Book Review & Blog Tour: The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat

It’s no secret that I have an affinity for WWII novels. Looking across at a small cubby on my bookshelf and of the 16 titles in the stack, almost half take place in that era. One of the greatly anticipated historical winter releases from Harlequin just so happens to take place on the Channel Islands during Nazi occupation. The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat has romance, takes place in WWII, features remarkable gutsy women, and is based on a true story?!?! Count me in!

FROM THE PUBLISHER:
An extraordinary story of human triumph against impossible odds

The year is 1940, and the world is torn apart by war. In June of that year, Hitler’s army captures the Channel Islands–the only part of Great Britain to be occupied by German forces. Abandoned by Mr. Churchill, forgotten by the Allies, and cut off from all help, the Islands’ situation is increasingly desperate.

Hedy Bercu is a young Jewish girl who fled Vienna for the island of Jersey two years earlier during the Anschluss, only to find herself trapped by the Nazis once more–this time with no escape. Her only hope is to make herself invaluable to the Germans by working as a translator, hiding in plain sight wIth the help of her friends and community–and a sympathetic German officer. But as the war intensifies, rations dwindle, neighbors turn on neighbors, and Hedy’s life is in greater danger every day. It will take a definitive, daring act to save her from certain deportation to the concentration camps.

A sweeping tale of bravery and love under impossible circumstances, Hedy’s remarkable story reminds us that it’s often up to ordinary people to be quiet heroes in the face of injustice.

MY THOUGHTS:
I didn’t find this novel to be an epic swept away whirlwind tale with danger and daring around every corner – you know the type, I mean. However, I loved the “every day” feel of The Girl From the Channel Islands – we were flies on the wall while the characters went about life, however miserable or mundane or dangerous it was in any given scene.

It made me ponder what it would be like to lose everything and then to fall in love with the supposed enemy. I was also struck by the reminder of how unfair war was to everyone involved – not all Germans were evil, not all serving on the front were evil, the Allies were guilty of their own sins, and war is just horrible (an understatement, I know) all the way around.

The romance felt secondary to the primary story arc, but was a very elemental detail in Hedy’s decisions. I offer a content warning for a few scenes. Hedy, Kurt, Dorothea, and Anton were all just very ordinary, offering their own subtle resistances as they struggled for survival. The devastation to the island (and islanders) of Jersey was visible, the thread or hum of danger while eking out a meager existence palpable, the uncertainty and fear and hunger felt in the captivating tale. I particularly enjoyed that this gave a “fresh face” to the WWII historical romance, transporting us to a seldom explored location in this era and telling a unique aspect of the story.

I was slightly disappointed in the ending, but I don’t want to offer any spoilers so I will leave you with this. If you have questions about what happened next, or want to read more about the novel and the key players, check out this article from The Times of Israel. A quick Google search and I have more information then I will ever need! In a nutshell, this was a moving tale of simple bravery, ordinary people living with extraordinary courage, and the resiliency of humanity when balanced with compassion and friendship.

My thanks to our friends at Harlequin for sharing an Advanced Readers Copy with me! If you pick up a copy for yourself or have read the previously released version, Hedy’s War (UK edition), let me know if you agree with my take. This title releases next week (February 2nd) and will be available through all major booksellers (although I encourage you to order through your favourite local bookstore!)

THE GIRL FROM THE CHANNEL ISLANDS 
Author: Jenny Lecoat
ISBN: 9781525806414
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Graydon House Books

Book Review: Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman

I have been slowly making my way through my backlist of NetGalley titles, attempting to alternate between some new and upcoming releases with titles that have been sitting on my to-be-read shelf for some time. All things considered, many of these “older” books have still be published within the last year, but I’ve missed the opportunity for release day (or close to release day) hype. My bad. (<— do people still say that?)

Over the Christmas holidays, I finally dove into Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman. It’s not one of my regular genres (middle grade fiction) but something about the description called to me when I first requested it. Now, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I’m an almost 40-year-old woman. I’m not in middle school. I’m not even sure my children still qualify as middle-school aged (although I think if J. gave this one a chance, he’d enjoy it.) All that being said, I’m not the target audience for this book, and still it mesmerized me.

There is a reason Kadarusman is a Governor General’s Literary Award finalist and this title was issued the JLG Gold Standard. It’s poignant and eloquent, simple without pandering, and absolutely engaging. Touching on issues of conservation, extinction, family roots, secrets, bullying, and neurodiversity, it’s a heart-warming richly crafted novel for the young (but not too young) reader. The publisher describes it as “A moving coming-of-age story wrapped up in the moss, leaves, and blue gums of the Tasmanian rainforest where, hidden under giant ferns, crouches its most beloved, and lost, creature.” I think it was absolutely brilliant (and may gift some copies to elementary teachers I know!)

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: Myrick Marketing & Media, LLC; Pajama Press
ISBN: 9781772780543

Note: Amazon’s recommended age level is 8 – 12, grade level 4 – 7

Book Review: A Castaway in Cornwall

Every once in a while a reader will stumble across an author that is such a great match for their reading interests that you know no matter which title you pick up, you’re going to love it. Julie Klassen is one of those authors for me. Her books aren’t always fast paced, but there’s just something about them that works time and time again.

A Castaway in Cornwall was published in December but I just got around to reading it a few days ago. I was not mistaken – I was met, as expected, with a work of fiction that hit all the right notes for me at the right time. It’s an atmospheric telling, obviously about a castaway in Cornwall – a shipwreck survivor – and the woman who nurses him to health, a castaway in her own right. That’s an overly simplistic capture of the plot, but I don’t want to spoil the story – I want to encourage you to read it for yourself. Inside you’ll find a lot of coastal or sea-worthy jargon with an emphasis on flotsam and jetsam (do you know the difference?) and a reflection of the Cornish history of smuggling and wreckers woven into the period piece.

The lead characters in this novel have some depths to them – secrets, pasts, scars – but they’re steadfast – which is not to be confused with boring. The book as a whole is not fast paced, and it’s not a romp – it takes its time to get from cover to cover, but it’s an enjoyable journey nonetheless. I would classify it as historical inspirational fiction with intrigue and an innocent, slow-burn romance. Bonus points for the cover art – I just absolutely love the colour palette and soft design. This title felt quite a bit like a novel written just for me.

My thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764234224

Book Review: The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep

We’re well into the third day of the first month of a brand new spanking year that we as a family brought in much like we do every other strike of midnight – sleepy, contemplating bed for the adults, and wide awake, gaming, for the teens. You’d think for someone who spent more time than usual encamped at home this year that my reading goals would have been a breeze to meet, but I miscalculated and by the last of 2020 had not met my benchmark at all. Oh well! A new year… a new book… some new reading goals!

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep was the perfect official inaugural read for this booklover. While I technically finished another title prior, that title straddled the line between years and is accounted for somewhere in a reader’s no-man’s land. This smashing work of fiction, however, was published January 1st and seemed the exactly right title to start my new book year fresh. I finished it in the wee hours of the morning, being fully ensconced in this sweet, mysterious, and fast paced romp, aided in part by a miscalculated (but enjoyable) coffee at 9 p.m. last night. As I put my Kindle to sleep around 3 a.m., and contemplated sleep myself, I remembered again how much I truly enjoy Griep as an author of historical Christian fiction. Why do I not read her work more often?

I was swept back in time and settled in for a delightfully vivacious adventure. The author crafts a beautiful word picture that will immerse you in the action, location, and emotion on every page. The romance lends itself to sweetness and naivete, while the need to meet a deadline lends a sense of urgency and need to engage. Through this clever and compelling novel with elements of faith and trust, I was transported through the smelliest, darkest parts of London where danger and deception lurk to the glittering ballrooms of the wealthy (where danger and deception lurk) to the noble halls of the historic metropolitan police. A 5-star read to start the year off right. What a delight!

Publication Date: January 1, 2020
Publisher: Barbour Fiction

I was provided with a complimentary digital copy of this title via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Blog Tour Book Review: Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd

I’ve been reading Christina Dodd for years. Her books are sassy, well paced, with elements of humour, danger, and intrigue. When Harlequin sent me the list of titles available for the Mystery Thriller Fall Reads Blog Tour, I was excited to see Wrong Alibi on the list and eagerly selected it as a title to read and review.

From the Publisher:

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family.

My Thoughts:

This novel contains all the twists, turns, drama, and danger you’d expect in a gripping piece of contemporary suspense, but I do find it was missing the sass and humour I have come to expect, which, yes, I can admit would probably have been out of place in a book with a dark side. I found myself frustrated throughout, screaming “No!” or “That’s not fair!” or “Why would you do that?” silently to myself. Needless to say I was engaged with the drama and mystery – wanting to know the backstory and see where we were headed. Beautifully descriptive settings land you in the middle of Alaska, hiding in the wilds with those who find the vast remote landscape the perfect place to become someone new or hide their true identities. As with most of Harlequin’s novels, I would recommend for adult readers due to content.

