Valentine Reflections, Facebook Giveaway, and a Book Review: Convenience Store Woman {Sayaka Murata}

Happy Friday, Friends!

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day!  Mine was spent at my daughter’s classroom party (so cute) during the day.  The kids did crafts, played games, ate yummy food, and had a blast.  I love being able to experience these fun days with her and her friends and I never take for granted that I am able to do so. 🙂

Last night, we couldn’t find a babysitter so Jon and my romantic dinner was turned into a family event, lol. My daughter and I were each handed a rose from the hostess as we walked into the restaurant (my daughter LOVED that and it made her feel so fancy). The only kids in the entire restaurant belonged to us and although I wouldn’t say that dinner was romantic (Jon and I don’t typically have rock, paper, scissors tournaments when we dine alone), I would say it was definitely fun. 🙂

Our kids received giant Hershey Kisses and poop emoji stuffed toys (clearly Jon was the parent who bought the childrens’ gifts for this holiday…???)

And I received a gift card for a 90 minute massage and all I could say when I opened the envelope was “YESSSSSSSSS”. Do you get massages?  I got my first one 2 years ago when Jon and I were in Cabo and I’ve never looked back.  Since returning home from our trip, I’ve enjoyed quite a few 🙂  THE.  BEST.  I’ve only had 60 minute massages, this 90 minute one will be such a treat!  Perfection.

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday filled with lots of love…and books 🙂

Thank you to everyone who entered the Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach giveaway! Congratulations Julie and Claire F.!

Ladies, please email me at bookcoffeehappy@gmail.com with your mailing addresses and I’ll pass them along to the author to get your books sent out ASAP.

Facebook Giveaway:

Would you like another chance to win an autographed and dedicated copy of Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach? 

I have 2 MORE copies to give away…this time exclusively on Facebook! Head over there for your chance to enter, it will be up within minutes of me publishing this post. Good luck!

My First Vlog

I filmed a vlog with my review of Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming.  I had too many thoughts to type. 🙂 I’m hoping to get that video posted on Monday!  Make sure you check back…

And now, a book review! Oh do I have a great one for you today…

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis–but will it be for the better?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

5 Stars

I’ve read so many book reviews on this one and it’s been on my radar for months.  I finally picked it up at the library this week and I’m so glad that I did!

I read this entire book over 2 days.  I haven’t done that in such a long time!  Full disclosure:  this book is TINY.  Like, itty bitty. Only 163 pages and the actual book itself is about 1/2 the length of a normal book…but being able to read ANY book over 2 days when you’re a mom is a total win in my book so I’m feeling great 🙂

This book sucked me in from page 1.  It’s a bit…different…but in a good way!  It’s been translated (It was originally written in Japanese).  I was a bit nervous because the last book that I read which had been translated CLEARLY lost something in translation and was absolutely awful. Not at all the case with this book, it was great!

In my opinion, the main character in this one clearly falls somewhere on the autism spectrum and reminded me of the main characters from this book and from this book.  The biggest difference between the 3 books is that I absolutely LOATHED the other 2 books and I absolutely LOVED this one!  Man, did I hate those other 2 books (you can read my review of one of them here).

The deeper message in this story is about society and living up to the expectations that others have set for you.  It’s an interesting and thought provoking read all around.  And QUICK!  You could truly sit and read this entire book in one sitting.

Bottom Line:  

This is a little, teeny tiny gem of a book!  And…if you read it, you will never look at a convenience store in the same way ever again (in a good way).

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway on Facebook!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Author Spotlight: Kahled Hosseini {The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And The Mountains Echoed}

Kahled Hosseini, you are one an amazing author.

The plots, characters, and settings in your 1st 2 books are truly works of art and some of the best I’ve read.

You should have stopped writing while you were ahead.

kiterunner3

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.” 

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

My Thoughts:

I read this many, many years ago and the details are a bit fuzzy to me….but I do remember absolutely LOVING this book.  It’s one of the few books that my husband and I have both read and both loved. It’s an AMAZING story written by an AMAZING author, I just can’t quite remember enough details to give you a full and detailed review.

athousandsplendidsons2

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.” 

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

My Thoughts:

I started reading this the same day I finished reading The Kite Runner.  After just reading that one book, I was immediately drawn to this wonderful author.  This book did not disappoint!  I remember loving it just as much as I loved The Kite Runner (how rare to love 2 books in a row so equally).  This beautiful story was so incredibly well written.  Again, the details here are a bit fuzzy for me….but I do remember absolutely LOVING everything about it.

Aaaaaaand then…..

This book.  Ugh.

andthemountainsechoed

Synopsis from Goodreads:

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

My Thoughts:

I was beyond excited when this book was finally released.  Finally!  I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new Hosseini book for years!  I remember going to the bookstore on the day of it’s release to buy my copy.  Such a great day!

As I sat down to read, I prepared myself to feel all of the emotions I felt while reading the other 2 books.  It was obvious from the very beginning that this book was going to be quite different.

