• ARC's,  Book Reviews,  mental health,  parenting,  Writing

    I’m Saying NO!

     

    This is the post no mother ever wants to write. But here I am.

    At the height of the #METOO movement, our daughter had her own encounter with sexual assault. She had just turned 14 and the perpetrator was 14. She was also not his only victim.

    We talk often in our home about telling our own story and her story is not mine to tell. But I do have a mother’s perspective to give on empowering our daughters and encouraging our sons to find their voices and speak out against sexual harassment, assault, and pressure.

    The #METOO and #TIMESUP movements have done a tremendous amount of good but we can still do better.

    The post I was writing to share yesterday changed drastically as I received this series of frantic texts from my now 15-year-old daughter. I shut my laptop and spent the rest of the afternoon on the phone with the school, emailing administrators, and checking in with my daughter. With her permission here is what happened:

    Her: Mom I need you to call the counselors office and have them ask to have me sent to see them.

    Me: You have a counseling pass. Give it to the teacher and leave. (this is part of her 504)

    Her: I can’t. I’ll explain when I get to the office. Please call them now. I’m going to have a flashback.

    Me: I called and left a message. JUST LEAVE.

    Her: I can’t.

    I then called the front office and told them that I didn’t know what was going on, that she has a counselor’s pass, but for some reason, she’s not able to use it. The front office said they would take care of it immediately.

    I sat and waited. She wasn’t answering my texts.

    Finally, the counselor called with my daughter and I learned what was going on.

    Why wasn’t she able to use her pass?

    Because she was scared to ask the teacher.

    Because it was the male teacher causing her distress.

    In a discussion completely unrelated to the class, this teacher was going into detail about the juries he has served on. One of which was a 14-year-old boy sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl.

    This teacher went into graphic detail about the girl’s video interview, the “doll” used in her interview, and the things said.

    My daughter has been in counseling and was able to recognize the situation she was in and was resourceful enough to get herself out of the situation. She has come a long way in a little over a year.

    Since this was just yesterday afternoon, this is obviously still being addressed with the teacher. I have full confidence that the administration will handle this appropriately. I emphasized with them that while my daughter was impacted, this would have upset me as an adult and statistically my daughter was not the only one in that class being impacted by his words.

    We can do better.

    When a grown man feels that a discussion like this is appropriate – in mixed company, to discuss a graphic sexual assault in detail, with no applicability to the class. WE CAN DO BETTER.

    If we are still at the point where educators do not understand the power their words and actions can have over former victims, books like I’m Saying NO! are still desperately needed. Not just for the education of those who love, support, and teach former victims but also for the former victims themselves.

    I was honored to be selected to be a part of the #IMSAYINGNO campaign and it could not have been more timely. And maybe even a little too timely in our own home. Because while time has passed and she has learned ways to manage her anxiety and PTSD, things like this are setbacks.

    I’m Saying NO! does an excellent job of helping former victims find their unique voice. Many, many times it’s far more complicated than just telling someone to say NO. For someone who has already been harmed, healing has to occur to get to that place and this book provides sounds steps and exercises towards saying NO.

    There are also valuable tools for parents and advocates discussed in this book. I have had to learn to advocate for my daughter in a way that makes a mama bear look tame. And the more I have understood about where she was coming from the more effective I have become. What took me a year to learn, is in this book.

    An aside about advocating: you have to be passionate enough to show you mean business but calm enough to keep from being disregarded because you’re emotional – sadly, that’s an actual thing.

    But a few words about that – this book is not a substitute for therapy. The therapists who have helped our family through this past year have been invaluable. There are also parts of this book that could be very upsetting for former victims without the assistance of a therapist. There are plenty of warnings throughout the book that warn of triggers which I appreciated.

    As yesterday reminded me, there is still work to be done and I am grateful for a book that recognized the need and went beyond the initial movements.

    If you are a parent, this book is a great place to start. We need to be talking with our kids much younger than we probably think – I know this was my experience.

    If you are an educator, you are on the front line and the more you understand about what your students are facing, the more compassionate and empowering you will be.

    And finally, if you are a former victim, with support this book can be a great aid in your healing and recovery of your voice.

    Thank you to She Writes Press and BookSparks for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Little Darlings – blog tour & review

    Author: Melanie Golding

    Publisher: Crooked Lane

    Publish Date: April 30, 2019

    Blurb:

    “Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales.Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

    A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

    Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

    Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some of our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

     
    My Review:
     
     
    What a page-turner! I read this book in two evenings. It’s a thriller, mystery, and dark fairytale, with a dash of the paranormal, all rolled into one book.
     
     
    In this debut novel, Melanie Golding perfectly captures the fog of postpartum and maternal instinct. She took me back 15 years, to my early days with my newborn daughter. This made the main character, Lauren,  immediately relatable.
     
     
    New mothers are often on the receiving end of well-meant, unsolicited advice and Lauren was no exception.
     
     
    After a terrifying night in the hospital where a filthy woman tries to exchange Lauren’s twins with her own creature-like twins, Lauren is told she is imagining things and the incident is dismissed as exhaustion. Video footage confirms that nothing happened and soon enough Lauren and her irritating husband Patrick are heading home with their newborn twins.
     
     
    Lauren’s fears and terror continue yet she cannot convince those around her that something isn’t right. As a mother, I could put myself in that situation and that’s what made this a page-turner.
     
     
    I had to know what happened next.
     
     
    What I liked:
     
     
    The writing was well done, Lauren’s character was well developed and easy to empathize with.
     
    I love a good changeling story. And changeling twins? Even better.
     
    I also appreciated the presentation of a postpartum mother, suffering from terrible worry and fear, without turning her into an unreliable narrator. I never felt the need to question Lauren’s fears.
     
