Monday, August 5, 2013

Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos

Title: Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos
Author: Vicki Courtney
Labels: Religion | Christian Life | Women's Issues
Publisher: B&H Books
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Recommended To: Adult Women
Contains: Mature topics.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Most every woman dreams about having a family and a building a home. We grow up on a steady diet of fairytales and chick flicks that drive our dreams . . . and leave us with a sugarcoated version of reality. We want it all: the prince, the kiss, the proposal, the ring, the castle, and eventually, the kids in smocked rompers playing cheerfully on the perfectly manicured lawn. Our hopes and dreams are pinned on the world’s version of happily-ever-after.
          The problem is, the fairytales and chick flicks end where real life begins. We never see that follow-up scene where the prince and princess argue at 3 a.m. over who will get up with the colicky newborn. Or the princess reluctantly returns to work to help pay the bills and feels the stress of juggling work and family. And you certainly won’t see that part where the princess moves her last child into the dorm and realizes the bulk of her identity has been based on being a mother.
          The truth is, marriage and motherhood are hard. Few of us are prepared to handle the balancing act of being a good wife and a good mother, without one or the other getting the short end of the stick. No matter how much we give or how hard we try, we never quite feel like it’s enough. And heaven help us, we always imagine every one else is doing a much better job.
          In Ever After, best-selling author Vicki Courtney addresses the realities of marriage and motherhood, the difficulties and the blessings. It offers women a behind the scenes glimpse of what a fairytale really looks like on the average day for the average wife and mom. Poignant, funny, and even cathartic, Vicki shares mistakes made, lessons learned, and memories to keep. Most of all, she reflects the hope and promise that God meets us in the middle wherever we are in the journey.
Ever After ended up being one of the most enjoyable books I've read lately (and I've read a lot of enjoyable ones lately). Courtney has a great writing style and an absolutely fantastic sense humor. All throughout her book she makes amusing comments and puts in her own quirky sarcasm to the issue she's addressing--always clarifying that she's joking, of course.

In this book, Courtney addresses women's expectations to their "happily ever after fairy tale"--the unrealistic expectations that let us down because we have grown up in a culture that feeds fairy tale lies to us. Quite a few of these were expectations were ones that I personally hadn't even consciously thought of, but realized were true of most women. (Do note that I am an unmarried woman, so what do I know anyway?) Despite the fact that I am unmarried, I still feel that I gained a lot through this book that is aimed more at married women. Though the whole book I still found things that were applicable to me, and tucked other truths into the back of my mind for future reference.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book. I would definitely recommend Ever After to married women, engaged women, and even single women who are still waiting for their "fairy tale" to come true. I received a free copy of this book from a publicity agent (Shelton Interactive) for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Title: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus
Author: Joyce Magnin
Labels: Fiction
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Recommended To: Girls, Middle-schoolers
Contains: Nothing I can remember being inappropriate.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she's getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia ... until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they're right. Four x-rays later, Harriet's ankle---and her heart---are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She's doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it's time for her to be put out to pasture---God has a different plan.
In all honestly, I hate to be negative, but I really wasn't thrilled with this book. Maybe it was the age range it was aimed at, maybe it was something else. I don't know. I initially thought it was an interesting concept for a plot line, but it just didn't keep my interest.

In a last stroke of independence--or possibly rebellion...?--Harriet Beamer sets out on a journey across the United States to her children's home, where she will be living. However, she insists on using only public transportation, collecting salt-and-pepper shakers as she goes. Throughout this trip she meets all sorts of colorful characters, though some a bit strange.

Middle-school children will probably enjoy this crazy journey, but I'm afraid it fell short for me. It didn't hold my attention, and in my opinion, the ending fell short of the built up story. I received a free copy of this book from the author for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.