Saturday, January 29, 2022

Book Review: On A Night Like This

Folks.... I need the weekend. I need to nap all day, I need popsicles. I'm not even rational at this point.  

On A Night Like This - Lindsey Kelk

Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.

When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins.

Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever…
You GUYS. I was already a Lindsey Kelk fan, but this one has sealed the deal for me! I love a re-telling, and while this isn't really a re-telling, it kind of follows a Cinderella storyline but it injects humor throughout and is so much fun. I could identify with Frankie and her self talk because man... if someone could record the things I say to myself throughout the day.. ha! I keep saying it's probably best that we have masks because I am constantly muttering things. 

Although this isn't my favorite trope in a romance (a woman out of her 20's that is with the absolute wrong loser), I liked that our characters weren't living in the clouds, so I was more invested in this one. That aside, the romance isn't the main part of this book and I think that really helped me enjoy this one so much. The ending was predictable, but also kind of not, if that makes sense (it will when you read it), but if you are looking for something to quickly get through, maybe a mid-winter vacation read, add this to your list. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for sending me a copy for review, I'm really looking forward to Lindsey's next read!
This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Book Review: Fierce Love

I don't know what it's like where you are, but it is absolutely freezing where I am. I hate even complaining because honestly, it could be (and has been) worse, but woo- it's a nippy one. 

Fierce Love - Susan Scott

Often in our romantic relationships, we long for deep connection, but we don't know how to communicate well and sometimes withhold what we're really thinking and feeling. This can lead to fighting, resentment, or, worse, complacency--where you are just going through the motions, more like roommates than two people in love. As Susan writes, "It's as if we've pulled off our own wings." As couples, we don't stop to think how important our conversations are. And we certainly don't understand that what we talk about and how we talk about it determine whether our relationships will thrive, flatline, or fail.

In Fierce LoveNew York Times bestselling author Susan Scott guides couples through eight must-have conversations that lead to deep connection and lasting commitment. Through the use of true stories and hands-on exercises, Susan helps us understand that the conversation is the relationship;
identify and dispel five relationship myths that mislead and derail us;
learn eight conversations that are critical to enriching relationships; and
stop fighting or ignoring issues and start connecting in a deep and meaningful way.

After a season where many relationships were tested and tried, where some relationships thrived and others have exposed cracks couples didn't even realize were there, or realized but didn't acknowledge, now is the best time to learn to communicate well. By having honest, compelling conversations with our partners, we can foster true connection and a fierce love that will withstand the test of time and grow stronger over the years.

I've read a lot of articles about celebrities breaking up and divorcing since the pandemic started, and in real life, I know of a lot of couples who I thought were solid were actually in the middle of a divorce. Many blame the pandemic and basically too much together time, and that feels like an excuse. It's not the pandemic or the time, it's the issues that have been there all along, but were easy to ignore in the day to day life that keeps us all busy. 

Marriage, and relationships, are hard. I heard a song the other day by Spencer Crandall called "Made" and in it he says that soul mates aren't found, they're made, and I thought that was so spot on. I always thought the idea of us finding our soul mate was so impossibly daunting in a world as big as ours, but so was the idea of us really deciding that THIS was the person because what if... what if we're wrong? Well of course that's the basis of most reality TV shows, right? But I really believe the song, our soul mate is made, we make it by putting the work in. We have really great days, really bad days, everything in between days, and we always wonder if we made the right choice, sometimes we wish that person would change instead of us reevaluating our expectations. If there is one thing Matt and I can say about our marriage, its that we have literally gone through every one of our vows. Sickness and health? Yup. Good times and bad? For sure. Death? Um, yeah, we've actually been there and done that. I will say there was a time that I was convinced we were going to get divorced. I had a plan going forward and figured I was young enough, things would work out for me. Of course, life happens and things change. Fast forward 13 years and we've been through even harder things, things that would shake any couple, and I've finally come to a space where I know Matt is it. He's my one. I know that no matter what, Matt has my back and he's going to be there as my rock, and vice versa. I feel my safest with him, I feel like I am home with him. 

Oh but what a road to get there. 

In Fierce Love, author Susan Scott talks about communication and how your communication actually is the relationship. If it's shallow, so is your relationship. If you can get deep into it, so does your relationship. I also love that she gets into the conversation we all need to have (and should) but we know that it could change everything, and really think about that, what is something you need to talk about with your partner but you know that if the answer isn't great, it's going to change the relationship for sure, but maybe even the trajectory of your life? 