     
    What I didn’t like:
     
     
    UGH the husband, Patrick. I’m sure that is a universal feeling from anyone who has read this book. Sometimes his clueless demeanor bordered on cruel, making him feel a bit overdeveloped. But I do believe that helped strengthen Lauren’s character and story.
     
    Harper, the detective – I wish her back story had been expanded more. She was right on the cusp of being an interesting and well-developed character.
     
     
    Overall:
     
     
    4.5/5
     
     
    If you enjoy a good thriller without extreme violence and terror – this happens to be me – and if you enjoy dark fairy tales and books like The Hazel Wood and Once Upon a River, Little Darlings should be added to your TBR list today!
     
     
    Want to win a copy? Head over to my Instagram to enter! I have three copies to give away, courtesy of Crooked Lane Books.

     
     
    Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  • ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Bookish

    Hope and Other Superpowers: a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    A book about superheroes, our current political landscape, and hope? And they go together all in one book?

    Yep.

    I have followed the author, John Pavlovitz since 2016, shortly after Trump was elected. He popped up in my Facebook feed and I headed to his blog to read more. He is viewed as polarizing pastor in some circles but oddly enough, it’s primarily the church circles who view him as such.

    So, a book review about politics, religion and a polarizing pastor? This should go well.

    It will. I promise. Because this book is about hope and I don’t know a single person, in the church or out of the church, who doesn’t need hope. I know I do.

    And did I mention superheroes? He uses all the well known superheroes to beautifully illustrate the points of his book. I’m a sucker for superheroes so I was hooked.

    What this book boils down to is how we treat each other and how we inspire and give hope to others. That issue is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, and really, the past several years.

    John gave an example of watching coverage of Hurricane Harvey and rescue after rescue – others helping others without a care as to what their political views were, what church they attended or didn’t attend, their race, or whether they were legal citizens or not.

    That was eye opening to me because he was right; I watched the same footage and I never wondered if the woman stranded in her home voted for Trump or Clinton.

    I would be lying if I said that my heart doesn’t hurt for how our president treats others or that I can support that behavior just because he is our president. I can’t look past it in favor of policy. But at the same time, I can’t directly influence a change in him either and that realization has been deeply dividing for our country.

    This book helped me to refocus.

    He wrote about activism; a word that scares a lot of people. But it’s really not frightening at all when it ends up as simply looking to help those who have been marginalized in your own community. I don’t have to 100% agree with someone to be kind and helpful.

    I don’t even agree with the author on every point but I took from the book what I needed for my heart, for my life. And that’s the approach I’m going to start taking on a daily basis. It’s hard to be angry and despondent when you are focused on helping others.

    From a writing perspective, John is a great writer. He is passionate and he has a way of conveying his passion through examples, like the Hurricane Harvey passage, and of course the superheroes.

    This was a fairly quick read and left me feeling better than I did before I started the book. I am still thinking about what he wrote and that is typically a sign of a good book – if it sticks with you after you turn the final page.

    Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone in need of hope; especially the weary and the hurting. And please don’t let the pastor thing scare you off. This book was written for everyone and quite possibly more for those who have been hurt and turned away by the traditional church.

    This book is available on November 6th which just happens to be Election Day. Well played, John Pavlovitz. Because no matter how the results come in, hope is still needed whether you are red or blue.

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for the advanced reader’s copy. I received this ebook for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Recommendations

    ARC’s: Advanced Reader Copies and how to get them

    What is an ARC? It’s essentially a book release 3-6 months ahead of publication to librarians, booksellers, professional readers, reviewers, contest winners, etc. The cover and contents may differ because it may not be in it’s final published form.

    I stumbled upon my first ARC purely by luck. It was Baby Teeth by Zoe Stage… which, BTW is a great creepy book for this time of year.

    I honestly don’t remember how I found the request link for Baby Teeth but one day a book showed up in my mailbox with a few instructions about the publication date, hashtags to use on social media, posting pictures, and the timing of the review. I remember thinking, “how cool is this? A free book to read and review!”.

    Then I just had to convince my husband that the book was indeed free and, no I did not order yet another book. I also may or may have not let him also think that with other books that have since arrived on our doorstep.

    Over the course of this year, I have discovered that I really enjoy not just reading new books but writing and sharing book reviews. What a great combination!

    This week I started looking at NetGalley, a site for “readers of influence”, to request ARC’s from hundreds of publishers listed on their site.

    I registered, filled out my profile, and found a few of my favorite publishers. Now, I had read on other blogs that it’s fairly common for your request to get turned down so I requested 15 books just to increase my chances.

    I was sent 14 of the 15 and they now live on my new Kindle.

    So here are a few things that I’ve learned from this process:

    1. Fill out your profile as completely as possible. Some publishers have very specific things that they are looking for, I.E. an active blog, a Goodreads account, an Instagram following, a history of solid reviews, etc.
    2. Request books that fit with the preferred genres listed in your profile.
    3. Be mindful of the publication dates – I’m so glad I did this because I will still be able to handle 14 books to read and review.
    4. Make a schedule of your books and what needs to be read first and then the dates the publisher requests you to abide by as well.
    5. Be OK with e-reader copies. We just de-cluttered our entire home so I’m really happy with electronic copies. It’s also more environmentally friendly.

    img_9631

    This also gave me an excuse to buy the Kindle Oasis which I am super happy with. It is waterproof, super light, glare-free, has page turn buttons, the screen adjusts based on the light in the room, and probably my favorite feature: it has built-in Audible with Bluetooth capability.

    Happy reading!

    Do you read ARC’s? What has been your favorite book you have received?

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