The Baby Fog

I’m baaaack. At least until I get distracted by life again. I had a baby! She’s adorable, I’m not just saying that because I’m her Mama, she really is adorable. Elouise Kate came into the world in August and I have been swept up in the love and chaos of life with two baby girls.

Its weird I can for real feel myself becoming less foggy and less emotional as the days go on. I don’t think I realized how much the postpartum anxiety was effecting my daily behaviors and moods. No one talks about it, but everyone talks about it. It’s in the news, but when it happens to you…its like “ehhh I don’t want to be that Mom, I want to be the one that has it together.” Listen Linda, I don’t have it together, still, but I am getting to a less foggy place. Baby life is hard, it is bliss at the same time, but it is hard. You are harder on yourself while trying not to be hard on everyone else. “I should be happy, I’ve got a beautiful baby and a sweet toddler.” I am happy, but in that moment of staring at the whole bowl of cereal that just spilled on the floor that you just made it around to cleaning…you don’t feel like you’ve been happy for awhile.

I yelled more than I wanted, I cried more than I wanted, but I still loved my girls every second of each day and made sure they knew it, even if I was afraid I was legit messing it up.

Lets not even talk about how neglected my poor Hubby is…

Anyway. I’ve been listening to books and wondering what to do about this blog. But I realized I don’t have to do it for my future career that I dream about as a writer, and I don’t have to do it to try to build an empire…I can just do it for me.

I just finished listening to Jen Sincero’s “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” and I’m ready to open myself up to what the universe has in store for me. Open up and let go. Here I am universe, lets rock and roll!



Avoidance Behavior: It’s for real.

13434794_10100936920176631_7611591059474610951_nGreetings people who still are willing to follow a blogger that is generally inconsistent with her posts! 🙂 I’m a Mama of a three-year old girl who is about to become a big sister and I’m slowly (but quickly) losing my mind. I created this blog with a vision to review books, and write about my daily dealings with Mamahood. But I know myself. When things become overwhelming I begin to exhibit avoidance behavior. So the thing I avoided, was my blog. Ok ok ok, and folding the laundry. I avoided that too.

I am a working Mama at a place of higher education that is going through a pivotal time and experiencing a lot of changes. In the past month I have had to justify my position, interview for it, and bug the hell out of the administrators who have to sign off on my contract. All while pregnant and under the tyranny of a three-year old who tells me after watching Rachel Ray, “Mama, you’re not a cooker.” I responded saying that I cook everyday, and she pointed out that I don’t wear a hat so I’m not a “cooker.” I fired back that the glorious Rachel Ray is not wearing a hat as she deftly tosses shrimp and grits into a bowl. Lola stated with finality, “You’re still not a cooker.” I glowered into my mac & cheese.

That has been my life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I do get a little avoidy and I’m sorry. So to hold myself accountable here is my to do list:

To Do:

  1. Finish this blog post about not blogging
  2. Put away the laundry that I folded two days ago
  3. Confront the laundry that I’ve been hiding in the dryer
  4. Be a “cooker” and make Lola something for lunch (maybe I’ll wear a hat to be legit)
  5. Remember to be thankful to be a wife, a Mama and to be employed




Books on Deck

I’ve got three books in my life right now simultaneously and every time I take time for one of them I feel like I’m having some kind of nerdy affair behind the others’ paperbacks.


 The One & Only by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is a genius with her characters. They are always intricate, surprising, and she uses them to manipulate you! I’ve read a couple of her books before–Where We Belong (2013), and Love the One You’re With (2009). They both surprised me with a little twist at the end and I highly recommend them. Giffin’s books deal with matters of the heart, but always deeper topics like adoption, infidelity, and abusive relationships.

The One & Only comes from the perspective of Shea who is a thirty-something year-old woman from a small town in Texas named Walker that happens to have a nationally ranked college football program.  The story is inundated with football–which I love–but others might think its a little much. It begins with a funeral and so far (I’m almost finished) has a romance, a somewhat forbidden secret relationship and like I said…football. I have an inkling that this Giffin book will be a little twisty at the end too.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Ok to be straight up–I finished this book already. But it was such a journey that I really needed some time to process the absolute tragedy that is Paul Kalanithi’s death. The reader knows from the beginning that Paul has already passed away after a long battle with cancer. It was an incredible story and I strongly encourage you to take it on because it will change everything for you. As a cancer survivor, a wife and a parent I really struggled with his losses and rejoiced in his victories. At the end, it broke my heart, but changed my perspective on so many things and I desperately want to hold onto the message he left by writing such an honest account of his life.

Paul Kalanithi seeks the meaning of life–of living a meaningful life–throughout his time in school, medicine and as a patient himself.  He finds it through love and medicine and death. That’s all I’ll say for now, look for the full review in the “Book Reviews” section of the blog in the next couple of days. But if you are looking for something to change your outlook on life and to challenge your definition of living and dying…read When Breath Becomes Air. It is exceptional.


You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

I am a badass, I just don’t know it–yet. But I am pretty freakin’ confident that I will after I finish this book by Jen Sincero. Every chapter I’m like “dude, she totally gets me.” Her tone is driven and consistent, and honestly keeps me motivated to follow through with whatever nugget of wisdom (which is usually laced with profanity) she feeds me.

I am still at the beginning of this one, but so far I already see myself implementing her strategies into my own daily interactions with the world. She’s a total badass obviously, and this ‘self-help’ book doesn’t feel like the typical droney fix me book. It’s straight forward, curse word riddled, and filled with experience. I can’t wait to finish it and share my musings and hear yours, but also to see if it will help me stop doubting my greatness (because don’t we all?).