My absolute FAVORITE part of this book is part 2 and she goes into the five myths that basically sabotage us. Honestly, look at your social media and you can find a handful of friends who have "met their soul mate" or "the love of their life" a few times now, and truly, you need to throw this entire book at them with this entire section highlighted! To sum all five myths up: nobody else can complete you, true love isn't unconditional, nobody will fulfill your list/meet every requirement, they love you and probably don't know, and love isn't all you need. I was literally screaming at this entire section because it is all so very true. 

No book on love and relationships could end without giving you something to work on or to do, and this one is no different. The last sections are eight conversations you really need to have. It's important going into them knowing you both have to be truthful, and you both have to accept the results of the conversations. I guarantee your partner is going to say something that might hurt, or might sting, but it doesn't mean everything is going to hell and you pack their stuff, it means you've got a springboard to getting into deep communication, and that's what every relationship needs. 

Whether you're already married, or maybe thinking about getting married, this is definitely a worthwhile read. Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson Publishers for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review! 

This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Book Review: Euphoric

Happy Monday, lambs! I hope you had a good weekend, and have at least a semi-decent week lined up. I have a ton of little things going up, but that all leads to feeling like I am super busy, which stresses me out. I need to get better at focusing at one day at a time and not looking at the entire week.  

I have a really great non-fiction book for you today and it may be relevant to people who have a goal for 2022 to drinking less, or not at all. Maybe you are someone who has thought about it but you're just not there yet, either way, you might gain something from this one. 

Eupohoric - Karolina Rzakowolska

Euphoric is your eight-week plan for an alcohol-free lifestyle that can lead to more happiness, well-being, and self-love. It's the modern woman's guide to relax without alcohol, find freedom from cravings and fitting in, and create the life you want - along with the audacity to go after it.

Imagine a program that makes the benefits of "Dry January" last all year. That's Euphoric!

Alcohol is everywhere in our society, and it's hard to resist. The pressures to fit in and have "just one drink"--that turns into several - whether at a party or on a casual Friday night, can lead to an imbalanced life that's plagued with unhealthy habits, low self-esteem, and decreased productivity.

How can you change your relationship with alcohol without feeling deprived or like a social outcast? First, decide you want a change and then pick up Euphoric, from certified alcohol-free life coach Karolina Rzadkowolska.

Karolina has helped thousands of casual drinkers transform their relationship with alcohol, including herself. In Euphoric, she shares a proven strategy to make alcohol insignificant in your life.

If you don't know me in real life, you likely don't know that I am someone who doesn't drink alcohol at all. I don't abstain because of a bad experience or anything like that, I've just literally never been a drinker. In my whole life (and I'll be 40 in March), I can count on one hand how many sips I've had: once sip of champaigne at my wedding reception, a sip of a wine cooler and a Mike's Hard Lemonade at my reception, and.... I think that's it? Not only did they all taste terrible anyways, and the smell of all alcohol makes me a bit nauseous, just the general idea of not being in control of my body and mind makes me nervous. Not to mention alcoholism runs through my family and that isn't something I want to play chicken with, so I made the decision as a teen that I just wasn't going to drink. 

So I haven't. 

I won't lie and say it's been a breeze because every social situation is pretty much centered around alcohol in some way. It doesn't bother me at all but if I were someone in alcohol recovery, I can fully understand why being in a lot of social situations is just really hard and it's easier to just avoid them, which leads to feeling left out. If you've ever been at a bar, maybe it's a birthday party for a good friend or something, and say, "Oh, no thanks, I don't drink.", you're going to hear the proverbial record scratch. Suddenly you've made everyone uncomfortable around you and now nobody knows what to do, can they drink? Can they even be near you? It's really quite silly and honestly I don't really get it. I do know that that awkwardness makes it hard for people to turn down a drink and makes it easier to turn down invitations, which leads to loneliness for sure, but also leaves you wondering where you fit in now? 

Enter Karolina Rzadkowolska's book Euphoric, Ditch Alcohol and Gain a Happier, More Confident You, a relatively quick read that ties together your body with your mind and soul, but also a realistic eight week plan on how to ditch alcohol but also put you on a path leading you to a better version of you. I really enjoyed that the author includes "journaling homework" throughout the book because anytime you are reading a "self help" book, it really is meaningless unless you're really looking at how it applies to your life, right? These prompts really help with that. 

Week four focuses on your social life and I love how the author comes right out and names the emotion we feel when we say we don't drink, and it's embarrassment. I don't know why, even now, I sometimes feel embarrassed to say that. Probably because almost immediately someone will ask you why not, and suddenly you're on the spot. Nevermind the fact that when says no, it needs to be no and dropped. We teach our young people that when you say no, it means no, but somehow as adults that's lost and we feel like we deserve an answer. 

Whether you drink or not isn't a measure of your personality or worth, and it doesn't mean you're the life of the party, or not. I love so much the author suggests a perfect one liner retort to that dreaded question by replying with, "why do you drink?". 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Though I've already made the decision to not drink, I have many friends who are in stages of recovery, some who are considering cutting back or maybe made quitting all together their goal for the year, and I think this would be a beneficial read for anyone, no matter where you are on the pendulum. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harper Horizon for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review! 

This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Book Review: I Just Want To Pee Alone

You know what I did last week? I ran errands and got to go out to lunch and read.... alone. It was as glorious as you think it was. 

I Just Want to Pee Alone

Motherhood is the toughest – and funniest – job you'll ever love. Raising kids is hard work. The pay sucks, your boss is a tyrant, and the working conditions are pitiful – you can't even take a bathroom break without being interrupted with another outrageous demand. Hasn't every mother said it before? “I just want to pee alone!” I Just Want to Pee Alone is a collection of hilarious essays from 37 of the most kick ass mom bloggers on the web. Including: People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Insane in the Mom-Brain, The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva, Baby Sideburns, and Rants From Mommyland. Read hysterical essays like: Embarrassment, Thy Name is Motherhood A Pinterest-Perfect Mom, I am Not And Then There was that Time a Priest Called Me a Terrible Mother So She Thought She Could Cut Off My Stroller.
You guys... this book is funny. It was a good way to fill some kid-free time and didn't require my brain to do any work. Not only did I finish this book in one hour, but I was smiling or laughing the entire time and almost choked on a french fry. What a way to go, lambs. Early on there is an essay about Disney World and honest to God, it is so spot on, I had to call my friend who is planning a first trip... she's worried. HA! Also there is an essay about her husband getting a vasectomy in lieu of her being on birth control the rest of her life, which is something I see on mom blogs and forums all the time. Frankly, stand your ground, ladies. On page 34, 

Physician: [mouthing vaginal shrapnel] "So, are you interested in an IUD?"
Me: "I find it best never to owe people money. Especially family. IOUs can be so tricky."
Physician: "I have a feeling you may not be ready to discuss any vaginal procedures."
Me: "Hasn't my vagina done enough for my family?"
and further down the page: 
"I was pouring a glass of red when this commandment was spoken. 'Catholics don't do that. You can use the rhythm method.' As he said, 'rhythm method', I pointed to baby number four. Any other pearls of wisdom, Father? The conversation soured as I glared at my husband over loudly chewed bites of steak. Looking at my knife, I pondered if Googling DIY vasectomy instruction would initiate any red flags or calls to the local authorities. 
My husband, not necessarily a believer in the actual tenet of no vasectomy, yet, thankful for an argument against it tried to proceed cautiously. 
Husband: "Did you hear what Father said about ahem the surgery?"
Me: "I did."
Husband: "And?"
Me: "Are priests still unable to get married? Unless you plan on marrying him, I think you should consider keeping your appointment."
Husband: "Honey, please put down the steak knife."

I mean, absolutely spot on. I remember after I had Lucy, who shouldn't exist because birth control was used, and I died giving birth to her, I was adamant that I was not going on birth control. Frankly, I've done my duty. If I can die while giving birth, and deal with the awful aftermath for the rest of my life, the very least you can do is get a snip snip and go back to work. Oh yes, ladies, I made him go back to work. Again, if I can push a watermelon out of a small hole and have to start walking around right after, you can go to work. No sympathy will be given here. 

Is this book hysterical? No, but will it make you smile? Will you find yourself relating to at least a couple of the essays? You bet. Each one is rather short and read more like blog posts, which makes sense since they are from mom bloggers, some of which I've read before, but not regularly. I feel like the book also highlights each mom's style so if you wanted more from any of them, you at least know what you're kind of getting into as far as content. 

Overall, a fun little book. It would definitely be a cute one to throw into a new mom gift because I think any of us could have used something funny to read as we're stuck on the couch with a sleeping baby who you know damn well is going to scream for hours if you wake them up now. Been there, done that. 

If you saw on Instagram the other day, this was one of the books Matt got me for Christmas. If you want to see some of the others, head over there and let me know what you think I should read next!
This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Getting Crafty With It..

