The Books That Got Me Through 2018

We’re coming up on the end of 2018 and I’ve been thinking a lot about all that’s happened this year…

My oldest daughter graduated from high school in May and went away to university in August.

My youngest daughter moved in with her father in August.

My husband and I had our first foster placement come into our home on December 1, 2017, and we said goodbye to them almost a year later, in November 2018. So I went from daily caring for 5 children in our home to 0, in what felt like overnight.

Throughout the year, my blood pressure continued to do what it does… go crazy high for no reason and make my husband (and sometimes the doctors) start preparing for my inevitable stroke.

And during all that, I thought the stress occurring both inside and outside our home was causing physical symptoms (my right arm would get weak, I couldn’t turn my head, a lot of pain). Last week, I found out that it’s not some sort of weird stress thing, it’s arthritis along with protrusions hitting my spinal nerves and cord. (We’ve already got a ton of medical bills so this was disturbing on multiple levels).

Basically, 2018 has been a crazy heavy year.

Friends, family and acquaintances are always asking how my husband and I are holding up. And while I really don’t mind them asking how we’re doing, my mom actually shared this with me on Facebook today, which I found hilarious…

Capture

I’m actually not sure which is funnier though… the above FB post, or what happened the day the foster kids left…

I have red, puffy eyes and am wiping my nose (so it’s obvious I’ve been crying), when my husband asks “Are you okay?”

I looked at him like he had 4 heads. “Did you just ask me that?”

“Uh, yeah. Are you okay?”

To which I responded with something like “No, I’m not okay. I’m not going to be okay for a really long time and if you ask me if I’m okay again, you’re not going to be okay either.”

Now, any normal man with self-preservation skills would have seen the “You can’t win here, walk away or I’m gonna murder kill you” look in my eyes and given up. But not my husband. He’s a fixer. After 6 years together, he still hasn’t figured out that there are some things that can’t be fixed and he has to just let me be upset for a while… so he says… “Yeah, I know, but I can I get you anything?”

giphy

A lot of violent responses went through my head at that moment… Thankfully, I went with the only one that wouldn’t require bail money.

“A box of wine.”

“I was gonna go to the store anyway. I’ll get you a bottle while I’m out.”

“No, a box. I’ve decided to give alcoholism a try and it’s going to require an entire box of wine to get a good start at it.”

Something you should know at this point… I’m not really a drinker and haven’t been since I was in my 20’s. The box of wine comment has been a joke between my husband and I for years now. I never actually want a box of wine, nor could I drink a box of wine on my own, but ya’ll…

He got me a BOX of wine to drink with dinner that evening!!

Anyway…

While I didn’t turn to a box of wine, I did turn to the one thing I’ve always counted on to deal with the real world – the fictional world!

So here are the books I read in 2018 that helped me escape, laugh, cry, and deal with all the feelings of this past year:

(You can click the titles of books I’ve reviewed to read my complete thoughts)
  1. The Bible.
    Yeah, I know, some of you just rolled your eyes and others are scrolling on down to the next book on the list, but it’s true. I’ve poured over more scripture in the last year than I have during any other year of my life, and it’s definitely been the most beneficial book to help me get through the year. It’s easy to blame God and get angry when we hurt, but I learned a lot about suffering, love, acceptance, and how to grieve without falling down my normal rabbit hole of despair. I also did a lot of reading plans through the YouVersion bible app, which was great. I recommend checking them out!
  2. Beneath the Same Heaven37795839-_sy180_You would think that as emotionally wrecked as this book left me I’d be upset that I chose 2018 to read it in, but no… I’m saying the opposite. Sometimes, escaping into a familiar world filled with pain, heartache, confusion, etc. of other people is just what the doctor ordered when you’re going through all that in your own life. Beneath the Same Heaven is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I wish everyone would read it!
  3. Auschwitz Lullaby 36576005
    This book was also incredibly emotional and had me crying so hard my husband tried to take it away from me! Seriously, I was an emotional mess the entire time I was reading it!
  4. Edge of the Known Bus Line
    Okay, you definitely have to have a certain kind of twisted humor to enjoy a book like this… Cannibalism, murder, cults – what’s not to find humorous, right?? Yeah, I probably laughed a little too much during this one, but it was needed. It’s a short and disturbing read that had me looking at the bus with fresh, slightly fearful eyes!
  5. the_irrationalist_coverThe Irrationalist.
    Just when you thought I only listed depressing, emotional, dark on this list, I give you… The Irrationalist! It’s comical in both it’s dry and not-so-dry humor. The main character, Adrien Baillet bumbles his way through much of the investigation into the murder of René Descartes and his suspects pretty much do the investigating for him. He learns a lot though and comes out a different person at the end, but it had me laughing through the whole book. (Plus, it taught me the word defenestrate… which I threaten to do all the time now!)
  6. Mammoth
    Another lighter, happier book got me through 2018 was Mammoth. It’s a young adult book about a girl with dreams of becoming a paleontologist who’s hero turns out to be someone completely different from who she thought he was. It’s a super fun read!

