The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos #BookReview #HistoricalFiction #Netgalley #AtriaBooks

Powerful and inspiring, The Girl They Left Behind is an important, heart-wrenching historical fiction novel based on true events that left me feeling incredibly grateful for my life and children.

about the book xmas

39019053

Title: The Girl They Left Behind

Author: Roxanne Veletzos

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of Publication: October 30, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction WWII

Page Count: 368 (e-book)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39019053-the-girl-they-left-behind

A sweeping family saga and love story that offers a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest and life behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet Union occupation—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.

Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.”

My Review Xmas.png

“In anguish and despair we release this child into the hands of God, with hope and faith that she may be saved.”

Based on true events, The Girl They Left Behind is an emotional story that begins when a concierge finds a four-year-old girl alone in Bucharest, January 1941. I teared up many times while reading this, and enjoyed every single second.

Anton and Despina are a wonderful couple who face many challenges, and even when they don’t agree they find a way to always respect each other. Stefan and Maria are another great couple who adopt Natalia. I didn’t enjoy Victor’s character until later in the story. He just is…just…ugh I don’t want to give anything away. He’s just great.

The beautiful writing tells the story of family, war, heartbreak, loss, grief, resilience, courage, survival, hope, freedom, and peace.

“In his long stare, Natalia saw a trace of sadness and something she had never glimpsed before: fear. Perhaps he had always feared this moment, this exact moment when he would have to reckon with his past and be forced to make amends, excuses. But she would not be the one to give him redemption.”

I liked the pacing of the plot, except that the middle felt a little bogged down. There are some mentions of women “obeying” and being “delicate” without much said to counter the sexism. However, I understand this story takes place in a different time. It didn’t affect the story for me, so it won’t affect my rating either.

Deeply moving, The Girl They Left Behind gave me goosebumps. Highly recommend this to readers thirteen-years-old+.

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for the complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.

*Quotes taken from an ARC copy and subject to change*

About the Author Xmas

Roxanne Veletzos was born in Bucharest, Romania and moved to California with her family as a young teen. Already fluent in English and French, she began writing short stories about growing up in her native Eastern Europe, at first as a cathartic experience as she transitioned to a new culture. Building on her love of the written language, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has worked as an editor, content writer and marketing manager for a number of Fortune 500 companies. Since 2012, Roxanne has been writing historical and contemporary fiction and is the author of two novels.”

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17709452.Roxanne_Veletzos

https://www.roxanne-veletzos.com/

Get Smitten Xmas

 

 

 

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Book Review ~ Thief of Happy Endings

📓 I didn’t know I needed a contemporary, young adult love story set on a horse ranch until Thief of Happy Endings.  📚 😌

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Title: Thief of Happy Endings

Author: Kristen Chandler

Genre: Teen YA

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group/Viking Books for Young Readers

Date published: June 19th, 2018

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synopsis

Ever since her father moved out, Cassidy feels like her life has been falling apart. So a summer of riding horses at a ranch camp in Wyoming sounds like just what she needs–never mind the fact that she has a paralyzing fear of horses. She’s determined to move past her fear, even if that means taking lessons from the insufferable (yet irresistible) junior wrangler Justin and embarrassing herself in front of the other campers. What follows is a summer of rodeos, complicated friendships, and a wild mustang thief on the loose.

My Review

Thief of Happy Endings calls attention to many important themes such as resilience, friendship, racism, prejudice, bullying, divorce, parenting, mental health, physical abuse, and animal cruelty. After her father moves out, Cassidy is struggling with depression and anxiety. Her parents send her to a horse camp in Wyoming to hopefully help Cassidy overcome her fear of horses.

Cassidy’s character feels credible. Her love interest, Justin, is intriguing, layered, complicated. Cassidy’s roommate, Alice, is probably my favourite character. An amazing friend from the beginning to the end, Alice is reliable, smart, and experiences an enormous amount of personal growth by the end of this story.

The characters are unique with distinctive voices. The story taught me a lot about horses, and in particular the mustang population in western USA. THIS IS NOT AN INSTA-LOVE! Chandler takes the time to let us get to know the characters before introducing a romantic interaction. Drawn into Thief of Happy Endings from page one, I couldn’t put it down, and I can’t think of any dislikes.

Wild, honest, charming, and entertaining. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟!

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

 

About the author.jpg

“Kristen Chandler is the author of the award-winning Girls Don’t Fly and Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me.”

