Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What I've Been Up To...

Hi, readers! This'll be a personal post, updating y'all on the happenings around here - in other words, why it's been so long since I last posted a review!

Wes was born on November 22, Thanksgiving Day no less! I'll preface this by saying that we're all home and healthy. But we were lucky in a lot of regards.

After about 6 mos of trying, we found out we were expecting at the beginning of March. I'm pretty superstitious and took the test because it was the second in a two pack that had been staring me in the face every time I opened the bathroom cabinet. I expected it to say no... Surprise!

The pregnancy itself was pretty easy but I'm a worrier and I felt like each doctor's appt came with a new thing to add to the list! First there was the fact that I had no morning sickness or any other indication - except the positive test - that I was expecting, so waiting for the first appt at 9 weeks to confirm drove me a little crazy. Then there was the fact that I'm over 35 and the extra tests that went with that, the fact that I'm not in great shape and they wanted to test me for regular diabetes (which came back negative) in addition to the gestational diabetes test that would come later (also negative), oh and a little issue with my kidneys that led to me being sent to a specialist.

Through all the worrying, Wes was fabulous! But we did find out that I have a genetic disorder called Alport Syndrome. (Autosomal dominant for those of you who will google it.) The problem is that it presents the same as one of the key indications of preeclampsia and since I'd never been tested or diagnosed, it also meant being admitted to the hospital at almost 17 weeks pregnant for a kidney biopsy. Fun times.

After the biopsy and the genetic test confirmed what it was, it meant my blood pressure was pretty much the only thing the doctors could go by for preeclampsia. It also meant seeing a high risk doctor to monitor Wes's growth - upside is that we got an ultrasound at each visit, which meant I had less to worry about what with confirmation he was doing well every month.

I made it to 37 weeks before my blood pressure spiked high enough for real concern. They admitted me to the hospital (for one hour) to be monitored, with an eye to inducing if my bp didn't go back to normal. It did, but we skipped straight to two appts per week and my doctor scheduled an induction for week 39.

I'd hoped I would go into labor on my own before our Tuesday appt. But in spite of contractions all week prior to the appt, we checked in for the induction and found ourselves hanging out at the hospital watching The Office most of Wednesday waiting for things to progress.

I was adamant that I didn't want painkillers. Not out of any kind of sense of being able to handle the pain (I didn't have any clue what to expect) or determination to do it all naturally, but because I was convinced they wouldn't work and that the side effects wouldn't be worth it. But by the time the contractions really did hit, I was in so much agony we tried everything. At first, I was able to stand through them and then soak in the tub through them. But they started coming so hard and so close together that I was literally on the floor screaming in agony before long. Our hospital offered nitrous, which did nothing. I recall them telling me I had to get onto the bed before they could give me fentanyl, which I barely managed before yet another contraction hit. And I recall my feet were still hanging off the bed when it did. By this time they'd also stopped the pitocin and given me a drug to slow the contractions but neither offered me much relief - my husband says the combination of those and the fentanyl did give me more of a break between contractions but I was pretty out of it at that point.

What was worrisome was the fact that they couldn't seem to keep the monitors in a spot to pick up Wes's heart rate. And when they did, they found that his heart rate was dropping with each contraction but leveling off after each one ended. They were sure the contractions were putting pressure on the cord.

I got the epidural about 4:30 on Thursday morning and was able to get a little bit of sleep before the nurses changed shift at 7. They did turn the pitocin on for just one more contraction, which I felt in its entirety, and then it was time to push. The epidural wore off, y'all. My legs were numb at 4:30 and by the time I was pushing I was in pain again and the only residual effect of the meds were that my feet were the tiniest bit tingly.

An hour later, 11:31, Wes was born. And I was able to get up out of the bed and walk on my own, though they did wheel us to our recovery room.

As I said, though, we were lucky and it didn't quite sink in just how much until after. I was running a fever on one side of my face and they never did figure out why. Just before delivering, they also found that the cord had wrapped around Wes's neck. The delivering doctor was on top of it and, again, Wes was completely healthy even feeding fabulously from the very start. But, like I said, we were lucky.

