Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bubble Bum Inflatable Car Booster Seat - Why isn't this in Canada!?

Friends!  Have you heard about or seen this product - Bubble Bum Inflatable Car Booster Seat?  It's a portable booster seat for kids 4-11 years old or 40-100 pounds.   

I came across this seatbelt positioning booster seat when I was in Florida recently so I bought one!  Have you ever wished you had a booster that you could take with you on vacation, in taxis or in rental cars?  That's exactly what this is designed for. And the price point is great too - only $30 US. 
BubbleBum seats are currently undergoing tests to be approved in Canada, but they meet and exceed all US Federal Motor Vehicle Standards FMVSS213 and the European Regulations EU R44/o4.  I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it's approved for use here in Canada. 

Don't worry, I'm not going to use it before O is of the right age or weight, nor will I use it if it is not approved here, but I will bring it with us if and when we go on a Caribbean or US vacation once he is over 4. 

I really hope that these are approved in Canada soon.  Car safety is so important and the thought of not having a booster for a child while in a taxi or on vacation just makes me cringe. 

What do you think? Would you use it if it was approved here? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blog Tour Book Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

I’m sure many of you are familiar with uber-popular Irish women’s fiction author, Marian Keyes, so I know you will appreciate that when Penguin Random House Canada asked if I’d like to receive an Advance Reading Copy of her new book, The Woman Who Stole My Life, I was thrilled!  I have read other books by Keyes and have thoroughly enjoyed the quick pace, conversational tone and witty characters she dreams up.

First, here’s a synopsis from the publisher:

One day, sitting in traffic, married Dublin mum Stella Sweeney attempts a good deed. The resulting car crash changes her life. For she meets a man who wants her telephone number (for the insurance, it turns out). That's okay. She doesn't really like him much anyway (his Range Rover totally banjaxed her car). But in this meeting is born the seed of something which will take Stella thousands of miles from her old life, turning an ordinary woman into a superstar, and, along the way, wrenching her whole family apart. Is this all because of one ill-advised act of goodwill? Was meeting Mr Range Rover destiny or karma? Should she be grateful or hopping mad? For the first time real, honest-to-goodness happiness is just within her reach. But is Stella Sweeney, Dublin housewife, ready to grasp it? 

Now, my thoughts...

I had a real love-hate relationship with this book. The conversational tone and quick pace mentioned above were both present in true Keyes’ fashion.  Despite being 500+ pages, I found it to be a quick read and the story moved quickly.  The book shifts back and forth between past and present which wasn’t hard to follow, until closer to the end (what’s with the HIM, HER and ME headings?  They made no sense to me.).  I did think that the time shifting was a great way to unravel the story and I like books that are written in this manner.

One important piece of the story that the publisher's synopsis doesn’t share is that Stella falls victim to a rare disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome that leaves her paralyzed and on death’s door. This is the issue mentioned above that wrenches her family apart.  Completely paralyzed, Stella’s only means of communication is blinking her eyes and over time she develops a way of speaking to her doctor this way.  I found these parts of the book very thought-provoking. I could genuinely feel Stella’s frustration with not being able to speak or move. Her struggle was palpable as she watched her family unravel before her eyes, yet she was powerless to do anything about it.  Well done, Marian Keyes!

Unfortunately, the characters really fell short for me.  I had a hard time even liking Stella, the main character, right from the get-go.  As the mother of a teenage boy who may not fit the “average” teen mold (i.e., into sports, “tough”, etc.), I found Stella’s opinion and judgment of her son appalling.  Shouldn’t a parent embrace and foster a child’s uniqueness?  I also found her to be a push-over and sadly, just not all that interesting.  Her sister, Karen, also made me angry most of the time.  She was arrogant, condescending and just downright mean!  Who talks to their sister like that?  Maybe it’s because I have such a close relationship with my sister, who is the one person in the world who will be my cheerleader no matter what, that I found Karen’s treatment of Stella absolutely terrible.  And don’t even get me started on Ryan, her husband-turned-ex-husband.  His character was annoying, un-relatable and just plain odd.  Then there’s Mannix, Stella’s neurologist, who started out as a nerdy, quirky, soft character who suddenly morphed into a stallion.  I didn’t buy it for one second.  Also, he’s too young to a) be a neurologist and b) be into Stella, who is 41.

There were other things in the story that I found confusing and unbelievable as well.  Would a neurologist quit his job for TWO YEARS to become a literary agent?  I doubt it.  And speaking of literary agents, Stella’s agent (before Mannix took over) was a horrid character.  Is that really what authors deal with?  I certainly hope not.  I also felt that the title of the book was puzzling and misrepresentative of the story.  At one point it seems that Stella is the woman who stole Ryan’s life, but then it seems that it was Gilda that was stealing Stella’s life (insert confusion here. See how I didn’t even mention Gilda before?).  Gilda’s character wasn’t developed enough early on in the book to make me really believe the closeness of her relationship with Stella and what was happening in the last 100 pages (I will say no more so as not to spoil for those who will read it). 

If you loved Marian Keyes’ other books, I think you’ll be disappointed in this one.  I’m sorry Marian, but you just didn’t hit the mark for me with The Woman Who Stole My Life.