except... different. And for being a historical romance it's almost scandalous on its own with Julia being the one to do the proposing and taking her future into her own damn hands already. On that alone, Julia is my girl. I also really liked Gregory despite him being just a man whore, if we're being honest, because it was almost humorous with all of this women fawning themselves over him and he's over here, definitely sick of the attention. The commonality between them of each having something in their history that makes them feel unworthy of true love is relatable but also helps them be more likeable. 

I have some high spots and low spots in this one for me. I loved the humor throughout, it really helped it not ended up stuffy and pretentious, something that can easily happen in historical books, especially romances. I loved the characters and I liked the creative take on a classic fairytale. The only real low spot I had was pacing. It felt like it wasn't an even reading pace, and we'd hit some boring spots, then a bunch of faster/exciting things and then slump again. I never wanted to DNF it, I just wish it was a little more even throughout. I think this is Lydia Drake's debut novel and when I keep that in mind, this is a great debut, and a promising peek into more to come. I definitely can't wait. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Book Review: Mail Order Cowboy

Happy Monday, lambs! I feel like I've got 2023 by the balls, and I know we aren't supposed to call it, but I feel like I am really set up for good things this year. I'm already on a reading roll, I got my budgeting stuff worked out just the way I want it, I found jellybeans already, and I bought a new pack of manila folders and dammit, things are pretty alright. 

I completely realize how lame and old that makes me sound but my therapist says it really is little wins so screw off, nay-sayers. 

Mail Order Cowboy - Victoria James

Hope Roberts has a strict No Cowboys Allowed policy. Between raising her daughter, running her business, and trying to settle into her new ranch, Hope has no room for romance—especially when it comes to cowboys. What she needs is someone to help fix her ranch. But the only person to respond to her ad is the one man Hope still blames for her husband’s death…

In Wishing River, Dr. Dean Stanton is pretty much a legend. Cowboy, doctor, heir to his family’s ranching empire—everyone knows and loves him…with the exception of Hope. But Dean doesn’t trust a complete stranger to keep Hope and her daughter safe. And despite their troubled past, he’s still the best cowboy for her job.

Bit by cautious bit, Hope’s little family of two is making room for the man she once thought of as her enemy. Until one day, Dean looks like the perfect exception to her “no cowboys” rule. But he’s been keeping a secret from her that could destroy their newfound family…
I'm going to start this one off with something I almost never say, but while everyone will tell you these are stand alone books, nay, nay, I say. I haven't read the other three, and maybe the other three truly are stand alones, but I feel like I came into this book mid-way through a story. I had zero back story, I guess they've had some intense, fun banter in the other books and I wish I had that buildup. You also learn at the very beginning that Hope is a widow and her husband died of cancer, but Dean was his doctor. Hope is a more natural doctor and she is convinced Dean could have/should have seen the cancer sooner so she basically blames him for her husband's death. Dean is keeping a pretty big secret and if Hope knew it, Dean know it would devastate her, so he swore to hide it from her. 

Anyone who has watched a Hallmark or Lifetime movie knows that she absolutely would find out and the lesson is always that keeping secrets isn't good for anyone. Nobody wants to deal with hard stuff, or wants to have a broken heart, or be the one to do that to someone, but the alternative can be really awful, sometimes worse. 

As I step off my soap box, let me say I really liked Dean. I really liked Hope and her ambitious desire to take care of herself without the sympathetic help from other. She doesn't want to be dependent on anyone and I can admire that. Dean is a genuinely nice guy, he helps everyone, even at the expense of his sanity/time. Both of them are the kind of people you would set up with each other and you root for them the get it together. His dad is real piece of work, but you know right off the bat his awfulness wasn't passed down, thankfully. I also LOVED their friends but also the dynamic of all of them together. 

If you're a fan of a clean romance, with cowboys, something that could easily become a Hallmark movie to spend a weekend on, this is your book. I really want to go back and read the first three though because I love the other couples so I know I'd love their stories, but I'd also get a little background on Dean and Hope knowing how their story ends. (Also sometimes I just really need a solid, sweet story, you know?) 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review! 
This post contains affiliate links. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

Book Review: Penny the Horse, of Course!

Happy Friday! Do you have any planns for this weekend? I'm hoping to start a bullet journal (more on that later) and really finish up 2022 stuff and clear out my office to start fresh stuff for 2023. I'm actually kind of excited about it. 

To start though, lets look at this cute children's picture book. 

Penny the Horse, of Course!

Tatiana Christie

Being different isn't always easy, especially if you're the only pig on a horse farm. Still, Penny doesn't let that discourage her! Determined to make friends, she decides that all she needs to do is find a way to fit in better with her pals. By the time all is said and done, she will be as good as a horse herself!

When nothing she tries seems to make her any more popular in the stables, Penny worries she'll never be happy on the farm. But with a little love and understanding, the horses soon help her see that she's perfect just the way she is, and that there's room for everyone...of course!
If you're looking for a book to help a kiddo who doesn't quite feel like they fit in, this is a perfect pick for your home or classroom library. 

We have Penny, the lone piggie on a farm full of horses. Penny wants to fit in and feel like one of the horses, so she does everything she can to be one of them. She's not successful of course, and she's sad. The horses like Penny just fine the way she is, so they set out to showing her. It's a great story about learning to love yourself just the way you are, an important lesson for all children to learn as soon as they can, and while it's OK wanting to fit in, you shouldn't change who you are for the approval of others. I love the lesson of inclusion, including others who aren't like you because you might have lots in common and could be great friends. 

