May 25, 2016

A Slice of Brie Book Club: Remember Mia & Next Month's Book Pick

Hello Book Clubbers!
A Slice of Brie Book Club
For those of you new around these parts, today is book club day and we will be discussing this month's book, Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt. Spoilers will be part of the discussion since this is a book club after all, so consider yourself warned! As I did last month, I will have a few questions at the end of the post to encourage discussion on the book - feel free to answer them in the comments or not! And I also encourage people to comment on other people's comments to really get the discussion going. If you have a blog post in which you reviewed or talked about Remember Mia, I'd love for you to link up at the end of this post so that I can be sure to check out your post!

Also, there's a poll at the end of this post so make sure you vote for next month's book! If you're new to A Slice of Brie Book Club, in a nutshell, it's an online book club for fellow book lovers. A place to talk about a chosen book from the comfort of your own home/computer! Everyone is welcome, you definitely do not have to have a blog to participate! Every month, we vote on which book to read for the following month. The poll will stay open until Sunday night and I will announce the book next Tuesday. No commitment to join, but if you've ever wanted to join a book club, this is a great place to start!


OK! On to this month's book...Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt. As I usually do, I waited until the last minute to read this book. I like to have it fresh in my mind before talking about it. So basically, I read all but 30 pages yesterday (and then finished it off yesterday morning). I couldn't put it down!
Remember Mia a Book Club discussion
Quick summary: Remember Mia is the story of Estelle and the disappearance of her 7 month old baby girl, Mia. Estelle is clearly suffering from postpartum depression and has no support systems in place. One day, Estelle wakes up on the couch and all trace of Mia (her bottles, her diapers, all her clothes, everything, save for her crib), is missing. Estelle has no idea what has happened to her daughter, but instead of going directly to her husband (who is living in Chicago for work while Estelle and the baby are in NY), or the police, Estelle tries to make sense of what has happened on her own first. Then, 3 days later, Estelle wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of the past days events. Estelle was found in the ravine in her car, with a gun shot wound to her head. Unable to explain the disappearance of Mia or how she got in the accident, the doctors diagnosis Estelle with amnesia.

Estelle's actions and non actions, and lack of emotion over her missing daughter, make her a suspect in the authorities eyes. But instead of being charged, Estelle's husband forces her into voluntarily admitting herself into a psychiatric hospital for treatment. Here, Estelle will work with Dr Ari to uncover her memories leading up to the disappearance of Mia.

This book pulled me in from the get-go. Maybe because I'm a mom, I could easily relate and empathize with what Estelle was going through during those first months of motherhood. I didn't personally have to deal with postpartum depression, but I can definitely appreciate how hard motherhood can be. My heart broke for her - I wanted so desperately for someone, anyone!, to recognize that she was suffering and get her the treatment and support she so clearly needed. I was disappointed in her husband for not taking her situation more seriously. I was mad at the doctor she finally did see for just slapping down a prescription for an anti-depressant and dismissing her. And I felt sad for her that she didn't have any mom friends or a mother of her own to help her out.

I really enjoyed the relationship Estelle had with Dr Ari at the psychiatric facility though. Finally someone who recognized that Estelle had gone through postpartum depression and psychosis, and was determined to help her without judgement. I liked the therapy sessions, and how Dr Ari assisted Estelle in recovering her memory. But I also couldn't help but think about how much time was passing while she was in treatment - precious time that Mia continued to be missing.

I didn't feel like this was your typical thriller though. While some parts definitely had me on the edge of the seat, for the most part, what kept me wanting to turn the pages was the desperate need to find out exactly what had happened to Mia. I was pretty confident that Estelle hadn't harmed her own baby. I had some suspicions that her husband might have been involved, and at one point I wondered if Mia had died from SIDS and Estelle didn't know how else to cope with this reality than by blocking out the memory entirely. I also of course had my suspicions about the contractor, David, but I wasn't really sure why he would get involved.

The story of what actually happened to Mia was pretty crazy. Not unbelievable though, just unimaginable as a mother. What I wasn't prepared for though, was that even once we found out what happened to Mia, she wasn't actually returned to her parents. I was expecting a nice tidy ending once Estelle got her memory back. I was not expecting Mia to be missing for 4-5 years! My heart sunk when I saw that. I can't even begin to imagine that life. I honestly don't know that I could go on every single day. How do you not spend every waking moment obsessing over where your daughter is and looking for her?! I wasn't sure how the book would end (would Estelle or the police finally locate Mia, or would she be missing indefinitely), but I was glad with how it ended. I felt like it wasn't the typical ending one would expect - I thought the police would catch the "bad guys" and Mia would be returned to her parents and all would be well. I think given the incidents in the book, it was a good ending. The odds of a missing child being returned to their parents years later isn't common, but it isn't unheard of either.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I try not to have too many expectations for a thriller - I just want to be entertained and not be able to guess the ending right away, and I feel like Remember Mia met these requirements.

