Review: My First Yoga ABC by Teresa Anne Power

You haven’t really gotten to know me as a mom yet, so you may not know that I’m a scrunchy one. I’m all for natural childbirth if you can do it. I didn’t have time to choose for my last two, but big brother had to be induced and there was definitely an epidural. I like cloth diapers in theory, but as a working mom, don’t have time to deal with all that. I did baby-led weaning, rather than buying prepackaged baby foods.

I absolutely believe in teaching mindfulness and meditation from a young age, so that they’re always learning how to deal with tough emotions.

We read My First Yoga ABC for storytime last night. There is an illustration of a simple pose for each letter of the alphabet. We did the ones middle brother seemed particularly interested in, like butterfly. He’s obsessed with butterflies right now. His favorite, though, was zero. We got to the end of the book, and he kept doing it, then expecting me to do it, then doing it again, expecting me to, on and on. Let me tell you, zero really does elongate your spine. I needed it.

This is a cute, incredibly simple introduction to a meditation practice for little ones. There are all ethnicities represented in the illustrations, so every child will see themselves in there. We will definitely be adding it to our bedtime rotation.

Review: The Babysitter from Another Planet by Stephen Savage

Middle brother has been weird about storytime, lately. He says he wants to do stories, he spends a great deal of time picking out the book he wants, and then after the first page, he announces “The end,” and forcibly closes the book on me. He’s an active toddler, so this isn’t totally unexpected. I just keep offering.

Last night, however, we picked The Babysitter from Another Planet, and for the first time in weeks, he sat for a whole story. The illustrations are simple, but the juxtaposition of colors really draws the eye. The story is fun. Middle brother thought the alien looked like a robot, so I read the whole thing in my robot voice, which maybe helped hold his attention.

In addition to just the right amount of words for a smaller child’s attention span, the story also makes babysitters sound fun. We haven’t run into an issue with the younger boys not wanting to be left, yet, mostly because we leave them with family most of the time that we leave them at all, but I remember this being an issue for big brother when he was about 4. I like that this story plants the seed of the idea that even “scary” babysitters can be great if you give them a chance.

In mommy reading news, I have started Voyager, so expect only audiobook reviews of adult books in the near future. This 1,100 page monster is going to take me a while.

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

When I started hearing about all these “rom-coms”, I had mixed feelings. I love my romantic comedy films, so obviously I’m excited about those plots showing up in books again. My misgivings are based on the fact that these books used to be called “chick lit” and were mocked. I kind of hate any category title that invites people to pigeonhole another person’s reading and judge them for it. I don’t hate the category itself.

The Hating Game came to me by recommendation of Sophie Jordan (If you haven’t read her, you’re missing out. Check out her titles here.). Sophie has never steered me wrong on a book recommendation, so I picked it up, but then it sat on my shelf forever like so many books end up doing because I am always finding more books I want to read, working in a bookstore and all.

I wish I had read this book sooner. It was so much fun! I love the enemies-to-lovers trope (except in cases where they’re enemies because of some type of abuse done by one party to the other, but that’s another blog), and this book does it deliciously well. There’s a lot of heat, but not a ton of actual sex scenes. I particularly enjoy the build in my romance novels more than the actual event, so I loved this. It’s fun and funny, but the two main characters have real issues they have to work through to get to their HEA, and they are definitely not the problems you expect them to have. More than anything, I loved being surprised by the internal conflict in a romance novel. Congratulations to Sally Thorne for not going with stereotypes!

It felt good to get back into a contemporary romance novel, and I’m glad it was one so spectacular.

Review: How to Be a Family by Dan Kois

I am usually not much of a nonfiction reader, but how can a mom of three not read a book called How to Be a Family? Especially when the subtitle indicates world travel.

I wasn’t sure I’d love this one. I’ve read my fair share of parenting books with all their “shoulds” and been unimpressed, or worse, overwhelmed with mom guilt. This is not really a parenting book in the way we think of them.

Dan Kois’ family is unsatisfied for various reasons with how they are together. So he and his wife decide to take a leap, travel to four different locations around the world over the course of a year with very different approaches to family life, and try each respective approach on for size. This goes better in some places than others.

The audiobook is narrated by the author, which means you get all his intended inflections in the reading. He is funny. Maybe I just dig his particular humor personally, but I’d say it’s worth reading just for that.

I love that this is not a preachy, here’s-what-you’re-doing-wrong kind of book. The author, in fact, talks a lot about what he did wrong, with the benefit of retrospect. He discusses in detail the things he likes and dislikes about each location’s approach to parenting, but never suggests any of it is “wrong”. It’s a very not judgy sort of book.

