Recently Read: Vol. 5

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 Books are meant to be shared. And I promise, no spoilers!

I’m back for volume three of Recently Read. Sharing my thoughts and reviews on the books I’ve read in the past few weeks. You can read volume 1  and volume 2 and volume 3 and volume 4 here. Have you read any of these books?

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Five out of Five Stars

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

Best book I’ve read in a long time. Breathtaking, lyrical, and beautiful.

This books takes place in Germany and France during World War 2. Marie Laure is a blind girl living with her nurturing father in Paris. After the occupation, Marie Laure and her father escape to the seaside village of Saint-Malo where they attempt to live out the brutality of the war. Werner is a German orphan whose gift for working on radios lands him a place in a heartless Nazi training camp. 

I hate to give too much else away, because no summary of this book will give it justice. This is a book that I wanted to stay up all night to finish but also one that I wanted to never end so I could relish it forever. 

Doerr reminds us that there are multitudes of signals out in the world, ways for us to connect to each other, to remind us we are all similar beings, living out a short life here on earth. We need to remember, to take the time, open my ears and listen. To try to see all we can. To believe. That good CAN win. 

The central theme in this book is power. The whole world tries to spin on the notion of power, when we should really be choosing love, traditional, raw sacrificial love. Somehow this book takes a similar story line and makes it feel new. 

I couldn’t recommend it enough!

China Dolls Cover

 China Dolls by Lisa See

2 out of 5 stars

“When fortune comes, do not enjoy all of it; when advantage comes, do not take all of it.”

 

I’m not sure if it’s because I started this right after I finished the amazing “All The Light We Cannot See” but this book felt so shallow and boring.

I was surprised at my reaction because I have thoroughly enjoyed Lisa See’s other books, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and “Joy’s Dream” (among others) and thought this would be the same. 

China Dolls is written in the perspective of three women narratives all living in Chinatown in San Francisco leading up to and during World War 2. Life was certainly not easy for these women, who were all escaping from their own pasts. But, I feel like this book didn’t really dig deep enough into the pain and the emotion. It read more like a young adult novel, interesting but light and easy.

There is darkness here, and I didn’t like how See alluded to it but then was too afraid to dig deep into it. 

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The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

4 out of 5 stars

“They’ve drummed the miraculous out of you, but you don’t want it to be like that. You want the miraculous. You want everything to still be new.”

This book was nothing like I thought it was going to be, a light and fun coming of age young adult novel. (and no I haven’t seen the movie yet). But for a YA book this is a very dark and depressing novel with believable and gripping characters that reminded me a lot of “The Catcher in the Rye”.

Sutter is a boy we all knew growing up. The arrogant, charming, class clown and party guy that is in reality suffering deeply. Sutter is a barely functioning alcoholic and Tharp shows teen alcoholism in such an honest and raw way. This teenager is a character that is so set on saving others, so preoccupied with seeing himself as a savior because he is terrified to save himself. 

At times you’ll hate Sutter’s voice but he is also undeniably lovable to the point where he just keep breaking your heart, all the way to the end of the novel. 

Although this was a quick read, Sutter’s story will stick with me. 

What have you been reading?

How We Found Out I Was Pregnant

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In the winter for 2014, when we first started trying, I concocted an elaborate way to tell Ryan we were having a baby. I secured the perfect spot in our living room to set up a small video camera, where Ryan wouldn’t notice it.  I purchased two father parenting books and an “I Love Daddy” onesie and planned to calmly sit him down after work on the couch and present him with a random present. 

I smiled to myself as I thought about his reaction and how we were going to capture it all on camera to share with our child one day.

Of course I naively thought getting pregnant would happen with a snap of our fingers. We all know that wasn’t the case. And this surprise for Ryan was never brought to fruition. 

Every month that I received a negative test the dream of that reveal got more clouded with bitterness and cynicism. The baby books and onesie got buried and nearly forgotten about in our spare bedroom closet. 

