Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Two for One: Sept/Oct Reads

The time just seems to fly away from me these days.  Can't believe Halloween is over and now November is upon us.  Here are my "reads" from Sept/Oct.  I'm definitely getting lazy in my old days and don't seem to write/post as much as I would like or should.  Hope you find some good reading in the list following.  As always, love to hear any comments on those books I've read or suggestions on books I should read.  The first group are September and then I'll end with October's. 

 Big Little Lies  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Who knew PTA events could be so fun and so murderous!  This story is not all fluff despite the main setting revolves primarily around PTA events and the moms that are members of this elite, private school PTA.  The topics that Liane weaves within the main story line is intriguing: inappropriate social media use by teens, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, non-traditional families, single parenting, and just how hard it can be to raise kids.  The way in which Liane writes the chapters that fill this entertaining book are just another bonus- Detectives interviewing witnesses (who just happen to be some of the main characters in the story) is how some of the chapters start and how some of the chapters end.  This interview type writing almost reads like a screenplay.  If you want a book that will keep you hooked until the end read it.

The War that Saved My Life The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I listened to this book on tape after my niece and sister told me to read it.  It was a beautifully written story about some touch topics: war, child abuse (mental and physical), physical disability, and how the love of a stranger can overcome all of these tough issues.  I think this book is great for preteens, teens, and adults.  It is a great reminder of what resiliency is.  I really enjoyed listening to the story.

Interpreter of Maladies  Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Short stories that were well written, but they were just over and over disappointing, sad or downright "Debbie downers" in my eyes.  She is a talented author, but I just couldn't get into the characters and felt sad reading their stories.  She won the Pulitzer Prize for this book in 2000.  I struggle to like books that win awards so not surprising that I didn't get into this book despite it winning this amazing award. 

It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addairo

I really didn't think I was going to like this book.  This memoir of Lynsey Addairo's experience in every major war theatre of the 21st century as a war photographer however, surprised me and intrigued me.  I felt like I was getting a lesson in history, geography, and life.  Some may call Lynsey selfish, but I like to think of her as purely authentic, genuine, and passionate for her profession.  Does that make a woman selfish?  She definitely didn't let the normal social norms, and stereotypes of what a woman can and should do stop her.  Reading this book makes me look differently at newspaper articles as before this book I never really thought about the people who took the pictures that accompany the stories.  However, after reading this book I realize that the pictures, themselves, are stories in their own.  Who took the picture? What did the photographers have to go through to get the shots?  If you love photography, travel, history, geography, news reporting, war, and just good old stories about blending work with life this book is for you.

Love Warrior Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

This was my last read for September.  I was very excited to read this new book by Glennon.  I had read her Carry On Warrior book several years ago, listened to the book about two more times after reading the book, and even went to see Glennon talk live with my sister just this past Spring.  The book was good, but it wasn't great.  For some reason I liked her first book better.  I felt this book sounded at times "whiny".  Don't get me wrong I liked the book and would tell you to read it, but I would also tell you to read Carry On Warrior first.  I love the message Glennon sends out to this world --- "Love Wins".  I love how honest she is even with all her dirty laundry, which she has quite a bit of it, like most of us. 

The Hours Count The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor
This may be my pick of the year for Book Club Reads.  I really liked this book- 5 Stars!  This is the second book I have read by Jillian Cantor.  The first book we read by Jilian for book club was Margot and I loved that book too.  Jillian's ability to write about historical events in a fictional setting is truly believable.  The basis for this book is Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were electrocuted for spying during the Cold War.  Double Agents, spying, are some of the heavy topics, but really it is a book of what friendship and love can mean in times of crisis.  The main character is a neighbor of the Rosenbergs.  Millie becomes friends with Ethel and there is tie that brings Millie into this story.  Millie however, has several other side stories occurring in this book: mothering an autistic child, figuring out married life, planned parenthood and birth control, and learning how to believe in herself.  EXCELLENT READ!

The Girl on the Train The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My husband and I read this one together.  It is kind of like our own book club we try and do a few times of year.  The plan was to read the book and then rent the movie.  Several people I know have read the book and I've heard mixed reviews.  I feel "meh" about this book.  I thought it was a great storyline.  However, the story drug on too long!  The thing that I took from this story was how much alcoholism can really screw your life- you can do stupid things and then you can be told you did stupid things even when you didn't do them- you are a drunk so how do you know what is real?  I'm looking forward to watching the movie. 

A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #12) A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

I love Louise Penny.  Her Armand Gamache mystery series is one of my favorites.  I got so excited when I saw this on the Express Reading Shelf at the library.  I snatched it up.  It was a great read and as usual I want to go visit Three Pines.  Sadly, Three Pines, is fictitious, but I still want to go visit French/Canadian regions and imagine I'm in Three Pines someday.  Louise's character development is amazing and there are so many rich personalities in her books, this one included.  I'd start with her first in the series and work your way through- you won't be disappointed. 

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1) In the Woods by Tana French

After reading A Great Reckoning I wanted to read another mystery.  This has been on my "to read" list for a little bit and so I searched it out at the library.  It is a story full of interesting characters.  The book starts with three 12 year olds in the woods playing.  During their play something occurs and the chapter ends with two of the 12 year olds missing, never to be found, and the third 12 year old nails dug into a tree, frozen still, with blood congealed in the bottom of his shoe (not his own blood).  Flashforward- the "found" 12 year old is now a murder detective and he is being called to the woods again where a 12 year old female is found murdered.  Are the two mysteries connected?  It was a great read- kind of scary at times.  You know the type of scary when your husband is gone traveling that you want to just go through every closet in the house while holding a bat to make sure no "monsters" are lurking anywhere.  No I didn't do that, but I felt like doing it :). 

