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Rosemary in Bloom by Khristy Reibel – BOOK REVIEW

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I normally don’t pick books this way, but I chose Rosemary in Bloom by Khristy Reibel specifically because it didn’t sound like something I’d normally read.

Title: Rosemary in Bloom
Author: Khristy Reibel
Publication Date & Publisher: August 10, 2018, Open Books
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase a product, I may receive a small percentage of the sale, however, no additional cost will be incurred by you.

Description (from Goodreads):

What if war separated you from your true love? What if you married the wrong man? What if the power of love brought you together again?

When Rosemary meets Albert it is instant chemistry. But it is also the summer of 1942, and scores of young men—Albert included—feel compelled to enlist to fight the war against Hitler. Albert wants to marry Rosemary before he leaves for Europe, but she just can’t commit. Like so many young women of her time, Rosemary finds herself left behind to work and worry, desperate for love but frightened of abandonment.

Three years later, and with Albert’s fate still unknown, Rosemary meets Harry, a charming and handsome man. Rosemary feels guilty for spending so much time with Harry, but she has all but lost faith that Albert will make it safely back home, especially when she receives news of her brother’s serious combat injury. Should she wait for Albert, or settle for second best?

Inspired by a true story, Rosemary in Bloom explores faith, forgiveness, enduring love against all odds, and the difficult decisions that strong, smart women on the home front had to make during World War II.

My review:

I’m not sure exactly what I expected from Rosemary in Bloom, but it was definitely better than I anticipated!

The story follows two young people, Rosemary and Albert, during World War II. Rosemary is 16 at the beginning of the story. She’s quit school to help provide for her family after her father has left for TB treatment and her sister has moved back in with her mom with her two kids during her divorce. Albert works with Rosemary at the glass factory in their town and the two meet during a war bond drive at a local dance hall.

Rosemary wants nothing more than to be in love and to be a normal girl, but the war makes that impossible. She has to work and ration the things she loves (like butter and nylons) and she’s scared to care for any of the young men her town because they all end up leaving for the war. When her brother joins the military and is so eager to go fight, she’s devastated.

I absolutely fell in love with Rosemary and Albert! They were so cute together!!! When Albert joined the military and left Rosemary, it broke my heart right along with her. But Rosemary made me angry too! I understood her heartache and worry, but it upset me how easily she let Harry sway her when he came around.

Before leaving, Albert had asked Rosemary to marry him and even though she didn’t give him a real answer, they both seemed to be believe that she would wait for him. And honestly, Harry didn’t strike me as the kind of guy you give up a man like Albert for!!

Harry isn’t serious about anything, and I get how during that time an attitude like that could be intoxicating for her. Still, Albert was clearly the better choice!!!

Then again…… Albert didn’t exactly do himself any favors either. He doesn’t write to Rosemary and she’s led to believe that he died. By the time she finds out the truth, Harry’s got his claws in her. The question is, will it all work out right in the end?

I think part of the reason I loved this story so much was because it reminds me of my grandmother’s own love story. She was reunited with her true love late in life and they spent many years together before he died. I couldn’t help but root for the same for Rosemary and Albert all through the entire book!

This was a wonderful love story that had me in both happy and sad tears.

What do you think? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

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Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed – BOOK REVIEW

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So I’ve had Samira Ahmed’s Love, Hate & Other Filters on my radar for what feels like FOREVER! I finally got to snag a copy from South Charleston Public Library last week when I took my daughter and her friend for some library fun.

Description (from Goodreads):

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape—perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

My review:

There is so much I enjoyed in this book! First, I immediately took a liking to Maya and completely understood her relationship with her parents. She feels suffocated by the expectations put on her by friends and family for her future. In order to deal with the outside world, she uses her camera as a shield to kind of hide in plain sight. She views life through a documentary lens.

While Maya wants to live the life she truly wants, she doesn’t know how to do that and still be a good daughter. One such example of this is in her love life. She’s had a crush on an American boy named Phil at school for forever! But along comes a boy named Kareem who could have easily come straight out of her mother’s dreams! Maya has to choose between the two. While it shouldn’t be such a hard decision, it’s made even harder by the fact that Phil has a girlfriend.

Honestly, I loved Kareem and wasn’t all that thrilled with Phil. Even after finishing the book, I’m a little upset with Maya for even needing so much time to choose between them. Kareem seems to be the better fit in my opinion, but maybe I’m looking at it through a mother’s eyes?

Just when you think everything is starting to go Maya’s way, a terrorist attack happens in a town not too far from where Maya and her family lives, she has to deal with out of control Islamophobia. She and her parents are put in danger and her world is turned upside down.

