Thursday, October 31, 2013

Heroic Measures

So, I meant to get this posted last week.

Then teething started up again. Then I got sick. Real life can be a pain sometimes :)

Anyway, I finally got the chance to sit down and read Heroic Measures by Jo-Ann Power.

Spies, flyboys, surgeons, and one young woman trying to navigate it all.

There were a lot of good qualities in this novel and I'm quite curious where this trilogy will move to with the next two installments.

Gwen Spencer is the anchor of this book as readers walk through her journey to escape the chains of her impoverished past (in more ways than one) and survive her journey through war stricken France with body, heart, and mind in tact.

I really enjoyed the way this book tackled the struggles these women faced patching soldiers, doctors, and even themselves back together. Characters were lost and not everyone escaped the war unharmed. For me, this made the book far more enjoyable because it added realism.

Gwen herself was also a character I wanted to root for. Watching her wrestle with questions regarding family, identity, and the world around her as she progressed through her training and the war itself was believable. There were times I wanted to come alongside like a friend or sister and help her wrestle through.

The one thing that keeps me from giving this book full stars is the pacing. Now, I'll admit cramming the last few years of a war into a novel can be tricky at best, even when the focus is on a single character's perspective and interactions. However, there were time when I had to flip back to make sure I hadn't missed  a page something as 10 days or 10 weeks had mysteriously vanished, summed up in a single sentence when obviously important events had occurred.

Gwen's relationship with Lex and Adam, the Doctor battle with his illness are two instances where I felt the rushing did a strong disservice to the characters and the story, especially given Gwen's connection to the three men and the complexities that surrounded their interactions. Personally, I would have been willing to read a longer novel if it meant feeling less rushed through these elements but I have always been a stickler for details.
The rushed pace made the ending feel a little too tidy. I realize there was lots of anguish as Gwen made tough decisions (no spoilers here sweetie) but the speed with which the text wrapped up almost disservices Gwen's struggle. Perhaps this is an issue that is addressed in book 2 although I could easily see the trilogy focus on Gwen's future or shift to another nurse in that era.

Either way, I will be awaiting book 2 and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a romance, historical fiction novel. 

This book was provided free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Monday, October 21, 2013


Two warnings come to mind when I think back to reading Trisha Wolfe's Fireblood.

1. Give the book a few chapters.
2. Don't start reading 20 minutes before bed!

I wish someone had warned me about the second point :)

I started this book exactly 20 minutes before bed, an important time in a house with a 4 month old, and my husband sleepily grinned at me when I finally crawled into bed with half the book finished still muttering to myself trying to figure things out with half the book to go.

First, things I loved. I loved the characters in this novel. Each character was solidified in their secrets, many of which weren't revealed until the end (a point Zara herself makes). This made for characters I found myself drawn towards as their different dimensions took shape. I love characters with depth and will overlook a multitude of deficiencies if I can connect with the characters. Between Zara, Devlan, Xander, Fallon, even Cecily I had a plethora of characters continually drawing my interest as I attempted to piece together then end game as chapters raced by. Did they ever race by!

Hence, the second thing I loved, the plot. I hate reviews that give away the ending so I endeavour hard to be subtle. Fireblood takes place long after a modern day war has devastated the earth, and the plot centers on a small (I can't figure out an estimate but I'm terrible with spacial sense) settlement named Camelot ruled by the elusive King Hart who has fashioned his utopia through fear and a heavy hand. Zara, our commoner heroine has been hand picked to marry the Prince, a young man named Sebastian who may or may not share his father's harsh tendencies.

When I started reading I was frightened. The book's not scary but the plot seemed so familiar I was worried I had signed up for a rehashed rerun of plots long since uncovered. I was delighted to find that Wolfe not only provided an excellent read but one which kept me guessing, despite the occasional reliance on cliche. I was constantly bemoaning (I'm a vocal reader) how I wished \I could read faster just so I could figure out who was on which side! I'm usually fairly competent at guessing plots before they're over. It was a joy to be left hanging until the end :)

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this read and look forward to seeing what else the author has in store.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good read in this genre.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Adoption, special needs adoption in particular, has always been a matter close to my heart.
As a member of a family blessed with special needs I grew up with a personal understanding of the challenges facing families that break the mold. For reasons I don't fully understand adoption has always been equally interesting to me.
I even convinced my husband to put our wedding "kiss auction" proceeds towards the adoption funds of some EE orphans with special needs. I often take time to find one or two children on advocacy sites or who's families are on the way and keep them in my prayers.

In light of this interests I was so grateful to receive a copy of "Are We There Yet?" by Sue and Hector Badeau.

The book itself kept a fast pace throughout it's 500+ pages which is understandable. I can hardly imagine how the family selected the carefully chosen memories of their 22 children, 2 through birth and 20 through adoption, and the life they live together. Relying heavily on narrative, quotes, and conversation the book reveals the "rollercoaster" of life with a large and, at times, complicated family.

Some of the highlights of this book are the stories. From camping adventures to ponies, the joy of each new addition to the pain of addictions, loss, and financial hardship the stories due to their birthing from real life are rich and draw in readers, especially for those with interests in adoption, working with families, etc.  . .

The Badeau's are real in the hardships that accompany adopting older children, sibling groups, interracial children,  and disabled children who each bring their own personalities, histories, and, sometimes, difficult prognosis. That said, they are also equally honest about the joys that come with having such a large family and the unique approach that breaking out of the stereotypical 2-3 child household can bring.

As they mention, they are not saints, they are not exploiters, simply a real family living life together and willing to invite others to share glimpses of their day to day.

This book could serve as a helpful introductory level book for those looking into adoption due to the balance with which the story is shared.