Well that's all folks.  Another great list of books and great reading life.  Onto November...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

August Reads

Here are the books I read in August.  Always love to hear feedback on the books I read or even suggestions on future reads.
The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide: Essential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World
So I have been told since I was a young child that I'm a sensitive person.  For a long time I thought of this as a negative trait or label, but as I've aged I'm growing into acceptance of this being an OK thing for me.  If you go to Pinterest and type in "highly sensitive" people there is some interesting information. That is where I found the title of this book.  The book was a good read for me, but it brought to light I don't fit all the traits of a "true" highly sensitive person  (HSP) as Ted Zeff defines them.  If you're a sensitive person or you are in a relationship with a HSP I think it's worth opening this book.

One Hundred Names
One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern was a wonderful read and more importantly it introduced me to an author I haven't read before.  This is one of those books that has been sitting on my "to read" bookshelf for awhile.  So I picked it up and was not disappointed.  It is a great story about a newspaper journalist whose career, and social life is floundering. She gets involved in the writing of a story based on a list of 100 names which are written on a piece of paper by her mentor and friend.  This piece of paper is found upon the death of her mentor/friend.  You've got to read the book to find out what the names mean.
The Book of Tomorrow

Because I enjoyed "One Hundred Names" I went to the library and tried to find other books to read by Cecelia.  Again I thank "One Hundred Names" for the introduction to Cecelia, because I loved more "The Book of Tomorrow".  It is a great story, almost a mystery, with the main character Tamara coming into her teenage years, recently losing her father and finding her mother lost and of no help or comfort to her during the loss of her dad.  She has to figure out who she is and what kind of life she will now live.  The character building in the story is rich and there are definitely some great descriptive scenes so that the book almost reads like watching a movie or play.

Trying to be better about reading poetry.  Mary Oliver helped me realize poetry isn't always "highfalutin", but instead can be real life descriptions stories in short form.  This book was OK, not some of my favorite poetry of hers.  However, if you haven't read any Mary Oliver I'd recommend it!

Not the most productive reading month, but I feel grateful for introduction to Cecelia Ahern and look forward to picking more books of hers' to read in the future. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer Reading

Embarrassed to say I haven't posted anything since early May.  I have a lot of excuses, but many of them not good enough to explain this delay in writing. 

Life can get messy, busy, crazy, chaotic, stressful, and thus some tasks or hobbies or "to do's" just don't get done and writing for me has been one of them.  But, alas I'm feeling the need to get back at it.  I used to write primarily about my training for races, my running/training/triathlon life.  When all of that went away after my surgery for ACL repair my writing felt pretty lost.  I felt pretty lost.  Since then other life events have occurred and my writing MOJO has just been so lackluster. 

So today I start again and start with one of my favorite post topics to write about- books and my reading life.  So the following is a recap of May, June and July reads for 2016.  Due to the long list I will keep comments to hopefully a condensed version of what I normally post for my monthly reads.  I'll rank the books on the 1-4 rating system that came with the adult summer reading program log I received from my public library (I turned my log in so this may not be word to word verbatim of what the rating program stated): 1- never bring on vacation, 2- bring on vacation but likely at the bottom of my bag of books, 3- sits in the middle to top of the reading bag of books, 4- top of the pile and likely added to the vacation being the best.

Post Secret: Confessions on Life, Death and God by Frank Warren
PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God
This is a 3.  It was something I saw on the new nonfiction shelf.  The title alone intrigued me.  Frank has been called "the most trusted American" because of the way in which people share very personal stories and secrets with the author through postcards they send to Frank.  This is the fifth book in the series.  As one "goodreads" rating so well put... "The biggest appeal of these books is that you can relate to at least one secret in the book, even if it isn't specifically yours."

Here is an example of the type of post card you will find in the book.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale
Rating of 3- I had just the month before read "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay.  If I had read The Nightingale first I would likely had rated this book a 4, but because "Sarah's Key" was just so powerful, well written and I loved I kept on comparing "Sarah's Key" to "The Nightingale".  the reason for this comparison is both take place in France during WWII and backstory is the Nazi invasion of France.  "The Nightingale" utilizes the relationship of two sisters and their separate and at the same time simultaneous stories/experiences of their time during 1939 onward.  It is a great story and a great read.  Amazing to me that these stories are likely less fiction than we want to admit.  I love reading about this era in history and it again reminds me of the horrors that occurred by the Nazis during WWII and the aftermath of those horrors.  My favorite line from this book...

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

Fifty Shades Darker (#2) by E.L.James

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)

Rating of 3- I liked this one better than the first one. This one had a more mystery/thriller type of feel to it.  Not such a thriller/mystery that I ran out to read the third one, but I likely will get to it at some point in my reading life.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Rating of 3- Listened to this one on audio.  Great listen/read.  Tina Fey is witty, smart, and totally entertaining.  It is so fun to learn about someone else's life.  Hers is interesting, but yet not over the top.  It reads like a story of someone who could actually be a friend with an "everyday person" minus the fact that she is SUPER FAMOUS!  Great listen- liked listening it better than reading it because of hearing her voice and the inflections she made throughout the story.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Rating of 4- Just happened to pick up this book in Barnes and Noble on one of my many "window shopping" visits. I like to peruse the shelves and to add to my "to read" list on "Goodreads" account.  However, the back cover grabbed me and I was soon purchasing it.  What grabbed me- the fact that the book takes place, primarily, in Broken Wheel, Iowa (fictitious- but well written description of what could be any small town in Iowa).  Better yet- the premise of book is a Swedish girl comes to Broken Wheel to visit a pen-pal and happens to open a book store in the town.  I can't give you too much more information, because I'd hate to ruin the fun.  Great characters throughout the book and lovely story.

