Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My baby bookworm is here!

My little baby bookworm is finally here!  I had my little girl, Hailey Madison, on Thursday, September 15, 2011.  She's going to be two weeks old tomorrow!  I was due on September 12 but went past my due date (obviously).  My doctor decided to induce me because of high blood pressure.

I have never been more stressed/nervous/excited/scared in my life.  I couldn't wait to welcome my baby girl, but I was terrified that something would go wrong.  My husband was so supportive of me.  I really couldn't have done it without him.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. on September 15.  My nurse started pitocin for induction around 6:30 a.m.  My contractions started to become painful later in the morning around 9:00.  I was given a painkiller in my IV, which KNOCKED.ME.OUT.  I slept for about 3 hours.  When I woke up, my contractions were even more painful, and I was given a second dose of the painkiller.  It didn't work as  well that time, so the nurse suggested getting my epidural.  I had the epidural and was ready to welcome that numbness from the waist down that I'd heard so much about.  Wrong!

My epidural was a big fat fail.  It made my feet tingle, but I felt everything else.  It also seemed to speed labor up.  I was 5 cm dilated when I received the epidural and progressed to 9 cm in about a half hour.  The pain was excruciating!  I cried hysterically, writhed around in pain, and begged everyone to make the pain stop.

When it was finally time to push, I was so ready to be done.  Unfortunately, the painkillers I'd received earlier in the day had made me really tired.  Being really tired is not good when you have to push a human being out of you.  My contractions also started to slow down and come farther apart.  I ended up pushing for two and a half hours before I finally brought my little girl into the world.  I was so exhausted and out of it from the pain that I don't think I fully enjoyed that first moment of having her put on my belly.  When they finally handed her over to me to hold, it was amazing.  She was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  And tiny!  She was a total peanut.  Hailey was born at 6:02 p.m.  She weighed 5 lbs 15 oz and was 20 inches long.  So the big question is..."Where are the pictures?"  What's the point of talking about a baby without sharing pictures?  Here you go!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Crave

Title: Crave (The Clann #1)
Author: Melissa Darnell
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3/5

From GoodreadsSavannah Colbert has been shunned all her life by the kids of the Clann. And when she undergoes some drastic changes after a strange illness, Savannah learns secrets about the group and about herself—dangerous secrets. For the Clann are powerful magic users, and Savannah herself is half Clann and half vampire—a forbidden, unheard of combination. Falling for Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman isn't just a bad idea—it could be deadly if anyone finds out. But her attraction to Tristan—and his to her—isn't something either of them can resist for long.

My Thoughts: Honestly, I wasn't very impressed with this book. While I thought the premise was unique, the story just fell flat for me. I love stories of forbidden loves, but this one just didn't satisfy me. The writing didn't successfully convey the desire and need between Savannah and Tristan. The author described the feelings well, but I want to feel those feelings. I've read other books with starcrossed lovers and found myself getting so wrapped up in what they're feeling that I have to take a time out to hug and kiss my husband. I also found the book to be somewhat slow and dragged out.

The storyline of a young girl who is half vampire and half witch was unique and refreshing. I really liked how the vampires in this book weren't just your typical blood-sucking monsters and had other ways to "feed." I didn't love this book, but I am curious to find out what will happen between Savannah and Tristan. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I'll read the next book in the series.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Speak

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 2001
Source: Own
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads: When Melinda Sordino's friends discover she called the police to quiet a party, they ostracize her, turning her into an outcast -- even among kids she barely knows. But even worse than the harsh conformity of high-school cliques is a secret that you have to hide.

My Thoughts:  Having heard a lot about this book, I started it with high expectations. I must say that I was not disappointed. I absolutely loved this book! One of the things I liked was how the book was laid out. Given the subject matter and what happened, I felt like stretching the story out throughout an entire school year was appropriate. I don't think Melinda's story would've been done justice if it had been condensed into a matter of days or weeks.

What really made me love this book was how accurate Melinda's character seemed. Not only was she dealing with the transition into high school, but she also had to contend with the loss of her best friends, poor relationships with her parents, and a sexual assault. I felt that Anderson did a fantastic job capturing just what a person can go through after an experience like that. As a sexual assault counselor, I've worked with many Melindas. As I was reading Speak, I could picture in my mind all of those girls sitting across from me struggling with one of the most difficult parts of overcoming sexual violence: talking about it.

Something I appreciated about the story is that Melinda didn't tell anyone right away about what happened to her. It's been my experience that many people assume a sexual assault victim runs to their parents, friends, or police right away to report what has happened to them. Wrong. Many of my clients waited days, weeks, months, and even years before telling a single soul. Many of them only told by accident. I think this was an important piece to Melinda's story. Talking about sexual assault is extremely difficult, especially considering the stigma that often surrounds it. Not only was Melinda frightened, but her perpetrator was a popular guy at high school and she had been drinking. Who would believe her? Unfortunately, it's way too common for a young girl to be sexually assaulted and then accused of just being "mad" or "jealous" after reporting what has happened or accused of consenting simply because she had been drinking. I really connected with Melinda and felt sad that she had to face this alone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Wintergirls

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: March 2009
Source: Library
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  “Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.

“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.
My Thoughts:  I've been wanting to read this book for awhile, because I found the subject matter interesting. Eating disorders are quite complex, and I think Anderson did a wonderful job at conveying that. Lia's struggle came through quite clearly through the story. I thought Anderson's writing was poetic. What seemed to make it more realistic was how Anderson expressed Lia's thoughts and emotions. Lia didn't just eat a banana, she ate a certain amount of calories. Her struggle with wanting the food and wanting to be thin was evident in the way she would imagine eating something and then quickly think about how gross it would make her. I think Anderson did a great job at capturing the complexity of anorexia and bulimia. Small details like abrasions on Cassie's finger (from purging) and the way Lia viewed her body's outline in a therapy session made the story real. This is the first book by Laurie Halse Anderson that I've read, and I'm looking forward to read more by her. It's evident that she is not only gifted at writing and telling stories but also does the research to make her stories as realistic as possible.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: For One More Day

Title: For One More Day
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: 2006
Source: Library
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  "Every family is a ghost story . . ."

Mitch Albom mesmerized readers around the world with his number one New York Times bestsellers, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie. Now he returns with a beautiful, haunting novel about the family we love and the chances we miss.

For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

As a child, Charley "Chick" Benetto was told by his father, "You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both." So he chooses his father, only to see the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence.

Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. And he decides to take his own life.

He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother, who died eight years earlier, is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened.

What follows is the one "ordinary" day so many of us yearn for, a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family secrets, and to seek forgiveness. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the astonishing things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together.

Through Albom's inspiring characters and masterful storytelling, readers will newly appreciate those whom they love—and may have thought they'd lost—in their own lives. For One More Day is a book for anyone in a family, and will be cherished by Albom's millions of fans worldwide.

My Thoughts:  This book has touched on many emotions for me. I find myself feeling sadness, anger, and regret. Not only was I drawn into Chick's story, but I was also forced to consider my own. While reading about Chick's relationship with his mother, I thought about my relationship (if you'd call it that) with my own mother.

For 22 years, my mom was fantastic. We were close. She was devoted to taking care of my two brothers and me. When I was 22, she suddenly changed. She left my father to be with another man and turned her back on her three children. In the last three years, I've attempted to maintain a relationship with her, only to be shot down again and again. Her significant other has become her main priority, despite the fact that he's mentally abusive towards her. I finally made the difficult decision to give up on her. There are only so many times a person can be rejected by one of the people who are supposed to never reject you.

A line in For One More Day stays with me. When Chick realizes his day with his mother is drawing to an end, he becomes upset that he will lose her. His mom says, "You can't lose your mother, Charley. I'm right here." This line was like a punch in the gut for me. I wish I believed it, but I just don't. I lost my mother. Sure, she lives about 20 minutes from me, but I've lost her. She's not a part of my life anymore.

I think this book also resonated with me, because I'm mere weeks from having my first child. I have these expectations of how I'll be as a mother. I know I don't want to be like my mother has been these last few years, and I never want my daughter to feel what I have felt.

I've often wondered what it would be like to have just one more day with my mom. Not a day with her as she is now, but a day with the way she used to be. I often imagine us going out for lunch or shopping. I think of how we talked all the time, discussing the events of our days. While I know that we may someday have a relationship again, I also know that it will never be the way it was. This makes me so very sad. I wish I had that again.

For One More Day is another example of how Mitch Albom's books cut you to the core. They aren't just food for the mind, but they are food for the soul, too. I find the writing to be simple, and I think this is best, especially given the thoughts and emotions evoked from the content. The story is simple, yet so full of meaning.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Columbine

Title: Columbine
Author: Dave Cullen
Publisher: Twelve
Release Date: April 2009
Source: Own
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads:  Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?


"On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave 'a lasting impression on the world.' Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence--irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting 'another Columbine.'

"When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window--the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

"The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives the best complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

"In the tradition of Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, COLUMBINE is destined to be a classic. A close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers--an unforgettable cautionary tale for our time."

My Thoughts:  Columbine has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. After seeing rave reviews from my online book club, I decided it was time to read it. I was in middle school when the tragedy at Columbine High took place. In fact, I remember watching footage on TV after coming home from school. I remember sitting in my living room with tears running down my face as I watched what was unfolding on TV.

Columbine was so many things. It was informative, eye-opening, well-written, and well-researched. I really like that it corrected the major misconceptions fueled by the media. There was so much that the public didn't know.

The author did a fantastic job of taking the reader back to that tragic day. I felt like he allowed me to get to know the victims and their families. Some parts were gut-wrenching, as I imagined how I would've felt in that moment.

I know the main question on everyone's mind when they think of Columbine is "Why?" Everyone wants to know why Eric and Dylan went on their killing spree. Everyone wants to know why the victims were targeted. I personally don't think we'll ever know the answer to this. The only people who can provide that answer are Eric and Dylan, and we clearly won't be hearing from them. We can speculate as to what caused them to take such drastic measures, but we'll never know for sure. I feel like the research and information provided in this book gives a solid, plausible explanation for Eric and Dylan's motives. I remember thinking that blaming the Columbine tragedy on bullying, violent movies and music, and terrible parenting was too easy. I wasn't surprised at all to find that these "causes" of the attack at Columbine were easily disputed.

I don't think it's appropriate to say that I enjoyed this book, but I did appreciate the information that I gained from it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: Angel Burn

Title: Angel Burn (Angel Trilogy #1)
Author: L.A. Weatherly
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Release Date: October 2010
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  Angels are all around us: beautiful, awe-inspiring, irresistible.

Ordinary mortals yearn to catch a glimpse of one of these stunning beings and thousands flock to The Church of Angels to feel their healing touch.

But what if their potent magnetism isn't what it seems?

Willow knows she's different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars.

Willow has a gift. She can look into people's futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. But she has no idea where she gets this power from.

Until she meets Alex…

Alex is one of the few who know the truth about angels. He knows Willow's secret and is on a mission to stop her.

The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous – and irresistible.

In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy.
My Thoughts:  Angel Burn was an exciting and quick read. At first, I was a bit hesitant to read it. It seemed like a lot of the other paranormal YA books that I've read recently. A girl with special powers meets a boy. He protects/saves her. They fall in love while fighting the bad guys. The end.

Despite feeling that way, I still gobbled up this book. I enjoyed the different twist on angels. The bad guys in this book weren't the typical monsters that people think of. I mean, who would think of angels as being harmful or dangerous? I certainly wouldn't. Some parts of the book were predictable, but there were still enough twists and turns to keep me wondering what was coming next.

I really liked Willow. She was a character that I could easily relate to. She wasn't your typical teenage girl, didn't care about the superficial stuff, and took her responsibility to her family very seriously. I kept forgetting that Alex and Willow were only teenagers. They seemed so much older, probably because of the lives they had lived. I thought the author did a great job at conveying this.

I found that the end of the book left me with equal parts satisfaction and curiosity. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book