Kristen Chandler Goodreads Author Page

One of the best books I’ve read this year – The Astonishing Color of After #BookReview

I feel incredibly grateful to have received an advanced copy of The Astonishing Color of After in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. This is one of my most favorite books ever. I can’t wait to buy my own copy!

the astonishing color of after

 

Title: The Astonishing Color of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan

Genre: Teen/YA Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Date published: Expected March 20, 2018

Page Count: 480

 

 

synopsis

“Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.”

My Review

The Astonishing Color of After is a freeing, haunting, quirky, contemporary romance novel about depression, suicide, grief, family secrets, forgiveness, and love. This story takes place in America and Taiwan. Told with luxuriant writing, I wish I could share some of my favorite passages, however because this is an advance copy I’m not allowed. The writing quality is exquisite.

Leigh, the main character, is a girl who thinks of every life event as a color, yet only sketches in black and white. Leigh’s best friend is a guy named Axel, who creates pictures using colors and shapes to match the song in his head, then he makes the music to match the image. He calls it opera electronica. And yes, he is as cool as he sounds. Though Leigh has a secret crush on Axel, this is not an insta-love situation. Her other close friend, Caro, is a lesbian with a super quirky, loving family. Caro’s grandparents are absolutely adorable, and definitely a couple of my favorite characters.

When Leigh travels to Taiwan we get to meet her grandparents. As Leigh travels around Taiwan, visiting her mother’s favorite places, we get to learn a lot about the food and places. Feng is a close family friend who accompanies Leigh during her travels, teaching her more about the traditions and language. In her room at her grandparents place, Leigh finds some very dark sticks of incense. Burning each incense stick transports Leigh to a world of “Smoke & Memories” where she gets to relive moments of the past from her loved ones perspective. Flashbacks can sometimes be annoying, however these “Smoke & Memories” chapters are absolutely fantastic. Leigh’s mother always wore a cicada necklace, and I was curious about what the symbolism was for this. I learned that the cicada is a symbol of immortality or rebirth, which fits perfectly.

I appreciate how much time and careful consideration it must have taken to create a narrative centered on suicide in such an authentic and gracious manner. I smiled, I laughed, I cried tears of sadness and joy. I even got goosebumps many times reading the last 15% of this magical tale. I can’t recommend this one enough – 5 STARS!

 

About the author.jpg

Emily X.R. Pan lives in Brooklyn, New York, but was born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She is a co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology, and a 2017 Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi. She logs the books she reads in an Excel spreadsheet and a secret other Goodreads account.Goodreads

Emily Pan’s Website

Pre-Order “The Astonishing Color of After”

Wonder by R.J. Palacio #BookReview #thewonderofwonder #choosekind

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

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Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date published: September 2017 (originally published 2012)

Page Count: 352 pages

synopsis

A special movie tie-in edition of R.J. Palacio’s #1 New York Times bestseller, now a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Mandy Patinkin.
Over 5 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and Auggie Pullman, the ordinary boy with the extraordinary face, who inspired a movement to Choose Kind. This special movie tie-in trade paperback edition features an eight-page full-color insert with photos from the film, a new introduction by the author, and a family discussion guide.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, a #1 New York Times bestseller, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” –indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Join the conversation: #thewonderofwonder, #choosekind

My Review

If you haven’t heard of Wonder, you’ve been living under a rock. Both the book and movie are a big hit, and have made an enormous impact on millions of people. I do not have the talent to write a worthy review for such an important piece of literature – but I’ll give it a shot, in hopes that you’ll pick up this book, read it, then have your kids read it, and tell everyone you know to read it. Our western society is at a fork in the road, and it’s books like Wonder that may help shift the tide so we can all choose kindness.

 

Wonder is a story about acceptance, courage, compassion, loyalty, and kindness. It’s told from many perspectives: August, his sister Via, his friend Summer, his other friend Jack, and Via’s friend Miranda.

The characters feel authentic and reminded me of people I know in real life. I cried when August cried, and I laughed when he laughed. His school principal, Mr. Tushman, is like so many principals that I have worked with, hard, but kind. They work to bring the best out of you. August makes some great friends at school, Jack, Charlotte, and Summer – and he also makes some enemies, Julian. Mr. Browne, the teacher who is amazing at his job and understands how to connect with his students, not to just teach the curriculum, but to teach life changing lessons. As a parent I couldn’t help but feel connected to Augusts’ parents who struggled, like many parents, with trying to protect their children, yet give them the room to grow.

Summer is most definitely my favourite character. I would love to read an entire book about her, and I wonder what she would be like as an adult. She’s the kind of friend I wish we could all have, and the person I hope I am.