June Reads:
The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel
The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship
Rating 3 1/2- Not quite a four, but so close.  The whole book is written primarily in the form of letters between two friends.  It spans several years and is so realistic with how life changes from one year to the next for any two friends.  The tie in with food and recipes is not a forced one and adds some quirkiness to the story line.

Nourished: A Search of Health, Happiness and a Full Night's Sleep by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph
Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night’s Sleep
Rating of 3- Self-Help book meets story of mother and daughter's lives together and apart.  These two authors come up with "The Ten Most Common Stressors That Mess with a Woman s Mind: daily challenges that routinely steal her sense of peace and joy."  The book has some practical ways in which we can combat these stresses.  The author's faith is also discussed and utilized as a way in which to cope with the daily challenges.  I liked the book, but couldn't give it a 4 star rating because I thought they were leaving some personal stories out which could have added more "meat" to the writing. 

Post Secrets: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
Rating 3- picked this one up after reading the one in May.  Similar story line, but this was the first in the series and what started it all off.
Why reinvent the wheel when GoodReads explains the first book in Frank Warren's series...
"It all began with an idea Frank Warren had for a community art project. He began handing out postcards to strangers and leaving them in public places -- asking people to write down a secret they had never told anyone and mail it to him, anonymously." https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27268040-postsecret

July Reads:
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian
Rating 2 1/2.  I'm just not a science fiction person.  My husband and I occasionally read books together and then have our own book club.  Well this was the most recent hubby/wife read and to add to the fun my son read it too.  We read the book first and then watched the movie.  I thought the movie was pretty good, but the movie, as all movies do, left out parts of the book which I felt added to the story.  So I liked the book a little better than the movie.  For those of you who haven't seen the movie or read the book the basis is an astronaut is stranded on Mars when his crew's mission goes amuck because of a bad storm on Mars.  The story is then all about his survival and figuring out how to make it home.

Midnight Riot- Peter Grant #1 by Ben Aaornovitch
Midnight Riot (Peter Grant, #1)
Rating 2.  Was a recommendation from a book club buddy.  I think I should have known it wouldn't be my kind of read when the lab on the spine of the book at the library read FANTASY.  I thought it sounded like an interesting story line- English cop trying to make it as a detective.  He gets involved with a Detective (mentor) who isn't just about using normal detective ways to investigate and solve murders.  No Peter Grant's mentor uses magic- hence where I got lost in interest in the story.  I also struggled with exactly how the plot line unraveled and the mystery was ultimately solved.  Unfortunately for Peter Grant and the author I won't be opening any further mysteries in this series.

White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan
White Fur Flying
Rating 3.  I try to keep track of those books I read with my kids.  This one I read with my daughter.  It is a lovely dog story.  My daughter totally wants a dog and so because we are mean parents and won't add a dog to our family she lives vicariously through owners of dogs in books.  The main character, Zoe, is one in a family of four that rescues dogs in need.  In this story Zoe befriends a neighbor boy, who isn't able to talk- selective mute.  Zoe along with the current rescue dog in the family help this boy learn to trust and communicate again.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
Rated it a 4- It was a great read with a lot of insight into what many of us are constantly struggling with- too much to do and not enough time.  It is well written and has just the right touch of personal narrative to make this nonfiction read more enjoyable.  The research given to back up the answers to solve some of our "overwhelmed" feelings and problems is cleanly written and gets to the point making the read that much more applicable to daily living.  Read it!

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train
Rated it a 3 1/2.  This was our July book club read. I liked the story and thought the character description and depth was what made the book that much more believable.  It is historical fiction about one orphans trip from New York to the Midwest on one of the many orphan trains that traveled the train tracks of this country.  However, it is also the story of a current day orphan's experience in the foster care system.  The way in which the author tied these two character's stories together was perfect.  Although time has changed some of the same experiences occur for both orphans bringing to light what orphans truly experience. 

Well that's all for now.  Glad to be writing again and even happier to be writing about the great books I've read.  Hope this post gives you some new reads to add to your own "to read" list. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

April Reads

I'm getting ready to head off to a week of reading and pool time.  Hubby and I are leaving the kids at home with grandma while we head off to "Sin City"- yep one of our favorite places Las Vegas.  He's going for work and I'm tagging along.  Normally I'd have my whole week planned, but due to the Mindfulness class I've been taking I'm trying a new approach- going and just seeing what happens.  However, I have slipped four books into my carry on.  I'm hoping to meet some new "friends" via reading these books and having some entertaining time by the pool reading about these "friends" lives.  But before I get onto that plane I thought I'd better post my April Reads- not very many due to Gretchen Rubin's book taking me a bit longer .