It was so LONG and SO BORING…I felt like I was reading a textbook.

I never wanted to sit down and read this book and was so unmotivated to read more than a few pages at a time when I did read.  I eventually did finish it…but…wow did it take me forever.

Here’s a fun fact about me: this book took me longer to finish reading than any other book that I’ve ever read in my life.  MONTHS.  To read ONE book.  One very long and very boring book.  Months of my life that I will never get back.  When I think of all of the amazing books I could have read over those months, my bookloving heart hurts…

Clearly this book was NOTHING at all like the other 2 books he had written.  How does this happen?!

When authors develop a fan base, their readers expect their work to be of a certain quality.  I couldn’t believe how dramatically different this book was in terms of quality from the previous 2.  Absolutely nothing about this story drew me in.  I was incredibly disappointed.  Still am.

My Bottom Line on Khaled Hosseini:

The Kite Runner: READ IT NOW.

A Thousand Splendid Suns: READ IT NEXT.

And The Mountains Echoed: SEND ME A THANK YOU NOTE FOR SAVING YOU FROM READING THIS BOOK.

*Khaled Hosseini released a short story in 2018 called Sea Prayer.  Have any of you read it?  I have not. I’m still recovering from And the Mountains Echoed.*

Xo,

Jenny

Have you read these books?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the books through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why {Jay Asher}

Our kitchen is leaking, our family room is leaking, our garbage disposal is thankfully back to normal although our dishwasher still isn’t working and hasn’t worked in 3 days all because of a frozen pipeline.

Polar Vortex 2019, I loathe you.

BUT the 4 of us went to the grocery store last night and it felt great just to be out of the house!  This has been such an insane week and our poor house just couldn’t handle it.  I’m driving my daughter to and from school again today because the thought of putting her on a bus in this weather doesn’t sit well with me.  It’s better out there….but still freezing!

You know it’s been a bit chilly when you check your weather app, it says it’s currently 3 degrees, and you immediately think it’s warming up!  Omg.

Today I have a review of a book I read a while back and still think about.  It’s message was well written, powerful, and important.

thirteenreasonswhy

Synopsis from Goodreads:

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

4 Stars

Couldn’t.  Put.  It.  Down.

This book was interesting, heartbreaking, fascinating, and memorable.  I read it over the course of just a few days and would sneak in pages whenever I had a free moment.  I had to know what was going to happen next!

The entire premise of this book is piecing together the pieces of the puzzle to create the entire picture.  As more and more details begin to unfold, the reader is introduced to new characters, new situations, and new revelations.  I loved the writing style and how the author told the entire story in such a unique way and through so many different perspectives.

If you enjoy YA (young adult fiction), this is absolutely a book that you should read.

There is a Netflix series based upon this book.  I haven’t seen any of the episodes…Have you?

Bottom Line:

Loved it.  Disturbing topic but so well written.

Stay warm, everyone!

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  Have you seen the Netflix series? What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Play Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

*I’ll be running a special weekend storytime this Sunday at 4:00!  It’s Whimsy Play Cafe’s 1 month anniversary and I will be doing a “whimsical” Dr. Seuss themed storytime!  I would love to see you and your little book lovers there!*

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

GREETINGS FROM THE POLAR VORTEX and a Book Review: The Light Between Oceans {M.L. Stedman}

When my husband and I were dating, I lived in a condo in downtown Chicago. One night, we had tickets to a comedy club called Zanies to see Gilbert Gottfried perform.

We walked there and it was the absolute coldest either one of us had ever been in our entire lives. I remember my legs going completely numb through my jeans as we were walking. It was probably only a 4 minute walk and by the time we got there we were both literally chilled to our bones. Our faces were bright red, we had no feeling in our fingers, and I was convinced my toes would stay numb forever. After the show, we hailed a cab and enjoyed the warm and lovely 1 minute ride back to my condo. One of the smartest financial decisions we have ever made 🙂

11 years later and my husband and I still use the term “Zanies cold” to describe the weather. As in, “It’s cold outside today! Almost Zanies cold!” or “Oh come on, it’s not that cold. It’s nowhere near Zanies cold!”

The weather we are having here today makes “Zanies cold” feel like a tropical vacation.

Greetings from the Polar Vortex!

Its absolutely crazy here. Our entire state has shut down. Schools have been called off, stores are closed, mail service has been canceled, garbage pickup has been canceled, etc.

Melting ice outside has caused water to leak into our kitchen and family room. We currently have towels everywhere, fans blowing on our carpet, and a family birthday party this weekend for both of my kids which now needs to be relocated from our home to our kids’ favorite local restaurant. Thank goodness they are able to accommodate all of us so last minute!

Yesterday my son and I ate lunch in the car after I finished leading storytime. I had packed us sliced grapes which had frozen from sitting in the car by the time we went to eat them!

Here’s a fun new fact that I learned last night:

Apparently when the temperature goes into these frigid numbers, it causes the materials used to build the house to contract.  As the heat warms the inside of the wall, it  simultaneously warms the outside of the wall and the materials inside of the wall contract.  It causes a very loud noise!

***DISCLAIMER*** I actually have no idea what I’m talking about and the above paragraph is extremely likely to be completely wrong. I read a ton of online articles about this topic somewhere around 2:00 AM and that was my takeaway…but science is not my strong suit, lol.

What I DO know is that the noises were HORRIBLE. For about 2 hours in the middle of the night, random loud BOOMS kept me awake every 10 minutes. The only thing that calmed my fears (after getting out of bed to check that everything was ok) was reading on our local town’s Facebook page about all of my neighbors experiencing the exact same thing at the exact same time! I swear nobody slept in Buffalo Grove last night…except for my husband. He slept peacefully through all of it. *insert eye rolling emoji here.*

Today my kids are home from school and my husband is home from work. We are warm, we are safe, and we are together. I stuck my head outside of our back door this morning just to see what it would feel like and my lips immediately started to tingle!  Even our dishes are freezing to the touch inside of our kitchen cabinet.  This is crazy.

Current scene in our kitchen as I blog this.  Note the giant coffee next to my computer!  It will need to be refilled at some point soon.  I’m so exhausted today.

Our heat is working just fine but our EcoBee (affiliate) couldn’t even comprehend all of this madness to report it to us this morning, lol.

Yikes.

One great thing about being trapped inside of the house during temperatures like this is the ability to escape into a book.  I’m not sure how much escaping I’ll be able to do today with both of my kids here, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to read for at least a little bit later on!

I posted this on Facebook last week:

It made me think of my own question and one of my all time favorite books immediately came to mind.  This older book turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read….unfortunately with one of the most boring beginnings of any book I have ever read.

thelightbetweenoceans

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel that opens in 1918 Australia – the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.

Australia, 1926. After four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written debut novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

This book is a PERFECT example of why sometimes you just need to push through even if you’re not 100 percent in love with the book that you are reading.  I absolutely hated the beginning of this book…it was so boring.  I kept thinking, “Ok.  I’m giving this 10 more pages and then I am giving up”.  I pushed through, kept reading, and…WOW.  This book turned out to be one of the most beautifully written and moving stories I have ever read.  In my entire life.

I read this book years ago and I still think of these characters and their choices often.  As a mother, this story spoke directly to my heart.  It’s such a complicated story with so many fascinating points of view.  My feelings about certain characters completely changed as the story unfolded and I COULD.  NOT.  PUT.  THIS.  BOOK.  DOWN.

In fact, I remember I was reading this book while receiving a pedicure.  There was a television playing a very loud movie that nobody in the salon was paying attention to. I may or may not have asked the salon owner if she could please turn it off so that I could give this fascinating book the attention it so rightfully deserved.

Bottom Line:

One of the most boring beginnings of any book turned into one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, wonderful and memorable books I have ever read.  YOU MUST PUSH THROUGH.  And then thank me.

Stay safe and stay warm, local friends!

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Play Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, puppets, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers {Liane Moriarty}

Hi!

I am writing this from the peace and quiet of my living room. Husband at work, both kids back at school after winter break. Candle burning, Pandora playing. It’s so peaceful here on this rainy Monday morning.

I’m missing my family today. I haven’t been home alone like this in weeks! As nice and peaceful as this is….I would so much rather have everyone here with me. This morning it’s just me and the hamster.  And she’s sleeping.  Perfect time to work on my blog!

And now as previously promised…the book review of Liane Moriarty’s newest release:

**If you haven’t yet, I would suggest reading my previous post before reading the following review**

I heard such negative things about this book. In fact, I truly hadn’t heard any positive! So when I began reading, needless to say my expectations weren’t very high. Not high at all.

nineperfectstrangers

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

My Thoughts

4 Stars

I loved it.

Yes it was weird. Yes it was dark. Yes it was twisted.  Yes it made me uncomfortable.  But…It was so brilliantly written, so very interesting, and extremely captivating! The short chapters, the different perspectives, and the colorful characters came together to create a fascinating story.  I high recommend this one!  I know I’m in the minority here but I truly thought it was GREAT.  One of the best books she’s written.  Bravo, Liane!

The ONLY real criticism (and hence my 4 star review) I have is that there are just so many characters and as a result, certain characters were much more developed than others. It was hard to keep everyone straight, especially with their backstories. I found that I had to keep looking back at previous chapters for refreshers. I HATE when books make me do that. I think this book would have been better with say 5 or 6 perfect strangers rather than 9.

Bottom Line

After reading, I now never want to go to a health resort. Like…Ever. You shouldn’t, either. Nope. Not for me. Or you. Ever again. Hard pass.

Have you read this book?  Are you planning to?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

I will have FANTASTIC book giveaway for you on Wednesday morning!  Make sure you stop by, you won’t want to miss this one!

Xo,

Jenny

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo