“On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me.
Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms.
Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.”
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur is a memoir that details the complicated and dysfunctional relationship Brodeur experienced with her mother, Malabar. This cycle spans several decades and although there is the storyline of how Brodeur became entangled in her mother’s affair, it wasn’t the most powerful part of this book for me.
What really spoke to me was how much this story shared the challenges of cycles repeating themselves in families. These complexities can continue to pass on generation after generation and Brodeur truly shows how hard dysfunction can be to break. The writing detailing how she confronted her past is raw and full of emotions and whether you can relate to this story or not, this is not a book to be missed.
Brodeur shares vividly, the complexities of their mother/daughter relationship and how it has affected her from her childhood to now during middle-age. Whether it is in romantic relationships or the relationships she has with her own children, it heavily impacts her to this day.
Brodeur reflects so honestly about how challenging it was as she began to distance herself from Malabar as an adult. While she knew her relationship wasn’t “normal” or healthy, it was hard not to fall back into the paths which had been ingrained in her family for so long.
While this book wasn’t easy to read at times, I appreciated that it wasn’t black or white and Brodeur is able to look at this deeply conflicted relationship with humanity and empathy. I stopped and reread sections of the book because the reflections on the journey of finding herself while batting the undercurrent of her family dynamics were so insightful.
I also appreciated that she recounted the impact the other people in her life had had on her and her ability to move forward. Brodeur’s ability to share such introspection and poignant details amidst the difficulties she endured made this book what it was and it won’t be one I will ever forget.
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Now that we are almost half a year into 2019, it has been fun to reflect on my favorite books from these past 5 months. As an avid reader, so much of my reaction to books is based on my own perspective. What I love doesn’t always mean someone else will, but that is what makes reading so wonderful. We all react so differently to things because everyone has such a different and unique life experience.
When rating a book, 4.5 & 5-star books mean that I enjoyed them and kept thinking about them long after I was finished reading them, and all of these books fall into that category. When looking at them all together, they are very different in many ways.
What I love most about being part of an online reading community is the exposure to so many books I might not have previously picked out on my own. So many of these books I chose to read after hearing amazing reviews from my reading friends. I hope this diverse selection of books opens you up to some new reading genres as well!
Are you a part of Goodreads? I have been a member since 2009 and I can’t imagine being able to keep track of the books I have read and the books I want to read without it!
While I have been rating books on there for years, during the past two years I have really tried to up my reviews on there as well. I receive so much reading inspiration from other Goodreads members so I try to do my part as well.
I don’t set really specific goals in the number of books I read, but I do tell to read more each year and I always find it interesting to see how they all add up at the end of December.
So with all that said, I am moving on to my top 9 books from 2019, so far! I am interested to see how these stack up at the end the year when I pick my overall favorites…
This story follows three generations of Palestinian women who live in Brooklyn and their struggle to break the mold that generations prior have set before them. We are lucky to live in a country where it’s easy for us to advocate and vocalize opinions but it is easy to forget how many people still live in oppression.
A Woman is No Man is heartbreaking and Rum’s writing gives a voice to the many women who are still struggling to find their own. This was an eye-opening read for me and it also was a powerful reminder of how hard it can be to break the cycles that have been set in families and communities for generations.
This story challenged me and opened my eyes to how important it is to remember where someone has come from because it makes a part of who they are today. It is never too late to change but sometimes the discomfort can cause this to be a much harder road than any of us might originally anticipate. This book is a thoughtful and honest portrayal of a family and the power of self-compassion and perseverance. I know this book will stick with me for years to come.
You can see my full review of A Woman Is No Man HERE.
Miracle Creek is an intricately crafted family and courtroom drama from debut novelist Angie Kim. I picked this one up after taking a self-imposed break with “suspense/thriller” books because they were all feeling rather similar and just couldn’t hold my attention.
Miracle Creek was a surprise hit, not only because it kept me guessing until the end, but because of it’s amazing depth and deep dive into so many important issues. While the courtroom drama was center stage, immigration, the hopes for experiencing the “American dream”, and caring for children with special needs was right there too. There were so many layers to Kim’s amazing storytelling. This wasn’t an easy read but it was so compelling and thought-provoking which was exactly what I had been missing lately with these “types” of books.
HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) was an entirely new concept to me and I found it added so much to the storyline. Kim was able to add so much emotion during this reading journey that I was able to connect with all the different characters perspectives, even when I couldn’t always relate to their actual experiences.
I am so impressed with Angie Kim and I look forward to reading what she comes out with next!
You can read my full review of Miracle Creek HERE.
Mrs. Everything is the highly anticipated release from women’s literature legend, Jennifer Weiner. Mrs. Everything covers the life of two sisters, Jo and Bethie, as they struggle to find their place and identity in an ever-changing America.
Weiner’s ability to transport you to a totally different time and place makes this book so engrossing There is a Judy Blume vibe in her writing that brought me right back to one of my very favorite adolescent reading favorites, Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret.
I loved the relationships and the powerful(and sometimes painful)issues that were covered. Weiners writing is always so relatable and raw and she is just such a gifted storyteller. If you are looking for a book that will inspire a great conversation with a reading friend, or are looking for your next book club pick, this is it!
You can read my full review of Mrs. Everything HERE.
I was blown away by this book. Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who shares her insights not only about her professional experience but her own journey through therapy. This book helps normalize therapy for everyone, and her ability to share the profound growth both she and her patients experienced was so honest and refreshing.
While Gottlieb includes many important psychological concepts, her writing is clear and conversational and easy for anyone to engage with. I found that there was a perfect balance with the personal stories that will also help her readers become more aware of their own obstacles and moments of growth as they move through this book.
As someone who has had therapy as part of my life since I was a child, it was amazing to see the progress and relatability of Gottlieb and her clients. Sometimes it is hard to see small changes in your own life, but as I read this, I connected with so many of the stories and struggles that were shared in such an approachable and real way.
I found I connected the most with Julie and John’s stories and their stories of loss resonated with me so so deeply even if I couldn’t relate to their exact situations. I rooted for them and I felt for them I didn’t connect as much with the other patient’s stories, but everyone has a different reaction and that was just my personal experience.
I especially enjoyed the chapter about her own therapy with Wendell and their journey together was so heartwarming and also so very real. Being able to see so many of these stories through two different lenses(therapist & patient) just made this such a masterpiece and I know I will continue to think about it for a long time to come.
As soon as I finished this ebook I order a hard copy edition to add to my personal library and I know this is one I will come back to again and again.
You can read my full review of Maybe You Should Talk To Someone HERE.
Ask Again, Yes was my first book by Mary Beth Keane. It was a wonderful introduction to her amazing writing and storytelling abilities. This book would best be described as a family sage and is told over multiple decades. Two families meet and their lives will never be the same. Many themes are introduced as Gleeson presents the lives of the Stanhope and Gleeson families and how they both intersect and collide over the years.
This was not an easy book to read and it may be triggering for some as there are many painful issues that are part of this powerful story. Friendship, loss, marriage, mental illness, alcoholism are all strong themes of this book and are exposed as the lives of these two families unfold. The past and how it affects how we move forward today, forgiveness and what makes a family were strong themes of this novel. The most powerful part of this book was the writing itself which was just amazingly done and very thought-provoking. Her character development was spot on and I felt immersed in the lives in these families while reading. I look forward to reading more of Keane’s work in the future.
You can read my full review of Ask Again, Yes HERE.
The Scent Keeper is a coming of age story with the element of incorporating the senses, in particular, the power of scent. The characters are raw and flawed, which I always find makes stories so much stronger. There are hidden secrets, self-discovery, and transformation, and the ending will leave you guessing but also feeling open to the power of your own imagination. When thinking of the genre this would fit into, it really is in a realm of its own.
If you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing and The Great Alone, I feel like this would be a wonderful addition to your spring and summer reading list. The Scent Keeper takes you away into a place you probably haven’t traveled to before in your reading world, and I can’t wait to read what Bauermeister comes out with next.
You can read my full review HERE and my Q&A with author Erica Bauermeister HERE.