That said, some readers may be frustrated at the pace of the book. It is fast paced tackling 4 generations and over 3 decades, leaving some stories feeling unfinished or hurried and out of step in there telling.The reason for this is unclear. Some reviewers also have stated their frustration with how certain stories, such as Raj's, are obviously missing large chunks. While this is frustrating for those who enjoy completeness, I think it is helpful to remember this is a story in progress . . . unwritten in its finality. Some of these obvious gaps could very easily be seen as attempts to protect the privacy of individuals who have their own lives and intricacies left to work out.

Are we There Yet? was an easy read though it's subject matter could rarely carry the same label. Their faith stands evident throughout the text and throughout their family. I believe this book would be best appreciated by those who are interested in adoption, children's rights/ child workers, and those of the Christian faith.

This book was provided free of charge for my honest opinion

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


It's almost 11 pm

I'm still rocking my infant son as he drifts between sleep and wakefulness. After weeks of going to bed easily at 10 and sleeping until 5-6am we've entered a new dance.

Instead of a quick good night and an I love you our routine is a woven blend of nursing, lullabies, and rocking to the music.

Some experts talk about the risk of spoiling and they are completely right. I'm being spoiled.

It is such a privilege to love on this little soul. To watch his innocent face melt into slumber. To feel his little body snuggle up close so he can hear my heartbeat.

Already I see so many changes in his little life. I know the day is coming when he will be too big to sleep while I rock him in the rocking chair in "our" corner. I know there will be a day when his face won't light up when I sing his favourite songs.I know there will come a day when sitting still and cuddling won't be nearly so appealing to an active little boy with an entire world to discover.

In these quiet moments I am reminded once again what a great gift and privilege it is to be entrusted as Peanut's Mama and, tonight, being spoiled is worth it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ever have one of those days

*Note* This was written a month ago but I'm only getting up the nerve to post now.

I have, I'm having "one of those days" right now.

It's funny, everyone and their dog warns you about the risks of  Post Partum Depression and rightly so. It's an insidious condition made worse by social ignorance and stigma. I applaud the steps that have been taken to protect new mamas, papas, and their families, helping them to reach their full potential. 

 I'm finding there's a lot less out there that will talk to you about anxiety 
Maybe they didn't know? Maybe they don't understand? Maybe it's just lumped together with the worry most (all) new parents seem to feel?

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm amazed at how much worry a little life can bring if you let it. No matter what decision you make as new parents there's most likely an opposing view that will quite vocally explain to you ever flaw in the "exceedingly detrimental" choice you made for your child while actively praising another. 

There are books written on best feeding techniques, tried and true sleeping methods, and more than you ever thought was possible to write about poop. There are the controversies over vaccines.developmental milestones, and how early is to early to introduce. Then don't forget your crunchy mamas, stay at home mamas, working mamas, helicopter mamas, June cleavers and a rift of others to numerous to mention and that's without the papa's being added in!

There are so many sides, views, and angles in today's world of over information and media saturation that the options can loose their helpfulness amid the dizzying swirl of voices competing for attention, especially in the case of new parents who are finding their parenting feet and just want what is best for their little one (which, again, I'm thinking is most parents)

There's also natural worrying over first colds, colic (oh the joys of colic, thank you baby carriers and gripe water), first nights in the crib, first bump on the head, don't even get me started when it comes to thinking about his first sleepover or day of school, ugh. At three months the time is already flying by too quickly.

Then you add in good ol' Ehlers-Danlos which seems to genetically predisposition me for anxiety, that's a lot of anxiety!

But there's nothing more frustrating than watching your son and hubby enjoying a happy quiet moment and feeling the tightness in your chest as scenarios stream through your mind and anxiety fills your space than perhaps reflecting back, during or after at how ridiculous the anxiety was but feeling helpless to stop it.

I know not many stop by here seeing as it's new and I'm not exactly into a routine yet but any other new mama's deal with anxiety

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving

North of the border we've just finished celebrating Thanksgiving and what a year of firsts.

- First Thanksgiving as a Mama
- First sleepover and Grandma and Grandpa's
- First gluten free Thanksgiving (oh stuffing how I miss thee!)
- First long car ride

No wonder I'm tired :)

All in all, the weekend went wonderfully. Peanut slept like a pro despite the new surroundings and was on his best behaviour throughout the festivities. This meant we were able to fully take advantage of our celebration with all four living generations of my hubby's family. Given the time of year and my recent struggles adapting to new mama life, now seems an especially appropriate time to reflect on things that make me thankful.

So, in no particular order, here goes

I am grateful for my hubby. Seriously, he goes above and beyond taking care of our family and usually with a smile on his face. I'm so grateful to have my best friend by my side through this crazy journey of life.

I am grateful for . . . my messy house. Yep, as a neat freak this was a revelation to me, however, let's look at my reasoning. Instead of spending hours nitpicking over a clean house, those hours were spent snuggling, cuddling, and playing with my baby boy. Definitely hours better spent.

I am grateful for mama time. Not only is my hubby beyond amazing but he gives me an hour (minimum) a week to geek out with my Dr. Who, LOTRO, Stargate, etc. . . Life as a nerdy mama is possible (mind you I also enjoy curling up and nerding out with my family too. My son's first movie was the avengers and the doctor who theme has been known to calm him)

I am grateful for community. This one has been hard. Pregnancy took a huge toll on me and when things settle my community life had taken a huge toll. Even now as I struggle to regain my physical health and get the hormonal roller coaster under control community is a struggle and few seem willing or able to ride it out in close quarters. However, that makes me more grateful for those who are there walking through this with me and is really stirring a fire in me for new mama's who struggle both during and after pregnancy.

Finally, tonight I'm grateful for naps and grandparents who will skype through teething, here's hoping I can soon be grateful for teeth soon too ;)

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