Do you set any goals for yourself for the year? Not really resolutions, but a goal that you're really going to try to accomplish?  

One of my goals was to get back into crafty things. I've kind of slacked off the last few years, and I think part of it is just my brain isn't as creative as it was. Give me something to copy or follow directions and I can kind of do it, or at least turn my mistakes into an OK result, you know? But the last couple of weeks I decided I'm going to give it a try. 

Sure, it was kind of out of necessity, I needed two birthday cards and a thank you card and I had none. Out of principle, I just refuse to spend $5 on a card at Target that we all know is going to get tossed. I just can't, but also, it's not in my budget and that's that. 
Yes, the argument of "these are more than $5 in supplies" and while that is true, I think the time I put into them adds a little extra to it. Like I cared enough to make this for you. Anyways. Over the course of three days I ended up making 18 cards, so not bad. I'm going to try to make one set (of 5 or 6) each week. 

The other thing I really want to learn this year? 
Embroidery! I bought my first easy pattern (I just have to print it out), and since I have absolutely no embroidery experience, I need to learn how. Of course, literally no place has classes, so I have seen this book heavily recommended on tons of forums and websites so I'm going for it. 
I also picked this one up because again, it was recommended by so many, and I've paged through it and it seems pretty helpful. It might be more helpful once I get going and a basic idea of what the heck I'm doing. So... cross your fingers this doesn't end up a complete disaster. HA! 

I won't even mention that I've fallen hard through the TikTok crafty hole but yeah... I'm there. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Book Review: Getting Good With Money

 Hey... raise your hand if adulting really sucks! Ha! If you are like us, dealing with your financial situation is such a daunting, and stressful, experience and you never really feel like you have any kind idea of what is going on. If you set a goal of being in a better financial position in 2022, this book is for you. 

Getting Good With Money - Jessi Fearon

Certified financial coach and mom Jessi Fearon leads the way for overwhelmed readers struggling to get a handle on their finances and lays out the doable steps her family underwent to pay off all their debts--even their mortgage!--and pursue their dreams, all on a $47,000-a-year salary.

Jessi Fearon vividly remembers the day she broke down, knowing that her family could not pay the bills with a second baby on the way. Like many Americans, they were overwhelmed by debt and living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if it was possible to ever get ahead, or even catch up. But on that day, something changed, and she and her husband decided to make a drastic lifestyle change that would put them back on the path toward their dreams. Their decision not only allowed her to stay home with their children, but in two years, they were able to pay off their consumer debt and, in six years, they paid off their home mortgage--all on their $47,000-a-year income. And now she shares what she's learned with others who are struggling just like she once did.

Getting Good with Moneyis written for the busy, overwhelmed reader who wants to manage the money she does have while still giving her family a good life, even if she doesn't have a finance degree or a six-figure income. With been-there wisdom and step-by-step help, Jessi shows readers how to take control of their finances with practical first steps to budgeting and understanding debt; identify the four different ways people struggle with money and how each one affects the way they manage--or mismanage--their money; replace the lies they've believed about money with the five Money Truths to overcome barriers and better understand how to make their version of the American Dream a reality; and discover various money-saving apps, financial tips, and ideas for generating additional income to pay off debt more quickly.

Getting Good with Money will inspire, encourage, and equip readers to achieve the real-life changes they need. More than just a "how to budget" book, this is a comprehensive roadmap to financial freedom from an average family making things work on a middle-class salary.
The great thing about this book is it came at the absolute perfect time for us. About four months ago Matt and I bit the bullet and decided to switch over to a cash envelope system, which I'm not going to lie, is tough for awhile. Now that we've done it for a little bit, it is not only getting easier, but we're seeing it make a big difference. 

I love that the author talked about how, despite blogging and sharing about their budgeting and financial journey, everyone assumed they had some kind of secret that they were hiding from others. Not just that, but she compares racking up debt to gaining weight, it just happens because it's easy and you're not really thinking about it until oh hey.... the bill comes (or you step on the scale) and you think, oh crap. The rule we still struggle with from time to time? Not using any form of debt. I find that things come up, like Olivia's car needs a repair and we really need to get that fixed, I want to just swipe a credit card and get it done, move onto the next crisis, you know? I know I am that kind of person that I can't have things sitting on a to-do list, just waiting to be done, it makes my anxiety go through the roof. 
I absolutely loved this book so much, it was so easy, it felt like a good friend who knows what she's doing sitting with you at your table and telling you what you're going to do. Do you know how some budgeting and financial books almost sound.... condescending? I don't think they mean to be, but it is what it is. Getting Good With Money is the absolute opposite. Not only is it full of practical information throughout, it has questions that every person is thinking in their head and the answers we need to hear. If you think you don't have what it takes to budget, and slow your roll at Target, I promise that you absolutely do. 

Thank you so much to FSB Associates and Thomas Nelson Books for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. I keep referencing this one because it's so easy and concise, we could all use this one. 
This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Book Review: Nailing It

Happy Monday, lambs! Do you have plans for this week? I have to entertain the kids today and tomorrow because no school, I've got doctor appointments, and I plan to do crafty stuff... more on that later. 

Nailing It - Robert L. Dilenschneider

This inspiring and encouraging book from respected consultant Robert L. Dilenschneider provides 25 fascinating and diverse profiles of iconic men and women that show where they were at or near age 25—and how they built their legacies across a range of careers, including the arts, business, science, and government.

With a foreword from U.S. Ambassador Donald Blinken.

Do you think Albert Einstein had his act together by his mid-20s? Think again. Would you assume style icon and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn’s life was always as beautiful as she was? Far from it. At the other end of the spectrum is the revolutionary Steve Jobs, who was at the top of his game by age 25. But Jobs’s beginnings were marked by his adoption, displacement, bullying, and then a rocky personal life. This absorbing book examines the trajectories of 25 iconic figures—from Toni Morrison to Albert Einstein and Golda Meir to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart—to reveal where they were in their lives in their mid-twenties and the choices that enabled them to make their historic marks. For those who are coming of age now, and for those who care about them and their futures, these captivating profiles provide inspiration, instruction, and encouragement. The profiles in Path to Greatness will be real-life examples of the fact that the turning points that lead to success and happiness come at different times and as a result of different conditions. Some people create their own turning points, other people build on what happens to them.

Many people who seemed to "have their act together" at age 25, had already weathered difficult beginnings to their lives; their turning points came early. And other people who didn't even have an act at age 25, went on to make profound contributions to the world; their turning points came with maturity.

This book will remind readers that it is never too late to make an impact.
I think I found the graduation gift I'm getting both high school and college graduates this year, it's going to be Nailing It. I think all of us felt a lot of pressure to get our future figured out as we were leaving high school and as an adult with a teenager approaching this age, it is so stressful. On one hand, the grown up in me knows that finding a career, buckling down, and investing immediately will be such a stress reducer as they get older. Of course, on the other hand, the twenty-something I used to be is screaming, "let her live her life" and man... it is REAL hard to watch your child make mistakes and know that you have to let them do that. 

Parenting is hard, y'all. 

The great part about this book is that it will be a relief to the kids and twenty-somethings who read this, it reinforces that it's OK to not have an idea about what you want to do. It's totally OK to try things, to fail, and keep moving forward. It's validate the concerns parents will have, but also give them the reassurance that things are going to work out, even if they fail miraculously, they could still end up being fabulously successful in their own way. There isn't a timeline to get things done, you might be flipping burgers at 25 but an in-demand engineer at age 50, who knows? I also like that this book reinforced that success is different to everyone and there is no cookie cutter determination on whether someone is successful. 

I also loved the historical tidbits because it features 25 famous men and women and talks about what they were doing around age 25. It's 246 pages of gentle encouragement for us all, no matter which end of the journey you're on. 

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

This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Book Review: A Scoundrel Of Her Own

Are you a fan of Regency romances? I used to always say I wasn't, that historical romance wasn't my thing, until I read them. They are kind of amazing, and I'm not sure what it is about them that I love so much, but here we are. I'm kind of a sucker for these. Maybe it is the mass paperback size, they just remind me of those books our moms and grandmas used to get in the mail, do you remember those? Are those still a thing? 

A Scoundrel Of Her Own - Stacy Reid

Lady Ophelia Darby exists in two worlds. In one, she is the impudent, willful daughter of a powerful marquess and darling of the ton. In the other, she moves through the underworld’s shadows as songstress Lady Starlight, protected only by the notoriously wealthy scoundrel Devlin Byrne. But when she stumbles upon her beloved father’s darkest secrets, the line between her two worlds quickly blurs. Now she needs the help of the one man a lady should never trust.

Devlin Byrne stands on the edge of London society, knowing he will never be accepted. No one else knows that his obscene wealth and ruthlessness aren’t without purpose. Or that his purpose has golden-brown eyes that shimmer with mischief, the palest of skin, and a lush mouth that beckons to be kissed, and deeply. But having Ophelia is only the beginning of Devlin’s plans.

It’s undeniable that Devlin Byrne is a dangerous temptation—but just as Ophelia begins to trust him, maybe even fall for him, she discovers she’s not the only one with secrets. And his would lead her down more than just the path of scandal…
Fun fact, I love the name Ophelia, it was on the short list for Penelope's name. It was Persephone, Ophelia, or Penelope. It would have really fit her, because like Ophelia in our story, everyone loves my Penelope, and she could also be described as willfill. My Pep is going to do what she's going to do, but she's incredibly smart, but I wouldn't describe her as impudent. 

Anyways... I really enjoyed this one. Fifi is such a great character, but so is Devlin! I loved these two separately, but loved them even more together. I'm also here for regency romances with characters who have sass, so much angst, but also not skimping on the steam. I don't usually love the childhood friends to lovers trope, it just feels weird to me and I know this is me being weird, but I really wanted these two to get together, even if they are technically forbidden. It's definitely a class barrier situation, which is obviously common in historical romances and is sometimes overdone, but it was so well done in this one. Also, while this is book 3 in a series, I'm assuming all of them are standalone, because I haven't read the previous two and was totally fine. I just loved how absolutely gone Devlin was over Fifi, I am a sucker for any book that makes the man a blubbering, hopelessly in love mess with a woman who he shouldn't be, those are my absolute favorite. 

While this is my first book from Stacy Reid, it absolutely won't be my last. I loved her writing, I loved her character development, and I loved how she took a trope that has been overdone but she gave it new life. Absolutely loved this! 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for having me on this tour! Give me ALL the romance! 
*This post contains affiliate links*

Monday, January 10, 2022

Book Review: Shapeshifting

Listen, I know it's been a hot minute since I've been around (OK, more like a full month), but to my credit, I've been super busy. Doing the whole mom thing, then being so dizzy and sick I can't function (more on that soon), and then we went to Florida for Christmas, and now I'm trying to put everything Christmas away and restore some damn order in this house because my anxiety cannot take it another day. 

So you know, just some leisurely activities. 

Shapeshifting - Michelle Ross

The fourteen spellbinding stories in Michelle Ross’s second collection invite readers into the shadows of social-media perfectionism and the relentless cult of motherhood. A recovering alcoholic navigates the social landscape of a toddler playdate; a mother of two camps out in a van to secure her son’s spot at a prestigious kindergarten; a young girl forces her friends to play an elaborate, unwinnable game. With unflinching honesty and vivid, lyrical prose, Ross explores the familial ties that bind us together—or, sometimes, tear us apart.

I haven't read a collection of short stories in a long while, in fact, I can't even remember what they were even for, but this one? This was lovely. Though the book only contains 14 stories and coming in just over 200 pages long, this packs a punch. Normally when I read something like this, I read one story at a time, it's perfect for setting the book down and reading in short spurts as I have time, which is exactly what I thought I would do with this one. Instead, I found myself glued to my couch, flying through one after another, because each one is a gem all of its own, snippets of motherhood that you might identify with. 

Once I finished this, I decided that I wanted to be the author's friend, attend a book tour stop for this, and/or go out to dinner because the conversation would be absolutely lovely and she could write her entire next short story collection just on me and my stories. (Truly, Michelle, if you've hit a writer's block, hit me up, because I will fix it!) The awkwardness of playdates is perfectly highlighted, comparing a mother's existence to used wrapping paper, the competitiveness of being a mom and making sure we get our children the best of the best opportunities (knowing full well I am 100% guilty of this myself), feeling like you're a bad mom and everyone can see it, etc. Bottom line? If ever you need a book that will make you feel absolutely seen as a mom, this is it. Looking for a fun book to put in a baby gift? Or need an idea for a Mother's Day gift for your friend who just really wants to be seen as anything other than a food source? 


I finished this and immediately bought two copies for a couple of friends who are really struggling with this whole motherhood set up because honestly, we could all use a little extra right now. Being a mom is really hard. Being a mom right now is even harder. Being a mom, right now, in a pandemic and the uncertainty of the world, is the absolute worst, so kudos to Michelle Ross for not only putting this out there but making it completely funny and relatable at the same time. 

A huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Stillhouse Press for having me on this tour, I cannot tell you how excited I am to read Michelle's next book. I am here for short story collections, bonus if they can make me laugh as I sit under a therapy light eating ice cream, because that's what life is now.  

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