This title hit shelves today and is available through all the major booksellers and I’m sure through your favourite local bookstore!

WRONG ALIBI
Author: Christina Dodd 
ISBN: 9781335080820
Publication Date: December 29, 2020
Publisher: HQN Books


Book Review: The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

It’s been sometime since my last post – life and all that. As I was going through my bookshelves (actual bookshelves) I wondered how anyone has time to read all the books – because again, life and all that. In my ongoing purge and organization, I actually made the decision to donate (4) 8″x8″ books that I’ve accumulated through my lifetime reflecting various reading patterns that I just don’t enjoy anymore. (Apologies, Percy Bysshe Shelley & Lord Byron…) I also found some treasures in the mix, and a few titles that gave me sentimental pause but remain in a pile of undetermined fate.

I am happy to say that even though my library has grown smaller, I have climbed out of my reading slump. I’ve read a few great titles that I’ve truly enjoyed. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen even more massively behind in my reviews. Today I’m choosing to tell you about a recent favourite that hasn’t even hit bookshelves yet – sharing early in the hopes that my thoughts on it remain fresh and my review accurate to my time of reading. If I can’t post a review, I try to take notes about my feelings and the things that strike me about a book, but, in my opinion, fresh thoughts are always conveyed better in a situation like this.

Without further ado, I’d like you to turn your attention to The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron, publishing Februrary 16, 2021. Not only does it have a beautiful cover, it is a beautifully written story about Paris in WWII and the courage of a select few members of La Resistance. I had concern that it would be just another tale written like many others on the market today – nothing wrong with it, but nothing to make it different… but I was pleasantly surprised that it read different, with exquisite description and detail, gripping narrative, and a basis on true events (I quite enjoyed the author’s notes at the end regarding her research.) It’s a beautifully crafted story told with layers of care at a pace that will keep you engaged, beginning to end.

My only criticisms or points of note are to mention that the novel is more than one timeline and it helps to pay attention to the where and when at the beginning of each chapter to keep one’s threads from tangling. I didn’t find it confusing, but did have to go back once or twice to clarify my point in the timeline. Secondly, with a steady pace throughout the whole novel, the ending felt not rushed, or unexpected, but perhaps slightly lackluster even though all the loose threads were tidied up. I just wanted something a little “more.” I don’t know why I feel that way, but I do. Overall, I’m adding this to my recommendations of must-reads for 2021. It does contain elements of faith which shouldn’t be surprising coming from a Thomas Nelson publication.

From the Publisher:

Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquartersBut when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

Told across the span of the Nazi occupation, The Paris Dressmaker highlights the brave women who used everything in their power to resist darkness and restore light to their world.

Early Praise:

“Stunning. With as much skill and care as the title’s namesake possesses, The Paris Dressmaker weaves together the stories of two heroines who boldly defy the darkness that descends on the City of Light.” —Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of Shadows of the White City

“A thoroughly satisfying blend of memorable characters, evocative writing, and wartime drama that seamlessly transport you to the City of Light at its most desperate hour.” —Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things

“With real life historical details woven in with her fictional tale, the story popped off the page. Readers will be thinking of this book long after they’ve read the last word.” —Rachel Hauck, New York Times bestselling author

My final thoughts on this one are to say I highly recommend this title. It was exquisite and enjoyable. I mentioned in Instagram that it contained all my favourite things in a book (even though I’m not even sure what those “things” are) – it hit all the right notes for me. I’ll be pre-ordering a copy for a permanent place on my bookshelves.

“I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”

Book Review: Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter

The third and final novel in the Bluebell Inn series, Autumn Skies is an absolutely wonderful conclusion to a beautifully written contemporary family saga. Three siblings renovate and run the Bluebell Inn to commemorate their parents, each novel devoting itself to one love story at a time. My review of the first title, Lake Season, can be found here.

Continuing the family story while tying up the loose ends as the Bennetts look to the future, we encounter Grace’s romance in this last installment. Engaging and heartwarming, Denise Hunter knows her audience and creates dynamic characters that you love. There is an innocence or winsomeness to Hunter’s writing that is appealing, and yet her characters and storylines have a depth to them – scars and doubts and obstacles that all must be dealt with for any healthy relationships to occur – especially as truths are exposed that make heartache a very real possibility. Set in a picturesque small town that you’ll want to visit, this is another winner for Ms. Hunter, I’m sure.