Sarah's Key
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay was painfully beautiful.  It is a story I didn't know. 
 July 16 and 17, 1942 French police went through Paris rounding up all Jews and taking them to the Vélodrome d'Hiver (a sport's dome in Paris).  There for 3 days the Jews of Paris were given little water or food let alone a place to go to the bathroom.  These Jews were then taken to internment camps: Drancy, Pithiviers and Beune-la-Rolande  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drancy_internment_camp).  They rode to these internment camps in the typical mode of transportation of Jews during WWII- cattle cars on trains. 
The two main characters in this book are Sarah from 1942 and Julia Jarmond from 2002.  It is a beautifully woven story of the past with the present.  I'm always amazed and jealous of some author's abilities to write historical fiction that reads more like nonfiction- i.e. the real thing.  Tatiana is a journalist by nature and that background suits her well. Her writing is clear, concise, but still doesn't read like a newspaper.  It reads like the great story "Sarah's Key" is. 
It was such a great book I stayed up on a work night and finished the book at 1 a.m. only to have to get up at 6 am and head back to reality.  An Amazing Read- 5 stars I gave it.  Next year I hope to travel to Paris with my son.  I plan to go to the Bir-Hakeim metro station where a plaque lies facing where meters away the Vel d'Hiv stood in 1942.  Tears will be shed I'm sure because of how powerful this story and read was for me.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
My April month Book Club Read.  I had read two other books by Gretchen Rubin prior to this read.  My favorite still reigns as "The Happiness Project".  This one got me thinking though and it was an overall good read. It is a book about our habits and the type of people we are: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, and Questioner (read the book or go to her website for further definition explanation:http://gretchenrubin.com/. You can take a quiz that will help you figure out what type you are.  I ended up with Upholder/Obliger, but lean toward Obliger.  Once you figure out what type of person you are you then can better understand your habits/actions.  Here are a few quotes/tid bits I took from the book.
pg 30 "We all must pay, but we can choose that for which we pay."
What Gretchen considers foundation habits: Sleep, Move, Eat and Drink Right, and Unclutter.  I'd say she's right.  Now if I can just figure out how to work on those and improve all of them.
pg 123 "When the student is ready the teacher appears".  This comment in regard to her idea that a "lightning bolt" change occurs for some that helps them change their habit in a somewhat surprising or immediate way. 
pg 171 " Moral licensing loophole... we give ourselves permission to do something 'bad;...because we've been 'good'.  We reason that we've earned it or deserve it".  Been there done that!
pg 171 "Tomorrow loophole...now doesn't matter, because we're going to follow good habits tomorrow."  Again been there done that.  One of my "bookies" had a good idea for how to combat this type of "loophole".  She said she reverses it and said I'll do what is "good" today because tomorrow I'll do the "bad" thing, but then if she continues to always look at doing the "good" habit today then tomorrow she doesn't do a "bad" habit because it ends up being "today" and she does "good" habits for today.  Good reverse psychology.
pg 190 "To keep going, I sometimes need to allow myself to stop." Don't we all!
pg 198 "I've noticed that some people are serial good setters, rather than habit formers."  I want to be a serial good setter someday.  Onward Ho!
Anyone who likes to read books that are "real life meet self help" I'd recommend this one.  It has some good explanation of who we are and how are habits make up just what our life is and can become. 
Midnight Sun (Blood on Snow, #2)
Listened to "Midnight Sun" by Jo Nesbo. It was a good "listen", but I still feel like I'm a "Harry Hole" fan and when Jo Nesbo writes stories with other characters- not "Hole"- then I don't seem to be held in interest as much.  However, his writing is still clean, clear, concise with excellent detail and ability to twist and tie in several characters' stories.  Not one of my favorites, but an entertaining listen while walking or doing housework. 
Well with that I'm going to get the last of my bags packed and get ready to head to some Nevada sunshine.  Here's to a great week of reading!


Thursday, April 7, 2016

March Reads

Blood on Snow          
Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo
I love listening to Jo Nesbo's books.  The reader of his books have been men and so when I started listening to this one I was caught off guard that it was a female voice.  Sometimes the narrator's voice can make or break it for me.  I at first found her voice to be just "too much".  I can only describe it as combo of Bronx, Jersey, Boston, smoker's voice.  However, I soon got over it and the story unfolded.  It was good.  Not a Harry Hole book, so not one of my favorite's by Jo, but still full of mystery, graphic writing/scenes, and real honest personal relationships. 


        The Redeemer (Harry Hole, #6)          

Two Nesbo audiobooks in one month is a good month in my reading/listening mind.  This one I enjoyed, but struggled a little with because of the fact that I've read/listened to subsequent books in the Harry Hole series (note to self really best to start at the beginning and go forward).  The story was still well written and for some reason listening to this book made me feel that the writing was even more graphic with this Harry Hole story.  Great mystery, great story line, and interesting characters- surprised me at the end- another win for Jo Nesbo. 
        The Ship of Brides          
I LOVE Jojo Moyes' books.  She is such a successful story teller.  This story was based on the real life stories of some of the brides from Australia that took a British Naval ship following the end of WWII towards their British officer husbands in England.  It is an amazing story about how all of us are so different, we all have our own stories, yet we all can be connected via love, life, family, etc.  The characters in this book were so well thought out and truly believable.  Great story! 
        The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman, #2)          

I was somewhat disappointed with this one.  I really enjoyed the first one, but this one just didn't have the same hold on me to read.  I finished it and thought it was a fun story, but the first one really was so much more entertaining.  In the 2nd "Rosie" book Don Tillman is soon to be a father and so it is his experience, along with his wife's, his friends, and family on how things go when you are waiting for a child to enter your world. 
         1        Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power - And How They Can Be Restored          

This was a our book read for Lent at my Lutheran Church.  I found it an interesting read and it helped me better understand certain Christian terms/words and how people can really flub up something like talking about religion and being Christian.  It also reminded me of how little some of us talk about our own religious experiences and if we don't talk about those experiences how will others hear about the great things (experiences, support, feelings) that can come out of religion and being Christian if all we normally hear about is the negatives of religion and Christianity.  Here are a few quotes that really hit me hard or made me stop to question when reading this book. 
pg 26 "But literalism is not only a public relations problem that needs to be addressed for the sake of outsiders.  It also very much affects insiders; for Christians, it narrows, reduces, flattens, and ultimately distorts the meanings of the Bible and Christianity."  (totally agree with this, literalism was why I was turned off to reading the Bible for so long).
pg 45 "salvation as deliverance and rescue".
pg 68 "When someone says to me, 'I don't believe in God', I always respond' Tell me about the God you don't believe in' ". 
pg 79 "Fear-based religion, fear-based individual behavior, and fear-based politics most often go together".
pg 100 "What if Christianity and salvation are really about transformation- the transformation of ourselves and the world?"
pg 155 "Grace means that God's live is a given".
pg 173 "many of us know people of other religions and also know that all religions, including Christianity, are particular historical responses to the experience of God, the sacred, in the cultures in which hey originated.  How then, can any one of them truthfully proclaim itself to be 'the only way' ?"
This book produced some great discussion, questions, and helped people talk about their religious experiences. 
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
I had bought this book awhile ago, started it, and then set it down and got caught up in other reads.  So finally I finished it this month and I found it filed with some really great words.  Here are a few...
pg 2 "Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen."
pg 33 " To feel is to be vulnerable.  To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness". 
pg 34 "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity."
pg 35 "If we want to reclaim the essential emotional part of our lives and reignite our passion and purpose, we have to learn how to own and engage with our vulnerability and how to feel the emotions that come with it."
pg 45 "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."
pg 40 "Only when we're brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light". 
pg 137 "If we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won't catch up with us."
pg 197 " Today's organization are so metric-focused in their evaluation of performance that giving, receiving, and soliciting valuable feedback ironically has become rare."
pg 198 "We just need to learn how to give feedback in a way that inspires growth and engagement."
pg 214 "Are you the adult you want your child to grow up to be?"
pg 219 " if we want our children to love and accept who they are, our job is to love and accept who we are."
Brave Enough
Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed
Lastly I picked it up this quick read by Cheryl Strayed, author of "Wild"- which I loved and if you haven't read that one- read it!
This book was a compilation of quotes she has written throughout the years.  You know me and my love of quotes.  I picked it up and also picked up my pen as I added to my "quotes" book.  Here are just a few...
"I believe in the power of words to help us reset our intentions, clarify our thoughts, and create a counter narrative tot he voice of doubt many of us have murmuring in our heads."- Intro
pg 3 "Be brave enough to break your own heart."
pg 21 "Transformation doesn't ask that you stop being you.  It demands that you find a way back to the authenticity and strength that's already inside of you.  You only have to bloom."
pg 43 "Real love moves freely in both directions."
pg 61 "When we fail to set healthy limits we become bitter, angry, tiny-hearted people."
pg125 "You don't have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt.  You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you're holding."
pg 133 "Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true."
Wow- I'm exhausted just writing all of the above.  Guess I'm ready to curl up by the fire (yes a fire in April) and read another book. Happy reading friends!

Friday, March 11, 2016

I found it!

So a little irony in this story.  Last month I was traveling to Tampa, Florida for a PNCB board meeting (PNCB is who certifies pediatric nurse practitioners and pediatric nurses).  During that travel I finished a great book "My Life on the Road" by Gloria Steinem.  It was such a great book that I took tons of notes (I do that when I read books and maybe one day I'll write a book with all the great quotes I've read throughout my reading life).  So when I went to write my post on February reads I looked and looked for my page of notes and couldn't find them, so I wrote my post without those added words of wisdom from Gloria and moved on.

This past Wednesday I was headed to Washington DC for another PNCB meeting and I'm getting my journal out to write down a few words while on plane, hit a little turbulence and my book dropped and low and behold a piece of paper falls out.  There were the notes I'd taken from "My Life on the Road".  YIPEE!

So here we go...

Intro: "I'm also now immune to politicians who say 'I've traveled the length and breadth of this great land, and I know...' I've traveled more than any of them, and I don't know". 

pg 12- "I never had the courage to say: But you would have been born instead."- this was Gloria's response to her mother's comment "If I'd left, you never would have been born".  Her parents had a strained marriage and Gloria noted that her mother could have had a better life if she hadn't had her, but her mother recognizes that her daughter would have not come without going through this strained relationship.  Amazing what some people endure for their children.

pg 37 "Gandhians... If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live.  If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye to eye".

pg 57 "I began to see that for some religion was just a form of politics you couldn't criticize".  This line really struck me.  It reminded me of people who try to tell others what the Bible means- the literal meaning with no room for someone else's view or interpretation. 

pg 127 "Always look at what people do, as my mother said, not at who they are".

pg 129 "I myself cried when I got angry, then became unable to explain why I was angry in the first place.  Later I would discover this was endemic among female human beings.  Anger is supposed to be 'unfeminine', so we suppress it- until it overflows."... "This was my first hint of the truism that depression is anger turned inward; thus women are twice as likely to be depressed."   I'm a crier and always have felt that my crying is a sign of weakness, but I guess it really could be a sign that I'm angry. I think I'll just cry away and not suppress the anger/feelings- sorry in advance to family/friends.

