Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Here, Home, Hope

"I feel stuck between what I've done and what I want to do.  There was a time when every moment of my day revolved around my kids and their needs, but not anymore.  And that's the question I need to wrestle with, the cause of the restlessness: What's next?"
~ Here, Home, Hope, Kaira Rouda

Published in 2011, Here, Home, Hope by entrepreneur and author Kaira Rouda is the story of  thirty-nine-year-old Kelly Mills Johnson, who lives in the fictitious suburb of Grandville, Ohio.  After a breast cancer scare, Kelly starts to reevaluate her life as a suburban stay-at-home mom as she approaches her fortieth birthday.

"It was a sign. I needed to take charge of my life, take advantage of the sense of urgency I'd felt when I thought I'd had breast cancer.  While I want to grow old gracefully and happily, and I want to be a grandmother and enjoy slow walks on the beach, between now and then I need to get moving.  Seize my year."
~ Here, Home, Hope, Kaira Rouda  

Before she became a mother, Kelly was an account executive at a public relations firm, but for the past fifteen years she's taken care of her home and children, David and Sean, while Kelly's husband, Patrick, has become a successful partner in a law firm.  Now it's summer and the boys are away at camp, so Kelly has a bit of time to think about what she wants, and the direction of her own life.  She knows that she could be happier, and that it's her responsibility to change her own life (good to keep in mind).  She writes down some "things to change" (called T2Cs) on Post-it notes, and sticks them around the house as a way of reinforcing her ideas. 

Kelly is a great protagonist.  I would definitely like to have a friend like her.  She's funny, warm, kind, and caring.  (I hope that I'm at least somewhat like her.)  She encourages and helps others, and decides to consciously devote time to the "care and feeding" of friends.  Like many superwomen, Kelly gives much time and energy to her family and friends, even when she's exhausted.  She willingly agrees to take care of her friend's anorexic teenage daughter, Melanie, while Kathryn is away on a trip.  Friendships are important to Kelly, and the book focuses on her relationships with Charlotte, Kathryn, and Beth, who are at various stages in their careers.  Here, Home, Hope emphasizes the importance of friends, during good times and bad times, to support and celebrate with us, and perhaps even to start a business with. 

I think this novel will resonate with many women, especially with those who are or who have been stay-at-home moms.  I enjoyed this novel very much.  In fact, I loved it!  It's honest and funny and engaging, as well as inspiring, and I'm very glad that I read it.  Here, Home, Hope really does "sparkle with humor and heart".  In fact, if I could add another "H" word to the title, it would be Heart.  Additionally, an important message of the book is to put your heart into whatever you do.  Be like Kelly, and decide to live wholeheartedly.  Pursue your passions and dreams! 

Many thanks to Kaira Rouda for sending me a copy of her book, and for her incredible patience with me. Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Creation of Calm: A Cancer Survivor's Sketchbook Story

"Dear God, I know you love me and care for my family.  But what am I supposed to do with this?  Is there any other way to do things without pain involved?"
~ Creation of Calm, Mark Fraley

Creation of Calm: A Cancer Survivor's Sketchbook Story, illustrated and written by Mark Fraley, is a gorgeous and inspirational book.  Published in November 2014, this graphic memoir is a series of sketchbook entries that span six years, which illustrate the importance of family, friends, and faith. Through pictures and words, Mark depicts a very difficult period in his life, as a young husband and father who had two bouts of cancer in four years. Most of the pictures are sketches but there are also some colorful collages.  Below are some examples of the artwork and a few quotations from the book.

"Prayer is always a necessity; it is another word for 'balance'."
~ Creation of Calm, Mark Fraley 

"I pray that those who view my art and read my story will take a moment to slow down, maybe get off the phone, and just look intently at the everyday they may have overlooked."
~ Creation of Calm, Mark Fraley

Front Yard Discovery

Although cancer is a serious disease, Creation of Calm is full of joy and appreciation and hope.  We are reminded to slow down and appreciate the beauty and the details of "ordinary" life. 

Many thanks to Christina from Cladach Publishing for sending me a copy of this wonderful book, and for including me on this blog tour (part of the Fall Book Fling).

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Some of the books reviewed here have been provided
to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents,
in exchange for my honest reviews.