Wes was labeled small for gestational age, which meant he had to pass blood sugar tests to show he was maintaining a healthy level between feedings. He passed and he only dropped 7% of his birth weight in the hospital. By the time he had his first peds appt the following Monday he was up to just 3% down and we were given the go ahead not to wake him for feedings anymore.

My blood pressure was on the high side in the hospital, so I'm not totally out of the woods for complications but apparently the further out from the pregnancy, the less worry there is. So so far so good as far as I'm concerned. And Wes was up to 6.5 lbs at his 2 week appt (which was at 11 days rather than 14), so he's peachy keen!

So that's it. That's what I've been up to.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Releases 11/13/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this month are:

Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama

Bedfellow by Jeremy C. Shipp

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer

Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci

City of Secrets by Victoria Thompson

The Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson

Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

New on DVD:
The Meg
Mile 22

Monday, October 29, 2018

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sarah McCoy's Marilla of Green Gables, a prequel to the L.M. Montgomery classic!

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

The Marilla we meet in Anne of Green Gables is tough and seemingly hard hearted. She doesn't want Anne, they need help and she's set on a boy. But as that story moves forward, we come to know and love Marilla, seeing that it's not meanness but practicality and toughness. And yet, we don't really know anything about her childhood or exactly how she came to be a spinster living with her brother caring for him and the family farm. McCoy's book aims to address that!

We meet her here at 13. Her mother is very pregnant and Izzy, the aunt Marilla has never met, is arriving to help with the birth. And what a shock that is - Izzy is Marilla's mother's twin and no one ever told her! What's more, Izzy lives on her own in the city - no kids and no husband - running her own business. Marilla is in awe but is also wary of the new woman in her life. 

And then tragedy strikes and young Marilla's mother dies in childbirth. And everything in Marilla's life changes. 

I love that the idea for this novel came from the line in Anne's story where Marilla, in passing, mentions that John Blythe was once her beau. It's a line that's always stuck out to me as well and made me wonder exactly what twists and turns Marilla's life took along the way. As such, I quite enjoyed McCoy's version of her past. I will admit, though, that considering the fact that I'm nearing the end of my own pregnancy, this one a bit tough to read at the start. 

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here

For more on Sarah McCoy and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies trade in death. But Frey and her three companions are tired of the killing. They're tired of being alone. They want more from life than this. 

When they hear of a beast killing relentlessly nearby - a creature even the finest warriors haven't been able to defeat - they set off in search of adventure and glory. For who better to battle a monster than someone who specializes in death? 

But their travels aren't easy and they are faced with challenges and tasks along the way that will test them in body and spirit.

Talk about a book hangover! April Genevieve Tucholke's latest is a gender flipped Beowulf that kept me turning pages during the wee hours (yes, thank you, insomnia) and left me wanting more after I'd turned the final page!

The interesting thing about Boneless Mercies is that it's not exactly a plot-driven story. Aspects of it are almost like The Canterbury Tales in a way: the four characters tell their own tales as they travel from where they begin to where they end up. So in that sense it's many stories within an overarching narrative.

The girls begin with a death and a decision: this kill is to be their last. They're young, amongst the youngest of the Boneless Mercies since the job hasn't drawn many others their age. Those that it has enticed have also been leaving of late to join another group our heroines come into contact with along the way. But they're trained and this is how they earn money. The alternative holds no appeal, which is why the Blue Vee Beast catches their attention. If they succeed, the reward is guaranteed to be enough to allow them to live free of mercy killing and other industries that draw those desperate for coin.

The world is steeped in Norse mythology with the classic sagas and, as mentioned, Beowulf, as its bones, but Tucholke definitely twisted those and made something new and unique in her tale beyond even our four female warriors. I adored it and absolutely everything about it and I hope beyond all hope that we're able to return to this world somewhere down the line!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The reports varied - they were supposed to have more time, their home would be under water for sure, their home would be safe after all...In the end, it didn't matter. She was in the hospital giving birth when the floodwaters came and their home, with it's newly decorated nursery, was no more.

So the new family - father, mother, and son - took refuge in the country. And then in a shelter. Before long, even that base had to be abandoned, leaving the still nursing mom to travel to safety alone with her son. All her efforts are in protecting and nurturing him. All her resources and her self are given over to him.

Survival is her only focus.

The End We Start From is short and spare - almost, and just barely not, a story in verse.

Characters are referred to by letters only: Z, R, etc. And the story is basic as bones in terms of overall narrative. There's a flood, it's cause is environmental, the family loses everything. What's not spare is the emotion given over to the story. And maybe even that is in actuality spare but considering I'm nearing the end of a pregnancy as we speak I couldn't help but feel the raw emotion while reading. The fear and the desperation as well as the love and determination in caring for and ensuring that the infant Z survives no matter what. That his life is affected as little as possible by something that has turned his family's lives upside down.

The End We Start From is short enough to read in one sitting but will stick with you long after.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Happy Thursday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Marjorie Herrera Lewis's When the Men Were Gone.

It's 1944 and Brownwood, Texas, a town all about football, is without a high school coach. With so much bad news, including the fact that most of the town's men over 18 are off fighting the war, football provides a bit of good cheer everyone can use. 

Tylene Wilson has been a fan of the game as long as she can remember and knows just as much about it as any man in town. And so she volunteers to coach. But what should be a godsend gets a fair bit of opposition throughout Brownwood. In spite of it all, Tylene sticks to her guns and eventually finds that the team rallies around her. Overcoming massive odds, it turns out most of the town does as well. 

When the Men Were Gone isn't all about football. In fact, you don't even have to be a football fan to enjoy the book (I consider myself a fan of concessions and junk food but not football, for example). But it is a lot about football, admittedly.

And yet, what I found most fascinating about the book is that it's based on a true story. You can read about the real Tylene in the book itself - the author, a former sports writer who dealt with a lot of the same attitudes Tylene does in spite of the fact that over 40 years had passed, includes a piece on the inspiration behind the book and how she first heard about Tylene. And like Tylene, the author went on to coach as well!

When the Men Were Gone is a slim read, easy to dive into and finish in one sitting. It's perfect for anyone looking for an inspirational feel good story!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Marjorie Herrera Lewis and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele + a Giveaway

I've admitted time and again now that I'm a sucker for anything Rebecca inspired, and when I first stumbled upon mention of Lisa Gabriele's The Winters, I had to get my hands on a copy!

She's just a lowly worker at a resort in the Caymans when Max Winter arrives. And in spite of her boss's urgings, she can't help but fall for the man. Theirs is a quick and passionate courtship that culminates in a proposal just weeks after it all began, leaving her breathless with excitement and anticipation. But her arrival at Asherly, the Winter estate, is overshadowed by whispered stories of the famous Rebekah, Max's first wife. 

Dani, Max and Rebekah's teenage daughter, makes no bones about the fact that she's displeased to meet daddy's new girlfriend. But it's more than that. Can she ever live up to the expectations and comparisons of the mysterious Rebekah? Does she want to?

This modern-day twist on the classic Rebecca begins much the same as its predecessor. The unnamed narrator is working for an older woman when she meets the dashing Mr. Winter. In this case, Mr. Winter is a politician and the older woman runs a boating company that previously employed both our narrator and our narrator's father, who died owing money to his boss. The narrator has taken over repaying that debt.

Max Winter arrives and it's clear that he's to be catered to no matter what. And then the owner is called away and Winter insists our narrator be the one and only employee to tend to his needs. Which gets her in trouble with her boss, sort of.

And of course she can't resist the dashing Max Winter. He wines and dines her before admitting to paying off her debt and asking her to be his wife. But not before she's heard of Rebekah. And not before she's researched her on the internet and decided she can in no way compare to the former mistress of Asherly.

And it's with that doubt already niggling at the back of her mind that she agrees to become the new Mrs. Winter and leave behind the tropics for the life of a politician's wife at the Winter estate.

There are some twists to the tale. And of course the modern trappings of the internet and such. At heart, though, it's a recognizable tale and a great homage to one of my favorites of all time!

The Winters is out today but you can enter to win your very own copy here. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter before Monday, October 30. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway