Friday Night Knitting Club Book Review

The Friday Night Knitting ClubThe Friday Night Knitting Club (Friday Night Knitting Club #1)

352 pages
Published January 2007
Fiction: Mothers and Daughters, Female Friendship, Knitting, New York
Shortly after Georgia and her boyfriend James broke up she found out she was pregnant. James took off overseas pursuing his career, while Georgia was alone, lost, without a plan. While knitting at Central Park, Anita complimented Georgia on her knitting, encouraging her to start her own business selling her work. That advice and new friendship led to Georgia opening her own yarn shop, Walker and Daughter. Twelve years later, Georgia’s business has done well, and her baby girl Dakota has grown into a beautiful twelve-year-old teen. Anita has become a great family friend, and working at the shop, picking up more hours there since her husband died. After twelve long years James has returned to New York and wants a relationship with his daughter. Georgia is going to need the help of Anita, her friends, and coworkers, to support her through this tough time.
When I first started reading Friday Night Knitting Club I felt annoyed by the style of writing and I didn’t think I was going to like the story. I’m happy to say, I was wrong. This is a great story about family, friends, love, and loss. I shed a few tears, and had a few good laughs. This cozy read is not just for knitters – like many have said, reading this story might make you want to learn how to knit.
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Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis: A Guide For Parents {Spoiler-Free Book Review}

Talking with your child about their autism diagnosisTalking with Your Child about Their Autism Diagnosis: A Guide for Parents

NonFiction
Expected Publication: November 21, 2017

GoodReads Blurb

As a mother of two children on the spectrum, with over ten years’ experience as a psychologist specialising in childhood autism, Raelene Dundon has all the tips you’ll need. In this concise book, she sets out case studies, examples and resources that will equip you to make your own informed choices and help your whole family to live well with autism. Part One provides ways to tell children of different ages and development levels about their diagnosis, including photocopiable and downloadable worksheets designed to help diagnosed children understand autism, and gives advice on what to do if they react in a negative or unexpected way to the news. Part Two explores the pros and cons of sharing the diagnosis with others, including family, friends, school staff and your child’s classmates, and guides you through what to do if others don’t understand or accept the diagnosis.”

My Thoughts

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

Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis is an informational book that highlights why, how, when, and what to tell your child about their Autism diagnosis. Dundon shares common parental reactions to a diagnosis (and how to deal with feelings), what to do if a child uses Autism as an excuse, and also what to tell family, friends, and teachers about their child’s diagnosis. She includes an abundance of resources, such as downloadable worksheets and a list of helpful books, videos, and websites.

I highly recommend this short book to EVERYONE, not just parents of children who have been diagnosed with Autism. I believe that the more we all know about it, the better we can share facts and provide support to children we know.

About The Author

Raelene Dundon.jpgRaelene Dundon

“Raelene is the Director of Okey Dokey Childhood Psychology in Melbourne, Australia. She is a registered Psychologist and holds a Masters Degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Raelene has extensive experience working with children with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as typically developing children, providing educational, social/emotional and behavioural support.

Raelene has worked extensively in early childhood intervention settings, schools and private practice, and works with preschools and schools to provide individual student and staff support, as well as running social skills groups for students. She regularly presents workshops for parents and professionals on topics related to supporting children with special needs in the classroom and in other settings, and has recently presented at an International Autism Conference in Edinburgh, as well as conferences in Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne.

Raelene is also the mother of three children, two of whom are on the Autism Spectrum, and draws on both her personal and professional experience to provide support and guidance to families and carers.”

The End We Start From {spoiler-free book review}

the end we start fromThe End We Start From

Published May 2017 by Picador
Ebook 160 pages
Science Fiction, Dystopian

Goodreads Blurb:
In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.”

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

My Thoughts

The End We Start From is a short novel that feels like a poem. This is a survival story about climate change, mothers, babies, loss, and love. The main character’s thoughts are honest and authentic. Most of the story is about baby Z growing up.

I didn’t enjoy the sparse prose, however, I do think it was done in order to simplify the story, much like the main character’s life has been simplified to bare essentials. It felt like I was reading someone’s notes for their intended story. There is no dialogue, but plenty of awkward sentences that didn’t make much sense to me. All of the characters are referred to by only the first letter of their name, which made me feel unattached to them. I simply wanted more.

The End We Start From is great for anyone looking for a quick read.

About The Author

Megan Hunter.jpg

Megan Hunter

Megan Hunter was born in Manchester in 1984, and now lives in Cambridge with her young family. She has a BA in English Literature from Sussex University, and an MPhil in English Literature: Criticism and Culture from Jesus College, Cambridge. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and she was a finalist for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with her short story ‘Selfing’.”