So those are the books that helped me get through some tough times in 2018. What was 2018 like for you? Do you have a “go-to” book (or 10) for when you’re having a hard time? Let me know in the comments section below!

Rosemary in Bloom by Khristy Reibel – BOOK REVIEW

40225499

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!

Are you planning on purchasing Rosemary in Bloom? Please consider supporting this blog by using one of these affiliate links:

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

Book Depository Paperback

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

31207017

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:

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

Book Depository Paperback

WWW Wednesday (Sorta Kinda Maybe) – June 27, 2018

Welcome to WWW Wednesday – June 27, 2018 (Sorta Kinda Maybe)!

img_1384-0WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to her, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog!

The three WWW questions are:

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

What should follow here are my answers to the above three questions.  These answers should be different than they were for my answers to the same questions last week (WWW Wednesday – June 20, 2018)….

giphyUnfortunately, my week has been filled with sick babies and a sick me which has kept my reading to nearly nothing (I’ve managed to write a total of 500ish words total on top of that).   The result? The below is a copy and paste from last week’s WWW Wednesday.  So sad…

So, here’s what I’m currently reading:

small Truth Seer coverTruth Seer, by Kay L. Moody

I am really enjoying Truth Seer!  I flew through the first 100 pages…no small feat when you’re caring for 6 month old twins, a two-year old, and a recent high school graduate, all while worrying about your 13 year old daughter that’s currently hopping about Europe! I can already tell I’ll be reading the entire series!

 

38749523

 

Priceless, by Jen Barrick

I’ve been going through Priceless: Who I am When I feel… with my daughter and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet.  I love the idea behind this devotional and my daughter seems to be enjoying it. The problem may just be that it’s geared toward her age and understanding/dealing with the MANY emotions that come with being a teenage girl and holding those emotions and feelings up to God’s truths.  Maybe I just need to tap back into those emotions in order to get more out of it?  IDK… stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it goes…

22914448-_sx120_The Dead Key, by D.M. Pulley

I picked up The Dead Key at the West Virginia Writer’s Conference earlier this month.  It’s a fast paced mystery novel that I’ve been having a hard time putting down at night! For me, mysteries/suspense stories are either love it or hate it, with no in between, and this one is firmly in the love it category!

 

37795839-_sy180_Beneath the Same Heaven, by Anne Marie Ruff

I’m enjoying Beneath the Same Heaven, even though it’s a bit heavy on the romance side for me. Obviously, I knew it was a love story when I picked it out, but it’s the cross-cultural family dynamic that really pulled me in and got me interested in the novel.

 

I recently finished:

51ndubla9rl-_ac_us218_The Shield Breaker, by Scott Beckman

Just finished The Shield Breaker and I  can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out! There were a few more typos than I like to see as I was reading this one, but the story was so good that it really didn’t matter all that much (which isn’t normally the case).

 

What I’ll be reading next:

the_irrationalist_cover the_sun_king_by_allison_lee_palmer_200 cover132474-medium

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

WWW Wednesday – June 20, 2018

Welcome to WWW Wednesday!

img_1384-0WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to her, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog!

The three WWW questions are:

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

So, here’s what I’m currently reading:

small Truth Seer coverTruth Seer, by Kay L. Moody

I am really enjoying Truth Seer!  I flew through the first 100 pages…no small feat when you’re caring for 6 month old twins, a two-year old, and a recent high school graduate, all while worrying about your 13 year old daughter that’s currently hopping about Europe! I can already tell I’ll be reading the entire series!

 

38749523

 

Priceless, by Jen Barrick

I’ve been going through Priceless: Who I am When I feel… with my daughter and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet.  I love the idea behind this devotional and my daughter seems to be enjoying it. The problem may just be that it’s geared toward her age and understanding/dealing with the MANY emotions that come with being a teenage girl and holding those emotions and feelings up to God’s truths.  Maybe I just need to tap back into those emotions in order to get more out of it?  IDK… stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it goes…

22914448-_sx120_The Dead Key, by D.M. Pulley

I picked up The Dead Key at the West Virginia Writer’s Conference earlier this month.  It’s a fast paced mystery novel that I’ve been having a hard time putting down at night! For me, mysteries/suspense stories are either love it or hate it, with no in between, and this one is firmly in the love it category!

 

37795839-_sy180_Beneath the Same Heaven, by Anne Marie Ruff

I’m enjoying Beneath the Same Heaven, even though it’s a bit heavy on the romance side for me. Obviously, I knew it was a love story when I picked it out, but it’s the cross-cultural family dynamic that really pulled me in and got me interested in the novel.

 

I recently finished:

51ndubla9rl-_ac_us218_The Shield Breaker, by Scott Beckman

Just finished The Shield Breaker and I  can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out! There were a few more typos than I like to see as I was reading this one, but the story was so good that it really didn’t matter all that much (which isn’t normally the case).

 

What I’ll be reading next:

the_irrationalist_cover the_sun_king_by_allison_lee_palmer_200 cover132474-medium

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