I loved the illustrations in this book, Lucy (my six year old) was a big fan of the book as a whole. (She also asked if we can get a pet pig, so.... guess what she wants for her birthday, in August.) The book is humorous and it kind of reminds me of the Thelma, the Unicorn books. I like the clever way to teach a lesson by using a fun story, cute animals, and some humor. Also, reading this book out loud has a nice rhythm to it, so if you're using this as a read-aloud it flows smoothly. I also liked the opportunities throughout to change your voice and make it a silly read, that's my favorite kind of picture book! 

Thank you to Red Clover Digital and author Tatiana Christie for having me on this tour and providing a copy for review. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Book Review: Speak Kindly, You're Listening

It's really appropriate that this is my first post of 2023 because one of my goals this year is to be kinder to myself. When you really take a step back and break down why you feel badly about yourself, its because you're saying really awful things about you. My goal is to quiet that voice, so this book came at just the right time. 

Speak Kindly, You're Listening

Have you ever thought of how you speak to yourself? The words you choose? The tone of voice? The pitch or volume? Just as you use different voices when speaking to a child, parent or lover, have you noticed you use a different voice when you speak to yourself?

Dr. Jessica heard her voice say on repeat: “I’m not good enough,“ “I’m not worth it, “What is wrong with me?” and used them as a way to motivate herself, until those words broke her. That inner voice belittled her and shouted insults. She didn’t understand how that same voice took care of cancer patients and loved ones but chose to call her names.

Being diagnosed with her own mental health concerns compelled Dr. Jessica to find the answer to the question, “Why do high-achieving women experience such a negative inner voice?” Speak Kindly, You’re Listening breaks down four key components: imposter syndrome, perfectionism, burnout and that dark inner voice while connecting the link between them all.

Drawing on her own experience, working with cancer patients and being a past education director, she has helped numerous women transform their voice from inner gremlin to inner cheerleader. A must-read for anyone wanting to explore the connection of their inner voice, confidence and self-intelligence.

Because if you wouldn’t say it to a friend or loved one, why is it okay to say it to yourself?
The last line is something I need to stick to my mirror so I see it as a daily reminder. I can honestly say there is not one person in my day to day life that tells me I have clearly gained weight. Nobody points out that I look six months pregnant (I'm not). Nobody tells me I'm clearly aging. Nobody tells me I need a hair cut (and color). I am the only person that tells me that. 

If there is only one non-fiction book you read this year, I highly encourage you to pick this one. It begins with Imposter Phenomenon, and I think we've all had that. Maybe we apply for a job that feels out of our league but what the hell, lets apply anyways, and suddenly you get the job. You're terrified that they are going to clearly see unqualified you really are and fire you. The book breaks this concept down but also goes through all the ways we develop this. I really loved the connection she made between perfectionism, "type A personality" traits and how this truly is Imposter Phenomenon at work and talks about why that is. As the oldest daughter in our family, I've always felt a lot of pressure to be successful and good at everything. I've felt pressure to be a great parent myself, a great wife, a great friend, etc. and there isn't anything technically telling me to step up my game. It's me. I'm the problem. 

Throughout each chapter there are some brain exercises/questions that really get you to stop and question what the heck you're doing that you never realized you were doing to yourself (or maybe even to your children). If you're a bullet journal type of person, these might be good things to include and maybe compare where you are at the end of the year. 

The last two chapters, Burnout and Darkness are the ones that really gave me pause and I realized a lot of is similar to what I've heard in therapy. There's a passage on page 140: 
"To me, burnout feels like you're constantly living in survival mode without an off-switch and without the resources to adequately feel successful. Over time, you experience nervous system dysregulation, because humans are not meant to live in survival mode for an extended period of time. As a reminder, survival mode is our fight-or-flight and freeze response."
This is particularly important for me because I do not have a working pituitary gland and while I can go into what that all means, the summary is I have little to no natural hormones, so I take the fake stuff. Just because I have a psuedo replacement doesn't mean it is anywhere as good as the real thing. One of the important things your pituitary gland does it pump out that adrenaline you get when you get scared, really mad, just the urge to really emote a feeling. You can do it, your body calms down and you start getting your normal cortisol levels. I do not get that. Well, I can muster up that burst, but that burst can burn me out for a little while, the whole day, it might throw my whole week off. So being in this constant state of burnout is likely one of the reasons I'm just so tired all the time, my body cannot keep up with this dysregulation. I feel so much stress working towards goals and finish lines that constantly move and I'm never going to pass, I'm making it impossible for me to cross that off my to-do list. 

In Darkness, the author talks about building a trust squad, basically your ride or dies. You can call them up at 2 a.m. and they will get you through the crisis. It doesn't necessarily have to be someone you talk and communicate with daily. There is a GREAT nine question checklist that you can use to go through the people you consider friends and even ride or dies, because it may shake up who are truly in those groups. 

Overall, I thought this was a great book. It's not a very long book at all, you can easily squeeze this in over a day or two, and it is full of exercises and thought provoking questions. I know the gift-giving season is technically over, but this is a great one to keep in mind to include in a gift for anyone. I think no matter who you are, this is relevant to you in some way, and we can all stand to be a little better to ourselves, because then we'll be kinder to others. 

A big thank you to Red Clover Digital for providing me a copy for review. You can find this on Amazon, and if you're someone who likes to annotate your books, this would be a great one to do that with. 
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