 

Little Deaths: #SpoilerFree #BookReview

Little DeathsLittle Deaths, a debut novel by Emma Flint, is a mystery crime thriller inspired by a true story (Alice Crimmins case). Flint mentions two books in the acknowledgments which were also inspired by the Alice Crimmins case, The Alice Crimmins Case by Kenneth Gross, and Ordeal by Trial by George Carpozi Jr. Little Deaths is a new book published in 2017 by Hachette Books.

We learn a lot about the main character, Ruth Malone, in the first chapter. She is telling us how much life has changed now that she’s in prison.

First chapter, first paragraph:

“On the rare nights that she sleeps, she is back in the skin of the woman from before.

     Then: she rarely slept neat in a nightgown, pillows plumped, face shining with cold cream. She sometimes woke in a rumpled bed with a snoring figure beside her; more often she woke alone on the sofa with near-empty bottles and near-full ashtrays, her skin clogged with stale smoke and yesterday’s makeup, her body tender, her mind empty. She would sit up, wincing, aware of the ache in her neck and of the sad, sour taste in her mouth.

    Now she wakes, not with the thickness of a headache or the softness of a blurred night behind her, but with forced clarity. Her days begin with a bell, with harsh voices, clanging metal, yelling. With the throat-scraping smells of bleach and urine. There’s no room in these mornings for memories.”

Ruth Malone used to be a cocktail waitress living in Queens, New York, 1965. She was recently separated from her husband, Frank, and was struggling to take care of her two kids Frankie (almost six years old) and Cindy (four years old). Ruth was a poor, proud woman who felt like she’s had a harder life than anyone else. She wears too much makeup, moves in a sexy, smooth way that enabled her to get almost any guy she wanted. Ruth cheated on her husband, with Lou Gallagher, and was also sleeping around with Johnny Salcito. Lou was using her as arm candy, while Johnny was madly in love with her.

Ruth and her kids lived in a cramped apartment building neighborhood with lots of nosy women like Carla Bonelli on the third floor, Sally Burke’s prying mother in the next building, and Nina Lombardo next door.

At times I loved Ruth for her spit-fire attitude, but most of the time I disliked her choices, especially how she put herself before her children. For example, she kept their bedroom door latched at night (claiming it’s for their safety), and doesn’t unlatch it until she has gotten dressed, had coffee, a smoke, and walked the dog Minnie. On July 14th, the day everything changed, it was 9:10am by the time she unlatched the kid’s bedroom door. I have two kids, and I can’t even imagine doing that. When my eyes open in the morning my first thought for the past ten years is to check on my kids.

And the sight of her hand in front of her, lifting the latch, pushing the door. And again, and again, every moment since: the slow sweep of the white-painted wood, and the widening expanse of light, and her hand falling to her side through the weight of the still air, and her voice catching in her dry throat. And the room beyond. Empty.” (page 21)

When her kids are reported missing, Sergeant Devlin and his noobie partner Detective Quinn immediately blame Ruth, and become obsessed trying to discover evidence to prove her guilt.

Pete Wonicke, one of the newer journalists writing for The Herald, scores the missing children story thanks to his quick-thinking. Pete’s boss Friedmann instructs him to ignore the truth and write the story that readers want to hear.

“”Readers want three things, Wonicke.” He ticket them off on his fingers. “They want to see the money. Or the lack of it. To feel envious, or superior.”

Another finger, bent back. “They want sex. There’s always a hot dame. Or a dame we can work up into hot. There’s always an angle we can use.”

A third finger. “And every story needs a bad guy. Every story needs fear.”

On the day children go missing at 1:30pm, little Cindy is found dead. On July 25 Frankie is found dead. And we begin to believe that maybe Sergeant Devlin was right. Maybe Ruth did kill her children.

Over the next three months the cops and Pete follow Ruth’s every move. The cops are trying to find that final piece of evidence that will allow them to make an arrest. Pete is talking to everyone who every knew her, her ex husband Frank, or her lovers Lou and Johnny. He’s fallen madly in love with Ruth and believes she is innocent.

At the end of November, three months after her son is found dead, Ruth is arrested for the murders of her children and the trial begins. The courtroom proceedings are exciting, and surprising.

I whipped through the pages so fast wanting to know who did it. I constantly shifted back and forth on Ruth’s innocence. GREAT novel, my only complaint is that we don’t find out for sure who did it until the last ten pages. The ending felt quite rushed to me, and I would have liked another 30-50 pages for resolution.

If you like stories inspired by true crime, or mystery thrillers, you’ll love this quick read.

The Coffee Booktag

coffee-563797__340

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.

small-great-things-hc-400w

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.

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

small-great-things-hc-400w.jpg

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!

 

 

Jaw-dropping! Review: Truly Madly Guilty

WOW. Just wow. Seriously. I will be honest – the first hundred and fifty pages were sluggish, but once the story kicked in, I was committed. I stayed up way past my bedtime last night reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. The reason I requested it from the local library is because it was chosen as best fiction for Goodreads Choice Awards 2016. I’m definitely interested in reading her other books, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, The Hypnotist’s Love Story, What Alice Forgot, The Husband’s Secret, and Big Little Lies.

truly-madly-guilty

Truly Madly Guilty, set in Sydney, Australia, was published in 2016 by Flatiron Books.Here’s the cover blurb:

“Six Responsible Adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit busy, life: they have two little girls; Sam has just started a new dream job; and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika have been friends since they were little. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last-minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany’s and Vid’s larger-than-life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how too often we don’t appreciate how extraordinary our ordinary lives are until it’s too late.”

The quote at the beginning of the story is perfect: “Music is the silence between the notes” – Claude Debussy

While reading you will ask yourself, “What happened at the barbecue? what happened? Just TELL ME what happened!” At first I was annoyed. I just wanted to know what the hell happened at the barbecue. Gradually, I became consumed by each character’s life before the barbecue, almost forgetting about “the day of the barbecue”, then WHAM! In your face emotion. I cried. I cried quite a few times throughout this story. I cried tears of happiness, frustration, anger, and sadness. This book has it all my friend.

We hear this story from many different perspectives: Erika, Clementine (Erika’s best friend), Sam (Clementine’s husband), Tiffany (Erika’s neighbour), Oliver (Erika’s husband), Dakota (Tiffany’s daughter), Vid (Tiffany’s husband), Harry (Erika’s neighbour), and Pam (Clementine’s mom). Each and every character has their own strengths and flaws, which created a natural love/hate relationship with each one for me. I’m not sure I can choose a favourite character, I could see pieces of myself in each one (well except perhaps Vid, sorry Vid, we don’t have much common ground buddy, but you seem like someone who I can have a good laugh with at a party).

Page 233. Jolt. Shock. Surprise. Whammy. Yup all those kinds of words.

The chapters flip back and forth in time – before the barbecue, after the barbecue, the day of the barbecue, making “the day of the barbecue” the focal point, however I felt that it was slightly disorientating at times.

Truly Madly Guilty dug up lots of powerful emotions and themes, such as desolation. Desolation: ruin, dreariness, sorrow, grief. I love that word, desolation.

What can happen in one moment? Just one moment can change your entire life. One, small, little moment can create guilt – guilt which could truly make you go mad. 😉

Have you read this book yet? I’d love to hear what you think!

For more info about Liane Moriarty visit www.lianemoriarty.com

Book Review: Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving my Kids While Losing My Mind

WARNING: This post is for ADULT EYES ONLY.

momswhodrinkandswear

If you think Moms Who Drink And Swear: True Tales Of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind was written by some crazy, unintelligent mother, then you couldn’t be more wrong. The author, Nicole Knepper, has a master’s degree in professional counseling psychology and a master’s degree in gerontology. The inspiration for this book come from her popular blog http://www.chicagonow.com/moms-who-drink-and-swear/

I laughed so much reading this book, and recommend it to ALL mothers. I also recommend this book to men, it will help you to better understand women – especially moms.

Here’s the back blurb:

“If you feel like your kids are killing you, you’ve come to the right place.

Attention all potty-mouthed, cheap-wine-drinking mothers: Prepare to meet your match. Any bad thought you’ve had about your kids. Nicole Knepper has had worse. Much worse. It’s not that she doesn’t love her kids. It’s that she understands what a mind-f*?% it can be to try to civilize those wild little beasts.”

To give you a better picture of the book, here are the names of some of the chapters:

Girlfriends, Genitals and Growing Up
Kitty’s Got PMS – this chapter includes the “hat trick” of free info for men
The Vagina Dialogues
Fuck You Dinner, Make Yourself
Dinner is Like Herpes
Caring for Children without Crushing Their Souls
Suck it, Santa Claus

Quotes from the book:

“…Sometimes I am just overwhelmed by how much I’m needed” page 56. I have had this exact same thought at least once a day for the past ten years.

“The girl can film and edit a stop-motion Littlest Pet Shop video on her iPad, but she can’t pour herself a glass of orange juice because it’s too hard?”  HAHAHAHA! My son can also make stop-motion videos, and yet will not get himself a glass of milk! Oh please, give me the patience.

The relationship Nicole had with her father reminded me of the relationship I had with my late step father, Roger. He was my step dad from when I was about eight years old until he died when I was twenty-one. Nicole writes: “And I really miss fighting with him: our competitive and never-ending attempts to prove each other wrong and push each other’s buttons were truly vital to our relationship. It was through all these battles, disagreements and fiery , intense conversations that our mutual love and respect for each other grew into an important relationship.” page 133

Nicole gave me, as a mom, the ability to accept my mistakes and realize no one is perfect. We are not alone. Being a mom is hard, we all have our own way of dealing with challenges – and as long as we aren’t hurting anyone or ourselves, then we need to stop judging each other for every single parenting decision.

You can also check out the Facebook Page Moms Who Drink and Swear