I enjoyed this one from beginning to end, and was actually kind of sad when it was over. Will it greatly change the way I parent? Probably not. The most important message, for me, was to pay attention to how your family works and doesn’t, and be willing to change the “doesn’t” parts. It sure was a lot of fun getting to that message, though.

Review: The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele

Book Review #1. Here goes…

Back before little brother was born, I picked this ARC up at the ABA’S Winter Institute, with every intention of reading it on my maternity leave. What did I actually do on maternity leave? Stare at my newborn baby in wonder. A lot. Return to the hospital with a staph infection on my newborn baby for a scary three days (as it turned out, it was as mild as a staph infection on a newborn might be). Try to entertain a toddler while also nursing an infant once we returned home. And watch all four seasons of Outlander. More than once. Reading was not my priority. Hence, blog as motivation.

I read this book in the physical form, although audiobooks are currently saving my reading life a lot. So, no news on the narrator for this one. When I picked this ARC up, it was purely because the author called it literary science fiction, which is my jam. I actually knew nothing about the plot. But it’s also post-apocalyptic, and who doesn’t love that? (To be read with absolutely zero sarcasm.)

Generally, I like my post-apocalyptic fiction like I like my literary fiction: the more broken my heart is at the end, the better. This book did not break my heart. There were some gritty bits; it’s post-apocalyptic, after all. Overall, though, it just made me think about our current world and my place in it. Other than producing new citizens of the world, am I contributing something good? At three months postpartum, I feel like raising my tiny world citizens may be the best I can do, and it’s not a small thing, but looking to the future, when I’m out of the sleep-deprived haze, I’d like to do more. These are not little things for a work of fiction to have me considering. Bravo, Kimi Eisele.

The most important thing for me to say about this book is that it’s beautifully and entrancingly written. I love genre fiction that’s focus is tight plotting as much as the next person, but damn do I also love pretty writing. The plotting of this book starts slow and meandering, but gathers speed as it goes on. You get to know the lovely, flawed, human characters along the way. It’s gorgeous.

The premise is that a large portion of the population dies from a horrid flu and somehow technology is wiped out, but this all happens before the story. A school principal from the east coast decides to trek across the country to find his love on the west coast. We swap perspectives periodically, so we get to follow both his journey and his love’s efforts to help rebuild her community while staying put. You get to see the good and the bad in people on the road and in a neighborhood. It’s a debut novel, but you’d never know it. It’s sweeping and hopeful and will restore your faith in humanity.

I definitely recommend The Lightest Object in the Universe.

Why This Blog?

I am the mother of three boys. My first son was born when I was just 19, so obviously my whole life was changed. My last two, much younger boys entered my life when I was 33 and 35, respectively. I felt much better prepared for them, and in some ways, I was. In others, less so. I had fourteen years between my first son and my later two to get used to being able to go places and not watch someone every second, cook dinner uninterrupted, and most importantly (to me, at least), get some quality reading time in. The arrival of the younger boys threw all that out the window.

I am a lifelong reader. I did go through a bit of a dry reading spell after the birth of big brother, but recovered quickly with Twilight. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom with only one child, so reading was still possible. Between his birth and middle brother’s, I found my way into a career in bookselling at my local indie bookstore: all the books I could possibly want and full-time hours. I had just worked out some reading time with a little one at home when, less than two years later, we welcomed little brother to the family. I have one book club book a month that I finish most of the time, and that was the extent of my reading, outside of picture books at storytime. As a bookselling professional and a reader, this was not acceptable.

I have been struggling to get back to what I consider an acceptable number of books to be reading. No judgement of anyone else’s reading habits; I just need a certain number of books in my life to feel even. They are my “mommy time” and my safe haven, and I need them.

In some ways, this blog is just to give me extra motivation to make time for my reading. But in others, it is because I know there are other moms out there who struggle to balance motherhood with their “reading”, whether that actually is books for them or represents some other hobby that they set aside for time for their children but now feel like a fundamental piece of them is dying.

So, what can you expect on this blog? Book reviews, obviously. There will probably be more picture books than adult titles in the beginning, both because you go through them a lot faster, and because I am still working on building in my reading time; little brother just turned three months. But I’m also hoping to write about how making time for self-care, which looks a lot like reading for me personally, makes me stronger for my boys. I’m hoping as these little ones grow to be able to share how seeing me read has encouraged their love of reading or passion to pursue whatever their loves are. I’d love for this blog to have the balance of books and motherhood that I’m trying to achieve in my life.