Keep looking for these full reviews over the next couple weeks, and if you have any suggestions for new fancy books to read please shoot me a message on any of my social media accounts (Facebook@thereviewmamajr, Twitter@thereviewmama, or through the contact form on the blog!

Hearts & Coffee:::Happy Reading

*Book cover images are courtesy of; this post contains affiliate links

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Couple Next Door

Title: The Couple Next Door
Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; 1st Edition (August 23, 2016)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Audiobook: Published by Penguin Audio; Unabridged Edition (August 23, 2016)

(This post contains affiliate links)

To purchase “The Couple Next Door” from The Couple Next Door 

                                                           Synopsis from

An instant New York Times bestseller. Look out for Shari Lapena’s next thriller, A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, coming August 2017.
“The twists come as fast [as] you can turn the pages.” —People
“Provocative and shocking.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Find Her
“I read this novel at one sitting, absolutely riveted by the storyline. The suspense was beautifully rendered and unrelenting!” —Sue Grafton, New York Times bestselling author of X

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Trigger Warnings: Crimes involving children; postpartum depression

                                                                   Initial Musings
I just finished listening to the audiobook version of “The Couple Next Door” this morning and my mind is still reeling. I REALLY wanted to be surprised by this one, but I felt like I was one step ahead when all of the twists came around. BUT! The twists were still satisfying and led to more questions to build suspense. I still REALLY enjoyed the story, and the characters. This story challenged your loyalty in regards to the characters actions and the parts they played in the main event. The story is told through multiple perspectives: Marco Conti, Anne Conti, Anne’s parents, and the lead detective on the case. A crime is committed and it isn’t until the last chapters that the truth comes out. Like I said, I had high expectations for this book as a suspense novel with multiple twists, but I think I connected with it more on a character driven level than a plot driven/twisty turny “Gone Girl” type novel. I felt sympathy for characters that I kept telling myself could really be the actual antagonists in the story, but I couldn’t help it—the author wrote them in a way where you could feel comfortable asking yourself what you would do in that situation.

                                     Character Driven: What are they capable of?
Anne and Marco’s marriage is filled with relatable up’s and down’s like finances, insecurities as new parents, and trouble with the in-laws. An additional element that adds to the fog of uncertainty is Anne’s postpartum depression. The level of mystery surrounding the severity of Anne’s postpartum depression is nurtured through Marco and Detective Rasbach’s perspectives–what is she capable of, what did she tell her psychiatrist who is treating her postpartum depression, did Marco cover up a terrible crime for her?

Marco has his own set of problems–mainly financial–that make him a suspect. He needs money for his business, what will he do to get it? This is answered midway through the story but then other circumstances arise that you may not see coming. Regardless of the suspiciousness of Marco’s actions, I sympathized with him and I just wanted someone else to be in his corner. In a sense he is the main character of the story because he holds the most knowledge from beginning to end.

                                                                   For the Mamas
Anne’s character might challenge your ideals as a Mama. But then you set those ideals aside for a second and realize women are struggling as Mamas everyday. Postpartum Depression is very real and so is the guilt that Anne feels constantly for significant things, but also for things that are necessary for her own self-care. The conclusion of the story weighed heavily on me as a Mama because….well you’ll just have to see for yourself!

I give “The Couple Next Door” 4 shots of Espresso out of 5. I definitely recommend it as a satisfying suspense novel. Just when you think its over…well, its not.

To purchase “The Couple Next Door” for your own suspenseful reading pleasure, follow this super convenient Amazon link (an affiliate link) which is also available at the top of the page! The Couple Next Door: Amazon Link

The Review Mama

“If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can’t be wrong.”

                             —The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

There is an “My Story” section on this site, but it just gives a run down of the basics. I started this blog to feed my need to creativity–for writing and for reading. I work in higher education part-time (but do full-time work) as a coordinator and an academic coach, and with the rest of my time, I am a Mama and a wife. At my job I make a difference, and I am able to help students when they think no one on campus cares about their particular situation (and we encounter ALL situations). But it does not feed my creative side as much as I want it to soooo I’m looking for an outlet.

Confession #1: I don’t know how to blog.

I freakin’ don’t know how to blog. As a kind of writer or creative soul I have to feel a certain way to feel inspired or to feel “right” about what or how I’m writing. I can’t just sit down and write about a book or a film if it doesn’t give me some sort of spark. So I’m worried that my posts will be inconsistent, but being “worried” is what I’m done with. I’m going to be 30 this year, I’m going to have my second kid this year, and you know what–I’m going to start writing without worry this year too.

Confession #2: I don’t have a confession #2 but I felt like I needed more than one. Well maybe I confess that I also am blogging out of necessity.

I’m 6 months pregnant–due in August–and I just found out that I may lose my job at the end of June due to cutbacks. This is terrifying for many reasons. #1 financially obviously because we will have to start selling stuff (like our house) and my husband may have to work even longer hours, #2 because I LOVE my job and the amazing women and men I work with. We have a common goal–to support our students. But we also lift each other up, pray together and we laugh together every day. It’s an amazing thing to find a place to work where you feel the freedom to grow and have an impact on a community.

I said I was blogging partially out of necessity, but really I just need to write. In my senior year of college a guest writer came to our Poetry Workshop class and invited questions. So I asked, “When the real world hits, and you are doing things far from your writing, how do you keep writing?” She answered, “At some point, the writing will call you back.” It was that simple then, and it is that simple now. I hear the call and I’m going to answer. Here I am–now let’s get down to business.

Hearts & Coffee,

Julie -aka- The Review Mama