August’s first day of school
“I went straight to room 301 on the third floor. Now I was glad I’d gone on that little tour, because I knew exactly where to go and didn’t have to look up once. I noticed that some kids were definitely staring at me now. I did my thing of pretending not to notice.” page 37

“In the hallways, which were always crowded, my face would always surprise some unsuspecting kid who maybe hadn’t heard about me. The kid would make the sound you make when you hold your breath before going underwater, a little “uh!” sound. This happened maybe four or five times a day for the first few weeks: on the stairs, in front of the lockers, in the library. Five hundred kids in a school: eventually every one of them was going to see my face at some time.” page 61

“This precept means that we should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.” August, explaining Mr. Browne’s precept, Your Deeds Are Your Monuments. page 65

 

I purposefully read Wonder slowly, because I didn’t want it to end. One of my top 10 books I’ve ever read – maybe even top five. If you haven’t read Wonder, READ IT NOW! And…Choose Kind.

About the author.jpg

“R.J. Palacio lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4859212.R_J_Palacio

New Poetry Book “Take Me With You” {Review}

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

Take me with you

Title: Take Me With You

Author:  Andrea Gibson

Genre: Poetry, LGBTQIA

Publisher: Plume Books

Date published: Expected Publication January 23, 2018

Page Count: 193

 

synopsis

“For readers of Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey) and Cheryl Strayed, a book small enough to carry with you, with messages big enough to stay with you, from one of the most quotable and influential poets of our time.

Andrea Gibson explores themes of love, gender, politics, sexuality, family, and forgiveness with stunning imagery and a fierce willingness to delve into the exploration of what it means to heal and to be different in this strange age. Take Me With You, illustrated throughout with evocative line drawings by Sarah J. Coleman, is small enough to fit in your bag, with messages that are big enough to wake even the sleepiest heart. Divided into three sections (love, the world, and becoming) of one liners, couplets, greatest hits phrases, and longer form poems, it has something for everyone, and will be placed in stockings, lockers, and the hands of anyone who could use its wisdom”

 

My Review

Take Me With You is a poetry pocket book highlighting a wide variety of relatable topics, split into three sections: Love, The World, and On Becoming. These poems talk about the good and bad parts of love: how it feels to love someone, to be loved, and to have your heart broken. Gibson also tackles big themes about the world such as creation versus destruction, women’s rights, the internal struggle of someone who is transgender, feminism, heaven, the broken parts of America, gun violence, tolerance, veterans, war, the pressures social media put on us, and kindness. In the last section titled “On Becoming” Gibson shares thoughts on struggling painfully through mental health challenges like anxiety in order to end up at a place where you love ALL of yourself, including the flaws which help to make you who you are.

After reading other reviews I think the final book is three long poems rather than a bunch of short poems. I read the ebook version which had each poem on a different page. Reading these words as three long poems would be a completely different experience.

There are some insightful and unique comparisons such as, needing someone as much as the moon needs the sea, or comparing a room in a home to the palm of a hand, or how in Autumn the leaves fall as if they are in love with the ground.

Either way, Take Me With You is a delightful little book about HOPE and I would recommend this to everyone, especially to readers who want to read more poetry that isn’t filled with complicated prose.

About the author

Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist who lives in Boulder, Colorado. Their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today’s society. In addition to using poetry to express what they feel and provide social and political commentary on real issues, they are involved with many activist groups. They often perform at Take Back the Night events, LGBTQ events, pride events, trans events, anti-war rallies, peace rallies, organizations against the occupation of Palestine, and groups focused on examining the wrongs of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. They also work with a group called Vox Feminista whose model is to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” on all these issues. Throughout the year, they tour Universities and other venues across the country.https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/457281.Andrea_Gibson

Check out Andrea’s website: https://www.andreagibson.org/

 

 

 

 

 

Turning: a year in the water #bookreview #spoilerfree

Turning: a year in the water is a beautiful, extremely unique, autobiographical nature-memoir written by Jessica Lee. It will be released May 2nd, 2017.

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The publisher kindly sent me a complementary digital proof copy for review.

“Through the heat of summer to the frozen depths of winter, Lee traces her journey swimming through 52 lakes in a single year, swimming through fear and heartbreak to find her place in the world.”

Jessica swims in 52 lakes throughout four season in Germany, we are given flash backs to her childhood living in Canada and Florida, brief time spent time in London before her divorce, and then to Berlin, Germany to work on her dissertation in environmental history. As she explains the physical changes of each lake through the seasons, she is undergoing her own emotional transformation, washing remnants of self-doubt, letting go of the feeling that you are not where you’re meant to be, and also learning to not fear being alone.