During the Christmas season of 2014 I kept my spirits high, hoping for a miracle (or just some good news after having an HCG done). On Saturday January 3, I took a pregnancy test.

Another big fat negative.

I allowed myself some time to be sad but then we had two parties to attend. And we partied. I had quite a few drinks at both of these parties, since I thought I wasn’t pregnant and because I was sad that I was not.

On Sunday January 4, I took another test, (because I’m crazy and love peeing on sticks) and hopped in the shower while the test processed. When I stepped out of the shower I half haphazardly glanced over at the text, knowing that it was going to be another negative. Then was such a routine for me now. Even though I had little hope the test was positive I still continued to take them. 

But….it wasn’t!

There staring back at me was the text line and a very very very faint second line. I couldn’t believe it. My heart stopped. I couldn’t breathe.

I ran downstairs in my towel, dripping wet and screaming.  

Ryan was mentally preparing to call 911, he thought I fell in the shower or something.

I held the test up to his face and screaming “Oh my god Ryan. Look! LOOK! Look!”

He grabbed the test out of my hand and squinted hard at the second line. (I can’t tell you how many times I had him peer at crisp white tests, begging for his eye sight to see something there that really wasn’t there.)

We screamed, hugged, and ran back upstairs together.

Complete disbelief led me to take about 6 more tests that day.

Even though I knew it was scientifically impossible I wanted to see the second barely there line get darker that same day. I took a clear blue digital test and lost faith when the words “NOT PREGNANT” stared back at us. Way to mess with our minds, clear blue! But we knew those test were less sensitive then the First Response ones. I was so terrified of having a chemical pregnancy (early miscarriage).

Hugs, tears, and exclamations of love were said over and over.

We sat side by side in bed stuck in a state of mutual exhilaration and shock, while my hope that this was true and my cynicism battled each other in my head. A few hours later hope won and we decided to share the news with our parents. 

I packed up a onesie I bought last winter that said “What Happens At Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s” and a pregnancy test in a Christmas gift bag and we drove over to my parent’s house. I told them that we had to drop Maggie off for a bit because we were going to run errands and get some dinner. 

They had no reason to believe otherwise since they knew of my negative test I received a mere 24 hours ago. We pulled up and I put on my best poker face.

I presented the bag to my mom and said “Here is a late Christmas present, it hadn’t arrive in time to give to you on Christmas!”

She happily started ripped away the tissue paper and then she saw the baby onesie. Her face of recognition is one that I will never forget. With tears in her eyes she half whispered, “You’re pregnant? No? You’re really pregnant?” There were hugs, shrieks, and more tears. It felt so surreal, this is a moment I dreamed about for years.

Later, although we tried to wait to tell Ryan’s parent’s in person, we called them up and delivered the news. More shock and excitement. It was nice to see them in person a few weeks later, but I’m glad we decided to call them up and do it that same day.

It was an amazing day! I soaked in as much happiness as I could even though my heart was still full of anxiety over it not being true. We found out so very early at 10 days past ovulation. I spent way too much time on google reading terrifying things. (This symptom of pregnancy still hasn’t gone away.)

I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I didn’t want to let in too much love, only to have it taken away a few days later. It was both a scary and beautiful time.

Thankfully my fears were put aside when I received a positive blood test back from my doctor on Tuesday. 

* a note for potential moms: I did not receive a positive “PREGNANT” clear blue digital test until 14 dpo, even though I was in fact pregnant. The tests are that much more sensitive.  

Nothing will ever measure up to the emotions we felt that day. So much joy. 

After a year of heartache our dreams had come true. We were going to be parents!

Some days I still can’t believe it’s actually happening. There is nothing in the world that I have wanted more than this. I can’t believe that in just 24 more weeks a brand new little person that has never been in this world before will grace us with their presence, someone we have yet to meet but that I love with all my heart.

xoxo Katie