While I connected a lot with Maya, I wasn’t a big fan of the way her parents were ultimately portrayed in the end. I saw some similarities in other real-life Indian parents I know, but at times I felt like there was too much stereotyping, especially for a book dealing with the very negative aspects of stereotyping!

Overall, I thought this was a great read and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to read it! I think it’d be a great required reading book for high school (**HINT, HINT to the English teachers who read my blog**).

What do you think? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Are you planning on purchasing Love, Hate & Other Filters? Please consider supporting this blog by using one of these affiliate links:

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WWW Wednesday – November 21, 2018

img_1384-0So I’ve missed over a month of them (and it’s way later in the day than I normally post), but I’m finally getting back on schedule and so it’s time once again for WWW Wednesday ! WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog! (You can also leave your link in my comments to be sure I don’t miss your post!)

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase a product, I may receive a small percentage of the sale, however, no additional cost will be incurred by you.

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

I just started reading Danny and the Dream Weaver by Mark Poe and I’m loving it!  With everything we’ve been going through the last couple of weeks, this book is such a welcome escape! It had me laughing from the first page!!

I’ve been wanting to read the Stalking Jack the Ripper series for a while now, but I picked up the first one from the library before we left for the cabin. It’s started out pretty good, but I’ve heard mixed reviews on it so I’m curious to see how it goes from here!

I recently finished:

The Seeker’s Stone by Kelly Epperson was even better than I thought it would be! It reminded me of the Magic School Bus and Magic Tree House books that my daughter used to love. This is the first book I’ve read in a long time that had that same feel and that I enjoyed as much.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what I expected from Rosemary in Bloombut it was really good. It reminded me a lot of my own grandmother’s story with her first love.

I had high hopes for Love, Hate & Other Filters and it definitely lived up to them! Full review is posting the end of the week, so be sure to check it out!

What I’ll be reading next:

 

What’s your WWW? Any thoughts on the books above?  Leave a comment or send me a message through the Contact Me page.

Want to support my laziness??? Feel free to leave a link to your own WWW Wednesday post in case I miss it over on Taking on a World of Words. (The link list is long over there guys, and I’ve got a lot of books to read…)

Schmuck the Buck: Santa’s Jewish Reindeer

41643533Title: Schmuck the Buck
Author: EXO Books
Publication Date & Publisher: Exo Books, LLC, September 3, 2018
Genre(s): Holiday Humor, Fiction
Length: 60 Pages
ISBN: 13: 9780997590296

Description (from Goodreads):

Larry was just your regular caribou, who was cruelly excluded from his crew. He and his kin happened to be the sole Jewish reindeer in the North Pole. Larry was bullied and treated the worst way, until his plan saved one Christmas Day.

A contemporary satirical take on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Schmuck the Buck introduces Larry, a young Jewish reindeer. He overcomes his awkward and sometimes painful youth to save Christmas. His tale of acceptance and inclusion is sure to warm the hearts of anyone who loves Christmas, Hanukkah, or both. Sixty pages of vibrant illustrations bring his story to life. A unique modern addition to any holiday library.

My review:

The humor in Schmuck the Buck isn’t something you’re used to in your everyday reindeer Christmas story. While it’s told in rhyme and looks like a children’s book, I’d say it’s definitely geared more towards adults and older teens.

Poor Schmuck has been bullied his entire life at the North Pole. It’s not easy being Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah in a land of Christmas reindeer and elves (not to mention Santa)! But Santa’s Christmas deliveries don’t always go according to plan, and when this years blunder happens… it’s Schmuck to the rescue!

Just like Rudolph back in the day, all the other reindeer have to follow Schmuck (real name, Larry) in order to save Christmas.

While I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to anyone looking for a family-friendly Christian read over the holidays, I think anyone looking for a non-traditional, tickle the funny bone, Christmas time gift would benefit from picking this one up.

I received a free review copy of this book from the author. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Are you planning on purchasing Schmuck the Buck? Please consider supporting this blog by using one of these affiliate links:

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Our Life will NEVER be the Same.

*Warning: This is going to be a raw (unedited), emotional post.

After almost an entire year, our first foster placement left yesterday.  We knew it was going to be hard, but knowing something in the abstract and actually experiencing it are never the same thing – NOTHING can prepare a heart for this…

We knew this day was coming

It’s not that we didn’t have time to prepare or anything. We’ve been boxing up their things and sending a little bit at a time for weeks now. With every box that was closed and sent away, a piece of my heart went with it, and I had to face a hard truth I’d been steadily denying for months…

These were never my kids. 

I never lost sight of that fact, really. I thought of and prayed for their mom every single day. I imagined myself in her situation and cried myself to sleep, hurting for her and for her kids who were sleeping so far away from her. I couldn’t imagine not knowing where my kids were spending the first year of their lives. I asked God over and over again to help her stay strong through this time, to give her the skills she needed to be reunited with her babies.

But in my heart, I wasn’t praying for “her” babies. I was praying for “ours.” Hers and mine.

I was there when the one year old met her brother and sister for the first time – the day we brought them to our home from the hospital. We threw a Minnie Mouse themed party for her 2nd birthday, waited for her favorite swing to open up at the park, sung silly songs, and laughed and cried together so many times over the last year. She’s grown so much and learned so much. And I was there for all of that, holding her hand through most of it.

We brought the twins to our home from the hospital after spending days visiting them there. I quit my job to stay home with them because they couldn’t be out in public until they were 3 months old. I got up with them in the middle of the night, heard their first laughs, fed them for the first time, watched them learn to crawl, saw their first steps, and so many more firsts… and I was as proud as any other parent would be.

But I was also hurting. Because every first I saw, meant she didn’t. And no amount of pictures can fix that.

So I prayed that they be reunited. That she not miss out on all the firsts.

The more I prayed, the more guilty I felt. Because I loved them so much and a part of me didn’t want to let them go.

No, they weren’t mine. But they felt like mine. They shared my home, my life, my everything. They were my daughters’ sisters and brother. They were every bit a part of my family as my husband and daughters are.

But only for a time.

We knew that going in. We knew it towards the end, as we sent box after box away. We weren’t prepared.

Why did we do this?

I remember when we first talked to my girls about us fostering. They were entirely on board and eager to start. But fostering wasn’t mine and my husband’s first choice.

We were well on the road to international adoption a year ago. Our home study was completed, our information had been sent away, all the background checks and everything had been done… we were excited.

But we couldn’t move forward.

When I was growing up, two of my best friends were sisters. They had been placed in the foster care system and honestly, it wasn’t the best situation for them. One of them died not too long ago and since then I catch myself thinking “if only she’d had a better chance…” way too often.

My oldest daughter has a friend who also spent some time in foster care. She was separated from her brothers during that time. When I found out about it, it haunted me.

And then it happened… my youngest daughter came to me in tears. Her friend was gone. She didn’t know where. They’d put her with a foster family with her sister and she didn’t know where her two brothers were. They had no idea when they’d talk again or if they’d ever see each other. 

The guilt was too much for me to bear. How could we, knowing what we knew, continue down a road so much easier for us when families were being ripped apart? These kids weren’t just being taken out of their homes and away from their parents, but away from their brothers and sisters! 

There’s no way to ease the pain of being separated from their parents, but we could take in siblings so they could still have each other. And we could give them a safe place through a difficult, awful time.

We could do better. We could help them. We would do what we could.

Basically, we did this because we had to.

We called the social worker and switched from international adoption to foster care one day and got a call for our first placement the day after the change was finalized.

My family mourns.

I remember my husband and I talking to another couple when we were about 6 months into the foster care experience. We loved the kids so completely and there was no difference between the foster kids and the other kids. We knew we were setting ourselves up for a pain beyond our comprehension, and yet, we couldn’t stop ourselves.

The response from them was one that will probably always stick with me and that is helping me process the pain I feel today. They basically told us that if we didn’t hurt this way, that means we weren’t doing it right.

The moment the kids drove away yesterday, a piece of my chest went away went them.

I keep reaching up and touching my breastbone to make sure it’s still there – because I need to be reminded that it is. The feeling of it though, is gone. I have no idea when it’ll be back again.

So we packed up our things and drove. 

My husband, my daughters, myself. We left the home we shared with our foster family for the last year and came to a cabin in the woods for a few days, where we can’t escape each other and can face our pain and process it all together.

Because as happy an occasion as it is for a family to be reunited, our family has been gutted. We mourn as though we’ve lost three children, because we have.

There is a part of me that feels selfish for that and there is a part of me that does not. Right now, the selfish me is winning. And I’m letting her win because I need that. Maybe tomorrow I’ll celebrate for them, but probably not… it’s going to take me some time. It’s going to take my girls some time. It’s going to take my husband a lifetime.

The truth is…

We may never get over this pain.

And yet…

We’ll do it again.

Not today or tomorrow, but when we’re ready to love another group just as much as the first. When we can give our hearts without holding back for fear of the pain to come… 

But today, we cry and we hurt and we pray.