Reading this memoir brought me back to my own memories swimming in lakes while growing up in Labrador. She successfully expressed the strange, opposite emotions lakes impress upon us – intense beauty, stillness, quiet, but also scary unknowns lurking below while you stare hard into the dark depths.

I often find story without dialogue slightly cumbersome, however, Jessica deflty carves her way around the story, providing description of all sense for the lakes, trees, environment, food, and German people, completely making up for the lack of dialogue. We are also given some interesting tidbits of German history concerning the war, reunification, and even some German words.

The only thing I didn’t like was how abruptly it ended, not because of how the story ended, but because I wanted to keep reading 🙂 I could read her writing for hours and hours.

I recommend this book to those who like the outdoors, swimming, are interested in Germany, and to anyone who wants to push themselves to face their fears.

Jessica Lee is a badass winter swimmer, with a PhD in Environmental History.

Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee’s profile picture on Goodreads

Follow Jessica Lee on Twitter

 

The Coffee Booktag

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I found this book tag on Bookerly’s Youtube Channel and thought it would make an interesting blog post 😉  Book tags are a fun thing where we categorize books based on creative questions or topics.
Questions 1. Black- name a series that is tough to get into but has hardcore fans.

girl-on-the-train

I know there are thousands of people who loved this book, but I’m not one of them. I gave it 3 stars, it was OKAY, but just not amazing for me.
Question 2. Peppermint Mocha- name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.

Lunar Chronicles

I’m going to go with The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, I don’t know why, I just feel like they are a great Winter series to read, plus one of them is called “Winter”. Cinder was published first, but there are a couple prequels coming out soon. I have read Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, and Stars Above but haven’t read some of the others.
Question 3. Hot Chocolate- what is your favorite children’s book?

Charlotte's Web

It was the first chapter book I read, and I have re-read it I don’t know how many times. Absolutely love this one ♥

Question 4. Double shot of espresso- name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

truly-madly-guilty

I read this pretty quickly, I was on the edge of my seat, heart pounding – I needed to know what happened at the BBQ!! LOL
Question 5. Starbucks- name a book you see everywhere.

Furthermore

I see it at stores, Booktubers talking about it. A great Middle Grade read.
Question 6. That hipster coffee shop- give a book by an indie author a shout out.

Motherhood by Lindsey Williams

Gotta go with my girl Lindsey! ♥
Question 7. Oops! I accidentally got decaf- name a book you were expecting more from.

Poisonwood Bible

Average rating on Goodreads 4.02, over 550,000 people rated it…but I gave it 2 stars.
Question 8. The perfect blend- name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying.

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Some gut-wrenching, heart-squishing parts…but adorable parts…full range of emotion reading this one.

If you do this booktag post the link in the comments below! 🙂

Here are the questions in case you’d like to copy/paste:
1. Black- name a series that is tough to get into but has hardcore fans.
2. Peppermint Mocha- name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.
3. Hot Chocolate- what is your favorite children’s book?
4. Double shot of espresso- name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
5. Starbucks- name a book you see everywhere.
6. That hipster coffee shop- give a book by an indie author a shout out.
7. Oops! I accidentally got decaf- name a book you were expecting more from.
8. The perfect blend- name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying.

The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention #spoilerfreebookreview

Meredith Maran’s newest book, a fresh-authentic-inspiring autobiographical memoir, was released today, The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention. It talks about life’s biggest themes: friendship, divorce, marriage, love, healing, human rights, loving the place you live, aging, plastic surgery, alcohol, grief, happiness, and never being too old to try something new. I laughed, I cried, I devoured this novel in half a day. I was sent a DRC copy of this book by PENGUIN GROUP Blue Rider Press & Plume for review. Because I have an advanced copy, I cannot share my favourite quotes -but I will say there were many. I loved the many different characters we met, and Meredith’s journey through her trip from glass empty to the glass half full.

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Here’s a book blurb from Penguin Random House website:

“After the death of her best friend, the loss of her life’s savings, and the collapse of her once-happy marriage, Meredith Maran—whom Anne Lamott calls “insightful, funny, and human”—leaves her San Francisco freelance writer’s life for a 9-to-5 job in Los Angeles. Determined to rebuild not only her savings but herself while relishing the joys of life in La-La land, Maran writes “a poignant story, a funny story, a moving story, and above all an American story of what it means to be a woman of a certain age in our time” (Christina Baker Kline, number-one New York Times–bestselling author of Orphan Train).” http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/536258/the-new-old-me-by-meredith-maran/9780399574139/

I recommend this book to all women of any age, and would love to hear what you think of it!