Released October 20th, you should be able to find this title at your favourite local bookseller or through the usual online distributors. If not – request it and the other titles in the series and find a quiet spot to get lost in their charm!

My thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley.
Opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9780785222804



Blog Tour & Book Review: The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick

I have had some disappointing reads lately that have just been “blah” and left me in a bit of a reading slump. I haven’t been quick to pick up any new NetGalley titles because I’ve been leery of feeling disappointed and not quite knowing how to weave my thoughts into constructive criticism – which is the whole premise of the program. When a reminder popped up that I was to post as part of the Harlequin 2020 Fall Reads Historical Fiction blog tour for Nicola Cornick’s newest title, The Forgotten Sister, I realised I had procrastinated long enough and it was time to jump into something new. It took me a day to read and it was easy-going – no drudgery involved. What a relief!

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

MY THOUGHTS:

This was a well-crafted easy-to-read novel. During the opening scenes, I had some doubts about compatibility, but kept reading and was pleasantly entertained. I shouldn’t have doubted, as I’ve read and enjoyed Cornick’s work before. I pondered the relevance of the title at times but that too resolved itself to my satisfaction. This is a fanciful work of fiction with some extrasensory elements. I don’t typically travel to the Tudor period in my historical reading, so was unfamiliar with some of the key characters. The author’s note at the end made it even more interesting to me!

I was able to read the book throughout one day (without neglecting my family!) I was entertained, my curiosity was piqued, and the plot caught me by surprise. Overall I would recommend The Forgotten Sister as it held (without taking away from the merits of Cornick herself as an author) a Susanna Kearsley-esque appeal. Released today, you should be able to pick up a copy from your favourite local bookseller or any of the usual online retailers

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.

THE FORGOTTEN SISTER 
Author: Nicola Cornick 
ISBN: 9781525809958
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Publisher: Graydon House Books 

Book Review: What They Meant for Evil

It has been more than a year since I first read Rebecca Deng’s beautiful autobiography, What They Meant for Evil. My Facebook post from October 2019 reflects my eagerness to share this title with the world. “I was given an advanced copy of this book, but didn’t get around to reading it until Saturday night. Once I started, I could not put it down. It is a remarkable account of a “Lost Girl” from Sudan and all she survived before (and after) being accepted as a refugee. Her faith was unshakeable and her story an inspiration. As one of my kids complained their turkey was cold, I shared a little bit of Rebecca’s story to remind them of how truly blessed we are. I will be ordering a copy for myself so if you want to borrow it, let me know!”

Unfortunately, my advanced order from Amazon was cancelled and I’ve not yet looked into a new source. Officially released September 8, 2020, I strongly recommend this title for anyone who would like to expand their worldview as it provides a remarkable firsthand account of a historical atrocity that we only heard about on the news.

From the Publisher:

One of the first unaccompanied refugee children to enter the United States in 2000, after South Sudan’s second civil war took the lives of most of her family, Rebecca’s story begins in the late 1980s when, at the age of four, her village was attacked and she had to escape. What They Meant for Evil is the account of that unimaginable journey. With the candor and purity of a child, Rebecca recalls how she endured fleeing from gunfire, suffering through hunger and strength-sapping illnesses, dodging life-threatening predators-lions, snakes, crocodiles, and soldiers alike-that dogged her footsteps, and grappling with a war that stole her childhood.

Her story is a lyrical, captivating portrait of a child hurled into wartime, and how through divine intervention, she came to America and found a new life full of joy, hope, and redemption.


Deng’s writing is descriptive and beautiful, painting a brightly woven tapestry of heartbreak, sorrow, hope, and healing. I don’t know how anyone could read it without being moved by her story – her strength, her brokenness, her light, her voice. Candid and captivating, she doesn’t shy away from the darkness encountered in her journey, but leads you carefully by the hand as you take every step with her. Rebecca Deng is a beacon of purpose and peace as she shares her incredible history without bitterness.

My thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley. I will be purchasing when I can locate a supplier in Canada. If you have any leads, please tip me off in the comments.

Taking Care of the Valuable Things

The other day I was on the phone with mom crying. Fun fact: I hate crying. It leaves me feeling vulnerable and frustrated, which is ironic because those are two feelings that often lead me to cry. Unfortunately for me, I am a crier and you’d think after 39 years I’d be used to it. I’m not. I cry when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, angry, worried, stressed, tired, caring for people, praying for people, reading, watching movies, laughing at myself, etc. I cry. A lot. Especially when I drop heavy objects on my toes. Just sayin’. Sometimes I think my feelings are directly connected to my tear ducts. When things get a little emotionally full, it comes out my eyes and leaks its way down my face.

So yes, I was crying on the phone to my mom the other day. She’s tough and can handle my tears. I was frustrated that I looked around my house and had so much to do but absolutely zero energy to do it. I’m too stubborn to ask for help. (And I’m honest enough to admit I’d probably be really short and snappy with anyone who ventured in.) I know this is just a short-term thing until my body is back on track and I’m trying to be patient and graceful. (I am neither patient nor graceful.) But I hate not having strength in myself to do it all. (None of us do.) I fall prey to the trap of comparison. (It’s a joy suck.) I feel all these negative things – yes, a bit of self-pity and woe – and I cried.

Yesterday, I went to work. I puttered a bit when I came home in the afternoon. I sat down to finish writing a review and while pondering my words, I fell asleep. Kevin worked a bit later than usual. It was dark when he got home. (It’s dark very early now but it’s nice to wake up to sunlight.) We had a time-sensitive errand to run. Dinner hadn’t been made. I looked at him in the car shortly before 7 and said “I’m done.” I was frustrated. We bought takeout for dinner and I left the dishes until this morning. I felt guilty and then realised how stupid it was to feel guilty. I didn’t cry though. Maybe I did. I was in such a fog that I honestly don’t remember. The family was cared for in a different way and did what needed to be done even if it was a shortcut. Everyone went to bed with full bellies. No one was hurt by the dishes in the sink.

Today I slept in. It was lovely. I embraced the day with a to do list. I sat down at 1:30 p.m. to write this because… guess what? I am done. Not done my to do list. Just done. My list has fallen to the wayside. (Technically it’s on my phone still waiting for me to check items off.) I started to feel frustrated at all that remains to be done. I was falling into the trap of comparison and self-pity again. But I stopped. Grabbed a cold Diet Pepsi out of the fridge. Sat down and realized what’s left on the to-do list doesn’t matter right now – the to-do list will never end. Ever. What does matter is finding pride in what I have accomplished even if that doesn’t look like what you accomplished or what she-who-shall-not-be-named-but-makes-me-look-like-a-slacker accomplished. Because we’re not the same person. We’re not in the same place.

Today I am satisfied with what I’ve already done before I ran out of steam (remember, my tank is pretty small right now – it doesn’t take a lot to hit empty.) This morning I cleaned two bathrooms, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, washed a overflowing sink full of things that aren’t dishwasher friendly by hand, I’ve washed, dried, and folded three loads of laundry, I started a new devotional, I wrote a note to a friend, I fed and watered the pets, I changed our bedsheets, I cleaned the washer and dryer (why do we have so much dusty lint?) and I have two pots of soup on the go. Soup one is a creamy tomato and white bean. (In case you think I’ve got it all together – you know, judging by my masterful command of life and emotions – I may have, most definitely, burnt the beans as I write this – we’ll hope it adds a depth of smoky flavour to the soup – my kitchen no longer smells delicious.) Soup two is a roasted butternut with maple and bacon marmalade. I’ll keep some for dinner, some for the freezer, some for a friend. And I’m done. Not fully done. I’ll still putter. But I’m going to sit down, find a snack, and realize that sitting, thinking, recharging, resting – they’re important too.

My point in all this? Don’t lose heart. Don’t get angry when you look at the unconquerable to-do list. Take stock of what you have accomplished even if it takes some reframing. Didn’t get to the laundry, but raked the leaves with your youngest? You spent time with the kids and got fresh air and exercise. Dishes are clean but your bed didn’t get made? You spent time in the kitchen. Stayed in bed with nothing more than a book? You took a day for yourself. Stripped all the wallpaper in your ugly bathroom but forgot to make dinner? Order a pizza and take a hot shower. Kept the kids alive but your hair and/or teeth haven’t been brushed? You. Kept. Kids. Alive. (Major accomplishment, right there, for some kids.)

Don’t judge your accomplishments OR YOUR WORTH by what you see on social media, your friends, your family, or how you think people are judging you. My morning? Super productive actually but if I look at what I have left to do, it’s but a tiny piece of the puzzle. My afternoon? Also productive – I’ll be taking care of some really valuable things (i.e. myself alongside my physical and mental health.) For you, those valuable things may be your health, your kids, your loved one. While I sit and pause I might just find the energy to take a shower and change out of these pajamas. There’s nothing wrong with being productive, just remember that there’s nothing wrong with ignoring the to-do list once in awhile either. You matter beyond any checkmark.