April 21, 2014

Big Mama, Her Baby & Her Boy

Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle

Release Date: February 8, 2013
Publisher: Tyndale House
Pages: 240 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
"There is really no better indicator you're a mother than acquiring the ability to catch throw-up in a plastic bag, disinfect your hands, and immediately ask your friend to pass the beef jerky as you put on another Taylor Swift song and act as if nothing has happened."

This is the type of insight Melanie Shankle offers in this quirky memoir of motherhood.

Written in the familiar, stream-of-consciousness style of her blog, Big Mama, Sparkly Green Earrings is a heartwarming and hilarious look at motherhood from someone who is still trying to figure it out. Filled with personal stories — from the decision to become a mother to the heartbreak of miscarriage and ultimately, to the joy of raising a baby and living to tell about it  Sparkly Green Earrings will make you feel like you're sitting across the table from your best friend. A must-read for anyone who's ever had a child or even thought about it.

Thoughts on Sparkly Green Earrings
Melanie Shankle is author of the Big Mama blog, which I didn't start reading until after I'd discovered her book. I kept seeing Sparkly Green Earrings at the Christian bookstore, and I was attracted to the cover. Yep, I'm a total sucker for an eye-catching cover! Anyway, I picked this up a few times and thought about buying it... but I always ended up putting it back down since it's about motherhood. I'm not a mama yet, so I wasn't really sure how relevant or relatable this book would be for me.

I finally decided to give it a shot, and I'm really glad I did! Sure, I don't have any babies yet, but I still found a lot to enjoy about this book. Shankle's book is a lot like reading a blog - each chapter is a short essay that concludes with the end of the chapter. The stories are mostly light and funny, and they wrap up with some broader thought or lesson. It's not really a memoir or a devotional, but it has elements of both. Shankle talks about how having a daughter has changed her. She's funny and doesn't take herself too seriously, but she also has some wise words about what it means to be a mom and what God has taught her through motherhood.

There's not really an over-arching theme that carries through the whole book, which is why it read like a collection of essays. While there wasn't always a ton of depth to the chapters, Shankle is a great storyteller. I caught myself laughing out loud a few times! The conversational, stream-of-consciousness writing style made for a fun, quick read. I couldn't really relate to very much in the book at this point in my life, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of it. Sparkly Green Earrings was a cross between a memoir, blog and a devotional - one that would appeal to moms who would appreciate reflections on faith and motherhood.

So Quotable
"Real motherhood is different. It's better and it's messier and it's more complicated. It will break your heart and make you laugh harder than you ever imagined. You find yourself alternating between feeling like your friends talked you into some sort of pyramid scheme so you could share in their misery and thinking this is the most fulfilling thing you've ever done in your life."
The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle

Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Tyndale House
Pages: 205 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Welcome to the story of a real marriage.

Marriage is simultaneously the biggest blessing and the greatest challenge two people can ever take on. It is the joy of knowing there is someone to share in your joys and sorrows, and the challenge of living with someone who thinks it's a good idea to hang a giant antelope head on your living room wall.

In The Antelope in the Living Room, New York Times best-selling author and blogger Melanie Shankle does for marriage what Sparkly Green Earrings did for motherhood — makes us laugh out loud and smile through tears as she shares the holy and the hilarity of that magical and mysterious union called marriage.

Brief Thoughts on The Antelope in the Living Room
After finishing Sparkly Green Earrings, I knew I wanted to pick up Shankle's The Antelope in the Living Room. Her second book came out earlier this year, and this one focuses on marriage. In a lot of ways, this book is just like Sparkly Green Earrings just focusing on a different topic. It's written in the same conversational style, which is very similar to reading a collection of blog posts.

The chapters are set up in the same way - telling a story and concluding with a lesson that ties it all up. The stories are funny and light, and they mostly stay surface-level (and that's not necessarily a bad thing). I wanted to a quick, enjoyable read and that's what I got with this book! I related to the stories in this book a lot more than the ones in Sparkly Green Earrings, and I'm sure that's because of where I'm at in life right now. I haven't been married nearly as long as Shankle, but there were definitely stories that reminded me of moments in my own marriage. Because of that, I laughed a lot more while reading The Antelope in the Living Room (to the point that my husband heard me from another room and kept asking what was so funny).

This book just focuses on Shankle's marriage specifically, not marriage advice in general. It can be a little all-over-the-place at times, but I'm glad that I read it. I've started following Shankle's blog since finishing both of her books, and I've found it very representative of everything I've read by her so far. So, if you're interested, check out her blog for an idea of whether or not her books might be for you! I had fun reading The Antelope in the Living Room and finished it in one night with a huge grin on my face the whole time I was reading.

So Quotable
"When I look in his eyes, I don't see perfection. I don't see a love story that would necessarily be something people would watch on a big screen and dream about. I see someone who will fight for me and protect me and love me in spite of all the ways I am still a wreck. I see home. Wherever he is. That's my home."

8 comments:

  1. Oh, I saw you read these and they seem kind of fun. I like that they read very informal and blog-esque, probably makes them go quick. If they didn't blow you away though...meh...I do agree though, that cover would draw me in, too!! It reminds me of Confessions of a Shopaholic--the girl with the green scarf :)

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    1. They are pretty fun! And I think they're perfect for the way they're marketed - kinda memoir, kinda blog-ish. I don't think they'd necessarily be something I'd tell you to read because they're just good (not amazing).

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  2. I just heard about these two the other day. I need them both. So glad to hear from someone else I know as to how great they are.

    And OMG how great are both of those quotes. The first made me tear up. SO true.

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    1. YES! I actually was *totally* thinking about you when I was writing these reviews. I feel like they'd be books you'd really enjoy!

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  3. Oh these sound like something I would love! I've never even heard of them!

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    1. Haha! I just told Juju I was thinking of her, and the funny thing is that you're the other person I specifically thought about when I was reading these. Put them on your library list for sure!

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  4. These books seem like they'd be a lot of fun to read! (And I have to say that those covers are pretty!) I do like it when authors manage to share their own experiences in a way that reads well, and just seems very personal and fun and honest. I might just have to check these two out!

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    1. I love these covers too! And yes, they're very fun reads while still having a nice balance of thoughtfulness and depth :)

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