Happy Reading,

Amanda

 

The Cozy Life: Rediscover The Joy Of Simple Things Through The Danish Concept Of Hygge #spoilerfreebookreview

I first heard about Hygge a few years ago, but with the recent surge in interest throughout social media I decided to pick up a book about Hygge from my local library. The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg is a short book published in 2016 that is a great introduction to Hygge. (pronounced HOO-Gah).

Back Blurb: “In today’s world, we’re constantly rushing from one thing to the next and are struggling with information overload. We’re more disconnected from ourselves and our loved ones than ever before. Rediscover the joy of the simple things through the Danish concept of Hygge in The Cozy Life. This book will inspire you to slow down and enjoy life’s cozy moments!

  • Learn about the Danish cultural phenomenon of Hygge, and the secret to why Denmark is consistently rated the happiest country in the world
  • Embrace the little things and take simplicity and minimalism up a notch
  • Add Hygge into every aspect of your life with practical examples and tips
  • Say goodbye to the Winter Blues and live a healthier, centred life

This charming little book, filled with hand drawn illustrations, beautifully addresses that yearning we all have for a more authentic life, created by ourselves instead of external forces.

What’s stopping you from living a more meaningful and connected life?”

The Cozy Life

The author, Pia Edberg was born in the tiny city of Nykøbing Falster, Denmark, and later moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. She shares her memories of growing up Hygge, including recipes for food and drinks.

Pia EdbergPicture taken from Pia’s website http://www.piaedberg.com/

Hygge is defined as the Danish concept of coziness, or homeyness. It is both a noun and a verb. “The art of creating warmth, comfort, and wellbeing through connection, treasuring the moment, and surrounding yourself with things you love.”

I’m a bit of a “foodie” and love to cook homemade meals, so the recipes shared in this little book intrigued my taste buds, especially Ebleskiver

ebleskiver

Pia also shared instructions on how to made your own “Dream Pillow“, which I’ve never heard of before and would love to make one.

We also got a little advice on decluttering, something I’ve already been doing for a few years now as a way to calm my mind.

My kids and I are taking the 30 Day Hygge Challenge that the author shared in this little book – Day one is to take a relaxing bath. Sounds great to me!

I highly recommend this little book to everyone – Happy Hygge! 🙂

 

Spoiler-Free Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – MUST READ

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It’s been a long time since I read a book that impacted me as much as Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE 14 years old +. I teared up while reading every single chapter. I had two good cries in the tub after a few chapters. This story will affect you no matter what age or what race you are.

In case you’ve never heard of Jodi Picoult before, she is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of twenty-five novels.

Here is a little bit of the book blurb on cover: “Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case…”

The story is separated into five parts:
1. Stage One, Early Labor: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Benjamin Franklin

2. Stage One, Active Labor: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

3. Stage One, Transition: “The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.” Maria Cristina Mena

4. Stage Two, Pushing: “She wanted to get at the hate of them all, to pry at it and work at it until she found a little chink, and then pull out a pebble or a stone or a brick and then part of the wall, and, once started, the whole edifice might roar down and be done away with.” Ray Bradbury

5. Stage Three, Afterbirth (six years later): “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” Nelson Mandela

The story begins from Ruth’s perspective as a child, spending a snow day with her mom at her job as a cleaning lady for a rich white family, the Hallowells. Ruth witnesses her mother helping Ms. Mina give birth to her baby early, at home, and Ruth grows up to become a labor and delivery nurse.

“On the day before classes were supposed to start, Mama took me out to dinner. “You’re destined to do small great things,” she told me. “Just like Dr. King said.” She was referring to one of her favorite quotes: If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

We also get to hear the story from Turk’s perspective, the white supremacist father of baby Davis who dies. I have to admit, I hated Turk from the get-go, but as the story went on, I got to learn more about his past, his mindset, his motivations, and wondered…if he could learn to hate, could he learn to love?

The public defender assigned to Ruth’s case, Kennedy McQuarrie was the perspective of the white person who thinks they aren’t racist, but find out the small things they do and say are actually racist. She may not be a jerk like Turk (I found it funny that his name rhymed with jerk), but she, like myself and many other white people, tend to ignore instances where an African American is treated unfairly. If we do not stand up, if we are not outraged, we are making it more acceptable and we are part of the problem.

One of my favorite quotes in Small Great Things is, “Pride is an evil dragon; it sleeps underneath your heart and then roars when you need silence.”

This story helped me let go of my pride so that I could better understand my own ignorance. It has opened my eyes to realize I must do a better job standing up for everyone’s rights, no matter what color we are.

READ THIS BOOK. Absolutely a 5 star read for me. I feel like this book belongs in every high school library, and part of the curriculum. SUCH an important read – make time for this one!