pg 170 Flo Kennedy (a co-speaker with Gloria) "The purpose of ass-kicking is not that your ass gets kicked at the right time or for the right reason... It's to keep your ass sensitive."

pg 171 "Voting isn't the most we can do, but it is the least." - AMEN!

pg 176 "The voting booth really is the one place on earth where the least powerful equal the mostly powerful."--- AMEN, AMEN!

pg 177 "But we have to behave as if everything we do matters.  Because it might." 

pg 181 "Laughter is an orgasm of the mind".  Loved this.

pg 191 98 year old former Ziegfield girl talking to Gloria, "You're always the person you were when you were born"..."You just keep finding new ways to express it."   Thought this was so beautiful.

So glad I found these notes.  Writing these lines down again reminded me of how well written this book was.  If the above lines spoke to you I'd highly suggest picking up this book. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

February Reads

I've been trying to put off writing this post intentionally.  You see I had about two pages worth of notes I had taken while reading "My Life on the Road" by Gloria Steinem.  I was so excited to share so many good quotes, but then I couldn't find the notes.  I still can't find the notes.  I am going to call it quits on looking for them in hopes that they will reappear as soon as I put this post up.  I also like to wonder is someone trying to tell me "let them read the book themselves- don't give away all the greatness".

So here is the book list and the reviews, not very long because one book I already highlighted in the month of February because I just couldn't wait it was that good (no idea why I didn't do the same with the Steinem book).  Happy Reading- sorry I lost the notes Gloria!

Dead Man's Best Friend (A Dog and His Girl Mysteries, #2)

Dead Man's Best Friend (A Dog and His Girl Mysteries, #2)

by Jane B. Mason *
This book is the second in the series and my daughter loves the books, the girl Cassie is a great strong heroine any kid should be proud to read about.  Her dog isn't too shabby either.  This book was a tad bit darker than the first one.  The premise behind this book is Dodge, the dog, who just happens to be an ex police dog, is reliving his partner's death.  The partner just happens to be Cassie's Uncle Mark.  It is somewhat a reinvestigation of past evidence and crime. I have enjoyed these books, especially because my daughter is no reading every other page with me. 

My Life on the Road
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Totally bummed I can't find these darn notes.  There was so much to share.  So many great stories, words of wisdom, quotes I just can't believe the notes are missing.  I can say that before this book I knew very little about Gloria Steinem.  I knew she was dubbed a major feminist, which that word for some reason has always sounded so negative to me.  However, I have a new appreciation for what that word means and definitely respect Gloria Steinem and what she has accomplished and spoken out for in regard to women, those of lower socioeconomic status, and different ethnicity.  Amazing woman!  Read it and let me know if you find any of my notes/sheets of paper in your book.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Already talked about this one.  So far I've followed her instructions to organize in categories, not by rooms, and have organized my clothes, my daughter's and son's clothes and our books.  I'm obviously needing to move onto her next category- Paper- as I can't seem to find those papers that are important to me :).

Life, Love and Other Mysteries
Life, Love, and Other Mysteries by Stone Fauks
I'm slowly, but surely figuring out that poetry can be enjoyable to read.  I think you have to find the poetry that works best for you, or the words that speak most honestly to you.  This book did!  Here is one poem I just really loved...

Dream and Do
Everything that has or will be accomplished
starts out as a thought,
Then becomes an idea, then a vision, then an action.
Dead visions can be resurrected, revived and fulfilled.
The only hindrance is your willingness
to be diligent to see it through.

to dream, plan, study and do.
Quick read with some life applicable poetry. I think if your are hesitant to dive into poetry this book would be an excellent place to start. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

To good to wait for my Feb reads recap...

The following is my "book review" on a book I just finished reading.  Sorry it is such a long post- I really wrote down quite a few notes/words of wisdom while reading and figured some may actually be interested in seeing what this book is about. 
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
By Marie Kondo
Here are the notes I took while reading this book.  I was told to read this book by my sister’s mother in-law first.  Then I was told by a friend from Bible Study “you should read this book”.  So I went to the library to check it out and there were no copies available.  Then I called my other local library and the same story with them, “no copies” available.  So I was walking past one of my favorite bookstores, Prairie Lights, and thought I’ll just go in and see what the book looks like.  So I picked it up and I quickly found that I was likely going to be writing in the book, underlining, taking notes, so I bought it.
 Here is what I gleamed from reading this book:
- pg 4 when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.
This sounds good to me.  I like to think I have an organized house, but deep down I know what is lurking in closets, drawers, boxes in the basement storage, and memories in my head (the good old past).

- pg 5 Success is 90 percent dependent on our mind-set.
So true, very true.  My mind-set definitely affects my physical and mental well-being. 

- pg 14 If you use the right approach, you’ll never rebound.
The author told herself this after she tried tidying up and falling back into untidiness.  She found through her own trial and error (for instance she doesn’t believe in organizing/tidying by rooms, but instead by subject matter- i.e. all clothes in your whole house- not just your bedroom).  I think this comment can be very true with many different challenges or changes we try to make in our lives.  Sometimes it isn’t that we try to make change, but the way in which we try to change that could affect your success with changing.

-pg 15 People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.
Don’t think I need to elaborate on this.

-pg 21 When a room becomes cluttered, the cause is more than just physical.  Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.
Looking forward to finding out what “true messes” are in my life.

-pg 43 always think in terms of category, not place.
Category, not place, category, not place- may be hard to stick to, but the author when helping clients has a rule if you (her client) don’t bring let’s say all shirts out to the “table” then if any other shirts are found in the house they immediately go in the “get rid of pile”- this ensures that her clients really bring out all category items or else sayonara shirts.  Now I won’t have her (the author) looking over my shoulder, but I hope to follow through with this same rule when going through my categories. 

-pg 46 The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly, mementos.
This is how I plan to attack the tidying frenzy. 

-pg 48 it’s extremely stressful for parents to see what their children discard.
Thought this was a pretty honest truth.

-pg 53The urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your own space.
I think this sentence could be reworded to say so many things beyond tidying, for instance switch out “tidy” with “parent” and switch “space” with “family”.  Or switch out “tidy” for “work” and “space” switched to “job”.  See what I’m saying- smart author.

-pg 58 that we should feel a thrill of joy when we touch it.
This is the author’s way to decide whether an item is kept or tossed/recycled.  Some, my sister, for instance didn’t like the idea of humanizing an item or giving the item the ability/power to produce joy, but for me, being an emotional person I liked the idea of holding something in my hands and really evaluating is this “shirt making me happy”, or “is this book bringing joy” to my life. 

-pg 60 When you come across something that’s hard to discard, consider carefully why you have that specific item in the first place…Reassess the role it plays in your life.
Hoping this is helpful advice as I see struggling with some of the categories in particular: books, and mementos.

-pg 61 To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.
Again I think somewhat applicable not only to items in my life, but sometimes relationships or people in my life.  Look at what really brings you joy/happiness.

-pg 87 Remove all the books from your bookcases.  You cannot judge whether or not a book really grabs you when it’s still on the shelf.
This should be interesting- can’t wait to see the piles lying all over my floor as I clean the shelves out. 

-pg 114 Truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard the objects associated with them.
-pg 114 No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past.   The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.
This touches me because of my quest to find peace in my life and be present in the present.

Pg 119 As always, only keep the ones that inspire joy. 
This in regard to photos.  Again a challenging purge is ahead of me with photos, but as noted in the book the author comes across so many people who have boxes and boxes of photos just hanging out in the basement and so no one is getting any joy at being able to look at them anyways,  This purging of pictures will give me a time to go back in my past, which I so love doing (except for those lovely Junior High years), and at the same time putting in albums pictures that I really want to look at. 

-pg 125 As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life.
Sounds lovely!

-pg 168 By eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable.
In reference to extra packing, i.e. shrink wrap with advertising that comes around multi pack items.  Take off that wrap holding all your deodorants together from Costco.  Instead unwrap and place deodorant all in the same spot, but less wrap/clutter getting in your way of use and looks much nicer than seeing all that plastic and advertising.

-pg 182 The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.

-pg 183 The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t. 

So as I send this out into cyber land I embark on the first category: clothes.  Hope to update you as I go. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

January Reads

It was really great month of reading!

 Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)  Ink and Bone the Great Library #1 by Rachel Cain is a YA read, but of course was super enjoyable as an adult read.  Sometimes I think more adults would be happier if they read more YA books.  Most of the YA reading I do has some fantasy mixed with reality and this book had both of those.  It also reminded me a little bit of "A Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood (totally different plot/story line, but it had that whole "fight the establishment" type of gusto).  The main character Jess comes from a family of thieves- thieves who basically run a "black market" on selling original books.  The current world Jess lives in doesn't allow people access to "real books" only what they call "blanks".  Jess grows up a "runner".  Literally the one who "runs" the original/contra-band books from point A to point B and disposes of the book to the person paying lots of money to get their hands on the original.  He is somehow chosen to attend the Great Library of Alexandria's training center to become one of the chosen few who works within the library system.  Of course is family, especially his father and brother, are overjoyed with this admittance to the Library training program for they think Jess will be able to help them with their black market book business.  As usual there are a cast of characters who were all well developed and stood out in their own unusual ways.  Jess befriends many of the other trainees, but of course not all and this is the start of the "story" so of course the book leaves you hanging on at the end to tease you into racing out to find #2.  So as soon as I was done I plugged The Great Library #2 into Goodreads and proceeded to check at local libraries and eventually ended up at Barnes and Noble, desperate to start reading the next part of the story... well would've helped if I had looked at the publishing date on Goodreads for the #2 book doesn't come out until July 2016.  So I wait- not a bad thing to be waiting for the "rest of the story".  Read it if you like well developed characters, stories with mystery, fantasy and reality all tied into a neat little book.

 The Art of Racing in the Rain  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein was a book I have somewhat avoided because I really am not a dog person.  Well low and behold I loved this book.  It was really a beautiful, somewhat heart wrenching story about this man and his dog Enzo and the life the man had which included his furry pal.  Stein's ability to weave several different topics together was seamless: race car driving, dog health issues, people health issues, love, family struggles- specifically custody battles, and death.  Read it you'll be happy you did and if like me you'll want to meet Enzo on the street someday soon. 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person  Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes was something I came upon as I was checking out the new nonfiction book shelf at the local library.  I liked the sound of the title and thought why not give it a try.  I was not disappointed and found this book to be very motivational and real.  Shonda Rhimes is mainly known for creation of Thursday night TV shows:  Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder.  This book has a little of that part of her life in it, but what really hit me hard was how honest and open Shonda was about life struggles, even for a hugely accomplished, well to do, powerful woman. Not surprisingly many of the issues we all deal with no mater what our social status or our career paths was talked about in this book: weight loss, public speaking, dating/falling in love, and being a mom.  This book reads very fast and yet has great content and powerful message. 

To Kill a Mockingbird  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was part of our January reads for book club. This book went along with reading Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" ,which I read and blogged about last month for my December reads.  "To Kill a Mockingbird" was to be read if you hadn't already read it.  I couldn't for the life of me remember reading this book, but because of my love for old/classic movies I had of course watched Gregory Peck stand as Atticus Finch, many of times on TV in the comfort of my own home, defending Tom Robinson.  So I picked it up and read it and loved it and thought it was so amazing that Harper Lee had not written more or at least published more.  I wonder how many other authors out there have the same story- one big time classic novel and then many years later another one (July 1960 To Kill a Mockingbird to July 2015 for Go Set a Watchman- publish dates).  This is a great story and should continue to be told and read by children, young adults and adults for as long as racial issues persist- so basically forever.

 Clara and Mr. Tiffany  Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland is a great historical fiction story about Clara Driscoll who is one of Mr. Louis Comfort Tiffany's glass artists and head of the women's division of his studio.  Not surprising and less hard to believe is Clara is likely the mastermind behind many of Mr. Tiffany's famous glass lamp creations.  This is really her story and Mr. Tiffany, rightfully so, is just one of the many cast of characters in her story.  The reader not only learns about what Clara and the women in her division at Tiffany's art studio endured, accomplished, and fought for, but you also get a great feel for life in beginning of the twentieth century for an unmarried, business woman.  Susan Vreeland knows how to write historical fiction.  It is not boring or feels tedious with those important historical data, but has the flow of a great novel.  It was an enjoyable read, yet at the same time very educational.  I have read other books by Susan Vreeland and will continue to put  her books on my "to read" list for those two reasons: great story teller and great educator. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Word of the Year

So it is the beginning of 2016 and I'm feeling like my mojo is slowly returning: I'm running again (even logging my miles back on daily mile), I'm wanting to write again, and I'm just feeling overall motivated to make 2016 a great year. 

So when Liz Lamoreux re-posted a blog post about "word of the year" 
(http://www.lizlamoreux.com/be-present-be-here/a-word-of-the-year-a-practice.html) .  It got me thinking about figuring out my "word of the year".  Despite thinking it was a great idea I was struggling with what the "word" would be.  I just couldn't come up with it and thought here we go again another crazy "chattynatty" idea that isn't going anywhere. 

But then my friend gave me a daily devotional for Christmas and the first day I sat down to read it a word kept on hitting me "PEACE".  This devotional written by Ann Spangler starts on Jan 1 talking about what steps are involved in creating something/anything.  The first step is to "envision exactly what it is you want to create, and second involves making sure that your life is aligned with that vision so that every day you can do something toward achieving your goal."  She later in the page writes "if you want to live a life of greater peace, you need to begin by envisioning what that life will look like". 

Now at first glance I really didn't think "PEACE" was my word of the year, because honestly I'm not a very peaceful person.  I'm a person who is easily agitated, some would call loud, emotional/sensitive, irritable, and constantly moving in multiple directions.  None of these descriptors really are in line with what I think "PEACE" is.  So I didn't really think twice about "PEACE", but then I received an email from First Day Press and they again struck me with having the same main theme of their post "PEACE".  Maybe this was my word. 

I went back to thinking about what Liz said in her post from 2013: "how do you want to feel"- Well I know how I don't want to feel: tired, easily irritated, angry, agitated, stressed, did I say angry (also known as hangry= hungry+ angry). 

At the beginning of this year I felt really irritable and then I felt unhappy because of how agitated and irritated I felt. I was coming off the holiday highs and starting to feel the New Year's blues. Maybe PEACE can help me lose these feelings or at least downgrade their presence in my life.  Now what to do...

In "This is My Year" package Liz has for sale on her website- and no I'm not getting any commission from her just really like this blogger and her shop.  (http://www.soulmantras.com/myyear/this-is-my-year-package) She talks about asking yourself these questions: How do I live in a way that is true to who I really am? What shadows are you living under?  How can you be more true to yourself? 

So I was feeling "PEACE" as my word, but then solidification came two days later when I read devotional on Jan 3 and it talked about "No matter what happens whether life is hard or easy, each of us will enjoy more peace if we can learn to lean into the relationship we have with God our father". 

Further solidified, by finding another blog post  by Little Bits of Granola when looking for meal planning ideas.  One of her highlighted posts was, you guessed it, a post on her "word of the year".  (http://www.littlebitsofgranola.com/2016/01/01/2016-word-of-the-year-intention/).  Side note- guess I am out of it, because unaware of so many people who practiced some form of "word of the year".  This blogger gave the following suggestions in regard to what to do with that "word of the year". 
-"it helps you make decision and act as a reminder of what you want to do and what you want to accomplish"
- she suggested doing a "mind map" adding branches for each area of life you want the "word of the year" to touch
-also to think about how to bring that "word" into each branch of life/area that you want to improve
-then work on creating action steps to make this happen

I plan to do this "mind mapping" exercise in the next few days and hopefully this will give me ideas and direction for my "word of the year" ----PEACE.

If you decide or already have a "word of the year" I'd love to hear it.