QUESTIONS FOR YOU!: (Feel free to discuss in the comments!)

1. Do you think Estelle's character would be harder to relate to if you weren't a mother? Moms and non-moms, thoughts? I think it can be hard to empathize with someone if you can't picture yourself in their shoes. Postpartum depression isn't something people talk enough about it my opinion, and I truly don't think you can appreciate how hard motherhood can be until you are one. 

2. Did you think Estelle was responsible for the disappearance of Mia? If not, who did you suspect was? At one point, I thought maybe Mia had died from SIDS and this was Estelle's way of coping, but I knew that couldn't be the ending of the book. I was frustrated at times that she didn't go straight to the police when Mia was first discovered missing, but given her mental state, I'm also not surprised she didn't act in a normal fashion. I had my suspicions about Lieberman but I wasn't sure why he would get involved. 

3. Did you see the twists coming? Did you find the book predictable or were you kept guessing? I honestly didn't. Even once I realized that Lieberman was responsible for Mia's disappearance, I did not see the events leading up to the ending coming. I couldn't figure out how the car crash and gun shot wound would come into play. 



Here are the choices for June's book club pick. I thought since we are getting into summer months, we should read something a little more fun and light-hearted. Feel free to vote even if you aren't sure you can participate. I'll announce the winner next Tuesday and you'll have a month to read the book!
A Slice of Brie Book Club - June vote
Links to check out these books on Goodreads: Happiness for Beginners, How to Fall in Love, and The Royal We
 **Local friends: All of 3 of these books are readily available at the library

And now to vote!

Happy voting! Don't forget to link up your posts so I can check them out! 

May 18, 2016

Surf Set Fitness: What to Expect

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to try out a private Surf Set class at Illume Hot Yoga here in Calgary. My friend, and fellow "Blog Squad" member, Alison, organized the class for ten of us. I remember seeing the episode about Surf Set on Shark Tank a few years ago and ever since then, I've always wanted to try it out! I've never surfed or done stand-up paddle boarding, but I'm always up for trying out new things.
Surf Set Fitness What to Expect
In case you aren't familiar with Surf Set, it was founded back in 2011 by professional hockey player, Mike Hartwick, after he spent his summers during off-season, surfing in California. He quickly realized that surfing resulted in his most toned and lean body ever, and he was unable to achieve these same results with any other type of workout. Hating to leave the ocean behind, he designed a way to mimic the workout he got while surfing. Surf Set Fitness was born.

Illume Hot Yoga where we took the class, offers Surf Set classes, as well as hot and warm yoga classes. The owner of the studio is Telara, and she also taught our class. We all arrived at the studio 15 minutes prior to our class to sign forms, give us a tour of the studio, and to go over the basics of our class.

The studio is stunning. The moment you walk in the door, you enter a peaceful oasis. There is a spot to take off your shoes, along with a little sitting area. Down the hall, you find two studios - one for Surf Set and one for Yoga. Further down, there is a change room. All of the wood used in the woodwork and decoration in the studio was commissioned from local artists utilizing reclaimed wood.
Surf Set Fitness A Review
The Surf Set class caps out at ten participants, and the boards are arranged in staggering order facing the front of the studio, and not in a circle like I envisioned! I was so nervous that we'd all be staring at each other for the whole class. There also weren't any mirrors which I really liked as it meant you could just focus on you and the board, nothing else. At the front of the room, a compilation of surf related videos was projected on the wall which I really enjoyed and just added to the overall ambiance of the experience. Telara taught on a board from the front corner of the room.
Surf Set Fitness What to Expect
Surf Set Fitness What to Expect
Surf Set Fitness What to Expect
I really wasn't sure what to expect from the class. Our class was a "blend" class, consisting of a warm-up, a lower-body strength set, cardio, an upper-body strength set, more cardio, core and balance work, and then a cool-down. We did exercises such as burpees (way more fun on a surf board, let me tell you!), planks, pushups, lunges, squats, tricep dips, downward dog, swimming & paddling, and balancing on one foot! My heart rate was up from the get-go and I was dripping sweat early on. It was hard, but not in an "in your face way". It was so different, and so fun, that you almost didn't notice you were working out.

The class is only 45 minutes long, and it's great to achieve such an efficient, total-body workout in less than an hour. We all agreed that class just flew by, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who wished it couldn't have gone on a bit longer. That's just how much fun we were having!
Surf Set Fitness What to Expect
Surf Set Fitness What to Expect
Surf Set Fitness What to Expect
The surf boards mimic the movement it would make in the water, and there are bungee cords that determine the level of difficulty your board is set at. All of our boards were set to "easy", but to increase the intensity of the board workout, you can release the bungee cords. Laughing is encouraged in class, which is good because there was a lot of that going on. You can't help but lose your balance at times or even fall off the board completely. It's tough, and even humbling at times, but honestly, it was the most fun I've ever had in a fitness class!

Surf Set Fitness YYC
{Thanks to Ange and Chase This Skirt for providing the Blog Squad with these awesome custom tanks! }

There are lots of fitness studios that offer this class now, which I think is great because everyone needs to try this at least once! Illume Hot Yoga even has a fantastic introductory rate to try out Surf Set for one month unlimited for just $40! Unfortunately, I live far, far south from the studio and wouldn't be able to make use of this offer, but I'm on the look out for a studio closer to me to get in a few more surf sessions!

Thanks again to Illume Hot Yoga for the private class and working our butts off!

Check out the links below to see what the other girls thought of the class!

Have you ever done a Surf Set class?

May 16, 2016

Weekending: Eat, Run, Surf

I was pretty sure I couldn't top last weekend's fun, but I was wrong! I was exhausted last night which means I chose my bed and my current read over blogging. Which are good priorities to have, don't get me wrong! But I do love having these recaps to look back on.

ANYWAY! Another jam-packed weekend in the books. I need a weekend to recover from my weekend!


To kick off the weekend, I met my Calgary Book Club at an Indian restaurant near-by, Moti Mahal, to discuss May's Book, The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami. Since I was running a race the next morning, I decided to keep it safe with my food choice, and went with the butter chicken, naan bread and jasmine rice. It did not disappoint! I got to sample a few of the other ladies dishes and everything was delicious. I already can't wait to go back.
Butter Chicken with Naan and Rice @ Moti Mahal YYC


Ange picked me up bright and early and we headed over to Sicome Lake in Fish Creek Park for the first race of the 5 Peaks Trail Race Series. It was my first trail race ever and I loved it! I'll recap the race later this week.
5 Peaks Trail Race #1 (Sicome Lake)
After the race, Ange dropped me at home and I had just enough time to shower and snuggle with Sully before his nap, before heading downtown to meet up for lunch at Craft Beer Market with some friends. It was the last day for the Burger Fest and since none of us wanted to miss out, we all ended up ordering the competition burger: The Backyard Burger. This thing was insane! We all kind of sat there for a few seconds unsure of how to attack eating such a big burger! It was delicious though, and while I'm usually not a fan or messy foods or chips on my burger, Hickory Sticks takes the burger experience to the next level.

The Backyard Burger at Craft Beer Market YYC
{The Backyard Burger: Beef & Bacon Patty on a Velvet Fog Brioche bun, with Tomato and Chili Relish, Lettuce, Onion, Tomato, & Pickles, topped with an Apple-Dijon Aioli, Smoked Cheddar, & House Made Hickory Sticks}

After Craft, Becky and I headed back to my place where we just relaxed on the back deck with Jim and his friend. Eventually the boys got hungry so they ran out to the grocery store and came back with ingredients to make homemade burgers (more burgers!!). And after hearing us rave about our burgers, Jim also bought a bag of Hickory Sticks, haha.

We ended the evening playing a million rounds of my favourite game ever - Dutch Blitz.


Sully bless his little heart, slept in until 10:30! Everyone was up by that point, and Jim fixed us up breakfast before Becky and I hit the road to a private Surf Set class at Illume Hot Yoga with the Blog Squad. Surf Set was by far the most fun workout I have ever tried! I will have my full recap up tomorrow. After the class, some of us walked over to Pour Beer Market for appies and drinks.
Surf Set class at Illume Hot Yoga YYC
Once I was back home, I helped Jim finish installing the new ceiling fan in Sully's new bedroom, and then we took Sully out on his new bike. This was only his second time out and he's already Mister Independent. We don't dare offer to help him! He goes slow, but he's definitely got the hang of it already!
Strider Bike for Toddlers
We wrapped up the evening with a light dinner, a bath for Sully, and then I crawled into bed just after 9 where I read before passing out.

I love weekends like this - full of good food, good friends and fun activities!

How was your weekend? 

Have you ever had Hickory Sticks on a burger? You need to! 

*affiliate links have been used