I had been looking forward to Juliet’s School of Possibilitiessince I first heard Laura Vanderkam mention it on the Best of Both Worlds Podcast last year. I love Vanderkam’s books about time management and this is her first novella. She incorporates her knowledge and expertise into a short fable about a woman named Riley who is spread too thin.
In a society where “busy” reigns supreme, Vanderkam’s books are a wonderful reminder about how we get to choose how we spend our time and energy and this book is such a fun spin-off. We meet Juliet who shares wisdom and helps Riley rethink this balance. “Expectations are infinite. Time is finite. You are always choosing. Choose well.”
You can read my full review of Juliet’s School of Possibilities HERE.
Motherhood is the hardest AND most wonderful thing I have ever done. While I am lucky to have had many conversations with the people in my personal life, never have I read something that explains the complexities of motherhood and marriage in such a profound manner until I read this book. The highs and lows of parenthood, the immense love and also the intense quest to reclaim ourselves as women and partners when our lives will never be the same are so real and valid.
To Have and to Hold spoke to me on so many levels. Millwood’s ability to write with both her voice as a professional and her voice as a mother was a perfect balance. It is relatable and real and I can’t stop thinking about it which is the sign of a 5-star book for me. If you haven’t already checked this one out I highly recommend and she was absolutely wonderful on audio.
You can read my full review of To Have and To Hold HERE.
I have always loved Camille Pagan’s relatable storytelling and this newest release is no different. I connected so much with the storyline of being a mom, wife, and friend. All of these things are wonderful and they can also feel so incredibly hard. The endless demands of parenthood, the amount of work it takes to keep a marriage humming along and also keeping up with the expectations of work can sometimes feel completely overwhelming.
When you add in friendships that can sometimes make you wonder “why does this feel so hard when everyone around me makes it look so easy?” it can be an easy path to thinking there is something wrong with you.
The thing is though, these things are hard for everyone in different ways, and we sometimes have no idea what is really going on behind the scenes. What someone presents isn’t always the reality and sometimes the people that have these “picture-perfect” lives need us more than we think.
“It takes courage to be yourself when everyone expects you to be someone else.”
I’m Fine and Neither Are You takes on some heavy topics including substance abuse, loss, family dynamics, infidelity, the struggles of long term relationships and finding your voice, all while being a completely engaging read. It was messy and real and this was the perfect book for me this week.
You can read my full review of I’m Fine and Neither Are You HERE.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my very favorite books from 2019. I would love to know what books have made YOUR list. <3
Last week Kristy and I taught our first round of Your Life, Your Memories, a new workshop in our photography series. The goal of our new class is to teach our students a system that enables you to continually sort, save and print your photos. The digital age has many benefits, but it also means that a lot of us have an overwhelming amount of digital photos and memories that we aren’t sure what to do with.
During our class, I talked about my favorite place to print photo books and square prints that are affordable and easy to display…Chatbooks! I first learned about Chatbooks a few years ago and I have been printing with them ever since. I am a little behind on printing my monthly books and teaching our class was a great reminder of what a simple process it can be as long as you keep it a habit.
I shared on Instagram that I was going to catch up on my books during our “staycation” and Chatbooks was kind enough to offer a discount code that I could share with my fellow photographers, friends, and blog readers. It $10 off your first Chatbooks order with the code: BOOKWORM that you can enter at checkout. My friend just ordered a set of 24 cardstock prints and they were around $9 with shipping after this discount!
I have been working away on sorting my images and I am excited to soon have some more Chatbooks prints and photo books on the way.
I order each photo book individually because I like to make them each month but there are also ongoing book series that you can set up that makes it automatic either from your social media accounts or from your favorite photos on your phone. How cool is that?!
The 5″x5″ prints are printed on cardstock and are the perfect matte finish. I love displaying them around our house and on my desk at work.
It is always so exciting to find that little turquoise envelope in my mailbox and it is so fun to actually have updated photos in our house to share and display. Our kids always enjoy looking through the books and we keep them right on a shelf in our kitchen so they are easy to access.
If you haven’t ordered from Chatbooks before, I highly recommend it! And I would love to hear what you get if you do! <3